Saturday, February 27, 2010

A moment's comfort on a snowy morning

Just listening to various tunes on the iPod this morning and thinking about the fact that at least one of these artists I listen to, Isaac Guillory, is no longer with us. On this, his birthday, I said a prayer for the repose of his soul...and hoped that, as he made his musical way through life, he found peace with God as well.

(Ditto for Dan Fogelberg, whose birthday it is not...but whom I'm thinking about in the same vein.)

Many of us who trust Christ as our salvation live, to one degree or another, in a shadow of sadness for loved ones--and let's face it, these guys are "loved ones" to fans, even if we never met--whose salvation we're not sure of. Especially in the case of famous people, if we're not in their inner circle, we really have no way of knowing what the states of their souls are. And for those of us who want every decent musician in heaven that we can get :-), this can cause us a small pang of wishing, hoping...yet fearing the worst.

But if it's any comfort, maybe we don't have to fear that worst quite as much as we think. Because one of the things that Our Lord said to St. Faustina during His many talks with her was that, at the moment of each of our deaths, He reaches out His mercy to us. Not once. Not twice. But three separate times. He gives souls three separate appeals, three offerings, three chances, to take His mercy onto themselves and be covered in His glorious grace.

So if that is, in fact, true...and some of these souls desired that approach...we can rest assured, Jesus made it. He said so, and He cannot lie.

If this isn't reason for hope and rejoicing, maybe nothing else will ever be. But it's a heck of a good thing to think about, whenever we're saying prayers for those loved ones about whom we won't be sure until eternity.

We have every reason to hope that these beloved musicians--and many more of our loved ones with them--recognized that wonderful face of Jesus, that smiling mercy, and appropriated it all the way to glory. And that He welcomed them with open arms.

How merciful is our God!

Hope always,

Friday, February 26, 2010

An open letter to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee!

Ladies and gentlemen (at least I hope you include both):

Have you noticed the Northwestern Wildcats? If you haven’t, you should.

Recently, TV sports hoses have made much of the fact that dem Wildcats lost a couple of key games which then meant that they have no hope of postseason play in the NCAA, or even probably in the NIT. Of course, hope springs eternal; they already have more season wins than in school history. They’re 18-10, folks, which is not shabby at all. But it’s not elite in NCAA tournament terms, especially when you factor in a 7-9 record in their conference, and the best you’ll be able to muster there is 9-9. Looking at raw numbers, it may be a no-brainer: of course the selection committee can probably find 10 schools better “deserving” of an at-large bid than Northwestern.

Or can they? I submit not, because raw numbers don’t tell the story here.

Raw numbers don’t talk about how this team lost their #1 scorer at the beginning of the season…and yet are among the leaders, if not the #1 shooting team, in the Big Ten.

Raw numbers don’t talk about how two “role” players have stepped up to carry a team on their backs. Yes, this happens all the time…at schools who go out and recruit “horses” who are virtually interchangeable. But at Northwestern, where scoring, rebounds, and assists are considered only after your GPA, SAT and ACT scores…not so much.

Above all, though, raw numbers don’t talk about two key items that need to be weighed here: first, the sheer strength of the conference in which the Wildcats play…and just how much fun they are to watch.

Suffice to say that any perusal of the Big Ten this year should, once and for all, wipe out the tired old refrain about “weaker conferences.” The Big Ten has habitually had at least two to three teams in the top 25 since the beginning of the season, and sometimes multiple teams in the top 10. That’s not in the Midwest…that’s in the nation. They can hardly be called less than an elite conference anymore, even in comparison with the “big guys” out East.

With that in mind, I would suggest that a strong case can be made that a 7-9 record in the Big Ten—one that could easily be 9-9 at the end of the season—is comparable, this season, to a much better record in other places. Some 14-4 or 15-3 or even 11-7 teams in other conferences would be lucky to win 9 games in the Big Ten this year. So based on the mythical “strength of schedule”? .500 in the Big Ten, this year, oughta get anybody in.

Secondly, there are other numbers the NCAA committee also ought to be taking into consideration here—rating numbers. Which will skyrocket with a team like the Wildcats on the court.

How can I say this? Simple. Which one of us doesn’t watch the NCAA for the “Cinderella” team as much as anything else? Anyone remember how fun it was to watch George Mason a few years ago…or Bradley two years ago…or teams like Gonzaga before they became household names? Who can forget Xavier (and the way they were robbed against Ohio State)a couple years back?

Well, if anyone’s primed to be a Cinderella in this year’s tournament, it’s the team in purple and white. It’s one thing to watch a program get to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 40 years, or watch a program finally make the Final Four after a long, dry spell. But watching a team go to the Big Dance for the first time in school history?

This is a great story, just waiting to happen. It deserves to happen. It’ll be great for college basketball if it happens. But it’ll only happen if the NCAA committee can bring itself to ignore lobbying by so-called “stronger” conferences, look past the numbers, and consider just what drama might lie ahead in the tournament brackets if someone like the Wildcats is given the nod.

Heck, let ‘em be in the “play-in” game, if nothing else. If it can be done for a team out East…it can certainly be done for a team that’s figuratively hopped on one foot all year and still managed to win more than anyone thought possible, in one of the toughest conferences in the country.

Do it, ladies and gentlemen. Make the “dark horse” selection one we’ll talk about for years. Pull the trigger, and send the Purple an invite to the Big Dance.

You will not regret it.

In great hopes,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Enough spamming, already!

To all the "Anonymouses" out there who want to sell me something, advise me that they have a great offshore pharmacy that can get "drugs I need" at cost, tell me about the Next Big Home Business, or pitch any other product, service, or obscene suggestion...


I don't know WHY, precisely, I'm getting these spam comments in the box. I've had blogs for something like four years now, and until a few months ago, I NEVER got Spam in my combox.
Now, the only comments I GET anymore are Spam.
I could, of course, turn commenting OFF for awhile. That might deter 'em. But who wants to do that?
Who wants to be held hostage at the point of malicious e-mail pens?

Just remember this, all you abovementioned pests:
You're being reported, every single last one of you, to your ISPs.
Yeah, I know, that doesn't scare anyone anymore. But it might keep you busy finding new URLs to spam from, and in that case, at least it'll keep you off MY blog for the time it takes you to find more aliases. Hey, anything that works...right?
The rest of you? Yanno, those five people who actually read this?
Start commenting, already. If we fill up the box, those pests can't get in. :-)