God, speed your love to me...

Walking hand in hand with the Man who stilled the waters.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Soccermania

Disclaimer: Now, I love soccer. Not playing it, no! But being there, watching from the sidelines, cheering on my team. At least once a week I'm sitting beside the pitch in my camp chair, with a blanket over my legs for warmth (or a sleeping bag once the nights get colder), and while I might not be cheering loudly, my position beside the bench has become a tradition. I am a soccer "widow", since in spring my man's thoughts turn to soccer. I'll never play, but I love to watch.

And with that being said, I'm sure that even the most soccer-crazed among us will appreciate this article. Thanks to Irene for posting this on her blog.

Nil, Nil
The nihilism of soccer: The more you look, the less there is to see.
by Frank Cannon & Richard Lessner
06/23/2006 12:00:00 AM

IN ITS RECENT WORLD CUP CONTEST WITH ITALY, the U.S. team played what was widely regarded by the sport's connoisseurs as one of the best games ever played by an American soccer squad on foreign soil.

The historic game with Italy ended in an epic 1-1 tie. But in what was ballyhooed as one of the greatest games ever played by an American team, the United States failed to score. The goal credited to the Americans was scored by an opposing player who--oops!--accidentally kicked the ball into his own goal.

Think about this about this for a moment. It just about sums up everything you need to know about soccer, or football, as it is known elsewhere.

Soccer is the perfect game for the post-modern world. It's the quintessential expression of the nihilism that prevails in many cultures, which doubtlessly accounts for its wild popularity in Europe. Soccer is truly Seinfeldesque, a game about nothing, sport as sensation.

Most soccer matches end in scoreless ties (or nil, nil in soccer parlance), 1-1 deadlocks or 1-0 victories. A final score of 2-1 is regarded as a veritable outburst of offense, an avalanche of goal scoring that leaves exhausted fans shaking their heads and pining for the old days when teams knew how to play strong defense. A score of 2-0 is said to be a crushing victory (or defeat) of Carthaginian proportions rendering national shame and humiliation and potentially resulting in coup d'etat, or even war.

In truth, soccer could be played without using a ball at all, and few would notice the difference. The game consists of 22 men running up and down a grassy field for 90 minutes with little happening as fans scream wildly. When the ball actually approaches one of the goals, the fans reach fever pitch and the cheering becomes a deafening roar.

Of course, these infrequent occurrences in which the soccer ball approaches the end zone--where goaltenders wile away their time perusing magazines, trimming their fingernails or inspecting blades of grass--rarely result in a shot on goal. Most often the ball ends up high over the goal, missing everything by 20 or 30 feet. These "near misses" typically send the fans into paroxysms; TV announcers scream themselves hoarse. Then the players mill about the field for another 20 or 30 minutes or so and the goaltenders return to their musings before the ball returns, like Halley's comet in its far-flung orbit, for another pass in the general vicinity of the goal.

Mostly soccer is just guys in shorts running around aimlessly, a metaphor for the meaninglessness of life. Whole blocks of game time transpire during which absolutely nothing happens. Fortunately, this permits fans to slip out for a bratwurst and a beer without missing anything important. It's little wonder fans at times resort to brawling amongst themselves in the grandstands, as there is so little transpiring on the field of play to occupy their wandering attention. Watching men in shorts scampering around has its limitations. It's like gazing too long at a painting by de Kooning or Jackson Pollock. The more you look, the less there is to see.

DESPITE HEROIC EFFORTS of soccer moms, suburban liberals, and World Cup hype, soccer will never catch on as a big time sport in America. No game in which actually scoring goals is of such little importance could possibly occupy the attention of average Americans. Our country has yet to succumb to the nihilism, existentialism, and anomie that have overtaken Europe. A game about nothing, in which scoring is purely incidental, holds scant interest for Americans who still believe the world makes sense, that life has a larger meaning and structure, that being is not an end in itself, being qua being.

Another reason why soccer will never enthrall Americans is that the game is contrary to nature. What is it that is unique to the physical makeup of human beings that sets us apart from the animal world? Two things: Our large brains and our grasping hands with opposable thumbs. Our big brain is why we're called homo sapiens, thinking man. And our ability to use our hands to grasp and manipulate objects is why one of our early ancestors was designated homo habilis, handy man. Human beings are thinking toolmakers. We're able to imagine the arrowhead in the stone and use our hands to carve it out of the rock. These two uniquely human traits have allowed us to become the dominant species on the planet.

Yet soccer flies in the face of nature. In almost all other sports, the head is protected against injury. Players wear helmets and try to avoid contact with sticks, bats, balls, elbows, fists, roadways, goalposts and other things that might inflict injury on that big brain that gives humans the ability to plan ahead, calculate, strategize, coordinate eye and hand movements, anticipate the consequence of actions--in other words, to play the game.

But soccer players use their heads, deliberately, to contact the ball. This is contrary to all human instinct, which is to keep the head out of the way of danger. Duck, you idiot! Protecting the head against injury is deeply rooted in our nature. It's an evolutionary survival response. Sacrifice a limb if you must, give up an arm or leg, but protect your head at all costs. Yet in soccer the player is encouraged, no, expected to hit the ball with his head. This is as stupid an action as a human being can undertake.

Secondly, any game which prohibits the use of the hands is contrary to nature. Opposable thumbs allow humans to grasp things (thumbs on other primate hands such as chimps and orangutans are splayed out the side and are not truly opposable.) This is why the games human beings play involve holding things such as baseball bats, golf clubs and hockey sticks, or to grip and throw objects like a ball or a Frisbee.

Soccer denies its players this most basic human ability. Players cannot catch or throw the ball. But they can hit it with their heads. If one were to set out to invent a game fundamentally at odds with human nature, soccer would be it. Place the head with its big brain in constant danger, and prohibit the use of the hands. Soccer denies to its players the very attributes that make human beings, the thinking toolmaker, human.

Actually, the donkey would have a significant advantage over humans in soccer. It has four legs rather than two. The donkey has no hands or opposable thumbs, nor any need of them in order to play soccer. And smashing its head into a soccer ball probably would not cause any diminution of equine IQ. Soccer, then, would appear to be a game better suited to dim-witted quadrupeds than to human beings.

Frank Cannon and Richard Lessner, consultants with Capital City Partners, have spent most of the World Cup watching ESPN re-runs of the world's strongest man contest.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The danger of busy

A coworker gave this to me as food for thought:

Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, "We can't keep the Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can't even keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to their churches, let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can't gain that experience in Jesus Christ.

"This is what I want you to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Saviour and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!"

"How shall we do this?" shouted his angels.

"Keep them busy in the nonessentials of life and invent innumberable schemes to occupy their minds," he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend and borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6 or 7 days a week, 10 or 12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon their home will offer no escape from the pressures of work!

"Overstimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive. To keep the TV, VCR, CDs, DVDs and PCs going constantly in their homes. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ. Fill the coffee table with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogues, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services, and false hopes. Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines so the husbands will believe that external beauty is what's important, and they'll become dissatisfied with their wives. Ha! That will fragment those families quickly!

"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted, and unprepared for the coming week. Don't let them go out in nature to reflect on God's wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead. Keep them busy, busy, busy!

"And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotion. Go ahead, let them be involved in soul winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause. It will work! It will work!"

It was quite a convention.

And the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments, causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and to rush here and there... I guess the question is: has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge.

BUSY = Being Under Satan's Yoke

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I QUIT!

That's right, I did. But not just - I quit last Wednesday. I just couldn't take it any more, and the job wasn't worth coming home angry and crying every night. It's only been a week, and already I feel more relaxed and in control. I'm staying until the end of the month, which is longer than my legal two weeks' notice, but I think this will placate him a little.

So, there you have it! Thanks to everyone who encouraged me, and I'll need prayers if I'm to find a job before I hit the bottom of the savings barrel.

(And no, this isn't my car, but for about a minute I did consider doing this!)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Happy Half-Birthday!

As of today I am officially 21-1/2 years old! :D I think I'm the only person who remembers that sort of thing... but hey, any excuse for cake is a good one!

Monday, June 05, 2006

10-day Recap

It's only been [quick counting] 10 days since I last posted, but so much has happened!

Weekend, May 26-28
Friday night we stayed home. Typically the boys go out somewhere, so Sis and I had the TV to ourselves. Chris had nothing to do either, so we sat and watched Batman, I think. Can't really remember, but I'm sure we watched a movie.
Saturday morning Chris was over at 7:30 and woke me up to go garage saleing! We took the page from the paper that had all the garage sale ads in it and crossed them off as we went. Lots of fun, nice warm weather, and we bought a whole bunch of stuff: 2 whisks (me), a lace shawl (me), some playing cards (Chris), basketballs (Chris), an old Bible and two really old "devo" books - 1 from 1917, and the other from 1889! - (me), a stack of plastic Tupperware cups (me), and a bookcase (me). After the sales we popped into Burlington for a minute to drop off some CDs Chris had borrowed from K&S, and then on the way home we stopped at the Liquidation Outlet in Waterdown and I bought a rocking chair! I don't really need one (yet), but it was exactly like the one I pictured owning someday, and I couldn't pass it up. The bookcase is already in my room and filled with stuff, but the chair is sitting in the hall downstairs until I find some place to put it. Chris dropped me off at home to do some work for my mum, and then in the evening Teresa came over to pick up her duvet - I finally finished it - and we went with Trees, Sis and I to Angel's Diner for supper. Excellent food! Then we came home and watched... a movie. Don't remember which one. It was a chick flick, cuz Chris was complaining the whole time. :P

Week, May 29 - June 2
This week was insanely busy. Monday night was the only free night, but it was so hot we didn't want to do anything anyways. We ate fruit and icecream and sat in the basement. Chris was supposed to have a soccer game in Cambridge but it got cancelled.
Tuesday was Sharlene's play in Waterdown, and it was fantastic! She did such a good job. Another hot date, and the theatre wasn't A/C'd, so I think with all the people sitting in there the temperature got up near 40 C.
Wednesday was soccer again, in Hamilton. Mel was there, so we got to sit and chat while we watched our men lose their game. :P
Thursday was our 2nd anniversary! Hard to believe it's been 2 years already, it's gone fast. Chris totally surprised me, took me out to a New Orleans bistro in Burlington for dinner. We had a typical N.O. dinner of hot jambalaya, crab cakes, cornbread, ribs, and catfish. I had a martini too, but Chris didn't like the taste of it so much. After dinner we went for a walk in Spencer Smith Park, all the way down to the end with the cool compass, and we checked out the new tourist information centre, which looks so much better than the old one.
Friday and Saturday we were up in Markdale at Campfire! for the CYA Retreat. We had an excellent time and heard some very thought-provoking speeches, played games, and went on a scavenger hunt all over the camp. The hand game at our table was fun (and noisy), and the water-pistol wars were hilarious (Joel! Sara!).

And that's about it, I think. This is going to be another busy week, if I'm not careful, so I think I'm going to make sure I have time to relax and maybe do some sewing, since I haven't touched my machine in over a week. There's some mending to be done, so I think that will be first.

Congrats to Jocelyn and Harold, who went and got engaged two Thursdays ago! I love you guys!

Hope y'all are having a good week!