Sunday, April 23, 2006


Dear Derrek Lee,

I wanted to tell you how sorry I am to hear about your recent injury. Although MLB copyright laws prevent me from directly recounting the occurrence here, word on the street is that you have two broken bones and won't be able to play for two or three months. Rules of polite discourse prevent me from describing completely what a horrific travesty this is for the Cubbies. Your team and TONS of loyal fans are crying with you... even though Tom says there's no crying in baseball, situations like these are the exception. Although I'm appalled to report that some OTHER Chicago baseball fans are smugly happy about this unfortunate event.

There is also some mean spirited talk circulating that the runner who collided with you did so on purpose. Personally I don't believe this to be true but I heard some disgruntled Cubs fans discussing the incident on the train this morning and one said to the other "Yeah they [the Dodgers] couldn't win so they just took out our best player!" I can see how sentiments like this one can arise. In my own non-professional sporting career, I was involved in a situation similar to your own and blame was thrown out quicker than Zambrano's fastball.

See, my sporting career is slightly different from yours in that Air Hockey never caught on as an official sport in this country. Despite devoted enthusiasts such as myself, we have yet to experience the joy and elation that this country could know from a NAHL. I have resigned myself to be a lifelong amateur at the sport because chances are even if I were to initiate such a marvelous league it would easily be another decade before women were allowed to compete and by that time my reflexes would not be up to my current cat-like goalie standards. But regardless, take comfort in the story I have to share.

I am a quasi-undefeated Air Hockey Champion. (The quasi part comes from the only games lost being the fault of Appletinis at Gameworks and no reflection of my actual skills and talent). I've been playing the game since I was tall enough to see the top of the table and loving it even longer. Even today my pulse quickens at the hum of a table vent warming up. Such sweet music! In my early days my quick shot hands earned me the nickname "Wild Child" but as I grew more mature and perfected my techniques I took on the title of "Ricochet Reina" (Reina being Spanish for queen and the ricochet shot being my signature scoring system). In the past two years though, I gained my most favorite nickname yet "The Derrek Lee of Air Hockey". (...Okay so I actually gave myself that one but it has a nice ring to it, don't you think?) My slick combination of quick shot serves and non-goaltending defensive blocks earned me much admiration but also ignited fires of jealousy in my opponents. In a game against my unofficial Air Hockey arch nemesis (also known as The Puck Pirate, Tony the Tiger or Mi Esposo) I suffered the worst air hockey injury known to man -or woman- ...a crushed thumb.

Isn't it painful just to think about? It was a rematch game so the tension was already in the air. Goals were traded for the first minute (with yours truly scoring first) followed by a series of quick blocks that kept the puck on the table for the next thirty seconds. Absorbing a quick shot off the left bank I retaliated with my own double ricochet slider that whipped through Tony's goal a hair quicker than his block. He took the serve and passed the puck right to my mallet and I sent it straight back for another score. This was accompanied by cheers from me and grumblings from my rival. On the next play the puck found itself ricochet-stranded in the center of the table. Innocently bouncing off both banks but moving towards neither goal, the puck was lost to play. I braced my free hand on the edge of the table and stretched forward to bring the puck back in the game. Despite my long reach I was unsuccessful and relinquished the attempt to my opponent. Although he could possibly have rebounded our stranded puck with a simple tap from an outstretched hand, he chose instead to use his mallet as a missile and launched it towards the center line and our marooned puck. He missed and instead of a potentially cool-though-illegal goal his mallet launched straight down the table and into my thumb (which was still braced on the side bank from my puck recovery stretches). The pain was as appalling as the laughter from my nemesis. At first I took such jubilation to be an indication of the intention of the strike but later I found out that it was just laughter at the dumb luck of hitting me.

So you see, Derrek, even though my injury didn't result in broken bones and had the occasion arose I still would've been able to play air hockey, I know how you feel. Like the mean spirited grumblers on the train I wanted to believe that my opponent was a sore loser that wanted to make up for poor performance by injuring me but as I did, I hope that they can now realize that sometimes, these things really are just up to chance. Get well soon, I hope we'll be needing you in the post-season!

lisa :)

p.s. In your professional opinion which sounds better "The Todd Walker of Air Hockey" or "The John Mabry of Air Hockey"?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Borrowing... (Part One)

I came across something really moving on the internet the other day. It was a link found through a link found through a link type of thing but this was one of the most powerful blogs I've read in quite some time. I'm reprinting it here with the permission of the author, Chris Ridgeway, (or as we liked to call him at U of I: Cridgewa). The whole thing is kind of long so with the hopes of people reading all of it, and for more focused comments, I'm posting it in multiple parts. Here's the intro:
Dear Friend,

I'’m a Christian. By that, I mean that I identify with the teaching and example of the rabbi Jesus Christ that I'’ve read about in the scriptures. I'’ve decided to believe that when he said was God, that it was Real, and that he used the power of deep forgiveness to start a cosmic chain reaction that is reconnecting me to myself, to other people, and especially to Him.

It also means that I belong to a group of people throughout different times and places who have also been Christians.

Here'’s the thing. I really feel this need to apologize. For us. For some things we'’ve done. To say that there'’s been times we'’ve been really wrong, and to ask for your forgiveness.

This is tough to do, because while the History Channel has been pretty helpful, the truth is, I don'’t know much about a lot these other times and other cultures. Heck, I don'’t know a lot about other people on my campus here at the University of Illinois who are Christians too, but who are part of a different church, different community, or just live in Urbana.

But maybe, just for this letter to you, could we pretend that I was elected to speak for all Christians? I doubt I'’d be the right person for the job. Maybe we could have the apostle Paul, or a pope, or Billy Graham or Mother Theresa. But I'’m the one here now, and I still feel it'’s the right thing to try.

It all has to do with the way that in the name of Christ, we'’ve acted, especially when we'’ve been thinking about how to invite other people to be Christians with us.

I'd like to apologize for four things.

Keep reading for the four apologies in Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four. Feel free to comment on any section or the series as a whole. Hopefully posting them in separate sections makes this easier if you don't have time to read it all at once.

Borrowing... (Part Two)

***Don't start reading here. Read the intro in Part One first.***

1. I’m sorry we made it a war.

Maybe because it’s easier when it’s all black-and-white, but it’s devastating the number of people who have been killed in the name of spreading the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. During the summer of the year 1099 – because Pope Urban the II had given a rousing speech promising riches and happiness - the combined force of five armies, mostly French and Italian Christians, arrived outside of Jerusalem, their main target after being on the war march for two years. The Pope had said, “God himself will lead them, for they will be doing His work. There will be absolution and remission of sins for all who die in the service of Christ… Let none hesitate; they must march… God wills it!” On July 15th, we stormed Jerusalem.

There’s a historian named Raymond of Agiles, and he described it like this, “Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the temple of Solomon, a place where religious services ware ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much at least, that in the temple and portico of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins.

And there were six more Crusades.

While it’s easy for me to reject everything they did, to say that real Christians would never do such a thing, and that I had nothing to do with it, let me stop myself by remembering how often I still blindly speak like it’s still a war against people.

It’s just that I learned to use the language of competition and war to describe what it means for me to relate to people who aren’t Christ followers. We’ve said that we should “win them to Christ…,” that we should “defend our families and values” that we must “conquer hearts” and “break down” resistance to the gospel. We’ve spoken of “strategies” and how we “fight” for souls.

I do believe there’s a fight, by the way. I believe sometimes it’s harsh and violent and tough – because I believe in a real spiritual enemy – the enemy that used to be the Angel of Light, and got turned inside out by his own conceitedness. A fallen angel who has only dark plans for God’s children. He’s our enemy. But people made by God’s hand are not.

I’m sorry we got the enemy wrong, and I’m sorry we made it a war.

***Continued in Part Three and Part Four.***

Borrowing... (Part Three)

***This series begins in Part One and Part Two.***

2. I’m sorry that we made it into a T-shirt.

It’s not just that “Jesus Christ” looks sorta dumb as the Coca Cola logo. I’m not a fan of silly marketing t-shirts – but it’s not the t-shirts themselves. It’s that there was no relationship there. That somehow we forgot that relational truth is best communicated relationally. In other words, the good news of Jesus isn’t a message that you can easily print in newspaper unless you can also use ink to store real love.

Yeah, there’s part of the gospel that requires us to understand (head) a message of words. But it’s more to (heart) understand, you know?

And with marketing slogans, even though God never really does this with the lengthy, complicated Bible, we thought that simplifying or distilling would make this easier to digest. We tried it different ways: logically we simplified it down to just four laws, or emotionally some of us reduced it to saying that Just Jesus will take care of your TAM final and your boyfriend. And economically we made it into a marketing campaign.

So we’re guilty of oversimplifying, and presenting messages without any connection relationship. I’m sorry we made it into a t-shirt.

3. I’m sorry we made it into a bait and switch.
I think it’s been easy for us to be a bit embarrassed about what we really believe, and it’s natural to want to make it sound better. But I’m more embarrassed that we tried to make gospel pamphlets look like $20 bills so that you’d accidentally pick them up, or that we invited you to thank you business dinners turned into forced sermons, or that “would you like to take a quick survey?” turned out to be a gospel sharing appointment you didn’t ask for.

And sometimes it’s been an even gentler kind of bait and switch, where we tell you about all the good things that Jesus has done in our lives, and save the parts where we felt like crap, and were insecure, or our Dad died, or we didn’t get a good job – we sorta held back on those, because we didn’t want to make Jesus look bad. Like he’s less valuable because doesn’t make us happy or fulfilled. I do have a hope that I’d like to tell you about, but for now – I if have ever tried to sell you something that looks shinier or different than the real thing, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry we made it into a bait and switch.

***This series concludes in Part Four.***

Borrowing... (Part Four)

***This is the end of a four part series. Please read Part One, Part Two and Part Three first.***

4. I’m sorry we said that you needed to fix yourself first.
That to be a Christian you needed to first stop sleeping with your girlfriend, or dropping the f bomb, or smoking, or stop being gay. The truth is, the whole message of Jesus is that he starts making us into something new after we run into him. I won’t apologize for beautiful morals – I think God has a way of living that is better than what we’ve done a lot, and that his purity and perfection should be an inspiration for us to change into a whole new thing. And change is one the thick streams of hope in the Christian life.

But sometimes we’ve really gotten accidentally turned around on which came first – and the word “holiness” got thrown into the mix like a spear that we could throw at people, or a shield that we’d try to put between you and us. Everyone needs forgiveness, healing, and love. Daily. Especially me. My heart is as dark as ever, sometimes. Did we forget that if don’t live in state of grace toward others, that Jesus says he can’t give grace to us!

And while we’re at it, sometimes we’ve forgotten that real change is on the inside. Back in the day, the Board for Protection of Aborigines in Australia made this mistake. The missionaries with that group dressed local peoples to look more Western, and started thinking it was proof of inward changes towards Christianity.

But the blame really does fall on me. I can’t tell you the times when I’ve silently looked you walking down the sidewalk, and judged you just because of the way you dressed . Love inside comes well before change outside, and I’m sorry we said that you needed to fix yourself first.

*** Hope you found this as insightful and as challenging as I did. I'd love to open a dialogue on any or all of these points so comment away. Once again, I remind you that although I agree fully, these are not my own words. The talented author is Chris Ridgeway and I encourage you all to check out his blog as well. -lisa :) ***

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Went to see the musical Wicked this week! For those that are unfamiliar, it's the "true story" of the witches of Oz and the crazy things that happen before Dorothy's part of the story. Mostly based on the Gregory Maguire novel of the same name, the music and lyrics are done by Stephen Schwartz (of Broadway fame for Godspell and Pippin). By far the most notable number of the show was the song "Defying Gravity" which stunningly closed the first act. It's also the song that gets stuck in your head more than any other. One line in particular has been stuck with me for the past few days. The words are something like, "Too late for second guessing, too late to go back to sleep. It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap!" As one who frequents - and is practically a resident in - the Land of Second Guesses, I've taken the line as an interesting challenge. What would my life look like, were I to be more certain in trusting my instincts and moving forward, despite all doubts? I don't have an answer to that, but hopefully I'm on my way to finding one. Proactivity - defying gravity - here I come.