Saturday, August 31, 2013


Football season has begun. NFL next Thursday night. High School football last night.  College football, my favorite version today.  In honor of all that, here comes Tim Hawkins, my favorite and slightly irreverent Christian comedian.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I am on vacation with some time on my hands so I am reviving this feature this week. Some of my friends will think me demented but Tim Hawkins has a reverent irreverence that really makes being a Christian fun if you let what hair you have hang down.-STEVE

Wednesday, August 28, 2013



Wednesday was the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, or as it was shortened to "The March on Washington."  It was the event where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, whose prophetic words helped launch the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and inspired generations of Americans - black and white - to pursue the dream of racial equality in this country and end the Jim Crow Laws in the South that had embedded racial bigotry in the body politic of America.  I was 12 years old on that day.  Now, 50 years later, I and many Americans consider it to be the most important political event/speech after Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.  I share it with my readers today with the challenge to remember that racism still exists in this nation and until we end it, our nation will never be fully healed .Do we still have a dream? What will it take to make it a reality?  - Steve

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


"I wish this were true, but Jesus would have drafted a whole lot better."


This year I am making my first foray into Fantasy Football.  A very good friend of mine, Dennis Hall, invited me to join a league run by his son Josh, a professor in Tampa.  It's a Yahoo League called Tampadelphia.  In honor of my present pastoral assignment as an Intentional Interim, I gave my team the name Ship Rocks.  I am one of 12 teams, as is typical of fantasy leagues and I participated in a live draft Sunday.  It was a somewhat bewildering crap shoot for a novice who knows baseball but pays passing attention to the NFL. (I prefer my football in college form.)  Many of my competitors had spent hours researching and I am sure had preplanned lists for the strategic purposes of making pics in ever-shifting landscape of a live draft.

Me, I spent about an hour using Yahoo's default list and then proceeded to put into my computerized draft order about 10 more guys, not thinking that by round five that cue would be exhausted as others picked people  planned to pick.  I drafted 11th in the first round, 5th in the second, back to 11th in round three, etc.  Fortunately after claiming two players I had about 15 minutes to reorganize or do a quick search for more candidates, speed reading the basic info Yahoo gives you.

I started out strong, but in the end Yahoo gave my draft a D.  Here's what they said was good:
  • Strongest Position: QB (12.2% above the league average) and DEF (5.9%) are projected as especially strong units for Ship Rocks.
  • Hit the Waiver Wire: Ship Rocks might need to hit the waiver wire in Week 9, as both TEs they picked will be resting that week (Brandon Myers and Julius Thomas).
  • Free Fallin': The GM of Ship Rocks must have had to leave their draft party early. After tallying the most projected points in the league over the draft's first half, they racked up the fewest during the second half.
  • Beginning with a Bang: Ship Rocks got off to a sizzling start, amassing the most projected points in the league during the first half of the draft.
  • Mr. Irrelevant: Ship Rocks may know something no one else does, grabbing Tim Hightower, who is on a squad in less than 10% of all Yahoo! leagues (0%).
  • Risk Hater: Actuaries love the drafting style of Ship Rocks. They minimized risk by selecting six consistent players among their 15 picks.
Just so you know, my first five picks were:

A.J. Green A.J. Green

1st Round (11th Pick)

Although A.J. Green was the worst value pick of the round, he is still projected to score 31.1% more points than the average player at that position.
Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers

2nd Round (14th Pick)

Mr. December: Aaron Rodgers has a winning pedigree. He was the 14th-most-owned player by playoff teams across all Yahoo! leagues last season.

DeMarco Murray DeMarco Murray

3rd Round (35th Pick)

Reaching for the Best: Ship Rocks snagged the highest-ranked RB left on the board when they selected DeMarco Murray in the third round, but according to ADP, it still may have been a stretch at that spot (35th pick vs. ADP of 54.9).
Reggie Wayne Reggie Wayne

4th Round (38th Pick)

Reggie Wayne went with the 38th pick, but according to projections, he will fall outside of the top 10 in the NFL in both receiving TDs (32nd) and receiving yards (16th) with 6.1 and 1,092 respectively.
B. Green-Ellis B. Green-Ellis

5th Round (59th Pick)

Although he was taken 59th overall in the fantasy draft, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is not projected among the NFL's top 10 in either rushing TDs (28th with 5.6) or rushing yards (28th with 822).

I picked Andrew Luck for my back-up quarterback which made my two choices the best in the draft and my defense, Denver and Green Bay were applauded as strong choices.  But three choices, like Reggie Hightower, that aren't even on a roster (Yahoo doesn't tell you that) drove my ranking to 10th out of 12.

It's going to be a long-season with a weekly watch of the waiver wire.

Are we having fun yet?

Monday, August 26, 2013



Labor Day is in one week and for many Americans, baseball is the small talk of preference.  I am among the legion that believes that baseball is still America's game.
Photo courtesy of Chuck Cramer
Every morning my neighbor (the local parking control officer for the town) and I trade scores and commentary. He's a faithful fan of the Baltimore Orioles and I (as you can see above) am a fan of the Detroit Tigers.  Lifelong I must say.  A waiter in Denny's Saturday morning saw me in one of my Tiger tee shirts commented on that admission by saying, "In good times and bad--and right now the times are very god for you." (He's a Pirates fan for whom times are "gooder" this late in the season than in many years.)

As of this writing, the Tigers have a six and a half game lead on the Indians in the AL Central, 11 on the next closest team--the surprising Kansas City Royals.  Most of the past two weeks that have traded the top spot in the American League with the Boston Red Sox.

There is little doubt that the key to the Tigers success lies in two men, Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer.  Cabrera is the best hitter in baseball today, who took the Triple Crown in 2012 and is actually leading in 2 of the 3 categories that make up the Crown.  If he can close the gap with Chris Davis of the O's in homers, he will be the first person in history to capture back-to-back Triple Crowns.

The other is pitcher Max Scherzer, who as of Saturday's eleven strikeout victory over the Mets was now 19-1 on the season.  In a year when Tiger ace, Justin Verlander seems to have had a wheel or two fall off, Scherzer has taken command on the mound.  He is part of what many feel is the best starting pitcher corp in baseball.  If it were not for a dubious relief group that has struggled notably, the Tigers might have already lapped the rest of the AL.

Added to that are some great hitters like Torii Hunter, Prince Fielder, Johnny Peralta, Omar Infante, Austin Jackson and late arriving Julio Iglesia.  And then there's Victor Martinez who sat out the entire 2012 season and struggled to be barely over ,200 the first two months in the season but is now one of the hottest hitters in baseball.

I am increasingly confident that short of a September meltdown, the Tigers can go all the way!  Right now I am predicting a Tigers-Pirates World Series ... but it could be Tigers-Braves,  

In any case--go Tigers!!!!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013


From Christianity Today comes this update on the situation in Egypt:

Despite the deaths of more than 500 Muslim Brotherhood supporters and the resulting retaliation against Christian targets nationwide, Egypt's Christian community stands with yesterday's decision by the military-backed transitional government to break-up the pro-Morsi sit-ins.

"If a peaceful sit-in took place in Times Square and locked down the city, how long would it take American authorities to disperse it?" said Ramez Atallah, head of the Egyptian Bible Society. "The government spent six weeks trying to solve this crisis, and finally used force. What were the alternatives?"

Youssef Sidhom, editor-in-chief of Coptic newspaper Watani, explained why one alternative—to simply allow the protests to continue indefinitely—was not a better choice.

"If it had been a peaceful protest, we should leave it there. Have the army encircle it to prevent more weapons from entering, and wait for their morale to falter," he said. "But the sit-in surrounded 20 to 30 high-rise apartment buildings, and the people had to submit to daily checks by the Muslim Brotherhood simply to go in and out of their neighborhood.

"They were terrorists, holding hostage thousands of residents."

Egyptian analysts disagree why the six weeks of negotiation with Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi failed. But once the decision to disperse the sit-in was taken, the confrontation was anything but peaceful.

The understanding of Christian leaders, however, reverses the predominant media narrative.
"The army did not attack the people," said Emad Gad, a prominent Coptic politician in the Egyptian Social Democratic Party. "They used tear gas and bulldozers, and were attacked by armed Brotherhood supporters, and then responded in kind."

Government officials announced 43 police personnel were killed in the clashes.
Sidhom anticipated violence, but hoped the dispersal would not be bloody. He praised the police for their self-restraint given the response of armed protesters. But many critics find the security forces used excessive force.

But even so, Muslim political commentator Abdullah Schleifer faults the Islamist misuse of the traditions initiated by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

"Non-violence … meant this," he wrote for al-Arabia. "Sitting or standing and offering no resistance to the British imperial forces and the American southern police when they would move in to arrest and often beat up the peaceful non-violent demonstrators.

"Non-violence does not mean building barricades to hold off the Egyptian riot police and breaking up pavement stones to throw at them."

Egyptian officials were quick to highlight video and testify to the armed nature of many Islamist protesters within the sit-ins. Amnesty International condemned protesters for torturing opponents within their grounds, though the Brotherhood rejects this statement.

Yet beyond the actions surrounding the dispersal of the sit-ins, Egyptian Christians find proof of violent Muslim Brotherhood intentions in the numerous attacks on churches and other Christian targets that occurred in the aftermath. CT earlier highlighted the burning of two Bible Society bookstores in Upper Egypt. Atallah believes such violence was pre-planned.



 I have some special friends. They are Egyptian Christians, who have come to the US not to make a better financial life or to compete for jobs with Americans, but because in their homeland they were constantly under threat from Islamic extremists or persecuted by their communities because they are Christians. Some were pastors, whose churches were closed or burned. Others were respected teachers and one even a newscaster who had to leave a land they deeply love because their lives and the futures of their children were being destroyed. In most cases, none of them has found a job commensurate with their positions in Egypt. Between language or certifications and biases, they work as waitresses, laborers, cooks, in small factories. Many were part of the popular movement of the people that led to the ouster as Hasni Mubarak. Many have been part of the day-to-day effort to help all religious parties work in peace and harmony for the liberty and prosperity of their land. And now, once again, the churches in Egypt, the families of these families are under attack. And except for a few Muslim neighbors who respect them, little is being done to protect them at all. Before proceeding, simply look at this fairly simple video provided by CNN on Friday.  
When I posted this video on Facebook, I simply asked "What is our government doing to respond to this horrendous violation of simple human rights. I am now receiving answers and later this week will share some of those. In the mean time, please be praying. Just this past Saturday and Sunday, 17 more churches were burned in a small region where one of my friends three years ago called home. And the brother and family of another, the brother who is a pastor is now in hiding because the hometown extremists have threatened to simply come and kill his family. Please be in prayer.

Monday, August 5, 2013



I am a baseball fan--some would say, "fanatic."  I just unashamedly believe that it is magnificent sport that requires endurance, critical analysis, athleticism, spirit, patience, strategy, intelligent risk, fairness, continuous improvement -- and character.

Boys and girls have played this game most of my lifetime.  It has produced hallelujahs and heart-break.  It has diehard, faithful fans.  It has players and managers of great integrity.  It has its share of bums (and I don't mean the Dodgers) and scoundrels (like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb).  It has heroic figures like Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente.  It has men who will never be forgotten, like Brooks Robinson and people quickly slipping into anonymity--remember Mark Fidrych?

Baseball, like all modern sports is now a business, a highly profitable one.  It is a business where a player is a success when he fails 67% of the time but winning the Series is the only prize that counts at the bottom line.

Like all modern sports, it has a drug problem.  And in a culture where celebrity, especially sports celebrities have tremendous influence; solving its drug problem is in the best interest of everyone. Cleaning out that drug problem is the legacy that Commissioner Bud Selig wants to leave the sport that he and I and many Americans love deeply.  Of all the modern American sports, it is the only one that has been as aggressive and as persistent in cleaning up its game.  Baseball is to be commended.

12 players, including Johnny Peralta of my beloved Detroit Tigers have received the mandatory 50 game suspensions that goes with breaking those drug rules--whether naively (as Peralta claims) or callously (you fill in the bank), those 12 (who will lose millions of dollars) have chosen not protest the suspensions and step away from the game for the remainder of the season.  They made decisions NOW that are in the best interests of the game.  Hopefully, they will find baseball's redemption at the end of all of this,  Their punishment is part of baseball's redemption.

Then there's A-Rod who once again has narcistically chosen to pursue his own goals, thinking that again baseball must look past his self-indulgence, personal ambition, and pride.  Major League Baseball did not ban him for life.  If he really cares about baseball, taking 212 games off might have made most of us willing to give him another chance.  As it is, baseball will agonize even further for trying to do the right thing for its game and our nation.

A-Rod, wake up and man up.

(C) 2013 by Stephen L Dunn