Monday, November 26, 2012

7 Reasons Iowa Hawkeye Fans Are More Spiritual

As many of you know, I'm engaged to a very wonderful woman. She's marvelous, beautiful and I love her very much. But nobody's perfect and she does have one major flaw. She's a Nebraska Cornerhuskers fan. Naturally, after my Iowa Hawkeyes finished a rather depressing season with a loss to the Huskers, my sweet darling couldn't help but rub it in just a little.

But, I've come up with some very compelling reasons as to why Iowa Hawkeye fans are more spiritual than - just to use a complete random example - Husker fans.

- It's easier for Hawkeye fans to be humble. Losses tend to help with that.

- Hawkeye fans have more opportunity to exercise patience. After all, "next season will be better".

- Hawkeye fans are less tempted to brag to about their team.

- Every week Hawkeye fans are reminded that we cannot put our confidence in man (especial one who wears a Tiger Hawk on his helmet).

- Hawkeye fans learn to deal with disappointment on a regular basis.

- Hawkeye fans have many examples of how not live a life free from alcahol and drugs.

- We have the best color combination in the NCAA. I don't know how that makes us more spiritual but it's true.


See Also:

7 Reasons Drinking Coffee Makes You More Spiritual

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Divine Providence in "The Hobbit"

I should warn you right up front that this post will ooze with intense nerdiness. I'm a total J.R.R. Tolkien fanboy and have even joked that his veneration would be the only condition by which I would consider converting to Catholicism. While I may not actually be that extreme, I'm devoted enough to have a set of Lord of the Rings PEZ candies as the centerpiece for my room.

Likewise, I'm eagerly awaiting the release of The Hobbit movie(s). In anticipation for the films, I've re-read the book so that I can criticize Peter Jackson's changes more intelligently. It's been years since I've read the book and I noticed some things that had escaped me the first time around.

I had never realized that one of the major themes of the book is "luck". While initially skeptical that their pint-size burglar will be of any worth, Thorin and Company eventually begin to respect Bilbo Baggins as one of the most valuable members of the enterprise. It's Mr. Baggins that rescues the Company from such strapes as giant spiders, overly skeptical wood-elves and eventually the dragon himself. The qualities that allow Bilbo to perform such feats include wit, stealth, courage, wisdom and disproportionate amount of good luck. His excessive luck is referred to several times in the book.

However, at the very end of the book (literally the last page) there's a twist of sorts. It's revealed that Bilbo's luck was not luck at all. The last bit of The Hobbit jumps ahead a few years to find the fruits of Bilbo's labors. The North is rid of many evils and the free folk live in peace and prosperity.

Upon discovering this, Bilbo exclaims: "Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!"

To this, Gandalf offers a rebuke: "Of course! And why should not they prove true? Surely you don't disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit?"

Hinted in these words is a very interesting thought. Bilbo's luck was not "mere luck". It was purposeful and designed to fulfill a larger end. Some would call this fate. Christians call it providence.

I really do believe that providence is a major theme in Tolkien's works. This theme is picked up in The Lord of the Rings. Interestingly enough, the first time Bilbo's "luck" comes into play is in his discovery of the One Ring. Thus, if luck is a tongue-in-cheek expression for providence, then we learn that God purposed the Ring to fall into the hands of the hobbit. It is in this context that Gandalf would assure Frodo that there are greater powers in the world than that of evil and that the younger Mr. Baggins was meant to have the Ring.

In many respects, the Tolkien canon is similar to the Book of Esther in that God is never explicitly mentioned and yet His sovereign hand is seen everywhere if one looks for it. Unlike in the movie, Tolkien has the Ring destroyed not by Frodo but by the providence itself. In the end, only a sovereign God can defeat evil.

For our part, it's vital that we embrace our role  as little pieces in God's bigger plan. We cannot determine the times in which we live. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

This is the attitude of Bilbo. In explaining the larger purposes of the hobbit's quest, Gandalf says to him: "You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!"

And then the last line in the book is: "Thank goodness!" said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco-jar.

Bilbo is relieved to discover that he's just a little fellow used for a far grander purpose than himself. So should be the attitude of all followers of God Almighty.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Optimist's Guide to the Election

I consider myself to be an optimist. Not a naive optimist who wallows in the bliss of ignorance. Nor a Pollyanna optimist who finds a needle of gladness in a haystack of misery. But rather I strive for a principled optimism that is based on objective reality. In fact is based on the most objectively real thing in existence - the nature and character of God. This isn't about glass half full but about cup runth over.

Like me, you may not be happy with the way the election turned out. However, I still think there are reasons to be glad.

1. We mustn't forget that the presidential race wasn't the only issue last night. I'm very delighted to now be constituent of Tom Latham. Boswell has been representing my district (mostly badly) since before I was born and it's high time we got him out of there. Also, I couldn't be more glad that Steve King beat Christie "Seven Layer Salad" Vilsack. I have no doubt that he'll continue to serve Iowa well.

2. Much to the utopian's dismay, politics is a pendulum. It always swings back and forth. Therefore, we shouldn't get too gloomy when it happens to be on the backswing. I doubt that someone as liberal as Obama could have been elected had we not had eight years of Bush. Likewise, I think we stand a fairly good chance of getting someone more conservative than Romney elected in four years. Sure the next four year will likely be rough, but it's not the final act.

3. And here's the big one. Jesus is still on the throne and the election didn't faze Him one bit. He's still directing the king's heart like channels of water (Proverbs 21:1). We already know how this story ends. Jesus wins and we with Him. The courts of heaven still judge the rulers of men and shall remove the tyrants from power and give dominion to the saints. (Daniel 7:26-27). Obama will rule for another four years. We shall rule with Christ forever.

So don't fret. Don't despair. Praise God that He is who He is.