Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Quick post before writing;

Eighty percent of the intensive is done, MP 520: Contemporary Culture in a Missional Perspective, and the reading list may very well be the best I've had at Fuller. Today was Douglas John Hall's The End of Christendom and the Future of Christianity, and while I'll post my thoughts later (when I don't have a novel review due in nine hours), I'll just say that I found myself agreeing more often with Hall than with the person who had left their comments in the margins (my reaction to their visceral reaction was, well, visceral). In synopsis, Hall calls for the church to disestablish itself in the west, suggesting that the establishment that has taken place in the United States and Canada is more de facto content-based than de jure form-based, as was the case in Europe. Here, the refusal of a formal establishment of religion has blinded the American church to the informal patterns and the unconscious combination of the substance of the faith and dominant cultural mores.

Hall suggests that when the church disestablishes itself, it will in the process recover its mission and its identity as a prophetic minority which can then speak to the world, being in, yet not of the world. Unlike others who make similar arguments, Hall argues that distancing is not the main goal, but that when the content of the faith is articulated, the church can then engage society at the levels of moral authenticity, meaningful community, transcendence and mystery, and meaning.

More to say from him and about him, but will cut short due to time constraints. Peace love and pitbulls (on that note, anyone know when Andreas is due back in CA?)

Friday, August 20, 2004

This week...I've been busy.

I began a two-week intensive on Contemporary Culture through a Missional Perspective this week, and while the reading list is studly, I haven't been able to get as into it as fully as I'd like to because I picked up extra hours at security this week, while upping the Spanish lesson schedule to twice a week. And German's still going, swimmingly I do say. The upshot of all this is that I haven't written much, even though last week saw some pretty huge calls made, specifically in the area of future direction. Plans are still taking shape, in the realms of the upcoming nine months, the following year, and further down the road, but things are good.

Currently receiving attention is the next nine months, and setting up a viable course schedule; I met with Steve on Tuesday, but three days later, am looking to make changes again, so as to have a schedule which leaves flexibility for three potential jobs, one which would be four morning hours daily, another which would be one or two afternoons a week, and another which is nocturnal in nature. Other considerations which are quite important are life with my church community and roommates, and social life in general. So some gymnastics are necessary, but for the most part, things appear feasible. Concerns are that more courses than planned would be left for the future, 3 to IDL/take during summers, and that the proposed Winter schedule will run me dry. But that's the scenario, give or take eight hours of thought.
Grant Proposal for anyone who wants it:
Given the current brewha over same-sex marriage, I would think that someone involved would like well-reasoned arguments and analysis. One of the common charges against same-sex marriage is that it is a threat to society, undermining the traditional institution of marriage, yet the nature of this threat never seems to be pinpointed; for instance, those who point to unabashed promiscuity seem to have difficulty with counterarguments highlighting committed couples basically living life together. Is there concrescence behind the argument against SSM, or does it evaporate in light?

Good question. So, Mike, how do you propose to answer that? Hear me out as I explain. Although the San Francisco marriages were invalidated last week, I would think that the records could be found and studied. Who were these people getting married in San Francisco? Where did they come from? What were their histories with one another, their engagements and interactions with each other and the wider society? How long had they been together before finding out that the mayor of San Francisco was willing to grant them a marriage license? What was the proportion of committed couples to publicity stuntpersons?

I'd imagine that much value could come out of such a study, and that it would be worth pursuing; however, it seems like it'd be a consuming effort, which I am not prepared to make at this time. As such, the thought is now public domain; feel free to plagiarize it.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

So the 2004 Summer Olympics are on, and after seeing a few minutes of last night's opening ceremonies, climaxing with the lighting of the torch, and watching part of the parade of nations on replay, it's safe to say...I'm hooked again, and will be watching.

This is the time when one regrets picking up additional work hours for the week, especially that 12-1 hour on Monday, when the 200 meter freestyle race takes center stage. I'm not too familiar with all four of the big names, but suffice to say, they're good, and it should be quite the race. Now how to get a TV into the switchboard?

Friday, August 06, 2004

Guernica Posted by Hello

Picasso's Guernica has been lauded as "modern art's most powerful antiwar statement... created by the twentieth century's most well-known and least understood artist." Yet when we pass by the painting (and the portion of a room devoted to it's creation in the Reina Sofia, how do we respond, beyond the hour there?

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Pearl Jam's Insignificance

This past week, I learned that Pearl Jam would be among the lineup of politically active bands touring swing states with an eye on influencing the vote in the 2004 election. Having claimed them as my favorite band on numerous occasions, I pulled up a recent live show and was again captivated by their music. When Insignificance hit, I heard a song that I had listened to numerous times, sung along with, paused at the dead-silence seconds amplified live, and yet never began to understand. What had been previously communicated as a great beat and a rocking tune came across as a lament, as a cry of the nameless victims of war. As much as I applaud Michael Moore's editing and soundtrack choices on Fahrenheit 9/11, this is the song that now comes to mind when recalling many of the images from Iraq, of civilian bombing victims, but more hauntingly of the shots where the soldiers discussed the music they hooked up to their tanks when going in, and the choice of The Roof is on Fire.

I've reprinted the lyrics below; no link to audio, but Insignificance, originally found on Binaural, made its way to almost every 2000/2003 tour show; a search of the Windows Media guide or comparable players should turn up a stream, there're plenty.

All in all, it's no one's fault,
Excuses turn to carbon walls,
Blame it all on chemical intercourse.

The swallowed seeds of arrogance,
Breeding in the thoughts of ten-
Thousand fools that fight irrelevance.
The full moon is dead skin,
The one down here's wearing thin,
So set up the ten pins,
As the human tide rolls in,
Like a ball that's spinning.

Bombs, dropping down,
Overhead, underground,
It's instilled
to want to live.
Bombs dropping down,
please forgive,
our hometown,
In our insignificance.

Turn the jukebox up, he said,
Dancing in irreverence,
Play V3, let the song protest.

The plates began to shift,
Perfect lefts come rolling in,
I was alone and far away, hey,
When I heard the band start playing,

On the lip, late take off.

Bombs, dropping down,
Overhead, underground,
It's instilled
to want to live.
Bombs dropping down,
please forgive,
our hometown,
In our insignificance.

Feel like resonance of distance,
In the blood the iron lies.
It's instilled
to want to live.
Bombs dropping down,
Please forgive our hometown,
In our insignificance,
Oh, in our insignificance, oh.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

So I've gone over to the dark side...namely ITunes.

And I am impressed. The interface is nice, easy on the eyes and the brain, and the usage policies are anything but anal. My first purchase? The Jealous Sound EP: five tracks, under five bucks, sells for $11 with liner, and I just burned it to disc. Nice job, Jobs.

And I must give credit to the WWE as well; finally, Vinnie Mac has began to take advantage of his huge vintage tape library, putting together some excellent multi-disc sets for Ric Flair, Mick Foley, and Chris Benoit over the first half of the year, and adding the WWE Jukebox to the website, where fans can purchase selected streamed matches from ECW, WCW, and the WWF at the rate of $1.49 a match or $3.95 for all 20 matches for the month. The availability of additional matches from past SummerSlams (and the entire 1992 card) makes the SummerSlam webcast a viable buy, and enough of a value for those who choose high speed internet over cable. As one who was often frustrated that the federation sat on all the masters while bootleggers dealt fourth-generation copies, this sports-entertainment fan is pleased.
The previous post led into consideration of Bush Jr.'s strong base among 'conservative religious groups,' as they are known, and the question of, 'then why are Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho so strongly Bush, and why have they been so strongly republican over the past twenty years?'

As I recalled from a past USA Today special feature entitled Charting the Unchurched in America (Graphic), these states aren't exactly hotbeds of religious conservativism (whatever that may mean). (Although, according to such stats, neither is Colorado, where Colorado Springs has basically become the headquarters of a myriad of conservative evangelical groups) So what's the deal? Is the non-pacific northwest a territory where such groups have a strong voice (or simply a loud one), or are there other reasons for their Republican votes, unknown to me?

Any takers?
Southern voting trends

There are major elections in November; at this point, I am unsure as to whether I will register in California or in Georgia. While contemplating, I made use of the Interactive Election Map of the LA Times, and spun out the archives, and the voting trends for the past century.

In the 1856 election, James Buchanan received the majority of his support in the south, which he proceeded to allow to secede. Among those states was my designated home state, Georgia, which would then vote for the Democratic candidate in every election from 1868 to 1960 (including Al Smith in 1928), as did the majority of the south. In '64, five southern states swung towards Goldwater, and while SC went Nixon in '68, Arkansas joined Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia in supporting Alabama governor George Wallace, noted segregationist.

After the heated civil rights battles of the 1960s, Richard Nixon's landslide victory as an incumbent in 1972 saw the first Georgian electoral votes cast for a republican in over a century, followed in 1984 and 1988 by Reagan/Bush wins (I leave out 1976 and 1980's D-votes due to the Jimmy Carter/home state factor). Bill Clinton's campaign in 1992 worked, as he made a dent in the south, beating Bush Sr. in GA, TN, LA, and his home state of AK; yet in 1996, Georgia went back to the republican side, where it remained in the 2000 election, and where Bush was up 13 points in the polls as of a month ago.

As for California, this so-called 'liberal hotbed,' with the exception of a 1968 vote for LBJ, actually swung Republican in every election from 1952-88 (of course, 1964, 1980, and 1984 were such landslides that this may not say much about the state in particular, moreso the nation). Yet in the 1990s, the Clinton/Gore ticket gained Californian support, which continues this year, as Kerry holds a similar 13 point lead here as of last month.

So this stark polarization that we see now isn't so ingrained...and oftentimes the parties have been reversed. Does this make the decision simpler? Not really, but it is fascinating to examine, and has me itching to break out my HIST 400 notes from last year (American Political History from post-WWII to 1980, with a focus on JFK and Watergate).
The Trades (discussed in the LA Times)

As a longtime Dodger fan excited to see the team doing well this year, I was puzzled yet intrigued by the moves made this past weekend. To recap for non-MLB junkies:

Dodgers trade:
Paul LoDuca (starting catcher, leadership guy)
Guillermo Mota (setup man, stud young pitcher)
Juan Encarnacion (starting right fielder)

to Florida for:
Brad Penny (starting pitcher with postseason experience, 2-0 last World Series)
Hee Seop Choi (starting first baseman)
Billy Murphy (pitching prospect)

and then deal with Arizona, sending them Murphy, along with minor league prospects Reggie Abercrombie and Koyie Hill (AAA catcher, now starting for Arizona), for
Steve Finley (starting centerfielder)
Brent Mayne (platoon catcher)

also dealt to Boston and Atlanta:
Dave Roberts (displaced outfielder) for minor league outfielder Henri Stanley, a Clemson graduate who, in my younger days, I considered an old man because he was born in the 70's...James Bostic let me have it on that one.
Tom Martin (extra bullpen arm) for minor leaque pitcher Matt Merricks

so this extreme makeover has done this to the lineup:

Old New
C Paul LoDuca Dave Ross/Brent Mayne
1B Shawn Green Hee Seop Choi
2B Alex Cora Alex Cora
SS Cesar Izturis Cesar Izturis
3B Adrian Beltre Adrian Beltre
LF Dave Roberts Milton Bradley
CF Milton Bradley Steve Finley
RF Juan Encarnacion Shawn Green

For a take from the Dodger's site, you might be interested in Sarah's words, as well as some of my own

The bench is largely the same, headlined by Grybowski, Werth, Hernandez and Ventura, while the bullpen is made over with Wilson Alvarez replacing Mota/Martin, moving from the rotation (where he was only intended to be a short-term stopgap). Dreifort and Duaner Sanchez now step into more important roles, setting up for the G-Man, and the rotation now looks to be Penny, Perez, Ishii, Weaver, Lima, which is more competitive for an October series.

The trades may help, and look as if they were made with the mindset that 'we're going to be in the playoffs, so let's win there,' which I applaud, although I am concerned about the 'messing with a good thing' syndrome. The outfield moves are worthwhile, as there wasn't going to be room for next year, with the emergence of Werth this past year, so I'm pleased to see that we'll be looking at Green/Bradley/Werth/Grybowski as a front four (expecting that Finley won't resign), with Encarnacion's 4+ million for next year coming off the books; I was hopeful when the Dodgers signed him in the offseason, but it didn't work out as expected, so thankfully there's no 5-7 year deal like those given by Kevin Malone. I do wish that we could have gotten the Johnson's, but that's not how it worked out, and the guys we got are guys I'm glad to have in LA. The new rotation will be better to equipped in a short series, and while Steve Finley provides a postseason-seasoned bat, I have another question concerning his impending free agency.

Will Finley qualify as a Type A Free Agent? If so, then the Arizona trade looks a bit better, with the chance that we'll get a first-rounder, as well as a supplemental pick (and if the picks are Arizona's, they'll be early, providing food for thought for the D-Backs; the plus is the full talent pool, but the additional bonus $ is the drawback).

For more info on Type A free agency, see a way-back article from ESPN and Moneyball, which first alerted me to this potentiality, as it related to Oakland's deal for Ray Durham, centerfielder by night, and the draft picks which followed. With Oakland at the time was Paul DePodesta, who I'd imagine was aware of just what he was getting with Finley...

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Clemson's Yearly Tuition:

1995-1996: 3112
1999-2000: 3590
2002-2003: 5834
2003-2004: 6934
2004-2005: 8040

As for housing costs, we won't touch on that yet, but it suffices to say that the $880 per semester room I had in Johnstone F is no longer standing, and that the cheapest rooms now run $1100.