Sunday, July 31, 2005

I am exasperated by the seemingly undending tirade of newsstories regarding the disappearance of yet another girl/boy/young woman. If it's not terror, global "warming," or some barrell of Middle-Eastern crude-sludge threatening to bitch slap me at the pump, it's now that if you are female, you just might disappear.

It is not that these things aren't happening. They are. It's not that there aren't horrors being committed. There are. It isn't that there aren't people hurting.

The point is that terrorization of children and women have been happening all along (yeah, even here) and now it's a more worthy news item for the major media news slop troughs. Why now all of a sudden? It isn't that these stories aren't compelling either. But considering the other hundreds and thousands who "disappear" and do not get media coverage, who is it that gets to choose who gets coverage and who doesn't? And why?

Maybe if the alphabet news channels really wanted to help, one of them would dedicate a 24-hour a day news channel solely for ALL the missing. Or could it be that some of the missing serve a greater purpose in their absence for an even more sinister agenda and that is why they get covered?

What does the reality of the Kingdom of God in our midst have to say in this culture of fear taking a bloody root in this land and in the minds of a hoodwinked populace? How does the way we live our lives and the way we experience the community of God speak hope to this? Or are we, in our present yearnings for the new emergent ideations, in danger of retreating to ecclesiastical abodes more removed and voiceless in these times and other like matters?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Why do we relationally extend ourselves to the point of no longer being able to service some of the relationships we started? We are as unfair in such relationships as initiators/cooperators as we are unfulfilled as recipients. We hit it off, lose steam and bow out. Or we are drawn in, want to give more and we’re given the curtain call.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Yesterday we could have been killed.

Or seriously hurt.

Or hurt…period.

But for some reason and out of all the possible outcomes available to what happened yesterday, the one most beneficial to us physically was played out. I shall try to briefly ‘splain myself in a moment.

Our (mine, Spen and Dave’s) destination on this Saturday, July 16th, was not to stand and stare in amazement at Spen’s battered vehicle in the pouring rain smack-dab in the middle of southbound Interstate 75. Indeed, mile marker 102 just south of Lexington was to uneventfully pass on by just like it had on previous caving trips that I had driven. Yet, factor in three lanes of traffic and heavy rain and a pool of water and 6 seconds of life were suspended as our late-90’s Prelude entered a “fish-tail,” wherein the rear of the vehicle loses traction and sways out of control in an eerie smoothness. We were in the left-most lane when we hit the water and it hydroplaned our rear leftward. As the car came out of the lurch, we were fifty miles per hour and angled forty-five degrees into the crowded flow of traffic (yet mercifully still in our lane). Immediately, the rear wheels caught pavement in a sick screech and violently swung the car to the left. I just went with it, which in turn slammed us further left into the concrete center guard- first the front-end and then instantly the rear left side. I remember thinking “just keep it left….keep it left.”

We skidded and sputtered to a stop and realized we were okay… least in these emerging seconds. I began imagining other motorists hydroplaning into our rear end as we were not far away from the water hazard. We still weren’t out of the woods. I started the car again and it limped forward another hundred yards, presumably to where we hoped was “greater” safety. All the while, tractor-trailers, cars and trucks with boats zoomed by undaunted by the conditions and grossly uncritical of their speed.

Unhurt, we began to assess, recollect and plot our next move. Just as we contemplated calling the police for a report, a patrolman arrived within minutes behind us, and then a fire truck. The officer commented that the several calls made about us were “sure” there were injuries. He also said most all of the wrecks like ours that he had seen end up in serious injury and, of course, even worse. We weren’t aware of how bad the car was until he told us our rear left wheel was crooked. Milling around the fairly extensive damage to the left side of this car in a three-inch deep road river helped to make the whole episode real to us I suppose.

Now I want to tell you why the computer game series, Need For Speed perhaps saved our lives.

I will first make the foundational statement that it is God whom I attribute our preservation in this incident. I don’t know if there were suspensions in the natural order of the physical world and that we were miraculously spared. I just don’t know. There weren't any overt supernatural signs pointing to angels taking over the wheel, etc. (though that would've been cool). There are several other more mundane markers of God’s providence, or a “seeing before,” to which I can point. And in the final estimation from my vantage, the compilation of these factors are just as miraculous because our survival might have hinged on Christmas day, 2003.

It was this day that my Uncle Joe gave me Need For Speed, a computer racing game programmed to be the most realistic driving game around. All the parameters of the gaming experience aim at real-time drive-and-response conditions throughout. If you jump your car or crash into a median, you feel it in your steering wheel. Conditions and reaction times are designed to mimic real world situations. I took this game home and was hooked.

I distinctly remember introducing this game to Jason, Spen’s older brother, and teaching him how to maneuver my car from the thousands of inevitable crashes and side-swipes into concrete barriers and medians so that you can control your vehicle. As foolish as this sounds, my response this day on the Interstate was the exact same response that I had taught Jason and indeed had virtually performed countless times. Every time you hit the barriers there are natural responses your car has that closely parallel the physical world. There are maneuvers you can employ to successfully “come out” of the impacts in order to stay straight....a sort of “hit-it-and-go-with-it.” The tendency for drivers to overcompensate on steering during a hydroplane or in barrier crashes is a major reason for injury and other vehicle involvement. Strangely enough, the fish-tailing, the skidding and crashing into the barrier was quite familiar. I suppose I was able to extrapolate the necessary skills from similar virtual crashes to the one we had Saturday. That’s what we joked about standing on I-75 too……”it felt like Need For Speed.”

If I think of all the contingent factors and chance factors at work in the crash and the weeks, months and years leading up to it, the mode of God’s providence starts to emerge in a fantastically creative way.

I was born into the family I had and have the uncle I have for a more apparent reason now. It is not out of the realm of possibility that God in his foresight knew the possibilities of our choosing to travel on this day, with this type of weather, with this type of car, with this type of road at this time of day with this spacing of vehicles at the time of the accident onset. You pair that with the free-will choices of the people to be on the road at the time they were, their driving skills, attentiveness, etc., and you compound the contingent factors that could have made this outcome different should any of these factors be altered.

Our emergence from this accident began one and one-half years ago when Uncle Joe gave me Need For Speed. I don’t think it is totally implausible to say that God’s providential activity bears out in this way- in the seemingly frivolous, mundane matters of our lives. Through our complex, interconnected human relationships and human freewill, he weaves together his providential and protective care like a master craftsman, weaving all the intricate threads into the stories of our lives. Most of the time, we aren't cognizant of these activities because we are always on the lookout for the "immediate miraculous." God is not God simply because he can do the miraculous. He is the Abba Father whose "thereness" on a rainy interstate on a busy Saturday afternoon began December 25th, 2003.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Just an update here.....

I am languishing under the impact my 221 lb. frame endured last Thursday whilst mountain biking in Hueston Woods. We were going down a grade when we happened upon an embedded log laying perpendicular to the single-track trail. To me, it looked halfway jumpable, as there was only a drop of about 2 feet followed by another jump much smaller.

Well, tha SpenDoc walked down it and I had intentions of doing the same but I had to teach my younger protege how it was to be done. I went back up the trail so I could speed up my approach. I pedaled down and skidded to a stop just short of the jump.....I should have listened to my gut right then and there.

SpenDoc had already positioned himself so he could "see this." I made my second attempt and determined I was going to do it.

What happened next was all quick and time-suspended altogether. I did not get any "air" so that made my front tire go straight down. That in turn flung me over my handlebars and I landed on my left shoulder and skidded. That was simultaneously the stupidest thing and the most painful thing I've done in a while.

I had to walk the bike off the trail, onto the road and ride back to trail head with one arm. That sucked a bit.

And to top that Black Thursday off, I was attepmting to light my grill later that night and it wasn't happening the first few tries. After turning everything off again and waiting briefly, I hit the light button and became the center of an orange propane fire ball that promptly singed off my right eyelashes, forearm and digital hair. I smelled insane. But I survived. Again.

And, no, I did not go to the Dr. I am giving it a few days to see how I heal. If anything crazy persists/starts, then I shall be off.

(Although I am not a doctor, I play one on the internet).

-Deep Contusion/Grade 1 Sprain To Left Clavicle With Attendant Abrasions On Shoulder
-Bruised Sternum
-Bruised/Sprained (Grade 1)5th Right Metacarpal
-Bruised/Sprained (Grade 1) Hamate, Lunate and Triquetral Ligaments