We lost our cat, Desmond, on Friday morning, June 14. He was my buddy.

Karlie and I brought him home along with his brother, Hugo, two weeks after our honeymoon. For 9 years he has been part of our life together and now he’s gone.

I’ve never lost a pet before, so this is new territory for me, and I apologize in advance for my disorientation and uncertainty. I think Desmond was the first animal I truly loved. I’m not sure what I expected when we added two kittens to our home, but I certainly didn’t expect the end to be this hard.

Des was my shadow. My helper. My sidekick. Wherever I went, he followed diligently. Hours and hours of reading with him on my lap. We would build IKEA furniture together (his “helping” consisted of sitting on the instructions and climbing on the finished product). Sometimes I’d lean back on the couch and discover he’d nestled himself in the space behind my back or on top of the cushion behind my head and I’d startle us both. He was just always there next to me.

We even had a nightly routine. He would sit with me as I read late into the night, then he’d follow me upstairs, watch me brush my teeth and take out my contacts, wait patiently for me to get under the covers then saunter up slowly from the end of the bed to lay down by me. He slept curled up like a football under my right arm, propped up on my chest. I became so used to him that I wouldn’t sleep very well without him there. Sometimes I‘d wake up in the night to discover he’d wandered off, so I’d get up, search the house and bring him back to bed so I could calm down enough to fall asleep. Same routine. Nine years.

I’m struggling to understand that he’s gone. Even these paragraphs waver between past and present tense because I’m not totally sure which to use. I’m not fully ready to accept it. It was so sudden and unexpected, and I’m surprised at how emotional I am about losing him.

I’m sure this all comes across a bit ridiculous. My head says, “he’s just a cat,” but my heart won’t let me stay there. It’s weird. Plus, I feel guilty and a bit pitiful because in many ways this is the closest death has come to me personally. Embarrassing to admit, but it’s true.

I’m also stuck trying to figure out what I believe about animals and heaven. I believe in the ultimate restoration of all things, and that all of creation is infused with and reflects the Divine. I also know I experienced love, joy, peace, etc. from Desmond, but my human-centric soteriological upbringing has me confused on whether I’ll ever see my buddy again.

I know I want to see him again. I was out of town when he died, so I didn’t get to say goodbye. I left and he was home, came back a week later and he wasn’t. I don’t even know the last thing I said to him or the last time I saw him. Do I just want closure? Or is there something deeper and more existential going on? Do I just want to see Desmond to say goodbye or do I want to see him because in my bones I believe cats will be resurrected in the end as well? Are there animals in heaven? I’ve never really truthfully considered it because it’s never directly effected me.

St. Francis of Assisi used to preach to animals and plants. He referred to things as Sister Tree, Brother Dog, Sister Moon, Brother Fox, Sister Cow and so forth. The de-centralization of humanity was part of his ministry and legacy, but that wasn’t his goal. That’s just how he saw the world. He knew in his bones that all things reflected the Divine. His ecological understanding was far wider and inclusive than ours today, especially in our individualized Western church and culture, and his praxis reflected that worldview.

Look, I don’t know if heaven is full of animals, but I really hope so. I’m sure there’s a theology out there that comfortably fits what I hope, and I’m sure I could convince myself of its truth and live with that assurance and comfort. And I suppose that’s the point: to hope — to believe in my heart that Desmond and I will see one another again despite how silly and unlikely and unclear it is. His little life was so valuable. It’s strange to say, but he was Christ to me, and it’s disorienting and unsettling to be without his presence now.

Welcome to my grieving process. All caught up in my head trying to figure out what everything means. Gotta get on top of my feelings so I can control the uncontrollable.

Desmond was named after the LOST character by the same name, and if you know your LOST, you know Desmond is the central character in arguably the greatest TV episode ever: “The Constant.” And my buddy was so constant. I took his presence for granted. In fact, now I feel a lack, a void, without him near me. Our home doesn’t feel complete.

LOST’s Desmond also had a bit of a catchphrase: See you in another life, brother.

And, as cheesy as it sounds, that’s what I want to say to my Desmond. But I wish I could say it with confidence. It’s the same message I want to hear from Desmond too. It’s what I want to know in my heart to be true – that I’ll see him again. It’s the heaven I need to believe in and a reflection of the God in whom I place my hope. But for now, all I can do is choose to believe it and live accordingly. I think I believe it. At least, I want to.

Regardless of the future, the infinite, the eschatological…right now, I just miss my buddy. He should be here while I type and he’s not. I can feel where he would be. The space next to me aches like a missing appendage or something. It hurts. It throbs. I suppose it’ll just feel like that for a long time.

We love you, Des. You made our home happier and fuller. You brought us joy and love, peace and comfort. We miss you.

I wish I’d gotten to say goodbye and hold you one more time before you left us. I’m thankful for the years you spent next me.

See you in another life, brother.

Double Cornea Transplant

I’m having a double cornea transplant.

On December 6, they’ll numb my left eyeball, shave off the front of it, replace it with some dead person’s cornea and stitch it back on. Five months later, when my body has accepted it and it’s been given time to heal, it’ll be my right eye’s turn to go under the knife. I’ll also be awake the whole time.

I’ve had poor vision my entire life. Both of my parents have perfect vision, and I remember as a kid trying to convince them mine was flawed, but attempting to articulate something others have no schema for is near impossible. Finally around the third grade we went to the eye doctor. I tried to read the letters off the board while my mom sat in shock in the corner of the room unable to grasp my inability to relay the bold text on the illuminated screen.

I’m nearsighted, but my major issue is my astigmatism, or the misshapenness of my eyeball. I have what’s called keratoconus which basically means instead of being perfectly rounded like a normal persons’s eye, my corneas are egg-shaped, thin and constantly shapeshifting. Which means multiple things:

  • Egg-shaped: My vision is distorted and i see double, often triple. This can be temporarily corrected by thicker toric contact lenses, but never all the way to 20/20 vision.
  • Thin: My eyes are extremely sensitive to light causing headaches and burning, tired eyes. There’s just not enough cornea there to filter the light. If I leave the house without sunglasses, a headache is only about 30 minutes away.
  • Shapeshifting: Since my eyeballs aren’t uniformly spherical, the pressure inn’t consistent in every direction causing the cornea to morph and change slowly every couple months. This renders contact lenses useless after about 2 months of wearing.

And like I said, contacts can’t fix it entirely. They can get me to around 20/40 or so in both eyes, but contact technology has never been good enough. Even if it was, with my ever-changing astigmatism, the lenses I buy don’t match within a few short months so I have to go back and get a new prescription and pay for a new supply. Since insurance only covers a one year supply, this gets expensive really quick.

Glasses aren’t an option for me. Why would I lock in a pair of lenses that are just going to change two months later? They’d be useless almost immediately. Lasik surgery isn’t an option either. My corneas are too thin to fix, and that would only solve my nearsightedness, not my astigmatism. So my only option is a transplant. It’s been on the horizon for a long time and it’s finally here.

I’m not sure what your bodily reaction is to phrases like “shave off the front of it” and stitch it back on,” but I shudder every time. I would say I’m not remotely nervous, just freaked out by the whole idea. Nobody likes having their eyes touched, let alone shaved and stitched. Gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Ultimately, the surgery is one of incredible hope for me. It’s hard to for me to express – or even understand – how limiting my eyesight is in my life. It impacts every facet of my life – professionally, socially, interpersonally, creatively – it really sucks. A couple stories:

  • Professionally: The final straw was when I was trying to research and write a lesson plan and couldn’t read the book I was reading let alone type out a document on my laptop. I sat in my office cursing my eyes, and that’s what finally got me to make the phone call and set up a consultation with the surgeon.
  • Socially: Over the weekend my family and I went to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and there were people everywhere. Since I can’t be sure of anyone’s face until they’re like 10 feet away from me, there’s no telling how many people I “saw” whom I knew but said nothing to because I didn’t actually see them. Coffee shops are a nightmare. Meeting people in public places where I have to see them from across a crowded restaurant is the worst. I always try to get there 10-15 minutes early so they have to find me and not the other way around.
  • Creatively/Productively: I can’t write when my eyes aren’t locked in. Whenever I get new contacts, I have about a 6 week window where I’m really productive. Then I can’t do it anymore. I’ve written the majority of this post with my eyes shut, only opening them to edit the paragraph I’ve just transposed.
  • Interpersonally: This one is the most frustrating and it’s different than socially. There are different sizes of social space – public, social, interpersonal, intimate – and interpersonal space is effected differently than social space. The struggle with social space is recognition. The struggle with interpersonal space are things like eye contact, facial expressions and nonverbal cues. Believe it or not, double vision makes it hard to read other people’s faces and all it takes is one blink for my contacts to go wonky. Then I have to look away and blink until they settle back in. It’s rare for me to be able to be fully present with others.

All that to say, this surgery will change my life in every way, and I don’t say that flippantly or without meaning it. This will change my life. I’ll still need to wear contacts to correct my nearsightedness, but without an astigmatism it’ll be a permanent prescription. I’ll be able to call 1-800-CONTACTS and simply renew my previous prescription once a year. No more blurry double vision, no more headaches and burning, heavy eyes. Constant, unchanging, undistorted vision. It’ll be 20/20. It doesn’t totally feel real.

It’ll a long road. It’ll be a full year from now when I’m totally healed and my eyes can be considered my own. It’s weird. It’s freaky. It’s hopeful. Bonus: I think I’ll get to wear an eyepatch for a few days so that’s cool.

The Royals are 0-1

The Royals are 0-1.

I still believe this team can win 85-90 games again this year, and they still have 85-90 to go.

But I keep hearing from other people about how the Royals have no chance against Max Scherzer tonight and are already turning quickly away from hope and positioning themselves strongly toward despair.

Which is frustrating, because this team is the same team as it was before Opening Day. They only lost 1 game. It isn’t the end of the world. And if you thought this team was a potential playoff team this off season, then one Opening Day loss shouldn’t change that.

This Tigers rotation is tough, but if we believe that we’re good enough to make the playoffs, tonight’s game is exactly the type of game we ought to expect the Royals to be competitive in all season long. We nearly beat Verlander on Monday. Why is that the end of the world?

It was just 1 game, against a tough opponent, and we can’t lose hope already.


As Royals fans, we’ve seen this before, and we’ve had our hearts broken before, and we know how this story plays out. We know that 1 loss can turn into 2, can turn into 4 can turn into 6. The Royals cannot let that happen. There are a few things that need to happen over the next week in order to set this season in the right direction and reestablish this fan base as a hopeful one.

1. Moustakas must get a hit today.

We heard all Spring Training how he has finally turned it around. He’s a new player this time, and unlike last year, this Spring Training is going to carry over into the regular season. He’s finally arrived.

But then he went 0-4 on Monday.

Moose absolutely must get a hit today. He cannot start the season 0-8. He just can’t. Moose can’t allow doubt and uncertainty to creep into his head, and an 0-8 start starts him down that path. He needs to get comfortable at the plate early this season, so we don’t spend the whole year grumbling about his lack of production again. For his own sake and for ours, please, Moose, get at least 1 hit today.

2. Vargas must go 6+ innings and give up 2 or less runs.

Can he replace the production that Ervin Santana brought last year? That’s what we all want to know about this Jason Vargas guy that the Royals so eagerly paid $7M this year. He needs to establish himself early in the season as a legit #2 on this pitching staff. He doesn’t even have to win the game. But he must eat up innings and keep Detroit somewhat at bay.

3. The Royals must win their home Opening Series vs. the White Sox.

No matter what happens in Detroit, whether it ends 2-1, 1-2 or 0-3, we absolutely must take the Opening Series against the freaking White Sox. The Royals went 10-9 against Chicago last year while the Indians went 17-2. No wonder they got the Wild Card spot and we didn’t. The Royals should be the White Sox every single time they face them.

The Royals need to learn to take care of business. Losing to Detroit isn’t the end of the world, but if we can’t consistently take series against teams we should beat, then we have no business acting like we’re a playoff contender. If we win the White Sox series, the worst we can be is 2-4. Baseball is about winning series, and we have to do that against patsies like the Sox.

4. Ned Yost needs to continue to trust his bullpen.

The Royals bullpen is great. And while it’s easy to bash on Yost for taking Shields out with runners on 1st and 3rd late in the game, our bullpen has a track record of getting the job done in those situations and I applaud Ned for trusting them in that situation. I don’t agree with the decision – with Shields on the mound, I’d rather see him work out of it than take the ball out of his hand – but I at least understand the decision.

Ned cannot allow Monday’s blown game change how he wants to use his bullpen. Give the ball back to Crow, Davis and Holland. They’re the guys who got us to 86 wins last year, and they need to be the guys to do it again in 2014. Keep giving them the ball. Especially when it’s not a Shields start.

Don’t lose heart Royals fans. It’s a long season, and I was disappointed after the loss on Monday afternoon too. I was sitting at Great American Ballpark watching the score change torturously from 3-1 to 3-3 to 4-3 over the course of an hour. It was the worst and I had to catch myself from spiraling into despair myself.

But we aren’t anywhere close to despair yet. We’re 0-1, and we could even steal this Tigers series and come home 2-1. It’s possible! Don’t lose heart Royals fans. Baseball is a long long season. I still believe this team can win 85-90 games and make the playoffs.

Let’s revisit this next week. Because we’ll know a lot more about this team’s outlook by then.




It’s official: thanks to the generosity of you all, I will be writing a book on baseball and spirituality this year!

As of 10:45AM CST this morning, my Kickstarter campaign officially reached it’s goal, and my project is now officially underway!

Thank you so much to all who helped make this happen. Whether you pledged to it, posted about it, retweeted it, told a friend about it or just gave me a high five, I am grateful for you and your role in this project.

If you want to pre-order and help support the experience more fully, there is still time. The campaign will be active through Saturday evening at 7PM CST.

Thanks again everyone. What an honor to have the support of all of you. I can’t wait to share the final product of this amazing adventure with you!


Winter and Spring, Despair and Hope, and Baseball.

Kickstarter Update: There’s less than 1 week left to pre-order my book on baseball and spirituality. Please help me out by pledging to my Kickstarter here: Exploring Spirituality and Baseball. As of this post, I am at 78% 101%! funded and need your help to make this project happen. Thank you all for helping make this happen.

spring training fl az

Spring is nearly here, and that means that winter is ending. That’s perhaps the best thing spring does: it ends winter. Flowers will bloom, the sun will shine, days will get warmer and soon we will completely forget about the miserable season we all just had to endure.

And, of course, it brings back baseball.

When I think about spring training, I mostly think happy thoughts, but I also think about this depressing quote from A. Bartlett Giamatti…

“[Baseball] breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.” – A. Bartlett Giamatti, Take Time for Paradise

Wah-wah. Giamatti, besides being Paul’s dad, was the commissioner of Major League Baseball for nearly the entire 1989 season. His leadership began on Opening Day: April 1. On August 24, he banned Pete Rose from baseball for gambling on the game. And eight days later, on September 1, he died of a heart attack.

Which, after considering the above quote, is either ironic or poetic, depending on your own personal bent.

Regardless, he’s also right.

The season begins in the spring, and anything is possible, but in the end only one team can win the World Series. That means that every fall, 29 of the 30 fan bases finish the season in despair. Whether your team lost in the World Series (Cardinals) or a Championship Series (Dodgers and Tigers) or a Division Series (Athletics, Rays, Pirates, Braves) or a miserable one-game playoff game (Cincinnati and Cleveland) or was eliminated during the regular season – by the time October is over, everyone is in the same situation…

It just wasn’t our year.

And so begins the longest, coldest, saddest time of year: the off season.

Desolation. Despair. Winter.

Something you should know about me: I hate winter. More than anything in the world. Snow skiing would probably be really fun…if it wasn’t winter. Snow would be beautiful…if it wasn’t winter. Stocking caps would be a killer fashion accessory…if their primary purpose wasn’t to keep your ears from freezing off.

Karl Barth believed that hell was a freezing cold desert. Sounds spot on to me.

I mean, winter hits a high point on Christmas Day – which, unfortunately, is only four days into the season – and then it’s a slow depressing decline into a cold and dark, ashy and pale misery until…about yesterday. Side note: this is why Groundhog Day should be celebrated more heartily every year. Shadow or no shadow, we should all be crazy about the idea that winter just might end.

Rogers Hornsby once said, “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

Because under the despairing surface of winter, hope is growing. We can’t see it, and we certainly can’t feel it, but it’s slowly collecting as we inch closer to March.

Hope grows in winter.

Spring brings new beginnings. It brings warmer weather and new life. It brings greener pastures – both literally and figuratively. And spring brings baseball. And spring brings hope.

Hope abounds in spring.

Spring brings with it the new possibility that even though last year didn’t turn out exactly as we wanted, maybe this year is our year.

Suddenly, the team that lost 111 games last year (Houston) has a clean slate. And the team that ended the season 34 games out of first place (Miami) is tied for first. Everything is new. Anything is possible, and nothing has been ruined…yet.

Pitchers have a 0.00 ERA.

No errors have been recorded.

No batter has made an out.

Spring brings a new Garden, and it is flawless and unblemished.

Spring is when comments like “Is this their year?” show up on your twitter feed. And not-so-successful slogans like “Our Time” are conjured up in marketing offices somewhere. Spring is the ultimate equalizer, and while you may glance around the league and think, “Yeah, there’s no way we finish any better than 3rd in our division this year,” there is always a piece of you that is speculating. Dreaming. Hoping.

And that hopeful piece of you is asking a small simple question…

“What if?”

What if this is our year? What if the Royals do turn it up another notch and make the playoffs for the first time since 1985? What if the Blue Jays do somehow overcome the checkbooks of the rest of the AL East? What if Rangers do accomplish what they couldn’t in 2010 and 2011? If the Red Sox won the World Series last year after going 63-99 in 2012, maybe the White Sox can turn their 63-99 record around in the same way?

What if this is the year we win it all?

Is it ambitious and unlikely and unrealistic? For about two-thirds of the league, absolutely. But it is not out of the question. In fact, by mid-April, it could suddenly seem very realistic.

The 1981 season was shortened due to a players strike. That season, the Atlanta Braves went 50-56. Not even close to making the playoffs. Then they started the 1982 season on a 13-0 run.

In 1986, the Brewers finished 77-84, then to begin the 1987 season, they also went on a 13-0 run.

In 2003, the Royals were coming off their 7th consecutive season of losing more than 85 games. Just the year before, they had lost exactly 100 games. But then they started 9-0 and continued to climb to a 17-4 record with two days left in April.

But none of those teams won it all.

The Braves got closest of the three: they lost in the NLCS. The Brewers won 91 games but finished 3rd in the AL East. The Royals missed the playoffs too, obviously, but they celebrated a winning season for a change.

But that doesn’t mean their winter wasn’t disappointing.

Giamatti is right, the whole season is designed to break your heart. For some teams, it won’t get any better than Opening Day. For many, it won’t get any better than mid-April. And for a few, it won’t get any better than September.

And yet, today, as Spring Training is beginning, we have hope.

Why would we do that to ourselves? We all know this probably doesn’t end well. Why do we keep asking “what if”?

Because without hope, we are cemented in despair.

Because without hope, we never escape winter.

Because without hope, life is hell.

“Totally without hope one cannot live. To live without hope is to cease to live. Hell is hopelessness.” – Jurgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope

Because without hope, baseball feels like this…


To use theological terms, hope anticipates new creation. Hope is heaven on earth. Hope celebrates redemption and restoration and resurrection.

Hope roots for the underdog. #gorelish

Hope is why the Lorax is worth reading. #unless

Hope is why we haven’t given up on D’Angelo. #notjamesriver

Hope is why the Cubs continue to play the game of baseball. #stevebartman

Hope is why we spend so much of our life searching for meaning and answers to questions we can’t figure out.  Hope is why we don’t just shrug our shoulders when things like hurricanes and tornados and tsunamis leave cities in splintered ruins or underwater.

Without hope we never move past these things. Hope gives us reason to live and thrive.

When we talk about hope, we’re talking about trusting that God is for us, and that he mourns with us, and that is working things out for our good.

When we live in hope, we are compelled to be actively involved in our world, participating in the restorative work of our Creator. We pick up the splinters and rebuild the homes and feed the hungry and comfort the widow and visit the incarcerated and clothe the naked. (Matthew 25)

“Believing in the resurrection does not just mean assenting to a dogma and noting a historical fact. It means participating in this creative act of God’s … Resurrection is not a consoling opium, soothing us with the promise of a better world in the hereafter. It is the energy for a rebirth of this life. The hope doesn’t point to another world. It is focused on the redemption of this one.” – Jurgen Moltmann, Jesus Christ for Today’s World

I wonder how Pete Rose feels about hope.

I do know that when Pete played the game, one of his mottos was “never be satisfied”. Always want more and always expect to get it. Play harder, work harder, run harder. Be aggressive and never stop.

When Bart Giamatti banned Pete from baseball, he banned him for life. But I still have hope that Pete’s ban will be lifted in my lifetime…maybe in his lifetime too. But most importantly, I hope Pete himself has hope.

And Giamatti, while his quote is correct, doesn’t tell the whole story. The story never ends with despair. Because hope always redeems, rebirths and resurrects.

Baseball always comes back in spring.

And hope always grows in winter.


Creation Debate: Genesis 1 & 2


I had to go back and watch the Creationism Debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham from the other night. I didn’t watch live, but I did follow along with some of the reaction on Twitter. I dropped in my uninformed two cents on Twitter as well: here, here, and here. Those comments were not in response to anything Nye or Ham said, mostly just my response to how I would anticipate a scenario plotting a “science guy” against the head of the Answers in Genesis ministry.

It’s science versus religion. Again.

It’s creation versus evolution. Again.

I’m tired of these two parties facing off, and I still am unsure why we need to belabor a debate between the two. As I tweeted the other night, creationism ought to be large enough to hold evolutionism within it. In my opinion, these do not need to be adversarial perspectives.

Like I said, I went back and watched the debate later. And it was more or less as I expected it to go.

Actually, I think I even had higher expectations for it than it ended up going. It seemed to just scratch the surface. I really hoped Bill Nye’s voice would dig deeper than it did. There was little information that we haven’t all heard already. Both men seemed too intent on defending their own perspective than actually asking questions about the other’s perspective.

The first 90 minutes was not very exciting, but it was rather frustrating. Ham spent most of his time talking about how it is impossible to prove the past based on historical science, but that you can prove the present based on observational science. He said that while we may all have the same evidence available to us today, we each draw different conclusions on it about the past. In short, according to Ham, historical science is relative to individual bias.

Ham said his belief is that the Genesis 1 account is the only proof we need to know the facts about our origins: that our Creator, in six days, created everything we see, and our world is only 6,000 years old, and that we know that to be fact because Genesis says so.

In essence, Ken Ham believes Genesis 1 to be observational science and not historical science.

The problem with that, unfortunately, is that Genesis 1 wasn’t written until way later by individuals who were trying to record their own origin stories for themselves.

The Bible didn’t just fall from heaven with Genesis 1 already written out for us. Scripture is written by humans. Inspired humans, sure, but still humans. And the humans who were writing the book of Genesis were living in the 1000-500s BCE. And the world, according to Ham, was created in the year 4000 BCE. So the authors of Genesis were writing 2500-3000 years after the fact.

Which means they weren’t using observational science at all.

They were using historical science.

Which, if I understand Ham correctly, doesn’t prove anything at all.

From where I’m sitting, his own argument is working against him.

What complicates this situation even further is that entire book of Genesis wasn’t even written by any one person. You may have noticed I said “authors” before…as in plural writers. These writers were coming from different regions and had different accounts for their origins.

Ever noticed how in Genesis 1, God speaks everything into existence ex nihilo – out of nothing – yet in Genesis 2, God actually forms Adam and Eve out of the dust of the ground?

In chapter 1 he speaks humans into life.

In chapter 2 he creates them out of materials.

Why the difference? Because these two chapters were compiled together later to tell the entire story, and they were written by totally different people groups. This also accounts for the 500 year gap I have in the time they were written (1000-500 BCE). Genesis 1 was written by a priestly group around 500 BCE during the Babylonian exile, while Genesis 2 was written much earlier around 950 BCE in the southern tribes of Judah.*

* – In fact, the entire Torah – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy – were written by four major people groups over that 500 year span, and then compiled together later. This is called the Documentary Hypothesis. It’s ironic that is a Wikipedia link, because it too was compiled by multiple authors with multiple edits all over the world.

All that to say, Ham’s foundational understanding of the Book of Genesis is mistaken. Which, is somewhat embarrassing since he’s created an entire museum and ministry based on his beliefs on that misconception.

And if the two narratives are different – did God speak us into existence or form us out of materials? – they can’t both be factual, can they? If two different eye witness accounts are given at a crime scene, then one of them is inherently false, right?

Not necessarily.

Something doesn’t have to be fact for it to be true.

Did God create the world in six actual 24-hour days? Personally, I don’t think so. But I don’t think that’s the point of Genesis 1. There are lots of beliefs on this: Maybe he’s been orchestrating everything from the Big Bang and beyond. Or maybe he set everything up the way he did so that it would look like it’s 4.6 billion years old. Or maybe it literally is 6 days worth of creation.

But again, I don’t think that’s the point.

The point is that Genesis 1 is not a list of facts or an eye witness account or a history book or a record of events.

Genesis 1 is a poem.

It’s a poem about our origins, and poetry doesn’t have to be fact to hold truth for our lives. In fact, I would submit that poetry, music, art, or dance can convey more truth than any string of words on a page.

Because these things evoke emotion and beauty and love and can transcend the facts. This is something that an order of events cannot do.

Genesis 1 opens with three sets of separations: light and dark, sky and water, land and sea. And with each separation, God looks at what he has done and declares it “good”.

And then it fills those three separations with various items: the sun, moon and stars*; birds and fish; plants and animals. And each time he fills up a space, he declares it to be “good”.

* – If the sun wasn’t created until day four, then how did God measure the first three days?

But then he saves the best for last.

“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;*
male and female he created them.”
Genesis 1:27

* – Something I just noticed, and need to look deeper into…there was no punctuation in the original Hebrew text, which means this semicolon could be a comma and the two commas could be semicolons.  Seems insignificant, but that would draw the focus of what it means to be made in God’s image away from “his own” and toward the “male and female” part instead. The image of God is both genders, not just male. Hmm.

Finally, God gives mankind a few pointers. He says to “be fruitful and multiply” and to “fill the earth and subdue it” and to “rule over every creature” and to “eat fruit for food.”

Ultimately, what we have here is a poem about who we are, where we came from, and how we are supposed to live. Genesis 1 was never supposed to be read as a list of facts, history or “observational science” (as Ken Ham calls it). It was meant to evoke a greater Truth: that the Creator of the Universe made all of this for us.

For us.

I’m currently writing this from the ski lodge at Monarch Mountain in Colorado. I’m speaking for a middle school ski retreat, and our sessions have centered on creation and that we are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). We’re currently getting completely dumped on with snow: 17″ yesterday and it’s still coming down. Amazing conditions.

God created these mountains for us to enjoy. The Creator designed these ski runs so that we might experience joy – “Life to the Full” as John 10:10 says.

So the point of Genesis 1 is found here. This creation is for us, his masterpiece, to enjoy and experience.

That is how Genesis 1 plays out. And Genesis 2, while different, has other truths for us to encounter. This is where we meet Adam and Eve. Let’s take a look at these names really quick.

Adam: Hebrew for “man”. Derived from the Hebrew word for earth (adamah).

Eve: From the Hebrew word “to breathe” (chawah) or the related word “to live” (chayah).

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

Wait. What?

When God breathes into the dirt, we find both of these names. Adam: man of the earth. Eve: to breathe or live. One doesn’t have to scratch their head long to piece together the fact that these feel less like names, but more like representations for all of humanity.

Which begs the question: were they even real people? When we draw our our family tree back to the beginning, will we actually find the names Adam and Eve there? Or are their names there to illustrate something bigger?

I don’t know. None of us do. Because this chapter is believed to be written even longer ago than Genesis 1 was. It’s our origin story as God-worshippers. It’s our creation narrative. It’s a story, and the point isn’t whether Adam and Eve are our great-great-grandparents.

The point is to tell about how things came to be. It’s backstory. Pre-history.

It’s setting the stage for how Abraham would father a nation of God’s chosen people, Israel, and how they ended up in slavery once in Egypt, and how they were delivered out by Moses only to find themselves back in bondage in Babylon years later.

The point of the first few chapters of Genesis is not to record the beginning.

The point is to explain who we are, why we are here, and how we got to this point.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. This was supposed to be a post about the debate, but instead I got carried away with Genesis. That was a long long way of explaining the fact that Ken Ham’s argument is slightly misguided and doesn’t really thrill me to support his perspective from the start.

During the audience Q&A session, someone asked Ham whether he would still believe in God if he knew for certain that the Universe is not only thousands of years old.

And he didn’t answer the question.

How can someone who’s belief in God is so foundational for his way of life not immediately answer that question with a “yes”? If your entire theology is based only on the fact that the Universe is only 6,000 years old, the I question your faith and direction.

Is your God not big enough for that possibility?

I mean, it sure feels like the Creator of the Universe ought to be.

In fact, when we refuse to ask ourselves the difficult questions about life and doubt, I think we are being as faithless as possible. Is it really faith if you’re avoiding the tough questions? Are you scared? Are you afraid that the God you believe in is suddenly going to abandon you because he’s been around longer than you thought?

Ultimately, I was struck with how pointless the discussion really seemed in the end. Bill Nye was honest and curious and admitted when he genuinely didn’t know the answer because science hadn’t figured it out yet. But creationism can use “God’s Word” as a crutch for avoiding the struggle of doing the work that faith requires.

I believe in a Creator who reigns in my life and in the world. God is bigger than our questions and our doubts and our unbelief. It frustrates me when we get so caught up in the facts that we miss that point.

Anyway. There was way more I was going to discuss about that debate, but I think I’ll just leave it there. I just wish we could quit labeling evolution/science as a rival to Christianity. I support teaching scientific fact in schools, and I hope it propels us all to ask deeper questions about our God, our world and our theology.

Okay, I’m going to go ski now.


nfl picks.

the NFL gets underway tonight in the meadowlands – cowboys at giants. i’ve spent the majority of my day writing a research paper, but i’m taking a 10 minute break to put together my picks for the 2012-13 NFL season.

just like the guys on espn, i’m no expert, but i like to make my picks on the following formula:
– 70% logical reasoning
– 30% emotional response

okay. let’s get to it. already 2 of my 10 minutes are up. in light of tonight’s game, let’s start in the NFC East…

NFC East: New York Giants – Dallas and Philly are both going to be better, but Eli is in his prime now and Reuben Randle is on both of my fantasy teams.

NFC North: Green Bay Packers – Strongest team in the strongest division (excluding the Vikings). Lions and Bears are both going to be great, but the Packers are simply better. As long as their defense improved slightly, they should still win this division easily.

NFC South: New Orleans Saints – Bounty scandal? They’re lucky there isn’t another elite QB in this division otherwise i’d be worried. Freeman, Newton and Ryan are all good, but Drew Brees will be Drew Brees and the Saints will still win 11 games.

NFC West: Seattle Seahawks – It’ll be a dogfight between the Hawks and the 49ers for this division. The 49ers defense simply can’t be as good as it was last year and Pete Carroll is just great. Russell Wilson wins Offensive ROY and the Seahawks make the playoffs with 11 wins.

NFC Wild Cards: Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys – Bears are maybe the 3rd best team in the NFC, but barely the second best team in their division. I’m very interested in the North this year. Too bad Jay Cutler is the worst. Eagles could take this spot from the Cowboys – Vick/McCoy/Maclin/Jackson are just so fast – but I think Dez Bryant is going to be huge this year and Romo will make it happen.

AFC East: New England Patriots – Tom Brady is just so good. But this team isn’t even about Brady anymore, it’s about their unorthodox offense and unlimited weapons. Should win this division easily.

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens – This will not be won easily. The Bengals and Steelers will both come to play, but Ray Rice will just run over people this year, and Joe Flacco is always good enough to get the job done.

AFC South: Houston Texans – This team is dangerous. To me, New England is the only team that stands in the way for the Texans. If they miss the AFC Championship game, I’ll be shocked. Premier defense, elite RB and WR combo. Actually…this team is like the upgraded version of the Chiefs…

AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs – Homer pick? Maybe. Most people are picking the Broncos here because Peyton Manning is the man, and I understand that. But with the exception of QB, the Chiefs are better than Denver at nearly every position. Charles + Hillis could run for 3,000 yards, and Baldwin is going to be great by the end of the year. As long as Cassel minimizes mistakes and we win the games we should (read: Oakland) we should be in a good position.

AFC Wild Cards: Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans – I’m high on Cincinnati. Maybe it’s Dalton. Maybe it’s the fact that the Law Firm is awesome and never fumbles. Maybe it‘s the fact that AJ Green is awesome too. The Titans are a sleeper pick obviously – Chris Johnson is just as good as he was supposed to be last year, and I think he’ll have a monster year, but the rest of the AFC doesn’t impress me much. This spot is up for grabs for a lot of teams in my mind.

NFC Championship: Bears over Giants
AFC Championship: Texans over Patriots
Superbowl: Texans over Bears

There’s my picks. My head tells me to pick NE, GB, or NY to win, but my heart says Chicago and Houston. I was born in Houston…there’s a fun fact.

Also, You can tell I’ve been typing a research paper all day because i’ve capitalized this entire post. whoops.