Posted by: John Carlson | May 2, 2011

Osama’s Death Isn’t the Super Bowl

May 1st is one of those days we are going to read about in our history books.  It is one of those dates that students will have to memorize for a multiple choice test.  A major event in the war against terror occurred as everyone knows, as Osama Bin Laden was killed by US troops in Pakistan.  I will remember it as a day that I was disappointed with how much Christians are willing to let their political/national believes supersede their spiritual beliefs.

Before I say anything, I need to say this.  I think Osama should have been killed.  I do not think it was an unjust act or something tragic.  It was necessary.  This is a fact people seem to ignore when they see the rest of my opinion on the subject.   My frustration was with the reaction people, especially Christians, had to the event.  I know my opinion is unpopular and I really could care less.

My problem was not the event of the military killing an evil and destructive man.  It was the reaction of joy and celebration that rang out throughout twitter, facebook and TV.  People were chanting in baseball stadiums and cheering outside the White House.  It honestly felt to me like I was in the Roman Colosseum.  Politician Mark Huckabee literally said, “Welcome to hell.”  Does any one else find this at all disturbing?  If we saw another country’s people react in this way to someone’s death, we probably wouldn’t have felt the same way.

I honestly wouldn’t have thought twice about it (sadly) if I hadn’t been on Twitter and seen posted the verse that many people posted from Ezekiel 33:11: “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?”

The fact is, a man went to hell yesterday.  His life was filled with sin and evil and ruined thousands of lives.  We should mourn the evil that has happened on this earth through this man and we should not react with the same hatred he brought to the world.  Perpetuating hate would never be something Jesus taught.  Do you think he cheered when God struck down Herod?  What did he say to the men that were killing him?  He asked for their forgiveness.  This is the heart of God.

It is scary to see how many people posted things like “one nation under God” on their statuses (I’m not calling anyone out in particular).  I hate to break it to people, but this isn’t God’s country.  We aren’t any more loved by God than any other country.  We are not executing his plans.  We are not Israel of the Old Testament.

People have political views and spiritual views.  As Christians, the authority of the Bible should take precedent over ANY affiliation to anything.  I love America.  I am an American. I am proud of our troups and grateful for the safety they bring me and my loved ones everyday.

But the fact is, I am a Christian before I am an American.  In fact, it isn’t even close.  America is a good country, we promote freedom and justice and peace.  But we also have aborted millions of children.  We are constantly warring with other nations, many time in my opinion unjustly.  America’s morals as a whole don’t represent the God of the Bible’s in the areas of family, divorce, war, materialism, murder or sanctity of human life.  So let’s be careful throwing God’s character in with America’s.

In closing, we need to all look into our own hearts and ask why our first reaction is to cheer when an evil man dies.  Does it not show that we have the same evil inside of our own hearts.  We need to ask if we consider ourselves American’s first or Christians first.  Do our politics define our faith, or does our faith define our politics along with everything else in our lives.  Today, we should mourn how evil and fallen our world is.  We should mourn the fact that one man, made in the image of the Almighty God, could wander so far away from his purpose in life and destroy so many.  Today is really a sad day, not a happy one.  Don’t perpetuate the same hate he brought to this world.

Posted by: John Carlson | March 26, 2010


I have moved this blog to another site.  Please ignore this one from now on.  Here is the new address:

Posted by: John Carlson | March 11, 2010

Papyrophobia (Fear of Paper)

         I once read on a friend’s blog (thank you Sarah Kinas) that the most intimidating thing in the world is a blank sheet of paper.  I thought that was a fairly profound thought.  What has more potential than blank paper?  It could transform from an empty void to a swirling mass of ideas and concepts in mere moments.  It can create and destroy, heal and harm.  In fact, words can provoke people to change the world.  I never like when people say that communication is 90% non-verbal.  Sure, that sounds nice, but really, it is a load of crap, and we all know it.  Most of us are pretty oblivious to people’s body language.  I know a lot of poker players who claim to be able to read people by their mannerisms, and they lose a lot of money.

         So this all leads me to answer the inevitable question: why should I have a blog.  The very idea of a blog smacks of arrogance.  It insinuates that you are important, that you have something important and insightful to say, that you are different than the 99% of the drones out there, that you have meaning.  With Twitter and Facebook, everyone is trying to convince everyone that their life is important, that the fact that they ate toast this morning or that they are sleepy at work has validity and substance.  The person we are trying to convince most is ourselves.  We want to know that someone cares about the moments of our lives when we are alone.  

         So, maybe that is what I am doing.  And to be honest, I don’t really know what I am doing.  The reason I am blogging again is because I have learned a lot and grown over the past two years and I need an outlet to express my ideas.  I am an ever evolving human being, and maybe this is a part of my ever-developing self-awareness.  Maybe this is really just a way for me to talk to myself without being schizophrenic.  Sometimes, writing something down gives it more validity.  Who knows.  But I would love for people to interact, because dang it, I am better than 99% of you, and my ideas are important (actually, I’m not, and your guys thoughts are important too)!

Posted by: John Carlson | July 31, 2009

Sports Teaching Us the Wrong Life Lessons

There are those events that happen in life where you will always remember where you were and what you were doing when they happened.  To the generation prior to us, there were plenty: the JFK assassination, the MLK assassination, the moon landing, etc.  To our generation, there have been a few, most significantly the tragic events of 911.  Moments that make time almost freeze in place; moments where you instantly feel in some supernatural way closer anyone you are experiencing them with.  One of those moments, for me, was sports related.

Vividly I can recall following the 2004 Red Sox playoff series against the Yankees.  Now, for the record, I am not a fan of either team, and these events occurred several years before my time in the Boston area, but there was something about this series that captivated even the most casual sports fan.  The bitter rivalry of two storied franchises.  The Yankees, with their exuberant payroll were cast as the villanous enemies; the Red Sox, with almost 90 years of cursed failure at winning the world series were embraced by all (outside of NY) as America’s sweethearts.

The series was absolutely one-sided through three games.  The Yankees took a quick 3-0 lead in the series.  After an absolutely crushing 19-8 loss in game three, it was certain the Red Sox were done for.  However, in game four, a glimmer of hope.  I remember the stolen base by Dave Roberts that electrified the team.  I remember the clutch hits by David Ortiz.  I remember my roommates and I, none of which were sports fans, rallying around the TV each night and rooting against the evil Yankees who were once again trying to purchase a world series.

The Red Sox went on to do something no team had ever done in the many years of baseball history: come from three games down to win four games straight and win a playoff series.  What seemed statistically impossible at the time soon became reality.  They would go on to absolutely demolish a great St. Louis team in a four-game sweep and take home their first World Series championship since 1918.  The curse had been broken.  I remember watching it on my dorm with my friends.  It was the most fun sports moment I’ve witnessed that had nothing to do with any team I followed.  It didn’t matter.

However, in May of 2009, it was released that Manny Ramirez, one of the top two hitters on that Red Sox team, had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) and would be suspended by Major League Baseball 50 games.  And now, just yesterday on July 30th, 2009, it was released that both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, a man often outspoken against the use of PED’s as gross cheating, tested positive for banned substances in 2003.

I do not want to make this a steroid discussion.  Because, to be honest, I am pretty tired of talking about or thinking about who has cheated in the game of baseball and who hasn’t.  I am tired of sports shows taking hours and hours of time away from discussion actual games to discuss the misconduct of these players.  When it happens in the NFL, no one cares.  You don’t hear anyone talk about Shawn Merriman or Rodney Harrison in a bad light.  But baseball numbers are “sacred.”  Sure, ignore the different shaped ballparks, the difference in rules between the AL and the NL, changes in the ball, etc.  The numbers matter for some reason (even though everyone knows 30 HR’s at Citizen’s Bank Park isn’t the same as 30 HR’s at PETCO park).  I don’t want to talk about what should happen to known cheaters concerning the Hall of Fame, or whether or not Bonds it the homerun king.

What bothers me is that life is so full of disappointment.  When we were kids, we thought our parents were perfect, amazing people.  We soon learned they are just as messed up as the rest of us.  We used to think that if we worked hard, everything would work out, or that if we just acted like ourselves, people would like us.  But time and time again, life hits all of us with harsh realities.  People turn to sports and entertainment to escape for a minute the difficulties of their own lives.  And when moments like 2004 come along, we savor every bite.  We take joy in how it brings us all together, if only for a few hours.  Who cares about the records?  I care about the moments we are robbed of.

I’m not ready to take away the 2004 WS rings from the Boston Red Sox.  The 2004 Yankees had players such as Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez who are known cheaters as well.  Any behind every name released there are probably five or six that we will never know about.  Every team is cheating, and that evens the playing field.  But who is going to even the playing field for us who are watching, who are robbed of believing in the moments we enjoyed.  Or how about the kids who collect these baseball player’s cards and follow their every game; who is going to explain to them that their favorite player was breaking the rules to gain an edge.

Like everything else in life, it seems like baseball is teaching us time and time and again that we can’t trust everything we hear or see, that maybe even in the best moments, there is a little taint, there is something not right.  There just is no way to know that when you stop to smell the roses, you might just be leaning into some thorns.

Posted by: John Carlson | July 30, 2009

The Beginning of Things to Come

So, I have re-entered the blogosphere, and though the intense heat and atmospheric pressure may get to me, I hope to keep this thing up to date. Not that there was anything wrong with my blogspot blog, but I wanted to wipe the slate clean and start over. There is something about starting over that is liberating and motivating.  I did, however, post a few of my old blog posts, but I cut out much of the more journal based musing/whining about life that, frankly, even I don’t want to read.  If I am going to write something about my life, I hope for it to have purpose in the blog world.

I named this blog (so far) after one of my favorite songs by Death Cab for Cutie.  Cheesey, I know.  But I couldn’t think of anything cooler off the top of my head, and doing the whole Greek/Hebrew acting deep thing didn’t seem cool to me this time. But that line always hit me because, aside from whatever Benjamin Gibbard intended those words to mean, what they mean to me (in my postmodern subjective interpretation) is that I want to live where my soul’s desires and aspirations meet my physical actions and personal relationships.

So what does this have to do with blogging?  Well, I have spent the last seven years studying Biblical Studies, Theology, and Philosophy.  I have a lot of ideas floating around in the old noggin that I would love to communicate to others and discuss.  Also, I too often see a vast divide between my life and my beliefs and the things I do.  There seems to be an ocean between soul and body, thought and action, philosophy and practice.

I want to use this to thresh out my own thoughts, open up discussion, chronicle this journey of thought and idea.  I’d love for whoever reads this to join me, to join in the discussion and use the comments feature to communicate your own thought, critiques, amens, etc.

Having a blog is really arrogant.  It seems to me to scream, “Hey, listen to me, I have ideas and they are important!”  But if I learned anything from my two years in Boston, it’s that every side of the story has its own merit, and is worth being heard.  I want not only my voice to be heard, but for my voice to be one in the chorus.  Hey, maybe we can all get closer to living where soul meets body.

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