The ruins of the Metrodome back on February 16th. All the stadiums in the world will fall down someday.
From a walk around Lake Como in February, one of my favorite things about my neighborhood. Beauty has no temperature.
The Dome is gone and the new stadium begins to rise in April. There is no resurrection without death.
My out-of-town friends came for a visit, and I was able to introduce them to my in-town friends and get this once-in-a-lifetime shot at dinner back in April. Later on it occurred to me that by next April not one of these people will be in the same state (Georgia, Minnesota, United Arab Emirates, California, Kentucky).
Here I am giving Allan (from Georgia) and Danny (from California) a tour of Minneapolis. This was the first time all three of us were together since 2006.
My first visit to Fort Ridgley State Park in April. I'm trying to make it a point to visit as many MN state parks as I can. I had to visit this one after reading about the Indian battles in Hawk's Valley.
4th of July with the Jerkies. Because you can't make new old friends.
Vikings training camp in Mankato in August.
At the State Fair in August where I met Buck Taylor from Tombstone and Gunsmoke. He was selling his western art which I now regret not purchasing. I hope to see him again next year. He's my huckleberry.
My second best photo of the year. A Friday night in September with the Jerkies.
I really got into biking this year in lieu of running, and one of the benefits is that I get to explore so much more of the surrounding area. This was taken on one of my rides in September while crossing the Mississippi.
From my trip to Atlanta in October where I visited a Civil War battleground and let off some northern aggression.
I visited the Creation Museum on the Kentucky side of Cincinnati.
At the Georgia Dome, my 14th NFL stadium, where I saw the Bears beat the Falcons.
My best photo of the year (IMHO), on a quiet country road in Wisconsin in October.
Random selfie from the road. I still get a sick pleasure from wearing my Twins hat in Atlanta.
My first game at TCF Bank Stadium, my 15th NFL stadium, where I watched the Minnesota football club beat the Redskins.
3rd best photo of the year. From my secret spot (and apparently someone else's too).
All the books I finished in 2014. Best: Freedom of the Will. Worst: Source of My Strength.
The Vikings stadium, as it looked on November 29th.
So a good year overall, where relationships were built and strengthened, corners were turned, and at least small amounts of progress were made in just about every area they were attempted, which is more than I deserve, and therefore, I am thankful.
I learned that October is the best time of year to travel. Not too hot, not too cold, not too green, not too brown, and football.
I learned that southerners like to refer to Minnesota as "The North Pole" or "South Canada" or "Michigan."
I learned that I would be obese if there were Waffle Houses in Minnesota.
I learned that southerners like to give hugs. I probably got more hugs in the past week than I have in the past five years.
I learned that Todd Friel is really nice guy in person. Also, he's really, really tall. (But not a southerner, so just a handshake, no hug.)
I learned how to drive a stick. Also, I learned that my next car will be a Mini Cooper.
I learned that Atlanta isn't much of a football town. Not even Samuel L. Jackson could get Falcons fans very excited. (But they do think college football is football, the same way Europeans think soccer is football.)
I learned that the further south you get, the bigger the spiders get.
I learned what traffic is. Prior to visiting Atlanta, I thought I knew what traffic was. I didn't.
I learned that it's bittersweet to have friends in far away lands.
Yesterday I posted this picture on Facebook along with the caption: "Getting ready for tonight's game between the Redskins and the Giants. Sorry, I meant to say the New York football club. Don't want to offend any freakishly tall people."
I wore that t-shirt all day Thursday -- to work, around town, in the grocery store, gas station, etc. I got many comments about it, all of them positive, which led to several conversations about the legitimacy of the recent widespread concern over the perceived offensiveness of the Redskins name.
But I did get one negative response on Facebook.
TJ: Where can I get a shirt like that?
JR: Just curious? Would you support the team or wear a shirt that said "Washington Niggers" or "Washington Kikes?" Your stance seems clear, but just wondering why?
TJ: Jason, your question is off base. I'm wondering why you asked it. Most Indians are not offended by Redskins, but all blacks are offended by Nigger (except when speaking to each other.)
JR: My question is not off base. So if something is morally wrong, but a majority (and I would like to see where your numbers stating that Native Americans are not offended come from) don't oppose a change that means we shouldn't act? How would we have enabled change with the Jim Crow laws of the deep south? I have no investment in the change other than I feel the name is morally not just.
JR: To be clear, people are free to wear what they like and support who they want. I was just curious why.
This blog post is an effort to answer all of JR's questions.
Question 1: Would you support the team or wear a shirt that said "Washington Niggers" or "Washington Kikes?"
Answer: No, because sports nicknames are derived from something that inspires pride and honor and respect, not words that are used as racial slurs. I have never heard the two examples you give used in a way that inspires pride and honor and respect.
Question 2: Your stance seems clear, but just wondering why?
Answer: My stance is meant to be clear. Hence the large bright letters on my t-shirt. If this were a really important issue I would do something more than just wear a t-shirt. This is not an issue like pro-life or religious freedom. I would not die to preserve the Redskins name. But it is an issue that I have a definite stance on and therefore I feel an obligation to support it.
Question 3: So if something is morally wrong, but a majority (and I would like to see where your numbers stating that Native Americans are not offended come from) don't oppose a change that means we shouldn't act?
Answer: Yes, if something is morally wrong we should act. Fortunately, naming a football team after something that inspires pride, honor, and respect is not morally wrong. The numbers back me up. Every poll I've seen shows that the vast majority of Americans and Native Americans don't think the Redskins should change their name. Look it up. Your Google is as good as mine. The Redskins have sent multiple people out to tribes across the country to spend time talking to Native Americans to listen to them and see what they think about this issue. Chris Cooley, for example, interviewed over 100 Native Americans from different tribes and not one person told him the Redskins should change their name. In fact, most of them were proud of the name. There are many predominantly Indian high schools across the country who use the nickname Redskins or something similar.
I'm a Vikings fan. I'm also of Danish ancestry. My grandfather and the original Vikings both came from the same country. Maybe this helps me understand just a little bit why the vast majority of Native Americans are proud of the name Redskins. It's this vast majority of Native Americans that I want to support, not some small group of activists and white media loudmouths who are making noise because they need a cause to make themselves feel good about themselves.
Question 4: How would we have enabled change with the Jim Crow laws of the deep south? I have no investment in the change other than I feel the name is morally not just.
Answer: Okay, now you're comparing the name of a football team that a small minority of people think is offensive to racial segregation laws. I'm going to have a hard time giving a serious response to this question. I've never been to a game at the Redskins stadium, but if I ever go I will be outraged if I see that they have separate bathrooms and drinking fountains for Native Americans and non-Native Americans. In fact, I will change my stance immediately.
Question 5: To be clear, people are free to wear what they like and support who they want. I was just curious why.
Answer: Now you know why. So please let the Redskins wear what they like which includes a proud Native American mascot on their helmet.
“This is no time for peace pipes. We must, without reservation, not just hold down the fort but go to war with those riding roughshod over hallowed American traditions — fighting the people who love nothing more than to chop away at things no one actually finds offensive. As with most issues though, we lack a political chief brave enough to tackle this type of political correctness. The biggest irony? If a leader painted this picture as the insanity that it is, it wouldn’t be his last stand, but a feather in his cap, because the vast majority of Americans recognize that using Indian names isn’t offensive, but complimentary.”
"The way of attaining such an extensive treasure of ideas is, with diligence to apply yourself to read the best books, converse with the most knowing and wisest of men, and endeavour to improve by every person in whose company you are; suffer no hour to pass away in lazy idleness, and impertinent chattering, or useless trifles; visit other cities and countries, when you have seen your own, under the care of one who can teach you to profit by travelling, and to make wise observations; indulge a little curiosity in seeing the wonders of art and nature; search into things yourselves, as well as learn them from others; be acquainted with men as well as books; learn all things as much as you can at first hand; and let as many of your ideas as possible be the representation of things, and not merely the representation of other men's ideas: thus your soul, like some noble building, shall be richly furnished with original paintings, and not with mere copies."
1. Never switch allegiances. 2. Show some respect. 3. Visit the shrines. 4. Never give up. 5. Never give in. 6. Never leave early. 7. Neither a front-runner nor a Johnny-come-lately be. 8. Accept no substitutes. 9. Wait till next year. 10. Never turn down tickets to see [Adrian Peterson].
It always seems a little presumptuous to me when people come up with end-of-the-year reviews before the year is even over, as if nothing important ever happens on the last week of December. Kind of like when people use the term, "first annual."
2013 was a year where the more things changed, the more they stayed the same, proving Yogi's maxim. The apparent changes began when I hopped a plane on January 3rd for a job interview in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Since I am absolutely terrified of flying, and swear up and down that I will never do it again each time I do it, the job interview that immediately followed when my feet finally touched the sweet ground again was a breeze. There's nothing like being hurled halfway across the country in a tin can and surviving to ease the nerves that come with a job interview.
I was offered the job on the spot and I was forced to make a decision. I loved the town, all the people I met were great, and it seemed like a great company. What stopped me? I already had all these things here. I realized that if I went I would just be trying to recreate what I already had. So I made my decision to stay in Minnesota on February 1st and remain at the job I've had since 1999. This was the first of three jobs I turned down this year.
Aside from my quick trip to Colorado I didn't take many trips this year. My only vacation was in June, when I tagged along with my good friend Orion and his family of five on their family vacation to the North Shore.
My only other trip this year was work-related where I was once more forced to be hurled through the air in a tin can, this time to Atlanta for the Heidelberg open house.
On June 4th I was served with divorce papers. This was both one of the worst and best days of my life. Worst, because there is no failure that you will ever experience in life that compares with a failed marriage. Best, because after carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders for two years like Atlas, I was finally able to shrug.
On September 20th I turned 37. I have a different attitude toward aging than I thought I would have when I was younger. I love aging. Life gets better each time the number goes up. Each birthday I get the same feeling I used to get when I beat another level in Super Mario.
As the years have passed, I find my interest in sports decreasing dramatically outside of football. I still despise basketball, baseball puts me to sleep now, and hockey doesn't even hold my attention until late into the playoffs. But football is still the king.
After watching the Vikings get blown out in the first round of the playoffs in January, I had high hopes that this season would take the taste out of my mouth. That has not happened. As I type this, the Vikings are 4-10-1 and the talk for most of the season has been about what kind of a draft pick we'll get next year. But this season has been memorable for two reasons:
1. I attended my first game at the Metrodome in 1985 when I was 9 years old. In four days I will attend my last at age 37. It will be hard not to shed a tear when one of the last remaining links to my childhood is torn down.
2. The Vikings new uniforms have made them watchable again. While they are still not as good as the classics that Tarkenton and Page wore, I am so glad that I don't have to look at the clown suits of 2006-2012 ever again.
I didn't get to make my annual pilgrimage to see a new stadium this year on my Quest For 31, but I did attend one game at home (Redskins), and plan to attend the season finale against the Lions. I also took a trip down to training camp in Mankato for the first time since '99.
On April 14th I said goodbye to the most influential person in my life as John Piper retired as pastor and made way for Jason Meyer. I will miss him, but after hearing Jason preach for the past year, I'm looking forward to the next 29. This and the awesome small group I've been involved in for the past three years would have been the hardest things to "recreate" had I left for Colorado.
The main theological issue on my mind this year, ever since the Strange Fire conference in October, has been the charismatic/cessationist debate. While I used to wallow in uncertainty on this issue, I finally feel like I can firmly and thankfully call myself a cessationist.
2013 is the year I learned to cook. After my mom got me a crock pot for my birthday, I figured now was the time. I've got a ways to go, but enjoying a Vikings game while eating a pot roast that I prepared is much more enjoyable than frozen pizza.
On April 29th I got to see my all-time favorite singer/songwriter perform in person for one last time.
On May 3rd I had hand surgery for my carpal tunnel. Now I can feel my fingers for the first time in over ten years.
My fantasy team went 10-3 and fell one game short of the championship. Once again, Peyton Manning couldn't come through in the clutch.
I made my once-a-decade visit to the State Fair and a Wilds game.
I purchased my current car on December 26, 2003. Since then it's taken me 176,000 miles, been to about 30 states, seen both oceans, and never let me down. Happy 10th birthday tomorrow.
Overall, it was a great and horrible year. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm happy that it's over. I have much to be thankful for and much to be sorrowful yet always rejoicing about.
"The difference between believers and unbelievers as to knowledge, is not so much in the matter of their knowledge, as in the manner of knowing. Unbelievers, some of them, may know more, and be able to say more, of God, his perfections and his will than many believers; but they know nothing as they ought, nothing in a right manner, nothing spiritually and savingly, nothing with a holy, heavenly light. The excellency of a believer is not that he hath large apprehension of things; but that what he doth apprehend, which perhaps may be very little, he sees in the light of the Spirit of God, in a saving, soul-transforming light; and this is that which gives us communion with God, and not prying thoughts, or curious raised notions."
“I find nothing that promotes work better than angry fervor; for when I wish to compose, write, pray and preach well, I must be angry. It refreshes my entire system, my mind is sharpened, and all unpleasant thoughts and depression fade away.”
It was a pretty slow year for reading -- the slowest since 2001. However, none of my choices were wasted, and each title comes highly recommended, especially the final one.
"The joy is on the other side of the hard work. This is basic to all growing up. Part of maturity is the principle of deferred gratification. If you cannot embrace the pain of learning but must have instant gratification, you forfeit the greatest rewards of life." (John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, pg. 47)
"Hosea loved beyond the way
Of mortal man. What man would say,
'Love grows more strong when it must wait,
And deeper when it's almost hate.'" (John Piper, Velvet Steel: The Joy of Being Married to You, pg. 58)
"Your memory is a monster; you forget -- it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you , or hides things from you -- and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!" (John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany, pg. 34)
"Before World War I many premillennialists had stayed aloof from cultural concerns and all were skeptical of any plans concerned merely with the future of civilization. By the end of the war their strongest line of attack on modernism committed them to a position which put forward the survival of civilization as a principal concern. This position accentuated the longstanding paradox in the thinking of American premillennialists. As premillennialists they had to say that there was no hope for culture, but at the same time they were traditional American evangelicals who urged a return to Christian principles as the only cultural hope." (George Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, pg. 149)
"Christians who struggled with BPD now learned that they were actually battling with the flesh and needed to learn to trust God and begin to walk in the Spirit. Easy? No. Magic? No. Change happened the same way it happens for all Christians -- through spiritual battle: 'the blood, sweat, and tears of dying to self and listening to God.' They 'put off' their 'issue-based identity' (BPD) and 'put on' (Eph. 4:22-24) their 'Christ-identity.' With that identity in place . . . they began to grasp the truth of the gospel; they had died with Christ and were therefore 'no longer . . . slaves of sin' (Rom. 6:6) -- or of BPD!" (Cathy Wiseman, Borderline Personality: A Scriptural Perspective, pg. 6)
"But you can't start. Only a baby can start. You and me -- why, we're all that's been. The anger of a moment, the thousand pictures, that's us. This land, this red land, is us; and the flood years and the dust years and the drought years are us. We can't start again. The bitterness we sold to the junk man -- he got it all right, but we have it still." (John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 119)
"People with BPD often perceive other people as either the wicked witch or fairy godmother, a saint or a demon. When you seem to be meeting their needs, they cast you in the role of superhero. But when they perceive that you've failed them, you become the villain." (Paul Mason, Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder, pg. 26)
"Turning back, Mr. Nichol could not help exclaiming, 'How can you whistle, when our friends are in so much danger!'
'Would you have me anxious and troubled?' was the quiet reply. 'That would not help them, and would certainly incapacitate me for my work. I have just to roll the burden on the Lord.'" (Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, pg. 209)
"We buck when we hear these things because we are proud. We say that we do not want God's holiness impugned, but really we do not want our autonomy restricted. If God appoints all the seasons of every man's life, then no man can live unto himself, and no man can find the fount of wisdom within. If God decrees all things, then I cannot escape him, not even by plunging myself into all depravity. A man who embraces evil simply finds himself a tool in the hand of the Almighty. A man who rejects evil and follows wisdom finds himself a son in the family of the Almighty. The one option not offered us is that of thwarting and restricting the purposes of God." (Doug Wilson, Joy at the End of the Tether, pg. 47)