Saturday, November 30, 2013


I suppose that I like this commercial because it involves basketball and the main character is named Doug! Doug is a bit like me, particularly when he disgustingly notes "That was a travel" when a dude goes for an under-the-leg slam dunk. And the closing line always makes me smile - "Grab your umbrellas ladies, Hurricane Doug is gonna make it rain."

Friday, November 29, 2013


One of the daily comics that I regularly read is Sherman's Lagoon.   Sherman is a down-home, happy-go-lucky Great White Shark, and a regular side-kick is Hawthorne the Hermit Crab.  Meet the cast of characters here.  Sherman almost always makes me chuckle, but this one made me LOL.  Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


A fellow was stranded on a remote desert island for several decades. A ship happened to spot him and sent a team to the island for the rescue. Of course the man was overjoyed, and as the rescuers looked around, they noted that the fellow had built three huts.

Noting the huts, one man asked, "What's this hut?"

The fellow responded proudly, "That's my house!"

Another man asked, "What's this second hut?"

The fellow again responded enthusiastically, "That's my church!"

Then they asked, "Well, what is the third hut?"

Not so enthusiastically, the fellow answered, "Well, that's the church I used to go to."

h/t to Lee K. 

Also, a slightly longer version of this story and some commentary can be found here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I recently noted this article about JHY in the New York Times.  When I was in school, Yoder was on campus at Goshen College because the seminary was still in Goshen.  I remember him as usually looking disheveled and seemingly in another world.  As the article notes, his scholarship is both embraced and criticized, and continues to be analyzed long after his death, but his behavioral misdeeds make understanding his work and the church's response even more complex.  The article link is here.

A Theologian’s Influence, and Stained Past, Live On

Can a bad person be a good theologian? 

All of us fall short of our ideals, of course. But there is a common-sense expectation that religious professionals should try to behave as they counsel others to behave. They may not be perfect, but they should not be louts or jerks.

By that standard, few have failed as egregiously as John Howard Yoder, America’s most influential pacifist theologian. In his teaching at Notre Dame and elsewhere, and in books like “The Politics of Jesus,” published in 1972, Mr. Yoder, a Mennonite Christian, helped thousands formulate their opposition to violence. Yet, as he admitted before his death in 1997, he groped many women or pressured them to have physical contact, although never sexual intercourse.

Mr. Yoder’s scholarly pre-eminence keeps growing, and with it the ambivalence that Mennonites and other Christians feel toward him. In August, Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, which has about 100,000 members, announced the formation of a “discernment group” to guide a process to “contribute to healing for victims” of Mr. Yoder’s abuse. 

In 1992, after eight women pressured the church to take action, Mr. Yoder’s ministerial credentials were suspended and he was ordered into church-supervised rehabilitation. It soon emerged that Mr. Yoder’s 1984 departure from what is now called Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, in Elkhart, Ind., had also been precipitated by allegations against him. He left for Notre Dame, where administrators were not told what had happened at his last job. 

But Mr. Yoder emerged as a hero of repentance. His accusers never spoke publicly, and their anonymity made it easier for some to wish away their allegations. And in December 1997, after about 30 meetings for supervision and counseling, Mr. Yoder and his wife were welcomed back to worship at Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart. To cap a perfect narrative of redemption, he died at 70 at the end of that month
Without denying the wrongness of his acts, his supporters continued to celebrate Mr. Yoder and the Mennonite leaders who had rehabilitated him.

“How John’s community responded to his inappropriate relations with women” was “a testimony to a community that has learned over time that the work of peace is slow, painful, and hard,” wrote Stanley Hauerwas, a retired Duke University professor and Yoder’s heir as the leading pacifist theologian, in his 2010 memoir

Mr. Yoder’s obituary in The New York Times did not mention his sexual misdeeds. None of his victims received monetary settlements. Mr. Yoder apologized, sort of, with a statement that “he was sorry that we had misunderstood his intentions, as he never meant to hurt us,” according to Carolyn Holderread Heggen, one of the eight complainants. 

Ted Koontz, a professor at Mr. Yoder’s old seminary and a member of the church’s discernment group, said the church needed to take stock of what was — or was not — done for Mr. Yoder’s victims.

“There are a lot of different opinions about what was done and wasn’t done to hold him accountable,” Professor Koontz said. 

The committee will probably conclude its work, he added, in time for the Mennonite Church USA’s 2015 convention in Kansas City, Mo., where there may be a ceremony “of confession, repentance, reconciliation.” 

Of course, reconciliation was what the four-year process in the 1990s was supposed to achieve. It obviously failed. And Mr. Yoder remains inescapable for Mennonites, his work read and referenced often and everywhere. 

“Physically he died, but his work and his theological writings live on,” said Linda Gehman Peachey, a freelance writer in Lancaster, Pa., who is also part of the six-member group. “For those who have known this other side — his behavior, particularly toward women — that is really painful.” 

Mr. Yoder’s memory also presents a theological quandary. Mennonites tend to consider behavior more important than belief. For them, to study a man’s writings while ignoring his life is especially un-Mennonite. 

Professor Koontz regularly tells his students reading Mr. Yoder that “his behavior is one thing we ought to take into account when we read his work.” Ms. Peachey noted that Mr. Yoder wrote a good deal about suffering as a Christian virtue, but “if you know this part of the story” — how he made women suffer — “you tend to read it with a different eye.” 

Mr. Yoder seemed very attentive to the notion that theology should align with behavior. It turns out that in unpublished papers, he formulated a bizarre justification of extramarital sexual contact. 

In his memoir, Professor Hauerwas alludes to what Tom Price, a reporter for the newspaper The Elkhart Truth, described in a five-part 1992 series as Mr. Yoder’s defense of “nongenital affective relationships.” Mr. Yoder said that touching a woman could be an act of “familial” love, in which a man helped to heal a traumatized “sister.” 

Mr. Price quoted from “What Is Adultery of the Heart?” a 1975 essay in which Mr. Yoder wrote that a “bodily” embrace “can celebrate and reinforce familial security,” rather than “provoking guilt-producing erotic reactions.”

Ms. Heggen, called Tina in the newspaper articles, told Mr. Price that Mr. Yoder had a grandiose explanation for his advances, which he tried out on multiple women. 

“We are on the cutting edge,” Mr. Yoder would say, according to Ms. Heggen. “We are developing new models for the church. We are part of this grand, noble experiment. The Christian church will be indebted to us for years to come.” 

On Wednesday, Ms. Heggen, agreeing to be identified as a victim for the first time, recalled driving Mr. Yoder to the Albuquerque airport in 1982. He asked her to get out for “a proper goodbye,” Ms. Heggen said. “Then he pulled me into his belly and held me tight for a painfully long time. I realized I couldn’t escape his clutch.”

In 1992, Ms. Heggen, who now lives in Oregon, published a book about sexual abuse. Traveling the world, lecturing about her book, she said she met “significantly” more than 50 women who said that Mr. Yoder had touched them or made advances. 

“Women inevitably come up after these events and tell you their story,” Ms. Heggen said. “The scenario was so familiar to me, and I would interrupt them and say, ‘Are you talking about John Howard Yoder?’ They would say, ‘How did you know?’ ” 

After his advance toward her, Mr. Yoder mailed Ms. Heggen an essay in which he advocated physical contact, including nudity, between unmarried people, so long as “there wasn’t lust.” 

Ms. Heggen had a theory of what Mr. Yoder might have been thinking. “ ‘I have created this great peace theology,’ ” she began, trying to put his thoughts into words. “ ‘And you and I are developing a new Christian theology of sexuality.’ ”

Monday, November 11, 2013


Yeah, I understand that this cartoon can often be beyond edgy, but sometimes cartoonists challenge our beliefs and make us sharpen our thinking about what we consider to be true.  Jesus & Mo is certainly irreverent [I believe that the author is anonymous because the series uses images of Mohammed, a real no-no in the Muslim world].  Jesus and Mo chat about many subjects, but I am fond of their conversations regarding evolution, three of which are shown below.  If you think you can handle more, visit the website.



Friday, November 08, 2013



Follow this link to a very interesting account of Neil Young playing Dylan songs across the decades.  It is an entry from Johanna's Visions - A Music Site.  Hat tip to BIL KenBob.   Go to Johanna's website for some very interesting entries, such as Bruce Springsteen Plays Bob Dylan, birthday wishes to folks like Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell, and videos from Dylan concerts.

Johanna's Visions

Monday, November 04, 2013


Yeah, yeah, I know that the pro basketball season is only two games old, but I know bad, as well as boring, basketball when I see it.  Ever since the organizational debacle at the end of last year's Nuggets season, I have suspected that this year would not be a pretty sight.

Let's start with their first huge [and dumb, but that's implicit in all of my comments] mistake - firing George Karl:

Karl has always been a coach that can get the most out his roster, and last season was no different. Without any superstars [and thankfully with Carmelo gone], the Nuggets had  57 wins, the most in their history, the best home record, 38 and 3, in the entire NBA, and Karl passed the 1000 win mark which only 6 other NBA coaches have achieved.  Karl was named the NBA Coach of the Year, and after 8+ years in Denver, he was rewarded not with a contract extension but with a pink slip.  Sure, the Nuggets lost to a red-hot Golden State team in the first round, but they also lost Danilo Galinari to a torn ACL.  I cannot add too much to what Coach Karl had to say after he was dumped:

“I don’t have a lot of bitterness other than I don’t understand. But not understanding — when you are working in a world of millions, millions, and millions of dollars, there’s a lot of things I don’t understand. 

“There’s a lot of contracts we give players that I don’t understand. There’s a lot of trades that I don’t understand. There are a lot of decisions I don’t understand

“I can’t deny there’s an anger and frustration. But there’s much more celebration in my heart than anything else.”

One of the main reasons that I loved to watch the Nuggets-of-the-past is that they "played basketball" and by that I mean they played a fast-paced, share-the-ball game.  Without the typical NBA "superstar" ball hog, the Nuggets truly played team ball and proved that a team can win doing that.  They also understood that a fast-paced game at 5280 feet would ultimately wear down nearly all opponents.  That strategy produced 38 home wins and only 3 losses - and my prediction is that the new Nuggets style of walk it up, pass to the big guys down low, and let them back it in will result in more home losses than wins this year.

Second blunder:

This is Masai Ujiri, holding his 2012-2013 NBA Executive of the Year Award as the General Manager of the Nuggets.  Gone.  He and Karl seemed to have a solid relationship, and perhaps he saw the writing on the wall and took the GM position with the Toronto Raptors.  Nuggets probably could have kept him for $3M a year - peanuts in the pro sports world.

Third, fourth, fifth, sixth, .......steps backwards, all based around the change from the Karl coaching style to that of the new head coach, Brian Shaw, who came from the Indiana Pacers.  I think that this image sums it up:
Actually the Denver Stiffs and some of their website commentary are right on - like this one "Reality bites - Nuggets lose to Portland - Look like grunge.  The Nuggets got rid of up-tempo players like Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufas, and defensive [and occasionally offensive] - minded Andre Iguodala, and brought in some slow giants who I had never heard of.  They have a couple of the quickest high-energy guards in the NBA in Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson, and they get to walk it up the court and pass into the slow giants and then stand around and watch.  Running is rare and a well-executed pick-and-roll happens only on occasion.  At least the Nuggets still have Andre Miller who knows how the game should be played - unfortunately he's about 100 years old.  Dre and Brian Shaw played in the league at the same time, and Shaw has been a coach for several years.

Enough curmudgeontary for now - perhaps I will be proven wrong, but I sincerely doubt that.  The Nuggets are no longer a good team and are no fun to watch.  My prediction is that they will be lucky to play .500 ball and if they make the playoffs, it will be as a very low seed.  So stay tuned to see how this season plays out.

ps - should give credit where credit is due - thank the Kroenkes for this mess.  At least the Avalanche is winning.

Sunday, November 03, 2013


The University of Colorado cross country team wins the 2013 Pac-12 Championships at Coal Creek Golf Course on Saturday. Cliff Grassmick/ November 2, 2013.

In Men's Cross Country, that is.   And the Colorado Women came is second, surprising quite a few folks and just missing taking the top spot by only a few points.  The 2013 men's championship makes it a three-peat for the team - first place in all three years that CU has been in the PAC 12 Conference.

This past Saturday, my good friend and running colleague Doug Laufer and I attended the Championships.  It could not have been a better day for a cross country event - cool, crisp, cloudless, not a bit of wind, and a beautiful rolling course at the Coal Creek Golf Course.  We got there early enough to stroll the course and check out good vantage points for watching the race develop - since it was a triple loop, the race was very spectator-friendly.  And there were indeed a lot of spectators; not only many CU fans but folks from all of the PAC 12 universities were abundant, sporting their school's hats, shirts and jackets.  Coming into the race, the CU men were ranked #1 in the country, so there was a bit of pressure to live up to their billing.  Here is a pic of the CU men leaving their starting box, running nine and scoring the top five.

The CU mens' team begins the race on Saturday. For more photos of the races, go to
Cliff Grassmick / November 2, 2013

Note that Oregon was in the adjacent box, and Oregon runner Edward Chesereck was the overall winner at 24:36 for the 8K.  But this is a team sport, and Colorado's Blake Theroux was third overall, finishing in 24:47.  The next four CU runners were all on the top 10 -  Connor Winter (fourth place), Ben Saarel (fifth), Pierce Murphy (seventh) and Ammar Moussa (ninth) and all were all within 28 seconds of Theroux.  The scoring ended up with the Buffs having 28 points for the win, with Oregon (54 points) coming in second and Stanford (79) third.  Doug and I knew that things were looking good when you see an abundance of Colorado jerseys in the lead pack, as below.

Morgan Pearson, left, Pierce Murphy (52), and Connor Winter, all of CU, lead early in the 8K race. For more photos of the races, go to
Cliff Grassmick / November 2, 2013

The CU women finished better than expected - they came in ranked 16th in the country, and 4th in the PAC 12.  But they pushed top-ranked Arizona hard, with Arizona scoring just 6 points fewer than Colorado.

2013 PAC 12 Cross Country Championships953.JPG 

All in all, A Great Day for the Race.

Curmudgeon End-Note - CU Football PAC 12 Loss to UCLA, Front Page of Boulder Daily Camera Sports Section; CU PAC 12 Championship, Third Page