an easter narrative and the meaning of life

Ami's out celebrating a friend's birthday over ice cream and I'm home with little boy sitting on the deck and enjoying the night air (the boy's in the bed). I should be reading 2 Kings.

Baseball's a couple of weeks into its season and so far hasn't been without drama or surprise. The Cardinals game on Sunday against the Reds was an instant classic--a great story of one player who just wouldn't let his team lose despite their best efforts to the contrary. I watched Juan-got-no-glove-or-bat err the game away with frustration, but of course he was just setting the stage for baseball's best hitting pitcher to get on base with a single up the middle so that baseball's best hitter could take one swing, throw his hands in the air, flip his bat and stutter step to first, watching his third homerun of the day curve just a few feet right of the left field foul pole and send everyone home happy. New life right out of the death of a ballgame, and on Easter no less. How 'bout that?

Studies continue to well and keep me busy, not that I'm complaining. There's something about constant hard work interrupted by one day of rest every seven days that's helpful and right.

My thesis paper is developing--there's four weeks to go and twelve pages are done, most of them not half bad.

Just finished a group exegetical paper on 2 Sam 11 (David and Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite) which is fascinating passage when you look at it closely, especially in the Hebrew. I'm sure I've spent 40+ hours on that chapter in the past week and I still get the feeling the surface is only being scratched. From a strictly literary point of view, I'm more and more convinced that the Hebrew Scriptures can go toe to toe with the best of Homer and Virgil and come out on top every time. Books by two Jewish scholars, Robert Alter and Meir Sternberg, have helped a me great deal and I recommend them highly ("Art of Bibical Narrative" and "Poetics of Biblical Narrative"). Alter's is more accessible.

Another pleasure: Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Alamanac" is now available as a daily podcast through itunes, which means I can listen to Garrison tell stories and read a poem every day on the way to school. That's a pretty good way to start the day, even if it is in the middle of the daily knucklehead St. Louis traffic jam.

The other day in my intro to counseling class our professor asked something like "how would you explain the meaning of life"? I couldn't think of a good summary at the time, but I was a little frustrated with the answers of my classmates, which were mostly of the "love God a lot" variety. I think I have an answer now: To enjoy God's good creation as much as possible all the days of my life and join with him in working for the renewal of all things, believing that all the best of what there is in this world is only a shadow of its reality in the new earth that is to come.


Season Preview

In honor of opening day, I thought I'd post a few thoughts about each division.

American League East: For something like the last five years, the AL East has stacked up NY, Boston, Toronto, Baltimore and Tampa Bay. While there's been a fair amount of shakeup in the divison since last season, I don't really expect things to change this year. New York's lineup is overwhelmingly good, and Joe Torre isn't wasting his time with guys like Tony Womack. Obviously, there are a lot of questions about the rotation, but I'm guessing the starters will stay healthy enough to pull out the divison. Boston will challenge, but when Mark Loretta is your best hitting infielder, you know you're in trouble--the Red Sox will settle for the Wild Card (again). Toronto will be better, but not nearly as much better as spending $100 million should have made them. Baltimore and Tampa will be Baltimore and Tampa.

American League Central: Top to bottom, the best divison in baseball. It might be a year too early still, but my hunch is that the dynasty in Cleveland will begin this year. Hafner, Sizemore, Martinez, Peralta-that's a pretty good core, and there's enough pitching to get them to the divison title. Chicago will finish a close second and miss the playoffs-they're good, but this is a tough division and the White Sox bullpen, a strength last year, is looking like it may have a lot of question marks. The Twins will beat out the Tigers for third, and the Royals will be the worst team in the AL by a long shot.

American League West: Oakland looks solid in all aspects of the game, and their overall balance and superior starting pitching should be enough to win the division. The Angels are still a great team, but Vlad won't be able to carry the offense by himself this year. Texas will score a lot of runs and give up almost as many, and Seattle fans will enjoy watching Felix Hernandez imitate Doc Gooden (the last time a pitcher this young was this good) and not much else.

In the playoffs, Cleveland will beat Boston in 4, and Oakland will finally beat New York to set up an A's/Indians ALCS, which Oakland will win.

MVP: Travis Hafner
Cy Young: Barry Zito
ROY: Ian Kinsler

National League East: Honestly, I have no idea who will win the NL East. The Braves, Mets and Phillies will be close all year. Ultimately, if the Mets' pitchers stay healthy, I think they'll pull it out. Atlanta will finish second (missing their pitching coach) with the Wild Card, and the Phillies third. A Triple-A Florida team will beat out the gloriously mismanaged Nationals, who were better off when they were owned by no one.

National League Central: The easiest division race to call--unless Albert goes down, the Cards should cruise to another title here. The Brewers will beat out the Cubs and Stros for second, and Cincinnati will continue to evolve into the Texas Rangers of the National League. Pittsburgh will make Royals fans feel better about themselves.

National League West: Another crapshoot divison. I'll go with San Diego in a close one over LA and San Fran. The most exciting event in the NL west will be when Barry Bonds breaks Babe Ruth's record on the road and has objects thrown on the field at him. Probably needles. Arizona should have their own dynasty in a couple years but not in 2006. The Rockies will continue to hope that maybe, just maybe Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook will be a couple of guys who can pitch in Colorado. They will be disappointed.

Playoffs: Cardinals over the Braves, Mets over San Diego. In the NLCS, Pujols takes Wagner deep in game 7 to clinch the series. In the world series, Dan Haren and Kiko Calero pitch lights out, Mulder gets shelled and the A's win in six.

NL MVP: Albert Pujols
Cy Young: Jake Peavy
ROY: Prince Fielder

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