Eternity In Our Hearts By Way of Arcade Fire’s No Cars Go

Ten years ago today, Arcade Fire released the final single from their groundbreaking sophomore release, Neon Bible. The song? No Cars Go. While the album was thematically dark and despairing, No Cars Go, the penultimate track, was full of life, energy, and hope. That is not meant as a critique of either the album or the song. I love both. But the contrast was clear. It was unmistakable for those that had ears to hear.

While this is in no way meant to be comprehensive, a little background information is probably needed about Arcade Fire for the conclusions I draw to have any lasting value. Arcade Fire is an indie rock band from Montreal, Quebec. They have released five studio albums. Their sound is eclectic, mixing classic rock and roll with electronica, disco, indie, and boisterous anthems. Thematically, they infuse their songs with a “voice crying out in the wilderness” sentiment. There is a prophetic urgency to their lyrics, decrying greed, religion, and any other aspect of modernity they find troublesome. With piercing clarity and exacting specificity, they denounce society’s constant grasping for more, more, more. As often as not, their barbs are aimed at themselves as much as anyone else.

When I reviewed the album Neon Bible over ten years ago, I used words like haunting, damning, anxious, angry, and hypnotic to describe what I heard. I was so taken by that album, I poured out 2,000 words in an attempt to grapple with it. Listening to it again more recently, I stand by my initial reaction. The album is dark and brooding. It’s angry and accusatory. It’s full of rage, confusion, and hopelessness. It’s within that context that I fell in love with No Cars Go.

I love everything that comes before No Cars Go on Neon Bible. I love the questions. I love the razor sharp criticism of America, Christianity, and the ungodly union of faith and money. I love how pointed it all is. It is powerful and challenging. At its best, it is convicting and a conduit to self reflection and change. Yet after nine songs the band makes a dramatic turn. Instead of leaving the listener hopeless, they opt to throw caution to the wind and dive head first into a song that in some ways is the most hopeful and optimistic song I have ever heard.

Sometimes, one song can make all the difference in the world. Perhaps because they wrote No Cars Go a few years earlier, there is less despair and more optimism. Perhaps, deep down, they still believed that somewhere, some time, some place, things can and will be better than they are now. Lyrically, No Cars Go is deceptively simple – It almost feels silly and childish. And because of that, I could see some listeners just overlooking the spiritual depth of this song. The song begins whimsically; playfully. When the band yells “Hey!” it would be easy to think they are just having fun; that this song is not meant to be taken as seriously as everything that has come before. I believe that line should be seen as a passionate attempt to get our attention.

The crux of the song is that they know a special place where no cars can go. It is that simple lyrically. No plains, trains, automobiles, submarines,  or spaceships can get to this place. You can almost see it “between the click of the light and the start of the dream” and they urgently invite everyone to come with them. When the triumphant denouement begins, the music swirls, elevating the song to a transcendent level. Lead singer, Win Butler exclaims, “little babies – women and children – old folks – Let’s Go!”  The accordion and keyboard flow in and around each other. The drums methodically build to the climax. When the horns come in, and the bass takes that rhythm the drums started to a more intense level, it takes your breath away. Then, they unleash heaven. We “don’t know where we’re going,” but we have to go. They tap into something so human, so urgent, so eternal. A choir of singers joins the band and the music swells to a crescendo of pure spiritual longing. Hyperbole, probably. Do I believe every word, absolutely.

No Cars Go is further proof that God has placed “eternity in our hearts” as image bearers. We long for more. We long for Eden, for paradise, for the Kingdom. Most of us don’t even realize it. I’m not convinced Arcade Fire even understands this longing they are desperate to see realized. Yet God will make His name known and His truth heard even through the voices of fallen, broken, unbelieving vessels.

Ten years ago today, Arcade Fire released No Cars Go. I am thankful that Arcade Fire is seeking, asking, and knocking. They still haven’t found what they are looking for, but it is clear that their questions are pointed in the right direction. Though their vision is clouded and veiled, it points to a place where God will live among his people. A place where He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things will be gone forever. He will make all things new in this place where no cars go.

 




The Rough Draft of Solace

In an effort to be completely transparent, this is going to be messy. I have attempted to write this article three or four times over the last few weeks and it has been a fight to get it to come together. My thoughts are scattered and confused. The end result will probably feel like a rough draft at times and I am going to have to be okay with that because no amount of effort on my part will fix certain deficiencies. One additional disclaimer before we get to the meat of the matter at hand: I’m going to be blunt. I want to be true and honest and real. I don’t want to hide behind platitudes and clichés. I’ll do my best.

Right now, this very moment, there are many people who are hurting. They are experiencing profound physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. Or some combination of all of them. I have friends who are dealing with frightening medical diagnoses. I have friends who are watching their marriages collapse. I have friends who have lost someone dear to them. I hate it. It’s overwhelming in the most complete sense of that word. I hear these things and I have no words of comfort or wisdom to offer. I am struck mute by my lack of power. In a practical manner of speaking, there is almost nothing I can do to help any of these people.

I’ve watched friends deal with so much garbage, so much pain, that it makes me angry and causes my faith in a good God to take a hit. Deep down, I know those feelings are stupid so I do my best to move past them and not allow that seed of doubt to take root in my life. But if I feel this way, safely observing it all from the outside, how much more pain, doubt, and anger do the people living their own personal hell feel? I have no idea. And I really have no right to speculate or assume to know. I can do my best to understand and empathize, but that’s mostly empty rhetoric. Understanding is a long way down the road from experiencing, and I have never experienced pain and loss like so many have.

So why am I even writing this article? There are a few reasons, and none of them very flattering. First, I am not good with people. I am an introvert, awkward and uncomfortable around most people. When confronted with a damaged or hurting person, my typical reaction is avoidance or the most superficial interaction possible. And honestly, it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I have no idea what to say or how to act in those situations. I prefer to communicate my feelings, thoughts, and emotions in written form. Which brings me to my second reason. If you want a glimpse inside my head, I’ll make it as simple as I can: My hope in writing this is that something I say here will be a help to those that are suffering. Yet even here, I ask myself why would anything I write help anyone that is experiencing life-altering pain and sorrow? I’ve landed on something that might answer that question. My words are impotent. My words will help no one. But if my words reflect the words of God, then they will not return void. If my words can offer even a flicker of light that points to the Great Light, then that has to be enough. It’s the only reason to do this.

While I have not experienced loss like many others, my life has not been without pain and sadness. I am beyond grateful that when my family went through its most difficult time, the loss of my sister-in-law to cancer, my friends did not offer us empty platitudes and clichés. They showed up. They cried with us. They hugged us. They laughed with us as we remembered the beautiful soul we had lost. Those things meant the world as we dealt with the pain and confusion and bone-wearying grief. I want to do that now, but I know it is impractical at best. Most people have horror stories of well-intentioned people offering empty words of comfort during times of mourning. I hope this will not be another horror story for some. Yet, if you are looking despair in the face, if your grief is so strong that you just can’t cry anymore, if healing and restoration feel a million miles away, just maybe these words will help even a little.

 

Jesus shares your grief and weeps with you. I’ve always been intrigued by the events surrounding the death of Lazarus in the book of John. The sickness, the delay in travel, the death, the graveside scene, and then the triumphant and impossible resurrection. It is a fascinating vignette, one of deep truth and a few tantalizing questions. While I have heard it taught in a variety of ways, nothing has been more uncertain to me than the simple passage found in John 11:35. “Jesus wept.” Did he weep because of the questions and lack of faith of Lazarus’s sisters? Did he weep because he was bothered by the crowd and their weeping, however genuine? Scripture does say he was troubled by it. Or, did he weep because his friend had died? Perhaps he wept because he was moved to mourn with Mary and Martha. I choose to believe that it was all those things, yet deeper and more profound. I believe that Jesus wept because the very idea of death was so abhorrent to him. As my brother said in his beautiful article, Grief, Hope and Theology That Matters:

“Even more vivid is the account of Lazarus’ resurrection in John 11. When confronted with the death of his own loved one, Jesus weeps alongside his family. Jesus fully participates in the grief. By verse 38, Jesus is so enraged in his grief that he does what every grieving person wishes he could do–a miracle. It is in this account that Jesus reminds his followers that He is the resurrection and the life. He is the conqueror of death. Jesus not only hates death; He hates it even more than we do.”

Jesus fully participates in our grief. What an amazing and comforting thought!

At the end of The Silver Chair, the fourth book in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, after we witness the funeral of an aged King Caspian, we watch the protagonists of the story, Eustace and Jill, cry over the body of Caspian as it lays in a stream. They weep at the death of this great King and friend. The great lion Aslan weeps with them, and his grief and tears go beyond anything they feel, “each tear more precious than the Earth would be if it was a single solid diamond.” And then, in an act of participatory grief, Aslan asks the children to take a thorn and plunge it deep into his paw. The blood then drips into the stream with Caspian’s body and not only gives him new life but restores him to the vigor and likeness of his youth. Aslan felt the grief and loss more profoundly than the children, but then does something that we all wish we could do – he conquers death. That is the promise we can cling to in times of sorrow. Our Lord grieves with us. He hates the things that make us grieve more than we do and longs for the day when He will fully restore His creation to its rightful and intended glory.

Jesus bears your burdens and pain. The first time I read The Lord of the Rings, during my freshman year in college, I cried when Sam and Frodo, the two brave hobbits who had journeyed far to destroy the ring of power, reach the very doorstep of Mount Doom, the only place the ring could be destroyed, and Frodo is finally overwhelmed with exhaustion. His quest has left him a shell; broken and empty. He falls to the ground, unable to take another step; the weight of the ring, both physical and spiritual, is pulling him down, forcing him to give up. That is when Sam, Frodo’s gardener and best friend, resolves to help. He realizes he cannot carry the ring; it is not his burden to bear. The ring was entrusted to Frodo to carry and to destroy. Sam knows this and in his simple and unassuming wisdom, he chooses to do something even better. An act of such profound love and friendship, there is little in the world of literature that is its equal. Samwise Gamgee, though his body has been decimated after mile upon mile of travel, looks at his friend and cries out, “Come, Mr. Frodo! I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.”

Sam does for Frodo that which Frodo cannot do for himself. How much greater is that imbalance in our relationship with God? There are innumerable times in our lives when we find ourselves paralyzed with grief, fear, or pain. In those times, we go through the motions, yet our lives are merely a pantomime. Our steps are leaden and without aim. Our souls are frozen in time, unable to feel or move or trust again. It is in those times that we have the promises of God to cling to:

  • Psalm 55:22 – “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you.”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
  • Psalm 37:24 – “Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.”

Moving beyond the written promises of Scripture, we have the very life of Jesus as a promise. He meets us exactly where we need Him. When His disciples were terrified and confused after His death, not only does He comfort them with words of peace and His presence, a few days later, he meets them on the shore of the sea and cooks them a meal. He feeds them – something so tactile and so familiar. It is just one more beautiful picture of selflessness and tender love for His disciples to cling to when they face persecution and death in the years to come. Our Lord will bear our burdens, sustain us, and He will hold us up by His hand and by His grace. As believers, we are called to do the same. Galatians 6:2 tells us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” When someone you love is hurting and bearing a burden that is too heavy, remember the words and actions of Jesus. If we are indeed His hands and feet, we can carry our wounded friends even if we cannot carry their wounds.

 

Finally, Jesus rejoices over you. I want the words of Scripture to do most of the talking for this point. In one of the most beautiful passages in the Old Testament, we find these words of hope and encouragement: “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” The creator of the universe takes delight in you with gladness. The savior of the world rejoices over you with joyful songs. Or, as the New American Standard Bible puts it, “He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” What verbal expression can be more demonstrative and powerful than a shout of joy? Our God is so filled with love for you, that He shouts for joy. What a thought! In your time of deep pain and loneliness, it might be hard to feel this. It might be hard to hold on to this truth, but know, in the deepest part of your soul, that it is Truth. Our mighty Savior longs to calm your fears with His love. Even now, He is delighting in you. Even now, He is joyfully shouting and singing over you.

 

It is my hope that this doesn’t just add to the noise. If nothing else, I hope that my words get out of the way and that the truth of Scripture speaks clearly in your life. For those of you that have friends that are hurting, you know what to do. Be with them. Grieve with them. Weep with them. Carry them while they cannot move. Be their champion by singing over them, rejoicing over them, and shouting over them. For those that are hurting, I hope that the people closest to you are fulfilling their roles by being Jesus in your time of need. Just know, Jesus shares your grief and weeps with you, He will gladly bear your burdens, and He rejoices over you with shouts and songs. If you can do nothing else, hold on to that.

 




On Stories, Questions, and the Power of the One True Myth

The story goes something like this…
The young man, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, walks willingly to his death. He knows that his sacrifice is the only thing that can save the world. His enemies mock and reject him and finally, the killing blow is struck. But death is not his destiny. He returns triumphantly and destroys the great evil of the world, once and for all.

I am sure you have heard this story. It is one of the most famous stories every told. It is a story of selfless sacrifice and ultimate redemption. Sadly, in many ways, it feels quite disconnected from the story of our life. The story of our life is full of questions. Every day it seems we are faced with new doubts and worries. Things don’t seem to add up. Often, we find ourselves face-to-face with the unexpected. Less often, we find ourselves face-to-face with something much worse: A tragedy. A loss. A piercingly specific moment that slices through our carefully constructed armor right to our very core. It’s these moments, these wounds that can break us. At the very least, they leave us battered and in pain. These moments also  leave us with some fundamental questions: Is God powerful enough to take our wounds and our brokenness and turn them into something beautiful? Can He redeem our suffering and give us our own happily ever after?

         Is God powerful enough to take our wounds and our brokenness and turn them into something beautiful?

For a believer, the easy answer is always yes. That is the quick response. The answer from our heads. The heart, on the other hand, is not always so trusting. If life can be viewed as one all-encompassing story, then we are all actors on the page as well as readers of the text. Yet sometimes, it is as if the head and the heart are reading a wholly different story. The words are the same. The verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs adding up to the same sentences and thoughts, yet conveying vastly different things, depending on the reader. The head reads those words, those sentences, and it sees clarity and a plan. It reads Isaiah 46:10[1. Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure;’] after a devastating loss and it sees the hand of God writing a grand masterpiece. The heart sees those same words, those same sentences, and it feels confusion, chaos and pain. It reads Ephesians 3:20[2. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.] and it feels a grand distance between itself and the God of the heavens.

As image-bearers of the Holy God, our souls intuitively understand certain things. Without getting too theological, something I am not qualified to do, our souls were created to know God. We were created to find our full satisfaction in Him. Nothing else will do[3. John 14:6]. We were created with the ability to know right from wrong at its most elementary level.[4. Romans 1:20, Romans 2:14, Ecclesiastes 3:11] God is a God of order[5. The evidence of divine order is everywhere. Mathematics – Link, Link and planetary movement – Link, Link are just two examples that testify to God’s guiding touch.] with all things ordained and sustained by His omnipotent hand.[6. Job 12:7-10, Psalm 94:4-5, Hebrews 1:3] If it is true that we bear His image, and it is[7. Genesis 1:26-27], then it makes sense that we share some commonalities. We react to chaos, pain, death, fear, and questions in the only way that makes sense for an image-bearer to do. Those things do not make sense to us. Our hearts and souls feel the wrongness of them. We want things to add up, to fit. Good, and all its connected implications, must prevail. Evil, and all its connected implications, must be defeated. In other words, our souls cry out for completeness.

           If you really keep your eyes open, you can catch glimmers of the deeper story all over the place.

Humanity itself, though fallen, reflects this desire for order and wholeness. Our stories are rife with it. You do not have to look hard to find examples. The beautiful maiden falls in love with the prince and they live happily ever after. A boy pulls a sword from a stone and becomes a king. The young moisture farmer learns to use the Force and helps bring down the evil Empire. I could go on and on.

But it goes deeper than this. If you pay attention, if you really keep your eyes open, you can catch glimmers of the deeper story all over the place, some intentional and some very much not. Neo’s (The Matrix) hero journey includes a death, a resurrection, and a vanquishing of evil. E.T. (E.T. The Extraterrestrial) dies and comes back to life, performs signs and wonders and ascends to the heavens. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) is reviled by the people of his time for taking a stand for the good. In more obvious examples, Gandalf the Grey (The Lord of the Rings) sacrifices himself for those he loves and is resurrected in a glorified state. Aslan the lion (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), takes the place of the one who deserves to die, and is sacrificed on an altar. He rises from the dead and returns to destroy evil.

          God, in His divine sense of timing, invaded our story at just the right moment to tell His True Myth.

Remember the story the opened the article? Do you recognize it? It is the modern classic, Harry Potter. Author J.K. Rowling meant for there to be a strong spiritual connection. She realized that the story she was telling drew its power from the Great Story that has been told from the dawn of the universe. The True Myth, as J.R.R. Tolkien called it[8. Link]. Tolkien argued that the great story of redemption has been retold all over the world because it is built into the very fabric of our souls. We long for that sense of rightness. God, in His perfect timing, invaded our story at just the right moment to tell His True Myth. That is the Gospel. That is the story we are all connected to, whether we know it or admit it.

Many choose not to know or admit it. It would be disingenuous of me to fail to acknowledge the strong pushback from our culture when it comes to tapping into the True Myth. It is not a new trend. There will always be those that do all they can to tell stories that run in opposition to the classic good overcomes evil dynamic. And there will always be stories where the “good” guys don’t win in the end. Or, there are no real “good” guys to be found. No right and wrong, no sense of order or completeness. No happily ever after. One of the most popular book and TV series of all time, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, better known as Game of Thrones, revels in the notion that the “good” guys (if there are any) cannot possibly win. To be fair, the story is not complete so we cannot know for sure how Martin will conclude his epic saga, but all signs point to a survival of the fittest and most cunning resolution.

          Our hearts yearn for a fulfillment only the True Myth can provide.

Additionally, critics will argue that these stories–where good prevails, where things fit together at the end, and where our hero lives happily ever after–are just a form of wish fulfillment. On some level, they are right. Many “happy ending” stories are lazy and uninspired by any true connection to something deeper and more lasting. They appeal to the part of us that craves happiness above all else instead of the part that desires something more substantial. The very best of our stories reflect the power of the True Myth by showing the struggle, the pain, the heartache, for without all of these things, there can be no triumph, healing, or peace. The stories, the ones connected to the True Myth, are absolutely wish fulfillment. Our hearts yearn for a fulfillment only the True Myth can provide.


ted%20nasmith_the%20silmarillion_2_quenta%20silmarillion_11_of%20the%20sun%20and%20moon%20and%20the%20hiding%20of%20valinorIn The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien chronicles the creation and history of Middle Earth. (Frankly, it’s much more complex than that but I hesitate to go full-nerd in fear of losing any readers.) The story opens with Eru Ilúvatar, the God of the universe, calling the world into existence. Early on, he creates the Ainur, angelic or godlike creatures that will be his companions and helpers in this act of creation. He tasks them with singing the rest of creation into being. At first, the Ainur do their job well. It is then that Melkor, the most powerful of the Ainur, decides to stand apart and sing in contrast with the rest. Disharmony and discord reign. Smiling, Eru rejoins the singing, introducing a second theme of song, meant to tie in with the first theme. Melkor grows more “loud and vain and arrogant” in his disruption, which causes Eru to respond sternly. He produces a theme so powerful that it works in unison with the first two themes as well as Melkor’s attempt to overpower all. It is this third and final musical theme that brings forth the Elves and men in the climactic moment of creation.

There is another story where the Creator speaks the universe into existence. After the time of creation is completed, all things are as they should be. It is all good. The highest expression of this goodness is humanity, made in the very image of the Creator that formed them. They are placed in a perfect world, with everything they could ever want or need. Instead of living in obedience and peace, they choose to disobey, bringing an end to their happily ever after. They are banished and their communion with the Creator is broken. This does not stop the Creator from telling his story. Though the grand act of creation is complete, the epic story of his love for humanity is just beginning. Across the millennia, traversing miles and continents, the Creator reveals himself and his love. It culminates with the sending of his son to pay the wages of humanity’s disobedience, all those years ago. The wounds are healed. The heartache is soothed. The struggle is overcome in triumph.

          We respond to these stories because they whisper to us of a greater Story.

There is a power in stories. There can and should be a deep connection to the True Myth that God has been telling from the beginning. I find great comfort in the story of Eru and Melkor and the interweaving of the three themes. Knowing Tolkien’s deep Christian faith, it is evident that he believed in a sovereign and all-powerful God: a God capable of taking our mistakes, our hurts, our failures, our disobedience, and our betrayals, and weaving them into His masterpiece of redemption. I find greater peace and comfort in the second story. Even though my heart and soul feel the chaos and the disorder all around, I know how this story ends. I have read and witnessed the beginning, the conflicts, the plot twists, the passion, the emotion, and the grand finale of it all. We respond to these stories because they whisper to us of a greater Story; one where all wrongs will be made right, all sorrows will be comforted, and all tears will be wiped away. We respond to these stories because they point, they nudge, and they push us towards the True Myth where tragedy, loss, death, and hopelessness will be crushed under the heel of the One who experienced all those things in our place. The One who now sits at the right hand of His Father, waiting for the final moment of creation where He will establish His kingdom forever and happily ever after.

This is our story. What part will you play in the True Myth that God is telling?

(Images © Ted Nasmith)




The Easy To Miss Greatness of Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan has retired.

If you are a fan of the game of basketball, those words should mean something to you. Duncan is a first ballot Hall of Famer. He is arguably the greatest power forward in the history of the NBA. I could easily type thousands of words to help explain why Tim Duncan’s career should be celebrated, but there are plenty of other places you can find those sorts of tributes. I would like to make this a bit more personal. Here are five reasons why Tim Duncan is my favorite NBA player ever.

1. Because Tim Duncan dressed like a man making minimum wage. I know this might seem inconsequential, but this aspect of Duncan’s personality made me smile. A lot. Here is a guy that has made over $200 million in his career, and he cared so little about being cool, that he dressed like someone that does all their shopping at Goodwill.[1. This is not a knock on Goodwill. I love Goodwill.] If you don’t know what I am talking about, then jump over here to see some of his more inspired outfits.

2. Because Tim Duncan was everything people said they wanted from an NBA player. I’ve spoken to numerous former NBA fans, people that have stopped watching at some point, and the takeaway from those conversations was simple: They were tired of the ball hogging, showboating, me-first players. They hated what the game had become: isolation ball, one-on-one offense, and players prancing and preening after any and every play. Tim Duncan was the antithesis of all that. He was first and foremost a team player. He consistently took less money to keep the San Antonio Spurs in a position to compete, year in and year out. He was all about the fundamentals of the game. The perfect screen. The technically sound post moves. The unmatched defensive I.Q. He was soft spoken, if he spoke at all. He was never flashy and brash. He was never boastful. He was as low-key as you could get from an elite athlete who was at the top of his game. And he made liars out of all those people that claimed he was what they wanted. The Spurs were consistently a ratings disaster in the Finals. His jersey was never one of the top sellers in the league. He and the Spurs were commonly labeled as boring. If you truly cared about the game of basketball, the Spurs and Duncan were anything but boring.

3. Because even in retirement, he was always Tim Duncan. No fanfare. No retirement tour. No huge press conference. The Spurs did hold a press conference for his retirement–Duncan was not in attendance. There is a good chance that we may never see or hear from Duncan again after this week. In a world full of attention seekers, Duncan is a breath of fresh air.

4. Because of stats. I said in the intro that this was not going to be a typical Tim Duncan article detailing all of his accomplishments and statistical dominance. And it’s not. But I can’t write an article about Tim Duncan without at least touching on his many achievements. I’ll list them in nifty bullet points:

      • Rookie of the Year
      • 15 time NBA All Star
      • 5 time NBA champion
      • 2 Time NBA MVP
      • 3 Time NBA Finals MVP
      • 251 playoff games.[2. Out of 30 NBA teams, there are 18 active NBA franchises that have not been in as many playoff games.]
      • Only player in NBA history to receive All-NBA and All-Defensive honors in his first 13 seasons.
      • His teams never missed the playoffs and never won fewer than 50 games except the 1999 season when they only played 50.

5. Because of this image:

002564bc67451508c38c22When the Spurs beat the Miami Heat in 2014, it was one of the great moments I’ve had as an NBA fan. It was a glorious and impressive beat down. The Spurs played like a team that could do no wrong. If you watched that series you witnessed an offensive and defensive display like no other. At that point, Tim Duncan was clearly still the leader of the team. He was still the star. His skills were on the decline, but he was still a formidable player. Yet, due to how the series played out, Duncan did not need to play a lot of minutes and was not called upon to put up big numbers in the Finals. The stats were spread out all over the Spurs’ roster. But the key to the series was the emergence of Kawhi Leonard. Leonard kept LeBron James in check and added enough offense to win the Finals MVP. Watching Tim Duncan celebrate Leonard’s award speaks volumes about who he was as a player and a teammate. That look of pure joy you see on Duncan’s face tells me everything I need to know about him. I can’t imaging most other star NBA players responding that way. Honestly, can you see Kobe Bryant smiling and celebrating like that for someone else? Can you see Michael Jordan doing that? Contrast Duncan’s response to winning his own Finals MVP with his reaction to a teammate winning and you will understand why the Spurs have been so good for so long. You will understand why his teammates loved him so much.

Tim Duncan has retired.

Those words make me proud and sad at the same time. I’m proud that I was able to experience his great career as it happened. I’m proud that my children were able to see one of the best ever play the game the right way. I’m sad that we will never see him suit up again, take the low post, and bank in a beautiful jump shot. I’m sad that we may never see another player spend his entire career with one franchise, turning them into one of the great American Sports’ stories.

Tim Duncan has retired and the NBA has lost one of its great representatives. Thank you, Tim Duncan, for being the kind of player of whom I could be proud. Thank you for playing the game well, all the time. And finally, thank you for always being yourself, which means you won’t read one word that anyone writes about you and your career.




Five Reasons I Hope Donald Trump Is Our Next President

Is there anything in American society that is more obnoxious, loud, and infuriating than the current state of politics? It all feels so corrupt and useless. When I think of the current presidential race in general, and Donald Trump specifically, I pretty much run the entire emotional gamut: frustration to anger to laughter to sadness. We have a country of over 300 million people. Many of those people are amazing, intelligent, moral, and respectable. Somehow, our system has missed all those people and we are left with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as our final two options for the next President[1. Sorry Bernie. Not really, but way to give it the “old college try.”] Really? As a nation, we couldn’t do better than that?

So, it might seem like the title of this article is a bit incongruent with the actual content. Very observant of you. I don’t really want Trump to be President. That’s a dumpster fire waiting to happen. Even so, I can think of a few really good reasons I would be okay with Trump being our 45th President.[2. Or maybe they are terrible reasons, but this whole thing has me so confused I don’t know what I am talking about anymore.]

1. We deserve Donald Trump, President of the United States.
Is that too harsh? Too judgy? I don’t really care anymore. As a nation, our values our so screwed up that President Trump not only makes sense, it feels right. Just watch the nightly news if you don’t understand what I am saying. We value money above almost anything. We celebrate success at all costs. We care more about animals than we do human life.[3. Piece of evidence #1.  Piece of evidence #2. Piece of evidence #3.] If there is anyone that can be the face of our national insanity, it’s Donald J. Trump.

2. President Trump would be wildly unpredictable and occasionally hilarious.
The simple truth of the matter is, it takes a pretty big ego to run for president. You have to truly believe you are capable of running the world’s most powerful country. That takes some serious self-confidence.[4. Bill Raftery helps explain things.] And Trump might actually have more confidence in his ability to lead than anyone that has ever even dreamed about being president. President Obama likes to talk about his accomplishments. He likes to remind us of all the great things he has done. President Trump would be like that on steroids. Every action would be HUGE! WONDERFUL! AMAZING! He would yell at reporters.[5. I’m actually kinda okay with this.] Mock foreign dignitaries that questioned him or his actions in any way. Make up stuff on the fly and when called on it, he would say that everyone is just jealous of all his money, success, women, fame, buildings, children, looks, blah, blah, blah…

3. We would have a giant wall just like China. Only ours would be so much bigger and nicer and more luxurious, you wouldn’t believe!
Seriously, we are the most powerful and wealthy nation on the planet and we don’t have a giant wall already? What have we been waiting for? I want a wall I can see from space. I want that wall to be so big, you could land Air Force One on it. A Trump Presidency = The Best Wall of America. So much better than that Great Wall of China.

4. Lots of sanctimonious liberals would leave the country.
I’ve lost track of how many liberal celebrities have threatened to leave the country if Trump is elected president. We can only hope they follow through on their threats. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want them to leave because I dislike them. I enjoy being constantly reminded what a horrible human being I am as much as the next white, conservative male. No, I want them to leave because it’s the honest thing to do. I wouldn’t want them to have to live with that broken promise for the rest of their lives.

5. Christians could start choosing faith over party.
In all seriousness, this is not a judgment of anyone that has voted or will vote for Donald Trump. I understand the reasoning and the logic behind such a vote. Contrary to what some have said, you can be a Christian and vote for Trump.[6. Here is one example of people that have said just that.] What I am suggesting is this: If you are a conservative Christian, if and when Donald Trump says or does something that goes against biblical teaching, side with Scripture. If Trump treats a woman with disrespect, speak out against that. Don’t support it or excuse it because he is a Republican. If a Trump policy violates Christian belief in some way, be prepared to take a stand against that instead of turning away in silence simply because of what political party he represents. To be honest, I’m not holding my breath any of this will happen. Conservative Christians have been too willing to go along with the Republican party for years. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

This November, get out and vote. Though you might need to shower after you do.