Friday, July 1, 2011

Tennis Since Wimbledon 2003

Since Roger Federer (currently world number 3) won his first Grand Slam tournament (Wimbledon 2003), there have been 32 grand slam tournaments (including that Wimbledon, but not including the Wimbledon which is going on right now).  I wanted to look at the numbers over the last 8 years and see the lack of competition that has existed within men’s tennis the last 8 years.  The numbers to the left are the current ATP rankings, and to the right of each name is the number of Grand Slam tournaments that the top 25 players in the world have won during this time (note that in the current Wimbledon, two players on this list, Djokovic and Nadal, will face off in the championship at Wimbledon).

1.  Novak Djokovic 2
2.  Rafael Nadal 10
3.  Roger Federer 16
10.  Andy Roddick 1
21.  Juan Martín del Potro 1

That adds up to 30 of the championships in that time.  The other two Grand Slams were won by the retired players Marat Safin (Australian Open 2005) and Gastón Norberto Gaudio (French Open 2004).  So in the last eight years, 32 championships have been won by 7 players.

Compare that with the four major championships of golf in the last 32 Majors, in which 21 golfers have won a major:

Tiger Woods 6
Phil Mickelson 4
Pádraig Harrington 3
Angel Cabrera 2
Charl Schwartzel 1
Trevor Immelman 1
Zach Johnson 1
Rory McIlroy 1
Graeme McDowell 1
Lucas Glover 1
Geoff Ogilvy 1
Micahel Campbell 1
Retief Goosen 1
Louis Oosthuizen 1
Stewart Cink 1
Todd Hamilton 1
Ben Curtis 1
Martin Kaymer 1
Yang Yong-eun 1
Vijay Singh 1
Shaun Michael 1

So, based on these results, there's a lot less of a competition in tennis today, and while it may be good for fans of Federer and Nadal, I'm not so sure it's good for the sport of tennis.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Karl Barth on Grace

This coming Sunday, I'll be preaching on Romans 6:12-23.  While doing some research, I pulled out my copy of Karl Barth's The Epistle to the Romans and found this wonderful passage:

“Grace is the power of obedience; it is theory and practice, conception and birth; it is the indicative which carries with it a categorical imperative; it is the call, the command, the order, which cannot be disobeyed.  Grace has the force of a downright conclusion; it is knowledge which requires no act of will to translate it into action, as though the will were a second factor side by side with knowledge.  Grace is knowledge of the will of God, and as such it is the willing of the will of God.  Grace is the power of the Resurrection: the knowledge that men are begotten of God, that it moves and rests in Him, and that it is beyond all concrete things, beyond the being and course of this world.  Inasmuch as men have discovered it, Grace is the existence begotten of God, the new man, created and redeemed by God, the man who is righteous before Him and in whom He is well pleased, the man in whom God again discovers Himself, as a father discovers himself in his child.  Of supreme importance, then, is the demand that I, the new man in the power of the resurrection and within the krisis of the transition from death to life, should by faith and under grace—will the will of God.  As the man under grace, I am in a position to hear and understand this demand, for existentially and assuredly I live from God and am what He desires.  By this demand, moreover, I am reminded of that primal Origin by which my existence is affirmed, and I perceive that I—and yet not I—am” (207–208).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Charles Taylor on "Excarnation"

I've grown more and more agitated with the gnostic understandings that many Christians have of humanity and what happens to people when they die.  I recently attended a funeral in which the preacher referred to the persons body as a "shell."

At the Stone-Campbell Journal Conference a week and a half ago, Luke Timothy Johnson helpfully addressed Paul's understanding of the resurrection and the body as seen in 1 Corinthians.  Much of his presentation was very similar to N.T. Wright's work on the matter (see Surprised by Hope or Resurrection and the Son of God).  It's refreshing to hear presentations like Johnson's because I so rarely hear those issues discussed in churches.

Charles Taylor has a very helpful discussion of gnostic or disembodied views of humanity in A Secular Age.  He calls it "excarnation," which he defines as "the steady disembodying of spiritual life, so that it is less and less carried in deeply meaningful bodily forms, and lies more and more 'in the head'" (771).  While I am a person who enjoys reading, thinking, writing, etc., I am more interested in an understanding of theology which is not just in the head, but deals with our embodied lives.  This includes not just service towards others, but worship practices that use our senses our senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell.  So, for instance, our practices of the Lord's Supper should not be rationalistic and introspective, but times in which we commune with God and with one another and "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ps 34:8).  As Taylor says, "Christianity, as the faith of the Incarnate, is denying something essential to itself as long as it remains wedded to forms which excarnate" (771).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Martin Luther on Evil

This morning, I'm working more on my lesson for youth group tonight.  We've been doing a series on Ezekiel, and to help me with preparing my lessons, I've been reading Robert Jenson's commentary on Ezekiel from the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series.  I enjoyed a paragraph I just read in which Jenson comments on how Christians should view evil (especially the comment about Luther):

"Augustine said that evil is the darkness where being has run out; the shadow that lies over our lives is the gloom that deepens as the light dims.  Karl Barth said that evil is what God eternally leaves behind him and that the shadow is the trace of his doing this.  But perhaps the shadow's sheerly negative reality is best acknowledged and exorcized by doing what Martin Luther famously did, throwing things at it" (115).

Monday, March 28, 2011

William Cavanaugh on Production

"As I write this, I stop to look at the clothes I am wearing: my shirt was made in Indonesia, my jeans in Mexico, my shoes in China.  My undershirt, whose label instructs me to 'have a nice day,' was made in Haiti, where a nice day for most people is a day when there is enough food to eat.  Most of us would never deliberately choose our own material comfort over the life of another person.  Most of us do not consciously choose to work others to death for the sake of the lower prices on the things we buy.  But we participate in such an economy because we are detached from the producers, the people who actually make our things.  Not only are the people who make our things often a world away, but we are prevented from learning about where our products come from by a host of roadblocks.  And so we inhabit separate worlds, worlds that have entirely different ways of looking at the material world.  The 'happy meal' toys from McDonalds's that we easily discard reveal nothing of the toil of the malnourished young women who make them.  We spend the equivalent of two days' wages for such women on a cup of coffee for ourselves--without giving it a second thought.  We do so not necessarily because we are greedy and indifferent to the suffering of others, but largely because those others are invisible to us."

William Cavanaugh, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2008), 43.

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Naming God"

I love these opening lines from Hauerwas' sermon, "Naming God," which comes from Working with Words.

"'God is whoever raised Jesus from the dead, having before raised Israel from Egypt' is the hallmark sentence of Robert Jenson's Systematic Theology.  This elegantly simple but dauntingly deep sentence took Jenson a lifetime of theological reflection to write.  To write such a sentence requires that the grammar of our faith discipline our presumption that we know what we say when we say 'God.'  For it turns out that we are most likely to take God's name in vain when we assume we can know what we say when we say 'God'" (79).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Working with Words"

Yesterday, I received my copy of Stanley Hauerwas' new book Working with Words: On Learning to Speak Christian, a book I've been looking forward to for months.  I love Hauerwas' opening paragraph:

"In Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir I suggested--or is confessed a better description?--that I write because writing is the only way I know how to think.  That is not quite true.  I am able to write, or I find I feel I have to write, because I read.  Reading is one of the ways I learn how to think.  I am often asked how I have written so much.  The only explanation, and it is not clear to me that it is an explanation, is that my writing is determined by my reading.  Which means that I hope others will write about what I have written about about because they have read what I have read" (ix).