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A  month ago I saw a map (HT: TwentyTwoWords) that showed how many counties away each county in the US was away from the ocean.

I thought it was an interesting look at US geography, but I wanted to see it from a less ocean-centric viewpoint. So I created two new views.

So here is map of how many counties away each county is from Lake Superior

SuperiorCounties3

And here’s a map of how many counties away each county is from a Great Lake

GLCounties3(Click on the maps to see a bigger view)

In either case, I feel bad for the sad people way down in Monroe County, Florida – a full 52 or 37 counties away!

Notable -On the Superior Map, the west coast is much closer than the east coast (23 compared to 29 counties)

Boring details:
Uses Roadwise Contiguousness (i.e. can you drive or walk there from here?)
Corners count.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time, but I’ve neglected to because I’ve haven’t known how to approach it. I’m hesitant to say anything bad about Pelé, because he seems to have a good amount of humility and a God-fearing spirit. So I’ll be as positive as possible.

Last August, on a blog called the talks which posts interviews with interesting famous people, they presented an interview with Pelé. This name is generally known by all who are (1) Non-American or (2) Interested in Sports, but if you don’t fall into either of those camps, I can tell you that Pelé is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, considered by many to be the best football (soccer) player who ever lived.

As he starts the interview, Pelé takes it, surprisingly and interestingly, in the direction of the role of God in human success.

Pelé, when you are the best at something how hard is it not to get arrogant about it?

I used to tease the other kids because I played better than them. Then my father said, “Come here. Don’t do this with the kids, because God gave you the gift to play football. You didn’t do anything. This was a present from God. You have to respect people, because it is important to be a good man, a good person. From now on, you must be this example.”

I find this to be a helpful answer. Your skill at playing is a gift from God, so you shouldn’t be proud of your success. You should mindful of this when you consider other people who don’t have this success.

But this answer wasn’t completely satisfying to the interviewer, who must have a fairly secular mindset. So he challenges Pelé on it.

I am not sure if it was only God who gave you that gift. Being at the top of the game must be hard work as well.

Of course the work is very, very important. That is exactly what my father meant: God gave you the gift to play football, but this is a present. You must respect people and work hard to be in shape. And I used to train very hard. When the others players went to the beach after training, I was there kicking the ball. Another thing I say is, if I am a good player, if I have a gift from God but I don’t have the physical condition to run on the field what am I going to do?

I think this was a fairly polite way to respond to either (a) the possibility that the interviewer is an atheist and feels sharing credit with God is silly, or (b) the interviewer’s lack of understanding of what it means to receive a gift well. Pelé is saying that the best and most honorable way to receive a gift is to use it well. Again, this is helpful and wise.

But then the interviewer dove deeper.

Did you ever feel like your abilities were super-human?

No, we are all human beings. I have to trust something that gives me power…

Very good so far, but Pelé continues.

… I have to believe in something, but in my career I have a lot of moments I cannot explain with God. We went to Africa and we stopped the war in Africa because the people went to see Pelé play. They stopped the war. Just God can’t explain that. I don’t know why – it is impossible to know why – but they stopped the war. When we finished the game and we left they continue to fight.

Okay.

I’d like to think that the post mis-transcribed these words. I’ve actually asked them to post the full audio for the interview (no luck as of yet). Because if he really meant this, I have difficulty getting my head around it. It sounds like he thinks it took something more powerful than God to bring this about. Does he think that God is unable to stop a war? Or that God would not do such a thing?

No. God could, if he chose to, change the hearts of thousands of people in such a way that they would stop warring. He might even use a soccer game to do it.

I wish I could have a more satisfying end for this post. But for my money, I think Pelé didn’t really say (or at least mean) that it would take more than God to do this.

What do you think?

Update: I just added another post about Pelé over at my Dad Blog. It’s largely the same content but from a parent’s perspective.

It is a frightening thing to hear these words:

This is your daughter. You must take care of her for decades, and even when she can take care of herself, you must protect her until the day you die.

I recommend it.

Here some other works that it would be absurd to ask your higher being to accomplish:

• That a greater number of lesser beings in his universe will think better of him
• That he will change the course of our human world so that his sovereignty would be stronger.
• That he will change the course of the universe so that the things he wants to have happen will happen more.
• That he will affect your household status so that you would have something to eat today.
• That he will alter his opinion about a set of your own evil deeds as a result of some penitent feelings you have.
• That he will change the universe so that your life experiences will be less likely to make you want to do evil.

Or rather, again, it would be absurd to ask them, if it weren’t true that all of these requests are recommended (some might say commanded) by the Son of the Perfect Being, as a collection of beneficial petitions, otherwise known as the Lord’s Prayer.

I’m glad you’re here. Please take a look around.

Did I mention I’m on twitter?

If you’re a dad, you might be interested in my “Dads and Anger” series of Posts over at my dad blog. My hope is that these posts will help Christian dads avoid sinfully acting in anger against their kids.

And my main statement is that all anger acted out against your kids is sinful.

Also, I’d appreciate it if you took a look at our Fighter Verse Song Ministry.

Here’s a sample video. It’s bluegrass!

I say it again, prayer is ridiculous.

What is prayer? Prayer – especially the supplication kind, requires the belief that
(1) You, a finite, short-lived, self-focused, fallible, mortal being with little knowledge,
(2) by uttering (or even just thinking!) some request out into the expanse of the universe
(3) somehow might be heard and comprehended
(4) by a more-knowing, less-imperfect and more-powerful Being (to whom you are directing the request), and that this
(5) may cause the Being to take some action that will
(6) cause change in the course of some part of the universe that you care about,
(7) in a direction that you think would be better than if this change didn’t happen.

Also note:
• Often your prayer’s targeted section of existence is not at all within your sphere of influence.
• Often your utterances are made in complete or nearly-complete ignorance.
• The more powerful the being, the more presumptuous your utterance is.

So if, for example, you expect your prayer to work with a completely self-completing Being, who, by the way, created you, and who knows the beginning from the end, how insane it is for you to assume that this Being will not only (1) choose to be aware that you exist and are thinking these thoughts, but (2) to listen to them and (3) (most plainly ridiculous) make changes to His universe because of your utterances.

I note that your prayers sometimes include expectations that this Being might work towards such audacious petitions as -
• removing or modifying enough destructive cells in the body of someone of whom you are aware and care about so that it might function better
• directing a sufficient number of atoms so that weather patterns will fit in with and/or enhance your future goals.
• altering the electrical patterns in your own brain so that it will rightly choose the most optimal course of action in a specific situation
• changing the nature of a dead human soul which is currently in direct opposition to this perfect Being, so that this soul will become alive and then praise his creator.

You actually think it possible that He will work out these things, just because you a tiny collection of molecules on a tiny planet in his vast universe, ask for it. Tell me, what are you thinking? It’s insanity. It’s vanity. It’s … ridiculous.

What’s that? You say this Being (and his Son) have repeatedly communicated to you that he will listen and answer your prayers? You say he actually commands you to pray to him and ask him for things? That he wants to answer your prayers?

Oh. Well . . . carry on then.

Update: Here are some more “audacious petitions” – from a reliable source.

Maybe it was something like this: There are some kinds of ignorance and some kinds of delusion which yield a more productive and happy life than would otherwise be.

Over in the “Dads And Anger” series of post at my Dad blog, I put up my thoughts about the meaning of the two “Be angry and do not sin” bible verses.

I explained that I don’t think it’s a call to Anger, but it’s a warning that the emotion of Anger often is a lead in to sin. It’s not necessarily sinful to be angry, but what it often tempts you to do is sinful.

So I was thinking that this phrasing could be used for other tricky emotional states, as well.

For example – the Bible could have included passages like these:

– Note that you would like to have a big house like the Smiths, and do not sin.

– Become aware of the pretty lady’s prettiness, and do not sin.

– Wish you could tell something other than the truth in this uncomfortable situation, and do not sin.

– Accept that you are interested in taking that CD without paying for it and do not sin.

– Feel the attraction of getting people to be impressed with you and do not sin.

– See the benefits that more money would afford you and do not sin.

– Think “Wow, I’d sure like to tell this person this unwholesome bit of knowledge about this other person” and do not sin.

Perhaps you can think of others. And please note the connection of the elements in this list – in all of the cases the initial emotion is not a sinful one, but it does come laden with pitfalls.

How good it would be for all of us to be immediately aware that we’re in a situation where sin is likely and immediately say – “I’m not going to give in – I’m going to handle this the way God wants me to.”

(Apologies for duplicate posts if you subscribe to more than one of my blogs)

I currently manage four blogs:

The Responsible Puppet – First Blog
The Responsible Father – Dad Blog
Revisiting MN State Parks – Reviews of State Parks
Fighter Verse Songs – The Ministry* I produce songs for and my Creative Outlet

But if you’d like to be alerted any time I post to any of these, you can now just subscribe to my newly created Twitter account.

I’ve got 8 tweets and 6 followers so far!

* Depending, of course, on your definition of ‘Ministry’

Or should I say, welcome back?

I’m glad you’re here.

If you’re a dad, you might be interested in my “Dads and Anger” series of Posts over at my dad blog. My hope is that these posts will help Christian dads avoid sinfully acting in anger against their kids.

And my main statement is that all anger acted out against your kids is sinful.

And don’t forget the new Fighter Verse Songs CD!

Here’s a sample video. It’s bluegrass!

There’s no logical way to go from

Person X is spending none of his time on Issue Y

to

Person X does not care about Issue Y

I will be happy if someday someone remakes the LOTR and Narnia movies and this time follows the actual detailed plot from the book. It will be as if the movie producers are saying to Lewis and Tolkien, “Yes, we feel like you knew how to write a good story. We trust you.”

Not pleased with how old you’re getting? Consider this: Every year you’re farther away from the age you’ll be when you’re twice your age.

Hello Challies People

I’m glad you’re here. Yes, I’m the guy who posted about the Messages in the Meals last week. But that was on my Dad blog.

While you’re here, please go look at the information about the newest Bible Verse Song CD

Here’s a sample video. It’s bluegrass!

The Song “My Favorite Things” has been recorded on 35 different Christmas albums.

Also, the first 24 notes of the melody are Do, Re or So.

“The happy, optimistic lyrics—”Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudel”—are just a counterpoint and cover up an undercurrent of fear… the terror contained in the melody is still the dominant emotion”

Okay, going a little dark there, Wikipedia writer?

In 1988, November 28 landed on a Monday; the Monday after Thanksgiving. I was a junior at Bethel College, I sang in the College Choir, and the Monday after Thanksgiving was always the first day of a week of rehearsals in preparation for the Festival of Christmas, Bethel’s yearly Christmas music concert featuring all of the musical organizations.

During those years–the years before the Great Hall came into being on campus, the Festival of Christmas was held at a large nearby church. All of the performers had to find their own way there.

I had a car.  A big car. A 1978 Delta 88 Oldsmobile. I once measured it, and found that it was longer than my parents’ Suburban. But what it lacked in mileage it gained in its passenger-holding ability.

So on Monday, November 28th, 1988 I found myself driving four other choristers to the rehearsal. Tenor Section Leader Bryan was in the passenger seat, and there were three in the spacious back seat. This happened to be a year in which there had been significant snowfall the previous weekend, and the roads were somewhat slippery.

About a quarter mile from the church, driving through a suburban neighborhood, we came over a hill and, looking down, we saw kids on the side of the road, up on the snow bank. With sleds.

My friend and fellow-tenor Ace, suggested (jokingly – I assure you*) that I not concern myself with not hitting one or more of them.

I headed down the hill, going fairly slowly, and immediately noticed that it was almost sheer ice. And then we saw one of children head down the hill, towards the road, in an un-steerable and un-stoppable round red sled. You know, the crazy kind.

And then we saw him slide right into the road. And then we saw him stop in the middle of the road. Right where I was headed. On sheer ice. I put on the brakes, which did absolutely nothing as my big car slowly continued towards him.

This was a bad moment.

As slow as I was going, there was nothing I could do. I actually steered slightly (very slightly) towards him so it wouldn’t be a tire that went over him.

And then I ran him over. We saw him disappear below the bumper.

I slid another fifty feet (this was Bryan’s estimate later), and eventually the curb on the right side of the road stopped the vehicle.

This was a worse moment.

Two of the passengers in the back were ladies, a soprano and an alto. The soprano later told me that as I got out, they started praying. One of my passengers also later told me that they’d heard the child cry out at some point. I didn’t hear this.

I ran to the back of the car and looked. That’s where he’d be, right? Nope, I didn’t see him.

So I ran to the front. I bent over and looked. And there he was, just under the center of the front bumper. On his side, looking at me. Looking a little squished. Scared.

I asked (with, I imagine, a little tension in my voice), “Are you okay?”

He (with corresponding tension) answered, “Could you just back up a little?”

Now, I wouldn’t recommend what I did next, but I just took his hand, pulled him out and stood him up. We kind of checked him out. He was completely fine. The height of the underside of the car and the slipperiness of the icy road was exactly what it needed to be to keep him (mostly) in front of the car in a non-crushing manner until the vehicle stopped. I thank God. I really, really thank God.

In any case, it was at this point that Tenor Section Leader Bryan gave him a fifteen second lecture about why it wouldn’t be wise to continue sliding into the street at this location. The boy took his advice with great seriousness.

And we left the boy and his friends, we all got back into the car and drove the thirty second drive to the church.

I watched as other people told the story, and I personally told the story more than once in the coming days. Over the years, as I’ve told it, I’ve usually begun the story with, “And don’t worry, this story has a happy ending”. Which I now think was a bit of an exaggeration.

Five other notes:

- In my journal entry for that day, I reported that at supper, my friend Mark was under the table laughing as I told the story.

- In my journal entry for the next day, I reported that more than once, people asked me, “Did you run over any kids today?”

- My primary regret in this event is that I didn’t walk the boy home to make sure his parents learned what had happened.

- The Soprano who prayed in the back of the car has now been my wife for nineteen years. We weren’t even dating back then.

- This year, God-willing, I’ll go to the Festival of Christmas for the 29th year in a row.

- I didn’t report this in my journal, but my memory has it that at a later rehearal, Tenor Section Leader Bryan, giving announcements to the entire 100 person Festival Choir, said, “And in the years to come, if you have kids, don’t let them sled into the road, or sure as shootin’, Scott Jamison will run them over!”

===

* It’s my guess that Ace was in effect saying, “Scott, watch out for those kids there.”

I’d just like to point out that yesterday (probably in the afternoon) this blogs all time views count passed 150,000.

So, do you think Scott Adams (the drawer) is evil because he created such an evil character? Or because he chose every evil thing that character ever does?
See also.

Here’s a link to my recent post about obeying Jesus. Challies linked to it this morning.

Resolved: Nothing said between a husband and wife should be considered gossip.

True? False? Mostly True? Explain.

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