teaching math to my son

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:24 pm by Administrator

this morning i poked my head into my son’s room and said good morning to him.

“what’s the formula of a line?” i then asked him.
“y equals mx plus b,” he replied.
“and what is b?” i asked.
“b is where the line crosses… b is the y-intersect,” he said.
“y intercept,” i corrected. “and what is m?”
“m is the slope,” he said.
“and explain to me what the slope is,” i replied.
he said, “the slope is how many units you go up or down for every one unit you go to the right.”
“so if a line goes upward as you move from the left to the right across the x axis, is the slope positive or negative?” i asked him.
“m is negative,” he said.
“hang on now. if a line goes upward as you move from the left to the right, is the slope positive or negative?” i asked.
“um, oh the slope is… positive.”
“that’s right,” i said. “good job.”

then i wished him a good day and ran out the door.

thinking back on the encounter, i remember my son’s face throughout the exchange: a mask of concentration, as he sat in his underwear on the edge of the bed looking off into space. only later, as i remembered his face, did a certain feeling of deep affection come over me. he is, as he has always been, such a beautiful boy. and my own awkwardness with him became apparent to me once again; i’m afraid to leave him unprepared for the world. whether the subject is math, sex, relationships, career, or surviving the death of his parents, everything that my son knows and believes is so personal to me. i know that i have to be mindful of my own preoccupations and to let him live.

i don’t have time right now for a drawn-out entry. but i wanted to leave him a thought here that he might read some day. unlike lines that we sketch out on graph paper, knowledge takes shape across multiple dimensions. it is not something you can replicate on paper. it is something you must integrate and put to good use, not simply to evidence truth but to enhance one’s experience of life. i can teach him that a line extends forever; but i cannot show him what that means.

my love for my son is forever. it makes the teaching of math so frustrating and fraught with complexity, because it makes all knowledge seem so personal and powerful. but in truth, if it’s really useful knowledge, he’ll learn it not only from me but from many people in his life, and i need not bear sole responsibility for his happiness and wellness in life. where the trajectories of lives converge, there is an asymptote of experience but never true intersection. ah, but how palpable that gravity between curves can feel! i wish i could give him everything i have learned, but this is impossible. two roads will diverge in a yellow wood, and it is then that i will realize that even from the beginning, they had different destinations in mind


death’s end, a fade, visualizing me, and dad

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:36 pm by Administrator

i can’t tell you how much i’m thoroughly enjoying the third book of cixin liu’s three body problem trilogy. it is without a doubt the most interesting thing i’ve read since philip pullman’s amber spyglass. i find it affecting on both a philosophical level and an emotional level as well. those effects are intertwined. there is in liu’s narrative a promise of discovery and evolution but also a profound fatalism about society and the human condition. the latter works its way into the thoughts and relationships of all characters and contexts, spanning entire centuries, until the net effect of all accreted experiences is a subtle but permeating self-pity. liu’s outright resistance to the conventional idea of inevitable progress is very compelling to me.

i don’t know if it’s the effect of death’s end or of wintertime or of my recent critiques of my own politicization, but regardless i’ve moved toward the more phlegmatic end of my emotional cycle. the thought struck me during sunday church service a few days ago that i had no strong feelings and would probably not cry during worship service. i know that this must sound odd to most people, but i’m very accustomed to having a range of sharp feelings and poignant thoughts on hand, to enhance whatever i’m experiencing in the moment. i have a family member who uses marijuana the way i use my feelings; before a meal, he likes to take a cannabis brownie to amplify his enjoyment of the meal, the way i prime myself psychologically to be fully engaged with whatever i’m about to do. but on sunday, i just didn’t have it. i didn’t push myself or anything. i just sat there and took in whatever i could. i wasn’t profoundly affected by what i heard or witnessed. i had to tell myself that this was ok.

it is a season in my life when i am beginning to feel a fade of a kind. for years, i’ve been accustomed to being the sharp end of the stick, the interesting person in every conversation, the leader with the best idea in the room. even when none of that was actually true, i felt that way, and it gave me my identity in every situation. but more often than not now, i look around and realize that i’m not the most interesting person in the room. at my church, the most interesting people are gay women of color. in the company board room, the most interesting people are tech savvy entrepreneurs who’ve come to us from for-profit corporations. in my social circle, the most interesting people are the ones who’ve changed jobs or have fallen into suddenly bad health. sometimes, i feel like i’ve got nothing to give, no value to add. i’m not the guy with the good ideas. i’m the guy who woke up from a deep slumber without his mojo. i’m not hungry like other people are hungry. i’m not young anymore. i’m entering middle age without a plan.

sometimes i have these random moments when i see myself in a possible future. in one vision, i’m standing by an upper story window of a grand and rustic home, overlooking a forest of pines in the late evening. the soft light from the fireplace illuminates my reflection in the dark window; i have a glass of scotch in my hand, and i am filled with satisfaction. around me and behind me are friends that i have recently discovered in my life, people with whom i have built something magnificent, something we will be proud of for the rest of our lives. i see a woman approach me in the reflection, and she is smiling at me, not at my reflection, and she is about to tell me something. that’s where it ends.

my wife has convinced me now that my dad and i are not of the same enneagram type. his anger, his nostalgia, and his particularity perhaps represented a 4 wing. but there was in him also a penchant for knowledge, an obsession with understanding specific things in great detail. it was his means to gaining control; precision, habit, and expertise were how he overcame his essential alienation from a world of aggressive, extroverted, and careless people who were constantly putting him and his society at risk. he hated arbitrary things and random judgments. his rage, when he experienced it, was aimed at the irrational and the unexpected.

recognizing how different we are has enabled me to salvage and redeem the soft thing in me that i once believed my father disdained and perhaps had outgrown. i feel the sadness and defeat of other people. i thought that my father had as well; i assumed that it was this empathy with the alienated that had driven my father to indignation, to rigidity, and ultimately to isolation. and because he had taken this trajectory for himself, i have been afraid for many years that i might take the same journey and ultimately end up alone and unhappy, as he was. but i think of him now and i realize now that whatever he experienced in that childhood he never told me anything about was nothing like what i have experienced in my heart of hearts over the years. my father believed my ruminations to be intriguing at times and futile at others. he pushed me to overcome them. i understand now that it’s because he did not understand that churning and frothing universe of feeling within me that drowned knowledge and craved catharsis and validation instead. that which made my father feel weak is very much what makes me strong. we were not designed to have lives that are anything alike.

i could never pretend to understand where my journey is headed. i’m reading a book about species and civilizations constantly on the brink of extinction, and i’m fascinated and also moved, because whether it’s seven billion people or just the small and trivial life that is me, it’s heartbreaking and also heady to imagine that on our way through this dimension we might just have a perfect moment that was foreseen—and just as good as we imagined it would be


how to influence and how to disagree

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:28 pm by Administrator

following from yesterday’s entry, it strikes me that disagreement leads to anger and then anger leads to hatred when the context for the disagreement forces that path. and mutual hatred does not provide a foundation for influence, persuasion, and productive dialogue. so the question i wrestle with is what contextual factors drive disagreements about politics, ideas, or values to the point of hostile confrontation—and what can individuals do to address those factors in order to create the possibility of productive dialogue, however that might be defined?

i’m going to start this exploration with an analogy that i find helpful. political arguments are a lot like road rage. i think it’s a well-understood fact that car culture dehumanizes individual drivers and creates a context of high risk and limited interpersonal communication that can predispose people to hostile assumptions and even violence. the reasons for this are plentiful and include high autonomy on the road, a constant awareness of threats to personal safety, and physical barriers to human contact and communication. i believe the same factors are essentially relevant to political discussions and reflections. we typecast and dehumanize one another routinely in the course of political debates, as our two-party system and our long-standing political dialogue between the “right” and the “left” imply a binary of necessarily opposed political identities. within this constrictive construct, individuals appear to have the right and responsibility to choose their own political affiliations, thus creating the illusion of high autonomy. the public’s accelerating sensitivities to the ramifications of laws and political measures have entirely magnified the nation’s sense of risk, both personal and societal, in the midst of the discourse. and of course the media depictions of stereotypical constituents and the general perception of a racial, ethnic, and gender context for the political identity serve to erect barriers to authentic interpersonal understanding.

in other words, the country is converging upon the nexus of the 110, 101, and 5 highways at peak rush hour, and though everyone has individualized destinations, what’s foremost on their minds are the lanes that they’re in right now and the merging cars off different highways that are clearly trying to get in the way.

i actually think that it’s nearly impossible to eliminate road rage as an ever-present reality for people on the road, because there is no systematic solution that addresses all the individual factors that contribute to it. however, i believe that it’s possible for individuals to understand the futility of road rage. it’s possible for them to get out of the car, examine the consequences of the road rage they experienced, and practically assess the risks and benefits of the behaviors they exhibited. that kind of self-reflection, repeatedly consistently and with honesty, can change a person’s perspective. and an individual who has experienced this change can talk face to face with another person who is not in a car, and the perspective can spread in this way, in a manner that begins to change the culture on the road one motorist at a time.

when politicians agitate, yell, and point fingers across the aisle, they are performing; they are performing for constituents, they are performing a ritual, and they are performing a necessary political function for the government. but when citizens do this, they are generally reacting to a traffic jam rather than creating meaningful influence. protesters lined up against protesters deepen entrenchments and obstruct mutual influence. but individuals with beliefs can live out their lives in a manner that invites mutual respect and listening; the invitation doesn’t have to be taken, but it is a vastly more compelling means to change than a car barreling into your lane and “inviting” you to let him in.

this morning, my barber whom i have known for five years told me that he doesn’t think children should go to the long beach gay pride festival. as one who took both of my children to gay pride two years ago, i was struck by a need to respond. but i wasn’t in my “car”; and i was aware that my barber would listen to what i had to say. because i knew that i had real influence in this situation, i asked him to consider what it would be like if generations of children didn’t have the chance to see gay and transgender people openly expressing themselves and their interests. would we not be replicating the patterns of previous generations, when LGBTQ people lived in the shadows and children grew up believing them to be rare, abnormal, and even wrong? and my barber, who is gay, saw my point and told me he’d just changed his mind. maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing for gay pride to be such a “touristy” thing after all.

there are many people who want to be right. i would rather be influential and wise. that’s very hard for someone like me. i have to get out of my car. i have to think about who i am and what i believe. and i need to create face to face relationships with people who actually disagree with me. i have to be open to being changed by them if i’m going to have a chance to change their minds. sure, i can be proud and angry and put my stake in the ground; but that’s no better than honking my horn at a guy who’s going to cut me off on the road anyways. maybe, if i could just talk to that person a different way, then he and i might merge better the next time; or maybe we could figure out how to carpool or get off the highway altogether


where i am strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:26 pm by Administrator

i woke up this morning and a thought was already upon my mind, formed and settled like dew on a leaf, and all i had to do was to feel it. when you speak for God, it is then that you are weakest. you are strong when you speak only for yourself—with genuine self-knowledge and all humility that comes with that.

i have been using the Lord’s name in vain. i know it not because i have been called out on it but because my spirit recoils from my own words. what has possessed me to presume what is good and evil? what drives me to feel justified when i express anger or even hatred against another individual? does my faith justify such feelings? do my passionate words please the Lord and demonstrate who She is?

for sure, i have my opinions on many things, and my opinions in some cases are grounded in a truth that i have experienced. but hasn’t the Lord taught me that i am not defined by my opinions but rather am a vessel for them, often to my shame? no man is entitled to his opinions, and i as a son adopted through Christ am the least entitled to my opinions. i ought to bear them as one who sees the constant and unrelenting death in himself. who is the Lord after all but the one who takes the death out of my life?

i am not strong when i express rage against this president, against this society, or against its injustices. i am not strong when i advocate vigorously for those that i consider to be marginalized. i am at my weakest in those moments, not because those causes are wrong but because the feelings i channel compel me to presume my righteousness. it is when i am most certain about a thing to the point of conviction that i am absolutely poised to fall—and to cause others around me to fall as well. if i have learned anything about myself over the years, it is that the Lord is not impressed when i take up a fight or advocate for another; in fact, anyone can do this, and most people will do it more effectively than i. i have not been called to be anyone’s champion. i have been called to be crushed, to fail, to be exposed, to be small, to be humbled, and to be silent. i have been called to be weak, that in my weakness, His strength might be revealed.

time and time again, the Lord brings me low, and then i find a way to dignify myself through various means. i win a debate. i gain a promotion. i earn some money. i gain favor with this or that person. in so many insidious ways, i accumulate small treasures and look upon them as a sign of my significance. and then, when i am most powerful and basking in my ardent causes and my stubborn judgments, God strikes me down and i am ashamed to show my face. the world tells me that i am entering my prime; but God tells me that there is death in me, and it is working its way all the way through my being, and if i cannot master this evil then it will have me. and so here where i am, i recognize that the world sees me as a centurion, but in truth i am a beggar and a fool, and i should aspire to nothing greater than to never hurt another person, to cause no one else to stumble as i have stumbled over and over again.

a part of me will say that it is proper for me to be angry at the president. to be angry at the church. to be angry at those who despise and marginalize gay people, transgender people, immigrants, people of color, and people of female gender. it is right for me to take up their cause, to raise my voice, to be defined by my indignation. but when i am quiet, God looks into my soul and tells me that it’s not my fight. if it were my fight, God would have made me strong in it; God would have armed me and steeled me and given me a place and a time to speak for Him. but in truth, when i am with the Lord, the Lord is not impressed with my words and my feelings. where have you gone? He asks. who gave you this mission? was it not you yourself, and not i?

so today i come before you oh Lord, and i beg your forgiveness. James said that man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God so desires; i have no right to be angry nor do i have the right to presume that my feelings are your feelings. we are small people; our lives are mists that appear for a while and then vanish. even our greatest and most righteous causes fail to illuminate real justice, and moreover man’s greatest works cannot remedy the fatal illness of his soul. i submit to you God that my ignorance is real and that even as i seek wisdom, i am stupid. empty me of all that i value and i will still be the same. i am the shapeless and empty thing that is waiting for you to fill it. and when the time is right, i know that you will give me something to feel and a word to say. it will be your word, not mine. until that time, i will control myself, i will wait for you, and i will know my place. i have no dignity but what you give me, out of mercy. no one should listen to me; i am a destitute man.

today, my spirit is quiet, and i long to listen. your words and your wisdom are everywhere, and the movements of your spirit are all around. i close my eyes and i feel the small ebb of my life, and i say to you, Oh God i have nothing to give you but my life; have it all and have it always


preparing for the super bowl

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:30 pm by Administrator

just a few quick notes on the super bowl game, as i undertake to prepare myself for what will either be a massive disappointment or the greatest sports memory of my lifetime.

first, i couldn’t have asked for a more dramatic and emotionally charged matchup than the one we will see in this game. this is an Eagles team that has shocked everyone including its own fan base by persevering through the loss of its star quarterback. and this is a Pats team that beat us thirteen years ago when we were last in the Super Bowl and has gone on to win the big game repeatedly, earning a reputation for being indomitable. but even beyond these storylines is the deeper political context. kraft and brady are trump’s friends and pro-establishment public figures, while Eagles players on the other hand have distinguished themselves with startlingly sacrificial social activism of the progressive variety. these aren’t just two teams with differing philosophies about the game; they’re two teams that stand for different philosophies about our society.

with this in mind, i’m really tempted to pitch the game as a classic battle of good versus evil, of the underdog David against the colossal and self-assured Goliath. but ultimately, i recognize that this would be very much contrived and ultimately untrue. perspective challenges me to recognize that the game requires no subtext or context and that the players play for no cause but for their teams. in the end, neither society nor i stand to receive any material benefit or penalty from the outcome of the game, and the real problems of society will have to be worked out off the field, regardless of where trump casts his sympathies that sunday night.

so i’m left with this idea. i so desire the Eagles to win because we have a history together. i want their victory to be a part of philadelphia’s story and of my own story as well. it’s been a long, painful ride watching the Eagles go through three different regimes and much upheaval since our last super bowl game, and a win will do much to heal those wounds and shift the culture of a long-suffering city.

now, to the practical aspects.

i don’t really believe that the Eagles will win this game. i’m not going to go into a detailed analysis here, but i’m fairly certain that the Eagles’ defense will not be able to prevent the Pats from running their scheme effectively. if i were a betting man, i’d set the line at -7 for new england and pick the Pats to beat that handily. i’m not saying this because i’m a downer by necessity; in fact, i picked the Eagles to beat both the Falcons and the Vikes and was accused of being overzealous by my fellow philadelphia fans. a month ago, i told won ho that we were going to make it to the super bowl and lose to the Pats. i still believe that is the most likely outcome.

but even with this expectation established, i know that when the time comes, i’ll be rooting for my team heart and soul regardless. so i face this challenge: to accept the facts as they are and to be prepared for pain—but to be hopeful in the best outcome regardless. to be hopeful, i’m realizing, is not to be confident in a particular outcome but rather to abide in a space where faith can hold sway over reason. it is a place of imagination; it is a spiritual place.

in my heart of hearts, i do so wish to believe that this year will be the story of nick foles’s redemption. i’ve always liked him. i got angry at chip kelly for going with mike vick over foles in his first year with the team; and i blamed chip for breaking nick’s confidence as he struggled in his 2nd and 3rd seasons. i didn’t like it when roseman traded him to st. louis; and i really liked our move to bring him back as the back-up last year. foles was our superb sleeper 3rd round pick. he’s a straightforward humble guy who can make all the throws and stand tall in the pocket, regardless of the pressure. he’s struggled with mental mistakes, injuries, and a broken spirit over the years, but haven’t the Eagles as an organization suffered through a similar journey? who on this team isn’t in need of real redemption?

since i don’t think our defense can stop tom brady, i have to believe that we can outscore the Pats. i’m finding it hard to have faith; but i do believe in nick foles. i know i’m not supposed to pray for a sports team, but when the time comes, i’ll be praying hard for my boys.

soberly and with great hope, i stand with my team. Go Eagles


my place

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:58 pm by Administrator

this morning at my team huddle, we were doing our customary check-ins, and a young man on the team admitted that he was being intensely affected by the political debates over DACA. he shared that he has been primarily following the Fox News coverage of the government shutdown in order to understand all relevant points of view; but the interviews he heard and the viewpoints expressed affected him so profoundly that he developed acute anxiety and even depression. as he shared what he was going through, he began to cry, and all of us at the table felt the immediacy of his crisis and sought to comfort him. one person urged him to be hopeful about the political conversation; another person encouraged him to block out what he could not control; but all of us, in our own way, expressed unequivocal solidarity with him.

it wasn’t just an issue on our minds, of course. it was personal to us, because it is personal to this young man, who is himself a DACA recipient. and as much as we have supported him over the months, it was still difficult for him to broach the issue this morning, because every conversation about it is like the reliving of trauma. “we live in the shadows,” he told me. “we don’t bring up our status with anyone, because the moment we are identified is the moment we lose all credibility or power.”

i can’t express how much i was affected this morning by his courage and vulnerability and how much i have indeed been affected for the last year on his account. he’s been an exceptional addition to our team—intelligent, insightful, hard-working, and creative. moreover, he’s american in every way except for the legal document that would afford him long-term security; he grew up in this country, he’s never really lived anywhere else, and English is basically his only language. to his credit, he’s tried to understand the reasons why people would bar someone like him from a legal status in this country; and his efforts to understand these reasons have further traumatized him and set him back in so many uncountable ways.

he was still very emotional after the team huddle, and so he and i debriefed in my office afterwards. after we conversed a little longer and he’d gone through half my box of tissues, i gave him the best advice i could muster. i told him that there was no sense or meaning in trying to understand the people in this country who either oppose the DACA program or don’t care enough about immigration to contend with those who oppose the program. those people are wrong. they are ignorant, they aim to destroy, they advocate an injustice, and they are wrong. that is all that we need to know about them. in the national political battle over this program, there are two sides, and one side is right, and the other side is evil. and if and when the time comes, people in this country will show their worth as human beings by their willingness to stand with the marginalized, disenfranchised, and unfairly ostracized undocumented immigrants to this nation.

so many things have made me angry over this past ten years of my life. racism. prejudice against LGBTQ persons. systematic injustice in the church and in society. white privilege. the objectification and abuse of women. and my anger has not been one of righteous indignation against a foreign evil; my anger has been fueled by the xenophobia, racism, and sexism that i have encountered within myself. there is no escaping the pervasive effect of sin. it runs all the way through our society and into the soul of the person, where it corrupts unceasingly and ruins a life. on saturday morning, i marched with the Women’s Marchers in this city and expressed some of that anger—against conservative Christians who were denouncing us as we walked by them. with my daughter on my shoulders, i went up to a white man with a megaphone and put my middle finger in his face and cursed him. then i walked down the line of counterprotesters and cursed them one at a time, with my finger in their faces and spit coming out of my mouth. my anger overflowed; i wanted my six year-old daughter to know that there is a rage worth expressing, and there is an idea of God so evil as to be opposed at all costs.

what is my place in the world? i contemplate this, and i look at the journey that was given to me. i didn’t choose this journey, nor did i choose the friends and allies that have become such a part of my life. i believe that God chose these things for me so that my place would be with them, always and in the most personal of ways. i don’t know if i’m right or wrong, and i’m not sure which of my many beliefs are proper and worth dying for. but my place is with my people—fringe people, people of color, hurt people, gay people—and i think God put me in this place so that i’d know where He’s at and where He’s going. and in this place, i’m angry. i’m in a really really angry place. and i know that it’s possible for me to be angry without being hateful, but it’s hard, and i’m struggling to figure that out

The Eagles Are Going to the Super Bowl

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:39 am by Administrator

chats with won ho, after carson wentz’s injury in the game against the Rams


Me: depressed
Won Ho: tell me about it. but you know what? like you said, nick foles might still be the man. first of all, he is a man
Me: i almost don’t want to give him a chance
Won Ho: second of all, he is a decent qb
Me: i mean, we absolutely know he’s not as good as wentz. so no matter what, we won’t be the team we should have been, come playoffs
Won Ho: well, we can say that about everyone except brady and rodgers, probably
Me: i just can’t believe this happened. he’s a good guy and he gives the game his all
Won Ho: right. i know
Me: this was going to be the best thing that’s happened to philadelphia
Won Ho: i almost don’t want the eagles to win the super bowl. it would be unfair. unfair to him
Me: no man, i won’t agree w that. it’s ultimately not about him. it’s about the city. we deserved to see this through
Won Ho: i know what you mnean
Me: but yeah, i guess i’d agree that foles winning it would be incredible
Won Ho: i’m just saying, i would feel so bad for him
Me: an incredible incredible redemption story. after kelly destroyed his confidence, after st. louis ruined him, our 3rd round sleeper pick comes back and does us a solid. it would be a story for the ages. u remember everything i’ve said about foles over the years, right? i’ve been his biggest fan, oddly
Won Ho Kim: i know!. it’s very strange. maybe you really do have the gift of prophecy. i’m hoping that you do!


Won Ho: haha!!!
Won Ho: did you go to the game?
Won Ho: haha, wow
Won Ho: yikes
Me: i feel so good now
Won Ho: okay, good, i think
Me: now i know god is with us for real. god is so fucking good


Won Ho: as much as i hate that injury, it almost adds to the epic status of that game. in the end, i almost don’t really care that they won it. i just was so overwhelmed by the drama and excitement of that game. it was a game for the ages
Me: yeah i could tell from the gamecast. i saw that nick foles converted an absolutely critical 3rd down with 2 min left. i want to throw in my support for foles. this is a guy who has superb downfield vision, an excellent arm, above-average pocket presence. he’s not very strong psychologically and got destroyed in a st. louis offense that was designed to punish their own qbs. case keenum is case in point. case succeeded nick foles and face-planted in st louis. now case is an excellent qb in minnesota. not even a game manager… case keenum is legitimately an excellent qb now. so nick cannot and should not be judged by what happened to him with the rams. he’s fragile psychologically, but if he’s supported the right way, he can be not just a good QB but a really good one. he played fairly well in our playoff loss to new orleans four years ago.
Won Ho: that’s the thing, tho.
Me: so believe it or not, he has more nfl experience and more playoff experience than carson, and he could be our man
Won Ho: qb’s canNOT be fragile psychologically
Me: yah
Won Ho: that last point is true
Me: it just depends on what version nick foles chooses to be
Won Ho: it’s a good one
Me: i believe he must first learn to not be a liability. he has 3 games to gain confidence and avoid boneheaded turnovers. he has 5 weeks to get his mind right. but when he goes out there in january, i believe we will have the QB we need. not a gamebreaking playmaker but a guy who makes the completions. we’re not going to blow anyone out, and our defense is not good enough to win games, but foles could very well be a star this post-season, and i think he’s still young enough and good enough to shock everybody.


Me: sometimes i think to myself, maybe i’ll go take a run. and then i’ll think of carson running toward the end zone and i just feel weak
Won Ho: haha. did you hear it was likely a non-contact injury?
Me: there’s nothing left for me anymore. nothing
Won Ho: i know exactly what you mean. it’s impossible not to feel bad about wentz and for wentz. especially the latter. but… i think the eagles are still in good shape. you of all people, being the believer you are in foles, should have hope. you’ve got to believe! don’t lose hope. don’t lose faith. don’t lose focus


Me: listen juan, the falcons are favored this saturday. can u believe that fucking bullshit? we should be favored by at least 5 points! dude, we’re going to fucking BLOW OUT the falcons. not because we’re a great team but because the falcons SUCK ASS.


Me: minnesota is -3. here we go again; no one believes in nick foles. i have been in contemplation about the eagles that i would liken to prayer, and here is the conclusion i have arrived at; this is not the story of the eagles seeking their first super bowl in modern history. this is the story of redemption for nick foles. first, in his spirit; second in his career. nick went through a very hard season after the rams… i do think that he connected deeply with God in that time. now, i’m not saying that God takes sides in sports, nor am i suggesting that prayer determines outcomes of sports games. but i see the trajectory of nick’s journey, and i believe that nick experienced what he did so that he could experience success this year in a very particular way. and when the dust settles on this season, i think people will see that they underestimated nick foles. they judged him for what they have seen and not what God has given him. when the eagles host minnesota this sunday, nick is going to do something very special. more than just win the game, he’s going to put on a show that we will always remember



Posted in Uncategorized at 6:47 pm by Administrator

recently, i had a day packed with meetings from 8 to 5, all the way through. but it took a little perspective for me to recognize that one of those meetings was absolutely the most important one. it was a meeting with a doctor—and a friend of mine—who is burned out and ready to leave the company. the meeting was my chance to hear him, to express some understanding, and to see if there was any chance that he could stay. and among many meetings i’ve had in the past few months, it turned out to be the most valuable, for me, for that doc, and for our company.

i should say before i go on that i don’t know if he’s going to stay with us. if he leaves, he’s leaving for the right reasons. but it will be a painful departure for him, for his patients, and for us here who care about him. but if he stays, i believe he’s going to stay not because of anything that was promised to him but because of a conversation—my conversation with him—and words i gave him that were mine to give. and the things i told him were both simple and true. he has a legacy with this company. his patients and his peers don’t just respect him; they adore him. he’s not replaceable. and if he leaves, i will grieve his loss.

you know, these are not hard things to say, but i’ve never heard our leaders say these things to our doctors who are burning out and leaving. and i happen to believe that these are the most important things they need to hear in their moment of crisis. quint studer talks about how doctors crave appreciation above most other factors, and i was cynical when i first read his thoughts, but i understand them now in a personal way. appreciation to a doctor isn’t simply about being well paid or given a thank you note; it’s about honor and loyalty expressed in mutual understanding, day to day support, and even devotion. you can’t fake that kind of appreciation. it comes from relationship that’s authentic and that revolves around the incredible value that the doctor brings to his or her team.

it’s been a hard week and a hard season for me here at work. i don’t like decisions that are being made. i don’t like the way people are talking to one another. the politics are ever-present and even necessary, but they are taking shape around personal ambition and expediency, and i’m mindful of that. it’s been a time in my life that has forced me to consider the importance of wisdom—perspective that fuels perseverance—and to recognize again my profound ignorance regarding myself and others. i have both overestimated and underestimated the capacity of human beings around me. most importantly, i’ve forgotten that my value to the people i work with resides primarily in belief—my willingness to believe in their best, my hope in their potential expressed in positivity, personal support, and optimism. i am at my best when i fight for one person that might otherwise be forgotten; i am a true leader when, in the midst of this fight, i represent something greater than myself.

doctoring is hard work, and i’m not great at it. i consider it a chore to keep up to date and well-read. my emotionality predisposes me to discouragement and burn-out. i find it difficult to trust other people. i tend to oversimplify my responsibilities in order to minimize multi-tasking during my clinic days. among my peers, many of whom are internationally trained doctors or mid-levels, i consider myself an average primary care doctor. but in one area, i excel. i connect with the feelings and the suffering of others around me. it is my gift to my patients and to my colleagues. i know when someone’s in crisis. i can respond to that crisis with empathy, compassion, and intensity. i’ve come to learn that this is my gift not only in the exam room but also in the board room. and long after i stop seeing patients, i hope it is the gift that i will teach others to express for themselves.

these days, i grieve for so many things, and i wish i could turn off that feeling. but today, i just hope for one thing: that i can convince a good doctor to stick it out with me and to build a career with us that exceeds his expectations. i have become mired in so many things that really don’t matter much, and perhaps it’s a stroke of luck that enabled me to find the one gem in the mud. it’s a single conversation that reminded me why i lead; it’s a heartfelt connection to someone, in the end, that really matters


a prayer for my wife

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:24 pm by Administrator

how am i to pray for this thing? i would begin by telling you that we need something, but who knows better than you what we need? or i would plead with you for this thing we desire, but who are we to say that this thing that we want will please you? i come before you as i always do, wanting something but unable to ask for it, unsure you will grant it but confident that you will work out everything for our good. it is good to come to you this way; and it is terribly difficult as well.

shall i ask you of the thing or not? what is it that you are going to do anyways, regardless of my wish? i would never pretend that i could change your mind; so then the thing i must consider is whether my mind is aligned with yours on this thing that i desire. how can i know this? for my whole life with you, i have aimed to know your mind and i have been thwarted. it is only in retrospect, when i reflect upon the directions my life has taken, that i understand both your power and the goodness of your intentions for me. but here is the challenge of the perspective you have given me: i cannot be both in the present and in the future within which the truth of the present is known. i feel cursed for my limitations. i feel ignorant in the face of your vast knowledge which spans time. i can only imagine that all things i pray for are simple and in vain.

and yet, i consider this fact: that you have never once demanded that i come to you as anything other than what i am. and in truth, did you not command us to come to you as children do? children ask for the thing that they want. they ask without consideration; they ask without artifice or duplicity; they ask with the expectation of receiving. it is true that i have asked things of you in this way and you have denied me. you did not give me an explanation, but you were not unkind to me in your refusal. you made your intentions clear, and whether i liked your decision or not, i walked with you regardless. asking you for what i want, i’ve realized, is not how i experience relationship with you. asking you for what i want is my way of getting to know who you are. and you are a powerfully mysterious God, almost unknowable if not for the glimpses you give me of the intimately knowable person you are.

so i come to you here and now, with a burden upon my heart, to ask you for something that i am not sure you wish to grant me, knowing still that by asking you i will discover something of you that has yet to be revealed. it is a gift to know you through all things and in all ways; and thus i understand that this desire for my wife’s job was given to me not necessarily to be satisfied in my way but to be fulfilled completely in your way. this is a hard thing for me to accept, even as it is a wonderful gift to be contemplated. and when i consider my lifetime of prayers—prayers for dying and sick people, prayers for hard or unjust situations, prayers for individuals and nations in the midst of terrible suffering—i recognize that i have come to know you through what you have given me and what you have chosen not to give me. there were people about to die that you chose not to revive. there were people who suffered an injustice that was not reversed. there were people i loved that were betrayed or injured, and there was no restitution for them. i wanted to hate you for not hearing my cry; but instead, i learned to love you for carrying us through the pain that we experienced as a result of our sins and the sins of our kind.

my wife is interviewing for a job. it is no common interview, as it is no common opportunity. i would give up everything i have gained in my career to open this door for her, because you know that i cannot be well until she is well—and her wellness begins with this, the chance for her to exercise influence around the passion and interests that you have given her. i would bang on your door, i would exhort you with tears, i would flood your presence with cries of passion. but my sacrifices and my entreaties do not impress you, and they never have. the relationship we have forged over the years is not one in which you wait for me to beg, and the love you have for me is not one in which you reward only my most heartfelt efforts. the relationship we have is one of trust and mutual knowing. and i know you, oh lord my God, a spirit that is unknowable to all but the ones you have chosen to reveal yourself to. and because i know you, i know this: i can ask for this thing, and you will give it to me. this thing is indeed my wife’s job opportunity—and of course it is a thing far greater as well.

remember her life and her aspirations today. on account of your favor to us, grant us our heart’s desire to the fullest extent. on account of your love for Christ, your son who chose us and died in our stead, remember us today with passion, and deliver us from our doubts. we put our trust in you, not in our qualifications or in the opinions or esteem of others. we put our trust in you, the God who has never failed us, the God who has always favored me with that unique and overwhelming favor. other people may have asked you for things and been rejected; but you have never rejected me. in the midst of your singular affection, i thrive and give utter glory to you. the battle ahead of us has already been won. thus, in the midst of my supplication, i also give you thanks, because i know that before i even asked, the thing i so craved was given to me.

i love you. when i say that i love you, what i am saying is that i would spend my whole life to just learn what is upon your heart and to delight in who you are. it makes no difference what i know or believe or what i want you to be; i will relinquish all of that and more and even change, that my daily discovery of you might be wonderful every time. today, i pray to you because i love you, and because i trust you, and because i know what i am asking of you, and because i do not fully understand what it is that you have to give me. be my God and my Lord; show me who you are. demonstrate your power, and let me take shape in the wake of what you perform. i am yours, always.


Posted in Uncategorized at 6:50 pm by Administrator

i have stumbled into this tuesday morning after a night of strangely light and fitful sleep that was filled with vivid dreams. it’s overcast, and i feel out of place. i know that this is a feeling that will pass. at the same time, i know that it is a feeling that is full of truth for me, and as such i want to heed that truth for what it has to tell me. on mornings like today, i know that i do not belong to these people, to this company, and to this society. i belong to God, who is and always will be a nomad among Her people, wandering through the lives of men and women, searching for those who might hear His voice and relinquish their lives full of idols and deathly things. i too will wander over the course of my life, and i will not find a home here, and i will live out my days in this land of strangers.

it has been a season full of heavy reflections. many of my friends have fallen ill, and some have been recently diagnosed with cancers of various kinds. my wife is interviewing for jobs, and the process takes it toll on us, as it has before. the leaders at my company in general struggle to show compassion and understanding to one another, and as a result we lurch back and forth trying to find a rhythm but without the trust to actually move together in lock-step. and all of this of course is transpiring within the broader context of a nation in the grips of a new cycle that spews out messages of hatred, prejudice, and outright idiocy.

it is strange to see the erosion of our confidence mirrored in the upheavals of nature around me. rain comes upon this recently ravaged land and sends the earth into tumult, with mudslides and boulders crashing upon homes and killing people. once upon a time, i celebrated the rain; but now i understand how it perpetuates the ruthless cycle. grass, shrubs, and other vegetation will rise quickly from this stubborn soil, as the earth is drenched; then the hot season will come, and all of this greenery will become kindling for the next devastating fire, which will sweep across the land. then the rain, long forgotten, will return and again run through unrooted soil, pushing the land into the rivers and the sea.

there is so much to grieve; but i find myself mute and even paralyzed. where is the feeling, that i might name this grief? where are my tears, that i might let it go?

i have this one comfort: that the grief surely has an end. it surely has an end. i thought i heard the Lord tell it to me in a quiet voice last week, that this chapter of our lives is coming to an end. my time in this city, my time with these people, my time with this particular kind of preoccupation—all of it is ending, and a new beginning awaits. i once feared the change, but now i look to it for life. indeed, perhaps i have been struggling here for too long of a season, and the grief will have no outlet or expression because it was meant to build and to flow over, to flood my life and to propel me from this place that i have come to know and to love, to uproot my life and to send me across miles of space and rumination into somewhere utterly new

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