Film Session- Kevin Durant: The Offseason

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch Kevin Durant’s HBO documentary ironically titled The Offseason: Kevin Durant. It takes the viewer through his entire off-season in about 50 minutes. It is a behind-the-scenes glimpse into some of the major storylines Durant was involved in last summer. Some of these headlines include his rebuilding efforts in Oklahoma City, the endorsement battle between Nike and Under Armour, and the Thunder’s courting of Pau Gasol.

Perhaps most interesting are the scenes involving his time on Team USA. You may remember the unfortunate injury to Paul George during one of the games (seen in the clip below). The documentary catches the raw emotions of Durant and the other players as they see it live. It served as a reminder to me that these men are human, too.

Certainly, the film documents just what type of work-ethic it takes to be a professional athlete. However, what the viewer may come away with is an appreciation for just how much athletes are juggling off-the-basketball court.

It is worth the hour or so of your time. Here are two clips of the documentary below. The first one is Durant’s friends reminiscing about growing up together and the second one is clip at one of his youth basketball camps. I would love to hear your thoughts after you have watched the documentary.

Childhood Memories

Youth Camp



Why the Draft Makes Me Smile

I’m not sure how many hours went by. My wife was busy checking updates on the royal baby while I was listening to Mike Mayock talk about an undersized inside linebacker picked in the 6th round.

It’s hard to tell you exactly why drafts hook me so much. There is certainly the sheer inner sports nerd in me that loves the research and projections. But, beyond that, it is a bit like watching a dating relationship on the bachelor. The couple goes on these outrageous dates providing an environment that makes it difficult for anyone to NOT fall in love. Similarly, drafts in professional sports are days for fans, coaches, front office executives and athletes to idealize life. There is blind optimism mixed with idealistic expectations, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Fairy tales exist to remind us that another world is most certainly possible and our hearts yearn for that world.

Every year, as day three starts of the NFL draft, images of past unheralded draft picks such as Tom Brady, guide the viewer to the ultimate conclusion: “This quarterback from a Division III school in Iowa that was drafted could be the next Tom Brady!”
Statistically, we know that this is not true. For every Tom Brady drafted in later rounds, there are hundreds that fail to even make the opening season roster, which of course leads me to Johnny Manziel.

Several weeks ago I read an enlightening tweet. The tweet said something to the effect of, “What is it in you that prevents you from rooting for Johnny Manziel to turn his life around? Ask yourself why?”

Any answer I came up with sounded petty. I began to wonder what it is inside each of us that prevents us from rooting for the best in others.

You may say, “It’s just sports.” I get it. However, I would argue that same trait that allows us to root for the worst in professional figures is not dissimilar to the trait that allows us to root against the promotion of our co-worker or roots against our friend buying a brand new home as we are struggling to pay rent. It is our innate ability to root for a relationship to fail that exposes our own isolation and loneliness.

I will continue to watch the 6th round of the draft and hope that the players all make it big. Maybe I will even cheer for Johnny Manziel.

As you go throughout your day, make note of the places in your life where you find yourself rooting against someone. What would it look like to begin cheering for the very best for that person?

Sound like a fairy tale? It may be closer than you think.

Stop Hatin’: Five Reasons to Follow the World Cup

New ESPN World Cup Ad

I wasn’t always this way. It was a slow conversion, as some conversions tend to be. While sitting in a college lecture hall, a fellow student gave a presentation on the World Cup and why it matters. I vowed to pay attention more when it rolled around again. Aside from the brief memories of Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas and our denim shirted American brethren in 1994, 2006 was my first actual experience of the World Cup. I tried to do my homework and encountered stories such as the halting of a war in the Ivory Coast for the games.

A war….


All because of a sporting event.

Man, this thing must be pretty serious.

2010 rolled around and I was living in Seattle. This meant breakfast equaled the World Cup. I watched wherever I could which led me to homes, coffee shops, English pubs and a random man’s dorm room where I watched Sir Landon Donovan pull off his late game heroics to advance the Yanks from the group stage.

My slow conversation has become full -grown euphoria every four years when the World Cup is approaching.

Countries. Anthems. Colors. Pitch.

The World Cup perhaps more than any other sporting event is about story. Can there be a better setting for the beautiful game than Brazil? The Redeemer statue with raised hands as if to say, “This is good.”

So, for the next month and half I would like for us to journey together as we take a seat in front of the world’s stage. I will be doing regular posts to help us get to know some of the 32 countries that will be participating in the tournament. For now, I offer you my Five Reasons to Follow the World Cup.

1. Slow Doesn’t Necessarily Equate with Bad

Sometimes soccer is compared to popular sports here in the States and it is noticeably different. Contrary to a prevalent opinion, soccer is actually a game full of constant action. There are no commercial breaks. The difference is in the scoring. Goals are sacred. We know that waiting at a restaurant for a good meal likely will taste better than a McDonald’s drive thru cheeseburger. Perhaps soccer is best thought of as a nice sit-down meal rather than inhaling a drive-thru meal. Instead of critiquing, sit back and enjoy. In the words of a wise philosopher, “Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme it’s soccer time.” (Okay, maybe that was from Cool Runnings.)

2. Seems Like it’s Kind of a Big Deal

Sometimes, I think the world is telling us, “No worries, America. You can sit this one out. It’s just something every other country on the planet cares about, but you’re probably right.” A recent ESPN ad offers this brilliant tagline: “Every four years the World Cup has one time zone.” The World Cup is one of things ESPN does well. In a variety of ways, they offer Americans a glimpse into the magnitude of the games. This year, I expect will be no different as they shoot on location at Copacabana Beach.

3. It’s Communal.

I know. I know. Big words to talk soccer. I don’t think the World Cup was meant to be experienced alone, and I don’t recommend it if you have other options. Here in Orlando there are block parties for some of the matches, and I’m sure most parts of the country will have similar offerings. Any time I have watched a match in public, it is always a diverse and rich experience. So, go and get out of the house! Meet your neighbors. When Clint Dempsey scores to put the U. S. of A. in the World Cup Final, who are you going to hug if you are by yourself in your living room? Exactly. Yes, the World Cup is a perfectly acceptable and even encouraged way to hug strangers.

4. Who Doesn’t Want to See the Best of the Best?

Normally, the world’s top talent is split between the English Premier League, European leagues and a smidge of the MLS. The World Cup brings all this talent under one umbrella; an umbrella in this year’s case that will be playing Samba music. Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Portugal and Germany are just some of the teams that feature the world’s top players. It’s like watching the NBA’s All Star Weekend for soccer, but the players actually take the games super serious.

5. Because…’Merica.

We cannot let the words of Lee Greenwood go in vain. This year the red, white and blue offers much intrigue. Former German soccer star Jurgen Klinsmann was hired as the US manager after the last World Cup. He is tasked with revamping the U.S. soccer program. Seriously, how can you not root for a man named Jurgen (Shout out to the Moltmann fans who are reading this. Please Google if you don’t get the reference)? This will be the first World Cup under Jurgen’s watch. Jurgen lacks the American sentimentalism, which can be seen with moves such as cutting the beloved Landon Donovan. A bit of detachment may be what is needed to take the Home of the Brave to the next soccer level. Tasked to play in the “Group of Death” with Germany, Portugal and Ghana, the U.S. will have its hands full. Let’s see how the team meshes with a mix of veterans like Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley along with a number of young, inexperienced players.

Stay tuned for more musings on the World Cup. Think we missed a reason? Let us know your five!

The Underbelly of Big Time College Athletics

Recently, SB Nation released an article detailing the underworld of paying college football players. It is worth your time. Check it out using the link below:

How to Buy College Football Players

Which is David and which is Goliath?

Written by Jonathan Adams

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” –George Bernard Shaw

Recently, I was watching analysts on a major sports network talk about the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. They were debating the merits of automatic bids for teams that win their conference tournaments. In the current system, teams that win their conferences, automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament. As the debate continued, one analyst said rather pointedly that March Madness was not about “cute stories” but rather about having the best teams play for a championship. He went on to say the automatic bids should be abolished in favor of a unified ranking system.

The insinuation is that the smaller schools do not belong in the NCAA tournament. I was struck by the idea that athletes in smaller conferences were merely “cute stories” and not seen the same way as those belonging to major conferences.

History has taught us those with power rarely relinquish it and often become greedy for more. As is often the case, sport mirrors real life.

Last season, Wichita State made the Final Four and was a basket away from playing for the national championship. In 2010, Butler faced Duke in the championship game falling within two points of the championship. We could continue on with a list full of examples of “mid-major” schools advancing far in the tournament.

It is hard for us to belief that teams from smaller schools, less prestigious conferences with what are perceived as less talented athletes, can compete with elite-level teams. Yet, they do it every year.

David beat Goliath. But, this defeat isn’t simply past tense.

It is a theme Malcolm Gladwell explores in depth in his book aptly named David and Goliath. It is a story that he believes has been misunderstood. The reason David was able to defeat Goliath was because he fought differently than Goliath. As an expert marksman, David defeated him with a slingshot rather than the traditional weaponry of the day.

Sure, he played to his strengths to defeat the giant, but ultimately he won because he learned to fight differently than conventional wisdom defined. Once David reached for his slingshot, Goliath did not have a chance.

“There is a set of advantages that have to do with material resources, and there is a set that have to do with the absence of material resources—and the reason underdogs win as often as they do is that the latter is sometimes every bit the equal to the former,” Gladwell writes.

Gladwell argues that underdogs often succeed precisely because they are underdogs. Their perceived deficiencies force them to adapt and look at things in a different light. For example, he points to the number of successful entrepreneurs with learning disabilities.

The reality is that most of us find ourselves on a pendulum of David and Goliath. We oppress and have been oppressed. We wrong others and have been wronged.

Yet, all of us have what we perceive as weaknesses: things we believe are holding us back.
Is it possible that your own weaknesses and shortcomings can actually propel you forward? That story you wish no one knew. That thing you just can’t get over.

This week, the country will watch one of the greatest sport spectacles known as March Madness. As higher seeded teams begin to fall, inevitably commentators will say, “Who would have seen this coming?”

You will remember that actually there was a boy with a slingshot some time ago that showed us bigger is not always better.

To those athletes in small towns and no-name conferences all over the country, keep doing your thing. Thursday you will walk on the court not as David but as equals. And that’s more than a cute story.

Let them serve as a reminder that you hold the very breath of God in you. Your efforts and talents are valid.

Oh, the places you will go.

It’s madness.

Jonathan Adams is the founder of Transcendent, a non-profit dedicated to the intersection of faith, sport and society. He hopes to have a perfect bracket and win Warren Buffet’s billion dollars.

The Intersection of Macklemore and the Seahawks: A Story of Addiction, Redemption, Third, Fourth and Fifth chances

Written by Jonathan Adams

Setting: Seattle, Wash. Cold, grey and rainy. Geographically isolated from the majority of sports culture. Known nationally for indie rock and coffee. Not necessarily hip-hop and football.

Protagonists: Macklemore, Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and roster full of underdogs

Baptized my vices and the bar is my church/
Traded my artist and I pawned off the easel/
Spend it all searching for God, Neon Cathedral

Act I: The Journey Before the Journey

In professions measured by numbers, it’s understandable that you would look at 43-8 and think it was easy. See the million albums sold and four Grammys and think the path was easy. In a year of one million albums sold and a Lombardi trophy, to miss the fact that the journey was almost cut short. Ended before it really started. The paths almost didn’t cross. No, not like this.

The story may have climaxed in the Northeast, but that’s where it was almost put to death in the 90’s. Pete Carroll got his first shot as a NFL head coach with the New York Jets where he was fired after one season. He later had a brief stint with the New England Patriots where he was fired as head coach for the second time.

Macklemore is open about his addictions. How his Grammy winning album “The Heist” almost didn’t happen. “The thing that pulled me back was knowing that I wanted to be a musician, and that if I wanted to do this I had to get sober. So I’d go a month and be sober, make a bunch of music and then fall back off and vanish for a couple months and go back and forth like that,” Macklemore recently told MTV.

Those close to Pete Carroll knew despite his success collegiately at USC, he wanted the chance to show his philosophy and ethos could work at the highest level in the NFL. Yogi Roth, a former assistant under Carroll, tells Monday Morning Quarterback, “Pete told me once, ‘They already killed me once—they got me in New York and they got me in Boston—so I’m going to be me. They can’t hurt me now.’ For Pete that was a very humble way of saying, ‘I’ve been through a lot, and if I go to Seattle I’m going to do it the way that I’ve laid it out, exactly to my personality and to my philosophical approach.’ ”

It’s the philosophical approach that has been unconventional but effective. One that helped win a Super Bowl with 40% of a roster full of undrafted players. The remaining 60% full of late round picks including a defense led by a converted wide-receiver “too tall” to play cornerback and an offense led by a player “too short” to play quarterback.

When Carroll was hired in Seattle, there were not just critics but an audience of critics. People doubted his philosophy would translate to the NFL, pointing to his brief NFL head coaching career in the 90’s.

What is it about Carroll’s philosophy that makes us uncomfortable? The idea of treating grown men like actual men and not objects. We have been told that football’s brutality must also be met with equally brutal head coaches. Abuse is often categorized as tough love.

Mid-season the critics thought they were right as two Seahawks players were suspended within a few weeks of each other for drug-related offenses. Suspensions, many believed, to have stemmed from a lack of discipline in the Seattle locker room.

Carroll’s philosophy of “always compete” has extended not just onto the football field but also to the hearts and minds of young men. Right after the suspensions, Carroll was asked when he thought it was time to give up on people. Carroll noted that the Seahawks were, “looking for the best in people maybe at times when they don’t even see it. So, when do you stop competing? I don’t know. I’m going to work hard at it.”

However, there have been those that have backed Carroll’s ways. Former NFL great Michael Irvin is one of them. “…Pete Carroll has taken a lot of confused, young people who never had a father, and he gives them an opportunity by speaking to their person and bringing the best out of them in their profession.

“You’ll never hear me talking bad about people who give others like that an opportunity and a second chance because I’m one of those supposed problem people,” Irvin told The Seattle Times before the Super Bowl.”

It seems at a baseline level that we know this philosophy to be true. The idea that people are the most productive and can reach their full potential when they are in an environment where they are completely cared for is a widely accepted idea in most workplaces. With the recent release of a report detailing the toxic environment in the Miami Dolphins locker room, some have written of the vulgarity as “just a football locker room.” When did the expectations get lowered to accepting that the evolution of a healthy working environment could not happen in the sports world?

Yet, those who dismiss Carroll’s approach as soft only need to look at the recent Super Bowl film. It was the Seahawks physicality and punishing hits that many point to as why the Seahawks had such a dominant performance.

It’s easy to dismiss Macklemore as a novelty, somewhat of an enigma. A white rapper with a cute song about buying clothes at a thrift store. Yet, beneath the surface, is an artist not afraid to speak out on social issues and open up about his own demons.

Humbled by the road, I’m realizing I’m not important/
See life’s a beautiful struggle, I record it

Act II: The Collision

The story goes that Pete Carroll liked a Macklemore song that was on the radio. He later found out the rapper was from Seattle. A few days later, Carroll walked to a local music venue down the street from Century Link Field.

“It was packed. They were growing crazy—thousands of people—singing his songs. Everybody knew every word of his songs. They loved him. He announced that night that his song, ‘Thrift Shop,’ had just made it to No. 1 on iTunes. All that happened within three days. I thought, This guy’s awesome.

“I walked down into a team meeting and asked, ‘Has anybody ever heard of a group called Macklemore?’ Two guys raised their hands. Nobody knew him in our little world. And [15] months later, here he is,” Carroll recounted the story to the Los Angeles Times.

And so began the unlikely friendship between the grey-haired head coach on his third NFL go around and the Caucasian rapper who is on a continuous battle to stay sober.

I stand here in front of you today all because of an idea/
I could be who I wanted if I could see my potential/
And I know that one day I’mma be him/
Put the gloves on, sparring with my ego/
Everyone’s greatest obstacle, I beat ‘em/
Celebrate that achievement/
Got some attachments, some baggage I’m actually working on leaving

Act III: Why Redemption Always Requires Failure

Nationally renowned author Malcolm Gladwell looks at an old story with perhaps a new lens in his new book, David and Goliath. The basic premise is that weaknesses and shortcomings can actually become our biggest strengths. “When you interview successful leaders, they will always start with what went wrong,” Gladwell noted in a recent interview.

Sure, there is the story that Carroll and Macklemore seem like unlikely friends. But there’s a story behind the story that is begging to be told. The success Seattle has experienced athletically and musically happened not just in spite of failure but because of it.

Carroll’s early NFL failures led him on a journey of self-discovery which caused him to completely rewrite his coaching philosophy; one that a full roster of young men who were largely castaways bought into to become champions. It’s Macklemore’s journey through addiction that caused him to produce a record full of vulnerability that would not be possible if he had it all together.

Deep down we want this to be the case, because if it is true for them then it could be true for us. You and I are not the people we want to be. Not on most days. We want to believe that our pain is not wasted. That we can move from being prisoners of our past to being unafraid to live in the present.

Can we go back, this is the moment/
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight ’til it’s over/
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us/
Like the ceiling can’t hold us

Act IV: Hope Revealed

On a cold, New York night the speakers blast the Macklemore hit “Can’t Hold Us” as has been the case all season when the Seahawks score a touchdown. Soon blue and green confetti comes down as the Seahawks stare at their reflections in the silver Lombardi trophy. The scoreboard says 43-8, but just like in life, it does not tell the full story.

The story of second chances? Sure, but also of third, fourth and fifth chances because sometimes we just can’t get it right the second time around. The Seattle rapper provides the soundtrack for a coach once thought to be a retread, players once thought to not be good enough and for a city that has never seen a football world championship.

If Macklemore were here he might say it like “Raise those hands, this is our party/We came here to live life like nobody was watching/
I got my city right behind me/
If I fall, they got me. Learn from that failure gain humility and then we keep marching ourselves

This is the story of a rapper who identifies himself as an addict befriending an AARP head coach. “It’s very important to go into the rooms of AA, smell the shitty coffee and be reminded that without sobriety, I would have no career.”

May we be reminded of our flaws and may it propel us to each other’s redemption.

May we have the courage to be people of the third, fourth and fifth chances.

God knows we need it.

*Lyrics are from Macklemore’s latest album The Heist

Jonathan Adams is the founder of Transcendent, a non-profit dedicated to the intersection of faith, sport and society. You can contact him at

Resources Cited:,0,7235539.story#ixzz2slxfEPNh

How the Seahawks Stole my Heart and why They Should Steal Yours Too

Photo Courtesy of Rod Mar of MMQB

Written by Jonathan Adams

I did not grow up a Seahawks fan. In 2009, I moved to Seattle, Wash. I would keep my eye on how the Seahawks were doing but that year, the team finished with a 4-12 record. In January 2010, Pete Carroll was hired as the head coach in a move that made national headlines. Carroll had stops in the NFL with the New York Jets and New England Patriots with mixed results before finding success collegiately with USC. He was seen as the laid back camp counselor who would let you drink lots of Mountain Dew and stay up past your bedtime. Many thought his enthusiasm was good for the college game but would not work for professional grown men. Others said it was his way of leaving town as NCAA sanctions were about to hit the USC program.

Beyond that, what I knew was that the Carroll hire created intrigue, myself included. In terms of wins and losses, the team was not drastically different in Caroll’s first year. Though, it became apparent to me that he and GM John Schneider were bringing a completely different philosophy to the Seahawks. Not just different than their predecessors, but different than the majority of the league. Two of their biggest emphases were competition and fun.

“I wanted to find out if we went to the NFL and really took care of guys, really cared about each and every individual, what would happen?” Carroll told ESPN the Magazine before the season started.

What happened was that the team started winning. Many viewed the approach as soft and not sustainable.

The win-at-all-costs mentality prevalent in big time sports costs athletes dearly. Many see it as the only way to be successful and few have challenged this dominant view. Football is a brutal game that leaves many physically and emotionally scarred. In a sport where machismo is celebrated, many scoffed at the Seahawks new approach.
Carroll’s mantra has been simple: always compete.

Carroll and Schneider evaluate talent not based on a player’s weaknesses but on what would happen if they could get the best out of each player using their strengths. The Seahawks drafted Russell Wilson in the third round two years ago after many said he was too short to play quarterback. Despite signing free agent quarterback Matt Flynn to a multi-million dollar contract, in keeping with his mantra Carroll opened up the starting quarterback position in training camp where Wilson eventually won the starting job.

We do not need to look further than the Seahawks NFC Championship win over the San Francisco 49ers to see the philosophy paying dividends. Kam Chancellor, who made a key interception, was drafted in the 5th round. Receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse who both made game-altering catches were picked up by the Seahawks after going undrafted. There’s fullback Derrick Coleman who is hearing impaired. And, of course, there is cornerback Richard Sherman.

Unfortunately, the national narrative has been mostly about Sherman’s recent post-game interview. Lost are the facts of Sherman making it out of South Central Los Angeles to attend Stanford University. Another fifth-round pick that many believed too tall to play cornerback. The perfect embodiment of the Carroll philosophy: fierce competitor whose talent goes against conventional wisdom. With a bit of context, we see Sherman and the Seahawks as more than just a short sound bite.

With the national spotlight beaming on Sherman, Carroll did not waiver and his comments reflected the philosophy that has helped send the Seahawks to the Super Bowl. “I really look at it when I talk to the guys like they’re my own. What would I tell my son? When you really love somebody and care for them, you do everything you can. At times, they’re going to make mistakes and break your heart. But if you love them, you stay with them and help them through it. And you give them the best chance to be all they can be. That’s what I do. It gives us the chance to live this life fully and get everything out of it.” Carroll told 710 ESPN on his weekly radio show.

These words did not go viral the way Sherman’s interview did. In fact, beyond Seattle, they have gone largely unnoticed.

Due in part to this unique approach, Carroll and Schneider have transformed Seattle from “South Alaska” to a premiere football destination. In a recent interview with Michael Silver, Michael Bennett, who recently signed with the Seahawks as a free agent, calls Seattle “the Google of football.”

This approach has impacted the relationship between the city and the fans. The idea of the 12th man has been prevalent in Seattle for quite some time (Apologies to Texas A&M. Please don’t email me. I know you had the name first.). Carroll has put the 12th Man at the forefront, creating the biggest home field advantage in the NFL. The 12th man flag is raised before every game and the team even incorporated it into the most recent uniform redesign. On the inside of each Seahawks jersey is the number 12. Garnering inspiration from Native American totem poles prevalent in the Northwest, there are 12 feathers along the neck and pants, which is a tribute to the fans. You can hardly make it through an interview without Carroll, Schneider and the players crediting the “12’s” for their support.

So while much of the Super Bowl narrative has been and will be centered on a 27 second Richard Sherman interview, I encourage you to look at the context behind it all. A team has proven you can care for the athlete as a person and compete at the highest level not despite this philosophy but because of it. It has already begun to shift the culture of the league. Former Carroll assistant Gus Bradley, was hired before this season as the coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Two current assistants were recently interviewed to fill head coaching vacancies.

When Super Bowl Sunday rolls around, I will cheer on the Seahawks not simply because I lived in Seattle. When the stage is the biggest and the lights are the brightest, I want you to see that it is possible in competitive sports to actually care for people. This does not make someone soft or less competitive but brings out the ultimate competitor in coaches and players alike. A concept that simply tearing someone down can never fully due. Fear may temporarily motivate, but love bonds together for a lifetime.

Compete. Fun. Love. Innovate.

The Seahawks have already gained one convert. Maybe the league is next.

Jonathan Adams is the founder of Transcendent, a non-profit dedicated to the intersection of faith, sport and society.

Resources Cited in Article:

John Moffitt Walks Away from NFL

Really good interview with John Moffitt who announced his surprising retirement from NFL.

When Hate and Toilet Paper Collide

Hate makes us do crazy things. The events of this past week have taught us that as we watched the horrific events in Boston unfold. Which is why a picture of thousands of people with lots of toilet paper caught my eye.

Fans of Auburn University have a time-honored tradition of rolling two big oak trees with toilet paper after football victories. These two oak trees are located on  Toomer’s Corner, a landmark of the university. The picture above (posted by Auburn) would seem to indicate business as usual except the trees are dying. A couple years ago, a disillusioned Alabama fan poisoned the trees. Fans continued to show up at Toomer’s Corner despite the negative prognosis.

After the best efforts of scientists, school officials  announced that there was no hope of saving the trees and the trees will be cut down this week. This past Saturday, thousands of Auburn fans gathered after the annual spring football game to give the trees a proper send off.

Even without the trees, they will return in the fall just like they have been doing for decades. Just as thousands of runners will show up next year to compete in the Boston Marathon.

The significant thing about sports is it creates memories and no matter what horrific events unfold, memories cannot be taken from us. We feast on them together and pass them on to a new generation to do the same.

In a world where limbs get blown of at races and trees get poisoned, seeing thousands gather to throw toilet paper in the air seems a fitting end to an all too tragic week. A reminder that we are more than flesh and bones. We are spirit, too.

Voting: “Thine is the Power”

I recently stumbled upon a little known part of a well-known prayer. It is not that I never knew it was there as much as I never paid attention to it. The ending of a prayer can often serve as the part we skip over to get to the next part of our day.

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.” It is a common ending to what most people refer to as the Lord’s Prayer.

Power is something that can do funny things to us all. Today marks the culmination of a season in which many of us have seen (and perhaps used) Facebook, Twitter, billboards, signs and blogs full of all sorts of politics. I was recently at a stoplight where the street corner was full of signs for candidates. There were so many they all blended together, and I could not tell you a single name that appeared on one sign.

If we’re honest, things have gotten a little ugly at times, as is often the case in an election year. I often would much rather change that aforementioned ending to the prayer to “mine is the power” wishing people could just see the light and think more like me.

Today many really smart, intelligent, kind and thoughtful people will vote in different ways. There are even those who believe the best thing they can do for the greater good is to abstain from voting. Few of these decisions are made in haste and yet many of us reach opposite conclusions.

It can be hard for us to imagine that there is validity in an opposing view. We sense our pulse go up as someone in our Facebook or Twitter feed posts something we disagree with.

There are stories in a book called Acts of a group people who were the minority in society committed to the way of Jesus. They were on the underside of power yet their lives benefited those who did not agree with their beliefs.

America is a long way from the people in Acts as Christians enjoy the majority of power and the majority of voices.

Power can be a hard thing to relinquish when we have so much of it.

We can confuse ourselves by thinking that if our person, amendment and senator win today that all will be right with the world.

Yet, November 7th will come, and it will still be hard to love our neighbor. We will still be tempted to clamor for more power thinking it would fix all the ills of society.

Maybe the best thing that could happen to each of us today is to find ourselves waiting in line for hours next to a person who will vote the complete opposite of us.

Despite all its brokenness, we live in a great country where we are free to vote or not vote as we see fit. I don’t doubt that each of you reading this have reached your own conclusions for really good reasons. My hope would be you can believe this even for those you disagree with.

As a well-known leader recently said, today may we pray that “America would bless God” rather than simply “God bless America.” And may we find ourselves praying “Thine is the power” more than “mine is the power.”