I hate them

I hate them.

Yes, I mean “hate.”

I loathe, detest, despise, and abhor. I hate them.

They are slimy… kind of briny, too.

Yes, I hate pickles. Ask my dearest Facebook friends. They regularly enjoy egging me on, finding the latest, creative Vlasic variety, making all sorts of kosher comments.

Did I mention I hate them?

Let’s be clear: I have good reason for hating them. They taste awful. Their texture is sludgy; they are not smooth; and their greenish color is simply not appetizing. And even though, according to Statista based on the U.S. Census data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (and even though it’s totally crazy that we keep statistics on these things) 233.12 million Americans consumed pickles in 2017, it changes nothing.

I hate them. And every one of those actual 233.12 million is simply blind, wrong, or seriously misguided.

I hear you…

“AR, you hate something? … someone?

You hate it?”

Yes… yes, I do.

“But don’t you know that hate is foolish? How it usually represents more of a blindspot in the beholder than in the object of the abhorrence?”

You don’t get it.

I have a reason for my hate.

My hate is justified.

And the minute we justify our own hate, the minute we cement the blind spot… the minute we lose our objectivity — regardless of our intelligence. Our hatred has impeded our ability to think clearly — and our ability to love and work with the different.

This is tough, friends. I get it. Some things and people make us really mad. Understandably. But let us not be willing to sacrifice a greater virtue, giving our hate and judgment a life of its own.

I can hear you now. Here come even more kosher comments, disrespectful memes, and even that oddball ad that thinks someone, somewhere desires Chapstick in some sort of dill flavor.


And did you see Sonic? The drive-up fast food restaurant recently announced that they will be selling pickle slushies this summer.

Are you kidding me?

First pickle Pringles, then pickle vodka, and now the summer slushie?

These people are nuts! Don’t they realize how awful they are?

Or wait…

You mean they don’t all think like me?


one shining moment

Perhaps you saw it. Perhaps you did not.

When the University of Michigan men’s basketball team hit their improbable, last-second shot — shockingly sending the Wolverines into the so-called “Sweet 16” — pandemonium erupted on the court. As is often typical these days, the players and fans went a little, understandably crazy.

There was shock on both ends — in winning. And losing.

And then there was this, as depicted by Brian Smith, for www.AthletesInAction.com:

“… As Houston’s Cory Davis watched in disbelief along the sideline, he was met by an unlikely visitor. Mo Wagner, a forward for the Wolverines known for his grit and sometimes chippy play, stopped pursuing the chaos and momentarily reengaged his opponent.

The moment is worth championing on multiple levels.

God created us to celebrate when things go well. It completes the experience. To neglect the opportunity to celebrate would leave us feeling like we had one final piece of a puzzle that we just decided not to fit into place. There is nothing wrong with the rest of the Wolverines chasing each other around the court. You can even see Wagner start the celebration process.

But then he presses pause. Why?

I have no idea. I can guess, but ultimately, I don’t know why he stopped.

That’s a large reason why this moment was so beautiful. It was not normal or expected. It was not scripted. You can tell from Wagner’s body language that he did not start running with the intention of stopping to chat with Davis. It certainly wasn’t to mock Davis.

Something more like competitive empathy. Athletic respect toward a fellow player who competed at a high level and helped bring out everyone’s best. Understanding born out of his own experience with losing. A genuine compassion extended to the vanquished — perhaps out of relief that he wasn’t having to suffer the emotions that come with Davis’ fate. A simple display of class. Whatever — it was something worth noticing.

March Madness never fails to deliver memorable moments. The Cinderella stories, unlikely comebacks, and buzzer beaters will always make ESPN headlines.

But moments like these make sports so captivating for us. Against the backdrop of the Madness, snapshots of compassion and empathy continue to capture our attention — and keep us fixated to see what could potentially happen next.”

I’m reminded of a previous post penned last fall. It detailed the 14 warmup shirts worn by the Purdue men’s basketball team this season. Each wore a different word…


Isn’t it true? Against the backdrop of the madness, the above virtues capture our attention most. They last for more than one shining moment in time.


the other side of madness

Like many this weekend, I watched as dreams were dashed and brackets were bashed on the college hardwood. With improbable upsets and last-second shots moving from desire to reality, it was an exciting weekend for even the fair-weather fan.

None was as unlikely or historic as the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s win over Virginia. Virginia was considered the strongest team in the tournament; UMBC was considered the weakest. With the upset being the first time a #16 seed has ever defeated a #1 seed in the men’s NCAA tournament, (if you were up late enough to watch it) history was made. It was an iconic moment in sports.

Let that sink in for a moment. An iconic moment in sports occurred at the hands of a small group of 18-22 year old, amateur, young men.

So as the clock wound down and the upset evolved from the impossible to the unlikely to the seriously-are-you-kidding-me, jubilation was everywhere… Oh, how we love a good underdog!

The jubilation was everywhere! … yes … except in the hearts of the players and fans from the University of Virginia.

As fun as it was to watch the unprecedented glee from UMBC’s Retrievers — “Retriever Nation,” as is now being trademarked (even though a mere four days ago, said “nation” equated to a little more than five thousand fans), it was hard to watch the poignant pain of those who cheered on the Cavaliers.

The contrast was striking… untamed joy on one side… complete, unexpected shock on the other.

It made me ask, “How often am I aware of the other side?”

When the madness turns to sadness for a select group of people, do I:

… deny it?
… act like it’s no big deal?
… act as if only my perspective or emotion is important?

As the upsets continued — from my Ohio friends working through the unforeseen losses of both Xavier and the University of Cincinnati to Auburn, North Carolina, and Tennessee — I was struck by the postgame press conference of Michigan State’s Miles Bridges. Bridges is considered one of college basketball’s best players and he just participated in the Spartan’s shocking defeat at the hands of Syracuse, a team which barely eked their way into this year’s bracket.

Said an obviously distraught Bridges, “I really just couldn’t believe that we had lost. I thought we had the best shot to win a national championship. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that. It’s probably the saddest I’ve ever been in my life.”

Note that: “the saddest I’ve ever been in my life.”

Right — these are most likely, with all due respect, fairly immature 18-22 year old men — but it does not negate the fact that one person’s glee is still another person’s agony.

Does it matter?

Should the emotions of another affect me? Or affect how I respond?

While I pray for these young men — deeply desiring them to realize there is so much more of life to be lived and how God totally teaches each of us in the hard spots, so-to-speak, especially if we let him — I’m mindful that the elation of one should never blind us to the heartache of another…

… either on and off the college hardwood.


the down syndrome abortion debate

Some days I simply pause, completely perplexed at what current culture feels a need to next debate. Intelligent people on all sides of the aisle or all sides of something wrangle about all sorts of issues, each seemingly, boldly declaring that they represent the moral authority in the land. I see a world which is morally confused. And our intelligence has gotten in the way.

As referenced here last fall, for example, in Iceland, doctors are now required to tell expectant mothers about an available screening test that can indicate the presence of Down syndrome in their baby. CBS originally ran this story under the headline “Inside the Country Where Down Syndrome Is Disappearing,” omitting the reality that only live birth stats were decreasing due to abortion — not because fewer babies had the genetic disorder. Close to 100% of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in Iceland are now aborted.

An entire people group is being eradicated because of who they are and how they are born.

With the Icelandic development combined with already high American abortion rates when a baby is identified as having a third copy of chromosome 21, there has been a push in recent years for state legislatures to enact law which prohibits abortion based strictly on a Downs diagnosis. Indiana, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Ohio have already passed such legislation, with Utah’s legislature currently debating such a bill.

And hence, we debate. We debate what’s right. We debate who is right. And yes, sometimes intelligence seems to get in the way.

A week ago, longtime, well-known Washington Post journalist, Ruth Marcus, addressed the issue. Marcus is a woman the Intramuralist has long read and respected, as she is articulate, witty, and bright. She identifies as liberal with the Democratic Party (… and friends, for a more balanced perspective, please be reading people from both or multiple parties…).

While I respect Marcus’s support of abortion law, it was the following expression that made this parent pause:

“… I respect — I admire — families that knowingly welcome a baby with Down syndrome into their lives. Certainly, to be a parent is to take the risks that accompany parenting; you love your child for who she is, not what you want her to be.

But accepting that essential truth is different from compelling a woman to give birth to a child whose intellectual capacity will be impaired, whose life choices will be limited, whose health may be compromised. Most children with Down syndrome have mild to moderate cognitive impairment, meaning an IQ between 55 and 70 (mild) or between 35 and 55 (moderate). This means limited capacity for independent living and financial security; Down syndrome is life-altering for the entire family.

I’m going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted…”

As a person who made the choice not to abort my child with Downs, I appreciate Marcus’s admiration and respect. Now let me be blunt in response.

My child with Downs, Joshua, was not the child I wanted either.

I didn’t want a son whose intellectual capacity was impaired, whose life choices would be different than mine, nor one who had to deal with a life-threatening heart defect. I didn’t want that. For him or for me. In fact — let’s get real here — I actually prayed that Josh would not have Down syndrome.

But thank God sometimes His answer is different than we ask. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know how much this young man — who yes, is different than me — would teach me. I didn’t know how much I could learn from one whose IQ is significantly lower than mine. I didn’t know how impactful it would be to do life and raise a child with a disability. I didn’t know how much it would change me — and yes, how much I would grow from being changed. I had zero clue how vibrant the life and amazing the impact a person absent of high intellect could be.

The reality is that Josh is thriving. The reality also is that if I was not given the responsibility to parent young master Josh, I would know no more of life and God than I already do.

Thank God He did not answer my prayer the way I asked. Had Josh been any different, I would not be different. I would have grown less.

Instead, I’ve grown to be humbler, wiser, and far more empathetic and compassionate for others — for who they are and how they are born… all because of that one very special Joshua… that one extra chromosome… and a God who knew better than me.

Respectfully… always…

what’s in a name? madness!

Ah, ’tis always one of my favorite times of year, regardless of the resulting madness…

As is typical, a plethora of Wildcats, Bulldogs, and birds tend to show up, and once again, they did not disappoint — as included are five of the untamed felines and two of the smooth-haired canines, with fowl flying in from Brooklyn, Creighton, and Kansas.

It amazes me, too, how the more dawdling animals embrace the court (no uptempo offense here). Hence, beware of those sneaky Bisons from both Bucknell and Lipscomb and Bulls from Buffalo, too.

There exist some perennial favorites, such as the Spartans and Dukies. But did you know that this year, there exists a pair of Spartans, with only one inhabiting the State of Michigan — and Duke, well, they are one of two teams hailing from Durham, North Carolina (… go, North Carolina Central, go… another bird, no less).

Can we talk about the Dukies again for a moment?

Years ago, I made a decision not to intentionally support anything associated with some kind of evil. So, sorry, Blue Devil fans; my loyalty is out. (That includes you, too, Arizona State).

Granted, this isn’t exactly a politically correct kind of field — you know the kind? “Politically correct” means we don’t talk honestly and openly about politics, religion, money, or sex. Thankfully, most of those remain missing, but note the faithful following in the Friars from Providence and Quakers from Penn.

We also have some identity politics that made the cut, albeit such a distinction always omits someone. Check out Iona’s Gaels — with a “Gael” equated to anyone of Irish-Gaelic ancestry — and the Seminoles from Tallahassee and Aztecs from San Diego.

We have the men from Syracuse, too, although they are just a color now. Then again, perhaps they find commonality with Alabama, whose crafting of the Crimson moniker came years ago, when the football team found themselves in a sea of red mud, staining their white jerseys crimson.

But lest we get lost in any one team’s individualization, it’s also true that multiple teams come to us in pairs. We have Raiders and Red Raiders, Cougars and Cougars (no women), Aggies and more Aggies (what exactly is an “Aggie” by the way?), the Wolfpack and Wolf Pack, in addition to an untamed Tiger quartet.

Standard animals are also included — especially the ursine crowd of Bearcats, Bruins and Grizzlies, and the lupine-like Panthers and Wolverines. The bear and wolf families will play among the familiar Gators, Retrievers, and Razorbacks, along with the more bovine Longhorns, Rams, and quite vocal Thundering Herd. True, some animals seem a little less intimidating on the hardwood, but we welcome all — we are an equal opportunity fan base — thinking of those small nibbling creatures closer to the order Rodentia, those mighty Jackrabbits and even Horned Frogs.

Unlike the small creatures, some teams are not animals but their names indeed imply speed. Hence, we welcome Murray State’s Racers and the Ramblers from Loyola-Chicago.

I must admit, some names simply don’t make sense to me. Who are they and why do they talk that way about themselves? For example, how many Pirates have you ever seen in South Orange, New Jersey? And what about Stephen F. Austin’s Lumberjacks? Didn’t the “Six Million Dollar Man” retire eons ago?

Let us not omit the more nondescript terminology, recognizing no matter the ambiguity, they are still endearing to a specific, faithful fandom. You go, Bonnies, Hokies, and Tar Heels!

Some have a more regal or rugged role — the Cavaliers, Titans, and Musketeers, for instance. One group from Southeast Florida actually depicts the weather; another is a little nutty from Ohio. Still more openly hope to climb to new heights (see Highlanders, Radford; and Mountaineers, West Virginia).

Note that once again, I learned much this mad time of year…

  • Tennessee’s team is called the “Volunteers” — not due to every Tennessean being so stinkin’ selfless, but rather, in somewhat of a disputed account, the nickname is tied to the state’s citizens’ prominent military role during the War of 1812.
  • “Sooners” denotes “can-do” individuals, invoking the spirit and enthusiasm of Oklahoma’s pioneer heritage.
  • And Wichita State’s “Shockers” was pegged over a century ago, referring to the summer jobs of many of their football players who harvested — or “shocked” — wheat. Their mascot, “WuShock,” is actually a bundle of wheat.

And last but not least, surprisingly, are my beloved Boilermakers, a name originally intended for insult but yet described the burliness and brawn of those mighty men from the banks of the Wabash in Indiana.

What’s in a name?


Let the madness begin.


a humble strength, calm trust, even Bush & Obama…

One of the truths sharpened in me as I’ve grown in adulthood is the need to sit under the wisdom of someone else. In other words, there is great sagacity in learning to submit to another. Submission isn’t a form of weakness, friends; rather, it is evidence of both humility and strength.

We see that strength in history’s wise men and women. None have ever been convinced that they are the wisest person they know.

I keep thinking of those wise men and women — something the Intramuralist craves. Hence, the below interaction caught my eye last week — the relationship between Billy Graham and George W. Bush. The former President spoke candidly as to the keen, deep influence of Graham — a man who befriended and influenced so many — including (I love this!) those named Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan, Obama.

Bush 43 spoke of first meeting Graham in 1985 on his grandmother’s porch. He would later spend extended time with the Reverend. According to the President, Graham “changed my life”…

“… I was captivated by him. He had a powerful presence, full of kindness and grace, and a keen mind… I mentioned something I’d been thinking about for a while—that reading the Bible might help make me a better person. He told me about one of the Bible’s most fundamental lessons: One should strive to be better, but we’re all sinners who earn God’s love not through our good deeds, but through His grace. It was a profound concept, one I did not fully grasp that day. But Billy had planted a seed. His thoughtful explanation made the soil less hard, the brambles less thick…

God’s work within me began in earnest with Billy’s outreach. His care and his teachings were the real beginning of my faith walk—and the start of the end of my drinking. I couldn’t have given up alcohol on my own. But in 1986, at 40, I finally found the strength to quit. That strength came from love I had felt from my earliest days and from faith I didn’t fully discover until my later years…

Perhaps his most meaningful service came on Sept. 14, 2001. After the 9/11 attacks, I asked Billy to lead the ecumenical service at Washington National Cathedral. It was no easy task. America was on bended knee—frightened, angry, uncertain. As only Billy Graham could, he helped us feel God’s arms wrapped around our mourning country.

‘We come together today,’ he began, ‘to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious or political background may be. The Bible says that he is the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.’ God comforted a nation that day through a very special servant.

In a difficult moment, Billy reminded me—and us all—where we can find strength. And he helped us start to heal by offering three lessons: the mystery and reality of evil, our need for each other, and hope for the present and future. ‘As a Christian,’ Graham said at the 9/11 service, ‘I have hope, not just for this life, but for heaven and the life to come.’

A final story: One night while dad was away on a trip during his presidency, mother and I had dinner at the White House. Eventually we got to talking about religion and who gets to go to heaven. I made the point that the New Testament says clearly that to get to heaven, one must believe in Christ. Mother asked about the devout who don’t believe in Jesus but do God’s work by serving others. She then took advantage of one of the benefits of being first lady. She picked up the phone and asked the White House operator to call Reverend Graham.

It wasn’t long before his reassuring Southern voice was on the line. He told us, as I recall, ‘Barbara and George, I believe what is written in the New Testament. But don’t play God. He decides who goes to heaven, not you.’ Any doctrinal certitude gave way to a calm trust that God had this figured out better than I did.

Those of us who were blessed to know Billy Graham benefited from his deep convictions and personal example, his wisdom and humility, his grace and purity of heart. We knew that his life was a gift from the Almighty. And I rejoice that he is now in the company of God, whom he loved so much and served so well.”

I love the wisdom of Billy Graham — a man who sincerely and passionately offered hope for all regardless of ethnic, religious or political background… a man who knew life was a gift… who was humble and strong and recognized both the reality of evil and our need for each other… who knew that God will always have this life figured out way better than we do… and who, no doubt, was incredibly wise.


fallen from grace

We noticed. My kids noticed, too. We have multiple sports fans in the family, so while it wasn’t discussed much at first, we all were paying attention. Once again, for the first time in years, Tiger Woods was relevant. At the lesser-known Valspar Championship — one of manifold Masters warm ups — Woods is again flirting with the leaderboard. He has played some excellent golf this weekend, as once again, in a seemingly instant nostalgic return, the silent gallery swarmed around him, progressing from hole to hole.

“It was his back, right?”

True. Since April of 2015, Woods has undergone three microdiscectomy procedures and a spinal fusion to deal with a disk issue in his lower back. At one point last fall, in fact, there was ample question of whether he would ever golf again. Hence, Woods has been largely AWOL and irrelevant the last four years on the PGA tour.

“But it was more than physical, yes?”

Also true. Tiger was the top-ranked golfer in the world for 264 weeks from August 1999 to September 2004 and again for 281 weeks from June 2005 to October 2010; his dominance was unprecedented. That dominance was then pierced by the sudden, shocking revelation that the world’s most famous golfer — the married father of two — engaged in more than a dozen extramarital affairs. He proceeded to lose millions in endorsements, publicly apologize, reveal a sex addiction, and eventually divorce his wife.

Talk about fallen from grace.

Last week we observed something similar. Here was Kobe Bryant, accepting the Academy Award for the best animated short film, seemingly sincerely moved while publicly lauded. And yet in the current #MeToo environment, it was Bryant who in 2004 publicly acknowledged that he had an adulterous sexual encounter with a 19 year woman who “did not consent.” Kobe, too, fell from grace, also losing significant corporate endorsements and public respect.

So when one falls from grace, what does it take to be relevant and accepted once again?

Is it forgetting?

Do we just allow enough time to pass so we no longer remember the cracks in the character of the adult men and women we used to cheer on?

Do we let time go by, hopefully numbing the emotion we felt when people we loved did such dastardly things? Maybe if we forget, we never have to wrestle with some of the resulting inconvenient truths in our desired, ongoing support.

Or is it, rather, forgiving?

I recognize that forgiveness is not always a popular choice. It isn’t easy. It isn’t fun, and I know we avoid it sometimes because it’s the only thing we can always hold against the person who hurt or disappointed us deeply. As one who bought both #8 and #24 Laker jerseys for one of my sons, for example, I was especially disappointed in Bryant’s behavior; I was angry I then had to have a more sensitive and sad conversation with my too young adolescent.

The key to forgiveness is the profound reality that it doesn’t allow the offender to get off the hook; it allows us to get off the hook — to no longer have to hold onto the anger and bitterness that potentially take root within ‘me.’ Let’s be honest: that looks good on no one.

As for the offender, in addition to understandable consequences for his/her behavior, he/she will still have some work to do… repentance, growth, and making amends. That is his/her responsibility.

Hence, for the person who repents — and for the person who forgives — I will enthusiastically cheer. Grace and forgiveness are always worth cheering for.

Go Tiger, go… hope you do well this weekend. And more.


pick a number — any number

So let’s try this a different way today, seeing if we can describe the excellent, insightful meme…

You stand here. On the “X.”

I’ll stand directly across from you — only 10 feet away. On the “Y.”

Smack-dab in the middle of us — equidistant from us both — you see right in front of you, the number “6.”

You see it. You’re close to it. It’s not blurry in any sort of way. It is clearly a “6.” No doubt about it.

I, on the other hand, see the number “9.”

I’m close to it. It’s not blurry. It’s clearly a “9.” No doubt about it.

I’m convinced I’m right… and I am.

You’re convinced you’re right… and you are.

Two different people see the same thing totally differently; in fact, from my vantage point, it is totally impossible for me to see what you see.

From your vantage point, it’s impossible for you to see what I see.

And yet, we are both correct.

What would it change in our dialogue, discussion, and our respect for one another, if we had were patient enough to take the time necessary to invest in deep discernment? … to do the work that it takes that truly wrestles with the perspectives and conclusions of another — and to realize that even though we come from different perspectives and make different conclusions, we are both still, humbly, profoundly right?

Two different perspectives can both be right.

Two strikingly, starkly different perspectives can both be right.

“It’s a ‘6’!”

“It’s a ‘9’!”

It’s actually both.

Can we realize that?


defined by adversity

Oh, the love of a great story! … even better when it’s non-fiction.

Note the ongoing tale of Shaquem Griffin, who college football fans know as the fastest linebacker in this year’s draft class — and non-football fans will appreciate learning all in life he’s overcome. And not just “overcome.” He has amazingly surpassed and achieved.

Note: Griffin has only one hand.

Because of that one hand, people are tempted to see Griffin differently. Isn’t that the truth? We see only singular traits in other people… a physical feature, an emotional bent, a political passion — and then we judge them on that. That becomes all we see… and it sadly affects all we think about them.

For Griffin, what he’s missing has the potential to affect more than what he offers and has.

He recently wrote to NFL general managers as they consider his worthiness to be drafted. In his excellent, insightful, and sometimes fairly raw account, Griffin inspires and teaches us all…

“Nobody was ever going to tell me that I didn’t belong on a football field. And nobody was ever going to tell me that I couldn’t be great.

I rode that mentality all the way through high school. I got picked on because of my hand and I had guys trash-talk me and stuff like that, but most of the time, I just ignored it. On the football field, I got off to kind of a slow start adjusting to the high school game, but eventually I grew to be a leader and a team captain…

I’m not going to get into an explanation of the condition I was born with that prevented the fingers of my left hand from fully developing. Or talk about the time when I was four years old and I tried to cut my own fingers off with a kitchen knife because I was in constant pain. Or about when I got my left hand amputated shortly after. That’s stuff you probably already know about anyway — and if you don’t, you can Google it. The story is out there. And it’s not some sob story or anything like that. It’s not even a sad story — at least not to me. It’s just … my story…

In our backyard, we had a couple of stacks of cinder blocks with a stick across the top, like a hurdle. And when we would run routes, we would have to jump over the hurdle and do other obstacles mid-route. Then my dad would throw us the ball, and he’d throw it hard, right at our chest. And every time we dropped it, he would say, ‘Nothing comes easy’…

I don’t define myself by my successes. I define myself by adversity, and how I’ve persevered…

I’ve had people doubt me my whole life, and I know that there are a lot of kids out there with various deformities or birth defects or whatever labels people want to put on them, and they’re going to be doubted, too. And I’m convinced that God has put me on this earth for a reason, and that reason is to show people that it doesn’t matter what anybody else says, because people are going to doubt you regardless. That’s a fact of life for everybody, but especially for those with birth defects or other so-called disabilities.

The important thing is that you don’t doubt yourself.

I feel like all the boys and girls out there with birth defects … we have our own little nation, and we’ve got to support each other, because everybody in this world deserves to show what they can do without anybody telling them they can’t.

I know there are some scouts and coaches — and even some of you GMs out there — who are probably doubting me, and that’s O.K. I get it. I only have one hand, and because of that, there have always been people who have questioned whether or not I could play this game.

If you’re one of those GMs who believes that I can play in the NFL, I just want to say thank you. I appreciate you, and I’m excited for the opportunity to play for you and prove you right. And if one you’re of those who is doubting me … well, I want to thank you, too. Because you’re what keeps me motivated every day to work hard and play even harder. Back when I was eight years old, I played because I loved the game. I still do. But now, I also play because I believe it’s my purpose. I know that it won’t come easy. Nothing comes easy. But I will fulfill that purpose. I have no doubt.”

I’m struck by Griffin’s articulateness, poise, confidence and humility, and his clear recognition of both God’s creation and his individual purpose.

So wise… and so good.


my opinion

Please read each of the following ten statements thoughtfully and carefully:

  • All semi-automatic weapons should be banned.
  • Jesus is coming back tomorrow.
  • One of the presidential candidates in the 2016 election was clearly better than the other one.
  • Abortion should be legal in every circumstance.
  • Businesses should stay out of politics.
  • The church should stay out of politics.
  • Hollywood should stay out of politics.
  • Every woman who claims #MeToo is telling the truth.
  • Government is too big.
  • Social media has been disastrous.

Each of the above has been averred at sometime, somewhere, by someone, passionately, emphatically, on social media or elsewhere — maybe even on the Intramuralist.

Here’s the challenge: each of the above is an opinion.

Let’s be clear. An opinion is “a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter.”

Let me add two more relevant definitions. First, a preference is the act of “liking better or best.” And second, a conviction is “the state of being convinced.”

In other words, a preference is a liking; an opinion is a judgment or belief; and a conviction is a certainty — it’s something I’d die for.

For example, I like Purdue basketball; I believe they are incredibly talented this year; but as much as I want them to — and have convinced myself that it is going to happen — there is no guarantee that Purdue will win the NCAA tournament; it is not certain.

The challenge exists, though, when I state the above — stating my strong preference and opinion — as something it is not; it is not conviction. As much as I might want my beloved Boilermakers to be standing amidst the falling confetti when “One Shining Moment” is played, my passion and resolve do not make my opinion more certain.

And that’s where our intelligence gets in the way. We think we’re smart; we think we know what’s right; we think we’ve got it all figured out. So we approach things smartly — not wisely.

Wisdom and intelligence are two totally different things. Intelligence is smarts, brains, and mental capacity. But wisdom is something more. Wisdom adds discernment, self-awareness, and sensitivity toward others.

As thus said frequently in my household, wisdom is more important than intelligence. I may have a son with a cognitive disability who doesn’t score exceptionally well on standard IQ tests, but that same son is incredibly, incredibly wise. Wisdom is always more important.

It is only via wisdom, friends, that we learn the difference between preference, opinion, and conviction. Hence, if we could learn that — if we could be a wise people — our conversations, relationships, and even social media status would be far better… and far more respectful of all those around us.

Respectfully… always…