we had the fun opportunity to attend a family art project at our local ymca arts center, here in sunbury. the project was for the whole family to do individual self-portraits as if your face was a pumpkin. it was neat to see how the kids interpreted this, and what kinds of things came out of it. here you can see a couple shots of us at work:
the final project was done on small rectangles of wood, strung together vertically to make a fall decoration for our home. we had a blast doing this, and here, then, is the milinovich (pumpkin) family:
do you see how bad that ink is? i could draw a better steelers logo with my eyes shut. while sleeping. and without the use of my arms. but that's not the point. the point is that, as bad as that tattoo is, it really isn't even as bad as the way the steelers tried to play football yesterday against the cleveland browns. i agree with ron cook who says the biggest surprise of all this year is that the steelers are 3-3, considering just how bad they've played. i love my black and gold, of course, but it looks like it could be a long year. hopefully not as long-lasting as that tattoo.
in other news, happy columbus day! once again i invite you to check out andrew dost's awesome soundtrack to columbus day, called "columbus." you can listen to it here. it is so worth checking out.
well, it wasn't exactly the picture of dominance that many would have liked to see (including yours truly) against an 0-4 team, but the steelers fly out of jacksonville (pittsburgh south? holy goodness there were a TON of steelers fans there) with a win, and that's what matters most of all.
and anyone who thought that the steelers had to go down there and stomp them in order to prove something is dead wrong. this was a desperate team; a cornered team; and a team starting a quarterback who was desperate to prove that he could take the reins and turn things around. this was a jaguars team who saw what tampa bay did to the steelers last week, and who was salivating at the chance to do the same thing. this was never going to be a cake walk, no matter how bad you think the jags are.
still, steelers fans would have liked to have seen a little more lopsidedness on the scoreboard in the 4th quarter. it is hard to believe that the only offensive touchdown was a pass to a hardly-recognized tight end, against a secondary that is one of the worst in the nfl to this point.
it was more and more apparent that the steelers were going to need something big defensively. the defense played pretty darn well the whole game, but what was lacking was that really big play (cortez allen did have an interception, but the pass was so deep, it was almost like a punt by the jags). enter bryce mccain, playing in the nickel now that injuries have caused some shuffling around. from here on out, i am referring to mccain as the senator from pittsburgh. and after the way he sat on that route and then pushed upfield to intercept the pass and take it to the house for a pick-six most certainly won my vote for him. that was the play the steelers needed, and it came from a backup corner. hey, whatever it takes.
in any event, the steelers got the win, and combined with the ravens and bengals both losing, it was a very good day. next week the steelers get to play the comeback kids of cleveland, who almost won the last meeting, so the steelers have their work cut out for them. it was good to see them respond to last week's embarrassing loss with a team win, now it will be important for them to build on a win and take some steps forward against the browns. here we go steelers!
i first heard about this guy when i was scanning noisetrade.com (a great website full of music and ebooks that you can download for a donation of your choice) for some thoughtful rap music. i stumbled upon heath mcnease, which was a fortuitous discovery, because once i started listening, i couldn't believe just how talented and interesting this young man is.
i first heard an album called thrift store jesus, full of great rhyming on interesting, layered beats, with a ton of thought put into the lyrics. he is gifted at turning a phrase, and does so in a very interesting, engaging way. then, i heard that he was putting out an album of songs all centered around the great Christian writer/thinker, c.s. lewis. when i first started listening to it, i was dumbfounded. it wasn't rap at all, but some sort of folky, modern rock, indie mashup sound that was easy on the ears, all while dealing with themes from the books and life of c.s. lewis in a cogent and literate way. amazing. he followed that up with a remake of the c.s. lewis album (called "the weight of glory) in a completely different way: rap. he didn't just remix the songs, he completely reimagined them. the artistry and creativity of this guy, not to mention the God-given talent, is impressive.
so i have kept listening. he's got other albums out, too. one about a difficult trip to canada on tour. one about the season of autumn. one really fun freestyle rap album. and this is all available for free or for donation on noisetrade.com, or from his own website.
now, mcnease has written, directed and produced a 43-minute film called "fort wayne," which deals with the struggles of the singer/songwriter, trying to make it in the midwestern town. i haven't seen it all yet, but i certainly will be watching.
and since i admire the man as an artist, and for his courage in offering his art to the world without price, i wanted to take a moment just to pass along a good word about him. i know rap isn't for everyone, but he is so diversely talented, you might find something else you like about him, too. his soundtrack for the "fort wayne" movie, for example, is kind of bon iver-ish folk pop.
i saw a preview for a show (or a movie? not sure which) that asked the question, "what makes a hero?" the question was left unanswered, suggesting that we need to watch the show to find out what makes the flash so fast, or what makes superman fly or what makes criminals cower in fear from the dark knight. you could do that. you could watch the show. or the movie. or read the comic book.
or you could come to church.
because that is what we are dealing with in this season. we are in the middle of a 6-week sermon series in which we are specifically looking at what makes someone a real hero. so often we think that the heroes are the exceptional ones, the ones with "super" powers, or fame or fortune. when it comes to the life of faith, we relegate heroes either to the pantheons of patriarchs (abraham, moses, david and so forth), or to the supposed "saints" in our own churches and lives, those who have taught sunday school for 47 years, and who always seem to have an answer for any question about the Bible. but that's just fiction. or fantasy. either way, it simply isn't true. the real heroes are the sinners sitting through another sermon, trying to make sense of their lives; trying to piece together some meaning from their checkered past, and trying to come terms with the extravagant grace that has shown them love time and time again.
we've been taking a look back at the Bible to see some of the "stories between the Stories," so to speak. we know about moses and joshua, but what about rahab? we know about peter and john, but what about jairus? we know about david, but what about abigail? what about uriah? these may not be characters from the felt board pantomimes of your youth. they may not be characters that you know at all. but they are heroes, all the same. and they teach us that we, too, are called to be heroes of the faith. not by having superpowers. not by having the Bible memorized or by being ultra-righteous. not by having a squeaky-clean past, or even a prim and proper present. no, these heroes are very much flawed. just like me. they are prostitutes and hypocrites. they are sometimes self-serving. they are sometimes incredibly unremarkable. but they demonstrate something important when the moment is ripe. it may be generosity, when it would seem wiser to clutch your possessions tightly. or it might be persistence when it would seem saner to just give up. it might be authenticity and honesty when it would seem more prudent to pretend to be someone you are not. it might be any number of things, but heroes aren't so much super as they are struck by grace.
what makes a hero? the courage to be yourself. the persistence to never quit. the generosity to let go of what you think you deserve. the hope to believe that things will be redeemed, that people will be redeemed. a faith hero isn't any different than you. it is you. are you willing to be that hero? to live boldly in the moment which you have been given?