Category Archives: Chicagoland

Wrigley at 100: The Full Cubs Experience

Yesterday was Wrigley Field’s 100th Birthday celebration. And it was quite a party. There was a lot to celebrate when surveying 100 years of history. Wrigley was built on the former home of a Seminary. It was originally the home of the Chicago Whales of the Federal League (a competitor to Major League Baseball back in the day.) To distinguish them from the Major League team nearby (The Cubs) they were usually called the Federals or Feds, which eventually became their nickname. Weeghman Park (team owner) was its original name. It cost $250,000 and was completed in 2 months, opening in April of 1914. Weeghman was shrewd. The beautiful setting and success of his team forced MLB to respond by letting him buy the Cubs in 1916 (struggling at the time.) Wrigley played a major role in shaping how MLB came of age, was in the center of several national political scandals that touched even the White House (Tea Pot Dome), and along the way became one of the best places on earth to spend time with friends. History haunts this sacred ground everywhere you look. The greatest living Cubs and Bears legends (yes they played here for 50 years, winning 8 NFL Championships!) were invited to honor this great park. The ceremony concluded with Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks shuffling across the diamond like he had for 19 seasons. Ernie was rightly honored most. One of baseball’s greats who always wanted to “play two” and even requested to be able to live on the grounds while he was playing. But he never got a World Series ring and that’s the other chapter of living the Wrigley experience.

It’s one of my favorite places to be since the late 1970′s when my dad would drive me from Iowa to take in a game. (Sunny every single time he brought me.) Every season brings fresh hope that this will be the year a World Series Championship is won in these hallowed friendly confines. This special day brought gifts and cake (A throwback Federals jersey for the first 30,000 fans and a birthday cupcake for the first 10,000-yes I made sure to get both!). It seemed magical as the Cubs were winning. Samardzija was pitching like an ace. The Cubs were up 5-2 with 2 outs in the 9th and 2 strikes on the batter, when relief pitching collapsed. How many times have I seen that movie? Alas, we were all treated to the full Cubs experience. Boundless hopes, historic atmosphere, great excitement, and soul-crushing disappointment. All in the same day! But it was great to share it with my college friend Lon. Just like always, one of the best places on earth to spend the day with a friend. It’s about so much more than winning and losing. A place with a spiritual heritage of hopes handed down. I park on nearby Seminary Street whenever I can. Here’s to 100 years of Wrigley. May we run out of candles before this place breathes its last…

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The Last Great Cathedral of Hope

Tom Ricketts committed to Wrigley – ESPN

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Tom Ricketts says he’s committed. Here’s hoping he really means it. Wrigley is one of baseball’s last great cathedrals of hope. Part of me laments a shift to a “winning” model. There’s a reason why I’m not a Yankees fan. But I’ve been a Cubs fan since the last time we had a player named DeJesus. I remember 1984, 1989, and 2003. I was there when Wrigley had no lights, hoping a game wouldn’t be called due to darkness. I was there when it was only $20 to give your keys to a shirtless fat guy who promised your car would be the first out! (Now try $60). I was there when bleacher tickets were $4.50 and full of kids and well, yes, shirtless fat guys. I was there to see Dave Kingman, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, and the disgraced Sammy Sosa hit game changing or game ending home runs. I was there when Lou Boudreau and Vince Lloyd Skaff called the games in my earpiece and Jack Brickhouse brought the Cubs into my living room.
And I was there yesterday, for the first time on Opening Day. I found a free spot in a neighborhood many blocks away to park, so I could afford it. I saw ad space in 4 cutouts in the Ivy. Dozens of banner ads were tucked here and there. A cool new electronic scoreboard is integrated into an existing wall. Nice. I thought, “This is different, but it’s still Wrigley.” The view to my right and left told me this was still home. 40,000 of my closest friends there not really expecting a victory. Just glad to have some sacred space to watch a game we love in a beautiful garden of historic baseball delights. As God would have it, I sat next to a really nice young father who was new to Chicagoland and the Wrigley experience. It was fun to talk about the history and point out the lovely features of the friendly confines…
I hear talk of JumboTrons and luxury hotels across the street. Fine. The future must come. But please don’t spoil what is most sacred to every Cubs fan.
I would love for the Cubs to win a World Series. Believe me I would!! But honestly, we’ve all come back year after year after year because the Cubs and Wrigley symbolize something much more important: stories of hope handed down to each generation. I was sitting right there when it happened! I hope we never trade what is best about that for corporate franchise success.

Annual Christmas Update

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Church Spokesman: No Charges Expected

A quick follow-up to yesterday’s post. The details seem quite fluid in this developing story from the Hammond church. First Baptist Church spokesman Eddie Wilson is quoted in the NWI Times today by reporter Chelsea Sneider Kirk as saying, “the church does not expect there to be charges filed in the incident.” However, Sheriff John Buncich is reported to say that an investigation by his department and the FBI against Schaap is ongoing. Age of consent laws seem to be the issue. As a father of teenagers I’m shocked to learn that an adult who isn’t a public school official can engage in sex with a 16 year old as long as it’s “consensual.” These laws seem antiquated. Knowing what we know today about psychology and living in a culture of extended adolescence, who thinks a 16-17 year old is truly capable of giving consent to her 54 year old pastor? The power ratio in the relationship is heavily skewed. And what scenario exists where it’s legitimate for a 50-something aged person to seek such consent from a 16-17 year old?
I wish no ill on the pastor involved. He should be considered innocent until all evidence is carefully examined. People are often quick to judge religious leaders harshly when there’s even a hint of a problem. And sometimes other religious leaders quickly come to the attack as well. So I want to avoid that.
I will leave it to others to prosecute existing laws, especially in this particular case. But I hope these laws will be reexamined to protect minors better. In Indiana, you can’t be licensed to drive a car until you’re 16.5 and can’t have passengers until you’ve held that license for 6 months. You can’t vote until you’re 18. You can’t drink until you’re 21. So how on earth can you consent to sex with a much older adult at age 16? Next, if others would be involved in arranging for the two to be together in other states, would that not constitute manipulation, reducing the power of the teen to give consent? Separate these questions from this particular case. This kind of scenario, if it were to exist, should be against the law.
I also would not completely rule out that an adult might target a high-visibility leader to lure them into this kind of entanglement. It would be theoretically possible to manipulate both the young girl and the pastor. Of course, that’s no excuse. And there’s no evidence of it here that I’m aware of. But this also would seem to be a form of crime something like human trafficking.
So many potential issues are raised in a case like this. It gives us an opportunity to reflect and learn. Like the case of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11, the biggest issue isn’t really sex. It’s the abuse of power. Somehow current consent laws need to take this into greater consideration. What do you think?

Hammond Baptist dismisses pastor for ‘sin’

Hammond Baptist dismisses pastor for ‘sin’ : Lake.

Wow. A lot of thoughts swirl through my mind. Then I’m speechless. Then I’m theological. Then I’m sad. Then I’m judge and jury. Then I imagine how his family and the young girl and her family feel and the cycle starts again. Who is Pastor Jack? How do you go from called to preach to sneaking into other states with an underaged girl? (I don’t actually want to know!)
But as I prepare a previously scheduled sermon on the Lectionary passage of 2 Samuel 11, I’m amazed by the timing. I was scheduled to preach the first half of the story last week, but felt led in a different direction at the last minute. (A fairly rare thing for my ministry). But this story reads like a modern parable on David’s sin. And the Sandusky and Philadelphia scandals cry out for this passage to be unpacked. So perhaps the Lord didn’t want me to begin until this bit of news broke.
I don’t know Jack personally, so I have no starting point to judge his case. But if what has been alleged is true, every church and pastor will be somewhat affected. I’ve had my doubts (since the 1980′s) about how Hammond First Baptist has operated. I have to be honest. Yet, I also have often pointed out that they have a homeless shelter and good people do amazing good through several of its ministries. Pastor Jack helped a lot of really good things happen. But he apparently lost his way in a devastating way and is alleged to have taken actions no one can condone. The temptation is to judge harshly and distance oneself from “guys like him” with angry words, maybe even gloating a bit. But these are dark temptations in themselves and would be a mistake. Stone throwing? Nope.
There should be no joy here. There should be much prayer for all involved. Every church should re-examine procedures and policies. Christian leaders should examine their own hearts, seeking to be filled with more of God’s holy love and less of the world.
Penn State. First Baptist Church. Both great institutions with great potential where things that could happen anywhere started to happen a while ago, but an environment of tight control ironically unleashed chaos. Rather than looking down our noses, we should hit our knees and look up to heaven. What changes could be implemented to decrease the likelihood of a leader to stray? Are there helps that could be put in place to help struggling leaders overcome temptation? What safeguards should be revamped to protect innocent children more? How can we cultivate environments where only holy love is shared and where purity of heart wins the day? I’m glad the congregation I serve has always taken child safety seriously. But you can bet we’ll be reviewing all of the above for improvements! Lord, may your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
Our series on David just became strikingly relevant. I’m sad for the circumstances and pain but thankful I know where to turn to find direction. (Even more glad I was already turning there.) Through it all, God is amazing! Young preachers, take note that the Lectionary can sometimes be amazingly relevant. (Even if sometimes, not!) Take note also that you should listen when the Lord guides you in various directions to override your plan. Take note finally that everything you build under God can go down in flames in an hour if boundaries and safeguards are neglected.

Theo and Jed’s first Cubs trade deadline: Whadddya Think?

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Theo and Jed’s first Cubs trade deadline: Ryan Dempster finally moved, Matt Garza stays | Big League Stew – Yahoo! Sports.

One thing’s for sure. The Cubs won’t be in the playoffs in 2012. Are they making brilliant moves that secure a better moneyball future? Or, did they scramble to look busy since this year was in the tank and they had no idea how to get a great deal done? I’m really hoping for the former and trying hard not to see the latter. Reaction runs from mixed: Yahoo! Sports to mortified: Greenberg
Tuesday’s 1-hit wonder outing didn’t do much to change anyone’s sense of the future.
Part of me wonders if Soto and Dempster could have been enough. They must have seen some promising Vizcaino x-rays!
But at this point I’ll trust the Epstein magic and ride out 2012 with Rizzo-fever. He’s the symbol of a Theo-future that might be…could be…it…

Elimination of Toll Road exit still in play

 

Elimination of Toll Road exit still in play.

I feel like I complain too much about NW Indiana politics but here we go again with NW Indiana getting reduced services. Cline Ave Bridge: gone. Main exit connecting to Hobart/Lake Station area: in jeopardy. School funding reductions: check. Source: Daniels Administration. I voted for Daniels and think he’s done good for the state as a whole, but this area isn’t given much consideration… It all seems structured to benefit the Indianapolis area the most. Say what you will about corrupt Lake or Porter County politicians, but this trend looks somewhat similar. And it’s the people who suffer through inconvenience and reduced services, not so-called “corrupt” leaders.
Whether it’s by design or coincidence doesn’t matter to the people affected by it. I-65 South is not an adequate alternative and the congested traffic flow to that interchange does not need to be doubled or quadrupled. It starts to feel like we don’t matter.
I just took this exit yesterday, and it has needed work for more than 10 years. There should have been a stipulation when control was released to a foreign company, whereby they couldn’t eliminate exits.  I feel like certain large banks and businesses are beginning to act like companies were in the 1920′s. Trying just about anything they can get away with and only backpedaling if the fallout is extreme. Proactively seeking the good will of people is vanishing. The State now seems to act in its own business interest rather than in the interest of the people whose taxes make government possible. A lot of people are complaining that things like ObamaCare are an infringement on our rights, which may be true. This type of situation is the inverse and just as bad: government allowing a foreign company to reduce services to people who pay the tolls for the road. Here we are “forced” to do commerce with a foreign entity, but the services can get reduced.
In the end, hopefully they will do the right thing and just fix the interchange. But to even have it on the table to eliminate seems wrong. I pray for the day when NW Indiana gets it’s full seat at the table even though the area has a Democrat voting history. I think Daniels missed a chance to change that dynamic by being the Republican who stopped partisan finger pointing and finally brought meaningful services to the area.

Fun Day on the Lakeshore!

Fun pictures from a nice day on Chicago’s Lake Front. Got those very special Holy Cow! Harry Carry glasses for $3.95! Showing Brandon some Chicago sites and making some family memories!

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The Amazing Spiderman Review

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The Amazing Spiderman is the reboot of the Spidey franchise. I had a soft spot for the previous series, so I was skeptical. But the previews looked interesting and Navy Pier IMAX had tickets available, so we took the family and donned the corny glasses: Image

IMAX 3D is the way to enjoy 3D. But this movie wasn’t obnoxious “in your face” 3D. It’s used sparingly and artfully with just a few fun surprises along the way. The soundtrack is very well done, providing a fun. immersive experience.
Now, if you’re a Spiderman story purist who has fallen in love with any previous version of the story you will be thrown early on. But I suggest you suspend story expectations and let this version take you to a better story. I agree with Roger Ebert that this story provides us with better reasons for the birth of Spiderman. I agree with Claudia Puig that the story is allowed to lead the way, rather than simply special effects. (But there are plenty of those.) Speaking of effects the action is a little easier to follow this time and you feel it more. The action is also a little grittier, too. We experience the joy of Parker’s newfound abilities, but also his limitations. The art of action film-making has become more subtle and it shows.
Denis Leary gives an inspired performance as captain Stacy, father of Gwen Stacy. He’s more subdued than I’ve ever seen him for most of the movie. As a father to teenage girls I’ve been that dad before, trying to understand, being over-protective, etc… But when the chips are down, we see the Denis we’re used to from past roles.
I wouldn’t have picked Andrew Garfield out of a crowd to play Spiderman, but in this unique version of the story he shines. Andrew is gifted at displaying vulnerability. He is masterful at almost saying something. Therefore, he’s very believable as a teenage boy dealing with unexpressed feelings for a girl and facing the impossible while trying to do the right thing.  Of course, Emma Stone delivers with great spirit and a winning smile. Again, I was impressed with her ability to make a character come to life.
This story is a complete reboot and with an all-star cast playing major and minor roles you are drawn in. It’s the emotion that makes any individual scene shine. It’s the story that keeps you wanting to see how this will end. Yet, somehow the carefully-paced action keeps this a fun summer blockbuster!
Spiderman can’t do it alone and that creates some of the best surprises the movie holds. We should all embrace the youth of this generation who want to make a difference. They may not have all the experience they need to make perfect decisions, but they have unique abilities and connections. When we all support them and let them do what they are gifted for the world can change. Highly Recommended

L.C.’s Robinson stands above the crowd in many ways

Below is a link to a much brighter basketball story. This has absolutely been the breakout year for Lake Central sports. After the football team amazed long-suffering LC fans along comes an Indians basketball Duneland Athletic Conference Title and Sectional Championship! The reason? Two words: Glenn Robinson. You may remember his father, a standout at Roosevelt High School in 1991 who went on to play Big Ten Basketball. This descendent just wrapped up a transcendent season by snagging the Times 2012 Player of the Year award. Congratulations to Glenn and to coach Dave Milausnic on a season for the L.C. Ages. My kids attend L.C. and they told me about Glenn before they knew I knew who he was. What they told me was how he speaks to everyone and carries himself well around campus. He has committed to Michigan, which is exciting for everyone. As he prepares to move on to big time sports I pray he keeps his commitment to off-court character. And we all hope his unselfish playing style has developed other players enough for the pride to continue after he’s gone. Go L.C.!

L.C.’s Robinson stands above the crowd in many ways.

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