Cheering and Creativity

Do we cheer for true creativity?  Should we reserve our applause only for amazing creativty?

Like my sons before him, I cheer for my grandson Duke when he walks, feeds himself, and even when he poops — on a pot, soon his mother hopes.  Is that truly, wildly, earth-shatteringly creative?  No. 

Not yet. 

But still I cheer him, because he doesn’t cheer for himself, yet.  He will, hopefully, rise to internalize his cheering, take pride in his work, and come to know that what he has done is good enough when that is all it needs to be.

When my college and grad students give their two minute pitches, the rest of the class claps and cheers.  Do they clap because their ideas push the envelope of technology?  Are their business plans advancing the frontiers of applied science? 

Not yet. 

No they clap because they were all scared spitless as well, and are thrilled to survive the first pitch.  They have done something out of their comfort zone and survived.  Some even did very well. 

And so a subset of my students will continue to work with ideas.  They will appropriate technologies, combine ideas others had missed, extrapolate the principles of one application to another domain and make small advances.  Some, doing it for long enough will finally reach the frontiers of thought in some domains — and birth world-changing ideas.

Meanwhile, I will cheer for Duke at his first recital, first soccer game, and when he graduates from grade six, because that is what grandfathers do.  That is what a child needs to internalize accomplishment and hunger for more.  Then I will hand him over to other teachers, and they bloody well better encourage him, push him out of his comfort zones, and give him tastes of achievement and creation, because that is what good teachers do.

For all those years, Duke will first achieve what millions, and then thousands, and then hundreds, and then maybe only a handful of others have achieved.  Starting way far from any frontier, he will achieve and build, and move closer and closer to the frontier — be it the frontier in music, business, ministry or science — or family. 

My goal is to cheer for him, until he can quietly face the fears and uncertainties in building something new on whichever frontier he so chooses to build and flourish. 

Somehow, and I am biased, that makes me think you should cheer for him and all those like him as well, until they are at the pinnacle on the frontier and everyone else will join in to cheer.  Until then, way far back here from the frontier of true achievement, it is my job. 

On Being A Yankee Fan

On being a Yankee’s fan

When I was a child, my family sojourned from Texas’ sweltering coast out to New Mexico to a sprawling Baptist convention center called Glorieta.  It accommodated 3,000 people using a staff of retirees that oversaw a few hundred college students working for God and very little money. 

Some division of the Sunday School Board trained each week all summer and all held worship every night of the summer except Fridays.  My mother’s parents, my Mamma and Pappaw, managed various posts and spent their summers up there. 

A child from the Texas Gulf Coast wearing a sweater in July?  Climbing over boulders, chasing Horned Toads, seeing deer, and going rock hunting on afternoons to find mine tailings of white quartz interlaced with rose — these comprised as good a picture of Heaven as I needed to that point. 

And in the evenings I raptly listened to music from musicians around the country in choirs, orchestras, and an organ that shook my chest — except when Mammaw could get the Yankees on her little transistor TV with rabbit ears.  We hid out in her hotel room. 

Mammaw added her own coverage about Marris, Mantle, Yogi and the Boys of Summer like a school girl swooning at Elvis.  I watched a grainy four-inch screen where the diamond was easy to recognize, but Marris and Mantle looked like identical grainy twins.  How did she know which was which?

When the Yankees were ahead, all was marvelous.  When the world’s evil forces arose to thwart them, it drove my Mammaw to the closest swear word in her extensive vocabulary — “Bears!” 

So the Yankees, God, the Mountains, astounding choral and orchestral music all formed one seamless, living and breathing snapshot of Heaven for me. 

Fan for life.  That included Steinbrenner and Reggie, Mr. October, Jackson who came, and like summer faded in their times. 

And in this latest instantiation it included the Rocket, Pettite, The Captain, and Mariano Rivera, who along with others led a Bible study in that hallowed ground while quietly making others fan his career into the Hall of Fame. 

The Yankees are hopelessly out of the playoffs.  They will rebuild.  Mariano is the next-to-last member of a team that came together — to leave.  He played his last game this week, and he could have rolled every pitch to home plate; Yankee fans would still have stood to give an ovation to one of their longest serving, brightest Boys of Summer.  And Mammaw?  She cheered from Heaven because the best Yankees love God, and the organ music as it fills the park, and the orchestral smack of the bats, gloves, and crowds; and when the air gets cold in October as in the Mountains?  Then they play their best. 


John Talley

I read an Sports Illustrated online story about “The Dirty Game” that details Oklahoma State infractions in drugs, money, sex, academics and the fallout.

I noticed two things almost immediately.  One contributor was a graduate of the University of Oklahoma — archrival.  And with that being the case I figured he would bend over backwards to be fair and honest in his reporting.  Then I read the article and saw how he treated John Talley, Fellowship of Christian Athletes staff member for this area of Oklahoma.

Please understand, my Ph.D. is in Journalism ethics using cognitive development.

Here is what I wrote after reading their treatment of John.

Innuendo: Write sentences.  Edit out all that doesn’t help your point. 
One need not be bright to do it, or the hacks would be members of Mensa.
Case in point: your article includes John Talley in OSU football’s “story”.  See your sentence and its more complete ending: “Talley says that he sometimes paid players a fee for speaking engagements” and the rest of the story — whether they played at OSU or a surrounding high school, or just had a great testimony for Christ — so he never took advantage of students and their hours of travel time. “… and that they frequently did work on his ranch” — and more fully; his ‘ranch’ where every bridle, saddle, pad, horse shoe, and horse are donated or bartered.  Similarly, John’s house; I asked him to house people during Aso’s summer there.  So Aso got bumped from the guest room for visiting missionaries — while Aso worked to serve the Lord across the state. 
John raises his FCA salary yearly, which has never approached a level where Caryl did not have to work.  John never has the kind of cash “remembered” by some players.
You omitted eight athletes, who moved a storage shed to my house — for what we could afford: $200.00 split eight ways for three hours’ work., innuendo is poor writing, but omitting does keep down the word count to sound more salacious.

        PERSONALLY, I could not read the article and not react.  I sent my response to and that is the lesson.  You and I cannot stand by while people drag friends through mud.  At the least it is embarrassing.  At the least, given enough mud, you can kill people.

Have a great day.


We live by proxy.

We pay a girl at the grocery store in exchange for our proxy in producing the food that we just bought.  That puts our proxy in the hands of millions of farmers around the world, fertilizer companies, seed producers and designers, beef / hog/ chicken producers, lobbyists, federal and state programs, legislators and inspectors. 

We pay at the pump for our proxy that puts our money (and taxes) into the hands of producers, regulators, inspectors, financiers, legislators, lobbyists and interest groups, researchers, and pipeline / delivery agents. 

We hand over our proxy for drugs that we purchase from someone we may or may not know in the pharmacy, but as soon as it comes into their pharmacy, all the rest of the people in that chain are completely unknown to us, and they have no reason to care for us as individuals except in some vague ideal. 

It is the same for our car, clothes, shoes, office products, computers, books, phones and shrubs. 

The supply chains and pipelines are so gargantuan and interconnected and governmental — that we have no idea to whom we have handed our proxy. 

Maybe we were first seduced or desensitized to the idea in church.  You know the place where we handed over any responsibility for changing the world in Christ’s name, to professionals in our church, conventions, seminaries and don’t forget the missionaries.  They will all work at it better than I would, right?

It turns out that if you grow your own tomatoes they taste astonishingly better than anything you can buy at Walmart on its best day. 

It turns out that if you actually become the minister, steward – whatever term you use – to other people, magical things happen. 

It turns out that in every relationship that connects me to my doc, pharmacist, farmers at the farmers’ market I have retained a few more rights to my life and health — and joy. 

It turns out that I should keep my proxy and give it up only after grave considerations.