Good Friday - Exploring "Torn"

Good Friday at our church is entrenched in tradition, to which I am a latecomer. Because we've had a history of having worship leaders on staff who go on to much bigger things (Chris Tomlin, Brandon Heath, Robbie Seay), from the moment I arrived on campus, I was barraged with conversations constantly harking back to our (fairly recent) days of yore, with sighs of "I miss when.." and "it was way better..." We are not a forward-looking community.

Our biggest signature move was to rent out the massive outdoor concert venue across the street from us each Easter weekend. We centered the event around a big concert on Good Friday led by our worship leader du jour. When we needed to cut costs, we moved the weekend back to our campus, but then we built a hefty stage on the lawn, hauled out every watt of moving lights we had and rented a heap more, and had succession of events that drifted slowly from "energetic worship" to "energetic rock festival," all played before our less-than-energetic members (we're Methodists. We don't jump. At most we... lean).

A couple years ago, I joined a worship committee that sacked all that, moved the service back into our sanctuary, killed the rock-show vibe and tried to revert the service back to a night of worship and teaching as strong and unified as we could manage.

It's been a couple of years of that now, and I'm proud of the work I've gotten to do on those services. I won't wander off into a diatribe of what worship is or why it matters, because you've likely (definitely) read much better thoughts than mine before, but as much as we've maintained a good deal of spectacle in these services (we are who we are), it's been nice to center the evening around community and worship, and to focus on the meaning of that particularly sacred evening.

This is all unnecessary introduction for these three videos I did for this year's service, based around the theme of "Torn" - two stories, totally unrelated, but deeply connected to what happened on that Friday a long time ago. If you'd like to see all the videos in context, the sermon they're interspersed in is up at The Woodlands United Methodist website.

I've never been happier with work I've done, or more excited about the stories I got to tell. These videos are my favorite of all my work.


Why I'm Against The Red Sox Fire Sale, Even If I'm The Only One.

I sent this email to my dad, then realized I felt strongly enough about it to copy it over here as a post. Enjoy.

The problem I have with the trade is that people act as if we saved any money here. They think in terms of a salary cap: that now that we've gotten more money saved, we can use that money elsewhere. That's $250 million back in our pockets.

No, that's $250 million back in John Henry's pockets. And he can do whatever he likes with it, but he certainly doesn't have to spend it on this team.
 The acquisition of the Dodgers for $2 billion - and their sudden move to land talented, expensive player - may seem like a gigantic gamble, given that they're the only team making these sorts of financial decisions. But they're also the only team reading the landscape correctly.
The value of an MLB team is rising at a precipitous rate. Teams are signing billion-dollar deals with networks. In the last five years, the value of these big-market teams has skyrocketed, and every economic indicator says that they're going to continue to. Here's the Forbes list from last year that shows the rise. The Yankees banked $500 million last year from gate receipts and royalties from the YES network, and that's just a piece of their gigantic empire. Yet they're working to drop under the luxury tax by next year, and they're willing to be less competitive to do so.
The Sox are on that level. They're minting money in Fenway, and from NESN, and from the millions of hats and shirts and what-have-you. They have the cash to keep these players without blinking an eye. But they want to pretend that they don't, because it's cheaper to say "we don't have the financial leverage" after you bought a top-flight left fielder you don't really need than it is to pay for the starting pitching you actually do need. Somehow, in our minds, it became Carl Crawford's fault we couldn't afford that starting pitching. On some subconscious level, we blamed him for our lack of talent in other areas.  
And our trades that followed just made things worse. We traded away Josh Reddick and Jed Lowrie even
though we were down on outfielders and had no other shortstop. Both have played well for other teams. Neither pitcher we got worked out. 
The Dodgers are looking the other way. Most teams are still "moneyballing" - looking for inefficiencies, trying to grab players other teams are overlooking. The Dodgers are spending money to grab top-price talent, even with uninviting contracts. Because that's the real inefficiency here - that teams are willing to shed unwanted contracts, even if the players receiving the cash are still pretty good.
By the way, that Forbes list says that the Sox spend $25.4 million on operating income, compared to $1.2 million for the Dodgers. How is that possible?
Essentially, what the Sox bought was relief. People were done with this team, especially Beckett, and the trade signalled a reset, and that's what people wanted. The prospects we got are pretty good, but it doesn't really matter. What matters is that these guys are gone.
Somehow, Sox fans became a hive mind, and believed that the team had been backed into a corner and the only way out was to rid ourselves of these players. It didn't matter if it was the truth, it was what everyone believed. 
If 2010 was supposedly a transition year, I can't imagine what next year will be. We have holes in our rotation, our bullpen, our outfield, at first base and short. And still an incredibly expensive roster. Are we supposed to believe that Sox fans are really going to wait around until we get our decimated farm system in order? That anyone's going to be that patient?
We're acting like a guy who made some bad investments and ended up over their head. We're not. We're billionaires who bought an expensive house but then quailed when we saw how much upkeep would be. 
If we're billionaires, let's act like billionaires. Let's not pretend to be something we're not because that's the way we feel the Sox are supposed to be.