Live Like a Lion

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If you haven’t seen the 2017 film “Lion” yet, stop reading.  Stop reading now. Do not pass go, and do not collect $200. You must make or take time to watch this film. 

“Lion” has a litany of lessons and points and positives that all combine to teach a meaningful, muscular message that will preach for a lifetime. It’s a rags to riches, lost and found, comeback story of redemption that transcends race and creed and color, and yes, religion. God is not the author unfortunate circumstances, but He is the editor.  And God can edit any and every life circumstance for good. 

Rex Reed said that “Heartwarming ‘Lion’ Is the Feel-Good Tearjerker We All Needed.” Amen.  Another review posted on Cinemabravo.com says it all:

“Lion” has a genuine and heartfelt purpose that not all celebrated artsy films have. Lion has emotional depth as deep as the ocean; moving, like its waves; it’ll sway you, but it won’t drown you. The tide of this film’s journey will take you someplace else, making it an experience rather than just another movie to watch. That is more than enough for a film to stand tall.

Director Garth Davis’ biggest achievement is perhaps giving the film a soul as the actors give it a heart. Also, an honorable mention to its sublime cinematography for a visually stunning picture — alluring yet gritty, colorful yet dark — a manifestation of a lost child’s journey towards finding his home: eventful, oftentimes dangerous, but ultimately hopeful.

Lion comes roaring to life from across the screen because it “ fully relies on iconic characters and inspiring storylines about a journey of a person — more so a character study of a man’s heart and soul, tackling every emptiness and every joy. Lion gives such nostalgia to that era of filmmaking that contemporary cinema is often prejudiced of. It is a reminder that the most important element of cinema as art is how it affects and transcends emotions across the screen. Lion does just that without the clichés of a conventional melodrama.

This is one of Nicole Kidman’s best roles because her performance is universal; she epitomizes maternal instinct and unconditional love that radiates even with such limited screen time. Dev Patel’s performance as adult Saroo is the core of this film. You will root and hope for him, until you find yourself clinging to his search for life. Again, another universal performance that isn’t difficult to sympathize with.” Dennis Buckley, https://cinemabravo.com/2017/04/06/movie-review-lion-2017/

Sunny Pawar, an enchanting, lovable boy, plays the lead character at age five, and Dev Patel plays the adult – Saroo. Both have acute, lion-like instincts that enable them to survive and even thrive under the best and worst of circumstances. And so the moral of the story is this: live – and for you athletes, play – like a lion. Because no other animal can endure and forbear the stresses and strains of life like a lion can.

And you can’t beat the theme song either.

Can Dusty Get It Done In DC?

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I like Dusty Baker. I do. But there are a few who don’t and that’s why Dusty’s days may be numbered in DC. He’s in the last year of a two year contract, and if he doesn’t make hay now, there may not be many managerial days left for the old-school baseball traditionalist.

Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker Jr has been around the block more than a few times. He’s managed in San Francisco, Chicago, Cincinnati and now Washington. All of his teams have excelled in the regular season. Unfortunately, it’s that pesky postseason that’s a perennial problem for Dusty.

The Nats are 38-23, with the third best record in Baseball and are 10.5 games ahead of the New York Mets, who aren’t even playing .500 ball. But they are in first place in their division, which is nothing to sneeze at. It’s just June, so there’s a lot of baseball left to be played.

So here’s to Dusty. I hope that he and his team can leg it out and make a run for it in this year’s playoffs.  I’m not a Nats fan, (I can’t be, I’m from Philly!) but  I can and do route for Dusty.  The Nats have not extended his contract beyond this year, presumably because the Front Office is waiting to see how the team does down the stretch under Dusty. Last year, the Nationals would win the NL East in his first season, but they lost in the NLDS against the Dodgers.

Go Dusty!

Let It Happen or Make It Happen?

Durant and LeBron

The phrase “Let it happen” can often be used in a situation where someone may be trying to force something like a relationship, or a deal, or a connection. The phrase is applicable in life, and of course, in sports. “Make it happen” is mainly used for advice for friends, but may not always be the right thing to do. This phrase accompanies a sort of ideology that some things are meant to happen, while others are not; therefore one should not force things.

On the other hand, “make it happen” means to do something and complete it, usually under extreme circumstances. And in case you’re wondering, I’ve obtained this privileged prudence from the wonderful wisdom of www.urbandictionary.com.

Game Three of the 2017 NBA Finals is one of the biggest games in the history of the sport. Why? Because tonight we will see which one works. Are LeBron and the Cavaliers trying to make it happen? Or are Kevin Durant and the Warriors so good that they will let it happen?

So which is it? Should we let things happen or make things happen? Should we yield our will or impose our will?  Should we lay ourselves on the altar or grab hold to the horns of the altar? Which one works?

As we live and breathe, both are simultaneously true.  We must both let it happen and make it happen, both and all at the same time. God will do His part and we must do our part. As a wise man once said, “pray as if everything depends on God, and then live as if everything depends on you.”

Yes the just shall live by faith, and, at the same time, faith without works is dead. So the axiom and the truism is this:  God has done His part; it’s now up to us to do our part. We let it happen by trusting and praying and believing. We make it happen by loving and caring and forgiving.  I call it the marriage of theology and practice. Letting it happen and making it happen are opposite sides of the same coin.

So make it happen, but only after you let it happen.

Too Much Talk and Not Enough Play

Lebron-Curry Some Cavaliers have been a little too cavalier with their comments. And some warriors have been a little too wanton with their words. Both teams are posturing and showboating and mudslinging so much that you wonder if they will have anything left when the games begin. There’s been too much work with the mouth and not enough play with the muscles. Of course the Finals haven’t begun yet, so let the talking terminate and let the games begin.

Goliath was a big mouth, and nobody likes a big mouth. Goliath was a loud mouth, trash talkin’, tongue waggin’ somebody. And until David came along, he could back up what he said by what he did. But that all changed. Because David could out talk his taunter because of what his God could do.

Trash talking is and always has been a part of the game. Oft-times players brag and boast about what they are going to do on the court and on the field, yet, only 50% of all trash talkers can deliver; only one team can win the battle for the game, and by extension, the trash talk war.

David and the giant Goliath engaged in what we would call trash talk. “The Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, ‘Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.’”

But David was unphazed.  He did not talk trash; he spoke by faith. “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.’ ”  1 Sam 17:43-47, RSV

So many of us talk a good game, and yet we don’t back up what we say.  We say one thing, and do another. In my book, that’s trash talk. We promise but we don’t deliver. That’s trash talk.  Indeed we over promise and under deliver.  That’s trash talk.  We purport and “front” and sell wolf-tickets, yet when it’s time to cash them in, we come up short. We talk loudly and proudly before the game, yet slink silently and pitifully on the sideline; after boasting and brandishing we live unseen and unheard lives and are unable to back up what we say.

Many doubt our faith and our Lord. They are trash talking us.  They are wolfing us down. And so the question is, what is our response to this doubting, doubtful, degenerate generation? Like Goliath they look down on us and decry us and our God. Can we backup everything we say?  Can we do everything we promise? As Christians, can we perform and can we deliver?

No worries. As long as we speak the Word of God, we have no fear of trash talkers. And our Champion and King can back up what he says. He will do just what He says! Contrary to Ali, Jesus Christ the righteous is truly the greatest. What He promises He is able also to perform. So let’s follow our Lord’s example.  Let’s say we’re going to do the right thing, and then let’s DO the right thing. No more saying one thing and doing another.   No more reneging on our word. No more trash talk.

John Wall: Force A Game 7  

John Wall (2)John Wall and the Washington Wizards forced a Game 7 in the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals against the No. 1 Seed Boston Celtics.  This DC dandy is a fan favorite, and he reconfirmed his star status when he hit a three pointer with 3.5 seconds left on the clock. With this heroic effort, Wall and the Wiz are going back to Boston to decide the matter, once and for all.

Johnathan Hildred Wall Jr. was a NBA No. 1 draft pick in 2010, so he has a lot to live up to. This playoff year, with his team and his city on the ropes, Wall won with the weight the Washington sports world on his shoulders. And I’m happy for him.

Life is won and lost in distinct, decisive moments.  And Game 7 is one of those moments. Game 7 is when you find out what you’re made of. Game 7 is when stars are born and when memories are made.  For these reasons and many more, any and all sports fans worth their salt would pay a king’s ransom to be present at a Game 7 (at home, of course).

Life is not won or lost in abstraction. It’s won or lost under the microscope of the big stage. And to get to the big stage of Game 7, we all must win the majority of the 50/50 balls and most of questionable calls along the way.  

So when life pushes you to the brink and to the edge, push back.  Like Mandisa said, sometimes you have to “speak when you don’t have the floor and you have to go when you’re not invited.”  Boston could have/(should have?) won Game 6 on the road, but Wall and the Wiz had other plans. The same should go for you and me too. When life and living and circumstances and situations say that you should be over and done with, roundly object.

Force Game 7.

The NBA, aka “Not For Boys” Playoffs: 2017 Edition

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The NBA now means “No Boys Allowed.”  It’s time for the NBA playoffs and it’s time to put up or shut up. It’s time for the strong to prove the doubters wrong, and for the winners not to quit and for quitters not to win.

If you want to play with the big boys you can’t be a little lad.  Come strong or go home. The NBA is a man’s game.  And this year, in this man’s game, the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics lost the first two games of their series to the upstart Chicago Bulls, AT HOME. And in case you missed the score sheet, Da Bulls are the 8th seed, and they barely made the playoffs. But please keep in mind that the leader of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, lost his sister just prior to Game 1, so his heart and his head weren’t necessarily in the same place.

 Chicago beat Boston with a patch-work quilt, taped together, spliced and diced team full of old heads and young thugs. It’s not the 90’s Bulls team anymore; so no more Michael Jordan, no more Scottie Pippen, and most recently, no more Derrick Rose. But this just in: Boston came back and beat Chicago IN Chicago; Games 3 and 4 went to the visitors so now we have a tied series; and now it’s a best of three affair.  And since Rajon Rondo is hurt, it looks like it’s over for D Wade (and his Bulls), who made a go of it in Chi-Town. Wade’s new team isn’t quite ready for playoff prime time, at least not beyond shocking Boston in Boston.

Sports are like life and life is like sports. And the regular season and the playoffs are just like life.  The regular season requires playing with consistency and playing well consistently. And that is necessary and good. But the playoffs is another level.  Yes, the regular season of our lives requires us to be constantly consistent. But that’s not enough if you want to be a champion. Champions win in the playoffs, and the playoffs require everything the regular season demands, and some.

The playoffs demand grit and guts and moxie and chutzpah and determination and fortitude.  The playoffs are the high points of our lives. And the high peaks and lofty goals we strive to reach mandate that we give a little more and take a lot less in order to reach the top. 

If Boston beats Chicago in this first round series, Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics will have passed a significant test on their way to the summit. They may not make it to the finals or the championship this year, but at least they will have proven to us, and to themselves, that they are deserving to be a No. 1 Seed in this “no boys allowed” game.

 As for the rest of the 2017 Playoffs, my money’s still on the Warriors, because Durant deserves a dynasty of rings, or at least just one.

Winning Cures Everything

Everyone loves a winner.  Because winning cures everything. It cures frustration and fury and disappointment and depression and everything else in between.  Winning ways will win you admiration and approval and applause and affection, not to mention esteem and honor.  It’s an axiomatic truth; winning cures what ails us, and we have a lot of maladies that we need healing from.

When you’re winning, you’re conquering and overcoming and triumphing over your foes and your fears. And  your fiercest foes may not be as dangerous as your deepest fears or your weariest woes.

This year, the North Carolina Tar Heels showed us how to win ugly. And even though it wasn’t pretty, it was beautiful.  North Carolina avenged a last second, buzzer beater, gut wrenching loss to Villanova in last year’s final. And if that wasn’t a horrible way to lose, I don’t know what is.

This year, while Gonzaga may have been the sentimental favorite, it would have been awful and even cruel and unusual punishment for North Carolina to lose in the finals for a second year in a row.  So the basketball gods asked the God of the universe for permission to let this one go Carolina’s way. 

We all want God to right our wrongs and cure our ills and forgive our iniquities heal our diseases. Especially this time of year during early Spring, the time of the singing of the birds, when hope springs eternal.  We all need a second chance, or more specifically, another chance, at life. After we slip up and trip up and mess  up, we all need another shot at redemption. This is what we all hope and dream and strive for; atonement, renewal and restoration.  

So don’t give up and don’t give in. Even when you lose a tough one, believe that you can bounce back and win the big one.