Category Archives: faith

The Art of the Jump Shot: what’s God got to do with it?

We kinesthetics do a lot by feel.

We move in the space to “see” how big it is. We step outside to test whether we need a jacket today. When asked how long the table is, we spread our arms to demonstrate the size. How heavy is it? Oh, about like picking up _______ (something we have lifted before). No quantities for us. Our measure of a quality is its physical comparison with a previous interaction. We have this knowledge stored as a physical sensation. It is a memory retrieved from the body we bring.

So it just makes sense then that when it comes to deciding whether to put our faith in something or someone, we scan our physical recollection concerning this one or this thing. How does it “feel” to us? What do our “Spidey senses” tell us? Trust or distrust? Like or dislike? Engage or disengage?

Yep, Spidey senses aren’t just for comic book characters; they are for our character. We begin developing an internal sense of our outer world from the day we’re born. The more we interact with it — touch it, try it, and test it — the better sense of it we have. Not just by sampling, mind you, but by diligently applying ourselves to experience how things work and how we work with them. Not just with our minds but with our whole bodies.

Since it’s Final Four season and we’re feeling inspired, let’s work on our jump shot. Here is our process:

  1. Aim at the basket
  2. set the ball in our hands
  3. gauge distance and force required
  4. jump and shoot
  5. miss to the right.
  6. (retrieve the ball)
  7. Re-aim at the basket (with direction correction)
  8. Re-set the ball in our hands
  9. Re-gauge distance and force, if necessary
  10. jump and shoot again. (repeat)

Each time we shoot, the ball’s path provides feedback about our efforts, and the basket tells us whether they have been successful. Each miss gives us opportunity for correction. Each make gives us positive reinforcement. Our objective with practice is to bring our shot closer to our target until we make every shot. A natural by-product of our practice is a closer connection to our body’s physical sensation. We develop better feel. We become a better shooter.

But only if we have a target. Simply tossing a ball any which way against a backboard may provide ample exercise but it won’t improve our technique or our shooting percentage. To develop a “feel” we need an object of our effort and a measured intention. We need a goal and a reason to strive toward it.

No wonder the apostle Paul declared, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:14) 

If this is a random running, we have little hope of success. We may put in a valiant effort, sweating hard with heaving chest and gasping breath, but effort for effort’s sake doesn’t win us the prize. We need to be focused on our target, the specific goal set before us. It is in the shooting, missing, correcting our aim and shooting again that we draw closer.

We kinesthetics do this, like we do most things, by feel. It’s how we’re made. But the process is part of all of us. Thank goodness, God is patient.

The curious thing is, if I really want to be my very best, solo practice won’t do it: I need an opponent. The one who wants to deny me actually makes me into the best player I can be — the one who can take it confidently to the hoop, no matter the score, the shot clock or the game situation.

What if we considered everyone and everything that stands between us and our goal God’s gift of perfecting us?

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One Bread, One Body

One bread, one body, one Lord of all
One cup of blessing which we bless
And we, though many, throughout the earth
We are one body in this one Lord.

How many times have I sung these words while taking communion and while others communed at our common table? Bread broken. Poured out wine. Each of us humbled before the elements of the One Lord.

Gentile or Jew
Servant or free
Woman or man
No more

A cup of blessing offered openly, freely, with each one individually. No distinction. No head table. No second rows. No provisional status. No, come back after you have made some changes. All welcomed at the table of grace.

One bread, one body, one Lord of all
One cup of blessing which we bless
And we, though many, throughout the earth
We are one body in this one Lord.

Yet, look at us there. Each so different. All sizes and shapes, colors and hues, ages and stages. What a variety we are, just to look at us. But what an even more glorious distribution we are on the inside. A side we can’t see but our Lord does. A place we don’t know but our God does.

Many the gifts, many the works
One in the Lord of all.

One bread, one body, one Lord of all
One cup of blessing which we bless
And we, though many, throughout the earth
We are one body in this one Lord.

What a beautiful day is coming when each one kneels, bearing soul, offering self, telling the truth of their life to the One who alone can read it in full.

And together… We are one body in this one Lord.

I Am not A.I.

A.I., you and I are different.
I feel.

I feel
the rays of the sun warming my face,
the chill of the cold deep in my bones,
the pressure of your hand holding mine
and mine, resting in yours.

I feel
the jitters when test scores are posted,
the wrenching when news isn’t good,
the twang when I know I really shouldn’t
and the tap when I know I really should.

God didn’t create me artificially.
God created me realistically:
real parts,
real thoughts,
real sensations,
real desires,
real hopes,
real needs.

Do I dare feel?

Am I willing?
Not just to touch the hand
that reaches out,
but to take it?

Dear God,
there are places I’d rather not go.
I still feel them;
I still remember them;
I am not safe there.

You, A.I.,
You are safe everywhere.
not bothered by sensation,
not saddled with emotion,
not addled by fear or foreboding.

Fear is a place only humans go,
only humans can go,
human beings,
humans being.
The Lord of life takes us there…
and brings us through.

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)

A.I. was made for man, not man for A.I.
So the Son of Man is Lord even of the A.I.

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