Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Sexual Gospel

In one of his blog entries, Andrew Sullivan, of The Atlantic, responds to a comment about how celibacy in the Catholic Church is causing priests to molest children.

First, we have to understand that the Catholic Church has got it wrong when it comes to the lifestyle of a priest. Not because he should be allowed to have sexual relations, but because the elders in the church have always been encouraged to marry and raise children, according to 1 Timothy 3

I disagree with Sullivan completely when he says,

What's frustrating is that the issues which are undermining the Church are not that central to its core doctrines. Celibacy is a pragmatic issue, not one of eternal truth. Ditto women priests. To fixate on sex, as the Church now does, is also a trivial thing sub specie aeternitatis.

What matters is the commandment to love one another and God, to serve our fellows, to help the needy and practice the daily duty of forgiveness. This is so hard for so many of us. I fail all the time. And that is why so many of us need the church to guide and help us on this pilgrimage. To exclude and condemn and clench with white knuckles onto non-vital issues, such as stopping priests from ever having a real sexual and emotional relationship with another human being, or casting half of humanity out of church leadership, is, in my view, a warped perspective.

Celibacy is not "pragmatic" as he says, otherwise it would not have made the Top Ten list of God's commandments.

He talks about sexual relations -- and allowing priests to have sexual relations outside of marriage -- as if it were a "non-vital" issue. That simply isn't true. Jesus himself reinforces the commandment by saying that "adultery" starts with the sexual thought, and not just by acting upon the desire. That's how important it is. It's a matter of the heart. Thus it is very, very vital.

What Sullivan seems to argue here, then, is that in order to avoid child molestation we should allow priests to have sex. But really, doing so is replacing one sin with another. We play God in doing so.

Sullivan says the most important thing is to "love one another and God." But the two are interconnected. We cannot love others unless we love God first. And we love God by obeying His Law, not by creating our own and determining which degree of sexual activity is acceptable and which one is not. Sex, according to God, is acceptable only in marriage. And those who preach the word of God have every right to have a wife in marriage.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

a poem

I was reading C.S. Lewis' "The Abolition of Man" a little while ago, in which Lewis presents the case of how moral relativity can lead to the destruction of the very social fiber in which we live. It's a tough book, and by far one of Lewis' more challenging reads.

There was, however, a section that inspired me to write a poem. In his second essay of the book, Lewis argues why "morality" is not something that lies within the individual, but rather it is something ordained by a higher power. I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty points of his argument because I don't have the book before me, and it's been a few months since I last read it.

But I did write a poem dedicated to "instinct" -- which Lewis argues is not a valid source for morality.


I asked my grandpa once
how the birds avoid the winter
and find their way
to warmer climates
he said one word:
I asked him then what instinct was
he said, a voice deep within ourselves
a voice that tells us right and wrong
and guides our path along the way
and shapes the things we know as truth
and speaks of judgment on our behalf
like God? I asked
but he said, no,
not a god, because god cannot exist.
my instinct told me then
not to ask more questions
but I did not listen.
what is right and wrong
if people’s instincts disagree?
listen to me well, he said
you must one day learn
to think for yourself
as I have
then you will learn
to quit listening to the garbage
your father teaches
on Sunday mornings to the crowds
and listen only to the inner heart
you understand?
but what if the heart deceives?
it wont,
your heart will never lead astray.
then whose heart has my father followed?
he paused before he answered
perhaps to listen well
to the inner voice
deep inside himself
the masses, he answered
but how did the masses come to an agreement?
enough with the questions boy
and said no more
he placed his hands inside his pockets
and he kicked some stones about his feet
and he faced away to watch the sky
and watched the birds in flight
a path drawn before their own
and he continued listening
to his drumming heart
until the day he died

Oh Limas!

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported something that shouldn't be too shocking, but is quite telling.

(Mike) Tomlin ... said that veteran wide receiver Sean McDonald may suit up
instead of Limas Sweed this Sunday.

In other words, you've been put on notice Mr. Sweed. Which is a shame because you'd shown to have turned a corner earlier in the preseason and had overcome your dropsies problem. Yet you completely blew a chance to score a 34-yard touchdown against the bengals when you were wide open. On top of that, Mike Wallace, a rookie, caught everything that came his way. Plus he's proven he can slip behind coverage, which was supposed to be your specialty, Mr. Sweed. So in other words, we're better off with a posession receiver like Sean McDonald.

I wish it didn't have to come to that. I like McDonald. He's solid and safe, but I would have preferred seeing big and tall Sweed continue to grow in this offense.

Monday, September 28, 2009


There's nothing better than a little humor to cheer you up from a Steelers loss. This site has it all. A bit of Steelers commentary, some trash talking occasionally and the right amount of tasty cakes to keep it all sweet.

Oh, and ponies.

(I've linked this website among the list to the right for future reference)

One and two...

There really isn't much to say. I don't have enough fingers I can use to point.

During the last four-and-a-half minutes of the game, Heather and I held hands. I created a fist and she created a fist and we didn't let go. The Steelers were up by five. At one point in the fourth quarter, they had an 11-point lead. Then the Bengals scored on a touchdown run. Cedric Benson untouched.

That's okay, I thought. We get the ball back. We'll kill the clock. Then game over.

But we didn't. We didn't do anything with the ball, other than give it right back to the Bengals.

Then the clock ticked and slipped and dove, and the Bengals came closer and closer by the second while Heather and I clutched one another, eyes glued to the TV. My body was so tense I was a shaking statue.

"We need an interception," Heather kept saying.

Interception. Fumbled. Turnover. Anything. I'll take anything.

Then the Bengals were in our Red Zone and they faced Fourth-and-Two.

"This is it. This is it," I said, recalling memories of the Steelers Defense glory moments of stuffing opponents in the most emotional times.

But Paler threw a short pass for a first.

Then first down, no yards. Second down, no yards. Third down, no yard.



This is it. Stop them here and we won. Forty-two seconds left on the clock. Get the ball back on downs and we win.

But Palmer does it again. He throws a short pass to his right to a running back. James Farrior flies in. He tackles the running back in mid-air and ...

UGH! First down. He dove and made it just enough.

Now they were inside the five. I knew what would happen. I couldn't watch but I did anyway.

Bengals throw a touchdown, wide open in the middle of the endzone. It was absolutely disgusting. Absolutely appalling that we would blow such a big lead so late in the game.

We had demolished the Bengals in almost all phases for most of the game and we let them hang around. The Bengals had NEGATIVE TEN YARDS in the first quarter, for goodness sake! Then what happened? We settled for field goals instead of driving in for touchdowns. We didn't possess the ball when it counted the most. We didn't have a big enough hammer to slam down the nail on the coffin when we had the chance.

And there were plenty of chances...

The deep pass to Wallace could have been a big bomb for a touchdown, but instead the pass was on the outside and forced the receiver out of bounds. That perfect strike to Sweed in the endzone, he smacks the ground with his elbow and the ball pops out. That dumb interception that could have been to a wide open Santonio Holmes...

All of these moments are like little demons taunting me, and all I keep hearing in my head is the chirping voices of bandwagoneers singing,"who dey? who dey? steelers pooped a stinky! who dey? who dey?"

And again, it was yet another one of those moments where I realize that I'm letting football rule my life.

Fortunately, right after the game, as disgusted as I felt, I went straight to the Bible with Heather. We read a few chapters from Joshua. And it calmed me down. And it was yet another pudgy finger -- this time pointed at me -- reminding me where my focus should be on Sunday.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I'm checking just about every Steelers news site I know. This is obsessive and a little sad. It's Sunday.

Are you ready for some Worship?

Let's hope so...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Steelers vs. Bengals

This will be the second week in a row we play a team that played against the Packers the week before. As we all saw, Jay Cutler and the Bears bounced back nicely against us by exposing our defense after a loss against Greenbay. Now we face the Bengals, who actually had a very decent outing against the Cheeseheads.

On the scoreboard it would seem the Bengals allowed 24 points, but at least 14 points came off of Carson Palmer turnovers (one touchdown was a pick-six). So all of a sudden we have a Bengals defense who contained a very potent Green Bay offense. Not only that, but the Bengals are ranked first in sacks and 11th in overall defense.

Of course, this has gotten Cincinnati fans and media in a frenzy and they're already talking playoffs. A little premature, if you ask me. But, nonetheless, I expect this to be a much closer game than it has been in the past.

Our record is now 1-1 and bloggers and yinzers all around have begun their grumblings (much of it has been against Bruce Arians, unfortunately, though I think he's doing a nice job this season). The thing we have to keep in mind is that we really did not look bad against the Bears. A couple of dropped passes here and two missed field goals there resulted in a loss by 3 points. Compare that to last year when we fell 2-1 after we played the Eagles who embarrassed us in all sorts of ways. The score was close but they dominated us the entire game and sacked Big Ben 8 times! All of a sudden people were saying that the Eagles had found the equation for beating the Steelers.

The same could be said now for attacking the Steelers defense. Three-step-drops and short passes to tight ends and curl routes.

But Dick LeBeau is no dummy. We still have a weakness because Polamalu is out, but LeBeau will scramble the defense and prepare for the Bengals who will undoubtedly be ready.

Bruce Arians needs to implement more of those slants to Santonio Holmes and screen passes to the running backs and Hines Ward to avoid pressure against Ben. Usually, I would agree with Tomlin that the most violent team wins, but I think in this game, the quickest team will win the game. These quick passes will keep the opposing defense winded.

Also, no slow-developing running plays. Run right at them.

I think the Steelers running game can finally gain some ground in this one, unless we start falling behind on the score board. From what I've read around blogs, teams abandoned the run way too early against the Bengals, and yet they've still allowed 82 yards rushing per game. That may not seem like that much, but it's even more telling when you see that they allow an average of 4.3 yards per rushing attempt. That's a monstrous amount, and it should get Parker and company pretty excited. The O-line showed some big improvements against the Bears in the run game, and I think that will continue against the Bengals.

The winner will take this game by 7 points or less.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I protest...

Do you protest protesting?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

You are no God

This guy was one of the G-20 protesters on the streets today. He went by the name of "Uncle Dewey." I ran into him on Penn Avenue after a large protest group was broken up by police on Penn and 40th.

I asked him why his sign said "We are all Gods and Goddesses," and his response kind of baffled me.

"It's from the first commandment," he said.

"Well, actually the first commandment says 'You shall have no other gods before Me,'" I told him.

"That's from the old scriptures. I mean the one that goes, 'You are one with your neighbors.' You know? We're all equal. Or maybe it goes, 'Love your neighbor for he is you.'"

Maybe he was referring to the great commandment, as told by Jesus in Matthew 22:36-39 ...
‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
So either way, the protester botched it up on various levels.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Murder under the skin

It baffles me that, for the most part, we continue to talk about abortion as if it isn't murder. And yet, when a boyfriend tries to poison a pregnant girlfriend because he wants to kill the baby he is charged with just that... murder. So is this killing, or is it not killing?

Here is an article by the Post-Gazette that reports a teenager accused of attempted third-degree murder with the help of two accomplices. The accused tried to sneak cow hormones to his pregnant teenage girlfriend. Fortunately the baby was unharmed.

We can't make exclusions for mothers aborting their own child on the basis of "personal choice." We have to decide, scientifically, whether the baby in the womb is a life or not a life. I would say if this young man is being charged with murder (I don't care what degree) it means that this IS in fact a life. If not, then the ACLU should come to this boy's rescue...

A mother who kills her born baby who is a month old (or even a day old for that matter) doens't get the benefit of "choice." Simply put, she is a killer. Why do we make the exception when the baby is unborn?

It stupifies me that we continue to dance around this as a nation.

Liberals continue to spearhead the discussion on abortion against "Christian fundamentalists" by saying that we (Christians who impose our morality on others) just base our argument on our personal faith. I disagree. As powerful as faith is in making personal (and social) choices, this argument is backed by logic and science as well.

I'm accusing Liberals of not using logic. I'm accusing them of flourishing their own morality on the basis of, well... what DO they base it on? When it comes down to making a decision on abortion we have to look at it as a simple, logical issue that involves devastating implications.

The question, again, is, why does a boyfriend of a pregnant teen get charged with attempted murder, but a mother who goes to the abortion clinic does not? You have to throw "choice" out the window unless you're willing to grant that "choice" to ALL mothers who have children alive in the world, no matter how young or old...

U.S. Coast Guard closing off rivers

Here are some shots I took of the U.S. Coast Guard yesterday patrolling the rivers they'll shut down during the G-20 summit.

Welcome with open bars

via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Need I say more?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More photos?

For those of you coming in to check out the blog, would you want to see more Steelers photos of me, my wife, my dogs even if they're older... ?

What else would you like to see on the blog?


Santonio holmes dropped a touchdown pass and two other big passes that would have gone for first downs agains the Bears. Now the Steelers have dropped five spots in this ESPN Power Ranking... from First to Sixth.


Not that this loss was on Holmes, but to watch him drop passes and watch the Steelers drop in the rankings by this much both hurt my gut.

ESPN's power ranking, in my opinion, has been one of the most objective and dead-on rankings out there when it comes to the NFL. I'm actually surprised that we're still ahead of the Saints here, who undoubtedly would tear up our secondary if we had to play them next week.

On Sunday, we play the Bengals, ranked 24 out of 32, who upset the Greenbay Packers this past Sunday. If we lay an egg against this team and they catch us by surprise, I groan to think where we'll stand on the rankings.

I know. I know. These rankings are just a picture of where people think the 32 teams stack up against one another. Nobody is saying that the Ravens will win the Superbowl just because they've made the number one spot after two weeks. But this does speak to the Steelers' vulnerabilities. Besides the Ravens, the Giants, Colts, Falcons and Vikings are all ranked above us right now.

Even more painful, actually is to see where our Defense ranks, not based on opinion, but based on actual stats. Again, only two weeks have gone by, but right now the Steelers D is allowing an average of 297 yards per game and are ranked 11th overall.

Compare that with last year's 237 yards per game allowed after 16 games...

That tells you something.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Some notes: Steelers vs. Bears

On the Loss: I'm not going to lynch Jeff Reed for this one. He's been very reliable for us so often in the past that we can't just blame this loss on him, even though he missed two field goals he normally makes. For the most part, the Bears made the opportunistic plays they needed to make. We could have gone up 14-0 on them in the second quarter, but they hit Ben Roethlisbergher on the pass and caused him to throw an INT. He had Wallace wide open for the score, but he under-throws him. We allowed the Bears to hang around and they're not a bad team, so they pulled off the win. This could be a humbling loss. I'm always interested to see how Tomlin has the boys bounce back from these types of games. It may prove to be alright after all. Kudos to the Bears, and kudos to Cry-Baby-Cutler for playing very well against us.

Now here are some notes on things I noticed in the game...

Defense (overall): We allowed a total of 43 rushing yards in this one, but Jay Cutler exposed us as I feared. I expected him to bounce back in this one, and he took advantage fully of Troy Polamalu being gone. He threw for 236 yards, but 123 of them were to tight ends and running backs. If it weren't for half-a-dozen drops in the first half (plus a few more in the second), Cutler would have had more than 300 yards passing easily. Simply put, Cutler exposed us. He released the ball quickly and our linebackers weren't able to get to him quickly enough. Also, we allowed a drive that was 99 yards for a touchdown. This defense is still good, but I'm not buying that it's better than last year's.

Tyrone Carter: He had a terrifying hit on Greg Olsen on that one deep pass down the sideline, but for the most part Carter played very safe and allowed a lot of open field for receivers to find themselves open. He's no Polamalu, and that's obvious. Polamalu might have been able to break up that second touchdown pass to Johnny Knox in the endzone. But we can't play the speculation game.

William Gay: He too played too safe, giving receivers a lot of room to work with. He didn't play agressive enough. Some of that may be the scheme designed by Lebeau, but it seemed Gay was out of place on quite a few plays. He saved face a few times just because his receiver dropped the pass completely once or twice.

Some offensive notes...

Ground Game:
For this game, Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall each had more rushing yards than our total ground game from week one. That doesn't impress me still considering the Bears defense was out quite a few players for this game.

Parker specifically ran well when he ripped it downhill, but his lateral movement has definitely been affected by this hamstring issue. He was simply slow when moving from side to side. On that one play he got caught from behind by two linebackers who blitzed from the left end. The old Willie we know would have been gone. He had a few long runs to beef up his stats, but I think that's always been the way he gets his yards.

Santonio Holmes: He played with a lot of desire through most of the game. Unfortunately he dropped two passes that slipped through his fingers and he slid on the turf on another pass where he was wide open. Also, he beat his man deep on that one pass that should have been a touchdown if it weren't for the defender yanking his shirt and then face-guarding him. That was bull. I still think he'll have his 1,200 yards by the end of the season.

Mendenhall: If it weren't for his 39-yard run, he might have finished with zero yards for the night. That run was all on the O-line. I'm not bashing Mendenhall. I think he's going to grow and turn into a very good RB, but I would have liked to see him finish off that run in the endzone.

Any thoughts?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cry-Baby Cutler

This article by the Chicago Sun Times tries to defend Jay Cutler's facial expressions and body language. The reality however is that acting like a furstrated cry-baby on the field affects your teammates. Period. Which affects the way your teammates play for you. Which affects their performance in the game. Which affects wins and losses. Which affects (and infuriates) fans.

People are completely justified to criticize Cutler for the way he acts on the field.



Also, I was watching ESPN yesterday and there's a show called First-and-Ten, where two sports commentators go ahead to head on ten topics per show. There's a guy named Skip, and I've never, ever, ever heard him pick the Steelers whenever they have to pick winners on any given match up. For this Sunday's matchup, he said that the Bears defense will play an "emotional game" because Brian Urlacher is out. Urlacher is the best player they have on that defense, and he's actually suggesting this team will play better because he's hurt?

I can respect if someone doesn't like the Steelers. I can even accept always picking or rooting against them. But what kind of shmuck actually comes up with that kind of backward logic?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Big Ben: Comeback Kid

This article by Ed Bouchette reveals that Dan Marino actually has more game-winning, comeback drives in the fourth quarter than John Elway, which is contrary to common belief.

Sorry to all of you Elway idolaters.

Bouchette also makes a case for Big Ben as the Comeback Kid of the NFL who in five years and one game already has 18 game-winning drives (when trailing or tied in the fourth).

This is not an official NFL stat, but Scott Kacsmar from Pro Football Reference wants to see that changed.

Two forms of Faith?

I'm taking a class at Pitt called "Bible as Literature" which is exactly what it's called. It treats the Bible as a literary text, often comparing it to folklore traditions or hand-me-down etiologies (or stories) to explain why the world is as it is (How the Israelites came about, who God is, why we are mortals...)

I like the class only because it gives me a chance to read the Bible more closely with my wife. We used to read one chapter a day together. Now we read four or five a night, and pay even more attention to the details.

Tuesday night, our professor tried to make a case that the Old Testament understanding of Faith is completely different from Faith in the New Testament. At first he said there were very few uses of the word "faith" in the OT (which he refers to as the "Hebrew Bible" and not the Old Testament). When I told him that "faith" appears multiple times throughout the Psalms, he recanted and then addressed the class to explain the two faiths.

In the OT, he says, Faith is a complete reliance of God and a form of self-abandonment. In the NT, faith is what allows us to take action. He says that in the NT, the saints "act in faith." What he fails to recognize is that every command God gave the people of the OT required them to act in faith by trusting on God's protection.

I told my professor I completely disagreed with him on his assessment of the two faiths.

Yes, it's true that faith requires action, but that's true both in the Old and New Testaments. The faith in one. That doesn't mean it has to look exactly the same every time (after all, we're talking about something that is portrayed in people with different characters). Furthermore, Faith, in every instance in the Bible is always committed by submitting to God's will and abandoning our own. Even when the people of God take action in Faith, they allow HIM to take charge. Faith is uncomfortable for Christians precisely for this reason. Because we have to abandon ourselves, our desires and our reliance upon our own powers.

In Matthew 14, Jesus condemns Peter after he becomes afraid while walking on water.
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him,
and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. (Verses 31-32)
Peter had no power of his own to walk on water. He failed because he doubted God. It is Jesus who stretches his hand out to Peter, not the other way around, to show that God is always in control. All we can do, in faith, is submit. This faith has nothing to do with Peter’s action. After all, he did step off the boat and into the water. His actions failed because of his doubt.

Also in Hebrews 11 and Romans 4, the New Testaments authors quote the OT when talking about faith. I'll visis this later on...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Missing Troy

This isn't news but I wanted to comment on the Troy situation. He confirmed he'll be missing 3-6 weeks. I wish we had a more specific timeline.

In the next six games, the Steelers play the Bears, Bengals, Chargers, Lions, Browns and Vikings. I would say that we need Troy the most in the games against the Bears and the Chargers, which he would miss anyway even in best-case scenario.

We'll see how Culter does against us. In my previous post, I mentioned he's probably looking for redemption after a bad outing in Green Bay.

The Chargers will also want revenge, and even though I can't stand goofball Philip Rivers, the boy knows how to chuck the pig. By far, this is the one game we'll miss Polamalu the most.

The Lions may have an offense, but it's still a mess and our D can confuse the rookie, Matthew Stafford, who threw three picks against the saints last week. Plus, they're still the Lions.

The other danger may be the Vikings. By week 7, Favre and company may be clicking. Their offense still relies on combat-man Adrien Peterson, but that's one more reason for why I want Polamalu in this game.

Here we go crippled

Last week, I didn't mind so much that ILB Lawrence Timmons was hurt. That's because we were about to face Tennessee and his backup, Keyaron Fox, had shown to be much better against the run in the preseason.

This week, however, I feel we'll need Timmons a lot more, especially since Troy Polamalu is hurt. Timmons is great against the pass. He's fast. Athletic. He can cover, tackle and sack. Any additional pressure on the QB is a plus since the Tasmanian Devil himself isn't going to be on the field.

This week, the Bears' running game doesn't scare me, but Cry-baby Cutler will want to redeem himself after the FOUR interceptions he had against Green Bay. Especially in front of his (new) home crowd. As much as I feel disgust and pity toward Cutler, he's a decent QB. He'll shake the jitters and play better.

Tennesse exposed our defense by throwing to the tight ends. The Bears have a weapon with Greg Olsen, and I bet they intend to use him. Timmons didn't seem all that optimistic of being able to play in this game according to an interview I heard on the radio. Let's hope he does show up.

Monday, September 14, 2009


This blog has taken a turn. Last year, I was using it to update friends and family at home while deployed to Iraq. Now the focus has changed to discuss my passion for the Steelers and how (at times) it has clashed with my devotion to God.

My wife got me into the Steelers. She now blames herself when I'll bring them up in conversation even in the middle of June (that awkward and painful time between the draft and the beginning of training camp when there really is no Steelers news out there unless somebody crashes his motorcycle or is accused of raping someone).

I didn't used to be this way. I used to hate football and didn't know the difference between a false start and a touch down dance. Also, I didn't always have a passion for God as I do now. My Steelers addiction came first (during the 2005 season even before the Steelers had a shot at their 5th Lombardi Trophy). I came to Christ gradually over the past few years. Now my responsibility to worship God and lead my wife in that worship has taken first place.

Nonetheless, I'm going to use this blog primarily to discuss events relating to Steelers news and my own takes on games and future match-ups. It may get messy, however, so be warned. The two topics may clash at any given moment.

As I continue to mature in my faith, I've committed myself to God first. The reason why I chose to blog mainly about the Steelers, however, (for this class on blogging I'm taking) is that it allows me to discuss topics as they happen presently. Another issue is a matter of privacy. I'll discuss my faith in God with anybody at any time, however it touches upon so many private sins and struggles that I didn't feel appropriate opening that up to the webbing world.

So ultimately, this is where the clash happens. My wife calls my passion for the Steelers "obsessive." As Christian, I worship God daily by reading the Bible with my wife, but more specifically on Sundays. Also known as, the Lord's day. Also known as Game Day.

It's not that sports are evil. It's not that football itself is sinful. But in the past, I admit, I've treated the Steelers as an Idol, allowing it to dictate my mood for a week based on wins and losses, making me superstitious over carrying my Terrible Towel with me on game day, and -- most damaging -- conflicting with my worship of God on Sundays. There used to be days I'd slip out of church early to watch the kickoff. Other times, I could barely pay attention to the sermon because my mind was so invested on what players were injured or how other teams were doing in our division.

So the danger, of course, is creating a forum to feed the beast of my own idol.

Rule number one, therefore, will be No Blogging on Sundays. I may have to create other rules as I go along.

For the most part, my blog entries will discuss just the Steelers without having to include my faith into it. Other days, I may be compelled to talk more specifically about my faith, and leave the Steelers behind. Then there will be days when the two clash.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Magic 30

Big Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball 43 times against the Titans with 33 completions and we won the game. This tidbit of information doesn't seem all that shocking considering he threw for 363 yards.

Just a few years ago however, most sports critics judged Big Ben by one specific stat.

The magic number 30.

Almost every sports commentators talked about it before last year. And it was true. Any time Ben threw more than 30 passes, the Steelers were likely to lose the game. It meant the running game had failed, the coach had put the game in Roethlisberger's arm (quite literally), and he wasn't up to the challenge to deliver the win.

In Ben's rookie season, he never threw the ball more than 28 times in a regular-season game. He went undefeated until he faced the Pats in the playoffs and the Steelers finished 15-1. We also had the number one rushing offense that year, and as great as the rookie Ben did, some critics chucked up the wins to our dominant D and our powerful running game.

The pattern of "the magic 30" began in 2005, when finally Ben had to keep up with high-powered offenses that put some numbers on the Steelers. It started against the Bengals at home, when for the first time in the NFL Ben lobbed the ball 41 times. Roethlisberger threw three TDs, but also three picks. The Steelers lost 31-38.

The next year, in 2006 (the year of the motorcycle crash), Ben played eight games where he had more than 30 passing attempts.

His record... 1-7.

That one win as against the Browns, so it barely counted toward anything. Suddenly the critics noticed. They pounced. Big Ben was overrated. He can't win without a running game to hold him over his opponents. He was a game manager. Not a game winner.

In 2007, Ben did slightly better, going 3-4, but again those three wins were against Buffalo, Cincinnati and Cleveland. And besides, Ben threw only 34, 34 and 32 passes in each game respectively. He sure was not Tom Brady. The critics were further reinforced of their argument when Ben threw the ball 42 times against the Jaguars at home in the playoffs and lost.

Overall, Ben was now looking at a 3-13 record overall for the 16 games in which he'd passed the ball more than 30 times. Not exactly the QB you want to rely on to win a game for you...

Then, in 2008, things changed. Not because the Steelers would eventually win the Superbowl. Something changed even before then. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road, a team that had embarrassed the Steelers twice at home the year before, Big Ben threw the ball 41 times (26 completions)... and won. Not only that, but he was playing with a slightly-separated shoulder, and one pass to Heath Miller for 17 yards was a thing of beauty. Ben was getting dragged to the ground by two defenders.

As the season wore on, Ben's accomplishments took second place to the number one defense that terrorized just about every team it faced. But by the time Ben had won his second Superbowl in five years, he would finish the 2008 season 6-2 in games he had to throw the ball more than 30 times. One of those wins was against Baltimore in the playoffs. All of this while the Steelers' running game boasted a ranking of 23rd out of 32 teams. Not exactly a helpful hand to an "overrated quarterback."

Suddenly, a QB everyone said could win only with a good running game, was doing it without one. For the first time ever, some commentators started to use phrases like "elite" and "one of the best" but still it was because of his overall winning record and two rings. Nobody really took notice of his passing attempts in relation to his wins.

This past Thursday night, Big Ben won the game for us once again with zero help from the running game. He also tallied his 18th win when he had to bring the offense with a tied score or coming from behind. Now, in his sixth year, Big Ben still "holds on to the ball too long" and is (admittedly) a "slow starter." The critics are still out there, but it's obvious that Ben has shed the curse of 30. He's a guy you can rely on to win the clutch. He's confident enough that when facing overtime he'll tell the ball boy to get him his hat, because he's confident he can drive his team down the field, win, put on his hat and give a post-game interview.

With an offensive line that gets mauled like crazy in the running game, there is no other quarterback I'd rather have than Big Ben.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Third and Short

That has been the bane of the Steelers' existence. I think we need Redzone Redman back to tough out the short yards. We haven't moved anybody on a short yardage plays. This has been a tough game to watch.

I have to say I highly underestimated the Tennessee Titans, who dominated the line of scrimmage for much of the game. Most of the sacks, I'd say were on Big Ben tonight holding the ball too long, but once again, he just makes plays. He escaped death just before making the big pass completion to Wallace. Take the good with the bad Steelers nation. In the end, it resulted in a big W to head off into the season.

I'm so glad they just sent Reed out there to end the game with the field goal. I don't think my heart could have taken another second of this game. I went absolutely nuts several times during the game.

But once again, this game would have been a lot easier to watch if we had a running game to grind out those tough yards.

Steelers - Titans

So it begins tonight.

In part, I still haven't really wrapped my head around the fact that the NFL season is finally underway.

Tonight the Steelers will kick things off at home against the Tennessee Titans. My heart is actually racing right now, giving you a hint of the crazed Steelers maniac I am. I'm already salivating about the idea of Sundays filled with pro-football action, hard hitting, interceptions, must-see plays, touchdowns, bad referee calls, coach challenges.

All of it.

I love all of it.

And I really have to be careful. I don't want my passion for the NFL to compete with my passion for God. Sunday, like I said in a previous post, is the Lord's Day. We'll see how much I can control myself, and how much it will affect my devotion and worship of God.
But here's some thoughts on tonight's Thursday kickoff game...

The Steelers were the better team last year when they lost to the Titans in Nashville. They had just played three brutal and emotional games heading into the Dec. 21 match-up, the last of which was against hated rivals Ravens in Baltimore. Pittsburgh had just claimed the division and had a chance to relax. The Titans, on the other hand, lost by a point against their rival (and mediocre) Texans, and everyone was questioning them.

These are not excuses. These are the facts.

Both teams start off on a blank slate, and as much as coaches pretend it doesn't matter, the games leading up to any match-up always play a part in the outcome.

Many people say Tennessee destroyed the Steelers last year in their game. This was mostly true along the line of scrimmage, but the scoreboard (31-14 final) was more misleading than the numbers indicated. Tennessee scored 7 of those points on an interception returned to the house, so now we're looking at 24-14 offensive points. What killed the Steelers were four costly turnovers, all at the end of Big Ben (2 ints and 2 fumbles). At the same time, Big Ben was able to find enough yards in the Tennessee's blanket defense and threw for 329 yards.

If Ben doesn't spill the bean in that game, the win is ours.

The key to win any game for the Steelers is never a surprise: Protect Big Ben. Even if we have a crappy running game (which we might because Tennessee is staunch against the rush), my prediction is we win the game by 10 points.

Also, we have to contain Chris Johnson (LenDale White doesn't scare me so much -- he's pudgy and slow). He had a 21-yard touchdown on a 4th and 1. Everybody remembers that Ike Taylor whiffed on the tackle that would have stopped him for a loss. Our defense cannot allow the Titan offense to control the game. We'll protect Ben tonight and contain the rush.

Steelers 1 and 0

Mark it down. Here we go.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Year Prediciton

I like to make a few predictions at the beginning of every Steelers season. Some are bold, while others are easier to swallow. I'm not going to predict whether the Steelers can repeat this year and climb the Stairway to Seven. That all depends on their attitude and level of focus.

But here we go with a few fun predictions (I will add a few words on some predictions to explain where I'm coming from):

1) Stefan Logan, our new hero on special teams, will have at least three returns for a touchdown this year.

2) Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes will each have a 1,000+ yards season. Ward is 33 years old, but he has always relied on toughness and precise route running, so even as he gets older he doesn't have to rely on speed to get yards. The speedy Holmes is entering his fourth year in the NFL and has yet to break a thousand. He'll do it this year because year four is usually the coming-out year for wide receivers.

3) Big Ben will get sacked less than 30 times. This is more wishful thinking than a prediction, but I have to say that the offensive line looked much more in control at the end of last season and in the playoffs than they were starting off. For the line, it's about communication, and I think the unit improved by adding a bigger, more experienced Trai Essex to replace Darnell Stapleton.

4) Willie Parker will have a solid 1,400-yards rushing season, but he will drop several passes in the open field as he refuses to work on his stone hands. Parker is finally healthy and is on his last year of his contract. He'll want to prove he deserves to stay. This, of course, will depend mostly on how much work Mendenhall will receive carrying the ball. Mendenhall still needs to be more aggressive while running down hill. He'll hit that in stride half-way through the season.

5) LaMarr Woodley will have more sacks than James Harrison this year. But at least the Zebras will finally call holding on opposing tackles trying to strangle Harrison on every play. The reason for this prediction is simple... more attention will be paid to the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and Woodley will come into his own as he enters his 3rd year in the NFL.

6) The Steelers will boast the No. 1 defense once again.

7) Big Ben will continue to be undefeated in Ohio.

8) Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark will be the most dominant duo at Safety in the NFL.

9) Ike Taylor will continue to drop incredibly easy interceptions while Polamalu shows him how it's really done.

10) Anthony Smith will make some kind of ridiculous prediction before the Steelers face the Packers and again Smith will be beat deep for a touchdown as he continues to bite on play-action fakes.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lord's Day

Sunday is my favorite day of the week. My church likes to call it the Lord's Day, and it is. Before I became a Christian, I didn't know anybody who genuinely loved going to church -- little alone somebody my age. But right now, I honestly have to say I love church.

My wife, Heather, and I are members of a small Reformed Presbyterian church called Providence. There are maybe 100 members at our church, plus the additional guests and attendants that join us on Sunday. So it's a small community. Our church is not a fancy place. It's small, plain, with wooden benches and few decorations. I've been to megachurches that seat thousands of people and look more like ampitheaters than places of worship.

Pride is always a dangerous thing, and I don't mean to suggest that I pride in my church because it's small. The reason why I love Sundays is because our pastor and elders do a phenominal job in preaching the Word. Almost every sermon I've listend to at Providence has been a re-awakening and a refresher as to why we worship God.

Recently, Pastor Rut started a series of sermons about the 10 commandments. Nothing revolutionary there. Nothing out of this world. Nothing but the good old basics. And that's what reformed theology does, it sticks to the basics. It grounds itself in the Bible's teachings. It's straightforward and honest about who we are and who God is. He is the Creator. We are the creatures. We worship Him. He doesn't worship us.

Too often I've run into churches where Sundays are treated more as the People's Day, rather than the Lord's. Yes, Sunday is our day of rest, but more importantly it's a day of Worship.

Of course I know that originally the Sabbath was on Saturday, which is the day God took to rest after His creation. But we, as Christians, worship on Sundays because that's the day Christ rose from the dead as a sign for his sacrifice and our salvation. There are a lot of churches that wish to worship at the people's terms, but what we tend to forget is that God doesn't need our opinion in the matter of worship. He sets the rules. And that's tough to accept sometimes.

The reason I love Sundays is because it gives me and my wife an opportunity to spend the day glorifying God. The sermons we receive at providence are always excellent. Pastor Rut is phenomenal, and he says the trick for him is to preach the Word and get himself out of the way. The sermons at Providence are often pretty long, anywhere from 30-45 minutes. But there is always so much depth. I never feel like I just walked away from a motivational-speaking seminar or a pity party about the sad condition of our society. Rut's sermons teach and dig deeply into the Word of God, often giving substantial reference from other parts of the Bible (Old and New Testament, for the two are inseparable).

There are many struggles in the Christian faith -- whether presented from other religions, from the world of atheism, or from the church itself. Regardless of where the struggles come from, the core is always the same: self worship. Any time we place anything before God, we are acting in self worship because WE are then deciding what is more important, ultimately serving our own desires instead of God's.

So here is one of my personal struggles this Fall Semester... the NFL season begins once again and the Steelers return to defend their title after winning their sixth Lombardi Trophy. It's not enough that I have a full semester at Pitt, working two days a week and interning with the Post-Gazette three more. On top of it all, I'll be distracted with trying to keep up with Steelers news and cheering for them to win.

Unfortunately, most games they play are on Sundays: The Lord's Day. Already I've made myself, my wife and God a promise that I would honor the Sabbath. We shall see how it goes. The first Sunday game is Sept. 20.

Until then, at least I'll enjoy this Thursday night's kick-off as the Steelers open up the NFL season at home against the Tennessee Titans.

Oh, do I have some choice words to say about the Titans and their desecration of the Terrible Towel.

Well, at least it wasn't the Bible...

But we shall discuss it all in due time.