The NYC Marathon selects ordinary runners by lottery. I’m sure this doesn’t apply to the Al Rokers and Chilean miners of the world, but whadda ya gonna do? It costs $11 bucks (non-refundable) to enter the lottery. If you get in, they automatically charge the $180 entrance fee to your credit card. If you fail to get in for three straight years, you receive an automatic entry for year four. I got in on my third try. The picks are made in the early part of Spring.
This picture of Casey has nothing to do with the NYC Marathon.
I have to say that the entry money for the marathon gets you quite a bit. High class mailings begin right after you are accepted and continue occasionally till race time. Once you arrive in New York, you begin to see the tremendous cost of the marathon – blocking the streets, hiring hundreds of police officers, running shuttle buses to and from the Expo for three days, busing everyone out to the start line on Staten Island, setting up and running the start villages themselves – it’s a tremendous undertaking and must cost a large fortune.
By the way, those start villages are a sight to see. 45,000 runners are divvied up into three villages. Other marathons have corrals. NYC has villages. My village (Orange) was three times larger than the city in which I live. Each village looks something like a refugee camp, with 15,000 runners huddling together for warmth.
Anyway, getting into the Marathon is quite a thrill in itself.
The New York Times published an article in December called Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying. If you’d like to take a little romance out of your Valentine’s Day, you ought to look it over.
Actually, this is a great list of the type of questions I ask (or need to ask) on that first interview of pre-marital counseling. The Times list contains some good ones from the romantic (”Is my partner affectionate to the degree that I expect?”) to the practical (”Will there be a television in the bedroom?”)
I always ask both people to answer individually (on paper, without help from their partner), “Where/how will we spend Christmas this year?” If both assume they’ll spend it with their own family, there could be a significant problem. Also, the only time I ever got a derisive laugh during a sermon was when I suggested that people who are older than 25 (to pick an arbitrary number) should think about doing a credit and criminal record check on their intended. It isn’t romantic, but if someone is dragging a troubled past into the marriage, full-disclosure is the best way to go.
I found this list through the wonderful Lifehacker blog, and in the comments there you’ll find some more good questions for you (or your child) to ask of that apparent soul-mate.
I’m currently skimming and fumbling my way through The End of Poverty, a book by economist Jeffrey Sachs that I found at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit in August. I was enticed to buy it mainly because the cover advertises a forward by (St.) Bono.
I’m skimming and fumbling because even though The End of Poverty is written on a popular level, it’s still a little over my head and I find the details impractical for any involvement I might have in world relief. But there are interesting moments. Sachs has enjoyed a front-row seat to some of the major economic dramas of our times. He was one of the chief designers of Poland’s entry into the European marketplace after the Soviet collapse.
What strikes me most as I read The End of Poverty is just how much good a Christian young person could do who decided to devote her life to serving God by becoming an economist.
Yes, that seems like a strange thought to me too. Economics is so dry and academic, right? Besides, I’ve always thought that the noblest callings in life were to missions work, hunger relief, etc. And these ARE noble, for those who are so called. But Sachs (who BTW does NOT bring faith into the discussion) shows how there are moments in history when economists can step into a country in transition (like Poland after socialism) and make the difference between a future of crushing poverty and a healthy productivity that gives people a chance to provide for themselves. That’s a pretty noble calling, wouldn’t you say?
That’s why, more and more, I encourage young people to think broadly about how they can serve God with their unique set of gifts and passions. Who knows who God will use next to change the world?
- Why Anna Nicole Smith? John Pryor’s thoughts on fame and values.
- Thinking the unthinkable. From CNET, a serious secular perspective on dealing with child pornography and the net. (via Lifehacker)
- Doomsday valut provides a “Noah’s Ark” for food. From Breitbart.com via Relevant.
- 2006 movies – critics choice awards from Christianity Today.
- The brain-scan that can read people’s intentions. Is this Minority Report coming to life? From The Guardian Unlimited via Slashdot.
- Jack Bauer’s dilemmas – and ours. How 24 tries to show that even necessary violence doesn’t solve everything. From Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal via Christianity Today.
- RSS feeds that pop. My blogging friends should know that I and others read your posts not on your page but through a feed-reader (at least at first). This tip from Problogger will help you make them catch attention and invite clicks.
I wrote in an earlier post about how difficult it is to work constructively against race problems since we live in racially segregated worlds. Here are a few more thoughts…
In Divided by Faith, a book on how evangelical religion interacts with the race problems in America, Michael Emerson and Christian Smith did extensive interviews with evangelical Christians to get their opinions on issues of race. Emerson and Smith came away concluding that the vast majority of evangelicals want racism to be solved. Much to the chagrin of the popular press I’m sure, we’re not bigots.
But we are too simplistic in our thinking.
In interview after interview, the only thing white evangelical Christians can think to do about race problems is to make friends across racial lines and treat everyone well. These are undeniably positive actions, but they reveal shallow thinking. Indeed, Divided by Faith points out that this same approach – just treat others well – was taught as the Christian response to slavery and Jim Crow. In hindsight, we can see the enormous structural changes that needed to take place in those times. Kindness is better than hatred and violence, but you can see that to advocate nothing more than kindness in the Jim Crow era would have been entirely inadequate and even insulting.
Today, the obvious structures (slavery, Jim Crow laws) have changed. But (as I tried to show in the earlier post) all is not well. Yet we keep pulling the same tool out of our tool kit – “Let’s all just get along” or “If people will repent, society will change, and race problems will go away”. Is there something at the heart of our evangelical type of faith that keeps us from seeing problems beyond the individual level?
I have come to believe that there is. My hope and plan is to write about it here as a recurring theme for the next several weeks, interspersed with other stuff. I’d be glad to hear what you think.
Move over, Shane Claiborne. Philip Yancey is back with a new book (Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?) which is ever so quoteable, even though I’m less than thirty pages in. It was just two weeks ago that I declared Claiborne’s book The Irresistable Revolution the most quotable of all books. But Yancey has such a way, not just with words, but with ideas…like this one which compliments perfectly my post from yesterday on slowing down as spiritual warfare.
“Ten years ago I responded to letters in a couple of weeks and kept my correspondents happy. Five years ago I faxed a response in a couple of days and they seemed content. Now they want email responses the same day and berate me for not using instant messages or a mobile phone.”
Yancey then quotes Thomas Merton, who diagnosed the leading spiritual disease of our time as efficiency. Merton said: “From the monastery to the Pentagon, the plant has to run…and there is little time or energy left over after that to do anything else.”