Check this out. Please.
Last night, in arguably the biggest match of ’09, Barcelona FC beat Manchester United 2-0, claiming the title Best Club in Europe. The Champions League tournament rarely features the two best teams and seldom pits the world’s best two players against each other. Last night, we had both. Manchester United vs. Barcelona.
Goliath vs. David. Cock of the walk, vs. quiet and humble.
I admire Ronaldo like crazy. His 40+ yd bombs in the games leading up the Championship were incredible. He is amazing. He is also easy to hate. In talking about being honored as player of the year last year, Ronaldo commented that he was the world’s first, second and third best player.
Messi is easy to love. He’s short, fast, looks like a nerd, carries himself quietly off the field and is incredibly unpredictable with the ball. He is almost as entertaining to watch as Ronaldinho was. For goodness sake, his nickname (La Pulga) is Spanish for the flea.
In 2007, Ronaldo was runner up in the Ballon D’or (European Footballer of the Year- this is soccer’s equivalent to MVP of the world) while Messi ranked 3rd in voting. In 2008, Ronaldo was voted Footballer of the year, while Messi was runner up. With his stats (38 goals in 51 appearances in Europe) and with Barcelona realizing the triple crown (winning the Spanish La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League, Messi is almost a shoe-in for the honor this year.
I (like Jack Bell of the NYT) really wasn’t sure who to root for in this match. As a youth, Manchester was my club. Giggsy was awesome, and Cantona was a god. I wore my collar up for several years in high school in homage. A few years ago, I stumbled across the book, How Soccer Explains the World: An unlikely theory of globalization. It’s a must read for any soccer fan. The book describes the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona FC. Ever since, I have loved Barcelona. Having Ronaldinho for a while there didn’t hurt.
Barcelona was born in 1899. Their history is intriguing and can be found on wikipedia (what a useless sentence). But, in a nutshell, Barcelona’s football club represented a force against the fascism that took over Spain under Franco’s dictatorship. Sports and politics mix in Europe in ways that are hard to understand here. Franco’s soldiers murdered the president of the club. The fascists bombed Barcelona’s corporate offices. Barcelona represented the spirit of a people who refused to be controlled by Franco’s fascist dictatorship. Real Madrid stood for everything represented by Franco.
The match was wonderful. Messi scored a brilliant goal. Barcelona won. And I’d argue that the world won. Sorry Manchester, I’ll root for you next time. As long as you’re not playing the blaugrana.
When I meet new people, I like to ask them to make lists of things. What’s your five favorite movies? Three funniest things that ever happened to you? Top ten bands? The funny thing is that everytime someone turns the question back to me, I hate answering it. It’s like that part in High Fidelity (I think it’s only in the book) where he realizes that the top five list he gave the reporter just wasn’t right. Here’s my current* five favorite albums. They link to my favorite track from each album.
Dark Was the Night– Compilation
Vampire Weekend– Vampire Weekend
Have a Ball– Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s
Josh Ritter– The Animal Years
For Emma, Forever Ago– Bon Iver
Notable Mention: Pet Sounds (Summer is coming, after all)
*Note: I reserve the right to change these at a moment’s notice. They will most likely be different tomorrow.
Here’s a bonus list (short but sweet) of some of my favorite youtube (some official, some unofficial) music videos.
Know thyself. In The Republic, Plato uses the parable of the cave to discuss knowing who oneself is. Basically, the allegory discusses a bunch of folks who live in a cave. The only image they have of themselves is that of their shadow on the wall of the cave. He discusses how the folks in the cave beging to view themselves based on the images of their own shadows. He then discusses how the philosopher has a view that encompasses reality. Plato thought that the physical did not emcompass reality, but that they were reflections or shadows of the real “Forms”.
I recently read “Victory Over the Darkness” by Neil Anderson. This book has the worst title ever. It took me awhile to get past it and actually start reading it. I’d actually recommend it to any Christian. The first half of the book lays a doctrinal answer to the question, “Who am I?” The second half of the book is a practical application and implementation of that knowledge to your life. In the second chapter, Anderson goes through the New Testament and pulls out a list that “itemizes in first-person language who you really are in Christ.” Below is a sample of that list. A couple of months ago I started praying through this list. This was surprisingly hard. I’ve always had a hard time accepting compliments. But lately I’ve realized that even worse, I’ve barely been able to acknowledge my own strengths, or even spiritual truths about myself. Here are some spiritual trusts about what it means to be a Christian.
So, I’ve been trying to get to know myself again. I’ve been drawing a new understanding of who I am in Christ. It’s like I don’t have to look at the shadows that Satan presents about who we are. God is like the philosopher who understand the real form of who we are.
Who do you think you are? In Christ…
I am the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13)
I am the light of the world (Matt. 5:14)
I am a child of God (John 1:12)
I am part of the true vine, a channel of Christ’s life (John 15:1,5)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)
I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit (John 15:16)
I am a slave of righteousness (Romans 6:18)
I am enslaved to God (Romans 6:22)
I am a child of God; God is spiritually my Father (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 3:26)
I am a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance (Rom. 8:17)
I am a temple- a dwelling place- of God (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19)
I am united to the Lord and am one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am a new Creation (2 Cor. 5:17)
I am reconciled to God and am a minister of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5: 18, 19)
I am a saint (Eph. 1:1, 1 Cor. 1:2; Phil. 1:1)
I am God’s workmanship- born again to do his work (Eph. 2:10)
I am a fellow citizen with the rest of God’s family (Eph. 2:19)
I am righteous and holy (Eph. 4:24)
I am a citizen of heaven (Phil. 3:20)
I am chosen of God; holy and dearly loved (Col 3:12; 1 Thess. 1:4)
I am a son of light and not of darkness (1 Thess. 5:5)
I am a holy partaker of a heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1)
I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:9,10)
I am an enemy of the devil (1 Pet. 5:8)
I am born of God and the devil cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)
Anderson encourages Christians to ignore the shadows of who we are that are presented by Satan. I would encourage us to also ignore the shadows created by our media, our friends and our society. Take some time in silence and solitude to think about who you really are. Acknowledge the above list through prayer every day for two weeks. Try it. Know Thyself… as God knows you. Come on. Have an answer prepared in case someone wants to know who do you think you are.
This, my friends, is pure comic genius.