Monday, October 31, 2005

Living, Dying, Healing, and Sharing

Several days ago, I shared with you about Dr. David Scholer. If you want to hear a heartfelt message about living with cancer, go here. I have never heard anything like this, particularly the comments about Romans 8.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to hear an interesting and haunting message on these verses from Dr. Frederick Dale Bruner, my Sunday school teacher (yes, I know, Sunday school, how quaint) and friend.

For me, the end of Acts 3 and beginning of Acts 4 brings forth some of the most important facets of the Christian faith; most particularly the mystery of healing (which I personally struggle with, to this day) and the illustration of the upside down ethics of Kingdom living - giving away what one has for the common good of the greater Body of Christ. As I listened, I wondered; do we really understand the majesty and transformation that is contained within these few lines. They are, to me, verses that give us a glimpse into Heaven. I might even have more to say on this soon....

Oh, that we might have lives that reflect the both the mystery and the upside down ethics of the Kingdom.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Last Shall Be First

The casket of civil rights icon Rosa Parks lays in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2005 in Washington. Parks inspired the civil rights movement by refusing to give up a seat on a city bus to a white man. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

From the back of the bus, to the center of power; and heading home.

Albert's List

From the Archives at Cal Tech - Einstein's calculations for the meaning of life have been uncovered!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Is This a Good Choice?

In about two weeks, my Mom and Dad, now 84 and 85, will be moving here. Moving to a two bedroom unit in a brand new assisted living facility. My wife Nancy and I are comfortable with the values of the facility in which Mom and Dad will be living, and with the Christian concern of the founder of the publicly-traded company that operates the facility. We are thankful that this option exists for Mom and Dad, who need to be living in a supervised setting. Dad forgets a lot these days, after a series of small strokes. Mom needs a walker to get around, after a fall and a broken hip a number of years ago.

However, if I am honest with myself, I will admit that what we are doing is uniquely American. We Americans take our elderly and put them, well, out of the way. Not so, in the
2/3 world. Were we to live in the rest of the world, Mom and Dad would be coming, without choice or question, to live with us, in our home.

This concept is haunting to me. While I am an only child, and attempting to be faithful and caring with my parents, I still ponder these things. As I ponder, I find
this reflection, by Michael Spencer (another only child) to be particularly meaningful, as I attempt to find Jesus in the midst of all this. And as I think about this all, I am also thankful for the older saints I know, and how they contribute to the mosaic of the Kingdom of God here on this planet.

One final thought. Take a look at the opening web page of Saddleback Church. I have a question. Can one be older than 35, and still feel welcome at this church? I am worried....

Again, and Again, and Again, and AGAIN!

Tonight, I ate my dinner, in the car. In the driveway, in the dark. No, I did not get in trouble with my wife. I was glued to the TV set, and then.....the power went out in our neighborhood! Arggg! Out to the car! The UCLA Bruins were in the midst a yet another (count 'em - four this year) come-from-behind win. Behind 24-3 in the fourth quarter, the Gutty Little Bruins did it again, beating Stanford. The UCLA - SC game this year is gonna be a historic event!

In other college football news, one of
my favorite coaches just received a 10 year contract extension. Notre Dame athletic officials know a man of character and determination when they see one; gotta love those Catholics!

And in baseball news, I agree with Hugh Hewitt, is there any other choice for the Dodgers but

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Remarkable Journey - David Scholer, ThD

This is David Scholer. He is a professor of New Testament at Fuller Seminary near our home. We have a connection to Dr. Scholer through our de facto family member Jill Williams, who is a residential-scholar-guest-friend in our home, and is taking a class with Dr. Scholer.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase "seminary professor". There are a number of stereotypes, and by his photograph, Dr. Scholer might meet some of those. He is a scholar, has his doctorate from Harvard, and has written the thrilling volumes, "Nag Hammadi Bibliography 1948-1969 (1971) and Nag Hammadi Bibliography 1970-1994 (1997)". Now THERE is some light reading.

But forget the stereotypes. Completely. As our Jill has shared with us over the past months, Dr. Scholer is battling, and perhaps slowly succumbing to a terminal form of cancer. This was documented in a remarkable article by Connie Kang (full disclosure; our friend as well) in the LA Times this past week. As the times has a silly policy of registering, and a jillion pop-up ads, I will quote from the article liberally below. So sue me, Tribune Company!

"The Rev. David M. Scholer, a prominent New Testament scholar at Fuller Theological Seminary, has lived with constant pain and side effects from the treatment since he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer 3 1/2 years ago. The cancer is incurable, he says, and has spread to both lungs.

Despite the illness and fatigue, Scholer continues to teach and supervise the PhD program and its 155 candidates at the Pasadena seminary's Center for Advanced Theological Studies, where he has been associate dean since 1997. The way he is continuing with his duties has made Scholer a role model for living with an incurable disease, many people at the seminary say. Students, faculty and members of congregations where he speaks are deeply moved to see how he uses his suffering to minister to others. At the beginning of every course, Scholer tells his students about his condition so they're not surprised. In his teaching, however, he mostly sticks to the subject: the New Testament." The kind of [theological] knowledge we have doesn't give us any special status," he told seminarians in his class. "But there is a special responsibility we have to share it."His voice is hoarse, a side effect of the many medications he takes. And he lectures while seated, because it tires him to stand.

"I revel every day in remembering all the good things of my life — all the wonderful things I have been given: my family, my friends," he said. "I can't travel much anymore, so I think of all the places I've been. The joys and achievements of the past don't mean I live in the past, but I do celebrate with gratitude what has been."

Jill Williams, who will complete her master's degree in divinity in June, says she was in Scholer's class the quarter he learned his cancer had returned. "Ironically, I do not remember a marked difference in his teaching before and after the diagnosis," she said. "He consistently taught with joy, theological conviction and passion throughout the quarter."

In life's ups and downs, what's important to realize is that God's ways are well "above our ways," he said. "Maturity in faith is the ability to accept mystery and ambiguity."His message is this: "I really do trust in God. I believe in God's comfort and love. I believe that God is the giver of life, and that means to affirm this life, as well as to have faith in the life to come. God has given me life. I feel I have a calling in life."But, for the terminally ill, a time comes when the will to live doesn't work anymore, he said. "So, as an incurable-cancer patient, I give myself to God," Scholer said. "My life is in God's hands."

This story is for me, the definition of faith; of a life lived with candor, honesty, pain, suffering, mystery, and thankfulness. I really cannot find adequate words to explain how the article made me feel. And how inadequate I feel to be able to deal with a challenge like this. Humbling indeed.

In God's hands indeed. Dr. Scholer, thank you.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Henri Gets It Right

In my morning reading....I came across this:

Often we hear the remark that we have live in the world without being of the world. But it may be more difficult to be in the Church without being of the Church. Being of the Church means being so preoccupied by and involved in the many ecclesial affairs and clerical "ins and outs" that we are no longer focused on Jesus. The Church then blinds us from what we came to see and deafens us to what we came to hear. Still, it is in the Church that Christ dwells, invites us to his table, and speaks to us words of eternal love. Being in the Church without being of it is a great spiritual challenge.

Boy, does this apply to me!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

What If Its Not Like I Think Its Supposed To Be?

After the post Friday on Things Emergent for John, I have been doing just a small bit of fishing around on this topic, and I have a (middle aged white guy in the suburbs) confession to make.

I confess that I have been secretly harboring conspiratorial Republican patronizing thoughts about The Emergents (nice name for a rock band) over the past little while. I admit that I have been thinking that once these young people get out of the tattooing and coffee-house-hanging phase of their lives, they will see their way straight to getting a mortgage, 2.75 kids, a sensible family van, and then proceed to becoming more mundane and rational. Like I am, darn it.

Guess what? That is not going to happen. I am learning this through my reading of Velvet Elvis that, if The Emergents are anything like Rob Bell, they are reformed in theology, orthodox in faith, and merely want to bring a relevant form of Jesus to a new generation that craves authenticity. So there. Take that stodgy white guy.

Now, two more things, then its off to bed for me. First - go read this, about "doing church for them". It is wonderful. it should be required reading for every stodgy Presbyterian on the planet.

Second, give yourself just a couple of minutes to view this. It is all that really matters. Peace.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

At Last...The Perfect Church Is Found

At last, my struggles are over. I have found the perfect church. Robert Schullers' I & II would be so proud. Only problem, if you look closely, the people are, well, sort of shallow. What is the right way to say this? They are, still, hollow, and, well, plastic. In short, they are Leggo People, and the church is made entirely of Leggos.

Sigh! I guess I will just keep on looking.....

Friday, October 21, 2005

For Good Old John

This photograph is about 13 years old. That fine fellow there with the lovely young lady (our daughter Kelly - now 14 years old) at the piano is one of my best friends in the whole world, John. John and I had a fine Mexican lunch today, and talked over life. One of the things we chatted about was church. We discussed how our old main-line denominational church has struggled so, and how it is going to recover and make it in the weeks, months, and years ahead. We dreamed a bit.

John wanted a list of Emergent/Cool church type websites to visit. So here is my very fledgling attempt at a start:

Nooma - the website of Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Church. Rob has written Velvet Elvis, which I am currently reading.

Also, Kingdom Rain, is a great place to spend some time; and while you are there, check this out.

Another good place to hang is here, at Rhett Smith's place. He is scads younger than me, and therefore just oozes with cool, hip, striped shirt and funky shoes Emergent type things. Look down the left side for "Postmodern - Emergent Conversation Blogs". My favorite is Brian McLaren. This only scratches the surface. Add more, readers, in the comment lines below.

And for an old friend, check here. Lots of good reading your spare time, Brother John!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Is The Church Important?

In light of this, words from Henri Nouwen:

Our faith in God who sent his Son to become God-with-us and who, with his Son, sent his Spirit to become God-within-us cannot be real without our faith in the Church. The Church is that unlikely body of people through whom God chooses to reveal God's love for us. Just as it seems unlikely to us that God chose to become human in a young girl living in a small, not very respected town in the Middle East nearly two thousand years ago, it seems unlikely that God chose to continue his work of salvation in a community of people constantly torn apart by arguments, prejudices, authority conflicts, and power games. Still, believing in Jesus and believing in the Church are two sides of one faith. It is unlikely but divine!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I Couldn't Go To the Geek Fest

The picture at left comes from my friend Mark Roberts, who was a speaker at GodBlogCon this past weekend. I am sorry, but one look at this caused me to think - this looks like a convention of white guys who were all in the AV Club in their local high schools in 1975. And excuse me, but where are the women....hello!? Oh wait, I remember. The AV guys did not hang out with the girls! And where are the liberals? Same situation, I guess.

Alas, I could not attend, as Providence would have it, I was
here busy doing this. A better choice for me.

But perhaps it was ok that I was not there, after all. I found
this review very enjoyable, and a quick roundup for those reading this blog with other things to do in life.

Will I attend BlogCon next year? I am not sure. Here is why. I have been reexaming my life of late, as I am faced with the mortality of my own parents. I am trying to make good choices with my time; I want the days to count (not that blogging is a waste of time). As Mark Roberts and I have chatted about before, the whole blogging thing is something that our wives may not be too fond of. I can't win for loosing, as my wife used to be bugged by my extra hour or so of TV (read: Sports Center) viewing in the evenings. Now the PC takes the TV time, its nice an quiet in the house, and I am still not a completely wonderful husband. Sigh! I shall continue to try to strike a balance.

I wonder sometimes if all this typing and thinking is worth it. Will it make a difference for the Kingdom? Will anyone new get in the Pearly Gates as a result of my moving and heartfelt bloggage? In the end, that is really what matters, right - expanding the Kingdom? So, does it really make a difference if the former AV club gets together to feel good together at Biola about their mutual theological agreements. I am not sure.

Maybe it might be good if there was some form of Real World Experience track for GodBlogCon next year. A trip to a soup kitchen perhaps. Or maybe a blogging theme on caring for and discipling someone who is new to the faith? Just wondering. What do you think?

By the way, maybe the movie would work best if you put the film into the projector. Just an idea.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Formula

As I noted here, this past weekend was our annual church retreat. I was not excited to go, given all the pain and frustration so many have felt over the past year. Our family did not go last year to this same event, as we were not even sure if we would be able to return to our church again.

So, I took God at his word, and went. It was a good time, friendships were renewed, and it seems our fractured church is slowly, gradually, beginning to heal. Solo Deo Gloria to that.

Separately, I learned something new. Amidst all the confusion and frustration of the past months, I guess I have been searching for the perfect formula to end the pain, make everything better for everyone involved, and then - move on.

Turns out, sometimes, the Kingdom of God does not offer us handy complete formulas, or even partial equations. Sometimes, complete forgiveness can be a mystery, and something that does not make a neat, happy, Hollywood ending. For someone who likes things neat, this is not easy. This condition does not, by any means negate the presence of God in the midst of the pain or loss. He is present, He wants to teach us, and perhaps, He wants us to embrace more of the Mystery. I want to learn the right lessons from all this, and I want to be able to NOT have some answers.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Killer Bees!

Parents beware! You can spot the beginings of development problems early - before your kids become delinquent adults.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Taking Our Church to The Moon

Yesterday I mentioned my "freeway epiphany". To be truthful, it was a "double epiphany" (which might make a good name for a jazz combo, I will sell the rights cheaply).

I again have Sara Groves to thank. Go ahead, buy anything she has recorded, you will be very happy.

Now remember, we have just watched a completely depressing state of affairs within our own congregation take place over the past year. I am driving along in the dark of night, thinking about all that has happened over the past months. We church folk are sometimes a completely silly bunch. We are so self absorbed, sure of ourselves, intolerant of change or people who are different, and difficult to deal with. And to make matters worse, we think we have God on our side; all the makings for a toxic combination. I wear all these characteristics myself, in turns.

Sara has arranged the songs on her new album in an interesting fashion, and she has commented that she had wanted her new album to be about the Kingdom of God. With great irony, the song that comes before "Kingdom Comes", which I commented on yesterday, is called "To The Moon". You can hear part of it at Sara's web site. The lyrics:

To the Moon

by Sara Groves

It was there in the bulletin

We're leaving soon

After the bake sale to raise funds for fuel

The rocket is ready and we're going to

Take our church to the moon

There'll be no one there to tell us we're odd

No one to change our opinions of God

Just lots of rocks and this dusty sod

Here at our church on the moon

We know our liberties we know our rights

We know how to fight a very good fight

Just get that last bag there and turn out the

We're taking our church to the moon

We're taking our church to the moon

We'll be leaving soon

To the moon. It might be so much easier. So quiet. Weightless. Just need some oxygen. No others to cause us trouble. We could send rockets back to Earth to do some occasional evangelism.

And I wonder, do we Christian folk often appear to the rest of the world around us..... as Space Aliens?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Rebuilding the Breach

For the better part of the last year, our church has been confused, angry, bewildered, lost, wondering, adrift. This has been nearly a classic church split. In the spring the senior pastor and a key associate pastor were asked by the regional church governing body to resign - due to a litany of poor management, bad people skills, and severe financial problems. In the past several weeks, the pastors were formally asked to resign. Their resignations are anticipated soon.

This has been a painful journey for our own family, particularly for my wife and I, who met at this church, have raised our family there, and would like to look forward to building the Kingdom in this place in future years. I have journaled some of our journey here, here, here, here (CT never did publish the letter), and here.

So, we are at a change of seasons in the life of our church. The coming months will be a time of interim, between pastors, discovering again what God has for our future, and listening to the still small voice. And yet, the pain persists. It is real, and seemingly unrelenting. Only God can heal this sort of thing. And this weekend is our annual church camp weekend; and attendance is down, which is to be expected. Our family has been heading up the mountain for 15 years or more - and to be frank, I would rather stay home and watch the Major League Playoffs and do chores. Why? Because I am tired, discouraged, and emotionally spent on this whole "church thing". I need a break. No more people for me please. I would prefer to be the introverted only child I was raised to be, darn it.

Yesterday, I had an epiphany of sorts, while driving home from dropping off a friend at LAX, rushing down the freeway in the darkness, I was playing the new CD from Sara Groves (buy all her CDs, you will be elated that you did so), and was struck by the words of "Kingdom Comes":

When anger fills your heart

When in your pain and hurt

You find the strength to stop

You bless instead of curse
When doubting floods your

Though all things feel unjust

You open up your heart

You find a way to trust
That's a little stone that's a little

That's a little seed that's a little water

In the hearts of the sons and the daughters

The kingdom's coming

Alright God, I get it. I will not isolate myself this weekend, I will not look inward. I will extend a hand, make new friends, and look for your Grace. Help me Lord, to rebuild the breach in the walls of the Kingdom.

Lets Dine!

From Dave Barry's Blog, I bring you this. I am throwing out my subscription to Bon Appetite - I have it all wrong. Enjoy the laughs, my favorite is Cheese-filled jalapenos wrapped in bacon - thank the Sweet Baby Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Kingdom Rain - Wonderful!

Go here. Right now!

I have spent the last two Sundays listening to Don Williams preach, and I can completely recommend this wonderful resource. I am thankful that outstanding content like this is out on the Internet.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Minding your Peas and Qs

As I indicated the other day, I have been spending some time here, while in my car. So. Well. This has been an interesting experience for a 47-year old balding white guy from the suburbs. Listening to the top 20 songs of today's younger generation has been sobering, eye-opening, and interesting. This is a different world.

One of the most popular groups on the top 20 is (are?) the Black Eyed Peas. Without going into too much detail, I can say that I like some of their music. However, as a Dad, I also have some major problems with same. As evidence of my struggle, I submit to you the main following chorus from their recent hit, "My Humps".

What you gonna do with all that junk? All that junk inside your trunk? I'ma get, get, get, get, you drunk, get you love drunk off my hump. My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps. (Check it out).

So, there we have it. Deep and meaningful lyrics, describing the angst of our nation's youth? The yearning fofulfillmentnt and purposes to the teens of America? Concern for worthwhile social causes and a call for societal justice? Not quite.

Due to my severe white-ness, I needed to reference the Urban Dictionary to ascertain the meaning of this mysterious "hump". Could this tune be about the plight of the camel, or perhaps the illegality of speed bumps in urban traffic settings? Not quite. As it turns out, in the context of this song, hump is referring to the opposite of the front of the human anatomy, namely, the rear. Of a female, I should suppose.

I had a suspicion that something was amiss with this song; when my 14-year old abruptly changed the station when she heard/saw this song coming on. So, given this, what would YOU do, faithful reader? How do we raise our kids that they might know of God's grace and care for their lives, and of His calling of a different kind of life, in the midst of This New Evangelist?

Goodby Yankees, Hello White Sox

If I had my druthers, there would be only one season; summer. But, October makes the fall worth living for....

A Story of Determination

Go here, and be inspired. Donald & Colleen Bordelon have a great deal to teach me about determination. My favorite part - when asked if they didn't feel lonely in their home (being among the first to return to a devastated neighborhood), Colleen answers:

"Aw, but its peaceful, and you can see the stars, we come out and eat on the roof.....we have one light from the generator that shines on our American flag....."

Donald & Coleen - you are an example to me. May God speed your rebuilding, and bring peace and calm to your life.

And, there is more suffering in our world over the past several days......and we can care by giving. And pray.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

I could never make something like this up, so I just submit it for your review. In response, I came across this article by The Internet Monk, which is what I will look up when (note, not if, but when) one of my daughters wants to get a tattoo.

My only comment: I wonder what the Assisted Living Facilities will look like in about 60 years, when they start filling up with tattooed 80-year olds. Ick.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The New Evangelist I was dropping my daughter off at her public high school - I was struck by the number of kids heading into school with Ipods on. Onward they shuffled, oblivious to traffic, noise, other people, cocooned in an audio world. A world of their own design, with each morning's audio accompaniment sculpted individually by each student. And this world is millions of light years away from the world we adults live in. And for some odd reason, it struck me, watching these kids, that they are likely not listening to Mozart, or the Sound of Music sound track?

How do I know of this separation of worlds? My 14 year old daughter has introduced me to
this channel, on XM satellite radio, which I have in my car. And, on the way to work, after dropping off the kids, I got to hear....this fellow (warning! - scary and completely unedifiing lyrics ahead).

This IPOD, my friends, is the New Evangelist, as I will call it. We need to talk about this a bit. And interestingly my friend
KC Wahe had some very similar thoughts at the same, about the digital age, and its effect on our kids.

I plan on spending more time on the "20 on 20" channel in the days to come. I want to learn more about this world - the world of today's kids. Maybe that is why I love the work of
Young Life, and I pray for the work of good youth pastor's like KC.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

What We Think....and What He Knows

Tonight, a dear old friend of nearly 80 years lies in a hospital bed, breathing on a ventilator.

We are not sure of his condition, not sure whether he will recover, survive, or whether he will be with us much longer. As I ponder this, my eyes move from the cold concrete at my feet, a feeling of depression, slowly heavenward to the cool Southern California night.

This is the time when we realize the difference between what we think and what He knows.

We think.....we are the masters of our lives. We are such silly and pompous people, trying daily to form lives that we can adjust, tweak, control. We carefully chose the right schools for our children, attempting to secure their future financial security. Shame on us.

He knows....that what really matters is the character of our lives, not the knowledge in our heads.

We think....we can shape our the world to fit our needs. We have 401K plans, and mutual funds, and exercise programs designed to minimize body fat, healthy foods full of fiber. We move on the freeway in climate controlled cabs. We insulate our relationships to minimize exposure to pain and suffering; keeping the hurting people at a distance.

He knows, that a life spent giving away is the life that really matters.

We think....we can make it on our own. We are Americans after all. We tamed the wilderness. Successful. Independent. Self reliant. Free.

And then, we face a friend lying in ICU, surrounded by machines. Powerless, both of us. Or we watch as someone we haved loved all our lives slowly fades into the fog of dementia, or Alzheimers. We watch a young mother of two children succumbs to a terrible battle with tumors that rage through her body. We think....

He knows......He knows it all. He is there in the midst of this. Present. Both here and on the other side of this life mystery. He walked this earth once, 2000 years ago. He was here, right with us. He felt the sun on his face, saw the suffering of his people. Touched the unclean. He felt the frustration, the longing, the pain and lonliness. He was surrounded by the cool air of a tomb. He knows. And in His knowing, He loves us, waits for us, longs to be with us.

He is with us still......even now, on this difficult night.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Heart of Darkness

Fouad Ajami is the Majid Khadduri Professor of Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins University, is director of the Middle East Studies Program and a 1982 recipient of a MacArthur Prize for his work on Middle East politics and culture. An author of several books, Dr. Ajami is a frequent contributor to leading periodicals of political thought, including Foreign Affairs, New Republic, and The New York Times Book Review. He has been a faculty member since 1980.

Mr. Ajami has written an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal, entitled "Heart of Darkness" that had me captivated the other day over lunch. Please, go read this. I find this the most well-thought-out, lucid, insightful and informative piece I have seen yet on the complex issues of the Middle East. You will need some time to read, but it is very well worth it. And then, pray.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

He Kept His Promise....Twice

My two favorite college football teams are, 1) UCLA, and 2) whoever is playing against USC this week. However, over the years, I have become somewhat emotionally soured on college football. The low graduation rate of players, the influence of the pros, and then the scandals. And then, I hear of men like Charlie Weis, and I have hope.

This is Charlie Weis. Mr. Weis is the coach of the University of Notre Dame football team. He is also the owner of four Super Bowl championship rings as products of a stellar 15-season career as a National Football League assistant coach. Weis is in his first year at Notre Dame in 2005 (he was hired Dec. 12, 2004) - after spending the last five years as the highly-regarded offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots. Weis becomes the first Notre Dame graduate to hold the football head coaching position at his alma mater since Hugh Devore (a '34 graduate).

But there is something more about Charlie Weis. He is a man of great character. He keeps his word. As told yesterday on ESPN, the Notre Dame coach met last week with 10-year old Montana Mazurkiewicz, who had been told by doctors weeks earlier that there was nothing more they could do to stop the spread of his inoperable brain tumor.

"He was a big Notre Dame fan in general, but football especially," said his mother, Cathy Mazurkiewicz. Weis showed up at the Mazurkiewicz home in Mishawaka, just east of South Bend, and talked with Montana about his tumor and about Weis' 10-year-old daughter, Hannah, who has global development delay, a rare disorder similar to autism. Weis said the meeting was touching. "He told me about his love for Notre Dame football and how he just wanted to make it through this game this week," Weis said. "He just wanted to be able to live through this game because he knew he wasn't going to live very much longer."

As Weis talked to the boy, Cathy Mazurkiewicz rubbed her son's shoulder trying to ease his pain. Weis said he could tell the boy was trying not to show he was in pain. His mother told Montana, who had just become paralyzed from the waist down a day earlier because of the tumor, to toss her a football Weis had given him. Montana tried to throw the football, put could barely lift it. So Weis climbed into the reclining chair with him and helped him complete the pass to his mother. Before leaving, Weis signed the football.

Weis asked Montana if there was something he could do for him. He agreed to let Montana call the first play against Washington on Saturday. He called "pass right." Montana never got to see the play. He died Friday at his home.

Weis heard about the death and called Cathy Mazurkiewicz on Friday night to assure her he would still call Montana's play. "He said, 'This game is for Montana, and the play still stands,'" she said. Weis said he told the team about the visit. He said it wasn't a "Win one for the Gipper" speech, because he doesn't believe in using individuals as inspiration. He just wanted the team to know people like Montana are out there. "That they represent a lot of people that they don't even realize they're representing," Weis said. When the Irish started on their own 1-yard-line following a fumble recovery, Cathy Mazurkiewicz wasn't sure Notre Dame would be able to throw a pass. Weis was concerned about that, too. So was quarterback Brady Quinn.

"He (Quinn) said 'What are we going to do?'" Weis said. "I said 'We have no choice. We're throwing it to the right.'" Weis called a play where most of the Irish went left, Quinn ran right and looked for tight end Anthony Fasano on the right.

Mazurkiewicz watched with her family. "I just closed my eyes. I thought, 'There's no way he's going to be able to make that pass. Not from where they're at. He's going to get sacked and the University of Washington's going to get two points,'" she said. Fasano caught the pass and leapt over a defender for a 13-yard gain. "It's almost like Montana was willing him to beat that defender and take it to the house," Weis said. Cathy Mazurkiewicz was happy.

"It was an amazing play. Montana would have been very pleased. I was very pleased," she said. "I was just so overwhelmed. I couldn't watch much more."

Weis called her again after the game, a 36-17 victory by the 13th-ranked Fighting Irish, and said he had a game ball signed by the team that he wanted to bring to the family on Sunday. "He's a very neat man. Very compassionate," she said. "I just thanked him for using that play, no matter the circumstances."

Cathy Mazurkiewicz commented, "Charlie Weis is a man who keeps his promises. First he promised to visit my son, and then he promised to call that first play for Montana. He kept his promise, twice"

I for one, am deeply thankful for men like Charlie Weis. Men with character, and compassion, and convictions. I am hopeful. I have always had a soft spot for the Irish. Now I think I know why.

Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame
Wake up the echoes cheering her name,
Send the volley cheer on high,
Shake down the thunder from the sky,
What tho the odds be great or small
Old Notre Dame will win over all,
While her loyal sons are marching Onward to Victory.
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