21 February 2009

There are days that start out perfectly

New Orleans Louisiana, 19 February 2009, 730 am, walking down Royal Street toward Cafe DuMonde. "Bad Moon Rising" is blaring from the stereo of one of countless bars. So weird to hear that song at breakfast time it has to make one smile. In a couple of hours i'll be a money manager discussing strategy with a client in a boardroom across town. For now i'm just another guy in jeans looking for a good cup of coffee in the french quarter.

It's a bit chilly at the cafe and the only tables are inside. I've had coffee here a half dozen times but always outside, never inside. A painting on the wall has the caption ..." It seemed like an ordinary day until I had coffee with Jesus at Cafe Du Monde.

On the outskirts of the Ummah

I spent last week in Dubai with my eldest daughter, along with a morning diversion in Amsterdam during a layover. One of those things in life that you don't really expect to do with your family. It's the great thing about my life with wife and our offspring, the best things are the surprises. I never expected to discover Pepsi biscuits with Caroline or drive from Savannah to Minneapolis with her and her best friend, or to see Mark McGwire set the MLB home run record with Rob, or to walk the Sydney Harbour Bridge with Robin, or to smoke a hookah with Rachel in the desert outside Dubai. You don't plan these things, they happen.

In the islamic world the term Ummah refers to the global community or family of muslims. We don't have a word like that in Christianity but I like the concept.

The UAE is both near the center and on the outskirts of the Ummah. It holds many of the dedicated faithful as well as many of its converts to capitalism. Running along the side streets in neighborhoods near our hotel and hearing the call to worship from a local mosque at dawn, you know this is a different world and culture. It has ancient roots that cross paths with Christianity and thus the Islamic view of God and his work in our world is at the same time easy and difficult to reconcile with my faith.
Sitting in the Skyview bar on the 27th floor of the Burj Al Arab it is difficult to guess where you are. It could be anywhere. There are no men in arab garments, no women with veiled faces, only good looking affluent people relaxing and enjoying the company of friends. I was there with friends and while it did not feel "normal", neither did I feel out of place. I probably felt more comfortable there than many of the residents of that country would have.

In Dubai it is very easy to grasp the frustration of the traditional Muslims with western ways. The explosive growth that is reflected in construction projects that are the envy of the world

In many ways this trip was a study in constrasts. Dubai showing how much can be achieved when vision and wealth collide. It is hard to be anything but optimistic about the future of man in this city. In Amsterdam there are signs everywhere of how far man can fall worshipping at the idol of "freedom".

14 February 2009

Pitchers and Catchers report

I'm writing this from Dubai but with baseball on my mind.
Today pitchers and catchers report to Cardinals training camp.
A true sign of spring and cause for hope in the mind of every baseball fan.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

02 February 2009


Every child needs a hero. When I was a kid I had a ton of them. Athletes like Mickey Mantle, Roger Staubach and Roger Maris. Astronauts like John Glenn and Gordon Cooper. Politicians like Robert Kennedy. These were men who could do no wrong by my take. While I knew they all had human failings, I didn't know what they were, and didn't want to know. Whatever good there is in my character is partly due to the type of people I dreamed about being when I was a boy.

In 1999 Kurt Warner came out of nowhere and lit up the world of a thirteen year old who was the most important guy in my life, son Rob. It was a story almost unbelievable. The football hero who was sacking groceries one year and leading a team to the Super Bowl the next. And not just any team, our team, the St. Louis Rams. I don't know how many games we attended that year but it seems like we were at all of them. While we didn't make it to the Super Bowl, we were there for the 1999 NFC Championship when the Rams beat the Bucs on a 4th quarter touchdown from Warner to Ricky Proehl. Rob and I were standing near the exits, watching that perfect pass, and then bolting for the door so I could catch a flight.
Kurt Warner came into our world just months after the president of the united states was impeached for a series of moral failings, a hero who let down my son and daughters and a whole generation of their peers. It was also the same year that Rob's grandfather, my dad, passed away, and one of the biggest men in his life was gone. And while no one could replace a grandfather, Kurt Warner was a clean living, football flinging, hard working amazing athlete who came into our lives when we needed him most, and when a kid really needed a hero.

He was back again this weekend. Larger than life. Leading the former St. Louis Cardinals football team in the Super Bowl. No longer the fairy tale story, now one of the greats of the game, a future hall of famer. He'll always be special to our family, for the example he set on the field and off.