Sunday, July 19, 2009

AB's Vs Aust 18 July 2

So I got it right on the button. Don't always!

The All Blacks looked pretty shaky for 20 minutes but after that it was back to business. The All Blacks pressured the Wallabies when it counted.

Kaino was great in defence. Richie and Rodney S were remarkable after their break. Jimmy Cowan kicked excellently and Weepu added value. Franks looks a better prop than Tialata. The two other youngters in the pack, Isaac Ross and Kieran Read are real finds. So, the future still looks good. Stephen Donald started rough but played really well. As I suspected the Australian outside backs struggled under pressure in the last quarter, inexperience caught them out.

The scrum was great, the AB's were great at breadown but the lineout remains a problem.

But, the greatest thing of all was the spirit. I was concerned that the spirit was down in the side and that in the earlier games, they had relational problems. But, they really dug deep and showed the values that make the AB's so hard to beat. They remain on track.

And what about the NZ softballers! Go Kiwi. The black sox remain the greatest NZ sports team of all time, despite the claims of the AB's. Don't forget the NZ women's rugby team too!

And go Hayden Roulston, 3rd in a Tour de France leg, phenomenal! What an athlete, 2 olympic medals, recovery from heart problems.

Back to the AB's, it will be a huge ask to win at Bloemfontein next week!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

AB's Vs Aust 18 July

So it is half an hour before kick off and this one could go eiter way. The Aussies have some advantages. They have a great inside backs combo, strong in the midfield. They have great loosies, a superior line out and a great coach. They are a big chance. The AB's in some ways are ripe for the picking with poor form, an unsettled inside back combo, no Ali Williams and some players without match time... but...

I kind of think the scene is set for a Kiwi victory. They have their backs to the wall with heavy criticism and NZ are tough when this happens. They are playing at Eden Park and they have not lost for 23 years here. They have Captain Richie back with Rodney S, Andrew H and a few others. So, they are a different unit that played the Italians. The Aussies have some problems too. They have a pretty inexperienced back three and in the conditions they will get tonight in the wind and a bit of rain, may struggle and make some mistakes. The AB's pack also play best when they are under pressure from the public.

So, yes, Aussie have a good chance. And I will not be that surprised if they pull it off. Indeed, if they do, I don't think it will be that big a deal. The games the AB's must win at Eden Park are in 2 years. It might be good to lose a few this year to add edge and wipe away the smugness they have taken to the last 2 world cups!

But, I think the Aussies will struggle and find the pressure a bit much. Having said that, they will be tough to beat at home in a few weeks as will the Springboks. Go the AB's.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lessons From the Death of Michael Jackson

What do we as Christians make of the life and death of Michael Jackson? The first thing I would say is that he was surely one of the most brilliant performers of history. I have never seen someone who could sing and dance like him. As one who could create brilliant songs with dramatic and creative performances he is unrivalled. He was a great performer.

Yet his life and death bring out a whole lot of things. First, it should tell us that we need to take care as parents how we seek to cultivate and/or handle brilliance? His life was corrupted irrevocably by a father who pushed him mercilessly seemingly to fulfil his own dreams. I have such mixed feelings when I see footage of him as a child performer. Yes, he was brilliant, but what sort of childhood was it? He never recovered being pushed where no child should be forced to go; despite the apparent glory! Here's a lesson to us parents. We have to find the balance between encouragement and urging them on, and pushing them too hard and violating their childhood. Clearly the Jacksons went way too far!

Secondly, it tells me that character is always more important than talent. Like us all the talent eventually dries up as we age and can no longer move like we used to. In his case, the decline was accelerated by the way he treated himself. He clearly had a corrupted self-image and completely wrecked his very good looks as a boy and young man. This indicates that while he was dynamic on the outside, inwardly he was a mess. He did not have a clear belief in himself, a clear identity. The entertainment industry must test character like nothing else. Without a well-formed identity and sense of self, you will go down. Sadly for me, his brilliance was completely overwhelmed by his character flaws.

Thirdly, the world of Hollywood is a have. They are self-absorbed and congratulate each other living in the bubble of their own creation. They feed off each other. They feed off the media but moan about it when the media puts the heat on. The problem is you can't have it both ways as Princess Diana knows. If you play it, you have to be prepared to have it turn on you. Then, when one of Hollywood's own, who is clearly a person with immense problems dies, they glory in the person's life despite its hypocrisy. I find the whole thing tragic. Sadly we feed it everytime we buy a CD, watch a movie and tune into another Hollywood gossip artist telling us about the lives of these people. It is shallow and pathetic. It is one of the saddest features of 21st century western life. It is rank and status, elitism, and it has no depth.

Fourthly, the world of these people is in many cases, corrupt. It is all on now. Accusations of murder, greed; fights for custody and no doubt for the rights to his music and that of the Beatles etc; and poor Michael Jackson as a victim are well underway. No doubt it will get messy and the winners will be the lawyers.

For me, it is a tragedy and it is a product of western civilisation's greed, hedonism and voyeurism.

So we can learn a lot from the Michael Jackson debacle. What a waste of talent. For me it reinforces that we have to move beyond the shallowness of western pop culture. This is a lesson for the church which mimics this world. What would Jesus say?