Tuesday, January 30, 2007


When I reread my last post, I cringed at my selfism. "My name" on a book cover. Wow.

Fact is, the book is about a great guy, Coach Mike Gottfried, his life, and his passion: boys without dads. His work is accomplished through Team Focus, a program for fatherless boys.

I've written here about a coach in my life, memorable for all the wrong reasons. Coach Gottfried is memorable for all the right ones, and he is making a difference in the lives of young men across the country.

The first question Coach asked me was, "Ron, do you like sports?" I had to admit to him that I was a passive observer, not anything close to a fanatic. I love it when I can justify sitting down to a U of M game on Saturdays, but I couldn't tell you the names of the players. Coach Gottfried could have turned the car around at that point and found another author for his book. But he took a big chance and we worked together for about nine months to get the story right, to make an impact. And that is what I'm praying.

Here's a recent article about Coach in the Jackson Sun. Amazon has the book, Coach's Challenge, available for pre-order. It will be on the shelves in September.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Oh, Oh, Oh!

My heart's all a-flutter. My name showed up on the official Simon and Schuster website, Simon Says, for the book: Coaches Challenge: Faith, Football, and Filling the Gap. You can pre-order the hardcover now!

Can you see me smile, God? Thanks.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


My writing friend Patrick Borders at Emdashery introduced me to a great website, giving me several good minutes of outright laughter. You've seen them in the dentist's office, the insurance office, the church office - those motivational posters with beautiful photos and encouraging words. The folks at Despair.com finally had enough motivation and encouragement and started looking at the dim side of life. Here are some samples:

THIS is satire!
They also offer DVDs, Podcasts, Calendars, and you can even design your own demotivational poster.
Again, here's the link: Despair.com. Take a look and have a laugh. It may be the last one for awhile.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Analyzing American Idol

Please don't hate me. I watch American Idol. And I like it.

Lots of reasons:
  • It's devoid of sexual exploitation and physical violence. I can watch it without blushing or getting nauseated from seeing the autopsy from inside the cadaver.
  • It offers an amazing picture of our culture, for good or bad.
  • It is generally good music. Taylor Hicks and Catherine McPhee made me smile just to hear them sing.
  • It is a study in human interaction and relationships.

However, it amazes me more every year how deluded so many people are concerning their abilities. Ten thousand singers showed up in Minnesota to try to get one of a handful of golden tickets moving them on to the next round of competition in Hollywood. Out of those, how many really had a chance?

Simon Cowell and the other judges can be ruthless and rude. But more often than not they are simply saying what should have been said by someone else. I get angry listening and watching the train-wrecks. It is sad, and it could have been prevented. Instead of Cowell being the one to put up a wall in front of the careening engine of a contestant's false hopes, it ought to have been someone who knows them, loves them, and from whom they can hear the truth. I get angry at parents and family members who have lied to these people.

The very obvious truth screams out from the screeches and a-tonal "music" of aspiring Idols: the people in their lives who should have yelled "STOP!" were instead shouting praises and compliments and cheering the doomed singer on along the route to catastrophe.

Why? Here are some thoughts:

  1. We have misinterpreted encouragement. To encourage does not mean boosting confidence where there is no foundation. If you don't have wings, it doesn't matter how much I tell you, "You can do it! I just know you can fly! Don't be afraid. It's really not as high as it looks. You've got what it takes." Without some ability to fly, you're still coming in for a rough landing, with lots of pain and suffering that could have been avoided if I'd just said, "Maybe we need to stop and think about this."
  2. We have decided to be nice instead of being honest. American Idol has been around for a while now. It doesn't take a whole lot of smarts to know that average singers don't have a chance, much less someone who can't carry a tune in a bucket. But for many of these sorry contestants, there was no one in their lives who loved them enough to be honest. They just wanted to be nice, and they continued to lie to their faces so as not to make them sad. So they let their karaoke friends, or brothers and sisters, or children run headlong into Simon Cowell, who is forced to do the dirty work for them, with ugly results.
  3. We have lost the fine art of giving rebuke. We just don't know how to do it anymore. Even when I use the word "rebuke," images of yelling and berating and verbal abuse come to mind. But that's not what rebuke really is. Rebuke, in the Biblical sense, is correction conducted within a loving, grace-filled environment for the building-up of the other person. When's the last time someone rebuked you? When's the last time you offered rebuke? How'd that go?
  4. We have lost the willingness to receive rebuke. Even if we knew how to give it out, it is questionable if we could find anyone willing to listen. Rebuke is not seen as a loving act; it is considered rude and socially inept. In our culture, rebuke doesn't share the same characteristics as encouragement. But it should.

So the trains keep on rolling down the tracks, and we grimace at the carnage we can envision as the speed picks up and the wall looms close.

Garrison Keillor tells the story of his mother catching him pretending to be Buddy Holly in his bedroom. He asks his mom, "Am I a good singer?" She answers, "You're a good enough singer." Keillor sings regularly on his Prairie Home Companion show, but he's still just a "good enough" singer, and he knows it. He didn't get where he's at because of his singing prowess. He'd be Simonized on American Idol.

Trains need brakemen who are wise and can stop the engine before the wreck. If you love someone, it's OK to stop them. Dreams, aspirations, goals - all of that is good. But don't let someone you care about dream themselves into a nightmare.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pioneer Parenting

Mary DeMuth, a fellow writer, asked me to post an entry for her blog, Pioneer Parenting. A Pioneer Parent is one who is marking out new territory, attempting to steer clear of the parenting pitfalls of the previous generation. Mary is a great writer with an intense passion for Jesus. I've read most of her books, and I recommend them. Please cruise over and read my post, and be sure and look around Mary's site and explore the links. Here's where you can find it: Pioneer Parenting. As always, let me know what you think.