Thursday, February 28, 2008

Final Reggie McNeal Post?

This is probably it for Reggie McNeal's book The Present Future. Good stuff, for sure, for sure.

New Reality Number Five: The Shift from Planning to Preparation

Wrong Question: How Do We Plan for the Future?

Typical approaches to the future involve prediction and planning. This works o.k. in a world of continuity, it doesn’t work in a rapidly evolving society. The better (and biblical) approach to the future involves prayer and preparation, not prediction and planning.

Tough Question: How Do We Prepare for the Future?

Spiritual preparation has the goal of getting God’s people in partnership with him in his redemptive mission in the world.

McNeal lists five elements of a spiritual preparation architecture:

1) Vision – which informs your decision making; engenders commitment and creates meaning. How to get started in Visioning Process? Ask your people what they would like to see God do in their lives and in the lives of the church and in the community. Look at what is going on around you. Talk with your leaders

2) Values – We need to strengthen values that support kingdom growth. First we need to create venues where people can practice the core values we espouse. The staff needs to take the lead.

3) Results – keep score.

4) Strengths – your best shot at making your best contribution is for you to get better at what you are already good at.

5) Learning – church leaders must go to “school” all the time. Go where things are happening; get outside the box; don’t pursue privatized learning; develop a chief learning officer; secure a learning coach for yourself.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bart's Problem: Bart Ehrman and the Problem of Evil and Suffering

I am going to be interacting, off and on, with a new book by Bart Ehrman called God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question, Why We Suffer.
Bart Ehrman is the chairman of the religion department of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is an accomplished scholar (mostly in the area of Textual Criticism and Early Christianity). His most recent book, Misquoting Jesus, was on the development of our current New Testament and how scribal alterations (both intentional and unintentional) have corrupted the “holy” texts of Christianity and cannot provide us with inerrant and infallible texts. It was a best seller and got him an invitation to the "Daily Show" with John Stewart. Part of it actually serves as a good primer to the topic of textual criticism.
The opening line of his new book reads, “If there is an all powerful and loving God in the world, why is there so much excruciating pain and unspeakable suffering.” This is not a new question. This question has plagued philosophers and seekers of the truth for ages. It had plagued Ehrman for years, causing him to question his faith and eventually abandon Christianity.
Ehrman grew up in a conservative evangelical home. He had a “born again” experience where he asked Jesus to come live in his heart as a youth. He was involved in such conservative groups like Youth for Christ. He attended Moody Bible Institute and eventually finished college at Wheaton College in suburban Chicago. He then went to Princeton Theological Seminary and began his in depth study of the New Testament and began to move away from his evangelical faith. This book, which is part memoir, continues to tell the story of his move along the theological spectrum from fundamentalist to liberal to eventually agnostic.
This movement does make me curious as to what form is next for Ehrman in order to garner publicity for his next book. I will be posting thoughts he shared with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air recently about his book and my reactions to them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Another Chapter of The Present Future by Reggie McNeal

New Reality Number Four: The Return to Spiritual Formation

Are we turning our churches into groups of people who are studying God as though they were taking a course at school or attending a business seminar? Do we aim at the head? Reggie doesn’t feel we deal in relationships enough. And we wonder why there is no passion for Jesus and his mission. Compare the relationship with a spouse (or family member). I don’t just know about my wife, I know her, and I love her and I relate to her.

Wrong Question: How Do We Develop Church Members?

Consider what most churches hand people when they join the church: a new-member packet. What’s inside? Offering envelopes, a church directory, a church calendar, a church officer and committee list and opportunities for service – usually a listing of church jobs that need doing…We have made following Jesus all about being a good church member. Church members have been told if they will only conform to church culture expectations, they will experience a wonderful Christian life.

McNeal thinks that we need to abandon the church culture idolatry and put in place a radical re-introduction of spiritual formation.

My good friend MDK has grown tired of the use of the term “unchurched” to describe people who do not follow Jesus. He asks, is our goal to make them “churched”? That says nothing about the mission we are called to be a part of.

Tough Question: How Do We Develop Followers of Jesus?

To live abundantly is to borrow from the future (that is the fulfilled Kingdom of God). This means that helping people develop emotionally, physically, and relationally is all spiritual.

Instead of us asking each other how is your church doing (or how is your ministry area going) we need to be asking, “What percentage of your congregants feel they grew to be more like Jesus this past year?” “How is God at work in your people?” Etc.

Lessons from the Y – McNeal compared someone from the outside joining the church to a newcomer joining a gym. Unusual machines, foreign language, everyone else seeming so much at home…

The Y he joined had a program which matched the newbie up with a trainer and took him through orientation. The trainer asked him what he wanted to accomplish with his membership and customized a workout tailored to his goals.

McNeal thought: instead of dumping a packet of church club member stuff on them, why not interview them about what they would like to see happen in their lives in terms of their spiritual development and personal growth?

Once this “spiritual development coach” completed this interview, they could then fashion a customized personal growth strategy for the person or family. Then the coach would say “Let’s get back together in a month to check on your progress.”

Instead of signaling to them that they are to find their way into church stuff and make the church successful, the focus is completely turned around. The church treats them as a market of one, convincing them that the church is there to help them develop an abundant life promised to them by Jesus.

He recommends churches provide life coaching for people. This needs to be viewed as spiritual formation.

This could accomplish several things: 1) you would be communicating to the person that personal growth and spiritual development are anticipated and even expected; 2) You would convince them of your enormous care for them and that the church is there for them rather than expecting them to be there for the church; 3) you would be doing research to determine what needs and hopes the church should be addressing; 4) you would strengthen the intentionality of what you are doing in terms of congregational activity and programming. If it doesn’t work, you can reevaluate and shift focus. 5) You could use this as an opportunity to introduce people to and educate them about spiritual disciplines and dynamics of spiritual growth. 6) You could prescribe growth regimens for people that intentionally infuse spiritual development in activities they are already pursuing.

We need to free people up and give people the time to do these things. This means less church activity and more people development.

Sharing Faith with Pre-Christians – We have made evangelism a sales activity in the N. American church. In fact we are not peddling Jesus, we are peddling church. Evangelism that will introduce Jesus to this culture will flow from people who are deeply in love with Jesus.

The communal aspect of spiritual formation is often neglected in our churches that have too often turned church membership to consumerism.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Fan of Joe Posnanski

I stumbled across the blog of KC Star sports columnist Joe Posnanski and I am hooked. Very entertaining. I read it on the treadmill (because his posts are so long). I clipped this passage which I thought was very creative. He was talking about all of the cliches that accompany the start of spring training each year:

He did say it is good to “hear the crack of the bat.” The source also conceded that there is no better five-word combination in the English Language than “Pitchers and catchers report today.”***

*** What about ”Free money handed out here?”.
Or “World peace begins right now.”
Or “Britney and Paris disappear together.”
Or “Chocolate cake with raspberry sauce.“
Or ”Michael Bolton gives up singing.”
Or “American Idol canceled; Simon tortured.”
Or: “I found your baseball cards.”
Or ”Scarlett Johansson asked me out.“
Or: ”Matt Damon asked me out.“
Or: ”We will double your salary.“
Or: ”All you can eat spaghetti.“
Or: ”We only serve Coke products.“
Or: ”Go sleep three more hours.“
Or: ”Chocolate Haagen-Dazs with strawberries“
Or: ”They bid above list price.“
Or: ”Belichick fell in a manhole.“****

He also included the picture of a Mickey Hatcher baseball card that cracked me up for some reason.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Did Jesus Really Say That?

In a recent podcast, Mark Driscoll was defending his use of coarse language and humor by pointing out that, at times, Jesus also used such language. He refers to an instance where Jesus tells his opponents that, “their moms shagged the devil.” This is a line that he also repeats in his new book Vintage Jesus. Now is that what Jesus really said? Specifically, what Jesus said was “You are of your father the devil.” In the context of John chapter 8, Jesus is in conflict with his opponents in regards to his origins. Jesus refers to his relationship with his Father (whom he relates to God). They claim that their Father is God as well. Jesus says that how one relates to God reveals to whom they are related. If God were truly the Father of his opponents, then his opponents would love him. But their actions reveal whom they are truly related to and since they are plotting murder and lying, they belong to their father, the Devil. Now, Driscoll takes this to its shocking conclusion that Jesus says, “Your mom shagged the devil.” Here I think Mark is being shocking for the sake of shock. Jesus does not in any way imply that the mothers of these opponents of his had sexual relations with Satan. If that were true, and I take this to its logical implication, then Jesus, by referring to God as his Father, implies that God the Father shagged Jesus’ mother.

What did Jesus really mean by referring to his opponents as belonging to “their father the devil”? Jesus uses terms “father” and “children” in this passage in an ethical sense. They claimed to be children of God, not in a physical sense of being produced from a sexual relationship between their mothers and God but because they were members of the house of Israel and followed God their Father. Jesus states that their actions and intents actually show them to be more obedient to the devil, because nothing of the heavenly Father’s character is to be seen in them. The father/son relationship in this sense is referring more to whom you are identified with than with whom your mother was having relations. If Driscoll were correct, then every time Jesus refers to himself as the Son of God, wouldn’t Jesus be saying that God had relations with his mother?

As always, if you are going to be a shock jock, at least get the reference and the context correct.

(Brief shout out to F. F. Bruce for some commentary back up).

Monday, February 18, 2008

Long Post, but More Goodness from Reggie McNeal

Synopsis from Reggie McNeal's book, The Present Future.

New Reality Number Three – A New Reformation: Releasing God’s People

The first Reformation was about freeing the church. The new Reformation is about freeing God’s people from the church (the institution). The current Reformation finds church members no longer willing for clergy to script their personal spiritual ministry journey.

Congregations that help followers of Jesus live abundant and missional lives understand the new Reformation. Those whose message is an appeal for church members to make the church successful and significant will lose when the institutional loyalists’ money runs out.

People outside of the church bubble are not waking up on Sunday morning hoping to find a church they can help make successful. If they do come to church, they are looking for a platform to run their lives on.

Wrong Question: How Do We Turn Members into Ministers?

The first Reformation preached that all the people of God are called and gifted for service. The church, however, has interpreted it almost solely for its own use. This myopic vision has resulted in ministry being defined largely in church terms and lay people often being viewed as functionary resources to get church work done.

Many church members have come to see spiritual gift inventories as a recruiting tool for the nominating committee and church staff to use in “mining” church members’ talent to fill church jobs.

Church leaders view the recruitment difficulties they are experiencing as a motivational issue rather than understanding the significant shift in how people are making decisions about how they will spend their lives.

Too many church members view clergy as professional ministers who have been cranked out by the church industry to manage church stuff…Many laypeople see ministers’ role as the complaint department for disgruntled club members who want to be catered to.

Some unhealthy leaders refuse to release ministry to laypeople because they would then lose their own identity.

The typical church strategy for recruiting and deploying ministry is missionally counterproductive. We ask people (that are often brought on to many modern church staffs) to leave their place of greatest connection and influence (their homes, their businesses, their schools, their communities and community organizations.

Tough Question: How Do We Turn Members into Missionaries?

How do we deploy more missionaries into community transformation? This is going to need some significant soul-searching and ministry reprioritization. Your church budget may shrink. Your church calendar may get less crowded. You will lose control of the church ministry. We will be challenged to quit gauging our members’ spiritual maturity by how much they “support the church.”

The Need for Missiology – McNeal is calling for missiology to come back into prominence. North America is the fifth or sixth largest mission field of any continent.

The point is not to adopt the culture and lose the message; the point is to understand the culture so we can build bridges to it for the sake of gaining a hearing for the gospel of Jesus. (He compares learning our culture to language training for missionaries).

McNeal feels that there is a reluctance to connect with people outside the church is just further evidence that the church culture in America is a cultural phenomenon that is more about a particular religious culture than about Jesus or his mission.

It seems that Christians in N. America practice their faith in a segmented approach, separated from other parts of life (business, family, and so forth).

A Quick Primer on Postmodernism – it is a search for meaning. It allows for ambiguity; it embraces opposing notions (paradoxes). Everything is sacred; nothing is sacred – both are expressed in post-modern thought. Postmoderns are very spiritual. It is a spiritualism that hungers for meaning and connectedness. It is a spiritualism that seeks to unite people of faith. It starts with an affirmation of the basic goodness of humanity). Redemption is about loving others and serving others. Righteousness is less about coming to terms with a perfect God but about getting relationships right with other people. A relationship with God is assumed (a challenge to our evangelistic techniques). The postmodern definition of sin is stunted life and stunted potential, a sense of corporate guilt that the world is not the loving place it should be. There is little tolerance for institutional-brand religion that focuses more on its own support and survival than on helping people.

McNeal states that our modern church culture may be more secular than postmodern culture.

McNeal things a lot of church leaders and church members are intimidated by all the God-interest in the culture at large. He thinks we don’t know how to hold conversations about God. We’ve only been taught to sell our brand of religion. We look at people as “prospects” for membership rather than spiritual beings with the same quest for God.

He feels that many people outside the church are more spiritually passionate and enthusiastic about God than many church members (Madonna?)

A Missionary Movement – What we need to do is two things: create a culture informed by missiology and create venues where people can practice being missionaries.

Ideas he gives for informing people missiologically:

Discuss generational cultures; discuss the emerging cultures; explore community needs; expose yourself to a missionary church; build for the community; adopt a school…

He tells us to get out there – insist that each Sunday school class or small group should have a local missions project.

He also tells church leaders (staff) to “go first.”

These ministry efforts are not add-on things to do but should be part of the community orientation that is fundamental to the church’s mission.

Look out! Turning members into missionaries will precipitate a crisis, both in individuals and in a congregation. Member values (am I getting what I want out of this church?) may clash with missionary values (am I partnering with God’s work in people?)

Is our time spent at church doing church functions hindering our ability to develop relationships outside of church (which he calls the club)?

He recommends we examine our church calendar and begin to reduce the number of activities for club members and start doing more away from the church. Start partnering with other believers from other churches to establish community ministry initiatives.

Adopting a missionary approach will require us to change our scorecard. We may need to start tracking how many initiatives we are establishing in the streets, how many conversations are we having with pre-Christians, how many volunteers are we releasing into local and global mission projects aimed at community transformation…

Dobson Quotes

"When we withhold our influence and participation, we yield by default to those who promote immoral and destructive policies."
-- James Dobson

This is the same guy who said that if John McCain is nominated as the Republican presidential candidate, he would not vote. Isn't that withholding participation?
Hear Laura Ingraham read his statement on John McCain.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Reggie, Reggie, Reggie...

Here is more of my synopsis on Reggie McNeal's 2003 book, The Present Future.

New Reality Number Two: The Shift from Church Growth to Kingdom Growth

Rights and Wrongs

There were a lot of things right about the church growth emphasis. It provided a wake-up call to the church; it introduced missiological principles and practices to evangelism. It called attention to the growing diversity of the American population and asserted cultural relevance as a key component of being obedient to the Great Commission.

There were several things wrong with the church growth movement. A lot of “growth” was merely the migration of Christians moving from one church to another. We are seeing the closing down of the mom and pop operations and more openings or supercenters.

We are watching the development of a church culture that is parallel to American pop culture. We are seeing a rise of a “celebrity-status” church culture. While we are creating “stars” we are also creating losers, pastors and church leaders who are not serving in high-profile, high growth churches.

Wrong Question: How Do We Grow This Church? (How do we get them to come to us?)

The “Seeker” driven began to focus on methodology – how to catch peoples’ attention, sign em up, keep ‘em busy, and get ‘em to contribute money, talent, and energy to church efforts.

Keep in mind all of this has been done diminishing returns as a result. It has worked for some churches and they have grown, but as a whole, the statistics are telling us that church attendance is declining.

Tough Question: How Do We Transform Our Community? (How do we hit the streets with the Gospel?)

Churches that understand the realities of the present future are shifting the target of ministry efforts from church activity to community transformation. The world does not want what the typical N. American church has to offer. We can keep trying to get them to want what we have or we can start offering what they need. They need what people always need: God in their lives. Is our church culture spiritual enough to reach our culture?

We need to seek out a missional spirituality. Missional spirituality requires that God’s people be captured by his heart for people, that our hearts be broken by what breaks his, that we rejoice in what brings him joy (see Luke 15).

Do we have this problem: We’ll do this community stuff after we’ve handled all our internal needs, staffed all our programs, funded the services for club members, and paid salaries for ministers who spend their time almost exclusively on church members.

How many church activities (while good) are justified when there are people who have never been touched with Jesus’ love.

Kingdom Thinking

Jesus’ strategy was to go where people were already hanging out (see Matt. 10 and Luke 10). Maybe we need a church (type group) in every mall, every Wal-Mart supercenter, every Barnes and Nobles. McDonalds puts most of its new stores in places where the people already are: hospitals, schools, food courts, gas stations.

When we run out of space, why don’t we use the facilities that don’t use their space on Sunday mornings? Putting these small groups in such places (or even in places like Barnes and Nobles) and making them outreach oriented.

Are we afraid of not knowing how to engage people in genuine conversation? Is it because we fear rejection? Do we fear that our story is not compelling enough? Do we equate evangelism “programs” with selling a product?

Bottom line: we’ve got to take the gospel to the streets. McNeal is talking about an intentional 24/7 church presence in the community, not tied to church real estate: office buildings, malls, school campuses, sports complexes, storefronts, homes, apartment buildings, and community centers. We need to go where people are already hanging out and be prepared to have conversations with them about the great love of our lives.

They’re not coming to us. We’ve got go to them.

Happy Radiohead Day!

Radiohead Day will be celebrated on May 14th this year in STL. There's going to be a little get together at Verizon Amphitheater with Thom, Jonny, Colin, Ed and Phil. I am going to be there (I got tickets this morning). I will be mailing out my Radiohead cards on May 7th. Are you going to be celebrating Radiohead day this year?

Monday, February 11, 2008

More McNeal (less Ty...)

New Reality Number One: The Collapse of the Church Culture

All is not well – Reggie recites statistics (that are admittedly old, but recent surveys say that they are right on track). Surveys stated that church attendance hovers at around 40% of our population (although this statistic maybe skewed too high.) The further down the generational food chain, the lower the percentage each succeeding generation reports goint to church. The drop is from the 52% of the builders (born pre-1946) and seniors to only 36% of gen-Xers. (This number is probably even lower for net gens.) A 2001 survey revealed that the number of Americans who have “no religious preference” has doubled from 1990 to 2001, reaching 14% of the population. And these aren’t atheists who make up only 1% of the population. Youth specialists note that 90% of kids active in high school youth groups do not go to church by the time they are sophomores in college. One third will never return. (These are numbers from McNeal, I think it is higher than that).

Question posed to our church staffs: Are we living in a culture that doesn’t necessarily “need” God to operate the church? Do we operate like a giant machine, with church leaders serving as mechanics?

The Wrong Question: How Do We Do Church Better?

McNeal identifies a cottage industry in advice on how to do church better. Suggestions surround giving us advice on offering small groups, contemporizing our worship service, marketing our services, focusing on customer service, creating spiritual experiences, becoming seeker-friendly, creating a high-expectation member culture, purify the church from bad doctrine, return the church to the basics.

He then states that church activity is a poor substitute for genuine spiritual vitality.

We encourage church activity, the problem is, we don’t have much evidence to support the assumption that all this church activity has produced more mature followers of Jesus. In fact, as Willow Creek’s Reveal report has shown, they found that it does not.

Tough Question: How Do We Deconvert from Churchianity to Christianity?

We need to stop thinking of Christianity in terms of its institutional expression (our concept of church) and remind ourselves that Christianity was begun as more of a movement.

In N. America the invitation to become a Christian has become largely an invitation to convert to the church.

Although interest in institutional religion is down, interest in spirituality is up. I recently blogged about Lifeway’s research as reported by Ed Stetzer and Scott McConnell which backs this up. People in the non-church culture don’t associate Jesus with the church. In their mind, the church is a club for religious people where club members can celebrate their traditions and hag out with others who share their common thinking and lifestyles. (Look at all of the media attention Jesus will get in March. Why aren’t all of these people flocking to church if there is such an interest in Jesus?)

A Theology of Mission

We need to recapture the mission of the church, that of a God in the Bible who is on a redemptive mission in the world.

The Beginning of a Movement

When Jesus came on the scene he entered a world very similar to our own in terms of its spiritual landscape (religious interest coupled with institutional religion).

This spiritual interest in our society lacks Christian content and file systems. This is the scary part of it. Left to their own imagination people will devise all sorts of crazy stuff about God, from New Age crystals to self-enlightenment. But this is also the opportunity of the current spiritual landscape. People are open to revealed truth of God if they can get it.

Has the Church lost its influence at this critical juncture? Can it reclaim its sense of mission? Can it show itself to be part of a life giving movement instead of a static institution?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Appreciation...for the Tambourine?

Growing up, I held a sort of disdain for the tambourine. Part of it stemmed from grade school music class and the racket we would cause with them. Also, it always seemed that in the music groups they would give the spare lead singer a tambourine to make him feel like he was playing an instrument. (Remember Davy Jones when he wasn't singing? It was either tambourine or maracas.) In the past couple of years, I have acquired an appreciation for the tambourine. I think it was after seeing the documentary "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" (HT: Jonny Rocket). It was about the Funk Brothers, the backing band of all the great Motown vocal groups. When you listen to the great songs of Motown, you can really hear the tambourine if you listen for it. And when you do, you hear how integral it was for creating their sound. Plus, try listening to "Ticket to Ride" and "Wait" by the Beatles and you will hear the greatness of the tambourine.
So...hear's to the tambourine. Enjoy this clip from the documentary. Joan Osborne and the Funk Brothers doing a great version of one of my favorite Motown songs, "Heatwave."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Continuing Review of: The Present Future by Reggie McNeal

Back in June, Rik Maxedon, pastor of North Church, asked me what three books have had the most impact on me. I named a few, but it really caught me off guard. I recently got to see Reggie McNeal at the MO State Evangelism conference and I remembered how influential his book, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church, was on me. In fact, after I read it and saw myself in the book, I was out of full time church ministry within 4 months. I am going to be writing about my reactions to the book.


Reggie states that this book was written to help church leaders by giving us ways of starting conversations that might lead us out of church captivity and into the adventure that we anticipated, that is the true mission of God and the abundant life that it produces.

Who is this book not for? It is not for those who are content with the way things are. It is not for those just hanging on to their church jobs because they don’t know what else to do. Nobody wants to admit that this describes them, but it describes more of us that we would like to admit.

McNeal challenges several assumptions that are found typically among church leaders:

  • If you build the perfect church (they way we normally think about church), they will come.
  • Growing your church will automatically make a difference in the community.
  • Developing better church members will result in greater evangelism.
  • The church needs more workers (for church work).
  • Church involvement results in discipleship.
  • Better planning will get you where you want to go (in terms of missional effectiveness.)

McNeal targets three groups of church leaders that he wants to help with this book:

Congregational leaders who get it and are growing restless for something to happen that only God can get credit for.

Pastors and staff leaders who already share the ideas he presents but need help in converting their leadership constellation.

Emerging leaders, both clergy and lay, who are going to give leadership to the church in the emerging world.

This is not a “how-to” book, as in, these are the five steps to lead your church to greater growth or the six steps to greater effectiveness. He will repeat questions that church leaders are asking and then he will pose questions that we all should be asking.

Monday, February 4, 2008

More Weather Talk

A few days ago I wrote about the weather change here in Mid-MO where we experienced a 40 drop in temperature in one day. On Friday of this past week, I cleared 3 inches of snow off of my car. Yesterday as I drove home from a Super Bowl party, the temp was in the mid thirties. Today: 73 degrees and sunny. If you don't like the about this Wednesday? Snow in the forecast. January in Mid MO.


As hard as it may seem to a lot of people, I was really rooting for the Patriots last night. To be honest, I don’t like either team really, but I just hate the Giants more. The first reason is that I am a Cowboys fan. How can I cheer for a team that I want to lose every week of the season? If you were a Chiefs fan, would you root for the Raiders or Broncos in the Super Bowl? If you’re a Mizzou fan, do you cheer for Oklahoma in the National Championship? Also, I am having trouble living in a world where Huckleberry Manning is the Super Bowl MVP. The man is a football savant. I think his mother still ties his shoes, but he has played outstanding over the last 6 weeks. I have not liked him since his little draft day stunt to force a trade to another team.

On the other hand, there was a little perverse glee in watching Belichick do a tense post game press conference. It is kind of funny that the Patriots were trying to patent the “19-0 the Perfect Season” slogan. It was especially fun after reading this column by the Sports Guy Bill Simmons. I am normally a fan of his unless he is writing about the Patriots or the Red Sox. He recently wrote a column comparing the Patriots to one of the best Celtic teams ever (1985-86). He did this before the season was over! Talk about karma!

Anyway, with the loss of the Cowboys and the Giants as Super Bowl champions, I can’t wait for the playoffs next year.