Monday, June 27, 2011

An Announcement

I am pleased to announce the launch of a new conversational theology blog where three friends/colleagues and I will be now diverting our weekly online energies. As you can see, 'this side of sunday' is now more of a personal website and reference archive. I may pick up the blogging here again someday, but at this point I invite you to bookmark us, link us, add us to your RSS feeds, or just plain join us over at Out of Bounds: Theology in the Far Country.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Other Side of Sunday

After six years and a number of re-evaluations leading to renewed efforts on this blog, I am ready to call it off, or at least go into hibernation for awhile. This is different than dry spells I've had in the past. I just don't have a motivation or purpose for the blog at the moment which warrants taking time away from other projects and demands just to tinker and publish my random thoughts. Now that it has become more of a tinkering and less purposeful, I think it is time to put it to bed, at least for the coming year.

That isn't a slight against what this blog has been in the past, or against blogging in principle. In fact I have another online project in the works, a group conversation, the launch of which will be announced here very soon.

What to do with this blog remains the question. At first I thought I might import the best bits of it into a wordpress site under a new name and leave it for another day, but now you may notice that I am simply revamping this site into more of an archive and a platform for my CV. If I ever pick up the blog again I will simply do so here.

I do want to thank all those who've thought and commented along with me these past six years on this blog. Those I've known for years and those I've only ever met online. Thank you so much for your interest, your challenges, your encouragements and your interactions. I have really learned a lot from conversing with all of you here, and am grateful that you took the time. It would take too long to recount all the paths that have crossed and arguments that have transpired - it has been richer than I ever thought it would be, mainly because of those who met me here. I look forward to meeting you again in other forms and contexts.

Speaking of which, stay tuned for one last post which will explain the new site and will also give direction to a brand new conversation blog, coming very soon.

Monday, June 20, 2011

After the Riots: Shame, Shame, Double Shame

See the comments for an update and further thoughts on this post as of June 23.

There have yet to be any criminal charges laid for the riots in Vancouver following game seven of the Stanley Cup, but I am sure there will be. Up to a million photos have been submitted to evidence. Some real life good people showed up the morning after to clean up. Stories have circulated about people who protected local businesses from further looting and damage. A number of guilty parties have come forward to confess responsibility and apologize.

As the city grappled with the embarrassment and horror of the seemingly meaningless and thus all-the-more-disturbing event there has been no small amount of public opinion and denouncement of the perpetrators. This seems to me to be largely appropriate.
What else should people do but try to understand what occurred and seek a measure of justice? What else should take place in the public sphere than designating what is and what is not honourable and appropriate and acceptable in society?

However, you have to wonder at what point such declarations of honour and searches for justice become blatant shamings and quests for sustained self-righteousness. I heard one sports talk radio host raise the issue of our societal complicity in such acts. I listened at work as he and his co-host went back and forth from simply calling the rioters "idiots" and trying to probe into the societal conditions (in which we all have a hand) which make such an event so evidently possible. They seemed to be on a healthy thought-process.

Few would want to defend the rioters, and indeed I think it incredibly important to try to seek to hold them accountable and also to reflect on what kind of society we wish to promote. But is the setting of honour codes and their enforcement by shaming the way to do it? Can it not get to the point where the shaming ritual actually serves to detach perceived do-gooders from wrongdoers in a way that is naive at best and insidiously self- and society-destructive at worst?

I was in Vancouver in '94 and could imagine that, in the right conditions, I could have become caught up in the riots. Had alcohol and a lack of accountability been present in my life at that age I might easily have participated, at least as a snickering bystander. If I had undealt-with emotional problems or simply lacked any kind of modeling for how to deal with anger or disappointment I might well kicked over a garbage can or two. If I had been brought up in a "me-first" society with little mentoring that taught me to respect the property of others or the authorities at all then I might well have cheered those who did damage to the infrastructure in a moment of passion. This doesn't excuse any of it, but it does serve (I hope) to illustrate that shaming people simply as "idiots" is way too easy.

Consider the story of Nathan Kotylak, a 17 year old water-polo player who has confessed his part in the riots and faced up to consequences that many who were involved will find it easy to escape. He has submitted himself to the disciplinary processes of school, family, team and society. And well he should. But he has also submitted himself to further shaming, not to mention providing a face and a name for all the anonymous shaming being done already. As the CBC story reports:
The online venom reached a point where Kotylak's father, who is a doctor in Maple Ridge, suspended his medical practice and the family made a decision to leave their home temporarily, said Findlay.

"The family has been concerned for their safety," he said. "It's kind of odd because we see the mob mentality that's been shown on TV through the riot, we're experiencing very much the same thing online."
Surely we've got a mixed bag of responses to the riots and just like the sports talk radio hosts we have a lot people processing things slowly from initial rage to later more mature and compassionate and even merciful approaches to justice and restoration. Many Vancouverites have in fact responded quite admirably. We should definitely be having these "code of honour" discussions and assertions in society. But we should also note a difference between grace-based and shame-based approaches to public morality. Indeed there is no shortage of cause for self-reflection after these riots, and this is one more area where that might be appropriate.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Problem with NHL Hockey

As someone who grew up on NHL hockey and played hockey in multiple different settings and yet fell out of love with it a few years back, I was pulled back in this past Christmas as my boyhood team reached the top of the standings and garnered my (af first) passing interest again. In the months that followed I was surprised both by how emotionally invested in the team I could still be and also by how captivated by the sport I could still become. Part of this re-interest had to do with the team philosophy, which was to play hard "between the whistles" and avoid all that silly stuff. They didn't always succeed at this, of course, but I appreciated the thought and it helped me to get back into the sport again.

And oh did I get back into it. So much so that I now face the decision of sticking with NHL hockey (and thus voicing my opinion about what I wish it would be) or leaving it be (only to be picked up again when my team nears glory). As I consider this I have a few complaints to register. I will group them according to three categories, and illustrate them with reference to the playoff season that just passed.

First of all, there is the culture of violence and retribution. Fighting. It is part of the game. It isn't just something that happens once in awhile, it is an accepted and even expected part of the game. In what other team sport is that the case? None. I think the best way to illustrate the problem is with reference to former NHL referee Kerry Fraser's comments on Brad Marchand's repeated shots to the face of Daniel Sedin at the end of Stanley Cup Game 6, to which Sedin did not respond:
“This is really a telling play, in my opinion, as to the series and moving into Game 7," Fraser said. "On that particular play, there is absolutely no question that the referee should have assessed at least two minutes for roughing for Marchand, and I probably would have given him a misconduct as well, to get rid of him.

"That being aside, the captain, the leader of that team, he's a skill player, tremendously skilled player, not a physical guy, but sooner or later you've got to throw the gloves down and you've got to defend yourself on a play like that, especially when you're looking at a guy that might be an inch or two shorter than you, you've got to step it up. I don't think Ray Bourque as a captain — he would never take that kind of abuse, personally.

"But beyond that, nobody came to the aid of Daniel Sedin. He's their captain, he's their leader. Where are these guys that would want to stick up and say, 'Hey, we're going home, we've lost this game, we're going back home, and they're not going to do that to us?' ... You don’t let your captain get a rag-doll treatment like that. Either he does it himself — steps it up with the game lost and going back home for the hammer, or somebody's got to jump in there and take care of business, and that never happened.
To add insult to injury, Daniel Sedin and his brother were repeatedly called the "Sedin sisters" for and castigated as "Europeans" because of this approach to the rough stuff. Putting aside the disgusting misogyny and ethnocentricity of these remarks, the underlying assumption at issue here is that hockey can't be played that way.

We are unable to imagine, it seems, an NHL where the referees took care of the penalties and the players just played the game without violently taking matters into their own hands. Call me a purist, fine, but I find the hockey ethos reflected by Fraser's remarks harder and harder to stomach. And I find my future as a fan hinging on how much I'll be able to stomach it.

Now, I know that the Canucks are not innocent in this regard, but if I'm to watch the NHL anymore it is going to be for players like the Sedins, and not for the players that Fraser insists they should be.

(Of course, I'm sure there are examples that could be named where the Sedin twins actually did punch back, but please bear in mind that I'm using them as a general illustration, not as pristine messiahs. That said, let's note that at the very least these are some pretty honourable athletes. Not only did they top up the franchise's $5 million donation to the local children's hospital with £1.5 million of their own, but check out Daniel Sedin's response to the charges against him that I noted above. When Mike Milbury called the Sedins "Thelma and Louise" Daniel replied: “We don't really worry about those kind of comments. He made a bad comment about us, calling us women. I don't know how he looks at women. I would be pretty mad if I was a woman.” Genius.)

Which brings me to the second problem: Media coverage and the sports cliche. The chest-thumping idiocy displayed by Milbury is commonplace. But that's an easy target. Let's acknowledge that this isn't happening as often as it once did. But we still have the problem of tired cliches passing for entertainment. I know this is a problem in all sports but in this past playoff series the problem was evident in a massive way, and in fact seemed to be particularly bad when it came to the NHL itself.

Of course, there is only so much you can say, so maybe sports media will always be rife with cliches. Maybe it tries too hard to get beyond this. Whatever the case, it seems quite prevalent that as soon as a player says anything interesting, the media jumps all over it and abuses it, takes it out of context, sensationalizes it all the more, and makes it stupid. Take, for instance, Roberto Luongo's "jab" at opposition goaltender and eventual Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup winner Tim Thomas.

After the Canucks scored a goal where Bieksa seemed to fluke the puck off the end boards so that Lapierre could put it into the abandoned net, Luongo was asked to give Thomas some props for his great goaltending by admitting what a happenstance series of events it took to score on him. The assumption in the question was that the play was a mistake, and the assumption was that Luongo should provide fodder for that reporter's admiration for his opponent. (That Thomas ended up being the better goaltender in this series is neither here nor there, the point is that under no circumstances should we expect that Luongo ought to go in for those assumptions.)

Knowing that it was a planned miss by Bieksa due to scouting reports on Thomas, Luongo made an honest and competitive comment (rather than a cliche, which is what we usually get) which called it like it was. To his credit, he didn't get nasty with it, and admitted that sometimes it would work out vice versa - sometime Thomas would make saves which Luongo didn't, simply because they play a different style.

But the media blew it up and Luongo was chastised for his "jab". Questioned later he pointed out that Thomas never says anything nice about him, and Luongo was mocked all the more. Why should Luongo care if Thomas praises him? The point is that the whole thing started with the press asking him to give Thomas kudos precisely where they weren't deserved. See how dumb the whole thing is? Luongo's comments got away from sports cliches, and then he was roasted for it. Sports is supposed to be entertaining and competitive. This can get stupidly over-competitive, but it can also get stupidly unintelligent. I found the latter very frustrating - and it seems pretty common.

The third problem I want to mention is all those scrums after the whistle. This is relatively unique to NHL hockey and quite closely related to the first. It isn't quite the same as the culture of fighting and retribution. It is the prevalence of instances where players jostle and slash and facewach each other to prove a point and assert each other's territory. Sure, it is always going to happen, but does it have to be such a part of the game? I'd rather it wasn't.

Referring again to the Stanley Cup finals, let's recall the two major controversies that ensued. The biggest one was Aaron Rome's concussion-causing late hit on Nathan Horton. The scene was ugly and even horrific. Rome was suspended from the rest of the series. The other controversy was Alex Burrows bite of the finger of Patrice Bergeron in one of these after-the-whistle scrums. Bergeron was giving Burrows one of the classic facewashes with his glove, and Burrows caught a stray finger in his mouth and bit down. No suspension.

Obviously, the bite is silly. I won't defend it. But what really gets me is the ire that was sent solely in Vancouver's direction because of it. Why does this bug me? Because as silly as the bite was, its silliness is a subset of the silliness of the scrum to begin with! Sure, the facewash is not as downright dirty as the bite, but they are on the same sliding scale of absurdity. Burrows was dumb to do that. But the whole thing is dumb. Though everyone was all over the Canucks for that one, when the team all but eliminated that after the whistle rough stuff the rest of the series, they were mocked for it (see above).

The thing is, when it is all said and done, Aaron Rome's hit is actually a more understandable part of the game than those after-the-whistle scrums. I genuinely believe it was a mistake on his part that he went on with the hit after the brief window where it would have been safe and legal. I think they should try to cut down on these eventualities with strict penalization and rules, but that this happens on occasion is more acceptable to me, in principle, than the silly perpetuation of hack-whack-and smack hockey and all that monkey-business after the play.

I know I sound like I'm just frustrated that my team lost and that my team was the butt end of some of this, and maybe that's true to a degree, but these things were genuinely bothering me even when it looked like my team might prevail. As long as that's what hockey is, I continue to participate with one foot out the door. Having said that, I have been impressed with some of the things the Canucks franchise have tried to put forward and I am pretty interested in seeing what they can do next year. But before this season is lost to memory, I thought I'd register some of the things that bothered me as I got swept up in it all again.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Post Game Dejection

When it comes to Vancouver perhaps most of the postgame focus will be on a few hundred rioters. Its too bad because I thought the fans in the rink and the players on the ice (for both sides) were classy after the game. And Ryan Kesler pretty much sums it up for me.

Stay tuned in the future because I'm stewing over a post on what I think is wrong with the NHL. As one who grew up on hockey and yet hadn't watched a game in several years I have a few thoughts stemming from the hours spent following it so closely again this year. Don't worry, this is not going to be an attempt to discredit the Bruins (and I'll give it a few days to make sure). Congratulations have to go to the Boston Bruins, and especially to Tim Thomas, for winning the Stanley Cup.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't be so Cross-Centered that your Lord is Dead

Although we water it down sometimes, evangelicals are to their credit generally the people who insist that on every occasion it is the cross of Christ - and not themselves - which must be preached. So much so, however, that evangelical churches can quickly forget that the cross itself has much to say for itself beyond the proclamation of justification by faith alone.

The cross was emptied and so was the tomb. But Pentecost reminds us that this emptiness speaks not of a vacuum left for the filling up of our piety and our proclamation but of the filling of the Church with the Spirit of the risen Lord. The emptiness of the cross before us is not one to be filled with timeless truths and moral principles but with the fellowship and decisiveness of a prayerful people thrown daily at the mercy of the promised presence and guidance of a living Lord.

We best be careful not to turn an evangelical strength into a weakness by so emphasizing the cross of Christ that we drain it of its power. I mention this because I think it is far too common for Christian churches to recede into a merely proclamational stance rather than take up the call to make concrete theological decisions (and act on them) together in the prayer for Kingdom come. Barth says it better than I have:
The community may very well forget that it has to hear and attest Jesus Christ as the Lord who is risen again from the dead and therefore lives as the Prophet of God who in the power of the Holy Spirit is not inactive but powerfully at work in the time between Easter and His final appearing both in heaven and on earth. On its own lips the eternal Word from His lips may well become timeless truth. The concrete meaning with which it speaks here and now may well dissolve in its presentation into an abstract signification. The specific point with which His Gospel, notwithstanding its identity in every age and therefore its universality, penetrates each specific historical situation with a specific intention to be specifically received and attested by the community, may be softened and blunted and secretly broken off or rendered invisible in its proclamation. The Gospel as transmitted by it may be changed into a dull impartation which says everything and nothing, proclaiming a supposed but not a real salvation.

Formally, such an impartation need not be lacking in a biblical foundation, biblical content and attachment to the best traditions of the ecclesiastical past, such as, for example, those of the century of the Reformation. It can have the appearance of a true message of Christ, a true preaching of the kingdom of God or true praise of free grace. It can ostensibly be a proclamation of justification by faith alone and a warming reference to the spiritual conversion and moral renovation needed by humanity.

And why should it not proclaim this with genuine emotion and true zeal? In this corrupted form only one thing will be carefully left out and therefore lacking. The impartation will not be intended nor go forth as an invitation to or demand for a concrete decision of faith and obedience, at any rate in the sense of a Yes or No which entails a distinction of word and act at a specific time and in a specific situation. In spite of all its profundity and eloquence, at the point where it ought to do this, it will come to a halt and become an inarticulate mumbling of pious words.

There will be talk of inward regeneration by faith, of the struggle for a new awakening by the Spirit of God, of the solemn prospect of a distant “world of Christ,” but there will be no demand to grasp the nettle and to make a small beginning of this regeneration and awakening in a specific act of will here and now. There will be prayer for peace, but prayer committing no one. When the time comes for steps to peace which commit anyone, there will be quick withdrawal into neutrality, into a safe avoidance of the fatal problems and the even more fatal freedom from problems of the existing present, followed by a new and powerful and sincerely meant but blunted and generalised and therefore impotent assurance that Jesus Christ is risen, that He will come again at the last day and put everything right, and that faith in Him is the victory which overcomes the world.

- Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/3.2, 813-814

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chris Tanev - A Short Story

I was 19 when the Vancouver Canucks last played in the Stanley Cup finals and came one win away. Christopher Tanev was five.

Chris grew up playing hockey but by the age of 16 was still pretty short, and so he was cut from 7 minor league teams by the time he was old enough to drive.

Tanev played roller hockey for awhile and then managed to make the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers in the NCAA before being picked up by the Canucks farm team just over a year ago.

His first NHL game was this January. He had one assist in 29 games.

He made his first appearance in the final series of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Friday night and played a poised 12 minutes where his team needed him dearly. He nearly set up a game winning goal.

I have been so emotionally invested in this Stanley Cup series that there have been times I could hardly sleep; could hardly sit still. When his teammates talk about Tanev the one word they all use is "calm".

He described his first shift to the Vancouver Sun as follows: "Their guy dumped it in and my legs didn't feel too well when I went to get the puck ... After that, I felt fine. I had a blast."

Tonight at 1am local time I'll be up watching my boyhood team trying to win their (our!) first Stanley Cup - on away ice. I'll be so anxious and excited I'll feel like I might throw up. But I'll have my eye on 21-year old Tanev and hopefully he will soothe my shattered nerves. It is weird that my childhood dream now rides on the back of people younger than me.

Part of what you hope to be able to do when you root for your team is actually like or identify with some of the players. Tanev is one of those. He could easily be the guy at footlocker who casually fetches me a different pair of adidas, all the while waiting for his shift to end so he can go catch a movie.

The promo videos will focus on the big name players and the microphones will swarm around them for sound-bytes that provide a series-narrative for those outside Boston and Vancouver to grab on to. But there are one or two microphones in front of Tanev and they produce the story that follows. Its a good story, but I prefer the raw footage. Nothing earth-shattering here - which is kind of the point.

Go Canucks.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Kids Awake My Soul - PS22

Guess I'm a bit behind, but I just discovered the 5th grade choir of Public School 22 in Staten Island.

The songs are written by MGMT and Mumford and Sons.

See them also perform Coldplay and Phoenix.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Morning Bell

Radiohead's incredible album Amnesiac turned 10 this month, and over at Stereogum you can hear covers for every song. My favourite is "Morning Bell" by Chris Thile:

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

'Machines of Loving Grace' and our Unwitting Commodification

It has been a long time since I was as gripped by a documentary series as I am by this one that is running on the BBC right now. It is as thought-provoking and unsettling as it is well-made and even humorous. I have not yet completed this first episode, but I intend to follow it all the way through and highly recommend you join me. Hopefully it doesn't get taken offline. Here it is:

Adam Curtis's All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace:

One of the bits that struck me most from this first episode (besides the remarkable study with a group of people unwittingly playing Pong in a theatre at the 8.30 mark) was the point that the internet age has led many of us to commodify ourselves. Commodification is, simply put, the transformation of things that may not normally be regarded as goods or services into a commodity.

Seriously: watch this documentary. And let me know what you think.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Wilco on Coolness

Over at NPR I was listening to the Wilco concert from last month's Sasquatch music festival in Washing State, and thoroughly enjoyed this seemingly impromptu soliloquy-of-sorts from band front-man Jeff Tweedy during one of their songs:

"The people that are clapping are the people that we like.
And the people that aren't clapping are the people that are more like me.
Because I wouldn't be clapping. I would be thinking that I was too cool to clap.
And I would be wrong! I would be so wrong.
Don't be like me. Be like the people that we like.

That sounds terrible. It sounds like I don't like myself.
I do! Just not the part of me that doesn't like to clap.
So let's clap. Let's clap together. Let's clap together people. Let's clap together."

Reminds me of a realization I had after high school (thus too late to be of much good), which was that the coolest people are the ones who think least about how cool they might be. I wonder how many good things we refrain from for fear that it might seem cheesy. I say own it. If it is good then clear away the cheese rather than leaving it to the fate of the cheese-balls. Self-consciousness and obsessive self-projection are the modern gods we cast off in freedom.

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Search for the Historical Adam

The June issue of Christianity Today has a lead article called "The Search for the Historical Adam" which brings evolutionary theory and recent research in genetics back on the biblical interpretation of Adam as an actual historical person (rather than a representative literary figure). This issue has been around a long time, but the appearance of this issue in this well-read magazine combined with the content of the article itself show that this is likely to be a hot-button issue for evangelical Christians -- and probably for good reason.

I don't think I have a full-formed opinion at this time, but I am pretty curious about it and do have some preliminary reactions.

1) I do not feel like my faith in Jesus or confidence in Scripture is undermined by scientific theories to this effect, but definitely want to give the theological and hermeneutical ramifications much further thought. This issue is certainly going to expose our commitments regarding biblical interpretation isn't it? Seems like every issue does that, but so often we end up talking about the issue but not the hermeneutics. The day needs to come soon, I should think, when evangelicals from academia to local churches come to grips again with what they mean when they say "the Bible says."

2) The theological issues that the article flags as most immediately effected include:
- The reliability/interpretation of the Genesis account of creation,
- the undesrtanding of the image of God,
- the doctrine of original sin and the fall,
- and the New Testament references to Adam as a historical individual.
The texts in question in that regard include Luke 3:23–38; Acts 17:22–31; Romans 5:12–19; and 1 Corinthians 15:20–23. I actually tend to think the most pressing theological question has to do with the issue of when death entered human existence and how/whether it is related to sin, but I suppose that is included in the question of the fall. At a first glance, I don't see the texts referred to here as irreconcilable with the possibility of 150,000 first-humans rather than one or two.

3) The CT article talks about firings related to this issue at major Bible Colleges and Seminaries. Even though I am undecided on all these issues, I want to say that we should not support these actions. There needs to be freedom for real study here, not clamp-downs on what one can consider and inform students about. What kind of schools are these that would just run the party line rather than prepare students for the issues of their time with thoughtfulness and humility?

4) The article links to a Bible study which asserts some "eternal principles", including among them the claim that "God’s Word presents Adam as no less a historical figure than Jesus." Not only do I find the term "eternal principles" tantamount to idolatry, but I find this particular claim unnecessary and untenable. I actually think the Bible's level of investment in Jesus as a historical figure is far higher than in Adam. In other words, my initial thought is to balk at that statement. I mean, take those four passages listed above (with all their interpretive possibilities) and compare them with four whole gospels and a bunch of epistles which stake their claim entirely on the historicity of Jesus.

5) I understand the caution, here, and I will ascribe to a good degree of it myself, but I find the theological bastions being laid down in advance a bit sloppy and the rhetoric being lobbied forward (even by someone as respectable as Tim Keller) a bit heavy-handed. Is it not possible that sometimes we have questions arise which we have to think about for awhile with our presuppositions on the table? Doesn't faith free us to think after the truth which is by us not contained? Doesn't faith in a Creator who could also be Incarnate in creation lead us to promote rather than shut down such rigorous engagement between divine revelation and the findings and theories of scientific discovery? Let's consider this carefully without letting carefulness squash consideration in our attempt to keep consideration from squashing carefulness.

All this I offer in the spirit of preliminary observation intended to aid further thought and to indicate my desire to give it plenty of my own. What about you? Any initial observations? Can you direct me to some better thoughts and deeper issues?

PS. By the way, one of the featured scientists in this article is a friend of mine from elementary school and has commented on this blog in the past. Congrats Dennis Venema for what seems like some important work and may God give you grace, humility, and wisdom as you in faith seek (and promote) understanding among both colleagues and churches.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Beautiful Goal

This is the winning goal in game one of the Stanley Cup finals between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins. It may look a bit haphazard at first, but this is exactly the kind of speedy transition game that the Canucks were pulling off all night long - forced turnover, speed, quick pass, scoring chance. Watch that replay as Kesler adeptly pokes the puck off the defender's stick, spins with agility to collect the puck and stay onside, takes a moment to find Hansen streaking into the zone, and delivers a crisp lead pass to the trailing winger who then puts it forward to Torres for an earned empty netter. A winning goal for my team, with seconds left in the game. In sport, you can't get much better than that.

The goal was scored at nearly 4am local time, and I could hardly contain myself. My eldest son was up with me and we were relieved not only that this goal won the game but also that it eliminated the possibility for overtime - thus affording us the opportunity for some shut-eye (after a brief skype conversation with my brothers in the Vancouver area, of course). As a long time fan who has learned to get used to losing, I was so nervous for this game. But these poised and speedy Canucks instilled confidence and injected an excitement for hockey I haven't felt since 1994.