Bobby’s World – Heroes – Coach Taylor

I present to you Bobby’s World, monthly musings from the one and only Hubby!  A few months ago he introduced us to his Hero series. Check it out here is you want a little refresher.


“Are you talking about him, again?

The unexpected question instantly stopped my intense conversation. I was immediately flooded with a sense of guilt and shame, but I felt a surge of pride rise above it. I looked at my co-conspirator, whose eyes were looking down at his shoes. I puffed out my chest and responded to Megan’s question with a classic, “Yeah? What’s the big deal?”

My middle school retort was returned with a mighty one-liner, “I just don’t get it… he’s not even real.”

What a blow. I was staggering from her profound point of truth, coming to terms with the fact that she was right while simultaneously reaching for something quick to respond with. I settled for a weak parting shot; a soft, emotionally-charged, “Well… he’s real to me,” and I walked away before Megan could throw another sick burn at me.

First, let me say that this story is probably highly inaccurate, as it is told from my perspective which is often relived and retold in a highly embellished and romanticized fashion. Nonetheless, this is how I remember Megan calling me out for constantly talking about one of my most beloved heroes. Yes, I admit he is not real, but as stated earlier, “He’s real to me.”

And I am not alone in my admiration (or in my belief/hope in his actual existence) for this next hero. Here are the words of a few of my close friends in their description of the legendary Coach Eric Taylor.

“…he wants good things for other people. That’s not usually sincere, but it is with him…”

“…the way he puts others above himself…”

“…he’s a man of character. He holds fast and stands up for his principles even when it’s going to cost him or it’s uncomfortable… He’s not perfect, but the things he says and does show his compassion for others… I want to be a man like that…”

“Coach Taylor has the immeasurable talent of being able to make even the lowliest of football players feel like the biggest asset to the team… and the ability to look into the eye of the struggle and say, ‘I will come out on the other side a stronger and better person,’… He isn’t afraid to fight for what he believes in.”

With references like that, you don’t need a resume.

Coach Eric Taylor is the central character on NBC’s beloved series Friday Night Lights. For those of you who have not yet revelled in the glory of that which is FNL, go to Netflix right now and watch the pilot episode. Straight shekinah glory. If you don’t have the time, you can watch the trailer here, but I strongly recommend you make time to watch the first episode. I’ll see you in forty-five minutes.

The story of FNL focuses on the small town of Dillon, Texas and its high school football team in all its glory. For better or worse, the town revolves around football, making gods out of its players and a place of worship out of its high school stadium. The series is full of characters who are consistently faced by their own demons; escaping generational cycles of uneducation, fatherly abandonment, the allure of significance and success in sports, physical tragedies, romantic infidelity, questions of identity and feeling lost, and the seemingly unquenchable desire to flee the small town of Dillon. Amidst this small town bubble of conflict, chaos and football, Coach Eric Taylor steps in. He is the proverbial rock of his family, team and community at large.

For me, Coach Taylor is so mythic, so legendary, that it is almost impossible to describe what makes him who he is. Anyone who has watched FNL before knows exactly what I am talking about. I beg your forgiveness for my feeble attempt at trying to describe “Coach.”

Coach Taylor is the hard-nosed coach figure that seems to be of a bygone era. He has no problem setting a fire under his players with some well peppered “motivational” talk. (You can check out some of his most powerful quotes here) He’ll let you know when you’ve messed up, and you’ll be better for it. His standards are high, and if they’re not met… well, there’s always next season. And by standards, I mean physical as well as moral. Character and integrity are not an afterthought of his athletes, they are an uncompromising expectation. Even with the immense pressure of having to win games in order to keep his job, Coach continues to cultivate an unwavering ethos of total excellence that lifts up everyone around him. And for many of the young men that play for him, that is just the kind of man that they need in their lives.

Coach is a father to many fatherless boys, both physically abandoned and emotionally neglected. The Art of Manliness perhaps said it best;

Coach Taylor loved to win football games. But watching the young players he coached mature and develop into good, strong men gave him even more satisfaction. Coach Taylor knew that many of his young players looked to him not only as a coach, but also as a mentor and father figure. Eric Taylor didn’t ask for that role, but he took it on because he understood that the greatest thing a man can do is leave behind a legacy of manliness by nurturing and fathering young men into manhood. (Brett and Kate McKay)

For some, Coach offered space on the couch when they had nowhere else to live. For others it was playing table tennis late into the night or throwing a football around out in the street. And for others still, it ranged from intense conversations calling them to step into their manhood or reverent silence as he stood next to them through their darkest moments. Any growth that these young men underwent is partially owed to the molding and shaping effect that Coach Taylor had in their lives. In fact, Tami Taylor (Coach’s’ wife) speaks this truth to him when she says, “You are a teacher first, and you are a molder of men.”

Speaking of which, one of the great successes of FNL is that I cannot talk about Coach Taylor without talking about his powerhouse wife, Tami Taylor. The guidance counselor at Dillon High and right arm to Coach, Tami is strong, passionate and focused. She keeps Coach in line and keeps him balanced in the decisions that he makes. Having two strong personalities in a marriage definitely makes for some very raw conflict between the Taylors, but both Eric and Tami are deeply committed to the marriage that they have. It is so refreshing to see marriage lifted up, realistically depicted and not bashed. It’s sad but it was almost shocking to see something so incredibly normal; a marriage of between a man and a woman who, though each flawed, have strengths in their own right and love each other deeply. For me, Coach Taylor represents a man committed to building a good marriage, even when it is not easy.

Consistently throughout the show, Coach Taylor is faced with situations that require him to dig deep and fall back on what he has committed himself too. He doesn’t always get it right, but more often than not, Coach Taylor is a man who refuses to abandon what he holds as deep convictions. His principles rise to the surface when pressured by the media, the school district and individuals of influence in the town and on the team. Ironically, Coach Taylor suffers some stretches of low public approval during his time as head coach of the Dillon Panthers. Often his decisions are second guessed and exploited by those that seek to cause him difficulty or get him fired. But popularity is not what he’s concerned with; it’s the integrity by which he coaches and the example he sets for others. In perhaps what is the greatest FNL quote, Coach Taylor says “Every man at some point in his life is gonna lose a battle. He’s gonna fight and he’s gonna lose. But what makes him a man, is that in the midst of that battle he does not lose himself.” Coach Taylor certainly lost many-a-battle, but he refused to lose himself. Resolving to live by one’s convictions regardless of the outcome or by what others’ think or by what is popular is in high demand these days, and one of the greatest lessons that Coach Taylor has taught me.

Though I hate to admit it, Coach Taylor is not real. But writing this post had me thinking about some real life coaches and mentors that helped me become the man I am today. The influence of others in my life has been immeasurable, and the following people are only the tip of the iceberg with regard to who has helped to mold me. Here are to the real Coach Taylors of my life.

Coach Larry Strothers – The first real Little League coach I ever had. I played for him on nine separate teams over the course of my time playing baseball. He taught me that being great at anything had to begin with doing what is right, playing with class, integrity and sportsmanship.

Coach John DeJager – My JV baseball coach in high school. No way around it; our team worshiped this mountain of a man. He taught me what it really meant to be part of a team, part of something bigger than yourself and to lay down your self interests for others.

Mr. Sean Cosgrove – USI & AP Government teacher in High School. He’s the reason why I became a history teacher. He taught me to be a free-thinker, to love the Constitution, to care about people, and to live passionately for something is in this life.

Dr. Stephen Bennett – My Old Testament professor at Nyack. He was foundational for my faith, helping to pull me closer to Jesus when I was far away. His Monday morning five-minute sermons did more for me than he will ever know.

Tim Binkele – Pastor of The River and my mentor for the last three years. Tim has helped me process an incredible amount of change and has continued to patiently listen and speak life into areas of my life that need it. He’s the kind of guy I want to be someday.

Nic Lines – Church planter moving from the UK to NYC. One of the most incredibly intentional people I know, Nic has taken precious time to speak prophetically into my life and to call out the good in me through great conversations and practical exercises. A genuine, life-giving friend who lifts up everyone around him.

In the final episode of FNL, one of my favorite extended scenes (I’ve watched it close to 300 times, no joke, ask Meg), occurs when Coach Taylor squats down next to one of the key players on his team. He looks him in the eyes and says, “You may never know how proud I am of you.” The player responds, meaning every word, “You changed my life Coach.” Those words were not only the admission of one young man in Dillon, Texas whose life was steered away from violence and delinquency. For many viewers, we would say the same thing. I can honestly say that Coach Taylor makes me want to be a better man. He has offered me an image of a loving husband, a strong mentor and a good man. He has caused me to want to live my life with clear eyes and with a full heart, so that I might never lose.

And so, though I may have never played a single game for Coach Taylor and never will, I can and will always say from the bottom of my heart, in honor of the “Kingmaker” and epic hero to tens of thousands…

Texas Forever.

*Note* This blog post was produced while listening to the Friday Night Lights soundtrack. I suggest reading this post while listening to the soundtrack, or a playlist compilation by Explosions in the Sky, who contributed heavily to the soundtrack.

*Note* Here is an easter egg I came across for FNL fans everywhere. Enjoy! 

*Next Hero* Born of German immigrants, this steadfast and humble athlete would earn himself the nickname “The Iron Horse”  

Photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash

Friday Finds 8.10.16

Happy Friday friends!
Today is an extra happy friday for me, since my family from Buffalo is invading New Jersey
as
we
speak!

Here is just a small taste of how I am feeling;

Anywho, how about some links for your weekend?

  1. Are you interested in being encouraged, challenged, surprised? This podcast had me thinking about some unhealthy habits I have picked up in thinking they were healthy/helpful. Seriously, listen to this.
  2. Want to know what hell is for your personality type? Mine was spot on.
  3. Anyone out there know how to code and want to hook a girl up?
  4. Wait, what? Check this clever idea for tomato sauce (yum).
  5. Have an off shoulder top, but hate the constant tugging back in place? Try this hack and thank me later.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Friday Finds 7.28.17

By the time this posts hits your eyes, I will be enjoying a day off on the beach.
Oh sweet Friday. Sweet, sweet summer.

How was your week? See anything worthwhile?

I did:

  1. A dear friend encouraged me to give this sermon a listen, I am so glad I did.
  2. “Oh the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love…”
  3. I cant wait to try this yogurt, who knew it could be so easy to DIY!
  4. Perfect total body workout for when you might have hit snooze a few too many times (like me, every. day. this. week.)
  5. So true.

 

Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash

Bobby’s World: Heroes – CS Lewis

I present to you Bobby’s World, monthly musings from the one and only Hubby!  Its been a while, but a few months ago he introduced us to his Hero series. Check it out here is you want a little refresher.


 

The Apostle to the Skeptics

If there was one person I could meet up with and have an hour long conversation over a cup of coffee, it would be C.S. Lewis.

Now, let me be clear. Lewis would be drinking tea, not coffee. His habit for smoking a pipe would be frowned upon by whatever local coffeeshop I suggested, and we would be thrown out. And he would probably reject the invitation of going out in the first place, unless it was to The Eagle and Child pub for a strong pint, poetry recitations and some story-telling.

If you have never heard of the great C.S. Lewis, you’re not alone. The Montclair Library has not heard of him either. However, you may be more familiar with his most popular mainstream piece of children’s literature, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which is part of the larger fantasy series known as The Chronicles of Narnia.

I’m actually kind of glad that I don’t have the opportunity to meet Mr. Lewis, because I would lose my mind and probably fall apart in front of him, providing him with ample writing material for a small, foolish character in his next book (which upon second thought would be awesome). Think Leslie Knope meeting Joe Biden… then cube it. I have this guy’s poster in my classroom, his headshot reigns on both my school Google account and classroom Twitter account, I consistently Google search “cs lewis reenactments near me” and I have a pair of Narnia-character patterned pajamas. (Ok, I don’t actually have those pajamas, but only because they don’t exist… yet. I am not above that).

So how in the world am I going to sufficiently explain my admiration for a hero of such personal magnitude? The short answer: I’m not, because I can’t. But regardless, my hope is that you walk away knowing a bit more about me by knowing a bit more about Lewis, and that you learn a bit more about yourself.

Clive Staples Lewis was born in Ireland at the turn of the 20th century. Called “plain Jack” by his friends, Lewis was anything but ordinary, with his wild imagination and tall tales that he and his brother created in their childhood. His mother died when he was ten years old, and actually became an emotional source for his agnosticism and later atheism. His father shipped him off to England to receive a proper education through various boarding schools, and therefore we remember Lewis as being “English” when in actuality he was “Irish” and identified himself as such. He would never forgive his father for shipping him off to foreign England after his mother’s death, and their relationship would be somewhat estranged up to his father’s passing.

Lewis excelled in school and eventually landed himself a scholarship to Oxford, but was soon conscripted into the British army during WWI. He would be wounded on the frontline, which would lead to depression and homesickness, and Lewis would soon be discharged and sent back to Oxford. There, he flexed his intellectual muscle in philosophy, Greek and Latin literature, ancient history and general English. Noticeably gifted, he was hired in an adjunct role for a year at Oxford, and then offered a full-time position the following year. He would teach English Literature for the next 29 years as an Oxford Fellow and Tutor.

During his early years at Oxford, C. S. Lewis would develop friendships that would alter his life, namely J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. A devout Catholic, Tolkien would play a vital role in leading Lewis to becoming a Christian and developing an intellectually strong faith. Lewis would also enjoy the friendship and support of a literary circle known as the Inklings. A collective of fantasy authors, the Inklings would gather at the local pub every Tuesday to recite old poetry and read their own original work for collegial constructive criticism. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have been surrounded by the likes of Lewis, Tolkien, Owen Barfield and Charles Williams, as they discussed ideas, told stories and debated concepts as a group of friends.

Lewis’ teaching career provided him the time and financial support to engage in his love of writing and storytelling. Though best known for his The Chronicles of Narnia series, which are a lot of fun and worth reading, Lewis cranked out a slew of strong works over the course of his life. Some of these include:

  • Screwtape Letters – A fictional story that centers around the one-sided conversation of an elder demon attempting to guide his demon nephew in how to lead a young man’s soul to damnation.

 

  • The Great Divorce – A fictional story about a busload of citizens from Hell who get to experience Heaven, and are quite surprised and sometimes upset by what they find.
  • The Space Trilogy – A powerful, Sci-Fi adventure tale makes the reader ask questions about mankind and human nature from the outside perspective from inhabitants of other planets.
  • Mere Christianity – Originally written for BBC radio broadcasts during WWII, these talks were converted into a book that discusses why Christianity makes sense and offers easy to understand apologetics for the skeptic to consider.

 

Perhaps one of Lewis’ shortest works, A Grief Observed, was one of his greatest triumphs. Originally released under a pseudonym, Lewis recorded his experiences and internal turmoil in the aftermath of his wife’s death. They had been married for roughly four years late in Lewis’ life, and her death came as quite a blow to Lewis. A Grief Observed chronicles his grief, his wrestling with God, and his process of coming to terms with his own selfishness and emotional needs. Ironically, some of Lewis’ friends suggested the book to him as a way of processing his loss, not knowing it was he who had written it.

Lewis lived a full life, and it came to an end on November 22, 1963, the same day of the Kennedy assassination. (Interesting fact though, Lewis was technically declared dead earlier that July when he passed into a coma on a hospital bed. He awoke to the surprise of his doctors, checked himself out and enjoyed some beers later that evening with friends).  

 

So why is this dead author my hero?

More than any other author I’ve read, I’ve always felt like C. S. Lewis “got me,” as if he knew me and was writing to me personally. It’s just something about his approach to writing that is so attractive and seems to connect with me. His logical arguments are presented through such palatable means: fairy tales, fictional stories and some of the most incredible analogies that make perfect sense. In fact, one of my favorite things about Lewis is that he has an extraordinary ability to take something complex and confusing, and explain it in such simple and clear terms. That has to be the teacher in Lewis, and our shared profession also probably makes me like him all the more.

I’m a bit embarrassed to say this, but if I am honest, I’m in awe of his intelligence and its influence on his faith. For better or worse, I’ve always been swayed and won over by the intelligentsia in the room, and C. S. Lewis takes the day. The man was brilliant, and he left a legacy that has supported a strong, reasonable faith. Nicknamed “the Apostle to the Skeptics,” he appeals to the common sense and reason of those who doubt or oppose God’s existence, and offers incredible insight and logic as to why they should reconsider their views, as he did. For a Christian, intuitive-thinker (NT) as myself, Lewis writes with a bold and powerful intellect, and ultimately champions a faith that is strong, reasonable and right. It was once said best…

“Lewis, perhaps more than any other twentieth century writer, forced those who listened to him and read his works to come to terms with their own philosophical presuppositions.”

But C. S. Lewis does not only appeal to the mind, but to the heart as well. At the end of the day, the strongest reason why Lewis is my hero is because whenever I read any of his works, it makes me want to love God more. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at Barnes & Noble reading one of his books and I have to put it down and say to Megan, “This guy makes me want to follow Jesus more closely.” Without fail, when I read Lewis, I am moved to love God more deeply, pray more often and live with greater awareness of eternity. Do you have a friend who, when you’re done hanging out with them, makes you want to be a better person or go achieve something great? For me, that is C. S. Lewis, and even reading just a quote of his has the effect of pushing me closer to Jesus Christ.

Speaking of quotes, Lewis is king. I would suggest perusing over here… at your own leisure just to see what I’m talking about. The guy sure can spit a strong one-liner. If you like what you see, I would recommend following some of his fan-based Twitter personalities.

Another suggested link that I stumbled across is a Youtube channel that is devoted to adding time-lapsed sketch art to readings of some of C. S. Lewis’ works. “CS Lewis Doodle is the title of the Youtube channel and it is incredibly helpful to see someone supplement Lewis’ words with engaging artwork. Nerd moment… I like to take my lunch break everyday at school by watching one of the videos while I eat. They’re short enough (10-15 minutes) that I can handle one or two as a great way to have a thinking, reflective and restful lunch. If you’re a Lewisian disciple, you need to check it out. If you’re not there yet, you need to check it out.

As I was thinking how to close this out, I felt it would be appropriate to quickly list and briefly highlight some other heroes of mine that I look up to for similar reasons as Lewis. Maybe you’ll be interested to check them out as well, or maybe you already look up to them!

  • J. R. R. Tolkien – Pioneer of medieval high-fantasy, Tolkien gifted the world with another world: Middle Earth. His works The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and a host of others really laid a great deal of foundation for the fantasy world. Game of Thrones owes him a nod of appreciation.
  • G. K. Chesterton – Famous Christian apologist and jack-of-all-trades with regard to academia, Chesterton gave the world his powerful work Orthodoxy and was the second voice that shaped Lewis, (Tolkien being the first). If you read Lewis, know that Lewis read Chesterton. (He was specifically shaped by The Everlasting Man).
  • Andrew Wilson – Teaching pastor at King’s Church in London. Introduced to me by a very close friend (to who I am eternally grateful!), Andrew Wilson essentially shaped and formed a great deal of my theology over the last three years through his sermons and writings on a blog that he contributes to; www.thinktheology.co.uk. Ridiculously bright, strong in reasoning, cordial in disagreement. And the only time I met him, he complimented Megan’s glasses. What a guy.
  • Jon Tyson – Lead pastor of Trinity Grace Church in NYC, the Australian native theologian and pastor is a recent addition to bright, humble, Christian thinkers that I look up to. He’s included here because of his genuine love of people and deep, nuanced thoughts on how to reach a city and a nation with God’s love. I’d recommend listening to his story at http://citycollective.org/podcast .

Who are your heroes? Who do you look up to? If you could sit down for a conversation with one person, who would it be? What do you think your choice says about you?

 

It is good to have heroes, and perhaps C. S. Lewis said it best when he wrote, “Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.”

 

*Next Hero Hint… This hero of mine married his high school sweetheart, currently resides in Philadelphia, and earned the nickname “The Kingmaker.”

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

Friday Finds 7.21.17

Hey hey friends. Friday is upon us. Hubby and I are attending a conference in Massachusetts. I am looking forward to some fun time with friends.

What do you have going on this fine weekend?

A few things from the web:

  1. *scratches head with a puzzled look, but also considers this may be very good.
  2. Count me in.
  3. As I am now an expert mover, I can say with confidence, this is a helpful question (for moving or just de-clutter-ing).
  4. I tried to watch What the Health, and at the risk of being controversial, I was pretty bothered by some of the claims they made. So I will just leave this here (and this if you want a bit more humor and don’t mind some choice language).
  5. Feeling all kinds of convicted.
  6. oh yeah, and if your still waiting, go buy the things.

Friday Finds 7.14.17

Happy Friday friends!

Today is a special day, it is indeed mine & Hubby’s 5 year anniversary.

Its incredible how fast the time goes by. Keep an eye out on Monday for some musings on our nuptials.

For now lets do our Friday thing and share some finds from the web,

  1. If you follow my social media, you have already seen my sister-in-laws amazing apparel and hopefully already snagged something, if not, what are you waiting for?
  2. Love him or hate him, Rob Bell had me really thinking about some things on the Liturgist Podcast this week.
  3. Speaking of marriage
  4. & a little laugh for those not married.
  5. Oh the giggle that would be had if you could only see my attempt at that roll

Friday Finds 7.7.17

Happy Friday folks! It’s the freaking weekend and though it was a super short week with the holiday, I am pumped for some r&r at the beach with my sisters in law!

Saved By The Bell GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

What are you up to?

A few links for your clicking pleasure:

  1. Keep not quitting: holding fast in the face of the storms and the silence and the sorrow is its own sort of victory.”
  2. You already know how much I love Chance, his Tiny Desk concert had me fangirling so hard.
  3. A little craft project going on my to do list.
  4. How to create little readers.