Monthly Archives: March 2008

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15 words: Trail Blazers Ups and Downs

People ask me from time to time what I think about this year’s Trail Blazer team. I don’t really have the time to give you my full analysis, so I’ll give you the quick hits.

First, the good side.

The Portland Trail Blazers 2007-2008 Season:

… in one word: streak!
…in two words: unlimited potential
in three words: Oden in 2008!
in four words: Brandon Roy: The Man
in five words: The best? Yet to come.

Now, the down side.

The Portland Trail Blazers 2007-2008 Season:

in one word: disappointment
in two words: injuries abound
in three words: Brandon still hobbling
in four words: WANTED: true point guard
in five words: Jim Mora Said It: Playoffs?!

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Smokey Robinson is gettin’ all militant up in this piece

DISCLAIMER — he does use some R-rated language.

This is an excerpt from the HBO series Def Poetry, a spinoff of Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam. As such, you’re prone to hear a few four-letter words spill, as you would on any HBO original program.

And while I definitely don’t agree with everything he says, I do think it’s a breath of fresh air that he’s managed to stake out his own opinion and take odds with the prevailing leftist view of pan-African-ism.

For the record, I choose to identify with the term “Black” in part, like Smokey mentions, to distinguish myself from people like my friend Darrell who has actually spent a significant amount of time in Africa… but also because my heritage is more directly from the West Indies, rather than Africa.

Plus, y’know… it gives me street cred when I’m out in the suburbs.

Big ups to Gregory H for the email link.

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Here’s a Secret for you: Jesus ain’t no password.

Apparently, times are a-changin’. Or at least time-shares are, anyway. No longer are they just good for one place for one week per year. The latest is that most time-share companies invest in many properties and give you the flexibility to pick and choose which units and which times make the most sense.

At least, that’s the company line that I got from the lovely woman at the time-share sales presentation I sat through last night. I was impressed… the film they showed was tightly edited, with a catchy pop-rock theme, full of excited people extolling the virtues of having invested in a lifetime of family vacations.

And you know what? I was right there with them. I like being able to get away from it all. And I like the flexibility. And sure, I want to be able to share a lifetime of vacation memories with those who are closest to me.

But that doesn’t mean that I have enough income to support such a purchase right now. And I’m also perceptive enough to see through and defuse all of their high-pressure sales tactics.

To tell you the truth, I felt bad for the lady.

Most of her marks clients are probably genuinely not sure if they can afford the product, but with enough helpful nudges they can be persuaded to jump in and spend ten large on a purchase that has such an emotional connotation to it. In this way, it’s sort of like car sales. (By the way, for a great little insider look at car sales read this expose from Edmunds.com)

Holly and I, on the other hand, were quite sure going into this presentation that we definitely cannot afford this. At least not right now. In two years, probably. And yeah, we owe them our time and attention because by giving us this gift, they’re purchasing the right to try to persuade us to jump in and buy their product. I do not begrudge them this opportunity.

However, I have to draw the line when they try to use my faith as some kind of insider shibboleth. I told the lady I worked for a church and was in the process of starting my own business, and she started laying it on thick:

As someone of deep faith, I believe that with the help of our heavenly father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you’ll be able to afford these payments and it won’t stop you from purchasing a house.

That’s not an exact quote, but it’s pretty close.

But wait, it gets better… she pulled an Oprah on me.

Have you read The Secret? It’s the power of speaking things into existence. I say my fifteen daily affirmations every day and it’s worked wonders for me and my whole family.

Because I didn’t want to be rude, I didn’t cut her off and tell her that whatever infinitesimal chance of getting me to sign she might have had coming in, she just wasted by equating my faith in Christ with the latest self-help fad. But you better believe I was thinking it.

So let me just throw a bone to anyone out there who might be in the unenviable position of doing sales for a living. I know that pressure is a part of the job, and you’ve got to do what you’ve gotta do. I know that folks gotta eat, and I’m not trynna hate on anybody’s hustle.

But still … you gotta know when the horse is dead. Sometimes you just gotta walk away.

And one more thing for you:

Either try the evangelical-I’m-a-believer-too-lets-help-each-other-out angle, or the new-age-self-help-think-positive angle.

But don’t do both. It just gives you away more easily.


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A Little Advice, From One Jelani to Another


(Editor’s note: This letter probably won’t mean much to its recipient — seated on the right in this picture — at the moment. Right now he’s probably too young to full appreciate the truth of what I’m about to tell him. Chances are he might not ever get to read it. But if he’s anything like me (or many other Americans) he’ll google himself and maybe run across this piece in an internet archive.)

An Open Letter to Jelani Kilpatrick

You don’t know me, but I feel like I know you. I know that I’m almost your dad’s age, so you might be tempted to think that I don’t know anything about you. But I probably know more about you than you think.

I imagine that the level of scrutiny you and your family are walking in right now borders on the insufferable, especially since it’s become public that your dad was having an affair with a woman that he worked with. Right now you’re, what, twelve years old? So if you’re anything like I was when I was twelve, a lot of the drama is going right over your head. You know that your father messed up and I’m sure you know that your mom and many other people are angry and disappointed with him. But the enormity of what he did and why it was so bad… it’s probably not going to hit you until you get older.

And when that happens, you might have some people around you who will encourage you to completely disassociate yourself from your father. They’ll want to use you to get at him. They’ll try to get you to pull an Absalom and throw your dad under the bus.

Don’t do it. Don’t go there. Don’t believe the hype about your dad.

Not because he doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment, but because you are in a unique position to learn from your father’s mistakes.

As another Jelani who grew up with a fairly high-profile father in a family known in my community for a certain field of ministry, I understand what it’s like to always have to bear your father’s legacy. Sometimes that can be a great privilege. Sometimes it can feel like a millstone around your neck.

But it is what it is.

Don’t let it define you, but don’t run away from it either. Learn to evaluate all of the hows, whens and whys of all the ways that your dad messed up. If your dad is anything like my dad, there will come a time when he’ll open up and answer any questions you have about his decisions. Hopefully that process will show you that it wasn’t just one bad choice he made that led to all of the controversy — but a series.

Remember the words of The Big Aristotle, who said that excellence is not a singular act, but a habit.

Don’t be afraid to forge your own identity, regardless of your pursuit in life.

Even if you end up becoming, say, a pediatrician, there will always be those around you who will tell you how much like your dad you’ve become. And there will always be good things about that. Your father wouldn’t have ascended to the heights from whence he fell if he didn’t have some incredible attributes. But still, you’re going to have to live your own life. At some point, you’ll have to learn how to take the good parts that you inherited from him and build on it so that you will be able to achieve things that he did not.

Alas, it might become a temptation for you to use your father’s shortcomings as an excuse. For what, I don’t know. But your disappointment with your dad could easily turn to resentment, and if it does you’ll wish that he was better at certain things. You might even wish that you were born into a different family.

But don’t. God does all things for a reason. And using the excuse of your dad’s failures — or any excuse, really — as a way to not try your best, or as a pre-emptive justification for future failure, is just dumb. It’s self-sabotaging. And speaking as a recovering perfectionist, I know all about self-sabotage. It’s just not worth it.

One other thing. I know this goes without saying, but please, please PLEASE don’t repeat your father’s mistakes. Not just so that you don’t ruin your life, but because you’re not just representing the Kilpatrick family name. You’re also representing my name. And I’m quite proud of my first name right now, but all it takes is one really bad scandal to taint a name that is associated with it. And if you think I’m wrong, ask anyone named O.J., Monica or Katrina.

By the way, if your brother Jalil wants to know, all these things apply to him too. But I thought I’d tell you first, since, well… we’ve got a few things in common.

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for mixin’ it up with me.

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Links to make ya think: Obvious Edition

A glimpse at today’s headlines reveals a correlation between individuals who move up the chain of command and their inability to grasp the obvious.

Consider the latest sex scandal to sully a politician, where an avalanche of amorous text messages are threatening to be the downfall of Kwame Kilpatrick, the mayor of Detroit.

The obvious part is a money quote from Michigan’s Governor Jennifer Granholm, who asserted that she doesn’t know if Kilpatrick can survive the controversy intact.

Let me make it easy for you, Governor: NO. HE CANNOT.

According to multiple published reports, he perjured himself in the process of denying an affair with his chief of staff Christine Beatty, all while trying in vain to prevent a probe into his firing the deputy chief of police for trying to uncover the affair and other misdeeds.

Umm… no.

He’s not skating away from that.

If Senator Obama is still being raked over the coals for Tony Rezko and Dr. Jeremiah Wright… ain’t NO WAY brotha K is getting away with all that. I know Gov. Granholm was just trying to be diplomatic about her young Democrat ally, but still. With all the respect that I would have for a young, up-and-coming African-American mayor in a downtrodden city, it pains me to say this but… stick a fork in him, ’cause he’s done.

(For the record, I was going to end that with just “stick a fork in him” but I didn’t want anyone to think I was trying to get all Michael Richards on my man.)

Almost as sad is reading accounts of Hillary Clinton’s spokesperson Howard Wolfson attempt damage control surrounding the now-refuted account of the former first lady’s landing during a trip to Bosnia.

Their assertion? She may have misspoke.

I know I’m treading in dangerous territory here, considering I’ve known to exaggerate a story or three for dramatic effect. And I’d be violating all kinds of journalistic guidelines if I didn’t also point out that Senator Obama has been taken to task from time to time for stretching the facts to fit the contour of his rhetorical narrative (media whack jobs notwithstanding).

But still… she misspoke? Really? Are you sure she didn’t just ‘misremember’? No politician would ever publicly admit to lying in the middle of a hotly contested race, but you have to hand it to the Clinton camp — they’ve certainly got cojones.

Sinbad had the funniest line yet, recently commenting on the supposed danger:

“What kind of president would say, ‘Hey, man, I can’t go ’cause I might get shot so I’m going to send my wife…oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'”


I’m not going to say Senator Clinton has a big head, but if you look real closely at the Bosnia video, I think the little girl greeting her is really Lucy trying to snatch away the football.

In other news, the New York Knicks are finally ( and “–Allegedly!!–” as Rome would say) getting around to replacing Isiah Thomas. But amazingly enough, the fact that Isiah needs to go is not the most staggeringly obvious part. Rather, it’s that the fans have known this since the beginning of the season.

Which has somehow eluded the brilliant minds at Madison Square Garden, because they’re emailing fans, asking for their input on the state of the team.

Hearing thousands chant “Fire Isiah” day after day didn’t make it clear enough?



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The LA Times has my back — way back.


Yeah, so I’m not gonna lie.

I do get a small jolt of smug self-satisfaction when I see some denizen of the MSM (mainstream media) reporting on a phenomenon that I have already covered somewhere on my blog.

But more than that, I feel vindicated… now I have more concrete, anecdotal proof of something I’ve been concerned about for awhile. My new PocketPC is transforming me from “a really annoying know-it-all to an INCREDIBLY annoying know-it-all.”

The LA Times headline:

“The risk for iPhone users: They know too much.”

The only downside of this article… the writer gives a brief admission that the iPhone isn’t the only wireless-web enabled phone, but then goes on to imply that iPhoners are the most demographically likely to behave in this way.

With all due respect… my friend Eric Sawyer and I have both been early adopters of this technology, neither one of us are iPhone guys (that I know of, anyway… Eric feel free to confirm/disprove), and we’ve both been insufferable know-it-alls for YEARS.

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Links to Make You Think: Ignorant Edition

I usually don’t like to pile on like this, but sometimes abject ignorance can be hilarious. And as always, I’ve tried to give equal access to the truly ignorant among us.

First, the mild:

Korean pop star promises to sell nude photos anywhere but Japan. I know, it’s pretty tame on the Ignor-A-Meter, but it just makes me laugh. Like they’re not already on the internet, where anyone — Japanese or not — can get to them.

Way to take the moral high ground on your nude photos, lass. Stay classy, San Diego.

Now the just-plain-sad:

Bush unaware of rising gas prices.

“Really… ” he says, with a hint of condescension. “I hadn’t heard that.”

Again, we all know that Dubya is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, but still… at least act like you know.

But finally… the coup de grace

DMX has no idea who Barack Obama is.

Seriously. Almost as ridiculous as the idea of him doing a gospel album (which he mentions in the beginning), is when the person doing the interview of the once-popular rapper DMX for XXL magazine mentions Senator Obama and the upcoming presidential race, and he has no idea what they’re talking about:

Are you following the presidential race?
Not at all.

You’re not? You know there’s a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then there’s Hillary Clinton.
His name is Barack?!

Barack Obama, yeah.

Barack?!

Barack.
What the f*** is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?

Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
Barack Obama?

Yeah.
What the f***?! That ain’t no f***in’ name, yo. That ain’t that nigga’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the f*** outta here.

You’re telling me you haven’t heard about him before.
I ain’t really paying much attention.

As the man himself once said,

“Y’all gon’ make me LOSE MY MIND… up in here, up in here!”

Apparently, we’re too late.

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Can Someone Tell Me Exactly Where the Hate Speech Is?

Seriously, folks. I’m not just being sarcastic and asking out of anger.

I want someone to show me exactly what was so racist, bigoted and hatemonging about what Dr. Jeremiah Wright said.

I know why Senator Obama repudiated his words, but that, in my opinion, was primarily a political move. He did so because he had to do it. And it’s not that the Senator feels exactly the same way — he doesn’t — but he understands the context in which the words were said, which is why he didn’t completely denounce him altogether.

But enough about the Senator himself.

I read quite a bit about the ongoing Democrat race, and after every story I see a myriad of posts of people defending and attacking both sides of whoever is being talked about. But one thing I don’t see enough of is an explanation of exactly what White folks are upset about with reference to Dr. Wright and his infamous quotes.

Here they are… I’ll post them all for easy consumption.

Now let me just say for the record, I don’t agree with all of this. Most of it is pretty inflammatory. And many of these are blanket generalizations, hard to prove and difficult to swallow. Some of it is blind accusation, particularly the bit about the government and the AIDS virus.

But I cannot find any concrete racism and really only a little prejudice in it.

So someone explain it to me… please.

(quotes courtesy of the Bumpshack.com):

“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye.”

“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.” (Sep 2001)

“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.” (2003)

“In the 21st century, white America got a wake-up call after 9/11/01. White America and the western world came to realize that people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just ‘disappeared’ as the Great White West kept on its merry way of ignoring black concerns.” (magazine article)

“Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!…We [in the U.S.] believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.” (sermon)

“Barack knows what it means living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary would never know that. Hillary ain’t never been called a nigger. Hillary has never had a people defined as a non-person.”

“Hillary is married to Bill, and Bill has been good to us. No he ain’t! Bill did us, just like he did Monica Lewinsky. He was riding dirty.” (sermon)

“The Israelis have illegally occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years now. Divestment has now hit the table again as a strategy to wake the business community and wake up Americans concerning the injustice and the racism under which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism.”

I’ll even throw in a Youtube video. Please someone… explain this to me.

I’m serious.

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Passion Week Pwnage: An XBOX Live Experiment

Wow, that hurt.

See yesterday, I experienced a rude awakening: I realized I’m no longer any good at video games.

This was a painful realization to me, as I’ve thought of myself as being good at video games for a long time. I grew up playing them, and I’ve enjoyed video games in one form or another (PC, Playstation, XBox, now XBOX 360) for most of my adult life.

But yesterday was the last straw. Between rounds of Halo 3 and NBA Live ’08 I lost something like nine times in a row. And it wasn’t just that I was losing, but how I was losing. I was finding new ways to lose. Last second nailbiters and double-digit blowouts, I was losing matches every which way. I was a controller-holding monument to The Sports Guy’s 13 Levels of Losing.

And as one might imagine, this did not sit well with me. I was gettin’ pwned big time, and I was not happy about it. (It’s spelled ‘pwned,’ pronounced as “owned” and if you don’t know, just read about l33t-speak here.)

Thing is, nobody who likes competing ever likes to lose, but I really hate losing. Sometimes I hate to lose more than I like to win. And there’s a fine line between being a passionate competitor upset about losing, and being full-on, out-of-your-gourd, mad-as-all-get-out, I-cannot-believe-this-garbage-give-me-a-[BLEEP]ing-break, nuclear meltdown STEAMED.

Yesterday afternoon, I was definitely in the latter category.

So now it’s Passion Week, and I’m passionate, alright. So much so that I’ve got a problem on my hands. My passion is threatening to derail everything I really care about. And because I’m a Christian, I guess what I’m supposed to do is pray about it. But how can I pray about this? What scriptures can I turn to for guidance? Where in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John does Jesus address the inner turmoil of trying to attain the next skill ranking in NBA Live ’08 (and getting creamed in the process)?

In my morning devotion, the fog started to clear a little. The answer was there the whole time. I just needed to look, and listen.

See, the story of Passion Week that culminates in Resurrection Sunday (a.k.a. Easter)… it’s a story of similarly rude awakenings. Of delightfully mordant comeuppance. Of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords toying with our preconceived notions and cheerfully dashing them against the rocks.

Consider the beginning of the story. In a passage that many refer to as the Triumphal Entry, Jesus rides into Jerusalem, riding on a young donkey. And many surrounded him and followed him, shouting “hosanna” (loosely translated: ‘save us!’) and blessed him with audible praises.

Now this right here is a set up.

Starting with the donkey. On the face of it, the donkey seems like an odd choice. Like a presidential candidate who arrives on the scene, but instead of a motorcade he rolls an ’89 Corolla. If you saw Hillary Clinton or John McCain riding in one of those, you’d shake your head in disbelief. What’s wrong with this picture?


But what if that’s exactly what you were looking for? What if, for generations, your parents and their parents and grandparents had been lamenting the current state of political affairs, and wishing for a leader who represented their people and stood up for what they believed in? And what if your cranky old great-grandfather had always said things like, “I’d rather vote for a man with big plans and a small car than the other way around!” What if they valued humility so much that they measured it by the symbolic stature of their vehicles?

In that case, you might be downright impressed by a presidential candidate in an ’89 Corolla.

For the Hebrews of Jesus’ time, that’s exactly where they were coming from. Because the ones who knew the scriptures and the prophecies (and what good Jew didn’t?) knew the passage in Zechariah 9 where a King would arrive on the foal of a donkey, a gentle King who would usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. This King was to be the antithesis of all of the warmongers who previously held the throne.

So when they saw Jesus, their hearts leaped inside them.

Is it really happening… ? … Yes, it IS!! Jesus is coming into the city on a donkey! He will be our new king! He’ll put those Roman dictators in their place! And wow, I bet if I act now and try to get on his good side, maybe he’ll appoint me to some important position of prominence within his administration. Maybe Executive Scribe or Assistant to the Primary Cupbearer. I better revamp my resumé.

This combination of relief and pride and ambition was fueling all of the adoration that Jesus was receiving. And Jesus knew that, which was why he promptly began to dismantle their expectations, one by one. Yeah, he rode into Jerusalem, but instead of going to the royal palace to confront and depose the incumbent king, he went to the temple. And instead of being all meek and gentle, he walked in and started tearin’ $#!+ up, smashin’ on all the shady money-changing schemes that had infested the temple.

In his first act of confrontation, Jesus ignored the political leaders and instead went after the religious leaders.

Which was not at all what the people wanted or expected. They saw the donkey and already had the scene mapped out in their heads. So Jesus came in and flipped the script on ‘em.

A rude awakening.

If you continue reading the following chapters, there are many other instances of Jesus deftly subverting the established protocols of the day, amazing the crowds and infuriating the Pharisees. They tried to trap him again and again, and each time he left them arguing amongst themselves and looking stupid in the process.

But his final subversive move blew them all away.

He allowed himself to be beaten, and ultimately crucified to death. His enemies thought this would be the ultimate way to vanquish his influence and quiet his followers. Instead he descended into hell, took the keys away from Satan, and broke the power of sin and death by coming back to life and appearing in the flesh to multitudes.

Essentially, he told death: “I own you.” And then he went out and proved it.

By this point, you might be reading this and wondering, what does this have to do with Jelani playing his XBOX?

Well, this is the hard part.

There are many reasons why I play my XBOX 360, and probably the biggest one is the same for most players – because it’s fun. It’s also a social outlet, and a point of connection for me, a way to relate to people who are my age or younger. (What else am I going to talk to a 15-year-old kid about? Rising mortgage rates?)

But none of this explains why I hate to lose so much.

The thing is, I’m not a particularly competitive person across the board. I’m generally pretty happy at being good at the things that I’m good at and sucking at the things I suck at. At 31 years of age, I like to think that I’ve come to terms with the kind of person I have become, good and bad.

But right now, I’m in a particularly difficult stage of life. You wouldn’t know it from looking at the externals, because by most worldly measures I’m doing pretty well. I have a really good-looking wife who is by far my best friend in the whole wide world. I get paid to do music ministry, which is something I’ve dreamed of for awhile. I drive a pretty nice car, and I have a pretty nice apartment.

But I am struggling right now. I’m trying to grow a fledgling business, and I did not enter into adulthood with many role models that have good business acumen. In addition, my church is going through a lot of upheaval right now. As a longtime member and part-time staff, that is particularly difficult for me. There is change and struggle and uncertainty and confusion in many of my day to day tasks and interactions with people. And I know that I’m not alone in this. But some days – many days – are filled with an overwhelming sense of shame and inadequacy.

And as a young man brought up in a solid Christian tradition, as a traveling musician and minister, as a “professional Christian” … I know that my response to these feelings of shame and inadequacy should be to run to God, immerse myself in His presence, and feed on His Word.

These are the things that I know I’m supposed to do.

And sometimes, I do them.

But many times, I don’t. Instead, I choose to escape. And rather than escaping through the typical vices of our day (alcohol, weed, porn, gambling, etc.) I often escape to the world of video games, where there is no moral ambiguity or emotional murkiness inherent in dunking a basketball, swinging a sword, or shooting a bullet. It’s all a safe way to relieve myself of stress.

Except for when I lose.

Because when I lose, then my cloud of shame and inadequacy follows me right into the game.

And then it REALLY sucks, because video games are the one arena where I enjoy an aura of supreme confidence, since I’ve been playing all these years. Before there was Halo, I played Marathon, Marathon 2, and Marathon Infinity. And not only have I played EA’s NBA Live series since it’s inception in 1995, but I played most of their previous titles in the ‘80s and ‘90s, right down to their landmark game One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird. I grew up loving basketball and playing video games, so why shouldn’t I be exceptional at it?

Now I know the answer:

Because I have a life now, and I can’t spend every waking moment practicing and getting better.

Getting broadband cable installed, buying an XBOX 360, and getting an XBOX Live membership has been really exciting. But it completely shattered my facade of invincibility. Because every time I log on, I get matched up with someone who is just as good, if not much, MUCH better. As a result, I get my behind handed to me on a regular basis. From an intellectual standpoint, this is good because it’s the only way that I’ll get better so that when I take on one of my friends I’ll have a decent chance at winning.

But emotionally, it’s a rude awakening every time I sign in.

‘Cause it sucks gettin’ beat down by some 12-year-old in another time zone. It just does. And every time it happens, I get more and more determined that next time I’m going to win one, so I get more and more tightly wound, and the more tense I get the more I lose. It’s a vicious cycle. By the time I’m done, my muscles are all tense and I’m barking at my wife when she asks me to help her make dinner.

I hate getting beat so much because when it happens I feel completely helpless. Some preteen just kicked my ass again and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s probably the same way the Trail Blazers felt after losing to the Phoenix Suns again last night. Or like what Pedro Martinez said about the Yankees in 2004: “What can I say? I tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy.”

For a proud competitor, nothing could be more humbling than experiencing that moment.

But what if that’s the whole point?

What if God has allowed me to indulge my obsession with XBOX Live in order to bring me to the point of realizing that there are no areas of my life where I am capable of mastery apart from Him?

What if all my attempts to stop being pwned are fruitless, because I truly am owned by someone greater than any video game nemesis?

And what if, instead of being bent on winning to prove to myself that I am, in fact, good at something, I chose to trust Him with my life during every single moment of it … even the times when I choose to play games for fun?

These are the questions I have felt blowing into my consciousness when I listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.

The truth is, I can’t afford to be obsessed with winning every time I play, because I’m supposed to be having fun when I play, and it’s no fun getting your teeth kicked in. I also can’t afford to be obsessed with winning because I have other things I need to attend to, and sometimes that last one-more-game becomes three more games because it took that many times to come out on top with a victory.

So I’m going to try a little experiment. I’m going to have to cut back on my XBOX 360 time in the next week or so anyway because my schedule will be much busier… but when I do play, I’m going to do something very simple.

I’m going to pray first.

Not for a win … though yeah, that would be nice.

I will pray because I want the Spirit of God to inhabit me, even as I’m trying to figure out how to beat my opponent. I want to be a good example to the myriad of teenagers who don’t know how to play with any semblence of dignity or honor. I want to show others the power of the cross in an unexpected venue.

Or, failing that, I’d like to get to the point where I can be summarily defeated and not want to unleash a string of obscenities.

So that’s my experiment, and if you find yourself in a similar place as I, then I suggest you try it too.

Because the enemy of our souls, the accuser of the brethren, the father of lies… he would like nothing more than for us to focus all our attention on trying to achieve momentary pleasures while we ignore the One who can truly give us peace and rest.

But I’ve decided enough is enough.

And if he thinks he’s gonna get me with that again, he’s in for a rude awakening.

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for Mixin’ it Up with me.