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Welcome to Saved by Design

May 17, 2016

New Stuff:

In Left To Myself Final Solutions

In Random Stuff: Time Travel

In Not (As) Fat: Fatigue Makes Fatties Of Us All

In Finding Home: 38 Year Trip

In The Rules:  Shedding Water = A Building 

In Home Page: Rising Tide of Rental

Books & Homes

October 23, 2016


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27 – high noon – WPKN 89.5fm or

Everyone lives somewhere. Everyone is in a place they have feelings about: their home. Love. Hate. Hope. Fear. Our homes should be a point a pride, but many people feel let down about where they live, especially in a down economic time, where there are fewer choices. Some homes are so dysfunctional that they become a symbol of failure and impotence – the place that should be safe harbor can become an ongoing struggle to pay for, keep together or ultimately have any control over.

Into this place of dream homes and nightmares, architects have stepped into the fantasies, missed opportunities, and aspirations of those desperately seeking their place to call home – not just as designers, but as writers: offering up their work, and others’, in books that help demystify, inspire and offer a depth of insight no HOUZZ webpage can hope to provide. In studio for this show will be Peter Chapman, Executive Editor at Taunton Press. Peter has been my editor for 2 books, and has been the editor for uncounted books on homes, home design and the techniques of building homes. He was also the editor of books on homes written by the two architects who are guests on the show.

Dale Mulfinger is the founding partner at SALA Architects in Minneapolis, Minnesota – since 1983 the firm has created award-winning projects, mostly homes, but Dale has produced remarkable best-selling books on Cabins as homes and local legendary architect Edwin Lundie.

Jeremiah Eck is the founding Principle of Eck MacNeeley Architects from Boston. Jeremiah has lectured extensively on home design at the Harvard GSD summer program and his books on architecture are both beautiful and touchstones for architects and homeowners.

Hungry & Fat

October 22, 2016

Life is not fair.

Life is a miracle.

But the miracle has a price tag. That cost is accepting the randomness of its inscrutable mysteries until science finds reasons for the arbitrary consequences of being alive. Some humans are happy binge watching “The Walking Dead”, others are left saddened by only getting balcony seats for Hamilton.

Some can eat crap and engage in bad behavior and live into their 90’s, and babies die for no defined reason – “failure to thrive”. Some folk have wonderful families, others do not, and still others wreck their families while others thrive in toxicity.

Nurture can train us for the game, but nature sets the rules for play. For the fat, most of us are not guilty gluttons, feasting after midnite before the refrigerator light. Most of us just have the extra cookies, the french fries or the 3rd drink when our body’s calorie burn rate is so low that those 100’s of calorie indiscretions lard us up.

Exercise helps, but it also adds to the great irony of all we fat folk: almost all of us eat when we are hungry, and mostly only when we are hungry (and exercise makes us hungry as we burn the calories we end up seeking) The irony of we fat being hungry is undeniable: especially at middle age, when the calories needed to stay fat drop down to a trickle. Yes, when you eat matters, early is better. What you eat matters, carbs are evil. But even following all rules, you can be very very fat and be legitimately very, very hungry.

Once food is metabolized its out of the thing that creates hunger: the empty belly. But I have never met a fat person (myself included) who “forgot” to eat. But I do not eat meals by rote. If I am not hungry I do not start eating. However once started, eating often continues beyond the number of calories required to simply maintain life.

The other irony is that the food we are hard wired to love: fats, sugars & lower level carbs are the smart bombs of fat production. A few heads of unbuttered broccoli never caused overeating, unlike just one piece of bacon (like the drink for the alcoholic, one is too many and six aren’t enough).

So when you see a fatty feasting, know the only thing causing the gobbling is an empty belly – the previous meals that metabolized so long ago are inaccessible to that belly. That is a stark injustice. We ate the food that made us fat to satisfy hunger, why can’t what we have already eaten have some impact on the physical desire to eat?

The reason the fat get hungry is the same reason I am not the starting inside linebacker for the New York Giants: Life Is Not Fair (or at least life is blissfully ignorant of anyone’s desires).




The Binary

October 22, 2016



We live in a binary world. This election has become a binary. Right and Wrong are conferred on two humans – simultaneously for both, depending on who is doing the conferring.

The binary of Right and Wrong  comes naturally to us. Seemingly infinite terrabytes of info bits – edited into “0” and “1” – create code that creates software that controls, fulfills, threatens, reveals almost every aspect of our lives. Like Braille or Morse Code the “0” and “1” of all computer code generation forms an infinite string of information – remember the glowing back ground of “0” and “1” in the opening credits of “The Matrix”?

We live in an enveloping atmosphere of “1”‘s and “0”‘s that washes us in unseen, unheard, but infinitely encroaching data and direction. This week that binary failed its creators – or better put was set against itself –  the unseen, unknown Dyn cyber connection was hacked to unplug Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, Reddit, Etsy, SoundCloud and The New York Times. But tools simply reflect the toolmakers. Humans write code.

The voice, the pen, and now the coded world, the website you are reading this from, simply extend a state of mind so others can have it. Some states are easy: porn is glandular, music is at the base of of brains, textbooks are facts. But other info, other huge quilts of data we wrap our brains in are tougher to process.

Many Christians hold the Bible to be “The Word of God” – spoken by a 30-something in a Roman colony 2000 years ago. The “Gettysburg Address” of Christianity, the Sermon on the Mount presents a list of what could be distilled into “0”‘s and “1”‘s

Blessed are the meek

Blessed are they which do hunger

Blessed are the merciful

Blessed are the pure in heart

Blessed are the peacemakers

Blessed are they which are persecuted

But I left off reasons the meek, hungry, merciful, peacemakers (the “1”‘s in each binary) are “Blessed” (the “0”‘s). But most of us also edit to the binary. It’s easier.

We have an epic binary before us: Hillary or Trump. Most of us, but mostly the candidates themselves, have binaried each other and almost every aspect of their character: “Crooked”, “Deplorable” and worse. We all edit to “Right” and “Wrong”. We “unfriend” the Wrong and “friend” the Right.

The Right/Wrong binary comes naturally to all of us. Editing anything makes it easier on the editor. I was edited last week: I was declared “suburban” by a city editor – thus insensitive to urban perspectives. This editor edited out the endless hours I spend in his city working on causes he believes in – and I will no longer write/broadcast for his website (but I  will still write for the other part of this city’s journalistic binary – the actual reason I was binaried out).

I edit out the stupidity of so many of my personal failures and their impact on others to make it easy on myself – but the failures remain: perhaps worse for the belief in editing. I try to edit out a tough childhood from my day-to-day delivery of who I am but I can never escape it.

But while literal editing gets frozen in the printed word, editing beliefs to a binary, to “0” and “1” – to Right and Wrong – almost never works long term. Editing the Bible to be the literal words of God is the same act of editing to the fact that they are only the words of a man. Either edit comforts the editor.

Trump and Hillary have become caricatures to almost everyone: distilled to memes, cliches, hombres and emails. All politics takes our best and worst angels and panders, fear mongers and edits them into comforting rights and wrongs.

The absence of ambiguity is our most heartfelt desire, and inevitably a living hell of disappointment. When Christians present Jesus as both sacred and profane it makes no sense to the binary imperative. We want life to be either “0” or “1” – it cannot be both or there is no code, no formula: only the open-ended unsurety of our ability to have control. But it is both. In both there is hope. We are cursed with seeing, whether we like it or not, the larger reality beyond what’s edited by us.

Binary thinking got us Hillary and Trump: each pre-empts  the other. Reducing huge uncertainties into hatred and fear is the easy human default setting. It’s easier for each of us, for me, to either hate myself into self justification, or pretend that  I know best – putting my  reality-dampening Ear Buds in to drown out the uncertainties. No one I know believes either Trump or Hillary fulfills our best Hope – but almost everyone I know hates either or both. Neither Hillary or Trump is the devil, but the unified theory of hate denies the binary in each of them that is simulaneously  in all of us. That idea that either of them is no different that any of us, not a caricature, is quite freaky – at least to me.

This may be the most depressing presidential election in American history: it may be the single best window into our common human failure to have faith in the goodness of others. The depression is because we have reduced each candidate to one half of a binary. Neither candidate is loved beyond their partisans who are a minority of the voters for each: each candidate is loathed by those who therefore feel they have lost control and are compelled to vote for the other.

As a nation we have flipped our hope for the future that can be found in any person into the fear we all have – losing control.. “Hope and Change” has become “Fear.”

We want “win-win”, fear “lose-lose” but inevitably we get a mixed bag in almost every aspect of our lives. Without “0” and “1” you cannot write code. Without seeing the failings and nobilities in each human you lose faith. “Lose-lose” seems the order of this election: it is a faithless exercise.

Time Travel

October 15, 2016


I design for people, mostly homes.

That means when not attending events of children or friends, I work weekends, as thats when most others do not work. Not having a “weekend”, or even, typically, a day off is an unthinking reality for me, as any missional devotion is for the devotee.

So when when a recent Saturday trip happened – an arc of visitation starting an hour from home, then an hour north, and thence 30 minutes south thence 2 hours back home to visit four places and people it was one of a few thousand days over the last 38 years I have taken a trip to move the mission forward.

The trip was typical of the 21st century kind: unceasing communication via the internet at every stop sign, early moment or post meeting pause, an oatmeal cookie in the car to help focus, several prostate relief breaks – all over a 9 hour unremarkable day.

But the last meeting rendered the first two, and the rest of the day, and today, different. It was to see 2 sites with a woman I have worked with for over 25 years. She and I have walked through perhaps 100 places together. Dumps, sweet relics, empty lots, churches, garages, tenements. In the nicest towns, sketchy neighborhoods and in the middle of nowhere.

But this was different. Two places in a nice town, owned by the same family. What made them different was we had a window into their unique circumstance, and that perspective turned my eyes back to the previous day’s meetings, and the thousands that preceded it over the last 38 years.

These two homes were from the 19th century, hard by the 1990’s MetroNorth Train station. But unlike others my friend and I have seen we so often they were built as apartments.

Unlike so many others they were largely unrenovated/remuddled. Ever. A few apartments had had tenants in the 1980’s but they were largely time capsules. Museums by neglect.


Bought by a family that collected places, and then seemingly warehoused them – unoccupied.


Small interventions over the last century were there – cut-in ducts, a bit of plastic pipe replacing lead, some dramatic cracking where wetness had made rot that allowed gravity to win against structure.

But these places were stark sentinels of the attempts humans make to create a place. To see time have its way with these noble, well built places was not tragic – they were still noble. But there had been no life in their harbor for 50, 60 years – it was the embodiment of another world left alone in its skin – mustily present in a frozen, slowly degrading state.


Our tour was lead by the son of the woman that bought these places 40 or more years ago – my entire 38 years of traveling to see places and people I had listed prior to this.

You might find tragedy in the sad, slow loss of vitality, usefulness, even potential structural viability – but these places were, and are, well-built – and not defiled by subsequent thoughtless wood butchery. Their elegance remained amid cracks, fallen plaster and some rot.


The failure to use them in any productive way, the fact that they have lain fallow for 2 generations out of the 6 or 7 in their existing held a mirror up to the motivations of my life.

I live to build things, mostly homes.

Part of me knows that an Ice Age will scrape everything away in a few dozen thousand years if fire, profit motive or the Zombie Apocalypse  don’t come first. Everything I have spent a life working on could very well be rendered a memory. I also know I will die.

But the proud, engaged energy that created those buildings and then left them, frozen in abandonment, held a very clear mirror up to the net-net of much of the life of buildings.


We create these things for families, for institutions for beliefs, but we create them out of ourselves: humans – mortal, flawed, but hoping, knowing its worth the effort. That effort was the medium of my previous 2 meetings that day, and the thousands that preceded it.

But that effort was frozen in these two buildings – living dead in real time – not unearthed archeology of a dead human endeavor, but the living dead of unused, but perfectly untouched, existence. The folk that built these places cared to do more than the minimum. The owners paid for craft and material and structure that could last for 60 or 70 years without love our attention. The hands that laid the stone, milled the wood, joined the lumber, set the lath then lovingly applied all the finishes were alive in these silent husks.

Oh, all those folk are long dead. Except in these silent places.

The results of these devotional acts of building are not simple, let alone obvious. The results of what I do are not obvious beyond the buildings that result.

The results, and the reasons for building beyond the necessary – beyond the cave, the ant hill or hive, to build what is human into a construction is so poignant in these starkly ignored beauties that I came to a thought I was surprised to think, given the 38 year trip: visiting is necessary, but connection is the reason for this mission.

Work is necessary – applying skill and effort to make things better is the essence of humanity, but it is the connection to that essence that made these long frozen buildings completely alive in their dead state.

I get it.


October 14, 2016


Before & After
Leonard Saari B&A Exterior

Before & AfterLeonard-Saari B&A Int.1






Getting Done in San Francisco


IMG_6319.JPG     IMG_6340.JPG


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The outdoor chapel at Incarnation Camp in Ivoryton, CT

Click here to read about the project.

CEPHAS Housing 25 Years Ago in Yonkers NY

Click here to read about the project.


In The New Haven Register: Why Spend $60 Million on an Ugly Building

On the Mockingbird Podcast, Duo talks with Paul Zahl of Mockingbird Ministries

In Common Edge: What Architecture Has in Common with Organized Religion

In U.S. News Real Estate: How to Design and Build Your Own Custom Home

In Common Edge: What Do Architects and Commercial Fishermen Have in Common?

In Common Edge: In Architects We Trust? 10 Trusts Worth Busting

In Common Edge: Donald Trump as Architectures Nightmare Client

In Unorthodox: Just the Two Of Us

In Hartford Currant: Yale’s Edifice Complex: University is Building a Modern History for its Future

In Common Edge: Modern Restoration and the Veneration of Its Hero Architects

In Common Edge: When Intellectual Diversity Mattered

In Common Edge: Why Architecture Doesn’t Do More Pro-Bono Work

In Common Edge: The AIA’s Response to Crisis Call In the Stars

In Common Edge: Will Architecture Have Its Donald Trump Moment?

In New Haven Independent: Visionary Bromances

In New Haven Independent: Architecture Becomes a Lifestyle

In New Haven Independent: That’s It?

In New Haven Register: Battered Homeowner Syndrome in New Haven

In New Haven Register: New Haven Knights of Columbus building – an icon reclad

In Common Edge: Why Architecture Needs More Building Architect Critiques

In Common Edge: Architects Design Just 2% of All Houses – Why?

In Common Edge: Death & Architecture

In Common Edge: Sprinting to the Past

In Hartford Courant: Deborah Berke, First Woman To Lead Yale’s School of Architecture

In Common Edge: Architecture Has Become a Lifestyle Choice

In Daily Nutmeg: Creation Story

In Next Avenue: Aging and Your Home: The Coping Quotient

In New Haven Register: When Things Go South – Design Can’t Save Bad Building

In Hartford Courant (login required): The Classroom of the Future

In New Haven Register: When Branding Becomes Blanding in New Haven

In Home Living Magazine: City Living: An Award Winning Renovation

In Hartford Courant: What CT Has Is History- Don’t Neglect It

In New Haven Independant: Architect Couple, Institute Library Snag Awards

In Hartford Courant: History is Precious

In New Haven Register: New Haven’s Court Street is ‘like its own little town’

In Hartford Courant (login required): Smart Home Design In A City That’s Neighborly

In New Haven Register: Villas on a ridge, New Haven’s Hillhouse Avenue

In Townvibe: Simple Pleasures, an Artful Blend of Modern and Traditional

In Hartford Courant (login required): A Classic Street Ages, But Retains its Beautiful Bones

In New Haven Register: Forum: Yale, Pearl Harbor bridge projects show branding matters, money follows

In New York Times: Everything and the Kitchen Sink

In New Haven Register: Millennial Meme Housing Sprouts in New Haven

In Hartford Courant (login required): “Christmas in Connecticut” was Perfect for War-Weary 1945 American Moviegoers

In Room One Thousand: Sixty Panes of Faith

In Behind the Walls: The Not So Tiny House Movement (Part 1)

In AIA: It’s not the Media: It’s the Work

In New Haven Register: Quarantining Architecture

In New Haven Register: Weeds on New Haven’s Oak Street Lawn

In New Haven Magazine: Back Yard Forward

In New Haven Register: Ultimate Gesture of Architectural Modesty is a Buried Building

In New Haven Register: Tulips, Architecture Students & Bubbles that Burst

In New Haven Register: Flood tide of rental housing could change New Haven’s landscape

In New Haven Magazine: Still by the Sea

In New Haven Magazine: Preserving the Past for the Future

In River & Shore’s Coastal Homes: Boy Was It Worth It

In New Haven Magazine: From Family to Farm

In The New Haven Register: Ultimate Gesture of Architectural Modesty Is Buried Building

In The New Haven Register: Yale’s Evans Hall: Overdressed for Success

In New Haven Magazine: Cubed

In New Haven Magazine: Finding Design

In The New Haven Register:  Pearl Harbor Bridge in New Haven Extension of Greatest Generation’s Legacy

In Hartford Faith & Values:  An Elevator on Orchard Street

In The New Haven Register:  Are Neighbors More Neighborly when there is Greater Density?

In New Haven Magazine: Lawyers In Love

In Ink Magazine:  Architect Duo Dickinson: Celebrating 35 Years of Good Design for Everyone

In New Haven Magazine: A House of Homes

In The Source:  Duo Dickinson, Architect at Large

In River & Shore’s Coastal Homes:  On the Indian River

In The New Haven Register:  Aesthetically inconvenient Mudd Library faces death sentence

In Connecticut Magazine: Elements of Surprise

In The New Haven Register: Real Icons Aplenty in New Haven

In The Mercurial: Erosion Revelation

In Architecture Boston: Post-Modernism and Intelligent Design

In Design Bureau: Steve & Frank

Archive: Real Life Survival Guide



On WTNH News:  Madison Architect Sheds Light on Solar Solution for Homeowners

On Common Ground with Annette Ross:  She asked “Where is Architecture?”, I answered

On HGTV:  Mercedes Home Diaries       Password: mercedes


Shedding Water = A Building

October 9, 2016


I believe that the prime difference between buildings and other things humans construct (bridges, sculptures, cars) is that a building’s prime directive is to protect its users from the weather. Thermal protection is pretty easy, as is making a wind break and providing shade: but shedding water can be dicey.

Creativity has many outlets: in painting its color, in music its found in melody and meter, in politics its smearing distortions. In architecture it can be found in detailing and materials, or in innovative planning or technological applications. But in this generation creativity in architecture has largely become the sound bite of a building’s shape. “Formalism” is architectese for making interesting shapes that go to great lengths of abstraction to have zero historic allusion.

Historic shapes drape plans with an overcoat whose first job is to shed water. Hence the gable roof, the shed, gambrel, even mansard: all viewed as brain dead replication by architects seeking “cutting edge” cred. That means surfing a Fine Arts Wave away from things that look like they were built to things that are virtually sculpted in appearance, if not in actual construction.

But, to me, a building that does not shed water is really not a building, its a sculpture. So I tend to be dubbed a “traditional” architect by the “cutting edge” – if they even notice me at all. But truly “traditional”/historicist architects think I am illegitimately breaking rules and being more disrupter than designer (or at least according to those who have bothered to comment.)

That mixed reaction is nothing new in my 40 year term in architecture, but a recent blurted commentary revealed how this career focus is seen by my peers – in this case a great group of AIA members who have spent 6 months considering my work.

I was lured into being a member of my profession’s one single voice, the American Institute of Architects a scant 11 years ago. I had always thought it was disingenuous to belong to a consensus group like the AIA when I had (and have) fundamental issues with how architects present themselves and how the AIA murkies up the distinction between membership in their organization with licensure as an architect.

But the AIA wanted to give my book, “The House You Build” its imprint, – effectively selling thousands of books. I was 50, had talked in front of a slew of local AIA chapters, had won a bunch of local AIA Awards (but giving many thousands of dollars of entry fees to failed applications as well) and had published the works of scores of AIA members in my writings. There was no animosity, just a sense of misfit.

But the entreaty of positive regard for my writing that putting their imprimatur on the book meant played sufficiently to my vanity that I was happy to join 11 years ago.

Furtive inquiries a year ago from several AIA architects asked if, now that I had been an AIA member for the requisite 10 years, I was interested in competing for “Fellow” status – being one of the 40 or so architects out of the 400 Connecticut AIA members that are seen as “contributing to the profession” in one of several ways. I was deeply honored to be tapped by the dozen or so Fellows on the local Connecticut committee to compete in the national AIA process for Fellowship status – so I naturally said “Yes.”.

Despite winning over 20 national awards and honors for my work, my odd position as neither “cutting edge” or “traditional” put me in at a odd place for the nomination as a designer, so they opted to nominate me for “Service to Society”.

Even though that was my application basis I still have to show my design work in 15 projects. Which meant a lot of soul searching and careful presentation of each in a one-page format. Its not my first rodeo so I had an intern or 2 spend a couple of hundred hours to make a crushing presentation.

The reactions of my peers was interesting: one non-AIA architect saw the 15 pages and hated them. Others were more generous. But in the final review session by the local AIA Fellow Committee the group liked what I had spent 4 months and thousands of dollars of staff time creating: but with an interesting, near uniform reaction summarized by one comment:

“Its a very nice presentation – I like how the variety of graphic approaches tends to smooth over your obsession with roofs.”

The committee was nodding its collective head and then burst out laughing when I responded:

“Yeah, that whole shedding water thing is tough.”


September 25, 2016

imageWhat is faith?

For those who are very proud of the absence of faith in anything other than facts, faith is a desirable implication of combined data points: if you are having a picnic you have faith in the “Partly Cloudy” forecast on Weather.Com but are not-so-faithful to the verity of The Farmer’s Almanac.

For those who are faithful in the absence of data points faith tends to be what is hoped to be true because you want whatever that unknown is to happen: you want it to be “Partly Cloudy” for your picnic having read nothing – in a way recognizing your impotence in having any impact on the weather.

But Faith used to be a code word for religious belief – it still is: but it’s now tinged, in the northeast at least, with a snark of the unspoken understanding that faith equals ignorance (which is true) – but in this case willful ignorance of the gutlessly hopeful (or simply the stupid and lazy). ” Trust in the Lord” was an absolute bedrock of New England’s founding zealots, now their place on the planet is becoming toxic to any offered up belief beyond the here and now.

But humans seem to want more than the here and now.

Clearly the individual personal here and now makes its extension into flawed or glorious celebrity – but royalty filled that function for all but the last hundred or two years: until the Kardashians could become 21st century nobility – and hundreds of “reality TV” shows allow anuyone’s foibles to be glorified on screens great and small everywhere all the time.

But we always had the sense that Royalty or envy of your betters or simply hoping for better had a parallel foundation in a God that was, at the end, cosmically true and fair beyond our understanding in the here and now.

As the northeast runs away from churches and other houses of worship with its collective hair on fire it’s not just running to celebrity – it’s to the largest scale of controlled, staged, propped and promoted Faith: entertainment, but in the most religious way we are running to a large country on the globe of Entertainment: Sports.

Whether its running every Sunday morning, or taking children to sporting events/training sessions, or simply turning on the TV on the new Sabbath: the near Sacred “Weekend” has become a special place of expressing sports faith. It is a growing place for many where we can safely express Faith in something

I am on a train back from a Giants Game: they lost, in the last minute, after a game full of failures. But the tribal and deeply emotional transference of Hope and Faith into a group of hero athletes was beyond all realistic connection to that game being just a game.

90% of 80,000 attendees were in Giant Blue, most with names and numbers of their preferred Heroes – past and present.

Chants rose and fell.

Booze rendered many ecstatic in triumph or, alternatively, angrily despondent over the egregious shortcomings of referees, coaches, the opposing team, or even their heroes. Amid the 80,000 the smattering of Redskin Maroon (the opponent this afternoon) had the exact same trappings and expressions.

Even though these fans did not participate in any practice or game, the cost of admission allowed them to appropriate the Team into their own lives as they always said “We” in talking about the Giants (or if you were in maroon, the Redskins).

The wave of Faith was a sweeping hum and cacophony of love and hate that swept MetLife Stadium, so much so it was more a Cathedral that a Stadium to me. 10’s of thousands spend the entire day there ,eating next to their cars before and after the game, and millions upon millions spend the whole season of Sunday’s watching games on TV, now efforting 4 full games on this new version of Sabbath – from 9am till midnight.

We need faith, it seems: facts are not enough as they are not complete, even for the most knowledgable (we can measure gravity to the Nth degree- but that’s about as far as we have gone in understanding what it is – and it is the central force that propels every aspect of this time and place)

Like rabbi’s and monks, sports fans can completely control fixed databases of sports stats: there can be surety amid the Faith and Hope. And just as Piety goeth before a fall from Grace: the tragedies and exultations of sports have a life almost completely dissociated from the day-to-day (hence the Freakout when a few athletes started taking a posture on racial injustice).

I love football. In large measure it pry-barred my fears into hope, it let me do something hard, ultimately well – it was a love connection amid teammates I never had in family.

But it’s just a game.

Football is a tiny construct where its impact offers nothing meaningful for our culture, our health or even our aspirations. Football, for many (and most of those have never played the game on any level) lives more in the hopes and dreams of its fans than in any other aspect of its realities. Football, like music or the arts can channel and focus love and energy into action and deep enrichment: but those things never planted a crop, saved a life or kept a family housed.

Just like religion.

But religion has, at its heart, the belief that all of us are one equal gift of something we can never understand, but feel everyday. The problem has become that the pettiness and trivialities of sects, political spirituality and self-serving grotesqueries so easily understood between Giants Fans and Redskins Fans have become so present in religion, the opting out of the religious into the easier place of sports and entertainment became a one-for-one swap.

“I believe in Eli” said a slightly intoxicated fan on my train with a “fathead” of Eli Manning’s face hanging from his neck. Eli had just thrown an interception with one minute left in a game the Giants were losing by 2 points: Eli had just been crucified in this game: but this fan still believed in him: “I believe in Eli – no matter what my friends say about him.”

There is Faith in everyone’s life: but in what?