Coming Soon…

Miami Chapter of Samson Society

Not a Bible study.  Not an accountability group. Real men seeking to be… realer?  Something like that.  Anyways… yeah… we start getting realer in May.  More information on this coming soon.

JFK, Baseball, and Miami – Our April El Lector

On April 14th, our El Lector Speaker Series is back with another homerun.  We will feature documentary film-maker and architect Rolando Llanes and the historic film  “White Elephant – What Is There To Save”.

White Elephant tells the story of Miami/ Bobby Maduro Stadium – one of South Florida’s most unforgettable architectural icons.  The life of this stadium (built in the 1940’s)  has a lot of stories to tell. 

The stadium was home to the original Miami Marlins and the spring training home for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Baltimore Orioles.  It hosted Pink Floyd, Journey, and The Who.  It saw Satchel Paige pitching at the twilight of his career. Mantle hit the first ball ever to clear its center field fence.

In the 1950’s it served as storage for an arsenal of weapons and ammunition to supply Cuban revolutionaries.

On April 14th, we welcome Rolando Llanes and a few special guests for a viewing of this compelling documentary film.  There will be time following the film for discussion with the films creators and individuals whose lives were affected by the stadium.

If stories about baseball, the Mafia, JFK assasination conspiracies and political intrigue are your thing, you will not want to miss this event.

As always, El Lector is a cigar event.  Our friends at Cuban Crafters will be there providing freshly rolled cigars.  This is a FREE EVENT, and it is for guys only.  Bring a friend. 

Granada Presbyterian Church, 950 University Drive, Coral Gables, FL 

Thursday, April 14th at 7:00pm for refreshments and cigars.  Film starts promptly at 8:00pm.

Our “Lector” for February – Scotty Smith

We are called into a story that enfolds our own stories in a grander narrative – a story that is going somewhere, a story that is taking us with it.” – Scotty Smith, Restoring Broken Things

In keeping with the the tradition of “El Lector” (The Speaker/Reader), Scotty Smith joins the great line of gentlemen who shared stories with the cigar workers in 19th Century Cuba and 20th Century Tampa, FL.   Interestingly enough, Scotty will share with us the importance of story, but will take it one step further.   

In his book “Restoring Broken Things” (co-written by  singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman), Scotty Smith shows how stories, even those filled with challenges, pain, dissapointment, separation and death are simply part of a bigger story.  This bigger story carries with it a promise of restoration and redemption.

Join us on Saturday, February 12th 2011 at 7pm at Granada Presbyterian Church for a Cuba-Themed evening, featuring Cuban music under the stars, a cigar roller and refreshments.  Author and Speaker Scotty Smith will be signing copies of his book, Restoring Broken Things. 

This is a MEN ONLY event.  Please invite a friend to join us for this special evening of friendship, and new traditions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lose Yourself – Lessons in Violence and Fury

It may have gone by unnoticed.  You may have seen it and just glossed over it.  If you did, it’s okay.  Men aren’t known for attention to detail.  Just give us the facts, the time and date.  I get it.  But in case you missed it, the slogan for our men’s group is “Furious Grace.  Noble Men.”  If you read “About”, you can find out more about that.

My favorite song-writer, Rich Mullins, wrote a song, “Calling Out Your Name”.  One of my favorite verses ever put to music is found in this great worship song:

“I can feel the earth tremble
Beneath the rumbling of the buffalo hooves
And the fury in the pheasant’s wings
And there’s fury in a pheasant’s wings”

It’s a great song and if you haven’t heard it, you need to. It will change your life.

That’s saying a lot, even for me. I’m given to exaggerations. But the truth is it really will, if you let it. Music has a way of reaching into your soul and lifting it, and maybe even dashing it on the rocks. This song did this to me when I first heard it.  It forced me down to a place where I could view, for the first time, how great God is and how broken I am; that even nature and the lesser animals call out His Name.  Meanwhile I can’t even spend 5 minutes in prayer with Him, let alone 5 minutes of just silence and reflection.

God’s grace carries this type of fury.  It is relentless in love, yes.  But it also cuts deep.  It rips apart and it restores.  But you have to let it happen.  You have to let the violence happen.  You have to smell the powder burn on your skin.  The bullet needs to tear through the flesh.  It’s the only way change and healing can occur in the heart of a man.  His Grace is sufficient, yes.  We love saying things like that, and like,  “I’m just a poor sinner saved by grace”.   Both are true and Biblical statements.  But if you haven’t witnessed God’s word as fury, then you have only bought into the lie that God’s Word is, as Michael Horton puts it, “Moralistic-Therapeutic-Deism”.  

To experience this subtle yet powerful fury, we need to listen. Without attention to detail, we might miss it.  This year will be a year of violence at Granada Man.  This violence will come through the Gospel. 

To find out more, please join us at Eagle & Child this Thursday.  Watch the violence begin to unfold.

“Come away
Throw down
Let it burn
And lose yourself”
– Chagall Guevara, Violent Blue (This song won’t change your life, but I like it.)

Wise Words for a New Year

I’m giving credit to Rich Copeland for introducing me to this great quote from Chesterton:

Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards. Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. –G. K. Chesterton

Manalive

 “I am going to hold a pistol to the head of the modern man. But I shall not use it to kill him,  only to bring him life.”

GK CHESTERTON, Manalive

Granada Man presents the series, The Gospel-Centered Life.  January 2011.  More information coming soon.

Books and Books to host book signing for Cuban-American Actor-Advocate

On December 23, the fine people at Books and Books in Coral Gables will be hosting a book signing for Victor Rivas-Rivers at Granada Presbyterian Church.

Victor Rivas-Rivers is helping us launch our first event for our new El Lector series.  This series created by the men’s ministry of Granada Presbyterian Church serves to reach out to the community of men living in South Florida, offering an opportunity to network and connect.  The series will bring authors, lecturers and thinkers from around the country and right here at home with topics of interest to men.

The event will be held at 7pm in the courtyard of Granada Church.  This will be a Cuba-themed evening, featuring cigar rollers from Cuban Crafters Cigars, Cuban music, and refreshments.  If you or someone you know would be interested in this men’s only event, please spread the word!

The guys of Granada Man want to thank Books and Books for participating with us in this event; one which we hope will be the first of many.

In “A Private Family Matter”, Victor Rivas-Rivers tells his heart-wrenching story of family abuse:

The Cuban-born author starts by recalling when he was kidnapped, along with three of his siblings, by his own father, who abandoned his pregnant wife before taking the children on a cross-country hell-ride that nearly ended in a fatal collision. This journey of survival portrays with riveting detail how, instead of becoming a madman like his father, Victor wassaved by a band of mortal angels. Miraculously, seven families stepped forward, along with teachers and coaches, to empower him on his road from gang member to class president, through harrowing and hilarious football adventures at Florida State and with the Miami Dolphins, to overcoming the Hollywood odds, and to becoming a champion for all those impacted bydomestic violence.

Though at times Victor’s odyssey is heartbreaking and disturbing, A Private Family Matter is ultimately a triumphant testament to humanity, courage and love. Profound and poignant, it is a compelling memoir with a cause. As Victor Rivers writes, his way of thanking all the angels and advocates who tried to make a difference in his life, is by trying to make a difference in all of ours.

 

El Lector – A Miami Cultural Event

Cuban poet Jose Marti as a young man.

“The first duty of a man is to think for himself.” – Jose Marti

Every once in a while, someone remarks “There is no culture in Miami.”  Usually, the response from someone living in Miami is quick and defensive.  “What do you mean?  We have a museum… somewhere…” or “Hey man! what do you mean we don’t have culture?  We got Cubans, Nicaraguans, Colombians… Barnes and Noble…”

Well, here’s an opportunity for us Miami folks to have something to snap back with; El Lector.

The speaker series being launched on December 23 promises to be an exciting one.  Usually the words exciting and speaker don’t go together.  But when you throw in cigars and men with compelling stories and ideas to share, you have the makings of something new and interesting not usually found in Miami.

History and story collide at El Lector.  This is an opportunity for men to get away, disconnect and decompress.  More importantly, it is an evening where men are challenged to go deeper intellectually and spiritually. 

Marti said a man should think for himself.  We believe that is true.  We also believe a man should think outside of himself.  We have a tendency to be easily consumed by our smallness. 

I have a friend named Felix.  He attends a local Roman Catholic parish and helps organize and lead Emmaus Walk Retreats for men.  Felix also trains in Mixed-Martial Arts, and for that reason also, I’m glad I’m his friend.  Felix and I have smoked a few cigars together, and we’ve shared some interesting stories (some not fit for this blog).  As we’ve shared and laughed and thought, Felix has expressed to me how difficult it is for him to relate to guys in Miami.  “Bro (that’s how you talk when you’re from Miami),” he says “If I go to a party and get together with the men there, all these guys can talk about is the car they own and can’t afford, the Miami Heat, or what they drank the last time they got blasted.”  Felix has often shared this frustration with me.  Throw in some talk about the last cruise you went on or where the DOW closed on Friday; maybe a little Castro, Bush or Obama.  There you have the extent of Miami depth.

El Lector was born of this frustration. We know that men are called to something higher and outside themselves.  And we know that Miami could use a push when it comes to culture.  El Lector offers a unique cultural experience.  Through El Lector speakers, we will explore philosophy, science and history.  Sometimes we will hear compelling stories.  Other times, we will host debates and discussions on everything from faith and theology to political and social issues. 

Of course I’m exaggerating, and Miami does have culture.  I love this city and I love being a part of this community.  And certainly El Lector is not unique.  But we humbly offer this event for the men in our community who are looking for something different.  We invite you to spend some time with us.  We’re not pretentious, I promise.  We’re just some regular guys who know we’ve been called to something bigger than just ourselves.  Life is about more than keeping up with the Joneses (or the Rodriguezes). For men, it is about thinking for ourselves, and outside ourselves. 

Life is big.  Let’s have a cigar and talk about it.

Our First Speaker Series, “El Lector” – December 23

In December we launch a new series through our men’s group called, El Lector.  El Lector is an off-shoot of Eagle & Child, part of Granada Man.

Uh… let me ‘splain.  (This is the part where you can stop reading if you already know what this is about.  But, if you’re new to what we’re doing you really should read this.)

A Brief History

See, Granada Man was not the first incarnation of our mens group (by first I don’t mean “first ever”, but rather the first since I’ve been involved.  Granada Presbyterian has a long and cherished history of men who have come and gone before; some who thankfully still remain).   The first group was a group of rough men who started meeting on my back porch over 2 years ago and still meet today.  We named this “The Eagle & Child Men’s Forum”.  The Eagle & Child is a pub in Oxford, England made famous as being the watering hole for “The Inklings”, a small group of literary junky friends made up of such notable writers as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.   We are inspired by great literature, philosophy and theology… and The Godfather films.  This group has been attended over the last 2 years by men who seek to ardently follow in the footsteps of such giants of the reformed faith as Luther, Calvin and Spurgeon, which means we like to drink beer and wine and smoke cigars.  As we celebrate the whole of reformation history over bottles and smoke, we also venture into great conversation.  Sometimes the conversation isn’t so great.  Sometimes it’s just what someone in the group needed to hear.  But on occasion, the right chord is struck and we are all amazed.  It is amazing what can happen when men move past their pretense and let their guard down.  Greatness and authenticity emerge, and a memorable evening is created.  We laugh. We challenge each other.  Over the years, we have become brothers.  That is Eagle & Child.  It is a time for men to relax and be themselves; not the posers we usually are.

After some time we decided we had to be at least somewhat religious.  After all, most of us do attend church.  But that idea was quickly shot down because on second thought, religion is overrated.  People get all self-righteous and impressed with themselves.  We wanted to stay away from pretense.  We wanted to do something different; think outside the box.  Eagle & Child was all about breaking away from religion-as-usual.  We wanted to be real.  If we took ourselves too seriously, the next thing you know we’d have a cheesy slogan and some frat-boy logo.

Anyway, Granada Man was launched and we expanded our men’s ministry. 

Thankfully, the Eagle & Child guys continue to meet. 

So, what then is El Lector? 

El Lector is a new speaker series born of Eagle & Child.  Basically, we needed another forum; something with a little more punch.  Over the years Eagle & Child showed us how shallow and vapid Miami culture can be.  Also, there are very few outlets for thought and reflection; places where one can go and be challenged spiritually and intellectually on a deeper level.   It’s especially difficult for men.  Most men in Miami are too busy working and making a name for themselves.  Others just get caught up in the hedonism that is Miami; this is a rough place for a guy to live and not be distracted.  As my friend Worth likes to say, Miami is a candy store for men.

But Miami has something that is unique, and that is a strong Cuban community.  The largest concentration of Cubans in the United States is here.  And what is one thing that Cubans are known for (besides talking loudly and black beans and rice)? Cigars.  In fact, we have some of the best cigar manufacturers in the world centered right here in Little Havana. 

Cuban cigar culture goes way back.  In the 1800’s cigar kings in Cuba built great factories and provided work for thousands of Cubans.  In fact, my own grandmother and my father worked for cigar manufacturers in Havana.  If you were alive in the 19th century, you could walk into most factories and find a man reading from a newspaper or book.  Sometimes letters and trade papers from the tobacco unions were read.  On other occasions, maybe a Shakespearean play.  You might hear poetry or fiction; history and classic literature.  The reader was called “El Lector”, and his job was to keep the cigar workers entertained while they performed their monotonous work.  El Lector also helped stimulate thought.  It is said that while many cigar workers could barely read or write, they were able to recite Cervantes or Homer (okay… maybe not Homer but they could recite really smart stuff!).

It is out of this tradition that the El Lector Speaker series was born.  Like the cigar workers of the 19th century, men in Miami live in a monotonous routine of work and play.  We have lost ourselves in the mundane emptiness of life.  We stay away from religion because we have so much baggage we’ve collected over the years.  “Church is for women”, we say.  “I don’t have time for that” is our chant.  “It’s all about me” has become our creed. 

Like Eagle & Child, El Lector focuses on going deeper as men, and leaving the shallows of Miami.  We will offer writers, thinkers, educators and storytellers to an audience of men who are looking for something more.  El Lector will offer stimulating conversation and debate.  At El Lector, men can light up a cigar.   Whenever an El Lector event is held, men will have a rare opportunity to decompress and go deeper.  Depth is our objective.

Cuban Crafters Cigars in Miami has agreed to allow us to hold El Lector meetings at their great facility.  Sometimes we will hold the events at our church, depending on the projected size.  On the 23rd of December, we will host actor and advocate Victor Rivas-Rivers at Granada Presbyterian Church in Coral Gables.  He will be sharing his story of violence and victory with us.  Victor has been in countless movies and TV shows, but his story was not all Hollywood.  He has a great tale to tell.

So that is El Lector.  Please feel free to invite your friends to this men’s event (that’s right… it’s a men’s only event).  we hope to see you there.

Hello world!

Well, we finally have a workable website for Granada guys.  Here you will find regular updates about stuff going on with the Granada men’s ministry.  Upcoming programs and events, local service opportunities, global missions, blood-letting and other things guys should be doing regularly.  After all, we are men and God did not create us to be sitting in front of a computer blogging and checking Facebook updates.

We are men.  Hold on to your lug nuts.  It’s going to be a bumpy and adventurous ride.