Bob Rice

An internationally famous speaker, musician, and writer, Bob Rice looks at the beautiful and the bizarre of life through a Catholic perspective. Also includes articles and excerpts from books he's working on.

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Location: Steubenville, Ohio, United States

My desire is to share the love of God to everyone I meet through the many gifts God has given me. My full time job is teaching evangelization and youth ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. About two or three times a week I travel around the country proclaiming God's word or do a concert/lead worship. I've published many articles and I'm working on my first novel. 12 years ago, I married the love of my life and now we have 5 beautiful children. You can find out more about me and download lots of free stuff on my webpage-

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What can I do for you?

The “check engine” light came on in my car yesterday, and I hate the “check engine” light because I’m never sure what to do. “Low gas” and “low oil” I understand, but “check engine”? I open the hood and take a look. There, I checked it. It’s still there. But the light remains.

So I take it to the Honda dealership and really only look for two things to happen: 1) I want the light to go off, and 2) I want a free car wash. “Free” is a relative term because it costs me $80 for them to do whatever they do, but the car wash is a nice touch and the real reason I go there.

As I pick up the car, there is a man in greasy overalls who tries to explain in great detail what they did to update my car. Something about belts and filters. I nod at the appropriate moments, act like it was a great thing they did whatever they did in time before whatever happened to it, but in my mind I hope they left the big pieces of paper on the floor mats because I can pretend that I just bought my car.

This is not a great way to treat an automobile, but the world seems to have enough mechanics that I can get away with it. And after all, the light comes on to tell me when I need take it back. For all I know, it’s connected to a remote control at the dealership and when business is bad they hit the button and in I come for my $80 car wash.

The real problem is when I treat my spiritual life the same way. I know something is wrong, but I don’t want the details of why I feel the way I do. I just want it fixed, with a clean and shiny soul at the end.

That is not the way that God deals with us. In Mark 10 is the story of blind Bartimeaus, who cried out to Jesus as he was passing by. Jesus calls him forward and asks a ridiculous question.

“What can I do for you?”

The people in the crowd must have looked at each other in shock. Can’t Jesus see he’s blind? His problem is obvious. Why not just heal him?

But God is not interested is showing his power, but his love. His question gave great dignity to Bartimeaus, and allowed him to participate in the moment of healing. It became something they did together, as opposed to a mechanical action Jesus did by default.

Reading the Gospels, Christ always looked for moments to connect with those He healed. When the woman who touched the hem of his garment was cured, He wanted to know who it was. He touched the leper before He healed him. He could have waved His hand from a distance, but Jesus wanted to be close, to be intimate.

He still does. The “check engine” light of my soul shows itself when I lose my temper, stop making time for prayer, become self-centered, or fall into my old patterns of sin. In my frustration, I just want God to fix me so I can get “back to work”. I cry his name, and He comes, with those piercing eyes, and asks, “What can I do for you?”

I’m impatient at the question. We’re wasting time. “You know what’s wrong,” I reply. “Can’t you make me better now?”

He smiles and looks at me with love. “Of course I know what’s wrong. The bigger question is... do you?”

Monday, February 16, 2009


For today’s post, I’m going to pretend that I’m a movie critic.

Last week, while in Baltimore, I got to finally catch a showing of Frost/Nixon. I heard about it back in December from a lot of rave critic reviews, but could never seem to find it playing anywhere. For a while, only one theater in Pittsburgh had it. Then it went into “national release”, but still was difficult to find. Thankfully, the artsy clientele of the great city of Baltimore gave it enough viewings for my friends and I to catch a show.

The movie is about a television interview between David Frost and Richard Nixon. David Frost was a “talk show host” personality trying to score a serious interview and make his way back into the American public’s eye. President Nixon had resigned three years earlier over the Watergate scandal, but had never admitted he did something wrong or apologized for his actions. Nixon wanted to get back into the political game and hoped an in-depth interview would redeem him. It’s the story of two desperate men in a “no holds barred” contest that 400 million people ended up viewing. Though the supporting cast was excellent, the movie was it’s strongest when the camera went back and forth between the two of them in the interview scenes. Michael Sheen (Frost) does an excellent and subtle job as the interviewer. Frank Langella (Nixon) is nominated for an Oscar, and it is well deserved.

But the one who impressed me the most was Ron Howard, the director. The movie has a marvelous pace to it. Howard takes his time, a calm slow build to a dramatic finish. It’s like listening to an Eric Clapton solo- it’s not about speed, but style.

Howard brings us back to the 70s with amazing detail. It never feels like a 70s parody- the fashion, the cars, the hairstyles, they all seem to fit. Of course, Howard is bringing us back to a time he is intimately familiar with, since he lived through it as a young man. And he does well to keep the focus, not on culture, but on the characters.

This is his second “historical” movie, the first being “Apollo 13”. I think he is at his best when he is filming history. Another two of his great films, “A Beautiful Mind” and “Cinderella Man”, were true stories set in a historical context. But those were more about relatively unknown people. Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon were about widely known events, at least at the time.

Howard brings us back to that time. For those who lived through them, they are a powerful reminder and a “behind the scenes look” at what happened. For those of us who weren’t there, it is a fascinating history lesson.

Now the phrase “history lesson” and “exciting movie” are rarely said in the same sentence, and this is probably why the movie has not had as much commercial success as other Oscar Nominees. What is so special about an interview with a washed up television personality and a former president? In light of other political scandals, what was the big deal about Watergate? And how can a drama star Richard Nixon, one of the most caricatured presidents of our time?

There are so many ways this movie could have failed, yet it was one of the most riveting dramas I have seen in the cinema in a long time. The interview scenes alone were worth the price of admission, and the historical background was fascinating.

I highly recommend it, but since I know there are some younger readers of the blog you should know that it is rated R for “some language”. You can find a more detailed summary of why it is rated R by clicking HERE.

And since every real movie critic needs some kind of catch phrase to say what they think of things, I am giving this movie two eyebrows up.

Monday, February 02, 2009

I went to the Super Bowl!

And yes, that is me hanging with... that guy. You know that guy. He was in the Transformers movie and had a show on Nickelodeon. You know, the guy from Cody Banks 2: Destination London?

It was pretty awesome. I got the news on Monday (my birthday) that my parents scored tickets through some corporate connection. I went with my mom, my dad, and their friend named Stu. What a game it was! At first, it seemed like it was going to be a blowout, and then it was one of the closest games in Super Bowl history.

Lest you think I’m a real high roller, I’ve never been to a Super Bowl before, and seriously doubt I’ll be at one again. The best experience of it was to be there with my mom and dad. And if you didn’t know, Steubenville OH is firmly a part of the Steeler Nation, albeit on it’s western border.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dune and Wishful Drinking

Let me make this clear: I do not believe in karma. But days like these make me understand how some people do. Just after I had one of the best birthdays of my life, my house was filled with children vomiting, sleepless nights, and a trip to the hospital. Everyone is okay, thank God, and thanks to those in Twitter nation for the prayers.

I also had an up and down experience with the last two audiobooks I listened to (though not as extreme). The first was the science fiction epic “Dune” by Frank Herbert. Dune was one of those books I heard about but never read. In the 80s, it was a terrible movie that had Sting in it. And then later they made a mini-series about it, which was supposed to not be as bad as the movie. I didn’t see either, but heard of them.

So I downloaded it off And you know what? It was one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read. Herbert tells a fascinating, fast paced story that brings you in great detail to another world. I can see why it would be hard to translate to film or TV. He focuses so much on nuances of thought- “the lie within the lie within the lie” as he writes, that you really need an interior monologue to fully understand and appreciate what it going on.

Not only that, but the audiobook production was amazing, often involving different voice actors, subtle music, and sound effects that enhanced the story without making it cheezy. The book was 22 hours long, but I was always eager to go back to it.

Before going to the hospital, I quickly downloaded a much shorter and different book, “Wishful Drinking”. It was Carrie Fisher’s autobiography, read by the author. Being a Star Wars fan, I was curious to hear some behind the scenes stuff. But eventually it suffered from two much information. No, I did not want to think of my Star Wars heroes smoking pot between takes, nor did I need to hear of the many men who gratified themselves watching Princess Lea’s bikini-clad Return of the Jedi image. She told a sad story of mental illness and drug abuse, yet made jokes about it in a way that made me smile and wince at the same time.

The timing felt a little off, too. She mentioned that “Wishful Drinking” was originally a one woman show that toured the country, and she spoke as if she was in front of an audience that wasn’t there- pausing for laughs, yelling for dramatic effect, etc. I would have loved to hear a live rendition of it, and hear her play off the audience.

At three hours, it was a quick listen. There were some great one liners, and I especially enjoyed it when she made fun of George Lucas, or told stories about her marriage to Paul Simon. But the stories of her mother and father’s many marriages, her failed marriages, stories of drinking, drugs and manic depression were hard to bear. For it’s faults, the book redeemed itself at the end, when Fisher challenged those who struggle with mental illness to hold their head high and don’t be ashamed. Then I realized: this is how Carrie Fisher is, not how I want her to be. It’s a sad story, but it is HER story, and she is making the best of it. So while I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, I must admit it has merit.

I am beyond tired

Experts say that you the sleep you get at night is actually used for the following morning, so sleep you get on Monday will effect you on Wednesday. That’s why you can pull an all-nighter and feel okay the next day, but the following day you crash. By “experts” I’m referring to the internet, which is always right.

Well, Tuesday night I didn’t sleep because I was at the hospital with John (he’s fine), and thought I slept well last night I’m really feeling it today. My apologies to all my students in my 8AM and 9:30AM classes I just had. Did I make any sense? The fact they broke into occasional laughter makes me worry.

So I’m tired, achy, can’t think straight, and probably in no way should be blogging at this point. But I noticed something this morning that must be dealt with immediately. I’m talking, of course, about my new Star Wars pillow case.

Notice the picture above. Check out Han Solo’s face. I ask you, does that even look like him? And what is under his lip? Was he eating chocolate? He looks like he’s 90 man with a wig.

But even more egregious is this pic of Luke Skywalker:

What is that? He looks like his face has been scarred with fire. I’ve collected all the Star Wars figures, and “Burn Victim Luke Skywalker” was not one of them.

This is ridiculous. I mean, if my kids drew this stuff it would be one thing. But this was purchased at Pottery Barn, licensed through Lucasfilm (Lucas, STOP RUINING MY LIFE!). I can’t fathom how a picture of such poor quality could end up on my pillowcase.

You might argue that I am looking at it too closely, that from afar it looks fine. My answer is IT’S ON MY PILLOWCASE! How can I not but look at it closely? It is the last visage I see before I close my eyes and embrace the blissful sleep where I am a Jedi Knight and travel to planets where women find excessive body hair attractive.

My only thought about Skywalker’s picture is that it might be a nod to the accident Mark Hamill got in between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. He crashed his car and was so disfigured that he needed plastic surgery, hence the added scene in The Empire Strikes Back where he was swiped by the Wampa and needed constructive surgery to explain his different look.

But that seems too nuanced for a pillow case.

And still doesn’t explain Han Solo.

I think I need to go to bed.

Friday, January 23, 2009

We came, we saw, we marched

Or at least most people did. I made it to the Mall (the grassy area in DC, not a shopping center) with my wife Jennie, my two oldest sons, and baby girl at noon for the march. But did the march start at noon? No, that would be too easy. There were a bunch of people speaking. They said some incredible and inspiring stuff, but the baby didn’t care for them. Poor thing, she has three teeth coming in! So our “March for Life” ended up being more of a “Standing and listening for an hour for Life”, and as we left it became a “Sorry we have to leave but good luck Marching for Life”. Even though we left early, I was so happy to be there with my family and make a statement for the unborn.

It was great to see so many friends there, and an honor to be recognized by so many people! If I saw you there, you really blessed me by remembering a time you heard me play or speak somewhere. Apparently, someone gave me a shout out at the Verizon Center rally before the march in front of 22,000 people! I got about 10 consecutive text messages from people telling me about it. Very cool.

I wore a Steelers scarf and found many of the Steeler nation were in DC this weekend. I also wore a Tampa Bay Buccaneers sweatshirt and one person gave me a thumbs up. Some asked why I would wear both, and I explained it was perfectly legitimate to have a favorite AFC and NFC team. Only the Ravens fan at Potbelly Sandwich disagreed, but he still gave me ice cream.

The evening before the march the band and I played at Jesus Divine Word in Huntingtown, MD. What a great time that was. We opened with rocking music and ended in adoration, then celebrated the rest of the night with great hospitality from the pastor and parish staff. One of the joys of doing this ministry is meeting great people, and there was no shortage of them in Huntingtown. My wife and kids were there as well.

It was an amazing weekend. God bless the 300,000 of you who were there, and the many more who kept it in your prayers. But I think we have a lot more “walking” to do to bring about change in our country. Spread the word about FOCA, and pray the rosary to end abortion!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Back on Blogger


I'm back on blogger. You can catch up on my previous blogs at, if you so cared. I've decided to post on both.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Conflicting Emotions

I’m not a fan of Obama. I don’t favor his economic policy (on principle, I don’t think anyone should be taxed a higher percentage than another, no matter how much they make), and I am furiously opposed to his pro-choice agenda.

So why was I so moved at the inauguration today? Because I’m an American. The fact that we can have a massive change of power without a shot being fired is amazing. The fact that we have an African American president is inspiring. His story is an example of what America is about- a symbol of hope in a despairing situation, the exact kind of image we need in these trying times.

I think it’s okay to have conflicting emotions. An African-American president is something we should all applaud. And the inauguration of a new president is a celebration, not just of an elected official, but of a country.

But at the end of the day, we are left with a president who thinks that gay marriage is the civil-rights movement of our generation, and wants to increase access and funding to abortion. So our voices must be raised. This, too, is a celebration of democracy.

I and my family will be marching in Washington on Thursday. We will march outside the windows of Obamba’s new house and peacefully protest the destruction of unborn life. I hope you can be there, if not in person then in prayer.

But there needs to be more. On the US Bishop’s webpage is a postcard to send to your elected official. You can find it HERE. You can also find out more about FOCA and other plans to increase abortion in the United States.

I’ll take some pics and post a blog when I get back. Until then, check out this brilliant pro-life commercial that someone linked to me today. May God bless America and all her citizens, born and unborn, at every stage in their life.