Digging into the Vault: Happy “Fall Family Festival”?

Today is Halloween, and so I thought it would be appropriate to take a trip into the vault and review a Halloween rant that I wrote a couple of years back.

Believe it or not, there once was a time when Halloween was widely celebrated among evangelicals.  And then, sometime around the late 80s / early 90s, this guy named Mike Warnke showed up claiming to have been a high-ranking Satanist prior to being saved.  He got us all to think that Halloween, which we had previously thought was just a fun and innocent celebration, was instead a monstrously evil thing.

Later on Mike Warnke was exposed as a fraud and vast tracts of his ministry were discredited.  But dead issues, like dead people, never just disappear into nothing.  They always leave behind a rotting corpse or some other sort of decomposing residue.  And in the case of the Mike Warnke thing, the rotting corpse was Halloween.  Never again would our attitude toward it be the same.  We became grossly obsessed with anything having to do with Satanism, witchcraft, and the occult, and the evangelical media fed this obsession like you wouldn’t believe.  Prominent evangelical media figures such as Bob Larson and, to a certain extent, Frank Peretti, made their living filling us up with all sorts of information and exhortation about the evils of Halloween and anything else that could be shown to be even remotely connected with the occult.  And we bought it.  We believed that dressing up our kids as goblins or vampires would turn them into goblins and vampires.  We believed that placing pumpkins on the porch would surely invite all the demonic forces of hell into our homes.  We had done the same things in the past without any sort of issue, but now the wool has been pulled off of our eyes.  Now we see everything clearly like we never did before, and we’ll be damned if we make the mistakes we made in our previous ignorance.

Man, please.

At any rate, here is my Halloween rant:  Happy “Fall Family Festival”?

And if you’re interested in further reading, here is Michael Spencer’s annual Halloween rant over at the Steve Brown Etc. blog.

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Florida-Georgia Reflections: Party Like It’s 1999

It’s Florida-Georgia week once again.  This week Florida and Georgia are both ranked in the top 10 in various places, depending on which poll you consult.  The AP has Florida and Georgia at No 5 and No 8 respectively, the USA Today poll has them at 7 and 8 respectively, and the BCS poll has Georgia at 6 and Florida at 8.  What it all adds up to is that this year’s matchup is the biggest and most significant that we have had in a long time.  The last time we had both Florida and Georgia in the top 10 going into Jacksonville was…that’s right, the very last year before Two Thousand Zero Zero Party Over Oops Out of Time.

Yes, the year was 1999.  The dot-com bubble was puffing up wildly, making hundreds of thousands of people who didn’t know the first thing about money into instant millionaires.  The whole country was growing weary of the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinski soap opera.  People were all in a dither over the impending shutdown of computer systems the world over at midnight on January 1, 2000, and the ensuing chaos which would surely spell the end of civilization as we knew it.  And on a beautiful fall afternoon in Jacksonville, Florida and Georgia teed it up one more time. Continue reading “Florida-Georgia Reflections: Party Like It’s 1999”

What We Know About the 2008 Season After Nine Weeks

All right kids, here goes:

Florida-Georgia is now going to be a meeting of teams that have hung half a hundred on LSU.  Florida did it a few weeks back, and now Georgia has done it too.  What is remarkable is that Georgia did it in Tiger Stadium, where the last time an opposing team scored 50 points or more was in 1993.  Curley Hallman was the LSU coach then, and his teams weren’t very good.

When it comes to SEC games of significance this week, Florida-Georgia is pretty much the only game in town.  Alabama plays Arkansas State.  LSU plays Tulane.  Arkansas plays Tulsa.  Auburn plays Ole Miss.  Mississippi State plays Kentucky.  South Carolina plays Tennessee.  And Vanderbilt is off.  Do any of those matchups sound compelling to you?

The burning question this week:  Will Georgia have anything left in the tank for Florida?  The last time Georgia hung 40-plus points on a defending national champion LSU team was in 2004.  Georgia beat LSU 45-16, but had nothing left in the tank for Tennessee the next week and perished 19-14.

And will Florida have anything left in the tank for Georgia?  In 2004, Georgia hung 63 on Kentucky and the next week wound up on the wrong end of a 24-6 beatdown at the hands of Auburn.  Florida looked impressive in hanging 63 on Kentucky this week, but as Georgia linebacker Darryl Gamble said after the LSU game, “We aren’t Kentucky.”

It’s hard to see Philip Fulmer lasting much beyond this season.  For those of you who keep track of such things, Philip Fulmer is now 3-5 against Mark Richt, 0-4 against Urban Meyer, and 1-4 against Nick Saban.  By the end of the 2000 season, Jim Donnan was 1-4 against Fulmer, 1-4 against Steve Spurrier, 2-3 against Tommy Tuberville, and 2-3 against George O’Leary, and it cost him his job.

Knoxville News Sentinel sports columnist John Adams seems to agree.  Gosh, I can remember the days of Ray Goof and Jim Donnan, thinking and feeling similar things about Georgia and I hope we never have to go there again.  3rd Saturday in Blogtober is actually confident enough to report that Fulmer is already out.

We love Joe Paterno, but…  With a win over Ohio State this week, Joe Paterno likely assured that he will finish the season unbeaten.  If Texas and Alabama finish unbeaten, will voters really move Penn State ahead of one or both of them?  It will make for a great story to be able to give Joe Paterno the opportunity to leave on the note of playing for one more national championship.  But will a good story be sufficient justification for voters to move Penn State ahead of an unbeaten Texas or an unbeaten Alabama or both?  I don’t think so.  But given the way Georgia won but lost ground in the polls during the first half of the season, I wouldn’t put it past the pollsters to do something like that.  But if by some chance Penn State does get left out, then Joe Paterno can sit down and have a long talk with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who up to this point has been the strongest opponent of a four-team playoff.

Quick Hit: Is This All There Is?

Up to this point, Georgia’s 2008 season has been a very frustrating experience.  Frustrating because of the potential for greatness which we know this team possesses, but which they have not come anywhere close to showing.

During the last half of the 2007 season, Georgia was hanging 40-plus points on everybody they played.  It was this run of dominance that propelled Georgia all the way to No. 2 in the final polls of 2007 and a preseason No. 1 ranking in 2008.  But so far, Georgia has not shown anything close to that measure of dominance.  The closest we have come to that was against Arizona State, which started the season in the top 10 but has since been exposed as a not-very-good team.

Sure, there are occasional flashes of brilliance.  Matthew Stafford completing a 75-yard bomb.  Knowshon Moreno putting one of those trademark highlight-show moves of his on some hapless defender to break free for a huge gain.  A. J. Green going up and coming down with a spectacular catch.  But then you look up and the score is still 14-7.  And you wonder:  Is this all there is?

Georgia’s schedule is rated by most analysts as the most difficult in the country.  And the four-game stretch which begins today in Baton Rouge is the very reason why.  If what we have seen of Georgia to this point is all there is, then that is very bad news because what we have seen up to this point will not be good enough to make it through LSU today and Florida next week.

The good news is that in recent years Georgia has been known for peaking late in the season.  In 2006, a Georgia team that many had given up for dead finished with huge wins over Auburn, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech in the Peach Bowl.  And in 2007, we all remember what happened after a team which looked equally moribund escaped with a last-second win over Vanderbilt.

So, if this year’s Georgia team intends to compete for the national championship, today is the time to start.  And if this year’s Georgia team is anywhere close to being worthy of the hype that they received in the preseason, today would be an excellent time to start showing it.

Voddie Baucham on Why Sarah Palin Should Not Be VP

Today let me direct your attention to this piece from Voddie Baucham’s blog on why Sarah Palin should not be vice-president, or even governor for that matter.

Say what you will about Voddie Baucham being a male chauvinist, but one thing you must say is that he is consistent.  A lot more so than the evangelicals who rave about being pro-family and subscribe to a view of family values that requires women to stay at home and focus exclusively on raising children, and then go out and praise McCain to the sky for making a “pro-family” pick by choosing Palin as his VP.

What We Know About the 2008 Season After Eight Weeks

All right kids, here we go…

Georgia has not yet played its best game of the 2008 season.  At least I am seriously hoping that is the case, because LSU and Florida are still to come on the schedule.  And if what we saw the last three weeks against Alabama, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt is truly all that this team is capable of, then we are in BIG trouble.

But there are signs that Georgia may be starting to get better.  That young offensive line which was severely gashed by Alabama’s defensive front is starting to figure some things out.  The offense is racking up bunches of yards, even if that yardage is not yet translating into points.  And there has been some improvement with regard to that penalty thing; the penalties have dropped off over the last couple of weeks.

Okay, so it appears that Georgia may be getting better.  Good thing, because Georgia needs to get a whole lot better–like now–just to have a chance over the next couple of weeks.

Georgia may not be the best team in the state of Georgia this year.  Georgia started the season ranked as the best team in the country, but it seems that Georgia may not even be the best team in the state.  At 6-1, Georgia Tech is looking a whole lot better than a team with a first-year head coach ought to look.  But just like Georgia, Georgia Tech is heading into the meat of their conference schedule over the next couple of weeks.  Improved Florida State and North Carolina teams, as well as a Virginia team which has figured some things out since starting out 1-3 with dreadful losses to Southern Cal, UConn, and Duke, all figure to pose a stern test for Georgia Tech.

The BCS is truly a strange place.  All you people who are upset with Pete Carroll and Southern Cal for running up the score on Washington State need to just get over it.  That is one of the sad realities of the system which you have put in place.  Southern Cal is in the midst of a possible national championship run, and in order to further their cause, it is essential that they look good in the eyes of the human voters who are deciding this thing.  And the way they look good is by thumping the hell out of a lesser opponent such as Washington State.  In the past, Pete Carroll might have called off the dogs after the score got to a certain point.  But in the brave new world of the BCS, not anymore.  Get used to it, folks–it’s part of life in the big bad BCS.

Bobby Petrino has yet to beat an SEC program where the wheels aren’t coming off.  So far Arkansas’s only conference win is against Auburn, and we know what a mess things are over there right now.  Does anyone care to try and find any more wins for Arkansas this year?

You can’t win in the SEC without a good quarterback.  Look at the teams that are struggling this year, and you will see that for most of them, quarterback play is an issue.  Auburn can’t decide between Kodi Burns and Chris Todd, and Tuberville is being strongly tempted to pull the redshirt off freshman Barrett Trotter.  Tennessee had problems with Jonathan Crompton and replaced him with Nick Stevens.  Even LSU, as strong as they are everywhere else, is having quarterback issues this year as they are only now beginning to get into a comfort zone with quarterbacks Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee.  It was the inexperience at the quarterback position that no doubt was a contributing factor in the beatdown they received at Florida a couple of weeks back.

The quarterback position is critical because it is the quarterback who sets the pace and the tone for the rest of the team.  It is the quarterback who keeps the team focused when in a hostile environment.  And there are numerous hostile environments for visiting teams in the SEC.  Thus it is of the utmost importance to be solid at the quarterback position if you hope to do well in the SEC.