Come Take a Trip Back in the Time Machine With Me: A Reminiscence on Georgia-Auburn 1992

Today we are just a little over a month away from the start of football season.  So for those of you who are getting a little anxious and wishing to see some gridiron action, here is a little fix for you courtesy of Youtube.  Hop into the time machine with me and prepare to blast back into the past.

The place:  Auburn, Alabama.  The year:  1992.

George Bush (Sr) was still in office.  Pink was still a color, not a pop singer or a Victoria’s Secret clothing line.  Nirvana was just starting to take off.  Britney Spears was still just a Mouseketeer, not yet known for her prowess at singing or at attacking cars.  And O. J. Simpson was still a well-respected member of society.  (Imagine that.)  And Georgia and Auburn were celebrating the 100th anniversary of their rivalry, one of the oldest in the entire country.

Georgia was celebrating the 100th anniversary of its football program’s existence.  And what a fortuitous time to be celebrating this: it was at this time that Georgia was at the pinnacle of such success as it would attain during the course of the Ray Goof era.  For Georgia was on its way to a 9-2 season which would finish with a trip to the Citrus Bowl.  Of course this team was expecting bigger and better things; with Eric Zeier, Garrison Hearst, and Andre Hastings at their prime, this team was hyped to contend for an SEC championship and possibly a national championship.  But heartbreaking losses to Tennessee and Florida had taken Georgia out of contention; both of these were games which better-coached teams would have won. Continue reading “Come Take a Trip Back in the Time Machine With Me: A Reminiscence on Georgia-Auburn 1992”

Les Miserables 24: How Jean Can Become Champ

Fantine was admitted to the hospital.  Madeleine put her up there, he paid off all her debts, and he agreed to send for Cosette.  This would take some doing, because the Thenardiers were extremely loath to part with her.  Every time he attempted to send for her, the Thenardiers came up with new debts which had to be paid before they could release her and new excuses as to why she could not be allowed to make the journey.  Finally he got Fantine to sign her name to a note authorizing him to collect Cosette from the Thenardiers, and he made preparations to go to Montfermeil himself.

Now that we have left Fantine in a safe and happy place relative to where she was before, let us say a little bit about her before we move on.

First of all, Fantine was a character who represented the people at large.  Victor Hugo makes this clear when he first introduces her back in the second chapter of the section entitled “The Year 1817”:  “Fantine was one of those beings who are brought forth from the heart of the people, so to speak.  Sprung from the most unfathomable depths of social darkness, she bore on her brow the mark of the anonymous.”

Second, note that nothing which happened to Fantine was the result of her own bad choices, except to the extent that those choices were made in ignorance.  Thus her downfall was the result of society–the people–acting against her.  But since Fantine came from the heart of the people and could therefore be said to be representative of the people, you can therefore say that everything which the people did to Fantine, they did to themselves.  Specifically the people of MSM.

And because the people of MSM were willing to do all that they did to Fantine, and by extension to themselves, they were not in any way deserving of the good which Father Madeleine did for them during the course of his time as mayor.

Hold on to this thought, because it will lie at the heart of much of the subsequent action. Continue reading “Les Miserables 24: How Jean Can Become Champ”

Unsolicited Advice for Those of You Going to Passion 2010: Community

UPDATE:  Sorry people, I don’t know who the community group leaders for Passion 2010 are going to be.  I have looked carefully at the official Passion 2010 site, but was not able to find it.  That information may be out there somewhere on the web if you search diligently enough for it, but you won’t be getting it from me.

Today I have some more unsolicited advice for those of you who are going to Passion 2010.  And this has to do with the subject of community.

We in evangelical Protestant-dom are thoroughly infatuated with what happens in large groups–i. e. what happens in huge, fast-growing churches or what happens in large gatherings where you and 25,000 of your closest friends are all there to get crunk to Chris Tomlin.  One unfortunate consequence of this is that we have largely blown off the notion that the Christian life is meant to be lived out in community, or that meaningful life change happens in the context of Christian community.

Passion has built a mechanism into their gatherings to account for this, and that is the community group.  The way community groups work (unless they’ve changed some things around in recent years) is this:  You will be assigned to one of a certain number of midsize gatherings called community groups.  At the very first of these gatherings, you will be divided into small groups of about 8-10 people.  You will meet with these same 8-10 people at every community group session thereafter.

The whole point of the community group is to put you into contact with people whom you would otherwise never meet, living in places which you would probably never see.  Here you will have the opportunity to discuss how certain ideas from the main sessions are landing in your life and what you think God is saying to you, with a small and unchanging group of new friends from outside the bubble of your own college ministry.  The hope is that your interaction with these people over the course of the four days of Passion 2010 would form the basis for lasting relationships which would help to ensure that what happens in your life during these four days does not just evaporate when the smoke machines are turned off after the final worship set. Continue reading “Unsolicited Advice for Those of You Going to Passion 2010: Community”

Les Miserables 23: Solution to Some Questions of the Municipal Police

So Fantine became a prostitute.

One night she was walking back and forth in front of the officers’ club in a low-cut dress.  It was a January night in 1823, a little less than a year after she made the decision to become a prostitute.  And it had just finished snowing.  Winter is a much more serious deal in northern France than it is here in Georgia.

Well, this gentleman named M. Bamatabois was standing out in front of the officers’ club, and he decided he was going to have a little fun with Fantine.

Now notice that Victor Hugo kicks off this chapter with a short essay on dandies, noting that this is precisely what Tholomyes would have been except for his time in Paris.  This is significant.  Because it was Tholomyes who, through his actions toward Fantine, began her moral degradation.  And it is this dandy Bamatabois, just like Tholomyes except for the fact of his never having been to Paris, who stood at the conclusion of Fantine’s moral degradation and who would start the process of her physical degradation.

He began by hurling insults at her whenever she walked directly past him.  But she ignored this and just kept on walking.  He couldn’t take this, so he snuck up behind her as she was turning and lobbed a snowball at her.  It hit her directly in the center of her back, right between the shoulderblades.

Being surprised at this, Fantine turned on M. Bamatabois and got into a hellaceous catfight with him.  Javert showed up and broke up the fight.  M. Bamatabois snuck away and Javert hauled Fantine off to the police station.  Here is what Victor Hugo has to say about what happened next:

By our laws these women are placed entirely under the discretion of the police, who can do what they want with them, punish them as they see fit, and confiscate at will those two sad things they call their industry and their liberty.  Javert was impassible; his grave face betrayed no emotion.  He was, however, seriously and earnestly preoccupied.  It was one of those moments in which he exercised without restraint, but with all the scruples of a strict conscience, his formidable discretionary power.  At this moment he felt that his policeman’s stool was a bench of justice.  He was conducting a trial.  He was trying and condemning.  He called up all the ideas of which his mind was capable for the great thing he was doing.  The more he examined the conduct of this girl, the more it revolted him.  Clearly he had seen a crime committed.  He had seen, there in the street, society, represented by a property-holding voter, insulted and attacked by a creature who was an outlaw and an outcast.  A prostitute had assaulted a citizen.  He, Javert, had seen that himself.  He wrote in silence.

Javert sentenced Fantine to six months in prison.  Fantine tried desperately to plead with him for mercy, but you ought to know enough about Javert to know that such a plea would not have any effect whatsoever.  And sure enough, it didn’t. Continue reading “Les Miserables 23: Solution to Some Questions of the Municipal Police”

Unsolicited Advice for Those of You Going to Passion 2010: Worship

In the coming posts I will venture to offer some unsolicited advice for those of you who are going to Passion 2010, to help you get the most out of your experience there.  As one who has been involved in several Passion events over the years, I feel qualified to do this, so here goes:

Passion is primarily a worship movement.  It did not start out this way; its primary purpose was to promote awakening among young people–primarily college students–to the purposes of God in our world.  But with the meteoric rise of Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Christy Nockels, and others over the course of the previous decade, Passion has now come to be seen primarily as a worship movement.  Because of this, I will start by addressing the issue of worship.

I wish to begin by directing your attention to a post which appeared on Michael Spencer’s blog and which I linked here a few weeks back, called “The Big Worship Goof”.  The idea of this post is that we evangelicals have got it almost all wrong on worship because we think it’s all about music. Continue reading “Unsolicited Advice for Those of You Going to Passion 2010: Worship”

Les Miserables 22: Christus Nos Liberavit

At this point I will just let Victor Hugo speak for himself for a few paragraphs.

What is the story of Fantine about?  It is about society buying a slave.

From whom?  From misery.

From hunger, from cold, from loneliness, from desertion, from privation.  Melancholy barter.  A soul for a piece of bread.  Misery makes the offer; society accepts.

The holy law of Jesus Christ governs our civilization, but it does not yet permeate it.  They say that slavery has disappeared from European civilization.  That is incorrect.  It still exists, but now it weighs only on women, and it is called prostitution.

It weighs on women, that is to say, on grace, frailty, beauty, motherhood.  This is not the least among man’s shames.

At this stage in the mournful drama, Fantine has nothing left of what she had formerly been.  She has turned to marble in becoming corrupted.  Whoever touches her feels a chill.  She goes her way, she endures  you, she ignores you; she is the incarnation of dishonor and severity.  Life and the social order have spoken their last word to her.  All that can happen to her has happened.  She has endured all, borne all, experienced all, suffered all, lost all, wept for all.  She is resigned, with that resignation resembling indifference as death resembles sleep.  She shuns nothing now.  She fears nothing now.  Every cloud falls on her, and the whole ocean sweeps over her!  What does it matter to her?  The sponge is already saturated.

So she believed at least, but it is wrong to imagine that one can exhaust one’s destiny or fully plumb the depths of anything.

Alas!  What are all those destinies driven helter-skelter?  Where do they go?  Why are they what they are?

He who knows that sees all darkness.

He is alone.  His name is God.

All-Skate: Is Hurricane Chris a Positive Thing for Louisiana?

A couple of weeks back I posted a link to a Youtube video which showed the Louisiana state legislature doing what they do best–absolutely nothing.  In the course of this doing absolutely nothing, they were being entertained by Hurricane Chris, a musical performer of the genre commonly known as “gangsta rap”, known by me as “thug music”.  Unfortunately that video now requires registration, so if you haven’t seen it already you won’t be able to see it now.  In place of that, here is a link to the story as it appeared on local TV station WAFB’s website, and here is a video of the song which Hurricane Chris performed for the Louisiana legislature.  (Be warned:  This song contains some racy lyrics, especially the last verse.  Parents, you probably don’t want your children looking at this one.)

Now Hurricane Chris just happens to be the godson of Shreveport representative Barbara Norton, and she introduced him as a role model for the state.  So the question that I wish to throw out for discussion is:  Is he?  Is it a positive thing, as Barbara Norton said it was, that this is out there and going around the internet?

Okay.  Discuss.  Those of you my readers who are African-American, I especially want to hear from you on this one.

Les Miserables 21: Outcome of the Success

Last time we saw how Fantine got canned because her coworkers at the factory were malicious busybodies.  Father Madeleine required the women at his factory to be honest and have good morals; unfortunately the part about good morals did not extend to gossip and meddling in others’ business.

Now we see Fantine’s descent into utter and abject poverty.  This portion of the story is a real downer, so I will try to get through it as quickly as possible.

At first, Fantine was ashamed to go out after she was fired.  She imagined that every passerby in the street knew about her secret, and that they all stared at her and talked about her behind her back.  But eventually she became accustomed to disrespect as she had to poverty, and started going out with her head held high and a bitter smile.  Madame Victurnien, the busybody who started all this trouble for Fantine, saw her out occasionally:

From her window Madame Victurnien sometimes saw her going by, noticed the distress of “that creature,” “thanks to me put back to her place,” and congratulated herself.  The malicious have a dark happiness.

And to make matters worse, Fantine was starting to get sick.  She had a slight dry cough, which got worse because of the strain of excessive work. Continue reading “Les Miserables 21: Outcome of the Success”

Jono’s School of Running: Tips for Successful Completion of the Peachtree from Someone Who’s Been There, Done That, and Gotten the T-Shirt

beentheredonethatgotthetshirt–First of all, YOU NEED TO TRAIN FOR THIS!!!!!  Do not think that you are just going to roll out of bed on the morning of July 4, show up at the start, and run 6 miles all the way down Peachtree.  If you can pull that off, then I have immense respect for you.  But more than likely, if you attempt this without training properly for it, you will wind up sprawled out all over the pavement after about the first half-mile or thereabouts.

–In order to win the Peachtree, you generally need to be able to run 6 miles in 25 minutes or less.  For the most part, the only people who can do this are from Kenya.  As for the rest of us, your goal is simply to finish the race and get your T-shirt.  If you can accomplish this, then you have had a successful outcome.

–This means don’t do anything stupid which might jeopardize your chances of finishing the race.  Be mindful of the fact that it will more than likely be excruciatingly hot, and pace yourself accordingly.  This year the weather was very nice, but don’t count on that every year as more often than not you will be severely disappointed.  Don’t try to shoot for a personal record; there will be plenty of opportunities for you to do so under more favorable weather conditions.

–Be sure to stay hydrated throughout the race.  Drink lots of water before you leave the house in the morning, and be sure to avail yourself of the water stations which are located throughout the course.  If you are not having to stop and avail yourself of the restroom facilities which are located every mile or thereabouts, then YOU FAIL at keeping yourself hydrated!!!!!

–They tell you to arrive at the start area an hour before your assigned start time.  There’s a reason for this.  It will take you at least that long to get through the line for the restroom facilities at the start area.

–Carbloading:  This is generally a good idea, as your body uses lots of carbohydrates when running long distances.  But don’t do it at Waffle House on the morning of the race, unless you want to wind up sprawled out on the pavement after the first half-mile or thereabouts.

–Cardiac Hill is way overrated.  For those of you who don’t know, Cardiac Hill is the most serious uphill stretch on the course; it starts at Peachtree Creek about 1000 feet south of Peachtree Battle and about 3 miles into the course, and continues for another half-mile until just before Collier Road.  Lots of people will talk about Cardiac Hill as if it is a huge deal; don’t be intimidated by this because it isn’t.  If you struggled with Cardiac Hill this year, then you need to train–a lot–before next year’s Peachtree.  I will be glad to help you with this.