Some Reviews of Andrew Marin’s Love Is an Orientation

For those of you who are concerned about the question of is it possible to be gay and still be a Christian, I would strongly recommend that you read these reviews from readers of Andrew Marin’s Love Is An Orientation.  See what you think of these, and if it strikes you as an interesting read, then by all means go and get it and read it.

Personally, I have not read it yet, but I look forward to the day when finances will permit me to acquire and read a copy of this book.

All-Skate: Which New SEC Hire Will Make the Greatest Impact?

I’ve been somewhat disappointed with the response to these posts.  I had hoped to generate some good discussion here, but very few of you have skated.  So I am going to try a different subject:  college football.  The season is only a few days away from starting, so I know that a lot of you are thinking about it right now.  I know this is the South, and virtually everyone here has strong opinions on this subject, so I’d better see some good discussion here.  If not, I don’t know what I am going to do with you people.

The subject of today’s discussion is this:  Which new SEC hire will make the greatest impact at his school?

The bar has been raised in a big way as far as the quality of SEC coaching in recent years.  Urban Meyer has won two national championships in three years at Florida.  Nick Saban last year fielded the best team Alabama has had since the days of Bear Bryant.  Les Miles has won a national championship at LSU.  Houston Nutt has done very good things at Ole Miss, and Bobby Petrino figures to do good things at Arkansas in the future.  Bobby Johnson is winning at Vanderbilt, Rich Brooks is doing good things at Kentucky, and Steve Spurrier–well, he isn’t exactly experiencing the same level of success at South Carolina that we came to expect from him while he was at Florida, but he’s still the Evil Genius.

In light of all this, virtually everybody in the SEC is feeling the pressure.  Three schools are feeling it so much that they decided to make coaching changes last year:  Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Auburn.

Mississippi State brought in Dan Mullen, Urban Meyer’s longtime loyal right-hand man who served as quarterbacks coach at Bowling Green and offensive coordinator at Utah and Florida, and who has developed such notable quarterbacks as Josh Harris, Alex Smith, Chris Leak, and Tim Tebow.  Now he faces the challenge of trying to implement Florida’s spread offense with Mississippi State players.  Tall order, that.  Not to mention the fact that he has absolute zero head coaching experience.  Did he really want to sign up for this assignment?

Auburn ran off Tommy Tuberville and replaced him with Gene Chizik.  Now Gene Chizik has done some good things as defensive coordinator at Auburn and Texas, but if he wins just six games this year, he will have exceeded his combined win total from two years at Iowa State.  (And to think that Auburn could have gotten Turner Gill or Mike Leach.)  Chizik has put together an all-star staff of assistants headlined by defensive coordinator Ted Roof and offensive coordinator Gus Maltzahn.  He has made no bones about the fact that he is building for the future, not necessarily the present.

And Tennessee ran off Philip Fulmer, a proven winner for almost two decades, and replaced him with Lane Kiffin.  Now this guy has absolutely zero head coaching experience at the college level, and his NFL experience wasn’t exactly the greatest in the world.  To wit:  If he wins just six games this year, he will surpass his combined win total from two years with the Oakland Raiders.  Tennessee has surrounded him with an all-star staff including defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin (his dad) and defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron.  In just the few short months that Lane Kiffin has been coach at Tennessee, he has accused virtually every school in the conference of cheating at recruiting–not exactly the best way to get off on good terms with one’s fellow coaches–while in the process making a few secondary violations himself.  All this drama–and he has yet to coach a single down at Tennessee.

As you can probably see, I am not particularly impressed with any of these hires.  As for Dan Mullen and Gene Chizik, I think that whatever impact they have will be several years down the road–if they are still around by then.  As for Lane Kiffin, we will know in a couple of years whether all the drama that he has brought with him will light a fire under Tennessee’s program or if everything will simply blow up in his face.

So what do you all think about the new class of SEC coaches who will be starting out this year?  Who do you think will have the greatest impact?

Okay.  Discuss.

Les Miserables 27: A Tempest Within a Brain (cont’d)

Last time we started to look at Father Madeleine’s agonizing deliberations on whether or not he would go to Arras and turn himself in as Jean Valjean.  At first he thought that all he had to do was sit tight and not do anything.  Providence had arranged for him to be in this place, and who was he to mess with that?  But then he thought that if he did nothing and simply let events take their course, he would be just as guilty as if he had arranged all those events himself.  And he came up against the paradox that if he remained where he was, righteous in the eyes of men, he would become wicked and corrupt in the eyes of God, but if he denounced himself and became wicked in the eyes of men, he would become righteous in the eyes of God.

And it seemed that he was all set on going to Arras.  But then he had another thought.


What about her?  What would happen to her if he were to go off and give himself up?  And what about all the people of MSM who had come to depend on his generosity?  What would happen to the poor and the orphans of MSM if they no longer had him as their protector?  What would happen to the city and the region if it no longer had him to ensure its prosperity? Continue reading “Les Miserables 27: A Tempest Within a Brain (cont’d)”

WHAT? Brett Favre Hasn’t Retired Yet?

For those of you who have been trying to keep up with the dizzying in-again, out-again saga of Brett Favre’s retirement/unretirement, the latest word is that he’s back in.

For those of you who are having trouble straightening all this out, here is my attempt:  Brett Favre played for the Green Bay Packers for most of the last two decades, distinguishing himself as one of the most prolific and productive quarterbacks of all time, a Super Bowl MVP, and a sterling team leader.  For the last few years, Brett Favre has teased us with the possibility of his retiring, only to decide that he would like to play another year after all.  Last year, Brett Favre decided that he was going to retire for real–and then he changed his mind right before training camp and said he wanted to play again.  Green Bay wouldn’t take him, so he defected to the New York Jets.  After a stinker of a season, he decided he was going to retire FOR REAL THIS TIME.  But somehow the Minnesota Vikings got wind of the possibility that he might want to play again, and so they went back and forth all summer.  This ended with Brett Favre famously leaving them with egg all over their faces earlier this month when he told them he was going to stay retired after all.  But wait.  It hadn’t ended after all.  Brett Favre is going to play for Minnesota after all.

In and out, in and out, in and out…isn’t that what got Gary Hart in trouble back when he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988?

I don’t know about you, but I’m about sick of this whole Brett Favre in-and-out circus.  Here’s hoping he has a complete and total face plant this year.

My man Jeff Schultz agrees with me on this.  Over at his Facebook page, he says, “Eeeooowww! What’s that on the bottom of my shoe? Oh wait. It’s Brett Favre.”  I wish I’d thought of that.

Quick Hit: Is Jim Donnan Really Hall of Fame Material?

Those of you who have been following the news for the last month are no doubt aware that Jim Donnan has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, largely on the strength of his accomplishments at Marshall where he went 64-21, made frequent appearances in the 1-AA national championship game, and even slipped up and won it one year.  And during the course of his acceptance speech, he made some remarks about how he had helped (or at least would like to think that he had helped) Mark Richt get off to a positive start at Georgia.


To be sure, Jim Donnan did have his moments at Georgia.  Except for his debut season, he won more games than he lost and he took Georgia to a bowl game every year.  That was an improvement over what his predecessor, Ray Goof, had done.  And he did manage to slip up and beat Steve Spurrier and Philip Fulmer once during the course of his time at Georgia.

Nevertheless, he had some serious off-the-field problems at Georgia.  Now, what most people have in mind when they think of this is his demeanor with the fans and the media on call-in shows and postgame talk shows–which got quite ugly at times.  But this would never have been an issue if not for the more serious off-the-field problems of his era.  Problems like his complete and utter inability to implement meaningful player discipline.  Those of you who think Mark Richt is soft on player discipline, you had better think again.  Let me call your attention to the way in which he coddled Quincy Carter throughout the course of his time at Georgia, running off all the other quarterbacks in the program and no doubt helping him toward the complete self-destruction of his life and NFL career.  And how can you forget that tumultous 2000 season, when rumors of a complete lack of control, of rampant drug use and other problems among the players, of coaches looking the other way and even bending the rules concerning player suspensions to cover it up?  (Now, the world of college football is rife with urban legends and much of this probably falls into the category of urban legend, but subsequent events have shown that there was at least an element of truth to those legends.)

Let me remind you that it was Mark Richt who induced Quincy Carter to defect to the NFL while the getting was good.  It was Mark Richt who finally kicked Jasper Sanks off the team when it became clear that he would not get his act together.  It was Mark Richt who implemented the mat drills which were so crucial to Georgia’s success in the early part of this decade.  And it was Mark Richt who saw the implementation of changes to the rules concerning player suspensions which would ensure that the things which were whispered about during that tumultous 2000 season could never happen again.

Les Miserables 26: A Tempest Within a Brain

Now that Victor Hugo has officially outed Father Madeleine as Jean Valjean, we shall look at the deliberations in his mind about whether or not he would go to Arras.

First, Victor Hugo fills us in on a little bit more of what happened to Valjean after he left Digne, telling us that there isn’t much we don’t already know.  Basically he just migrated across the country, from town to town, until he wound up at MSM and struck it rich.  He sold off all of Monseigneur Bienvenu’s silver, except for the two candlesticks which he held on to as something to remember the bishop by.  He slipped from town to town, basically trying to stay under the radar.  His encounter with the bishop had changed him, and (with the exception of his encounter with Petit Gervais) he continued to live in that change for all of this time.

A side note:  Victor Hugo doesn’t say anything about this, but we saw how Valjean was treated when he tried to find lodging at Digne.  Digne is in the south of France, MSM is in the north.  If Valjean had to travel all the way up to the other side of France–and on foot, no less–to find a town that would be willing to let him live and work in peace, that would be remarkable.  If, at every town he tried to enter prior to reaching MSM, he got the same reception that he got at Digne, and he managed to remain good in spite of it all, that would be even more remarkable.  That would truly show the power of the transformation which the bishop’s act of mercy and generosity had upon him.

But in order to see the true power of the transformation which the bishop’s generosity had upon Valjean, we must follow his deliberation as he decided whether or not to go to Arras. Continue reading “Les Miserables 26: A Tempest Within a Brain”

All-Skate: What If an Atheist Came to Visit Your Church?

Recently an atheist went to visit Planetshakers, an Australian megachurch, and wrote about her experience here.

Was the Gospel preached here?  Were those in attendance confronted in any way by the scandal of the Cross?  I don’t know.  Maybe if I had gone to this church, I would have come away with a different impression.  It is not fair to judge things like this on the basis of just one article that I read somewhere.  But if the Gospel was present here, then for some reason it did not show up on this writer’s radar screen.

What showed up instead was technology.  Lots of it.  A crowd loaded with hip young people, all looking like they just stepped off Australian Idol.  Arena-rock quality worship music with over-the-top sensuous lyrics.  Middle-aged pastors who tried to appeal to the youth by looking and sounding cool–and failed miserably.  An altar call that came off sounding dreadfully like a real-estate auction.

Many evangelicals would see this type of church as a triumph of missional methodology–i. e. doing what we have to do to reach young people.  But is it?  Does this type of church experience foster simple faith and dependence upon Christ?  Or does it drive out the legitimate work of the Holy Spirit, replacing it with technology, niche marketing, and the power of the crowd, and calling that the work of the Holy Spirit?

What if an atheist came to visit your church?  Would their response be similar to the article that I linked above?

Okay.  Discuss.

Quick Hit: Why Urban Meyer Will Not Be Going to Notre Dame

UPDATE:  AJC sports columnist Jeff Shultz offers a dissenting opinion on why he thinks Urban Meyer will be going to Notre Dame.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the possibility of Urban Meyer heading to Notre Dame, especially since Steve Spurrier stirred that pot a few weeks back.  Most of this talk has come from Georgia fans who are anxious to see the Urban Meyer era at Florida come to its conclusion as quickly as possible.

Heads up, people:  Not gonna happen.

Of course, Florida was ahead of Notre Dame at every step of the way in the process of clearing the decks for Urban Meyer–courtesy of the surprise midseason firing of Ron Zook which was clearly calculated to put them out in front of Notre Dame in the Urban Meyer sweepstakes back in 2004.

But don’t think for a minute that Urban Meyer didn’t have his own reasons for choosing Florida over Notre Dame.

You see, Urban Meyer knew that Notre Dame is no longer relevant on the national football scene, and will never again be relevant in the way that they were back in the days when Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz were winning national championships there.  (My apologies to all you Notre Dame fans out there.  The truth hurts, doesn’t it?)

Why?  Because the game of college football has changed significantly over the course of the last few years.  Whereas the game used to favor bigger athletes who didn’t necessarily have a lot of speed–the kind that the Midwestern states produce in abundance–nowadays, the game favors smaller, faster athletes, who tend mainly to be from the South.  Thus, schools located here in the South have greater access to these athletes, and in turn have a greater competitive advantage.  This has been borne out over the course of the last decade whenever SEC and Big 10 schools have played each other; the SEC team’s advantage in speed has proven to be the deciding factor in these contests.

The advantage which SEC teams have in speed translates into a disadvantage for the Big 10.  Notre Dame feels the full force of this disadvantage as well (even though they are an independent), because they are located in the same part of the country as the Big 10.

What this all adds up to is that anyone who accepts the assignment to coach at Notre Dame had better be able to recruit nationally–just for his team to be able to have a chance.  Notre Dame’s exclusive deal with NBC used to give them an advantage here; this advantage has been diluted significantly by the fact that there are a lot more college football games on TV now than there were just a decade ago.

Urban Meyer knew all this.  He also knew that at Florida, he would have access to an abundant supply of the finest high school football talent in the country.  And he would not have to do nearly as much to keep this abundance of talent headed toward Gainesville–just keep winning consistently.

Urban Meyer knew that compared to Notre Dame, he would have a much cushier deal at Florida.  Do you think in a million years that he is about to give that up?  No indeed!!!!!

My fellow Georgia fans:  I very much hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is perfectly clear that Florida owns Georgia and will continue to do so for years–perhaps decades–to come.  The truth hurts, doesn’t it?

Alastair on Denominationalism Redux

Today I would like to direct your attention to a post over at Alastair at Adversaria that I linked a while back about the role of denominationalism in the present-day church.

This article is a challenging and helpful piece for all who are struggling with the question of what is the true church and/or which church is the right church.  Many of you, particularly in my own church, are thinking through these issues, and so I recommend it to you highly.

The jumping-off point for this post is the Presbyterian Church in America’s recent passage of  a report condemning the Federal Vision and New Perspective on Paul.  (Don’t ask me what either of those are because I don’t know.  Those of you who know the Presbyterian church probably know these items better than me, but it is not essential to understand these things in order to get this post.) Continue reading “Alastair on Denominationalism Redux”