The Monday Melange 09.28.09: Mean Canadians, Lane Kiffin, and Ray Comfort’s Banana

–Come on, people.  You didn’t really think Ole Miss was a Top 5 team, did you?

–Props for stating the obvious go to the Beatles for this line from “Come Together”:  “He’s got feet down below his knees”.

–Canada is hosting the Winter Olympics this coming February.  And it seems the Canadians are getting tough about it.  They’re not letting foreigners in (that would include us) to train on their luge and bobsled courses.  Ooooohh.

Thanks for trying, Canada, but if we want drama in our winter sports we’ll just blow each other’s kneecaps off.

–Well, we won.  By a field goal.  On the last play of the game.  And of course the players ran out and formed the obligatory tickle pile at the center of the field.  Reminds me of the time when they did that against Vanderbilt a couple of years back, except that this time it was a little bit more appropriate considering the level of the competition.

–Did you notice in the video of the upset Clemson fan last week, how Chris Fowler just completely and totally slammed the ACC at the end by saying that you can still win it with three or four losses?

–By the way, I noticed that Clemson got beat this week.  I wonder if the guy in that video was there and tearing up the stadium like he did at Georgia Tech?

A Tennessee coach made a stupid joke about the KKK!!!  And it wasn’t Lane Kiffin!!!

–Speaking of Lane Kiffin, even my spellchecker doesn’t like him.  Every time I type in the word Kiffin, my spellchecker flags it as an error.

–Kirk Cameron:  The Lane Kiffin of evangelical Protestant-dom.

–Seriously.  Right now he has this thing going where he will be giving out 50,000 copies of The Origin of Species on 50 college campuses to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its publication.

–Wait.  A well-known evangelical leader is giving out copies of an atheist book?

–Uh…yeah.  But there’s a catch.  Each of the books that Cameron is giving out contains a 50-page introduction written by himself and noted evangelist Ray Comfort, otherwise known as “Banana Guy”, which attacks several aspects of Darwin’s theory and attempts to show how it is inexorably and undeniably linked to Hitler, the Gulag, racism, sexism, the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, global warming, Gitmo, the Bee Gees, Willie Martinez, Lindsay Lohan, and many other unsavory things.

–I will definitely be writing more about this one sometime in the next week or two, after I have had time to process and gather my thoughts together.  But until then, here is People Magazine’s take on the whole thing.  And here are a couple of videos for your edification:

Kirk Cameron explains all about his plan to distribute modified copies of Origin of Species.

A critic responds point-by-point to Cameron’s video.  Don’t agree with everything she says, but I like her a lot–especially the part where she refers to Comfort as “the Banana Guy…or more recently known as Thunderf00t’s bitch” and Cameron as Comfort’s “boy-toy”.

–For those of you who don’t know who Ray Comfort is, here is the write-up in Wikipedia.  I know.  I had to look it up myself.  And here is another video for your edification:  the one which led to his being called “Banana Guy”.

Looks an awful lot like something out of a Monty Python sketch, doesn’t it?

–Okay, so Willie Martinez’s boys actually held up their end of the deal this week.  Wish they could have performed like that last week and the week before.  Wish they could have performed like that in 2008.  Wish they could have performed like that against Tennessee in 2007 and 2006, and against Auburn and West Virginia in 2005.

–Sorry people.  It’s one game.  One game does not refute the charges I have brought against Willie Martinez.  If the defense can sustain that level of excellence through the rest of the season, then perhaps I might reconsider.  Perhaps.

Liturgical = Irrelevant? Don’t Think So!!!!!

Liturgical churches have long been a favorite evangelical punching bag.  Those of you who are fellow evangelicals, see if any of these sound familiar:  “They’re dead.”  “They’re religious.”  “It’s all just dead, dry ritual.”  “It’s not religion, it’s a relationship, and they just don’t have a clue.”  “It’s all just meaningless words and rote repetition.”  “They worship God in vain; it’s all just rules taught by men.”  In my church, the one I hear most frequently is “They’re irrelevant.”

I would like to speak to this today, because this critique does liturgical churches a gross injustice, and as a matter of fact it betrays a lack of understanding on our part.

Granted, there are an awful lot of liturgical churches out there that are fully deserving of this critique.  But liturgical Protestantism is not quite the dead, dry wasteland that we evangelicals make it out to be.  There are lots of good things happening in the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod)–take a gander at this video from Grace Lutheran Church out in Tulsa and see what you think.  Also there are lots of Anglican churches that have defected from the Episcopal Church USA in recent years over the Gene Robinson thing and other issues.  Many of these churches have joined up with the Anglican Mission in America (an outreach of the African Anglican communion), and there are plenty of good things happening there as well.

Part of the problem here is that, in many regards, evangelicals just don’t get liturgical Christianity.  For instance, we may look at a liturgical service where the sermon only runs for about ten to twenty minutes and say that these people have no regard for the word of God or the authority of Scripture.  Or we may look at the use of music in a liturgical service and say that these people just don’t have a clue about worship.

The truth of the matter is that there are serious and profound differences between the ethos of liturgical Christianity and the ethos of evangelicalism.  Because of this, certain things will look decidedly different in a liturgical church than they would in an evangelical church. Continue reading “Liturgical = Irrelevant? Don’t Think So!!!!!”

The Greatest Tradition in College Football…BONK!!!!!

Watch what happens around the 2:48 mark.  If you don’t catch it, there is a slow-motion replay that starts at 3:16.

While we’re looking at videos:  I know that those of you who are Georgia Tech fans are probably still bummed about getting beat at Miami.  So if it’s any consolation to you, here is some video of a Clemson fan who didn’t take it too well when his team got beat.  Note the expert analysis by Chris Fowler and Jesse Palmer of ESPN, with Chris Fowler struggling to keep from losing it.  (Note:  Everything prior to about the 1:45 mark is just Fowler and Palmer engaging in idle chitchat while waiting to go live; everything after that is what the fans who were watching at home saw.)

The Monday Melange 09.21.09: Swine Flu and Worship

UPDATE: AJC sports columnist Mark Bradley says it’s time for Willie Martinez to goSo does Jeff Schultz.

–Quit complaining about the rain, people.  We’ve been needing it.  Badly.

–Apparently Lane Kiffin’s boys found a way to not completely and totally embarrass themselves in the Swamp like everybody was afraid they would.  It may actually not be too long before Lane Kiffin is singing Rocky Top all night long in the Swamp.

–Georgia beat Arkansas this week.  Guess there’s room here for a line about swine flu, but I’m not touching it.

–What if they gave a Braves game and nobody showed up?

–Seriously.  AJC sports columnist Jeff Schultz went to a Braves game last week and posted on his blog that “The announced attendance was 25,094. Somebody must have forgotten a decimal point.”

–Anybody home in Willie Martinez’s office?  Because apparently Miami has been watching the Peach Bowl game film of LSU and Georgia Tech–which showed quite clearly that despite Paul Johnson’s much-ballyhooed triple option, they aren’t doing anything that can’t be stopped by playing good, sound, disciplined assignment football.  Willie Martinez, it would very much behoove you to take a look at that game film as well.

Put it another way:  There is now officially no excuse whatsoever for your defense to give up 45 points to Georgia Tech again this year.

–One of my favorite bloggers has a blurb about doubts this week.  Apparently some believe that it is sinful to air one’s unresolved doubts.  Now granted, someone who has Nicene-level doubts should probably not be in church leadership.  But all of us have had doubts at some time or another, and the Gospel is for doubters.  If you are in church leadership and you can’t or don’t express your unresolved doubts (those that don’t rise to the level of essential Christian belief), then you are helping to create a culture where it is just not safe for anyone to express their unresolved doubts.  This leads to a culture of phoniness and people trying desperately to keep up appearances of a certainty that they do not truly possess.  Want to see where that goes?  Take a look around you at the wide world of evangelical Protestant-dom as it is now–you’re looking at it. Continue reading “The Monday Melange 09.21.09: Swine Flu and Worship”

All-Skate: Do You Miss the Tennessee-Florida Rivalry?

Those of you who track with college football know that this is Tennessee-Florida weekend.  Once upon a time, this was one of the biggest rivalries in all of college football; the winner of this game had the inside track on the SEC East title, and ultimately the SEC championship.  Florida won most of these games during a period when Tennessee was at its best under Philip Fulmer, but Tennessee slipped up and won a couple of times–once in 1998, a win which launched their national championship campaign–and once in 2001.  The game was postponed until the last week of the season because of September 11 that year.  Florida was cruising toward a national championship when an unexpected Tennessee win put them in the SEC championship and got them some national championship consideration.  Of course all of that evaporated the next week when LSU beat Tennessee in the SEC championship game.

Nowadays the Tennessee program has dropped way off; almost every year these days it is a foregone conclusion that Florida will win and win big.  This is unfortunate.  On the one hand, I miss the days when these programs were more comparable and there was more riding on this rivalry.  On the other hand, I don’t miss those days at all because the dominance of Tennessee and Florida rendered Georgia completely and totally irrelevant in the SEC East.

So what do you think, people?  Do you miss the days when more was riding on Tennessee-Florida?  If so, why?  If not, why not?


Quick Hit: He’s Baa-aaack

That’s right, people.  Joel Osteen, the man, the myth, the amazing sensation that we all love to love, is back in action.  He has a new book coming out soon, called “It’s Your Time”.

You can read some of the promotional material for this book over at the White Horse Inn, along with their reactions to it.

Apparently this latest piece of work is more of the same vintage Osteen that we have all come to know and love.

I think that at this stage in the game it is safe to say that Osteen has heard his critics.  His publishers and handlers have surely heard his critics by now.  (Of course they are also hearing the CHA-CHING of the cash register drawer, probably a little louder than they are hearing the critics, but that is the subject of another diatribe best left for another day.)

A couple of years ago it might have been fair to say that Osteen’s critics were misunderstanding him, that they were not seeing the whole picture of what Osteen is all about, and that if you were to see the whole picture of what Osteen is all about you would recognize that Christ and the Gospel are truly at the center of everything he says and does.

But now?  Uhhh…not so much.  You see, by this stage of the game, Osteen and his handlers have surely heard the critics and the haters who are saying that he’s not preaching the Gospel and that he’s leading people into the ditch of prosperity teaching.  If there was any evidence to the contrary, they surely would have brought it out by now.  If in fact it was true that Jesus and the Gospel were at the center of all that Osteen is about, but that in order to recognize this one needs time to see the whole picture of what Osteen is all about…well, we’ve had time.  It has now been at least four or five years since Osteen first burst onto the scene.  And yet the Osteen we’re seeing now is apparently the same Osteen that we’ve all come to know and love.

So please, people.  Let’s stop talking about how Osteen has a method to his apparent madness and is slipping it past you, keeping Christ and the Gospel under the radar because he’s so savvy.  Let’s stop talking about how Osteen draws you in with that slick nice-guy appeal and then challenges you to a life of full-on, radical, committed discipleship to Jesus Christ once he’s got you in his clutches.  It’s not happening, people.  If it were, don’t you think we would have seen it by now?

At least let’s be honest about what’s happening here.  The guy is a damn good motivational speaker.  Probably the best on the planet.  He will give you what you need to walk into your next job interview with confidence, or to do what you need to do to make your marriage work, or to face health challenges–or even the challenges of finding a decent parking space at the mall–with confidence.  I may be getting curmudgeonly in my old age, but I don’t think I’m quite enough of a curmudgeon yet to object to that.

But please let’s not ramp it up to saying that this gravy train that Osteen writes of is the Christian life, or that the god who presides over this gravy train is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Did Jesus Christ come to earth and die on a Roman cross so that we could all have good parking spaces at the mall?  So that we could close the deal and sell the house?  So that we could get the nice cushy job making obscene amounts of money?  Don’t think so.

You say “God is on our side.  He loves us.  He wants to be our friend.”  True enough.  But how on earth is he more on our side than on the side of the people over in Sudan living on $10 a day?  “Well, if they would get the book and read it and put the things Osteen says into practice, then they could have the good life too.”  Man, please.

Let’s be honest about this, people.  Let’s just come right out and say, “I want my nice, comfortable, cushy life.  And I believe that Jesus wants this for me too.  Osteen gives me a way to believe this, so of course I want to believe him.”

By the way, here is Mark Driscoll on Joel Osteen.  I’m with him–you can’t believe everything you hear just because it’s on Christian radio.

The Monday Melange 09.14.09: Truth, Relativistic Worldviews, and the Evil Genius

–Okay, so it seems that Steve Spurrier has finally found his quarterback.  Now he’s starting to look like the Evil Genius that we all knew and loved back in the day.

–Once again, a Willie Martinez defense failed to show up for a big game.  Good thing that Joe Cox was on like Donkey Kong, or else we would have been in big trouble.

–This one is for all you who love to bitch and moan about paying 50 cents toll on 400:  There is a new highway in Richmond, VA, called the Pocahontas Parkway.  South of Richmond, the James River runs right next to I-95 for several miles, thus effectively cutting off almost all of southeast Richmond from I-95.  The Pocahontas Parkway was built to remedy that situation.  It is a toll road, about 6 miles long.  The toll is $2.25.  Compared to this, 400 is a steal!!!!!

–For those of you who are keeping track, the 78 combined points scored by Georgia and South Carolina is the most ever since 1970, and the second highest all-time.  The 41 scored by Georgia is the most Georgia has scored against South Carolina since 1995.  And the 37 that South Carolina scored is the most they have ever scored against Georgia since joining the SEC in 1992.

–Here’s why I am worried about Arkansas next week (and why I predicted Arkansas to win before the start of the season):  Georgia is coming off a long, emotionally draining battle with South Carolina that went way past their bedtime.  Now they have to travel to Fayetteville, which is a long way away from here–10 plus hours if you go by car.  Arkansas was off this week.  (Arkansas will probably pay dearly later on for taking their bye week this early in the season, but that won’t help us any.)  Expect another offensive shootout just like this week–and God knows how that will turn out.

–Focus on the Family now has a new thing called “The Truth Project”, which is all about this thing known as the Christian worldview.  In other words, Christianity isn’t just a religion, it’s a full-on system of thought and belief with implications for every domain of human life:  science, philosophy, law, ethics, morality, psychology, politics, art, music, football, Harry Potter, abortion, gay marriage…you get the idea.  And by golly, we’re going to tell you what to believe so you won’t fall for the lies of all those godless secular humanists running around out there!!!  Okay, maybe I’m being a little harsh here.  But in all honesty, I’ve lost a lot of respect for Focus on the Family after they went completely and totally over the cliff with this gay marriage thing over the course of the last decade.

–To quote Derek Webb:  “Don’t teach me about politics and government, just tell me who to vote for / Don’t teach me about truth and beauty, just label my music / Don’t teach me how to live like a free man, just give me a new law / I don’t want to know, if the answers aren’t easy / So just bring it down from the mountain to me / I want a new law.”

–Heads up:  You will probably not be hearing Derek Webb on your Christian radio station anytime soon.

–Lots of safeties were scored this week.  Tennessee got one against UCLA, Vanderbilt got one against LSU, South Carolina got one when Georgia snapped the ball out of the end zone on a punt attempt, Ohio State got one against Southern Cal, and North Carolina beat UConn on a safety that resulted from a holding penalty in the end zone.

–Here’s a downer for all you Georgia fans out there:  The team that beat you by two touchdowns on opening weekend had their asses handed to them this week by Houston.  HOUSTON!!!!!

–Georgia won, Georgia Tech won, and the Cons won.  All on the same weekend.  What’s next?  Are pigs going to fly?

The Monday Melange 09.09.09: Vintage Interstates and Willie

Today I am going to try a little something different.  This post is just going to be a series of random thoughts and impressions from the previous week.  I am going to call it the Monday Melange.

–Okay, so this is a couple of days late.  Deal with it.

–Seriously though, I just got back into town after being up in DC with my sister, nephew, and a smattering of other relations for the weekend.  We do this [the blogging thing] when we can.

–I-85 through SC and NC has seen significant improvement over the last two decades, especially around Charlotte, Greensboro, and Greenville-Spartanburg.  But an awful lot of it is still in vintage condition.  Vintage:  Great for music, great for wine…not so great for a major interstate.

–It seems as if Georgia’s football team is in about the same shape as I-85 in SC and NC.  Which means:  Wake me up when it’s December.

–The end of summer is not my favorite time of year.  Everything about it–the shorter days, the fall color starting to show up in the trees, the angle at which the sunlight comes in, even the way in which sound carries outside–suggests the impending onset of winter.  Oh well.  At least I still have the crickets chirping outside my window so I can pretend like it’s still summer.

–Willie Martinez has got to go.  Seriously.

–It isn’t as if the blame for last Saturday’s train wreck can be laid entirely at the feet of Willie Martinez.  Certainly the offense and special teams had significant failings as well.  But consider this:  In four years under defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder (2001-04), Georgia only lost 10 times.  In only one of those 10 losses did an opponent manage to score more than 24 points (LSU scored 34 in the 2003 SEC championship).  This suggests that whatever else was going wrong, at least the defense was doing its part.  In four plus years under Willie Martinez (2005-???), Georgia has lost 13 times.  In seven of those losses, opponents scored more than 30 points.  In four of those losses, opponents scored more than 40 points.  And one opponent even managed to ring up more than 50 points on Willie Martinez–Tennessee got 51 in 2006.  Why, just last year alone Georgia hung a whopping 42 on Georgia Tech and it wasn’t enough to earn the W.  Georgia could have managed 41 against Alabama and it would not have been enough.  And if Georgia had managed to ring up 49 on Florida, it still would not have been enough.

–Willie Martinez and his boys couldn’t stop a Big 12 quarterback.  Does anyone out there think for one second that these guys have even a prayer of stopping Jordan Jefferson, let alone Tim Tebow?

–I-95 from Richmond to DC is insane.  I had not been that way since a trip to DC that we made when I was growing up, and I was reminded why I only go that way once every 20 years.

–Seriously.  Do you realize that Fredericksburg (about an hour north of Richmond) is now a suburb of DC?  Even as far south as Fredericksburg, I-95 southbound is slammed with DC traffic during the afternoon rush hour.  (Fortunately I was not mixed up in that; I was going the other way.)

–On I-395 going into DC, there is a spot where you round a curve and there before you is the Washington Monument and the Capitol.  That is a very impressive sight.

–Georgia only managed 10 points against a defense that ranked 93rd in the country last year.  This does not bode well.

–In the SEC, if the opposing defensive coordinator doesn’t want you running the ball, you ain’t running the ball.  (Unless the opposing defensive coordinator is Willie Martinez.)  Which means that Joe Cox had better get much better–like now–or else it’s going to be a long and ugly year.

–The last time Georgia lost its top two offensive playmakers to the NFL draft as underclassmen was in 1993.  That year, Georgia went from 10-2 and winning the Florida Citrus Bowl the year before to 5-6, including an abysmal 1-4 start (0-4 in conference play).  Think we might have a shot at duplicating ’93?  Well, we’ve already matched the opening week’s result.

–There is a recurring urban legend that the streets of DC are laid out and the monuments are placed in such a way as to duplicate certain Masonic symbols.  This is dubious, as the designer of DC was a Frenchman (there were not very many Masons in France back then).  Many of the Founding Fathers were Masons, but it is quite doubtful that they would have had much input into the design of the city.  Still, this urban legend persists in the minds of some diehard conspiracy theorists.  Personally, I think it’s a lot simpler to believe that it was designed simply to confuse the hell out of any would-be invading army.

–At least we’re not Oklahoma.

–I can’t figure out who’s worse off:  Oklahoma because they lost their starting quarterback, or Georgia because they don’t have a quarterback?

–South Carolina is coming up next week.  This decade, Georgia has averaged 16 points per game against South Carolina–and that was with teams that actually had quarterbacks.  Kids, can you say “Skunk!!!!!”?

–I may yet figure out how to find my way around DC.  And Joe Cox may yet figure out how to find his way around the Georgia offense.

Les Miserables 28: A Tempest Within a Brain (cont’d)

Last time we saw Valjean deliberating over whether or not he would go to Arras.  And he was on the point of going to give himself up, when he thought of Fantine and all the others of MSM who were dependent upon him remaining where he was for the sake of their happiness and prosperity.  Besides, Champmathieu was a criminal who deserved to go to jail, he was just a few years away from dying, surely he was not worth saving.

As a result of this new development, he became so convinced that he should stay where he was, that he made the decision to destroy everything in his possession which might give evidence that he was once Jean Valjean.  This included all his old prison clothes, the knapsack and walking stick he had that night in Digne, and even the silver candlesticks which he had received from Monseigneur Bienvenu.

And just as he was getting ready to throw them into the fire, along with all the other things, he heard a voice.  It was really his own conscience, but it was just as real to him as if it had been an actual person standing there in the room with him. Continue reading “Les Miserables 28: A Tempest Within a Brain (cont’d)”