Time to Go to the Mattresses: Another Rant on the Creation Wars

In Mafia parlance, the phrase “go to the mattresses” means to prepare for all-out war between rival crime families.  Many of you have seen one or more of The Godfather movies, The Sopranos, or the many other movies or TV shows about the Mafia, so you are no doubt aware of this.  The origin of this expression is not known for certain, though it is believed to come from the medieval Italian practice of hanging mattresses around buildings to protect them from cannon shot.  It may also refer to the practice of moving families to safer apartments during wartime and having soldiers sleep on the floors for protection.

Well, people, it’s time to go to the mattresses.

Grab the women and children and shuttle them out to a safer part of the city, and hunker down for a good old-fashioned knock-down, drag-out war.

This ain’t gonna be pretty, people.

Biologos is an organization whose mission is to encourage positive engagement by Christians with scientific issues, specifically the issue of evolution.  In their own words, their mission is as follows:

The BioLogos Foundation is a group of Christians, many of whom are professional scientists, biblical scholars, philosophers, theologians, pastors, and educators, who are concerned about the long history of disharmony between the findings of science and large sectors of the Christian faith. We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We also believe that evolution, properly understood, best describes God’s work of creation. Founded by Dr. Francis Collins, BioLogos addresses the escalating culture war between science and faith, promoting dialog and exploring the harmony between the two. We are committed to helping the church – and students, in particular – develop worldviews that embrace both of these complex belief structures, and that allow science and faith to co-exist peacefully.

This is a mission which I wholeheartedly support, by the way.  I have linked lots of material from the Biologos site over here, and will continue to do so in the future.  Whether you are a proponent of evolution, intelligent design, young-earth creationism, or some other theory on the origins of the universe, or are not committed to any particular viewpoint on the scientific specifics of how we got here, you can–and I would venture to say that you should–support the mission of Biologos.  What they are attempting to do is move beyond the culture war rhetoric of Christian fundamentalists who insist that the whole edifice of Christianity stands or falls on a literal six-day creation and atheistic fundamentalists who view science as the only credible way of looking at the universe and religion as the exclusive province of superstitious fools.

What they are attempting to do, in other words, is to proclaim that the main thing in our engagement with the culture as Christians is to keep the main thing the main thing.  Don’t get bogged down in the scientific specifics of any particular theory of origins, but recognize that what all Christians agree on is that God created us and the universe for His own glory, so that we might be in relationship with Him.  Hold whatever scientific and theological convictions you have on this issue loosely and with humility, recognizing that there are other believers who read the same Bible as you do, who are just as much a part of the kingdom of God through the redemptive work of Christ on the cross as you are, who nevertheless may hold differing viewpoints on these issues.

Apparently there are a few people running around out there who have big fat stinky problems with that. Continue reading “Time to Go to the Mattresses: Another Rant on the Creation Wars”

The Monday Melange 06.28.10: Rory Reid, John Isner, Jordan Crawford

–Notice that I have a new banner up this week.  Those of you who live in Baton Rouge should recognize this view.  I grew up in Baton Rouge, so every now and then I feel compelled to give the BTR a little banner love.

–Rory Reid is running for governor of Nevada.  For those of you who don’t know, Rory Reid is the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  But it seems that he is trying to keep that little bit of info on the DL.  (Wonder why?)  Here is one of his campaign spots, courtesy of Youtube.  See if you can find any mention of Reid anywhere in this:

Props go out to John Isner.  Great job at Wimbledon this week.

In-N-Out Burger is coming to Dallas.  ROAD TRIP!!!!!

–For those of you who don’t know, In-N-Out Burger is quite simply the best fast food hamburger that you will eat anywhere.  All of their hamburgers are made to order.  When you order fries, they will actually take a potato, cut it up, and drop it into the fryer right then and there.  They have them in California, and I believe they also have them in other places such as Arizona and Nevada as well.

–I know some of you people stop in here from time to time looking for information on Labor Day.  As if I am some high-ranking person in the leadership of my church who has all the answers to anything and everything that is going on.  But since we like to keep our peeps well-informed, here is the skinny on Labor Day.

The Crocks have drafted Jordan Crawford.  For a team replete with draft-day gaffes (Acie Law, Shelden Williams, Priest Lauderdale, and passing on Chris Paul), it seems as if they may have actually gotten one right.

–This video of BP execs spilling coffee is so funny, we have to look at it again.

–Those of you who are going crazy from the heat, think about this:  According to Weather Underground, the high today in Amundsen-Scott Station, Antarctica, is -61, the low is -94, and the windchill is -126.  Later this week they are expected to have lows below -100 and windchills below -140.  Feel better now?

Les Miserables 48: The Grandfather and the Grandson

As mentioned last time, M. Gillenormand had a small child living with him.  This child was his grandson.

This grandson was the son of his younger daughter, the one who married the officer from Waterloo.  This officer, as it turns out, is Georges Pontmercy, whom we met briefly earlier in the story.

Victor Hugo goes on for over two pages listing the accomplishments of Georges Pontmercy as a soldier in the French army, and for the Republic after Napoleon came to power.  Now, contrast this with Thenardier.  Think back to how he claimed to have been a hero at Waterloo, and what his “heroism” consisted of.  Contrast this with the heroic deeds done by Pontmercy as listed by Victor Hugo.  Also note the bitter irony that a hero such as Pontmercy should have been “rescued” by Thenardier and should therefore be indebted for his life to a scoundrel such as Thenardier.  This relationship drives a goodly portion of the action which is still to come.

For his valor at Waterloo, Pontmercy was granted the title of baron and officer of the Legion of Honor.  Yet the Restoration refused to recognize any titles which Napoleon had granted.  He was put on half-pay and sent to live at a residence in Vernon, a small town about thirty miles west of downtown Paris on the A13 highway, where he would be regularly watched.  He rented the smallest and least expensive house he could find.  This house was located right on the river Seine, near the bridge that runs through town.  In Victor Hugo’s day, this was a beautiful monumental bridge; Hugo complains that this is a bridge “which we can expect to see replaced by some hideous metal arch”.  In fact, if you look at the street view on Google Maps you can see that they have done even worse; the bridge which is there now, called the Pont Clemenceau, is a 1950s-era (or thereabouts) metal-beam bridge with solid stone-looking supports. Continue reading “Les Miserables 48: The Grandfather and the Grandson”

David Vinson on Evolution in the Public Schools

Today I wish to direct your attention to another post over at the Biologos blog site.  In this post, physician and educator David Vinson relates his experience with allaying the fears of parents trying to deal with the quandary of how to deal with their children being in a public school where evolution is taught.  These parents came to faith in a church which strongly emphasized Biblical creation while teaching that evolution is nothing more than a pseudoscientific yarn developed by atheists to explain away God and erode the moral fiber of our nation.  Vinson walked them through his own journey of how he came to understand that the challenge of evolution is not to oppose it but to include it in a larger framework which includes all of what we know to be true about God and other spiritual realities.  Along the way, Vinson provides links to the story of his own journey and other resources which may be helpful to those of you who are interested in exploring further.

Read “Allaying Parental Fears About Evolution Education in the Public Schools” by David Vinson

The Monday Melange 06.21.10: Big Butter Jesus, Vuvuzelas

–Condolences go out from all the staff here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion to all our peeps up in southern Ohio on the loss of your Jesus sculpture thingy.

–This might almost be enough to make me like soccer:  A Lego stop-motion animation recreation of highlights from the US-England World Cup match.  They got just about everything right–right down to the crowd noise and the vuvuzelas.

–That’s right.  For those of you who haven’t been watching the World Cup, this has been the rest of the world’s introduction to the vuvuzela.  A more annoying instrument, man could not possibly have invented.  Imagine that:  The so-called world’s biggest sporting event sounds like the inside of a beehive, or possibly Lane Kiffin’s head, or possibly a beehive inside of Lane Kiffin’s head.  Which would explain a lot.

–Seriously, though.  Mark Richt needs to quit thinking about blackouts, or black pants, or bum-rushing the end zone to celebrate the first touchdown.  If he wants to do something truly constructive, he should get all the Georgia fans to sneak vuvuzelas into the stadium in Jacksonville and play them all afternoon long.  That might freak Florida out badly enough to actually give us a chance to win.  Coach Richt, can you please get on this right away?

–I mean, the peeps at Mississippi State have figured out how to sneak cowbells into their stadium, so this can’t be that hard to figure out.  Right?

–Ever wonder how the peeps at BP handle it when somebody spills coffee?  Take a gander at this:

–Only 11 weeks to the start of football season.  If LSU does poorly this year, will people start calling them “Les’s Miserables”?

So How Does It Feel to Be Lane Kiffin Now?

That strange sound you have been hearing coming out of the southeastern United States for the last week or thereabouts has been the sound of howls of derisive laughter directed toward Lane Kiffin, formerly the head coach at Tennessee, now the coach at Southern Cal.

As AJC sports columnist Jeff Schultz put it, “Lane Kiffin’s Valhalla just turned into a shack with the word, “Condemned” on it.”

As bare as Tennessee, the program Kiffin left, may be these days, at least they are ahead of USC in one regard, for the next two years at least:  They’re bowl eligible.  Imagine that.  Lane Kiffin, envious of Independence Bowl eligibility?

But once the howls of derisive laughter directed toward Lane Kiffin have subsided (and granted, that may take a minute), there are more serious issues which must be considered.  There are serious problems with the way in which the NCAA enforces the rules, investigates rules violations, and hands out sanctions.

USC just got smacked by the NCAA.  Smacked like no program has been smacked in over a decade, since Alabama back in 2002.  Smacked to the tune of:  Four years probation.  Two years postseason ineligibility (the NCAA thought of banning USC from TV as well, but decided against it).  Thirty fewer scholarships over three years.  Plus, (Oh snap!!!  There’s room in the trophy case!!!) all wins from 2004 and 2005 vacated, including one BCS championship.  Not quite the death penalty, but awfully close.

The basketball team received similar sanctions, except that those were self-imposed.  USC’s game plan:  Throw the basketball team under the bus (no one cares about that, after all) and maybe the NCAA will let the football team skate.  Didn’t work.

Though for a while we were really worried that it just might.  Considering how long this investigation dragged out, it really looked as if the NCAA lacked the resolve to throw the book at one of its marquee programs not named Alabama.  And it looked as if we might be forced to witness the inglorious irony of the NCAA bringing all sorts of righteous indignation against Alabama while letting one of its marquee programs from outside the South skate.  But in the end, they did the right thing.

The problem?  They did it too late.  All the major players responsible for USC being in trouble are long gone.  Pete Carroll is coaching the Seattle Seahawks and getting paid $33 million to do so.  (Nice work if you can get it.)  Reggie Bush is in New Orleans making millions and celebrating a Super Bowl championship.  (At least he can now afford housing for his family, presumably, rather than having to rely on an unscrupulous agent to provide it illegally.)  O. J. Mayo, after playing at USC for all of one year, was a first-round NBA draft pick in 2008.  Tim Floyd?  He’s coaching at Texas-El Paso, which ain’t much.  But he should be coaching the prison team at Reidsville (or the California equivalent thereof).

So who does get to pay the price for the indiscretions of Carroll, Bush, Mayo, and Floyd?


–Ed Orgeron.  He and Kiffin were assistants on Carroll’s staff when all of this went down.

–Mike Garrett, the USC athletic director.  He is a slimeball and a miserable human being.  Don’t have a problem with this one.  Besides, all of this happened on his watch.  Three of his programs (football, basketball, tennis) just got slammed with major NCAA sanctions, and he still has a job?  WTF???

–The current student-athletes at USC.  Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!!!!!

More from Jeff Schultz:

The NCAA and pro sports leagues also need to work together to figure this problem out. Maybe a clause can be added to scholarship and coaching contracts, stating: “Any probation resulting from the actions of [name], even after [name] departs, can result in a $17 million fine and a public stoning.”

Can we get the lawyers on that right away?

Amen, brother.

–Here is Pete Carroll’s video response, just arrived from an undisclosed location somewhere in the South Pacific, in which he is–imagine that–shocked!!!!!  And disappointed!!!!!  Notice that he doesn’t believe a word of it.  If he did, he would not have bolted USC, and certainly not have bolted USC two months before the NCAA was set to release its findings.

–And here is a video response to Pete Carroll’s video response.  This guy is not afraid to call Pete Carroll out.  The whole thing is kinda whacked, but it is kinda funny to watch nonetheless.  But amid the whacked-ness, you can see part of the truth of how unfair this is to the current USC student-athletes who must pay the price for Carroll’s and Bush’s wrongdoings while they get off scot-free, and how wrong this is.

[Whoops!!!  He’s gone!!!  Guess this guy was too whacked even for Youtube.]

The Monday Melange 06.14.10: Abby Sunderland, Darth Vader

Abby Sunderland has apparently disappeared while attempting to sail solo around the globe.  Now I know what a lot of you are thinking:  She is only a teenager and should never have been allowed to try such a stunt.  Yeah whatever.  She is trying something which the vast majority of people will never even attempt in their lifetimes, to say nothing of the vast majority of teenagers.  She deserves kudos for that.

Never fear, she has been found, safe and sound, and all is apparently well.

–So should she have been allowed to try such a stunt?  There are two ways you can go with this.  On the one hand, you can start from the fact that she attempted something very few of us will ever attempt in our lifetimes and argue through to the conclusion that she should be allowed to swallow Drano or jump off an airplane at 30,000 feet without a parachute if she wants to.  On the other hand, you can latch on to the fact that attempting to sail solo around the world is a very dangerous thing to do and argue through to the conclusion that she should not even be allowed to ride a bike or walk down the street.

Sorry people, I’m going to have to go with the father on this one.  If this were just some random Joe Schmoe out there with no prior sailing experience whose kid wanted to sail around the world and he said “Okay”, that would be one thing.  But this is a sailing family.  Sailing is what they do.  They are quite experienced at it.  There are risks to which even the best and most experienced sailors are subject.  They know this and are good with it.  Do you really want to live, or to subject the rest of us to living, in a world where all trace of risk is removed because the prospect that anyone might come to harm is simply too much to bear?  Didn’t think so.

–The World Cup:  Once every four years soccer fans come out of the woodwork to remind us how important soccer really is.  If soccer really was that important, they wouldn’t need to remind us of it.

–Psychologists have figured out what Darth Vader’s problem is.  Turns out, he has borderline personality disorder.  Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

–The latest and greatest iPhone just came out this past week.  Already speculation is rampant about what the next big thing on the iPhone will be.  How about this:  a solar-powered iPhone?  Well, the peeps over at Patently Apple have been digging into all the patents that Apple has filed over the years, and they found something pretty interesting.  Apparently Apple has taken out a patent on a double-sided solar panel that could be embedded into the iPhone, directly underneath the touch screen, and also into the back of the device.  Thus the iPhone would be able to soak up the sun on both sides, thus generating more power.

–I hear a lot of you complaining about the heat these days.  Here’s a little something to chill you out:  According to Weather Underground, the high today in Amundsen-Scott Station, Antarctica, is -56.  The low is -70.  Windchill is -117.  Feel better now?

Les Miserables 47: The Grand Bourgeois

Before saying anything more about Marius, Victor Hugo takes us around to meet a curmudgeonly old man named Monsieur Gillenormand.

Now this Monsieur Gillenormand was not some old geezer barely hanging on to life and trying to last as far into old age as he possibly could.  No, this old geezer was over ninety years old and very much full of life and health.  He was a unique person only because he belonged to a different age when he was like everyone else; all the others who were just like him had long since died off.

Monsieur Gillenormand had a male servant and a female servant, the man named Basque and the woman named Nicolette.  One of M. Gillenormand’s quirks was that whenever a servant entered his service, he would rename him or her.  Male servants would be named after the province where they were from; female servants would all be named Nicolette.  Even a woman named Magnon was called Nicolette while she was in his service.

This Magnon had two illegitimate children, both boys, who she claimed were fathered by Gillenormand.  She left them on his doorstep; he returned them to her with the promise to pay her eighty francs a month.  We will see Magnon and these two children again later on.

Another quirk of M. Gillenormand’s was that he never saw anyone, at any time, for any reason, during the day.  He only received visitors during the evening.  This was a mark of old-school bourgeois geniality which he preserved throughout his life.

M. Gillenormand had two daughters.  The younger married an officer in Napoleon’s army, for which Gillenormand never quite forgave her.  She was dead now.  The older was still single and living with Gillenormand.  She was a prude in the fullest sense of the word.  Victor Hugo puts it like this:

At the moment when she makes her entry into our story, she was an aging figure of virtue, an incombustible prude with one of the sharpest noses and one of the most obtuse minds to be found….

In cant, Mlle. Gillenormand the elder could have put to shame any English miss.  She was immodestly modest.  She had one frightful reminiscence in her life:  One day a man had seen her garter.

Age had only increased this pitiless modesty.  Her dress front was never thick enough, never came up high enough.  She piled on hooks and pins where nobody thought of looking.  The characteristic of prudery is to increase the sentinels, as the fortress becomes less threatened.

However, she had once allowed herself to be kissed by a man and had expressed no displeasure in it.  This man was a great-nephew of hers, a lancer named Theodule.  We will see more of him later on.

There was one more person living in M. Gillenormand’s house.  This person was a little boy.  The boy was deathly afraid of M. Gillenormand, yet M. Gillenormand idolized him.  This boy was his grandson.

The Monday Melange 06.10.10 (BREAKING NEWS): Avery Johnson, Tom Izzo, Ben Roethlisberger

–Okay, this is WAY off from being a Monday.  Deal with it.

–Normally I wouldn’t do one of these in the middle of the week.  But this is a huge time in the world of sports and there are several breaking stories floating around out there that desperately need to be blogged, so we are going to do this four days early.  If we wait until Monday, a lot of these stories will be dead issues.  And we don’t want that.  So here we go.

–According to the latest report, Avery Johnson apparently thinks the Crocks are just as much a crock as I do.  He must, if he thinks that taking on a MASSIVE rebuilding project in the garbage dump capital of the world is preferable to coaching the Crocks.

–It’s just as well.  Though Avery Johnson has a very high winning percentage and has taken the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA championship, he was nonetheless fired after consecutive first-round playoff exits.  This does not necessarily bode well for a team that is trying to get past the second round in the playoffs.

–The big elephant in the room right now is conference expansion.  According to the latest reports, Nebraska is headed to the Big TenAnd six teams are headed to the Pac 10:  Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado.  What this means effectively is that the Big 12 is now dead.

–Wow, how quickly this story is breaking out.  Stay tuned, people.

Tom Izzo of Michigan State may be headed to the Cleveland Cavs.  Izzo has had his name mentioned in NBA coaching searches for years; looks like he may finally be making the jump.

The GBI has just released a shitload of videos from the Ben Roethlisberger case.  According to Roethlisberger’s accuser, he “had a short temper”.  Take a gander at these, if you dare.

–WHOOPS:  Forgot a HUGE item that is just coming down the pipe.  Apparently the NCAA has concluded its investigation into Southern Cal and will be announcing its findings sometime today.  This is gonna be huge.  According to the current speculation, Southern Cal will be banned from postseason play for two years, face the loss of several scholarships, have several 2004 wins revoked, and be on probation for a couple of years.

And you thought Pete Carroll leaving for Seattle earlier this year was just coincidence?