The Monday Melange 08.30.10: Chan Gailey, Olivia Newton-John, Tiger Woods, Karl Benson

So it seems that Chan Gailey has let a little bit of heckling get to him.  Dude, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

–When Olivia Newton-John came out with “Physical” back in 1981, she got a lot of media attention because some thought that the lyrics were too risque.  Her handlers played it by saying “Oh no, she didn’t mean THAT physical”, and promptly releasing a workout video.  Too bad Olivia Newton-John came along a couple of years before Madonna.

–Tiger Woods:  It is now official.  YOU FAIL AT MARRIAGE!!!!!

–This means that Tiger Woods is now free to chase after other women to his heart’s content without having to bear the stigma of being called “Cheetah”.

If the Atlanta Dream won a playoff game and no one was around to see it, would anyone care?

–I hear that WAC commissioner Karl Benson is having a bit of a rough summer.  Boise State, the marquee program of the WAC, defected to the Mountain West back in June.  Just this past week the news came out that Fresno State and Nevada are also defecting to the Mountain West.  If I were the athletic director at WAC member Louisiana Tech, I would be on the phone with the commissioners of Conference USA and the Sun Belt, begging to get into either of those conferences.

–New Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin has forged a compromise with SEC officials that will allow fans to continue to ring their beloved cowbells at games.  But here’s the thing:  They cannot do it at inappropriate times, such as when the visiting team is trying to run a play.  If they do, then the conference rules with respect to artificial noisemakers kick in.  So Stricklin is running a massive education and awareness campaign to try and get fans on board with this.  Good luck with that.

The Bulldog Tooth Bonus Feature: Aloysius’s Projected SEC Order of Finish

Aloysius loves himself some honey.

Aloysius has a thing about honey.  (Not surprising; he is a bear, after all.)  Whenever I watch romance movies where the guy calls his lover “Honey”, Aloysius always perks up, looks at me, and says “Honey?  Where?”

Aloysius can consume prodigious amounts of the stuff.  You have not known life until you have known the challenge of trying to keep honey in the house when you have a bear around.

At any rate, Aloysius wanted to wield the vaunted bulldog tooth again and project a predicted order of finish for the entire SEC (not just Georgia).  So without further ado, here we go.  What follows is almost entirely Aloysius’s words (I may interject a thought of my own from time to time).

SEC EAST

1:  Florida (7-1 SEC, 11-1 overall) No Tim Tebow?  No Charlie Strong?  Urban Meyer flaking out?  No problem.  Florida and Alabama are still light years ahead of the rest of the conference, and will be for many years to come.  The key game here is Florida-Alabama in Tuscaloosa in October:  Alabama will take this one.  But these two teams will meet again in the ATL in December, and Florida will take that one.

2:  South Carolina (5-3 SEC, 8-4 overall) Every year South Carolina talks about how this is going to be their year.  And this really does have the potential to be a very good year, by South Carolina standards at any rate.  A loss to Clemson in the final week of the season will be a downer for them.

3:  Georgia (5-3 SEC, 9-3 overall) An early loss at the Dead Cockroach gives South Carolina the head-to-head advantage over Georgia.  Aaron Murray will come into his own as the season progresses, but playing a decent Auburn team after ten consecutive weekends of football will be too much for Georgia.

4:  Kentucky (2-6 SEC, 6-6 overall) Wake these people up when basketball season starts.

5:  Tennessee (1-7 SEC, 4-8 overall) Philip Fulmer did some amazing things at Tennessee, but his program started to slip during his final years.  Lane Kiffin came in and turned the program into a complete and utter joke before hightailing it to the Left Coast.  The new guy is solid and brings a sense of stability, but it will be at least a couple of years before Tennessee is any good.

6:  Vanderbilt (0-8 SEC, 2-10 overall) New coach Robbie Caldwell made a big impression at SEC Media Days, showing that he has a big sense of humor.  He will need every bit of it to get through this season.

SEC WEST

1:  Alabama (8-0 SEC, 12-0 overall) Alabama makes it through the regular season undefeated.  But repeating as national champions is a very tough thing to do and has not been done in a very long time.  A very tough loss to Florida in the SEC championship game knocks them out.

2:  LSU (6-2 SEC, 10-2 overall) Les Miles is definitely feeling the heat these days.  LSU will have a good season despite failing to beat Florida or Alabama for the third consecutive year, and this will take some of the heat off.

3:  Ole Miss (6-2 SEC, 10-2 overall) Jeremiah Masoli will make a huge impact down the stretch for Ole Miss.  Not enough to win them the SEC West, though.

4:  Auburn (4-4 SEC, 8-4 overall) In Cameron Newton, Gus Malzahn may have finally found a quarterback to run his offense.  If so, then Auburn could be dangerous.

5:  Arkansas (2-6 SEC, 6-6 overall) Some are expecting big things from Ryan Mallett and Arkansas this year.  Others believe that Arkansas will be as much of a flop this year as Ole Miss was last year.  Two September games at Georgia and against Alabama will tell the story for Arkansas.

6:  Mississippi State (2-6 SEC, 6-6 overall) In Year 2, Dan Mullen manages to attain bowl eligibility.  That’s progress.

This will be another banner year for the SEC, with ten teams bowl eligible.  It will be tough, but the SEC will manage to find homes for everybody.  Florida and Alabama will tangle in the SEC championship, with Florida shooting down Alabama’s bid to repeat as national champions.  Florida will go on to the BCS championship and defeat whoever emerges out of the Big 12 (or Big 10), thereby collecting its third national championship in five years and earning the SEC its fifth consecutive national championship.

The Monday Melange 08.23.10: Bobby Petrino, Mark Richt

Aloysius is sad that AVP is no more. And he's not too crazy about Bobby Petrino either.

–Aloysius has a thing about women in bikinis, because men always call them “Honey”, and…well, you know how bears are about honey.  So it saddened him to hear that AVP (that’s professional beach volleyball) is no longer in business.  In Aloysius’s own words:  “If you can’t market bikini-clad women getting hot and sweaty on the beach, then it’s probably time for you to give it a rest.”

–Those of us who live in this neck of the woods have little regard for Bobby Petrino.  Why?  BECAUSE HE’S A SCUMBAG!!!!!  Don’t ask me why he’s a scumbag.  He just is.  And he proved it this past week, in glaring fashion:  At a press conference this past week, Bobby Petrino took a question from a radio personality who just happened to be wearing a Florida Gators hat.  He answered the question, then said that he would not answer another question from her until she removed the hat.  Apparently, when Bobby Petrino speaks the whole state of Arkansas shakes:  She was fired.  Since when do you lose your job over something like that?  Apparently Bobby Petrino has no sense of humor, or of anything else.

–Even my spellchecker doesn’t like Petrino.

–Aloysius says “That was a very rotten thing for Petrino to do.  You don’t GET SOMEBODY FIRED just because they happen to be wearing a Florida hat.  If I ever see Petrino out in the woods…”  Easy, Aloysius.  If you’re not careful, Petrino may try and get you fired too.  If he does, I will tell him that Georgia is outside his jurisdiction, but I have no idea how that will play so I can’t make any promises.

–Every year the Georgia football team heads over to the swimming pool for a day during fall practice.  And every year Mark Richt does a back dive off the 10 meter platform.  The only problem was that this year’s event was unplanned, so Mark Richt did not have his bathing suit with him.  He did not wish to change into an official Bulldogs Speedo (don’t blame him), so he dove in fully clothed.  ESPN picked it up and it wound up on SportsCenter as one of their top plays of the day.  (Good thing; otherwise Mark Richt might have had a hard time explaining to his wife why he was coming home in his underwear and why his clothes were all wet.)

–Aloysius says to be sure to check back later this week, when he will have his ranking and projected order of finish for all the SEC teams.

Chaplain Mike on Perry Noble

While we are talking about “wannabe cool” Christianity, let me throw this out there as well.

Perry Noble is speaking at my church’s Labor Day singles retreat this year.  I had not heard very much about Perry Noble; all I knew was that he is a young-ish pastor of a young-ish church over in South Carolina somewhere that seems to be doing pretty well.  I had read a couple of things over on his blog, and it seems that he has some good things to say.

So it was very much of interest to me when this item came across the wire:  Perry Noble has written a little missive in defense of pastoral practices which cater to the worst tendencies in evangelical Protestant-dom today.  He takes aim at some common objections to these practices which, in his words, “sound spiritual but are actually stupid”, answering them in an almost adolescent fashion.

First objection:  The church is not a business but a hospital for sinners.  But even a hospital must be run like a business or it will not be around for very long.

Next:  Too many churches are chasing after cool and relevant.  So what should the church be chasing after:  uncool, boring, irrelevant? “Somehow I believe that the church is supposed to be reaching kids WAY better than Disney…they have a mouse…we have the MESSIAH who gave His life and rose from the dead. Our message is SO much greater and should be told in the most effective way possible.”

Finally:  Too many pastors are obsessed with looking trendy and fashionable.  “Honestly, I was not aware that surrendering to ministry meant that I also had to surrender to the pleated/cuffed khaki, sweater vest, comb over club! (We could really go back and forth all day on this.)”

Read what Chaplain Mike has to say about Perry Noble.  If this is the state of pastoral theology and thinking in evangelical Protestant-dom, it is not good.

Brett McCracken on “Wannabe Cool” Christianity

Today I wish to commend to your attention an op-ed piece by Brett McCracken in the Wall Street Journal about the perils of “wannabe cool” Christianity.

We have a problem:  Young people are leaving evangelical Protestant-dom in droves.  Ken Ham will tell you that the answer to this problem is more young-earth creationism, but that notwithstanding, the approach which much of evangelical Protestant-dom has taken to trying to solve this problem has been to reinvent itself in order to appear hip, cool, and relevant.

Will this work?  No, says McCracken.  Churches that make deep and serious cultural adaptations run the risk of losing relevance with God.  Plus there is an irony that the young people whom these churches are attempting to reach will be unimpressed by these churches’ attempts to be relevant.

Damaris Zehner: The Terror of Faith

Today, please allow me to commend for your reading pleasure and edification a post by Damaris Zehner over at internetmonk.com in which she takes a challenging look at Matthew 10:38 in which Jesus says, “Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

The conventional wisdom on Matthew 10:38 is that when Jesus says “take up your cross”, he is simply talking about bearing up under whatever pressures or struggles life may be bringing your way.  This is not it at all.  The cross was an instrument of execution; when Jesus said “Take up your cross”, he meant “Come and die”.  Scary, isn’t it?

The Christian life is about dying to everything that you ever were before, and allowing your personality to be completely and totally remade.  This is scary, because charismatic leaders like Adolph Hitler and Jim Jones demanded the exact same thing of their followers.  Those who complied with this were turned into spiritual zombies–the living dead, as it were.

What is to keep us from this fate if we surrender that totally to Christ?  Only one thing–Christ himself.  The problem is not that Hitler and Jones demanded things of people that should not be asked, the problem is that they, as finite human beings, had no right to be the ones asking that of people.  Your superior discernment in spotting a charlatan will not save you; the only thing that will save you is trust in Christ to turn you, not into the living dead, but into the image of Christ and more truly yourself than you ever were before.

Les Miserables 51: The Friends of the ABC

At this point Victor Hugo takes a break.  He gives us a brief taste of what this period in history was like, as follows:

…Young Paris was, excuse the expression, in the process of moulting.  People were transformed almost without suspecting it, by the very movement of the time.  The hand that sweeps around the dial also moves among souls.  Each individual took the next step forward.  Royalists became liberals, liberals became democrats.

It was like a rising tide, complicated by a thousand ebbs; the peculiarity of the ebb is to make mixtures; thereby very singular combinations of ideas; at the same time men venerated Napoleon and liberty.  Now we are writing history.  Then, it was all mirage.  Opinions pass through phases.  Voltairian royalism, a strange variety, had a less strange counterpart, Bonapartist liberalism.

During this period in time, there were many secret societies in an embryonic state.  One such society was called the Friends of the ABC, a group designed to appeal to both students and workers.  They met in two locations:  the Cafe Musain, close to the students, and a bistro called Corinth, close to the workers.  We will hear more about Corinth later.

Their name was a play on words; ABC, pronounced in the French pronunciation, sounds just like the French word abaisse’ (literally, the abased).  With this play on words, they identified themselves with the people; the abaisse’ were the people.

This group was very few in number:  Enjolras, their fearless leader, Combeferre, Jean Prouvaire, Feuilly, Courfeyrac, Bahorel, L’Aigle de Meaux (nicknamed Bossuet), Joly, and Grantaire.  Victor Hugo introduces us to each of these.  Grantaire was a misfit; he tagged along not because he believed in revolutionary ideals, but because he worshiped Enjolras.

One day Bossuet was hanging around outside the Cafe Musain, when he saw a carriage go by.  This was the carriage that Marius had taken when he left his grandfather’s for good.  This carriage was a cabriolet, the 19th century equivalent of a taxi.  He had been riding aimlessly around town; Bossuet hailed him as he passed. Continue reading “Les Miserables 51: The Friends of the ABC”

Daniel Jepson on Ken Ham’s “The Six Days of Creation”

Today I wish to direct your attention to a piece written by pastor Daniel Jepson, a thoughtful critique of a video presentation by Ken Ham which outlines his views on Genesis 1 over at the Franklin Community Church website.

The issues of concern which Jepson notes are as follows:

–Ham fails to treat the text of Genesis 1 properly by taking into account the actual words, syntax, structure, and overall sense of the text, and the historical, literary, and theological context.

–The only text-related issue Ham deals with is whether the word “day” should be understood as a literal 24-hour day or something different.  He spent only three minutes of a fifty-plus minute presentation addressing this issue.

–After devoting another six to seven minutes to answering some objections (which he did not do a very good job of), Ham spent the remainder of the talk criticizing the motives of those who disagree with his views on young-earth creationism.  Ham claims that young-earth creationism was the orthodox view until recent centuries when Christian thinkers sought to “correct the word of God with modern science”.  This is patently incorrect, given the views of the Church Fathers.

–Ham speaks quickly and glibly and jokingly when speaking of the objections of those who disagree with his views, as if those objections are so laughable as to not be worthy of anything remotely resembling serious consideration.

Here is part of Jepson’s conclusion on Ham:

All this is not to say that I totally disagree with all the points Mr. Ham makes, or that advocates of Old Earth creationism or other viewpoints do not have their own potential issue or problems.  I have been focusing on the arguments and tactics of one man, Mr. Ken Ham.  In my opinion, and based on the analysis above, I do not find him to be a capable interpreter of the Word of God.

I strongly encourage you to read this.

Quick Hit: Tommy Tuberville

Tommy Tuberville has a penchant for speaking his mind and letting the chips fall where they may.  When he went for his interview at Texas Tech, he told them straight out that he was going to focus strongly on defense and the running game.  Despite the fact that Texas Tech is not known for either of those things, they hired him anyway.

Apparently there are some people who have a problem with Tommy Tuberville’s penchant for calling things as he sees them.  Earlier this summer, Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M managed to extort a sweetheart deal from the Big 12 in order to not defect to the Pac 10; under this deal those three schools receive the lion’s share of the Big 12’s TV revenue while the other 7 schools get very short shrift.  Tommy Tuberville issued a public statement in which he said that he did not see any way that the Big 12 would be able to stay together very long under this arrangement.

Dan Beebe, the Big 12 commissioner, liked this statement so much that he issued Tuberville a stern reprimand along with the warning that any repeat occurrences would be met with hefty fines.  Never mind that Tuberville raised a legitimate issue that others in the media were already commenting on, and in all probability will be proved right in the long run.

The present revenue sharing arrangement in the Big 12 is hugely skewed towards Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M.  The remainder of the Big 12 is willing to go along with this for the present, because they are just happy to have a conference home.  But how long will that last?  The Big 12 North schools were passed over in the latest round of expansion by the Big 10 and Pac 10, but I could easily see those schools finding a home in the Mountain West.  The Mountain West is seeking to play its way into being a BCS conference, and the addition of those schools could greatly help its cause.

Dan Beebe speaks of “very strong feelings of unity expressed publicly and privately by the Big 12 Board of Directors and athletic directors”.  But if those “feelings of unity” must be imposed from the top down, and in the face of glaring inequities among the conference members and massive sanctions levied against anyone who dares to criticize, then how long will such “feelings of unity” last?

Two issues of concern here:  First is that the financial inequities in the Big 12 are so glaring that Tuberville felt moved to speak up.  Second is the fact that his candor regarding legitimate concerns that had already been noted in the media was such a damnable offense that it drew a stern reprimand and the threat of hefty future fines.  In light of both of these issues, it seems that the atmosphere over in the Big 12 is so toxic that it cannot be expected to hold together, as presently constituted, for very long.

John Ortberg: Who Speaks for Evangelicals Today?

John Ortberg, writing over at Out of Ur, has a piece which asks the question “Who speaks for evangelicals?”

This piece grows out of an awareness that the landscape of leadership within the evangelical movement has changed significantly over the last generation.  Just as recently as the postwar era of the 1940s and 1950s, it was very easy to gauge whether or not someone was an evangelical by noting how they responded to the name Billy Graham.  You knew very clearly what evangelicalism stood for–but not only this, you knew who its leaders were and where they were coming from.  They all went to school together, did ministry together, served on the same boards, etc., and as a result they had a very high degree of relational interconnectedness.

But in just a few decades, there has been a massive shift which has resulted in a high degree of disconnectedness within various elements of evangelicalism.  Ortberg goes on to cite reasons for this.  One is that present-day evangelical leaders are more narrowly niched and come from a greater diversity of backgrounds.  Another is that, while in the past evangelicals could identify themselves very easily on the basis of what they were not, but nowadays the landscape has become much more complicated.