The Monday Melange 02.28.11: John O’Connor, Aaron Murray, Freddie Freeman

Our Executive Director of Sports Information is on a mission.

–Aloysius, our Executive Director of Sports Information here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion, is out this week.  He is taking a road trip to track down Al from Dadeville and, presumably, dispense his own brand of ursine (don’t know if that’s a word; it is now) justice.  I would not want to be Al from Dadeville when Aloysius finds him.  Don’t let that cuddly, loveable teddy bear exterior fool you; he is a bear, and bears can be very dangerous.

Heads up, Aloysius:  Look for a guy who’s living in his car.

–This guy is some kind of stupid.  John O’Connor, former Paul Hewitt assistant at Georgia Tech, is now the head coach at Holy Family University in Philadelphia.  (Well, not anymore.)  Last month, during a particularly intense practice, he shoved a player so hard that he fell down.  Video of the practice showed him kicking the player after he was down and yelling at him to get up.  When the player walked away with blood on his backside, O’Connor yelled “Got a little [expletive deleted] blood on you?  Good!!!”

What’s worse is that Holy Family appeared to be attempting to cover this up.  O’Connor has been suspended, but the suspension did not come down until after the player, Matt Kravchuk, filed a police report and the report went public, a full month after the incident.

Courtesy of MyFoxPhilly.com, here is the story which includes the video of the practice in question.

Heads up:  If you know this guy, he may soon be knocking on your door looking for a job.

–It’s okay, everybody.  Aaron Murray is OK.  It was just a sprained ankle.  Word is that he sprained it trying to carry Washaun Ealey to class, but they’re officially saying it was a pickup soccer game.

Imagine that.  Murray stands in the pocket and takes a four-and-a-half hour pounding from Auburn and Nick Fairley (some of those hits may have been legal), and he is unruffled.  But after a pickup soccer game his ankle is injured.  Perhaps we need to rethink some of the prejudices we have against soccer.

–Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward are on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  At least somebody is showing the Braves some love.  Wait…is that a good thing?  Let’s hope this works out better than Jeff Francoeur making the cover of Sports Illustrated back in 2005.  There is that Sports Illustrated cover jinx, you know.

Al Mohler: Are Bookstores Going Away?

Those of you who have tracked with me for any significant length of time know that I generally don’t agree with much that Al Mohler has to say.  But here is one place where he totally gets it right:  If the online revolution has its way and physical books and bookstores disappear, we will lose a lot.

Read Al Mohler:  The Marketplace of Ideas–Why Bookstores Matter

Now Playing at Life in Mordor: A Rant on the Lost Art of Pastoral Ethics

I am all about shameless self-promotion.  But then, you knew that already.  So today I will take the opportunity to direct your attention to a post that I have up over at Life in Mordor, the blog of Mike Frizzell where I have the opportunity to appear regularly as a guest contributor.  The post is entitled “A Rant on the Lost Art of Pastoral Ethics and How It Lands in My World“.

Pastoral ethics is not getting very much play these days, but it used to be a big deal in seminary training.  One of the biggest points of pastoral ethics is that if you leave a church where you are the pastor, it is a big no-no to become the pastor of any other church in the same city.  There is a reason for this:  It forces the people of your old church to make a very hard choice.  Do they go with you, or do they stay with their church, which has moved on without you?  Some will choose to stay, but some will choose to go.  That can have a significantly harmful effect on your old church.

Those of you who go to my church will no doubt know the name of the church and pastor that I allude to in this post.  I will not mention any names, as my concern is not with this specific pastor but with the issue of pastoral ethics at large.

The Monday Melange 02.21.11: Atlanta Spirit, Roger Goodell

The Atlanta Spirit. Is that Roger Goodell in the trunk?

–How’s this for ironic:  One of the Thrashers’ key players just re-signed and will be staying here.  But how much longer will his team be here? That’s right, the Thrashers are probably about to be sold and moved to Canada somewhere.  Not because there is no market for hockey here in Atlanta, but because the Atlanta Spirit are a bunch of idiots.

–Speaking of idiots, the NFL is careening toward a lockout that will shut down the league in another couple of weeks.  And what is Roger Goodell doing?  Not trying to schedule a meeting with the owners, or the players, or the players and the owners.  He’s Tweeting!!!!!

Now look:  I don’t have any sympathy for the owners or the players.  If they can’t figure out how to divide their gold bars and caviar, I don’t care.  But when the league commissioner is running around out there Tweeting, that just takes the stupidity to a whole new level.

The SEC now has T-shirts advertising their five consecutive national championships.  Hey Georgia fans:  Who’s interested in wearing a T-shirt that advertises national championships by Florida, LSU, Alabama, and Auburn?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Didn’t think so.

This Is Wrong

This is wrong.  Just wrong.  That’s all there is to it.

In case you haven’t heard, some nutcase poisoned the 130-year-old live oaks at Toomer’s Corner in downtown Auburn.  A caller to the Paul Finebaum Show who identified himself as “Al From Dadeville” confessed to the deed.  As the week progressed, we learned that the identity of “Al From Dadeville” was none other than 62-year-old Harvey Updyke, a rabid Alabama fan.

Okay.  I get that college football is a very exciting sport and that its fans feel tremendous amounts of passion for their favorite teams, especially in this part of the country.  Sometimes this passion motivates them to do crazy things.

This was completely and totally uncalled for.

I could understand (possibly) if the perpetrator was a young, obnoxious frat boy seeking to play a prank against his school’s most hated rival.  You expect that sort of thing.  You hate it, but you expect it nonetheless.  But a 62-year-old man?  Come on.

This is wrong.  Just wrong.  That’s all there is to it.

I don’t care if you are an Auburn fan, or a fan of one of Auburn’s most bitter rivals.  This is wrong.  If you feel any regard for the game of college football, you should be thoroughly upset that someone should take such a malicious action against one of the most hallowed traditions of one of the most storied programs in all of college football.

College football has long been one of my greatest pleasures in life.  Alas, it is a guilty pleasure.  And this week, it just got a whole lot guiltier.

Chesterton on Celibacy

After yesterday’s rant on Father Cutie and the priestly celibacy issue, I thought it best to get another perspective on this issue.  This reading comes from G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy:

A clergyman may be apparently as useless as a cat, but he is also as fascinating, for there must be some strange reason for his existence.  I give one instance out of a hundred; I have not myself any instinctive kinship with that enthusiasm for physical virginity, which has certainly been a note of historic Christianity.  But when I look not at myself but at the world, I perceive that this enthusiasm is not only a note of Christianity, but a note of Paganism, a note of high human nature in many spheres.  The Greeks felt virginity when they carved Artemis, the Romans when they robed the vestals, the worst and wildest of the great Elizabethan playwrights clung to the literal purity of a woman as to the central pillar of the world.  Above all, the modern world (even while mocking sexual innocence) has flung itself into a generous idolatry of sexual innocence–the great modern worship of children.  For any man who loves children will agree that their peculiar beauty is hurt by a hint of physical sex.  With all this human experience, allied with the Christian authority, I simply conclude that I am wrong, and the church right; or rather that I am defective, while the church is universal.  It takes all sorts to make a church; she does not ask me to be celibate.  But the fact that I have no appreciation of the celibates, I accept like the fact that I have no ear for music.  The best human experience is against me, as it is on the subject of Bach.  Celibacy is one flower in my father’s garden, of which I have not been told the sweet or terrible name.  But I may be told it any day.

If you liked what you read here, you can read Orthodoxy in its entirety via Google Books.

Father Cutie: Poster Child for the Priestly Celibacy Issue in the RCC

A few days back, I reviewed a book by an evangelical megachurch pastor who converted to Roman Catholicism.  Towards the end of the book, he issues this challenge to Protestants:

Martin Luther, John Calvin, and King Henry [Henry VIII of England] broke with the Church for reasons that were very important to them.  Their decisions broke the unity of the one catholic, apostolic, and holy Church.  Since then, Protestants have fractured into more than 33,000 branches and streams of the faith.  Examine your own life.  Do some reading about beliefs.  Take a moment to decide whether you have a really good reason to be separated from the One true Church that Jesus desired for us in His prayer in John 17.

For my part, I believe that the unity which Jesus prayed for in John 17 is not a forced unity that is imposed from the top down, that the boundaries of the One true Church are not concurrent with the boundaries of any human institution or movement, and that the Protestant movement holds to several distinctives that are vital to a proper understanding of the Christian faith.  Though Protestants have fought quite imperfectly for these distinctives over the course of history, that does not in any way invalidate these distinctives or make them any less worth fighting for.  I intend to elaborate on all of this in an upcoming series of posts which will probably hit this summer.

But for now I would like to zero in on one specific area of concern.

I grew up in the Catholic Church.  I have people who are close to me, whom I love and care for very much, who would love to see me come home to the Catholic Church.  Just one problem:  If I were to come home to Catholicism, I would have to pay a very heavy price by accepting, not just everything that the Catholic Church has always taught as part of the Christian faith, but also everything that the Church has decided to teach at some point along the way, things which it holds as being just as authoritative and just as binding upon the conscience of the Christian believer as the words of Scripture.

One of these things is priestly celibacy.

Father Alberto Cutie has become something of a poster child for this issue.  For those of you who don’t know, Father Cutie was the Hispanic Catholic version of Joel Osteen.  (Some call him “Father Oprah”.)  For a segment of people which hails from a part of the world where the Catholic Church is taking a MASSIVE beatdown due to the vibrant growth of evangelicalism and Pentecostalism, Cutie was a breath of fresh air.  Then some reporter found him on the beach with a girl that he was seeing.

Cutie did the right thing.  He confessed that he was in fact having a relationship with this woman, then resigned and left the Catholic Church.  He is now an Episcopal priest; he and his then-girlfriend are now married and expecting their first child.  Cutie has just come out with a new book in which he tells this story; you can read an excerpt here.

Cutie is a casualty of the position that the Catholic Church has taken on the issue of priestly celibacy. Continue reading “Father Cutie: Poster Child for the Priestly Celibacy Issue in the RCC”

The Monday Melange 02.14.11 (Valentine’s Day Edition): Paul Hewitt

–File this in the Repulsive Corporate Weasels department here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion:  After working everyone to death the week before the [deleted by order of the National Football League] in Dallas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram announced massive staff cuts just two days afterward.  It appears that these staff cuts may have been made to free up money so that the Fort Worth Star-Telegram could offer one of their star columnists a hefty raise to keep him from defecting to ESPN Dallas.  Which makes the whole thing even more repulsive.

–Definition of brain freeze:  The Quebec government is spending $400 million to build a hockey arena with no guarantee of ever getting an NHL team.

The Catholic Church now has a confession app for your iPhone or iPad.  Great.  Now all they need is an app that can go out and do the sinning for you.

–I do not normally comment on Georgia Tech basketball, for reasons which should be obvious to those of you who have been tracking with me for any significant length of time.  But the state of that program nowadays is so laughably pathetic that I just cannot help myself.

Several years ago Georgia Tech went all the way to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament.  In the wake of this, then-athletic director Dave Braine signed coach Paul Hewitt to what was essentially a lifetime contract:  six years, an automatic rollover, a $7 million buyout, and if for whatever reason the contract fails to roll over then it becomes null and void and the buyout becomes payable in full.

In the years since then, Paul Hewitt’s program became comatose.  Last year Georgia Tech underachieved massively with Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal; this year Georgia Tech lost both players and went into freefall.

Conventional wisdom holds that Georgia Tech cannot afford to fire Hewitt; after all, how does a small-ish, strongly academic school with a cash-strapped athletic budget come up with $7 million to fire its head coach?  But given Georgia Tech’s present circumstances, they can’t afford to NOT fire Hewitt.

The situation becomes even more poignant when you consider this:  Next year Georgia Tech starts into a massive renovation of Alexander Memorial Coliseum, formerly known as the Thrillerdome.  All next season Georgia Tech will play its home games at Philips and the Arena at Gwinnett.  Imagine what it would be like for Georgia Tech if they spend all that money to upgrade Alexander Memorial Coliseum and can’t get anybody into the seats.  Not a good situation.

In light of all of that, it seems that as little as Georgia Tech can afford to fire Paul Hewitt, they can afford even less to NOT fire him.

Mark Galli on Transformation

Today I would like to commend to your attention a piece by Mark Galli that appeared in Christianity Today back in the summer of 2009.  It was not a good time for evangelicals in the public spotlight:  Carrie Prejean, Miss California and heroine of the anti-gay-marriage debate, was outed as having posed nude to kick-start her modeling career.  John and Kate Gosselin, who were expected to use the fame from their reality show to champion Christian family values, got divorced.  And then of course, there was South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, a strident evangelical who took off to Rio with some pretty young thing, revealed TMI about it publicly, and then tried to spin it all into some spiritual justification for staying in office.  Good times; I am sure you remember it all quite well.

Galli then moves beyond all this to speak to one of the most prevalent idols in all of the evangelical ethos:  the myth of so-called “transformation”.  The idea is that once you accept Christ and enter into the Christian life, your sins will grow progressively smaller and your good fruit will grow progressively larger.  This change will be visible for all the world to see.  There will be a noticeable difference between Christians and the rest of the world, marked chiefly by the fact that we live holier, better, more upright lives.  What’s more, this difference will be so striking that it will cause any non-Christian who comes into contact with a Christian to look and say, “OMG!!!!!  What is it about that person that makes him/her so different from me and from other people?  Whatever it is, I WANT SOME OF THAT!!!!!”

Not so, says Galli.  Sanctification may be marked by growth in personal righteousness and spiritual maturity, but it is usually just as (if not more so) marked by an ever-growing awareness of how we FAIL to live up to the standard of righteousness which God has set for us.  Yes, even after we are saved.  The good news is that God has judged all our ugliness and sordidness for exactly what it is, and accepted us all the same.  A monumental act of grace on His part, massively humbling for us when we stop to think about it.

The problem is that in many quarters of evangelicalism, this is just not enough.  Our ethos is rife with warnings about “cheap grace”–grace which has been rendered meaningless (in our eyes) by its apparent failure to produce visible and lasting life change.  And so we push harder and harder to grow in righteousness and spiritual maturity–or at least, to project an appearance of growth that will pass muster in the eyes of others.

Read Mark Galli’s article and consider this:  Just what is it that we as Christians have to offer the world?  Is it ourselves and our example of righteousness?  Or is it Jesus Christ and him crucified?

Read Mark Galli:  The Scandal of the Public Evangelical

Chaplain Mike on the Beatitudes

Today I wish to direct your attention to a post by Chaplain Mike over at internetmonk.com in which he gives his own take on the Beatitudes which lead off Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12).

In these verses, Jesus is just blessing everybody.  The conventional wisdom around this well-known passage is that Jesus is laying down conditions on what you have to do or what state of mind you have to be in in order to be blessed.  That is not it at all.  Rather, Jesus is saying that if even the people who fall into these categories are blessed, then how much more can we be sure that the rest of us are blessed.

Read Chaplain Mike:  All Are Welcome