All-Skate: Sexual Lines A Pastor Should Never Cross

Today I would like to hear from you.  I especially want to hear from those of you who are outside of evangelicalism on this topic.

Joe McKeever, a recently retired Baptist pastor in the New Orleans area, posted an article at ChurchLeaders.com entitled “7 Sexual Lines No Pastor Should Ever Cross“.  The article is a couple of years old, but the concerns raised are still quite fresh due to the recent spate of high-profile pastors resigning because of sexual sin.  Included in his list are things like “Do not use cologne”, “Do not compliment a young woman on her appearance”, and “When complimented inappropriately, laugh it off and change the subject”.

Go ahead and read the article.  Then answer this:  Do you think this is wise advice, or do you think this is too extreme?  I especially want to hear from those of you outside of evangelicalism, because I already know what most evangelicals are likely to think of a piece like this.  I want to know what you think as outsiders looking on at us.  Do you think this pastor has hit the nail on the head?  Or do you think this betrays an unhealthy preoccupation with sexual sin that is part of the problem and not the solution?  Do you think a piece like this betrays an inability to conceive of appropriate relational boundaries?  Or do you think the boundaries this pastor suggests are wise for anyone wishing to avoid sexual sin?

Okay.  Discuss.

Advertisements

All-Skate: B16 Is Out. What Say You?

b16Try to imagine what it would be like for Georgia fans if Mark Richt were to suddenly announce his resignation the week before fall practice is supposed to start.  That is exactly where 1.2 billion Catholics are right now.

In a surprise move, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation earlier today, saying that he no longer had the strength to carry on as leader of the Catholic Church.  He becomes the first pope to resign since the Middle Ages.  There is debate over whether or not a pope can even resign (he can), and concern over the possibility of schism with a pope serving while his predecessor is still alive (not likely, I think).  Of course there will be conspiracy theories about this; some will say that there just has to be more to this than meets the eye.

B16 leaves behind a mixed legacy.  His outspoken stand against the secularization of society was hailed by conservatives in the Catholic Church while derided by those of a more liberal bent.  He was praised by some for his handling of the clergy sex abuse crisis which he inherited and which grew to engulf most of Europe on his watch, but some say his response was too little, too late.  And just this past year his butler leaked sensitive documents at a time when there was an investigation into the Vatican’s business dealings.

So what say you?  Do you think there is more to this than meets the eye?  How will it feel to have a new Pope while the old Pope is still alive?  Will that work out OK, or will it just be weird?  Who would you like to see as the next Pope?  B16 will not have a vote in choosing his successor, but over half the cardinals who will choose his successor were appointed by him.  How do you feel about that?  Are you OK with B16 resigning if he felt he was too frail to carry on, or do you think he should have carried on to the end?

All-Skate: Corporate Execs on Private Jets?

Many of America’s largest companies do not permit their highest-ranking executives to fly commercial, even when they are traveling for non-business-related reasons.  This practice is becoming increasingly common nowadays, especially at companies such as Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Walt Disney, ExxonMobil, and Ford.

The companies that impose this requirement cite concern for the personal safety of their executives.  For some companies, this is a valid concern, as they do business in parts of the world where threats to the safety of their executives are very real.  They also argue that this enhances the productivity of their executives by removing distractions from their travel experience.

But many are opposed to this practice.  Many people see it as a costly and needless expense, and many companies who engage in this practice suffer in the public eye.  A prime example was back in 2008 when auto industry execs flew to Washington in their private jets to ask for government bailout money.

Research on the economic performance of companies that require their executives to use private jets is mixed.  Some research shows that these companies underperform the stock market, while other research shows that these companies outperform their competition in some measures.

What are your thoughts, people?  Are private jets for corporate execs a necessary security precaution?  Do they really help to improve companies’ productivity?  Or are they an unnecessary perk?

All-Skate: Who Should Be The Next Head Coach at Georgia?

I know which side my bread is buttered on.  I can clearly see that there has been a great deal of interest in my posts this week calling for Mark Richt’s head.  So let me throw the question open to you, my fellow Georgia fans:  Who should be the next head coach at Georgia?

First of all, let me say this:  There is a process by which these things take place.  I get that.  I am not expecting Mark Richt to be fired this week.  I understand that the very earliest that anything would happen in this regard would be the end of this season.  With all of Mark Richt’s accomplishments in the early part of his career, he has built up enough goodwill that he would more than likely be given at least another year or two to try and straighten things out.  The most likely outcome, assuming that Georgia manages to figure some things out and win some games in the back half of the season, is that Mark Richt would fire some assistants and keep going for another season.

Having said that, let me weigh in with some of my thoughts on who should replace Mark Richt if and when he should go.

Historically, Georgia has filled its football head coaching vacancies by hiring some young, up-and-coming assistant who has distinguished himself in his previous position and who, hopefully, would serve Georgia well for many years to come.  That is the process that gave us Vince Dooley.  It is also the process that gave us Ray Goof.

Should Georgia choose to go that route, here are some names that I would recommend:

Kirby Smart, Alabama DC Kirby Smart played well for Ray Goof in the early 90’s and served Mark Richt well as running backs coach in the early 00’s.  How and why Mark Richt ever let him get away is completely and totally beyond me.

Kirby Smart is commonly believed to be responsible for Alabama’s defensive success under Nick Saban.  But Nick Saban loves to run the show and take the credit, so no one can tell for sure how much of Alabama’s defensive success can be rightly attributed to Kirby Smart.  Bill Belichek’s disciples have all done very poorly as head coaches, with Nick Saban being the lone exception.  It is believed that Nick Saban’s disciples would have the same problems if and when they get to be head coaches.  That is a risk which Georgia would have to take if they should choose to hire Kirby Smart.

Will Muschamp, Texas DC Like Kirby Smart, Will Muschamp played for Ray Goof back in the early 90’s.  He is also a Nick Saban disciple, having served under him as LSU’s DC before moving on to Auburn and then to Texas.

Would Will Muschamp heed the call of his alma mater and return to help in her hour of need?  Don’t know.  Muschamp is currently the head coach-in-waiting at Texas.  He has a sweet provision in his contract which is supposed to kick in if he is not the head coach by 2011 or 2012.  (I believe.  Don’t hold me to this.)  Mack Brown just signed a huge new contract, so he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  Although with Texas’s recent troubles, he may wind up having to leave sooner than he would like.  Muschamp may want to to stick around to see how this plays out.

John Chavis, LSU DC John Chavis was Philip Fulmer’s longtime DC, and widely believed to be the brains behind Fulmer’s program at Tennessee.  Think he might want to step up and be a head coach one of these days?

On the other hand, Georgia might want a coach with a proven track record of successful head coaching experience.  (Good luck getting one of those.)  Should Georgia choose to go that route, here are some names that I would recommend:

Chris Peterson, Boise State Chris Peterson is going to be at the top of everyone’s wish list once the coaching carousel cranks up this year.  Georgia had better move quickly and decisively if they want him.

The question is:  How much of Chris Peterson’s success is due to factors which are strictly organic to Boise State and how much of it is transferable to wherever he goes?  Boise State seems to be a breeding ground for coaches who do well there but have little to no success elsewhere.  Former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins, now at Colorado, is a prime example.

Another question:  Would Chris Peterson even want to come to Georgia?  Peterson has already turned down a number of very good offers in order to remain at Boise State, and he seems to have little interest in going anywhere else.

Kyle Whittingham, Utah The successor to Urban Meyer, Kyle Whittingham is another coach who has accomplished a lot at a lightly-regarded program.  It would make for a very interesting story if two back-to-back Utah coaches were to wind up as archrivals in the SEC East.

Again, how much of Kyle Whittingham’s success would come with him wherever he goes?  And would he even be interested in coming to Georgia?

Greg Schiano, Rutgers Greg Schiano has built Rutgers into a program that is consistently competitive on a national level, year in and year out.  Would that he could do the same at Georgia.

Some other possible names:

Gary Patterson, TCU He will be on a lot of schools’ wish lists this year.

Chris Ault, Nevada Georgia has already gotten a good basketball coach from Nevada, why not a football coach?

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State The most successful coach that Michigan State has had since Nick Saban defected to LSU, he will also be on a lot of schools’ wish lists this year.

Chip Kelly, Oregon Another likely hot commodity this year.

Jim Harbaugh, Stanford In his third year, he is gaining national attention because of his team’s success.

Manny Diaz, Mississippi State DC Georgia couldn’t move the ball at all against his defense.  Why not?

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles QB He’ll teach them Dogs how to fight.

So what are your thoughts on who should replace Mark Richt?  Vote in the poll below (the first time we’ve ever done one of these here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion), or leave a comment.  If you wish to suggest a candidate who does not appear in the poll, you MUST leave a comment.

All-Skate: What Are Your Thoughts on the State of Georgia Football After the Arkansas Loss?

Okay Georgia fans, I’ve given you a couple of days to think over and process the events in Athens this past weekend.  I have been attempting to process it all myself, but I find myself at a complete loss.  So I am asking for your help.

Before I open the floor for discussion, here are my thoughts so far:

–Mark Richt overhauled his defensive staff this offseason just past, replacing all but one of his defensive coaches.  Todd Grantham, the new DC, is attempting to implement the 3-4, a brand new defensive system.  A change like this is almost as disruptive as bringing in a new head coach, and is bound to cause a lot of short-term chaos.  As the transition progresses, the chaos will dissipate and Georgia’s defense will be in a much better state than they ever were under Willie Martinez.  And then all the present chaos will prove to have been worth it.  Hopefully.

–All three of Ryan Mallett’s touchdown passes were the result of blown assignments and busted coverages.  Mark Richt is sounding all the right notes about this; he says that as long as the players are playing hard (and he believes that they are), he can live with the mistakes.  This makes sense to me; mistakes can be easily corrected in practice.  Lack of intensity–not so much.

–You knew before the season even started that South Carolina and Arkansas would represent a huge test for Georgia early on.  Many analysts had Georgia losing one of these games, if not both.

HAVING SAID ALL THAT:

Anytime a loss has Aloysius researching 0-2 SEC starts, it is NOT a good thing.

–Georgia is now 0-2 in SEC play.  Aloysius, our new Executive Director of Sports Information here at Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion, has done some research into that.  (It actually happens around here from time to time.  Imagine that.)  He found that the last time Georgia dropped its first two conference games was in 1993, the heart of the Ray Goof era.  In that dreadful season Georgia would fall to 0-4 in SEC play before finishing 2-6 (5-6 overall).  Anytime a loss has Aloysius researching things that have not happened at Georgia since Ray Goof, it is most decidedly NOT a good thing.

–Speaking of which, the last time Georgia lost to Arkansas in Athens was in that same woeful 1993 season.

–And speaking of 2-6, Mark Richt is now 2-6 in his last eight SEC games, going back to last year’s LSU game.  AJC sports columnist Jeff Schultz asserts that this is hard evidence that Georgia is now firmly ensconced into a new identity:  mediocrity.  Here is enough to give you the idea:

It’s not about one player not being here. It’s not about playing a freshman quarterback or having a certain soft spot on the depth chart or the big, bad NCAA being out to get Georgia.

When a program sinks to lows not seen since the Ray Goff administration, it’s not an aberration.

–Schultz sees this loss as providing abundant evidence that Mark Richt’s program at Georgia has flaws which are deep and widespread.  To a certain extent, I agree with him.  I disagree with his views on the defense, as I feel that the defensive issues are short-term chaos which will improve as the season progresses (hopefully).  But concerning the offensive line, he makes a most poignant point.  The hiring of Stacy Searels away from LSU in 2007 was seen at the time as a major coup; it has since proven to be an EPIC FAIL.  The offensive line has failed to perform as advertised for as long as he has been at Georgia.  This year, the offensive line was billed as a major strength of this team, with all of those returning starters.  Instead, it has been nothing if not a major weakness.  Against South Carolina, the offensive line failed to clear enough room for Washaun Ealey to run the ball effectively.  Against Arkansas, the offensive line was better at running, but gave up an INEXCUSABLE six sacks (try saying that six times really fast) to one of the worst defenses in the entire SEC.  Mark Richt has got to find a way to get better play from his offensive line, or else it is going to be a VERY LONG season.

–Georgia’s margin for error is now reduced to absolutely zero if it is to have even the remotest shred of a prayer of competing in the SEC East this year.  In light of this, the next three games on Georgia’s schedule loom VERY LARGE.  None of these games are gimmes (can Georgia in its present state regard ANY game on its remaining schedule as a gimme?) and after the latest losses they look much less winnable than they did before the start of the season.  This week, Georgia travels to Mississippi State.  Starkville is always a quirky and difficult place for opposing teams to play, and Mississippi State is much improved under second-year coach Dan Mullen.  Georgia has already flunked its first SEC road test of 2010; what makes you think this one will be any easier?

Assuming Georgia survives this test, they must then travel thousands of miles from home and take on an inspired Colorado team with a coach on the hot seat, nothing to lose, and everything to prove, in a stadium packed to the gills with jacked-up, screaming Colorado fans.  This will be a much harder test than anything Georgia has faced to date.  And assuming Georgia survives THIS test, they must then return home to face Tennessee.  First-year Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is the son of Vince and Barbara Dooley; his return to Athens figures to be a very emotionally charged affair.  Who knows how that will turn out?

Could this be Athens in a few weeks?

Lose any one of these three games–to say nothing of losing two or, God forbid, all three–and there will be scorched earth over in Athens.  Lots of it.

So what say you, my fellow Georgia fans?  Have the wheels come completely and totally off Georgia’s 2010 season, if not the entire program?  Are Georgia’s current woes a result of the program being in transition, with a new starting quarterback, a new DC, and a new defensive system?  Or are they, as Jeff Schulz maintains, the evidence of serious flaws that are deep, widespread, and not going away anytime soon?  Will things improve as the season progresses?  Do you trust that Mark Richt, Todd Grantham, et. al. have the program headed in the right direction?  Or is it time to just kick ’em all to the curb and start all over from scratch with a new head coach and a new program?

Okay.  Discuss.

All-Skate: Are Short-Term Mission Trips a Good Thing?

My church has a very substantial short-term missions program which consists of ongoing partnerships with several churches around the world who share the same vision.  I know that several of you have been on short-term mission trips over the years; some of you have even led short-term trips.  If this is you then I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to hear from you on this one.

The question:  Are short-term mission trips a good thing?

This issue has generated a quite spirited discussion over the past week on some of my favorite blogs.  I am well aware of the benefits of short-term mission trips:  They increase awareness of what God is doing in other parts of the world.  I frequently hear that people go on these trips expecting to minister, but they are the ones who are ministered to.  I frequently hear of people whose eyes are opened to what God is doing elsewhere in the world as a result of going on a short-term mission trip; for them this is a life-changing experience and they are moved to step up their level of engagement with the cause of Christ.

But there has been some pushback to the idea of short-term mission trips.  The primary objection seems to be that short-term mission trips are not good stewardship.  In A Lover’s Quarrel with the Evangelical Church, Warren Cole Smith cites Robert Priest, professor of mission and intercultural studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School:

The number of lay people in the United States involved in short-term missions grew from an estimated 540 in 1965 to 22,000 in 1979. By 1989 it had grown to an estimated 120,000. three years later the figure had doubled to 250,000. It is now estimated that there were at least on million short-termers in 2003.

Source: “Short-term Mission Trip, or Donor-Paid Vacation?”
by Brittany Smith (Evangelical Press News Service, 10/19/06)

Today, estimates of people going on short-term mission trips every year range from 1 million to 4 million.  The cost of these trips easily surpasses the yearly amount given to all long-term missionaries.  Priest refers to this as “the first mission movement in church history that is based largely on the needs of the missionary.”

Another pushback:  Short-term mission trips, as they are done in many parts of evangelicalism, can create and promote a culture of dependence.  If short-term mission trips are a regular occurrence, people and church leaders in the host country are conditioned to sit back and wait for the missionaries to return rather than stepping out and doing anything on their own in the way of building ministries, business, and/or programs.  At the same time, mission trip leaders become glorified tour guides while the work of discipleship and church planting–the reason for doing mission trips in the first place–gets pushed to the back burner.

And with that, I now throw the floor open for discussion.  Those of you who have been on or have led a short-term mission trip:  I REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!!!!  DON’T BE SHY!!!!!!  How has going on a short-term mission trip affected you?  What was your experience like?  What specific changes have you made in your life as a result of your experience?  If you have led a short-term trip, how has that experience affected you?  What were some of the challenges you faced?

And if you are on staff with the missions department at my church, then I want to hear from you about possibly doing a guest blog in which we discuss this topic in greater depth.  The format would be thus:  I send you five questions, you send me your responses, then I post the questions and your responses here on this blog.  The questions would be something along these lines:  Can short-term missions be done in such a way as to enhance and support the work of long-term missionaries and indigenous church leaders rather than draw resources away from it?  Is there a trade-off between the benefits of engaging people with the world Christian movement through short-term mission trips and the costs of money devoted to supporting short-term efforts which could have been used to support long-term missions or indigenous church leaders?  If you are interested in this, please do not hesitate to contact me.  You know my email address; if not, then you probably know someone who does.  If you are on Facebook, then you know how to contact me that way.

Here is some more food for thought concerning the issue of short-term mission trips:

The Church of What’s Happenin’ Now:  Michael Spencer gives his thoughts on the world Christian movement and how short-term mission trips intersect with this.

Are Short-Term Missions Good Stewardship? This exchange is the start of a four-part series on short-term missions over at Christianity Today.  This series questions the conventional wisdom that short-term mission trips produce lasting life change in the people who participate in them.

All-Skate: Was Patrol Magazine Too Soft on Amy Grant?

Okay people, it’s time for another one of these.  This is an all-skate, so that means you cannot just sit there and idly read the words on your computer screen.  I want to see some good discussion here!

Toward that end, I am posting something that I know will get your juices flowing and make you want to speak your mind on one side or the other of this issue.

A couple of months back, a piece appeared in Patrol Magazine in which Matthew Paul Turner reminisced about an interview that he did with Amy Grant back in 2002, in connection with her then-upcoming hymns album.  At the time, he was the editor of CCM Magazine.  His boss Gerald wanted him to extricate an apology from Amy Grant for her divorce, by hook or by crook if necessary.

The backstory:  In 2000 Amy Grant divorced her then-husband Gary Chapman and married Vince Gill.  The perception in Christian media of how it went down was this:  Amy Grant met Vince Gill, decided that Gary Chapman couldn’t hold a candle to him, kicked Gary Chapman to the curb and hooked up with Vince Gill.  There may have been some illicit hanky-panky along the way, if the rumors floating around tabloids, gossip columns, and internet chat rooms back during the 90s are to be believed.

But if you read this interview from CCM back in 2001, in which Amy Grant speaks candidly about her marriage with Gary Chapman and subsequent divorce, you will see that there is more to this than meets the eye.  Here is a sample quote:  “I didn’t get a divorce because I had a great marriage and then along came Vince Gill. Gary and I had a rocky road from day one. I think what was so hard—and this is [what] one of our counselors said—sometimes an innocent party can come into a situation, and they’re like a big spotlight. What they do is reveal, by comparison, the painful dynamics that are already in existence.”

It was this interview that Gerald had in mind when he called Turner into his office.  God has clear rules which stipulate that a person who marries is to stay married for the duration of his/her life.  Amy Grant sinned against God by violating this rule; therefore she needed to publicly repent and apologize to all her fans and CCM.  Gerald was upset that this did not happen, and he wanted to make sure that it did happen when Turner did his interview.

So Turner did the interview.  Gerald was not satisfied with the results; the article that ran in CCM was a heavily doctored piece in which several quotes from Amy Grant were taken out of context and twisted into an expression of public contrition that would pass muster.

Turner sums up his reaction as follows:

Amy’s face still graced the cover of CCM that month, but the story printed only loosely resembled the one I wrote. Gerald [the publisher] forced my editorial director to rewrite the story. The new story featured Amy miraculously apologizing. Her quotes were fabricated and molded into something that didn’t represent her story or my story, but rather a story that reflected the moral absolutes Gerald believed CCM hadn’t upheld until he was in charge.

According to Gerald, the truth about Amy just wasn’t Christian enough to be put in the pages of his magazine. I’m not sure anybody’s truth was worthy of Gerald’s CCM.

Read the story in its entirety here, then check back with me.

So what do you think?  Was Turner too soft on Amy Grant, or was Gerald out of line for insisting on an apology from Amy Grant?

Now I know that the subject of divorce is a very contentious one among Christians, especially those of the evangelical variety.  So I will put in my two cents’ worth, and then I will open the floor for discussion.

Let’s start with this:  Divorce is contrary to the will of God.  The clear teaching of Scripture is that the Lord hates divorce.

However, we live in a fallen world.  Marriages fail.  Even among Christians who seek to honor God and take His word seriously.

There are many reasons why marriages fail.  Sometimes they fail because of selfishness on the part of one or both of the people involved.  Sometimes they fail because of reasons that are much more graphic and poignant, i. e. adultery, abandonment, emotional or even physical abuse.

And sometimes marriages fail because the people involved are mismatched personality-wise.  They are just not a good fit for each other.  They may try to make such a marriage work, and even succeed for a limited time.  But eventually it becomes clear that such a marriage cannot continue without doing serious violence, emotionally and/or spiritually, to one or both of the people involved.

From the CCM piece that I linked earlier, it seems that Amy Grant and Gary Chapman were a mismatched couple.  They tried to make it work, but things eventually reached a point where Amy could not continue any longer without doing serious violence to herself.  Perhaps Gary was in a similar place himself; the article doesn’t say.  There may have been other factors as well.  Emotional or physical abuse may have been part of the equation.  We don’t know; Amy chose not to mention this in the interview.  If there was emotional or physical abuse, I can understand Amy’s decision to not mention it in an article that would be read by millions of her fans.

Amy Grant made a very bad choice in divorcing Gary Chapman.  But from what she says in the CCM piece that I linked, it seems that her relationship with Gary Chapman had deteriorated to the point where there were no good choices left for her to make.  In our fallen world, sometimes that’s how it is.  Sometimes there just aren’t any good choices; sometimes one is forced to choose the “least worst” alternative.

But whatever the case may be, God’s grace and redemptive power is big enough to cover all of it.  This is the big idea in Turner’s piece, that Amy Grant had found redemption for her failure to fulfill her marriage vows to Gary Chapman by leaning hard into the Gospel.  Too bad that his boss was blinded to this by his concern for upholding what he understood to be God’s moral absolutes.

So what do you think?

Do you believe that God’s moral absolutes concerning marriage and divorce need to be upheld, and that the attitudes expressed in Turner’s piece and the CCM piece come dangerously close to condoning divorce and/or disparaging the sanctity of marriage?  Or is Amy Grant right to lean into the Gospel and cling to the redemption that she has found on the other side of her divorce?

A larger question:  An unnamed counselor told Amy Grant that “God made marriage for people. He didn’t make people for marriage. He didn’t create this institution so He could just plug people into it. He provided this so that people could enjoy each other to the fullest.’  Do you believe this?  Why?  Or is it the other way around, that people were made for the institution of marriage?  If so, why?

The floor is open.  Keep it civil.  But I want to see some discussion!