Digging into the Vault: Please Beat Florida…PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not that I actually expect this to happen.  I am a realist, you know.  But just on the off chance…

Here is a nifty little rant that I put up the morning of Florida-Georgia 2007.  I think it might have worked–Georgia actually did beat Florida that year.  Take a gander, people.

Who knows?  A Georgia fan can always hope and dream.

Digging Into the Vault: Joe’s Deep Dark Secret

I joined Facebook a couple of months back.  Since then I have been amazed at how I have had the opportunity to reconnect with people from college, high school, and even elementary school whom I have not seen or heard from in ages.

I have also been amazed at the amount of change that has taken place in the lives of my friends since the time that I last knew them.  Many are now married, some have kids, and some have moved to faraway places.  Some have undergone even more major changes than this, such as changes in religious belief and even changes in sexual orientation.

I have undergone some major changes as well.  One of the most serious changes is that in recent years I have come to terms with certain developmental issues which have been part of my life all along.  Those of you who have already been tracking with me here for some time, feel free to take a pass today; this is not for you.  But for those of you who are just now finding me, whether through Facebook or otherwise, this is for you.  Some of you have already found this without any help from me; thank you for your responses.  As for the rest of you, go ahead and read on.

Those of you who knew me back in high school and elementary school, you probably knew all along that something was weird about me.  At last you will have the opportunity to put a label on it.

Read Joe’s Deep Dark Secret

Digging into the Vault: Happy “Fall Family Festival”?

Today is Halloween, and so I thought it would be appropriate to take a trip into the vault and review a Halloween rant that I wrote a couple of years back.

Believe it or not, there once was a time when Halloween was widely celebrated among evangelicals.  And then, sometime around the late 80s / early 90s, this guy named Mike Warnke showed up claiming to have been a high-ranking Satanist prior to being saved.  He got us all to think that Halloween, which we had previously thought was just a fun and innocent celebration, was instead a monstrously evil thing.

Later on Mike Warnke was exposed as a fraud and vast tracts of his ministry were discredited.  But dead issues, like dead people, never just disappear into nothing.  They always leave behind a rotting corpse or some other sort of decomposing residue.  And in the case of the Mike Warnke thing, the rotting corpse was Halloween.  Never again would our attitude toward it be the same.  We became grossly obsessed with anything having to do with Satanism, witchcraft, and the occult, and the evangelical media fed this obsession like you wouldn’t believe.  Prominent evangelical media figures such as Bob Larson and, to a certain extent, Frank Peretti, made their living filling us up with all sorts of information and exhortation about the evils of Halloween and anything else that could be shown to be even remotely connected with the occult.  And we bought it.  We believed that dressing up our kids as goblins or vampires would turn them into goblins and vampires.  We believed that placing pumpkins on the porch would surely invite all the demonic forces of hell into our homes.  We had done the same things in the past without any sort of issue, but now the wool has been pulled off of our eyes.  Now we see everything clearly like we never did before, and we’ll be damned if we make the mistakes we made in our previous ignorance.

Man, please.

At any rate, here is my Halloween rant:  Happy “Fall Family Festival”?

And if you’re interested in further reading, here is Michael Spencer’s annual Halloween rant over at the Steve Brown Etc. blog.

Digging DEEP Into the Vault: Christians Shouldn’t Judge Gays

Today we are going to dig deep into the vault and reach WAAAAAAAY back to a piece that I wrote for the school paper when I was in college (the first time around).  Just to give you an idea how far back in time we are going–Ray Goof was still the head football coach at Georgia when this was written.

I figured that this piece would be timely right now because we just had Gay Pride weekend down in Midtown this weekend.  A lot of the conversations at lunch after church today had to do with the craziness down there.  There was a fairly good bit of laughing and joking about gays–which we as evangelicals figure is okay because homosexuality is condemned as sinful in the Bible, and we aren’t like that.  So I just quietly smiled and laughed along–and then ran home to my blog to say what I REALLY think.

If I had written this piece today, it would probably be very different.  It would probably be a bare-knuckled rant addressed to fellow evangelicals with a much heavier emphasis on the fact that we need to lay off making fun of gays and relate to them as real people.  It is definitely an interesting experience to see how one’s thinking changes over time.

At any rate, just kick back and enjoy a little bit of vintage writing from way back in the day. Continue reading “Digging DEEP Into the Vault: Christians Shouldn’t Judge Gays”

If College Football Were Like Contract Bridge

(originally written in January 2003)

College football season is just right around the corner. Well, not exactly. The start of the season is still a couple of months away. But that isn’t stopping the sportswriters, pollsters, pundits, and others who make their living by observing the college football scene from cranking into high gear with their speculations on which teams are going to win their conferences, which conference is going to be the strongest, which players are going to have the greatest impact during the coming season, and which team is going to be No. 1.

I have an idea which could clear up a lot of the uncertainty in college football and its never-ending quest for a means by which to determine a true national champion. No longer would we need to worry about the BCS poll, the computer polls, strength of schedule, quality wins, or any of the incessant tweakings to the BCS formula to make it yield a true national champion. Why not make college football like contract bridge?

Contract bridge is played by two teams of two players. Each player gets thirteen cards. On his turn, he plays one card. Whoever played the highest card gets to take all of the cards that were played. This is called a trick. The game continues until all the cards have been played and all the tricks have been taken. Kind of like Spades, but with a twist: Before the game even starts, each player must bid on how many tricks he thinks his team can take. Whoever has the highest bid gets to play first. If his team wins at least the number of tricks that he bid for, then they win. If they come up short, they lose.

Here is what I am proposing. Before the start of the season, each team would bid on how many games they think they can win during the season. Any team that does not bid at least six wins is ineligible for a bowl. Any team that does not get the number of wins that they bid is ineligible for a bowl. A bid of six wins would get you into the Independence Bowl, the Seattle Bowl, the Continental Tire Bowl, etc. A bid of seven wins would get you into the Peach Bowl, the Gator Bowl, the Outback Bowl, the Citrus Bowl, or the Cotton Bowl, but they would give higher priority to a team that bids for eight wins. In order to get into the BCS, you have to bid at least nine. If you bid ten or eleven, then you get bonus points in the BCS poll.

The Bulldog Tooth

(originally written in August 2004)

James Ryle is the pastor of a large charismatic church in Colorado. He became very influential in charismatic circles during the 1990s when he gave several well-known prophecies (well-known in charismatic circles, that is), the most famous of which is the “Beatles Anointing Prophecy.” In this prophecy he claimed that the Lord appeared to him in a dream and revealed to him that the Beatles were anointed by God to revolutionize the music scene in America and around the world. This they did in fact do; there is no argument about that. But “the four lads went AWOL,” squandering their anointing in the pursuit of selfish gain and worldly acclaim. Eventually, God withdrew their anointing. Now (that is, at the time this prophecy was given, which is now several years ago), God is ready to pour out a similar anointing once again. But this time He is going to rely exclusively on Christian musicians.

James Ryle has a buffalo horn (in honor of the Colorado Buffaloes, his alma mater). He claims that God speaks to him directly through it, giving him personal and specific revelation on anything and everything, from current events to hard-to-interpret Biblical passages to Colorado football scores. He made quite a name for himself by predicting the scores of Colorado football games during their national championship run of the early 90’s, when Bill McCartney (now the head of Promise Keepers) was the coach.

Hey! There it is! If I want to be anointed of God, I know what I must do. I must go out and procure the tooth (or possibly the tail) of a bulldog and start using it to predict Georgia football scores. Why not? Head coach Mark Richt is a committed Christian, and he has Georgia poised to contend for the SEC Championship (and possibly the national championship) on a year-in, year-out basis. This could be my ticket to the big time!!!

So there it is. I now have my bulldog tooth ready, and I shall now demonstrate that I am anointed by God to speak prophetic truth to this generation by predicting the scores of Georgia football games in the 2004 season. Continue reading “The Bulldog Tooth”

Compassion vs Admiration

(originally written in February 2003)

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:6-13)

The gospel of John throws some additional light on this story. In John’s account we learn that it was Judas who made the remark about selling the perfume and giving the proceeds to the poor. We also learn that his motivations were corrupt, because he was in charge of the money bag and would help himself to whatever was in it.

But let us block that out for now. Let us assume that the disciples’ motives were pure, and that they really had compassion for the poor. Compassion is considered a virtue by the vast majority of men all over the world. Men of almost all religious faiths, even men of no religious faith, consider compassion to be one of the noblest virtues. If compassion is truly such a noble virtue, then why did Jesus rebuke the disciples in the way that He did? Continue reading “Compassion vs Admiration”

Differences Between Men and Women

(originally written in May 2004)

Forget “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”! Who needs John Gray? Here at last is a comprehensive, reliable guide to the differences between men and women.

A woman will admire an ornate dessert for the exquisite work of art that it is, praising its creator profusely and waiting for a lengthy interval before she finally, very reluctantly, takes an oh-so-small sliver off the edge. A man will go right for the cherry in the center.
Men don’t discard clothes. The average man still has the gym shirt that he wore in his high school P. E. class. He thinks that a jacket is “just getting broken in” right about the time that it develops holes in the elbows. He will let new dress shirts sit on his closet shelf in their original packaging for up to two years before putting them to use, hoping that they will become more comfortable with age.
Women think clothes are radioactive, with a half-life of one year. They exercise extreme precautions to avoid contamination from last year’s fashions.
Speaking of clothes, it is never acceptable under any circumstances for men to wear women’s clothing. It is perfectly acceptable, in fact highly fashionable, for women to wear men’s clothing.
Men wear sensible socks. They wear standard white sweatsocks. Women wear strange socks. Their socks are cut way below the ankle, have pictures of clouds on them and a white fuzzy ball on the back.
The average man has four pairs of shoes: running shoes, dress shoes, boots, and slippers. The average woman has shoes four layers thick on the floor of her closet. Most of them hurt her feet.
Women dress up to check the mail, answer the phone, water the houseplants, read a book, watch TV, or do the laundry. Men dress up for: weddings, funerals. Speaking of weddings, when reminiscing about weddings, women talk about “the ceremony.” Men laugh about “the bachelor party.”
Men do not diet unless under strict orders from a medical professional to do so. Women diet from the time they are born to the time they die. The average woman thinks she is fat, even if she is so thin that you could place a dime on her head and use her as a nail.
A woman does laundry every couple of days. A man waits until everything he owns is dirty, including his surgical pants that were hip two decades ago. Then he puts on a dirty sweatshirt inside out, rents a U-Haul and takes his mountain of clothes to the laundromat. Men expect to meet beautiful women at the laundromat. This is a myth.
A woman makes a list of the things she needs, then goes to the grocery store and buys exactly those things. A man waits to go grocery shopping until the only items left in his refrigerator are half a lime and a Pabst Blue Ribbon. Then he goes to the grocery store. He buys everything that looks good. By the time he reaches the checkout counter, his grocery cart is packed tighter than the Clampett’s car on Beverly Hillbillies. Of course, this does not stop him from entering the 10-items-or-less lane.
The average man has eight items in his bathroom: toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, deodorant, shampoo, a bar of Dial soap, and a bath towel from the Holiday Inn. The average number of items in a woman’s bathroom is 75,192. A man would not be able to identify most of those items.
If a group of women are out together, at some point one will say to the others, “Hey, let’s go to the ladies’ room.” Then they will all go to the ladies’ room. If a group of men go out and one of them says, “Hey, let’s go to the men’s room”, the others will give him a very strange look and say, “I think you’d better go by yourself.”
Suppose a man and a woman are watching a boxing match together. One of the boxers is felled by a low blow. The woman says, “Oh, gee. That must hurt.” The man doubles over and actually FEELS the pain.
The average man thinks that his Y chromosome contains complete repair manuals for every automobile made since World War I. He will work on a problem himself until it either goes away or turns into something which “can’t be fixed without special tools.”
The average woman thinks that “that funny thump-thump noise” is a perfectly accurate description of an automotive problem. She will, however, have the car serviced at the proper intervals, thereby incurring fewer problems than the average man.
Every man thinks that he is Mario Andretti as soon as he slips behind the wheel of his car. Never mind that it is a 12-year-old Honda Civic–that does not stop him from trying to out-accelerate the guy in the Porsche who is attempting to cut him off. Freeway on-ramps are an exciting challenge to see who has The Right Stuff on the morning commute. Does he or doesn’t he? Only his body shop knows for sure. Insurance companies understand this behavior and price their policies accordingly.
A woman will slow down to let a car merge in front of her–and get rear-ended by another woman who was busy applying the finishing touches to her makeup.
When a man says he is ready to go out, he means that he is ready to go out. When a woman says she is ready to go out, she means that she WILL be ready–as soon as she finds her earring, finishes putting on her makeup, checks on the kids, makes a “quick” phone call to her best friend, etc.
Speaking of kids…
Ah, children. Women know everything there is to know about their children–everything from dentist appointments, soccer games and favorite foods to romance, heartbreak, best friends, secret fears, hopes and dreams. Men are vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.
Women love cats. Men say they love cats, but when women aren’t looking, men kick cats.
Men think David Letterman is the funniest person on the face of the earth. Women think he is a mean, semi-dorky guy who always has a bad haircut.
Women love Kenny G. Most men would love to torture Kenny G until he makes loud screeching sounds similar to what comes out of his saxophone.
When a relationship ends, a woman will cry, pour out her heart to all her girlfriends, and write a poem entitled “All Men Are Idiots.” Then she will get on with her life.
A man has a little more trouble letting go. Six months after the breakup, he will call at 3 AM on a Saturday night, in a drunken stupor, and say something to the effect of “I just want you to know that you’ve ruined my life and I hate you and I’ll never forgive you and I think you’re a complete and total floozy. But I want you to know that there’s always a chance for us.” This is known as the “I Hate You / I Love You” Drunken Phone Call, which 99 percent of all men have made at least once in their lives. Some community colleges offer courses to help men get over this need; alas, these classes rarely prove effective.
The average woman would really like to be told if her spouse is fooling around. That same woman won’t tell her best friend if she knows that her best friend’s mate is having an affair. But she will tell all her OTHER friends about the affair.
The average man will not tell his best friend if he knows that his best friend’s spouse is having an affair. He doesn’t want to know if his own spouse is fooling around, out of fear that it might be with one of his friends. But he will tell all his friends about his own affairs, so that they can be ready if he ever needs an alibi.
If Gloria, Suzanne, Deborah, and Michelle get together for lunch, they will call each other by their old high school nicknames–Gloria, Suzanne, Deborah, and Michelle. But if Mike, Dave, Rob, and Jack go out for a brewsky, they will affectionately refer to each other as Bullet-Head, Godzilla, Peanut Brain, and Useless.
A woman will meet another woman with common interests, do a few things together, and say, “I hope we can be good friends.” A man will meet another man with common interests, do a few things together, and say nothing. After years of interacting with this other man, sharing hopes and fears and other things that he wouldn’t confide in his priest or psychiatrist, he will finally let down his guard in a fit of drunken sentimentality and say something to the effect of, “You know, for someone who’s such a jerk, I guess you’re OK.”

Top 10 Differences Between Louisiana and Russia

(originally written in March 2003)

10. In Louisiana, drinking is strictly a social activity. In Russia, drinking is necessary to keep warm during the winter months.

9. In Louisiana, a snowball is a white fluffy object served as a tasty summer treat for six months out of the year. In Russia, a snowball is a white fluffy object that kids throw at each other for six months out of the year.

8. In the Russian language, there are at least fifteen different words for snow. In Louisiana there are none because IT NEVER SNOWS!!!!!

7. In Louisiana, “White Russians” are only found in bars on Bourbon Street. In Russia they’re everywhere.

6. In Louisiana, there are major interstates that are in worse condition than some of the roads in Russia. In Russia, there are no interstates.

5. In Louisiana, the first frost of the season usually occurs around the middle of January. In Russia, it usually occurs around the middle of July.

4. Remember the nursery rhyme “March winds bring April showers and April showers bring May flowers”? In Louisiana, January winds bring February showers and February showers bring March flowers. In Russia, May winds bring June showers and June showers bring July flowers.

3. In Louisiana, any location on the same latitude as New York or Chicago is considered “up North.” In Russia, any location on that latitude is considered “down South.”

2. In Louisiana, the phrase “in October while the weather’s still decent” means “while it’s still warm enough to wear shorts.” In Russia, it means “while it’s still warm enough to go outside without a heavy coat and a ski mask.”

1. Louisianians look at stock news footage of Russian parades and wonder how on earth people can ride on those missiles and throw beads. Russians look at stock news footage of Louisiana parades and think Louisiana’s ultimate weapon is a 15-foot-high papier-mache gorilla that we send over to pelt them with beads.