Category Archives: Culture

Things That I Don’t Like About Sports

   As anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows, I am a big sports fan. There aren’t many sports that don’t pique my interest when I have the opportunity to watch them. Hockey would be a notable exception as would soccer unless, of course, one of my sons is playing.

   There are some things that are emerging in the wide, wide world of sports, however, that I find disturbing and down-right irritating. If you will allow me to vent, I will afford you the same courtesy in the comments.

   1.  I can’t stand the term “swagger“. Teams and athletes feel like they must have “swagger” (whatever that is) to be effective in their contests. Usually this amounts to nothing more than an overabundance of charisma, taunting and intimidation of the opponent. Just play the game. If I want to watch grown men act like children, I’ll watch the presidential debates.

   2.  Contract renegotiation. Player A signs a contract for six years for an ungodly amount of money, becoming the highest-paid player in the league at his position. In the following off-season, players B and C sign contracts for larger amounts of money. Player A now sulks, complains and lollygags until his team renegotiates his contract to once again make him the highest-paid under-achiever in the league. I would say to these people, “Get a life. You make more in one game than Joe the Plumber makes in a year. Play the game and hope McCain gets elected so you can keep the fruits of your whining.”

   3.  Contract year. We now have the scenario repeated over and over through all professional leagues where a player suddenly steps his level of play way up because his current contract is about to expire and he is preparing to enter the lucrative waters of free-agency. Whatever happened to giving it your best shot every play of every game? Pete Rose may not be a paragon of virtue, but it is a travesty to deny “Charlie Hustle” access to the Hall of Fame while these slackers march toward the realm of legends. We’ve come a long way from the Babe’s incredulous statement, “You mean you’re going to pay me to play baseball?”

   4. This one always cracks me up. A running back breaks free for a twenty yard run or a wide receiver catches a pass for a big gain. A safety will bring them down hard and then jump up and start beating his chest. Are you kidding me? The guy just schooled you and your team for big yards! Tackle him for a loss and then you have reason to celebrate. Better yet, just tackle him and then walk back to your huddle and act like you’ve done the job that is expected of you.

5.  Then you have goings-on like the Baltimore Ravens putting bounties on opposing team’s players. I realize this has been going on for some time, but what Mr. Suggs and company need to realize is that the NFL is not the mafia, it is a GAME! Players who engage in such practices should be banned from the sport for life. These activities should be ranked right up (down) there with drug and steroid abuse.

Thanks for letting me get these things off my chest. I feel much better now. Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Movie Review: Fireproof

   This last weekend, my family and I had the opportunity to view the newly-released movie, “Fireproof“. I had read several reviews by those who had screened the film prior to its release and was looking forward to the chance to see it for myself.

   I’ll have to say, I certainly was not disappointed. Produced by the members of Sherwood Baptist Church, in Albany, GA, (the makers of “Facing the Giants”) it illustrates the story of a captain of a fire department who is seeing his marriage crumble.

   Caleb, played by Kirk Cameron, is a self-absorbed public hero who eventually turns to his father (Harris Malcolm) for guidance. At his father’s request he embarks on a journey that teaches him to demonstrate a love to his wife that reflects the love of God for us.

   The movie, shot on location in Albany, moves along very well. The quality of the acting is very good for a low-budget film, greatly improved over that of “Facing the Giants”. The dramatic moments are genuinely suspenseful and the comedic relief provided by the interaction of the firefighters, while a bit contrived was funny nonetheless. The film quality was by far the best I have ever seen in a Christian production (we have come a long way since “Thief in the Night”).

   While the focus of the movie is the strengthening of marriages, the message of the Gospel is central to the plot making this worth seeing for the family. The film is rated PG due to the intensity of a couple of events the fire department faces as well as the “religious” content, but there was absolutely nothing objectionable that I found in it.

   I would encourage each family to go see this movie. It is well worth the time and the price of the ticket.

Obama’s Hypocrisy

In the last few months, Barack Obama and his supporters have castigated President Bush for leading our nation into war on less than perfect intelligence reports. In addition, they have mocked Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, for his statement that he “didn’t know much about economics.”

In the recent Saddleback Forum, Obama made a statement that exceeds the definition of hypocrisy. When asked by forum moderator, Rick Warren, “When do you think unborn babies should begin to receive human rights?” he glibly replied that if Warren were asking for a theological or scientific definition of when life began he would “Have to go to higher pay-grade than mine.”

Over the last thirty years or so, there has been no moral issue that is more of a hot-button with voters than that of abortion. This man wishes to be the president of the United States and has no opinion on when life begins. Are you kidding me? What is worse, he seems to have no desire to find out.

He is willing and desirous (this video shows his intent) to continue a holocaust of unborn children and is tacitly admitting that he doesn’t even know if the underlying principle of his position is correct. Such a man has no place in authority over the lives and deaths of other people.

Don’t let the smooth talk about working past our disagreements fool you. He has stated that in religious matters, he welcomes “vigorous and open debate.” Yet when James Dobson questioned the validity of his interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, Obama’s response was, “He’s just making stuff up.”

This underscores what I have written earlier about Obama’s inability to lead the nation. If his moral compass is nothing more than public opinion and his hypocrisy is this blatant, electing him president is worse than a crap shoot.

I would suggest to the senator that there is One with a higher pay-grade than him and He has already defined life as beginning with conception.

Perhaps Obama should actually read the Bible that he so often misquotes.

Let The Games Begin

After months of preparation, posturing and politicking on the part of the Chinese, the Olympic games are ready to get underway tonight in Beijing. I must admit to feeling somewhat conflicted about these games. I am still scratching my head as to how China wound up as the host to begin with, given their track record on human rights and other issues.

However, I also see this as an opportunity for the gospel to be carried into a place where it is not always welcome. In addition, there will be many visitors from other nations that are closed to the gospel. Let us pray that the Christians who are able to attend the games will take advantage of every opportunity to share the good news while they are there.

As a form of a Weekend Survey, tell us what you are most looking forward to in these games? Experts predict a strong showing from our ladies’ gymnastics team, our swim team looks to be formidable as well. I think, though, that I am most interested in seeing if our men’s basketball team can reclaim their spot atop the heap. I am a big fan of Mike Krzyzewski and it seems that he and Jerry Colangelo have assembled the most talented team we have fielded in several years, perhaps since the original Dream Team. In the few glimpses I have had of them in their exhibition games, there seems to be a good chemistry between the players that was missing in Athens. 

What are you looking forward to seeing?

Ya’ Think?

I couldn’t believe this news headline:

Experts Say Gasoline Is Overpriced

 

It appears that only when Congress hears from “Experts” do they get the message.

Speaking of which, someone once broke down the word “expert” for me. “Ex” is “has-been”, “spurt” is “a squirt under pressure.”

I’m Alive

I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m still kickin’ down here in south Georgia.

 As you can see, I haven’t posted a lot this year. There are several really good reasons and a whole bunch of excuses. As with many of us, the demands of life have mandated that blogging be pushed to a back burner for the time being.

I hope to be able to get back to a higher level of frequent posting soon. In the meantime, feel free to leave your thoughts on the election, NCAA basketball tournament (go Duke!), theology or any other family-friendly topic.

 God bless you and keep you in His love and grace.

Why I Support John McCain

A busier-than-usual beginning to the year has not left me a lot of time for creative writing. I hesitate to make my first post of the nova annum political in nature, but there are a few things  that I would like to say about the on-going Republican presidential primary election.

As with most of the country, it has been with great interest that I have observed the narrowing of the field from the eight or so candidates who began the race to the two serious horses still on the track. Thanks to the 24/7 rumor news mills and the abundance of information available on the internet, I feel as though I am better informed in this election than in any I have ever witnessed.

It is also with great interest, and a degree of puzzlement, I might add that I have observed the response of a number of Christian leaders and conservative pundits to John McCain’s emergence as the front-runner for the nomination.

After much prayer and thoughtful consideration, I voted for John McCain on Super Tuesday. I realize that he didn’t win my state, but if I had to do it again, I would not change my vote. I will most certainly vote for him in the general election in November if he gets the nod as the Republican candidate.

I chose McCain because of his leadership abilities, his practicality, his willingness to say what he believes and not just what people want to hear, and his proven conservative (yes, that’s right) track-record on moral issues. I believe he will do the right thing by our military, our economy, illegal immigration and given the opportunity will appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court.

Another reason I chose McCain is his ability to reach across the aisle. For too long now, our nation’s government has been grid-locked by the childish bickering and maneuvering that goes on between the two parties. I realize that there are certain core issues that cannot be compromised, but at some point, Congress must grow up and realize that on most issues, there is common ground between the two ideologies. This is what is best for the country. I believe that McCain is best suited for finding this common ground and making us a stronger nation.

Here is where my puzzlement lies with many of the conservative mouth-pieces. For years now, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, et al, have raised hue and cry about the Democrats’ unreasonable attitude and unwillingness to work together. Now, given the opportunity to support a candidate who is capable of effecting this, they choose to withdraw into their corner and pout, threatening to vote for Hillary (what?!?) or Obama (WHAT?!?) or even worse, not even vote at all. Their theory is, “We will let the country have four to eight years of liberal leadership and then they will see why we need a conservative president.” Ignoring the potential damage that this could bring to the country, they are demonstrating at best a shortsightedness, and at worst an arrogant spitefulness that shows that they value their ideas above their country. In my opinion, this makes them no better than the liberals that they so handily criticize for the same thing.

If these individuals wish to sit out the upcoming election, that is their right. I would suggest, however, that if they do so and the true liberals win, they have forfeited their credibility and have no right to complain about the leadership that the Clintons or Obama will bring to the Whitehouse.

After weighing all the issues, it is my opinion that John McCain might just turn out to be the best president we have had since Ronald Reagan. Conservative voters need to follow Mitt Romney’s lead and get behind him. Otherwise, we can prepare ourselves for the political and moral nightmare that the alternative will bring.

The only thing that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.  Edmund Burke

On the Record

   For the last couple of days, many blogs that I read have been offering commentary on the passing of Dr. Jerry Falwell. In the words of an old mountaineer I once met, Dr. Falwell was a “pucker or duck” kind of guy. That is, when you mentioned his name, people would either kiss you or take a swing at you depending on their opinion of him.

   Many in the liberal media have been gleefully celebrating the homegoing of Dr. Falwell. That is to be expected, he stood for everything they were against. What is saddening however, is the number of evangelical Christians who are taking their shots at him during this time. I even read one comment by a reformed pastor who theorized that God had called him home to straighten him out on the “doctrines of grace” because of recent remarks Dr. Falwell had made about the concept of limited atonement.

   Even many of those who are honoring the memory of this man are in some way trying to distance themselves from the extreme positions he sometimes took. They are offering a compliment in one hand and a caveat in the other.

   I want to go on record and say that I liked and admired Dr. Jerry Falwell. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I think I would have loved to have done so. I appreciated his love for God and for his country (yes, I think there is room for both in the same heart). I appreciated his willingness to expose himself to the criticisms of conservatives and liberals alike for the sake of not letting critical moral issues get swept quietly under the rug.

   I am thankful that he didn’t mind adopting an extreme position that was at times even beyond conservative, knowing that backlash was inevitable, yet doing it so that when the smoke cleared and he had somewhat mollified the left, the rest of us would have a position upon which to stand that was still well right of immorality.

   I still smile when I remember the time I saw his frank conservatism frustrate Phil Donahue to the point that all he could do was stand there bug-eyed, spluttering unintelligibly into his microphone.

   I am glad that he invested his time and work in God’s kingdom, preaching the gospel and taking an interest in the lives of thousands of young people who walked through the halls of Liberty University.

   I like the fact that you never had to wonder where he stood in a matter. He always made his position clear, no caveats, no dodges, just the truth.

   He was not afraid to call those who disagreed with him as “friends”. He realized that you don’t bring people to the truth by looking down your nose at them.

   I want to go on the record as saying that even though I did not know him, I will miss him. There is a new gap in the hedge. I wonder who will stand in it?

Editorial Note: The reformed pastor to which I referred in the second paragraph has since issued a clarification and retraction of the comment I mentioned. It was not his intention for the statement to come across in the way that I took it. I appreciate his willingness to clear up the matter.

Retrospect in Green

   I have heard that a good way to clear your thoughts is to put them down on paper. Since my thoughts are mostly virtual, I will attempt to write them on virtual paper. This may or may not make sense, I just need to get them out there.

   I was faced with the revelation that Earth Day has come and gone and I did not celebrate it, how irresponsible of me. I must confess that I am not the “greenest” individual on the planet. The last time I hugged a tree was when I was climbing one as a kid. I slipped and nearly fell out of one and hugged it like my very life depended on it.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love trees. They are beautiful, they contribute to the welfare of the planet. I respect them for that. I admire their stateliness and always wave at them when they leave. (Get it? Trees? Leave…never mind.) They also provide habitat for squirrels and other animals.

   I try to be conscious about conserving water, too. I turn the water off when I’m brushing my teeth. I thought about going with just one bath per week but then I realized that there are other environmental factors at stake besides water.

   In short, I try my best to be a good citizen of the blue planet. But I am learning that there are others who are trying harder. As it turns out, McDonald’s (yes, the restaurant chain) is fast becoming a global pacesetter in environmental awareness and political correctness conservation efforts.

   Try this on for size. The next time you enter the Golden Arch Supper Club and order a Big Mac, you can eat in the peaceful assurance that the miniscule amount of ground beef that is mixed with soy product to form the two patties did not come from a cow that was raised in a pasture where there once was a rainforest. Neither will they feed you chicken that ate soybeans from fields that were formerly rainforest.

   In addition, they boast that their paper and cardboard products are from recycled material. I don’t know about you, but my earth sense just gets to feeling all warm and fuzzy to think that my lunch is wrapped in somebody else’s garbage.

   Now I have a couple of points that perhaps the brain trust at Mickey Dees might like to ponder. How many thousands of cubic yards of garbage is produced each year by those Happy Meal toys that tear up between your parking lot and the house?

   Another item to consider is cholesterol. Now I know that they are offering a more health-conscious menu lately, but is that because of genuine concern for providing a healthy environment or because they suddenly realized that customers who die from eating a heart-attack-on-a-bun can’t come back and buy lunch the next day? I think they realized that something must be done or else they would have to clear out a rainforest to make room for a new cemetary. I can’t help but wonder if “billions and billions served” is referring to burgers or grams of cholesterol.

   Then there is this whole thing of global warming. One hears so many conflicting reports  that one hardly knows what to believe (and that’s just from Al Gore). I was beginning to get concerned about this matter, but then I read this report and my fears are somewhat abated. It seems that major league baseball players hit considerably fewer home runs last month than they did in April of last year. The referenced report attributes this to the fact that the average temperature in baseball cities in April was over four degrees cooler than in the previous two years.  (Of course it could be because the hitters are finally getting off of the go-go juice.)

   So there you have it, my tribute to Earth Day. I’m going to go celebrate with a Big Mac, fries and shake.

The Incredible Blackness Of the Human Heart

   With all of you, I have watched in horror for the last twenty-four hours as the awful events that have taken place at Virginia Tech University have unfolded. I have shaken my head at the senselessness of the whole ordeal. I have prayed for the friends, faculty and families of those involved.

   I have listened to the talking heads go on with their speculations, theories and queries. Almost immediately, it seems, people were trying to pin blame on the university administration and security for allowing the situation to escalate as it did. It is human nature,  I suppose, to try to find scapegoats upon which to place our grief and lack of understanding.

   I have listened to so-called “experts” analyze the situation, particularly the mind of the shooter, 23 year-old Cho Seung-Hui. I listened in amazent as one psychologist gave a diagnosis that was based entirely upon theory and guesswork at what might be found if a CAT scan was performed on the young man’s brain. He presented his thoughts that murderers had a different brain than “normal” folk. He had examined the brain scans of a number of murderers and stated that they seemed to have certain “abnormalities” that made them “vulnerable to violence.” His entire thesis was an effort to reassure those who heard him that their basic human goodness was still intact and that this shooter was some kind of deranged victim of a brain configuration that caused him to act the way he did.

   I am not an expert when it comes to matters of the human brain. My knowledge on the subject is limited to the facts that each of us has one and that we do not use it nearly as much as we should. The shooter may indeed have abnormalities in his brain that may have been contributing factors to this outburst of murderous mayhem, but his brain is not the root of the problem.

   The problem is his heart.

   The problem is the incredible blackness that sin produces in the human heart.

   When tragedies such as this occur, it is easy for us to try to identify with the victims, often to the point of feeling violated ourselves. We shed tears of compassion and commiseration. We may actually become sick to our stomach to think of the loss of precious lives. It is indeed sickening to see what sin has wrought in this situation. In one sense, this is a crime against all humanity.

   If we look hard enough, perhaps we can find some way to connect ourselves to these victims. It seems to make us feel better to do so.

   But one thing is for certain, each of us can identify with the shooter. Those words may produce a visceral reaction but they are the sordid truth. Every one of us has a heart that is blackened by the curse of sin. Given the proper series of circumstances and choices, any one of us is capable committing this heinous crime or worse. We can ignore and deny it, try to explain it away, but the truth remains, we are all sinners and there is only one antidote, the blood of Jesus.

   Think about it, the first sin that the Bible records is Adam and Eve partaking of the forbidden fruit. What is the second sin? Cain murdering his brother. Here are two sons from the same family, raised in the same manner. What was the difference? One of them chose to worship God, the other chose to worship self.

   When we put self on the throne of our lives, we remove the moral restraint that prevents us from being murderers, thieves, rapists and child molesters. We become more concerned with self-gratification than we do with obedience to God. His laws become inconsequential to us, our feelings become our prime directive.

   I look at this tragedy and feel incredible sympathy for the victims and their families. I am praying that the peace of God will enfold them and draw them close to Him. I see the utter bleakness of what has happened and realize that only God can bring healing to those who have been wounded so deeply.

   I look at the shooter and say, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”