ornament 31 October 2005 ornament

The Alito Nomination

After the royal debacle of the Miers nomination, President Bush has regrouped with what appears to be a stellar nomination in Samuel Alito. Though one never knows what a justice will turn out to do on the supreme court, Alito’s long record shows that he has been trustworthy thus far. It’s easy to gauge what kind of nominee he is simply by following the Democrats’ response.

Even though I’m not wearing one, my hat is off to President Bush for Alito’s nomination.

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Exit Sanders

Tennessee offensive coordinator Randy Sanders “resigned” today, effectively demoting himself to quarterbacks coach. Head coach Phillip Fulmer was apparently taken aback:

Fulmer said he was somewhat surprised by Sanders’ decision.

“Randy in an unselfish gesture has asked to step aside at the end of the season,” Fulmer said.

If Sanders genuinely did step down of his own accord, it was because he saw the handwriting on the wall. The last time Tennessee lost three consecutive games (which coincidentally was the last time the Vols lost to South Carolina), then head coach Johnny Majors lost his job.

This move will buy Fulmer a little time with the Vol mafia fans, but not long. Another four–loss season for Fulmer, and he’s a goner himself — winningest active coach in the SEC or not. In any case, Sanders stepping down mid-season won’t make much of a positive impact on the offense at this point. After all, it couldn’t get any worse…

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ornament 30 October 2005 ornament

In God They Trust

There’s a new group on the scene, and you’d better be aware of them, because they’re taking over the country. They might even be your neighbors. Who are they? Yep, you guessed it: evangelical Christians. To find out what makes them tick, on Friday night NBC aired “In God They Trust,” a special Dateline with Tom Brokaw that focused on the renewed prevalence of evangelical Christians on the American political scene.

The show oozed with anti-evangelical bias. Brokaw acts as if evangelicalism has simply appeared out of nowhere. There is no discussion whatsoever of the historical presence and influence of evangelicalism in America. All Brokaw would have had to do was look back to Jonathan Edwards, Roger Williams, or any number of the evangelical founding fathers. History is ignored.

Instead, Brokaw treats evangelicalism as a curiosity — something that needs to be investigated, lest these creeping evangelicals grow too powerful. He even notes that evangelicals are “increasingly well-educated and affluent,” as if to say, “they’re not all dumb and poor.”

That said, many of the evangelicals in the report give Brokaw good reason to treat with them with suspicion. The report was focused on Ted Haggard, pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs and president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Observes Brokaw:

Haggard is vigilant about the image of Evangelicals; prior to one of our visits he sent an e-mail to his congregation, urging them to be restrained and not to act too “weird” in front of our cameras.

Haggard comes off in the interview as brash and arrogant. He doesn’t shy away from name dropping either. Consider this exchange:

Ted Haggard: …I’m not a power broker. I don’t call presidents. I don’t harangue the White House.

Brokaw: You don’t have to call him. He calls you.

Haggard: I’ll be talking to the White House in another three and a half hours.

Brokaw: About what today?

Haggard: I don’t know the subject today. We have a regularly scheduled conference call.

Brokaw: They reach out to you?

Haggard: Yes.

Yet Haggard doesn’t really want to boast. Not really. He even says as much:

In the Christian community, people vote every Sunday morning by where they go to church. All right, so right now, during this particular era in my life—I don’t want to say this boastfully, but I am winning this election right now.

How coy. Perhaps most the most telling revelation in the report was what Brokaw himself saw missing from Haggard’s mega–church:

Brokaw: Most of the churches that I know of, and certainly the ones I attended, at some point, you out loud acknowledge that you were a sinner or that you came face-to-face to guilt that you may feel.

Haggard: Right.

Brokaw: I didn’t see any of that here.

Haggard: Well, we do talk about sin. But, see, the issue is Jesus took care of our sin. And Jesus removes guilt from our life. So the emphasis in our church isn’t how to get your sins removed because that’s pretty easy to do. Jesus did that on the cross. He emphasis in our church is how to fulfill the destiny that God’s called you to.

Brokaw: You’re making it easier for them.

Haggard: Making it easier for them just like Jesus did, just like Moses did.

It’s not quite Joel Osteen, but Haggard is more than a bit off the mark. There’s nothing “easy” about the cross. Even for those of us who do not literally have to suffer death in a torturous manner, Christ demands, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)

It does seem that Haggard — however well intentioned he might be — has sacrificed biblical exposition for political action he finds more applicable. His church had renown political conservative D’nesh Dsouza speak one Sunday during a worship service. Brokaw interviewed a new convert who took issue with Dsouza’s presence, wondering if it was the “right forum” for such a speaker.

I wonder as well. While I am in agreement with many of Dsouza’s views, a church service dedicated to the worship of God is no place for a political lecture. Was the teaching of the Scriptures insufficient for the church that Sunday? Are there not sufficient outlets to learn about political conservatism outside the worship service?

If New Life Church is truly representative of American evangelicalism, trouble looms. Not because Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics — I firmly believe that we should — but because we run the risk of usurping with our political clout the very theological foundations that are supposed to define evangelicalism.

May God help us from becoming just another block of voters.

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ornament 29 October 2005 ornament

Spurriered

Vols 15, Gamecocks 16

I have little to say anymore that hasn’t been said about this Tennessee football season. When the highlight of the game for the Tennessee offense is the retirement of Peyton Manning’s #16 jersey, you know there’s something wrong.

Could it get any worse, you ask? Next week, the Vols are at South Bend taking on Notre Dame.

Sigh.

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ornament 26 October 2005 ornament

Travelogue: Pigeon Forge (R.I.P.), Gatlinburg, & Townsend, TN

Recently I had the chance to travel to a place I have been many times throughout my life: the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area of Tennessee. What follows are my notes from the trip, with a couple of photos thrown in for good measure.

Continue reading…

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ornament 22 October 2005 ornament

Tennessee, Three and Three

Vols 3, Crimson Tide 6

I had almost forgotten what it felt like to lose to Alabama. However bad it is, it isn’t nearly as bad as what it feels like to hand the game to the Crimson Tide on a silver platter.

For the second game in a row, Tennessee’s offense failed to score a touchdown (I’m not counting that one-yarder against Georgia — that was not the result of offensive action). Our special teams proved once again that they’re not all that special.

Our defense, minus the team’s best athlete, looked incredible. It’s a shame our offense (spelled C-O-A-C-H-I-N-G) let them down.

Ugh.

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ornament 16 October 2005 ornament

On Deck…

Due to that process we all live called life, blogging around here has been rather absent. I’ve still got a lot going on in the next few weeks, but I thought it might be prudent to give all three of you who read my blog (yep, you’re one of the three!) a preview of things to come. So here’s a few posts I’ve been working on that will be posted in the near future:

  • A new edition of Travelogue complete with photos that covers a recent trip to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Townsend TN area. Hint: there will not be a lot of good things to say about Pigeon Forge…
  • A review of Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Gilead, which makes the “Books that Haunt” list mere months after I read it.
  • Some thoughts on teachers and the process of learning — something that affects all our lives, be it in grade-school, university, the church, the workforce, or wherever.
  • Ruminations on how pervasive a person’s epistemology, or theory of knowledge, can be in every aspect of a person’s life, both in though and action.
  • Several other books I’ve read in the last year will be commented on briefly.

That’s what’s in the cooker. I’m sure there will be other items that will pop in uninvited. You’re on your own with those, but for the aforementioned, consider yourselves warned.

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ornament 10 October 2005 ornament

Dog Days of Autumn

Vols 14, Bulldogs, 27

For the far–too–manyeth time in far–too–many years, Georgia was once again the better team at Neyland Stadium.

The Vol offense mistakenly took the bus to Sanford Stadium in Athens, thus missing the game. Rumor has is that they will stay there until the Vols really play there next season.

The stats tell the story: the Vols had 310 passing yards and scored only one offensive touchdown. Scarier was the whopping 54 yards rushing. That’s right, 54. We ran the ball just over half the length of the field.

The Tide that’s coming in two weeks is beginning to look like a Tsunami

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ornament 6 October 2005 ornament

Mystery

Fyodor Dostoevsky:

Man is a mystery: if you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say that you have wasted your time. I occupy myself with this mystery, because I want to be a man.

From an 1839 letter to his brother. [Source: Konstantin Mochulsky’s essay, “Dostoevsky and The Brothers Karamazov,” found in the Bantam Classic edition of The Brothers Karamazov]

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October Baby Pics

After ten months, our son is getting hard to keep up with given all the new forms transportation he finds daily:

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