Saturday, June 21, 2008

Prayer Blog - 6/21/2008

I was contacted by Rick Carr, pastor of the English Mountain Christian Church (166 Epley Road; Newport, TN). He will be absent for three Sundays in August and I will be filling the pulpit on August 17th. The service begins at 10:45 am and I will be preaching on Matthew 15:21-28. Please keep this sermon in your prayers.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 6/20/2008

Associated Baptist Press
June 20, 2008 (8-63)

CBF General Assembly begins with historic commissioning service
Civil-rights struggle ongoing, journalists at ABP event say
Mission projects precede CBF General Assembly in Memphis
Civil-rights leader garners Whitsitt Courage Award
Women’s wresting draws attention to Missouri Baptist University

CBF General Assembly begins with historic commissioning service
By ABP staff

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (ABP) -- The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship commissioned 18 people for global missions service June 18 in a history-making place -- a local church.

Traditionally, CBF has commissioned new personnel at the same venue in which each annual meeting has been held. This year’s service, held at First Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., celebrates a turn toward recognizing the local church role in mission efforts.

“We held the commissioning service in a local church because we are focusing on the work churches do for global missions,” Lance Wallace, CBF’s communications director, explained.

“The concept in the past was that missionaries are sent out as paid agents. Now people are traveling globally. The church is on mission itself.”

The commissioning service kicked off the CBF’s annual General Assembly in Memphis.

The new personnel will serve in a variety of ministries -- from teaching English in Asia to starting kindergartens in Africa.

“[Our mission] is about the lost, the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the people who have no Christian presence in their midst. That is the path we are called to,” Nash said.

In a challenge to approximately 1,000 attendees, Nash said missions must change because the world is changing.

“It’s not enough until we join together and become engaged together in reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. “What excites me the most is the possibility as we join hands together in ministry and mission in the name of Jesus Christ.”

New CBF field personnel include Carita, Southeast Asia; Lindsay, Southeast Asia; Brittany Phillips, China; Matthew and Melanie Storie, Alabama; Elaine Childs, Croatia; Leah Crowley, Florida; Cynthia Levesque, China; Eric and Julie Maas, Belize; Gene Murdock, India; Karen and Kenny Sherin, Missouri; Dan and Jolene Tucker, Mexico; Dee Donalson, Ethiopia; Christopher and Jessica Rose, Peru.

For safety reasons, CBF does not release the names and specific locations of some of its missionaries.

CBF now has 163 field personnel.

At the commissioning, attendees contributed $12,750 to CBF’s Offering for Global Missions to honor Jack Snell, former director of field ministries, who died of cancer last year.

“His greatest passion, besides his family, was missions. That was his main passion -- he gave his life, his soul and his time for missions,” said Jim Smith, who now directs field ministries.


Civil-rights struggle ongoing, journalists at ABP event say
By Marv Knox

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (ABP) -- The struggle for civil rights is not over, and moderate Baptists must carry the cause, journalists exhorted participants at the annual Associated Baptist Press dinner June 19 in Memphis, Tenn.

On various levels and in numerous locations, the cause of Christ demands that people of faith and good will stand up and speak out for the poor, the disenfranchised and the weak, they said during the ABP event. The banquet is held each year during the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship general assembly.

“We all know race plays out in [political] campaigns, and we know this is going to be a really important one for America,” Christine Wicker said of the 2008 presidential election, referencing the contest between the first person of color likely to be nominated by a major party, Barack Obama, and John McCain.

Wicker, a former Dallas Morning News religion reporter, is the author of a new book, The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church.

Wicker’s topic was “Race in the 2008 Elections,” but she set the context of her remarks by referencing her new book explaining how progressive Christians -- the profile of Baptists who relate to the CBF -- face a vital opportunity to provide moral leadership.

For years, Wicker was “wowed by megachurches,” she said, explaining that congregations that regularly draw more than 2,000 worshippers not only are huge, but they’re typically well-run and efficient, and their ministries help huge numbers of people.

As she set out to write a book on the successes of such congregations, several pastors of those churches ironically complained to her about their ineffectiveness, she said. One pastor told her, “We can’t save anybody.” Another suggested, “Stop looking at the front door and look at the back door,” admitting the megachurches’ huge numbers of converts are offset by the people who leave those churches every year.

Wicker pored over statistics from the Southern Baptist Convention, the Church of God and other conservative evangelical groups. She found denominations in decline.

“The more I tracked, the more I saw [evidence of evangelicals’ dominance] wasn’t there. It was a façade,” she said. “I realized this isn’t bad news; this is the best news of my lifetime. The jig is up.”

For years, “the fundamentalists were hiding behind the Bible, authority and marketing strategy,” trumpeting their dominance and labeling other Christian groups as inferior or even counterfeit, she noted. They were so successful in their proclamations that others believed them -- even when conservatives’ statistics didn’t back up their argument.

Turning to the 2008 presidential race and other political campaigns, Wicker observed that progressive Christians have an unprecedented opportunity to articulate their understanding of the gospel.

Because of the presidential showdown between Obama and McCain highlights race, it’s not a new issue in American politics, she said.

“Richard Nixon played the race card with his’ Southern Strategy’ in 1968,” she remembered, noting race has been used to divide American voters ever since. Sometimes, the appeal is subtler, camouflaged in issues such as crime, but it’s still present, she insisted.

“I don’t know if we should vote for Obama,” Wicker said of the current contest. “What I do know is you have been on the front lines,” she said, noting moderate or progressive Christians have rolled up their sleeves and served the poor and disenfranchised and suffering people of America, and those Christians have more influence than they realize, in part because fundamentalists have less influence than they claim.

“You have been helping people,” she said. “People are going to call on you.”

Wicker called on progressive Christians to be expansive and inclusive in their service, urging them no only to minister to like-minded Americans, but to reach out to those for whom race remains a bitter, divisive issue in U.S. politics.

“You can do it,” she affirmed. “The world is watching.”

In separate speeches, ABP editors emphasized the high calling of journalists -- particularly Christians practicing their faith -- to combat racism.

ABP News Editor Robert Marus -- a native of nearby Little Rock, Ark., who completed his undergraduate degree at Rhodes College in Memphis -- noted the unique context of the region. Little Rock made global headlines 50 years ago, when black students integrated his alma mater, Central High School. Nemphis became a focal point for race in America 40 years ago, when Martin Luther King was assassinated there, igniting riots nationwide.

“Journalists were the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Marus, who also serves as ABP’s Washington bureau chief. “They stood at the apex of what our profession does best … comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.”

Journalists’ images and words from the Civil Rights Movement -- particularly from Little Rock and Memphis, but also from other communities, like Selma, Birmingham and Washington -- turned the tide of public opinion toward integration, he reported.

“They showed Americans what they were doing to their own people,” he explained. “Americans didn’t like what they saw.”

Tragically, “one of the saddest ironies of the Civil Rights Movement” was that white Christian ministers, on the whole, were nowhere near as exemplary as journalists.

“The bearers of the gospel of light” often justified segregation theologically, Marus lamented, while practitioners of the secular craft of journalism championed the cause of African Americans.

In fact, a former seminary student who turned to journalism became the first American martyr for civil rights 130 years before Martin Luther King died in Memphis, noted ABP Executive Editor Greg Warner.

In 1833, Christian businessmen in St. Louis approached Elijah Lovejoy about starting a newspaper to “advocate for morality” in the booming Mississippi River city, Warner reported.

So, that year, he launched The Observer. But within two years, Lovejoy championed a kind of morality his financial backers didn’t have in mind. In 1835, he started opposing slavery. Gradually, he advocated complete abolition.

Lovejoy’s supporters and readers turned against him, calling for his lynching. He relocated his newspaper across the river, to Alton, Ill., Warner said. First, his former readers from St. Louis followed him, chopped up his printing press and threw it into the Mississippi.

Lovejoy remained undeterred, Warner reported. He bought another press and continued his assault on slavery, believing 2½ million fellow humans should not be oppressed.

In time, his enemies destroyed more presses, and Lovejoy replaced them until, one night just before his 35th birthday, a mob in Alton shot him to death and threw his last printing press into the Mississippi.

Although the crowd took Lovejoy’s life, the newspaper editor who battled slavery because of his Christian beliefs actually won the battle, Warner said. The bullets that killed Lovejoy were, effectively, the first shots of the Civil War -- more than 20 years before Union and Confederate troops looked across a battlefield.

“Elijah Lovejoy was the first American martyr for freedom of the press” and freedom of all people, Warner insisted.

“The mid-19th century, like our day, was plagued by many Christians whose God was too small,” he said, noting “the evil today” for most Christians is apathy and complacency in the face of crying needs and oppression around the world.

“Where is our great cause? Are there no issues worth dying for?” Warner asked.

“There are civil-rights issues today,” he answered, citing human trafficking and sex slavery in Thailand and racial genocide in Darfur. And issues of equity of all people should dominate the concerns of Christians who love people for whom Christ died, he added.

“We should say, ‘Let’s expand our world … by making room for other people and new ideas.’ … Let us contend with the cobwebs of complacency,” he urged, challenging Christians to see that all people have access to “safe water, clean earth and the dignity of a job.”

Associated Baptist Press is an independent news service that works with religious and secular news outlets nationwide. It is a founding partner of the New Voice Media Group, a collaboration with the Baptist Standard in Texas, the Religious Herald in Virginia and Word & Way in Missouri.


Mission projects precede CBF General Assembly in Memphis
By Carla Wynn Davis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (ABP) -- Andrea Zintzun, 16, knows she’s been blessed by others, so packing boxes of rice at the Memphis Food Bank just seemed like a good thing to do.

“There are people who blessed us, and we need to bless back,” said Zintzun, one of 13 Homestead, Fla., teenagers who traveled to Memphis for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s annual General Assembly.

The teens are from Open House Ministries, a CBF partner ministry that serves a poor area of Miami-Dade County. They arrived the day before the assembly so they could serve at the food bank.

“We want [the teenagers] to be a part of our kingdom work, and they can,” said Wanda Ashworth, one of CBF’s field personnel who directs Open House Ministries.

The group also traveled to Memphis to support Open House associate director Leah Crowley, was commissioned as one of CBF’s field personnel during the assembly. Most of Crowley’s ministry is with children and teenagers, so having a group present “will make it meaningful,” Ashworth said.

The 20-hour journey to Memphis included stops in each state for everybody to put their feet on the ground and have it count as a state they had visited. After the Assembly, the group will travel to summer camp in North Carolina and back to Homestead -- stopping at several of the ministry’s supporting churches along the way.

The Homestead group was among more than 60 people that arrived before the General Assembly to serve at Memphis-area ministry sites. One site was Girls Inc., where members of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit, Mo., helped serve lunch to approximately 100 girls.

There, Cornerstone member Kaylea Burke, 7, started the serving assembly line by adding a pint of milk to each lunch tray. She pointed to her dad, Ethan, who was busily handing out trays to girls.

“That’s my dad,” she said. “He’s the messy one. He’s been working hard.”

Seventeen members of Cornerstone also helped at the Memphis Food Bank labeling boxes and sorting food. Already coming to speak at a General Assembly workshop, Ethan Burke said, “We said, ‘Why not just combine the two trips?’”

An hour south of Memphis, about 20 college students spent two days serving in Helena-West Helena, Ark., where CBF field personnel Ben and Leonora Newell live and minister. The service project was part of the Memphis Sessions, CBF’s first collegiate event at the annual General Assembly.

The students played kickball, made jewelry, read books and played board games with children in the community center. They also worked at a new 4-acre community garden, where they helped pull weeds, till the ground and make stands for growing tomato plants.

Ben Newell said community gardens will not only provide up to 10 tons of produce this year, but will also encourage the community. And, ultimately, the community is what all mission efforts are about.

“We come to realize that the end product -- though important -- is not the most important. It’s the relationship” with community members, Newell said. “A lot of times people come on mission trips and it’s like, ‘How much can I accomplish? How much can I work?’ But it’s the relationships that really make the difference.”

Casey Green, a student at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, served as a student intern last summer in Helena-West Helena and was excited to return and serve.

“I jumped at the shot to come back to Helena,” she said. “What the garden produces makes a big difference here.”

“For years, the Fellowship has been gathering at annual assemblies. We felt it was time we actually got out there and worked in the community we were visiting,” said Chris Boltin, CBF’s short-term and partnerships manager who organized the mission projects. “Memphis is a convention city. The people are used to having people come and go. I wanted us to leave a positive touch on the city and to be the presence of Christ.”


Civil-rights leader garners Whitsitt Courage Award
By Marv Knox

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (ABP) -- Fred Shuttlesworth, one of the last remaining lions of the Civil Rights Movement, received the Whitsitt Courage Award at a meeting of Baptist historians in Memphis, Tenn., June 19.

The award honors individuals who demonstrate “Baptist ideals of freedom and faith in the force of any and all tyrannies.” The William H. Whitsitt Baptist Heritage Society presents the award during the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly each summer.

“Fred Shuttlesworth led the fight against racism, bigotry and segregation in the United States. His work, his ministry, has lifted the standing of Baptists,” noted Whitsitt Society president Kirby Godsey, who insisted Shuttlesworth “embodies the very meaning of courage.”

Shuttlesworth worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. to guide the Civil Rights movement. He was pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., which was bombed three times, and the Ku Klux Klan bombed Shuttlesworth’s home on Christmas Day 1956.

“He pushed the United States a little closer to what Martin Luther King called ‘the beloved community’ and Jesus Christ called ‘the Kingdom of God,’” said Andrew Manis, associate professor of history at Macon State College in Macon, Ga., and author of a Shuttlesworth biography, A Fire You Can’t Put Out.

The Civil Rights Acts of the mid-1960s, which helped ensure the equal rights of Americans of all races, would not have been enacted without Shuttleworth’s leadership, Manis said. He presented the keynote address at the ceremony, during the Whitsitt Society’s annual breakfast.

“Nobody put his rear on the line in the black freedom struggle more than Fred Shuttlesworth did in Birmingham,” he said.

Referencing some of the key crisis points of the Civil Rights Movement, Manis said, “16 sticks of dynamite, the tenacity of [infamous Birmingham police commissioner] Bull Connor…and the occasional timidity of Martin Luther King did not hold him down. He was a modern-day Daniel in the lion’s den.”

The Whitsitt audience watched a documentary that showed a crowd beating Shuttlesworth when he tried to integrate Phillips High School by enrolling his children there. That event took place immediately after the KKK threatened castration and death for “anyone” who attempted to integrate Birmingham schools, Manis said, adding the threat was targeted for Shuttlesworth, the only parent who attempted integration.

Years later, Shuttlesworth sat in on debate about whether to build a museum focusing on slavery in the South. Shuttlesworth did not comment until another participant asked what he thought. “If you don’t tell it like it was, it can never be as it ought to be,” he told the crowd.

“That’s the best advice for preachers and historians, especially for white preachers whose track record for speaking out on race is abysmal,” Manis said.

Shuttlesworth’s “light” illuminated the evils of segregation, the foolishness of idolizing culture and color, and the myriad blights of racism, Manis said, noting Shuttlesworth’s “little light was lit by a fire you can’t put out.”

“We still have a long way to go to reach ‘the beloved community,’ and sin being what it is, we probably never will reach it,” he said. “But…nobility lies in being willing to accept reality” and taking on seemingly impossible challenges.

Shuttlesworth set the standard for Christians who want to eliminate racism by demonstrating courage “both in the pulpit and in the streets.”

Accepting the award, Shuttlesworth said, “I’m here to thank God for using me in moving forward the standards of bravery and courage and for letting him use me. I’m here to say what a great thing it is to stand up for God in a serious thing. Standing up is what God wants us to do.”

The Whitsitt Society and its award are named for an early president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who lost his job in the late 1800s for persevering in his assertion -- later widely affirmed by reputable historians -- that Baptists date to the 16th century English Separatist movement rather than to John the Baptist, as many Baptists believed at the time.


Women's wrestling draws attention to Missouri Baptist University
By Rachel Mehlhaff

ST. LOUIS (ABP) -- This fall, Missouri Baptist University in suburban St. Louis will join a handful of other schools nationwide in offering a women’s wrestling program.

MBU officials hope the program will help more of the small liberal-arts institution’s student athletes become Olympians.

Athletic Director Tom Smith said he believes the new program will give the university more national exposure and draw more women to its programs. “It will help our gender side,” he said.

Women’s wrestling became an Olympic event in 2004. MBU administrators have been thinking about adding the sport for the past couple of years.

Since women athletes overall tend to be more disciplined than their male counterparts, Smith noted, he hopes the wrestling program will enhance the school’s academics as well.

Women’s wrestling is more prevalent in high school than at the college level. Few universities have a good program, Smith said. In some high schools that do not offer women’s programs, female students participate on men’s teams.

The new sport will provide more opportunities for women on the campus, Smith added. Like other MBU sports, scholarships will be offered on the basis of skill.

“We want to be in that position to present an Olympic athlete,” Smith said. “It really is a competitive sport.”

The university already has women signing up to participate.

Erica Poe, an incoming freshman for the fall term, said he’s excited about being able to wrestle on a college women’s team.

“This will be my first year,” she said.

To be on a women’s wrestling team that is. She wrestled on the men’s team as a student at Warsaw High School in Warsaw, Mo. Only one other female student also participated on the 30-man team.

Poe was excited when she found out MBU was offering a team. Otherwise, she would have had to go to college out of state. “I wanted to help build up a program,” she said.

Smith, the athletic director, said he anticipates having 10-15 members on the team the first year. He thinks the new sport will draw women from across the country since so few programs currently exist.

Although school officials said they had some concern over how conservative Baptists might react to the concept of a women’s wrestling team, Smith said he hasn’t heard much from Baptists in Missouri.

It “places a certain level of responsibility on us to do it responsibly,” he said. “I have not heard a whole lot of negativity in the church arena.”

As long as the wrestling isn’t co-ed, pastors contacted for this story seemed to have no objections to the idea.

The publicity the program will generate initially for MBU is one of its benefits. “I think it is going to generate a real strong curiosity for the athletic programs,” Smith said. He thinks the first few meets will be highly attended.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, of which MBU is a member, does not include women’s wrestling. The new team will compete in the Women’s College Wrestling Association, which has about 15 member institutions.


Bible Trivia - 6/20/2008

Question: According to II Chronicles, what is the significance of Mt. Moriah?

Answer: Site of Solomon's Temple. (II Chronicles 3:1)

Comments: The word "Moriah" (literally meaning "ordained/considered by YHWH") appears only twice in the entire Bible. It refers to the place where Abraham took Isaac for sacrifice (Genesis 22:2) and the site of the temple, where the entire nation of Israel took their sacrifices (II Chronicles 3:1).

He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." (Genesis 22:2, NASB)

Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. (II Chronicles 3:1, NASB)

Word of the Day - 6/20/2008


To colligate is to bind or fasten together.

Jesus was colligated during his trial before Pilate. (Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1)

Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate. (Mark 15:1, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 6/20/2008

I had a very laid back Thursday that culminated as usual with another appetizing meal at Applebees.

I helped CTH and JTH at MoFoS. This was fortunate as I witnessed the longest buyback in human history. Our good friend JCT (who must not die) came in to sell some of his collection and due to a series of interruptions, we managed to keep him there for several hours despite three people filling his order. Thankfully, JCT was gracious.

We then joined JBT at Applebees. This was a landmark night at Applebees as we had the opportunity to use our manager’s discount cards. Not only could we purchase half-priced appetizers before 10 pm, but also on more than one appetizer and on the previously forbidden potato skins. It was a little sad at how pleased these turn of events made me.

In other Applebees news, they have purchased new pitchers, designed specifically to keep germs out of their beverages. They come complete with tops. Unfortunately, they also have a tendency to restrict the flow of said beverages into the patron’s glass. I am uncertain whether I would prefer a little more germs and expedient service.

JBT purchased a hair piece from the Hair Club for Men as he is experiencing premature hair loss. It looks amazingly natural. I noticed something was different, but would not have guessed a hairpiece. Then again, I am generally oblivious. So, if you are balding, check out Cy Sperling. Remember, he is not only the Hair Club president, he is also a client. Roll footage from 1986.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Prayer Blog - 6/19/2008

JTH's aunt GTH is experiencing further medical problems. I received the following e-mail:
A body scan following her thyroid cancer diagnosis, revealed a lesion on her liver. Her doctors will schedule a CT scan for further evaluation. She is scheduled for a colonoscopy on June 30th and gall bladder surgery July 14th. Please pray for doctor discernment and for God to touch her and heal her completely.

Bible Trivia - 6/19/2008

Question: What is meant by the term 'canon' when applied to the scriptures?

Answer: An officially accepted list of books.

Comments: The term "canon" is applied to the books of the Bible deemed authoritative by a particular branch of the church. The word "canon" etymologically means cane or reed and functions like a measuring stick.

Word of the Day - 6/19/2008


To desquamate is to come off in scales, as the skin in certain diseases; peel off.

One of Job's many complaints was that his skin was desquamating.

My skin turns black on me,/And my bones burn with fever. (Job 30:30, NASB)

The Masoretic Text literally has “become dark from upon me,” prompting some translations to supply the implied phrase “falls from me” (RSV, NRSV), or “peels” (NIV).

My skin grows black and peels/my body burns with fever. (Job 30:30, NIV)

Note: This paintiing is "Job, his Wife and his Friends: The Complaint of Job" by WIlliam Blake (1757-1827). It is part of the Tate Collection.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 6/19/2008

I spent my Wednesday night with a wide variety of friends and events.

I received a pleasant surprise when CAL called me to tell me she was in town and wanted to eat at the Silver Spoon Café. I think she is actually more addicted to the restaurant than I am as she loves the Asian Sesame Salad. She had a short day at the office, so after bankrupting a man (she filed the necessary paperwork, not spent all of his money), she came to Knoxville to run some errands at West Town Mall and Sam’s Club.

I had a great time catching up with one of my oldest and dearest friends. She insisted on paying for my meal and admitted her pleasure that I was not especially hungry and only ordered an appetizer. Her honesty is always refreshing.

After eating, I joined JTL, his wife JiL, and MPW at Bearden High School for the final game of that night’s Rocky Top Basketball League. We all wanted to see the marquee match up of Tyler Smith against freshman phenom Scotty Hopson. Many other people must have had the same idea as it was more crowded than even opening night. I am glad I went as it was the best game in the league’s short history. The game went to overtime on an amazing last second three-point basket and was won on an equally impressive last second hoop (from the same player) in overtime. My review is posted under a “View from 315A.”

Despite the great nightcap, the real drama came before we arrived when Tennessee forward Wayne Chism walked out of a game at halftime after being reprimanded for his lack of hustle. No word on whether or not he took his ball with him when he left. I decided only to attend the one game as I knew for my own sanity that I would not be able to stomach more than one game of the obnoxious p.a. announcer.

Afterwards, I met JTH and Mr. X at Mr. X’s home. We watched Strange Wilderness on DVD. It is a Happy Madison production (Adam Sandler’s company). The movie follows Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn)’s attempt to take over a wilderness show after the death of his father, who hosted the show successfully for years. It is certainly not a brilliant film, but it made us laugh often. We especially enjoyed the ridiculous voiceovers during footage of various scenes from nature. For example:

Bears are a proud people, although they're not people per-say. They're animals. Bears derive their name from a football team in Chicago. Bears have been known to attack man, although the fact is that fewer people have been killed by bears than in all of World World I and World War II combined. Brown bears bloves fishing. Brown... Brown bears bloves... God, why am I having so much trouble saying brown...

Though it was exceedingly late, we spent a great deal of time playing Grand Theft Auto IV on the PlayStation 3. We played online, marking the first time I have ever played any game online. There was absolutely no point to this, but it was amusing. Then again, the late hour could have contributed to our amusement.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 6/18/2008

Associated Baptist Press
June 18, 2008 (8-62)

Alma Hunt, longtime Baptist missions advocate, dead at 98
Troubled Texas WMU seeks healing with interim director
Opinion: Lawley’s Chapel and the communion of saints

Alma Hunt, longtime Baptist missions advocate, dead at 98
By Robert Dilday

ROANOKE, Va. (ABP) -- Alma Hunt, one of Baptists’ best-known missions advocates, died June 14 in a Roanoke, Va., hospital. She was 98.

The Virginia native gained national recognition in 1948 when she became executive director of the Birmingham, Ala.-based Woman’s Missionary Union, an auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention. She led WMU until her retirement in 1974.

Hunt’s influence remained profound over the next 34 years as a volunteer worker with the Baptist World Alliance, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Foreign (now International) Mission Board, Global Women and numerous Virginia Baptist organizations.

“[Alma Hunt] heralded the cause of missions straight from her heart,” said John Upton, executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia. “She has been a bold and influential leader not only for women, but also for all Baptists around the world.”

“Alma Hunt was an energetic and dynamic leader who helped move WMU forward, expanding its reach into Baptist churches with record growth for the cause of missions,” said Wanda Lee, WMU’s current executive director. “She was a truly amazing woman who selflessly served others and actively sought to develop women leaders.”

Born in Roanoke in 1909, Hunt grew up at First Baptist Church there and was baptized at 10. She left briefly to earn a degree at Longwood College in Farmville, Va., but returned to teach in Roanoke’s public schools. In 1943, First Baptist’s pastor, Walter Pope Binns, assumed the presidency of William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and the next year he asked Hunt to become the school’s dean of women. She held that post for the four years -- while also earning a master's degree in student-personnel administration at Columbia University -- when she was elected WMU executive director.

During her tenure, WMU’s membership grew to an all-time high of 1.5 million and its publishing arm expanded. National WMU also reorganized under her leadership.

Hunt led the organization to help form the Baptist World Alliance’s women’s division and the North American Baptist Women’s Union, which she also served as president from 1964-67.

She was vice president of the BWA from 1970-75, presiding over some of the sessions of the 13th BWA World Congress in 1975 in Stockholm, Sweden. Hunt became the first woman to preside over a BWA general session.

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam lauded Hunt for being a reliable and longstanding supporter of the international church body. “We are thankful for people like her who give so much encouragement to those involved in the worldwide Baptist movement,” he said.

After retiring in 1974, she joined the Foreign Mission Board’s staff in Richmond, Va., as an unpaid volunteer, traveling to 45 countries as a consultant for women’s mission work. She maintained a rigorous stateside schedule speaking and writing on behalf of missions.

In 1985 she returned to Roanoke to care for her mother, while continuing to speak around the country and to write. In 1995, she was the only woman invited as a featured speaker at the 150th anniversary celebration of the Southern Baptist Convention. “Missions is what makes me get up in the morning,” she said at the time.

In the 1990s, additional recognitions came her way with the naming of national WMU’s Hunt Library and Archives and of its Alma Hunt Museum on missions education; of Hunt Hall at Virginia WMU’s retreat center; of the Alma Hunt Cottage to house adults with developmental disabilities at HopeTree Family Services (formerly Virginia Baptist Children’s Home); and of the Alma Hunt Theological Library at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies in Arlington, Va.

In 1998, Virginia Baptists named their state missions offering for her.

Other honors followed. In 2001, she received the Jeter Award for denominational service from the Religious Herald, the Baptist General Association of Virginia’s news journal. In 2002, she was inducted into the Mainstream Baptist Network Hall of Fame. In 2004, she received the Judson-Rice Award for Baptist leadership from Baptists Today.

She was awarded an honorary doctor of humanities degree from William Jewell, and an honorary doctor of divinity degree from the University of Richmond.

In 2003, First Baptist, Roanoke, voted to sever its relationship with BGAV and affiliate with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, a state convention formed in opposition to what it claimed was liberalism in the BGAV. Four days after the vote, Hunt joined Rosalind Hills Baptist Church, ending a nearly 94-year relationship with First Baptist.

Last January, the congregation of Rosalind Hills asked Hunt to let them ordain her to gospel ministry -- and she agreed.

Hunt, who never married, is survived by nephew, William D. Roe, Jr. of Roanoke; her niece, Mary Anna Hunt of Indianapolis, Ind.; and by seven great-nephews and -nieces.

Funeral services were held at Rosalind Hills June 18, with burial following in the family plot at Evergreen Cemetery in Roanoke.

The family requested that memorials be sent to national WMU, Virginia WMU or the BWA.

-- Julie Walters contributed to this story.


Troubled Texas WMU seeks healing with interim director
By Ken Camp

DALLAS (ABP) -- The Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas board of directors has granted its intentional interim executive director broad powers as members seek healing for the troubled missions organization.

On the first day of their June 16-17 board meeting, directors learned the organization’s executive committee had hired Nelda Seal, former executive director of Louisiana WMU, for the post 11 days earlier.

On June 17, members introduced a bylaws revision to give the chief executive authority to hire, fire and supervise all personnel. Under current bylaws, she holds that authority only over personnel not directly elected by the board -- meaning only over mid- and lower-level employees.

Directors are expected to vote on the amendment by mail or e-mail within 30 days.

The board also approved a recommendation to allow the interim executive “to evaluate and restructure the staff as may be deemed necessary and appropriate.”

Nina Pinkston had been named the interim executive after former exec Carolyn Porterfield unexpectedly resigned last October. Then last month, the executive committee abruptly dismissed Pinkston from the post.

After her dismissal in May, Pinkston publicly acknowledged deep division within the Texas WMU staff.

The board spent part of its meeting in executive session, where members developed a public statement. “Recently, the board of directors of WMU of Texas met in Dallas for its regular summer meeting and board training. In recent days, its foundation has been shaken,” the statement said.

“One board member stated, ‘We came confused and left united.’ As a result of training … the board clarified its roles and responsibilities. The first step taken was the hiring of an intentional interim executive director-treasurer, Nelda Seal, a former executive director of Louisiana WMU for 15 years.

“WMU of Texas has moved forward on its firm foundation of reaching, teaching [and] discipling Texas and the world.”

The board also spent an extended time in the closed-door session discussing unspecified personnel issues. Members then opened the meeting for an hour-long question-and-answer session that included dramatic public apologies to former staff leaders and what some participants characterized as “first steps toward healing.”

The first day of the two-day meeting drew about two dozen guests, including several past presidents of Texas WMU and former staff.

At the opening session, Texas WMU president Paula Jeser, who had been acting as volunteer interim executive, noted Texas WMU bylaws give the president and executive committee the authority to fill the position in the event of a vacancy.

In a call to prayer several weeks ago, eight former Texas WMU presidents raised the possibility of hiring “an experienced intentional interim” director.

Affirming that suggestion, Jeser said she sought counsel from national WMU Executive Director Wanda Lee. At Lee’s recommendation, the executive committee interviewed Seal, of Alexandria, La., Jeser reported.

The executive committee voted unanimously June 5 to hire Seal as intentional executive director-treasurer.

Seal told the board she saw the position as “a servant leadership role,” and she urged the organization to stay focused on its mission.

Asked in open session how many candidates the executive committee considered before hiring Seal, Jeser said the committee requested interviews with five candidates -- most from outside Texas -- but some declined to be considered.

Jeser also noted that while the bylaws do not stipulate the means for terminating an interim executive, Pinkston’s contract included a provision for termination.

The open session included public apologies for unspecified wrongs, hugs and tears.

Jeser began by recognizing Porterfield, saying: “I want to publicly say the board of directors failed in its job to hear you when you spoke to us. We did not back you.”

Turning to Pinkston, she added, “Nina, I made some big mistakes with you, and I offer my sincere apology.”

Later, board member Merle Cross of Gilmer, Texas, said the board owed Porterfield an apology for not having a called meeting to hear her concerns at the time surrounding her resignation.

Several board members affirmed Porterfield and Pinkston for their roles as mentors through the years and for the leadership they provided Texas WMU.

In a surprising move, Porterfield asked to speak at the conclusion of the question-and-answer session.

“It’s time to move forward,” Porterfield told the board. “Do the right thing for the right reason in the right way. “I love you. I gave you 15 years of my life. Make me proud. But more than that, honor the Father. Ultimately, that’s all that matters.”


Opinion: Lawley’s Chapel and the communion of saints
By Beth Newman

(ABP) -- One a recent Saturday afternoon, I gathered with a small group of family and friends around the graveside of my mother-in-law. The burial ground of Lawley’s Chapel United Methodist Church sits atop one of the gentle hills of north central Alabama, looking across a farmer’s pastureland to a tree-lined creek bottom.

The oldest, central section of graves are marked by nothing but stones, probably carried up from that creek. Any names that they might have borne are long since gone. The landscape probably remains fairly unchanged, however, since those first bodies had been buried by the Methodist circuit riders in the 1840’s.

Certainly, it had not changed much during my mother-in-law’s life of almost 90 years. Nor had her life taken her far away from that place. She had never traveled farther away than Georgia, having spent most of her life along that creek and among those hills.

Leaving the graveside to return to our cars, my husband noticed a relatively new headstone bearing, of all things, the seal of Harvard University -- the three open books bearing the word VERITAS shining in the slanting sunlight of an Alabama afternoon. A husband and wife were buried there. The inscriptions on the stone described him as a dedicated teacher and her as a nurse, but added that she had been born in Budapest. No one in our party recognized the names. Our lives had taken us far from that place, but she had come a long way to find a resting place.

I know that with the multitude of serious political, economic and social problems pressing on us today, phrases such as “the communion of the saints” or “the mystical Body of Christ” can seem fuzzy or remote or pointless. I know also the responses that anything creedal draws from some of my readers. But it is my profound conviction that all of our discussion must be informed this aspect of eternity.

The divisions that separate the Body of Christ today -- whether “fundamentalist,” or “liberal,” Democrat or Republican, or even Protestant or Catholic -- as real and painful as these might be, are nonetheless not eternal or ultimate distinctions. The world that produced the woman from Budapest married to a Harvard Ph.D. could not, I imagine, have been more different from that of my mother-in-law. And yet, they were buried within a stone’s throw of one another, to become a part of that grand communion of saints about which we sing: “Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee, casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea….”

No doubt we are tempted to magnify the divisions of our own time and place, seeing the past and even the future in light of our present time. And yet, a dichotomy such as fundamentalism/liberalism is itself a recent one, with both sides being a product of modernity. An individual reading a biblical text for him or herself (whether literally or liberally) was not a concept our early brothers and sisters in Christ would have known. They knew Scripture by hearing it spoken, most of all in the context of worship.

It is this gathered communion of saints that we also join when we, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are gathered before the throne of God in worship. This eternal reality transcends our parochial divisions and enables us to look upon one another -- no matter which “side” the person is on -- as also someone worthy of the blood of Christ and the love of God.

In a small cemetery on the back roads of rural Alabama rests not only loved ones, but also a profound truth: The love and grace of Christ make our communion possible.


-- Beth Newman is professor of theology and ethics at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond.

View from 315A

On Wednesday night, I joined JTL, his wife JiL, and MPW at Bearden High School for the final game of that night’s Rocky Top Basketball League. We all wanted to see the marquee match up of Tyler Smith’s HT Group team against Scotty Hopson’s Ray’s ESG squad. With the league’s shortened schedule, it was to be the only meeting between the two during the summer.

The game was phenomenal and the glorified pickup game became hotly contested in the second half. ETSU standout Courtney Pigram sent the game into overtime with an amazing fall away 36-foot three-point basket contested by two defenders with no time remaining on the clock. In overtime, he hit another three-point basket to win the game, 131-128 for the HT Group. Pigram finished with 45 points. He was 17-of-29 from the floor, and 11-of-12 beyond the 3-point arc including 3-of-3 in overtime.

The most intriguing aspect of the game, pitted Tennessee’s two incoming point guards against each other. Junior college transfer Bobby Maze completely outclassed freshman Daniel West. Maze scored a game-high 47 while continually talking trash to his rival. Maze hit 17 of 29 shots from the floor and 11-of-16 from the foul line. Maze, one of the few players who plays defense in the league, even got a five-second call on West. He also drove the lane and hit a bucket (and subsequent foul shot) over two defenders with less than ten seconds remaining in regulation that would have won the game for his team if not for Pigram’s heroics. Maze scored all eight of his team’s point in overtime. Though overmatched by his thug-like teammate, West did, however, play far better on Wednesday than Monday finishing with 15 points.

Despite being overshadowed, Smith and Hopson did entertain with some fantastic dunks. Smith finished with 29 points on 14-of-21 shooting and 12 rebounds while Hopson scored 33 on 13-of-29 shooting (6-of-7 at the free throw line) adding 13 rebounds. Hopson’s two high scoring outings could still be classified as quiet. Hopson also eased my fears that he will follow in the footsteps of the similarly built and hyped Vincent Yarbrough, a highly touted McDonald’s All-American who underwhelmed due to poor work ethic by diving for a loose ball in the hotly contested second half.

South-Doyle High School graduate and Coastal Carolina junior to-be Logan Johnson was also impressive with 23 points on an array of dunks and jump shots.

In the most important stats of the game, Steven Pearl drew his first charge 17:21 into the first half. He had two convincing (to me) flops while guarding Tyler Smith at the 5:56 and 14:04 marks of the second half but no fouls were called. Yes, amazingly, Pearl went a half without getting a charge called.

In other Rocky Top League news: Emmanuel Negedu, the nation’s highest-rated unsignedplayer announced his commitment to the Vols on Tuesday, selecting Tennessee over Georgia Tech, Indiana and Memphis...Wayne Chism childishly sat during the second half of his game after being criticized by teammates for his lack of hustle...The News-Sentinel team played without incoming UT freshman Phillip Jurick, who is out with an undisclosed foot injury. ... UT center Brian Williams did not show up as he had a strain in the weight room that needed to heal. . ... Incoming UT freshman Renaldo Woolridge isn't enrolling until the second term of summer school (July 7) and likely will not play in the league despite being on the News-Sentinel roster....The P.A. announcer is still the most obnoxious person in Knoxville.

Rocky Top League summaries for June 18.

News Sentinel 104 (52, 52) , Toyota of Knoxville 96 (50, 46)
Toyota of Knoxville (104): Wayne Chism 9, Dane Bradshaw 7; Tony White Jr. 14; Jared Stevens 9; Rashard Lee 28; Tanner Wild 2; Kirill Yakovlev 2; Isiah Brown 21; Carlton Hill 3; Andy Tipton 9.
News Sentinel (96): Jalen Steele 22; Damon Johnson 11; Raul Placras 13; Cameron Sharp 4; Chauncey Thompson 3; Keith Bauer 7; Ron Slay 30; Jeremy Saffore 6.

Richardson Construction 122 (60, 62), First Tennessee 118 (52, 66)
Richardson Construction (122): Adam Plavich 6; Skylar McBee 16; Andy Hill 3; Terrence Oglesby 35; Josh Tabb 28; Michael Blue 19; Bobby Guyton 4; John Mueller 11.
First Tennessee (118): Dustin Brown 3; Justin Walker 8; Eryk Watson 9; John Higgins 14; Jordan Johnson 4; Chris Carney 2; Cameron Tatum 42; Boo Jackson 30; Ben Bosse 4; Marko Costic 2.

HT Group 131 (66, 54, 11), Ray’s ESG 128 (57, 63, 8)
HT Group (131): Courtney Pigram 45; Tyler Smith 29; Daniel West 15; Cole Rose 4; Ryan Walden 2; Michael Jenkins 23; Kyle Huckins 2; Greg Hamlin 11.
Ray’s ESG (128): Mario McClurie 2; Alex Bowers 4; Logan Johnson 23; James Gallman 3; Steven Pearl 7; Bobby Maze 47; Scotty Hopson 33; Ben Williamson 9.

Bible Trivia - 6/18/2008

Question: Which prophet foretold "a voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord?"?

Answer: Isaiah (40:3).

Comments: This passage from Isaiah is used by all four gospels writers to describe the mission of Jesus' forerunner, John the Baptist. (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4-6; John 1:23). In John's gospel, the prophecy is placed on the lips of John himself.

A voice is calling,
"Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God." (Isaiah 40:3, NASB)

Word of the Day - 6/18/2008


Thalassic means of or pertaining to seas and oceans.

Acts 27 depicts a thalassic voyage involving Paul that results in a shipwreck.

And embarking in an Adramyttian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia, we put out to sea accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica. (Acts 27:2, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 6/18/2008

Tuesday marked KJW’s 2nd birthday. Naturally, we celebrated her entering an age universally described as “terrible.”

Prior to the festivities, I ate lunch at Ruby Tuesday in West Town Mall with SMA. He selected the restaurant as he needed to see a nearby optometrist.

I tried their “Gourmet Chicken Pot Pie”, which according to our waiter (who was convinced it was “evening” at noon), said the dish had been on the menu only 1½ months. The restaurant is trying diligently to reestablish the fledgling franchise. My food was good, and left a strong, not unpleasant aftertaste. SMA also recommends the Chicken Fresco.

SMA is well and at 2:30 was to have the four staples embedded in his head removed. He is still preparing for the Bar exam, with his professor Bishop providing taped messages the first three days of the week. His professor has been the most entertaining to date, which is not an especially grand accomplishment.

As noted, on Tuesday night, we celebrated KJW’s second birthday. The celebration was delayed due to unforseen circumstances. So, I played the Wii with KL and MPW at her apartment for several hours. Despite its name sounding like a euphemism for urine, I must admit, it is my favorite game system.

We briefly played KL’s selection of “Raving Rabbids”, a game so convoluted that I struggle to describe it other than saying only the Japanese could have invented it. We spent most of the time playing Game Party. Not surprisingly, I enjoyed trivia and MPW loved the pop-a-shot game as our host graciously allowed us to pick the games we played. After struggling (read: understatement) to get the hang of the pop-a-shot, I left with the high score of 52. Unfortunately, I was equally slow to get the hang of entering in my name on the leader board, and the score is attributed to MPW. I have a sneaky suspicion that it will not last long anyway.

I must note that this was my first time visiting KL in her Sunchase apartment, though I have swam there more than once. My favorite aspect of this was overhearing her roommate bark commands on a headset from another room. He is a competitive gamer and was intentionally oblivious to our presence. Hearing his imperatives out of context reminded me of Leeroy Jenkins.

We did not get to see KJW until 10:30 on her birthday due to circumstances beyond all of our control. This was okay as she was still wired. After two stops at a nearby Wendy’s (they forgot KL’s nuggets though they did graciously supply her with two sauces for her nonexistent chicken), we arrived at the party. In addition to the three of us, we were joined by JTH, KLTW, RAW, and KJW’s first cousins from Dandrige JRK and KGK (pictured).

KJW was in a great mood. KL and MPW bought her bongo drums which she proudly played for us. The kid already has great rhythm. If she becomes a famous drummer, this will be the first documented photo of her as a percussionist.

My parents bought her a basketball set. She was thrilled, repeatedly screaming, “It’s a basketball!” We hooked it up to the front door and she dunked repeatedly. This was fitting as throughout the night, we watched the Celtics massacre the Lakers 131-92 to win the NBA championship. KJW wanted nothing more than a Celtics title for her birthday. Wait, that was her daddy.

It was a great celebration. We all left exhausted into Wednesday morning, the only one seemingly not tired was the birthday girl.

In other Tuesday news, I received an e-mail from my director JLW thanking me for my acting services and informing that 37 decisions were made during the week of VBS. Thank you to all who prayed for this event.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bible Trivia - 6/17/2008

Question: Name the scribe who wrote the dictations of Jeremiah.

Answer: Baruch. (Jeremiah 36:32)

Comments: According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Baruch was a Jewish aristocrat, a son of Neriah and brother of Seraiah, chamberlain of King Zedekiah of Judah (Antiquities of the Jews, Book X. Baruch not only served as amanuensis, but also read Jeremiah's prophecies when Jeremiah was in hiding to avoid the wrath of King Jehoakim. (Jeremiah 36:1-8)

Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading from the book the words of the LORD in the LORD'S house. (Jeremiah 36:8, NASB)

Word of the Day - 6/17/2008


Ienffable means incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible.

Paul acknowledged that God's gift of Jesus was inneffable.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (II Corinthians 9:15, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 6/17/2008

On Monday night, I attended the opening night of the second annual Rocky Top Basketball League with JTL and MPW at Bearden High School.

The Rocky Top League is a six-team summer basketball league comprised of former and current college basketball players. Virtually the entire UT roster participated and many former Vols are also on in the league. Three games each are played on Mondays and Wednesdays. The games are high scoring dunkfests with little attention paid to defense.

It is housed at Bearden High School, which poses three major annoyances. 1. There is no air conditioning and the games are played in a crowded gym at the climax of the summer. 2. The seats are incredibly hard on the buttocks. 3. The announcer tries to make clever quips before, during, and after every play. The last annoyance far exceeds the first two and the young man makes my very short list of people who need to die for the good of the country. He has my entire crew wishing AFD or JER, who typically announce Bearden games, were there.

Someone inexplicably locked the back entrances to the school forcing all of the heavy traffic into a single entrance. This caused me to be later than I had hoped. Fortunately, JTL, always early, saved MPW and I great seats. We had a good time getting our first look at UT’s much hyped incoming freshmen. My review is posted under a “View from 315A.”

Having had all of the basketball (more accurately the basketball commentary over the p.a. system) I could handle, I briefly visited JTH at MoFos before heading to SMA’s where we celebrated CST’s 28th birthday and watched WWE Monday Night Raw. In attendance were SMA, WRK, DBN (still no sign of the wife), CST, and myself. SMA made everyone (sans this teatotaler) a drink called a “buttery nipple.” They seemed to like it.

CST begins his new job at Courthouse Retrieval Systems next Monday (June 23rd). Thankfully, he will incur no pay cut. He recently came back from a successful trip to Tunica, MS. He also informed me that in the northeast, there is a skill crane that procures live lobsters. He immediately thought of me, and wanted me to go get dinner for four for $4. It was nice to have my skill acknowledged. Why do none of my skills results in money?

While talking about UT basketball, we came up with a brilliant promotional idea. We want a Dyron Nix Jheri Curl night. Dyron Nix played in a low era of UT basketball but averaged 21.6 points per game as a senior and was drafted into the NBA. More importantly, he had a killer Jheri Curl . Our idea is to present the first 5000 fans in attendance with Jheri Curl wigs. They would sell tickets like hot cakes. Perhaps the current UT crop could play for one game in wigs as well. The only thing better than Tyler Smith is Tyler Smith with Jheri Curl. I will be pitching the concept to Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl at the Rocky Top League this summer. Stay tuned for results of that dialogue.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Separated at Birth?

University of Tennessee junior college transfer Bobby Maze (left)looks amazingly like NBA star Allen Iverson. When I asked him if this was intentional, he said the he was Bobby Maze and could not have been born planning to look like A.I. He then noted that he and his cousin (who flanked him the entire evening) just like cornrows. Tyler Smith laughed as Maze, though polite, seemed to take offense at the comparison. I was pleased as in the absence of Duke Crews and Ramar Smith, UT is in desperate need of a thug.

View from 315A

Tonight I attended the opening two games of the second annual Rocky Top Basketball League with JTL and MPW at Bearden High School.

There was one major improvement over last year. Bearden has placed a large fan (for air conditioning, not an obese supporter) at the front of the gym which amazingly increases ventilation.

The one negative difference came in the form of the public address system. On the first night of last year’s league there was no p.a. announcer. This was unfortunate as it was difficult to decipher who was who. As this year showed, there are worse problems. They have installed perhaps the most annoying p.a. announcer in human history. He began at the end of last season and wants to recreate the And One atmosphere as he interjects “commentary” after every play. At one point he literally turned the microphone on so that we all knew he was laughing at Ron Slay. MPW and I have begun plotting to cut the wires. Any suggestions?

Most of the UT team participated. J.P. Prince (shoulder surgery) and Ryan Childress (on crutches) were there but did not play. Renaldo Woolridge was slated to play in the first game but did not attend.

The two games I saw were total blowouts. The “coaches” who selected current UT players were rewarded heavily. The first game saw the team sponsored by the HT Group rout the News Sentinel team, 123-76. My game notes:

  • Tyler Smith, who announced on April 24th he would return for a junior season scored a game high 32 points for the HT Group. He added 12 rebounds, and six assists. He was the first pick in the draft for this league and showed why. Early in the second half, he blocked a shot (with both hands!) , hit a fall-away three-point bucket from the wing and knocked down a fading 15-foot jumper in under a minute.
  • UT freshman point guard Daniel West was largely unimpressive. He was clearly the quickest and fastest player on the court, but is greatly undersized. He scored only six points in a game absent of defense. He worked his way open but often failed to finish.
  • 6'10" Freshman center Philip Jurick was less impressive than West. After losing the opening tip to the more athletic Tyler Smith, his first shot was rejected by a much smaller player. He grabbed five rebounds and blocked six shots but had nearly as many fouls. His only points came on an easy two-handed stuff.
  • Jurick looked far older than his promotional photos and his complexion has cleared significantly. His arms are covered with tattoos.
  • Unlike virtually every other UT player the past two seasons, Jurick had virtually no interaction with his teammates despite remaining for the last two games.
  • Former UT player and 2003 SEC player of the year Ron Slay led the News-Sentinel squad with 28 points, but missed two relatively open dunks.
  • The HT Group also featured Lee University star and personal favorite Cole Rose. He is a poor man’s Dane Bradshaw. Rose is growing his hair out. He had two dunks, one of which saw he and Smith alone on one half of the court with him taking the dunk himself.
  • Last year’s league MVP and former UT player Damon Johnson was the News-Sentinel team’s top selection. His brother Jovan, who played at Penn State, was in attendance.
  • The aforementioned nauseating p.a. announcer really liked East Tennessee State's Courtney Pigram's shoes. I know. he mentioned it often over the p.a.

The second game was more lopsided than the first. Ray’s ESG (formerly Kingston Alley) dominated the Richardson Construction team 140-115. The game was far more decisive than the 25-point margin indicates. My notes:

  • Ray’s ESG featured four current UT players while Richardson featured only one.
  • The game marked the first Knoxville game of the much ballyhooed McDonald’s All-American Scotty Hopson. He was very wiry and needs to add a great deal of weight to play at the next level. Even so, he was quite impressive. Every move he made seemed effortless. He had some impressive dunks, caught anything thrown near him, and had a smooth stoke.
  • Hopson finished with 25 points including three three-pointers in limited playing time due to the vast point discrepancy. He hit on 11 of 20 attempts.
  • Hopson demonstrated more showmanship than any UT player since Slay, signalling the crowd after dunks.
  • Hopson was the only UT freshman in attendance with no visible tattoos. I am thinking of starting a pool to see how long that lasts.
  • Junior college transfer Bobby Maze was also on the Ray’s ESG squad and far outclassed Daniel West, his competition for the starting point guard position. He has an uncanny resemblance to Allen Iverson. Do not ask him about it though. See the “Separated at Birth?” post for the story there. Maze had 14 points and nine assists.
  • Bruce Pearl was allowed to attend this game as his son participated. He stayed throughout.
  • Steven Pearl predictably took a charge with 1:11 into the first half and 1:07 into the second half. In a league where fouls are kept at a minimum to insure a frenetic pace, Pearl still was able to draw charges that quickly. The man is a flopping genius!
  • Though he continues to add even more muscle, his skin has yet to turn green delaying our hopes that he will become the living embodiment of the Incredible Hulk.
  • Brian Williams also appears to have dropped weight and played and looked great, often matched against John Mueller, a 6'10" center who played at Marquette from 1997-2001. Williams scored 21 points.
  • The only current UT player on the Richardson roster is Josh Tabb. He has had designs shaved into one (and only one) side of his head. We are hoping he lost a bet or is attempting to ridicule Florida players for having similar dos. The probability of this is not good. Tabb scored 26 points.
  • Richardson also drafted former UT player Stanley Asumnu who did not play on this night.

Having enough of the highly annoying p.a. announcer, I left midway through the third game. To commemorate Wayne Chism’s birthday, his teammates doused him with silly string before the game. The final contest was evidently the best game of the night with Dane Bradshaw scoring 27 points to lead his Toyota of Knoxville over First Tennessee, 109-101. Cameron Tatum scored 37 points in the loss. Coming off minor knee surgery, he hit 13 of 30 shots.

We did not leave before first talking with Tyler Smith. We thanked him for returning. JTL, who has less tact than me (seiously), asked him about the rumors of JaJuan Smith's drug dealing. He vehemently denied the rumors. I believe his exact words were, "Hell no!" Then again, I would not expect him to tell me were it true. His adamance gave me assurance though.

Bible Trivia - 6/16/2008

Question: What tax collector climbed a tree to see Jesus?

Answer: Zacchaeus. (Luke 19:2-3)

Comments: Zacchaeus' bid to see Jesus was highly undignified. The great Baptist ethicist Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) likened his behavior to a corporate executive shinnying up a telephone pole.

What is the most undignified thing you have done to be nearer to Jesus?

Word of the Day - 6/16/2008


To inculpate is to charge with fault; blame; accuse.

When Adam was caught having eaten forbidden fruit he not only inculpated Eve but implicated God as well for giving her to him! (Genesis 3:12)

The man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." (Genesis 3:12, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 6/16/2008

I had a great weekend, highlighted by my first ever visit to AdventureCon. If you are familiar with this event, you may be surprised that I have never attended.

Friday marked the only Friday the 13th of 2008. It also represented my last day of my acting tenure at my church as part of perhaps the palest company in the history of volunteer acting troupes. On this day, I had only two lines, but had to pantomime a great deal. File this under things I am uncomfortable doing. Fortunately, I only grinned inappropriately at one point. God humbled me yet again as I discovered one more thing I am not especially good at.

I played the dual roles of Jesus and the “Good Samaritan” (I hate that titling of Luke 10:25-37). I had only been acting two days and I was already typecast. Sadly, I would have far preferred portraying the bandits who beat the traveler half to death.

My costume as Jesus was comprised of the same burlap pastel ensemble I had worn as Jeremiah the previous day, only this time a matching headband was added. I noted that this made a grand theological statement about Jesus continuing the line of the prophets. Then I noted that it was fitting that Jesus play the Samaritan as hew as the embodiment of the character. MEI seemed to appreciate this line of thinking. I am not sure about anyone else...

The children provided change for children’s education in Kenya under the auspices of Child Aid Africa. BWM actually presented some of the children to their benefactors after Thursday’s performance.

VBS also provided me an opportunity to see many old friends. On Friday, I got to chat briefly with LEJ. I was also especially benefitted by a long conversation with long-time friends FMC, JLC, and FEP, all of whom had the misfortune of teaching me in my more mischievous days.

I spent Friday afternoon helping my mother prepare for a bridal shower for our neighbor, LLW. Out of town guests in for the following day’s wedding congregated at our home. There was much work to be done as the bride invited eighty people, assuming the majority would decline. This provides further evidence against assuming as most everyone showed up. For those who have been to my home, you know that we far exceeded its capacity. I helped prepare the house, even mopping.

Gratefully exiled during the party, I shopped for Father’s Day and visited JTH and Cole at MoFoS. I was especially pleased that Cole requested I bring him some cole slaw from Chick-Fil-A. It takes so little to please me these days...

I returned to help my mother and her assistants MAFG and SWW clean up from the party. It was the least I could do for not having to attend. The party was a success in the sense that people seemed to have a good time. On the other hand, my mother, not wanting to have her spread seem “skimpy” bought enough dessert for two hundred guests. Unfortunately, all of the aforementioned guests had eaten dessert at Regas at the rehearsal dinner before coming, so we were left with enough dessert to feed a small army. This is not all bad.

As an aside, JTH and PAT would film the wedding the next day.

On Saturday, SMA and I drove to the Knoxville Convention Center where we attended AdventureCon. This is an event I could best describe as the ultimate nerd convention. The Knoxville version was established in 2001. I have wanted to go to such a convention ever since seeing the episode “Shawn vs. The Red Phantom” of “Psych” set at “The Con”.

The event hosts many vendors. Comic book stores fill the majority of these booths. There also many celebrities on hand whose autographs and pictures can be purchased for a fee.

It is one of the few events known to man where one is likely to see as many people dressed as Stormtroopers as females. On this day, there were many attendees dressed up as GhostBusters. This was evidently in homage to the appearance of Ernie Hudson.

We arrived and waited in line to obtain tickets. Actually, one is not given a ticket to the event, merely a wrist band. Admission was $20. Most of the activities inside required further cash.

At the moment I was paying for tickets, security was called. SMA and I did not know what had happened but our minds raced with the possibilities that existed in such an environment. It turns out, the major breech of etiquette was a man distributing brochures for Connooga, the Chattanooga version of the event. What was especially funny was that one of Knoxville’s finest was sitting next to the administrator when she radioed her associate. Evidently the KPD has far less stroke than the AdventureCon staff.

When we entered the event, we were met by countless booths of what amounts to toys and comic books. Many booths had loose 1980s GI Joe figures. One booth even displayed an original Daisy Duke figure still in the package. I did not know they made them either.

We actually saw a video game graded - a GI Joe Nintendo game for the original NES. It was graded at only 85 or we would have jumped at the chance to own it. Well, not really...

Another favorite of the event was bootleg DVDs. These are quality homemade versions of yet-to-be released titles. One staple at such events is Disney’s 1946 film Song of the South which will likely never be released due to racial overtones.

One booth sold only these bootleg videos, proudly demonstrating the quality by running continual episodes of the cartoon “Gilligan’s Planet.” As a DVD connoisseur, I am opposed to bootleg DVDs and bought none, not that "Gilligan's Planet" was a great temptation.

There were four people signing autographs free of charge (well not citing the $20 cover charge). They were Andrew Divoff, Danielle Harris, Hudson and “Hannah Montana”’s Mitchel Musso. We opted not to wait in line for any of these freebies.

It is worth noting that a replica of the GhostBusters car “Ecto-1" was on site next to the autograph lines.

We had the option of shelling out $30 extra to obtain autographs from other guests at the convention. I came willing to do so until I found that Kevin Sorbo cancelled. It seems he has gotten another television program though I have found record of it. Even if this is true, where are his priorities anyway?

The one autograph I got was from WWEHall of Famer Mr. Fuji. He was at the Regal booth. He actually is a ticket taker at their theater in Knoxville Center. (Wrestlers really need retirement plans.) I made a $5 donation to the Star of Hope Mission. No one was in line so I talked to him at length about my favorite wrestlers, the Von Erichs. He worked with Kerry from 1990-1992. I found it interesting that he stressed Kerry's Christianity. Fuji was difficult to understand as his English is limited and he is very soft spoken, but he could not have been kinder. I resisted the urge to ask him to throw salt in my eyes, one of his trademarks in the ever xenophobic world of professional wrestling.

There were two other wrestlers in attendance. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper seemed very kind to fans as he signed autographs. We simply could not justify paying the money to stand in line for a limited time with the Hot Rod though.

We did, however, talk to former WWE wrestler Virgil. His two career gimmicks (Virgil and Vincent) were named after opposing promoters as it was an insult to have such a jobber named after you. He was billed by his WWE name, Virgil. He desperately tried to sell me a photo of himself. Within a span of five seconds his price incrementally reduced from $25 to $20 to 15. I felt like I was listening to Abraham begging for Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-33). Virgil’s desperation was offputting. He had no more success selling me a photo of himself than he did convincing promoters that he was anything more than a curtain jerker.

I left with a $5 personalized photo of Mr. Fuji and SMA left with two Peyton Manning action figures. It was a good trip.

I spent Sunday, Father’s Day at four gatherings with family and friends.

On Sunday morning, Sunday School convened at RAW’s house. Since it was Father’s Day and she was being very cute, we spent much of the time reading to KJW. By the way, why are there no fake uncle days?

On this day, I gave her an Aladdin pop-up book. She is in the stage where she points to just about anything and asks, “What this?” regardless of whether she knows what it is or not.

After reading the Aladdin book, KJW and I read an alphabet book that paired words with the corresponding letter of the alphabet that started the words. I was impressed when we got to the Y’s that she knew what a yo-yo was as I had never seen her with one. I asked, “Have you ever had a yo-yo?” She replied immediately, “Yes.” Her father gave her a look, knowing she was lying through her baby teeth. Without missing a beat the child said, “I sold it.” Priceless.

At one point I squeezed her for a long period of time. She said, “Chan, I love you too.” It almost made up for their being no fake uncle days.

After a less than productive Sunday School meeting, I celebrated Father’s Day with my family at Aubrey’s. My dad even got to select the restaurant. We were joined by two of my parents’ favorite couples from church - JLJ (pictured) and wife JLJ and HWW and his wife LGW. The latter couple proudly presented photo books of their new granddaughter. This put further pressure on me to spawn.

Also at the restaurant were my old friends MBR and RWW and their respective families. It was great catching up.

Our next engagement was for dinner with my maternal extended family at Calhoun’s on Bearden hill. We celebrated Father’s Day and my cousin ACN’s departure. Well, we sent her off. We were not happy she was leaving. (Note: She HATED this photo of herself. I, however liked it and since it is my blog...)

ACN leaves Thursday (June 19th) for Camp Lenox where she will serve as dance instructor and lead a cabin full of girls until August 15th. On August 18th she begins her training as a resident assistant at UMass. In short, it will be a long time until I see my baby cousin again.

My evening concluded where the day had begun, at RAW’s. We were joined by KL, KLTW, KJW, MPW, and their father ROW as we celebrated father’s day by watching the Lakers beat the Celtics 103-98 in Game Five of the NBA Finals.

I brought KJW a pack of Speed Racer yo-yos. This meant that I bought supplied her first yo-yo, ostensibly her second yo-yo. I told her not to sell them this time.

We also ate dessert. KLTW baked brownies and KL and MPW volunteered to procure the ice cream. Sending the love birds unsupervised was a bad idea. They emerged over an hour (from a grocery store less than a mile down the road) later with the exotic flavor of...vanilla. So “ice cream” is what the kids are calling it these days...