Friday, July 4, 2008

Bible Trivia - 7/4/2008

Question: From what did God make woman?

Answer: Adam’s rib. (Genesis 2:22)

Comments: Though it is Biblical that God made woman from Adam's rib, it is a myth that women have one fewer rib than men. All humans have twelve.

Some believe the choice stems from a literary pun in Sumerian. In Sumerian, the word for "make live" is ti, which is also the Sumerian word for "rib."

The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:22, NASB)

Matthew Henry (1662-1714) wrote, "Woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved".

Note: This oil painting of Adam and Eve was created by Hans Baldung Grien (1476-1545) in 1507. It hangs in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Word of the Day - 7/4/2008


A tog is a coat or a cloak.

Though Joseph nobly fled from Potiphar's wife attempts at seduction, he left his tog which falsely implicated him.

She caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me!" And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. (Genesis 39:12, NASB)

Note: This depiction of Joseph fleeing from Potiphar's wife was painted by Carlo Cignani (1628-1719).

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 7/4/2008

I spent my Thursday celebrating CMU’s 35th birthday, albeit a day late.

On Thursday morning, my Bible Study met to view The Bucket List. We all enjoyed the movie and will be debriefing on it next Thursday at 10 am at the church if anyone would like to attend. If time allows, I will post a review after the debriefing under “A Veiled Tell: Nil Soli.”

Afterwards, MLM and I led CMU to the seldom used church courtyard where a surprise birthday part awaited CMU. MLM’s secretary, ALC, was invaluable in assisting the ruse. I have always said that deception is one of the key assets needed by any church employee. Ten people attended: CMU, his parents, ALC, MLM and his wife DLKM, LAC, myself, a couple I had not previously met.

CMU’s parents provided the food, Buddy’s Bar-B-Q and an ice cream cake. It was a fun gathering as we celebrated the life of a friend. He seemed to appreciate the work gloves JTH and I selected for him. They were a perfect fit, which was not surprising as we bought the biggest size available.

We reflected on the improbable connection between CMU and our church. A friend of his named Bill Claiborne from ITT Tech dropped him by our church with no connection to it on a random Wednesday. It just happened to be the only time in his eighteen years at the church that MLM had a Wednesday night function for college aged people. I also happened to be in that group. We have all been blessed by this surprising connection.

I must note that LAC was at the church not only for the party but for the expansion of our church’s branch of Edwin L. Hodges Ministries. A new trailer will now be housed on the church lot, one of incoming books and one for outgoing books. It was quite a momentous day at CBC Bearden!

I spent Thursday night at a bonfire at RAW’s after briefly stops visiting JTH at MoFoS and Chick-fil-A. In retrospect bonfires are far more pleasurable when conducted any season other than summer! This event was held primarily because RAW was sick of looking at the pile of wood in his yard.

KL, MP, KLTW, KJW, MPW, and another of KLTW’s South College classmates named Jenn attended. In addition to S'Mores, watermelon smothered in vodka was served. RAW was a bit perturbed that I was tipped off to the spiked watermelon. I would not have eaten it anyway as I am one of the few people on the planet who does not care for watermelon.

My Chick-fil-A made me a huge hit with KJW. She simply sat by me and took what she wanted thinking I would not notice my food being pillaged if she sang my name. Her continually looking in the bag even after the food was gone was priceless. I explained to her that this behavior was okay since it was me, but inappropriate to simply snag strangers' food. Somehow, I do not think this lesson will take.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 7/3/2009

Associated Baptist Press
July 3, 2008 (8-68)

Jesus in MySpace: Churches use social-networking sites
Felice Gaer to serve as chair of religious-freedom panel
Opinion: God, country and the 4th of July

Jesus in MySpace: Churches use social-networking sites
By Rachel Mehlhaff

(ABP) -- Social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace are redefining the way many Americans build and maintain relationships -- and also how their churches communicate.

In the last few years, relating to social contacts through such sites has become practically ubiquitous among the under-30 crowd, and the practice is quickly spreading upward along the demographic spectrum. Simultaneously, Christian leaders are realizing that the sites can be useful tools for youth ministry, college groups and other church groups, enabling group members to reach each other consistently and instantaneously.

That’s because social-networking sites are the new coffeehouses and community centers of the Internet. Facebook, Friendster and MySpace are places where people can stay connected -- in some cases, practically constantly -- with what is going on in the lives of their friends, family and colleagues.

People use their online profile pages to post pictures, send messages, create events and invite people to them, and provide status updates to show what is going on in their lives. Facebook -- currently the largest such site -- has approximately 80 million active members, and is adding hundreds more every day.

Dale Tadlock, the 41-year-old associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Waynesboro, Va., has been in student ministry for 20 years. He said he is staying linked with his students using Facebook.

“It has given me a great opportunity to work with students,” Tadlock said. “It’s become a way to stay informed.”

He even does visitation through the site. When newcomers fill out visitors’ cards at his youth group meetings, many mark “Facebook” as the best way to contact them.

While on the go, Tadlock uses the Internet feature of his “smart phone” mobile device to check Facebook to find out his students’ latest status. Their profiles reveal current activities, pictures they’ve added and other Facebook users with whom they’ve had recent contact.

Tadlock said his colleagues nationwide are using such sites similarly in ministry, although some do so more extensively than others.

Tim Schmoyer, youth pastor at the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alexandria, Minn., created a Facebook application -- basically, a customized add-on program that can be used on the site and added to users’ pages -- specifically for youth groups. The application sends news updates from a youth group’s web site to Facebook so the students know what is going on.

Every 30 minutes, the program checks to see if new information has been added to the website by group members. If there is new info, the program updates a news feed that goes out to all members, who will see the news on their Facebook home pages the next time they log in. And young people log into social-networking sites with great frequency.

Schmoyer said Facebook works as an outreach tool as well, because online friends of the students see updates on what is going on at their friend’s church. If an activity sounds interesting to them, then they might visit.

Like Tadlock, Schmoyer finds Facebook to be a valuable tool for keeping in touch with his students and what is going on in their lives.

“Kids put so much of their lives on there,” he said. “It is really telling [about] what the kid is [like] outside of church.”

Tadlock uses Facebook to send out event reminders to his students. Through the site, he can find out who will be attending, who won’t and who might.

He also created a Facebook group for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He didn’t invite anyone to join, but it has grown anyway.

CBF officials didn’t know he formed the group -- but once the organization found out, it gave him access to the CBF logo. Tadlock said they have been supportive ever since -- even adding a link to the Facebook group on the main Fellowship website.

Tadlock said now “we are connected, but not in the traditional way.” As of latest count, the CBF network had 806 members.

Are Christians relying too much on a commercial site not specifically geared toward their needs? After all -- just like other major Internet domains -- Facebook, MySpace and other social-networking sites have their unsavory precincts.

But, Tadlock said, while other similar sites specifically geared toward Christians are popping up, he has not found them to be that useful. He believes it’s more effective for Christians to reach out to the culture around them by taking the best of that culture and adapting it to holy uses.

But one Christian site that is catching on through word of mouth is -- a social-networking site built around congregations. It currently has about 21,000 churches on it from across the United States and Canada, and about 150,000 individual members. The congregations range from Baptist to non-denominational to Salvation Army.

“It is kind of a MySpace for churches,” said Jon Suh, one of the founders. The site was created about a year and half ago to fill a need that Suh’s congregation, The River Church in San Jose, Calif., felt.

The River was using a variety of online sites -- such as Evite, Yahoo! Groups and the photo-sharing site Flickr -- to provide online content or to notify members of church activities. Church leaders decided to form an online community that would incorporate all those functions into one site.

MyChurch users can send individual or group messages, announce prayer requests, share photos, share audio files, comment on sermons and organize and advertise events to others in their congregation. Suh said it’s used especially for small groups within the church.

The only doctrinal requirement that qualifies churches to use the site is their adherence to the Nicene Creed, one of the earliest affirmations of Christian faith. But MyChurch doesn’t preclude anyone from making member profiles and joining a particular congregation’s page.

Churches police themselves, Suh said. Every church has a moderator that watches the content on the congregation’s page as well as keeping tabs on members’ pages as well.

“We don’t enforce too many hard policies,” he said. “We provide lots of tools for users to report content.”

People already were building networks for their churches on secular sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Suh said he doesn’t have a problem with that, because it’s good for Christians to be out in the secular world, pointing others toward God.

In fact, his site has a Facebook application. It allows church members to put content from MyChurch on their Facebook profiles, letting their Facebook friends know what is going on in their church. About 15,000 MyChurch congregations have added this application, Suh said.

“I think it’s just changed the way we are interacting and the way we are doing things,” Tadlock said. “I think it literally has changed our culture.”


Felice Gaer to serve as chair of religious-freedom panel
By Robert Marus

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- Veteran human-rights activist Felice Gaer will once again serve as chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Gaer, a member of the independent federal panel since 2001, has twice been chair and twice vice chair of USCIRF. She is director of the American Jewish Committee’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights. She is a veteran negotiator on human-rights protections for international agreements and institutions, and was the first American to serve as an independent expert on the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

She replaces Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and director of its Evangelicals in Civic Life program. He also served twice as the commission’s chairman.

A bipartisan, independent federal agency that monitors and reports on religious-freedom conditions worldwide, the commission was established in 1998. It alternates its chairmanship between Republican and Democratic appointees. Gaer was appointed to USCIRF by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Cromartie was appointed by President Bush.

The incoming and outgoing chairs traded compliments, according to a commission announcement.

“I am very pleased to see Felice Gaer returning to lead the commission,” Cromartie said. “Her expertise and stature as an internationally renowned advocate for respect for human rights and religious freedom will continue to enhance the commission’s impact.”

Gaer praised Cromartie’s leadership during a taxing time for the panel. “I commend Michael Cromartie on guiding the commission through a difficult year of transition, following the death of Executive Director Joseph Crap,” she said. “Visits to Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Iraq, and Syria, as well as hearings on Iran, Burma, and Iraqi refugees helped the commission make a mark on U.S. human-rights policy concerning severe violations of religious freedom.”

The panel also elected Cromartie and Elizabeth Prodromou as vice chairs. Prodromou is an international-relations professor at Boston University, where she is also a research associate at the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs.

Cromartie and Prodromou replace Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Preeta Bansal, a New York attorney now in private practice who once served as that state’s solicitor general.

USCIRF officers serve one-year terms.


Opinion: God, country and the 4th of July
By David Gushee

(ABP) -- Visiting family last weekend, I experienced a classic “God and country” service at a large SBC church. There was a day when I would have been outraged by such a service on theological grounds. This particular day left me more analytical. These reflections are offered especially for everyone who will plan or experience a patriotic July 4th service this weekend.

Lesson 1: Americans lack civic spaces to celebrate our nation and roll out traditional patriotic music and rituals, and so they move inappropriately into church.

Who can forget the scene in “The Music Man” where Mayor Shinn prepares to offer his July 4th soliloquy, only to be interrupted by the rebellious members of the school board? Apparently in that (imaginary) Iowa town a hundred years ago there was a tradition of a communitywide July 4th celebration, held at the school gymnasium. Everyone came.

No one could complain about a July 4th extravaganza held at the public school or the city fairgrounds. But we don’t really do that kind of thing anymore in this country, except a mute fireworks celebration after the sun goes down. And so in many (Southern?) towns, these ritualized national celebrations are moved into the local church, without a whole lot of reflection about the theological issues raised by turning a Christian worship service into a civic patriotic celebration.

Implication: If Christians want a recovery of civic celebrations on July 4th, we should approach our city councils, not our pastors.

Lesson 2: Low-church Baptist worship services leave congregants with a hunger for liturgy, which is one reason why God-and-country extravaganzas are appealing to many.

I credit my wife, Jeanie, one who loves liturgy, with this acute observation. Populist Baptist worship services are informal. No one works from a script, every prayer is extemporaneous, dress is increasingly casual, and pastors are rewarded for being “down to earth” and “relevant.”

There was nothing informal, extemporaneous or low-church about the God-and-country service we witnessed Sunday. All rose as the American flag was walked in ceremoniously under the care of a Navy man. The Pledge of Allegiance was said with dignity. The patriotic music was presented with gravity and care. Most people were dressed in their Sunday best, especially those who led the service in any way. I think Jeanie is right—here was liturgy, and people responded. The problem is that the liturgy was national rather than Christian—or national as Christian.

Implication: Such an obvious hunger for liturgy calls for a rethinking of the trend toward studied informality in our weekly services.

Lesson 3: American patriotism is overidentified with war and the military.

In our service on Sunday we sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The songs of the five military branches were sung as veterans and active-duty servicepeople rose and were recognized. A dramatic monologue about the war-tattered American flag was offered. Those killed in wars while serving the United States were remembered and mourned.

A child or newcomer to our country could easily be forgiven for concluding that the main thing to celebrate about America is our wars and those who fight them and die in them. This then leads to the implication that America is at its best when we are fighting, dying in, and presumably winning wars.

Taken simply at the civic or national level, this is a problem, for it deprives Americans of reasons to be proud of their nation not associated with the military and with war, feeding an expectation and maybe even a hunger for more use of the military and more war.

And of course, returning to the fact that God-and-country worship services happen in Christian churches that profess to serve Jesus Christ, the peacemaker and reconciler, the problem is even more profound.

Implication: All who speak of what is good about America, and all who construct civic patriotic rituals, must find ways to honor aspects of American life that go beyond military service and war-fighting. And all ministers who incorporate civic patriotism into a Sunday service must remember who exactly is the Lord of the church.

Lesson 4: Christian celebrations of America tend to idealize the past and demonize the present.

Presenting the standard conservative account of American origins, our pastor on Sunday told us that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles that have been lost in our time and must be recovered. He received many hearty “amens.”

As I looked around me at the sea of white faces, I thought about how very surprised I would be if such an unambiguous account of either the past or the present were offered in a black church. Black Americans know that somehow the Founders created a nation that combined ideals of justice and freedom with the injustice and bondage of slavery. And they also know that the America of today has both deteriorated in some aspects of its morality while advancing in others, including racial justice.

The past was both good and bad. The present is both good and bad. Human life, created good yet fallen, is always both good and bad.

Implication: Those who talk about America must acknowledge both the good and the bad in every stage, neither idealizing nor demonizing any particular era—and calling us to our best and highest values now and always.


-- David Gushee is distinguished university professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University.

By ABP staff

The characterization of a quotation by Welton Gaddy in the 24th paragraph of the July 1 ABP story, "On Bush's faith-based programs, Obama says save best, ditch rest," may have caused readers to misunderstand Gaddy's comments. Please replace that paragraph with the following:

"Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, said in a statement that Obama’s clarification of his views on church-state separation is “a step in the right direction, though I would like him to go further.” Specifically, Gaddy said, he would want Obama to be more explicit in rejecting direct government funding of churches and other thoroughly religious institutions."


WAM Quote of the Day - 7/3/2008

WAM joined my Bible Study this morning as we viewed The Bucket List. In discussing the irreparable glare of the television set, donated in the last several years by WTP, WAM noted:

"Only liberals and the homeless can argue about free."

Note: I must note for posterity how annoyed WAM was with me for asking for a photo in mid-conversation. As a celebrity, he will have to get accustomed to such things.

Bible Trivia - 7/3/2008

Question: To which church in the book of Revelation did John convey God's message: "I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world."?

Answer: Philadelphia. (Revelation 3:10)

Comments: The sixth church in the list of churches in Revelation 2-3, the church at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13), is the most faithful church in Asia Minor. As such, it is rewarded.

"Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth." (Revelation 3:10, NASB)

Philadelphia is now known as Alaşehir, Turkey.

Word of the Day - 7/3/2008


Regnant means reigning; ruling (usually used following the noun it modifies).

Luke establishes the historical context of Jesus' birth by noting (among officers) that Augustus was Caesar regnant.

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. (Luke 2:1, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 7/3/2008

I had a great Wednesday, highlighted by attending the championship game of the Rocky Top Basketball League.

I ate lunch with SMA at Colonel’s Deli. This photo is of Lee’s Antiques and Collectibles, located inside of Colonel's Deli. Actually, this display case is actually the entire business. I have never seen anyone buy anything from this part of the store. If I had some disposable cash, I might.

It is worth noting that there was no sign of the health score that dominated our last visit to Colonel’s.

SMA continues in his bar preparation. On this day he covered secure transactions, a class he did not have in law school. He was especially pleased that his instructor referenced the 1988 Jean-Claude Van Damme film Bloodsport.

On Wednesday night, SMA, CST and I attended the final night of the Rocky Top Basketball League at the sauna that is the Bearden High School gymnasium. It was the first time they had attended a game this summer.

We arrived early as we knew this would be a difficult seat to get and they are distributed on a first come, first serve basis. This was wise as at halftime of the first game the fire marshal would not allow anyone else in the building. We were privy to a clinic by Toyota of Knoxville’s Kirill Yakovlev. This guy shot lay ups and free throws for minutes with no one else on the court. Unfortunately, the first game was not much more exciting than this exhibition.

In fact, the game between the league’s 3rd and 4th ranked teams was the least exciting game I have ever attended in the league as many of the marquee players on both teams did not attend and dunks were few and far between. The only advantage was that sitting through the first game merited our seats for the championship game.

In addition to my friends, I sat by by AFD aka “The Italian Stallion”, my old algebra teacher (fifteen years ago!) and the once broadcaster of the league. He informed me that the league was looking for more color this year. He was very diplomatic about the issue. I was not, noting how much I wish he was still the emcee. Otherwise, AFD is well and was recently married for the first time at the age of 52. I also had the unexpected pleasure of sitting behind church member CJC and her daughter Julianne.

It is worth noting that a small child kicked CST in the back throughout the game. He is fairly certain a Nike logo is now embedded in his back. I took the honors during the second game after switching seats with CST. Whenever SMA is present, it is a near certainty than an annoying child will soon follow.

Speaking of annoying, the public address announcer was atrocious as usual. Though I tried to prepare SMA and CST, he is far more grating than I can possibly describe. The sheer volume alone was overbearing. I do think a psychologist should do a study of him as it is rare to get stream of consciousness quotes for that long a period.

He did note his name, Brian Tate aka BT, on more than one occasion. I am sure there was a reason. He noted that the league commissioner signs his paychecks. The fact that he was paid upset us more than anything on the night. His MySpace can be accessed here. If he is 5'8", I’m 6'6". I think he looks like the church father Athanasius (293-373). His enemies gave him the name “The Black Dwarf.”

SMA and CST did make him more entertaining. In the last game, Courtney Pigram was exceptional. Anytime he did anything, such as breathe, he was referred to as “C.P., Causing Problems.” It was nauseating. This did get me a new nickname. Anytime I do anything now SMA has plans to scream “C.V., Cookin’ Victuals.” CST will likewise be “C.T., Cookin’ Taters.

One of my favorite parts of the night came from off of the court. It was standing room only and a group underneath the basket prompted SMA to say, “Doesn’t JTH collect those guys?” They were a group who all wore wife beaters, basketball shorts, etc. They were real-life Homies! I told SMA that his first job as an attorney could be suing on their behalf for unauthorized use of their likeness. Any time my head turned left during the night, I could not control my laughter.

My thoughts on the actual game are posted under a “View from 315A”.

Afterwards, JTH and I ate at Applebees, Evidently, he does not collect Homies. I have a sneaky suspicion that he will soon own some.

The biggest news of the night is that SMA and I have formally titled our organization to get Dyron Nix Jheri curl Night the Concerned Citizens for the Glorification of Dyron Nix (CCFTFODN). Is that all blasphemous?

Finally Wednesday was CMU’s 35th birthday. Happy birthday, Chris!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Prayer Blog - 7/2/2008

Tomorrow (July 3rd), HS embarks upon a mission trip to Cape Town, South Africa. She will be there until July 15th. Pray for safe travel and that God is honored during this mission.

Bible Trivia - 7/2/2008

Question: On which of the six days of Creation did God create light and darkness.

Answer: The first. (Genesis 1:5)

Comments: Though God created light on the first day of creation, the sun and moon were not established until the fourth (Genesis 1:16). There, they are referred to only as "two great lights", presumably downplaying them as most ancients worshiped them. In fact, the sun (Hebrew shemesh) is not mentioned by name in Scripture until Genesis 15:12 nor the moon (yareach) until Genesis 37:9.

Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. (Genesis 1:3, NASB)

Note: This illustration, "Creation of Light", was done by Gustave Doré (1832–1883).

Word of the Day - 7/2/2008


An odeum is a hall, theater, or other structure for musical or dramatic performances.

Paul's companions in Ephesus were sent to an odeum in the midst of a riot. Eventually the crowd was dismissed without the two sustaining injury. (Acts 19:41)

The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia. (Acts 19:29, NASB)

:Note: This is a model of the Artemis Temple that was the likely site of the riot of Acts 19.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 7/2/2008

I had a great Tuesday night, as any night spent with KJW is.

After briefly visiting JTH at MoFoS, I met KLTW, KJW, and RAW at a Cracker Barrell for supper. One of the added benefits of the country store aspect of he restaurant is that it provided many props to take KJW pictures with. When I arrived, her mother took her to me, but she nonchalantly said, “It’s Chan” as if to assure her mother that my presence was nothing to get excited about. At least she knows me.

Each time I visit a Cracker Barrel, I am surprised by some item that is so bizarre it floors me. On this visit I noticed that they carry something known as pickled garlic. In the event you have been searching for this item, look no further.

The meal took quite awhile to arrive so KJW made due with the crayons they provided and the peg game. When this exhausted her attention, she began playing with sugar packets. Actually, she repositioned each and every packet of sugar or sugar supplement. The task of cleaning went to her OCD Uncle Chan.

When even this failed to keep her attention, she became a bit restless. She said, “I need to hold you, mommy.” While this sounds sweet, it was merely a ploy to get out of the seat she had been confined in for too long. Her mother did not mind being used in this way. The child has always been sneaky.

Eventually the food arrived and it was good. The family is also well.

KLTW is on day two of a hellish schedule that will continue unabated until a week respite in August. Her spirits are high at this point. She continues to impress the hospital in Morristown. She was asked if she would like to sit in on a brainstorming session amongst the doctors. Each week, they take a very difficult case and toss out ideas. It sounded like a consultation on the television drama House. She declined thinking that she would have very little to add. I told her to just suggest sarcoidosis. Though I have no idea what this is, it is suggested in every episode of House I have ever seen. The illness is never actually sarcoidosis but it always has to be eliminated.

RAW is well also. He and his partner (at work, not a homosexual reference) Jerome recently had a theological discussion on whether or not there are stupid prayers. They concluded yes. I merely reminded him that a Bible Study long ago, WAM asked for prayer for Babe the Blue Ox. Enough said.

In KJW milestones, her mother painted her toenails for the first time this week.

It took awhile to get KJW to leave the store. She was captivated by a toy known as a Weazel Ball. (Note: The spelling is correct.) Only at the Cracker Barrel could you find such a game. She also insisted on rocking in the rocking chairs before leaving. They even have chairs in her size.

After supper, we returned to RAW’s and at my suggested watched the DVD new release Drillbit Taylor. It is the story of three nerds who hire a low budget and, unbeknownst to them, homeless bodyguard played by Owen Wilson. Wilson was the draw for me. It was not horrible. Even KLTW and RAW admitted that I have subjected them to far worse films.

KJW was very good. Her mother crawled into her “castle” to play with her. KJW asked, “You stuck?” This sound very much like “you suck”. Add this to the growing list of things fun to hear KJW say.

Before leaving, I was given my copies of some KJW photos from her Portrait Innovations photo shoot. This sample is her father’s favorite. All of them turned out well. I take part of the credit for this success as I have made her life one big photo shoot.

Finally, Tuesday marked my old friend NEP’s 30th birthday. Happy birthday, Nikki.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 7/1/2008

Associated Baptist Press
July 1, 2008 (8-67)

On Bush’s faith-based programs, Obama says save best, ditch rest
CBF worker furthers education for children in Ethiopian town
Michael Clyburn assumes helm at Alderson-Broaddus College
Opinion: Hearing the full story

On Bush’s faith-based programs, Obama says save best, ditch rest
By Robert Marus

ZANESVILLE, Ohio (ABP) – Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama vowed July 1 to carry on the best parts -- and dump the worst -- of President Bush’s so-called “faith-based initiative.”

“I still believe it’s a good idea to have a partnership between the White House and grass-roots groups, both faith-based and secular. But it has to be a real partnership -- not a photo-op,” Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery at a Christian community-service center in Zanesville, Ohio.

The Illinois senator’s remarks drew mostly positive reactions from advocates of strong church-state separation.

Obama, a former community organizer in Chicago, affirmed the core of Bush’s effort -- to expand government’s ability to work with religious charities -- while cautioning against political and constitutional abuses to which such an enterprise can be prone.

“[A]s someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea -- so long as we follow a few basic principles,” he said. “First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize … the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them -- or against the people you hire -- on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples and mosques can only be used on secular programs.”

Obama also said that, under his administration, federal funds would only support “those [faith-based] programs that actually work.”

In the Democrat’s speech, the clearest difference from Bush’s policy was whether religious groups could discriminate on the basis of faith in hiring when receiving federal funds.

“It was decidedly different on the issue of constitutional protections in hiring,” said Holly Hollman, general counsel for the Washington-based Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. “It says that … if you get a federal grant, you can’t use the money to proselytize or discriminate against the people you serve or the people you hire. So that’s a notable distinction from the policy pursued by the Bush administration.”

Hollman’s group has opposed Bush’s faith-based efforts on two counts -- his attempt to have several federal laws rewritten in order to allow such discrimination and his efforts to promote funding of organizations that don’t strictly separate their religious functions from their secular ones.

But Obama’s speech demonstrated a broadly different understanding of the issue than has the rhetoric of Bush and his surrogates, Hollman said.

“It seems encouraging that he says, ‘Make no mistake, I believe in the separation of church and state,’” she said. “To me, that is signaling the importance of recognizing the constitutional principle and policy interest of protecting religious freedom while talking about the way government and religious institutions can be partners.”

Hollman added that Obama’s speech showed sensitivity to religious groups that express concerns about government funding churches, synagogues and mosques -- also a departure from Bush’s rhetoric.

“There’s nothing here that indicates that those who would emphasize religious-liberty concerns [about the faith-based plan] somehow don’t count or don’t understand what we’re doing here or are missing the boat,” she said.

But while Obama’s speech called for closer attention to constitutional safeguards in administering the faith-based program, it also called for expanding the effort. He said he’d raise the profile of Bush’s White House Office for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

“I’ll establish a new Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships,” Obama said. “The new name will reflect a new commitment. This council will not just be another name on the White House organization chart -- it will be a critical part of my administration.”

Bush “short-changed” the very charities that he intended to help because the effort was sidetracked by politics, Obama contended.

“Support for social services to the poor and the needy have been consistently underfunded. Rather than promoting the cause of all faith-based organizations, former officials in [Bush’s faith-based office] have described how it was used to promote partisan interests.”

Obama said his program would be structured to “train the trainers” through large, well-established charities that work with smaller religious and community organizations. He mentioned groups such as Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services.

That, according to one constitutional-law professor who has studied Bush’s faith-based efforts closely, is also a substantial departure from Bush’s scheme. Chip Lupu, a First Amendment expert who teaches at George Washington University Law School, noted that Bush’s program relied on “intermediary” grants for such capacity-building purposes -- and that such grants sometimes went to conservative religious organizations. That left Bush open to charges of political pandering.

“There was a lot of criticism of the sort of intermediary grants as ways of including your friends in the spoils,” he said, noting one particularly controversial grant that was distributed through an organization founded by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson.

But using large religious organizations with long histories of operating like secular non-profits shows that Obama is interested in paying close attention to church-state concerns, Lupu noted. “If Obama is talking about bringing back major players like Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services … they are faith-based in name, but not faith-based in practice,” he said.

However, Obama’s speech seemed to maintain support for direct government grants to churches and other strongly religious charities, so long as the funds only support secular services. The most ardent defenders of church-state separation oppose such funding.

Those grants continue to raise “serious issues of entanglement between religion and government,” said a statement from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, said Obama’s apparent support for continuing such grants means his speech is “a step in the right direction, though I would like him to go further.”

And Hollman said the Baptist Joint Committee “would never commend [government] money going directly to houses of worship because of the risk of entanglement, both with practical and legal difficulties.”

But Lupu said it’s a sign of how far the public conversation on government funding for religious organizations has shifted in the last 10 years that the presidential candidates aren’t echoing those concerns.

“Neither Obama nor [his GOP opponent, Sen. John] McCain nor George W. Bush would say houses of worship are categorically denied form being grantees -- and that’s a big change; that’s a big change that [almost] everybody accepts that,” he said.


CBF worker furthers education for children in Ethiopian town
By Charlotte Tubbs

ATLANTA (ABP) -- Dee Donalson grasped a tiny hand and helped an Ethiopian kindergartener trace over stones lined in the shape of the numeral 2.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field worker, whose front porch serves as a makeshift classroom, teaches nine students about letters, numbers and shapes. She uses whatever educational tools she can find locally -- including stones, wheat straw and juice boxes -- to instruct the students and two teacher trainees.

Before Donalson arrived in Hossana, Ethiopia, last year, most of the village’s young children did not attend kindergarten, because the closest one was too far away. Nationwide, Donalson said, only 20 percent of Ethiopia’s children attend any sort of school, because the government does not have the financial resources to provide enough classrooms or teachers.

Donalson is working to build a kindergarten at Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church Ministry Training College in Hossana. She expects the school, with six classrooms, running water and furnishings, will cost about $100,000.

“Kindergarten taught in a developmentally appropriate way gives them a foundation to build the rest of their education,” she said. “It also teaches them to problem-solve, investigate, explore, examine and experiment.”

Donalson, 65, of Sanibel Island and Ft. Myers, Fla., spent her career establishing schools for young children and training teachers in the United States. In 2004, she felt called to serve in Ethiopia. From 2004-07 she served as a teacher trainer and director of a kindergarten in Butajira, Ethiopia. But then she felt the Lord was calling her to do more.

“I had a definite message from God that I was to train many more teachers in Ethiopia to teach the thousands of children who were school age, but didn’t have a space in the classroom,” Donalson said.

Soon, she knew God was calling her to the Bible college in Hossana. The school is one of seven Bible colleges in Ethiopia run by the Kale Heywet Church, the country’s largest evangelical denomination, with about 3.5 million members and 6,000 churches. Kale Heywet, which translates as “word of life,” sends missionaries worldwide, including some countries where American missionaries are not welcomed, she said.

“I love the idea that [CBF Global Missions Coordinator] Rob Nash put forth when he said that ‘the church is God’s missionary to the world,’” Donalson said. “And I feel that there are many opportunities to bridge with other organizations like the Kale Heywet Church in Ethiopia.”

In addition to her kindergarten work, Donalson has taught English at the college. Learning English is a critical tool for indigenous missionaries, she said, since it is the most commonly used language both in Ethiopia and abroad.

She also is helping the community improve its access to water, plant vegetable gardens and learn good health practices. When Donalson learned the campus had no running water, she contacted David Harding, a CBF field worker who brings clean water to Ethiopian communities.

Harding’s team evaluated the college’s well and recommended a submersible pump. CBF donated the pump, a holding tank and a platform. Donalson’s home church, Sanibel Community Church, is raising funds to pay for pump installation and pipes.

When the pump begins operating, more financial support will be needed to cover additional electricity costs and to pay a guard to oversee the well.

Once the school is constructed, about $1,080 a year will be needed to provide salaries for two kindergarten teachers. Donalson hopes to add a grade level each year after the kindergarten is established.

She often reminds herself of Acts 17:28, “It is in Him that I live and move and have my being.” That verse helps her focus on being the presence of Christ.

“I hope that as I am in His presence I will be totally submissive in allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest itself through me to help fulfill the Great Commission,” she said.


Michael Clyburn assumes helm at Alderson-Broaddus College
By ABP staff

PHILIPPI, W. Va. (ABP) -- Michael Clyburn began his duties July 1 as president of Alderson-Broaddus College, an American Baptist school in Philippi, W. Va.

Clyburn, who previously served as president of Louisburg College in North Carolina, became the eighth president of the 127-year-old college. He replaced Stephen Markwood, who retired June 30 after 20 years of service.

The four-year, liberal-arts school, which has about 750 students, is noted for its programs for medical professionals. Alderson-Broaddus is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA through ABC National Ministries, and is also connected to the West Virginia Baptist Convention.

Clyburn has also served as vice president for academic affairs and provost at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. He has a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Tennessee. He has had a 20-year career in several areas of higher-education administration.

“American Baptists welcome Dr. Clyburn as he begins ministry as president of Alderson-Broaddus,” said David Laubach, National Ministries’ liaison to American Baptist schools. “We look forward to joining him along with the other ABC-related college presidents at Estes Park, Colo., in July for the National Gathering of American Baptist Youth.”

According to the Clarksville, W.Va., Exponent-Telegram John Thralls, chair of the search committee that hired Clyburn, said: “We thought he brought a combination of factors well-suited to the presidency at Alderson-Broaddus…. In the early years of his career, he was a pastor. Since [we] are a faith-based school, we thought that background as well would equip him to serve as our president.”


Opinion: Hearing the full story
By Beth Newman

(ABP) -- Years ago I saw a foreign film about two brothers and their father. One brother, against his father's wishes, decides to become an actor and travels far and wide. The other stays close to home, caring for his father until he dies.

The actor son has sent countless letters home to his father without ever hearing back from him, eventually concluding that his father has totally rejected him. As a result, he starts drinking. His life takes a severe downward turn as he squanders his time and talent on a life of debauchery.

Upon his father's death, however, he discovers his own unopened letters in a chest in his father's house. How did they get there? His brother had secretly intercepted them, hiding them from their father. Consequently, the father dies believing his actor son had abandoned him, while this son believes his father has rejected him, until he sees the letters.

I have been haunted by this movie because it displays so vividly how people can live their whole lives by a story that is not true.

The actor son's "story" that his father rejected him shaped his life so deeply that he was unable to follow his dream. Instead he turned to a life of drinking and waste. The true story, however, was that his father loved him deeply and was terribly saddened that his son, so he assumed, had cut him off.

If only they had known otherwise.

The story of each son is true, but only partially. Tragically, it is the missing part that deforms the truth and renders it destructive. One son has remained at home and assumed responsibility. But does he see in his brother's freedom a threat to his own identity? The other son has taken up his own life. But does his father's apparent silence confirm some fear or guilt about the price of his own freedom?

When the son discovers the truth about what his brother had done, the story he tells himself shifts. No longer is he the rejected one but the one loved so deeply that his father suffered for him until his death.

The movie is reminiscent of the parable of the Prodigal Son. Here also is a young man who wants to go "find himself" out in the real world. "A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living" (Luke. 15: 13).

What he discovers, of course, is that this story he is living is killing him. ("…[F]or this son of mine was dead." Luke 15:23) When he steps into a different story, he is met by a father so delighted to see his son return that he runs to embrace him even before any words are spoken.

("But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him." Luke 15:20).

Of course, the elder son in the story that Jesus tells has forgotten the fullness of the truth as well. Every charge that he brings against his younger brother is true, but in his resentment, he has forgotten the whole truth: That he is and always will be his father's son, and that everything that his father has is his.

The temptation to live by stories that are only partially true is a danger not only to individuals, but to the church.

One example, as we approach Independence Day, is to mistake our true good fortune as Americans for the providential purposes of God and to, in turn, imagine that we are somehow an exceptional nation with a special role in salvation history. Such a role is reserved for the church -- not this, or any, nation.

Yet another example might be the reaction of some of the younger members of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to Cecil Sherman's remarks about the struggle for control of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Cecil Sherman is right that it is impossible to ask those who lived through it to get over it. As William Faulkner famously observed, "The past isn't dead; it isn't even past." But those new voices are also right to say that for those 45 and under, the past is different. And so the future they envision is a different one.

A contemporary German theologian has put it like this: "If a threat arises, it is not from alleged contenders, but from the forgetfulness of the church of its own vocation...." The challenge and the opportunity is not for us to win arguments about the past but to understand it in light of the fullness of the gospel story.


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

Bible Trivia - 7/1/2008

Question: What was the name of Abraham and Sarah's son?

Answer: Isaac. (Genesis 21:1-3)

Comments: Isaac was the second person named by God before his birth (the first was his half-brother Ishmael, Genesis 16:11). The English name Isaac is a translation of the Hebrew term which means "he laughs". Both of his parents laughed at the prospects of having a child in their old age. (Genesis 17:17; Genesis 18:12)

But God said, "No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. (Genesis 17:19, NASB)

Isaac's name is further unique in that his is the only biblical patriarch whose name was not changed.

Note: This oil painting by Jan Provost (1465-1529), "Abraham, Sarah and the Angel", hangs at the Louvre in Paris.

Word of the Day - 7/1/2008


Halcyon means calm; peaceful; tranquil.

After Jesus rebuked the storm, the weather became halcyon. (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-40; Luke 8:22-25)

And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. (Mark 4:39, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 7/1/2008

On Tuesday, I ate lunch with my mother. I brought food from Ham N Goodys. The news from the day was that many of the (not inexpensive) signs that she distributed on Friday for Ron Leadbetter’s campaign had been removed by his opponent Stacey Campfield. This juvenile behavior is why most wish Campfield be removed from office and why Leadbetter ran in the first place. I just hate that my parent’s efforts were tainted and that more importantly Campfield gives redheads a bad name.

On Monday night I headed to Bearden High School for the final game of the final Monday night of the Rocky Top Basketball League. Citing that the night’s game pitted the league’s three best teams vs. the three worst, my usual companion MPW opted not to attend. He also said he had other things to do. (Read: KL. Read: innocently.) MPW was correct. All three games went as predicted. My thoughts are posted under “A View from 315A”.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Prayer Blog - 6/30/2008

HTB's ex-wife and the mother of his children was murdered by the man she later married sometime last week in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The two were last seen on Tuesday morning. Today, the incident was officially ruled a murder-suicice. Keep this family and all involved in your prayers.

The man evidently served as a juror in the infamous O.J. Simpson case and as such has received a modicum of national media coverage. Here is a brief newspaper article about the incident:

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The death of a Hattiesburg couple found last week in their home has been officially ruled a murder-suicide.

Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict said Tracy Kennedy shot his wife Judith Kennedy in the head first and then he shot himself in the head.

Benedict said Monday that the autopsy results didn't indicate how long the bodies went unnoticed.

Forrest County Chief Deputy Coroner Tommy Fedrick said he thought the Kennedys' bodies had remained inside their home for about two days.

Police found the bodies of 66-year-old Tracy Kennedy and 68-year-old Judith Kennedy around midnight Thursday.

View from 315A

I attended the final Monday night of the Rocky Top Basketball League at Bearden High School. I caught the second half of the second game and all of the night’s final contest.

In the second game, showboating nearly cost the HT Group their undefeated season. A Jalen Steele (rising Fulton High senior) 3-pointer with 8.1 seconds left tied the game at 118 and a Daniel West miss at the buzzer sent the game into overtime. HT Group (6-0) won the 3:00 overtime to secure a 128-123 win over the Knoxville News-Sentinel (2-4). My notes:

  • As usual Tyler Smith and Courtney Pigram led the way for the HT Group. Smith played all 43 minutes, finishing with 33 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
  • Pigram hit his usual array of deep three-point baskets en route to 32 points.
  • Daniel West added 19 points, eight assists and four steals.
  • Overtime was all Damon Johnson for the News-Sentinel. He scored all of their points and the shot he did not take was swatted into the stands. Johnson finished with 30 points.
  • The News-Sentinel chose to platoon their two big men, Philip Jurick and Jeremy Saffore, rather than every playing them simultaneously. Both play soft, laying up shots that could easily and more effectively be dunked.
  • Jurick had nine points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, while Saffore added 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
  • It is fitting that Jurick is wearing a red shirt for the News-Sentinel team as that is likely what he will be wearing for the Vols in the fall. Jurick was manhandled by the much smaller Smith inside.
  • Cameron Tatum openly rooted for the News-Sentinel team at courtside.

The game’s final night saw Ray’s ESG (4-2) defeat Richardson Construction (1-5), 127-112. This is the game I came to watch as I did not want to miss the opportunity to see Steven Pearl flop or Bobby Maze “put it on for Tennessee”. Unfortunately, I only got to see the latter as Pearl was a no-show for the second consecutive game. My notes:

  • Ray’s led throughout, with a 69-54 half time advantage.
  • Ray’s three attending UT players, Bobby Maze, Scotty Hopson, and Brian Williams scored the majority of their points, 100 of 127 (79%).
  • Brian Williams fared well against veteran big man John Mueller, even calling for a clear out on occasion.
  • Williams exhibited his improved versatility, running the point on several occasions and hitting two three-pointers (both in the first half). He scored 29 points.
  • Bobby Maze was again dominant, playing virtually the entire game, which is good as he will likely do so in the season.
  • Maze’s defense as always was impressive. In the few times he was matched against Josh Tabb, he shut him down. At one point, Tabb called for a clear out against Maze. His shot was promptly blocked.
  • Maze dunked three times, all one handed. His dunks are not flashy but effective. He alos was effective from behind the three-pint ark. He also threw the ball off of Mueller to himself on an inbounds play. He finished with 37 points.
  • While Tabb’s hair design has grown out, Scotty Hopson now has designs in his. How long before the tattoos follow?
  • I cannot determine whether Hopson settles for jump shots or he is merely working on this aspect of his game. He is very effective driving using his athleticism to finish or creativity to pass. In this league, however, even on clear outs, he appears to be looking for his jump shot which is far less consistent.
  • Hopson scored 34 points including four dunks in the second half, two of the posterization variety. He had a 360 jam with 9:09 left and he reversed dunked a Maze pass off the backboard with 6:50 left.
  • These dunks would have been the game’s highlight but Michael Blue stole the show. He had two dunks, with 2:02 and 1:19 remaining on the clock respectively, that had those left on their feet. Blue was great throughout, finishing with a game-high 40 points.
  • The second of Blue's dunks is on video on this blog.
  • Lady Vol signee Glory Johnson from Webb School was in attendance. Her Webb teammate Faith Dupree committed to UT for the 2009-2010 season last week. How did they not win a state championship?

As always, I must comment on the atrociousness of the announcer. He is actually getting worse, a feet I would not have thought possible. He requested pizza, harangued his friend Mario McClunie, and actually took the name of Jesus in vain on several occasions from the mic. In addition, he has added singing and a horrible Bill Walton impression that makes his Barkley counterpart sound good. The crowd has gotten so adept at tuning him out that even his useful and authoritative reminder that fans situated under the basket must stand went entirely neglected.

The league closes on Wednesday night. The first game pits seeds 3 and 4 with the News-Sentinel squad playing Toyota of Knoxville. The championship game follows with Ray’s ESG playing the undefeated HT Group. Having seen all of Ray’s games and preferring their style of play and Bobby Maze, I am rotting for them. The previous match up between the two teams went into overtime.

The league’s MVP finalists have been cut to five: Tyler Smith and Courtney Pigram ( HT Group), Bobby Maze and Scotty Hopson (Ray's ESG), and Cameron Tatum (News-Sentinel). Not surprisingly, I believe Maze has earned the honor.

Rocky Top League Summaries for June 30:

First Tennessee 92 (42. 50), Toyota of Knoxville 91 (47, 44)
First Tennessee (92): Eryk Watson 10, John Higgins 24, Jordan Johnson 4, Chris Carney 3, Zach Hyatte 13, Boo Jackson 24, Ben Bosse 9.
Toyta of Knoxville (91): Dan Walter 3, Dane Bradshaw 23, Tony White Jr. 21, Jared Stevens 11, Reshard Lee 3, Karill Yakovlev 2, Issiah Brown 4, Carlton Hill 12, Andy Tipton 12.

HT Group 128 (54, 64, 10), News Sentinel 123 (42, 76, 5)
HT Group (128): Courtney Pigram 32, Tyler Smith 33, Daniel West 19, Ryan Walden 12, Chris Connor 7, J.T. Blair 4, Michael Jenkins 7, Kyle Huckins 2, Greg Hamlin 12.
News Sentinel (123): Jalan Steele 25, Damon Johnson 30, Raul Placeres 22, Cameron Sharp 8, Chauncy Thompson 9, Keith Bower 6, Jeremy Saffor 14, Philip Jurick 9.

Ray’s ESG 127 (69, 58), Richardson 112 (54, 58)
Ray’s ESG (127): Mario McClunie 2, Alex Oliver 5, Alex Bowers 10, Riley Hunley 2, James Gallman 8, Bobby Maze 37, Scotty Hopson 34, Brian Williams 29.
Richardson Construction (112): Adam Plavich 7, Skylar McBee 4, Andy Hill 2, Josh Tabb 24, Michael Blue 40, Rob Zalucki 14, Bobby Guyton 2, John Mueller 19.

Bible Trivia - 6/30/2008

Question: What town did Jesus say would be judged on Judgment Day more harshly than Sodom because it had the opportunity to repent when it saw miracles that Sodom didn't have a chance to see?

Answer: Capernaum. (Matthew 11:23-24)

Comments: Capernaum was a village that rested on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. According to Matthew, it served as the base of Jesus' public ministry (Matthew 4:13). It appears Jesus' presence in the city did not lead to any substantial repentance as Jesus pronounced judgment upon it.

"And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day." (Matthew 11:23, NASB)

Capernaum was last inhabited around 750 CE. It ruins were discovered in 1838 by the American explorer Edward Robinson (1794-1863).

Note: This is an aerial view of the synagogue excavations at Capernaum.

Word of the Day - 6/30/2008


Maquillage is a synonym for makeup.

When Jehu arrived, Jezebel applied maquillage, presumably in hopes of seducing him. Were this her ploy, it did not work. She was killed soon after his arrival. (II Kings 9:33)

When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window. (II Kings 9:30, NASB)

Note: This painting of the death of Jezebel was created by Gustave Doré (1832-1883).

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 6/30/2008

By the grace of God, I had a relaxing early weekend. It revolved around exegeting Matthew 15:21-28 and the viewing of the HBO miniseries John Adams. I highly recommend both. On Sunday, I made up for this reprieve by seeing almost everyone I know.

On Friday night I joined GAB, SCB, JTH, and JBT as usual at Applebees. They had come from MoFoS where they had just created MoFoS’ first tip jar. Yes, the company with the worst customer service in human history is now soliciting tips. I approve.

My favorite story of the night came from a game of 21 (the basketball variety, not Blackjack) involving GAB, SCB, and JBT. If you are unfamiliar with the game, it can have virtually an unlimited number of players with the concept being that every player is for herself. As such, picks are unheard of in this game. This did not stop SCB from setting her fiancé up for a brutal pick from GAB. To appreciate this story, you must know that SCB played college basketball and is very competitive and that though GAB is Filipino he is built like a Samoan (to the non-wrestling fan, the proverbial brick house.) Poor JBT was blind sided by an immovable object. I predict great things from this marriage.

In other Friday news, my parents and their friends HWW and LGW hit the campaign trail for their friend Ron Leadbetter (RCL). It was very bizarre seeing the habitually formally attired group in their campaign t-shirts. RCL is running for State Representative in District 18. Ironically none of his aforementioned team can actually vote for him. So, if you happen to live in this district, vote RCL.

As an aside, they must have done a good job because everywhere I drove over the weekened, I saw posters for RCL.

My Sunday began bright and early with a meeting at church with CBP. Shortly thereafter, my parents and I trekked to Newport to celebrate my grandfather’s 82nd birthday. Before joining the festivities, my father inspected cracks in the support beams in the tresses at Southside Baptist Church where my grandparents attend. The beams were the first lumber that arrived when the church was established in 1976 and have not been altered since.

Checking for structural damage required my father to climb a ladder high into the air which made everyone but him nervous. Upon closer inspection, he thankfully found that the cracks do not go all the way through. Images and blueprints will go to structural engineer Richard Bender for analysis. I was most pleased that I managed this great shot of my dad’s butt for posterior-erity.

We then joined my family at the Holiday Inn for my grandfather’s birthday celebration. He was in good spirits as he claims his back injury which has incapacitated him for some time is far better. He is slated to receive another shot on Thursday (July 3rd) to alleviate pain. Please keep him in your prayers.

We had a group of twelve. It seemed like thirteen as the waiter placed himself in the midst of every conversation. He reminded me of a line from Wayne’s World: “For a security guard, he had an awful lot of information, don't you think?”

My cousin JEV was unable to attend due to a case of diarrhea. His sister objected to this personal information being revealed as it my embarrass him. With any other member of my family, she might have been correct.

As usual my baby second cousin CWV stole the show. He was wearing a pair of baby Crocs his Nana had found at an outlet in Boston. My mother was especially taken with him.

My mother insisted on playing a game of “pee pie” with the child (pictured with family friend JS), which he enjoyed. Several questions: Is it pee pie or peep pie? When did this game rename itself peekaboo? My generation and younger preferred the latter while those older the former. More importantly, who names kids’ games anyway? I can think of many better names. I think I would just call the game, “Dude, where’s your face?”

While at the restaurant, well technically hotel, we ran into Johnny Gorrell, pastor of Providence Baptist Church (2263 Cosby Hwy). He graciously invited me to preach before the summer is out at his church. Please pray that this comes to fruition. In addition to loving the task of preaching I am trying to preach at every church in Newport.

Most importantly, there was pie.

Upon returning to Knoxville, I met MHD and his beautiful wife LSPD at Chilis, who were visiting from Atlanta. We were joined by SMA and WRK. It was so great to see them. As you call tell, MHD has grown out his beard in the three weeks since I last saw him. He is the only person I know who rivals me in regards to the spiritual gift of facial hair growing.

The news from Georgia is that a teenager was decapitated on the Batman The Ride feature at Six Flags Over Georgia and that Georgia mascot Uga VI died. The two stories appear to be unrelated.

In other canine news, you may recall that MHD’s dog Klaus barked furiously at me when he met me in Atlanta, which is out of character. On this trip, he met another of MHD’s redheaded friends and responded likewise. MHD has classified the dog as “anti gingerian.” The dog is featured on LSPD’s Facebook. MHD was disappointed to know that the dog did not have his own Facebook account.

We also learned the story of the cat that preceded the dog. Its name was Javonte. (Note: Not a typo.) When they got the dog, they pawned the cat off to a friend under the auspices that he would be providing the equivalent of cat hospice. They assumed the cat was aged and on the brink of death. Upon taking the cat to the vet, they learned that he is only five years old and that the cat may very well outlive their friend.

The conversation was great. I seldom have the opportunity to discuss Hulk Hogan And The Wrestling Boot Band’s album “Hulk Rules”. MHD lamented that Hulk is no longer the one. We also got to discuss Warrior Frenzy. Good times. (LSPD and WRK loved this conversation I assure you.)

I must also note that MHD twice referenced “Conan, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow.” I love that man.

In SMA news, he scored a 98 on a recent practice for his bar examination. Unfortunately, there were 200 questions. In all seriousness, he is doing well with the class that will end soon.

After the reunion, I visited RAW, KJW, and briefly KLTW at their home. We watched part of The Karate Kid, Part II. For the first time, we noticed that Law & Order SVU shrink B.D. Wong (credited as Bradd Wong) had a part as an extra. It is one of those movies where you see something new every time.

We mainly played with KJW. Among her new routines is knowing that the water goes down the drain and into the sewer. She asked her mom recently and remembered the answers. I am skeptical that she grasps the concept of sewer.

In addition, she now answers the question, “What sound does a shark make?” by humming the theme to Jaws. She can also name each of the Wonder Pets and sing the show’s theme song. These bits are far better when she does them than when I explain them.

She wore my hat much of the night. We played with her basketball set and with her bongos. I especially enjoy the latter as her pronunciation of bongos sounds strangely like “bunghole.” I have added it to my list of words that are fun to hear KJW speak.

Afterwards, I went to MLM’s home for the second week of the Summer Breeze Bible Study. It had been a long time since I had visited his house. Though I liked his new dog Max, I missed Snoopy, his original dog whom I housesat for on occasion. MLM did proudly display the box Snoopy’s ashes are kept in so it was like he was there in a way.

Due to a church patriotic musical performance that ran late, we only had three students attend - MEH, BJ, HS. BJ was the only one who did not attend the previous week. We covered the historical books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. Though the group was small, it was a good session.

My night concluded at SMA’s where I caught the last few matches of the WWE pay-per-view “Night of Champions.” with SMA, and DBN. All eight contests were championship matches. This is a clear sign that you have too many championships. I did enjoy being with my friends.

Finally, SPP celebrated a birthday on Saturday. Happy birthday, Big Red. I look forward to celebrating with you.