Saturday, November 8, 2008

View from 315A

On Friday night, the Tennessee basketball team concluded its preseason with an 81-52 victory over the Tusculum Pioneers at Thompson-Boling Arena. (Note: This photo of our view is not the one from the previous game. I promise.)

Tusculum is a Division II school located in Greeneville, Tennessee. The Pioneers defeated No. 4 NAIA Division I Lee University 72-60 on November 1st in their previous preseason game and last season lost by only one point in an exhibition game at Vanderbilt, 80-79 on November 5th, 2007. This game would not be so close. (Read: Understatement.)

The Vols used a 36-0 run to mount a 40-2 lead and cruised to victory. With the score 40-2, the Vols were 16-of-21 from the floor while the Pioneers were just 1-of-15 with 14 turnovers. Tommy Klempin's layup with six minutes remaining in the half broke the drought. The biggest ovation of the night came on that bucket. It is never a good sign for you when the opponent's fans give you a sympathetic cheer.

The Vols led 49-12 at halftime. Tusculum shot just 15.8% from the field during the first half and 28.0% for the game.

In the second half, the Vols backed off of their press. In a postgame interview, Bruce Pearl explained that this was done as the team will be unable to press many opponents and the half-court game needed work. Clearly. This was evidenced as the Vols hit just five two-point baskets in the second half, down from 17 in the first half.

Tusculum opened the second half on a 12-4 run, climbing within 53-24 on a Kyle Moore four-point play. Tusculum outscored the Vols 13-3 over the final 3:32 and won the second half, 39-33.

Tennessee opens the regular season on Saturday, November 15th against Chattanooga at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on SportSouth. The Mocs are the preseason favorite to win the North division of the Southern Conference this season. The Moccasins return three starters from last year’s squad, which fell to Tennessee in Chattanooga, 76-70, on December 4th, 2007.

Game notes:

  • The Vols played without Ryan Childress (recovering from offseason knee surgery), J.P. Prince (shoulder injury), Josh Tabb (team academic suspension), Daniel West (test accreditation issue), and Brian Williams (knee tendinitis).Williams was a late scratch and even announced as the starter but sat out after his knee flared up during pregame warm-ups.
  • Tennessee has already been bitten by injuries more this season than in the rest of Bruce Pearl’s three-season tenure. Pearl did not rule any of the injured players out of the season opener.
  • Only two contributors to the Vols’ successful 2007-2008 season, Wayne Chism and Tyler Smith, played in the game. Even when the team is healthy, the Vols must replace 47 points of offense from last season.
  • Both returning contributors had double-doubles. Chism had 13 points and 10 rebounds while Smith added 12 points and 11 rebounds. Smith did not score during the game’s first 13 minutes.
  • Freshman Renaldo Wooldridge started in place of Williams. Woodlridge led the team with 15 points, ten of which came in the opening thirteen minutes of play. Woolridge shot 6-of-12, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range. His shooting range has been a personal point of emphasis.
  • Despite the notable absences, a dozen Vols saw action.
  • Freshman center Philip Jurick saw his first action of the season, checking in with 5:15 remaining in the first half. He missed the entire basket in his only shot attempt. He failed to score or get a rebound in his six minutes of action. In a postgame interview, Pearl reminded all involved to have “patience” with Jurick. (Read: Bigger understatement than this game was not close.)
  • Junior college transfer Bobby Maze had six points and nine assists while attempting only five shots in 28 minutes. Unfortunately, the other Vols combined for only six assists.
  • Walk-on point guard Michael Hubert played the other twelve minutes at the point and for the second consecutive game, did not turn the ball over. He also showed a solid jump shot, hitting one of three from three-point range and having another made three-pointer negated as Woolrigge was called for a charge before the shot. Hubert had previously failed to make Chattanooga’s taxi squad. What does that say about Tennessee's depth at point guard?
  • The Vols second half collapse prevented the fans from getting a free chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A for the second game in a row. At one point, the student section chanted “Chicken sandwich” in hopes of energizing the team’s scoring efforts. Does anyone else suspect point shaving?
  • With 3:32 left in the first half, Steven Pearl made his obligatory attempt at drawing the charge. He was called for a foul. The Vols really need to keep an attempted charge stat. Pearl may have already set a national record without being recognized. He certainly leads the nation in the highly competitive attempted charges per minute played category.
  • The Pioneers out-rebounded the Vols 43-41. Yes, Tennessee was out-rebounded by a Division II squad.
  • 6'3" junior Kyle Moore led all scorers with 23 points. Moore is a preseason first-team All-South Atlantic Conference selection. The guard from Gainesville, FL, had scored 35 points on seven three-pointers in the team’s first exhibition game and 30 points at Vanderbilt last season. Moore, however, had just five points in the first half on 1-of-8 shooting.
  • Jimmy Boone, the Pioneer coach’s son, was the only other Pioneer in double figures, with 10.
  • The game was marred by an exorbitant number of whistles (in additon to the disappointing Chick-fil-A snub). Tusculum was called for 24 fouls and the Troutman (Robert and Ryan) brothers accounted for nine fouls by themselves. I have not seen that much fouling in a game I did not participate in.
  • Nineteen of the Vols’ 25 forced turnovers occurred during the first half. They scored 22 points off turnovers in the first half.
  • The Vols shot only 45.5% from the field for the game and 30.8% from three.
  • In the two exhibition games, the Vols are 30.0% from three, compared to 35.6% from three last season.
  • Paid attendance was 20,421.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bible Trivia - 11/7/2008

Question: At what did Ishmael become adept while living in the desert?

Answer: Archery. (Genesis 21:20)

Comments: After being exiled by Sarah, Ishmael became an archer.The Bible, Rabbinic writings and Arabic literature all concur that Ishmael was skilled with the bow. In fact, the Targums assert that Ishmael grew so skilful in archery that he became the master of all the bowmen (Targ. pseudo-Jonathan to Genesis 21:20; Gen.R. liii. 20).

God was with the lad, and he grew; and he lived in the wilderness and became an archer. (Genesis 21:20, NASB)

This verse is the only one in the Old Testament to use this word for archer (qashshath).

Note: This watercolour of Ishmael the Archer was painted by James Tissot (1836-1902).

Word of the Day - 11/7/2008


A claudication is a limp or a lameness.

While wrestling at Penuel, Jacob received a claudication.

Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. (Genesis 32:21, NAS)

Note: This oil on canvas of Jacob wrestling was painted by Maurice Denis (1870-1943) in 1893.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 11/7/2008

On Thursday the unthinkable happened. I had two home cooked meals in one day! No. No one in my family prepared either.

On Thursday morning, I pitched my proposal to update the church’s adult education program to MLM. MLM agreed with each of the numerous suggestions I made but cautioned me to be prepared for some backlash due to issues of personality. He noted that I needed to be prepared for the reputation I have in the church I grew up in. (See Mark 6:4) I scheduled a meeting with TWC for Wednesday, November 12th at 10 am, to pitch him the same proposal. If all goes well, I will then try to sell my plan to GWS. Please keep this concept in your prayers.

I spent the better part of the morning/afternoon working with the Fish Hospitality Pantry. For a description of this ministry, see the October 3rd edition of “In Eckleburg’s Eyes”. MLM and I took five deliveries to the Washington Pike/Holston Hills area while MWS and his partner Jeff Burnette took three. (I still have a little competitiveness in me. In their defense, we did have my Garmin.) MWS’s daughter, Annie, said what she always says when told her father will be delivering FISH. She warned that the people will “get tired of fish.” That’s a woman with my kind of sense of humor. That may or may not be a good thing.

The four of us met back at the home of CMU for a late lunch. CMU’s neighbors were scheduled to eat with him the night before but cancelled as the husband needed to work late. Their loss was our gain. CMU cooked jambalaya from a recipe from Southern Living. It was tremendous. It included Asiago sausage and shrimp. We also had salad and cornbread. Yes, RWW, I’m gon’ at my cornbread.

CMU’s arraignment is now set for November 20th at 1:20 pm. I learned that the October 29th postponement was due to the Assistant U.S. Attorney being ill prepared for CMU’s many letters of recommendation.

On Thursday night, I ate with KLTW, KJW, and RAW. When I arrived, KJW had just gotten out of the tub and her hair looked as though she had a bad 1980s perm. That may explain why she does look happy in this photo.

KJW had Dora the Explorer soup while the rest of us ate tomato soup. It was great, though I was still stuffed from lunch. The highlight of the meal was the pomegranates. The best thing about the new Kroger is that they carry these fruits. They are addictive and nutritional. If you have never had a pomegranate, I highly recommend them.

The KJW story of the week was that she drew “spider webs” on her parents bed sheets. Unfortunately, she drew them with a pen and the ink will not come out. Now, when this is referenced, KJW covers up the sheets with blankets so her error will not be detected.

KJW’s recent discoveries include M&M’s and Blue’s Clues. She has also learned to say “I like beer” and “I’m Rick James”. (Read shortened Chappelle’s Show reference.) While the latter was clearly her father’s doing, the former was not. When she was in a grocery store, she pointed to the beer section and asked what it was. When she learned it was beer, she responded, “I like beer.” Though she said it only once, RAW has had her repeat the statement many times so that she can say it clearly when her Nana keeps her on Saturday.

Later in the night, I ate yet again, naturally at Applebees. I joined JTH and ALK and TK and his girlfriend “Sarah”. AFH was our server. She was in the midst of a bad day after having been reprimanded by her general manager for attitude problems. The g.m. has little contact with her. She explained, “Nobody wants to work at Applebees.” Thankfully, she did not use this defense with her general manager.

The highlight of the night for me came in this exchange between ALK and TK. ALK, an avid reader, always reads the book upon which the movie is based before watching the movie whenever possible. TK feels this will only ruin a perfectly good movie.

ALK: “Movies are not as good as books.”
TK: “Not if you don’t read them.”

It is worth mentioning that TK is an English major.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 11/6/2008

Associated Baptist Press
November 6, 2008 · (08-108)

David Wilkinson, Executive Director
Robert Marus, Acting Managing Editor/Washington Bureau Chief
Bob Allen, Senior Writer

In this issue
Experts: Obama win may signal start of religious-voter shift (1,069 words)
Black Baptist leaders: Obama win moves us closer to King's dream (925 words)
Dobson claims Obama election sets pro-lifers back severely (684 words)
Opinion: Baptists, bigotry and Barack Obama (917 words)

Experts: Obama win may signal start of religious-voter shift
By Bob Allen and Robert Marus (1,069 words)

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- Barack Obama's election as president could signal waning influence by the Christian Right in American politics, according to several experts -- but his improvements over previous Democratic nominees' appeal to religious voters could also simply be a variation on an old pattern.

Panels of religious and polling experts, in two separate Nov. 5 conference calls with reporters, noted that Obama had improved on both John Kerry's and Al Gore's performance in most categories of religious voters.

"The religion gaps are alive and well, and in 2008, favoring the Democrats," said John Green, a religion-and-politics expert with the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The Democratic nominee garnered about 53 percent of the popular vote to GOP nominee John McCain's 46 percent.

Green noted that Obama improved slightly but significantly on John Kerry's performance in every major religious category. The 2004 Democratic nominee lost white evangelicals by huge margins -- and Catholics by a narrower margin -- to President Bush.

But Obama did better among evangelicals and won a majority of Catholics. He also scored significant increases in support from Jews, Protestants in general and those not affiliated with any religion.

Among white voters who identified themselves to exit pollsters as evangelical or "born-again" Christians, 26 percent voted for Obama and 73 percent voted for McCain. That's a 5-point improvement over Kerry's performance among white evangelicals.

However, Obama did significantly better among white evangelicals in Midwestern and Rust Belt states than he did in the South. For instance, in Alabama, only 8 percent of white evangelicals supported Obama, whereas in Iowa, 33 percent did.

Nationwide, Obama won a significant majority -- 54 percent -- of Catholics. That was a demographic in which Bush bested Kerry 52-47 percent in 2004, giving Obama a 7-point boost among Catholics.

Obama's biggest boost in terms of religious categories over previous Democrats came among those who are not formally affiliated with any religious group. Those listing no religious affiliation favored him over McCain 75-23 percent. That's an increase of 8 points over Kerry's showing among the unaffiliated -- and an increase of 14 points over 2000 Democratic nominee Al Gore's 61-percent share of the same category.

Obama also did better than Kerry among all religious categories in terms of attendance at worship services. His biggest increase was among those who worship more than once a week, 43 percent of whom voted for him. That was an 8-point gain over Kerry's 2004 share of frequent worshipers. The Pew experts said much of that increase may owe to Obama's strong support among African-American Protestants and Latino Catholics.

A separate panel of moderate-to-progressive religious leaders, assembled by the advocacy group Faith in Public Life, said the trends indicate many religious voters are moving away from traditional religious-conservative political leanings.

David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Atlanta, said the election revealed a "fracture" between the Christian Right and the general public. Whether that fracture is permanent, he said, depends a great deal on whether the Religious Right positions itself as "flat-out opposition" to a Democrat-controlled Washington or tries to build coalitions aimed at achieving goals for the common good.

Rich Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said the Religious Right has treated politics as a "zero-sum game," where in order for them to win someone else had to lose.

But Cizik said "a spiritual renaissance" is underway, in which evangelicals are learning to achieve goals through cooperation instead of control. "We have learned as evangelicals how to collaborate with those with whom we disagree," he said.

"Don't put the evangelicals out of this picture at all," Cizik said. "We are standing ready to work with him [Obama] on things we can work together on."

Gushee, who also writes a regular opinion column for Associated Baptist Press, said attempts by the Religious Right to make the election about abortion and gay marriage apparently failed, with very few voters citing those issues as important in determining their votes.

Also, Gushee added, "apocalyptic" communiqués from Religious Right leaders in the final weeks of the campaign predicting a nightmarish scenario unfolding as the result of an Obama presidency seemed to bear little fruit.

Gushee said the Religious Right is losing ground particularly among younger evangelicals, who want to expand the "values voter" agenda beyond the traditional issues of religious conservatives -- abortion rights and gay rights -- to include broader concerns like poverty, human rights and climate change.

"I think there is perhaps a shift in the religious landscape and political landscape that may be a long-term shift," Gushee said.

"I think with the generational change it's hard to imagine that the Religious Right will ever have more power in the Republican Party or the nation than it had in 2004," he added. "I think it's in decline, so it's up to them what they're going to be -- whether they're going to broaden the agenda and come to the center."

Gushee said he believes that abortion "remains a primary obstacle" for many evangelicals who otherwise would have voted for Obama but just "couldn't get over the hump" on the issue. He said it is too early to predict whether an "abortion-reduction strategy" as an alternative to attempting to overturn Roe v. Wade will win over conservative evangelicals.

Robert Jones, president of Public Religion Research, called the five-point gain by Democrats a "very important shift" for a group that traditionally votes Republican indicating a "religious rebalancing" and "diversification of the evangelical vote."

But the Pew Forum's Green was more cautious in analyzing the results, saying it could be the beginning of a trend -- or simply a return to normalcy.

"Some of this may be returning evangelicals to the previous level of support [for Democrats] before George Bush," Green said, noting Bush's appeal to evangelicals as someone who spoke their language well and identified with their religious experience.

Whatever the case, he said, the so-called "God gap" between the parties in appeal to the most religious of voters persists, despite Obama's gains among them.
"It really doesn't look to me like a realignment," Green said. "We may seem some realignment in the future depending on the Obama presidency."

He added that Obama's "biggest gains were among groups that were already Democratic. And although he did make gains among groups that are Republican ... he didn't change the overall pattern of the groups."


Black Baptist leaders: Obama win moves us closer to King's dream
By Ken Camp (925 words)

AUSTIN, Texas (ABP) -- Black Baptist leaders said Barack Obama's election as the first African-American president of the United States does not mean Martin Luther King's dream of racial justice has been fully realized -- but it's a lot closer to reality than ever before.

Marvin Griffin, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, called the election "a manifestation of how far we have come."

"I never dreamed I would live to see this day come to pass," Griffin said. "Growing up as a boy in Dallas, I never imagined this. I rejoice to see this come to pass in my lifetime."

Frederick Haynes, pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, called the election "a phenomenal sign of the progress we have made, thanks to the sacrifices of others who have gone before."

"Their shed blood fertilized the ground out of which this amazing -- even miraculous -- accomplishment has grown," he said, "and we are reaping the fruit of their labors."

Haynes recalled King's dream of the "Beloved Community." He said the election of an African-American president signified "a huge step, if not a quantum leap, in that direction."

Jeff Haggray, executive director of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention, called Obama's election "a significant milestone in American history."

"Of course, he is not the first person of color to achieve something great," Haggray said, but his election "transcends every other achievement and surpasses all other milestones."

Aidsand Wright-Riggins, executive director of American Baptist National Ministries, offered a more cautious appraisal. He called Obama's election "a giant step toward the commencement of serious racial dialogue, rather than a graduation from America's often-racist past."

King's vision of "the Beloved Community did not miraculously appear around midnight [Nov. 4] ... as Obama moved past the magic 270 electoral college votes he needed," Wright-Riggins noted.

"America proved itself capable of electing an African-American, Harvard-educated ... best-selling author as its 44th president," he said. "That is commendable and a tremendous cultural leap for this country and well-worth applauding."

But, he asked: "Is that same America capable of addressing a criminal-justice system that incarcerated people if color at rates far out of proportion to their population in this country? That and similar questions remain on conversational agenda."

Ebenezer Baptist's Griffin, 85, is one of the first African-American graduates of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He recalled the segregated schools, separate public accommodations and poll taxes of the last century, citing "growth in every quarter -- in religion, education, constitutional changes -- that contributed toward making this possible."

Griffin particularly noted the sacrifices made by civil-rights leaders -- some who gave their lives -- so people of color in the United States would have equal opportunities and the right to make their voices heard.

"I see this as the removal of another barrier that moves us closer to the open society we dream of seeing," he said.

Griffin described America's progress in race and human relations as a journey.
"We have come a long way and taken great strides toward the humanizing of our society," he said. "We still have a distance to travel, but we have come a long way."

Griffin said Obama's election sends a positive message to young people of all races and backgrounds -- but particularly children of color.

"The door is open. We can ascend to reach our highest aspirations," he said.

Haggray also said Obama's election sends a powerful message to his sons, ages 8 and 9, and his 4-year-old daughter. "It means they can be anything they feel called to be, if they work hard enough," Haggray said.

Wright-Riggins said Obama's freedom to succeed or fail on the basis of his character and vision rather than his race remains an open question.

"Yes, we have elected the first African-American president of the U.S.A.," he said. "Our next step is to elect a president of the U.S.A. who happens to be African-American." He called Obama's election "a serious step in that direction."

Having cleared the hurdle of Election Day, Haggray said Obama now faces the hurdle of winning the allegiance of those Americans who did not vote for him.

"His challenge is to convince all those people he is their president, too," he said.

And white Americans must learn a lesson African Americans long have had to deal with regarding people in positions of authority -- trusting a leader who is different.
"It's a fundamental act of trust to say that even though he doesn't look like us or share our personal history, we still trust him to be our president," Haggray said.

Haynes said he believes the president-elect possesses the potential to win the allegiance of all Americans. Obama's success as a campaigner took America far down the road toward racial justice, he observed, but his success in office can advance the cause even further.

"The success of an Obama administration will go a long way toward erasing the fears of those who still are trapped in the negativity of the past," he said.

Griffin anticipates Obama facing special challenges as president because of his racial background -- not only from whites, but also from some African Americans "who say he's not black enough."

Expectations are high for Obama, and the pressures will be great, he noted. But "he is not the Messiah," and nobody should expect all the nation's ills -- including its racial divisions -- to be healed overnight.

"The Kingdom has not come in its fullness," Griffin said. "We must continue to be instruments of good, practicing faith and love."

-- Bob Allen contributed to this story.

Dobson claims Obama election sets pro-lifers back severely
By Bob Allen (684 words)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (ABP) -- Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said Nov. 6 that Barack Obama's election could set America's pro-life movement back 35 years.

In the first of a two-part broadcast on his radio show, Dobson admitted he is "in the midst of a grieving process" over election results the day before. "I'm not grieving over Barack Obama's victory, but over the loss of things that I've fought for for 35 years," he said.

Dobson said he understands the excitement over election of the country's first black president and that he wished he could have voted for Obama for that reason.

"But to be honest, I have to say that his win causes me enormous concern, because he will be the most committed pro-abortion president in our history, even supporting infanticide for babies who survive botched abortions," Dobson said. "He's in favor of much of the homosexual agenda, and he's going to appoint the most liberal justices to the Supreme Court, perhaps, that we've ever had. So there are many reasons why I'm struggling today over the likely path that nation has taken."

Obama and his campaign spokespeople have repeatedly disagreed with characterizations of his views on abortion rights such as Dobson's comment on "infanticide." When in the Illinois Legislature, Obama opposed a purported infanticide ban because he said it was unnecessary due to other laws already on the books and was simply a back-door attempt to restrict abortion in violation of federal Supreme Court precedent.

American Values President Gary Bauer, one of Dobson's guests on the program, found it ironic that both Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King appealed to the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence to argue for treating black Americans with equality.

"That is also our basis for support of the sanctity of life of innocent unborn children," Bauer said. "Because that paragraph says that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator -- that's God -- with certain unalienable rights -- rights that can't be taken away -- among them, and the first one as we all know was the right to life. So what an irony -- that our first African-American president appears to be confused about the meaning of the words of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence."

Dobson said Obama's election created a "dilemma" for him, because he wants to join the excitement and congratulations due after such an historic achievement.
"Yet I look at what this man and wants to implement, and it scares me," he said.

"The Freedom of Choice Act [a bill Obama said he would sign if Congress approved it; it would legalize abortion in all states even if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade] would instantly, if it passed, invalidate more than a hundred laws and provisions that would protect the unborn child. I mean it would set back to 1973 the efforts to have parental notification and waiting period -- all those things that have been done in various places -- gone, because he wants no restriction on abortion whatsoever."

"Our movement has crawled across broken glass for years to get each one of those limitations put in place," Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family's vice president for public policy and government, chimed in.

While licking their wounds over losing the presidency, the panel featured two guests celebrating victories for gay-marriage bans in California, Florida and Arizona.

Bauer lamented that too many churches around the country have been "AWOL" on such moral debates.

"They've claimed it's about politics or they don't want to jeopardize their tax status," he said. "There's all kinds of excuses, and in fact what we saw in California and Arizona and I believe also in Florida is that when the church steps up and speaks moral truth to the flock, people will respond. So yes, when we rely on God he does great things, but God works through his people and God counts on his leaders, his church leaders, to not be silent during these great debates about America, our families, the sanctity of life and our future."


-- Robert Marus contributed to this story.

Opinion: Baptists, bigotry, and Barack Obama
By Benjamin Cole (917 words)

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- The election of 2008 was historic, and now it is history. A tough-fought campaign has ended with a number of firsts for the country, the most notable of which is the highest number of votes -- and the election -- going to an African American. Among the other firsts is the Republican Party's nomination of a woman to share a place on the national ticket. Also, as of Nov. 6, it looks like a convicted felon has been elected to the United States Senate for the first time.

Obviously, some noteworthy firsts are better than others.

The streets of Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Washington were wild on election night with celebration over the election of Barack Obama to serve as the 44th president of the United States. Across from the White House, cheering, singing, crying and shouting pierced the unseasonably mild November night.

For most of the final weeks of the campaign, I was working day and night in a battleground state to help re-elect a vulnerable incumbent senator. On election night, the room where I sat with friends and fellow campaign workers was starkly different from the celebrations we watched on the flat screens. There were tears, confusion, dismay and, at times, a sense of relief.

Nevertheless, I had to reflect on the fact that the man elected to lead the nation was the first Illinois politician since Abraham Lincoln elevated to the presidency. I thought about how divided the nation was in 1860, and how painful the process of healing was. I thought about the division of North and South, and of Red and Blue.

Then, as now, the president needed wisdom, courage, and calm. The record reflects the leadership of Lincoln, and the nation is watching to see whether Obama will transform soaring rhetoric into successful policy.

Throughout election night and into the next day, my e-mail inbox was filled with woeful warnings about what America will look like with Barack Obama in the White House. Some of the messages were silly, like the one that questioned whether or not President-elect Obama would appoint the notorious William Ayers -- a former domestic radical whose association with Obama became the subject of Republican attack ads -- to serve as education secretary. Some of the e-mails were downright offensive, like the one that resurrected old images of sharecroppers and slave-traders.

The silliest and most offensive of them, I should add, came from Baptist pastors.

At Baylor University, the largest Baptist school in the world and my alma mater, campus police had to break up a heated argument between white and black students. According to reports, a noose was suspended from a tree on the Waco, Texas campus. Baylor's interim president, Dr. David Garland, has rightly condemned those actions and has made it clear that the university will countenance no form of racial intolerance.

And while Barack Obama has professed a Christian faith, many of my Baptist friends have rumored about a hidden Muslim faith. That a man's faith would matter to Baptists seems to me an odd twist for a people who fought to eliminate any religious test for office from the nation's founding documents.

Old biases, however, never die easily, as evidenced by the aforementioned e-mails I received. That these biases remain strongest among those Americans who consider themselves Christian is both troubling and contemptible. But the fact remains that many Baptists still have some lessons to learn about tolerance. It should unsettle us that a people once known for their commitment to tolerance would continue to struggle with practicing consistently what our earliest forbears so faithfully preached.

During the course of the past year, I too have been forced to wrestle with my own prejudices. At times, I've joined the bigoted banter and helped to scratch the old wounds of racism. Yet on a quick flight back to Washington Nov. 5, I was able to get past my own persuasion about the political consequence of Barack Obama's election and be thankful that America has become a place where a man with dark skin and an African surname can become president.

The Democratic Party now holds both houses of Congress by substantial margins, and on January 20, 2009, it will hold the White House. While vote totals are not yet certain in Minnesota, Georgia, and Alaska, it is clear that the Democrats have their first chance since the 103rd Congress to promote an agenda unimpeded by counter-balancing Republican majorities. I'm reminded of the old story about the dog that caught the car he was chasing and wasn't sure what to do with it when he got it. These are no easy days to govern the country and lead the world, and I almost pity those who are entrusted with the task.

The Democrats will have to show that they can rein in federal spending, and Republicans will have to show that they value the need for regulations and oversight within a free market. Barack Obama is going to have to demonstrate that he can be decisive as well as reflective, and John McCain is going to have to work more closely with his party rather than run against it. All Americans are going to have to learn the virtues of patience and frugality.

And Baptists are going to have to reacquaint themselves with the virtues of religious and racial tolerance if, indeed, this government of the people, by the people, and for the people is not to perish from the earth.


-- Benjamin Cole is a former Southern Baptist pastor who now works on public-policy issues in the nation's capital.

Bible Trivia - 11/6/2008

Question: Name the son of Solomon who inherited his throne.

Answer: Rehoboam. (I Kings 14:21)

Comments: Rehoboam succeeded his father Solomon as King of Israel. In direct response to Rehoboam's authority, the ten northern tribes rebelled. As such, Rehoboam was the first king of Judah.

Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name there. And his mother's name was Naamah the Ammonitess. (I Kings 14:21, NASB)

There would never be a united Israel again in the Biblical era. Ironically, Rehoboam's name means "he who enlarges the people."

Note: This cartoon was created by Jack Pittman. It depicts the clash between Rehoboam and Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom.

Word of the Day - 11/6/2008


Quotidian means daily.

Jesus informed his followers that it was necessary to deny oneself and take up one's cross on a quotidian basis to follow him.

And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." (Luke 9:23, NASB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 11/6/2008

I spent the better part of Wednesday preparing for my class UT. Due to my absence during last week’s session, I had both a written and oral report due on Adult Education pioneer Malcolm Knowles (1913-1997) as well as a book review on Roger Hiemstra’s Lifelong Learning (1976). The good news about this overload is that I have only one major assignment left before the end of the semester. The bad news is that it is a major assignment and due in only two weeks, on November 19th, though I learned on this night that the professor has granted extensions through December 3rd. I may take him up on that offer.

The class met in the sweltering confines of the Humanities Building. The university is on central heating which tends to mean that the learning environment is either uncomfortably cold or hot. On this night it was the latter.

After a long discussion (read: celebration) regarding the election, we watched a film from 1948 entitled An Apartment For Peggy. Believe it or not, I do not already own a copy of the film. It has yet to be released on DVD. The copy we viewed was a very old bootleg recorded from American Movie Classics. The film stars William Holden (1917-1981) and Jeanne Crain (1925-2003). More importantly, Betty Lynn appears briefly in the film in only her second film role, years before she played “Thelma Lou” on “The Andy Griffith Show”.

The entire class loved the largely forgotten Fox comedy. It is very topical to my class as Holden plays Jason, a World War II veteran going to college on the GI Bill in the hopes of beccoming a teacher. Jason, with his young expectant wife Peggy, move into the attic of suicidal professor Henry Barnes (Edmund Gwenn) as they are strapped for funding. His wife also particpates in adult education as she organizes a class for GI's wives, taught by Barnes.

As noted, it is a great film which is unfortunately largely lost to history.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 11/5/2008

Associated Baptist Press
November 5, 2008 · (08-107)

David Wilkinson, Executive Director
Robert Marus, Acting Managing Editor/Washington Bureau Chief
Bob Allen, Senior Writer

In this issue
Obama election victory signals shift, but Religious Right still scores wins (660 words)
Baylor reports racially related incidents on Election Day (295 words)
Baptist World Aid seeks funds for Congo (351 words)
Opinion: Regardless of politics, a reason for America to rejoice (878 words)

Obama election victory signals shift, but Religious Right still scores wins
By Robert Marus (660 words)

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- All religious groups shifted toward Barack Obama, the candidate opposed by the Religious Right's leadership, in his historic presidential win Nov. 4. Still, religious conservatives did manage a few victories.

The Democratic candidate garnered about 52 percent of the popular vote to GOP nominee John McCain's 46 percent.

While McCain and running mate Sarah Palin -- a darling of the right -- lost the night's biggest prize, four statewide ballot initiatives aimed at curtailing gay rights appeared headed for passage. Other ballot initiatives watched closely by religious conservatives -- like gambling and abortion rights -- were a mixed bag.

Obama improved significantly on John Kerry's performance in every major religious category, according to exit polls as analyzed by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee, lost white evangelicals by huge margins and Catholics by a narrower margin in losing to President Bush's re-election bid.
Obama did better than Kerry among evangelicals and won a majority of Catholics. He also scored increased support among Jews, Protestants in general and those not affiliated with any religion.

Democrats added at least five seats to their Senate majority -- with four still unresolved as of press time for this story -- and about 20 to their House majority. While picking off some prominent congressional social conservatives, Democrats failed to unseat others considered vulnerable prior to the election:

-- In North Carolina, Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole -- who came under heavy fire for a last-minute campaign ad implying her challenger was an atheist -- lost by a wide margin to Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan. Hagan, an ordained elder and Sunday school teacher at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, N.C., answered with her own ad accusing her opponent of "bearing false witness against fellow Christians."

-- In Colorado, GOP Rep. Marilyn Musgrave -- who has been the chief House backer of failed attempts to add an anti-gay- marriage amendment to the Constitution -- lost to Democratic challenger Betsy Markey, 57 percent to 43 percent.

-- In Minnesota, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann eked out a 46 percent-43 percent victory over Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg, overcoming negative publicity about a national TV interview in which she said she thought Obama might have "anti-American" views.

-- And in Georgia, conservative Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss appeared headed for a Dec. 2 runoff with Democrat Jim Martin. Neither had garnered more than 50 percent of the vote by press time.

On state ballot initiatives, religious conservatives claimed a big victory in California. Proposition 8, which would repeal the marriage rights that the state's highest court authorized in May for same-sex couples, appeared headed to a narrow victory when this story was written.

Evangelicals, conservative Catholics and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined together to promote the measure. The Mormons poured tens of millions of dollars into advertisements that gay-rights activists called blatantly misleading.

Bans on same-sex marriage in Florida and Arizona -- which defeated a similar state constitutional amendment two years ago -- passed easily.

Nearly 57 percent of Arkansas voters approved a ban on unmarried couples serving as adoptive or foster parents. The measure bans both same-sex and opposite-sex cohabiting couples from caring for children, but opponents and some supporters said it was targeted at keeping gays from adopting. It came in response to a 2006 Arkansas Supreme Court decision striking down a ban on homosexual foster parents.

Anti-abortion forces didn't fare nearly as well as opponents of gay rights.

Measures to outlaw or restrict abortion lost in California, Colorado and South Dakota. The measure in South Dakota would have been the nation's strictest abortion ban. It was similar to an abortion ban that state defeated by a similar margin in 2006.

Lottery or gambling-expansion measures passed in three of six states where they appeared on the ballot.

Washington state approved the nation's second assisted-suicide law. Neighbor Oregon is the only other U.S. jurisdiction that allows physician-assisted euthanasia.


Baylor reports racially related incidents on Election Day
By Ken Camp (295 words)

WACO, Texas (ABP) -- Baylor University police responded to three apparently racially related on-campus incidents on Election Day.

Late on the afternoon of Nov. 4, officials at the Texas Baptist school were notified a single clothes-line rope resembling a noose was seen in a campus tree.

Later in the day, police investigated a small fire in a barbecue pit next to Brooks Flats residential community. Allegedly, several Obama/Biden campaign signs were burned.

That evening, police were called to a disturbance outside Penland Hall men's dormitory, where a shouting match occurred between two small groups of white and African-American students.

"These events are deeply disturbing to us and are antithetical to the mission of Baylor University," Interim President David Garland said in an e-mail to all Baylor students. "We categorically denounce and will not tolerate racist acts of any kind on our campus."

Garland cited university policies regarding civility and respect. Baylor's eight-page civil-rights policy says the university "does not engage in unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, nationality or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability in employment or the provision of services."

"We are committed to maintaining the safety and unity of our campus community," Garland said. "We wish to celebrate and strengthen inclusiveness, understanding and acceptance of all members of the Baylor family."

Garland encouraged faculty, staff and students to participate in ongoing dialogues sponsored by Baylor's multicultural activities department.

African Americans make up about 7 percent of Baylor's current student enrollment. The university's student body is 72 percent Anglo.

"We believe that the incidents on our campus yesterday were irresponsible acts committed by a few individuals," Garland concluded. "As a community, we condemn these terribly unfortunate events that do not represent the values we share as members of the Baylor family."


Baptist World Aid seeks funds for Congo
By Bob Allen (351 words)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (ABP) -- The head of an international Baptist relief agency has sent out an urgent fundraising appeal to ease the suffering of victims of civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Just back from a conference in Uganda in which Baptist leaders discussed the crisis, Paul Montacute, director of Baptist World Aid, appealed Nov. 4 for gifts to assist people in the eastern part of the country. The area has affected by intensified fighting between rebel troops and government forces in recent weeks.

Montacute said the catastrophe in Congo is not a new one, although it is just now garnering worldwide media attention. The struggle dates back to the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, as many Congolese find themselves squeezed between the Congolese army and ethnic Tutsi rebels led by Gen. Laurent Nkunda.

Montacute said the Baptist World Alliance counts three member groups from the area. BWAid, the BWA's relief-and-development arm, has long cooperated with those partners to help local Baptists work with abused and violated women and children, provide school resources, fight poverty and conduct other programs.

"Once again, it is the innocent people of Kivu Province who are suffering at the hands of armies and rebel forces," Montacute said. "They deserve better, and are relying on us to help them."

Montacute returned Nov. 3 from the meeting with Baptists caught up in the situation. They came not only from Eastern Congo but also neighboring Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and Tanzania. All, he said, "were very concerned about the escalating issue."

Baptist facilities in eastern Congo are being used to provide shelter for displaced persons, Montacute said, but funds are desperately needed for basic needs of shelter, food, water and sanitation.

Montacute said funds sent to BWAid would be used to help Baptists in Congo and neighboring countries to help these struggling people. Gifts for the appeal should be designated "Goma Congo Appeal." Information on how to give is available on the BWAid website.


Opinion: Regardless of politics, a reason for America to rejoice
By Robert Marus (878 words)

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- Nov. 4, 2008 was the most improbable day of my 34-year-old life.

The unlikely elevation of an African American to the presidency is just the latest episode in what the president-elect himself has called "the unlikely story that is America." And Christians of all ideological and political stripes should be able to cheer some aspects of what happened yesterday. I certainly can.

I am a Caucasian-American son of the South, raised in the first generation born after school integration. I graduated from a high school that is a landmark of the Civil Rights Movement. Ancestors on both sides of my family fought for the Confederacy.

And I experienced an American reality yesterday that would have been but a fantasy to a significant portion of our population for the first 500 years of America's life.

It began yesterday morning, on my way to work, when I went to vote. I reside in the District of Columbia and -- as in many urban precincts around the country -- the lines at my polling place were long. An African-American woman who looked to be in her 60s was in front of me, and she struck up a genial conversation.

She was raised in the South, she told me, and she remembered the days when her parents had to pay a poll tax to claim their right to vote. She was beaming at the chance to vote for a black man for president -- an idea that would have been inconceivable to her ancestors.

It turns out she and my father share the same hometown -- Pine Bluff, Ark. When I told her about our common Arkansas roots, she embraced me.

After work, I joined about 20 friends -- mainly fellow young adults from my church -- for a voting-returns party in my neighborhood. When the networks announced that the senator from Illinois would be the next president, my friends, of every race, shed tears of joy.

And then our party and scores more like it spilled out into the streets of our Northwest Washington neighborhood. Everywhere I looked, there were merry bands of celebrants walking down sidewalks, shouting as fellow revelers passed by in cars and cabs, honking horns and blaring music.

The national news networks were showing footage of thousands of similarly jubilant Obama supporters who had gathered in front of the White House, about a mile south of where we were. Not wanting to walk that far in a chilly drizzle, we wandered down "U" Street, which was once the commercial and nightlife heart of Washington's African-American community -- so much so that it was dubbed "Black Broadway."

At the corner of 14th and "U" a similar impromptu celebration had broken out. Thousands of people -- mostly young, but with some older folks, and of every ethnicity under the sun -- were dancing, singing, chanting. One guy even shimmied up the flagpole in front of the municipal building where I had voted earlier that day to shake the American flag with pride. The crowd cheered him wildly.

The police closed the intersection to vehicular traffic as the crowd swelled. Boisterous partiers set off fireworks. People grinned ear to ear.

The celebration went well into the wee hours, even as media outlets finally declared that the Commonwealth of Virginia -- the mother state of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the state whose law banning interracial marriage was not struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court until 1967 -- would cast its electoral votes for the son of a black Kenyan immigrant and a white Kansan mother.

What many might not know is that the corner of 14th and "U" is the very place where, 40 years ago last April, the news of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. sparked the first of a massive wave of riots in black neighborhoods across the country. Washington burned for days, and "Black Broadway" was virtually destroyed. It didn't even begin to recover until young professionals -- many of them white -- began to gentrify the neighborhood in the late 1990s.

But last night another demonstration of a very different sort broke out at 14th and "U." Instead of people mourning the death of one dream for black America and destroying their own community in the process, a multi-hued array of humanity celebrated the birthing of a new dream -- a dream in which they all have a legitimate stake.

Many white Baptists are wary of Obama because of his stances on some social issues. Others dislike his economic policies. But what any Christian who claims to believe in our Constitution should be able to thank God for is the sheer fact that a bi-racial man named Barack Hussein Obama has been elected to the highest office in a land where, scarcely 40 years ago, his parents wouldn't even have had the right to marry in many states.

And, as a result, millions of young Americans of every race and creed now feel that they are full participants in the political process.

Anyone who claims to follow the God who created all people in his own image should rejoice at that news. As the son of former slave owners, embraced by the daughter of former slaves, I certainly do.


-- Robert Marus is ABP's acting managing editor and Washington bureau chief.

Prayer Blog - 11/5/2008

Tomorrow, my aunt, uncle, and cousin HLN leave for California. There, my cousin will be performing the dance “It Feels Like Pitch Black” with the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble. The dance is a depiction of autism. (For further explanation, see the March 10th edition of “In Eckleburg’s Eyes”.) The ensemble is one of approximately thirty acts participating in a festival. Please pray for safe travel.

Bible Trivia - 11/5/2008

Question: Who was the mother of Benjamin?

Answer: Rachel. (Genesis 35:16-20)

Comments: Benjamin was the youngest of Jacob's twelve sons. His mother, Rachel, died while in childbirth. In her pain, she wished to name the child "Ben-oni" which means "the son of my sorrow". Thankfully, the child's father overruled his mother and named the child "Benjamin" which means "the son of the right hand".

It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. (Genesis 35:18, NASB)

Ironically, many notable Benjamites were known for being left-handed. (Judges 3:15, 20:16)

Note: This oil on canvas is "The Death of Rachel" by Francesco Furini (1603-1646).

Word of the Day - 11/5/2008


Glossa is the anatomical term for the tongue.

The third chapter of James is devoted to describing the dangers of the glossa.

But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. (James 3:8, ANSB)

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 11/5/2008

Having already voted on October 25th, I spent most of Election Day working in one capacity or another.

I worked the morning shift (8:45 am- 12 pm) at the Hope Resource Center. It was a very uneventful workday which was fortunate as I had a great deal of reading to do for the following day’s class.

I did break on Tuesday night to dine with my parents, fittingly at Ruby Tuesday. We selected the restaurant because my mother had clipped a coupon from the newspaper. The $10 discount expired November 24th and she wished to use the coupon before that date. When we arrived, our waitress informed us that in the extremely fine print the coupon noted that it was designated only for the location on Western Avenue. As you can tell from this photo, DLNV was not a happy camper. Actually, her indignation in this photo is from my taking the shot, not from the especially limited offer. In fact, I am not sure which one she was more upset by.

As an aside, Ruby Tuesday calls their salad bar a “garden bar”. Just wanted to share.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Associated Baptist Press - 11/4/2008

Associated Baptist Press
November 4, 2008 · (08-106)

David Wilkinson, Executive Director
Robert Marus, Acting Managing Editor/Washington Bureau Chief
Bob Allen, Senior Writer

In this issue
Baptist leaders from Russia, Georgia seek reconciliation (710 words)
Missouri Baptist Convention again elects 'Save Our Convention' slate (940 words)
Azerbaijani Baptist pastor's trial delayed; attorney cries foul (341 words)
Baptist church in Florida again offends Muslims with message (474 words)
Former Baptist youth minister sentenced for child molesting (411 words)

Baptist leaders from Russia, Georgia seek reconciliation
By Bob Allen (710 words)

KIEV, Ukraine (ABP) -- Baptist leaders from Russia and Georgia met Oct. 30 in Kiev to pursue improved relations between Baptists in the two countries, marred by war earlier this year.

Representatives of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia and Union of Evangelical Christian-Baptists of Russia, gathering in the capital of neighboring Ukraine, issued a joint statement condemning the war. It also called on both sides' governments to seek peaceful resolution of future Russian-Georgian conflicts and asked people of faith to "facilitate the process of forgiveness and reconciliation between our peoples."

In addition, the leaders pledged to continue efforts to build unity between the two nations' Baptist communities despite significant differences.

"We agree to fully recognize each other's churches in their integrity and take bold steps to understand each other and respect each other's experience," the declaration said.

As part of that process, the Baptist leaders pledged to visit each other's countries to "promote friendship and understanding between our peoples" and to engage in theological dialogue between groups "to promote mutual cooperation in the mission of God."

The stated purpose of the meeting was "to sort out our relations between our churches and offer [a] visible symbol of possible reconciliation between our churches, peoples and countries," according to the English version of a Russian Baptist press release.

The participants condemned the war between the two countries as "pointless and brutal" and agreed that issues between Georgia and Russia "should not be solved by military means."

Archbishop Malkhaz Songulashvili and Bishop Merab Gaprindashvili represented the Georgian Baptist union. Representing Russian Baptists were Russian Baptist president Yuri Sipko and Vitaly Vlasenko, the Russian union's head of external church relations. The meeting was facilitated by Gregory Komendant, former president of the European Baptist Federation.

Causes of the August military confrontation -- over control of the breakaway Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia -- remain controversial.

Georgia launched a military strike Aug. 7 on Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, aimed at re-asserting control over the territory after 16 years of semi-independence. Russia responded with tanks, ground troops, air strikes and a naval blockade. Russian forces reached deep into undisputed Georgian territory during the conflict.

Georgia says it is being punished for its pro-Western orientation and bid to join NATO. Russia claims to have evidence of ethnic cleansing, and its officials contend Western media unfairly portrayed Russia as the aggressor.

Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia have ethnic Russian majorities, and their citizens are allowed to hold Russian passports. However, international agreements recognize the territories as being part of Georgia.

An Aug. 16 cease-fire agreement halted the violence, but Russia still has not withdrawn forces from all positions they occupied during the conflict.

In August, the Russian Baptist union's Vlasenko acknowledged that friendship between the Baptists of Russia and Georgia had turned cold during the past 15 years. Citing distrust between the neighboring countries that prompted the war, he said Russian Baptists were ready to "extend the hand of friendship to our sisters and brothers in Georgia."

Vlasenko said Nov. 3 that Russian Baptists "are serious and committed in our relationship with Georgian Baptists."

He said the groups have not reached full agreement, but "we are continuing to work on a relationship that goes down deeply." He added, "We are willing to learn more about our differences, and we hope to find unity in our differences."

In addition to political disputes, there are some doctrinal and stylistic differences between the two Baptist groups. Georgian Baptists have adopted many of the trappings of the Georgian Orthodox tradition, including the use of icons and Orthodox-style clergy vestments in worship. That raises eyebrows for many Baptists, especially in Eastern Europe.

The Georgian Baptist group also has a more hierarchical denominational structure than the Russians, distinguishing it from the highly congregational nature of most Baptist organizations.

Vlasenko is part of a delegation of Russian Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant leaders planning to visit Georgia to meet with political and religious leaders before the end of the year.

"Russian churches have been very involved in helping South Ossetia, but we have done very little in Georgia," he said. "It is my hope that not only words, but that also deeds might result from the on-going church dialogue between Russia and Georgia."


-- Robert Marus contributed to this story.

Missouri Baptist convention again elects 'Save Our Convention' slate
By Bill Webb (940 words)

ST. LOUIS (ABP) -- Messengers to the Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting Oct. 27-29 once again elected officers sympathetic to a reform movement within the state convention, while hearing a report about he difficult work of an ad hoc "peace committee" formed to broker a truce between warring conservative factions.

In addition, messengers rejected a bid to end a six-year-old lawsuit against five breakaway Missouri Baptist agencies.

For the second year in a row, MBC supporters elected officers identified with the Save Our Convention (SOC) movement that a year ago pitted itself against another conservative group and won.

A motion from the convention floor sought unsuccessfully to bar first vice president Bruce McCoy and second vice president John Marshall -- both elected on the SOC-endorsed ticket a year ago -- from being nominated for higher office.
It was their membership on the peace committee that threatened the nominations of McCoy, pastor of Canaan Baptist Church, St. Louis, and Marshall, pastor of Second Baptist Church, Springfield.

In April, the MBC Executive Board formed the committee. In the last two years, SOC supporters and the Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association (MBLA) have been at odds over several issues, including the influence of the MBLA and its leader, layman Roger Moran, over the convention's work. Between 1997 and 2001 the MBLA, under Moran's leadership, effectively forced moderates out of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

In what he called "background information" prior to the peace committee's opening-session report, chair Jeff Purvis, pastor of First Baptist Church of Herculaneum-Peveley, told messengers that it was his opinion that nominating committee members to convention office could undermine the peace process.

McCoy, Marshall and Wesley Hammond, pastor of First Baptist Church of Paris, represent SOC on the committee. The Laymen's Association is represented by Purvis, Moran and retired pastor Jay Scribner.

Purvis' remarks set the stage for a motion by messenger Jim Wilson of First Baptist Church of Seneca that "the MBC instruct all members of the peace committee to not allow their names to be put in nomination for the officers of our convention."

An amendment that would have enabled the matter to be considered prior to the convention's presidential election received a simple majority, 494 to 463, but failed to gain the two-thirds vote necessary for passage.

McCoy was elected president 404-387 over Danny Decker, pastor at First Baptist Church of Warsaw, in a runoff. Marshall was elected first vice president 426-219 over Ron Crow of First Baptist Church, Diamond.

Former MBC president Mitch Jackson, also sympathetic with SOC, was elected second vice president 275-239 in a runoff with Jody Shelenhamer of First Baptist Church, Bolivar. Music evangelist Jamie Hitt of First Baptist Church, Winfield, was elected recording secretary 217-190 over Ken Parker, pastor of First Baptist Church in Kearney, also in a runoff.

The peace committee's official report to the convention suggested progress, but acknowledged that the committee had reached an impasse. Committee members said they would invite a Christian arbitration group to mediate their discussions -- even though the committee, when beginning its work, had initially decided against such mediation.

Among the report's other conclusions:

1. That former MBC executive director David Clippard and other MBC leaders pitted Executive Board members and key MBC leaders against each other. The board fired Clippard last year. The committee found that public charges of power-brokering and legalism directed at MBLA leaders were "baseless," Purvis said, prompting the entire committee to apologize to Moran.

2. An MBC Executive Board committee named to investigate Clippard handled its task properly, working within the framework of the MBC structure and within legal parameters.

3. "At all levels in Missouri Baptist life, we did not live by the Matthew 18 principle and did not go to persons directly with which we might have had an issue."

4. Because of the lack of trust, "a multi-layered and multi-leveled series of events, meetings, letters, e-mails, resolutions, etc." was set in motion, perpetuating division.

In other actions, messengers rejected a motion to drop the lawsuit and approved four resolutions.

Two messengers -- Steven Mosely of Maplewood Baptist Church in St. Louis and Robert Hutchinson of Faith Baptist Church in Harrisonville -- brought motions calling for dismissal of lawsuits against the Baptist Home retirement-home system, Missouri Baptist Foundation, Missouri Baptist University, Windermere Baptist Conference Center and Word & Way. The Baptist Home changed its articles of incorporation in 2000 to elect its own trustees. The other four agencies followed suit in 2001.

The motion failed overwhelmingly on a show-of-ballots vote, but not before a round of spirited discussion. "I've tried to bring an end to what I believe is an unbiblical course," Mosely said.

"It's time that we think about the importance of Scripture for this issue," he added, noting that countless dollars have been spent in costs of litigation.

Purvis responded that the convention had tried to resolve the issue short of litigation but the entities refused. Citing guidelines in Matthew 18 to take a grievance directly to a fellow believer, Purvis said, "The Bible also says, when that does not take place, treat them as unbelievers."

Hutchinson acknowledged that the motion had little chance of passage.

"Messengers, we have a choice. Brother Randy Comer [chair of the convention's legal task force] made the appeal, go back to your church and pray for the lawsuit and ask your church to support the lawsuit. This is the noble and heroic work of God we are called to support?

The approved resolutions encouraged Christian citizenship, environmental stewardship and the work of the peace committee, as well as a resolution expressing appreciation to those who made the annual meeting possible.


Azerbaijani Baptist pastor's trial delayed; attorney cries foul
By Bob Allen (341 words)

(ABP) -- The long-awaited trial of an Azerbaijani Baptist pastor arrested in June has had another delay.

Hamid Shabanov, 52, was supposed to stand trial Oct. 31 on what supporters say are bogus weapons charges. But his family and lawyer told the Norway-based Christian news service Forum 18 Nov. 3 that the trial date was pushed back until Nov. 5. The delay, they said, was the result of prosecutors refusing to hand over documents to the defense until Oct. 31.

Shabanov's attorney, Mirman Aliev, accused prosecutors of intentionally dragging their feet to delay the trial. He said it would take him 10 hours by public transportation to make the trip from Baku, the Azerbaijani capital, to the northern city of Zakatala for the Nov. 5 trial date.

Police arrested Shabanov June 20 in a raid of his home in the remote northern village of Aliabad, near Azerbaijan's border with Georgia. He has been held in jail ever since. He is accused of illegal possession of a firearm, a crime punishable by up to three years. His supporters say he did not own a gun and accuse authorities of planting the weapon to frame him.

The arrest is part of what religious-freedom observers have alleged is a systematic government attempt to intimidate religious minorities like Protestant Christians, Sunni Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses. Another Baptist pastor, Zauer Balaev, was set free in March after being imprisoned on what supporters claimed were trumped-up assault charges.

Authorities set Balaev free after a worldwide campaign for his release that included leaders of the Baptist World Alliance and former President Jimmy Carter.

Shabanov's town, Aliabad, has about 10,000 residents and is near Zakatala. It is made up almost entirely made up of members of the Ingilo minority, ethnic Georgians who were converted to Islam from Orthodox Christianity several centuries ago.

While Azerbaijan's constitution provides that persons of all faiths may choose and practice their religion without restriction, the latest United States State Department report on international religious freedom found "sporadic violations of religious freedom by some officials."


Baptist church in Florida again offends Muslims with message
By Bob Allen (474 words)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (ABP) -- A Baptist church in Florida is once again creating tension with its Muslim neighbors over a marquee message.

A sign posted outside First Conservative Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., reads, "God loves you, Allah hates."

A local television station interviewed a Muslim woman who said she took offense. "What have I done?" asked the woman, who is not identified. "What have I done to deserve that kind of hatred in my neighborhood?"

She said she was driving by the church with her children when the sign caught her attention. "The thing that bothers me so much is that this is in my neighborhood, where I live with my children," she said. "To know that people that feel this way are in my neighborhood is scary."

It isn't the first time the independent Baptist church has grabbed attention with its marquee, which is updated regularly to confront passersby with messages about doctrinal, social or world-religion issues.

"We find it an integral part of communicating the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ," Pastor Gene Youngblood says on a website,

In 2005 the church made news by posting a sign that read "Islam is evil and believes in murder, Surah 9-29" contrasted with, "Jesus teaches peace, Matt. 5-9."

In 2003 local Muslims were upset when the church sign read "Jesus forbade murder Matthew 26-52 Muhammad approved murder Surah 8-65."

Youngblood says on his website that he loves Muslims and would like to see many of them accept Christ, but the sign's purpose is to warn people of "false teachers" and "untruth from theologically unsound doctrine."

Since displaying the sign, he said, the church has received threats and vandalism but added, "We stand firmly on our First Amendment right: The freedom of speech is fundamental to American liberty."

Fawad Mansoori, president of the Jacksonville chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Muslims also cherish the idea of free speech, but signs like this misrepresent facts and demonize fellow Americans.

"At times like these we as Americans must come together to solve our common problems -- from a faltering economy to a dying planet," Mansoori said. "Religious institutions should take extra measures to bring people together by emphasizing the fact that what we have in common is far more important and meaningful than what divides us."

Mansoori said all three Abrahamic faiths believe in one true deity, and that "God" and "Allah" refer to the same being. "The 'Elohim' of the [Hebrew] Bible is linguistically the same as 'Allah,'" he said. "In fact Arabic-speaking Christians refer to God as 'Allah.'"

Barbara Denman of the Florida Baptist Convention said First Conservative Baptist Church isn't affiliated with the state group or the Southern Baptist Convention.


Former Baptist youth minister sentenced for child molesting
By Bob Allen (411 words)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (ABP) -- A former Southern Baptist youth minister in Kentucky was sentenced Oct. 31 to 10 years in prison after confessing to sexually exploiting a 14-year-old girl he met while posing as a 17-year-old youth evangelist on the social-networking website MySpace.

Timothy Scott Richerson, 40, of Greensburg, Ky., admitted in July that he met the girl online and then followed up with computer and telephone messages during the summer of 2007. That September he drove about 50 miles from his home in Greensburg, Ky., to the victim's home in Madison County, where he sexually exploited her.

The girl's mother became suspicious after several visits by Richerson. She found sexually explicit text messages on her daughter's phone and called police. The Kentucky State Police arrested Richerson in Greensburg Oct. 12, 2007, and a federal court indicted him in March, as part of Project Safe Childhood, a Justice Department initiative aimed at protecting children from online predators.

"A lot of credit goes to the victim's mother in this case," said prosecutor Hydee Hawkins. "She did what we wish every parent would do -- that's being nosy with your children and their activities. We can't emphasize enough how important that is."

According to the Richmond Register, Richerson is a former youth minister at Freedom Baptist Church in Campbellsville, Ky.

Richerson, who eventually revealed his true age, had sexual contact with the girl short of intercourse, according to CBS affiliate WKYT. However, he had planned to take her virginity on her 15th birthday.

Richerson's MySpace page, which he last accessed Oct. 11, 2007, is titled "Youth for Christ Ministries." It identifies him as a 17-year-old male "in a relationship."
The page's "about me" profile reads: "Here to serve God by providing a Christian view of the youth, as we face many of life's obstacles!"

It continues: "You can talk to us anytime. We are here to help you with your struggles and help lead you to God. Don't hesitate to send a message or comment. In John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. So why should I condemn you. I am here so that you will have a place to turn for help. ILY."

Richerson, who is married with a teenage daughter, listed 216 "friends" on his profile, mostly teenage girls around the Campbellsville area.

His "who I'd like to meet" entry lists, "God, Jesus, and you."


Bible Trivia - 11/4/2008

Question: Under whom did Paul study Jewish law?

Answer: Gamaliel. (Acts 22:3)

Comments: When presenting his personal defense in Jerusalem, Paul cites his credentials, including studying under famed Jewish rabbi Gamaliel. Gamaliel was a Pharisee and the grandson of the great Jewish teacher Hillel the Elder.

"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today." (Acts 22:3, NASB)

In Gamaliel's only other appearance in the New Testament (Acts 5:33-40), he diffuses Christian opposition by asking that his Jewish constituents exercise patience.

Word of the Day - 11/4/2008


A hyssop is any of several aromatic herbs belonging to the genus Hyssopus, of the mint family, especially H. officinalis, native to Europe, having clusters of small blue flowers.

As Jesus hung on a cross, a sponge soaked in sour wine or vinegar was stuck on a branch of hyssop and offered to him.

A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. (John 19:29, NASB)

Though all four canonical gospels record that Jesus was offered the sponge (Matthew 27:48, 50; Mark 15:36; Luke 23:36; John 19:29), only John records the hyssop branch.

Note: This watercolour, titled "I am thirsty" was painted by James Tissot (1836-1902).

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 11/4/2008, Part 3

After the funeral on Tuesday night, I hurried to Thompson-Boling Arena to watch the Tennessee basketball team defeat the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds, 87-73. I joined MPW and ROW in our new seats in section 317. This year’s season tickets have edged us ever so slightly closer to center court. At this rate, we will be there in a decade or two.

My allergist Dr. Bob was featured on the “Kiss Cam”. The halftime entertainment was a rousing game of children’s basketball. The game ended with a 2-0 final score. My thoughts on the actual game are posted under “View from 315A”. The feature will still use the same title despite our new seats.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 11/4/2008, Part 2

On Monday night, JTH, ALK, and I were just three of many who attended the funeral of Deborah Joan Thomas (DJT) at Weaver Funeral Home. The deceased was the mother of our good friend JBT and his brother Josh. We got to see many friends including JBT’s fiancé SCB whom I had not seen since July!

JTH and ALK sat on the aisle in front of me next to JB, GAB, and GAB’s longtime girlfriend Crystal. At one point, JTH got up and an older woman sandwiched herself in the aisle despite there being empty seats available. She soon put her arm around ALK, where it rested for much of the service. No one had any idea who she was. Thankfully, I caught this surreal moment on camera.

The service was done beautifully. It began with a recording of Boyz II Men’s “A Song for Mama”. Then, my church’s pastor, LWF, spoke. DJT had been a member of the church since 1990 and both her sons joined during a DiscipleNow weekend. LWF acknowledged that in his 44 years as a pastor, she was one of only two heart transplant patients (the other being Sue Hurst who now lives in Florida). He used Psalm 51:10, 17 as his Scripture.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:10, 17, NASB)

LWF spoke of DJT’s valiant battle and how she was so beloved that her TVA coworkers gave up their vacation time so that she would not lose her job. She was not afraid of death, but she wished to live to see her boys become independent. That prayer was answered. LWF closed with a poem by an anonymous author titled “He only takes the Best".

God saw that she was getting tired
And a cure was not to be.
So he put his arms around her
And whispered, “Come with me”.
With tear filled eyes we watched her suffer
And fade away
Although we loved her deeply
We could not, make her stay.
A golden heart stopped beating,
Hard working hands put to rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to usHe only, takes the best

The service concluded with the playing of Vince Gill’s 1994 hit “Go Rest High On That Mountain”.

In Eckleburg's Eyes - 11/4/2008, Part 1

On Monday, my cousin NTC returned home to Jersey City.

Before she left, my mother, uncle REN, and I took her to Bliss Home and the Silver Spoon Café. We took her to the former as she is a fan of contemporary art. I had never been to the recently opened store myself. The store is located in the Gallery shopping center where Storehouse Furniture once resided. One of the business’ employees is former church member Brett Ware.

As an aside, why do all artsy people love the JFG building do much?

As mentioned, we ate lunch at Silver Spoon, my dining home away from home. NTC was very impressed by the artistic design of her sandwich. She could not finish it all as we fed her almost continuously in her stay in Knoxville.

After lunch, my mother drove NTC toMcGhee Tyson Airport for her 1:40 pm flight. She arrived home safely.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Prayer Blog - 11/3/2008, #2

PWC had to put her dog Lincoln down today. The dog had long been a part of the family. Please keep the family in your prayers as they mourn the loss.

Prayer Blog - 11/3/2008

As virtually all of you know, tomorrow is election day in the United States. Please pray for God's will to be done and for whomever wins the election.

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. (I Timothy 2:1-2, NASB)

View from 315A

On Monday night, MPW, ROW, and I attended the Tennessee basketball team’s first exhibition game at Thompson-Boling Arena. The game marked the beginning of Tennessee’s one hundredth season of basketball. The Vols defeated the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds of Division II, 87-73. Paid attendance was 18,378 though far fewer actually attended.

The Vols’ performance showed a lot of room for improvement. The team got off to a slow start, trailing 11-2 before Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl utilized his first timeout. Tennessee’s first lead came on a Tyler Smith dunk with 11:03 remaining in the first half to go up 20-19. The Vols’ lead was accumulated primarily in one spurt. Down 25-24 with seven minutes left in the first half, the Vols went on a 16-3 run that produced a 40-28 lead. The Vols led 46-31 at the half but shot only 42.4 % from the field (14-of-33). They did heat up in the second half , hitting 57.1% on 16-of-28 field goals.

Game notes:

  • UIndy coach Stan Gouard played under Bruce Pearl at Southern Indiana.
  • This marks Tennessee’s first season featuring all Bruce Pearl recruits.
  • The Vols played shorthanded, without the services of Ryan Childress, Philip Jurick, J.P. Prince, Josh Tabb, and Daniel West.
    • Childress is nursing a knee injury.
    • Prince sustained a shoulder injury in practice on October 29th. There is still hope that he will be able to play in the season opener on November 15th.
    • Tabb was serving a team-level suspension related to academics.
    • West was ruled academically ineligible after his standardized test score was flagged by the testing agency, according to two sources close to the situation.

  • Junior College transfer Bobby Maze totaled 10 points, seven assists, and shot 3 of 6 from the floor and connected on all four of his free throw attempts.
  • Due to the absence of Prince and West, walk-on point guard Michael Hubert played ten minutes. Hubert is from Hendersonville.
  • The Vols had five players in double-figures, led by Tyler Smith's 14. He also accumulated six rebounds, four assists and a game-high three steals. Smith was named as the preseason SEC Player of the Year.
  • Scotty Hopson scored 14 points in 28 minutes in his Tennessee debut.
  • Freshman Emanuel Negedu, wearing Chris Lofton’s #5, had eleven points and six rebounds in only 12 minutes.
  • Tennessee outrebounded the Greyhounds 40-29, including 15-7 on the offensive glass. Sophomore Brian Williams had a game-high twelve boards.
  • Redshirt freshman Cameron Tatum scored eight points in fifteen minutes. He was also the Vols’ was the Vols’ “plus-minus” leader at 19. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery October 10th and has only been practicing since October 27th.
  • The Vols totaled 17 assists and forced 28 turnovers despite the limited use of the full court press.
  • Tennessee missed graduated players Lofton and Jajuan Smith’s shooting, hitting just four of 14 from three-point range.
  • Fans implored UT to take a 3-point shot in the final seconds so that the Vols could score 90 points and they could redeem their game ticket for a free chicken sandwich as part of a promotion.
  • UT begins the season ranked 13th in the Coaches’ Poll and 14th in the Associated Press Poll. The Vols began practice on October 17th.