I beg your pardon for not having written anything as of late. As I'm sure most of you are quite well aware, the school year is now in full swing, and that means sports. Lots of sports. Football, volleyball, soccer and cross country, to be specific. And being the public address announcer for the local college and their K-12 school (go Chargers and Colts!), that means that most of my days and evenings are spent A: dealing with music for the junior high and high school events, and B: playing said music at said junior high and high school events as well as operating the scoreboard for soccer and volleyball and doing the announcing for all four sports.
Needless to say it's a fairly time-consuming effort, and my other projects have been placed on the back burner. This weekend, however -- three days including this one -- is the longest I've gone in two weeks without having a game at least every other day, so I'm taking the time to catch up.
Thankfully, there hasn't been a whole lot on my mind lately that's demanded any extended, eloquent opining upon. Probably nothing that you can't already discern my position on, anyway. Ferguson's still a mess despite the media frenzy dying down, Spring Arbor University and Brent Ellis are still wrong and have yet to face up to their mistakes (let alone do anything about correcting them), big wheel keep on turnin', Proud Mary keep on burnin', rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river...
Sorry, got lost for a second there.
Anyway, I'll just give you some short blurbs on a few various subjects that I felt could use my two cents. Let's start with...
This Week's Collegian, Part I: Go Negative or Go Home, Apparently
It's very interesting to see that the first article I was going to point out in this passage has been replaced with a similar article by a different author on the web site, because the printed story on the subject (check the top of page A2) comes under a headline that says everything you need to know about modern-day journalism.
Here's the formula: you take a nice little positive write-up about how this year's freshman class has the highest ACT average in school history second only to the Class of 2015, as well as the same average GPA as the classes of 2016 and 2017, but to write the headline, you take the negative side of that and come up with "Freshmen not smartest class ever."
It would be the same thing if I wrote an opinion piece about how much I love pie, and I mention in passing that I prefer pumpkin to pecan, but the headline writer decided to title it "Pecan pie blows scores of chimp." It's not what I wrote -- it wasn't even the intent with which I wrote -- but that's not what the headline tells you.
There was nothing about Sarah Chavey's article that demanded such a negative headline, but you'll find this exact same pattern repeated in the media innumerable times, so often that you can't escape it. It's the state of modern-day journalism. Negativity grabs eyes and ears. It's disappointing that the Collegian failed to rise above it before the paper went to print. We can only hope that they'll hold themselves to a higher standard as they continue to learn the job they're in school to learn.
This Week's Collegian, Part II: Hello Ignorance, My Old Friend...
We have yet another opinion piece written in opposition to same-sex marriage in the local media, this time written by "student columnist" Garrett West -- who, it should be noted, is not the Collegian sports editor and did not write a social commentary for the paper of which he is sports editor, as if that were somehow appropriate, ethical or even smart (once again, here's lookin' at you, Phil Morgan).
I don't want to go into a whole lot of detail about this one, because it's nothing I (and many others) haven't already fully debunked. Plus, it's based entirely upon an appeal to nature -- which, as we educated persons well know, is a logical fallacy. Not to mention the fact that West deliberately refuses to acknowledge anything other than penile-vaginal penetrative sex as the marital act of sex, stating that (and this is a direct quote) "The only way two human persons can unite organically is in the generative act."
In other words, he's making the exact same argument that Phil Morgan made, only he's doing it with a bit less vitriol and a bit wider a vocabulary.
It's still entirely incorrect, both logically and scientifically, and I would refer West to my above-linked take-down of Morgan's blundering idiocy for links to the proof that he's wrong on all counts.
ISIS, Therefore, I Am
This barely even deserves the time I'm giving it here, so if you disagree with what I'm about to say, don't even bother telling me, because you're wrong.
Here's the bottom line: these assholes wouldn't even be a fraction of the "threat" we're making them out to be if we had actually gone into Iraq with a strategy. Which we didn't. We went in, we dicked around for a few years, and when the American public got tired of it, we just kinda moseyed off into the sunset and said, "you're welcome, Iraqis! Good luck!" The Iraqis, of course, weren't ready for the responsibility -- and how could they be, given that we never fought the war to win to begin with? -- and so everything went to hell in a handbasket, ISIS moved from Syria into Iraq, and now they're rattling their medieval-era scimitars at us.
You know what the solution to all of this is? It's goddamn simple. We bomb the living bejeezus out of them, we get our people out, we leave. End of story. No more policing the world, no more nation-building, no more "protecting vital interests," no more playing RISK with the Middle East like we've allowed the CIA and the military-industrial complex to do for the past 70 years.
Oh, you didn't get the memo? We ARMED these assholes. We TRAINED these assholes. THESE ARE OUR ASSHOLES. WE CAUSED ALL OF THIS. And if you refuse to acknowledge that fact, you have not learned one lick of recent American history.
The moment we stop believing that American exceptionalism means that we're the biggest and the best and the greatest thing ever in the history of everything, that's the moment this all stops. Oh, sure, there will always be people out to harm us. But we won't be the ones responsible for their attacks against us. That's the heart of this issue.
Quackpot Religion (or, "And Speaking of ISIS...")
Celebrity idiot Phil Robertson is making the media rounds again because, let's face it, the media loves nothing more than making fun of backwards hillbillies who say stupid shit. Especially when they're fake backwards hillbillies who say stupid shit on national television to the tune of millions of dollars in advertising revenue.
Oh, and, of course, he "wrote" a book. Which is to say he blathered some nonsense to a ghostwriter, who then wrote the book.
BUT WAIT! IT GETS EVEN BETTER THIS TIME!
Not only is he spewing complete and total lies about how only gay people get sexually-transmitted diseases and that Jesus was a homophobe just like him (insert mandatory reference to the centurion's servant here), oh no! He has solutions to ALL of the world's problems! And here's a dandy for ya:
The Great Phil Robertson has spoken, and thus sayeth our beloved Duck Commander:
And just who was he talking about? Why, our old friends, ISIS!
Yes, Phil "It's Okay To Marry 16-Year-Old Girls" Robertson believes that the way to stop people who demand that we all convert to Islam under threat of death... is to demand that they convert to Christianity under threat of death. There's a great idea, huh? The way to end religious extremism is... MORE RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM! IT'S SO STUPID, IT'S BRILLIANT!!!
On a side note, they also happen to have that "it's okay to marry 16-year-old girls" thing in common too, although ISIS tends not to care so much about the "marry" part and focuses more on the "rape" and "enslave" parts.
It's almost sad how Hannity attempts to bail him out, already trying to twist it into somehow being the media's fault for claiming that Robertson said exactly what he'd just said. Not one shred of credibility between them whatsoever.
Here's an idea, and I don't think I'm getting too crazy here: in order to get rid of Phil Robertson, let's demand that he shut up under threat of turning off the TV when his show's on. Or, even better yet, let's just turn off his show altogether regardless of what he does. Most of his former audience already did. It's time for the rest to follow suit.
Crackpot Religion (or, "And Speaking of Bible-Wielding Jackasses...")
I don't care what you believe, but I have no problem in telling you that I apparently share a gift from the Holy Spirit with my mother. We both have this sense that tells us when something is wrong in spiritual situations.
The earliest I can remember her expressing that in front of me was at a Michael English concert in early 1994 at the old First Baptist Church of West Hollywood in Florida (a church which, interestingly enough, I would become a member of later on). She said as we stood in line waiting to enter the building that something didn't feel right, and her sentiments were echoed by the giant blue banners flanking the doorway that flashed a classic early-90's encircled logo comprised of his initials: "M.E."
Believe me, I was skeptical. They were just his initials. He couldn't help that his parents named him Michael English. It didn't mean anything.
Of course, anyone who was around the Christian music scene back then knows what happened that May. He and Marabeth Jordan of the group First Call, who were touring with him at the time, had been having an affair, and she was pregnant.
I didn't doubt my mother's claims so much anymore.
It wasn't until I first heard the name Mark Driscoll that I realized I could get the same feelings.
I'm not piling on here. Any accusations by Driscoll or his church's staff that bloggers and the media are blowing things out of proportion have long been proven ridiculous at this point. There's no reason not to point to him as an example of a false prophet, and I'm not going to take moral cues from a known sleazebag just because he happens to claim the title of "pastor." His downfall -- which was only a matter of time -- was entirely of his own making.
What I am going to say is this: the name Mars Hill -- which, when I lived in North Carolina, referred to either the town or the college (now university) within it -- quickly became something I reviled as I left for college and, at the same time, the Seattle megachurch came to prominence in the fundamentalist movement. And for the life of me, as it was happening, I could not explain to you why.
Oh, sure, I could tell you everything wrong with his theology. I could tell you that I just plain didn't like his style. I could tell you that I found the insanely rapid growth of his church to be suspect, that religion being the "hip new thing" isn't at all Biblical. But I couldn't tell you what it was about Driscoll and Mars Hill that pulled at my soul and told me "something about all of this is very, very wrong."
Now we all know what it was. All of what it was. Lying, cheating, misappropriating and misusing church funds, building the church around himself instead of God, mistreating women and encouraging the men in his congregation to do the same, forced shunning of those who disagreed with him (for Biblically valid reasons, no less)... all the makings of a cult leader without the walls of a compound to surround him.
Driscoll surely isn't the only pastor who has done (or continues to do) these things, he just happens to be the most recent prominent example. This is a problem that has plagued the church for as long as it has existed. You think I'm kidding? Go read some of Paul's letters. He took various churches to task over many of these very things. And yes, Paul even got some things wrong, too. He wasn't perfect, either. None of us are.
The lesson to be taken away from all of this is that if the focus of your church is on its leaders and not God, that church is in for a world of hurt, and it's time for you to find a new one. As I've made clear before here: power does not corrupt. power attracts the corrupt, and just like the world of politics, places of religious leadership can be abused as a means to power. Mark Driscoll is quite possibly the single most glaring example of that fact to come along in my lifetime, and possibly yours, as well.
Run, Rafael, Run!
Surprise, surprise! When you bring in a decidedly political figure as a keynote speaker at your event, said political figure is going to politicize the event!
Rafael "Ted" Cruz, ineligible assumptive 2016 Republican presidential candidate, was booed off stage at a gala organized by a group called In Defense of Christians. Why? Because he took a night that was supposed to be about supporting Christians against persecution in the Middle East and turned it into a political rallying cry in support of Israel. Which, understandably, the people in attendance did not take very kindly to.
And -- and this is the hysterically funny part that's horribly embarassing for Cruz -- both he and the event's organizers attempted to spin it by saying that the people in attendance, the paying donors who bought their way in, were the ones who politicized it by booing Cruz!
See, here's the thing: regardless of your personal feelings on Israel, the event wasn't about Israel. The event was about Christians throughout the whole of the region. To come in (dare I use a "firing all rockets" euphemism?) and start right in with "Christians have no greater ally than Israel," Cruz immediately -- immediately -- politicized the event. He wasn't even trying to be subtle about it, and the crowd were clearly no idiots. Cruz's point was blatantly obvious: if you want to stop persecution of Christians in the Middle East, you must support Israel's political and military efforts.
Which is dead wrong. Even if you do support Israel's political and military efforts, you have to admit that it's not necessary to do so in order to condemn the persecution of Christians in the region. Cruz politicized what was supposed to be, essentially, a humanitarian event. Not that the left doesn't do the same on any number of occassions, but for someone who has publicly condemned the left for playing politics with issues that shouldn't be politicized, that's a little hypocritical, don't you think?
Just another blunder on the Road to the Road to the Road to the White House 2016. The sooner he makes himself politically toxic, the better.
Sum Up Already!
That's... really all I've got for you right now. And these were "short blurbs." Can you imagine how long this thing would have been if I actually had something to say about these topics?