Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Adorable Miss Nichols

She's So Stinkin' Hot
I'm here to confess that I have a devilish lust over ESPN's Rachel Nichols. Whenever I happen to be watching SportsCenter & one of the anchors goes out to Nichols on location, I can't turn away. I'm captivated by her appearance. My eyes lock on the TV screen & I'm not sure I even blink for the entire amount of time her image graces the screen. It's her luscious lips. It's that cute button nose. It's the "come hither" look she's always giving the camera. Perhaps more than anything: it's that mesmerizingly gorgeous red hair. It's perfect! I'm sure that she dyes it & uses a ton of hair spray (never a hair out of place), but it is still a sight to see.

There have been some other "sports hotties" over the years. When I was in college, I heard guys go ga-ga over women like Melissa Stark or Jill Arrington. Even a "strug-a-ling" Joe Willie Namath wanted to lock lips with Suzie Kolber once on-air. Still, none of them wielded the same kind of power over my attention-span as does Rachel Nichols.

Am I the only red-blooded man who enjoys watching this red-headed bombshell?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Coolest Christmas Lights Ever

What would my viral video collection be without THIS masterpiece?!

Science Speaks on Santa

I don't intend to do here what this foolish preacher did, nor what was done to me by a Sunday School Teacher at the age of 5. Right before Christmas in 1985, my Sunday School Teacher told me & the rest of our class that there was NO Santa Claus. I was shocked. I didn't ask Dad, who took me to the Church of Christ (or, in this case, church of Christ). But when I got home, I asked my mother if there was a Santa Claus. I drilled her & drilled her & finally told her what I had heard. She confessed that there was no Santa -- there was no arguing with me at that point.

And so while I was one of the cool kids who knew at an earlier age that there was no Santa while other foolish younglings around me still believed, a beloved part of parenthood senselessly was stolen from my mother. In fact, she told me a month ago that she still resents that woman TO THIS DAY. Alas it is one of the things my mother continues to hate about Churches (or "churches" ... whatever) of Christ.

Nevertheless, I didn't intend to make you sad or to drudge up some story to show you my childhood scars. I've always enjoyed this E-mail that is sent out around Christmas time. Make sure you stick with it until the end. Hillarious.

Is there a Santa Claus? - A Physicist's View

Consider the following:

1) No known species of reindeer can fly. But there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

2) There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.

3) Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical).

This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man- made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

4) The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight.

On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that 'flying reindeer' (see point #1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine.

We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.

5) 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each.

In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second.

Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A New Addition

If you scroll down the left column of this blog, you will notice that I have added a new feature. With the ability to label my blog posts, I have gone back through all 100+ blog entries I've made, labeled them, and linked them by category for your convenience. So, loyal fans, no more E-mails saying, "How can I find all of your 'Lesser Known Scriptures' posts? Your diatribes? Your religious rants? Your sports rants? And all the rest of your meaningless talk about Alabama football or Red Sox Baseball?" Well, now you have an easy way to access it all.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lesser Known Text of the Week

How do we know what we know? This is the quesion of epistemology, which seeks to investigate our bases of knowledge.

The root of knowledge for science is observation: that which you can measure by sight, smell, taste, touch, or sound. Another root of knowledge for the religion/philosophy of Buddhism is intuition: that which is realized in one's everyday walk of life and, perhaps more importantly, that which is learned via meditation.

The root of Christian knowledge, however, is not achieved 1st hand. It is an external form of knowledge: revelation. Paul talks about it in Ephesians 3:2-5:

2Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.

Not that other roots of knowledge are unimportant. There is a sense in which we can know about God through those other ways of learning. Ecclesiastes 3:11b seems to indicate that there is an intuitive way that we can know about God. Romans 1 and Psalms 19 teach us that there is also an observational sense in which we may learn about God. But none of these are as important as that which we can gain by revelation.

Paul is very clear in this passage about how revelation works. It is, first & foremost, a gift from God ("the administration of God's grace ..."). It is to be shared rather than hoarded ("... that was given to me for you."). Contrary to popular belief in some circles of historical-critical philosophy, we can understand what God revealed by reading and comprehending what Paul & other inspired writers have recorded ("In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight ..."). And God revealed his message to a select few individuals by the Spirit.

I believe that it is imperative that we very carefully & deliberately consider what it is that we rely on as our base of knowledge. What do we draw upon for wisdom? I hope that it isn't merely intuition & observation. While those are good, we have a source of knowledge that transcends those. Let us not ignore it, nor be ignorant of it.

I've heard other people say this before, and I am finding it to be true myself. The older I get, the more respect I have for the Word of God.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Hot Button Issue

You know ... you go to college, and you think that you'll learn just about everything you'll need to know about how to be a good minister. You take Bible classes. You read books & articles. You listen to professors & other experienced ministers share as much pastoral wisdom & knowledge as they can possibly transmit. And you even go out & gain a little ministry experience of your own. And after all of that, you begin to think that maybe you've heard it all ... perhaps even seen most everything that could possibly happen with your own eyes. That is until you get surprised.

The lesson today, faithful readers, is this: Never (Ever!) underestimate any given Church's history.

I thought I had a pretty good grip on what the hot button issues were in Churches of Christ today: women's roles & worship styles. That's it, right? Tread carefully around those fiery topics, as well as other long-standing CoC traditional issues (baptism, spiritual gifts, et. al.), and you'll be OK. Right?

Little did I know that this Sunday the hot button issue would be 1st Peter 5:5a, which reads:

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.

Pretty straight forward, right? Not much need for Gram-chord here, is there? It says what it means, and it means what it says.

Until one of the younger men in our church (a man under 30 who is looked up to as a leader ... let's call him "Rick") spoke up and said, "I believe that this is true ... UNLESS the 'Elder person' isn't living a Holy Spirit-inspired, cruciform, Godly lifestyle." This sparked the beginning of what I thought was a good discussion on leadership, discipleship, and character.

So when Rick finished his rather long-winded rant regarding elder persons who are unqualified to receive his "submission," and as the discussion was beginning to reach a lull, I decided to push back a little. I roughly said, "Boy ... that sounds like cut & run to me. I think Peter here is assuming that the older persons are faithful. And there are faithful older persons that we should look up to." And I really sort of thought that this statement might fulfill the void left by Rick & bring balance to the discussion. Was I wrong.

Rick once led a vibrant youth group at this small congregation. However, the group dried up as the kids graduated & moved on with no other kids coming up to replace them. Rick told the story of a time when he very visibly & openly tried to bridge a gap between the older & the younger in this church. And when his attempt to do this failed miserably on account of neglect by the older ones in the church, his attempt to bring two age groups completely backfired -- making the youth resentful of their elders, and for a seemingly good & somewhat justified reason.

And he aired this dirty laundry in Bible Class -- in front of God, the old people, and everybody!! I literally thought this was about to explode in my face. I recount at least two episodes in my ministry life where I've had a situation blow up in my face -- that is, in public. (Kellar, you were there for both. Heart-breaking, horrific, and utterly depressing are those memories ...). I thought I was getting ready to add a third.

Rick came dangerously close to tears as he recounted the story for all of us. It was an emotional story ... a story which explains a lot about why this church was in the sorry condition it was when I arrived on the scene. (Not that I've been Mr. Clean, and everything is spick & span now at the Lynn Haven Church of Christ. But the Church is at least moving in the right direction now.) But just when I thought this might turn into an impassioned, acrimonious storm of an argument, the climate completely changed. And the rest of 1st Peter 5:5 seemed to kick in:

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

    "God opposes the proud
      but gives grace to the humble."

Thankfully, I was granted the last word on this issue. As Rick remained bold in his stance about his unwillingness to follow un-Christ-like elders, I paused, and this is what I said:

"I hear what you're saying, Rick. I really do. ([Interrupting myself] ... and as I told him later one-on-one ... I mean, it is EXTREMELY telling about a void in elders as leaders, after all, that one of the most respected leaders in our church is under the age of 30.) And I think that for the part of the picture you are outlining, you are dead-on correct. Here in 1st Peter 5, Peter is putting the burden of leadership upon the elders. The onus is on them. And they need to live up to the calling God has placed upon them.

"It's similar to one of my own personal hot button issues: modesty in female dress. Oftentimes, all that is said about this is that women need to dress more modestly. And we place the burden of leadership in this issue on women. We put the onus on THEM! And then we turn around in our Bible classes and, with a straight face, talk about MALE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP in our assemblies. Are you kidding me?!


"As men, and as the male spiritual leaders, the onus ought to be on US! We need to learn the meaning of self-control when it comes to lust & sexual temptation. And you know what? When we do that, we won't have a problem with immodest dress anymore in our assemblies. Why? Because women follow our lead. Women dress immodestly because they know they can attract our attention. If we, corporately, as men & leaders, with great focus deliberately give our attention to modest women & withdraw our attention from immodest women, women will INHERENTLY WANT to dress to modest standards. The burden of leadership falls to the men here.

(To interrupt what I actually said this morning, I also feel the need to respond to what I already know what some of you are saying inside your heads. 'That's COMPLETELY unrealistic, Philip, to expect all men to control their eyes.' I COMPLETELY disagree. If you say that's unrealistic, then I say, 'Where's your faith?' If you say that's unrealistic, then what Gospel is it exactly that you believe in? If it's not a Gospel of transformation, than it is NOT 'Good News.' Boys do not always have to remain boys. They can grow up. And that's my 2 cents on THAT.)

"So, in that sense Rick, I agree with you. The onus is on the elders. And they need to step up."

"However, I am EXTREMELY hesitant to go where Scripture does not go & say that I will not submit ungodly elders in the church. We simply don't have a clear example to follow here; it seems to me all we have is our sanctified wisdom, judgment, and common sense.

"Peter has spoken in this letter about submission in many ways. He talks about citizens being submissive to our governments. He talks about slaves being submissive to their masters. He talks here about younger folks being submissive to elders. And he also talks about wives being submissive to husbands.

"That latter is sort of interesting. We know that, according to Ephesians 5, wives should submit to their husbands & husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. Should wives continue to be submissive to their husbands even in a physically, verbally, and/or sexually violent relationship? I, for one, don't think so. But how far does that line even go? When you can you call it and say, "That's abusive." I'm gonna argue that THAT line is WAY, WAY out there.

"Look at Abraham & Sarah. Abraham, knowing the beauty of his wife, cowardly folded like a tent at the face of adversity. Instead of standing up for the honor of his wife, he claimed her only as his sister so as to save his own neck. Now ... was Abraham loving his wife as Christ loved the church? NOT EVEN CLOSE! Not even in the same ballpark. He abdicated his responsibility as a husband here. But did Sarah? Do we have a record of her objection? No. She continued to submit to her husband EVEN in the face of the terrible trial of sleeping with a man who was not her husband & who she didn't even know! I'm telling you, folks: THAT is courage.

"You know what makes so many marriages go awry? The husband sees that his wife isn't respecting him & submitting as much as she should. So he gets up on that cross a little less. And so the wife begins to notice that he's not doing as much for her anymore, and so she begins to respect & submit to him even less. And you can see how this spirals further & further downward.

"What saves marriages are spouses who are willing to give at times even when nothing is given in return. And you know what? That spouse who has been derelict in his-or-her responsibilities will eventually notice. Good deeds inspire more good deeds. If as husbands & wives you continue to plant good seeds despite your partner's response, you'll eventually see a bumper crop.

"What is true of those relationships is true here, too. We can either spiral downward or spiral upward. It takes patience. It means sometimes putting up with a lot of grief. But either we're investing in mutual respect, or we aren't. And that is at the crux of what Peter is saying here in the latter part of verse 5 -- "clothe yourselves with humility toward each other." Too often, us younger folks are tempted to believe the lie that we can do without older folks & their "wisdom." And I imagine that some of the older ones here are tempted similarly to think that there is nothing to be learned from younger folks & very little that we can contribute aside from being energetic. But even in the face what appears to be ungodliness by our counterpart(s), just like our example Sarah, we must courageously continue to fulfill the commission God has passed down to us."

By reading the faces of the crowd & gauging feedback after class, I sense that these words were well-received. I'm not sure I dis-armed a time-bomb. I don't think a bomb was ready to go off there in the first place. But it sure felt like it at one point.

Nevertheles, just when you think you've got a handle on what "the issues" are, God can surprise you. Ministers: you CANNOT invest too much time in learning the history of your congregation, history of "the church" in your city, area, & state, and as well the personal history of as many of your members as possible. I know that after today I am even more tuned into & interested in learning as much history as I can absorb.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

'A Few Minutes' ... on Hyperbole

I wrote the following and then thought to myself, "Look at me ... I'm ranting like an old man." So, if you want a good chuckle, read the following while imagining these words are being read by 60 Minutes Correspondent Andy Rooney.

I'm growing tired of the use, or rather, the OVER-use hyperbole in everyday life.

I suppose the straw that broke the camel's back was a red carpet interview I watched Angelina Jolie give regarding her new movie. In that interview, she was asked a question about Robert De Niro and passingly called him "brilliant." Brilliant? Really. I wonder what is his IQ ...

Words like "brilliant," or "genius," are thrown around too often if you ask me. Such words should be reserved for the few precious souls who are truly such. Or you could tune into Sean Hannity's or Rush Limbaugh's radio shows & find out what it is the Democrats are doing right now to be "complete morons" or "idiotic." Too many songs, movies, or TV shows are referred to as "awesome" or "amazing." Are they? Really? Too many rising athletes are called "incredible talents," "athletic freaks," or "phenoms." I'm sure that those athletes are good at what they do, but do they exhibit the "once-in-a-lifetime" kind of athleticism to warrant such elaborate language? We have too many discussions about how the latest athletic achievement is the greatest of all-time. Only one athlete or feat can be the greatest -- they can't all be. And don't get me started on the kinds of events upon which we slap the word "miracle."

While we are at it, can we limit the amount of times we can use modifying adverbs such as "very" or "really." "That was a very, very good blog entry." Or, "I really enjoyed that blog entry." They have a salary cap in professional sports. Couldn't we have a vocabulary cap in everyday life?

I'm not sure what motivates people toward exaggeration. Have you ever been around a group of people talking about that one time they got REALLY sick? Or the worst storm they've ever witnessed? Or the loudest sports stadium they've ever attended? Ever noticed how each person feels a strong urge to top the story told before him or her? What is it about our humanity that makes us embellish?

I hope that I'm not raining on anyone's parade. I get excited about things, too. And sometimes, the English language doesn't adequately service to the point of painting a good enough picture to describe my level of excitement. And so I'm tempted to exaggerate. Nevertheless, the over-use of hyperbole, to me, betrays a sense of ignorance. I just wish that we would all choose our words more carefully. And when we speak, I wish that we would speak with a greater sense of perspective.

And that's my diatribe of the week.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cry Out to Jesus

Today I preached Blind Bartimaeus.

I think that if there is one thing that stands out in this passage it is Bartimaeus' persistence. Despite being told to hush up, Bartimaeus continued to cry out to the one who could bring healing & mercy upon him. And Jesus rewards this man's persistence.

We see this not only in the life of Jesus, but also in the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 18, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray with persistence and to not lose heart. When Jesus is teaching about prayer in Luke 11, he instructs us to be bold in an insistent & persistent kind of way.

There in Luke 11, Jesus says to "ask, seek, and knock." "Knock" is an especially telling command to me. So often, when we knock, we do it in a way so as to not be too disturbing. It seems as if Jesus saying that we should be the complete opposite with our prayers. Shake the door down! Make some noise! Wake up God! Be Bold! Stand in the gap & let your cares be known to God.

It's important to me in the story of Blind Bartimaeus, also, that it says that "Jesus stopped." Jesus has big important things to do. This is the story RIGHT before he is about to go into Jerusalem. He's got a lot on his plate. But because of one persistent beggar ...

Jesus stopped!

And isn't that encouraging? It's so easy to think of my concerns as petty & insignificant. "Ehhhh, I don't need to bother God with that. It's not important. Other people have more troubles than I do; I'm so blessed! I'd come off as selfish if I ask God for that." Yet, the truth is, Christ cares for each one of us as if there was only one to care for. He leaves the 99 for the 1. He sweeps the house for the lost coin. In the middle of his procession from Jericho, he STOPS ...... and shows compassion to a blind man.

Don't be afraid to bring your cares & concerns before the Lord as if you're some reprobate before a judge. Feel free to open up before a Father who loves you. Cry Out to Jesus ...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

December Potpourri

I'm feeling pensive & charged up tonight. So, faithful blog-readers, tonight I'm staying up a little later to deliver you some of my random thoughts. Though my thoughts are probably not nearly as funny as Bob's, as catchy & hip as Lloyd's, or as deep as Matthew's, alas, at the least they are uniquely mine.

  • Alabama is about to hire a new football coach. This consumes the conversation of my family right now. When I call to check on my chemo-therapy-saturated mother, and her sister (Aunt Judy to me) or mother (Mama Jean) answers, before I am allowed to speak to my sick mother, I am forced to give the latest update on the Tide's coaching search. Our family is a crazy crew. Seriously. Mama Jean calls me often not to check to see how my love life is, but to talk 'Bama football. This reputation is so well-known among some of my old Harding buddies that last year our fantasy baseball league was named "Philip's Gramma Loves Bama."

    On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike in the Morning were naturally discussing Thanksgiving. And the question of the hour was, "Will football be on during Thanksgiving Dinner at your house?" They went back & forth, and one of the Mike's said, "I just can't imagine sitting around, eating a fine meal, and listening to Grandma say what she's thankful for ... only to have to hush her up because there's a big 3rd down play." You see, at our Thanksgiving Dinner, it would be Grandma hushing up the person giving thanks to check out that 3rd down play.

    Anyways, Alabama's new guy looks to be West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez. If I had to guess, the press conference will be Friday morning in Tuscaloosa. I couldn't be happier. When it comes to the people who are credited with being the innovators of the spread offense, it is "Coach Rod" & Randy Walker (former Northwestern coach who passed away this summer). Urban Meyer seems to have a lot of "media cred" for being a spread guru as well, but when you talk to coaches, they credit Rodriguez & Walker.

    I've got high hopes.

  • We're studying Acts on Wednesday nights at church. Walked through Chapter 7 tonight. Two things jumped out at me:

    • The early church seems to have been REALLY unskilled & uninterested with playing the political game. The people in positions of power seemed to know how to manipulate the political system, but the early church didn't. Nevertheless, the early church continued to win people over & grow. Interesting.

    • Anyone ever notice how Peter's sermon & Stephen's sermon end very similarly? Peter ends his by saying, "God has made this Jesus both Lord & Christ -- the one YOU CRUCIFIED." Cut! Bam! Stephen ends, "You betrayed & murdered him (Jesus)." Cut! Bam! The text says that both audiences were pricked at the heart, though different Greek words are used. And that's where the similarities end. Peter gets to baptize 3,000; Stephen gets intimately aquainted with some of the more hand-held sized geological formations of Jerusalem.

      What made the difference between Peter & Stephen?

  • I wrote about my dream vacation today on a group blog that I'm a part of. You may find that interesting.

  • By far, the coolest 2 year-old I've ever met is Corbin Cherry. He's the son of my friend, Daniel Cherry. That little guy is so much fun to be around. I got to hang out with him a little Tuesday as I helped D.P. (Daniel Paul) move some stuff into his new house. Corbin gave me the tour of his new digs, starting with his bed-room. We ate lunch together, along with D.P., Rachael, & Anna. I then got to show Corbin around my pick-up truck for the first time. He liked the sound of the flow's. ;-)

    Everytime I'm around that boy, I think, "I've got to get me one of those." That, and I'm constantly impressed with the parenting skills of the Cherry family. If there was a way for the Cherry's to raise everyone in the world, I'm convinced we would achieve Utopia.

  • One of my favorite verses in the Bible: Psalms 37:25.

      "I was young and now I am old,
        yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
        or their children begging bread."

  • And finally, I want to commend to you the discipline of memorizing Scripture. There is so much value in memorizing the Bible I can't even begin to describe it. My favorite part: I'm never bored anymore. If I'm sitting in a waiting room, waiting in line, bathing, or cooking, I can go over memory work. I'm in the process of memorizing the book of James with a group of buddies. We're into chapter 2. You gain insights into passages & books at large via memorization that you would never be clued into by casually reading over the same portion of text.

    Part of my love for this, I think, is that I think it first my personality. I've always struggled with reading big portions of Scripture. I've only read the Bible through in a year only once. I even tried a read-the-Bible-through-in-3-years plan -- still too much for me. I've always liked to take smaller sections of Scripture & just ruminate over them. If you're like me, then memorization is definitely for you!

    If you have a group of prayer buddies, recommend this to your guys. Or if you don't have a group of guys, get some together & sell them on this idea. Pick a book. Or for bigger books, pick a section (e.g. Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' last words [John 14-17], etc.). Other ideas I would recommend are any of the Pastorals (1st and 2nd Timothy & Titus), Philippians, 1st Peter, and Jonah.

That's all folks. Thanks for tuning in.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I talked to my Mom this morning, and she gagged & became nauseous while we were on the phoen together.

Horrible drugs these chemotherapeutic medicines are. It really sounds like an oxymoron: "chemo"-"therapy." This drug is a poison in your veins that is designed to seek & destroy life -- cancerous life that doesn't belong in your body. And in the process, it saps you of life, to the point that you hardly feel alive. Nasty drug this chemotherapy is.

It's tough watching someone you love be so helpless & in such difficulty. One good thing is that it brings you closer together. My friend Daniel & I were recalling how the President of Harding University, Dr. David Burks, and his wife, Leah, dealt with the trauma of chemotherapy. Daniel, who had a special relationship with the Burks', marveled at how the process brought the Burks' closer together. He said that Dr. Burks especially began to appreciate his wife more.

I feel a little of the same way. Mom & I have a trying relationship. Partly because we have such divergent worldview's and we both happen to be pretty hard-headed. Nevertheless, this process has helped us put those differences aside for a little while & to cherish one another.

We've only scratched the surface of this chemotherapy treatment. Still at least three & a half months for us to go. And I can see already why they call this a "fight." And when somebody dies, it is that they "lost their battle with cancer." It is a war, and the cancer patient's body is the battle ground. Ever seen a nation look very good after a war? Not quite. I have a new appreciation for cancer survivors: You people are brave & strong.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Talking Heads

Alabama's name has been rubbed in the dirt this past week, especially by ESPN. It's because Alabama fired Mike Shula. The same Mike Shula that had ONE winning season in four tries. The same Mike Shula who had a losing record in the SEC, including a 2-14 combined record against Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, & Auburn. This is ESPN, who flamed Notre Dame for firing Tyrone Willingham "too soon" & has since turned around and embraced what Charlie Weiss has done for the Fighting Irish.

Sometimes, sports-writers & the ESPN talking heads turn out to be right. However, as the following article proves, often times they have no earthly idea what they're talking about. The last paragraph, and especially the last line, are particularly amusing. Enjoy!

Carroll's hiring is another mistake for troubled USC

The Sporting News
Jan 1, 2001
by Tom Dienhart

Dear Mike Garrett:

I think you made a mistake hiring Pete Carroll as USC's next coach. As Trojans athletics director, you needed to hit a home run with this hire. This looks more like a scratch single.

I know. Carroll might end up being grand, but the perception in the here and now is what matters for a program that's on the wane. And that perception isn't good.

Some might compare Carroll to Paul Hackett, the coach he replaces. That might not be fair, but you can't blame them. Carroll is an NFL guy. He's a defensive tactician who hasn't coached in college since 1083, when he was an assistant at Pacific. Hackett was an offensive expert who hadn't coached in college since 1092 when he landed the USC job before the 1998 season. At least Hackett's most recent college stint at the time was as head coach at Pittsburgh.

Unlike Hackett, Carroll proved he can be a successful head coach, leading the New England Patriots to a pair of winning seasons and playoff berths. He's also a super-enthusiastic guy. But Carroll doesn't know college football.

Oh, he's saying the fight things. You know, stuff like, "If you can understand the process in the NFL ... in the draft process, it's all about watching players in college, I don't consider myself unfamiliar with the college game at all."

I'm sure Carroll, like Hackett, knows his X's and O's. The problem is the college game Carroll doesn't know. It was the same one Hackett had trouble grasping. I'm talking about things like academic issues, recruiting / and dealing with alumni.

Is Caroll up for whispering sweet nothings into the ears of know-it-all 18-year-olds? Is Carroll up for spending more time speaking at booster events than breaking down film? Is Carroll up for fans demanding to know why USC can't dominate the Pac-10 anymore?

Carroll needs a positive start and would help himself by retaining defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and running backs coach Kennedy Pola, a pair of Hackett assistants who red-line their intensity meters.

I know, Mike. You say, "Average Joe doesn't know football." Believe what you want, but Average Joe has reason to doubt your hiring skills and thinks you are part of the problem. Hackett was 19-18 at USC, and his last team finished last in the Pac-10, the first t/me that ever has happened. He was your man after you mishandled the termination of John Robinson after the 1997 season.

Your job might be riding on Carroll's performance. Your non-communicative ways cause people to make conclusions that might not be tree about you and your program. And you didn't help yourself a few years ago when you gave a "pep talk" in the locker room.

It was hard for you to believe people didn't fall over themselves to coach your beloved USC. But it's not that good of a job because it's not 1975 anymore. The 85-scholarship limit has made college football an equal-opportunity sport in which schools such as Oregon State and Virginia Tech have BCS dreams.

Also working against USC are substandard facilities-all the way from Heritage Hall to the antiquated weight room. And the L.A. lifestyle isn't tot everyone, especially not for assistant coaches. Housing prices are out of sight, To live in a decent area, coaches must drive an hour to and from work. Their days are long enough as it is.

Oregon State's Dennis Erickson and Oregon's Mike Bellotti are the biggest names who sniffed around the USC job but didn't really pursue it. San Diego Chargers coach Mike Riley would have been a good hire. He served as Oregon State's coach from 1997-98 and was USC's offensive coordinator before that, but he couldn't make up his mind. When he continued to drag his feet, you grabbed Carroll, who was out of work last season.

Contrast that to the job search at Alabama. Marquee names such as Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer and Miami's Butch Davis seriously considered taking the job. In the end, the Tide got TCU coach Dermis Franchione, one of the hottest coaches in the college game.

Dennis Franchione, USC Coach. Would've had a nice ring to it.