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Doce me faces voluntarem tuam quia Deus meus es tu

Sunday, January 30, 2005
Cecil Hurt has a barnburner of a piece on the trial of Logan Young.
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Check out these photo essays of Iraqis voting in a free election. Nothing is ever perfect, but this was worth the sacrifice. This is worth the high oil prices. This was worth the brave and noble deaths of American, British, Australian, Italian, Spanish, Polish and other international forces. This will reverberate throughout the Arab world. Reuters went so far to suggest that overall turnout could be as high as 72%. Hard work remains to solidify complete security, but my goodness! What an amazing day.

Drudge quotes Senator Kerry on Meet the Press: Kerry: 'We Should Not Overhype Election'.... We should not overhype Senator Kerry's use to the people of this nation. What a classless old windbag. (Note: Here's something of a link from the Corner. I'll try to find a transcript later today.

Cheers to the Iraqi people. Let us support them now with all the effort we can muster, and let us offer our encouragement to the people yearning for freedom in Iran, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the rest of Asia and Africa.
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Saturday, January 29, 2005
Like Hugh Hewitt, I am a Christian who does not consider himself a God-blogger. I focus mostly on politics and culture, with some sports thrown in. I feel that my faith in Christ reverberates through my work, but I don't approach my work in a ministry-oriented context the way, say, Mark Roberts might. And that's ok; there's plenty of room for both views, and both views have something serious to contribute. But as a Christian, I think there are some issues that do not deserve silence. Michael Spencer is a very talented, at times controversial, blogger. He is calling on the Christians in the blogosphere to take up a very important task.

Call out Joel Osteen.

Osteen is quickly becoming the most recognized Protestant pastor in the country. The fact that his Gospel-free preaching is so popular is most troubling. I would argue, like Spencer, that to the Christian - not the conservative , not the Republican, but to the Christian - this is a far more pressing issue than anything political. In fact, Osteen's message is all the more dangerous because he is not involved in any political matters. He is, essentially, a nonpartisan pastor. Spencer's piece is a clarion call.

Are we up to it?
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My colleague Drew over at Darn Floor is talking about one absurd aspect of the drug war. Absurdity and the war on drugs. That's like talking about excellent and the New England Patriots.

And yes, I did refer to Drew as a colleague.

Stay tuned!
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George Will on Larry Summers. Hat Tip: Vodkapundit


I wonder what part of Will's column doesn't jive with Hugh Hewitt and John Mark Reynolds?
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During the Logan Young trial this week, former Georgia head coach and current ESPN analyst Jim Donnan was accused of offering Lynn Lang a handful of cash for Albert Means.

Donnan is denying the allegation.
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Soxblog has some thoughts on Peggy Noonan (HT: TKS), as does Larry Kudlow.

Here's what I want to know: How does someone who used some of the most lofty rhetoric this side of Lord of the Rings during the Reagan administration get away with criticizing GWB?
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I've been watching news reports all morning of the early voting in Iraq. The media seems tense, but among those on the ground in Iraq, there is a sense of excitement. This is tremendous.

Hugh Hewitt has a lot to say; the boss is right.

And about this GodBlogCon - sounds like a good time. Maybe next year.
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Paul Finebaum has a great take on the Logan Young trial in his column this morning.
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Thursday, January 27, 2005
There's more drama unfolding in the Logan Young case up in Memphis. Stay tuned to The Tuscaloosa News (registration required) for more information. There's a great interview on Paul Finebaum's website (or it should be soon) with John L. Carroll, the Dean of the Cumberland School of Law.

It's interesting in that Carroll suggests that perhaps the charges against Young were filed because the federal prosecutor felt pressure to do proceed.

Pressure?

A sixty year-old man is facing jailtime because the federal government felt pressure? That's not justice. It's pandering. Still, the whole case is looking good for Tommy Gallion and Ronnie Cottrell. Why? Regardless of Logan Young's outcome, if it is established that the NCAA overlooked the involvement of Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas and Lord knows who else...it's a good thing for Team Gallion.

And here's hoping that Roy Adams gets hauled in front of a judge again, and this time under oath.
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The Internet Monk has some thoughts on the James Dobson issue. I'm not in complete agreement, but it's an interesting opinion to which I'm very sympathetic. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people felt the same way.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Yep, about as ridiculous as buying rings for your team as some sort of consolation prize.

I don't think there are any 1966 Alabama rings floating around, nor any Penn State 1994 rings.

Memo to Tommy Tuberville: Shug Jordan would have never, ever done that sort of thing.

EDIT: Originally this post implied that Penn State was undefeated sans a national championship in 1993. My roommate, who is far more of a sports almanac than I shall ever be, has since corrected my error.
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That darn Andrew Sullivan!

Always confusing rank partisanship and "Help! Our party is dying and we'll do anything to save it!" cynicism with a genuine commitment to decency.
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Middle Class Mom is showing some love regarding my Twixters piece. I particularly liked this segment:

"It takes a while to get acclimated to this, to find the other eligible folks in your environment, form bonds, and determine if any of them are worthy friends, much less spousal material. I wasn't avoiding marriageable men when I got out of school - I just didn't work with any. The DH and I didn't meet until I was 28, started dating about 18 months later (I had already bought my first house), and then married, a month after I turned 31."


This is where I would like to question Dr. Mohler. I have immense respect for the man, but at times he (and others who makes this argument) seems to not deal with the real world. Let's propose I graduate from college at twenty-three. I move away to get my MBA. That means a new environment, new colleagues, new friends, new church, etc. By the time I get fully entrenched, it's time to move again. I graduate with my MBA at twenty-five. I'm pushing twenty-six when I move again, this time to follow a nice job that pays me upwards of six figures. I'm not yet twenty-six years old and making nearly 100K. (I'm imagining here, obviously) I'm in a new city and I don't know anyone. Most of my coworkers are older than me. It takes time to find new friends, new social circles, a new church, etc.

It's not unreasonable that a perseon following such a career trajectory would be pushing thirty by the time they get married. Things would be similar for a student in medical or law school, perhaps even graduate students with scholarly pursuits. And as far as marriage among fellow students, it just ain't happening. Even couples who date while they are fellow students often don't have time for that sort of serious relationship. (Perhaps this explains some aspects of the hooking-up phenomenon?)

Another quip:

"Matt also makes the point that high schools don't adequately challenge students - specifically, students don't get a broad enough education to enable them to say, "hey, THAT's what I want to do", which would help them enter college with more of an idea of what degree plan to pursue."


I think the same would apply to many colleges, though in the reverse. By that I mean that students graduate from high school not knowing that they want do, and they arrive in college where they can do everything, but they are never steered in a strong direction. Many college students have parents who did not attend college, or attended during a time when things were not so...loose. Consequently, students rely on university employees. Oh, sure, there's many a fine professor who can help guide a student, but have you ever been a freshman forced to have your schedule approved by one of those droids in the Dean's office? You know, the ones who simply read off requirements from a book and know nothing about you? I could probably find a few seventh-year seniors over on the Strip tonight who owe their college careers and their poisoned livers to those fine folks.

Again, I concede much in this area to Mohler and others who share his position. Yet there are many, many practical points that they are not addressing. I agree with their worldview, but the question they do not seem to ask is, "How can we apply this worldview in light of the current social, cultural and economic landscape?" Once they ask, they might find the answers are not so simple as they would think.
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Suing someone over some cover songs?

You gotta be kidding me.
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The trial of disassociated University of Alabama booster Logan Young began in Memphis Monday. Check out this post at Fanblogs for some information, and right now your best source of news will be The Tuscaloosa News. I plan on providing as much information on this case as I can, so stay tuned.

In a few days I should be able to provide even more content in a more...communal...environment, so keep your eyes and ears open for that as well.

This case has flown under the radar of the national media, but it could have very strong ramifications for the fate of Tommy Gallion and Ronnie Cottrell's case against the NCAA in Tuscaloosa this summer. If I were Miles Brand or Phil Fulmer, I'd be watching very, very closely.

The blog issue comes back, though: why hasn't the mainstream media done more on this story? And why don't any major sports writers have blogs?
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Tuesday, January 25, 2005
I started in on a post below about my disagreements with all the fuss about the Twixters phenomenon. To start, let me say a thing or two about myself. I'm twenty-three. I went to a public high school. I grew up Southern Baptist. I'm not ashamed by either fact; I do think that those experiences inform my views on this matter. I am also very, very single.

Having said that, there are a few things I can't defend. I can't defend thirty-somethings who make six figures and live like eighteen year olds. Friends was a great show, but that's no way to live. (Incidentally, when the show began, the characters were just out of college. The real problems for me were the later seasons, when they hit the big 3-0 and still lived like misfits.) I won't defend anyone still living in their parents' basement, Mallrats-style, without any job prospects or serious hope for advancement in life.

Having said that, and with all due respect to Tim Challies and Al Mohler, I will say that the "clueless" was perhaps too harsh a word. I do assert, however, that institutions like school and church, once counted on to help in raising strong children, have failed in the last few decades to produce mature young adults. It's hard to know where to start with specific examples. Let's try a few:

- Sports. Sure, if you're a starter on the high school football team, you have to play hard. But for every town full of sports fanatics, there's another league full of young men and women who aren't taught to compete. They're taught to have fun. Winning and losing don't matter; it's about a good time.

- There has been much written about the spiritually immaturity of many of evangelical youth groups. While my own experience in high school was pretty good, it's fair to say that many leave for college spiritually immature. If the soul is immature, it often follows that the intellect and emotions are as well. I realize there are exceptions, but I am speaking here in general. For more on this topic, see Michael Spencer's invaluable Internet Monk site.

- Many schools, most notably public schools, have been awash with outcome-based nonsense for a long time. That doesn't lead to mature children. Look, we're not challenged in school anymore. There is little adversity in the classroom, and with Title IX fanatics running around, there's less and less on the field or the court. It's made us soft.

- Certainly we can blame the media here, as well, but somebody bought all the televisions and Playstations. (Mmmm....Playstation...) And it usually isn't the nine-year-old whipping out the American Express.

- Revisiting the point about school: look at college. It is nearly impossible to get a job nowadays with simply a B.A. in any liberal arts. If you're into business or engineering, you need some graduate work or else you hit the financial ceiling pretty quick. The point there is that it's not always easy to get married out of college, what with all your friends moving here and there to go to grad school, med school, law school or chase the MBA. Our lives are more mobile than before. Further on this point, a problem arises in this area when high schools do not adequately challenge students. Many, many students enter college with little idea about the direction they want their life to take. These decisions cannot be made in a vacuum. A tougher, yet broader, high school curriculum would force students to work hard while exploring wide areas of interest. Thus, talents and skills are revealed so that they might be tuned more finely in college. Otherwise, and I would argue this is the case; students spend more time in college trying to figure things out. Of course, colleges are often so bent on letting students be "free" that they present no boundaries. Consequently students are free to just muddle along for four or five or six years before being handed a diploma, all the while clueless about what's going to happen next. I'm not trying to suggest we give the Dean a copy of our life's ambitions, but again, a better-refined environment would produce students with a bit more maturity.

I'm not trying to make excuses; our society is full of people who are shunning marriage and any sign of a mature life. I agree very much with Dr. Mohler's assertion that this lifestyle is dangerous to the fabric of society. At the same time, as a member of this generation, I have seen in the lives of friends and colleagues (not myself, thankfully) the outcome of this institutional failure. I am not saying this behavior is justified at all; I am simply trying to establish that there are many root causes for this behavior. It often seems that many forget this.

A closing example. When this story came out, Rush took this story and ran with it, in all the predictable directions. The whole rant was pretty boring, so I turned it off. Today Rush reads a story about parents who are learning that their kids are disrespectful, and perhaps the practice of spanking should come back into play. (Was it ever out of vogue? My parents didn't get that memo) Rush then bemoaned the lack of discipline in today's youth. Well, good heavens! Could he not put two and two together? He gripes that today's kids are not well behaved and properly mannered, then gripes that they grow up to be immature. I would expect more of the Maha-Rushie; you'd think he could connect the dots.

So that's that. My feeble attempt to defend the slacker generation. Questions? Comments? Holla at me. I'll talk about it a bit more, but suffice to say, our education system needs some work and some parents need to step up their game.
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Challies and Al Mohler are both talking up the recent Time article on Twixters, bemoaning that so many twenty-somethings are delaying marriage. I haven't the time right now to go into their arguments, but here's a preview.

They're right in principle, but clueless in practice. While my generation and the one just before me are both lazy and irresponsible, the non-family institutions responsible for preparing us for adulthood - church and school - have done a miserable job of it. We've been treated like kids all our lives and now guess what? We're acting like it.

I ain't trying to tell you it's right. I'm just trying to explain why it happens.

I'll do more with it
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Monday, January 24, 2005
Check out Andrew Sullivan's comments on the Nicollete Sheridan skit. Word has leaked that John Madden was originally intended to have the Terrell Owens role in the now infamous skit. But is Sullivan really this out of touch? With Madden in the role, it would have still been unnecessary and disrespectful to the game. It would have been less offensive with Madden simply because he is a lovable old man. I mean - who doesn't like John Madden? On any kind of prudish, moral level, Madden's presence would have made it hard to take seriously.

Tony Dungy - a black man, Andrew - was offended because he knew the skit played into every stereotype of the black man as a "playa." All that was missing was Terrell Owens moaning "Damn Baby!" and everyone under a certain age would know that Owens was playing up the Barry White/Isaac Hayes stereotype. Sullivan is too happy to preach against the racism of American society, while he completely misunderstands the issue.

What a colossal and ignorant bore.
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Sunday, January 23, 2005
In the back-and-forth between Peter Robinson and Jonah Goldberg, Robinson made a comment in this post that I found particularly interesting. Says Robinson:

P.S. Sorry if I sounded pompous in citing the objections to the speech of WFB, Peggy, and myself. What I meant was not that the three of us represent some sort of Grand Council of Rhetoricians, but that if the three of us found the inaugural address grating, lots of others are very likely to have done so as well--and that if a president grates on his own supporters, something in his rhetoric is likely awry.


Emphasis mine. This is revealing on one level, troublesome one another. First, it's revealing that Robinson assumes that many of the President's supporters are on the same wavelength as Peggy Noonan, William F. Buckley and himself. A handful of National Review readers might think so, but as for the rest of the country: hardly. I'd go so far as to say that maybe - maybe - a quarter of the President's votes came from people who read such publications. They probably know who Noonan and WFB are, and they might read an op-ed piece, particularly if Rush or Hannity has referred them to it. But do they give the President's speech that much thought? Not at all. Your average Bush voter heard that speech and cheered, because they heard words like "ownership society" and a lot of talk about liberty and peace and freedom and security. It is unlikely that Robinson is alone in his thinking, and I find it very revealing that many inside the Beltway have such a profound misunderstanding of the bulk of their party.

At the same time, I find it troubling that so many Bush voters remain only vaguely aware of intellectual conservatism. Sure, they watch Hannity & Colmes and check out George Will's syndicated pieces, but that's about where it stops. Now, let me say that I realilze many, many folks just don't have the time to read each issue of all the major conservative publications. Nor do they have the time or interest in spending an hour a day perusing the blogosphere. But consider this: there's been a great deal of discussion about God-blogs, especially on the part of Hugh Hewitt and the Evangelical Outpost. I sympathize here, because while I write primarily about politics and culture, I am a Christian and certainly this takes a role in my blogging. Yet how many God-blogs, especially the political ones, noticed that William F. Buckley and Peggy Noonan - two giants in the conservative movement - took issue with the President's speech?

I've talked before about how I'm bothered that the major conservative publications don't have many writers from the red states. Nor do they have many evanglicals. In fact, I can only think of two - Hugh Hewitt and Fred Barnes, both at the Weekly Standard. Hugh's talked a lot about influence, and Joe Carter's doing a great job gathering traffic for the God-blogs, but we should not limit ourselves to the blogosphere. There will always be a place for conservative publications like the Standard, NR and Commentary. At what point will evangelicals make a concerted effort to be a full-fledged part of intellectual conservatism? Not just the blogs or social activism of the Dobson variety. Both of these things are good. Indeed, they have become crucial to party mobilization. Yet, if as they claim, evangelicals have something to offer conservatism (and I believe we do), then we should seek to become a part of all aspects of the movement. Are we trying?
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Sydney Goldberg explains the President's speech. I still don't understand why lots of really smart people - Buckley, Noonan, Frum - had such a problem with it. (HT: Jonah)
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Saturday, January 22, 2005
I mentioned below that Catholics and Evangelicals - while similar in their faith - part ways on some matters of worldview. I think this difference could be manifesting itself, to some degree, in the criticism the President receives from some on the right. Maybe it's just a matter of perspective. That Catholic crucfix focuses on Christ's suffering, whereas the Protestant cheers the Resurrection. Each one acknowledges the other, don't misunderstand, but it's just a matter of focus and emphasis. Perhaps this explains the optimism of George W. Bush, the evangelical.

That reminds me of perhaps why GWB seems to perplex so many people, including many on the Right. While many Presidents in our modern history would be regarded as Christians in word if not deed, George W. Bush is the first president who declares that his faith is not a set of principles for living. It's not about a list of rules for W. He's quite likely the first president in our lifetime who wakes each morning with the goal of honoring Christ before he honors anything or anyone else. That optimism and desire to serve God in such a real way is likely informing his drive to see oppressed people's liberated.

I can see where those antagonistic to Christianity are enraged, and where those who do not understand this blend of evangelicalism are perplexed. It's also why many millions of evangelicals absolutely love the man.
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There's a very interesting (and very long) article by Christine Rosen in the new issue of the New Atlantis concerning the growth of on-demand technology like iPods, TiVo, etc. I won't say I agree with the entire article, as it leans towards the "classical music = good, rock and roll = bad" view of the world, but on the whole, it's quite informative and instructive.


(Hat Tip: Mere Comments)
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Friday, January 21, 2005
John Mark Reynolds has more on the story of Baylor's Robert Sloan. What a shame.

He also comments on the SpongeBob issue, and takes a pretty reasonable view.
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Jim Geraghty went to one of the Inaugural Balls. He's posted his report and he says, without irony:

"There weren’t quite so many ten-gallon cowboy hats as I expected – maybe they all went to the Texas and Wyoming ball."


Who is this guy kidding? Does the Beltway punditry simply think that all Bush voters drive pickup trucks and shout "Yeehaw" everytime we see POTUS on the tube?

What a joke.
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In his morning update, Hugh Hewitt discusses not only the James Dobson/Spongebob dust-up; he goes on to compare Dobson to Larry Summers. Hewitt notes that the blogosphere has been quiet concerning Summers' comments. Yes, Hugh, we have. That's because Summers didn't say anything wrong. All he did was offend a crazy feminist. If Hugh thinks Summers made a bad PR move, then so be it. But if Summers has made a scientific or philosophical error, then Hewitt should challange that point. To date, he has not done so. As I said below, I'm with Jonah Goldberg on this one.
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I was going to comment on James Dobson's silly attack on Spongebob Squarepants, as well as the Robert Sloan's stepping down as President of Baylor University, but Joe Carter of the Evangelical Outpost beat me to it.

That pretty much sums up my thoughts. Thanks, Joe!
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Peggy Noonan isn't nearly as optimistic as the President. I wonder if these differences illustrate the parting of ways between Catholics and Evangelicals as a way of viewing the world? We'll look at it later. Call it foood for thought.

But let's not forget Robert Browning:

"Man's reach should exceed his grasp/
or what's a heaven for?"
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Thursday, January 20, 2005
I was ready to post a long and thoughtful rebutal to Peter Robinson's take on the President's magnificent speech this afternoon, but Hugh Hewitt beat me to it.

At times, I am leery of the President's willingness to use the state as a means of remedying society's ills. Yet I think the President fundemantally realizes that our government cannot be undone in the way that most conservatives would like. The President is using a popular notion - the state as a social safety net - and ensuring that it no longer be a hammock. He is laying the groundwork for further conservative action. If the policy wonks will chill out, we'll get to see thr fruit of the President's idealism.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Far be it for me to take issue with the esteemable Hugh Hewitt, but what was so bad about Larry Summers' comments? Jonah Goldberg has come to Summers' defense. Hugh Hewitt and John Mark Reynolds strangely take another view.

I'm lost here. What was the problem? Is Reynolds implying that Summers should be held accountable? For what? A scientific study?

I'm confused.

Edit:
Check this post from Jonah, noting an interview in the Harvard campus paper.

I imagine that Hewitt and Reynolds don't like the PR move being made here, but that's beside the point. Either Summers' remarks are defensible or they're not. Interestingly enough, it's awful hard to tell where these two are coming from.
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Yes, Kathryn, that's what we do in the red states. We listen to the Gatlin Brothers. And nothing else. It's almost like a liberal anthropology professor fawning over a native tribe in South America.

"Oh, look at the way they spear and gut that fish..."


"Yes, and how quaint that they have painted their faces and pierced their cheeks"

National Review must have the same syndrome.

"Oh, come look! The red-staters have this channel with music videos! And they're all wearings cowboy hats! It's CMT! Ooooh..."


I mean seriously.

Also, Evangelical Outpost has the following quote from Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto:

The most wretched people in the world are those who tell you they like every kind of music “except country.” People who say that are boorish and pretentious at the same time. All it means is that they’ve managed to figure out the most rudimentary rule of pop sociology; they know that hipsters gauge the coolness of others by their espoused taste in sound, and they know that hipsters hate modern country music. And they hate it because it speaks to normal people in a tangible, rational manner. Hipsters hate it because they hate Midwesterners, and they hate Southerners, and they hate people with jobs.


Everyone say it with me now: Laaaaaaaame. There's a minute level of truth to this quote, but by and large, the people most commonly known to say such things are Johnny-Come-Latelys who listen to any drivel on rock radio. Hipsters, however they're defined, aren't afraid to listen to "country" music. They just won't listen to the schlock one finds on most country radio.
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Evangelical Outpost talks about Jim Wallis in this post. I noticed that Wallis was on the Daily Show last night. I did not watch, as the Nyquil was taking effect. I wonder why you'll never find a noted evangelical on a show like that. Jon Stewart probably hasn't sent an invite to James Dobson, but then again, has Dobson ever done anything that makes one think he would accept such an invitation?

Until evangelicals have spokespeople who can penetrate this sort of movie...nothing will change.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2005
I found this interview with the real Coach Carter via the Looking Closer Blog. Coach Carter sounds like a great man.

Yet last week I saw Samuel L. Jackson being interviewed on Sportscenter. The questions invariably moved towards the Pacers/Pistons brawl. Jackson asserted that this was simply a white/black thing. Ron Artest was punished because someone had to be "the bad guy," and you can't deny a man the ability to make a living for a whole year. (I'm looking for a transcript of the interview) What nonsense! Martin Luther King would surely scoff at such bitterness.
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There's been a lot of talk over the last year about the idea of South Park Republicanism. The basic idea, of course, being a brand of conservatism in line with the tv show South Park; hip, fresh, politically incorrect. I like the idea, personally. As much as I respect my conservative forebears, readers of this blog know that I'm bothered by the way the traditional conservatives seem fixated with classical literature, classical music and opera and seem very, well...white bread. Sometimes I read National Review and I'm reminded of a black comedian imitating a mousy white dude. The South Park brand of conservatism (SPC) turns this upside down, and I think this is a good thing.

I don't think SPC has to necessarily be vulgar or crude. In fact, I think it's this vulgarity that has hurt South Park's overall appeal. What I like in the idea is a willingness to take on culture. Not just the high brow culture of The New Criterion, but the low culture of crude cartoons, punk rock and comic books. I don't think we should hold those things should rise to any sort of sacred level, but it should be crystal clear that being a conservative doesn't mean the abandonment of them.

Incidentally, I think conservatism is, in many ways, the great hope for the preservation of the classics, be it in film, theatre, literature or music. Indeed there is much to praise about those things, and ultimately, I would choose Puccini and Mozart and Wordsworth over South Park, the Ramones and X-Men. Probably. But conservatives should seek influence in all areas of acceptable culture. And it's important to remember that in a civilized society, crass and vulgarity can only go so far. But I'd like to suggest that what is acceptable for the family is not the same as what is acceptable for a conservative. I'm thinking of the Media Research Center and the Parents Television Council. Family values are conservative values, of course, but the scope of conservatism should be broad enough to make a case to an audience that does not fit into the traditional conservative mold.

As I said above, I would ultimately choose the classic over the contemporary, and conservatism is nothing if it is not a standard bearer for all that is good in our Western heritage. I am merely asserting that conservatives have an opportunity to make a broad cultural appeal. Whatever the flaws of South Park, and lo! they are many, let us cheer the good, and continually encourage. And who knows? Jay Nordlinger may yet take a legion of foul-mouthed South Park fanatics and turn them on to Stravinsky.

It wouldn't be a bad thing.

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Hugh Hewitt is talking about the appalling case of the NYT revealing a blogger's identity.

Sickening, just sickening.
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The story out of New Jersey concerning the murder of a family of Coptic Christians is growing more disturbing. TKS has more.
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Sunday, January 16, 2005
Is it possible that creativity really does suffer in a comfortable environment? I live in a nice apartment, with central heating and air. I have a dishwasher and a trash disposal. There's plenty of room. The floors are nice, and the sidewalk outside is clean. But somehow the whole thing feels weird. Part of me feels like I have it too good, that maybe I should be living on hardwoor floors with a window unit and a small kitchen. Perhaps it's all a mystique, just a ridiculous ideal of what it means to be original. Probably so. Every college town is full of pseudo-writers living in ramshackle apartments full of framed black and white photographs that aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

Then again, a little hard work and I might be able to make this thing work. This blog, I mean, make it something more original than every other site out there run by a conservative Christian. I'm both of those things - a Christian and then a conservative. But I think it would be worthwhile to ensure that this whole site is more than rehashed opinions of everything I heard on Rush or read on NRO. So if I start talking about Art Blakey or how the Colts stunk up the joint today or about how there's condensation on the inside of my window, bear with me.

And just to fulfill my duty as a conservative blogger, I shall take up the topic of South Park Conservatism this week. Here's a preview: I'm in favor of it. Does this make me out of sorts with other Hewitt-inspired blogs? I'm not surprised either way. But there I go again with contradictions. Now I have a headache.

Time for a glass of Bolthouse Farms and it's off to bed.
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I wonder if anyone will call this a hate-crime. Hint: they should.
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Saturday, January 15, 2005
I second the motion.
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For more on the blue state/red state clash of tastes, check out this post by Evangelical Outpost, wherein Joe Carter expresses his distaste for the country music of Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich. Nice thoughts, by Joe, and I heartily agree. But check out the comments section. Joe is chastised by one reader for his "blue state elitism."

I'm dead serious; if this is what cultural conservatism is going to be about, then I quit. Gretchen Wilson may sing about life as many know it, but her white trash anthems are no better than the gangster rap of Lil' John or Fat Joe. I don't mind the attitude so much as I mind the glorification of a lifestyle that is downright disgusting. On top of that, and this is more important, her music is just terrible. Same thing goes for Big & Rich.

This issue highlights the growing chasm within conservatism. George Will is a huge fan of jazz, which is typically heard only on NPR. Does that make Will a blue state elitist? William F. Buckley would find this sort of music abhorrent. We all see Jay Nordlinger's reviews of the symphony and opera. I know I criticized Nordlinger yesterday, but the point here is that we should champion what is good in every genre. Kelly Willis and Alison Krauss make good country music; Gretchen Wilson does not. The Roots and Outkast make good hiphop; Juvenile does not. There's nothing blue state about calling bad music what it is, and Gretchen Wilson is terrible.
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The Weekly Standard is talking about South Park Republicans.
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Friday, January 14, 2005
I've griped in the past about the way conservatives seem to enjoy badmouthing Hollywood, almost as much as Hollywood enjoys attacking conservatives. NRO's interview with Andrew Breitbart is just another example. I just love this quote about the movie Sideways:

"What will likely win a lot is the hysterically over-praised Sideways, which played to blue-state art-house nihilism. Anyone that considers NPR news will find Sideways a great comedy. And the film has only made about $25 million to date proving its mediocrity."


Is this not snobbery of some sort or another? I just love Breitbart's implication there, that if you like the movie, you must be some sort of liberal. What boring, trite drivel. I've not yet seen the movie, but who is Breitbart to make such a suggestion? This is why some conservatives feel so estranged from the mainstream movement. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh could care less about culture. A guy like Breitbart can say things like this, and NRO goes nuts over him. Jay Nordlinger writes about opera and complains that college kids wear Che-paraphenalia. (I don't like it either, but is this news to anyone?) The guys at National Review who do like music written in the last five years - Mike Potemra and John Miller - almost never discuss it. This old-line conservative fixation with classical music and opera (which I enjoy, by the way) is just as elitist as some of the Hollywood crowd. Perhaps this is just my soapbox, but I think it's a point worth mentioning.

It would be just great if someone could write about popular culture from a conservative perspective on a burgeoning group blog.

Say, now that is an idea...
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Thursday, January 13, 2005
This may be the best use of $750 that I've ever seen.
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Andrew Stuttaford poses an interesting, if not obvious, question about Prince Harry's stupid costume.

Yes, what if he has dressed as Stalin? Or Castro? It like would have been viewed as a joke. A very sick, vile, disgusting joke. Well, I would find it sick, vile and disgusting. The press would simply think it a joke.
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Do I take detect a bit of Orthodox snobbery?

I'll concede that rhetoric in all aspects of our society has lessened of late. The Church has not been immune. Yet I wonder if Brookhiser and other old-line conservatives, often adherents to non-evangelical branches of the Christian faith, hold a tolerant, if not contempuous view, of evangelicals.

Just a thought.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2005
I think Andrew Sullivan is in the early running for Most Clueless Blogger for the year 2005. Our pal Andrew thinks that the President should offer a retraction for stating that he could not see how a person could be President without knowing God. Give me a break. While I understand and appreciate - indeed, agree with - the President's assertion, how hard would it be for Andrew to consider that W.'s faith is something he brought to the office with him. He has carried with him for four years, and he believes that his experience would have been impossible without it. Not to make light of the President's faith, but couldn't one view the statement in the way your neighbor says, "Boy, lemme tell ya, I don't see how anyone drives the family from Nashville to Pensecola without a dvd player for the kids."

I don't mean to suggest that Christianity is a commodity, but surely you see the point. And as for Andrew being aghast that W. believes in the evangelical notion of a relationship with God - my heavens, is the man so dense that he is unaware that millions and millions of Christians around the world adhere to this belief, and have done so for generations? Just what does it take to get a PhD from Harvard these days?
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Tuesday, January 11, 2005
I am terribly late in offering my thoughts on the initial Evangelical Outpost Blog Symposium. Gelernter's essay is an interesting piece of scholarship, and one with which I primarily concur. I am frankly surprised that this idea has just now been promulgated. As it stands, I see something of a fulfillment taking place. One could look at Gelernter's analysis and say that Christian America is the fulfillment of the Hebrew vision of a nation, in much the same that Christ was the fulfillment of the Hebrew law. Now, I don't mean to imply that America is a divine fulfillment. I don't get into prophecy or any of that sort, but I think you follow me.

I think those who note America's unique role as a "Christian" nation have done a poor job of explaining what this means. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob offers a set of principles for life and governance. These principles aren't exclusive to the Jews and Christians (see The Abolition of Man), but clearly these two faiths have the strongest sense of principle. The fact is that American values are rooted in two religions; one that is also ethnic and has long been the source of scorn and resentment in the Western world. The other is ultimately a purely voluntary faith, but one that is resented for the absolute claims it makes to all human joy, peace and redemption.

The world grows to reject Americanism for the same reason it rejects both Judaism and Christianity; all "-isms" present an absolute set of values, from which they refuse to budge. While there is no apology, these values are optimistic, inviting, forgiving. There is something in the sinful impulse of man that resents such a notion, the idea that peace and equality and freedom can truly be established. While I readily agree with President George W. Bush that all men desire to be free, there is something poisonous in our educated minds that rejects that idealistic notion that men can live in peace and democracy, in much the same way that men reject the Christian ideals of forgiveness and redemption.

Listen to a man who says that he believes in God but he won't be told how to live. He rejects accepting a faith that puts limits on himself while promising inner peace. Besides, he says, life's a b***h and then you die. Keep listening to him if the topic turns to politics. You speak of the war, and as it concerns September 11, our man is unforgiving and unconcerned. To hell with Iraq, he says, let's turn that place into a parking lot.

It's the same impulse, really. A refusal to believe in any hope beyond what is visible, a denial that any values exist that can bring either the soul or the physical world into a state of peace, at least in the more limited terms of human existence. Gelernter's essay has extrapolated the historical traces of our Americanism; I hope my own humble contribution has offered some of the more common responses, even among Americans, towards this view of America.
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Andrew Sullivan is - gasp! - having a hissy fit over the Weekly Standard's new cover. I won't say it's not over the top, but if Andrew was half as upset over every episode of Will & Grace, I might share in his outrage.

He's also upset with Glenn Reynolds' view of homosexuality. If someone could explain just what it is Sullivan wants in regards to gay-straight relations, they might also be able to figure the Middle East' problem.

And finally, Ann Althouse has a response to Sullivan's view of the revived "was Lincoln gay" controversy.

I mean, I dunno...did people have gaydar back then?

Sheesh, here I was pondering how to get this blog off sports for a day or two and back on politics. Apparently all it takes is for Andrew Sullivan to wake up with a refrigerator full of spoiled milk.
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Ann Althouse points to an interesting article about Michael Moore and Mel Gibson. Very interesting.
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I'll join Dr. Reynolds in saying ixnay on the Presidential run to Newt Gingrich. But the good professor errs when he suggests that Newt's ideas are "dated." Hardly so. Have you seen the man on C-SPAN lately? I saw him speaking at a GO-PAC event not long ago (on television - I wasn't there), and the guy was on fire. As a policy wonk, Newt is great. As a politician, perhaps less so. As far as ideas go, the GOP could do far worse than to listen to the former Speaker.
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Monday, January 10, 2005
Look, I think Randy Moss is an obnoxious jerk. If John Lynch is going to get fined for laying a guy out, it should be Moss, not Dallas Clark. The guy is an amazing football player, but he's a punk of the highest order. That said, if the fans in Green Bay are going to literally moon the other team, why is anyone shocked that Moss would fake it?

I'm actually underwhelmed about this thing. I was listening to the television broadcast on the radio, and to hear the Fox crew, you would have thought Moss had literally shown his other side to the crowd. I think it was inappropriate, but comparatively speaking, the media should ease off. All the hype is encouraging the idiots.
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Saturday, January 08, 2005
I'll plead temporary insanity in my prediction that Oklahoma would be USC. I should have known better; OU gave up at least thirty points to both Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. Of course, I think the AP voters should plead the same thing. I don't know how Auburn ended up behind such a flawed Oklahoma defense, even if OU managed to win those games. That said, USC thoroughly spanked Oklahoma, and rightly deserves to be ranked number one in the country. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I'll contend that Auburn should have played in the Orange Bowl. But I do not believe that Auburn would have beaten Pete Carroll's team under any circumstances. It just ain't happening.

Having said all that, I was a bit annoyed with the sheer joy demonstrated by ESPN's anchors when USC won. Maybe they were just thankful that they didn't have to consider the possibility that Auburn got the shaft. ESPN has Frank Beamer and Norm Chow to thank for that.

Now for this business about a playoff. Nonsense. If a team runs the table all season long, and it happens more often than not, they should not have to enter a playoff. If two teams are undefeated in January (again, not an uncommon occurrence), then they play one another in whatever BCS bowl and the winner is our National Champion. I think the only real change we need at the end of the season is an emergency plus-one. Find a neutral site, perhaps one of the BCS bowls, and if we've got two undefeated teams after the regular bowl season, let 'em play. Beyond that, the system is fine. Let the polls do their work, but let's save the coaches' poll for the first weekend of October after we've seen a few games. The bowls are great as they are; they are part and parcel of college football. To change the bowls would be to change the game. If this is a problem for fans, there's a world of salary caps and bratwurst waiting on Sunday afternoon.
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A few days removed from the end of the college football season, I think I've finally collected my thoughts. As it concerns Alabama, you could be in the class of unhappy alumni. Yes, I understand that injuries hurt the Tide. I understand that Mike Shula started last year on the fly, and was still learning this year. I understand that NCAA probation, spurred by a crooked investigation, has drastically harmed recruiting efforts. Yes, I know it all. What bothers me is that Mike Shula still stands on the sideline looking like a deer frozen in the headlights of a frat boy's truck. He and his staff had a very nice game plan early in the season with a healthy team, but why weren't our back ups ready to go?

I'll make a qualified retraction to my post the other day calling for Shula's ouster if next season isn't great. Unless the 2005 season is an unmitigated disaster, Shula needs to stay on board. But there must be improvement. Shula has to begin showing some control on the sidelines. (Hint to Mike: lose the turtleneck, gold chain and don't be so liberal with the f-bomb). With a loaded schedule, it will be impossible to win eight games without a signature win; Bama plays at Arkansas, Auburn and South Carolina (against Steve Spurrier. Urban Meyer's Florida team will be in Tuscaloosa, along with Tennessee and LSU. Mike Shula will have ample opportunity to win big next year. The million dollar question: will he do it?
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Wednesday, January 05, 2005
My recently engaged homeboy Eric G. Mann is suggesting that college football needs a plus-one playoff system. Nice idea, hoss, but the problem is that one day we're going to have just two undefeated teams. Remember Miami vs. Ohio State? That was only two years ago. There was no need for a plus-one back then. It might have worked this year, or perhaps last year. But what about in '02? And what if next year we have just two undefeated teams? That plus-one would be a waste.
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Check out this post by Andrew Sullivan regarding Glenn Reynolds' view of Alberto Gonzalez's confirmation and the role of torture in overseas prisons.

Sullivan's rhetoric is just ridiculous at this point. When did he ever become so trite and, well, boring?
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A quick thought before getting ready for the day: After watching USC hand Oklahoma a grade-A butt-kicking, is there any doubt who deserves the National Championship? Sorry, but there's no chance Auburn wins last night's game.

More later...
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Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Orange Bowl kickoff is in about half an hour. I reckon I'll pull for Oklahoma...call it a red state thing.

This blog will start kicking again soon.

Promise.
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Monday, January 03, 2005
Check out the tail-end of this post by Hugh Hewitt concerning God and the tsunami. He has a litany of links, all worth investigating. I must say, however, that John Derbyshire's comment that Anglicans don't "do" theology is a copout of the highest order. Certainly theology isn't everyone's cup of tea, but to suggest that, by virtue of one's denominational status, a Christian of John Derbyshire's intellectual capabilities is exempt from examining the difficult questions is a rather...weak...notion.

Peruse Hugh's offerings; all kinds of good stuff. I plan to read more on the topic later myself, but for now, it's time to fulfill a New Year's resolution. Now where are my jogging shoes?
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I know The Motorcycle Diaries became something of the film du jour in hipster circles last year, but a little perspective is needed. See Paul Berman's Slate article, as well as this New Criterion piece by Anthony Daniels.

(Hat Tip: Jay Nordlinger)
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This morning I'm drinking coffee from a Square Books mug, which features the following quote by Flannery O'Connor:

"Whenever I'm asked why Southern writers have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one."


Would that we still had a writer of her caliber among us.
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I think I'm just not cut out to be a full-fledged crunchy-con. I've tried, but I absolutely cannot stomach granola as cereal. I tried it again this morning, and it was simply dreadful. Am I missing something? It looks so good on the grocery store shelf.

Also, Eisley is a fantastic band. You should listen to them.
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Sunday, January 02, 2005
Let me offer a very happy New Year to all who read this. I am back safe and sound from the Music City Bowl in Nashville, and here I present a random assortment of thoughts:

- Nashville is a wonderful, wonderful city. I hope to find more time to explore it in the future.

- Early Day Miners are an amazing band.

- The Coliseum in Nashville is a fun place to watch football, with great concessions, though a lot of students from the University of Alabama were too excited about the beer being sold in the stadium.

- Oh, right. The football game. Awful, simply awful. I don't know what the problems are around here, but Friday morning was just pathetic. Michigan played a barn-burner of a Rose Bowl (and nearly won) with a freshman quarterback and running back. What is Mike Shula's excuse? I know injuries have hurt the Crimson Tide, but the coaching this year has been nothing short of atrocious. Save for a much improved defense, Mike Shula's staff has shown very little in the way of progression. Unless next year shows marked improvement or catastrophic injuries, I'll say that Shula should be fired outright.

- Now look, I know schools don't give their coaches enough of a chance these days, but this is the University of Alabama. Sure, Notre Dame fired Ty Willingham too soon, but with academic standards just one-tenth of a point shy of Harvard and no conference alignment, it's pretty hard to maintain a grade A football program. And I know the NCAA railroaded the program here in Tuscaloosa, but my goodness. Alabama looked terrible Friday, same as they have for the last two years. After a third, someone should be held accountable.

- The trip's playlist included the following records: The Walkmen'sBows and Arrows, Denali's Instinct, Jets to Brazil's Perfecting Loneliness, and Idlewild's Remote Part.

- We enjoyed fine meals at Rotier's, Jackson's and Noshville. The food was excellent at all three restaurants; Rotier's and Noshville both make a mean cheeseburger, and the Lemon-Peppercorn Shrimp Pasta at Jackson's is fantastic. The service at Noshville, however, leaves something to be desired, in much the same way that democracy in Libya leaves much to be desired.

- I only saw the final few minutes of last night's Rose Bowl, but I listened to much of the second half on the radio. I know it broke with tradition to exclude the Pac-10, but what a phenomenal game. And memo to the Pac-10: put up some teams with more than six wins and the BCS might pay attention.

- Bobby Petrino is a dink. Pat Forde has the goods.

- Hugh Hewitt has a new book. I've not read it, but if you're reading this site, you'll likely be interested.
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