Balaam's Ass (faith, culture, politics)

I believe the church has lost its prophetic voice by choosing sides with the powers of the world. They have become like Balaam. I am hoping to be his donkey by helping them see the error of their ways before it is too late. So, yes I am the Ass. When you read the posts you may well agree. a little light reading regularly included

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bill Simmons on the Astro's Stomach Punch

Bill Simmons thinks the Astros cannot come back after the Level 2 Stomach Punch Albert Pujols delivered. I sure hope he is correct, but I cannot be sure. However, the best part of his column was his denuniciation of Minute Maid Park and its ridiculous center field hill and short fence. After seeing more baseball games in that park than any other park, I cannot agree more.

While a beautiful setting with nice scenery, the setting is not made for MLB. I hate the hill. I hate the short field. I hate the train. I hate the city and the state. I hate the expensive beer in plastic bottles. I hate the Astros. And I really hate the roof (I would not mind the roof, if they would use it only in rain and 90+ degree weather- like they said they would). It is a sin to close a roof when the temperature is 70- that alone should disallow them from winning! Death to baseball teams less than 75 years old.Anyway, here is a bit of Simmons.

I had trouble taking the Astros-Cards series seriously because of Minute Maid
Park -- between the 300-foot homers to left field (like Lance Berkman's
ridiculous homer Monday night, which almost seemed like a check swing) and the
hill in center, it's just a little too gimmicky for my liking. For instance, one
of the key plays in Game 4 was Tavarez's climbing that hill for an
inning-savingcatch in the eighth. Sure, it was fun to watch -- but wasn't that
the equivalent of Tiger making a key putt on 16 in the Masters, only if there
was a windmill in front of the hole (like a miniature golf course)? Would that
ever happen? Ididn't watch enough of this series, but I heard a rumor that they
put a temporary alligator pit in right field for Game 3. Was that true?


  • still hate houston
  • still hate the astriods'
  • still think houston fans are among the least knowledgable in baseball*
  • still think minute maid field should be imploded
  • still think that I could hit a home run to left field
  • still want an astriods center fielder to get a concussion from hitting the flagpole (and sprain his ankle on the hill)
  • still think instant replay is needed in baseball (especially the playoffs)
  • still think those umps suck
  • still think fox should not be allowed the opportunity to continue to ruin our national pasttime with its "baseball for dummies" coverage (how can people trust the political coverage of a network which blows sports this bad)
  • Pujols home run in game 5 makes the sting less painful
  • still smiling that the 'striods could not win it in front of their fans and game 5 sucked so bad for them
  • still think Pujols is far-and-away the best player in baseball and will 1 day be considered among the best EVER (sorry A-Rod, you could be but haven't the Je?ne?sais?quoi)
    still think a "bad" Pujols season beats a career year by jones, lee, cabrera, delgado, berkman or abreau
  • still think I would rather not even make the WS if the 2nd curse in 2 years is broken
  • still hate "playoff beards"
  • still love all of the jealousy fans of other teams have towards the natural superiority of the Cardinals and their devoted, smart, loyal fans
  • still love my Cardinals more than anything non-animal or person


* my favorites comments on Astroids fans are from the comments on Gentry's blog.

" actually had to sit and listen to an astros fan last year while on my baseball trip talk to his wife and buddy about how they use "pinch hitters" in the american league so
it isn't as good as the national league where the pitchers hit. morons. every.
single. one. "

also, the 'roids fans come out of the wood work don't they? I got calls and emails from friends who know little about our national pasttime (they just happened to have connection to that miserable excuse for a city- YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE). A Cardinals' fan would not bother with a 'roids fan upon beating them. I guess the weak are gaining strength.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Fuller Reviews of New CDs, beginning with Badly Drawn Boy

Badly Drawn Boy's One Plus One is One

The fourth project from Damon Gough, AKA Badly Drawn Boy is more of the same. However, "the same" is a good thing when "the same" is brilliant pop music on par with Brian Wilson's Pet Sounds (the perfect album, by the way).

Less produced than Have You Fed the Fish?, this CD brings to mind Elliot Smith, Nick Drake and Morrissey if they were a little less depressed and discovered the wonders of Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson and horn sections.

Gough once again weaves odd little tales with mischievous lyrics into tight symphonies and soundtracks to films no one is brave enough to make (although his soundtrack to a real film About a Boy is considered by some fans to be his best work). Just listen to a few of the titles; Summertime in Wintertime, Year of the Rat, Don't Ask Me I'm Only the President and Holy Grail.

Gough's most striking ability (like that of the aforementioned artists) is to weave beauty, profound sadness and levity in one song, such as This is That New Song and Another Devil Dies. As with his previous CDs, BDB treads lightly on religious themes, using Biblical language to express everyday emotions (i.e. Born Again from Have You Fed the Fish?). Just spend 8-plus minutes with the center piece of the album, Holy Grail, complete with distorted guitar, self-help psychology, syncopated piano, children's choir and Radiohead ending.

Gough's musicianship continues to mature, especially his piano work (he is a multi-instrumentalist), which is what gives him such a great pop sensibility (that and lots of strings). I have grown to appreciate piano-based songwriters during the past few years. They tend to have much a much better grasp of classic pop song construction. Just listen to Bacharach, Ben Folds or Brian Wilson-era beach Boys, even early Elton John. Pop music does not get better than that. And this is coming from a recovering guitar snob.

There are is no filler on this CD, unlike previous projects. On a album this strong, there are many highlights, including Year of the Rat, Holy Grail and One Plus One is One (which would not be out of place on his last CD).

If you do not know Badly Drawn Boy step away from your James Taylor wannabes, Norah Jones clones and take-themselves-too-seriously bands and listen to simple pop perfection. This is the most consistently satisfying Brit pop since Squeeze's heyday.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The New President of the SBC

I just sent this "Letter to the Editor" to a few SBC newspapers. They have elected a new SBC President who has said some things that seem disengenous to say the least. After my letter you can see some quotes from the Florida Baptist Witness.

Once again I am dismayed by the half-gospel the leadership of the SBC seems to be promoting. I was especially concerned with the profile of newly elected SBC president Bobby Welch.

First of all, his opinions regarding malaise, problems, and decline seemed to take issue with the past presidents. If he assumes these were problems of the SBC and he will change them, then he assumes the president has the power to change things. If so, what has been wrong with the past presidents. I think more care needs to go into his statements.

Also, of much more concern is Welch's understanding that "This Convention does not have one problem that soul winning will not solve." This seems like a statement that has little to do with proper theology and more to do with a desire to fire people up.

Does he really think that every problem of the SBC is because we do not have enough converts? That is naive from a 61-year-old man. If more people are converted, then all of our problems will go away? This is not the problem and he knows it.

The problem with this theological assumption (along with his 6 problems to be addressed) is that only stewardship has to do with discipleship. Remember, Jesus said, "Follow me," which entails more than getting people "saved." The great commission, which we so regaularly trumpet, tells us to make "disciples" not "converts" or "win souls."

If all of our focus is upon "making converts" and not disciples, which he seems to be saying in other statements, then we are winning people to a half-gospel, which creates more problems from "undiscipled disciples."

Please Dr. Welch and SBC leadership, embrace a whole gospel, one which will change lives and will change the SBC. If we disciple people to follow Jesus in their relationships with others, who embrace the beatitudes and live out the fruit of the spirit, including our leaders, then the SBC can truly change.


My name inserted here

From an article on Welch (these quotes are in order, but some of the article is taken out because it is poorly written and quite boring)...

Bobby Welch believes he knows what ails Southern Baptists and desires to lead the Southern Baptist Convention to a time of renewed focus and commitment to evangelism that will fix a “malaise” which afflicts the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

“Here’s the headline on me: This Convention does not have one problem that soul winning will not solve. You put that in big, capital letters, quotes, three exclamation points and underline it in red,” the 61-year-old pastor of First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, said in an extensive interview with Florida Baptist Witness three weeks before he stands for election as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

If elected during the SBC annual meeting next week in Indianapolis, he promised “to give the greatest effort that I have ever given to anything in my life to … unify this Convention for the sake of souls.”

Citing a drop in the number of baptisms during 2003 and unacceptable incremental gains in membership as evidence of the problem among Southern Baptists, Welch said, “I believe this Convention has really been attacked by the Devil in about six critical areas that we’ve got to break-out from.” He said most pastors and lay leaders could “unify in purpose quickly” on the areas of concern in a coordinated, simultaneous effort that will result in reversing the troubling statistics.

The areas of concern included evangelism training, soul winning, baptisms, stewardship, Vacation Bible School and starting new units.

Welch added, “I believe that if we unify on purpose—and that being evangelism—that we have the ability then to move us from this malaise that we’re caught in now of floundering and struggling with the hope of incremental improvement in things that are very essential to our life. … We’ve got to get off these decimal points. Decimal points are good for nothing but death spiritually.”

Welch emphasized that there could be other areas of focus about which consensus could be found, but said that he believed the six he identified would find wide agreement in Southern Baptist life, expressing hope that the SBC could unify with “each church, each pastor and the people, and each entity of the Convention is going to embrace these six things and we’re going to try to come together over a twelve month period … and we’re going to try to do our best in these areas.”