So Why the Grateful Dead?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 24, 2015 by theworldofmojo

So why the Grateful Dead? Well first of all let me clear up a few common misconceptions about them. First of all the Grateful Dead is not a heavy metal band. In fact they are far from it. Their music defies easy description. Were they a rock band? Yes, but that barely scratches the surface of what they were. Mixed in their sound was touches of country, folk, blues, and even gospel. Secondly, while it’s true that they have had plenty of tour rats giving them a bad name, not all Deadheads are a bunch of drugged out dirty hippies. In fact they are known to appeal across all strata of society from working stiffs to highly paid professional people.

So just what is it that makes them so darn fascinating. Well first of all the Grateful Dead may in many ways be the most genuine American musical act to ever take the stage. Jerry Garcia had folk and bluegrass roots, Bob Weir had a country music background, Phil Lesh was classically trained and was hugely influenced by contemporary composers such as John Cage. Deceased founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was a bluesman at heart. All these influences, along with the San Francisco psychedelic experience made for a band not quite like any other.

There is a well-known saying among the Dead community:” There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert.” Truer words were never spoken and while there is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert, no two Dead shows were ever alike. They played a different show every night, often just finishing one song and then deciding at that moment what to play next. They were all improvisational musicians who were skilled at just “jamming on stage” and some songs could last for 30 minutes or so if the vibe was just exactly perfect. Their music was a rich tapestry of sound with the musicians weaving in out of each other’s riffs, not stifling their fellow musicians, but adding threads to produce a beautiful work of music. The sound is joyful and happy.

Lyrically, the Grateful Dead employed the services of Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow to write words for their incredible songs. Rather than being overtly political (as many from their time were) or overtly sexual, the Grateful Dead sang of a mythical American past where fortune and luck went hand in hand. Card playing imagery abounds. Biblical imagery abounds. Tragic figures were born, fell, and sought redemption. It was the creation of an American mythology sang in verse.

Early in their career, the Grateful Dead began allowing audience members to openly tape their shows and trade them with their friends. Eventually they began reserving space right behind the soundboard exclusively for tapers. Today many thousands of hours of Grateful Dead music freely circulate with the band’s blessing. You can even find many (as in thousands) of free mp3 shows at archive.org. The notion of allowing taping openly goes against every established business model in the industry, but it can be argued that they blundered into brilliance. By allowing bootlegs to be freely traded, the Grateful Dead built a following for themselves unlike any other. Can you imagine Madonna, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, or One Direction encouraging taping?

Lastly they were the real thing. They weren’t assembled by some record producer because they were a bunch of pretty boys who might appeal to a desired demographic. They did their own thing in their own way, without pretension, without ostentation, without worrying about what the cultural mainstream thought of them.

Advertisements

Mojo on Same Sex Marriage

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 27, 2013 by theworldofmojo

With the arguments now in front of the United States Supreme Court concerning the legality of same-sex marriage, much discussion is occurring within the culture. Facebook profile pictures are being changed. Blogs and opinion pieces are giving their spin on the issue, and everyone seems to have a strong and often forceful opinion. That includes myself, although my opinion, by virtue of being the opinion I hold, is markedly superior to all other opinions. If you do not agree with me, your opinion is WRONG!!! <ha ha>

First of all I am a Christian and I believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God. The truths contained within are immutable, unchanging, and authoritative. The Bible is not just an outdated product of the time it was written in, but remains relevant now and forever more. The Bible, and not just in the book of Leviticus, as detractors like to quote, condemns homosexuality in both the Old and the New Testament. Do I believe it to be immoral? Yes I absolutely do, based on the authority of scripture.

Now I will also have to acknowledge that the battle for “traditional marriage” is probably a lost cause. There is such a thing as momentum in our culture and the prevailing winds seem to be blowing in the direction of same sex marriage. Indeed, if we are honest, we are forced to admit there is a certain inevitability at work here.

So how should we engage a culture that we know to be a moral abomination? Well I say it is time for evangelicals (and probably a lot of Catholics too) to change their attitudes. What do I mean by that? I don’t mean change their stance on the issue, but change how they engage the issue.

Last year, prior to the election, people I know to be good Christian people made hundreds of anti-Obama posts on Facebook and everywhere else. These posts were often hateful, belligerent, and often nothing more than the re-packaging of lies that have been circulated for years. Many of these have resounded with the self-righteous indignation often reserved for a three year old on their best temper-tantrum days. (Back in the day we used to call that a hissy fit.) Anger and intolerance permeate these expressions of political declaration.

First I want to address this from a Christian point of view. As salt and light in the world, what all of this far right outrage (in my opinion fueled by Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Anne Coulter) has done, is turned the political left into an enemy that we no longer have the ability to reach with the gospel, a message infinitely more valuable than choosing sides in a political battle. Yes I said it, the evangelical embrace of the political right has done harm to the cause of Christ. We have been poor witnesses in our communities all because we seem to be more interested in preserving whatever status quo we value, instead of reaching the lost, including the political left.

<Disclaimer: I am not saying ignore politics, but instead limit political expression to a quiet familiarity with the issues and a sober examination of the candidates for political office, and a vote for those who might best exemplify the values that we treasure.>

Secondly, always respond in love. It is wrong to hate homosexual individuals just due to their sexual preference. It is wrong not to love them as fellow human beings. Always remember that if you rightly regard homosexuality as sin, then we must acknowledge that we are likewise sinners. But ALWAYS RESPOND IN LOVE AND GENTLENESS!!!!!

I have known but a small number of gay people in my life and I can honestly say I didn’t treat them any differently than any of the straight people I know. I don’t believe in discrimination against gays in the job market (unless it is for a position as Baptist preacher). I don’t believe in discrimination in the housing market and I confess to being a little bothered by the fact that during end of life decisions, a long term life partner has no rights wherein an estranged family member who hasn’t seen the person who is dying in twenty years can just come in and decide to pull the plug or keep the machines going. Yes that bothers me and from a human perspective it just doesn’t seem to be right.

I could be in support of a legal arrangement wherein two individuals who choose for their lives to co-mingle in some meaningful and substantial way would have the right to purchase health insurance, file joint tax returns, etc. This need not necessarily be two homosexual people, but could be two elderly sisters living together, or any number of imaginable relationships where it might be beneficial for there to be a legal arrangement of sorts.

Remember that I think this battle is lost already. I have heard numerous dire predictions of what same sex marriage would cause to happen. I personally believe the impact would be less than that. In the meantime, there will be no more nor no less gay people however the Supreme Court rules. All it would change is a legal status. Some say it would cheapen the sanctity of marriage. Well the straight community accomplished that long ago with widespread divorce, promiscuity, and cohabitation, once known as “shacking up.” If marriage is ordained by God and sanctified by him then my own marriage remains sanctified, while any other relationships He did not intend for will remain only legal arrangements. He will judge those who are disobedient. That’s good enough for me.

And for my final thought look for the Undertaker to extend his streak at Wrestlemania to 21-0 when he defeats CM Punk.

Sandra

Posted in Uncategorized on October 3, 2012 by theworldofmojo

I’m going to tell you a story now, a story I doubt I will be able to do justice to the telling of, but a story so remarkable it needs to be heard. It’s about a girl; a humble unassuming farm girl from rural North Carolina who touched a lot of lives and made a difference in the world.

Sandra was a pretty girl who was a grade behind me. She was always known as someone who was kind and friendly to all, and in a genuine way. There are people who feign being friendly but it comes off as a device that suits their own purpose. Sandra was not that type. She was genuine.

The truth is I remember her from school, but since she was a grade behind me, I never interacted with her much. I’d see her around. I knew her name and like most other boys my age, I thought she was pretty.

Her senior year, she was named as the high school homecoming queen, an honor also bestowed upon her older sister five years previous. I don’t know what voting criteria folks use at other places and other schools, but at my high school it was usually a “nice” girl who won the honors, in spite of whatever the conventions of popularity happened to be at the time.

She married a good man who loved and doted on her and she bore them two sons. As far as I know she lived an idyllic life with her family and would have been the stereotype of what the American Dream looked like.

In 1997, I got married to a wonderful woman who moved to North Carolina with me. She began attending my church, the same church Sandra and her family attended. Emily was soon recruited into being a Mission Friends teacher and since Sandra was also a Mission Friends teacher, they became friends. Through Emily I got to know Sandra a little better.

I remember like it was yesterday that I got the news. Sandra had been having headaches and seizures and had been diagnosed with a particularly aggressive brain tumor.

The doctors gave her little hope. It was just too aggressive. They treated her as best they could, but the results were not at all promising.

With nothing to lose, Sandra and her family sought an alternative treatment in Mexico. For a time, the treatment worked. She made somewhat of a recovery and began to appear more and more healthy. Our church became optimistic that she might recover and beat the tumor. We certainly all cried out to God on her behalf, not daily, but many times daily.

For a few months she was stable, and we saw her most every Sunday at church. What an uplifting sight to see!!. Even though she had to wear a wig and her face was puffy from the treatments, she remained every bit the pretty girl she had always had been.

One Sunday she even gave a testimony about how she had felt like she was down in a dark hole, when first diagnosed, but that God had kept her going through the difficult days. Her voice was a small one, but her words were so powerful and so moving that morning it was heard by everyone in attendance.

As the months went by, the alternative treatment became less and less effective. The optimism we felt began to fade. Of course we still prayed for Sandra. We could do nothing else.

Sandra lost the battle one early day in August in the year 2000. She lost the battle for her life, but she won the war when she gained the glory of heaven, residing for all time with Christ. All praise to God!!

Emily and I arrived early for her visitation. There was already a two-hour wait, even getting there early. We heard the family didn’t get home until after midnight.

The following day her funeral was held. The choir loft was filled beyond capacity. Every pew was filled. The balcony was full. There were people standing in the aisles. There were people not able to get in. That’s just how big of an impact that this humble girl that grew up living on a farm made to those who knew her and those who heard her story. One of the preachers commented that Sandra would likely have been embarrassed to get that much attention. She was a quiet work behind the scene type and did nothing for show or attention.

The other preacher said these words, “Many people would ask of God, why me? Sandra never asked that. She asked why not me.”  Oh to have that kind of faith!!!

When the service concluded and we walked up the gently sloping hill to the church cemetery, music played over a PA system that had been set up. It was told that this was music Sandra selected herself once she realized she would lose her battle with cancer. The music was so uplifting that I just had to smile. It was her last statement to the world and just part of her cheerful and humble demeanor.

The next day was a Sunday and our entire Sunday School was taken up by the sharing of just how uplifting and faith affirming Sandra’s funeral had been. Of course we were sad, but just being able to celebrate her life tempered the grief.

Later in the worship service, the pastor asked Sandra’s mother to say the closing prayer. Her words were powerful. She began, “LORD it is just such a joy to be in your house with your people and to know that you hold all things in your hands.” How could a mother who had just laid her youngest daughter to rest a day earlier be able to pray like that. Of course I knew. Faith!!

It has been a dozen years now since Sandra died. I think about her pretty often, although less now than I did in the first few years after her passing. We all have heroes of the faith and I am no different. While I admire the Peters and the Pauls and the Luthers and the Spurgeons, I hold in equal regard that humble little farm girl. I don’t know why God took her from this world at such a young age – she was not yet 40 – but one thing I do know is that even in her illness and eventual passing God was glorified and many of us grew in the faith. I count myself blessed to have known her, even just a little.

Faith

Posted in christian faith, family, Old Testament Studies with tags , , , on May 12, 2011 by theworldofmojo

This past weekend I heard of a lady who was pregnant and the doctor had given the baby only a remote possibility of living. She decided not to set up a nursery and many of her friends began to ridicule her by saying she lacked “faith.”

Obviously as a Christian, I believe it is within the power of God to heal a child inside the mother’s womb. I believe He not only can provide that healing, but does on occasions provide it, often in supernatural ways. I also do not think it is wrong to pray for the healing or that a baby be born healthy and “normal.” It is every parent’s desire to have children with normal minds and bodies.

But if God does not choose to provide the healing is it because someone doesn’t have “enough faith?” I believe this is just a cop-out answer at best and bad theology at worst. If a child is born with Down’s Syndrome or some other defect will the parents love that child any less than if that child had been born “normal.” I believe the answer is a resounding NO!! My own son has some health issues that we have had to “deal with” but I love him no less because of it. In many ways he is even more special to me because of his struggles.

Telling someone that the bad circumstances in their lives are caused by not having “enough faith” is an act of cruelty. Yes we bring much pain on ourselves. I’m the poster boy for that. But it has been ordained for us to suffer. Look at Job. He stood righteous before God and He was made to suffer. Nowhere in that fine Old Testament book is it said that Job didn’t have enough faith. In fact the opposite seems to be the case.

Expecting God to make the things the way we want them is not true faith. Of course we all want lives without heartache, without sickness, without hurt, and without suffering. That’s just our nature. But expecting God to make our path easy is not in line with what He has revealed in His word. That mentality strips God of His sovereignty and makes him little more than a Santa Claus. It is selfish. It is destructive and it is heresy. If anything, He has told us we will suffer and to count it all joy.

So what is faith. Well faith (at the risk of being overly simplistic) is believing that God is  sovereign and that He will accomplish the purpose of His will. Faith is knowing that we may not always understand His purposes and His methods, but that ultimately all things will work together for good for those who believe (in Christ) are called according to His purpose. Faith is the belief, like the old hymn goes that whatever befalls me, it is well with my soul.

“Christian” False Teachers That Just Need To Shut The Frak Up And Go Away

Posted in Bible Study, christian faith, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2011 by theworldofmojo

As long as there has been a Christian faith there have been false teachers. The New Testament is filled with examples. We hear of the legalists, the Antinomians, the gnostics, and the Nicolaitians among others.

The First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD dealt with the heresy of Arianism. It’s major proponent Arius  whom the heresy is named after asserts that Christ did not always exist but was crested by God. That heresy persists even today in the form of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Council of Carthage in 418 condemned the heresy of Pelagianism, a belief that man is not tainted by original sin but has the capacity to choose between good or evil without divine assistance. Today Pelagianism is alive and well in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The First Council of Ephesus in 431 AD dealt with the heresy of Nestorianism, a false doctrine that asserts that the human and divine natures of Christ are separate. It was later condemned again at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD.

Since those times there have been no end to false teachers that either deliberately or through ignorance spread heresy. Many of them just repackage old heresies and make them glitzy and glamorous. Here are a couple of false teachers that particularly get under my skin.

Joel Osteen

This guy is like a wreck that you pass by on the side of the road. Even though you know you shouldn’t look you find yourself secretly hoping to see some gore. When I flip through the channels and see Joel on, I can’t help but stop and watch a few minutes of it. Looking like a metro sexual with an almost perfectly coiffed mullet, Joel delivers one feel goodism after another without once mentioning sin. Now I’m no scholar, but I do know enough to know that without sin there is no need for a savior. The Bible says ALL have sinned (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin we are separated from God and unable to save ourselves. Because of the atoning work of Jesus we can have forgiveness and have the righteousness of Christ counted as our own. Joel never mentions this.

He refuses to say that Christ is the only way for a man to stand justified in the eyes of God. He doesn’t want to offend. I’m sorry Joel, but that is a different gospel. That makes you stand accursed. Jesus tells us that he alone is the way the truth of the life. No one comes to the Father but through Him. That’s John 14:6 if you are keeping score.

Joel has written a huge best seller “Your Best Life Now”. In it he tells that God has promised the believer health and wealth. I just don’t see that in the scriptures. Instead I see the assurance that we will suffer if we are in the faith. As John MacArthur said “if you are having your best life now, your eternal destiny is Hell.”

Fred Phelps

I wish this idiot would drop off the face of the planet. He is the so-called brains behind the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas that pickets the funerals of fallen US servicemen and anyone else they feel like picketing. Phelps and his family have adopted a hyper-calvinist theology. They certainly don’t evangelize. They only condemn. God Hates Fags is their rallying cry. Yes we can be assured that the sin of homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of the LORD. But let the LORD mete out His vengeance. He doesn’t need your help Fred.

I was actually disappointed in the US Supreme Court for affirming the right to picket at a funeral as being protected free speech. I know many will disagree with me, and that’s fine, but I draw the line at the exercise of free speech that is intentionally hurtful and meant with malice. Actually I don’t believe in the Constitution. I want it dissolved immediately with myself becoming the King. Fred wouldn’t like it if I were king. I’d have him thrown into a dungeon somewhere and silenced for the rest of his days.

Peter Ruckman

This is another hate-filled idiot cretin who is the poster boy for King James Onlyism, another dangerous heresy. Ruckman is never kind in his dialogues with those who disagree with him and frequently resorts to name-calling and caustic sarcasm. He once began a letter with the salutation, “Dear Scumbag.”

My issue with King James Onlyism is not the KJV. I grew up hearing it read in church and I have a deep love for it and a respect for the majesty of the language. But to go so far as to say that God ordained that it was the only English language Bible and that it can even be used to correct the Greek is foolish. He is on record as saying any translation error from the Textus Receptus to the 1611 KJV is advanced revelation. He and his supporters love to sling mud at “Westcott and Hort” but lacking any real cogent arguments they basically resort to character assassination. Interestingly enough I have never found this sort of “information” anywhere but KJV only advocates.

This clown even teaches that abortion is not murder. As a Christian I have a big problem with this. When the secular culture defends abortion, though they are wrong and misguided, they are only acting as unbelievers are expected to act. Christians on the other hand should have deep convictions from the scriptures that all life is created by God and that it is He who should decide when to end it.

And to top it off these are his own words:

If we are truly sincere, can we choose any Bible that we like and have the same results at the judgment? The importance of this question is immeasurable, for throughout eternity we will be affected by the answer!

If you believe I made this up go here. This is legalism plain and simple and a vicious heresy.

Benny Hinn

Benny is living proof that P.T. Barnum was right. The fact that he continues to thrive is ample evidence that there are indeed suckers born every minute. While many evangelical Christians can see right through Benny and immediately understand that he is a charlatan, the charismatic wing of Christianity is especially gullible to this man and his snake oil. I believe that there are many fine genuinely saved men and women who are charismatics, but the emphasis placed on experience and emotion allows them to be misled by Benny and other false teachers.

Benny claims to receive an “anointing” which allows him to heal the sick. He claims to have healed people from AIDS, blindness, deafness, and cancer, yet several prominent press investigations find no credible evidence that these healings actually occurred.

Benny once made the news in 1999 when he appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. (I call it The Blasphemy Network. Paul and Jan Crouch could easily be a part of this blog post but I’ll dog them out later.) Benny claimed that God would resurrect the dead if their loved ones would put the hands of the deceased on the TV while it was tuned to TBN. Guess what. It didn’t happen.

As with all televangelist Benny sucks his followers dry while living an incredibly lavish lifestyle. He was once the target of a Senate investigation.

My list could go on and on. I could include the aforementioned Paul and Jan Crouch, TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Rob Bell, Kenneth Copeland, and sadly enough Billy Graham, a man I once had tremendous respect for. He denies the exclusivity of Christ and I can no longer say he is orthodox in his teachings.

The best way to avoid false teachings however is not by studying them, although an informed knowledge is always beneficial. By studying what the scriptures say and by having a deep knowledge of God’s revealed plan, it becomes easy to spot a heretic. Make sure you are drinking deeply from the Word!!

Growing Up Remembrances – Episode 2 – Church

Posted in Bible Study, christian faith, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 14, 2011 by theworldofmojo

Of all the things I can remember in this world some my earliest memories involve attending church at Double Springs Baptist Church. DSBC is a church with antebellum roots and was proudly the first rural church to achieve a Double A or Advanced Standard Sunday School Program. It was accomplished in 1921 under the leadership of the legendary Preacher Suttle and Sunday School Superintendent Jasper N. Barnette. The later took a job at the SBC headquarters in Nashville where he was instrumental in guiding Baptist Sunday School life the whole denomination over.

My first memories of church were of being in a nursery and being rocked by a kindly old maid named Myrtle. She had jet black hair (which she kept until the day she died.) She was a fixture in the nursery for as long as I can recall.

Preaching was in a sanctuary that was nearing the end of its usefulness. Having been built in the early 1920s, parts of it had plaster that was falling from the walls. It was actually the third sanctuary built by the church. There was no air-conditioning in that building and it was common for the big windows to be opened and for people to fan themselves with paper fans on wooden sticks always provided by the local funeral homes. It wasn’t unusual for the members in attendance to be distracted by one or more yellow jackets that managed to find their way inside. Double Springs has always had a problem with yellow jackets and few years pass without someone happening on a nest, normally with painful results.

Men wore suits. In recent years, in most churches, worship attire has become less formal. It is the norm to see men wearing khakis or even jeans and a pull over three button up shirt. Many of them wore fedora style hats which they placed on a hat rack in the vestibule before entering the sanctuary.

Women always wore dresses. Pants suits were still several years away from being fashionable and even when they did, it was still many years before the women would dare wear them to church, especially on a Sunday morning. It just wasn’t done. Many of the older ladies wore hats and white gloves.

The Kings James Bible was always used. Most of the well-known modern translations did not exist yet, or had not been widely adopted so all scripture reading was full of thee and thou and thus sayeths. The morning prayer was always offered up in King James language. It never struck me to wonder why in those days, but we didn’t speak that form of English. Why did we pray in it? Even so it seemed more majestic than many of the prayers you hear now. Some of them seem a little too far in the informal and the familiar. Of course it is the heart of the person praying, not the nature of the words.

A new sanctuary was opened in the early 1960s and the old one pretty much abandoned except for Vacation Bible School and other assorted activities. This new sanctuary featured a stunningly beautiful painting on the wall behind the baptistry. In the painting, there was a lush grassy bank with a refreshing shade tree beside a gentle river that vanished toward the distant mountains. I spent many a Sunday just staring at that painting wishing I was sitting under that tree. It just looked so calm and relaxing.

Prayers were still offered up in fine King James style English. Since, to my shame I never paid much attention to them, I amused myself by pressing my eyes tightly shut until I saw those funky twisting screen like patterns. I also found a way to amuse myself during the sermon. There were high intensity spotlights in the ceiling. I would stare at them for a while, until a blind spot appeared in my vision. I would then put the blind spot over the preacher’s head so it looked like we had a headless preacher. Silly, yes I know.

As it remains today, Wednesday night was an important time in Baptist life. My earliest memories were being in something called Sunbeams although I can’t recollect what the focus of it was. I suspect missions because Southern Baptists have always emphasized mission efforts. There was also Celestial Choir where we learned such standards as “Jesus Loves Me” and “Deep and Wide”. There were hand motions to accompany “Deep and Wide”. I have yet to determine what this song is really about. I have always believed it is about God’s Grace but the lyrics are quite nebulous.

In later years, we went to youth choir and to RAs. After all the activities were over we would often play freeze tag on the front lawn of the church.  Or we would go down and to the creek and hunt for salamanders and crawdads. Sometimes we would dam up the creek and see how long it would hold. Usually not long. We also went up a big hill above the creek to the playground where there were swings and a see saw. Legend had it that a kid once swung so high he went over the top. I’m sure there was no truth to it, but it made a good story in any event.

 In colder months when it got dark earlier, we would dare one another to go into the graveyard. We would see who could go the farthest without getting scared. The bravest souls could go all the way to the “Witch’s Grave.” It was in the back corner of the cemetery and I suspect it was called as such due to a primitive carving on the tombstone that looked like a witch’s face. I’ve never heard a definitive reason for it though. In any event it just seemed spookier than all the other graves.

One of the yearly highlights was Vacation Bible School. back in those days VBS was a little less high-octane and multimedia than it is now. It always began with us lining up to march into the sanctuary. A boy was chosen to carry the American Flag, and the Christian Flag. A girl was chosen to carry the Bible. Once we marched in, we would stand at attention and say the pledges to both flags and the Bible. The preacher would bring a brief message and then we would be dismissed to our individual classes. We would have an hour and a half or so of lessons, then we would go downstairs for refreshments. Normally the refreshments would be kool-aid and peanut butter soda crackers. Occasionally we would have fancy cookies. I remember windmill shaped cookies and what a big deal it seemed like to get one.

After refreshments we would return to our classes for craft time. A typical craft included a cigar box, gold spray paint, glue, and macaroni and cheese. Once we had a piece of plywood with an outline of a church on it. We were given all assortments of dried beans, peas, and rice to glue on the board. I remember it seemed like a lot of fun at the time.

The highlight of VBS was always a big church-wide picnic and dinner on the ground. It seemed like there was one extremely long row of picnic tables filled with dish after dish of wonderful homemade food. Country women have always been the best cooks. And they had tin tubs filled with ice and Coca-Colas in glass bottles. They never tasted so good. It was truly one of the highlights of the year in church life.

Most years we had a week-long revival. A visiting preacher would come in and preach a sermon each night. On the last night of the revival, we would have to sing all six verses of “Just As I Am” ten times or more as the line of churchgoers wanting to repent and rededicate their lives to Christ or to make a profession of faith to be followed by believer’s baptism could be quite long. It was during a spring revival that I made a profession of faith. I still struggle with the genuineness of that profession. I bore no fruit for many years.

One thing that I always hated was the time between Sunday School and preaching. It was because in those days most men smoked and the area right in front of the church looked like a Grateful Dead show. Fortunately that has died out and no one lights up at church anymore.

As I grew up I attended all the youth activities. We had Bible study. We played softball, ate pizza, went on trips to Carowinds on occasions and once an overnight trip to Six Flags that saw absolute mayhem during the night.

As I graduated from high school and went off to college, my participation in church at DSBC diminished. For years I attended only sparsely, convinced that being in my late twenties then early thirties and being single made me somewhat of an outcast. I would occasionally be cornered by some busybody old woman who wanted to know when I was going to get married. I hated that and avoided church for that reason.

Once I did get married, my wife and I began attending regularly and found that we grew in our walk so much by fellowshipping with others and by hearing the preaching of the word. In 2000 we moved from North Carolina to Alabama and began attending and later joining Morningview Baptist Church. We love MBC and we cherish all the friends we have made there. But it’s nice to go back home and get a warm welcome back at DSBC. We still love that church!!!!!!

 

Tragedy at Toomer’s Corner

Posted in Alabama Crimson Tide, Auburn Tigers, current events, Football, Harvey A. Updyke Jr., rural south, Toomer's Corner with tags , , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by theworldofmojo

This morning authorities arrested 62 year old Harvey Updyke for poisoning the 130 year old live oak trees at Toomer’s Corner. If you don’t know what Toomer’s Corner is let me quickly explain. It sits at the intersection of College and Magnolia Streets in Auburn Alabama. It gets its name from Toomer’s Drugs which sits on the opposite corner. When an Auburn athletic team scores a big victory, the fans shower the trees with toilet paper. Lots of it!!! It is one of those unique traditions that makes Auburn University unique.

Mr. Updyke allegedly used a powerful herbicide in lethal concentrations, then later called the Paul Finebaum show to brag about it, using the name “Al from Dadeville”. His motivations supposedly have something to do with his rooting interest in the Crimson Tide of Alabama. It has also been said that he did it in retaliation for Auburn fans rolling the corner on the day Bear Bryant died (of which there is no credible evidence) and for someone placing a Cam Newton jersey on the Bear Bryant statue outside of Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

People not living in the midst of the Auburn/Alabama rivalry would be hard-pressed to understand how intense it can be. Their annual football game is a more important day than Christmas in the state. Passion runs deep. I have even been defriended on Facebook by an individual who made very derogatory statements about Auburn University as a whole then got called out by myself and others. Apparently he just couldn’t take any criticism directed at him or the Tide. I thought at the time that it was childish and I still do, but that is what this rivalry does to people.

I moved to Alabama in the fall of 2000. I hadn’t lived here two days when I was asked what side I was going to take. I figured I had two options. Be miserable or join in the fun. I chose the fun. I chose Auburn because my wife preferred Auburn and because I used to sort of root for Clemson. Auburn and Clemson are a lot alike so it wasn’t hard to choose a side.

On the eve of the first Iron Bowl, I was in the grocery store and everyone was wearing team colors. Many of them hollered at each other good-naturedly “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle.” It seemed to be mostly in fun and everybody was having a good time. Of course I wasn’t nearly as emotionally invested then as I am now.

As the years passed, the rivalry seemingly got uglier and uglier. The comments I would hear would contain more and more vitriol with each passing year. Of course Alabama is a proud program with a storied history. For much of the 2000s Auburn owned them winning six consecutive Iron Bowls. Alabama struggled with one coach after another even firing one before he ever coached his first game. He was guilty of moral impropriety. The level of frustration mounted for the Tide faithful.  Mike Shula was fired and Nick Saban was hired.

Coach Saban had been successful at Michigan State and at LSU before an ill-advised jump to the pros. Given the chance, he returned to the SEC to take the reins. Saban was instantly welcomed as a hero and the guy who would turn things around and right the ship. He has met those expectations well, going undefeated in the regular season for two of his four years and adding another National Championship to the trophy case.

Meanwhile at Auburn, longtime coach Tommy Tuberville was sent on his way. Gene Chizik was hired as his replacement to almost unanimous bewilderment. However he proved himself to be capable as well going undefeated and winning the National Championship in only his second season on the Plains. Instead of a buffoon, he now seems like a genius and the fan base just about universally loves him.

Along the way this past season questions arose concerning Auburn’s eventual Heisman Trophy winner and all everything quarterback Cameron Newton. Allegations surfaced that his father Cecil Newton had shopped him to Mississippi State, attempting to extort $180,000. No evidence has heretofore been discovered that there was any sort of wrongdoing at Auburn University or that the younger Newton had any knowledge of his father’s activities.

Tide fans never need much of a reason to heap scorn on Auburn. The converse is true as well. For weeks at a time, the scandal or controversy dominated sports talk radio in the state with many of the fringe elements who regularly call those programs going to unheard of extremes in their denunciation of the Barn, as they derogatorily call Auburn University.

When Auburn made an unprecedented comeback in the Iron Bowl, rallying from a 24-0 deficit to defeat the Tide on their home turf 28-27, it was just another vicious reality check. See the Tide started the season ranked number one and held onto that spot until a Saturday afternoon in Columbia, South Carolina saw Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks virtually end the Tide’s dreams of back to back championships.

The Tigers went on to crush the Gamecocks in the SEC Championship game and then defeat a tough Oregon team in the BCS National Championship game. It was more than many Alabama fans could stomach. They had lost three games in the season and then watched their rival play on the stage they had believed in their hearts would again be theirs.

Now I am of course calling out the fringe elements. You know the type. They did not to go to school at the school they have chosen to identify with, have no interest in the school other than the football team, and do not support the university in any sort of tangible way other than buying an occasional tee shirt. Many of them are uneducated and are the loudest of the fan base. Lest you think I am throwing rocks only at Alabama, Auburn has those type elements as well. I am fearful that one of those unknown nut cases will launch a retaliatory strike in Tuscaloosa. I hope that never comes about. I may root against their team, but I respect the traditions that the University has established.

Mr. Updyke is that element. Listen, I go to church and worship with quite a few wonderful Alabama fans who I cherish and value. The ones I have heard from express sorrow and outrage at what has happened at Toomer’s Corner. I choose to believe that 99% of both sides fan base will fall into that category. Mr. Updyke does not. He has visited shame upon the University of Alabama by association.  His actions, which might be understandable if he were 19 or so, are not those of a mentally stable person in control of their faculties. But neither is he not guilty by reason of insanity. His actions have also proven it was a deliberate pre-meditated act of extreme malevolence.

Some of the less sensible people who have called the radio shows today have said “what is the big deal? It’s just a tree.” Let me tell you what the big deal is. I heard this analogy made. When someone burns the flag we don’t react in anger to the burning of a piece of cloth.  It is what that piece of cloth represents, the ideals, and the values. The same with the Toomer’s Corner trees. Those trees and that place are so much identified with Auburn and the traditions of the school that it was not only an ecological crime which may result in numerous federal charges, it was a desecration of the very things that the War Eagle nation loves and cherishes.

Will this get worse? I hope not, but I am also not optimistic. I can’t blame everything on the rivalry. In the past decade there has been an alarming increase in general nastiness. Internet message boards allow all sorts of outrageous comments to be made behind the cloak of anonymity and lack of accountability. Democrats hate Republicans. Republicans hate Democrats. Georgia and Georgia Tech still hate one another and Duke and North Carolina are close to being just as ugly of a rivalry as the Tide/Tigers.

Ironically this act of hatred may have done more to unite the two sides than anything before. Here’s hoping both sides reject the fringe elements and let them know they are not welcome. And if Mr. Updyke, after receiving his due process under the law is convicted of this, I hope he gets punished to the full extent that the law allows. He deserves it. And we as fans, no matter who we cheer for, deserve better.