pecaspers: a Blog in transition

January 8, 2013

Nick Saban

I’m just putting this out there so I can say that I saw it coming when it happens.

I think that Nick Saban might announce sometime in the next week that he is leaving the University of Alabama to go back to the NFL. What makes me say that? It’s because of the speech I heard him give to some press conference about how he had no plans to leave and was focusing on this next game. I’ve heard him give that speech before; it’s what he said right before leaving LSU.

It’s late, and I’m cutting it off here. I just wanted to put it out there because I didn’t throw my score prediction out there on the interwebz, and I turned out to be pretty close (45 – 21). I gave the Irish too much credit, expecting they’d hold Bama to a field goal sometime early and score some TDs before the Alabama running game wore them down. In case you missed it, Notre Dame didn’t even show up to play until the second half and went down shamefully by much of their own doing.

Go SEC! I wonder who Bama will go for next? I bet Dabbo Sweany (is that how you spell it?) will be the first to call Tuscaloosa if Saban does go try to coach men closer to his own age again.

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November 25, 2011

Office Depot: Not Taking Care of Customers

Filed under: My Life in General — pecaspers @ 2:29 PM
Tags: , ,

I just sent the following comments to Office Depot in light of my Black Friday experience there this morning.

I was a door buster at the 1761 MONTGOMERY HIGHWAY, Hoover, AL location. My wife and I arrived about 30 minutes before doors opened at 6. When we entered the line, we were asked what we were there to get and my wife said we were there for the 2TB Seagate external Hard Drive and a 16 GB SD card. We were told that these were not voucher items and given a list of where to find sale items in the store.

We waited, doors opened, we were greeted pleasantly, everybody entered. When we got to the display for the hard drives, nothing marked the special, and the placard that matched the sale paper had a tag that said “See Associate for Assistance” (or something like that), so my wife found an associate. When we told him what we were looking for, another customer said “Grab two while you’re back there.” The associate went to look for the item and discovered that this store had none of the 2TB hard drives.

Meanwhile, I had the Assistant Store Manager, Van, help me find the SD card. Since he had to look up which one it was on the computer, I had him check the hard drive again. The system again said that there was an inventory of 0 in stock, and on the screen there was a button to check other locations.

I expressed some frustration to Van, the Assistant Store Manager, that it’s wrong for a store to advertise a sale on items they don’t have. Van indicated that this was a common problem with Office Depot, that (at this store at least) they often didn’t receive the inventory they needed to meet demands. I don’t think Van got the point, but I assured Van that my problem wasn’t with him personally.

My problem isn’t that I wasn’t one of the lucky few who got the deal. NO ONE got the deal. Your company lied to me, the other guy who wanted one, and everyone else in this part of Birmingham. I heard it straight from two of your employees that the main item I wanted to purchase wasn’t in stock when the store opened.

What’s worse, is that absolutely no attempt was made to remedy the situation. Van didn’t offer to check the other locations on the computer, Van didn’t apologize for not having what we came in for, there was no offer to order one and let us pick it up later or have it delivered.

I put the SD card down, and we walked out.

By the time we made it to Office Max, they were sold out of the same item. They, however, had a table where all there [I realize this shoud be their] biggest sale items had actually been. I also got confirmation from three of their employees that they did have them in stock; one very nice employee showed us where she had marked it off her sale paper when they had sold out of them.

As I told Van, I will not be coming back to Office Depot. I do not like the way you take care of business.

Please respond ONLY if you will make good on the offer of $69.99 for a 2 TB Seagate external hard drive.

Let me hear your thoughts. Is this an appropriate response? As a Christian, should I just suffer the injustice? Do I have no cause to try to help Office Depot correct their failures? I know if I were in charge of a company that was failing the consumer, that’s something I would WANT to get feedback on.

September 11, 2011

9/11 for the Tallassee Tribune

It’s Sunday night, September 11, 2011 as I write. It’s Tuesday or later when you’re reading it. It was Tuesday on September 11 ten years ago. I don’t know what the Tallassee Tribune had in it that day; I wasn’t a Tallassee resident back then. I was a student at Auburn University, and I remember that day in more detail than any other day in my life. It’s safe to say that you probably remember that day with graphic clarity as well. My facebook feed attests to this as it is currently populated by memories, pledges to never forget, and references to that day which changed this nation forever in many ways. Back then, there was no facebook, no Twitter, and texting hadn’t truly gone mainstream. In 2001, most of us still got our up-to-the-minute news from old-fashioned T.V. and radio.

Among the teens I know, they don’t remember much. They were in second grade or younger, but even they knew something big was happening. Many of my peers’ accounts follow this pattern: I was in class when somebody told us that planes had flown into the World Trade Center. Some classes were canceled, some were held in defiance of the terrorists’ intention to disrupt our lives, but Auburn University gave everybody a free pass to skip class if they chose as I recall. I was in the Auburn University Marching Band then; that was the only class I went to that day. Almost all of us came, but no one seemed to know what to say when we got there. We began practice by playing the national anthem, and then we rehearsed because we had to be ready for pre-game and half-time on Saturday.

Everyone everywhere seemed to be struggling with the dual realities that things were never going to be the same, but things had to get back to normal even if it was a “new normal.” In the wake of 9/11, people flooded into churches. People wanted hope, comfort, to mourn, maybe just to not be alone. Whatever the case, they came. Some were coming back, others for the first time. Some thought 9/11 was going to propel us into an awakening of the gospel across our land. That’s not what happened.

Part of that “new normal” was the same spiritual complacency that we had before. The people who had run to the Church for various reasons, all left for one reason, the same reason that people usually leave the Church. They didn’t know God. They came to a church to meet some need–maybe it was met, maybe it wasn’t–but eventually they stopped coming because nothing held them there. That is a far greater tragedy. People came into our churches and did not hear the life-changing gospel and were not everlastingly introduced to the one true and living God. Equally condemning is that many people have come to our churches for years because some need is being met other than their need for a saving relationship with the Creator.

The reason any Christian church exists is to make disciples of Jesus Christ by baptizing them in His name and teaching them to obey everything He commanded, which includes that they themselves are to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). That is our purpose, and we might as well close our doors if reproducing disciples are not being made no matter whatever lesser good we might be doing. On the 100th anniversary of 9/11, all those people who poured into our churches will be dead. It won’t matter what we did for them if we did not simultaneously introduce them to Christ. A man who turned to the church and found momentary comfort but did not repent and believe will be no better off than one who turned to alcohol.

———-Above Is the First Draft, Below Is the Draft I Submitted———-

It’s Sunday night, September 11, 2011 as I write. It’s Tuesday or later as you read. It was Tuesday on September 11 ten years ago. I don’t know what was in the Tallassee Tribune that day; I wasn’t a Tallassee resident back then. I was a student at Auburn University, and I remember that day in more detail than any other day in my life. You probably remember that day with graphic clarity as well. My facebook feed attests to this; it is currently populated by memories, pledges to never forget, and references to that day which changed this nation forever in so many ways. Back then, there was no facebook, no Twitter, and texting hadn’t truly gone mainstream. In 2001, most of us still got our up-to-the-minute news from old-fashioned T.V. and radio. We stayed fixed on them for days because we didn’t know what else to do.

In the wake of 9/11, churches were flooded. People wanted hope, comfort, to mourn, maybe just to not be alone. Whatever the case, they came. Some were coming back, others for the first time. Many thought 9/11 was going to propel us into an awakening of the gospel across our land. It did not. Part of the “new normal” was the same spiritual complacency from before. The people who’d run to the Church for various reasons all left for one reason, the reason people usually leave the Church. They didn’t know God.

They came to church to meet some need–maybe it was met, maybe it wasn’t–but eventually they stopped coming because nothing held them there. That is a far greater tragedy. People came into our churches and did not hear the life-changing gospel and were not everlastingly introduced to the one true and living God. Equally condemning is that people have come to our churches for years because we meet a need other than their need for a saving relationship with the Creator, and too many of us are OK with that.

The reason any Christian church exists is to make disciples of Jesus Christ by baptizing them in His name and teaching them to obey everything He commanded, which includes that they themselves are to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). That is our purpose, and we might as well close our doors if reproducing disciples are not being made no matter whatever lesser good we might be doing. On the 100th anniversary of 9/11, all those people who poured into our churches will be dead. It won’t matter what we did for them if we did not simultaneously introduce them to Christ. A man who turned to the church and found momentary comfort but did not repent and believe will be in hell with everyone else who did not.

There’s plenty of retrospection going on, and rightly so. But we in the church need to look forward and to look to Christ and His purposes. We sing, “This is my Father’s world, o let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” ‎Greg Key, a youth pastor friend of mine posted this on his facebook wall: “We are no closer to Jesus now than we were 10 years ago.” I fear he is right. But what will you do about it?

February 1, 2011

We Can Be So Stupid Sometimes (vol. 2)

I receive emails from AFA (American Family Association), mostly because I want to know what ridiculous or hypocritical thing “Christians” are upset about currently. (I put Christians in quotation marks not to signify that I doubt the faith of members of the AFA, but because I think it is patently false to say that what the AFA represents is a truly Christian response to the world around us.) I’m all sorts of tempted to jump on a number of soap boxes here. However, I think it’s better that I just let the AFA’s latest email and my response to it speak for itself.

[This is where the text of their email begins.]
Subject: The Home Depot doubles funds to gay activist group
January 31, 2011

Dear Paul,
The Home Depot Foundation funnels money to gay activist groups.The Home Depot, through its Foundation, is now matching donations by its employees to further homosexual activism.

GLAAD (a politically active gay group) announced on its website that The Home Depot has agreed to match all contributions made by company employees, despite a company policy to the contrary.

The Home Depot policy states it will not match funds to “political groups” or “groups that have a primary focus of changing laws.” GLAAD is heavily involved in promoting same-sex marriage.

GLAAD and The Home Depot make is easy for company funds to “Go Gay!”Through its “Matching Gifts” program, The Home Depot is willing to violate its own policy to help promote GLAAD’s top agendas – homosexual marriage and more gay characters on prime-time network TV.

AFA is asking you to join a boycott of The Home Depot until it agrees to remain neutral in cultural issues.

TAKE ACTION
1. If you have not done so, sign the Boycott Pledge at BoycottTheHomeDepot.com.
2. Call your local store manager. Let the manager know that you will not be shopping at The Home Depot until the company stops supporting the homosexual agenda. You can find the number here. (click “Store Finder”).
3. Print the paper petition and distribute it at Sunday school and church.

Take Action Now Sign the Boycott Pledge Now!

It is very important that you forward this alert to your friends and family members.

Sincerely,

Tim

Tim Wildmon, President
American Family Association

[This is where their email ends, followed by some other info and links. If you don’t trust me, you can view the email on the web at http://action.afa.net/email/online.aspx?cid=1216&mid=21995980&tid=aa&utm_source=smAFA&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1216]

[This was my reply…which I doubt ever gets read or responded to. But a brother has got to try.]

Dear Tim,

Your stated goal for the boycott of Home Depot is that they would “remain neutral in cultural issues.” For any thinking Christian, it is evident that they have already met your desire. According to Home Depot’s gift program policy, they match gifts to ANY 501(c)(3) charitable organization. That’s about as neutral as it gets. According to the way the IRS defines such organizations, they are “charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals.” Unless I’m wrong, AFA is a 501(c)(3) and is therefore just as eligible for matching gifts as GLAAD is. Neutrality is achieved! You win. Now, let’s stop being contentious in the public square with those who need to hear the Gospel.

In grace and peace,

[That’s it.]

What do you think? Should Christians spend their time, resources, and energy on changing the culture of our country? Or in this case, should we attempt to counteract the time, resources, and energy others spend on influencing our culture in an ungodly direction? I think we can be both personal evangelists and culture warriors, but I know it’s a lot easier to boycott, wear t-shirts, and send emails than it is to sit down and share the gospel with someone. And I think that we (or at least those who claim to be motivated by the same beliefs we profess) sabotage our efforts at the latter by being perceived as doing too much of the former.

January 5, 2011

A Resolution, and a Remark

Filed under: Culture,My Life in General — pecaspers @ 12:13 PM
Tags: ,

I am resolving to post something to my blog at least once a week. Here is “something.”

This post inspired by a Hearitfirst.com “Question of the Day” on facebook:The soap opera “All My Children” premiered on ABC in 1970. Do you have a favorite soap? (We promise not to tell.)

Soap operas have begun dying out. NBC only has one left, CBS still has two, ABC still has three, but Guiding Light and As the World Turns were canned in 2009 and 2010 respectively. The fade out is expected to continue in years to come.

I got sucked into Days of Our Lives for a while when I was a teenager because my older sister watched it. I got into All My Children for a while in college because my TV would only pick up ABC and I wanted something to watch while I ate lunch.

I’m glad to see them go. Soaps were pretty much the lowest form of entertainment our culture had to offer for many years. They played into our base desires for (especially in bored housewives) scandal and sexual fantasies. However, I’m sad that the reason soaps are dying is that we have so many “Real” people to watch throwing their lives away. The American media is making a transition here, but it’s more about switching to a more cost-effective format–unscripted “reality” doesn’t need a staff of writers–than it is about providing a higher-quality content.

What do you think about it?

July 30, 2009

Response to “See the Show, Be the Show” on pluggedinonline.com

Filed under: Responses to Articles — pecaspers @ 4:06 PM
Tags: , ,

Find the article I’m responding to at http://www.pluggedinonline.com/read/read/a0004658.cfm

Adam R. Holz states,

“Most of the scientists involved in this research would say that airtight cause-and-effect relationships are notoriously difficult to prove because the mere correlation of two things doesn’t scientifically prove causation. After making that disclaimer, however, the same researchers would have no problem saying that there’s a strong link between the entertainment people consume and the choices they make, especially in the case of young people.”

Let me suggest a bit of an alternative. People most likely to engage in a certain behavior, are most likely to be entertained by that behavior. The results being:

Sex:
Students who are having sex by age 16 are going to be the ones who will also be consuming a lot of sexualized content in movies, television, and music.
Their peers who are more restrained (or even just restricted) in their sexuality are also not going to find sexual humor and/or acts to be appropriate forms of entertainment.

Violence:
Again, flip the assumption of causation around and it makes a safer bet that violent people expose themselves to more violent electronic media because they like violence.

Smoking:
I’ve got to say, this one I’m pretty much on board with. I’m a big fan of old movies…like really old, 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s stuff. I’ve sat there watching Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant smoking a cigarette and thought to myself, “Man, that’s got to be the coolest thing in the world. Why don’t I smoke?” And you think I’m being sarcastic, but I’m not. I’d love to sit and smoke Marlboro Reds with Clint Eastwood until my lungs turn black if it meant that my voice would be as gravelly and awesome as his.
At the same time, we need to consider the shift of the prevalence of smoking in movies from back then up through the ’80s and those put out in the last twenty years or so. Mostly these days, it seems it’s only the bad guys who smoke. Not that that’s a true solution, Dora’s foxy nemesis rubbed off on the article’s author’s son. Still, I’m holding to it that smoking is less something everybody just does in movies now, and is more often related to the development of the characters themselves–almost universally displaying some flaw.

Now let’s look at how we can easily misread the data if we don’t understand what we’re looking at:

If it seems that not much good comes from much of the media kids consume, well, that’s exactly what researchers at the National Institutes of Health (working with Common Sense Media) concluded after examining 173 studies involving entertainment and behavior. Government researchers found that 80 percent of those studies linked media (defined as TV, movies, video games, music, the Internet and magazines) to adverse outcomes among children, including obesity, sex, smoking, drug and alcohol use, attention problems and poor grades. One of the five study reviewers, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, summarized, “The research is clear that exposure to media has a variety of negative health impacts on children and teens. … We found very few studies that had any positive association [for children’s health].”

I’m constantly amazed at how educated people miss the obvious. Check this out. “…after examining 173 studies…” “…We found very few studies that had any positive association.” Duh! You can’t get grant money for studying to see if kids learn manners from watching Sesame Street. It is FAR more profitable to be against something bad than for something good. They don’t have congressional hearings on how to increase sharing among preschoolers which leads to government funded studies the way they do regarding teen smoking. It’s kind of like saying that more people like Pepsi than Kool-Aid because Pepsi beat Coke in nation-wide blind taste tests. The dataset isn’t what is required to back up the statement being made.

Beyond the Behavior
We can only act on the information we have. No abortion-minded woman ever decided to keep her child without first being confronted with the fact that there was a child to keep and not just a mass of tissue she could have surgically removed. Stories, whatever form they take, have always been a great way to put forth arguments and information in a non-threatening way that by-passes people’s defense mechanisms.
As for the upsurge in the popularity of witchcraft, kids (including teens and adults who have no better way to spend their time) like to emulate their pop-culture heroes. It just so happens (and sadly so) that playing at or reading about being a witch leads you into dark and dangerous places that doing so with cowboys, astronauts, princesses, or kid detectives likely won’t.

And to those who say, “I don’t listen to the words, I just like the beat,” I gotta say that you can find just as good a beat without the vile words. My wife likes pasta, but she doesn’t like tomato sauce. She doesn’t just eat the marinara sauce, disregarding her dislike for it; obviously, she orders alfredo, which she enjoys, instead. That “old saw” is really a cover up for, “All my friends like it, and I am asserting my independence by being just like them.”

Asking Quarrelsome Questions
There is a difference between rejecting the idea that people do bad things because they are entertained by bad things and saying that morally abhorrent entertainment is a societal good.
I’m with Skipknot’s lead singer, Corey Taylor, (and I think it is pretty theologically sound thinking from a worldly mouth) when he says “At the end of the day, there are always going to be mental disorders and people who cause violence for no other reason than the fact that they’re f—ed up and lost.” See folks, we’re born sinners. Cain didn’t need Tony Soprano to make him want to kill Abel. Hitler wanted to take over the world without ever playing Scorched Earth. Men and women are completely capable of inventing all kinds of ways to be evil without any outside influence.

But don’t misread what I’m saying. Eve might not have eaten that fruit if the serpent hadn’t told her lies about it, about herself, and about God. Sometimes we DO do evil things in response to hearing, seeing, or reading about anothers evil actions. That doesn’t mean someone else caused it. See, this argument of causation is based on another cultural lie; it’s a subtle way of mitigating our own (or someone elses) responsibility. “He was a good kid, but those video games he played corrupted him.” “She was such a sweet girl, but then she got into that rap music, and now she dresses like a video-girl, ‘hooks up’ with random guys, and disrespects her parents.” Don’t be fooled. “He” was corrupted before the video games, and “she” was depraved before the first beat was dropped.

I’m also with screenwriter Mike White when he questions the notion that Hollywood should “give life to our most demented fantasies and put them up on the big screen without any hand-wringing.” And I do wish more entertainment providers would, “before cashing those big checks, …at least pause to consider what [they] are saying with [their] movies [etc.] about the value of life and the pleasures of mayhem.” I think we’d be much better off with artists of all kinds self-filtering their work for the betterment of society. But I’m not holding my breath because most people aren’t in business (entertainment or otherwise) for the betterment of society but for the Benjamins. So, it then becomes MY responsibility to not consume soul-destroying entertainment and to confront its influence by offering myself and others something better to think about.

July 8, 2009

A Comment on a Wall Street Journal article

Filed under: Responses to Articles — pecaspers @ 7:18 AM
Tags: ,

I commented on the following article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124598071177158161.html

It says something that the Wall Street Journal has an article about Sunday School. I’m just not sure what. Many things can be and have been said already about what’s left out of this article. Three issues seem most obvious to me.

First, part of the problem is basically an issue of semantics. Many churches are calling their Sunday morning educational programs something other than “Sunday School” because of a misguided attempt to avoid alienating people who haven’t grown up in church. Another angle of this same issue is that many churches are moving those same programs off of the church campus and/or off of Sunday morning. So it is not as though all that many churches are departing from having scheduled gatherings for Christian teaching in a small group setting, rather some are simply calling it something else, doing it somewhere else, and/or having it some other time.

Second, as it pertains to children and youth, the sad reality is that many churches have done so poorly at passing the Gospel to the next generation that there are no school-aged children in the church to teach. I am a Southern Baptist seminary graduate currently looking for a place of service, and I’ve had the opportunity to preach a couple of times at a very small, very old, somewhat rural church. They have one adult Sunday School class, and nothing for pre-schoolers, children, youth, young adults or any other population segment in particular because there simply are none in the church. The church members have outgrown–by years, not numbers–their ministry to children, which is a tragedy. (That said, they still put on Vacation Bible School and had 20 kids show up, so there is hope yet.) Having searched through many descriptions of churches looking for staff positions, this is a rather common problem in many–at least Southern Baptist–churches.

The third problem I see in the American church is the worst. In large part, our local churches have failed to preach and teach a true and clear Gospel. People have passed through our Sunday Schools, our VBSs, our backyard Bible clubs, and sat for weeks, months, and years under our preaching; and they still think that by some exertion of their own strength they may save themselves. . . or worse, they don’t need saving at all. I do not want to say anything against the Church universal or individual churches, but as a member and to some extent as a leader I must confess for us that we have failed to teach clearly the simple facts that God is creator and He is good, that mankind as a whole and individually from the first man Adam on down has failed to live in obedience and broken fellowship with Him, that God in Jesus the Messiah died in our place as the only complete sacrifice that could appease God’s anger at our sin and impart to us His own right standing before God, and finally–and perhaps most often avoided–we (me myself, you the reader, and everyone else) must turn from ourselves and our sin and trust in and follow Jesus as our Master and Savior. . .or be judged and found to be completely lacking.

[Comment here, on the Wall Street Journal website, or both.]

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