Saturday, March 17, 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007

What Is a Locker Room Anyway?

Michael Wilbon's column today titled "Sexuality Disclosed, Ignorance Exposed" is a prime example of the PC police pressure to think like everyone else lest you be labeled "ignorant" or "backward." I have the utmost respect for Wilbon as he is one of my favorite people in the sports media realm, but here at the crossroads of morality, politics, and sports, questions arise to which Wilbon does little or no justice.

Wilbon starts his column by making a direct relationship between the plight of race and the plight of sexual preference, two things which are completely unrelated and yet get referenced so often you would think that homosexuals are all from a continent where every person was genetically homosexual (and somehow reproduced...) This entire topic, though, should be the subject of another entry at another time.

Taking just one aspect of this whole debate into focus: I must ask the question: What is this locker room thing all about to start with? Why are there even dressing rooms?
The question especially gains some momentum as Wilbon quotes some NBA players who express their worries about a homosexual player making sexual passes at them. Wilbon identifies such statement as ignorant.

In attempting to come up with the origin of the sports locker room to begin with, may I suggest a few reasons these locations have evolved:
  1. As a place to stash one's belongings securely (hence the term "locker room")
  2. As a place to gather as a team before a team event
  3. As a place to change clothes in private (though not complete privacy)
  4. As a place to shower, use the restroom, etc.

And there may be other factors involved. In the meantime, consider #'s 3 & 4. Except for the exhibitionist (which is still illegal, I believe) most people prefer to undress and/or get dressed in a secluded spot where they will not be seen by the general public, and more important that they will not be seen by members of the opposite sex. While it seems that this is traditionally more important to women than to men, it does remain important to both sexes. So, this then brings up the very point of issue about the location referred to as a locker room. These have traditionally (and apparently ignorantly by Michael Wilbon's standards) been labeled "Men" for men and "Women" for women. Am I right?

So, in our apparently backward culture we have always divided up men and women in their locker rooms for some reason. Is it merely because they are not usually on the same teams so a women's basketball has their own locker room just like the opposing men's team would also have a separate locker room? No, because obviously there is a common standard that is applied to the arena of being undressed because of the sexual nature of wearing no clothes. If a man knowingly enters a women's locker room where women are, he will most likely face some sort of legal action. Such entry is illegal in order to protect those who have taken shelter in this very place for the purposes of their own privacy. Women are not called "heterophobes" because they desire to have privacy from those who might look upon them sexually. In the same way, men are not called "heterophobes" for desiring a similar right of privacy.

So now in our progressive day and age when all things are permissable, is the locker room to become a thing of the past? Is any man who decides to get dressed in the locker room rather than on the bench going to be labeled "some-sort-of-phobe"? I'm sure that I'll be labeled even for posing such a question, but it begs to be asked: If being homosexual is equivalent but different from being heterosexual, then what is the future of the sports locker room? Maybe there should be locker rooms for heterosexual males, heterosexual females, and then an additional one for homosexual males and one for homosexual females. But wait, wouldn't it make more sense for homosexual males and females to dress together since there is no sexual attraction involved? But wait yet again, wouldn't it be wrong for two homosexual males to dress in the same locker room? (I mean, we're talking about committed, monogamous relationships with high standards here, right?)

I imagine the only solution is for locker rooms to be more like dressing rooms with completely individual stalls for getting dressed and also individual showers. I guess it's a good idea to buy stock in bathroom tiles as there's going to be a lot of remodeling.

Desiring God Conference for Pastors 07

For several years now I have desired to attend the Desiring God Conference for Pastors in Minneapolis and finally had the opportunity this week from Feb 5-7. The overall theme of the conference was "Holiness." The following is a brief synopsis of each speaker at the conference. [Audio of all talks here.]

Keynote Speaker: R. C. Sproul
Having already read and heard most of the things that R. C. Sproul usually taught on the topic of holiness, I was slightly complacent about his talks going into the conference kind of like watching the 1995 Super Bowl on NFL Films…you already know what happens but you're still interested in seeing the event. However, being my first time to see and hear Sproul in person, I was quite surprised by his presentation and was certainly impressed by his teaching. Even being familiar with his anecdotes and the points that he makes from the passages to which he refers, Sproul's teaching on holiness was quite fresh and certainly refreshing.

Pastoral Speaker: Thabiti Anyabwile
I was familiar with Thabiti Anyabwile before I arrived because he has written a few articles for 9Marks and he also has a blog. His talk entitled "The Glory of Holiness in the Life of the Pastor" poured out of Ezekiel 8 & 9 (a text we all know by heart, right?) and was rich in application for the role of the pastor with the congregation. While a summary seems too simple for the greatness of all that Thabiti taught, he did sum up his exhortation with the call to cultivate holiness in ourselves [pastors] and in our people. His first point (out of 10) was the most stirring to me: Pastors are to help their congregations choose God over idols by presenting God's majesty. God is often (and wrongly) made to be so tame that people's eyes are not even attracted to God.

Biographical Speaker: John Piper
John Piper never ceases to amaze me with his passion and ability to bring to life things in which we struggle otherwise to find much relevance. While I felt that I had some appreciation for the person and life of Andrew Fuller, Piper presented his role in the history of the church and missions in such a way that by the finish one wonders if anything good could possibly have taken place outside of the way that God used Fuller. Piper wins the award as well for the title of this talk: "Holy Faith, Worthy Gospel, World Vision: Andrew Fuller's Broadsides Against Sandemanianism, Hyper-Calvinism, and Global Unbelief." That title has more content that my last sermon. As you can also derive from the title, such a biographical talk has little to do with the chronological events of such a man's life, but rather of the ways that he impacting not only his own era, but continues to impact us today.

Missions Speaker: William Mackenzie
Think you know and like books? William Mackenzie is a publisher whose goals include telling children the Bible through books and evangelizing the world through the printing of great books. I concluded that while pastors (in general) tend to pride themselves on the amount of reading they do, in reality the amount of reading that pastors do today is only better by comparison to our society in general. As Mackenzie named off some hugely influential books and asked how many in the room had read them, only a small percentage of hands went up. Among the books that he suggested have influenced the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the past few centuries were:
"The Life of God in the Soul of Man" by Henry Scougal
"A Call to United, Extraordinary Prayer" by Jonathan Edwards
"The Bruised Reed" by Richard Sibbes
"The Mortification of Sin" by John Owen
"Around the Wicket Gate" by Charles Spurgeon

Instead, today's society pats people on the back for reading books with titles like "The Purpose Driven Life" or "Your Best Life Now" (curiously, neither of which were for sale at the conference book store.)

Closing Thoughts

The value of such a conference by its very design is that the organizers strategically design everything for the good of their target audience: men in ministry. From the talks to the prayer room to the Q & A to the promoting of fellowship between sessions, the ministry of Desiring God hosts a superb conference for pastors. However, I am somewhat inclined to agree with Thabiti Anyabwile's assessment at his blog that the conference should be hosted in Grand Cayman next year rather than Minneapolis in February.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

'Spann'ing the Weather

James Spann's name has already appeared recently here on this blog in reference to his being in the headlines lately for weather-politics. As a meteorologist, Spann has a blog associated with Birmingham's ABC 33/40 affiliate.

Spann's blog is the anti-TV forecast. Every meteorologist (and weather person, for those who aren't) is limited to giving tiny soundbites about the forecast that hardly go anywhere near a real explanation of what is happening. Even on the much-heralded Weather Channel the usual forecasts deal with very little of the computer models and the explanations behind what is actually going on. The exception on The Weather Channel is when one of their experts is brought into the picture to explain some specific weather event, such as a developing winter storm.

Spann's blog goes deep into the weather, giving explanations beyond what most of us hear, and to the degree that some of us desire. He actually explains the reasons why the high temperature in Birmingham has failed to reach the forecast high nearly every day for the past two weeks. Spann argues that too many meteorologists are depending too much on computer models that do not "think" about what is taking place, but merely suggest a forecast based on history and averages.

The Weather Channel is sort of like the Cliff's Notes version of the weather forecast and explanation. James Spann (and I'm sure there are others) is the 1200 page novel with the real details.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Can the Dog Whisperer Tame a Lab?

Ever notice how Caesar, "The Dog Whisperer," never has a Labrador with him in his pack? I know that he has worked with a few on his show, but it seems that Labs are not part of his personal pack, at least in the scenes I've seen.

Maybe because Labs are like the kid that gets sent to alternative school because the regular school couldn't get him to conform...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

James Spann to Air Thoughts on Global Warming Controversy

Birmingham meteorologist James Spann will be defending his position on Monday night on FNN with Hannity & Colmes and on CNN with Glenn Beck.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Global Warming? Not So Fast...

James Spann is a Birmingham-area meteorologist for ABC's 33/40. He has been one meteorologist (there may be others) who has responded to Heidi Cullen. Heidi Cullen's statements at the Weather Channel have raised quite a few eyebrows as she has boldly ridiculed anyone who denies her view of global warming, even going so far as to call for the revoking of their meteorologist certification. Her actual words from December 21st:
"I'd like to take that suggestion a step further. If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming."

James Spann writes an interesting op/ed that raises issues not only with Cullen's extreme statements, but with the "foregone" conclusion that society has caused global warming. Among the interesting points that Spann makes are the record high temperatures for the month of January in the state of Alabama. In a blog reply he writes: "The warming in recent years is statistically no different from the “global warming” in the decade of the 1930s. Our warmest January temperatures on record in Alabama came in 1949 (81 degrees on January 10), as well as 1932, 1937, 1943, 1950 among others."

One Question in the Debate
What Spann brings up is something that I have wanted someone to address: namely, what about all those other "hot" years in the past? Recently quite a fuss was being made about the fact that NYC had no snow - the latest since some year they stated from the 1800's (let's say it was 1883.) So, my question is: what about 1883? There were obviously warmer winters in years prior to the impact of the industrial revolution.

Average temperatures are just that - averages. Averages are developed over all the years on record (I assume) and then we state that the average temperature for January 19th in Birmingham, AL is 53. While it will actually be fairly close to that today, there really is about a 40-50 degree range that one might expect for a high temperature on January 19th.

Global Warming
As far as the WARMING thing goes, all the facts point to a difference in temperatures now as compared to previous decades. Are we in a warming trend? Yes. James Spann and nearly every meteorologist would agree. Does the earth go through warming and cooling trends? Again, "yes" seems to be the widely accepted answer.

So, what is the cause? It seems that it is too soon to tell. Hindsight may prove or disprove many of the current theories on global warming. Stories may be told about the winters of '01-'07 the way most people talk about the winters in the last '70's being the coldest ones they've experienced.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

LOST: End in Sight?

Maybe they can pull LOST together in a reasonable way...see this TV Week article. I don't think anyone has been happy about last Fall's 6 episodes that went nowhere. While I certainly don't think that viewer desires should control the direction of a show either, LOST has seemed at times like an unpredictable tornado -no one will ever be able to pick up all these pieces.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Book: John Grisham's "The Innocent Man"

You wouldn't know that The Innocent Man is non-fiction without introduction. I guess the full title gives it away since novels don't usually carry an extended title, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town. However true the account actually is, the book reads more like fiction than fact. Grisham mixes actual facts with some fill-in-the-gaps details that appear to be in keeping with the account he records after much detailed research. As the inside cover reads, the rape and murder of Debra Sue Carter in Ada, Oklahoma, brings about the arrest of two men, both apparently innocent. One of them, Ron Williamson, receives the death penalty.

The book is more about the holes in the legal system than about the actual death penalty, and one comes away somewhat wary of the justice system as practiced in small town America. If anything, the value of a good lawyer is magnified.

True Crime genre books are not in abundance on my shelves, but there is something very intriguing and fascinating about reading something that actually did take place. My preference in fiction writing has always been stories that are real to life with characters who are real people. Hence, I've always made fun of writers like David Baldacci who seems to fill his books (at least the older ones which I have read) with characters who are all virtual superheroes - everyone is beautiful, athletic, and smart.

So, I enjoyed reading The Innocent Man, but it probably ranks pretty low on the Grisham list for me.

Grisham has never been shy about being against the death penalty, something which may have influenced his desire to publish Ron Williamson's story. With The Broker being Grisham's most recent novel and also being a deviation from his classic legal thriller genre, it will be interesting to see if he returns to the type of books that made him famous. I have a feeling that he will continue to branch out and attempt some other new things, although he insinuates in the epilogue that another such non-fiction work is probably not in his immediate interest.