Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dates, beds, & "Six"-ashes

This has been quite a busy week (and weekend), hence the lack of any appreciable entry to Annales since last week.

In news, Katharyn and I took a giant leap toward our marriage life over the past seven days, securing a general idea for when our wedding will be (don't ask specifics, though, because it's not official yet).

Along the same lines, we (and by we, I mean Kat's parents) purchased Katharyn and I (and by Katharyn and I, I mean Kat) a bedroom suite that we will use once we are married. And let me tell you: if you're in the mood to feel old and mature, go buy some furniture with your significant other. It's quite an interesting experience.

As a corollary to the experience of buying furniture with Kat, let me say this: you never, and I mean never, want to be on the opposite side of a bargaining deal with Kat. She will tear you to pieces. I couldn't believe how amazing her bargaining skills were. Note to self: send Kat out to bargain more often (really, though, I shouldn't be that surprised, recalling some of our more adventuresome excursions over the years, the trip to the Gainesville, Fla. Steak-'N-Shake being foremost in my mind).

The biggest news this week, though, is not even my own. After years and years of poop and pink, Tyler Ray Fiveash and Ali Marie Levine will be man and wife as of this Saturday (which leads me to ask the all-important question: will Tyler & Ali now become the Sixashes? hahahahha).

I was honored to be asked to stand with Tyler on this important day, and I am so excited about the whole affair. It's outstanding: I'm going to get to celebrate a whole weekend with my best friend and his fiancee/wife while enjoying the company of my best friends from Vanderbilt -- and all of THAT being done in the company of the (freakin') Gulf of Mexico!

Needless to say, it's going to be an awesome weekend. The general plan, right now, is to head to Tally-ho for the evening, and then get up early on Thursday and make the trek across the Florida panhandle and down the penninsula (through "the horrid place") to Sarasota. It's going to be another fun road trip, brought to you by the letters K and D.

FEELING: Excited
LISTENING TO: My supervisor's cell phone ring

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Frustrating love

Have you ever noticed that sometimes your parents love you so much it hurts? I'm currently experiencing an episode of that. I won't mention what it's about, because it's rather personal, but let's just say that I thank the Lord that they love me, but I wish that they would have a little more faith in me from time-to-time.

In other news, Kendall Harmon posted a link to a very well-written and well-thought-out sermon from back a year or so ago regarding how they Church should deal with one of the most pressing issues that it faces today.

An excerpt:

In fact, being a Christian means to be one who walks a different way.

In fact, being a Christian means to be one who does not seek to fulfill all physical desires.

In fact, being a Christian means to be one who shuns the lusts of the flesh and tries to walk a more noble path, to be one who follows the Christ who says, "Come, and follow me."


I'm sure you can tell where he's headed. Read it all here.

FEELING: Frustrated, but loved
LISTENING TO: A song that's stuck in my head from the radio on the drive in this morning

Friday, July 14, 2006

Denying Christ to fit in

There are countless stories of martyrs who would not deny that they were "Christians," followers of Jesus Christ, whose lives were taken because of it.

Now a pastor in Ohio has "called 'moderate' church leaders together to counter the conservative presence in American politics -- and convince mainstream voters that Christians care about more than banning gay marriage and abortion and restoring school prayer."

He said, "At our opening meeting, pastor after pastor said they have members ... who won't even tell people they are Christian any more, because Christian is such a dirty word."

Just ask the martyrs: Christian has always been a dirty word.

Jesus said, "Those who are ashamed of me and of mine in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

Even if we disagree with other Christians, we should never be ashamed to bear the name of Christ -- especially to those who have never had a relationship with him.

Here's the whole article.

FEELING: Angry
LISTENING TO: The hymn, Onward, Christian Soldiers

Isn't this why Cramner was a protestant?

So in all of the hooplah about gay bishops and what-not, people have overlooked one of the resolutions that the Episcopal Church's convention passed (well, not everyone -- Kendall Harmon has been all over it).

The resolution asks a church committee to "collect and develop materials ... to address anti-Jewish prejudice expressed in and stirred by portions of Christian Scriptures and liturgical texts."

What?! We're going to edit the Bible, now?

An Episcopalian who supports the resolution says, "Nobody's talking about changing the Bible, but we are a liturgical church, and like all liturgical churches we pick and choose the parts of Scripture we use in our services. That's different from thinking Scripture itself should be revised."

In other words, as Christianity Today's Weblog puts it, "the Episcopal 'church' isn't saying parts of the Bible should be removed; just that some parts shouldn't be read aloud. As it turns out, only some Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."

Apparently, some in the Episcopal Church have forgotten that one of Thomas Cramner's big deals was having the Bible put in every church for the inspection of everyone -- he trusted the Scriptures in the hands of the people. Guess these folks don't.

Here's the article from which I got the quote and the resolution-text.

FEELING: Incredulous
LISTENING TO: Nothing, 'cause I'm sitting here dumbfounded

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Modern-day Sadducees and Pharisees

Excellent post over on SBC Outpost: "Liberalism's first cousin."

An excerpt:

Liberals expunge scripture in favor of cultural whims: women today should be pastors because Paul was a male chauvinist whose writings are woefully behind the times, homosexuality is acceptable if the partners are truly in love and committed to a monogamous relationship, etc. Fundamentalists decried this abuse of scripture (and rightly so) yet in practice they also deny the sufficiency of scripture for daily living, favoring often to appeal to heritage or accumulated practices rather than a dependence on scriptural authority.

Thus we are taught that we shouldn’t attend movies because of Hollywood wickedness, that we shouldn’t play cards because the Joker card represented Jesus, that we shouldn’t listen to secular music because Jimmy Buffet might smoke dope, that being "not of the world" means to withdraw from culture, on and on,
ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Now, while it is obvious to some that these positions are biblical, it is just as obvious to others that there are equally valid biblical reasons to hold opposing positions. Legalism is not an individual having a conviction to abstain from alcohol or not attend R-rated movies or having his hair cut above his ears. Legalism (and thus Fundamentalism) is the projection of that individual’s conviction onto another person who is not in violation of scripture.


Read it all.

FEELING: Still amazed by the Ten Commandments robe (below)
LISTENING TO: NPR's All Things Considered afternoon news magazine

Sweet home Alabama

I have to say that I used to have some fear and trepidation about living in Alabama. There's such a stigma about this State. But something today reminded me why I have enjoyed my time in the "Heart of Dixie."

It was my first time going to a certain county (I won't say which one -- and you'll see why) for court. We were going for a 9 a.m. hearing on a motion in a case that we've been working on. I was excited, because one of my attorney-bosses was going to be filing a motion with the Court that I had written (hey, it's always exciting to know that you're actually getting to contribute something to the betterment of society, e.g., keeping a bad guy in jail).

I was sitting (on the inside of the bar!) with my attorney-boss while we talked with one of the local district attornies about the case in which my attorney-boss was about to argue the motion. All of a sudden, a deputy strolled out and said, "Hear ye, hear ye, the Circuit Court of _____ County, Alabama is now in session, the Honorable _____ _____ presiding. God save Alabama and this honorable court."

That, in and of itself, wasn't that strange -- the tradition of opening court with the ancient "oyez" (Law French for "listen!"), or in this case an anglicized "hear ye", along with a invocation is certainly not new (indeed, it recalls the days when a herald would go in front of the King to announce that "His Majesty" will now hear petitions).

When I looked up, though, to see the judge come in, my jaw dropped wide open, and I was so transfixed that I forgot I was standing up (I quickly sat down when I noticed that everyone else had).

What, pray-tell, befuddled me so greatly? What awesome spectacle stole my reason and left my dumbfounded?

Nothing less than the robe that the learned judge was wearing. It was a typical, black judicial robe. But, embroidered on the chest of the robe, in shining golden thread, were all ten of the Ten Commandments:



Sweet home, Alabama!

FEELING: Amazed
LISTENING TO: what else -- Lynyrd Skynryd

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Someone else looks at Baptists and liturgy

One the recurring themes in my blog is my recent search for a liturgical expression of orthodox, evangelical Christianity, and how that search has led me, and my fiancee, on a wonderful journey through American denominations.

I've felt somewhat disloyal to my Southern Baptist roots during this trip, but it seems I am not the only Baptist to wonder why so many people like running around with prayer books.

An excerpt:

But, liturgy in this elementary sense is more than just a schedule. A schedule has elements, and the elements have an order, a sequence, which is sometimes dictated by the internal logic of the liturgy, sometimes the result of custom.

The offering, for example, could appear in many places in a Baptist liturgy. It is usually one of the preliminarys before the preaching of the sermon. Indeed, it “must” be before the sermon, because of the internal logic of a standard Baptist liturgy, which has the evangelization of the lost as its most fundamental purpose. For this reason, the whole service moves toward the climax of the sermon, the invitation. The denouement must be either the wistful prayer of the pastor for lasting conviction on those who did not come forward, or the joyful introduction of those who walked the aisle to profess faith in Christ, to rededicate their lives to Christ, or to move their letter of membership to this particular Baptist congregation. The final Big Bang of the service must be the invitation, and what follows it cannot be allowed to diminish it.

Interestingly, in services which follow the Baptist liturgy as to the elements and their scheduling in the service, but whose climactic moment is NOT an evangelistic invitation, I have sometimes seen the offering moved to the end of the service, after the sermon. The rationale for this, explained to me by those who feel a need to defend this seemingly “unorthodox” practice, is that it affords people an opportunity to “respond” to the preaching of God’s Word by making an offering (ostensibly, out of gratitude).

What would happen if a Baptist Church decided to drop the gospel invitation? I’ve seen discussions about this, and heard about even more of them. It is not a pretty sight. Why?

Just this – to drop the gospel invitation from the end of the sermon in a Baptist Church would be tantamount to abandoning the identity of the Baptist worship service. “We’re Baptists, for crying out loud! We’re here to preach the gospel. Of course we’re going to keep the invitation after the sermon.”


Read the whole thing. It's worth it.

FEELING: Tired
LISTENING TO: Air 1, the positive alternative (thanks again, iTunes)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Going to court

I've already been to three courts in my time here in the office of Alabama's Attorney General, and now I'll get to add two more experiences to my docket. First, I will be journeying with my division supervisors to Talladega, Ala. for a session of the Talladega County Grand Jury. Then, on Wednesday, I get to head down to Andalusia to interview a case investigator for one case and file a motion in another.

I think my old boss, Solicitor General Kevin Newsom said it best: "Appellate work is like being a dermatologist -- no emergencies, predictable hours." If that analogy holds, I think working in violent crimes is like being the Surgeon on Call in the Emergency Room.

Does that make me the intake nurse?

FEELING: Excited
LISTENING TO: The vacuum cleaner in the AG's office

Friday, July 07, 2006

New post on Ambulans

Now that I'm back from the Fourth of July, I've had an opportunity to get back into my routine and publish a post over at my Bible-blogging site, Ambulans in Itinere.

Read "Hope on a bathroom stall" here.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Back to the grind

...and what a refreshing weekend it was. As I wrote last Friday, I was really looking forward to going home to Rogersville for the Fourth of July. And, as usual, the Promised Land came through for me. A brief look at Independence Weekend 2006 in Historic Rog Vegas.

LONG TRIP

Katharyn came up to Montgomery on Friday afternoon, and she and I had to wade through a suprising level of traffic to get from Montgomery to Birmingham. A trip that normally takes about an hour took upwards of an hour-and-a-half: not to mention the rain that we got to drive through.

Once we finally made it to Birmingham, I had to stop at my apartment complex to pay the rent and to help my old roommate and fraternity brother, Scott Williams (2d Lieut., U.S. Army; A&S '05; Nu Founding Father '03), move some of his furniture out of the apartment and into his moving vehicle. Young Scottie will be movin' on up to Fort Knox for his first posting as a commissioned United States Army officer. Hooah.

SO JESUS WEARS GAP?

So if the Devil Wears Prada, does that mean that Jesus wears Gap? Probably not. But the movie was funny, and I hereby admit (before all to whom these presents shall come) that I liked it. You're welcome, Kat.

GOD-AND-COUNTRY-PALOOZA

One of the things that my home church, which those of you who wait with baited breath for each glorious edition of Annales know, First Baptist Rogersville does well is our annual Fourth of July worship service. It seems that each year, the service gets grander, and the participants become more numerous.

This year was no different, and I think this service is surpassed only by the Christmas pageant and Easter play for sheer numbers of people involved. Besides the usual suspects -- pastor, minister of music, youth minister, Sanctuary choir, and organist -- we had a veritable congregation of special guests worship leaders. Among them:

American Legion color guard
• American Legion Auxiliary color guard
Cherokee High School Naval J.R.O.T.C. color guard
• Cherokee High School Concert Choir's Chorale
• Hawkins County Scottish Rite Club's bagpiper
• Brass ensemble, consisting of faculty from Rogersville Middle School, Cherokee High School, and Carson-Newman College

As you can tell, it was quite a production. But even through all the celebrations of our nation's independence and God's providence in establishing the United States, our pastor -- and the rest of our church leadership -- was careful to preface the worship service with a clear presentation of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

After church, we went downstairs for a full-on, old-style Southern Baptist after-church church-wide meal. The old ladies came out of the woodwork to put together a buffet table that was literally (just including the entrees) about twenty to twenty-five feet long. Add in the dedicated dessert table, and you had a massive Baptist food-a-thon with all the necessary accoutrements: fried chicken, honey ham, green beans (cooked properly), sweet potatoes, more casserole than you can shake a stick at, and lots, lots more.

My favorite from the church-wide fellowship hall cramming event was the chocolate brownie banana pudding. I mean, good Lord. Glory, hallelujah.

WE ARE (CLAP, CLAP) CHER-O-KEE

After I rolled myself (and Kat, who has developed quite a taste for Southern cooking, clearly a sign of her developing civilization -- thank you, Vandy) home from church, I went to planning an outing with some of my friends from high school.

We got together at my house and, over a few choice beverages (along with a peculiar yellow drink that my dad was responsible for), caught up with one another. I found out that my good friends Michael Anderson and Megan Price have (finally) gotten engaged, and they, too, will beat Katharyn and I to the altar when they are married on Memorial Day weekend, 2007.

I am very happy for them, and I pray God would bless their engagement and their marriage together. Michael's big news, besides (obviously) that he is getting married, is that he has moved into his house over in Whitesburg, Tennessee. I haven't gotten to see his new house yet, but the word on the street is that it's great.

FIREWORKS

On Monday, Kat and I generally lounged about the homeplace, enjoying spending time in the beauty and peace of Southern hospitality and mountain charm (i.e., my hometown). We headed over to Crockett Springs Park and cruised through town a few times. My dad got in from the road, and he and mom put together quite a spread that night.

Tuesday was the Fourth, and we (along with the rest of Rogersville), came out for the Independence Day Parade. This year's parade was one of the longest ones I can remember. The parade on the Fourth usually is not as long as the parade that the Chamber of Commerce holds for our Christmas celebration (in December), but this year was different. Normally, the Fourth of July parade lasts about 30-35 minutes, including the fire engines and rescue vehicles at the end.

This year's parade lasted an hour and ten minutes. It was amazing. Every politician from Congressman Bill Jenkins on down to folks running for the city Board of Education. My favorite float was the one for one of our Congressional candidates (though I don't necessarily support him, since I haven't had an opportunity to really get to know the candidates yet) who had a giant boat on his float with the slogan "Roe, Roe, Roe -- your vote" (since his last name is Roe).

Fun times.

After the parade, we went to the traditional cookouts at the various homeplaces around Rogersville and met up with the folks from high school and our social circle. Then it was up to Beach Hill (the home of one of my best friends from growing up, Elizabeth Beach) to watch the fireworks. Kat and I joined my sister, Liz, and others while we watched the "best fireworks in the South."

All in all, a good trip. I'm looking forward to this August, too, when I can see some more of my high school friends that I missed while I was home.

FEELING: Rejuvenated, after a stay in my Mountains
LISTENING TO: Air 1, the positive alternative