Monday, November 24, 2014


The grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown.

I had commented on Tilting At Windmills last week that I was concerned that the grand jury decision would be about preventing civil disobedience, rather than justice.

I was wrong-they made a decision that they had to know was going to be unpopular with many Americans.

I do not know the truth of what happened, but as fires break out in Ferguson, I am saddened that the frustration of this community has to be released in this way.

My prayers go out to the people of Ferguson-I do not pretend to understand what it feels like to be in your shoes, but I pray that casualties are minimal and that cooler heads can soon prevail.

It has felt like race relations had come a long way in my lifetime, but the perspective is different for a white man from the Philadelphia suburbs.

I know racism is not eradicated, but am I blind? 

Are things truly no better than they were when Dr. King was assassinated?

While Michael Brown's shooting was not necessarily racially motivated, all of the destruction and violence happening in the wake of this decision is racially motivated.

Tonight, as I watch live television coverage of my fellow Americans running into a burning auto parts store with the intent to steal, I feel sad. 

Sad for the community, because when the night is over and the fires go out, the sun will rise on the carnage you will have to live with until things can be rebuilt (if they are rebuilt).

This is not the answer.

I wish I knew what was.

Friday, November 21, 2014


"If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough,
it will be believed"

-Adolf Hitler

American Atheists, a non-profit that claims to protect the rights of atheists and to ensure the “absolute separation of government and religion,” has declared war on Christianity.

An explosive new blog post on the organization’s web site advocates for the “eradication” of fundamental Christians." 

In the post, Al Stefanelli, American Atheists’ Georgia State Director, makes a bizarre connection between radical Muslims and Christians. In speaking about “fundamentalist Christian and radical Islamic doctrines,” Stefanelli says that both are “dangerous, damaging and disingenuous.” 

Is it me, or does this guy sound reminiscent of a certain German official from the 1930's?

Throughout the blog post, Stefanelli continues to allude to similarities between Christians and radical Muslims, but declines to truly define them.

Aside from making this comparison, he goes on to write that “most of these people” (again referring to Christians) “lack the maturity and intelligence” to act in “a socially acceptable manner.” Many of these adherents, he believes, are “sociopaths,” “psychopaths” or simply “delusional.”

Certainly some fringe Christian believers qualify as extremists but Stefanelli’s comments are so vague it’s impossible to discern who the targets of his rage truly are. 

What is truly scary is that many Americans will see this bile in print on a web site and take it as fact, rather than for what it is, the ranting of an atheist extremist.

Who are these violent Christians that Stefanelli is so frightened by? 

The way he speaks about it one would assume there are militant Christians lurking at his front door. 

In one particularly erroneous portion of his text, Stefanelli writes:

The fact is that fundamentalist Christians and radical Muslims are not interested in coexisting or getting along.  They have no desire for peace. They do not want to sit down with us in diplomatic efforts to iron out our differences and come to an agreement on developing an integrated society.

They want us to die.

Stefanelli then claims that radical interpretations of the Bible require that believers “kill the infidel,” but he provides no evidence to support that statement.

Possibly because there is not any!

Stefanelli really gets his Nazi groove on in this statement:

But the underbelly of fundamentalist Christianity and radical Islam does not operate in the legal system. They don’t respond to lawsuits, letters, amicus briefs or other grass-roots campaigns and they must, must, must be eradicated.

Considering his group’s involvement in fighting Christians and conservatives on a variety of issues, one wonders what, exactly, he means by “eradicated.” 

Maybe he thinks some kind of a camp setting is a good idea? 

Here's the thing, Al.

Christianity is about love.

Even when we feel people are sinners (like those who advocate killing Christians), we are charged to love the sinner and pray for them. Or pray for you, in this scenario.

In short, Christianity is about open-mindedness and tolerance.

Two words that do not seem to be in the atheist lexicon.

Christians should be concerned. 

Assaults against our faith have become frequent occurrences.

The same people who demand tolerance for their life choices apparently have no tolerance for our beliefs.

And sadly, while Stefanelli is clearly the voice of a radical fringe element of atheists, many Americans will buy this shinola out of ignorance.

The enemies of Christianity will cite the First Amendment and use buzz words like "freedom of worship." 

And just like Barnum predicted, some of the people will be fooled all of the time.

There have been acts committed by people who identify as Christian that I do not condone, 

I'd like to know how the "eradication" proposed by Stefanelli is any less extreme than those fringe elements he claims to fear.

Make no mistake-there is an agenda at work here. 

That agenda has very little to do with the morality the atheist camp pretends to exhibit.

Because if an atheist were comfortable with their beliefs (or lack thereof), why would they care what we believe?

I posted this same clip on my last bit, and I am repeating it here because I believe it is relevant and powerful. 

Like the character in the film, Stefanelli abandoned reason a long time ago.

Christians need to be able to sniff out the BS and call the BS-ers on it. 

Just because we are charged to love the sinner does not mean we have to sit back and let ourselves be eradicated.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Kurt Warner is probably best known to Americans for being the leader of the “Greatest Show on Turf” offense for the St. Louis Rams when they won Super Bowl XXXIV.

Considered probably the best undrafted player in NFL history, Warner was bagging groceries before a stroke of luck turned him into the NFL’s hottest QB.

Warner is also known for his evangelical side, which gained worldwide attention when redirecting an interviewer after Super Bowl XXXIV.

Interviewer: "Kurt, first things first--tell me about the final touchdown pass to Isaac."

Warner: "Well, first things first, I've got to thank my Lord and Savior up above--thank You, Jesus.”

Really-who does this guy think he is?

Together with his wife Brenda, Warner has been active as both a Christian speaker and a volunteer for missionary causes.

Warner’s religious faith has come under fire in the past, as has his (gasp) public support of his wife.

The Warner family

His faith again came under fire last weekend, after a joke he cracked on an NFL pregame show led to an online assault by militant atheists.

Warner was doing a segment Sunday on the NFL Network featuring Steelers QB Ben Roethlesberger, discussing his ability to adapt to defensive schemes.

“I’m not fully buying the evolutionary theory where one species transforms into another,” Warner said. “But if we’re talking about the idea that every species has the ability to adapt over time, well then I’m all in.”

“As a matter of fact, I’ve actually seen this happen in a group I’ve been studying for years: NFL quarterbacks,” he added.

A joke flavored with possible pro-Christian sentiments? 

This guy should be stoned, right?

Or worse.

“People who believe in creationism should just be lined up and shot for being too stupid to live,” one Deadspin commenter wrote, “and are too dangerous to have walking around in society.”

Yes, unlike people who threaten to shoot anyone who does not agree with them. 

Nothing says "open-mindedness" like a death threat.

“Didn’t [K]urt Warner have a ton of concussions in his career? Why do people inject their stupid religious beliefs in their commentary,” another brilliant screed read.

Although, if you think about it, the level of intelligence demonstrated by these twittering idiots does sort of make a case for them being close relatives of monkeys, right?

I'm just saying...

Or did I just insult the monkeys?

Warner’s decorum compared to that of his "critics" on Twitter made a compelling argument for the character-building aspect of religion, as well as further demonstrating how nasty the so-called liberal and tolerant left can be.

And how close-minded the allegedly enlightened truly are.

Christians are strong in their beliefs, but are called to love everyone, including those who demonstrate behavior they may disagree with.

A trait that Warner has demonstrated every publicly captured moment during the fifteen years I have followed his career (this is me, coming out of the closet as a Rams fan).

I feel like I owe a debt to Warner. 

In September of  1999 I was at the lowest point in my life-I'd lost the best friend in my life during the summer of 1998 (to cancer), followed by losing the love of my life a few weeks prior to the football season (we broke up-to my knowledge she is still very much alive and, I sincerely hope, very happy with her life-although it would be ok if she regretted us not working out just a little bit).

Warner's "rags-to-riches" story and the Rams "out-of-nowhere" season made football fun for me to watch again. 

It also helped snapped me out of a dark mood that had lasted far too long. 

I still remember the feeling I had on that last tackle of the Super Bowl. As the confetti showered, I felt like I was finished with all of the baggage I was carrying. 

Don't get me wrong-football is a game. But that fall, it was a diversion I needed, and I thank Kurt for that. 

Setting the game aside, Warner is simply a class act.

Losing his next Super Bowl to the Patriots, he was all class.

Benched by the Rams, he was an exemplary teammate, with never a disparaging word about the man who replaced him. 

Criticized by the St. Louis media for his religious beliefs and for his unwavering support of his wife, he was still a gentleman whenever interviewed. 

Ditto during similar benching situations in New York and Arizona. 

And after all the adversity, he still led Arizona to its first-ever Super Bowl and darn near pulled off an upset.

In the wake of the controversy over the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, Warner never accused the Saints of a cheap shot, simply acknowledging that it was a "violent game."

Warner is active in both the Phoenix and St. Louis communities, and heads the First Things First charity. 

This is a man whose life embodies his Christian faith.

And someone is advocating lining him up and shooting him simply because of a different point of view?

This reminds me of the "debate" in the movie God's Not Dead.

Atheists are not content with their own disbelief-they need everyone to share it with them.

Tolerance is a two-way street, athiests!

Stand tall, Kurt-I know you do not really need my support (you've got Someone far more meaningful than me in your corner), but you have my support anyway, along with my admiration.

Not for your performance as a football player, but for how you conduct yourself as a person.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Although this post features a picture of Arizona rocker Roger Clyne, and references the recent article about him in the local New Times weekly, this is not a music post.

I have posted before about the Arizona media's need to not only find an Arizona connection to every news story, but to bolster their "street cred," like the time the local paper compared Tempe to Times Square in NYC.

I lived in the Philadelphia suburbs for my first thirty-two years, virtually in the shadow of New York City, and I do not recall that city's media ever comparing us to New York.

So why Arizona has such an inferiority complex is beyond me.

They did it again last week in the Roger Clyne article in the local entertainment rag New Times.

Roger Clyne And The Peacemakers are a regional act that has a devoted following. 

Back in the '90s, Clyne's band the Refreshments signed to a major label and scored a radio hit with "Banditos." 

His music straddles the line between Southwest mythologizing and frat-friendly party songs about drinking tequila.

The article draws several comparisons between Clyne and Bruce Springsteen, like the one I quote below:

“(Clyne) resembles both Springsteen and Buffet, especially because he's a savvy businessman whose main income in the digital era is from live shows and merchandise”

I'm not even sure I'd agree that their musical styles are all that similar similar, let’s remember that The Refreshments never charted on the top 100 singles chart and barely dented the top 100 albums  for a week (peaking at #97). And the Peacemakers, while they have made Billboard's Heatseekers chart, has never cracked the top 200.

Keep in mind that Sprinsgteen’s last release, High Hopes, was somewhat of a commercial disappointment but still charted at number one.

And Springsteen's worldwide arena tour that lasted two years and was number nine on the top-grossing concert tours of all time may not be a valid comparison to Clyne selling almost a thousand tickets in his home town.

I am not knocking Clyne, who has enjoyed a career in music for more than two decades, but the writer’s need to draw not one but three Springsteen comparisons is laughable.

More relevant comparisons would be to Pittsburgh’s Joe Grushecky, Cleveland’s Michael Stanley or Philadelphia’s Robert Hazzard, acts that flirted with national exposure but never had the breakout success. These acts also remain active (Hazzard passed away a few years ago, but both Grushecky and Stanley have recent releases and still perform), and like Clyne, are able to make a living at what they love.

But, in typical Arizona media fashion, the writer feels the need to establish some additional credibility.

To say in any context that Clyne and Springsteen share “a similar situation” is kind of silly.

All that said, don’t let the Arizona media keep you from checking out Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers-they are a great band, even if hardly anyone outside of the Grand Canyon State knows who they are.

But you may not want to drop your New York Times subscription in favor of the Arizona Republic...