11.04.2004

Win One For The Jipper


On October 22, 2003 West Virginia played #3 in the nation Virginia Tech in college football. It was a huge upset and went down in history as the highest ranked team West Virginia had ever beat. There is a trick play used sparingly in college football, rarely in the NFL, called the Statue of Liberty. As the Quarterback drops back to pass he holds the ball high above his shoulder, in a cocked position. Just before he throws, a wide receiver or running back will take the ball from his hand and run with it or throw it down field. West Virginia beat Virginia Tech 28 to 7. VT turned the ball over a number of times on interceptions and fumbles and the one touchdown they managed to score came after a controversial fumble/tackle call. West Virginia celebrated as is customary by tearing down the field goal post.

11 states had a gay marriage initiative included on their Presidential ballot Tuesday. Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Utah voted and all ended up turning red on the scoreboards I watched light up Nov. 2. Oregon and Michigan sadly, were the only scores we could put up. Exit polling in Ohio showed that people voted on moral issues above all other things.

I kept hearing this on the radio and on television and it didn't make sense to me. I asked myself how, with an unjust war claiming "collateral damage" and "soft targets" (Iraqi and American lives), a shitty economy, an attack that took place, mind you under this great protector's watch, how is it that people keep saying they voted on moral issues? Further more how does a vote for moral issues equal a vote for Mr. BU**SH**?

So I threw in my red flag. I was gonna challenge this call. Why did only eleven states vote on Gay Marriage? This guy, Rove: he's ephing brilliant. These people in Ohio got off of their ass to make sure gays could not marry. They polled this crap, they knew what pissed people off, they knew Ohio was overwhelmingly against gay marriage and they knew, most importantly, how to push the issue. This issue that does not even affect the voters lives in a direct way like, for instance health care for children would. It was more important to them that no homosexual in Ohio have equal rights, than it was for their children to have health care. 230,000 jobs lost, yes that sucks, but them gays, we gotta stop them gays.

I suppose when the winning team is so good at winning, when they win in ways I could have never imagined, when they use trick plays so creative and so sound, it doesn't hurt as bad. The BU**SH** administration has a tall task ahead of them. They have four years of running to do. Four years for some of these things I've been reading about to catch up with them. Four years for the people who voted for Bush to realize what they've done.

It makes me happy that this creatively devious trick play in football is named the Statue of Liberty. West Virginia ran the Statue of Liberty play against Virginia Tech successfully not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES! Makes you wonder when they'll learn.

UPDATE: Composing thoughts about the election with an undeniable sensitivity to poetry and prose, Jared has returned.

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11.03.2004

Shock and Awe


Hiding in Bushes
Originally uploaded by Cap'n Pete.

I'm still trying to come to grips with the fact that the rest of the world believes that I, as an American, am supporting this brutal administration, that I am actively playing a part in the murder of their family and the destruction, the violent eradication, of their country, their history and their culture. I am trying to understand how it feels to be killed for monetary gains. I am trying to feel oppressed and poor. I want to know what it feels like to have nothing, and then have that destroyed. I have this overwhelming sense of repentance that I feel I owe to the people of Iraq, Indonesia, Sudan, Afghanistan, America. I don't feel like talking about this yet.

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11.01.2004

Nixon's Hatchet Man

Over at The Weblog Anthony Smith has written a post about Chuck Colson, Jacques Derrida, and Nietzsche (an odd triumvirate if there ever was one). He raises an interesting point, and I was typing up my characteristically long-winded response when I remembered something I learned the other day: apparently it is bad form to leave long responses after blog posts. Rather, one should put something on one’s own page and link to it.

So I am using my newfound powers as guest writer here at Coney Island to do just that. And I promise to avoid (for now) any mention of a certain word that begins with "a" and has caused a bit of strife in recent weeks.

Here is a selection from Anthony’s post:

I know we have an election that will decide the fate of the universe tomorrow, but I have found one more Derrida obituary. This one comes from none other than Charles "My WorldViewTM Can Beat-Up Your WorldViewTM" Colson. I must tell you that in comparison to Colson's the NYT's obituary is a work of staggering genius, and it makes me wonder further why anyone would ever have their students read Charles Colson as academic material.
Since I am a redneck fundamentalist, I am pretty familiar with Colson, and it surprises me to hear that he is used in college courses. His worldview stuff is simplistic and hardly worthy of a class on political philosophy. Anthony rightly suggests that

the worldview aspect of Dr. Van Heemst’s political theory courses were reductionist in their approach to everything non-Christian. Instead of approaching philosophical themes and issues rigorously, we did so with the same kind of faux emotion that we find in Evangelical healing services. . . . Surely when reading Nietzsche we should feel that something is at stake, but Nietzsche's philosophy is not a world-view that is competing with Christianity - it is a philosophical critique of the prevailing culture's morality and epistemology and should be dealt with as such. Not that Dr. Van Heemst is a poor teacher or lacking in intelligence, I don't want to suggest that is the case. Rather, it just really upsets me that this kind of emotionalism is what passes for knowing thyself for many American Christians.
It upsets me too. As Mark Noll has said, "The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind."

But I do think that Colson’s work has some value. For those who don’t know Colson, he was a big figure in the Nixon administration (often referred to as Nixon’s "hatchet man") and did some jail time after Watergate. He became a Christian and now directs Prison Fellowship Ministries. But he also writes a lot about "worldviews." His basic idea is that all philosophical or ideological systems (including Christianity) are simply competing ways of looking at the world.

Understanding these various systems as worldviews and then comparing them to "the" Christian worldview (I realize they are not all the same) is a helpful organizing metaphor, especially for non-intellectual types. Not everybody has the time or inclination to dig into Nietzsche, but his system of thought has penetrated our society in a number of ways--many of which have nothing to do with his initial intent. The same is true with Darwin, Derrida, and countless other writers who are constantly taken out of context and commandeered for causes they would never have championed. (Sorry for all the c’s.)

Colson’s project arms people who are not theologians or philosophers with a basic understanding of how these worldviews differ from the Christian worldview. I think it can be especially helpful for high school students before they head off to college.

But, as the saying goes, sometimes a little knowledge is more dangerous than none at all. I wonder if that’s the case here. It is reminiscent of the little "monkey wrenches" that are handed out to Christians to supposedly debunk evolutionary theory. If only the world was that simple.

In my line of work we frequently ask the question, "How much should the public know about science?" This question is the basis for the ill-conceived science literacy standards that get trotted out in the media whenever there is a concern about foreign scientists being better than American scientists. But it is still a good question. In a democracy, informed citizens should have a say in what science does with their tax dollars. But how much should they actually know about science before their opinions can be considered valid?

Likewise, it seems that every Christian (and every person, really) should have some understanding of the major systems of thought that have shaped our culture, even if it is not deep or nuanced. We are all one body, after all, and it’s not fair to ask the foot to act like a shoulder.


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10.31.2004

On The Eve of Election Day Eve



All right. No one's changing their mind at this point. I think we all agree that the book reading, history understanding, women's liberation embracing, race equality supporting, intellectuals are voting for Kerry while all of the Cowboy 'thinkin,' racist approving, empirical 'dominatin,' chauvinist illiterate illiterates are voting for Bush. That's obvious.

But what we don't know is which there is more of, so let's have a contest. A prediction meter. Who wins the popular vote (by %), which wins the electoral vote (by points), who wins in court, and when do we find out who the president is? I'd love to see who the most political savvy commenter is at Coney Island.

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TAKE ME TO CONEY ISLAND