Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why I Want to Read Your Mind: my guest post for Ricky Anderson.

Ricky Anderson is having a baby.  I'm not.  For that reason alone, I get to write for him now that he's going crazy with baby stuff.  One problem I have with Ricky is he's always telling me stuff, but I never know what he really means by that.  When he asks why I don't understand, I always tell him, "If you don't know, I'm not gonna tell you," and he's always "I wish I could just read your mind!"  So a guest post was born along with Ricky's baby.  Be over there and stuff.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cheap Grace vs. Costly Grace: A Guest "Post" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I know I've been slacking on posting lately, and it's because I've been up to my ears in student teaching at Ponchatoula High School, employedly teaching two sections of English 101 at Southeastern, and working Domino's on the weekend.  I don't have much creative energy left to write posts, so I've let things slack aside from a couple of wonderful guest posts by Tyler Tarver and Ricky Anderson.  So, here's more of that, this time an excerpt from The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It's so good, I can't actually add anything to it, so i'm just gonna let the man speak for himself.

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing....[45]

Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian 'conception' of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins.... In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God.[45-46]

Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. 'All for sin could not atone.' Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world’s standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin....

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.[47]

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man’ will gladly go and self all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.

Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

On two separate occasions Peter received the call, “Follow me.” It was the first and last word Jesus spoke to his disciple (Mark 1.17; John 21.22). A whole life lies between these two calls. The first occasion was by the lake of Gennesareth, when Peter left his nets and his craft and followed Jesus at his word. The second occasion is when the Risen Lord finds him back again at his old trade. Once again it is by the lake of Gennesareth, and once again the call is: “Follow me.” Between the two calls lay a whole life of discipleship in the following of Christ. Half-way between them comes Peter's confession, when he acknowledged Jesus as the Christ of God....[48]

This grace was certainly not self-bestowed. It was the grace of Christ himself, now prevailing upon the disciple to leave all and follow him, now working in him that confession which to the world must sound like the ultimate blasphemy, now inviting Peter to the supreme fellowship of martyrdom for the Lord he had denied, and thereby forgiving him all his sins. In the life of Peter grace and discipleship are inseparable. He had received the grace which costs.

As Christianity spread, and the Church became more secularized, this realization of the costliness of grace gradually faded. The world was Christianized, and grace became its common property. It was to be had at low cost.[49]

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Things You Should Never Share With Your Roommate - a guest post by Ricky Anderson

Ricky Tiki Anderson is my long-lost siamese twin cousin separated from me at bar mitzveh.  We were only recently reunited by Jon Acuff's Quitter because we both got to read a free copy of it before it came out. 

Ricky's also friends with Tyler Tarver and Sharideth Smith.  Today he offered me something cool to post on Love Thy Roommate, "Things you should never share with your roommate."  Click here to read his guest post!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Six Reasons Most Americans Don’t Understand the Civil War

I know i haven't written anything in a good while, so I decided to pull this one out of the archives.  I was originally going to put this on, but their intro process is so long and stupid I said forget it, then never did anything with it.  So here you have it now.

Growing up in the South, I’ve heard my share of pro-Confederacy dialogue.  I’ve been to a Civil War reenactment, argued both sides of the issue, and even had a Confederate Battle Flag with Hank Williams, Jr.’s face and the words, “If the South would’ve won, we would’ve had it made.”  Since then I’ve reconsidered and adjusted my position, but with that and a handful of upper-level history classes, I’ve seen some things that people on both extremes miss.

#1:  Slave-owning culture was not based on racism.

First of all, we have to remember that the Civil War started almost 150 years ago.  Let’s face the facts, it was a long time ago and we have to see it from their eyes.  We didn’t grow up around slavery, so it’s easy for us to demonize it.  But people who grew up then took it as a given, much like we do instant communication and Dick Clark’s New Years Eve.  If you grow up hearing people talk about slaves as property and not as human beings, you have to make a conscious choice to think otherwise.  And, once you look at the slave owner’s argument from that perspective, it makes a little more sense.

Think of it this way.  Let’s say that Congress passes a law declaring all paper money worthless and paper transactions illegal; money stored in banks will be honored, but only non-cash liquid assets will have any value.  All of the people who bank online and have their money in banks are set, but people who operate on cash transactions are out in the cold.  

Scrooge McDuck would be screwed.

But because America is not a dictatorship, cash would still be honored by the people who choose to honor it, based on the same thing that keeps cash in use today: the value we attribute to it.  Cash-users would become a separate group and be divided into two groups: those who give up and switch to electronic transactions and those who reject electronic transactions for operating by cash only, keeping themselves in tightly-knit groups.  There would be some wiggle room for people who use credit only when they have to, along with some keeping cash for only when they absolutely need it, but the bottom line is it would separate the nation into two classes, one of which has a significant amount of power over the other.

            Back in the antebellum days, the battle had been fought in Congress, long before the first shot was fired, to restrict slavery’s expansion – but not necessarily to eliminate it.  With the Missouri Compromise of 1850, a non-slavery state had to be admitted for every pro-slavery state admitted to the Union so that neither one would outnumber the other.  The North was becoming more industrialized, the South was highly agrarian, and the West was expanding with some people who wanted to own slaves and some who didn’t; and it just so happened that all of the pro-slavery states were located in the southern U.S., which were best for farming.  

As the abolitionist movement heated up, Northerners had no problem giving up slaves they didn’t need (much like how some people would have no problem never using cash), but Southerners relied on the industry of slavery for their livelihood.  Letting slaves go free meant losing all of the money spent buying, feeding, clothing, and sheltering them would be replaced with…absolutely nothing.  Naturally, Southerners were not happy about this, and wouldn’t you be mad if you found out that gangsta roll in your pocket was worthless?

Something tells me this kid will survive.

#2: Abolitionists didn’t necessarily believe in equal rights.

            Depending on when you learned about the Civil War in school, you probably heard something to the effect of “Southerners hated black people, so they made them all their slaves.”  While it’s true that white slaves were phased out, there were also “free people of color,” who had rights as citizens, but had to carry papers proving they were not slaves, lest they be mistaken for slaves and picked up by the guys who made money catching runaways…okay, wait, I’m arguing against myself here.

            The assumption was that, since the South had slavery and fought to keep slavery, Northerners hated slavery and wanted black equality.  This completely ignores the facts that Northern territories like Indiana and Illinois made it illegal for blacks to enter (because they wanted to keep slavery out at all costs) and that Northern businesses such as hotels denied black business in order to appease their white Southern clientele.  Even those who fought for the Abolitionist cause didn’t necessarily want racial equality, merely what their name said: the abolition of slavery.  These are the people who supported sending blacks back to Africa long before Southerners did.  
“Slavery’s just icky, you understand.”

Because they didn’t have the ability to turn on the TV and see what people hundreds of miles away were doing, they took it as a small victory whenever they could say slavery was abolished from their region…and that’s all most of them really cared about (just like how I’m against human trafficking, and I don’t see it going on around me, so I suppose I’m doing a pretty good job, right?).  After all, one of the reasons Congress outlawed slave trade in Washington, D.C. was so they didn’t have to look at it.

            But what about the Southerners?  Even if they didn’t own slaves, most of them benefitted from the “peculiar institution,” and fought to support the government that permitted it, right?  Surely, even if the Northerners didn’t love blacks, the South still hated them, right?

#3: Nationalism was kind of a new concept.

            Keep in mind that large nations as we know them today (specifically the U.S., China, Russia, etc.) didn’t exist until the 19th century.  Around the same time, some folks decided that all of the German-speaking people should be cool with each other and unite into one state; the same was true for all of the Italians.  And, like most European ideas, some Americans caught on and others didn’t.  Then, when the folks in power decided their way was right, they enforced it on everyone else.

            So most Americans didn’t think that way, not even Northerners.  Most people were more loyal to their local community than to their state, much less to the country as a whole; really, this had been going on since the colonies were first founded – remember, before the Constitution were the Articles of Confederation, which kept the Federal Government from doing anything without a unanimous vote from every state.  Since mobility wasn’t terribly common, especially among Southerners, the people in the local area were their family, for whom they held the strongest feelings.  This is why many Southerners, including General Robert E. Lee, chose to fight for the Confederacy even if they didn’t own slaves or even agree with slavery.

            But Southerners fought to defend slavery, didn’t they?  Doesn’t that mean they hated black people?  It’s not like any black folks fought for the South, now did they?

Pictured: your imagination

When the war started in 1861, the 1st Louisiana Native Guard offered to fight for the South against Union invasion.  Why?  Because they loved their home.  Sadly, the Confederacy rejected their offer, so they stayed behind to defend New Orleans.  When the city fell to Union forces in April 1862, many of them swapped sides and became the 73rd Regiment Infantry U.S. Colored Troops.  Again, their goal was to defend their hometown – New Orleans – regardless of who was in charge.  In April 1865, however, with the Confederacy hurting for soldiers and near the end, President Jefferson Davis signed a bill allowing the enlistment of up to 300,000 free black soldiers.  Granted, most of these soldiers never saw combat, and the quota of 300,000 was never reached.  Still, it shows that the South was willing to try…well…at least those who didn’t object to it…there I go arguing against myself again.

            It’s also true that black Southerners owned slaves.  How could this be?  Well, you take an agrarian slave and set him free; what does he know how to do?  Farm.  What does he know about running a farm?  Slave labor.  In fact, most free blacks, whether or not they were freed slaves, saw themselves as better than slaves.  Even the black churches were divided along the slave/free line.

#4: The South didn’t have a whole lot going for them.

            As mentioned earlier, the North was highly industrial while the South was highly agrarian.  For the most part, the North had factories which took raw materials from the South and turned them into marketable products, which were in turn sold back to Southerners at a high markup.  When the South seceded, they were left with nothing but raw materials being produced, goods they already owned, and no way to replace what they owned when it wore out or broke.  Most importantly for a nation going to war, the South couldn’t produce weaponry.  In the beginning, of course, they were still able to buy from some willing entrepreneurs in the North.
In case you were looking for the connection between Lord of War and National Treasure 2.

Confederate forces didn’t instantly throw away their blue uniforms and jump into some fresh gray ones, either.  Since most of the standing army had come from Union forces, they continued wearing what they had before.  The local militias wore whatever they chose to wear as a group, if they had any uniform to begin with, and many soldiers scavenged dead bodies for better clothes whenever necessary, and of course the blue uniforms eventually started turning gray.  Some Confederate soldiers even wore US belt buckles upside down to show their disdain for the government from whom they stole a uniform.

Stuff it, Union!

            Then the South started losing.  There were several opportunities to win, but didn’t happen.  Worst of all, the Union had a much larger supply of men to send to war, along with many to leave behind to work the factories, whereas the South sent pretty much every able-bodied man who wasn’t too much of a pansy to get shot at.

#5: The war didn’t end at Appomattox.

            On April 9th, 1865, General Robert E. Lee (CSA) surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant (USA) at Appomattox Court House.  Now, although Lee was the commanding general of all Confederate forces, he was leading the Army of Northern Virginia.  Other Confederate Generals did not accept Lee’s surrender as applicable to them, especially since they commanded other armies. 

Keep in mind that telegraph lines had been slashed and railroad tracks had been bombed so that communication and mobility weren’t at their best.  Furthermore, the Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered, but other units, such as the Army of the Trans-Mississippi, the Army of the Potomac, etc., continued to defend their state until defeat – remember, nationalism was a new concept.  It would take Union forces until several months to reconquer Confederate territory, which involved lots of breaking stuff and making things bad for the Southern populace and not just the soldiers.  Thanks, General Sherman.  For those who say the United States has never been occupied by a foreign power…

…speak for yourself, Yankee!

#6: Reconstruction was pretty much the worst thing ever.

            Did I mention the South didn’t have a whole lot going for them?  It just got worse.  According to Stephen Ambrose, the Southern representatives walking out of Congress upon Lincoln’s election was pretty much the worst thing they could’ve done (To America).  There had been a continual battle for where to put the Transcontinental Railroad, and now it was definitely not going through the South.  This would ensure that the majority of east-west commerce for the next several decades would be directed through Northern states.  During the latter part of the war, General Sherman decided that since Southerners saw slaves as property – and slaves needed to be set free – Southerners should be relieved of all other property as well.

…by fire!

            So following the Civil War, Northerners obviously had to reprogram Southerners.  They couldn’t allow Southerners to choose their own elected officials, as they would most likely elect former Confederate politicians and officers to Federal positions (oh wait, they did…why do I keep arguing against myself?).  The South was divided into five military districts and “Radical” Reconstruction was put into place, with many wanting to put “black heels on white necks.” Then a peculiar thing happened where a congressman visiting South Carolina saw a black police officer arresting a white citizen and decided that, for the protection of blacks, there should be separation – so they made it into law.  That’s right, de jure segregation was a Northern idea.

            The only chance the South had was the one Senator who didn’t walk out: Andrew Johnson, who was elected Vice President and succeeded Lincoln after his assassination.  Up until the 1866 elections, Johnson did what he could to keep the South from being severely raped and pillaged.

He compromised on the idea of moderate rape and pillage.

But after the population of Congress changed, they turned on Johnson, impeached him, and basically neutered any chance of him doing anything else.  Johnson tried to influence the Southern states not to ratify the 14th Amendment, but that only went so far.  After Grant was elected president, the days of only moderate rape and pillage were over.

            So Southerners had nothing at all to be proud of.  They weren’t the first to rebel, but they would be the last.  Life was bad, and didn’t look like it was getting any better.  But they knew their history, and had heard from their fathers and grandfathers how great things were before the Civil War.

Obviously, they left out some details.

The generation following those who fought in the Civil War started something unheard of to date: reenactments of a war they lost.  Most people don’t understand the concept, but when you think about it, it’s not that much different from how Native American communities still host powwows…except Native Americans, never owned slaves, did they?  Well, maybe we just dislike Southerners because it’s 100% impossible to feel sorry for the group who was in charge losing.

Pictured: guy it’s only 50% possible to feel sorry for.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Short Story Friday: Thesis part 9 (fin)

This is another creative non-fiction, meant to parallel the first part.  It was meant to wrap everything up.



February 2007

            I didn’t cry at Granny’s funeral. I loved her, I knew I’d miss her, but I was also certain – more certain than I had been ten years earlier – that I would see her again. The last time I saw her was at Christmas, and she was doing better in her current nursing home. Her spirits were higher than I had seen since she first moved out of the house in Wisner – for the first time in sixty years – in 2003.
            I got the call early in the morning, took a shower, and cranked up the 1994 Buick Roadmaster that Granny gave me. I was the first of the family to arrive in Monroe, where Aunt Sharon and Uncle Bill lived, so I had plenty of time to sleep. There were times I expected to cry, like when I had to call my boss and, for the first time, tell someone that “Granny died,” or when I called and talked to a family friend who prayed for me on the road, or when I got to a gas station in Mississippi and played my guitar.
            I heard several stories about Granny for the first time, while sitting around with family that weekend, playing Uno and Dominoes. One that stood out was the time when Daddy was out past curfew, so Granny and Papa were awake pacing the floor. Papa decided to drive to the party and check on him. When Papa arrived, he found everything was fine, but they had lost track of time. They were throwing darts, so when one of Daddy’s classmates challenged Papa to a game, he obliged. An hour or so later, Granny also showed up at the party, and simply said, “Okay, boys, it’s time to go home.”
            The Brewer family came in from a much larger area across the country. Aunt Cecile came in from Colorado, where she has lived since the 70’s; Leigh with her husband and two children (Austin was old enough to have a decent conversation; Kate, at four, discovered me for the first time and became very clingy) came from Coushatta, where my parents live; J.T. and his wife drove from Ocala, Florida; Tim came from Oxford, Mississippi, ahead of his wife and son; Luther flew in from Los Angeles; and I drove in from Hammond. My immediate family stayed at a motel in Winnsboro, since it was the closest one to Wisner. At age twenty-four, this was the first time my parents rented a hotel room for me, instead of having me stay with them.
The morning of the funeral, we got up and went to Huddle House. Luther rambled about knowing he needed to use the restroom before the service, but just didn’t feel it. The waitress brought out our drinks, and approached the table opposite Daddy. The drinks on her tray shifted, the glass of water furthest from her fell forward, and, splashing across the table, landed directly on Daddy’s chair, from which he leapt a split second before getting his lap soaked. Luther excused himself, saying, “Well, now I do have to go.” Daddy just brushed himself off and told the waitress, “You gotta be quicker than that, lady!”
            The funeral was held at the same church by the same pastor who had performed Papa’s funeral. There were considerably fewer people at this service, as a testament to how many members of her congregation she had outlived. Two of the gentlemen who had been Papa’s pallbearers were still around, and they were positioned between the four grandsons. We buried Granny in Oakley Cemetery right beside Papa, near the Brewers and the Wilsons. Granny had last visited her own parents’ gravesite in 2003 when we buried Aunt Jenny in Bridgeport, Texas, where they were born.
            Following the graveside service, everyone parted ways. There was no family home in Wisner to which we could return, as it had been sold. We were already checked out of our hotel rooms in Winnsboro. The closest place we could have gone was Aunt Sharon and Uncle Bill’s house, an hour away in Monroe, in the opposite direction for all of us headed eastward. I tried to follow J.T. for a few minutes, but he drove much faster
than I wanted to. It felt like the weekend didn’t have closure.
I decided in that moment that it was my time to blaze my own trail, to go on my own adventures, to start writing my own story. Instead of going back the way I came, I took the first road that went south. One sign told how far away Auburn was, which I assumed was Auburn, Alabama, but turned out to be Auburn, Mississippi. I later turned east and came out on I-55 at Macomb. Realizing this was only an hour away from Hammond, and that I wasn’t ready to go home yet, I bought an atlas, and drove to Hattiesburg for nothing more than a cup of coffee and free wireless internet. After twenty-four years, my life finally felt like it had begun.

            Papa was an amazing man; this I learned all too late. After his recovery, he fathered two more children, had five grandchildren, and lived to see his first great-grandchild born. After the war, he returned to Wisner, where he lived the rest of his life, and took over the family’s businesses: a farm and a Chevrolet dealership. Papa was involved in the Lions Club and the VFW. He often spoke to high school classes about his experiences in the Army.
            Papa’s service inspired something in future generations. His son, both sons-in-law, and two of his grandsons, all went Air Force. This became a bit of a family tradition; never an overtly expressed expectation, as in most families, but it just kind of happened. His five years in the service earned him the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, American Defense Service Ribbon, campaign medals for all three theaters: Pacific (with Battle Star), American, and European (with two Battle Stars), the World War II Victory Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal. He retired as a First Lieutenant with full pension for disability on 8 December 1946.
After the war, Papa made a concerted effort to account for all thirty-four men under his command in the 2nd Platoon. According to Daddy, he tracked down and contacted the ones who were living and accounted for the ones who had died either in combat or before he could contact them. There was one particular soldier he could never find, and that always bothered him. Towards the end of his life, however, he finally made contact with this one man and discovered that he had been reassigned to a different unit in the Army.
            Papa’s character definitely impressed me. He lived fifty-two years after his injuries, but refused to get a handicapped sticker for his car; he always figured someone else needed it more than he did. He never complained about his injuries, even though the knee wound never fully healed. In spite of these things, he would get down on the floor and play with the kids. Papa was respected in his community, and he never knew a stranger – black or white – nor did he treat anyone different from another.
            Of the greatest importance to me was his role as a lay leader in his church. He often gave a brief message as everyone gathered before Sunday School, and these messages have been preserved and passed down to me. He spoke of his experience with the Bible as God speaking to him. I believe that God’s promises in the Bible to bless the obedient to the thousandth generation apply to our family because of his obedience and faithfulness.
            Finally, I know he was never one to boast about his experiences and accomplishments. I hope he’d forgive me, because I had to make up some things in order to fill in the gaps in his account. 

I love you, Papa. You’ll always be my hero. See you in my dreams.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

14 Facts about Southerners: A Guest Post by Tyler Tarver

When I first got back into blogging, one of the first sites I stopped by was Sharideth Smith's blog, guest posted that day by Tyler Tarver.  I commented and he replied and I felt so dadgum star struck that I couldn't function for a week.  Then I saw one of his videos and I'm like, "Whoa, this guy's definitely from Arkansas," which is like Louisiana's upper half.  How he got a video camera, computer, and internet connection, I'll never know.  Somewhere in there he decided to give a bunch of people guest posts so he could sell another copy or two of his book, which is what he's doing here today.

Tyler Tolliver said offering to guest post was like asking me if he could come over to my house and watch my TV.  I say it's more like him asking if he can come over to my house and cook for my family and maybe do some dishes and other random chores while he's at it.  If you like this, and even if you don't, you should read his book because it's full of other fun stuff too.


I’m from Arkansas, which is like the Washington DC of the South. I like to think Alabama is harder to understand and Mississippi is stupider (statistically), but people just have this stigma about Arkansas being dang ol frum da sowth. 

I like it though. You know why? When I’m filling out a form and I’m scrolling down, I only have to go down to the 4th state. Alphabetically, we win. Well, fourth, technically. Alaska’s disqualified for obvious reasons.

Old Zechariah is from up north like a hot air balloon, so I thought I’d take a New York Little Rock Minute to explain 10 Facts you may not know about The South.

Why am I qualified to give you unwavering and completely correct list? Cause Arkansas and I have the same birthday. Yeah, that just happened like a slap to the heart and you’re so vein, you give love a bad name. Like Arthur or Herbert or Winston.
  1. We don’t date our relatives, but the ones that do are chastised accordingly are easily discernable cause they have birthmarks that look like hands protruding from their faces.
  2. It’s not that we don’t understand them, it’s just that skinny jeans are ugly.
  3. We like our accent. It’s friendly and sexy (think more: Matthew McConaughey; Less: Tyler Tarver) and we don’t sound curt like we’re always p-ed off (p is for perturbed).
  4. We don’t envy big city people because grass smells good and no one wants to  bomb us.
  5. Big fans of their football, especially of the college variety. I’m talking Dillon Panthers Fans type fans.
  6. We’re probably carrying a pocketknife and/or pistol.
  7. If your establishment doesn’t serve sweet tea, we will never return there.
  8. We’re not racist. Well, some people are, but we hate them too. 
  9. We’re not less intelligent because we talk slow, we’re just trying to filter out all the impolite things other location people might just say and/or chewing something that rhymes with spoal (not personally, but I know people).
  10. We all hate The Yankees because it’s probably in the Bible somewhere.
  11. We don’t brush our teeth with cornbread, often.
  12. Some might correlate the high rate of obesity with the unhealthy food, but it’s really because of the lack of exercise and the consumption of unhealthy foods.
  13. People say we’re nicer but that’s probably just because we don’t have to worry about running into anyone from The View. 
  14.  In order of preference, from disliked term to preferred term: redneck, hick, country bumpkin, hillbilly, country boy, good old boy, from the south, elegant, sophisticated, superior, sir/ma’am.
Thanks Z, I hope this helps get a grasp on the mechanics of southern people. Sorry it wasn’t funny. You look really pretty today.

Tyler Tarver is a person that is taller than a hobbit but shorter than a million hobbits. You can check out his website, subscribe to it here, check him on Twitter @tylertarver, or just buy his brand new toilet book which he won’t shutup about titled Words&Sentences that 4 people have said is “funnier than sliced bread.” He’s not as attractive as you, but he sure does love you.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why America should ditch Cinderella

When it comes to March Madness and teams that don't seem likely to be in the playoffs, as Jon Acuff points out in Quitter, sportscasters have two go-to analogies: Cinderella and David vs. Goliath.  The underdog always gets pinned as one of these two characters because they're so familiar to Western Civilization.  Acuff's problem with this analogy, however, is that "David never knew Cinderella."

Let's compare their two stories: David, the shepherd boy who's not even a trained soldier, rises up and kills Goliath.  Cinderella, the victim of an evil stepmother and stepsisters, gets escorted to the palace for a ball at which the prince will decide who he's going to marry, and he chooses her.  David ends up as king, Cinderella as queen, so they have the same story, right?  Not so.  David gets anointed king one day in front of all his brothers, and goes right back out to tend his sheep.  Only later on does he come to Goliath, and even after defeating the giant and winning King Saul's favor (and daughter), David spends the next 7-10 years running from Saul, whose death must come before David can serve as king himself (and David won't lay a finger on Saul).  Cinderella, on the other hand, does absolutely nothing about her situation, just accepting her lot in life and dreaming of a better day, until one day her fairy godmother shows up and magically makes everything happen for her, to the point where the prince comes looking for her, where he sweeps her off her feet and they live "happily ever after."

In all the years from David's anointing by the prophet Samuel until he finally sits upon a throne over the tribe of Judah, then over all of Israel seven years later, David had to learn how to be king.  Cinderella shows up at the palace on Day One as queen and....knows how to be a domestic servant.  Can you say unequally yoked?  As Americans, we wonder why class and caste systems stay in some countries in such rigid structures, and it's simple: we grow up in a certain environment, and we generally know that better than anything else.  This is what has made The Beverly Hillbillies, Third Rock from the Sun, Big Bang Theory, and so many other culture-shock sitcoms work, to the extent that Hollywood keeps churning them out year after year. 

Still, the Cinderella myth persists.  You see it all over the place. In Drumline, the guy has a lot of talent as a drummer in a marching band, but can't seem to apply himself, so he just sits back and waits until the entire world bends around him and promotes him to the top.  Even in my beloved Star Trek reboot, James T. Kirk floats along until the entire world decides they can't possibly live without him as captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise because of his proven...nothing.  In the original series, Kirk made captain in about nine years, but in the reboot he goes from stowaway to captain over the course of about two days, because the Enterprises's rightful captain, Christopher Pike, likes the fact that Kirk's too stupid to think about what he's doing before he does it.

Gosh, Zech, you seem awful critical of rise-to-fame stories.  Do you have any that you don't hate?

Actually, yes I do.  Take Rudy.  Take a guy who's smaller than I am and he wants to play on a championship-caliber Division I football team.  He tells his family, they laugh him off.  They don't even believe he'll go to college, much less play on the team at Notre Dame.  He applies for the school, but his grades aren't up to par, so he goes to a junior college.  He gets a job at the stadium working on the grounds and sleeps at night in the locker room.  He finally gets accepted and he has to beat the crap out of himself to impress one of the coaches enough to let him even be on the practice squad.  The coach didn't bow to Rudy, he says "The kid's got heart," which none of the players have.  Rudy ends up becoming an inspiration to his team, to the point where every single starter is willing to lay down his jersey and sit out so Rudy can play in one snap of the final game of his college career.

So where does all this apply to us?

I'm (probably, hopefully) not telling you anything new by saying God has a reason and a purpose for everything He has, is, or ever will put you through.  Just like the children of Israel, if we want our Promised Land, we have to go in and fight for it if we want to possess it.  David got his first taste of leadership moving sheep around all day.  He had nothing but time, so he learned how to love and serve the Lord, to be a man after God's own heart, out in the pasture -- first and foremost.  Then, when he first ran away from Saul, a couple hundred other men tagged along, and he got to lead men who didn't have to follow him, including several successful military campaigns.  He got to procure the logistics to support such men.  Cinderella, along with just about every other Disney princess, got to power pretty much based on looks and small talk.  I'm working at Domino's with a Master's degree because God hasn't finished with me there just yet.  But you can trust that when the time's up, God's gonna do it again, just like He did way back then.  Ditch Cinderella.  Embrace your trials, until you've earned the right to be where you want to be.

What trials are you going through right now?  What long-term goal are you working towards?  What do you have to do in order to possess your Promised Land?