Thursday, May 28, 2009

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

This week the Shelby County Board of Commissioners considered an ordinance that would prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender employees. The same rules would apply to contractors who do work for the county as well as private businesses in unincorporated areas of Shelby County. Alliances of disparate groups formed quickly, and their protests were loud.

County ordinance targets discrimination against gay, transgender people

On Tuesday, May 26th, a group of local pastors and protestors on both sides met for a news conference in front of the Shelby County administrative building.

Memphis pastors, county commissioner speak against anti-discrimination measure


In a vote the following day the proposed ordinance did not receive a deciding vote with the vote split 5-5 with two abstentions. The proposal will be read before the full commission on Monday where it must pass three readings to become law.

Anti-discrimination policy fails to gain majority support in Shelby committee

In a surprising classic example of politics making strange bedfellows, Steve Gaines was a guest on Thaddeus Matthews' radio program Tuesday afternoon. Thaddeus Matthews, for the uninformed, hosts a talk radio program on AM 990 KWAM in Memphis. No stranger to controversy, the foul-mouthed, seemingly sex-obsessed Matthews does not mind taking on many controversial subjects. To his credit he's exposed a lot of the corruption in Memphis and Shelby County government some of the local black churches.

Then he made headlines last year when he posted autopsy photos of one of the victims of the Lester Street murders on his
blog. (Warning: Content, particularly in the comment threads, is likely to be offensive!)

Postmortem photos draw ire

I had never listened to Matthews' radio show until reviewing Tuesday's broadcast. I listened to most of it live Wednesday. I can only describe the man as a cross between Rush Limbaugh, Mark Driscoll, Eddie Murphy, and Charles Barkley -- loud, obnoxious, opinionated, and, I have to admit, often right. He spent the better part of Wednesday's show talking with callers about rumors regarding the sexual orientation of a number of local black pastors and church musicians as well as a lively and graphic discussion of oral sex and homosexual acts. Then he preached a little in the last hour, actually making some good points -- interspersed with a few more expletives. That's why the guy is such a enigma. He's not stupid. He says what he thinks, and he sticks with his position and defends it well, but after listening to him you experience an overwhelming need to take a shower and wash your ears out with soap.

You can listen to Steve Gaines' interview with Thaddeus Matthews
here. (May take a while to load. The interview begins at 4:50 if you want to skip ahead.) There's a rather disgusting conversation between Matthews and a female caller at the beginning (which will give you a good idea of the caliber of his program and many of his callers), then the interview with Pastor Gaines in which Gaines defends his position thoughtfully and clearly, followed by some closing commentary by Matthews and a commercial that I think you'll find worth the wait.

I'm going to assume Steve Gaines has never listened to Matthews' radio program or read his blog.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

We great leaders have our critics!

One would think after Sunday's "Joan Rivers' twin" blunder, Steve Gaines would be a little more careful to take a few minutes to research his sermon illustrations before stating them as fact. Yet just three days later we hear him attributing a quote to Abraham Lincoln that Abraham Lincoln didn't say.

In this
clip he talks about great leaders and how great leaders always have their critics. He seems to be lumping himself in with some high company here -- Jesus, Paul, Peter, Spurgeon....

Enough with the "poor me, I'm so persecuted" schtick! Leaders lead by example, not by empty words. Great leaders don't need to tell everyone what great leaders they are. People will naturally follow a great leader.

Here's a quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln for you, Brother Steve:

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Joan Rivers' Twin?

This morning Steve Gaines told a story, as factual, to illustrate a point about the worth of a woman's inner beauty versus her outer beauty. At least I think that was the point. Or maybe the point was attractive women can't cook. I wasn't entirely sure.

a clip from the 9:30 service.

a clip from the 11:00 service.

Note how emphatic he is in the second one. "Joan Rivers... has a twin sister! A twin... sister!"

A minimal amount of Googling would have revealed that Joan Rivers was born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn, New York, on June 8, 1933 (or '35, '37, or '39, depending on the source). She has one older sister named Barbara Molinsky (update: Barbara Cushman Waxler obituary), not a twin... although
this person might understandably be mistaken for Joan's twin!

This is reminiscent of a
sermon he preached two years ago where he told about attending a marathon in Nashville the day before. Photos of the winners were flashed on the IMAG, and it was stated the wheelchair winner was a man from Germantown. Only problem with all that was those were the winners from the year before.

Here we are two years later, and you think he would have learned, but alas there still seems to be a serious case of...

Update (September 4, 2014):  Joan Rivers died today at the age of 81.  RIP, Joan.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Jamie Parker Gone Going Still Going Gone

Note: For those of you searching for information on Jamie Parker (and you are legion), Jamie was the minister of music at First Baptist Church, Dyersburg, TN for a little over a year after he left Bellevue. (Apparently they don't ever update their website as he was never listed.)

As of January 1, 2011 he's at Cross Church (Ronnie Floyd) in Springdale, Arkansas. Watch.

May 2012: Jamie Parker is now at Bayside Baptist Church in Harrison, TN (suburb of Chattanooga).

It was learned this week that Minister of Music Jamie Parker is among the latest casualties left in Steve Gaines' wake. Without going into great detail (because no one but the parties involved knows all the details and that is not the purpose of this post) Jamie was reportedly informed by Steve Gaines in late March that he needed to seek other employment, but apparently it was understood he would be allowed to remain for a while until he could find another position. It was thought Sunday would be his last day, but that apparently changed.

The only question I have is what happened to that "covenant relationship" that Steve has stated he has with Jamie... the assurance that wherever Steve is, Jamie will always have a place? Steve brought Jamie from Gardendale with the promise of a secure future here. Jamie and Dana bought a large, beautiful home on several acres of land in the country thinking Jamie would eventually retire from Bellevue. Now they're stuck during the worst economic times in decades with a big mortgage and an uncertain immediate future.

It's no secret a lot of people were disappointed at the way Jim Whitmire was forced to "retire" when Steve Gaines came. No doubt that situation could have been handled a lot differently and much better than it was. Some said Jim was tired and needed to take it easy. So tired, I suppose, that when he left Bellevue he spent several months flying back and forth to Dallas every weekend to serve as interim minister of music at FBC Dallas, then took the full-time minister of music position at GBC, and now serves as full-time minister of music at FBC Jax. But life goes on.

Jamie came in January 2006 amid much fanfare and immediately made some changes in the music program which were unpopular with some. However, he seemed to hit his stride after a while and seemed to hit a happy medium with most people. In my opinion, Jamie is now being thrown under the bus, just like many fine staff members before him.

I think a lot of people saw this coming when Mark Blair was brought on board to handle "special productions." Then Mark was given even more responsibilities as evidenced by
this letter sent to the choir. I take no satisfaction in the fact I predicted this outcome six months ago. Almost two years ago we learned Steve Gaines was trying to blame the declining attendance numbers on the music. Then Jamie and the music department took the fall for the infamous dance routine. Ryan Wingo and his trademark guitar have been increasingly "front and center" in worship services.

There is no doubt Jamie Parker loves the Lord, is very talented, and God has a better place for him. Dana, with her beautiful voice and sweet spirit has been an asset to the church and choir and will no doubt be a source of strength and support to Jamie during these uncertain days.

To Jamie and Dana, I wish you all the best and want you to always remember that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." It probably doesn't feel like it right now, but God has bigger things for you than Bellevue. Take your talent, that winning smile, and those big dimples and go... serve... Him! Remember that men will always disappoint you but God never will. Stay strong and always stay faithful. God has great things in store for you both!

Who can forget this?

The purpose of this post is not to criticize Jamie Parker or this blog. Please use the comments section to express your appreciation for Jamie's years of service at Bellevue and your fond or funny memories of Jamie and Dana Parker.