Thoughts on the regular season

1. 0-16! It couldn’t happen to a better team. I love the Green Bay rivalry and I have a hate-respect attitude towards Chicago, but I have always despised the Lions. (Although I will absolutely defend their right to play on Thanksgiving Day.) My idea is that as a remembrance of their historic achievement, they should be forced to wear the snappy orange-and-cream colors of the classic Buccaneers creamsicle uniforms until they manage to win the NFC North. Which should be sometime around 2034 or so.

2. Still don’t like Brad Childress, but he did get them to the playoffs in his third year. But I would really like someone to explain to him that there is no degree of difficulty bonus in winning your division without an actual NFL quarterback. One thing that is seldom noted is that the Vikings defense continues to improve despite the fact that they’ve had three different defensive coordinators in three years. Childress should receive credit for this.

3. The bad news about the first-round game against the Eagles: Childress is a horrible game coach with no clock management skills. The good news: So is Andy Reid. The student clearly learned from the master.

4. Given the NFL’s willingness to modify its rules to protect its stars, can we expect there to be a handle on the next year’s ball for Adrian Peterson’s sake? You have to love the way he runs and the way he competes, but both his pass blocking and his fumbling are problems that need to be addressed. He badly whiffed on the sort of blitz pickup that Chester Taylor never misses. That’s the real reason he comes out on third down; he ‘s fine catching the ball out of the backfield.

5. The Tarvaris Jackson Experiment is really doing much, much better, but you can only go so far with the rote, pass-by-numbers approach. Watching him play reminds me of someone playing Maddens. That play-action roll-out and pass to the tight end running a square-out on the crucial third-and-short in the fourth quarter is one of my go-to audibles. Fortunately, AD draws the Sam linebacker more reliably than my Maddens RB. However, I’m still furious that the Vikings didn’t go after Drew Brees. Or Chad Pennington. Here’s hoping they have the sense to pursue Matt Cassell.

6. The Galacticos concept isn’t working any better for Dallas than it did for Real Madrid. Team sport, guys. TEAM sport.

7. I know New York beat Carolina. I’m not sure they can do it twice, though.

8. If I’d known how badly Peyton Manning was hurt early in the season, I wouldn’t have traded him. On the other hand, it’s nice to have Clinton Portis to go with Aaron Rodgers. Who, by the way, is hardly to blame for the fact that the Packers featured an NCAA-quality defense in 2008.

9. So, it turns out that putting a legend in a new jersey for one last hurrah didn’t end well. Wow, who could have ever imagined that! I suspect Brett Favre’s upcoming retirement will stick this time.

10. I am delighted that Antoine Winfield finally made the Pro Bowl. It’s so well-merited! He’s been my favorite Viking for the last three years and I’ve never seen a better defensive play than the one he made against the Packers, slipping between two pulling linemen and single-handedly stopping a screen behind the line. Unless it was the time that he dropped down to all fours, caused the pulling guard to fall over him, then popped up and nailed the ball carrier for no gain.

11. We need Denny Green back in the league. Wouldn’t you love to see him coaching the Raidess next year? Come on, Al! Denny is who you think he is, so go ahead and crown his ass!

12. Speaking of things badly needed, where was Drew Bledsoe and the Tony Homo blog last night. It practically screamed out for this sort of thing: “That was quick. 38 seconds into the second half: Another Romo fumble. If it’s any consolation, our halftime adjustments included Homo fumbling it more often. Coach’s logic was “as long as he’s not throwing it, we’re fine.” The scary thing is that excerpt is from last year, not last night’s game.

13. NFC North Champions. Skol Vikings!

Atheists for Christianity

Since we’re on the subject of atheism today, it’s worth noting that not all atheists are as obtusely blind to the objective and even scientific benefits of religion in general and Christianity in particular as the New Atheists and their mindless acolytes.

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good…. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

Now, the fact that Christianity is of real and tangible material benefit to people does not, of course, prove that its tenets are true. It merely proves they are beneficial. This is not irrelevant, indeed, it is important in proving that the core message of the New Atheism, that society would be better off if its members possessed less religious faith, is demonstrably false. But it is irrelevant regarding the fact or non-fact of God’s existence, much less the truth of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

On a related subject, it is interesting to note the reaction of many atheists to the conversion to Catholic Christianity of a man who was once one of the more notorious atheists active on the Internet. I don’t know the Raving Atheist nor do I have an opinion if his conversion is genuine or some sort of practical joke, but there is certainly a powerful Biblical precedent for this sort of dramatic turn from prosecutor to proselytiser. What escapes those now accusing the Raving Atheist of being mentally unstable is the observation that many of them regularly exhibit the same sort of instability and logical incoherence that was long exhibited by the Raving Atheist. In most cases, it’s very easy to observe that an individual’s atheism is more a symptom of an underlying psychological problem than the result of a long and objective rational inquiry.

It will be interesting if Matthew Paris eventually follows his observations to their rational conclusion. If Christianity is good for Africa, then presumably Europe’s turn away from Christianity is bad for Europe. In which case, Europeans would do well to reject their embrace of irreligion and paganism in favor of a return to their Christian roots.