The Day The Lockdown Should’ve Ended

April 16. That’s the day every lockdown order in America should have ended. Not because the virus was eradicated that day (it obviously was not), and not because of economic concerns. No, the lockdowns should have ended because every quarantine talking point got overturned by the top coronavirus authority in the land.

In an interview on a Snapchat show, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the doctor who has served as our national COVID-19 spokesman was asked about how people should navigate their use of dating apps during quarantine. Here was his answer:

You know, that’s tough. Because it’s what’s called relative risk. If you really feel that you don’t want to have any part of this virus, will you maintain six feet away, wear a mask, do all the things that we talk about in the guidelines? If you’re willing to take a risk—and you know, everybody has their own tolerance for risks—you could figure out if you want to meet somebody. And it depends on the level of the interaction that you want to have. If you’re looking for a friend, sit in a room and put a mask on, and you know, chat a bit. If you want to go a little bit more intimate, well, then that’s your choice regarding a risk.

“If you’re willing to take a risk…”

“Everybody has their own tolerance for risks…”

“That’s your choice regarding a risk…”

By saying these things, Dr. Fauci revealed two principles that undermine the entire narrative the actions of the last 2 months have been built on. First, he believes people should be free to choose their own risk. Essentially, the advice above boils down to this: calculate your own risk and make your own decisions based on what you’re comfortable with. If you’re willing to risk catching the virus and the other person is too, you’re free to make that choice. You may think that’s a great idea, and you may think that’s a terrible idea. Regardless of our feelings, it’s the officially endorsed position by the face of our national coronavirus task force.

The question, then, is obvious – Why hasn’t that been the official recommendation across the board? Why haven’t we been allowed that kind of self-governance with regard to supporting mom and pop shops? Eating at restaurants? Going to the library? Opening businesses? Assembling in a church building? Playing basketball in a park?

Dr. Fauci endorsed the idea of choosing your activity level based on your own comfort and sense of risk with regard to only one thing – meeting up and having sex with strangers. Every guideline goes out the window in that situation. It’s the quickest, most efficient way to violate every social distancing, germ-free recommendation. But, “if you want to take the risk, go for it.” He even made sure to add that people shouldn’t do so under illusion that they’re healthy, because in his view the virus can be spread even if both parties are totally asymptomatic. That means he made this proclamation knowing full well it could further the transmission of the virus, and that the choice is yours as to whether possibly getting coronavirus is a worthwhile tradeoff for having a date.

Flattening the curve, #StayHomeSaveLives, all those slogans we’ve been trained to recite… Fauci brushed them aside as irrelevant in this case. In his view, the entire premise of government dictating our actions to stop the spread of the virus –  the premise this whole thing was built on – goes out the window the minute a person decides they need some casual sex. You can’t choose to sit 10′ from someone in a church pew in some states, but you can find somebody on the internet, go to their apartment, get physically intimate, and share their bed. You’re not allowed to choose the former because it’s too risky, but the latter is left up to you at your own discretion.

The second principle Dr. Fauci endorsed is this: there are some things in life more important and necessary than avoiding all risks. The doctor thinks Tinder dates fall into that category, and though I disagree on that specific point, many of us agree that some activities are worth it. There are things we don’t want to give up indefinitely in the name of personal safety, and we should be able to associate with people who have come to the same conclusion. Other concerns have to be weighed, too, like paying bills, preserving mental health, seeing family members, etc. Doing some of those things might involve a health risk. But why can’t we calculate it for ourselves? Apparently that’s a luxury only afforded to people who need a date.

Yes, protect the vulnerable. Yes, take precautions. Yes, allow people the choice to stay in should they so choose or should they need to for health reasons. Yes, encourage hospitals and nursing homes to take extra precautions. But the minute dating app hookups got the thumbs up as a matter of personal choice should have been the minute mandatory lockdowns ended as a matter of principle.

 

Top 7 NBA Players

While we’re all locked in our houses, I decided to take the opportunity to spend some time doing two things I love: Writing and arbitrarily ranking things. Why top 7? Because 1) 7 is more interesting than 5 but less open-ended than 10 and 2) Subtle tribute to the greatest, John Elway (but that’s another list for another day).

As an NBA expert* I decided to sit down and write out the definitive** ranking of the seven best players in the league’s history. If you think I’m wrong, the rules of the internet dictate we have to walk away thinking of each other as terrible people who don’t know anything about basketball.***

*guy who watches a decent amount of NBA
**totally arbitrary
***rules are rules, man

So, without further ado…

7. Wilt Chamberlain

It’s tough to accurately rank any of the legends before 1970 (or even 1980 for that matter), so let’s pretend I’ve seen a ton of ancient NBA games to justify this ranking. The league was smaller back in the day, the competition was clearly weaker, and the game sure seemed a lot easier for imposing figures like Chamberlain and Bill Russell. Still, the numbers are what they are and they’re pretty mindblowing, regardless of era. And, with what limited footage we do have, it’s plain to see that Wilt was a complete player who could score, pass, defend, and rebound – not to mention his spectacular athleticism.

6. Kobe Bryant

This post is already going to be ridiculously long, so I’m going to sum this one up by saying that in a time with historical greats like Shaq, Dirk, Duncan, and Nash, Kobe was consistently the best player and became the defining figure of the era.

5. Larry Bird
4. Magic Johnson

The MVPS and championships are there. The highlight reels and legendary games are there. The influence is there – their long-running rivalry is widely credited with exponentially growing the league’s popularity leading into the Jordan era, so their influence can’t be denied. They represented the ultimate clash of styles – flash vs. fundamentals, LA vs. Boston, the guy with the Hollywood smile and charisma vs. the guy who looked like your neighbor’s dad who coached the city t-ball team. Magic’s versatility and team success give him the slight advantage.

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The case is simple: NBA’s all-time leading scorer, 6x MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 5x All-NBA Defensive team, 6x champion between two franchises, one unstoppable, iconic shot. In a sense, he got to enjoy a decade of individual success followed by a decade of team success. Not a bad career path. And he did it all while dragging Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.

2. Michael Jordan
1. LeBron James

I know, it’s considered heresy to have anyone but MJ as #1. We’ll get to why I did that, but first I need to establish that this isn’t me trashing His Airness. You don’t need me to tell you that Michael Jordan was a great basketball player. 5x MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, 2x Olympic gold medalist, best player on 6 title-winning teams. Career scoring average over 30 points per game. Saved the Looney Tunes from interplanetary kidnapping. Aside from all of that, he was simply the coolest guy on the planet. The black Air Jordans, the tongue hanging out, the shoulder shrug, the #23, even the cheesy earring – all iconic to an entire generation. He might be the most famous athlete in history. There’s no denying his greatness, and that’s not what I’m here to do.

However, I do think there’s a case to be made that LeBron deserves #1. I made that case in-depth here, but for the purposes of this article I’ll limit myself to these three points.

  • The arguments for Jordan are often made based on memories, not facts. Michael Jordan the myth was better than Jordan the player because no human being could ever be as good as Michael Jordan the myth. He never missed a big shot. He didn’t need any help. He played against defenses that were far better than those in any other era. For goodness’ sake – fans ranked him as the greatest NCAA player of all time when no legitimate analyst would have him in the top five of college players.
    Thanks to YouTube and Basketball-Reference, the mythologizing can be fact checked and it does bring him down a notch from the flawless player everyone remembers.
  • The championship rings and finals record aren’t viable arguments. A number of LeBron’s finals performances were statistically better than MJ’s last three finals performances. In his three series losses to the Warriors LeBron averaged more points, rebounds, and assists and had a better shooting percentage than Jordan did in his three finals wins from 96-98. Lebron lost all three because his team was hopelessly outgunned against a team with potentially 5 Hall of Famers. I suppose if LeBron really had the winning gene he would’ve thought to be born at a better time, or kept the 2nd best player in the world from joining the only 73-win team ever. Alas, he just didn’t want it bad enough.
  • LeBron checks off all the boxes. He can score as well as anyone, he rebounds, he’s been one of the best passers in the league for much of his career, he can and does defend all five positions (typically at an elite level), and his blend of power and agility means his athleticism rivals the best athletes the league has seen. On top of all of that, he goes about his business efficiently. His routinely high shooting percentages and assist totals show he’s a master of making the right decision. And, he’s the best we’ve ever seen at coming through when it matters most. His career elimination game averages are 34-12-8. If you had to build a perfect basketball player robot, he’d look a lot like LeBron. And if Dwyane Wade’s knees fail and Kevin Durant joins a 73 win team to prevent your roboplayer from winning championships, you shrug your shoulders and move on. Doesn’t mean he’s any less of a player.

Obviously it’s a debate that can go on for days, but that’s my 7. Tell me why I’m wrong.


[1] stats via twitter.com/megatoughscene

Top 7 Fast Food Items

While we’re all locked in our houses, I decided to take the opportunity to spend some time doing two things I love: Writing and arbitrarily ranking things. So that’s what I’m going to do.
Why top 7? Because 1) It’s my website and I get to do what I want 2) 7 is more interesting than 5 but less open-ended than 10 and 3) Subtle tribute to the greatest, John Elway (but that’s another list for another day).
I’ve got a few ideas for topics lined up, but if you have one you’d like to debate be sure to drop me a message.

Rules:
– Nothing that can only be found in a small region. For example, the large majority of the country has no idea what a Bojangles is, so they don’t count.
– I have to have tried it. Yes, it makes the list incredibly subjective. But I can’t rank it if I haven’t eaten it.
– It has to have a drive-thru in a typical location. Places like Five Guys, Chipotle, and Shake Shack get bumped up to “fast casual” and therefore don’t count here.

And now, for the list…

7. Dairy Queen Blizzard
You can get this kind of thing plenty of places. Soft serve whipped up with some sundae toppings is a pretty basic idea. Dairy Queen just does it way better than everybody else.

6. Chick-fil-a Peach Shake
If summer had an official taste, it may very well be this shake.

5. Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch
Taco Bell is a magical place with a wonderfully inexpensive array of options. The only problem is, almost all of those options are just a rearranging of 3 ingredients. Of those, the Cheesy Gordita Crunch is by far the best permutation of the tortilla, meat, and cheese. The spicy ranch sauce puts it over the top.

4. Chick-fil-a Nuggets
Perfectly juicy chicken. Perfectly breaded. Perfect for dipping in their delicious sauces. Simple as that.

3. Popeye’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich
Was it worth the kind of hype that created lines 20 cars deep at 9:55 at night and drove it out of stock for 3 months? Well, no. But it was pretty close. It has the crispiness that Chick-fil-a has always lacked, plus a fantastic spicy sauce and the best pickles in the business. The bun is pretty great too.

2. In-N-Out Double-Double burger (Animal Style)
Plenty of people think In-N-Out is overrated, but that’s almost certainly because of the hype surrounding it. After years of hearing people talk it up, you expect some extravagant burger. I know I did. What you find instead is a very simple burger. It’s as basic as it gets, just juicier and fresher than the burgers you get everywhere else. Since the cheeseburger is the very best fast food entree of all time, and since they do the most important parts of the cheeseburger better than everybody else, they’ve earned their ranking.
Throw in the extra thousand island-esque spread and the mustard-fried patties of the Animal Style (on the “secret menu”) and you’ve got the best fast food burger in the business.

1. McDonalds French Fries
Like it was ever going to be anything else. It’s exactly what you want out of fast food – salty (but not too salty) and greasy (but not too greasy) with a perfect texture. They will forever reign supreme.

Now, tell me why I’m wrong.

The church of Christ invented cancel culture

Of all the wonderful things the internet has given us, there have been a few that make me wonder if it’s all worth it. One of those negatives is what has come to be known as “cancel culture.” Cancel culture is that thing you hear of in the news where the internet mob gets a hold of some wrong action or social media post and does everything in their power to ruin that person’s life.

When they find one such person, they want blood. They work to get people fired from their jobs. They try to get the person’s friends and family to shun them. They want their target buried to the point where they can never come back. No amount of apologizing can ever save a person once they’ve been canceled.

The first instance I can remember involved a woman named Justine Sacco. She posted a couple of admittedly offensive, racist tweets while getting on a plane to Africa. By the time the plane landed, hundreds of thousands of people had banded together to get Sacco fired from her job. This all occurred in 2015, and since that time canceling has entered our vernacular and become a regular part of internet life.

Unfortunately, the church had a cancel culture long before the Twitter rage mob ever got a hold of Sacco.

For decades faithful Christians have been canceled over all kinds of things. The online mob stands ready to leap to action any time someone takes the wrong side on the Holy Spirit, heaven vs. renewed creation, whether drinking alcohol is a sin, or what holidays a person celebrates, or any other number of issues. Ironically, I’ll probably have some people canceling me over this article.

I’ve had people try to contact my congregation and demand I be fired over an article I wrote. I’ve had people pay for Facebook advertising to warn people that I’m a false teacher. My experiences pale in comparison to what others have dealt with, though. Some have been fired from ministry jobs, losing their ability to provide for their family over a slight difference of opinion. Some have had longtime friends turn on them seemingly overnight. Some have had it made clear to them that they are no longer welcome in buildings and events they use to frequent.

How can this be so when unity is one of the most emphasized attributes of the New Testament church? How is it remotely Christlike to cancel people without discussing your differences and giving them a chance to explain themselves? Where is grace when the slightest misstep is enough to instantly cut ties with each other?

Two considerations should be made:

First, when the time comes to take a firm, unwavering stand, it must still be done in love. And, despite what some claim, just because you’ve told the truth it doesn’t make you inherently loving (as 1 Corinthians 13:1 teaches us). Canceling someone is anything but loving.

Second, we have to be careful where we draw the line. Every Christian makes a distinction between non-negotiables and secondary matters. If we make everything (or 99.9% of everything) a non-negotiable, our standard is that there is no room to be wrong about anything. Matthew 7:2 must be kept in mind – our standard is the standard that will be used against us. If you’ve ever changed your mind on even the slightest thing, that “holding a single wrong belief makes one a false teacher” standard should be a chilling thought. We must always have the humility to be able to say “I could be wrong.”

Yes, there is such a thing as a false teacher, but we should use the term with extreme caution. Someone who disagrees with me is not automatically a false teacher. Someone who is wrong about something is not automatically a false teacher (see Apollos in Acts 18). The New Testament saves the term for those who teach foundational errors like works based salvation or denial of Christ’s deity. Additionally, we’re told that a false teacher will be known by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20). Their character will show that they are not obedient, Spirit-led people.

That distinction in Matthew 7 is key. Jesus starts by teaching us to be very careful in our judging. However, He then tells us how to judge. So, if you’re reading this and asking, “how do we distinguish between a brother who is sincere but wrong and someone who is actually a false teacher?” just read Matthew 7. The first section teaches us to give grace to those who are mistaken. The later section teaches us to beware of those who are clearly false teachers by their fruits. The problem with cancel culture is there is never room for the grace that gives us time to determine the difference.

So, the next time somebody writes or says something that seems wrong to you, hit the brakes before throwing out the “false teacher” term. Before you cut someone out of your life, ask if they are truly in the wrong, or if you simply have a difference of opinion. If you’re one of those people who actively tries to harm those who disagree with you in any way, repent of your pride and spirit of division. Leave the canceling to our corrupt, graceless, Godless culture.