Fall Foliage Peak Map 2019: When Autumn Leaves Are Best In GA |

Fall Foliage Peak Map 2019: When Autumn Leaves Are Best In GA |

weather Shared from Decatur-Avondale Estates, GA Fall Foliage Peak Map 2019: When Autumn Leaves Are Best In GA If you’re planning a fall foliage tour in Georgia — or anywhere else in the country — this tool can help you make the most of it. By Tim Darnell, Patch Staff Sep 9, 2019 9:05 am ET {{ replyButtonLabel }} Reply {{ replyCount }} Fall is coming, and here are the best times to view autumn leaves in Georgia. (Courtesy of Tim Lee) GEORGIA — As summer wanes, it’s a good time to begin planning road trips to see one of nature’s greatest shows: the fall foliage peak, when leaves change color to blazing reds, vibrant oranges and sunny yellows. When will that happen in Georgia? You can’t know precisely, but there’s a handy tool to help you plan excursions when fall foliage should be at its most spectacular.
The Fall Foliage Prediction Map , found on the Smoky Mountain National Park website, includes predictions not just for the Smokies, which rise above the Tennessee-North Carolina border, but for all 50 states.
In north Georgia, leaves will start turning around Oct. 12, with peak viewing around Nov. 9.
The Peach State offers some stunning vistas with hikes and trails to get into nature, including these state parks suggested by the Georgia State Parks website:
Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge — Dawsonville: Just an hour north of Atlanta you’ll find the Southeast’s tallest cascading waterfall. Black Rock Mountain State Park — Clayton: At an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain is Georgia’s highest state park. Roadside overlooks and the summit Visitor Center offer sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Cloudland Canyon State Park — Near Chattanooga: A favorite hike takes you down a staircase to the bottom of the canyon, where you’ll find two waterfalls. F.D. Roosevelt State Park — Pine Mountain: Many people are surprised to find hardwood forests and rolling mountains south of Atlanta. For a touch of history, drive to Dowdell’s Knob to see a life-size bronze sculpture of President Franklin Roosevelt and views of the forested valley. Fort Mountain State Park — Chatsworth: This park is best known for a mysterious rock wall along the mountain top, plus a variety of trails. For the easiest walk, take the 1.2-mile loop around the park’s green lake. Moccasin Creek State Park — Lake Burton: Georgia’s smallest state park sits on the shore of a deep-green lake. Guests can choose from the 2-mile Hemlock Falls Trail or 1-mile Non-Game Trail with a wildlife observation tower. Smithgall Woods State Park — Helen: Protecting more than 6,000 acres around Dukes Creek, this is the perfect spot for fly fishing while enjoying fall color. Day visitors can picnic near the creek, and overnight guests can hike a private trail to Dukes Creek Falls. Tallulah Gorge State Park — Near Clayton: Find one of the most spectacular canyons in the Southeast, and choose from easy or difficult trails. Hike along the rim to several overlooks with waterfall views, or get a permit from the park office to trek all the way to the bottom. Unicoi State Park & Lodge — Helen: New ziplines take you high above the forest canopy for a unique view of leaves. Vogel State Park — Blairsville: The 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail makes a nice day trip for experienced hikers, offering a birds-eye view of the park’s lake. For an easier walk, follow the Lake Loop to a small waterfall below the dam. George L. Smith State Park — Twin City: Join Mill Pond Kayak for a guided paddle trip under Spanish moss and tupelo trees. Photographers will appreciate exploring a covered bridge built in 1880. James H. Floyd State Park — Summerville: This quiet park in northwest Georgia has five miles of hiking trails, plus access to the 60-mile Pinhoti Trail. Victoria Bryant State Park — Royston: Located just minutes from I-85 in north Georgia, this little known gem has eight miles of hiking trails, a pretty stream and small fishing ponds. If you’re planning a trip somewhere else, the Fall Foliage Prediction Map can help you pinpoint the best dates for a visit. And The Foliage Network posts regular updates on when leaves start to drop and the colors start to turn.
You probably remember from science class that the color change all starts with photosynthesis. Leaves constantly churn out chlorophyll — a key component in a plant’s ability to turn sunlight into the glucose it needs to stay healthy — from spring through early fall. Those cells saturate the leaves, making them appear green to the human eye.
But leaves aren’t green at all. Autumn is the time for leaves’ big reveal: their true color, unveiled as chlorophyll production grinds to a halt. The colors in fall’s breathtaking tapestry are influenced by other compounds, according to the national park’s website.
For example, beta-carotenes reflect the yellow and red light from the sun and give leaves an orange hue. The production of anthocyanin, which gives leaves their vivid red color, ramps up in the fall, protecting and prolonging the leaf’s life on a tree throughout autumn.
And those yellows that make you feel as if you’re walking in a ray of sunshine?
They’re produced by flavonol, which is part of the flavonoid protein family. It’s always present in leaves, but doesn’t show itself until chlorophyll production begins to slow.
“The predictive fall leaf map helps potential travelers, photographers and leaf peepers determine the precise future date that the leaves will peak in each area of the continental United States. By utilizing the date selector at the bottom of the map, the user can visually understand how fall will progress over a region,” data scientist Wes Melton, the website’s chief technical officer, said in a statement.
“We believe this interactive tool will enable travelers to take more meaningful fall vacations, capture beautiful fall photos and enjoy the natural beauty of autumn,” he said. “Our nationwide fall foliage prediction map is unique — it is one of the only fall leaf tools that provides accurate predictions for the entire continental United States.”
The major factors that determine the fall foliage peak are sunlight, precipitation, soil moisture and temperature.
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NFL Power Rankings, Week 2: Packers, Vikings rise; Browns fall

As it does every year, Week 1 has the habit of making us all out to be fools.
You, dear reader, have the option of sweeping your failed predictions and doomed hot takes under the rug, never to be spoken of again. You delete the tweets, scrub the text chains, tell your friends they simply misheard you when you said the Jaguars would make Patrick Mahomes look like Tyler Thigpen. You escape … unscathed.
Me? I have these damn Power Rankings, which serve as a living, breathing testament to my eternal naivety. This is my burden. This is my fate. Still I forge on.
Let’s get to it.
Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 NOTE: The previous rankings referenced in the lineup below are from the Week 1 Power Rankings.
Previous rank: No. 1
Sometimes football just seems too easy for this team. The Patriots shocked the world (actually, was anybody really shocked?) by agreeing to terms with Antonio Brown on Saturday . Then they turned around and delivered a clinical beatdown of the Steelers on Sunday night. Tom Brady spread the ball all over the field to seven different receivers, and the offensive line allowed the 42-year-old quarterback to be sacked only once all night. The offense was impressive, but it’s the defense that makes you think the Steelers are just the first of many teams bound to be on the wrong end of lopsided final scores involving the Patriots in 2019. The Pats have playmakers at every level of their D; the secondary wouldn’t even allow Ben Roethlisberger to pile up some decent garbage-time production in the second half. The Pats don’t care that you don’t like them. And they certainly don’t care about your fantasy team.
Previous rank: No. 2
A very nice start for the Rams , who picked up a road win against a tough Panthers team on an afternoon where quarterback Jared Goff was not overly sharp, their special teams were uncharacteristically sloppy and defensive tackle Aaron Donald had perhaps the quietest day of his career. Their heroes came elsewhere. Rams linebacker Cory Littleton stuffed the stat sheet with 14 tackles, an interception and forced fumble, which he recovered. (The fumble came on one of those plays where the defender straight up punches the pigskin out of the ball-carrier’s hands, always an underrated feat of savagery on the field.) Todd Gurley was part of a committee attack in the backfield, but still rushed for nearly 100 yards on 14 carries and iced the game with a pair of rushes coming out of the two-minute warning. This was a win that showed off Los Angeles’ enviable depth. The Rams have a lot of people who can beat you.
Previous rank: No. 4
Here’s the scary thing about the Chiefs: They went to Jacksonville and dropped a 40-burger on the Jaguars … and it still felt like they left points on the field. Patrick Mahomes looks like the MVP, LeSean McCoy looks like the Shady of old rather than old Shady, and Sammy Watkins looks to, at long last, be on the precipice of his breakthrough season. Watkins torched the Jags to the tune of nine catches for 198 yards and three TDs, and he’ll continue to see plenty of looks with Tyreek Hill on the shelf indefinitely with a shoulder injury . The Hill news is obviously the biggest negative to come out of the opener for Kansas City, but the team’s talent is so overwhelming that you don’t imagine the Chiefs will skip a beat. Jon Gruden thought he had a headache in Antonio Brown — now he has to plan for the Chiefs in Week 2 . Knock on wood if you’re terrified.
Previous rank: No. 3
Wil Lutz for president. The kicker drilled a 58-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Saints past the Texans in the best game of Week 1. Lutz’s heroics came after Deshaun Watson put the Texans ahead and stunned the Superdome into silence with a two-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 37-yard touchdown strike to former Saint Kenny Stills . Given just 37 seconds and one timeout to work with, Drew Brees still managed to get the Saints into Texans territory, setting up Lutz for the game-winner. It was a rough night for the New Orleans defense, which sacked Watson six times, but gave up too many big plays through the air and surrendered 180 yards on the ground. The Saints never allowed more than 112 yards rushing in a game in 2018. A trip to L.A. to face the Rams next Sunday presents an even bigger challenge for the unit.
Previous rank: No. 5
I imagine there was a wave of sweet nostalgia washing over Philly fans as they watched DeSean Jackson blow the top off an opposing defense in an Eagles uniform again. Now 32, DJax is a decade removed from his NFL debut with the Eagles under Andy Reid, but he looked like pretty much exactly the same guy against the Redskins on Sunday. Carson Wentz greatly benefits from Jackson’s playmaking presence, and the wideout adds a dimension to the offense that already has proven playmakers in Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery . Speaking of sweet Iggles nostalgia, Wentz looked a lot like the guy who tore the NFL apart in 2017 once Philly’s offense shook off the rust in the second half. Wentz is a legit MVP candidate and the Eagles are primed for a fierce battle with the Cowboys for the NFC East crown.
Previous rank: No. 7
All is right in Jerrah World. The Cowboys opened their season as they should: Beating up on a talent-deficient Giants team at home. Ezekiel Elliott looks a step slow (to be expected as he rounds into shape after a lengthy holdout), but the Cowboys didn’t need their star running back the way Dak Prescott was playing on Sunday. The fourth-year quarterback was as locked in as we’ve ever seen him, carving up the Giants for four touchdowns with a perfect passer rating of 158.3. People snickered when reports surfaced last month that Prescott wanted $40 million per year on his new contract. If Jerry Jones doesn’t get a deal done soon, Prescott will be asking for double. Meanwhile, Prescott’s receiving options go well beyond Amari Cooper: Michael Gallup looks like an emerging star, while Randall Cobb skipped through the Giants ‘ D like the Cobb of four years ago. Even Jason Witten , in his first game since the 2017 season, had a touchdown . Like I said, all is right in Jerrah World.
Previous rank: No. 12
Pretty much a perfect start to the season for the Vikings . Suffocating defense, a punishing ground game, and Kirk Cousins asked to be a facilitator rather than hero. Cousins threw just 10 passes against the Falcons , as Minnesota coasted to the finish line after building up a 28-0 lead in the third quarter. The hype around Dalvin Cook this offseason was absolutely warranted: The third-year running back piled up 111 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, looking very much like the missing piece for Minnesota’s offense. Backup Alexander Mattison also ran with purpose for a Vikings team that finished with 172 yards on the ground. Safety Anthony Harris starred on D with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. This is a well-balanced team that is going to make noise if it can stay healthy.
Previous rank: No. 9
That was not the resounding victory people expected with the Bengals coming to town for Week 1, but the Seahawks showed once again that having a guy like Russell Wilson behind center tends to make the difference in a close game. Seattle’s offense was kept quiet by a surprisingly stout Cincinnati D — the Seahawks didn’t pick up a first down in the first or third quarters. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was true to form in unfurling a conservative game plan, and you’d love to see more of a downfield attack from Seattle moving forward. How Tyler Lockett finishes with just two targets is beyond me, but the debut of rookie D.K. Metcalf (four catches for 89 yards on six targets; plus, he drew a defensive pass interference penalty in the end zone) seemed to back up the summer of hype around the second-round pick.
Previous rank: No. 11
We knew the Ravens drew a favorable matchup in Week 1, but it wasn’t supposed to be that easy . Baltimore’s drive results by possession in the first half: TD, TD, TD, TD, punt (muffed by Dolphins), TD, TD. That last score came after John Harbaugh called for a fake punt — successfully executed — with the Ravens leading 35-3. Cold-blooded! The biggest storyline, of course, was Lamar Jackson , who become the first QB with five or more touchdown passes in a season opener since Peyton Manning (2013). He didn’t throw his first incompletion of the afternoon until the 3:31 mark of the second quarter. It won’t always be this easy — it may never be this easy again for Jackson — but it remains an incredibly impressive start to a sophomore season that just saw its expectations go through the roof. The schedule stays soft in Week 2 with a home matchup against the Cardinals .
Previous rank: No. 14
Well, that was … different. The Packers managed just 13 first downs — three fewer than their opponent — and averaged 3.7 yards per play against a suffocating Bears defense … and yet they’ll enter Week 2 at 1-0. You could see the excitement on Aaron Rodgers ‘ face during his postgame interview with NBC’s Michele Tafoya. Wait, this is what it’s like to not have to do everything by myself? This is way better! It was an unbelievable performance by Green Bay’s defense, and kudos to coordinator Mike Pettine, who just might have the dogs to take over games like the good old days when he was with Rex Ryan and the Jets . Matt LaFleur’s debut as Green Bay’s play-caller left much to be desired, but Packers fans should give the offense a mulligan and see how it looks outside of opening night at Soldier Field against the NFL’s best defense. Well, it was the second-best defense on Thursday.
Previous rank: No. 6
First, the good news: You can safely dismiss any serious concerns that the Bears ‘ defense will take a substantial step back without Vic Fangio around. Chicago’s D, now led by coordinator Chuck Pagano, swarmed Aaron Rodgers for four quarters in Thursday night’s opener, holding the new-look Matt LaFleur offense to minus-12 yards in the first quarter and just 213 yards total. Take out one Rodgers deep heave to Marquez Valdes-Scantling and a 50/50 ball touchdown reception by Jimmy Graham, and Green Bay did practically nothing. But Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears ‘ offense was somehow worse. This is going to be a tough week for the third-year quarterback, who will get peppered with criticism that he’s the second coming of Rex Grossman — a.k.a., a middling QB who holds back an otherwise Super Bowl-ready team. This is unfair after one game, but great expectations bring added scrutiny. Remember when the Bears thought kicker was their only concern?
Previous rank: No. 10
Melvin Gordon ‘s cosmically doomed holdout just encountered another setback. Austin Ekeler , who has replaced Gordon in the starting lineup, piled up 154 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime , as the Chargers began their season by knocking off the Andrew Luck-less Colts . Ekeler was part of a committee attack with Justin Jackson , who ran for 57 yards on just six carries. Philip Rivers showed no rust after a preseason spent entirely on the sideline, throwing for 333 yards and three touchdowns. The biggest concern for the Bolts after Week 1? Their run defense, which was a major issue in their playoff loss to the Patriots in January and a problem again against a Colts team that went over 200 yards on the ground.
Previous rank: No. 20
Now that is how you send a Week 1 message. The Titans believe they’ve been overlooked as a contender in the AFC. Delanie Walker said as much in his much-publicized ” They were who we thought they were ” postgame commentary on the Browns , but people are paying attention now after Tennessee laid a 30-point whoopin’ on football’s most-hyped team. Speaking of Walker, the Titans offense looks totally different with its star tight end back in the mix after he missed all but one game last season due to injury. The fourth-quarter play fake and touchdown dart from Marcus Mariota to Walker — the first of two Walker TDs — was a thing of beauty. Mariota played a clean and smart game — an underrated decision came late in the fourth quarter when Mariota scrambled out of the pocket and slid at the feet of Myles Garrett rather than take an unnecessary hit. This is a team to watch.
Previous rank: No. 8
That was a disheartening start to the season. The Steelers were manhandled by the “rival” Patriots , who were playing the game at another level on Sunday night. I expected the Steelers to ball out on offense even without Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell , but it sure felt like they were short a playmaker or two as the Patriots began to pull away in Foxborough. Pittsburgh had four first downs and 87 total yards at the half and was held to three points in a season opener for the first time since 2001. James Conner couldn’t move the chains on the ground and JuJu Smith-Schuster struggled to get open before leaving the game late with a toe injury. It’s clear the Steelers have a lot of work to do in what could be a very important season for Mike Tomlin. They’ll get another stiff challenge when the Seahawks come to town in Week 2.
Previous rank: No. 13
What a glorious performance by Deshaun Watson against the Saints . Watson’s back-to-back money throws — first a sideline strike to DeAndre Hopkins (still a demigod), then a perfect end zone dart to Kenny Stills a moment before the New Orleans pass rush got home — put the Texans in position for an unlikely comeback win at the Superdome. Wil Lutz’s 58-yard field goal saved the day for the Saints , but it served as a reminder why Houston should still be viewed as the favorite in the AFC South. The Texans have Deshaun Watson and the other teams don’t. A less-glowing dispatch is in order for J.J. Watt , who failed to record at least one tackle or a quarterback hit for the first time in his career. Bad night at the office or consequence of Jadeveon Clowney no longer bringing attention on the other side?
Previous rank: No. 18
The Panthers hung tough against the Rams, but they never quite managed to steal the momentum or, ultimately, the game. Still, there were positives to take out of the loss. Cam Newton didn’t show any ill effects from his latest shoulder surgery, driving the ball downfield with good zip in an imperfect but promising performance. Christian McCaffrey , meanwhile, might have officially taken the crown from Cam as Carolina’s most valuable player. The third-year running back was a menace to the Los Angeles defense, scoring two touchdowns while piling up over 200 yards from scrimmage, with 10 catches out of the backfield. The Panthers get blown out of this game if CMC isn’t at his best. Next week against the Bucs, keep an eye on Newton, who didn’t try to make any plays with his legs against the Rams . Was that an aberration, or a signal of a change in the QB’s playing style?
Previous rank: No. 23
What a comeback by the Bills , who wiped away a 16-point deficit and stole a game in which they lost the turnover battle, 4-1. Credit goes to both an uncharacteristically blitz-heavy pass rush that never allowed Jets quarterback Sam Darnold to find a rhythm and to Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen , who shook off two fumbles and two interceptions in the first half to lead Buffalo to 17 unanswered points on three consecutive drives in the second half. Allen’s go-ahead touchdown pass to John Brown with less than four minutes to play was a perfectly placed ball that showed off touch that Allen didn’t always exhibit as a rookie. Allen didn’t do it alone: Rookie running back Devin Singletary looked special, piling up 98 scrimmage yards on just nine touches. The Bills have a core in place to make some noise right now.
Previous rank: No. 19
The post-Andrew Luck Colts are not going to be a doormat. You got that feeling entering the season, and nothing changed after a hard-fought overtime loss on the road against the Chargers . The Indianapolis defense struggled to keep a very good Los Angeles offense in check, but Indy’s offense showed it can still put points on the board without their now-retired franchise passer. Jacoby Brissett played efficiently, T.Y. Hilton still produced like a star and Marlon Mack set a career high with 174 rushing yards, including a 63-yard touchdown run. One big concern comes at a place where you wouldn’t expect it: Veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri missed an extra point and two field-goal tries. Frank Reich put his support behind Vinatieri, but it goes without saying that next week will be an important one for the future Hall of Famer.
Previous rank: No. 24
The 49ers are back in the takeaway business on defense. They produced four on Sunday against the Buccaneers , using those big plays to secure a 31-17 win in Tampa. Last season, San Francisco set NFL records for fewest turnovers (seven) and interceptions (two) created. They picked off Jameis Winston three times in Week 1, running two of those picks back for touchdowns. If only the Niners could have the error-prone Winston on the schedule every week. Jimmy Garoppolo was OK in his first start since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last October, bouncing back after an early pick-six . His lone touchdown pass came on a pretty 39-yard strike to wide receiver Richie James , but Jimmy G did most of his work short of the sticks. You’d like to see more variety in the offense moving forward, and you suspect that will happen as Garoppolo gets more comfortable after missing the bulk of last season.
Previous rank: No. 25
Antonio who? The Raiders looked just fine without their tempestuous would-be star wide receiver. In fact, they looked pretty great. Jon Gruden’s team took it to the Broncos at a raucous Black Hole, bullying Denver on both sides of the ball in a clean and efficient win. Speaking of clean and efficient, Derek Carr was nearly perfect behind center, finishing 22-for-26 while averaging a robust 10 yards per attempt. Tyrell Williams went over 100 yards with a touchdown in his debut as Oakland’s surprise No. 1 receiver, and the Raiders ‘ offensive line had no problem neutralizing Denver’s supposedly fearsome pass rush. Oakland’s defense also answered the bell, limiting the Broncos ‘ offense to three field goals and a late touchdown that functioned as lipstick on a pig for a moribund Denver attack. Maybe Jon Gruden still knows what he’s doing after all?
Previous rank: No. 15
Week 1 was an unmitigated disaster for the Browns . All that hype and optimism built up over the spring and summer was a distant memory by the time Cleveland fans were booing their team off the field at the end of the first half of a loss to the Titans . The Browns committed 18 penalties for 182 yards, the most penalties they’ve had in a game since 1951. Baker Mayfield threw three fourth-quarter interceptions and left the stadium with his right wrist in a wrap after coming up wincing following an end-zone sack by Cameron Wake . (X-rays were negative.) The offensive line wasn’t as bad as advertised — it was worse , made weaker after Greg Robinson was ejected for kicking a Titans player. Hey, at least Odell Beckham Jr. got to show off his fancy watch. It’s certainly possible the Browns show up angry and dangerous against the Jets next Monday night, but it’s also possible they are in disarray as the season begins. Sunday was a reality check.
Previous rank: No. 22
A crushing opening loss for the Jets , who squandered a 16-0 second-half lead at home and became just the seventh team in 20 seasons to lose a game in which they won the turnover battle, 4-0. (Your fancy databases will insist on counting Quincy Enunwa ‘s blown lateral at the end of the game as a Jets fumble, but statistical pedantry like that has no home here.) A turning point came in the third quarter, when linebacker C.J. Mosley ‘s dominant Jets debut was cut short by a groin injury. Mosley left shortly before Buffalo hit a field goal. The Bills ‘ next two possessions with Mosley on the sideline: TD, TD. 16-0 to 17-16. As the defense wilted, Adam Gase’s offense was unable to pick up the slack. Sam Darnold repeatedly threw short of the sticks in the face of constant Buffalo pressure, and Kaare Vedvik missed a PAT attempt and field-goal try. The silver lining? Le’Veon Bell looked very much like his old self over 23 touches, showing his patented burst, wiggle and nose for the end zone.
Previous rank: No. 16
Bury-the-ball game for the Falcons . Dan Quinn’s team wasn’t sharp on either side of the ball against the Vikings, but it was the offensive line — a unit in which the team invested heavy resources in the offseason — that should present the most concern for the Falcons going forward. Matt Ryan was sacked four times and hit on seven other occasions, and the line created little daylight for running backs Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith . Things went from bad to worse after the game, when Atlanta learned rookie guard Chris Lindstrom — one of two O-linemen picked by the Falcons in the first round — suffered a broken foot that will send him to IR. It won’t get any easier when a very tough Eagles team comes to Mercedes-Benz Field next Sunday night. Quinn will begin to take some heat if Atlanta pulls another no-show.
Previous rank: No. 30
This was a promising start for the Bengals , even in defeat . Cincinnati walked into a hostile environment and went punch for punch with the Seahawks for four quarters. The final score doesn’t reflect it, but it felt like the Bengals were the better team, as contradictory as that might seem. Cincy’s defense held Seattle to 233 yards of total offense, and Andy Dalton — in his ninth season and first game under new coach Zac Taylor — set a career high with 418 passing yards. Dalton reached that benchmark not with superstar receiver A.J. Green (out with an ankle injury), but instead with third-year pro John Ross , who played like the ace Green counterpart the Bengals expected him to be when they selected him ninth overall in 2017. It makes you wonder if we underestimated how much this offense will improve in the post-Marvin Lewis era. The next step for Taylor’s team is to figure out how to win games like this.
Previous rank: No. 21
There weren’t a lot of positives to take out of Vic Fangio’s debut as Broncos head coach. Joe Flacco and the offense looked stiff and unimaginative, managing just three field goals and a late touchdown against a Raiders defense hardly projected to be one of the league’s best. The Broncos ‘ defense has been hyped up as a potential game-changing force under Fangio, but we saw nothing of the sort in Oakland. Von Miller and Co. didn’t have a sack, couldn’t produce a QB hit and were unable force a turnover. It was an invisible performance that surely left John Elway scratching his head. Denver is headed for its third straight season of double-digit losses if this is the product that takes the field every week. Looking for positives? Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders have the makings of a solid 1-2 punch at receiver. That’s all I got.
Previous rank: No. 17
The Jaguars could have played against an entire roster of Pennywise clowns and it wouldn’t have been as nightmarish as what actually transpired on Sunday at the Big Chlorine Tank. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs rolled up nearly 500 yards on Jacksonville’s vaunted defense, and Nick Foles suffered a broken clavicle one quarter into his Jags debut. With Foles headed to injured reserve (whether he returns or not remains to be seen), it’s more than fair to question why the Jaguars didn’t have a better backup plan in place at quarterback. Gardner Minshew played as well as could have hoped in relief — in fact, he was pretty damn great, given the circumstances — but it’s hard to imagine the sixth-round rookie (or the recently acquired Josh Dobbs ) keeping Jacksonville in the AFC South race. Sometimes, it’s not too early to panic.
Previous rank: No. 26
Yes, a tie is better than a loss … but this was still pretty damn bad. The Lions allowed the Cardinals to score 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, turning a sure win into a deeply unsatisfying push. This was a win the Lions needed, with the Chargers , Eagles , Chiefs and Packers next on deck. The fourth-quarter meltdown was a team effort, as the offense got too conservative and the defense suddenly lost itself. The biggest positive of Week 1? The Lions appear to have hit on their first-round pick. Tight end T.J. Hockenson went off for 6/131/1 in his debut, putting up the most yardage by any tight end in his debut since the NFL-AFL merger. Stafford’s been without a legit playmaker on offense since Calvin Johnson walked away after the 2015 season — Hockenson has the potential to fill that void.
Previous rank: No. 28
Things started extremely promising for the Redskins on Sunday. Case Keenum was locked in, and Washington built a 17-point cushion against the hated Eagles . But Carson Wentz and Co. woke up, and the Redskins ‘ defense was unable to stop the bleeding in an eventual 32-27 loss. Washington’s D is supposed to be the strength of this team, but we saw too many missed tackles and blown coverage assignments during the second half, when the Eagles ripped off 300 yards of total offense and 25 points. The Redskins could not do anything on the ground — Derrius Guice managed just 18 yards on 10 carries, and Monday brought word he’ll miss more time with another knee injury. This should lead to Adrian Peterson rejoining the fray after a surprise scratch in Week 1, though coach Jay Gruden doesn’t seem to have much time in the day for All Day.
Previous rank: No. 27
Sunday’s game might end up being a snapshot of the Giants ‘ 2019 season in miniature. Saquon Barkley wins fantasy matchups with monster production. The talent-deficient defense gets carved up by good offenses. Evan Engram produces like an All-Pro tight end. Eli Manning looks perfectly competent on one series and like he’s one step from the retirement home in the next. And, yes, Daniel Jones looms over everything, the kid waiting for his turn to try to put a proud franchise back on track. Jones got a little bit of PT late in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys , and the calls for his ascension to the starting lineup will only get louder if the Giants keep losing. Next up for Eli: a tough Week 2 matchup against a fierce Bills defense. Danny Dimes watch is on.
Previous rank: No. 31
Through three quarters, the Cardinals ‘ season opener was shaping up as a worst-case scenario. No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray looked lost, and new coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t seem capable of pushing any of the right buttons. But then the Cardinals got hot, reeling off 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Murray flashed his enormous potential during the comeback, connecting on a 27-yard touchdown to David Johnson , another score to Larry Fitzgerald and a 2-point conversion pass to Christian Kirk to force the extra period. The Cardinals and Lions traded field goals in overtime, and that was that. Kiss your sister. I can tell you one person who didn’t sleep well on Sunday: cornerback Tramaine Brock , who should have had an interception late in overtime to set up a game-winning field-goal attempt. Instead, the Matthew Stafford pass clanked off Brock’s hands and fell harmlessly to the turf. Doh.
Previous rank: No. 29
Bruce Arians took the job in Tampa in part because he believed Jameis Winston could evolve into a star quarterback with the right guidance. After one week, Winston looks like the same inconsistent passer who has held back the Bucs for years. The former No. 1 overall pick threw three interceptions against the Niners in Sunday’s home opener, two of which were returned for touchdowns in a 31-17 loss . Two pick-sixes, one 14-point loss. Winston needs to be better. If you were lucky enough to watch this game live, you saw a game that included three fumbles, two interceptions, one blocked punt, four touchdowns negated by penalty and 12 total penalties … in the first half. Yes, this was not great football, and it’s clear the Bucs have a lot of work to do, with a Thursday night tilt at the Panthers next week.
Previous rank: No. 32
Worst Week 1 ever? The Dolphins welcomed the Ravens to their building on Sunday, then watched the visitors reel off six touchdown drives in the first two quarters of an eventual 59-10 loss. When Baltimore running back Mark Ingram skipped into the end zone untouched to make it 41-3 late in the second quarter, there was an audible murmur in the crowd at Hard Rock Stadium. Is this really happening? Are we this bad? Are we the only team that won’t get to experience FitzMagic? It won’t always be this bad, but it’s going to be a long season in Miami. Good on rookie head coach Brian Flores for getting that reported extra guaranteed year on his contract; hopefully Dolphins leadership is smart enough not to judge him on results alone in 2019. Meanwhile, pray for Ryan Fitzpatrick . Defenses will pin their ears back and come after the veteran quarterback, who will be throwing often and playing from behind always. Stay warm, Josh Rosen .
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus .

Kardashian-inspired prison law frees $70M Wall Street scammer

Raj Rajaratnam was released early for good behavior, but didn’t have to move into a seedy halfway house full of other ex-cons as do most federal felons released early.
That’s because Rajaratnam, 62, whose estimated worth in 2010 was $700 million, qualified for special treatment under the “First Step Act,” a series of criminal justice reforms that President Trump signed into law last year after Kardashian lobbied for it in the Oval Office .
One provision allows some federal inmates who are over 60 years old, or who face terminal illnesses, to serve the end of their sentences at home, according to Bloomberg News , which first reported Rajaratnam’s release.
The kid-gloves treatment marked the second big break scored by the former head of the Galleon Group hedge fund, who built an ill-deserved reputation as one of Wall Street’s savviest tech investors.
Rajaratnam had faced more than 19 years behind bars following his conviction for scamming more than $70 million in “gains and losses avoided” with the help of carefully cultivated sources who leaked him corporate secrets.
Fellow inside trader Michael Kimelman, who was busted three weeks after Rajaratnam and served 15 months in federal prison, called Rajaratman “one of those seminal cases that defined an era.”
“Raj was clearly breaking the law. This wasn’t a gray area. He was in the black,” said Kimelman, the co-founder of Incremental Capital and author of the memoir “Confessions of a Wall Street Insider.”
In announcing his arrest, then-US Attorney Preet Bharara likened Rajaratnam to the sleazy Gordon Gekko character in the 1987 movie “Wall Street,” twisting Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas’s classic “Greed is good” line into “Greed, sometimes, is not good.”
The initial criminal complaint against Rajaratnam alleged that he made about $20 million through insider trading on companies including Advanced Micro Devices, Clearwire and Akamai.
Prosecutors said he’d been under investigation for about two years, following a tip from a cooperating witness — later identified as stock trader Roomy Khan — who admitted providing information that helped Rajaratnam make $12.7 million in profits on Polycom, Hilton Hotels and Google.
In exchange, Rajaratnam provided Khan with inside information that he’d obtained from execs at other companies, authorities said. see also Kim Kardashian back at White House to talk criminal justice It’s “Keeping up with the Kardashians: Washington, DC.” Reality-TV queen…
When Rajaratnam was sentenced, then-Manhattan federal Judge Richard Holwell granted the portly white-collar crook leniency due to his “advanced diabetes leading to imminent kidney failure” and his “need for transplant surgery.”
Rajaratnam’s 11-year sentence still set a record for inside trading, but was surpassed the following year, when lawyer Matthew Kluger was slapped with a 12-year term by a New Jersey federal judge.
Rajaratnam served his time on the top floor of the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Mass., a minimum-security section of the federal prison overlooking Mirror Lake outside Boston.
His digs there included an electrically operated bed, a private bathroom and television, according to reports.
Rajaratnam even had a “manservant” named Eddie who pushed him around in a wheelchair, The Post reported in 2013. Federal Medical Center William Farrington
He got sprung about six weeks ago, Bloomberg reported, and is now holed up in an 18th-floor pad on Sutton Place.
Every apartment in the luxury, full-service building features a terrace view of the East River.
In addition, there’s a private garden with a foliage-and-flowers labyrinth, a massive Italian bronze statue in the lobby, a health club, a large radiantly heated driveway and an underground garage with a guaranteed parking rate of $238 per month, according to online listings.
A woman who answered the phone at Rajaratnam’s apartment Monday said he wasn’t home, then hung up when a Post reporter identified himself.
Bharara, who oversaw Rajaratnam’s prosecution during a high-profile crackdown on insider trading, didn’t return a request for comment.
Others bagged during Bharara’s anti-corruption campaign included Rajat Gupta, a former Goldman board member, former IBM exec Robert Moffat and beauty queen-turned-stock trader Danielle Chiesi, who got tips from Moffat while they had an affair.
Rajaratnam’s case was among the first in which authorities gathered evidence of inside trading through the use of wiretaps, which until then had been used primarily to bust mobsters and other organized criminals. see also Jailhouse interview Part II: Some guards ‘clean up’ on the side Some guards in prison have a real good side business….
At its peak, Galleon Group was worth as much as $7 billion, and Rajaratnam’s personal fortune was estimated at $1.3 billion by Forbes in 2009, the year he was busted.
The following year, the financial magazine downgraded his net worth to $700 million.
In addition to prison time, Rajaratnam was ordered to pay a $10 million fine and forfeit $53.8 million in ill-gotten gains.
Court records show he paid the fine shortly before reporting to prison, and in 2017 lost a bid to “vacate, reassess, and amend” the forfeiture order.
His former lawyer, John Dowd — who infamously flipped the bird to a CNBC reporter on video following the guilty verdict — said he believed Rajaratnam had been rehabilitated.
“Raj was an outstanding member of the institution and did a great deal to help his fellow inmates, and I think that will be a credit to him,” said Dowd, who represented President Trump during the Russia probe before resigning over a difference in strategy. Share this:

Mr. Robot: 10 Of Elliot’s Best Quotes, Ranked | ScreenRant

Through his efforts, dissociative identity disorder, paranoia, and delusions, Elliot delivers some seriously disturbing but also thought-provoking lines. Here are his 10 best, ranked. 10 Wars Aren’t Meant To Be Won
“Maybe wars aren’t meant to be won, maybe they’re meant to be continuous.”
This sad realization suggests that wars are simply an ongoing product of the world we live in. You fight a war with one person or organization or situation, and then move on to the next. It’s purely cyclical, depressing, and never-ending.
This is the way Elliot always thinks; pessimism is in his blood. And maybe he’s right. Any time we win one war, another emerges. So do we really ever win at all? Or simply replace one war with another and call it something different? 9 Living in Paranoia
“We’re all living in each other’s paranoia.”
Elliott is mentally ill, seeing a therapist to deal with his identity issues, depression , anxiety, and severe paranoia. So to him, everyone is paranoid, really. We all just live based on the paranoia of others.
If one person suspects another of cheating in their relationship, for example, that suspected guilty party must live with their significant other’s paranoia. If you feel as though your boss is out to get you, your boss is going to live with the repercussions of your beliefs, whether it’s you lashing out at them or always questioning their motives. This, at least, is what Elliot believes about the world. 8 Find the Worst in People
“I’m good at reading people. My secret? I look for the worst in them.”
The expression goes that you should always look for the best in people. But to Elliot, if you really want to know someone and what they are all about, look for the worst in them. That will tell you who they really are behind the mask they throw on and the person they portray themselves to be every day.
Does the worst about a person truly define them? Is that who they truly are? In Elliott’s eyes, they are. Others who think more optimistically might simply believe that the worst in someone is just the worst they could be, but who they really are is reflected when they bring out their best.
RELATED: MBTI Of Rami Malek ‘s Famous Roles 7 The Code of Chaos
“I do see the beauty in the rules, the invisible code of chaos hiding behind the menacing face of order.”
Leave it to Elliot to turn the concept of conventional rules into chaos. In his mind, rules are simply organized chaos, meant to manipulate and control people into living in a personal sense of chaos. But this truth is masked beyond what the rules present, which is a seemingly organized stream of people simply living out their daily lives, going through their motions.
In this comment, he’s admitting that he recognizes the appeal of the rules, it does make the chaos invisible. But he sees right through them. And he wants others to as well. 6 People are Vulnerable
“I’ve never found it hard to hack most people. If you listen to them, watch them, their vulnerabilities are like a neon sign screwed into their heads.”
Throughout the series, we’ve seen Elliot use his tremendous hacking skills for what he believes to be a greater good, delivering his own sense of vigilante justice. When he believes that someone is up to no good, he hacks into them, finds proof, then essentially blackmails them to coerce them into doing what’s right.
He’s admitted that he often hopes he’s wrong and has hacked into an innocent person. But he believes that he is so perceptive that he can spot those who are doing wrong, and only hacks them to find the proof he already knows is there. This is confirmed in another great quote:
“…I never want to be right about my hacks, but people always find a way to disappoint.” 5 It’s Not Real
“It’s one thing to question your mind; it’s another to question your eyes and ears. But, then again, isn’t it all the same? Our senses just mediocre inputs to our brain? Sure, we rely on them, trust they accurately portray the real world around us, but what if the haunting truth is they can’t? That what we perceive isn’t the real world at all, but just our mind’s best guess? That all we really have is a garbled reality, a truly fuzzy picture we will never make out?”
This is one of those lengthy internal monologues delivered by Elliot that really makes you stop and think. Is what you perceive actually real, or just how you perceive something? Do other people see things the same way you do? Is everyone just making their own best guesses about situations, and often times, our views are all completely different? Could this explain so much of the conflict in the world?
It’s a really troubling and thought-provoking statement that might make you question, well, everything.
RELATED: Mr. Robot: 10 Things That Need To Happen Before It Ends 4 Our True Selves
“Annihilation is always the answer. We destroy parts of ourselves every day. We Photoshop our warts away. We edit the parts we hate about ourselves, modify the parts we think people hate. We curate our identity, carve it, distill it. Krista’s wrong. Annihilation is all we are.”
Especially in today’s world where we are so focused on presenting our ideal selves through social media, endlessly editing photos until we find the best one to post, using unrealistic filters, and trying to present the best versions of ourselves aesthetically, Elliot hits this nail right on the head.
Krista, his therapist, tries to explain to him that annihilation is not what we need, but to Elliot, that’s exactly what we do every day. 3 Control Is An Illusion
“Control can sometimes be an illusion. But sometimes you need illusions to gain control. Fantasy is an easy way to give meaning to the world. To cloak our harsh reality with escapist comfort. After all, isn’t that why we surround ourselves with so many screens? So we can avoid seeing? So we can avoid each other? So we can avoid truth?”
For any fan of the series, you know that Elliot himself is prone to illusions, or rather hallucinations. But to him, he thinks the fantasy is, well, his reality. It’s what helps him control a situation, when he’s, in a way, living outside of himself.
We all do it, as Elliot notes, by immersing ourselves in fantasy movies and TV series (like Mr. Robot ), scrolling through social media feeds with profiles that only show one side of peoples’ lives, and cutting ourselves off from reality by escaping to a digital world via an entertainment medium like gaming. Is that really all that different? 2 The World Is A Hoax
“The world itself’s just one big hoax. Spamming each other with our running commentary of bullshit, masquerading as insight, our social media faking as intimacy. Or is it that we voted for this? Not with our rigged elections, but with our things, our property, our money. I’m not saying anything new. We all know why we do this, not because Hunger Games books make us happy, but because we wanna be sedated. Because it’s painful not to pretend, because we’re cowards.”
Whoa. Just whoa. Those are the only words we can use to describe this quote from Elliot, which completely calls out every social media tactic, every way we, as a society, have focused on material goods and unimportant fake relationships versus real ones.
He believes all of this numbs us to reality, to what’s really going on in the world. And he might just be right. 1 Saving The World
“I wanted to save the world.”
It’s the shortest of the quotes, but one of the most impactful. While what he accomplished with Fsociety was terrible and had severe implications on society, he really did have good intentions. Behind all of his cynicism was a young man who simply wanted to re-program the world and make people focus on what was important; forgive the debt people had incurred due to greedy banks and investments, and take the money and power away from corporate conglomerates and give it back to the people.
Of course, it backfired. But in the end, Elliot really did just want to save the world and thought his actions would have done just that.
NEXT: 10 Things Mr. Robot Gets Right About Hacking

The Challenge of Thyatira: Sermon on Revelation 2:18-29

With doom around the corner, the Queen-Mother of Israel took a deep breath, steadied her nerves, and finished applying her make-up. She’d use every trick she had to make it through this alive. After she’d dolled herself up and slipped into her most revealing outfit, she slinked to the open window and watched as the horses carried the hot-headed general Jehu and his top soldiers within sight. The queen-mother tried her best to seduce and entice him. But he wouldn’t listen. So she taunted him, reminding him of another general, Zimri, who’d murdered his way to the throne and lasted just a week. But Jehu would be neither seduced nor intimidated. Yet she stood in a firm fortress, surely safe and secure, until he called out for any supporters within the fortress to help him. From behind, she felt the familiar hands of three eunuchs grab her roughly. Her balance toppled, her heart rate soared as she tumbled out the window. As the ground approached so fast, her life flashed before her eyes.
She’d been born not quite fifty years before, in a city in her Phoenician homeland, when Ashtar-rom, the third of four brothers, was king over the city of Tyre. Her father Ithobaal was the chief priest of Ashtart, the fierce goddess of war and fertility and sexuality. She, his daughter, remembered flickers of those days – how her father oversaw the temple where men and women would come, fulfilling religious vows by offering their bodies to any comer. But she was still a young girl, and her brother Baal-eser still a young boy, when she remembered the news that King Ashtar-rom’s brother had killed him and seized the throne. Her father had at first tried to make peace with the new situation, but he saw his chance and went for it. Ithobaal, that cunning man, himself carried out the assassination and became the new king. Baal-eser became a prince. And as for Jezebel, it was her turn to be the princess. She was raised in luxury. Her people had a lock on half the sea trade of the whole Mediterranean, exporting not just that rare commodity purple dye, but wine, glass, cedar wood, and slaves. In her pre-teen years, she remembers what it was like to be part of the Phoenician elite. The upper class – people like her and her father and her brother – gathered in what they called marzeh societies, where they held meals of fellowship with plenty of wine and sacrifices in honor of the dead. A wonderful excuse for a party.
Jezebel was a teenager when Ithobaal took her aside one day and talked about the importance of strengthening diplomatic ties with their southern neighbor, a country called Israel. They had a new king there, Ahab, whose late father Omri – like Ithobaal himself – had wrenched power away from a king before him. And to make the two powers allies, Jezebel was to be married to this Ahab. She remembered the splendor of their wedding day, though she had to admit that her new husband proved to be weaker in will than she expected. Not respectable – but certainly manipulable. With her alluring girlish charms and crafty politicking mind, Jezebel also brought a deep and heartfelt zeal for the gods her father had taught her to love, Baal and Ashtart and the rest. And to her new country she was accompanied by a large entourage of fellow devotees, with whom she promised to keep the spirit of the marzeh feasts alive by hosting these prophets at her royal table with plenty of food and wine.
Jezebel found it wasn’t too hard – not with her looks, not with her temptations – to bend her husband to her will. At her request, he built shrines and altars for her gods, putting up a dressed stone for Baal and wooden asherah posts to mimic Ashtart’s sacred grove. She had little interest in her husband’s country’s God; she would keep to her own, though she conceded to a few token compromises, like honoring his God in the names of their children (of whom she gave him plenty). But she hated dissent, and when her gods were blasphemed by spokesmen for the God of Israel, it boiled her blood and then made it run cold. Bringing to bear all her parents taught her, she arranged the deaths of those she could catch. One day, after three years of drought, her husband rushed home ahead of the relieving storm, to sheepishly admit to her that he’d accepted a challenge from Elijah and brought her prophets to Mount Carmel, and that Elijah had gotten the mob on his side in a contest of gods, and that he’d put her prophets to death just like she’d done to all his friends. Furious, her threats chased Elijah into the desert.
In time, her husband came to her in their palace in the royal capital Samaria, sullen and disappointed. Naboth, a land-owner in Jezreel, neighbor to their palace-fortress there, wouldn’t sell his vineyard to be Ahab’s garden. It exasperated her to see her royal husband fold so quickly. Slipping away, she dictated letters in his name and sealed them with his signet ring, ordering the elders of Jezreel to hire unscrupulous men to falsely accuse Naboth of blasphemy and treason, so that they could hold a show trial and stone him to death. Easy. Once it was done, she told her husband the problem had been dealt with. Elijah predicted doom. Jezebel scoffed.
Three years later, she got the fateful news. Her husband, in his wars against the Arameans, had been shot by an arrow. They’d hosed his bloody chariot off by the pool. He hadn’t made it. Her eldest son Ahaziah rose to the throne, and Jezebel transitioned from queen to queen-mother. Two years after that, Ahaziah fell through some weak construction and was badly hurt. He sent messengers to Ekron to ask the god Baal what would happen, but Elijah intercepted them and spoke death. When Ahaziah died, his younger brother Jehoram took the throne. He’d always been her problem child, rejecting her religion. He tore down the standing-stone of Baal outside her palace, and he had a grudging respect for Elisha. In time, Jehoram went to war against the Arameans again, and he was hurt in battle and withdrew to Jezreel to recuperate. That’s where she and he were when a commander named Jehu, gone rogue at Elisha’s bidding, stormed Jezreel, killing Jehoram and then marching on the palace. Then it was all the tumble out the window, the bloody scene sprinkling the wall and ground, the final sensation of horse hooves trampling over her and the sound of thirsty dogs barking as they run over from the alleys. In the days to come, Jehu would execute all Jezebel’s children, bringing a brutal end to the predicted judgment against the faithless queen-mother and her notorious bewitching and violence. Her brother Baal-eser, by then king of Tyre, wasn’t long for life either, though Jezebel’s nephew and grand-nephew would be next for power.
Shift the scene, nine centuries later, to an obscure town nestled by a small river in the heart of a broad valley, flanked by gentle hills. Notoriously vulnerable, it had been captured and recaptured with every shift in the wind and had only gained stability with the rise of Rome. Ethnically and religiously mixed, the city was a swirling concoction of languages and philosophies, all blended smoothly and jumbled haphazardly together. The city I mean is Thyatira. And under the Roman peace, it flourished. Where Jezebel’s Tyre had been filled with marzeh societies, Thyatira was filled to overflowing with the synergasiai , guilds tying together those in the same line of business. And Thyatira had more active guilds than any other town. We have inscriptions from dyers, leather cutters, leather tanners, linen workers, launderers, bakers, potters, coppersmiths, athletes, entertainers, slave-merchants. Without being unionized as part of the guild, good luck getting by in Thyatira – you might as well throw in the towel. And just as the marzeh societies of Tyre met for their raucous fellowship-meals, so too did the ancient guilds of Thyatira meet for guild dinners, which included sacrifices in honor of their chosen god. And dinners could readily end with sexual entertainment provided by slave-boys and slave-girls. That was simply normal. Pagan worship and sexual libertinism were woven into the vibrant diversity of local industry.
Late in the first century, John took down a letter as Jesus dictated one to the church in Thyatira. And Jesus had some intensely positive things to say about them. “I know your works,” he said: “your love” – that’s certainly good – “ and faith” – that’s good, too – “ and service” – that’s remarkable – “ and patient endurance” – the list keeps going on – “ and that your latter works exceed the first” (Revelation 2:19). While most of the churches hearing Revelation are commended for many one or two things, the Thyatiran church is overflowing with great things. They have the patient endurance of Ephesus and Philadelphia, but unlike Ephesus, they aren’t forgetting the love. They have the faith of some in Pergamum. They have service, which nobody else is said to have. Yet unlike Ephesus, which had been a church on the decline, the Thyatiran church is actually getting better at all these things – they’re like a church in the midst of revival, ascending from grace to grace and glory to glory! It really is looking up for the Thyatiran church, which seems like an astonishing model.
And yet Jesus does bring up one complaint. As it turns out, there’s a prominent and prosperous businesswoman in the Thyatiran church – perhaps she’s the patroness who sponsors a house church meeting in her home. She’s fashionable and trendy and charismatic, and forceful and opinionated and articulate. She’s the sort of woman everybody wants to get to know. Not only that, but she seems like she has spiritual gifts – she at least presents herself as a prophetess, standing up on a Sunday to give words she claims to have received, and no one dare bid her sit back down. But she was also, controversially, involved in her business’s guild. And in her oracles, she proclaimed a lot about Christian freedom – how those who had real spiritual insight, those who knew the secrets and ‘deep things,’ could see that there’s nothing wrong with participating in guilds and their meals and whatever goes on at those meals. After all, she said, it isn’t what the body does that matters, it’s what the heart does; and if the heart knows the truth, then the body can insincerely offer incense or pour out bowls of wine, can even take part in the sexual excesses of the drinking parties, and those things have no power over the free believing soul.
An inspiring message, maybe, from the sound of it. But Jesus takes a different view. As John presents us with his message, Jesus labels this woman a new Jezebel. Just as the old one seduced Ahab and Israel into corruption and idolatry and looser living, so does the new one. “I have this against you,” Jesus says to the Thyatirans – “that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols” (Revelation 2:20). It’s an influence on the church that’s as foreign as a Phoenician princess slipping into the palace to become queen.
Jesus does not at all agree with this new Jezebel’s view of the body and the heart. God gave humans the gift of sexuality to allow us to form living parables of the fruitful harmony of Christ and the Church – parables we call marriages. But debased and deformed sexuality, like the frivolously misdirected sort encouraged by Jezebel, can preach only lies and deface the creation of God. It cannot call out with a clear voice to beauty, goodness, and truth. (One Christian sociologist remarks that sex outside the context that God defines as healthy is like stealing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre and taping it to the wall of an unhygienic public restroom: Its beauty is desecrated by its wrong context, so who can still appreciate it for the masterpiece it is?) And for the same reason Jesus disagrees with Jezebel about sex, Jesus also disagrees with Jezebel about conscience and loyalty and liberty and idolatry and table fellowship and witness. And in all such disagreements, Jezebel is wrong, for Jesus is supremely right. Jesus offers so much more than the thin permissiveness of a Jezebel. His ways are good news, even if we sustain some bumps and bruises along the steep and narrow road.
Faced with a ‘New Jezebel’ in the Thyatiran church, John and other church leaders have tried before to talk to her, to correct her, to teach her rightly. Out of love, they’ve tried to shepherd her into repentance. But there are always some in a church who refuse to hear any authority besides their own thoughts. And this woman is like that. She’s gained followers, swept away some in her house church and the other house churches in the city. She’s proud. She’s insistent. John’s told her that all she’d have to do, all those duped by her would have to do, is repent – just turn around, drop the rationalizations, and come back to the pathway of life, and they’d be restored brand new, any of them, even her! But, as Jesus says, “I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:21). Her heart is unyielding as stone in the face of correction.
In the days of the prophet Jeremiah, his Judah was a lot like Jezebel’s Israel. Those people were devoted to their own “altars and asherim,” just as Jezebel had induced Ahab to build for her (Jeremiah 17:2). Faced with the people’s addiction to their fertility rituals under the green trees and on the high hills, and knowing the vastly different outcomes of faith and faithlessness and the way Judah wavered between them, Jeremiah had cried out, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick – who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). To which God had answered the prophet back: “I, Yahweh, search the heart and test the kidneys, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds” (Jeremiah 17:10). And now, in a city where Jezebel has claimed to know the ‘deep things,’ Jesus answers that he knows the real depths – the depths of the murky human heart. Because Jesus is the God of Israel whom the original Jezebel fought. And Jesus, with his “eyes like a flame of fire” (Revelation 2:18), can say, “I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works” (Revelation 2:23). He is the God who spoke to Jeremiah. He is the God who sees and scrutinizes, the God who evaluates from the inside-out, the God who measures out what matches.
The first Jezebel did not meet a good end. The prophet Elijah had warned that it would come, and so Elisha told Jehu to “strike down the house of Ahab your master, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the servants of Yahweh, for the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. … And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and none shall bury her” (2 Kings 9:7-10). And so Jesus promises that, if this woman in Thyatira wants to be a New Jezebel, then he’ll be the New Jehu: “I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation (unless they repent of her works), and I will strike her children dead” – that is, those who are hopelessly devoted to being her disciples instead of Christ’s (Revelation 2:22-23). Jesus has just one thing to blame the Thyatiran church for, and it’s giving her a platform. The believers of Thyatira, on the whole, may be right-thinking and right-doing, but when it comes to this particular woman and what she’s saying, they’re spineless for tolerating her. If a church meets in her house, they need to move. If a church relies on her offerings, they need to learn to do without. Because she should have been formally disciplined long ago.
See, I’ll let you in on a secret. We pastors have a way of talking sometimes, and there’s a phrase some of us use when somebody leaves the church after being a hindrance to the church’s ministry and harmony for a while. It’s what we call a ‘blessed subtraction’ – the church growing in blessing by the subtraction of someone who just was not helping. And, well, the Thyatiran church needs a big ol’ blessed subtraction when it comes to Jezebel and her acolytes, and Jesus warns that he’ll do it himself if he has to. Yet most of the Thyatiran church, while they may hesitate to confront Jezebel, nonetheless don’t buy what she’s selling. “To the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the ‘deep things’ (of Satan!) – to you I say: I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come” (Revelation 2:24-25). Just keep on-track yourselves, live in real holiness of faith and love and service and endurance, keep progressing in those things and don’t slide back, and Jesus asks them only to stand clear of Jezebel and let him work.
But maybe you’re wondering what this passage has to say to us. But it’s actually pretty familiar. We live in a world today where authority is accorded, not to those who have qualifications, but to those who can present themselves in a certain way. Self-appointed ‘influencers’ are heeded because of their personal experiences or their persona. Some have called it “the death of expertise.” All sorts of people are writing books and articles about their version of the Christian faith and what’s wrong with the others – and whether people listen to them has little relation to whether they actually know and agree with the Bible. (Who writes the devotionals and books we read and the songs we hear on the radio? Why should we accord them authority?) When we consider what Thyatira and its own self-appointed influencer might have been like, it’s familiar.
One might think, for instance, of the late Rachel Held Evans, an ex-Evangelical who became a progressive Episcopalian. She published an assortment of books about her take on Christian life and the Bible, and she celebrated those who thanked her writings for tickling their ears in just the ways they wanted. She regarded the church’s teaching about sexuality and marriage to be an injustice, and she vocally favored loosening those teachings – to, among other things, affirm homosexuality. (Other popular influencers like Jen Hatmaker have trod the same path.) Why did people listen to her? Her experiences, her persona, her writing style, and the fact that she tickled their ears. Many of her readers reacted very angrily to her death – for earlier this year, Evans had a bad reaction to medication, was put in an induced coma, and died on the day of my wedding.
Among the other trendy influencers in her orbit is Nadia Bolz-Weber, a foul-mouthed Lutheran ex-pastor of a church in Colorado. Her latest book is the first since her divorce, and in it she attacks what she calls the “stale and oppressive sexual ethic” of the church. She calls the church to “reach for a new Christian sexual ethic” that would affirm people as “sexual beings in endless variety” and would make allowance for things like “ethically sourced porn[ography].” Her summons is one to what she describes as “shamelessness.” How does she deal with the Bible? In her book, she tells the story of a friend who ripped a Bible apart, kept the Gospels, and threw every other page into a fire. Approving of the story, Bolz-Weber remarks that “we can decide for ourselves what is sacred in the Bible and what is not.” And from there, Bolz-Weber frees herself up to teach what our passage labels “the deep things of Satan.” Self-appointed influencers in today’s church teach the same things that were seducing Christians in Thyatira, and they have their avid defenders today, too, like Jezebel’s children.
Maybe we’re tempted to think that, well, of course we’ll hear about that from the mainline churches – everyone knows what they’re like, you might say. But can anyone honestly say that we Evangelicals haven’t also been seduced? After all, we hear last week how 12% of Evangelical Christians refuse the notion that the Bible has any authority to tell them what they must do. One sociologist reports the results of assorted recent surveys, and the figures are dire. He observes that up to 41% of Evangelical adults say they see nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage; that 86% of never-married Evangelical adult women have had at least one sexual partner since age 18, while a full 57% have had three or more. And if we focus on the younger crowd, it gets worse, as emerging adults – even professing Christian ones – tend to believe that moral authority comes from the heart.
The sociologist found that among unmarried Evangelical teens ages 15-17, more than four in ten had already been sexually active – and of those four in ten, about a third had had four or more sexual partners. In the older set, aged 18-22, 74% had been sexually active, and of those who’d had sex, a little less than half had four or more sexual partners. And while it’s true that weekly church attenders did better, between a quarter and a third of young Evangelicals hardly ever gather with the church. And even among young Evangelicals who are in church on a Sunday each week, the figures aren’t good: among 18- to 22-year-old never-married Evangelical youth who attend at least weekly, a little over half have had sex outside of marriage already. Even of those Evangelical youth who do remain abstinent, when asked their reason, only about half mention God or morality.
Those are kids like your grandkids. That is the rising generation of the Evangelical church. They will be discipled, but are they being discipled for Jesus or for Jezebel? It’s a symptom of a problem that touches every generation in the Evangelical movement today. With figures like these, it’s no wonder there should be many among us searching for a Jezebel to tickle our ears about what’s already tempting. Because we can’t forget that, in Thyatira, those who let the New Jezebel dupe them were mostly responding to very natural temptations. They wanted to keep their social roles, and stay in business, and keep their friends, and unwind at parties, and cut loose a little. It wasn’t all depraved lust. They were complex motivations not so much different from what motivates you or I daily, perhaps. They just wanted to keep their standard of living and enjoy themselves, and so any twisted theology that showed them how to rationalize what they felt – well, it was a bestseller straight out of the box. They did not want following Jesus to seem like being stifled.
But what they and we have to know is that the Jesus who stands, arisen from the tomb, on “feet like burnished bronze,” is the Jesus whose “eyes like a flame of fire” surveyed every sinful mind and heart from the cross and said, “Send it over here; pin it to me; I’ll carry it and show you a better way.” This is the Jesus whom God gloriously claims as his own Son, and to whom God has given all authority in heaven and on earth (cf. Matthew 28:18). This Jesus is the king to whom God offers the nations as a heritage and the ends of earth as a possession (Psalm 2:8), the Jesus whom God has enthroned on his holy hill – from Calvary to the heavenly Zion (Psalm 2:6). This Jesus is a star and a scepter, exercising dominion and issuing edicts of life (Numbers 24:17-19). He says what things must be. Purity is what Jesus says it is. Holiness is what Jesus says it is. He speaks it by his apostles and his prophets. And they do not mean the lies that Jezebels new and old may teach.
Following this Jesus may well cost us our sexual autonomy. Following this Jesus may well cost us our political preferences. Following this Jesus may well cost us our economic lifestyle. Following this Jesus may well cost us our vacations or our extra vehicles or our pet projects. Following this Jesus may well cost us our popularity. Following this Jesus will be freeing but may feel stifling in the hour of temptation. For following this Jesus must surely cost us our sin. Some look at the universality of sin and say, “We’re all sinners, so it must not really be a big deal.” But authentic Christian faith looks at the universality of sin and cries out desperately for Jesus and his deep holiness. Oh, how the church needs Jesus! How we each need Jesus, each and every day! For the Jesus who spoke to the Thyatirans is the Jesus who paces amidst the lampstands of American churches today, inspecting us all with burning eyes that penetrate the innermost guts of all things and cast light on the darkest nooks and crannies hidden in the heart. He knows what we tolerate and why – what sins we’ll make excuses for, what sins we’ll rationalize. Our motives, impermanent as putty, melt before the heat of Jesus’ gaze. Jesus sees.
But to those who avoid the influencers and who resist the sexual and economic temptations, those who cultivate hearts to pass Jesus’ inspection, he offers a share in his rule. Just as the Father says to Jesus in Psalm 2, “You shall rule [the nations] with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:9), Jesus offers the persistently pure believer “authority over the nations, and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron as when earthen pots are broken in pieces … And I will give him the morning star” (Revelation 2:26-28). Keep to Jesus, not to Jezebel. In a world broken by seduction and temptation, a world riven by idolatries and impurities, Jesus is good news enough. His grace is costly, but the cost is grace. “Only hold fast what you have” – the way Jesus taught you to love, the purity and holiness he lavished upon you. “Let goods and kindred go,” desires and possessions, middle-class American comfort and conformity. Only hold fast to Jesus, the Holy Son of God.