October 25, 2014

Saturday Ramblings – Oct 25, 2014, Scary edition


Chaplain Mike is glimpsed sneaking through the labyrinth to the monastery library. Nice haircut, huh?

I’m so tired of the ranting that’s going on in cyberspace these days it’s scary.

That’s right. I’ve had it with all the attention being given to that pastor in Seattle who resigned last week, and then showed up at a big conference where he talked about being a victim. Just seeing him sitting next to Steven Furtick was about all I could take.

And I don’t care to keep discussion going on and on about the subpoenaed sermons in Houston, even if one pundit called it a “secular jihad” and then, in the next breath, said, “We should not overreact” to this. Ya think?

And then there’s that couple who run a wedding mill, performing 1,400 weddings a year, because, well of course they believe in traditional Christian marriage™ (shouldn’t all believers get married in one of those cheesy little chapels by the side of the road?). Well, you may have heard they are getting in trouble for refusing to marry a gay couple, because, well of course they believe in traditional Christian marriage™ and are sworn to uphold the highest moral standards — but then again, they run a wedding mill!


Michael Spencer LOVED Halloween

Anyway, I don’t want to talk about any of that. It’s too depressing and annoying.

Instead, let’s look forward to an annual EVENT here at Internet Monk: Halloween is just around the corner. We’ll have our annual Michael Spencer Halloween rant next week, but since this is the last Saturday Ramblings before the fateful night, we’ll wend our way through forbidden corridors in the haunted monastery today, searching out clues and rambling through secret passageways to discover answers to life’s great mysteries. You know, like awesome arachnids, tasteless Halloween costumes, why petting a dog can lead to death threats, and nuns who sing about some very un-nunly things.

Before we begin rambling through the scary and spooky side of cyberspace this morning, here’s an update with good news from our friend and partner Jeff Dunn:

Hi guys. I thought I would share with you the good news I got yesterday. I went for a follow-up CT scan on my lungs on Monday, and saw the doc yesterday to get the report. NO CANCER! That is the good (great!) news.

I do, however, still show signs of the infection in my left lung that I’ve been dealing with for five or six weeks now, but it is getting better. Just not as fast as I would want. I’m probably breathing with 3/4ths of a lung now instead of 1/2 a lung I had a week or so ago, and no lung to speak of when this all started. I asked about the pain in my chest, and the doc said, “Well, this infection has made you have to work a lot harder to breath, and that has really ticked your chest off.” I guess that is medical jargon for “just deal with it.”

Anyway, the good news is I will most likely recover from this at some point, and there is no need for any more CT scans. I wanted to thank each of you for praying for me during these last few weeks. It has not been fun, I can tell you that.

Jeff wrote me again yesterday and said, “Be sure to tell the iMonks that I so appreciate all of their prayers and encouraging words. That helped me more than they can know.”

That’s so good it’s scary.

Jack O Lanterntheraphosa5Now, this next item is so scary it’s scary.

Pictures of the world’s largest spider have been making the rounds on social media and the news sites. I include it today mainly to scare the spit out of my wife, who has had me kill every spider who ever had the misfortune of startling her in our almost 36 years of marriage.

Live Science reports that the South American Goliath “birdeater” spider (Theraphosa blondi) has a leg span that can reach up to a foot, or about the size of “a child’s forearm,” with a body the size of “a large fist.” And the spider can weigh about as much as a young puppy.

If any of these get in my house, I’m gonna have to find a bigger shoe.

Jack O LanternleadSorry to inflict this next bit of silliness upon you. This is so tasteless it’s scary.

The Atlantic has determined that the “Ebola” costume is the worst Halloween costume of 2014. BrandsOnSale.com offers this Ebola suit, which comes with a face shield, breathing mask, safety goggles and blue latex gloves, but boots are not included. The costume’s web page calls the Ebola outfit the most “viral” costume of the year and say the wearer is “sure to be prepared if any outbreak happens” (though the company warns that it is not a real protective outfit).

Most “viral” costume of the year. Ha!

One guy whose store doesn’t carry the costume suggested instead that one might dress up as an Ebola victim, complete with gory details he’d be happy to design for you from their stock of make up and gag products. “Gag” is right. What is wrong with people?

If that doesn’t sound inappropriate enough for you, BrandsOnSale offers other costumes sure to induce groans and winces. How about a Joan Rivers wig? Or perhaps you’d like to dress your child up as a baby cigarette or a pot leaf?

I want to comment, but I got nothin’.

Jack O LanternMUSLIM_DOG_EVENTAnd then, this is so “biblical” it’s scary.

Syed Azmi Alhabashi, for some reason, decided to introduce himself and other Malaysian Muslims to the joys of petting dogs by holding an event called, “I Want to Touch a Dog.” It drew more than a thousand people to Central Park in Kuala Lampur. Many Muslims consider dogs to be ritually unclean, and one purpose for the event was for Muslims to learn what they should do after touching a canine. And so, one Muslim scholar demonstrated how followers of the faith should ritually cleanse their hands after touching dogs, a process that involves washing six times with clean water and once with dirt.

Well, call the scribes and the Pharisees (or the imams in this case). Senior Muslim clerics raised a stink, an investigation was launched, and Mr. Alhabashi has become the target of death threats and accusations of apostasy. Rumors have been circulating, claiming that he is secretly Christian, Shia or Jewish and trying to corrupt Malaysia’s majority-Sunni Muslims.

Most of us read those Bible accounts of rules about “clean” vs. “unclean” and cannot relate in the least. These people are still living in that world every day.

Jack O Lanternla-2002475-me-0922-clubs-02-rrc-jpg-20141023This next story is so tricky it’s scary. What would you do?

Thanks to alert iMonk Steve who told us about Carla Rivera’s story in the LA Times about campus groups in California State Universities. Chapters of InterVarsity and some other Christian groups were stripped of recognition at California State University campuses this fall because they refused to sign a non-discrimination policy requiring clubs and organizations to open their memberships and leadership to all students.

This so-called “all-comers” policy is not directed specifically at Christian groups. Rivera notes that Democratic clubs must open membership and leadership to Republicans and those supporting other parties, ethnic groups must allow people from other ethnicities to join and lead, and so on. If a particular group refuses to sign the non-discrimination policy, they can still meet, but not with any of the government-funded benefits of a university sponsored organization.

With regard to religious organizations, Rivera quotes leaders of Jewish and Muslim groups who have gone along with the policy and said it hasn’t been an issue for them. And she notes, “Even with the open-leadership requirement, campus organizations can set rules that reflect their core missions: They can require a potential officer to show a deep knowledge of the Bible or, in the case of the guitar club, a certain level of musical ability.” However, many of the Christian groups insist that requiring their leaders to be Christians is an essential part of the Bible’s teaching and their identity and mission and that they should be allowed to maintain that condition.

Jack O LanternFinally, this last piece is so bizarre it’s scary.

Sister Cristina Scuccia, Italy’s “singing nun,” became famous after winning a TV talent show. As a devout Catholic she wanted to use her gifts and celebrity status to testify to her faith through a music video. All well and good. I’m not sure she chose the right song, however. Sister Cristina decided to cover Madonna’s Like a Virgin. She said she was trying to “redeem” the song  for Jesus. But, um, I’m not sure that one’s redeemable, Sis.

If that’s not crazy enough for you, here’s a link to Sister Cristina’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

Not quite sure what to say, but Sister’s stuck in the 80’s.

Enjoy Halloween. And be safe.

A Short Reflection on the Week that Was

Nathan CirilloCanada, or at least its institutions were attacked this week.  In two separate incidents two soldiers were killed.  One of them Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was from my home town and was a friend of a friend. Although my son didn’t know him, they did have a number of mutual friends.

My facebook feed is filled with thought and comments (mostly good) by friends who have been affected by this tragedy.  One commented that 10/22 has become Canada’s 9/11.  It is the date on which we were attacked within our own country.  Another commented that both attackers were known to have a history of mental illness, and that maybe the debate should not be about Canadian security, but about the lack of treatment for mental illness in Canada.

There will be an inevitable over reaction to this over the next days, weeks, months, and possibly years.  As for me, I am filled with great sadness over this and similar events.

My grandfather served in the military.  So did my father.  I have as well, in sister units to the unit of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.   I don’t see a military solution.  Instead, I long for the return of the Prince of Peace to put an end to all war.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo leaves behind a young son.  I pray for him and for all others who are grieving at this time.



He sits across the table from me as we enjoy our biscuits and gravy. A good ol’ boy, a true Hoosier. He had been a pretty good baseball player when he first met her. But he was rough around the edges and she thought him uncouth. He didn’t know how to eat properly, she said. Still somehow, they fell in love, and she took him in and converted him into a presentable-enough gentleman.

Not that he ever became a white collar guy. He worked for a trucking company his whole life. He tells me he learned a cuss word or three on the job. Now that she is gone, he’s been talking to her and the Lord about that, to see if he could get some help cleaning up his language. A few other things needed forgiving too, though he doesn’t tell me what. He does make a point to say that this time, he wants to say grace before we eat (last time, we got to talking and forgot).

She had been the picture of dignity. Always took care of herself and looked good. She was what they used to call a real “lady.” Talented too. Worked in an executive’s office and kept it running. Played the organ in church and had fine taste in music. Made sure the two of them worked hard and kept a spotless home, a well-groomed lawn and gardens.

But with all her natural strength and grace, she was never snobbish. She too was an Midwest girl, rooted and grounded in the common sense soil of the heartland. She married a ballplayer, a blue-collar guy, linked her life to his and they became inseparable partners. He loved classic cars and they traveled all around the country putting on car shows and hanging out with gearheads. She became an avid sports fan and cheered as loudly and fanatically as he did when they went to games their teams were playing. They traveled around together and camped with the family and went to the casinos and enjoyed a life as regular and down-to-earth as could be.

He and I are having breakfast because now she’s gone. He finds it hard to eat at home without her. After nearly sixty years of sharing every day together, he’s experiencing “alone” for the first time.

“What do you have going today?” I ask him.

He laughs. “Just you,” he says.

biscuitsgravySo we eat our biscuits and gravy, drink our coffee, and talk about whether the Hoosiers are going to have a good basketball season this year. I console him about the Dodgers, his favorite baseball team, losing in the playoffs. Our banter is mostly sports talk, but I also ask after his children, their families, and he shares bits and pieces of the dramas that are taking place in their lives. They live in other states, but call him every day. He tells me about going to the doctor and other errands he’s been running. A story or two from the past sneaks out every now and again.

At various points in our conversation, things get quiet, and when they do he always comes back to her.

“You know, I talk to her. Every day. That’s not crazy, is it?”

“I’m spending a lot of time working out in the yard. The house is too quiet without her there.”

“I used to cook for her when she worked, and I got pretty good. So I cooked for her when she got sick, but you know, the last while there she just couldn’t eat. I couldn’t either. I’ve lost 30 pounds you know.”

He mentions the funeral service at least a half dozen times. I officiated it, and he can’t say “thank you” enough. He talks about how after they went to make arrangements the first time, she changed her mind and said she didn’t like the casket they picked out. But then she got too sick to go back, so the kids eventually picked out one they knew she’d like, and damn the cost. He tells me about people he wished could have been there at the service, but he remembers the flowers they sent, the cards they wrote, the phone calls they made. It’s clear that day made a real impression on him. It’s etched on his mind like some farewell scene in a movie. He’s been out to the grave a few times, but he doesn’t say much about it.

Somehow, we clear our plates and it’s time to go, me to my work, him to . . . what? I don’t know, and he may not either. The server brings our check and we fight over who’s going to pay, but he grabs it.

“You don’t have to do this with me if you’re too busy,” he says.

“No, I enjoy it. I’ll call you next week,” I reply.

“That would be great. You know, breakfast, lunch, a cup of coffee. I’m free now for most anything.”

“You know I’m praying for you, right?”

“Yeah, I need that.”

“And keep talking to her, okay? She’s not far away.”

“Okay. Thanks. Call me next week?”

“Call you next week.”

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