July 5, 2015

Saturday Ramblings, July 4, 2015

Hello, imonks, and welcome to freedom! Ready to Ramble?

Feeling patriotic yet?

Feeling patriotic yet?

Are you having Watermelon at your cookout this weekend? Need some pointers on how to cut that baby up? Here ya go:

Well, this is classy. The Milwaukee Art Museum will display a portrait of Pope Benedict  XVI . . . made of condoms. The museum admitted it was trying to gain some free publicity with the side benefit of pissing off Catholics. Just kidding, of course: they claim it “will ignite a conversation about the AIDS epidemic in Africa and the role art plays in public discussions.” Oh. Yes. I’m sure it will.

Of course, they completely miss the irony. The New York Times this spring refused to run the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. The reason, they say, is that the do not want to offend religious people. The collective snort you heard then was from every honest reader of the Grey Lady. But even then non-snorters are snorting now. For the Times had absolutely zero problem with publishing the condom pope portrait.

Speaking of the Times, they published a long hit piece against Marco Rubio last month, in which they talked about his “luxury speedboat” and implied his house was lavish. Other journalists looked into this. Below is a picture of his “luxury speedboat”. Below that is a comparison of Rubio’s house (on the left) with Hillary Clinton’s. _____boat

Maybe the Times should steal the "fair and balanced" slogan from Fox

Maybe the Times should steal the “fair and balanced” slogan from Fox

Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis web site is not a fan of the TV miniseries A. D., even though it’s about the Bible. “Theologically and historically, the writers of this show have been sloppy at best and calculatingly agenda-driven at the expense of Scripture at worst.” Man, this is like Madonna accusing Lady Gaga of being self-promoting and pretentious.

Gif of the week: “Must resist urge to kill…” must resist

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Which Way? Religious Conservatism at the Crossroads

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling [Obergefell v. Hodges] which found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage surprised few observers. Whether or not such a right can legitimately be derived from the Constitution, it seems impossible that the court would have voted the way it did had this case been brought before it 20 years ago. In other words, religious conservatives find the decision to be so troubling because it does not come out of the blue, but reflects the radically changing mores of our society. Like the trophy presentation after a sports championship game, it announces and formalizes what has already happened on the field of play. At least on issues of sexual morality within public policy, the religious conservatives have lost.

This column is not about the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. Rather, it poses a different question: In light of the defeat over same-sex marriage (which exemplifies defeats in similar areas of social concern), what should religious conservatives do?

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Report from the desert (2): The golden hour


Photographers and cinematographers love “the golden hour” (sometimes called “the magic hour”). This describes the time of light right after sunrise and right before sunset. During these periods, the sun’s light is more diffuse and softer, bathing the world in a pleasing reddish-golden hue. I took the picture above yesterday at McDowell Mountain Sonoran Desert Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona during the golden hour before sunset, and you can see the effect quite clearly.

In planning for taking pictures, I wanted to make use of the golden hour, especially here in the desert. In this environment the mostly cloudless, sometimes hazy sky casts a harsh bright light over everything during most of the daylight hours, making it difficult to achieve proper contrast and color saturation in one’s photographs. A polarizing filter helps, and one can always adjust pictures when processing them, but no photographer can do as well as what God did when he gave us the golden hour.

The golden hour reminds me that, even in the desert, there are times during the day when nature grants the world respite from the relentless burning sun and the almost colorless landscape its glare creates.

imageAs I was hiking and taking pictures, I found that I eagerly awaited the moment when the sun reached the point in the sky that caused its rays to diffuse and turn the bland desert before me into a portrait of almost luminescent brilliance. And it was worth it. As the sun sank, every plant, rock, and geological feature became transformed into a technicolor wonder. I felt as though I had arrived in Oz. It was every bit as awe-inspiring as the hills of Vermont covered with the fluorescence of maple trees in October. It was like watching van Gogh’s austere early drawings and paintings suddenly burst forth into sunflowers and blossoming trees and parks and wheat fields, exploding with vibrant color and warmth.

It became a devotional moment, or hour, I should say. I couldn’t take pictures fast enough. A deep sense of joy filled me. The liturgy had begun and I became caught up in participating in it. It only lasted a short time, and then the sun began to sink below the horizon, now turning the sky into a vast canvas covered with fiery brushstrokes, as though the very color had lifted up from the earth and found a place of rest in the clouds.

As I drove out of the park, darkness was beginning to fall. I glanced over to my left, and there behind one of the peaks, I saw the hint of a huge full moon. I made a quick u-turn, went back to the park entrance, spotted the moon in perfect position over the mountains, and took several pictures. It was like hearing the choir sing an inspiring, peaceful “amen” to the service.

And then I heard the minister speak the words of dismissal: “In the midst of the desert of your life, there is grace in Jesus Christ. In the midst of the harsh realities of hunger and thirst, sin and death, Jesus has come to bring peace, abundance and life. Thanks be to God. Now we are free to go and bring his light to our world. Go in his grace.”

Thank you, Lord, for the golden hours. Enable me to shine that beautiful light on those around me who need to see it.

Desert Moon 2

Report from the desert (1)

I've been here in the desert for a couple of days now. The temperature only strays below 100 degrees after the sun goes down, and soon makes its way back up there by around noon the next day. I don't seem to be bothered much by … [Continue reading...]

Contemplative Prayer and Anfechtung

The climate in which monastic prayer flowers is that of the desert, where the comfort of man is absent, where the secure routines of man's city offer no support, and where prayer must be sustained by God in the purity of faith. … [Continue reading...]

Random thoughts on a Monday as I fly to Phoenix

There will be no posts on same-sex marriage this week. Don't you think we all need a break from talking about it? By the way, I know what's going to happen now. You're going to talk about it. But I really wish you wouldn't. If … [Continue reading...]

Sundays with Michael Spencer: June 28, 2015

Paul made a lot of sin lists. You know, lists of sins. If you’re a preacher or teacher, you’ve probably used Paul’s sin lists a few times as the raw material for a talk or sermon. You’ve walked through the list, one sin at a … [Continue reading...]

Saturday Ramblings, June 27, 2015

Hello, imonks, and welcome to the weekend. Shall we Ramble? There is some annoyingly serious stuff we need to cover this week. So we will balance it with some weird, medieval paintings thrown in randomly. Not sure weird … [Continue reading...]

Levi Nunnink: A Lutheran layman’s perspective on the Tullian Tchividjian scandal & Liberate

Note from CM: One of the interesting characteristics of evangelicalism is its Disney-like ability to take classic traditions and turn them into palatable fast-food for contemporary audiences. A smart evangelical pastor might be … [Continue reading...]

Is Megachurch Culture Part of the Problem?

I really hope Tullian doesn’t do what Driscoll has done, and get back into ministerial work within the next month or two. He needs to stay home and mend relationships with his family and repair the damage done. He needs to mend … [Continue reading...]