January 31, 2015

Saturday Ramblings – Jan 31, 2015 (Jim Cantore Edition)

1957 Rambler Custom Car in Snow

1957 Rambler Custom Car in Snow

Good morning iMonk community! Pastor Dan is away on a prayer retreat this weekend, so I’m filling in.

And I say, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! We made it through Winter Storms Juno and Kari (reports below), now this weekend we’re facing WS Linus here in the Midwest. Where I live we’ll probably only get a few inches of snow, but anything measurable will far exceed the pitiful dustings we’ve had this winter. I am a four seasons kind of guy, and am hoping for something a little more significant. Plus, I’d really like to take my camera out for some winter wonderland shots.

But wherever you are, and whatever the weather, come on, let’s ramble!

• • •

snowflake-clipart-transparent-background-bcyE66qcLWe’ll get this first one out of the way . . . fast. Here is my vote for groan-worthy church sign of the week:

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And yes, I am sorry to report that some are making up their own versions of “Christian” songs from this lyric. ‘Cause nothing says “Jesus” better than taking a pop song about a woman’s naughty bits and changing it so that it’s about the Lord. Right? See for yourself . . .


snowflake-clipart-transparent-background-bcyE66qcLLet’s move on to something only slightly more ludicrous: CBS News reports that plastic surgery for pets is on the rise. That’s right, according to Petplan claims data, U.S. dog owners spent $62 million in 2011 on plastic surgery treatments. And according to the company that makes them, 500,000 male cats and dogs received a new set of “Neuticles” (testicular implants) after having been neutered. Because, you know, Fido and Garfield still want to be playas after the big snip.

To be fair, many of the procedures serve to correct real medical conditions that pet owners didn’t foresee when they purchased the particular breed of dog or cat they chose.

All I know, is that with a product like Neuticles available as a sponsor, there is sure to be a reality show based in Beverly Hills on the horizon.

photos-2015-jan-blizzard-whale-034snowflake-clipart-transparent-background-bcyE66qcLNext, here’s a report from one of our Northeast iMonks about the big storm this past week. I received the following from Ted who lives on an island off Downeast Maine:

Hmmm.   I won’t say it was a non-event because we did get a foot of snow (I think—there’s bare ground over here and drifts over there) but mostly it was just plain NOISY, cold and drafty, and the living room and dining room windows proved that they’re obsolete (snow between the inner and storm windows).  Gusts to hurricane force at times, and an unofficial report of more than 100 mph. We didn’t lose electricity (yet, and I’m optimistic that we won’t) but I had dug the portable generator out of the corner of my shop just in case, and have plenty of gasoline in Grand-Dad’s old outhouse.  There’s three feet of snow drifted in front of the outhouse door, but it’s the dry and fluffy stuff so even if Grand-Dad were still alive and had to go, or if I needed the gas, it wouldn’t slow us down much. All boats in the cove are OK because a northeast wind puts them in the lee here at Little Cranberry Island—but the day afterward becomes the real test, when the back side of the storm pulls air out of the Arctic and the boats are more exposed.  But, anything in the water in January will be on a pretty stout mooring (mine is 4400 pounds of granite, and I’m serious about having good chain) so it’s rare for anything to go ashore.  The last time a lobster boat went adrift was the Ground Hog Day storm of 1976, although summer boats do go adrift on a predictable basis because summer people don’t really know how to handle boats.  One little yacht went ashore during the 4th of July hurricane last year, but that was excusable—after all, a maple tree got dumped on my roof the same day. The big event of this storm is yet to be determined—whether Triomphe, the dead 36-foot humpback whale that washed ashore Christmas Day, is still down on the back beach in front of the old Coast Guard Station.

In an update, Ted reports the whale is still there, but the wind moved her down the beach a bit (see picture).

snowflake-clipart-transparent-background-bcyE66qcLsuper-bowl-parties-cheap-potluck-buffetFrom The Salt and other sources, here are a few food facts for Sunday’s big game:

  • Americans will consume 1.25 billion chicken wings while watching.
  • 1.25 billion wings weigh 5,955 times more than the combined weight of the Seahawks and Patriots players.
  • Americans will consume an estimated 325.5 million gallons of beer on the day.
  • With Sunday also being the day the most pizza and tortilla chips are consumed, the average person will consume more than 2,400 calories during the game.
  • This Sunday is the second-largest day for consumption of food and drink for Americans, behind Thanksgiving Day.

What are your plans? Is this national holiday one that you observe?

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Empathy

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Note from CM: I received an email from Mike Bell yesterday asking for a leave from writing for IM for awhile. They have received some bad news about a family member whose cancer has returned, and Mike will have additional responsibilities in the days to come. He is also facing some increasing demands at work. Please keep Mike and his family in your prayers. We appreciate him so much around here. I’ll ask him to send regular updates so we can keep everyone informed.

• • •

empathy [em-puh-thee]
noun. 1. the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

Last night I read an interesting column by Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times on the subject of empathy. He reports some pertinent observations on the topic that give us an intriguing glimpse into human nature, especially as it is revealed in affluent cultures like ours.

For some empathy is no more than skin deep. Psychologists have found that people with cute faces generate more empathy from others — “which is why so many charities feature photos of children and why so many conservation organizations feature pandas.”

Kristoff notes that other studies suggest wealth may impede empathy. He reasons that this may be because wealth tends to insulate people from need. The face of my neighbor becomes more distant, and I can afford to become more theoretical about the disadvantaged and their concerns. Other studies indicate that wealth can turn us inward and we may not see our neighbor or her need at all.

In discussing lack of empathy, he stops here, but even these two brief observations say a lot about human nature and behavior.

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A More Grounded Gospel

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And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

• Ephesians 1:22-23

The good news is that the one true God has now taken charge of the world, in and through Jesus and his death and resurrection.

• N.T. Wright

• • •

I am in the midst of reading N.T. Wright’s recently published book, Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good, and I find that my perception of the gospel is becoming more grounded. Bear with me while I try to work out some of the seminal thoughts in my mind regarding how to explain that.

Wright’s big point is that the gospel is an announcement of a public event that has taken place, an event which has changed everything. It is not advice or instruction given to us, it is a proclamation that Jesus has become King, that God has taken charge of the world through the finished work of the Messiah. God has established his rule of justice and peace in the world. God’s enemies have been defeated and will not win the war. The resurrection, ascension, and outpouring of the Spirit means that the new era has begun. It’s a new day. The divine process of transforming the world has begun in earnest. The announcement of this gospel invites all who hear it to embrace the good news and become part of the transformation. “If anyone is in Christ — new creation!” (2Cor. 5:17, literal translation). The person herself becomes renewed, but even more than that, she becomes part of God’s new creation here and now, right in the midst of this present life. Through baptism she dies to the old creation and is “raised to walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

God has taken charge of the world. Everything has changed. The new world has begun in Christ, who has taken his throne.

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Jonathan Aigner: But contemporary worship brings people to Jesus! Right…?

Reposted with permission from Jonathan Aigner, Ponder Anew • • • Consider this comment I received on the “Modernized Hymns” post. I have tried to avoid God my whole life. I wouldn’t know a traditional hymn from a modernized … [Continue reading...]

Death Letter, part three: A caged animal in an invisible cage

We continue our reflections on David W. Peters' memoir of his experiences as a military and hospital chaplain called, Death Letter: God, Sex, and War. Peters served as a battalion chaplain in Fort Hood, Texas from 2004-2007, which … [Continue reading...]

Adam McHugh: When Someone is in a Storm

Nothing shuts down a person in pain like quoting the Bible at them. As I write that, I can hear the sirens of the Heresy Police surrounding my building. Yes, the Bible contains the words of life, the promises of God-with-us that … [Continue reading...]

IM Film Review: American Sniper — The Old Wild West in the New Middle East

The Old Wild West in the New Middle East IM Review of "American Sniper" The title of this review reflects a line from American Sniper, Clint Eastwood's reverent biopic of Chris Kyle, a sniper during the Iraq War credited with … [Continue reading...]

Sundays with Michael Spencer: January 25, 2015

Note from CM: 2015 will mark five years since the death of Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk. Today, we continue our “Sundays with Michael” series with an excerpt from post that was originally published in January 2008. Folks … [Continue reading...]

Saturday Ramblings, January 24, 2015

Hello, imonks, and welcome to the weekend. First, some sporting news.  The Superb Owl is set: The Seattle Seahawks will attempt to defend their crown from the New England Patriots.  The Patriots had a little controversy after … [Continue reading...]

The Most Significant Moment In My Spiritual Journey

Yup, that's me. The summer of 1981. The photos were taken on the front lawn of my house in Peterborough, Ontario. I think more than a few laws were broken to take the picture on the left! The pictures represent the culmination of … [Continue reading...]