Pastor Dan is taking a little break from Sat. Ramblings to focus on some other responsibilities for awhile, so at least for today, you’re stuck with me.
We did plenty of rambling the past couple of weeks, through Vermont and New Hampshire and down the coast of Maine, plus all the driving from the Midwest and back home again. You might think this old wanderer would want to sit a spell and put his feet up for awhile. However, as we all know, Saturday comes around every week, and here at Internet Monk we are contractually bound to take a weekly ramble, so here we go . . .
Let me get this out of the way first. I’m sorry to use such unkind language, but Ken Ham is an idiot. End of story.
In a related article, Salon lists what they think are the Christian right’s 5 worst scientific claims.
It won’t be released until next Valentine’s Day, but a trailer for the 50 Shades of Grey movie has been released. I haven’t read the book (and have no interest in the movie either), but Dave Barry has, and he says it contains an exciting and encouraging message from women to men everywhere: “We are interested in sex! We’re just not interested in sex with you unless you’re a superhot billionaire. . . . OK, so this is not a totally positive message for us men.”
Irreverence, of course, is stock-in-trade for a humorist like Dave Barry, but Cindy Brandt thinks the church is missing out on this powerful way of speaking the truth to the world. In her piece, “Irreverence Is the New Reverence,” she says:
It is this fear of irreverence that I believe deprives the Christian community from learning what it really means to be faithful. Irreverence shows the world how to be real, prophetic and passionate.
Irreverence says it like it is. It’s the child who calls out the emperor has no clothes. It’s the uncouth teenager who wears his boredom on the outside. It’s the hippie activist who won’t shower until world peace reigns. Irreverence gives the Church permission to engage in full-blown lament amidst the hardships of life. As I have written elsewhere, learning from the popular and unabashedly irreverent comedian, Louis C.K., we cannot shut down feelings of true sadness with reverent calls to thanksgiving and praise. In order to enter true covenantal relationship with God, we must have the freedom to use the wide range of emotion given to us in our humanity to express what is real to our human experience. Instead of flinching from irreverent curses directed at God, let’s listen closely to the deeper pain of struggle, because that which is real, even when delivered in coarse language, is human, and therefore deserves to be heard.
Frankly, I’ve grown kind of tired of the constant barrage of sacrcasm, irony, irreverence, crude language, and innuendo that fills all forms of media these days. While I accept that these are acceptable tools of language, discourse, and even prophetic proclamation, it seems to me that they are better used like salt, sprinkled to enhance the flavor of our debates, presentations, and conversations rather than overwhelming them.
What do you think?
On the social media awareness front, RNS reports that:
‘#WeAreN is sweeping the Christian Twittersphere as churches, organizations and individuals change their avatars to the Arabic letter “Nun.”
‘It’s the symbol for “Nazarene,” or Christian, used by Islamic State militants in Iraq to brand Christian properties in Iraq as part of their effort to drive out an ancient Christian community with threats to convert or die.
‘. . . Switching to the Nun avatar is a gesture reminiscent of the long-standing (although factually debunked) legend that Danish Christians adopted Jewish star armbands during World War II in solidarity with Danish Jews.’
As noble as this sounds, Jeremy Courtney, who originated the #WeAreN awareness campaign, was not persuaded it would have any actual impact, saying, “I don’t know that it has done anything except make people feel like they are doing something when they are doing nothing at all.”
Do you think such gestures have any real significance?
As of yesterday, the Chicago Cubs have the second worst record in Major League Baseball (42-59). On my bedroom dresser sits a figurine of Charlie Brown in baseball gear. It belonged to my friend Michael Spencer, and Denise thought I would like to have it after he passed. Michael and I were both devoted baseball fans. He loved the Reds, while I have always followed the Cubs. He had several experiences of triumph as the Reds celebrated championships. I have had a few close calls with happiness in a wilderness of heartbreak.
Though Michael loved Charlie Brown as much or more than I, it seems to me that I have more in common with the Peanuts character than he did. Take yesterday’s daily strip for example:
Wikipedia has blocked a certain IP address at the U.S. House of Representatives from editing for 10 days because of “persistent disruptive editing.” The ban comes after anonymous changes were made to entries on politicians and businesses, as well as events like the Kennedy assassination. The BBC piece on the matter reports:
An entry on the moon landing conspiracy theories was changed to say they were “promoted by the Cuban government”.
Another entry, on the Ukrainian politician Nataliya Vitrenko, was edited to claim that she was a “Russian puppet”.
The biography of former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld was revised, describing him as an “alien lizard who eats Mexican babies”.
I guess they were upset by the implicit racism in the Rumsfeld edit. He actually eats all kinds of babies, not just Mexican ones. (My contribution to irreverence today.)
Finally, a movie I will recommend. I’ve been waiting for a long time now for Paul Thomas Anderson’s film, The Master, to come to streaming, and Netflix premiered it this past week. A.O. Scott of the NY Times called it an “imposing, confounding and altogether amazing new film” when it came out. The Master is dominated by the remarkable performances of the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the L. Ron Hubbard-esque cult leader, Lancaster Dodd, and his “protégé and guinea pig,” Freddie Quell, played with manic intensity by Joaquin Phoenix.
Scott’s review catches the power of this film when he puts it in the context of Anderson’s other movies, such as There Will Be Blood:
In all of those places, and at every point in history, Mr. Anderson discovers the perpetual promise of new beginnings and a poisonous backwash of anomie, violence and greed. In his world fortunes are constantly being made and squandered. New religions are springing to life. Gamblers, pornographers, hustlers and drunks are plumbing the mysteries of existence. Fathers are at war with their biological and symbolic sons. Husbands are at war with wives. Men are at war with the universe, perversely convinced that they have a chance of winning.
To whet your appetite, here is the final theatrical trailer: