July 16, 2018

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.


  1. What great news about Jeff!

  2. Vega Magnus says:

    Gonna be watching Jaws, The Fog, and The Thing this Halloween week, probably with some MST3K sprinkled in as well. By the way, if anyone likes The Thing, you HAVE to read Who Goes There?, the novella it is based on. It is great.

    • Which version of “The Thing”?

      • Vega Magnus says:

        Carpenter’s of course.

      • “The Thing from Another World,” with James Arness in the lead role, of course.

        • Christiane Smith says:

          ROBERT, that film is SO cool . . . what a classic !

        • Back in my college days, they held a “bad movie marathon” in one of the big lecture halls. The original “The Thing” was one of the “bad” movies shown, and I remember thinking, “This isn’t bad!!” Sure, there are a handful of hokey parts, but for the most part it was pretty tense!

          • Agreed. Our sense of hokiness about some of those old movies is more a result of our historical parochialism than anything else.

  3. As we in Oz would say about the university non-discrimination policy – Political correctness gone mad! I’ve no doubt we have such silly notions here, it’s just that we say “What? get a life!!” Whatever happened to universities (colleges in US speak) being places for free association regardless of the subject. America land of the free seems to be getting less so.

    • As with a lot of these hot-button issues, I think a lot of it has more to do with tradition and less with anything of actual substance. “It’s always been that way” has far more pull in how we view things than we’re willing to admit.

      Suppose that US colleges & universities had never had policies of giving out student gov’t association funding to registered campus groups but had allowed them to meet on-campus. Anyone who then suggested that they now be provided SGA funding would commonly be viewed as promoting a socialistic back-door influence on groups whose identities are often of a well-defined religious or cultural nature. FOX would go ballistic at such nanny-statism.

      But since it’s “always” been precisely that way, we go ballistic when they threaten to take away our benefits. It resembles nothing so much as anti-Obamacare ads that attack him for cutting Medicare spending: do we or don’t we want government money?

      People who want freedom of religion should be happy about the nonsense that such campus policies underline. It’s not outrageous: it’s just the logical end result of handing everybody money and saying they’re all identical. So. Just. Opt. Out. Pay your own way, they still let you meet on campus anyway (and if they don’t, then meet somewhere else on your own), you’re done with the usual silly SGA politics. Good. People might even take you more seriously if you opt out voluntarily. (I’d certainly take campus Objectivist Clubs more seriously if they didn’t get SGA funding!)

  4. Faulty O-Ring says:

    For that extra touch of class, accessorize your ebola suit with a wheelbarrow full of black corpses.

  5. “That’s so good it’s scary.”
    We thank You Lord for the healing of Jeff’s lung we again humby call Your presence upon finishing the infection and casting it out. We thank You for the blossoming of his heart to be a sweet fragrance upon those he meets and this pollenation would bear much fruit for Your glory and praise. We love and honor You and thank You for the privilege we all here have of touching those You love and we look forward to having more of this in our lives. I tell You the truth.

  6. Since this is rambling I have to say that my typing are for the word our makes me feel like the stupidest person. I do it all the time and I wonder at such a quirk. If I was handwriting something it never happens. At times because of stupid mistakes like this I say I’m never posting again and I wondered ….. Am I alone on this or is this a common reaction? I just feel so silly and wish I could change it. Every nite I say to myself I’m not posting and every morning I find myself typing another mistake here. Just saying….The blossoming of his heart in love. I got to stop typing with tears in my eyes but then it wouldn’t be real.

    • Mike the Geologist says:

      Jeff: thank God for the no cancer report. Great news to start my day. Just blame autocorrect, w, like the rest of us do. What… You want to take responsibility for your own actions. Haven’t you been paying attention to that preacher from Seattle?

    • W — I teach writing at the college level, and I am sorry to say that I have typos in almost everything I write. I’m especially embarrassed when I type a comment for a student that looks something like “Pleese proffread your paper.” Our challenge, as imperfect people in an imperfect world, is to acknowledge our constant failings without falling into despair. For me the way to do that is to remember how wonderful it is that God loves me even though I’m such a mess.

    • Everybody makes mistakes, w. If you were to stop posting your wonderful and inspiring and penetrating comments because of the desire to avoid typos, that would be a terrible loss to me and others who read them here at iMonk.

    • w, I’m veery ainul about checking for mistakes and they STILL sneek threw!

    • James the Mad says:

      I love sights that allow a 1 hour window for editing. It’s inevitable – as soon as I hit the command to to post I find I’ve doubled up a word their.

    • I personally very much like and appreciate your rambling style. It feels honest and heartfelt.

    • w, enough of my trade involves writing, that I ought to have no typos in my posts.

      However, proofread my posts, and you’ll find a shocking rate of error. I’m a terrible at catching mistakes, with a single proofread. The only way I function professionally is by proofing everything I write many times.

      As you mention, I experience a tremendous difference between writing by hand and typing. The first I can do with no error. With the second, I habitually miswrite phrases or words.

  7. Praise the Lord Jesus for no Cancer. Still praying for healing.

  8. First and most important THANK YOU LORD for Jeff’s wonderful news. Please continue to strengthen and restore.

    As I read the Scary Post today I got the creepy feeling that I no longer can differentiate between reality and fantasy. What you posted today is really happening – it’s in the news. RIGHT? Somehow Chaplain Mike I see you with the Cheshire Cat grin and I’m feeling like Alice in Wonderland.

    Whew – I think I have to lie down for awhile. 🙂

  9. I read about the Malaysian mutt melee on BBC earlier this week, and was compelled to consult the Font of All Human Knowledge for more insight…


    Apparently, this whole “dogs are unclean” thing is not directly derived from the Koran, but from some of the hadiths, and not universally accepted across Islam.

    Nevertheless, the whole “clean vs. unclean” thing still runs strong through all this. Thank God (literally) we aren’t under that anymore.

    Now, I’m going to play with our dog. 🙂

    • Eeyore, it is not “hadiths”, but HADITH, which is plural already.

      And as I sit with my chiweenie in my lap I bring your attention to the latest book to NOT be found on ANY Muslim book shelf “Did Mohammed Really Exist”, By Robert Spencer, at http://www.amazon.com/Did-Muhammad-Exist-Inquiry-Obscure-ebook/dp/B00JBRUKMG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414242434&sr=1-1&keywords=Spencer%2C+Robert

      Surely at top 10 hit in Saudi Arabia and Tehran!

      • I would no more accept Robert Spencer as an expert on Islam than I would Bart Ehrman as an expert on Christian theology. 😉

      • I haven’t read the book, but my gut reaction is the same one I have towards those who make the claim that Jesus of Nazareth was a literary construct: How do you explain the sudden growth of a religion just decades after its putative founder was said to have been walking among followers who were still alive and talking him up non-stop?

        It’s just easier to understand “bust-out” faith traditions like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or Taoism if we posit the actual existence of their founders.

        [mentally patting chiweenie on the head]

        • One thing that sets the history of Buddhism apart from either Christianity or Islam is that none of the scriptures of Buddhism that we have today were written until around four hundred years after the time he would have died. In the meantime, the stories of his life circulated in oral form, leaving much time for legendary accretion and embellishment. Yes, it’s hard to believe that there wasn’t an actual historical Buddha, but it’s almost as difficult to make any confident distinction between what must surely be historical and what must surely be legendary.

          In the case of Buddhism, however, the historical existence of its founder and any details surrounding his life are far less important than in the case of Christianity, since the truths expressed in Buddhist philosophy and practice are not thought to be dependent on any person, however holy or enlightened, not even a Buddha or Bodhisattva. I think that Islam is closer to Christianity in this matter than it is to Buddhism, since it’s far more dependent on historicity than Buddhism ever will, or needs, to be.

          • One difference between Christian scripture and Quoran is that whereas Christian scripture is centered on Jesus Christ, the Quoran only mentions Mohammed three times. In fact it mentions Jesus and Mary MUCH more often.

            Spencer’s work is more authoritative than many and it DOES posit some interesting items that bear consideration. Mind you, it does not come right out and deny the existence of Mo, but it does give the impression that it COULD be possible. Just as is Ehrman’s work.

          • Yes, but the hadith more than make up for the paucity of references to Mohammed in the Quran.

          • What Robert F said, plus Oscar… that guy is no “expert.” There are far better writers on thse subjects, most of them Muslim.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I think that Islam is closer to Christianity in this matter than it is to Buddhism, since it’s far more dependent on historicity than Buddhism ever will, or needs, to be.

            And yet the Wahabi in their iconcoclasm are busy destroying Islam’s own historicity — turning the site of Mohammed’s house into public latrines, blowing up cemeteries and tombs and monuments in the name of “destroying idolatry” until the Koran becomes just another book of mythology as much of a link to real-world people, times, and places as a book of fairy tales. In Purifying Islam, the Wahabi and their More Wahabi than al-Wahab types (al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIL) are destroying Islam as a historic faith.

  10. I want to echo the comments already made and thank God for the good news about Jeff’s health condition, and pray for more good news to come.

    Regarding the story about the wedding chapel: I also find the idea of Christian wedding chapels distasteful, and find the idea that the owners of such a business, whether clergy or not, could possibly be interested in the integrity of the institution of marriage laughable. But aside from the character of the actors and business involved in this particular drama, this episode does raise an unanswered question/concern for me.

    To wit: Should clergy who perform weddings for even a nominal fee paid directly to them by the parties involved (rather than as part of their pastoral remuneration in their regular salary paid by the church) be considered small business contractors, and be required by law to observe the same non-discrimination laws that any small business owner is obliged to observe, even when they have a religious objection to providing that particular service, performing a marriage, for that particular group? A second connected question: Do religious liberties, and the resultant exemption from certain laws, inhere primarily in individuals, or only in institutions that are recognized by the state as legitimate religions through the process of applying for and being granted tax-exempt status?

    • Good questions!

      It seems like modern jurisprudence has attempted to thread a line of not putting onerous requirements on historically existent religions without granting the ability for people to just invent a “religion” so they can flout laws in the name of religious freedom. That is a hard job to do well.

      I am sure that most americans are not prepared to deal with what true freedom of religion applied to the commercial sphere would look like. I have lived with a disability for years, and I am used to the roulette of whether I will be served by a particular business location. The ablebodied folks coming with me are always shocked and rather upset, though, and they certainly are not accustomed to calling ahead and quizzing businesses on their requirements to be served. They are used to assuming that if a business is open to the public, they can just show up and expect service.

    • Brianthedad says:

      Yes. It seems we heterosexuals have already done more damage to the institution of marriage than what is feared will happen from the homosexuals. I’m aware of several weddings here in my area officiated by people who bought “clergy licenses” online and do weddings for friends and others. In a recent one, the officiant was in full Darth Vader costume, and the groom and bride in other Star Wars regalia. The State recognizes that as legitimate. Another was done in a radio station studio, live broadcast on-air. Doesn’t feel like a serious take on marriage to me. Do we Christians want “our” weddings associated and “equal” with those?

      And you bring up a great question regarding contractor status for wedding officiants. Not being a lawyer, I don’t have an informed opinion, but I think this is another good argument, along with the above examples, to get churches out of partnership with, or rather agency for, the State for marriages.

      • If churches and other religious organizations get out of the business of officiating weddings, the state will have a lot more weddings to perform, and no doubt need to raise taxes to cover the expenses. What’s that about death and taxes?

        • Brianthedad says:

          Oh, I’m not saying churches get out of the business, but for the state and church to split on this. The state has a legitimate interest in marriage, based on current laws. Let them marry who they choose, call it civil union, whatever. Churches have a legitimate interest in marriage. Let them do religious services, and marry or not marry who they choose. Call it covenant or religious marriage, whatever. Civil marriage. Religious marriage. I was told that our pastor could not marry any couple who does not have a valid license from the state. He could be fined. Why not? Sounds to me he is an agent of the state and not free to practice his religion. For a civil marriage, Once a state issues a license, the people could be considered married, and they could throw whatever shindig they wanted, and have whatever movie figure stand in front of them and say whatever they wanted to commemorate said wedding. It just irks me to have “chapels” churning out weddings under the guise of religion with no thought. how’s that different than a justice of the peace? I’m sure there’s more solemnity there.

        • Brianthedad says:

          Not get out of the business. Be allowed to work separately from the state. I was told our pastor couldn’t marry anyone who hadn’t gotten a state license first. He could be fined, is it the same for baptisms? First communions? If marriage is as important as we say it is, why must we have state permission first? Separate the two. States could issue licenses to whoever. Once the license was issued and signed by both parties, they’re married. Then they could have whatever party and movie character they wanted to announce said wedding. A religious wedding could take place under whatever restrictions or rules or rituals the particular faith wanted. Civil marriage. Religious marriage. Two things.

    • Though I can understand the distaste religious folks have for wedding chapels, they do serve a useful function. In Iowa, there is a disused Catholic church. Cute little place with a statue of the Virgin outside. It was bought by a company that provides weddings. They do a good business among lapsed Catholics who would like a wedding in a church like atmosphere but not enough to get their confirmation done and their marriage prep and have to pretend they believe it all when they don’t. The local Catholic church would probably prefer that folks who don’t believe don’t come for the Sacraments, too. This particular church also does business among active Catholics because it’s the church where Grans got married, etc. Anyway, these folks want to get married and want a churchy atmosphere and don’t want to pretend a faith they don’t hold. I say kudos for the integrity.

      The use of non-clerical folks who get ordained online (or via fax or phone) in order to marry friends or relatives is also growing. Why not? It’s the easiest way for a non-believing person to be able to perform a wedding. And yes, it’s a fig leaf, and some states have toyed with the idea of just allowing any adult citizen to officiate a wedding because the instant ordination is a little silly. And with a 20% non-affiliated rate (and higher among those in the age groups actually getting married now), it makes sense that these people will create their own rituals that are meaningful to them for their life’s milestones. And why have a stranger (some member of the clergy you are meeting only for the wedding) involved? If instead you have an erudite relative or friend? And really, is a star wars costume any less bizarre than a white gown with a long train, a head veil and a tux? The later is the only one that can be reworn later (If it’s not powder blue or pink or glittered).

      • Cermak: You say, “these folks want to get married and want a churchy atmosphere and don’t want to pretend a faith they don’t hold. I say kudos for the integrity.” Kudos for honesty, in any case. I’m not sure that wanting the trappings of something one no longer believes in is integrity.

    • I am entering into the ordination process and have actually given this thought. I can foresee the time when the right to perform weddings as an agent of the state will become the obligation (requirement) to perform any and all weddings declared as legal weddings. I’m afraid I would forego licensing by the state (which is a dubious proposition at any rate) and simply let enquirers know that I am unable to perform a legal wedding. They will have to go to a state approved agency for state approval of their marriage.

      If, on the other hand, they also wish to be wed within the Christian community, with Christian vows centered on our Lord Jesus Christ, I will be happy to officiate at the religious ceremony. It won’t get them a tax benefit, but it will affirm their marriage in a different way.

  11. I said it at least three years ago: bullies when confronted immediately pull the victim card.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

      Well, yes. Psychology 101. I don’t intend to step on any toes here, but I have no doubt the prosperity crowd will welcome Mark with open arms.

      • Go ahead. I have no delusions regarding what’s in store. As I posted last week, he will probably be a larger influence on American Evangelicalism as a free agent than as the pastor of Mars Hill. Cruel cynicism is replacing pragmatism. He will be a magnet for people mad at themselves, mad at the world, mad a diminishing opportunities for the future. Such individuals are just looking for a reason to unleash that rage against easy targets. He’s really not the problem; he’s the symptom.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Cruel cynicism is replacing pragmatism. He will be a magnet for people mad at themselves, mad at the world, mad a diminishing opportunities for the future.

          Add “psychopaths” to that and you have the exact same recruiting profile as ISIS/ISIL/Jihadis.

  12. Dan Crawford says:

    Thank you, most gracious God, for Jeff’s good news. Pour out an abundance of your blessings on him and his loved ones – may he grow in strength and be steeped in your grace and joy.

    Now to the SPIDER. Yikes! It might serve as another metaphor in 1 Peter 5.8 (Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring spider seeking someone to devour.)

    And ah, Sister Cristina – half of Italy’s celibate clergy are sleeping with amazingly vivid dreams these nights.

  13. I bet Jeff never thought the words “just an infection” would sound so good! Glad to hear it.

    It seems that the Christian Church in America, or many of them, have become like the child that gets no attention at home until he or she throws a hissy fit. My Facebook pages have been filled the past week with hand wringing and moaning over the Houston preachers and the wedding chapel (no Elvis there, though, so it must be low budget). I talk to church people far too often who see a secular boogey man behind every door, even if they have to look really, really hard.

    In reality, maybe what we need is more of this: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/24/opinion/roger-cohen-active-fatalism.html?_r=0

    But then, there isn’t much on earth glory in just getting up and going to work every day, or caring for your elderly parents, or just doing what you need to do, is there?

    • That is one amazing article. Thanks.

    • Re: the linked article: Camus was an atheist, and Christians have no right to posthumously baptize him, as many have sought to do, but his free and rebellious and non-systematic ethic, and the anthropology that it’s rooted in, can rightly critique, and inform, any serious Christian understanding of humanity, and what it means to live humanly and humanely.

      • +1

        Camus rocks. I hope the stories about his conversion are true, but my admiration is not based on that.

        Campolo’s “Partly Right” should be required reading for would-be evangelicals.

    • Mary LaVille says:

      Thank you for sharing the article.

    • What a good article and something I have come to learn the hard way, yet then again there might not be any other way to learn it. Maybe in rolling the boulder we learn our own strength and realize no one else actually knows this. Apparently there are more so than I first thought. What a wonderful way to express it by this author. Thank you

  14. I think the key point on the college groups is the following:

    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.

    Nothing says a group’s individual members have to vote for a non-Christian (or a non-Democrat or non-Republican) and nothing says a group can’t have a constitution allowing a recall election if the leaders turn out to not what they say. My guess is most groups opposed to the non-discrimination policy have non-student advisers who are worried that group members might elect the wrong sort of X and want the right to veto by saying that person is not X.

    On the wedding chapel mess I suspect a distinction will be drawn between those who officiate at the wedding and the commercial business itself. The officiants if they have state permission to officiate because they are religious officials have the right to discriminate (including not just against same-sex couples but also interfaith couples, interracial couples, non-X couples where X is their religion) because they are religious officials but the commercial business can be obligated to provide an alternative officiant. Religious organizations are exempt from discrimination rules and do discriminate in ways that would be illegal for a commercial organization (most notably most require that at least one member of the couple be a member even if nominally of their religion).

    • But when ordained pastors of churches accept small fees for officiating at weddings, as they routinely do, and sometimes for weddings conducted outside of church buildings, how are they to be distinguished from clergy who are small business owners like the ones in the story at hand?

      • It is generally not a fee but a stipend or free will offering or some such. That makes it different from fee for profit. How many good ministers would refuse to wed a poor couple who couldn’t afford his stipend? I’m a cynic about human nature, but I’m guessing not very many.

        And anyway, Pat Robertson, Inc makes a mint and he’s still provided freedom of religion which implies some separation from rules oriented towards secular businesses.

    • And how, other than through the process of applying for and being granted tax-exemptio, are religious organizations recognized by the state as being exempt from some laws? And, if not, shouldn’t there be, so that churches that may choose not to seek tax-exemption may nonetheless have way of being acknowledged as exempt some other laws as a matter of religious liberty?

      • Well the courts exist to sort out gray areas. I’ll note in Nevada at least that commercial wedding chapels are considered a special class of licensed business which not only sign marriage licenses (officiate) but can issue them hence why Nevada marriages can be so quick and take place at the end of a late night of partying (one stop wedding). To have the privilege of issuing marriage licenses the state can presumably bind them to follow the same anti-discrimination laws as all other businesses (not all states btw ban discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation).

        In Idaho I would guess the courts could look at how the entity acts (in this particular case it is currently moot since the city has ruled it exempt, Idaho as a state does not ban discrimination on sexual orientation). So did this wedding chapel before the current kerfuffle act like a religion or like a business? Did it request government assistance of any sort by virtue of being a business? Did it belong to the local Chamber of Commerce? Did it require the ceremony to be explicitly Christian? Does anyone have their web page of a couple of years ago and see how they referenced religion?

  15. That Other Jean says:

    Congratulations, Jeff, on such happy news! I’m sorry you’re still sick, of course, but “not cancer” is wonderful to hear. I’ll continue to pray for wisdom for your doctors and healing for your infected lung. Hope you’re feeling much better soon.

    • Christiane says:

      great news for JEFF DUNN . . . that must have been a huge relief, even if the lung is still infected

  16. The spider is downright creepy. Amazing how something so large and ugly can remain so hidden. Perhaps this gives hope yet that Sasquatch really exists.

    Side note: I find the most fascinating revelations about our Crestor in the variety of the designs of His creatures. Even the ugly ones. Wow.

  17. Vega Magnus says:

    You think the ebola costume is offensive? Last year, an online acquaintance of mine dressed up as Trayvon Martin, complete with blackface and bullet wound. And yes, this person is in fact a bit of a jerk.

    Last week, I mentioned that the church I used to irregularly attend is now doing a Revelation sermon series sparked by the release of the new Left Behind film. I do not have the stomach for listening to them, but if anyone here is feeling particularly curious today, here is the link to the sermon archive. If anyone here does give them a listen, please let me know just how nuts they are.


    • Several years ago, a nephew of mine went trick-or-treating as Hitler. Many of his friends and relative tried to point out the potential offense of doing so, but he did it anyway. I think he now looks back on that with regret.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      You think the ebola costume is offensive? Last year, an online acquaintance of mine dressed up as Trayvon Martin, complete with blackface and bullet wound. And yes, this person is in fact a bit of a jerk.

      Combination of shock-jock, stupidity, and South Park wannabe.

      People do dumb things in general. And at times like Halloween when you usually cut them some more slack in that department, some of them do REAL dumb things.

  18. Dana Ames says:

    Grateful for the good news from Jeff.

    The good news in my neck of the woods is RAIN!!! God is good in not inundating us; we have enough problems with mudslides in a normal year. For the last 2 weeks we have had some gentle to moderate showers about every second or third day, and it’s supposed to be like this at least through the next week. Hopefully this will continue as a “normal” rain year with a decent snow pack. Pundits I’ve heard say it will take about 4 years of normal rain to call the drought officially ended.

    How are you guys in SoCal doing? Is any of this coming your way?

    The tarp is on the field in SF, but they expect only light rain that will be over by game time.


    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      How are you guys in SoCal doing? Is any of this coming your way?

      Not at all. Still dry as the Negev around here.

  19. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

    Well I for one love the spider. I like arachnids – they are cool. Did you know they use muscles to pull their legs in, but a hydraulic process to push them back out? Fascinating.

    • Ditto about arachnids, Dr. F. That’s a beautiful spider.

    • Spiders are good. They kill other bugs.

      Funny story (well, semi-funny) – two days ago at the coffee shop where I write, a woman stood up and shrieked. I glanced over at her and noticed her freaking out over something. Then I noticed a spider on the wall next to where she’d been sitting. I went over with a napkin and placed it where the spider would walk on it to let it outside. She seemed a bit taken aback. “You’re going to save it?” she asked. (As if letting it live would be like spreading Ebola.)

      “Why not! Spiders kill other bugs!”

    • OldProphet says:

      Sorry, the only good spider is a dead spider! I know, go ahead, call me what you want. But you think differently if YOU were bitten by a black widow spider. Twice. It’s not a fun thing. Believe me!

    • Christiane says:

      my Pop, who was a bit of a naturalist, taught us not to kill spiders . . . he said that are good for gardens and eat the bugs that hurt the crops (we were raised on organic produce) . . . I remember one time my mother was freaking out over a Daddy-long-legs in the house, and Pop picked up gently in his hand and carried it outside to ‘safety’ and let it go in the garden . . .

      Pop understood a long time before it was ‘fashionable’ that all of nature is interconnected and balanced, unless of course we disturb that balance . . . very special person, my Pop

      • my mother taught me to slide a piece of paper over to the daddy long-legs (or whatever), let it climb on, and then take it outside and gently lower it down to the ground so it could climb off.

    • I love spiders.

      I also think they way they move is terrifying, and I would much prefer other people kill them and do so quickly.

      My husband is petrified of mice. So we have an agreement: he kill spiders and bizarre insects, and I kill mice.

      Unfortunately, it’s a bad week for me. Our neighbor is doing some construction, and it’s getting cold. Commencing now: The Great Mouse Wars of 2014. Oh well, at least the Baltimore rats can’t get in. City living at its finest!

  20. James the Mad says:

    One of my suspicions when the whole wedding mill thing blew up was that the story was not going to be anywhere near as clear-cut as the hype would have us believe. Not only is my suspicion proving to be correct, but it now appears this was a manufactured crisis to begin with.

    A very nice piece on this was posted on Huffington Post this morning. It seems that the Hitching Post filed papers with the state identifying itself as a religious corporation the day before the courts struck down Idaho’s ban. They are now specifically exempted from the city’s ordinance. Further, the city has no record of any complaints being filed against the chapel. So it appears this was a preemptive strike by the owners and the group Alliance Defending Freedom, and depending on one’s viewpoint the publicity could be considered anything from pure hype to outright lies.

    I’m just shaking my head over the whole thing.

    • This.

      And even if the conflict were legitimate, I don’t think the issues at stake affect churches.

      Ultimately, these battles are symbolic: one audience is primed for any evidence of religious zealotry at the hands of Crazy; the other is primed for tales of persecution at the hands of Unclean. The master narratives have already been written: now we just have to find the stories and test cases to validate them.

      • *any evidence of religious zealotry BY Crazy; the other is primed for tales of persecution BY Unclean.

  21. Mary LaVille says:

    So glad to hear the good news about Jeff!

  22. Yes, very good to know that Jeff will continue to lurk just offstage for the foreseeable future

  23. Christiane Smith says:

    it has struck me that the original followers of people like Mark Driscoll and Steven Furtick must share some of the same traits . . .

    there is a kind of ‘patriarchy’ that is shared by fundamentalists of all faiths where (to varying degrees) women are not recognized as fully possessing human integrity . . .

    am wondering how closely Driscoll’s and Furtick’s teachings on patriarchy align . . .

    also have observed that such fundamentalist leadership would DRAW to it those males who NEEDED to be seen as superior in human dignity with rights to direct the lives of the women they marry and the lives of the daughters who are born to their families

    lately, for me, I see a coalition of that kind of need in some males that is strongly present in both Christian fundamentalism’s patriarchy AND extremist fundamentalist Islamic patriarchy . . . in both, the treatment of the dignity of women as human person made in the image of God is handled in similar ways, and does not represent full recognition of women as full human persons deserving of the same dignity that is given to males.

    • If you’re a narcisstic male, as many of us are, the male-dominant religions (or interpretations of Scriptures) strokes our egos and maintains the status quo. It keeps women and children at the back, “where they belong.” In a sense, it allows us to “check our brains at the door” because we’re going to be fed what we want to hear.

      Jesus came to obliterate all that crap.

  24. Asinus Spinas Masticans says:

    The Hallowe’en costume that brought me the most joy was when I painted a cardboard box to look like a gas stove, put it over my upper torso, put on a skirt, nylons, ankle socks and patent leather pumps. Then I baked some cookies and went as Sylvia Plath.

  25. “Boris the spider.
    Boris the spider.
    Creepy, crawly, creepy, crawly, etc.,…”

  26. Old Prophet says:

    Crept, crawly, smush!

  27. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    I got married just over 2 years ago. The meeting house was not big enough to accommodate all the people we were expecting to show up. Heck, it isn’t even really big enough to accommodate our immediate families. So, we had to find another place to get hitched. Now, under no circumstance would either of us have consented to get married at a place called the Hitching Post, I do see that places like that do serve a purpose beyond a place for the non-religious to get married. Sometimes you need a place that’s bigger than what your church can provide.

    We ended up renting an old school house that is currently a Ruritan community center, but for that one day in 2012 it was a Quaker meeting house. We also apparently started something. I heard there’s been several weddings held there since we got married.

  28. Re. Sister Cristina’s latest, you may be interested in reading this, to see how differently people can experience the same thing. http://theramblingsofacrazyface.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/like-a-virgin/

  29. I know they’re not the Reds but how about them Royals!