June 23, 2017

The Internet Monk Saturday Brunch (1/7/17)

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NEW! AND IMPROVED! FOR 2017 —

Internet Monk’s Saturday Ramblings will henceforth be known as Saturday Brunch.

Consider this your weekly invitation.

The following article from The Smithsonian tells where this meal (traditionally a Sunday feast) came from:

900e6a0dfdf181e09ec73e81b73d1d19As is the case with many culinary traditions, the origins are a bit hazy. Some food historians think that the meal has its roots in England’s hunt breakfasts—lavish multi-course meals that featured a smorgasbord of goodies such as chicken livers, eggs, meats, bacon, fresh fruit and sweets.  Others posit that Sunday brunch derives from the practice of Catholics fasting before mass and then sitting down for a large midday meal. And then there are those who  look to New York’s abundance of dining spots when it comes to tracing the origins of classic brunch dishes from eggs Benedict to bagels and lox.

What does seem certain is that the word “brunch”—that playful blend of “breakfast” and “lunch”— first appeared in print in an 1895 Hunter’s Weekly article. In “Brunch: A Plea,” British author Guy Beringer suggested an alternative to the heavy, post-church Sunday meals in favor of lighter fare served late in the morning. ”Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting,” Beringer says. ”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

• “The Birth of Brunch”

And it is that last sentence, my fellow brunch-ers, that describes what the Internet Monk Saturday Brunch is all about —

”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

This, my friends, is our aim on Saturdays here at IM.

So, whether you arise early on Saturdays, or follow your Chaplain’s example and sleep until noon whenever possible, there will be food, drink, merriment, and conversation for all. We offer this continuous feast and invite any and all to partake.

• • •

notescanstock11109130AN OLD FRIEND HANGS IT UP

One of Michael Spencer’s friends, a conversation (and sparring) partner, critic, and fellow-blogger Frank Turk has decided to hang up his keyboard and blog no more.

Over at Pyromaniacs, a site your Chaplain used to frequent quite regularly and one which Michael repeatedly referred to as one of the “watchblogs” back in the day, Turk wrote a rather self-flagellating goodbye and expressed a lot of disillusionment about the state of Christian “internet ministry” and blogging in particular. In his words…

Way far north of 95% of Christian blogging is really just exhibitionism, either exposing one’s own poor judgment and thinking or exposing others faults (usually both) for the sake of gaining attention for one’s self.  I think unintentionally, I have done this.  I repent of ever doing that, and I repudiate everyone who is blogging for the sake of exposing himself or herself to gain an audience.  If you think that’s only people with modest-sized blogs, or people on the fringes, you aren’t reading the big blogs with any kind of wisdom or insight, or tracking how many people in Christian circles are getting famous from blogging rather than from having actual accomplishments or a decent faith and a world-tilting local church.

I repent of ever, at any time, causing anyone else to fall into that trap.  If my example caused you to blog, you are doing it wrong.  You are responsible for you, but I am responsible for doing something which caused you to do wrong.  I repudiate it, and I ask you to do the same.

He goes on to repent of his own “exhibitionism” and to criticize those who look at their “internet ministry” for imagining they have a much greater level of influence than they actually do. “I would argue that you are actually reaching fewer people and ministering to fewer people by never actually being anywhere long enough to do something “like ministry” than you would be if you belonged to a local IBF church with 25 members who meet in a wooden shack with no modern amenities,” he scolds.

Frank Turk is a good writer and he will be missed, despite the fact that I have moved far, far away from feeling any sense of kinship with what is written by TeamPyro. I must say, though, that I have had many of his same misgivings about what it actually means to “relate” and “serve” via blogging. It is one of my constant motivations in trying to make Internet Monk different, a place of genuine conversation and reflection.

He will be archiving his articles at teampyro.blogspot.com, and has several pieces you can search for at firstthings.com‘s Evangel. Turk also has his own personal blog which you can find at iturk.com.

READ “THE END” BY FRANK TURK

canstock11109130burdenTHE ANTI-SEMITIC ACTION FIGURE

It’s a burden Luther earned for himself by his own astonishingly brutal words against the Jewish people in his 1543 treatise, “On the Jews and Their Lies.”

However, isn’t this current complaint a little silly?

RNS reports that Playmobil, one of Germany’s leading toy manufacturers, produced a 3-inch plastic figure of Luther back in 2015 to promote this year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation. So far, about 500,000 have been sold around the world.

Then Micha Brumlik, a retired Frankfurt University education professor, wrote that the popular toy was “anti-Jewish, if not even anti-Semitic.”

What problem did he have with the toy? The figure shows Luther holding a Bible. On one page it says, “The Books of the Old Testament,” with the word “ENDE” underneath them. On the opposite page it says, ““The New Testament, translated by Doctor Martin Luther.” Brumlik contends the word “ENDE” signifies that Luther was saying the Old Testament and its validity are now ended and superseded by the NT. This to him is the theological insult at the root of the history of anti-semitism.

Playmobil’s toy figure of Martin Luther, in its trademark style aimed at children up to 12 years old. The word “Ende” (End) at the bottom of the left page of the Bible raised objections that the toy could be anti-Semitic. Photo taken December 31, 2016. RNS photo by Tom Heneghan

To an extent, I agree. I am not a “supercessionist.” The NT does not denigrate the OT as outdated and overtaken by the New. The Jews are not “replaced” by the Church, and God did not reject them. It is appalling that many bearing the name Christian have used such arguments, but I find them utterly unconvincing and offensive as a Christian myself. In my view, all it takes is a simple reading of Romans 9-11 to get that.

One of the article’s weaknesses is that it doesn’t explore why that word “ENDE” appears on the figure. Luther’s statue in Wittenberg contains the same inscription. It took one of the commentators on the article to explain the simple reason for the word:

I do not have a copy of the Luther Bible on hand but I seem to recall seeing this word “Ende” printed on the dividing pages of the Old Testament and New Testament simply as a way of indicating that the Old Testament ends there, hence this is where the New Testament picks up. We still do this type of thing. When I listen to audio books sometimes at the end of a disk the reader will actually say, “End of disk 1.” I certainly don’t take that as having any theological implications even if I am reading a theology book (or the Bible for that matter.) 

So a simple line indicating “The End” after the OT is now getting blown up into a controversy about anti-semitism. Yeah, this is what we need today.

After discussions among its sponsors, the Nuremberg tourist bureau announced that the word “ENDE” would be removed from all future copies of the toy, beginning in March.

Sigh…

READ “HOW A TOY FIGURE OF MARTIN LUTHER SPARKED ACCUSATIONS OF ANTI-SEMITISM” BY TOM HENEGHAN

canstock11109130kicked_outNORWAY BEGINS BREAKING UP WITH THE CHURCH

Again, from RNS…

On Jan. 1, [Norway] cut some ties with its Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Norway, rewording the national constitution to change the denomination from “the state’s public religion” to “Norway’s national church.”

The change means the nation of just over 5 million people — about 82 percent of them Evangelical-Lutherans — will still fund the church but will no longer appoint its clergy, who will still be considered civil servants.

And like most divorces, this one could be messy. Norway is one of the least theistic nations in Europe, with 39 percent of Norwegians saying they are atheist or agnostic, according to a poll conducted by a Norwegian newspaper earlier this year.

But Norway also has its own “Bible belt,” along its southwest coast, where much of the base of the country’s two Christian democratic parties is based.

“Such a policy change might inadvertently trigger a culture war,” Jacques Berlinerblau, a Georgetown University professor who studies secularism, told RNS. “Certain anti-secular elements in Europe could point to Norway as an example of the ongoing collapse of Christian culture and Western civilization at the hands of diabolical secularists.”

Some groups favor a further separation and suggest that this step only further muddies the relationship between church and country. At the National Secular Society, it is noted that the King is still constitutionally required to profess the Evangelical-Lutheran religion, and though there may have been some organizational realignment, the government will still support the church and give it privileges no other religions will receive.

Keith Porteus Woods writes:

I hope that the good people of Norway will consider this latest constitutional and organisational change as a preliminary further step in the disentanglement of the Church and State. There is much further to go before Norway can regard itself as a modern secular state, not least removing the elements in the Constitution highlighted above, and a move towards withdrawing this illicit subsidy – even if it is phased out over several years.

According to the article, only about 2% of Norway’s citizens attend services regularly at congregations of the national church.

READ “NORWAY AND ITS NATIONAL CHURCH PART WAYS” BY KIMBERLY WINSTON

READ “NORWAY’S SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: A WORK IN PROGRESS” BY K.P. WOODS

canstock11109130questionsQUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

Do Christians want leaders or lemmings?

Do women fighters undermine the Bible’s understanding of gender?

What does it take to settle refugees?

What are some of the most innovative products at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show?

How far along is N. Korea in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile, and can anyone do anything about it?

So, tell me again, who’s going to pay for this damn wall?

• • •

canstock11109130fighterCARRIE UNDERWOOD UNDER ATTACK

Rolling Stone magazine reports that popular singer Carrie Underwood made a surprise appearance this past week at the evangelical Passion Conference in Atlanta, singing with David Crowder.

That prompted an open letter from American Family Association outreach director Wesley Weldon to Pastor Louie Giglio, the founder and organizer of the event. What do you think it might have been about? Really, you can’t guess?

Here’s what he said:

“I was very frustrated that you would allow her to help lead thousands of people in worship. My frustration quickly turned to disappointment and then to sadness. Carrie Underwood encourages and supports homosexual marriage which the Word of God does not,” Wildmon said in the letter published January 4th by the AFA publication Engage Magazine. “The Word of God is not a preference, but principles God has spoken. God is right about marriage and Carrie Underwood is wrong.”

Another silly salvo from the AFA. And it’s not only silly. It reveals their absolute lack of balls. Why would the AFA publish an “open letter” rather than go privately and humbly to Pastor Giglio and express their concerns?

But no, that’s not what the AFA is about. The AFA is about the AFA and promoting a culture war agenda and raising more funds and getting more publicity for a Righteous Cause™.

It’s not about actually caring for Ms. Underwood or any other real, flesh and blood person. Especially if they are LGBTQ or have ever said anything kind about our LGBTQ neighbors. That’s the Christian spirit!

The more things change…

READ “CARRIE UNDERWOOD FACES EVANGELICAL BACKLASH” BY STEPHEN L. BETTS

canstock11109130

STATISTICS OF THE WEEK

This week’s interesting statistics come from a headline article at Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, January 6, 2017:

The new 115th US Congress was sworn in this week, and it’s is almost as Christian today as it was in the early 1960s, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center. Ninety-one percent of the members of Congress describe themselves as Christians, including all but two of the 293 Republicans. There is more diversity among Democrats. Twenty-eight are Jews, three are Buddhists, three are Hindus, two are Muslims, and there is at least one Unitarian Universalist. Although 23 percent of the general public is religiously unaffiliated, only one member of Congress described herself that way, and although overwhelmingly Christian, Congress has become less Protestant over time. Thirty-one percent of Congress today is Catholic, up from 19 percent in 1961.

 

canstock11109130the_king_v2_einzeln_1SONG OF THE WEEK

Tomorrow is Elvis Presley’s birthday. That’s right, the king was born on January 8, 1935.

Just before his 22nd birthday, on January 6, 1957, Presley made his third and final appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. He performed seven songs in three segments, including “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Heartbreak Hotel.” The screen only showed the singer from the waist up, leaving viewers to speculate as to what the passionate screams in the audience were about.

An interesting fact about this performance — Elvis dedicated his last song, “Peace in the Valley,” to the people of Hungary who were in the wake of the October 1956 anti-Soviet revolution.  Elvis and his manager Colonel Tom Parker decided the singer should lend his support to the country’s fight against communism. Ed Sullivan backed Elvis in this, and asked the TV audience to donate to Hungarian relief efforts.

Happy birthday, Elvis Presley.

Comments

  1. Wow. “Coffee with Jesus” without Jesus. That could be any given Sunday in any given American evangelical church.

  2. James Mac says:

    A guy I knew was involved with a Sunday “tunch” – a bit too late for lunch, and a bit too early for tea. Mind you, this was in a club in London called the 606, and he was also playing gospel with his band and a variety of gospel singers.

    • Spong? Seriously? NOBODY knows who Spong is anymore, even in the ECUSA. (The only reason I know who he is is because I wrote an apologetics term paper shredding his “theology”).

      And 22 congregations in one Canadian province? Sorry, WAY too small a sample to draw vast conclusions from. A better example would be to look at the membership rolls of the Southern Baptist Convention, a “conservative ” denomination by any non-insanely-fundamentalist definition.

      The SBC’s numbers, by the way, are *declining*…

      • HEY!! I know who Spong was. Whatcha mean by “nobody”?? ;o)

      • Spong was my bishop for a time. He fancied himself a kind of New Reformer, pointing the way that the Christian churches must go, or die, in his estimation. His cure was a kind of warmed over, socially conscious deism. But his fifteen minutes of theological fame long ago ran out.

        • Calling Spong a deist is charitable. IIRC he finally settled on a concept of God as “impersonal love” or some such tommyrot. (How love can be “impersonal” is utterly beyond me…)

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        I appreciate when people bring Spong into discussions of mainlines. It is a helpful signal that they have no idea what they are talking about and can be ignored with no danger of missing something.

        • senecagriggs says:

          Spong was the canary in the mine warning the coming demise of the Episcopal Church. He was a full blown heretic, they did nothing about it [ possibly a lot of Episcopal leadership actually agreed with his heresies.] Heresy was from thenceforth acceptable among leadership in TEC.

          • For a “canary in a coalmine”, Sponge was a comparative late-Comer. Anybody remember (looks askance at Tom 😉 ) Bishop Pike?

            • Yes. And also JAT Robinson.

              • I’m currently re-reading a novel that revolves around Robinson and his 1963 book Honest to God. It’s the fourth in Susan Howatch’s six-volume series about the Church of England, Scandalous Risks. Great character development, and the downhill slide of a couple of people who take Robinson’s teaching on “love” too far. Probably my favorite novel of the series, and Howatch is one of my three favorite authors.

                • Heather Angus says:

                  Mystical Paths. My favorite of the six, also. Love Howatch.

                  • That volume is the best whodunnit of the series, but Nick is probably my least favorite of the characters. All the volumes all great, and they interlock unbelievably. It’s as if she wrote them as one novel, all at once. I’ve been annotating and cross-referencing in the margins as I read them over (and over) again.

          • Clay Crouch says:

            As an Episcopalian and a fellow Tar Heel, I am no fan of Jack Spong’s theology. Would you give a short list of Spong’s books, papers, and homilies that you have read or listened too? Have you ever visited an Episcopal church for a Sunday morning Eucharist service?

      • Spong stated in one of his books that Jesus was an evolution above primitive tribalism, where each clan, race, or nationality had its own talisman-like diety defending their existence in the survival of the fittest against others in competition for resources. Jesus in contrast rose above tribalism with a higher ideal of love and self-sacrifice, which was truly needed in order to prevent the human race from blowing itself up. Spong says other things that mess with my blood pressure, but given the current polarized politics and a regression back into fascism, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, Spong’s words seem now almost prophetic.

      • Jack Spong served as rector of an Episcopal church in Richmond, VA before being elected Bishop Coadjutor of Newark. He was a frequent guest at an Episcopal church where I grew up until he became a bishop. I recall his being a controversial figure even then. Ironically, the TEC congregation where I grew up turned in a more conservative direction during the 1980’s and today they’re one of the few remaining large, relatively healthy congregations in their shrinking diocese.

        As for the Southern Baptist Convention, yes they’re shrinking, although at a much slower rate than the Episcopal Church and other liberal denominations. I suspect one reason the SBC is now shrinking is the increasing influence of legalistic pastors and theologians like Albert Mohler, Mark Dever and C.J. Mahaney. Yes, I mean the same C.J. Mahaney who once headed Sovereign Grace Ministries. Don’t believe me? Then check this out:

        http://www.sbc.net/ministersearch/results.asp?query=mahaney

    • It’s the difference in birth rates.

    • senecagriggs says:

      I certainly would agree that there are less people attending Evangelical churches then in the past. But the death rate for liberal churches is significantly higher.

      NOTED: The study doesn’t not prove causality – just the continuing and significant decline of the more liberally minded churches in North America.

      [ Other studies over the past several decades have also confirmed this extended trend. ]

      • It’s not wise to dance on the the graves of others.

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        Seneca, Liberal Protestantism has triumphed, at least in the North-West.

        I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but its victory is so complete that it isn’t necessary to celebrate it on Sunday mornings anymore. It has bitten so deep into Rome that you could call the AmChurch the largest mainstream denomination in the USA. The Greeks have been swilling it like ale.

        CM’s trinity – affluence, technology, and freedom – have assured its dominance. Every None, every SJW, every Sunday morning Times-and-a croissant-er are Liberal Protestants, or their heirs.

        It took our country fifty years to get sick of mainline Protestantism as a civil religion. The Evangelicals wore out their welcome in about half that time. 🙂

        Lets see how well Asatru, with a pinch of Nietzsche and Rand, fills the void.

      • Yep… evangelicalism is the healthiest horse in the American Civil religion glue factory yard.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Snap! That is a great line! Congratulations. I may shamelessly appropriate it in the future.

          • It’s not mine, David Walker used it to describe the relative status of the US economy to the rest of the world…

      • We’ve had a few posts on this recently. Theology is a minor part of the problem. The real problem is that the mainlines have never adapted from the sociological world of post-WWII America.

        Evangelicals, on the other hand, rode the suburban wave to church growth in the 1970s and 80s.

        It remains to be seen where all this will go.

        • My money’s on IMonk’s predicted collapse. For the record.

        • There is one big “theological” difference between evangelicals and the mainlines: conversionism.

          Mainlines have always relied upon generational baton-passing and transfer growth when people from their denomination relocated.

          Evangelicals have built upon the revivalist “gospel” of personal decision and learned how to market that to a consumeristic society with great skill. It claims to be biblical, but it’s as American as apple pie.

          As long as there are religious consumers, and certain churches find a way to market a religion that satisfies their consumeristic needs and wants, those churches will do better than others.

          • Absolutely, Chaplian Mike! Marketing, marketing, marketing. Bring people over to OUR brand. Dink Coke not Pepsi. When striving to be the Moral Majority(TM) quit working, try a different scheme. Talk against “elites” and join the loudest political voice in the room. Rebrand yourself and encourage people to join your new tribe. And when that one wears thin, rebrand yourself again.

            • Burro [Mule] says:

              Remove “conversionism” then, and you’re left with the same problem the Churches have had since Constantine; how to keep Christianity from conforming to the dominant passions of the surrounding culture? Classical Christianity generated monasticism*** to deal with this issue. Protestantism is anti-monastic by definition, so the traditional branch generated “conversionism” as a response, which was a pretty good riff, IMO.

              Liberal Protestantism merely baptized the Spiritus Mundi as the Holy Ghost and told everyone not to peak behind the curtain.

              ***I’m not certain, but I think monasticism may have predated Constantine, even by as much as two centuries.

              • If Christianity was repackaged as “following the examples and teachings of Christ”, and a large portion of the world started doing exactly the stated goals, but under a different name…what would be the issue?

                Also, an aside, but I’d really like to see a series on iMonk in the future on the Orthodox church. I imagine we’ll have a lot more Russian Orthodox churches springing up in America over the next 4 years.

                • Burro [Mule] says:

                  The future of the Orthodox church, if history is any indication, will resemble the past of the Orthodox church. Compromise, infighting, schisms threatened and avoided, but also great glory.

                  But yeah, I would like to find some non-politicized information about Church-State relations in Russia, All I can find is ether RT propaganda or rubbish from US leaning sites that discuss, with a straight face, the “interests of the legitimate Ukrainian government”.

                  Oh yeah, I would have no problems with a large portion of the world following the examples and teachings of Christ under another name, especially as I defined them.

          • Most adult “converts” to evangelicalism in the US have been from other forms of Christianity, i.e., the mainlines and the Roman Catholic Church. We’ll see in the coming decade or two how evangelicalism fairs with an American population of young people increasingly non-Christian from birth, many of them hostile to Christianity.

          • Exactly, CM.

  3. I slept in this morning…already 6 comments.

  4. Just began reading and noticed that the Wascally Wabbit is slowly changing up my favorite Saturday blog from “Saturday Ramble”, now to “Saturday Brunch”. First, the beautiful Ramblers and Nash cars were replace with “the Rambler of the Week”, and now the subversion has taken us to a cartoon.

    I’m sure a large part of this subversion can be blamed on the Trumpster.

    ;o)

  5. Ask me if I give a rip about the AFA–go ahead, AXE ME!

  6. I strongly doubt that Carrie Underwood will face anything except financial gain from the AFA hoopla. After all, don’t a majority of Evangelicals live in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri? I know for a fact that there’s at least three things they WON’T give up; Guns, dip, and Carrie Underwood.

    • Reminds me of the minor kerfuffle over Amy Grant’s newest Christmas album (I think it was her) that wasn’t Christian(TM) enough for many of the Christian bookstores to carry.
      Of course, I doubt my millenial children have ever heard of Amy Grant…

      • “wasn’t Christian(TM) enough for many of the Christian bookstores to carry.”

        THAT’S the reason?? No mention of her divorce and remarriage to the mandolin player/singer???

        ;o)

    • Christiane says:

      ” I know for a fact that there’s at least three things they WON’T give up; Guns, dip, and Carrie Underwood.”

      I don’t know about that ….. they were able to kick the Dixie Chicks to the curb fast enough

  7. Oh, should have said “four things”. Add dually trucks.

  8. Richard Hershberger says:

    Re the prospective disestablishment of the Norwegian church, this bit is worth noting:

    “the nation …t will no longer appoint its clergy”

    I see an awful lot of people who really want their church to be established by the government, if only through the back door. Really? Think about this. The Church of Norway–a real, honest-to-gosh established church–has its clergy appointed by the government. That is what being an established church means. You are part of the government. Only a confirmed optimist would assume that this involved your church telling the government what to do, rather than the other way around. He who pays the piper calls the tunes.

    In related news, see the proposed 1928 Book of Common Prayer. Why “proposed”? Because the Church of England is an established church, and this means that parliament gets a say in how they worship. The 1928 version of the prayer book was approved by wide margins in the church Convocations and Assembly, but enough politicians didn’t like it that Parliament voted it down. Freedom!

    • Richard, as I understand, the Church of England is–formally–an arm of the State, but in practical matters it’s autonomous. For example, bishops and archbishops are crown appointments, but the Queen delegates that to the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister stays to heck out of that by rubber-stamping whomever the Church nominates. It’s a long way from Henry VIII. On the other hand though, bishops are included in the House of Lords, so they have a say in Parliament.

      While this may be working smoothly (?!) in the UK, it may go the way of Norway sooner or later. To us in the USA, it seems very foreign and unconstitutional, but you’re right–it seems that a lot of people want some connect between church and state. Problem is, they want the church to control the state, and worse yet it’s their church, not yours or mine, that should do the controlling. There’s no end to the messy if they try too hard in that direction.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        Sure. At this point in history, the British government isn’t all that interested in the Church of England, and lets it run itself. But it could change its mind tomorrow. It probably won’t, but it could. 1928 is a lot closer to 2017 than it is the reign of Henry VIII.

      • James Mac says:

        Ted, politicians have meddled in the appointment of bishops before in the UK – the convention was that two names would be submitted, the first being the preferred candidate, and most PMs simply rubber-stamped them. Margaret Thatcher famously refused to do so on at least one occasion.

  9. Richard Hershberger says:

    Women fighters and ‘the Bible’s understanding of gender”:

    You notice how we never read pieces examining if male fighters undermine the Bible’s understanding of humanity? This despite Jesus being quite explicit on the topic (unlike the topic of gender roles)? Funny, that.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Nailed it!

    • Patriciamc says:

      I looked at the Facebook comments for that article, and the vast majority are on how it’s a stupid topic and stupid article/podcast. I’m glad people are calling out nonsense in the evangelical culture.

      • Yet they keep on publishing those articles. Clickbait.

        Speaking of, I should see if my comment over at TCG got deleted. I know one of my emails was banned, something I discovered the very first time I remember trying to comment…came as a surprise.

    • Dana Ames says:

      Agree completely, Richard. Gladiatorial contests were dispensed with a long time ago; it took 400+ years of Christianity, but it finally sunk in that this form of entertainment was not good for the spectators, either.

      Dana

  10. Interesting collection this morning. I would add the article I read from the Center for Studies on New Religions indicating that across the world Christians are the most persecuted religion, with over 90,000 killed for their faith in 2016. I draw no distinction between religions when it comes to being killed for one’s faith; in fact, I think studies like this are ultimately founded on presuppositions that I reject. Nevertheless, I was somewhat pleased by the numbers, as that represents less that 1/500th of 1% of Christians in the world, and just over 1/1000th of world population. This may be one of the most peaceful times in world history.

    • “This may be one of the most peaceful times in world history.”

      Peace is like the weather in the Midwest – stock around, it’s gonna change in about 10 minutes. :-/

    • flatrocker says:

      not for the 90,000

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > think studies like this are ultimately founded on presuppositions that I reject

      Yep, I am also disposed to toss this kind of thing in the ash can. There is the correlation between ethnicity and religion in that persecution as well; as well as economic class.

      It is not a useful concept. Killing people is bad, period.

    • Is there any doubt that the time of the greatest persecution of Christians occurred in Europe, soon after the Reformation? Neither the ancient or modern world has anything to compare with it.

      • Dana Ames says:

        I think it could be compared to the Stalinist years, and Stalin would “win.”

        Dana

        • Yes.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          Well, Stalin was in power from the mid-twenties to 1953. The religious wars went on for 124 years, with waves of devastation, persecution, population movements and general destruction of the countryside.

          • Dana Ames says:

            So Stalin caused three times as many deaths in 1/6 of the number of years. Like I said, Stalin “wins”.

            D.

            • Klasie Kraalogies says:

              The killing ability went up as logistical ability increased. Obe shudders to think what would have happened during the 100 years’ war were their planes, railways, gas chambers, machine gubs and nuclear weapons…

            • James Mac says:

              Dana, Stalin probably falls some way behind King Leopold II of Belgium, and the holocaust he launched in the Belgian Congo.

  11. This sea-change in format and a quick reading of the comments so far (26) not only leave me breathless but also make my head hurt. Martin Luther, Carrie Underwood and Elvis Presley in the main body and Bishops Spong and Pike in the comments — really? Nothing so light and fluffy as an Eggs Benedict brunch will suffice. We need a much more substantial brinner (or brupper, if you prefer) to prepare for the coming battle, especially if we are Norwegian (for the record, I am not). Pardon me while I pull out some meat and potatoes.

    • I just went with what was being discussed. You can always put up a comment on one of the topics you liked. Odds are, I’ll have something to say about it. 😉

    • flatrocker says:

      I’ll grant you a pass on Elvis – as long as it’s limited to sequin Elvis.
      But don’t go messin’ with Carrie.

    • Clay Crouch says:

      Maybe you should grab a Snickers bar. According to the comercialsk, it helps with irritability and an inflated sense of entitlement.

    • Bob, you need to listen to re-runs of A Prairie Home Companion! (How I miss that show…)

      Or, you could benefit from a daily dose of Ketchup. Ketchup, you see, has mellowing agents that soothe the troubled mind and heart, and promote harmony. Or something like that.

      Or, have a Powder-Milk Biscuit (made from the whole-wheat kernel raised by Norwegian bachelor farmers in the rich bottom-lands of the Lake Wobegon River Valley). You see, Powder-Milk Biscuits give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done. Look for the big blue box with the picture of the biscuit on the cover, or, buy ’em ready-made in the brown paper bag with the dark stains that indicate freshness…

      • Heavens, they’re tasty…and expeditious!

        I think you’ve hit on the culinary solution we need. But for all its merits, I will never put ketchup on Hey-bob-a-ree-bob rhubarb pie.

      • Christiane says:

        I read one of the Lake Woebegone novels years ago during a bout of flu on a Christmas Day. Them Norwegian Lutherans and German Catholics were hysterically funny. There has to be some truth behind all that humor. 🙂

        • Christiane, I think Garrison Keillor’s ramblings about Lake Wobegon are pretty close to the mark—something like a comment I read on this blog a while back, about the cartoon TV show “King of the Hill.” Whoever it was said something like, “Before I moved to Texas I thought that show was fiction. Now I realize it’s documentary.”

      • musicdadben says:

        I too miss Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion but I am enjoying Chris Thile’s version as well. Very different but a lot of fun and a great showcase of talent new and old.

  12. The wall… “yeah, now the pols have the R after their names and everything we attack the other side for is a-ok when we’re doing it! Hahahah!”
    They did the same thing during the Bush admin… Why doesn’t that open hypocrisy seem to negatively affect them? Is there some kind of universal principle that inoculates them from any consequences of such behavior?

    Shaking head… stumped 🙁

    • flatrocker says:

      I think the universal principle is simply called politics. No party is immune nor do they rise above it.
      Case in point – the current administration dropped over 26,000 bombs on foreign soil in 2016 alone.
      And the Democrat response…..crickets.

      Universal.

  13. I eat a manly brunch every day as the main meal of the day and I have misgivings about this supposed improvement to the format and tone of these Saturday sessions. I would suggest that if for some reason you were looking for a particular cause for the extreme reactionary turmoil and strife of the 60’s, the picture at the top of this post would do as well as any. And we were right. Still are.

  14. Do Christians want leaders or lemmings?

    Well the evangelicals have decided since they obviously can’t argue the culture into agreeing with their views they’re going to try to use the coercive power of the government to force their views on everyone. Unfortunately they bought a pig in a poke. Has there been a Republican less interested in evangelical concerns than Donald Trump? Oh he pandered to them all right and told them exactly what they wanted to hear and they swallowed it whole in one gulp. The moral cretins who are anxious to maintain their political power jumped on the bandwagon.

    To use a creaky old metaphor the evangelicals have sold their souls for political influence. And when Trump crashes and burns as he inevitably will, they will go down with him, and frankly GOOD RIDDANCE!

    • Southern Baptist Churches are just franchised businesses; anything that would interfere with attendance and revenue is immediately suspect.

      • seneca griggs says:

        So actually NO Southern Baptist pastor has a heart for his people or a desire that people hear the good news that Jesus Christ died so that you might be in a right relationship with God? It only about making money?
        __________

        I would so disagree.

        • Ronald Avra says:

          I’m late getting back to you,Seneca. I had a somewhat lengthy reply in the works on my phone and deleted the entire thing accidentally; I will see if I can reconstruct the essence.

          I concede that I painted with a wide brush in my statement. I have spent considerable years in the SBC and my experience of the last fifteen to twenty years is that constructing buildings and filling them with people is the reoccurring theme that I have observed in two, larger congregations in my southeast Texas city. The pastors, actually rather preachers, would break from the build and grow theme periodically to do Rick Warren or Dave Ramsey material, but the reemerging theme would always be build and grow. I actually had one senior church staff member vigorously assert “build it and they will come” as the essential element of church growth. It was definitely an idea that any involvement of God was marginal, almost irrelevant; we would do it.
          The smaller congregations in the association here are either shutting down or being folded into the largest congregations. The preacher at my last affiliation, which is the only multi-campus SBC church in the area, stated from the pulpit that the staff was receiving regular calls (I believe he said weekly, but I wouldn’t give my memory that much credence) from smaller Baptist congregations to be taken over. What I am acutely aware of is that almost none of what goes on in these churches is personal in nature. I was involved in various programs and activities consistently, but interaction was superficial and attempts to create associations outside the church proper simply did not germinate. Whatever the intent of some pastors may be, it seems as though the alpha males which are dominating the scene wants chest thumping rights for having campus, baptisms and attendance. From my perspective, I cannot distinguish it from a Fortune 500 enterprise.

          • The Wal-Mart of Denominations

          • seneca griggs says:

            Ronald, you make some valid points. Whenever your congregation reaches mega church status, it becomes very difficult for the senior pastor
            to maintain humility and hold the power loosely and not think like the CEO of a Fortune 500 business. Many men are not able to do that but some do. We of course recognize their are tyrannical pastors acting like CEOs in very small churches too.
            Fortunately for me, the church I’ve attended for the last 30 years has had 5 different senior pastors, and ALL of them, very decent, Godly men. We have been fortunate.

        • Ronald Avra says:

          The fluidity with which congregants exchange churches in my region leaves me speechless. I worked with a coworker who I understood to be Catholic. The person attended my church, walked the aisle, and was baptized. The next week at work, I asked, “I thought you were Catholic, so now you are Baptist?” The reply, “I guess so” did not give me any assurance of conviction of understanding or faith. And it flies both ways here; I not sure anyone believes anything, other than the show must go on.

    • petrushka1611 says:

      I wish evangelicals talked about leadership as much as Jesus did.

    • Having spent 30+ years as a Southern Baptist, their dislike of Moore doesn’t surprise me. He has said things that make sense and spoken the truth far too often since taking over the ERLC. It reminds me of Jesus’ words, ‘Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute”.’ Speaking truth is risky business in some Christian circles.

  15. I worked across the street from Graceland during Elvis’s last years and pumped gas in his cars. Anyone top that?

    • Dan from Georgia says:

      Let’s try this…

      I saw the late Kirby Puckett at a McDonalds drive-thru in Brooklyn Park, MN back in 1989 or 1990.

      BOO YEA!!!

      (hehehe)

    • I saw Ronnie Millsap once in the Atlanta airport. Does that count?

      I danced on American Bandstand in Philadelphia in the presence of Dick Clark when I was 17, way back in 1958. Surely that counts. For what, I’m not sure.

      I’ll see your Elvis and raise you a Dick Clark.

      The bass singer in the Jordanaires that sang behind Elvis on his Ed Sullivan Show appearances was a good friend of mine. We Ate together every Thursday for several years.

      John Howard Griffin who wrote Black Like Me was a neighbor and family friend in Mansfield, Texas.

      Let’s hear it for all the the dinosaurs.

    • I regularly had dinner with Dolly Parton whenever she was on the Opry in the mid 70’s. My first job was working concessions at the Grand Ole Opryhouse at Opryland in Nashville. On Saturday nights, the employees would set up a covered dish dinner in the prop storage area. Whenever Dolly was singing on the Opry, she would join us for a bit instead of spending all of her time backstage with the other performers. That made a pretty big impression on my 16 year old self.

  16. “Powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset destined to be found in nearly every flagship Android smartphone this year, the R-8 and R-9 smartglasses are both lightweight solutions capable of immersing the wearer in mixed reality.”

    Mixed reality? Is that where no one gets cancer or ever feels loneliness?

  17. Josh in FW says:

    Enjoyed “brunch”, thank you for your hard work.

  18. David Cornwell says:

    The Books of the Old Testament,” with the word “ENDE”

    German theologians and pastors, along with the German evangelical church in general, in 19th & early 20th centuries dismissed the Old Testament as irrelevant. Jesus had come. The New replaced the Old. This went along quite well with, and fed, the anti-semitism of the era. In World War I most of the church, its pastors, and theologians quite enthusiastically supported the nationalist claims of Germany, and the idea that Germany was a superior country, and Germans were at the top of the racial hierarchy. Karl Barth, and some others were appalled at what they saw and reacted against it.

    This entire attitude toward the Old Testament and Jews had its roots in the writings and attitude of Martin Luther. I recently read a long article in the New Yorker entitled BACH’S HOLY DREAD. In it he partly explores the anti-semitism of Luther that found its way into Bach. He says:

    “Luther’s ugliest legacy was the invective that, in his later years, he heaped on the Jewish people. His 1543 treatise “On the Jews and Their Lies” calls for the burning of synagogues and Jewish homes. “We are even at fault for not striking them dead,” Luther writes. Other writings endorse the blood libel—the legend that Jews kill Christian children for ritual purposes. Such sentiments were echoed by the more strident theologians of Bach’s time. ”

    I think what all this shows is that Germans might understand the word ENDE in some ways that we do not. It brings back a cultural and religious stain that they have worked hard to excise.

    • Fair enough.

      • DAVID CORNWELL says:

        Just my theory Might be totally wrong.

        • “On the Jews and their Lies” is one of the most pernicious things ever written, and certainly tops the list of all antisemitic screeds. It echoed throughout the Nazi regime, and they used sections of it word for word.

          The thing is, its ugliness lies especially in the cruelly expressed hatred of Judaism itself: synagogues, prsyer books, Torah scrolls, everything associated with Jewish religious practice. Luther hated the very roots and founders of his own faith, yet refused to face it. I think the god he worshipped later in life was arguably not the One God, so thoroughly had he departed from the words and deeds of the Christ of the Gosprls.

          It isn’t easy for people (like me) who were raised Lutheran to confront this part of his life and writings. Many never know of it, though st leadt ond synod here, the ELCA, has repudiated his antisemitism and antisemitic writings.

          • David Cornwell says:

            We all have feet of clay. We all deceive ourselves in one way or the other, sometimes in many things. We can look into history and wonder why Christians acted the way they did, committed such horrible sins, supported wars, atrocities, and treachery of every kind. And then to somehow excuse ourselves. I wonder how future generations will look back at us, and wonder how we could have been so blind.

            Luther’s greatness comes through because he followed what he believed to be true, and turned the world up-side-down.

            I’m glad Jesus stands astride history, and will be the judge of humanity and nations. And we are safe in Him.

            • So much of the harm we do comes from our own wounds, fears and blindness. That doesn’t excuse antisemitism, or any other evil we or others are responsible for or involved in. It does reveal the profound depths of my own need for the forgiveness and reconciliation that I’ve only found in Jesus Christ.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

            On the other hand, the Christians of the time were running around helter-skelter killing each other at breakneck speed, let alone infidels like Jews or Moslems (but at least Moslems recognize Jesus and besides they are fierce warriors; the Jews are weak). So I’m not convinced Luther’s latter madness was a contradiction of his earlier work or even the entire Christianity project. I think the ethical boundaries of Christianity lie not in theology (as Luther claimed), but rather in politics. The church wed to the sword will always end up doing harm.

            • David Cornwell says:

              The church wed to the sword will always end up doing harm.

              Yes.

            • Klasie Kraalogies says:

              Potentially yes, but as far as I understand history, a massive change happened to Luther at Wartburg. Maybe all that time alone pondering about politics, and doing translation work all on his own knocked him off his sanity.

              • David Cornwell says:

                Luther was known to have retained the superstitions of the Catholic Church, plus attributing to superstitious cause all manner of things. So, being alone, during dark nights, it was easy for the devil to slip up on him. Fear and superstition, holding hands, travel together.

                • He retained the superstitions and the antisemitism typical of medieval Catholic cultures. Pogroms and accusations of blood libel existed long before Luther came on the scene.

    • David – yes. Thank you. I think the figure is both anti-judaic and antisemitic.

  19. David Cornwell says:

    I like the new format for Saturday.

  20. light flurries
    yield to heavy snow
    without any effort