October 24, 2017

The Internet Monk Saturday Brunch: 4/1/17 – Opening Day Edition

THE INTERNET MONK SATURDAY BRUNCH

”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.”

OPENING DAY EDITION. This is one of my favorite pictures of my boys when they were young. We were at an instructional day at Victory Field, the home of the AAA Indianapolis Indians, now a farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The boys were waiting their turn to go down on the field and participate in drills with the players and coaches.

As you can see, my older son (the blonde looking impatient) has dirt all over his hat and his game face on. My younger son, resting his head on his arms, has a shredded place on the bill of his cap where the dog had taken a big bite out of it. A photographer from the city paper captured them — and the spirit of baseball — perfectly.

I consider tomorrow a national holiday. It’s Opening Day of the Major League baseball season. The Yankees will take on the Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona will play the Giants in SF (Steve Scott, will you be there?), and then the World Champion Chicago Cubs will play a night game against their arch rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.

As wonderful as these big league games are, over the years their main contribution to my adult life has been to provide the seasonal context for the local teams our family has watched, coached, and played on with a community of friends. We’ve watched our kids grow up together. We’ve yelled at the umps together, jumped up and cheered and also hung our heads in disappointment together, groomed the fields, shared food and drinks, worked the concession stands, and pontificated to each other about the right way of playing the game.

In my mind, baseball is as American as apple pie because it’s about a community of people living together in freedom and joy. The game provides leisure for neighbors to spend a few hours together and share a common experience that I have found to be almost sacramental.

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.

• Jack Norworth/Albert Von Tilzer, 1908

CELEBRATING WORKAHOLISM

The New Yorker: “The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death”

Here is a glimpse, courtesy of the New Yorker, at the new face of capitalist zeal:

Fiverr, an online freelance marketplace that promotes itself as being for “the lean entrepreneur”—as its name suggests, services advertised on Fiverr can be purchased for as low as five dollars—recently attracted ire for an ad campaign called “In Doers We Trust.” One ad, prominently displayed on some New York City subway cars, features a woman staring at the camera with a look of blank determination. “You eat a coffee for lunch,” the ad proclaims. “You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.”

Here’s the video for the ad campaign.

 

Jia Tolentino, the author of the New Yorker article, also tells the story of a Lyft driver who was recently celebrated for picking up extra passengers while she was in labor, dropping them all off just in time to get to the hospital to have her baby. She comments:

At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear.

Discussions of this sort can always benefit from a little Dilbert…

JOLTIN’ JOE

Food & Wine: The Most Caffeinated Coffee in the World Is Now Available in the U.S.

As you’re working yourself to death, you might want to imbibe some of this potent brew from South Africa to sustain you. It’s called “Black Insomnia,” and and each cup of it has more than four times the caffeine of a regular cup.

Apparently, there has been a war going on for the title of “Most Caffeinated Coffee.” Mike Pomranz tells us about it:

In the ongoing battle for the “world’s strongest coffee” crown, the unfortunately named Death Wish Coffee Company appeared to be the most legitimate previous king. However, according to Grub Street, Black Insomnia says that after an independent analysis of its beans and its competitors’ beans by a lab in Switzerland, Black Insomnia’s coffee was the “clear winner.” Caffeine Informer says Black Insomnia has 702 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce cup; meanwhile, Death Wish has 660 milligrams. For the record, both brands offer up more of the mild upper per 12-ounce serving than the 400 milligrams medical experts recommend you consume in an entire day. And to give this whole thing a bit of perspective, a “normal” 12-ounce cup of coffee will only have about 150 milligrams of caffeine. Meanwhile, a can of Coke only has 34 milligrams of caffeine. By comparison, the soda’s basically a sleep aid.

Though caffeine might be its primary selling point, Black Insomnia also wants customers to know its product is “strictly pure coffee” – apparently achieved from sourcing the most highly caffeinated Robusta beans (as opposed to the more flavorful Arabica beans) – all “without a burnt and high acidic flavor.” Its coffee still offers “a nice walnut and almost sweet taste profile,” the brand writes.

Of course, if you’re more old school, you might take the advice of the original Joltin’ Joe…

 

SOME PEOPLE ARE WORKING WAY TOO HARD AT CHURCH-SHOPPING…

These are well done! Written by John Crist. Visit John Crist Comedy for more videos.

 

HERE’S A NAUGHTY PASTOR TRYING TO WORK THE SYSTEM

The Republic (Columbus, IN): “Pastor Accused of Staging Home Burglary”

Here’s the scoop on a story from my neck of the woods:

A Columbus pastor who claimed his family was robbed of about $11,000 in cash and valuables while he was preaching at church has been arrested on felony charges of insurance fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Justin K. White, 38, 3255 Sunrise Drive, senior minister at First Christian Church since May 2011, is accused of arranging with a juvenile to stage the Dec. 18 burglary at his Skyview Estates home on the city’s northeast side in order to file an insurance claim for the lost items, court documents in the case state.

What is even worse, of course, is that Pastor White tried to cover up the crime (the cover up is always worse, ya know) with pious language, and that his congregation and neighbors generously gave gifts and support to the family, thinking that they had been through a terrible ordeal.

The news story of the burglary at the White home resulted in national news coverage, with White reporting the family received an outpouring of kindness from local residents and the church congregation in the aftermath.

Two Columbus police officers, friends of the White family who did not want to be identified, replaced the family’s stolen living room television the same day of the burglary with a new one they purchased as a gift. Among the items White reported stolen were coins in his daughter’s piggy bank, jewelry with sentimental value, Xbox consoles and games and computers.

“We already have prayed as a family for the people who did this,” White told a Republic reporter Dec. 19, one day after the burglary. “Really, they are the ones who are truly struggling.”

It seems that the juvenile White enlisted for the burglary had been meeting with the pastor for spiritual counseling and ended up becoming the minister’s drug supplier. If he’s not already, the Rev. White will probably be standing in this line very soon…

QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

What does feminism owe to the Protestant Reformation?

Is “Salvation by Allegiance Alone” a return to the Law?

Does VP Mike Pence’s commitment to “the Billy Graham rule” deserve the ridicule it’s received?

Should “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” be on the Sgt. Pepper album?

Does school choice create better choices?

What should the U.S. do about North Korea?

What are the best and worst pranks on this April Fools Day, 2017?

THIS WEEK IN MUSIC

A song encouraging the kids to keep workin’ on it…

Comments

  1. First?!

  2. Re. The New Yorker story, I think the word they are missing is ‘Stakhanovite’.

    • petrushka1611 says:

      Yes.

    • petrushka1611 says:

      And by the way, I am self-employed and quite the capitalist. I’ve also found fields where I work about 30 hours a week, which I like very much. I went through my years of not being able to say no to any work that came my way, and it about put me in the hospital for good. I learned, and “millennials” (I hate lumping individuals into classes) will learn, too, unless they have a lot more energy than I. In that case, more power to them.

      And I’ve also read my Solzhenitsyn. 😉

  3. Richard Hershberger says:

    Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Fun fact: the bit everyone knows is just the chorus. The verses show that the chorus is being sung by Katie Casey, explaining to a young man what he will have to do if he wants to take her out on a date. Here is the original recording of the entire song:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4-gsdLSSQ0

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Love that. Thanks!

    • >> . . . the chorus is being sung by Katie Casey . . .

      Wait, I’m confused, you mean like Casey at the bat?

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        Casey at the Bat was written twenty years earlier and was almost immediately wildly popular. Vaudeville star DeWolf Hopper made a career out of reciting it. So when Take Me Out to the Ballgame was written, “Casey” served as familiar baseball name. So yes, it is “like” Casey at the Bat in the sense of being a reference to the earlier poem

        Hopper’s career extended into the recording, and even film era. Here is an audio recording of his rather over-wrought recital of the entire poem:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s4Tk1L-iUs
        and here is film clip of part of a performance:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiIRBITC374
        For an interesting compare and contrast, here is a performance by James Earl Jones:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xWtysMlrcA

    • That Other Jean says:

      My father used to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” every opening day of baseball season. Thanks for the memories, both Chaplain Mike and Richard.

  4. Robert F says:

    Does Mike Pence’s commitment to the “Billy Graham rule” deserve the ridicule it’s received? Yes, and more, for all the reasons enumerated in the linked article. Putting ones own purity and probity above availability to another person is exactly the sin that the Good Samaritan avoided when he stopped to help the unconscious man on the side of the road. And it’s how religion ends up with lists of pure people to be associated with, and impure people to be avoided. It’s not the way of the Incarnation: Jesus was born and lived in the filthy streets with every manner of person and situation; he did not wall himself into a safe religious enclosure. He met the woman at the well alone, and asked her for a drink of water, without concern for her ritual impurity, or the occasion of sin she might represent. He approached her as a human being; he did not treat her as a threat.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      All true… and Mike Pence is the VP of this train wreck of an administration… is mocking him for **this** dumb statement even on the radar?

      If the guy just said he didn’t want to eat alone with ‘another’ woman because of the toxic environment in which rumors will bubble up from anything – – – I doubt any sane person would have batted an eye. But he had to go all pious about it. The piousness is what makes him a gas bag.

      Even if your reasons are religio-pious, keep them to yourself, offer some practical reason – or better: don’t offer any reasons at all – and move one. This seems like a life lesson most smart people understood by the time they entered high-school. You look them straight in the eyes and say “No …. silence”; people rarely argue, offering reasons creates the debate.

      • senecagriggs says:

        Number of inappropriate sexual allegations against Billy Graham or his team over their 35 year history – NONE

        [ Maybe they were right ].

      • Robert F says:

        Let’s say for the sake of argument that a man has been involved in infidelity, or serial infidelity, to his wife before, so he has a rule (among others) that he won’t spend time alone with any other woman, perhaps a rule that his wife knows of and expects him to keep. In that case, as you say, be quiet and don’t make a big deal about it, and don’t wear it like a badge of honor on your chest signaling your virtue.

        • I agree. Keep quiet about it, as in “go to your room and close the door and pray to your Father in secret..” But unfortunately, as vice-president, the secret will get out.

          At face value, I don’t fault Mike Pence for holding to the Billy Graham rule. It’s a rule that my pastor and many others follow. And it’s a refreshing contrast to the president’s relationships with women.

          • Robert F says:

            You’re probably right that the secret would get out.

            This rule makes Roman Catholic confession to a priest (who are all male, you know) impossible for a woman, since it’s done in a private setting. The sacrament requires meeting alone.

            • But isn’t it OK if there’s a steel grate between them?

              And all priests are celibate…

              • Robert F says:

                In many Catholic churches the grate was done away after Vatican II, when the theological emphasis of the sacrament was changed from that of a kind of transaction involving confession and absolution, to a personal encounter of reconciliation between individual, community and God.

                Truth is that many reports of priests taking advantage of their offices to either sexually exploit those coming to them for confession, or to exploit their stories, have come down through the ages. The grates were sometimes used by especially corrupt priests to hide their own actions, as they plied those confessing with questions about the prurient details of their sexual sins.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                  The grates were sometimes used by especially corrupt priests to hide their own actions, as they plied those confessing with questions about the prurient details of their sexual sins.

                  Like a Megachurch Lead Pastor “ministering” to his pet pedo.

                  Pornography for the Pious.

              • Robert F says:

                Ted, As I think about it, maybe my original comment about Pence following this rule was a little harsh around some of its edges. If the rule prevents one from being available to people who need one’s availability, then it should be set aside; if the rule is more about signalling one’s own virtue rather than keeping oneself honest, then it should be set aside.

                But if it’s about curbing one’s own worst tendencies, like an alcoholic avoiding bars; or if it’s about avoiding the appearance of impropriety as a public figure, then I can see it. It’s a matter of balance. The devil, and angel, are in the details.

                • I agree. A novel in a series that I keep re-reading has an Anglican priest who only counsels men, and on the rare occasion when he breaks his rule he regrets it. He commented once that people think he’s misogynist, but no, it’s not that he doesn’t like women, it’s that he likes them altogether too much.

                  And the Potiphar’s wife thing is always a possibility.

                  • Patriciamc says:

                    The result of this thinking is that the women lose out on counseling or theological discussion. More than once, I’ve gone to a minister with a theological question or a male church staff member with a question only to have them almost fall over themselves to nervously back away. No, I wasn’t standing too close, culturally appropriate distance only (Come on guys, get over yourselves. No one’s lining up to seduce you! Some of us do have better taste, you know, and do actually have morals! I know, I know, I’m automatically a Jezebel hussy…)

                    • That Other Jean says:

                      Indeed. If you have doubts about a colleague you need to speak to about a work matter, leave the office door open. The same goes for a minister of church staffer answering a question for a member of their congregation. The mere presence of a member of the opposite sex will not cause you to spontaneously combust or attack the other person in a frenzy of lust.

                      As for Mike Pence, is the presence of a room full of diners and waitstaff not chaperones enough for a meeting with a woman not his wife? Not every meeting with a member of the opposite sex is fraught with sexual tension. Some people are just friends and/or colleagues.

                    • I’m certain that this will be called “The Pence Rule” in the forth-coming Republic of Gilead…

                  • Robert F says:

                    Ted, I think Patriciamic makes a valid point. Restricting access to those with power and authority restricts opportunity. It’s one of the ways that patriarchies have kept women out of the authority and power structure. If enough men with secular and religious power do this, they have created an old-boys club, and women have no way in. That’s our history, and still the way many things operate, and it’s not right.

                    • Patriciamc does make a good point.

                      I should clarify that in the novels by Susan Howatch, the priest is not a parish priest (although he did have a brief spot of that, with negative results) but a psychic, a mystic, and a retired ex-monk who has become a recluse and a spiritual director to a few priests and a crisis counselor to priests who have gone off the rails. In his earlier years he had been a Navy chaplain. Women have been a stumbling block for him, and these careers and self-imposed rules have been how he has dealt with that. Any women seeking counseling get referred to a nun (it turns out Anglicans have nuns). His son, on the other hand, had no such rules, and for a spell became a sexual loose cannon.

                      Anyway, I relate to that character, but I agree that pastors and parish priests need to be available to counsel women. One common method is by counseling women while the secretary is on the floor, and by keeping the office door open.

                      I’m finding that a lot of pastors really aren’t qualified to counsel, any more than you or I are. It doesn’t really come with the M.Div. And if they’re not willing or able they should refer people to somebody else.

                    • And note the story in today’s Brunch about the pastor here in Columbus, IN. It was his counseling activity that provided cover for his own indiscretions. In the nature of their job, parish pastors have a lot of freedom and flexibility in their schedules and routines, and some simply can’t handle it.

                    • Robert F says:

                      Ted, True, about many pastors not being qualified to counsel. And some who think they are qualified really aren’t….

                    • Dana Ames says:

                      Patricia is right.

                      And… If this is a matter of conscience for Pence or anyone else, they should not be subject to ridicule. Pence and/or others who hold to the rule may have issues, but it’s not up to the rest of us to fix them by imposing anything upon them. Think about how it would be to have that done to you.

                      It is possible to disagree and present reasons for another point of view, without demonizing people.

                      Dana

            • Why yes, The Billy Graham rule would mean that the lifelong Protestant Ruth Graham would probably not have been able to visit a Catholic priest for absolution.

              This whole conversation has turned into some bizarre echo-chamber.

              • Robert F says:

                Who besides you was talking about a lifelong Protestant going to a Catholic priest for absolution? The echo you hear may be your own….

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        But he had to go all pious about it. The piousness is what makes him a gas bag.

        But how else could he Count Coup against all us Apostates and Lukewarms?

        Another example of Christianese One-Upmanship:
        “I THANK THEE, LOOOOOOOOOOOORD, THAT I AM NOTHING LIKE THOSE…”

    • senecagriggs says:

      Commenter on a different blog:

      StillWiggling on Sat Apr 01, 2017 at 01:00 AM said:

      There’s another dimension to this whole thing that I haven’t seen addressed.

      I have a (married) long-time male friend who has served as a corporate lawyer, personnel director and CEO, among other roles, in the corporate environment. He’s not a Christian. And he is VERY careful about being alone with any woman not his wife because of the very real possibility of a false accusation of sexual harassment in the workplace. He told me he always holds one-on-one conferences in a room with the door open, or a room with windows into other parts of the office.

      So it isn’t just the scenario of the man avoiding temptation. It’s also avoiding any possibility of being falsely accused of inappropriate behavior. Especially in today’s society where an awful lot of people are looking for ways to be offended.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        As said above, the BG Rule makes a lot of sense for public figures and anyone high enough to be a possible blackmail target.

        • +1 exactly. People are missing The Point here.

          • But it also cuts women out of opportunities for advancement if her male peers expect and get one on one meetings. Now if the rule is sex blind (never be one on one with anyone other than spouse or close relative) that would be a different matter. Note also that sexual impropriety or accusations of such can be same sex as well as opposite sex.

            • Robert F says:

              Yes, I think this is a major flaw in the rule. It cuts women out from opportunities that men would have in one-on-one meetings with male management and coworkers, or counseling help they might need from one-on-one meetings with male pastors.

              • David L says:

                It cuts women out from opportunities that men would have in one-on-one meetings with male management and coworkers, or counseling help they might need from one-on-one meetings with male pastors.

                In may (apparently not normal) W2 jobs in tech in the 70s and 80s my boss was a woman about 1/2 of the time.

                And there have been many times were it made sense for me to not be in situations where I and a woman were alone. For both of us.

              • I wonder if Pence would would apply the same rule if he were called on to meet alone with a known homosexual male?

            • Robert F says:

              Really, it’s one of the things that has rigged societies so that women cannot acquire the same kind of power that men traditionally have had. Restricting access restricts opportunity and power.

              • That Other Jean says:

                Very much this. It’s why many businesses and religious hierarchies are still Old Boys’ Clubs.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And another comment at Wartburg Watch (they’re covering this subject too) pointed out that Graham came up with the BG Rule in 1948, when he was a travelling evangelist spending a lot of time on the road.

    • Suzanne says:

      It’s one thing to not meet in private with a woman (or in my case a man) not his spouse. I wouldn’t do that either because if there is allegation of improper behavior, you have no witnesses. But in public? What does he think will happen in a restaurant? And not going to a party without his wife where there is alcohol served? Does he think he’ll get all liquored up and start grabbing women in places I won’t mention?
      I hear this type of thinking far too often. People with kids who are out drinking, smoking pot, refusing to go to church, etc. “It’s Satan attacking!!!” Never, “Good grief. My kid sure is being an idiot. Better have a talk with him.” I know a number of young women who have found themselves in the family way while wearing their purity ring.
      Pence seems to believe that if he gives Satan even a tiny opening, he’ll roar through and there is nothing anyone to do to stop it. Perhaps someone needs to introduce him to a thing called self-control. It’s one of the fruits of the spirit.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Pence seems to believe that if he gives Satan even a tiny opening, he’ll roar through and there is nothing anyone to do to stop it.

        Just like the More-Calvinist-than-Calvin Truly Reformed and their obsession with Utter Total Depravity. Which usually goes hand-in-hand with obsessive sin-sniffing, excuse-making, and the Arrogance of the Predestined Elect. (See a third of the posts on Wartburg Watch for examples…)

        P.S. Pence is Veep, one heartbeat or impeachment away from the White House. Remember the joke of Presidential Candidates picking their running mates as an insurance policy?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I hear this type of thinking far too often. People with kids who are out drinking, smoking pot, refusing to go to church, etc. “It’s Satan attacking!!!”

        No, it’s the Geraldine Defense:
        “NOT MY FAULT! THE DEBBIL MADE ME DO IT!”

    • All it takes is one accusation of impropriety (unless you are Bill Clinton or Jack Kennedy), whether real or manufactured, to ruin a reputation and sink a career. If Pence were a Muslim then nothing would be said. And in Washington the “gotcha” culture is worse than anywhere else in this country.

      Go ahead and criticize, since none of YOU are in that position.

      • I will readily criticize Spence because it smacks of self righteousness. And why the need for you to mention Bill Clinton and Jack Kennedy–both Democrats. You could just as easily just used the name of Donald J. Trump a Republican!

      • Yeah, I think that’s a lot of the reason, Oscar—the accusation of impropriety, or even the suspicion of it. Both are biblical concerns, and Joseph went through a lot because of Potiphar’s wife.Billy Graham used to get laughed at because he would send an aid into a hotel room to search the place before he entered, but let’s think about it—if a tabloid reporter slipped a few bucks to a cleaning lady to smuggle himself, his camera, and a bimbo into the room first, and later there appeared a photo of Billy and the bimbo (glazed look on Billy’s face as the flash went off), he’d have been sorry if he hadn’t kept his rule.

        Pence may be overdoing it with the ban on meeting women in public, but they’re his boundaries and they work for him.

        Weirder than this story is the one about Rex Tillerson not meeting with people. Aren’t diplomats supposed to do that? Reports (or rumors) have it that he has instructed that some people not address him or even make eye contact. The Republicans need to fix that situation, true or not, or it’s going to grow legs.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Yet again, the BG Rule makes sense for a public figure with enemies in a “gotcha!” reality-show culture.

          Pence may be overdoing it with the ban on meeting women in public, but they’re his boundaries and they work for him.

          But there’s these little things called Entropy and One-Upmanship.
          Since A is a sin, we must ban B because it might lead to A.
          Then we need to ban C because it might lead to B. (See how more Righteous I am?)
          Then we need to ban D becasue it might lead to C.(No! See how much more Righteous I am?)
          Then we need to ban E because it might lead to D…

          Until you have Saudi-level Shari’a (and Talibani beyond Saudi, and ISIS beyond Talibani…)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Weirder than this story is the one about Rex Tillerson not meeting with people. Aren’t diplomats supposed to do that? Reports (or rumors) have it that he has instructed that some people not address him or even make eye contact.

          Doesn’t matter with Tillerson. He’s a figurehead anyway. According to the reason given for the big layoffs at State, all future diplomacy will be done in-person by The President or his son-in-law. One-man-show as per Trump Inc.

    • I don’t necessarily agree with the “Billy Graham rule,” but I have no problem with Vice President Pence observing it if he chooses to do so. And I don’t believe he deserves to be ridiculed for making that choice.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        But when preachers try to lay the same burden upon everyone, period…

      • SottoVoce says:

        His choice is having a negative impact on other people and perpetuates misogyny, so criticism is completely warranted. And he is bragging about his own righteousness while supporting the agenda of a man who has repeatedly sexually objectified and assaulted women, which is hypocrisy and makes ridicule warranted as well.

      • Heather Angus says:

        Exactly, Oscar. It is his own da*n business. What prurience in the media (and maybe even closer to home!), to take a single comment from a 2002 news story and make it the center of howling ridicule 15 years later.

        As I understand it, Pence has already made plenty of public choices, which affected law, and which can be used against him if that’s what you’re aiming to do. But no, the slightest glimpse of pelvic issues in an ancient comment, and the internet blows up with hysterical glee.

        I think his choice is fine, if that’s what he and his wife are cool with. And we all know perfectly well that if he’s seen in a public restaurant with a woman not his wife, Washington (and others) will smirk and giggle and lick their lips over that too.

        I don’t like Mr. Pence much, from what I know of him, but so what! How low can we go!

    • Propriety does not equal mesogyny. Congress has had too many stories of infidelity – particularly among those claiming to represent family values. However, perhaps propriety should be based on humility and mutual respect and value for all genders – rather than basing such interactions on fear and treating others like objects. I would have a lot more respect for a politician with that perspective. A politician who treats women like a sex object will likely treat all constituents as a means to an end.

  5. Robert F says:

    If my salvation requires obedient allegiance (pistis) to Jesus Christ, then I’m in big trouble. My heart is never undivided in its loyalty to anything or anyone, nor am I able to fully trust Jesus Christ. If Jesus’ teaching that the condition of ones heart is central to whether one stands in right relationship to God or not is true, then my divided heart will always lead to divided loyalty and acts.

    No, if I’m going to be saved (whatever saving means), it’s going to have to be in spite of myself, both the disposition of my heart and the impurity of my acts.

    • Suzanne says:

      Well put, Robert!

    • + a great big number

      • Robert F says:

        At heart I’m Reformed, despite Reformed theology’s historical (starting with Calvin) and contemporary blemishes. I’m Reformed through the prism of Barthian theology, which means that I don’t think that God’s sovereignty and human freedom are in competition with each other, and I do think that God’s greatest sovereignty is expressed and embodied in the altogether human freedom and self-giving of Jesus Christ.

    • “[…] we’re saved because everybody has not only been given a free ticket by the presence of the Incarnate Word to everybody by the Mystery of Christ but has also, by that same Mystery, actually been put into the stadium and been given free beer, banners, and hot dogs.”

      (Capon, The Mystery of Christ… & Why We Don’t Get It)

    • We are not saved by what Jesus taught, and we are certainly not saved by what we understand Jesus to have taught. We are saved by Jesus himself, dead and risen. “Follow me” he says. It is the only word that finally matters.

      Robert Capon, end of chapt. 6, The Parables of Grace

  6. Richard Hershberger says:

    The Church Hunters bit is indeed funny. What particularly struck me was where the guy’s profile stressed “accountability.” It took me, a mainline Protestant, a moment to figure out what was meant. To me, “accountability” in the context of looking at a church means financial accountability on the part of the church: what financial controls are in place, is the budget published, and who makes the budget? I am always bemused when I read about people giving money to a church without such accountability, who are somehow surprised when it doesn’t go well. Then it dawned on me that in this context “accountability” meant that the guy was assumed to be a serial adulterer, and the purpose of the men’s group was to be a support group for serial adulterers: a different culture than mine.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      I took the accountability line as implying porn

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        It’s also a favorite buzzword of control-freak Shepherding cults.

        And in that sort of Christianese culture, EVERYTHING is SEXUAL. Like a nymphomaniac on Spanish Fly. Move over Freud…

    • Accountability is a four letter word and the cause of the most suffering and anguish and pain I’ve seen in men’s lives in the church.

  7. Robert F says:

    a steady rain falls
    the birds sing acclamation
    loud as the downspouts

  8. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    “”….”to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system….. “””

    +1,000.

    I anticipate a significant changing of the tune as the media age of the “Creative Class” passes 35. The is already a growing murmer of discontent. The open question is if this group is capable of organizing in substantive ways.

    • Josh in FW says:

      +1

      • Dana Ames says:

        Yes. This workaholism-is-good point of view is completely dehumanizing. It also tends to choke out real innovation and productivity.

        Dana

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I am 61 and my bosses are True Believers in the 168+ hour workweek. I am under pressure to work later, come in weekends, rig my personal laptop so I can work from home whenever I’m not at the office…

      Four years, seven months, twenty-three days and counting until I’m eligible for Medicare and can finally retire and have a life again (if the Cancer Langoliers don’t catch up…)

      • MamaBear says:

        HUG, I have been lurking (mostly) for quite some time, and for some reason pegged you in my imagination as being in your late 30’s. Not sure if that is a reflection on your unique style or the manner in which my bedraggled brain works. (ps….I am only a few years younger than you, and DH is exactly your age!)

      • Radaghast says:

        Brother I am walking that walk too… hope it doesn’t kill me….

  9. What, baseball season starting and no mention of Dancing With The Stars? Chicago Cubs player David Ross has a new career (my wife makes me watch this stuff. Although Simone Biles really is kind of cute).

    http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/03/david-ross-stars-with-cubs-themed-routine-on-dancing-with-the-stars-debut

  10. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    > Is “Salvation by Allegiance Alone” a return to the Law?

    Theological Word Salad Alert!

    “””In other words, the real “faith” versus “works” divide in Paul is more accurately framed as a divide between works performed as allegiance to Jesus the king versus works performed apart from new creation in the Christ. And the latter usually but not always takes the form of a system that seeks to establish righteousness through performing prescribed regulations.”””

    Me rolling eyes. How does that help anyone? How does that clarify? Now we can have arguments about whether a deed was motivated by “allegiance” or part of a “prescribed regulation”. Blah Blah woof woof.

    • Robert F says:

      Yes, the distinction is more of the same. I don’t see how it resolves the underlying disagreement; it just kicks the can down the road.

      • Irresistible vs prevenient grace…
        Lordship salvation vs. Once Saved Always Saved…
        James vs Paul…

        And the beat goes on…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “””In other words, the real “faith” versus “works” divide in Paul is more accurately framed as a divide between works performed as allegiance to Jesus the king versus works performed apart from new creation in the Christ. And the latter usually but not always takes the form of a system that seeks to establish righteousness through performing prescribed regulations.”””

      MERLIN AMBROSIUS!
      WE KNOW YOU HAVE TO GET IN PRACTICE FOR THAT BANQUET AT N.I.C.E., BUT CAN YOU EASE OFF ON CASTING “CURSE OF BABEL” LEFT & RIGHT?

  11. Robert F says:

    North Korea? It’s hard to see how the U.S. can really do anything to assure that North Korea will not develop long range nuclear capability, especially without China’s help. From appearances, China, while not happy about that likelihood, is even less happy with the idea of the North Korean regime falling, sending millions of refugees over into China, and possibly bringing the South Korean (and by proxy the US) military right up to the Chinese border. Our current POTUS is now learning that he will not be able to neutralize this problem with threatening tweets.

    For those out there he think we can unilaterally bomb this problem away, you’re wrong. We don’t even know where all the North Korean nuclear test facilities are. As for the completely morally unacceptable idea of nuking N. Korea (which I see coming up in comment threads more and more these days), I’m sure the Chinese would not respond nicely to nuclear fallout clouds floating across their border (nor would our close allies the South Koreans). All this the POTUS is hopefully beginning to learn….or perhaps he’s too busy on the golf course.

  12. A brilliant brainstorm this morning while I was waiting for the deer to leave so I could feed the birdies. I could build a combination year-round amusement park and ski slope in my back yard and call it Slippery Slopes. Probably not as impressive as the ones further north of me but I might be able to eke out a sixty foot drop in elevation if the bottom ends up in a swamp. Of course this wouldn’t matter in the winter when you can walk across the swamp most times, and in the summer if the water slide ends up in a swamp, well, I can work out these fine details as I go along. But how could you lose with a name like Slippery Slopes?

  13. Regarding the “Sgt. Pepper” reissue: why not add “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” to the album? Other long-defunct rock and pop groups across the spectrum, from Abba to Led Zeppelin, have added songs to reissued albums. I think it’s a terrific idea.

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Food & Wine: The Most Caffeinated Coffee in the World Is Now Available in the U.S.

    Somebody needs to inform George Carlin that it’s no longer “the LOW end of the Speed Spectrum”.

  15. That Other Jean says:

    It seems fitting, somehow, that if you’re going to work yourself to death, you go from an overdose of Black Insomnia. For me, though, by the second cup I’d be shaking so hard that I couldn’t get the cup to my mouth.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Like a “Fox Trot” newspaper comic I remember reading long ago:

      Teenage son has to pull an all-nighter cramming for a test, and decides to take “drastic measures”.
      Takes a jar of instant coffee crystals.
      Pours hot water into it.
      Caps it and shakes it up (shooka shooka).
      Chugs the whole jar.

      Last panel: trying to cram but his eyes are bouncing all over the place.

  16. So Pence piously says he won’t have dinner alone with any woman other than his wife, but at the same time be the running mate and VP to a man who has openly bragged about sexually assaulting women.

    To say I’m unimpressed would be the understatement of the century.

  17. Robert F says:

    ridges of gray cloud
    spread across the evening sky
    no direction home

  18. Robert F says:

    I wonder if Jesus would drink “Black Insomnia”….

    WWJD — What Would Jesus Drink?

  19. I’ll never understand the workoholic thing (says the guy who has been accused of this from time to time). All the data we have shows that efficiency and productivity are directly related to quality of life. Did you know that France – sometimes maligned in the US for being lazy – is more productive than the US? Divide GDP by number of employees in the workforce, and you get a good index of productivity. The US is well behind most European countries that have higher quality of life (mostly by working less). From a purely economic standpoint, workoholism is counterproductive – nevermind the quality of life argument.

    • MamaBear says:

      True. Even in the military 35 years ago, a senior commander was convinced that only those working long hours could possibly be committed, dedicated, hard working soldiers worth their keep. (Of course, there was no internet, no e-mail, and no other modern means of communication to enable one to look busy while watching kitten videos…)

      So, instead, everyone showed up early in the morning for unit runs and other exercise, then went home to shower and have a leisurely breakfast. Back by nine or so to look busy for a few hours, then take a two hour lunch. Show up again to look super busy in the late afternoon, then back home or somewhere to run errands or have a snack. Back at the desk by five (the normal military workday was until 4:30) and hang around until eight or so while the commander counted noses of those busily at their posts. Rinse and repeat. Barely six or seven reall hours of work getting done, but by golly we sure LOOKED busy!!