September 19, 2014

Saturday Ramblings 11.23.13

RamblerWelcome to our pre-Thanksgiving edition of Saturday Ramblings. Oh, big doings are afoot here at the iMonastery. Adam Palmer is in charge of the turkey this year, even though in the past he’s been caught trying to glue a bucket of KFC together to form one large bird. Chaplain Mike is making the gravy—which was a mistake, because he keeps muttering “There’s more of gravy than grave about you” as he stirs. First Lady Denise is bringing something called Kentucky Burgoo. We’re not sure if that is something you eat or drink, but we’re a thankful lot, so thank you, Denise. Lisa, Damaris and Martha are in charge of dessert. If we are smart, that is all we’ll eat. Me? I’m setting the table with paper plates and sporks. Now that our tummies are in countdown mode, what say we ramble?

In case you missed it (because you were making your own pot of burgoo), yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy. Here is a good story about the priest who administered the last rites to the dying president. And just what did preachers in Dallas say two days later to their shocked and stunned congregations? Here are a few snippets from their sermons that day. This is the stand-out to me: “Much of the hate and discord that has been poisoning our nation has been preached in the name of Christ and the church. In Dallas entire sermons have been devoted to damning the Kennedy administration and the United Nations, and they have been delivered from Methodist pulpits. In the name of the church, men and women have sown seeds of discord, distrust and hate and have called it witnessing for Christ. As a church we are sick. God have mercy on us.”

Speaking of, Larry Tomczak posts an open letter where he asks if President Obama is really a Christian. See the above sermon outtake for my thoughts on the matter.

Ruh-roh. Seems Mark Driscoll may have “borrowed” not only ideas, but a lot of words from another author for his latest book. Christian radio talk show host Janet Mefferd accused Driscoll of plagiarism this week on her show, saying he stole from Peter Jones. Live by the pen, die by the pen.

Snake Salvation, the “reality” TV show that features snake handling in a church in Tennessee, may have to resort to reruns for a while. Seems wildlife officials have confiscated the more than 50 poisonous snakes the church had lying around. Now what will I watch on TV until the next season of Downton Abbey arrives?

I could book a trip to London for next July to see the reunion of Monty Python. Yes, the five surviving members of the British comedy troupe are dusting off their dead parrots, silly walks and cans of SPAM for a one-off stage show next year. But is this something a Christian should attend? After all, their humor has made God a frequent target. A question for iMonks on the other side of the Big Puddle: Do Christians there find Monty Python humorous or blasphemous? And what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Oops. Seems Costco got a might confused as to whether or not the Bible is fiction or non-fiction. But they are sorry. Really they are. And it won’t happen again. Oops. It did. But the godly woman who found the mistake the second time has the right approach. If Costco won’t change their evil ways, she is going to call on Christians to boycott. In love, of course.

Remember the picture of Pope Francis kissing a severely-deformed man? Here’s another photo of the pope embracing another severely-deformed man. These are not easy pictures to look at, but look at them we should.

Do you have a book lover on your Christmas list? Then perhaps you should consider bidding on the Bay Psalter, one of the first books ever printed in the United States. There are only 11 known copies left of the song book used by colonists. And this one figures to go for as much as $30 million. That’s all?

Is that a bit out of your price range? Thinking about getting the Elf On A Shelf, but can’t find it at your local BuyMart? Why not get its Jewish equivalent, The Mensch On A Bench. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried …

Finally, for those looking to take a college course just for the fun of it, why not venture over to Monmouth University and sign up for Zombies: Social Anxiety and Pop Culture. That’s right. You, too, can major in the living dead. Only in New Jersey …

Hippity hoppity happy birthday wishes were wished last week for Burgess Meredith; Lisa Bonet; Gordon Lightfoot; Martin Scorsese; Tom Seaver; Martin Barre; Alan Shepard; Mickey Mouse; Dick Cavett; Ted Turner; Meg Ryan; Jodie Foster; Robert F. Kennedy; Joe Biden; Duane Allman; Joe Walsh; Harpo Marx; Stan Musial; and Steve Van Zandt.

Wow. Look at all the guitarists who had birthdays this last week. I could choose any of them and come up with a great bonus video. But there are only two guitarists who were greater than Duane Allman, and neither of those two had birthdays this last week. Enjoy.

 

Comments

  1. Christiane says:

    Can’t watch more ‘Snake Salvation’? Too early for the new season of Downton ?

    well, there’s ‘Doc Martin’ if you like British television, beautiful Cornish scenery, a cozy tiny fishing village, a motley crew of peculiar but mostly lovable citizens, and a physician that only the Brits could dream up, then give ‘Doc Martin’ a look-see.
    If it’s your cup of tea, it just might carry you through until next year’s new tv season:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPgUA4DOfCQ

    yes, that’s him . . . Martin Clune :)

    • Christiane says:

      oops . . . Clunes (:)

    • Doc Martin – best show on TV right now, at least until Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge returns. Netflix has all seasons of the good Doc.

    • Doc Martin is lots of fun. Martin Clunes did a documentary on dogs a little while ago too (apparently he’s quite fond of them, unlike his character). First time I’d ever seen the man smile on camera.

    • Personally, I’d recommend Sherlock.

    • Doc Martin: pretty much the best show ever, and I waver only in light of Star Trek, Upstairs Downstairs (my reception won’t pick up Downton Abbey), Mash and Seinfeld.

      Episodes of the Doc are available on Hulu as well, Christiane. I see that YouTube now requires subscription to Acorn for full episodes, but Acorn also has the new season 6. This could help me get through the winter.

      And I’m not in love with Louisa. At all.

      • I like Doc Martin, but I’m kind of disappointed with the new season (not everything about it; just certain aspects of it).

        But everyone else’s mileage may vary.

    • Doc Martin isn’t available in Korea. So sad. I love British TV and was looking for something new.

  2. Dear Larry Tomczak,

    1. If you really cared about Obama’s soul, you would have written him privately. This way looks like a desperate bid for attention.

    2. Not all Christians are born-again types like you. (Especially if they grew up outside the USA.) Although I do wonder how much of Obama’s Christianity has been motivated by a desire to attract votes…

    3. If you insist on writing your own Wikipedia article (“Larry Tomczak is a best selling author and cultural commentator who is married thirty seven years, with four children and four grandchildren”), then you might try not putting the titles of your books (The Little Handbook On Loving Correction: How To Raise Happy, Obedient, Respectful Children, Clap Your Hands, Divine Appointments, and Reckless Abandon) right next to the part about how you have been accused of child molesting.

    • I had not heard of this guy until today. I don’t see how his open letter is helpful to anyone. i think it’s a bad combination of grandstanding and spiritual litmus tests.

      • Frankly, I do not give a ripe rodent’s rump about the state of this President’s soul. It is his politics that I take issue with, and I would be unhappy with these politics and judgment calls if they came from a near-saint in the Oval Office.

        • Dan Crawford says:

          I do care about the President’s soul and Mr. Tomczak’s. Mr. T wants to cast the first stone, but he ought to take a moment to reflect on how his “Christian” heroes reflect Christ in their embrace of the politics of Social Darwinism: their contempt for the poor, their willingness to deny access to health care for those who can’t afford it, their on-going attempts to deny the franchise to voters who don’t (and wouldn’t) vote for Republicans, their xenophobia, and their consistent contempt and hostility to those who don’t share their views. I’m not in any position to judge anyone’s soul, least of all my own, but I have very real problems with those who assume God’s judgment seat to make all sorts of assertions about those they consider less virtuous than they. We have far too many examples of the hypocrisy of the righteous in the past few years to take seriously those who presume to tell us who is Christian and who is not.

          • +1

          • Ninure da Hippie says:

            Thank you for your comments.

            I also wonder if all those people who “question Obama’s Christianity” also questioned the Christianity of Bush, or Regan?

            Why is it when a liberal Christian professes their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, conservatives will not take them at their word? Why is “your” understanding of Scripture better than “mine”?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Although I do wonder how much of Obama’s Christianity has been motivated by a desire to attract votes…

      You can make that observation about any politician who stumps for any sort of Chrisitanese vote.

      • And for those who think he is a crypto-Muslim, why would anybody be afraid of a Muslim whose commitment to Islam is so anemnic that he refuses to say the shahada in public?

        • This is really the best argument against that silly fear. No devout Muslim could ever publicly claim the name of Christ the way Obama has. It would be completely anathema.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      If you insist on writing your own Wikipedia article (“Larry Tomczak is a best selling author and cultural commentator who is married thirty seven years, with four children and four grandchildren”), then you might try not putting the titles of your books (The Little Handbook On Loving Correction: How To Raise Happy, Obedient, Respectful Children, Clap Your Hands, Divine Appointments, and Reckless Abandon) right next to the part about how you have been accused of child molesting.

      THAT sounds like something out of South Park.

      And I know I’ve heard that name (Larry Tomczak) somewhere before. “Tomczak” is unusual enough that you tend to remember it.

      • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

        [quote]I do not give a ripe rodent’s rump about….. [/quote]

        I am totally using that in the future!

      • Mr. T’s so-called Open Letter is the sort of thing that gives Christians a bad name.

        But, to be totally fair, his Wikipedia article mentions “child abuse,” not “child molesting.” IMO, child molesting is child abuse squared.

        • Oh $h!+

          Right, it sounds like they mean beating rather than fondling

          • Christiane says:

            Look at the list of books Tomczak has written . . .

            there is a whole sub-culture of how to hit children among a certain class of fundamentalists . . . and there is a market for these ‘books’ and money to made on the speaking circuit that feeds off of this sick sub-culture . . .

            so depressing . . . I would not be at all unhappy if the people who encouraged the beating of children as a ‘religious’ practice were sent to prison . . . I put this up somewhere alongside of child porn for the harm it does to infants and toddlers

            watch out on fundamentalist blogs for phrases like: “a defiant 9-12 month old is ready to be spanked”
            or “there is no set age to commence beginning spanking” . . . that is the ‘sub-culture’ to which I refer, and it is patristic, man-exhalting, and excuses physical causing of pain to little ones as a form of ‘spiritual discipline’ . . .

            my blood runs cold when I encounter this abuse put forth as ‘Christian’ . . . evil is evil, no matter what they call it, and the people engaged in fostering it are responsible for doing a lot of damage

        • Well, it’s blurry. Here’s the article (from Huffpo):

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/rev-larry-tomczak-pastor-abuse_n_2494318.html

          Tomczak is accused of (a) beating a woman “on her bare backside” for many years, since she was a child, and (b) covering up sexual abuse by others.

  3. Monty Python reunion? Do we need this Spanish Inquisition?

    *dramatic music*

    NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

    ROFL!

    now you have that scene going in my head.

  4. If Costco called the Bible “fiction,” I wonder what they would call the Pali Canon.

    • I find this Costco kerfluffle interesting in light of the fact that I currently work for a book distributor with a Christian book division. What will I be doing on Sunday morning? Working mandatory overtime! No matter how much I explained that this was nearly impossible for me as I worship regularly and my church only has a Sunday morning service, I was told to be there or else. So, I guess it really does matter whose ox is being gored….

      • Recently a couple of the Mennonite owned supermarkets in my area decided to open on Sundays due to pressure from competitors that stay open 24/7; the assistant pastor of the Lutheran church for which my wife is organist was quite miffed with the supermarket’s management for making her husband work Sunday mornings, which prevented him from being at worship with her.

        The market is first and foremost in our society; everything else is subservient to its needs.

    • Perhaps they intended some sort of postmodern reading in which “fiction” is interpreted more broadly, and we are all considered multiple authors of a common “text,” or some such. (Sort of like those who admit Jesus to be a myth, but then interpret “myth” in a way that sidesteps the question of whether any of the story really happened.)

      • “Sort of like those who admit Jesus to be a myth, but then interpret “myth” in a way that sidesteps the question of whether any of the story really happened.”

        Wexel, do you think that the Living God should not be a moving target?

        • I’m not sure what you mean.

          • The story is the church’s telling of the real experience of the Living God encountered in Jesus Christ. What “really happened” and “mythology” merge in that telling, but the the real experience cannot be captured or contained by the categories of either history or mythology, or the two combined.

            The Living God known in Jesus Christ cannot be found at the end of a series of increasingly precise historical questions and answers, nor can he be found at the end of a mythological unpacking of the story about him.

            The story is the horizon that the church experiences him against, but if we try to approach it with any kind of measured analysis it recedes from us, as horizons do.

            Jesus, the living God, cannot be caught in our nets, nor divided up between the categories of mythology and history.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And from Torah on, God has this habit of doing the unexpected and flipping our expectations of Him one-eighty.

  5. Regarding the Zombies college course: make that only in New Jersey, Michigan, Maryland, Illinois and California, for accuracy’s sake.

    • We offer those at the University of New Mexico as well, in the American Studies Department. Quite popular, actually, and they count as an upper-division humanities credit in some BA/S programs.

  6. Larry Tomczak, one of the co-founders of SGM in the 80′s?

    And what credibility should he be afforded??

    • None; and more so for his present words/deeds than even the past. But the hatred-of-our-current-president attitude, like the historical one cited above by Jeff, is almost an article of faith in some places of the church. In the conservative/evangelical circle I live, work and worship with I cannot think of one time in the last 6-7yrs that anyone has ever said anything good or positive about our current Pres. Instead there is 0 honor, 0 respect, 0 compassion/love, 0 empathy – but 24/7, 100% whining, complaining, blaming, condemning, mockery, slander, loathing, and exaggeration bordering on untruth – all the time and everywhere (especially in church). Now I’ll be the first to tell you the Pres isn’t perfect and that he hasn’t done everything the way I would – but from a Biblical, Christ-following perspective, there’s something wrong with that. The preacher above said it well, “As a church we are sick. God have mercy on us.”

    • yes, it’s him – author of “God, the Rod, and your child’s Bod,” among others.

      he has absolutely NO credibility, imo.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Another Mighty ManoGawd in his own mind (and the minds of his CULT followers)…

        “God, the Rod, and your child’s Bod,”

        Sounds like another Beat Your Kids Into Utter Submission control-freak type.

        And he’s been accused of child molestation?
        And is associated with SGM (and The HUMBLE One)?
        After what I’ve read on Wartburg Watch about SGM, Why Am I Not Surprised?

  7. I remember reading an article that posited that during Republican administrations vampires were popular and when Dems held sway zombies came to the fore, or is it the other way around?. I’m sure that there’s some social commentary going on there, but I’ll let others do the heavy lifting.
    http://www.mrscienceshow.com/2009/05/correlation-of-week-zombies-vampires.html
    http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2012/07/wholl-win-the-white-house-its-all-about-vampires-and-zombies.html/

  8. David Cornwell says:

    I’d be wary of questioning the eternal salvation of anyone, President or not. He needs to spend his time, just as we all do, praying for our leaders.

    And about Methodists in Dallas preaching anti-Kennedy sermons, based on his Catholicism; that is also one of the lasting bits of nonsense set in motion by the Reformation. This kind of preaching does nothing for reform or for the Church and is a further fracture of the Body of Christ.

    Words have the latent power of murder within them. And those whose tongue used as a weapon of hatred, rather than life will eat the fruits thereof. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits”.

    (You ever have to stop and think about the proper use of who’s or whose? And then hope you have it right.)

    • who’s is a contraction of who is.

      whose is a possessive adjective.

      who’s should never be used as a possessive adjective.

      capitals are nice too.

    • All the time, David, all the time, regarding whose vs. who’s.

      And I’m sort of with you on the excesses of the Reformation, as long as we lay equal blame at the feet of both the Reformers and the Holy Roman Catholic Church for the divisive fallout of schism.

      Remember, there have been some pretty vituperative anti-Protestant Roman Catholics in our conflicted histories, though it’s true that the Roman Catholic Church has done a pretty good job of keeping the contemporary ones quiet. For that, it should be applauded.

      • David Cornwell says:

        Yeah, I know. You are exactly right. I guess I’ve just heard more of them on our side. But sometimes one listens closely it can be detected from the RC side also. Pope Francis is a man of moderation however. And maybe we should take some lessons.

  9. Cedric Klein says:

    Re whatever anti-Kennedy/Democrat/liberal/United Nations sentiment there was in Dallas, the US, and various churches at the time, the fact remains that President Kennedy was not murdered by a Republican/conservative/Bircher/Evangelical, but by, in Jackie’s words, “a silly little Communist”.

  10. Regarding the zombie college course: human beings have a deep and enduring sense of the contingency, uncertainty and vulnerability of their existence, even when it is denied or suppressed by frenzied activity and busyness, itself usually undertaken to shore up more stability against the vagaries of reality.

    Apocalyptic, including zombie apocalytic, expressed in popular culture testifies to the ongoing and persistent nature of humanity’s awareness of the contingency of existence. But this awareness is an expression of uncertainty about the future, uneasiness with the openness of the future, its unpredictability and indeterminacy.

    No wonder, then, that biblical apocalyptic, as rendered through many of its contemporary Christian interpreters, lacks appeal to the so-called “secular” imagination. These interpretations too often deny the unpredictability and indeterminacy of the future, its openness, that is at the center of the popular concern with apocalyptic. These interpreters claim a certainty about the future and the details of apocalypse that are completely implausible to the popular imagination.

    The “secular” experience leads to the very reasonable and plausible conclusion that the future is open and undetermined; herein lay both the anxiety and promise of the future to the popular imagination. No amount of close interpretation of biblical apocalyptic symbolism is going to undermine that understanding of the future as open and undetermined, especially when the interpretation plays to the fears of the human imagination, since the human imagination already has a wide universe of fears to lose itself in, many of them seeming plausible to, or more plausible than, the Christian End Times prognosticators.

    The way for Christians to address the human concern about apocalypse is to point to the reality of the resurrected Jesus Christ in the present. It is only because we know him in the immanent present that we can look through any intervening apocalypse, whether personal or cosmic, and know that he will also be there in all possible futures.

    This is the only word of hope that Christians have to offer anxious humanity. But unless we live into that word of hope authentically and with integrity, unless we let that light shine now, it’s foolish for us to believe that anyone would be interested in what we have to say even about the present, never mind the future.

    • That is, seeming equally plausible to, or more plausible than, the Christian End Times prognosticators.

      • But my comment begs the question of whether and to what extent we as Christians actually do know Jesus Christ in the present, rather than as a wish fulfillment deferred to an indeterminate and uncertain future where he can only take his place among all the other phantasmal contenders for popular apocalyptic interest and anxiety.

        I believe, Lord; help thou my unbelief.

  11. I once found a women’s shirt in the men’s department at Target… I guess that means they were encouraging cross-dressing. To the Boycott-mobile!

    • I once found meat in the dairy section. To the Boycott-mobile, too!

      Oh wait, I’m not Jewish. Never mind.

      But should I ever find a bag of tortillas in the Asian food aisle…why, isn’t that encouraging interracial dating?

      Forger the Boycott-mobile, bring out the Boycott-tank!

      Damn Communists!

    • If you don’t want to run the Batmobile out of gas, don’t go to Walmart, where you will find items scattered around the store, dropped where ever people changed their minds about purchasing them. I have seen perishable food items in the strangest places. I certainly hope they are not returned to the refrigerated sections.

  12. “Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can.”
    Elsa Maxwell, September 28, 1958

  13. You know, right now, I like Costco way more than the Evangelical church; I’ve spend more Sunday mornings there in the last two years than in church! But really, they are one of the best employers in the US and my favorite store, and it irritates me that these people are trying to smear the company because of this stupid issue. I’m sure it wasn’t done to ‘get’ christians, they probably just have a limited labeling system for the bar codes for the book section. Shoot, maybe they should be glad that the Bible is even being sold there…

    I’m sure this is one of those trumped up examples of how a lot of American ‘Christians’ push back against accusations that they’ve been unfair, unthinking, mean jerks, with the “Oh, no, you see it’s us CHRISTIANS who are oppressed! Look!” (And it gets the added bonus of having something to crusade for, to rebel against, which just makes Americans salivate as if it’s a rite of passage in this culture.)

    • Joseph (the original) says:

      This is a good example of a self-proclaimed Christian taking offense that is not theirs to take.

      They created a supposed offense from a harmless inventory glitch and blew it up to the nth degree of conspiracy proportions to get other people ‘fired up’ about such disrespect and obvious anti-Christian attitudes…

      Much of the perceived persecution that some Christians wish to highlight in this country merely sensationalist attempts to take offense way out of proportion to whatever the ‘wrong’ motivation is that catalyzed their feigned reactions!

      Lord, have mercy… :(

      • “…get other people ‘fired up’ about such disrespect and obvious anti-Christian attitudes…” Yep, get fired up about this but see my comment above that I am mandated to work overtime on a Sunday morning by a book distributor that has a Christian book division and the only person who seems upset about it is me & my husband. I guess it’s ok if you disrespect your own

  14. I saw this article on Facebook this week, entitled “When Christians are Christianity’s Worst Enemy”.

    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/2586339/

    It’s sad when waitresses know they’re screwed when they see their customers praying before their meal.

    • sad . . . but true, unfortunately

      speaking of tips . . . it’s that time of year to increase them

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I heard once that Jerry Falwell made a point out of tipping BIG whenever he could to make up for the Church Crowd’s reputation for being lousy tippers.

        • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

          That’s how I roll, too, especially when I’m in my collar. Usually around 20%.

          • Maybe that’s the problem. Outsiders don’t need a collar to know we are Christians. They just don’t know it by our love. That can become legalistic very quickly; the stories of pastors counting every penny of the change they receive from a cashier gets wearisome. We all have our grumpy days – especially in traffic. we need to humbly admit our failings and
            Ask for forgiveness.

        • Cedric Klein says:

          To read his wife’s bio of him, sometimes those tips would include scholarships to Liberty.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Another Falwell story I heard was that the man did NOT like fanboys. Sometimes he’d gut-punch ‘em when they started going all fanboy over him.

      • Because if it’s in the Huffington Post, then it must be true. I mean, since they lean left, then by definition, there are pure and noble and incapable of having any bias. It’s all of those evil Christians in the world, who are hated so much by this site who are the biased ones.

        Back when I worked in a restaurant, I was taught that if I wanted tips, I needed to provide exemplary service. But I guess that idea was SOOOO yesterday.

    • Sigh….I’m calling BS on this myth. I realize it’s popular on this blog to bash all things Christian but nonetheless, I find it wildly ironic that seemingly every Christian in American gets ripped on this site, but in the comments one can make whatever slanderous and false claims one wishes to make. Full disclosure, I read this site and the comments due to my love of irony.

  15. Cosco pays its employees a living wage plus benefits. Sure sounds anti-Christian to me. :-P

  16. But there are only two guitarists who were greater than Duane Allman, and neither of those two had birthdays this last week.

    Who be they? Rolling Stone lists Duane Allman as #9 after Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, and Eddie Van Halen, and right before Pete Townshend, George Harrison and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

    Special Collectors Edition “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” (Display until October 25, 2012)

  17. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    That’s right. You, too, can major in the living dead. Only in New Jersey …

    Why should UC Berkeley be the only one with the Weird Courses and Weird Majors?

  18. If you think the Zombie course signals the demise of serious academic education, I recently spoke with an Episcopalian priest who was lamenting one of their seminaries that offered a course on orgasm as a sacrament. Sounds like fun! What’s the homework like?

  19. Larry Tomczak is out of his mind. I appreciate the respectful tone to his article, but to accuse the President of not being Christian is quite hilarious when your own theology hangs on the focal point of a “born-again experience.” Here is his list of non-negotiables for genuine Christians:
    1. A supreme love for Jesus Christ (Luke 14:26).
    2. A denial of self (Matt. 16:24).
    3. A deliberate choosing of the cross (Matt. 16:24).
    4. A life spent following Christ (Matt. 16:24).
    5. A fervent love for all who belong to Christ (John 13:35).
    6. And unswerving continuance in His Word (John 8:31).
    7. A forsaking of all to follow Him (Luke 14:33).

    Really. How much, exactly, must I love Christ to be legit? How much denial of self must I practice? How can I be sure I have really “chosen the cross?” What if my life is divided between obedience and sin? What if I have a love/hate relationship with the church (and who doesn’t)? What if I falter in my faith? What if my heart is never completely pure in my allegiance to Him (and whose heart isn’t)?

    I propose that Jesus actually had a much shorter list, according to Mark 16:16. 1. Believe. 2. Baptized. Jesus promised that all for whom 1 and 2 apply will be saved. Why must we add criteria? Is Christ’s word of promise not enough for Tomczak? Does he not believe Jesus’ own words?

    • Miguel (and HUG),

      Once upon a time, Larry T. was a good Polish Catholic boy. In the early ’70s he encountered some “on-fire” Charismatic Christians and became “born-again.” In his first book, he describes his upbringing as being very culturally Christian, and the questions he had as a teenager are ones I daresay all of us here have struggled with. He started out simply wanting to please God and be a good “bible-believing Christian.” Sigh.

      Dana

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Once more, “I used to be Catholic but now I’m CHRISTIAN(TM)!” And part of being CHRISTIAN(TM) seems to be continuing the Reformation Wars against those Romish Papists as well as reinventing the wheel.

        Has it ever entered this “Bible-Believing Christian(TM)”s mind that the ONLY reason he HAS a Bible to Believe is that the bishops of MY church (yes, Romish Popery) prevented the Shirley Mac Laines of the time from rewriting it in their own image back when years AD were in the low three digits?

    • Miguel, so you’re just free to dismiss all of the verses referenced in points 1-7?

      I’ve long admired your comments on this site, as you don’t seem to fall in the line of “I hate Christians” that seemingly all of the others who comment here do. But I never had you pegged as a cheap grace, easy-believism guy.

      To directly answer your question, we’re not adding criteria. The N.T. however adds plenty of criteria.

  20. I like Luther’s definition of what it is to be a Christian:

    “To be declared righteous for Jesus’ sake.”

    How does that happen? Through the hearing of the gospel and the receiving of the sacraments. And it is a process…not a one time event. That’s why we need to hear the law and the gospel and receive His Supper and return to our Baptisms, often….all throughout our lives.

    • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

      How do I know I’m a Christian? I look at my baptism certificate!

      Now, how do I know I’m saved, regenerate, born-again, whatever you wanna call it… well, that’s something that ultimately only Jesus really knows! But I trust Him and his grace enough that I don’t worry about it too much.

  21. Elf on the Shelf? This thing moves throughout the house? It sounds like the Fed Ex commercial with the creepy clown doll that moves unexpectedly.

    • Actually, this tradition is OLD (so old, it happened in my childhood!). We still have the original elf, a bit worse for wear for being in at least his eighties!! It was always explained to little Pattie that just as the guys in Sears in the suit were only Santa’s helpers, not the real thing, that the elf just reminded us that Santa was evaluating our pre-Christmas behavior! Like Easter eggs, there was also the element of the hunt to find him every morning.

      For the record, I grew up in a devout household, but back then we were not afraid to let tiny children have some innocent fantasies before the real world came rushing in…..and none of us kids ever confused the myth of Santa with the reality of the Christ Child….

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “He sees you when you’re sleeping,
        He knows when you’re awake,
        He knows when you’ve been bad or good –
        Santa Claus: Jolly old elf or CIA spook?”
        – Calvin & Hobbes