November 23, 2014

Saturday Ramblings 11.30.13

RamblerAs you emerge from your tryptophan-induced coma, I have some startling news for you. Eating turkey doesn’t make you sleepy. Really. So get your butt off the couch and get washing those dishes already. There. I feel I’ve done my duty to our nation as a whole. Now, pass me another piece of pie and let’s get rambling. I’ve got a lot of football to watch today.

Pope Francis just does not let up. This week he released “The Joy of the Gospel,” setting forth his vision for the Church. He makes it clear that he does not mean for there to be business as usual in the Church. And you know how well institutions like the Catholic Church do with change.

Speaking of change, you’ll need a pocketful if you want to tour the National Cathedral after the first of the year. It will now cost you a sawbuck to walk through the Anglican edifice in our nation’s capital. It’s a beautiful building, but I’m not sure it’s worth ten bucks. Anyone want to challenge my thinking?

There are more charges of plagiarism against Mark Driscoll, brought forth by radio talk show host Janet Mefferd. This time it seems he lifted passages from a D.A. Carson Bible commentary. I’m waiting for Driscoll to throw someone under the bus, saying that he trusted a ghostwriter to do some of the work for him. That’s just a guess on my part. Otherwise Driscoll will have to admit that he used others’ words without giving proper attribution. (He could employ the “independent creation” defense, saying that all on his own he came up with the same words as Carson on the same subject. But that’s not really believable in most cases.)

Faith and Doctor Who. Discuss. (I’m relying on you for this one. I’ve never watched the show. Sorry.)

I would blow up my TV before I would ever watch a show that follows the Ed Young, Jr., family around. Please please please tell me that this will never be.

Remember we reported last week on how someone found Bibles in Costco labeled as “fiction”? Well, the pastor who initially sent out a picture of the mislabeled Bibles wants to make it clear he was not upset with Costco, nor does he support the call for a boycott of Costco. He said most are missing the main issue: Is the Bible fiction or isn’t it?

Fortunately, however, the American Family Association has another boycott target for us: Radio Shack. Their offense? They use the word “holiday” instead of “Christmas.” Can you believe it? With crimes like this being perpetrated in our nation, it’s amazing there are any Christians left at all. I guess you’ll just have to find another place to buy your batteries.

Are you a hunter? Then you’ll want to know that in Montana, it’s always deer season—that is, as long as you are using your car as your weapon. A new law states that if you hit a deer—or an elk or a moose or an antelope—you are entitled to eat it. Let no roadkill go to waste. Or go to your waist. Whatever. And here are ten foods that are better for you than you thought. Of course you knew peanut butter would be on this list. As we read in 2 Opinions chapter three, peanut butter covers a multitude of sin. At least that’s what I think it says…

And finally, Religion News Service has released their Holiday Gift Guide. Sure, there are some interesting ideas listed here (like the Awkward Moments Children’s Bible). But I’m convinced you can come up with some better ones. Like this ugly Christmas sweater from the Tipsy Elves. Send your nominations to me so we can all know just what to get for that hard-to-buy-for person on our list.

Birthday candles were lit this last week for Boris Karloff; Bruce Hornsby; Robin Roberts; Donald Duck Dunn; William F. Buckley, Jr.; Pete Best; Joe DiMaggio; Amy Grant; Chick Hearn; Jimi Hendrix; Joshua Harris; Berry Gordy, Jr.; Ed Harris; and Jon Stewart.

So you thought I would choose Jimi for the bonus video today, did you? Wrong wrong wrong. Let’s try some Green Onions together, shall we? Enjoy.

 

Comments

  1. Again, we hear the outrage about the “War on Christmas.” Too many Christians with too much time on their hands are screaming ‘persecution’ when somebody wishes them “Happy Holidays.” (Holidays is short for Holy Days anyway, so what’s the beef?) We haven’t seen any real persecution in America for a long time. There are Christians around the world taking their lives in their hands saying they are followers of Jesus, and we’re more concerned with making people say “Merry Christmas.” Isn’t there something incongrous about this?

    I can’t find anywhere in the Bible where Jesus says “Make sure the stores say ‘Merry Christmas’ or my kingdom is finished!” No, all I find is something about “straining at gnats and swallowing camels” (Matthew 23:24)

    End of rant.

    • And the current so-called “War on Christmas” is nothing in comparison with the war on Christmas that was conducted by some of the Puritan pilgrims, who made the celebration of Christmas illegal in New England at the beginning of this great nation.

      Now, that was a war on Christmas.

    • It’s more than “incongruous”…I’d suggest – despicable as a better word.

      • I wonder what Wildmon and his ilk would do in Cromwell’s Puritan England, where it was against the law to say “Merry Christmas.”

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz8yN9vSw2A

      • Referencing my post last week, I had to skip worship and work last Sunday at a book distributor that has a very large Christian book division. I complained to my employer and just about anyone else who would listen. Most of my Christian friends and family, several of whom I’ve heard whine loudly about being wished a happy holiday rather than Merry Christmas by some cashier, were completely on the side of the employer (although I was never told during the hiring process that there would ever be Sunday required work–I would have declined the job) “It’s work, you know. What’s the big deal?” I find this all very humorous and sad…

        • It’s amazing how pervasive the secular mentality is, even among Christians who complain about the secularization of our society.

          For me, the real problem is that, with the loss of traditional Jewish and Christian communal practices of sabbath in our society, the market mentality has filled the vacuum left behind, making (or soon to make) every minute of time captive to apparent economic necessity. Sabbath has been replaced by leisure, which is not a communal but individual and/or familial practice, and even this leisure is dependent on the quickly disappearing anachronism of a 40 hour, five day work week.

          And from the perspective of the economic machinery, and its administrators, leisure is tolerated to the degree that it serves the best interests of the market, and increasingly is being viewed as an unnecessary imposition on the productive capacity of the market. So leisure is doled out in slivers and pieces, a Tuesday here, a Thursday there, maybe a Saturday or Sunday on occasion, when it’s your turn.

          None of this replaces the tremendous loss of sabbath as a communal experience that points to purposes beyond the immanent demands of the secular, that points to the transcendently given value of humanity, and indeed of time and space and creation.

          The message given by the increasingly dominant market forces and their division of time and space into production and leisure is that our value is only to be found in the marketplace, in the giving and getting, the buying and selling of ourselves in this world.

          I can’t imagine a more hopeless message.

          • Well said. Very well said.

          • That Other Jean says:

            Let’s not forget how recent the idea of an 8-hour day and a 40-hour work week actually are, at least in the United States. It was largely the work of labor organizers that brought them about in the early 20th century for miners, railroad workers, and workers in the printing trades. Not until 1937 was the Fair Labor Standards Act proposed, setting a 40 hour work week with paid overtime for many other US workers. They were hard-won benefits, and the current scorn poured on labor unions is primarily to the benefit of corporations, not workers. If the American labor force does not recognize the efforts and the value of organized labor, they may lose the benefits that it has brought to them.

          • Yes, it’s very ironic that something so new as the 40 hour/five day work week is already becoming an anachronism. But things move very quickly nowadays, not necessarily for the better. Before we know it, and even before we know what to do with it, the new has become old. Who can keep pace? That’s what ultimately makes it so dehumanizing and alienating.

          • Randy Thompson says:

            Agreed. Well said indeed.

            All idols finally demand human sacrifice, including the Moloch of the Marketplace.

          • +1

            Thanksgiving is now about a 5-hour holiday.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Out of the 168-hour workweek.

        • That is sad…and I find it so odd that the ‘church’ bends over for the market so easily…but raises huge stinks if something far less substantial comes from Hollywood, or the DNC…

    • I once heard a priest give a rant where he blamed the commercialization of the season on Protestants ’cause we took the Mass out of Christmas.

      Nobody puts it better than Hans Fiene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsG0KcNiOdI

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Again, we hear the outrage about the “War on Christmas.”

      Well, the outrage over “The Devil’s Holiday” (Halloween) ended on November 1, so something had to replace it. The War on Halloween is over; the War on Christmas has begun.

      No wonder you find more and more looking for a portal to Ponyville.

      • In that case, let me be the first to wish you (may God forgive me) a happy Hearth’s Warming Day!

  2. Regarding the National Cathedral: you have to understand, the ECUSA is in bad need of cold, hard cash. Which means customers are needed much more than congregants.

    And you forgot to mention that in addition to the sawbuck, pay toilets are being installed in the rest rooms of the Cathedral.

    • Oh I hope there’s some wryness of tone behind this comment…

      If going and making disciples is too expensive, they should sell the old museum piece to a responsible curator and go into some other sort of business.

    • But the National Mosque is still free.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      Traditionally, the Episcopalians were rolling in cash (and have never been a particularly large denomination in terms of membership numbers). Has this changed? It wouldn’t surprise me. A couple of generations back they were also called “the Republican Party at prayer”. Republicans nowadays wouldn’t be caught dead in the Episcopal church. (Remember John McCain? He was raised a cultural Episcopalian but tried to keep a straight face while claiming that he thought he was probably Baptist, though he couldn’t recall how or where or when he converted.) So it could well be that they no longer have money, but still have all those neo-Gothic piles of rocks to maintain.

      On the other hand, it might be a case where they still have money, but at the individual parish level, while the dioceses are broke.

      As for paying ten bucks to tour the National Cathedral, where else can you see a Darth Vader gargoyle?

      • David Cornwell says:

        To good Republicans a Mormon is more likely to be “saved” than an Episcopalian these days. They say the right things at the right time.

    • Dan Crawford says:

      Oh those Episcopalians! It’s so difficult managing ostentatious churches, managing huge endowments, and filing lawsuits against former members. Considering that St. John the Divine and the National Cathedral have been used for the worship of beings other than the Christian deity, I would hope that TEC might consider expanding their donor base.

      • As an Episcopalian myself, I can only lament the decline of the ECUSA, and grieve how out-of-step it is with worldwide Anglicanism, which is by no means in a state of decline. But the leadership of the ECUSA lacks the humility to learn from other provinces, continues to make cowboy-like unilateral decisions that unsettle the rest of the communion, and so it goes.

      • Oh, and I’ve heard that the Cathedral of St. John the Unfinished is considering dedicating a side-chapel to Moloch, in the hope that some help might come from that direction for their budget shortfall, and maybe they can even finish construction of the cathedral.

        • no, the shrine to Moloch belongs to those patriarchists who advocate hitting babies with switches . . . something about ‘breaking their wills’ . . . so sad, this:

          http://abcnews.go.com/US/childs-death-sheds-light-biblical-disciplinary-teachings/story?id=14897901

          • Yes, you’re right. I was confusing Mammon with Moloch.

          • Um, Yahweh worship was originally not so different from these other ANE cults. “The firstborn is mine” and all that…? Though the human sacrifice thing might be exaggerated–one would expect Yahwist scriptures to depict its rivals in a bad light.

            Now that I think about it, Josiah’s reforms were really a step backwards from what was once a much more welcoming religious ethos. Go ECUSA!

        • St. John is massive and very impressive to see. I love visiting and hope to make it down to choral Vespers one of these weekends. However, their parish membership is pitifully small for one of the largest cathedrals in the world. There is much more life in several of the far smaller cathedrals of the city, IMO.

          • They don’t have a parish life. When I went to Columbia (many years ago), I brought a letter from the priest of my Episcopal church in Texas, where I had been going to college. I planned to transfer my membership to St. John’s, because it was closest to the campus. The priest I met with at St. John’s looked at me blankly and wouldn’t take my letter because there was really nothing to be a member OF. That was the beginning of the end of my being Episcopalian.

        • Randy Thompson says:

          St. John the Divine has all the charm of a haunted house. Give me St. Patrick’s any day!

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            I don’t generally join in piling on the Episcopalians. I often quite admire them, on the parish level; less so higher up, but then I am never really a fan of church hierarchy, regarding it as a sometimes-necessary evil that needs to be kept in check. But when it comes to St. John the Divine, I have to join in. It is a travesty, or perhaps a triumph of successive bad decisions. It brings together in one place all the worst aspects of Episcopalianism. I made a special point of visiting it on a trip to New York City some ten or twelve years ago. It left such a bad taste in my mouth that that very day I made an unplanned visit to St. Patrick’s to cleanse the palate. I have my full share of problems with the Roman church, but St. Patrick’s felt like an actual church, which is more than St. John the Divine managed.

          • I was morbidly curious and googled. I am finding a lot of semi-goofy or totally goofy conspiracy type sites, but if half of what I am seeing is accurate it’s pretty darn weird. “Grand Procession of the Ghouls” seriously? A lot of disturbingly ugly artwork…very, very weird.

            Can someone point me to a reputable site that goes into some explanations of the weird stuff at St. John the Divine? Surely they must at least have artist statements or something…right?

      • What beings were worshiped there? Link?

        • Although I’m not sure what other deities were being referred to in the above comment, I can tell you that circa 1985 I attended a conference given at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine by the Lindisfarne Association. The following is statement about the Lindisfarne Association from Wikipedia:

          The Lindisfarne Association (1972-2012) was a group of intellectuals of diverse interests organized by cultural historian William Irwin Thompson for the “study and realization of a new planetary culture”. It was inspired by the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead’s idea of an integral philosophy of organism, and by Teilhard de Chardin’s idea of planetization.[1][2] In his book Reimagination of the World, Thompson described his reasons for naming his group after Lindisfarne, an island with a famous monastery (once inhabited by Saint Cuthbert) just off the coast of Northumberland in the North East of England:

          “Although I used the word as a symbol of a small group of people effecting a transformation from one system to another, the word also brought with it the archetypical associations of a small group of monks holding onto ancient knowledge in a fallen world, a world that would soon overrun them during the Viking terror.”

          The Lindisfarne Association was the serious, scholarly, intellectual, arcane edge of what, in its popularized form, was known as the New Age movement. The conference I attended took place with the full knowledge, participation and presence of the Dean of the Cathedral at that time, whose name I do not remember. It reflected the Cathedral’s reputation for what is now called religious pluralism.

          Among those associated with the Lindisfarne Association was David Spangler who, besides being an important member of the New Age Findhorn Foundation, promoted in his books the necessity for all human beings to undergo what he called the “Luciferic Initiation,” which would be necessary for the realization of a new planetary culture. The “Luciferic Initiation” was said by Spangler to be the way toward spiritual balance and openness to the the Divine in its all-embracing reality, which he insisted must include what Christianity had traditionally categorized as evil and demonic.

          Worship of other deities? Don’t know. Too much openness to decidedly un-Christian influences? No doubt. And I think that’s enough to pump up the paranoid faction of Christians, as well as to make those of us who consider ourselves more sober somewhat wary of the Cathedral and its management.

          • Lest you run into disclaimers that Spangler never recommended “Luciferic Initiation,” let me assure you that what he has to say is plainly there to be read in his book “Reflections on the Christ,” in its original 1978 edition (the most recent edition has revised the chapters dealing with Christ and Lucifer).

            That some Christians misquoted and amplified the text is true, but Spangler did make Lucifer and Christ equal in his reflections, and he did insist that the way to spiritual freedom was by way of accepting, and worshiping, Lucifer. I read these passages with my own two eyes back in the mid 1980’s in the gabled upstairs room of a close friend who was, along with me, on a spiritual pilgrimage.

            It was exactly these lines of Spangler that put a little of the fear of God into me, and that made me wonder if I had wandered down a path that might lead to spiritual death. Ultimately, by God’s grace, I found my way to Jesus Christ.

            I still have hopes for my friend.

    • And the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

    • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

      To be fair on the issue, if I remember properly, the National Cathedral was in a hard way following an earthquake a year or two ago that caused some significant damage, which neither the diocese nor the cathedral itself had budgeted. And they’re not charging for worship services, just tourist visits. It still strikes me as… unsavoury, but at least their not charging for worship. There’s a tradition in some synagogues of people buying reserved seats for certain holy days, so they could do a lot worse!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Regarding the National Cathedral: you have to understand, the ECUSA is in bad need of cold, hard cash.

      Looks like they never adopted the “TITHE! TITHE! TITHE! Or God WILL Punish You! TITHE! TITHE! TITHE!” approach.

  3. Jeff, I read some of Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel and it looks great. He is impressing me on many levels. The Catholic Church needs him at this point. I wonder when The Joy of the Gospel will be in printed format for us all to read? I don’t want to use my printer to print out over 200 pages. I can just read it online or read the pdf I saved on my computer, but I like print too.

    I like this from the article about him saying that he is, “scolding Catholic ‘sourpusses’ who hunt down rule-breakers and calling out a ‘tomb psychology’ that ‘slowly transforms Christians into mummies in a museum.’ ” Sourpusses! I wonder what the word is in Italian and in Latin?

    I also like that he said or wrote, “The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” AMEN!

    • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

      I remember the first time he scolded Catholics for being “sourpusses” that Leno and Fr. Rob on The Catholic Guy Show had a good laugh at that and loved it and devoted a good part of the show to it. Both are fluent in Italian and said that “sourpuss” was a pretty good translation. I think they said actual Italian idiom refers to sucking on some sour fruit or something. But apparently, it’s a favorite phrase of Pope Francis :)

    • The Spanish version is probably the original, I have heard that it’s full of very Argentinian dialect. In there, “sourpusses” is rendered basically “vinegar faces.”

  4. Years ago, there were Christians who objected to the casual use of the word “Christmas” and of Christian symbols to promote secular commerce.

    I think a lot of us, Christian or not, conservative or liberal, are happiest when we are telling other people what to do.

    • +1

    • And I wonder how many Christians are at all concerned that the cashier wishing them Happy Holidays might be missing an advent service, or a Sunday morning worship service, or Special Christmas program because he or she might be mandated to work or be fired.

      • Or a Sunday at home with her 10 year old son, who rarely gets to see her for more than a few hours at a time because she works two jobs and has a constantly changing schedule.

  5. Nice choice on the music, Jeff!

  6. The whole holiday greeting thing has gotten frustrating. Not only has a longtime legitimate holiday greeting “Happy Holidays” been demonized to be unchristian or anti-christian, but now “Merry Christmas” is a weapon we are supposed to use to assault those who greet us with “Happy Holidays.” Now both phrases of blessing have been so heavily laden with unintended political connotations that it’s no fun to use them anymore, nor can they be heard without automatically speculating as to the speaker’s motives. Our plowshares have been turned into swords against our will.

  7. Two of my Greats with birthdays this past week; Bruce Hornsby and Bill Buckley. I get my melody from Bruce and my vocabulary from Bill.

  8. Pastor Mac says:

    Boycotting Radio Shack? How do you determine if this is successful when no one goes into the Shack now??

  9. Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

    I haven’t seen much of Doctor Who before the 2005 reboot, but I’ve found the treatment of religion in the 2005-current series to be pretty intriguing. There certainly isn’t a default position. I like the episode with the vicar who finds out he’s an alien (with the exception of this dying curse). I enjoy the militant Anglican Church of the future as a pretty amusing take on the evolution of ecclesiastical organizations. The scene of the folks singing “Old Rugged Cross” in gridlock gives me chills every time. I think this quote from the article is a good summary:

    Perhaps one of the most helpful ways of thinking about religion in Doctor Who is to see the show as a lens through which to explore religious concepts and raise ethical issues. For example, Doctor Who has repeatedly dealt with the question of what belief actually is.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      That is quite the scene, I agree.

      Coming from a very fundamentalist, sectarian to the point of cultic “angry God is going to make you burn if you are not perfect” background, I realy appreciated the “false god” themes in Dr Who…

    • We were just watching the episode “Amy’s Choice” which contains one of my favorite and most poignant lines. Not to spoil anything, but when something happens and the Doctor doesn’t perform in accordance with the expectations she has built up around him Amy questions “Then WHAT is the point of you?” Chills. I agree with the quote from the article. While the show never gives any answers, it is ripe with images and scenarios that make us ask questions.

  10. This Ed Young, Jr., is a real clown in the traveling Evangelical Circus, isn’t he? Sort of a David Lee Roth for the short hair, Bible-thumping set.

  11. When I was growing up, the “controversy” about Christmas was people shortening the word to “Xmas” – dcTalk even recorded a bad rap song about it. I imagine the AFA’s board meetings to be a bunch of old white dudes sitting around a table smoking cigars… “Gentleman, we need to find something to get people mad about again this year. Subscriptions are way down, and a Democrat is in the White House… Something must be done!”

    • I remember “Xmas” when I was a kid too. And the slogan against it was “Let’s keep Christ in Christmas”.

      But I also remember my mother pointing out, way back then, that “X” is the Greek letter for Ch, so a good abbreviation for Christ. And years later, in bible courses, I and others would abbreviate Christ with an X. None of us got struck with lightning.

      Cashiers saying “Happy holidays” doesn’t bother me. Only don’t, please, don’t say “Season’s greetings”. I mean, that just don’t make no sense.

    • That was the era of Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” movie, so you can see how misunderstandings might occur.

  12. Well of course the Bible is not totally fiction, but it does indeed CONTAIN fiction… Jesus’ many parables were all designed to be fictional stories, and they are true in the way that fiction is true: Fiction portrays life the way that we actually live it, including all the messes we make. Therefore we find ourselves in such stories, and experience spiritual catharsis and renewal simply by hearing them and reflecting on them. Two of the “truest” stories in scripture for me are the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan… Both of them fiction.
    Obviously Jesus believed in the power of fiction: “Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing>” (Mt 13.34)

    • And if critical theory / hermeneutics is the sort of subject you studied in school, you can expect to find yourself shelving at WalMart!

  13. Jeff, I wrote up a post on a while back that I think you would enjoy, about how Doctor Who can tend to reveal the “Eucharistic cravings” of its writers:

    http://backoftheworld.com/2013/02/20/the-eucharistic-tardis-doctor-who-the-catholic-church-and-the-hole-in-the-western-heart/

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I would blow up my TV before I would ever watch a show that follows the Ed Young, Jr., family around. Please please please tell me that this will never be.

    “Just like The Kardashians, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”