April 24, 2014

Saturday Ramblings 12.29.12

Well, iMonks, we did it again. We made it through another year. Or at least almost. I guess there are a couple of days left in this one. Might as well use them up before we throw out the whole thing. So if you are ready, let’s saddle up one more time this year and ramble.

I didn’t know that Carl Henry once asked C.S. Lewis to write for a new, upstart magazine called Christianity Today. Lewis said no, and it’s an interesting read to see why.

Pope Paul VI, he of Vatican II fame, is one step closer to sainthood. And I’m sure that has some who think Vatican II was as necessary as Porkys II fuming.

Jesus, as we all know, was born in Bethlehem. But maybe not that Bethlehem, but this Bethlehem. Confused?

If so, this sure won’t make sense to you. Seems Peter Parker—aka Spiderman—is going to die. But before he does, he is going to pass on all of his powers and memories to his former enemy, Doc Ock. Then Doc Ock will become Spiderman. Why is this a story for Saturday Ramblings? Well, I could find a theological component in the righteous one dying and the bad guy inheriting all of the good guy’s power. I could do that. But to own the truth, it’s really a slow news week for the Rambler.

But not too slow to note that 2013 looks to be a great year for comets. Can’t wait for Ison to make its appearance.

Here is an interesting look at an iconic song. Do you think it has been overplayed to the point where it no longer can move you?

Tired of all the macho Christianity that sidles up next to gun ownership? Father James Martin has just the Bible passage for you. (And if you are only going to read one thing this week, read that.)

What buzz words from this past year are you ready to have go away? Gangnam? Zombie? YOLO? Take your pick among these and some others. I wish they had never arrived in the first place.

Finally, here in Oklahoma we take pride in our state. And we’re not going to have snot-nosed five-year-olds messing it up by wearing filthy Michigan t-shirts. I say hurrah for what this school did. Ship him back to East Lansing if that is what he wants to wear. (I told you it was a slow news week.)

Happy birthday wishes were wished to Lady Bird Johnson; Barbara Billingsly; Steve Garvey; Maurice Gibb; Robin Gibb; Chet Baker; Howard Hughes; Red Green; Humphrey Bogart; Rod Serling; Gary Sandy; Annie Lennox; Mao Tse-Tung; Carlton Fisk; Cokie Roberts; Stan Lee; Dame Maggie Smith; and Edgar Winter.

Still cleaning up after your Christmas dinner? You should have prepared the meal following the Red Green method. So grab yourself some duct tape and let’s get cooking. Enjoy.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niegc7QcilM']

 

 

Comments

  1. For a slow news week, you sure have some great links Jeff.

  2. Wenatchee The Hatchet says:

    Another Marvel plot twist, another Marvel retcon inside of three years. :)

    • Amen to that, Wenatchee. The character whose name is on the cover does not stay dead. You don’t permanently kill off Superman, you don’t permanently kill off Batman (heck, even Jason Todd got a come-back), you don’t permanently kill off Captain America and you don’t permanently kill off Spiderman.

      After the nonsense of “One More Day”, I suppose they just thought “Hey, what can we do that’s even more ridiculous?” and this notion came up. It’s about the maximum controversy possible to get people buying the comics to see what is going on. Now, if Aunt May permanently stayed dead, that would be a novelty! Excelsior! ;-)

      I wouldn’t blame Pope Paul VI for Vatican II, or at least, not for the “Spirit of Vatican II” types who have spent the last forty years blaming him for squashing the vision that John XXIII (allegedly) intended. Paul is my pope, since he was enthroned the year I was born and I lived up to my mid-teens under his reign, and I’ve always liked him despite the criticism he gets from both progressive and conservative wings of the Church. No, he wasn’t a man for the firm hand of rule and he may have been a bit too soft. But there is never going to be a pope who does everything the more progressive types want, and as for the really traditional traditionalists, Vatican II brought in some necessary reforms (it’s not the fault of the Council that some over-zealous types ran with all kinds of improvements that were not countenanced or intended, and threw out the baby along with the bathwater).

      • Wenatchee The Hatchet says:

        ALl those plot twists that “change everything” and change nothing could be why some of us have stuck to Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, and Dwayne McDuffie’s cartoons. The DCAU manages to have all the good points of the best stories from the comics without the stifling mid-continuity retcons, or at least a chuckling commentary on an episode where the writers admit there’s a continuity error.

        I suppose at least with Jason Todd the Lazarus Pit explanation could get used.

    • Dan Slott was even interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered” regarding the “death” of Spiderman. This is either big news or a slow news week for all the outlets.

  3. I enjoyed reading the C.S. Lewis/Christianity Today stuff. I find it interesting that Lewis realized he had his own seasons: a season for blunt theology and a season for subtle allegory.

  4. Correction: Doc Ock, on his deathbed, switched minds with a young and healthy Spidey. The body of Doc Ock then died (in issue 700), apparently taking Spidey’s mind with it. Ock’s mind now lives on in Spidey’s body–and with access to all of Spidey’s memories to boot. That means he gets to sleep with MJ.

    Before he died, Peter (who had access to Octavius’s memories as well) was confronted with the image of…well, remember way back when Dr. Octopus proposed to Aunt May? The wedding was called off, of course, but as we now know, Aunt May didn’t wait for the honeymoon to…oh the horror, the horror! When you thin about it, Peter’s really better off dead.

    Anyway, “comic book death” is well known for being reversible, especially when the character in question has a new movie coming out.

  5. “Do you think it has been overplayed to the point where it no longer can move you?”

    Yes. But it is interesting how such a song captures the passionate following among a society of the spiritually unaffiliated. Evangelicals look out over the country and see people moving away from religion. To me, the apparent love of this song is a cry of the people for something of substance and meaning – a call which evangelicals have failed to answer.

  6. I think the piece on Lewis and CT is brilliant and telling, that the foundations of the evangelical collapse date back to that time, when all seemed right with American religion. American religion was lulled into tried-and-true methods of traditional hermaneutics and religious debate, while an America outside the walls of the evangelical ghetto was slowly walking away. George Lucas probably understood what Lewis meant, but from the perspective and inspiration of Joseph Campbell’s “power of myth”. The efforts to turn Narnia into a similar movie phenomenon seemed to fall flat. It came across as one more trite output of the evangelical ghetto. Perhaps the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was far more successful in capturing the American psyche, as was the “Matrix” trilogy. But the connection back to that religious ghetto could not be made, where the goal seemed to be forcing more people to move into the ghetto, rather than to break down the walls between that self-imposed ghetto and the real world. American evangelical religion fails to capture the imagination of an America that is truly searching for meaning and answers, but can’t find them in a religious world more interested in shoving the defense of its dogmas down everyone’s throats.

    To make a long post as short as possible, the problem, as I believe was rightly identified in the American Experience series “God in America”. began with the outcome of the Scopes trial, where evangelicals retreated to their ghetto and the inspirational stories of the sacred text became mere battlefields in an ongoing cultural war. As Paul Tillich stated in his essay, “The Lost Dimension in Religion”, “The first step toward the nonreligion of the Western world was made by religion itself. When it defended its great symbols, not as symbols, but as literal stories, it had already lost the battle. In doing so the theologians (and today many religious laymen) helped to transfer the power expressions of the dimension of depth into objects or happenings on the horizontal plane.”

    • Regarding Tillich: always good for telling us that Christianity’s “great symbols” were “symbols,” not ” literal stories,” but not so good at telling us what they were symbolizing, besides the so-called “ground of being,” which is about as vague and amorphous a metaphor as possible, indicating everything and nothing at the same time. He was unwilling to run the risk of using “symbols” and “metaphors” that were embedded in a falsifiable meaning-system, so in fact he was unwilling to assert anything meaningful. “Ground of being” is not an improvement over “God the Father.” The wonderful thing about “God the Father” is that it is “grounded” in the “horizontal plane” of existence, and so conveys an analogy of being between our experience and who God is; the problem with “ground of being” is that none of us has ever met a “ground of being,” good or bad, and so it lacks roots in our existential condition. If a statement cannot be connected with lived experience, it lacks any meaningful content and logical coherence. In fact, Tillich’s “ground of being” depends on a tangential connection with older definitions and metaphors for any meaning that it contains; apart from them, it is vague and abstract. This is not what Lewis meant. His metaphors, like logical assertions, were embedded in a meaning-system that was open to falsification: they were assertions of something either true or false. That means that he was actually saying something that had meaningful content, and that had to correlate to objective fact and basic belief for that meaning.

      • I think Tillich’s definition of “ground of being” or “ultimate concern” is not intelligible without first understanding Martin Buber’s concept of “I” and “Thou”, that by even calling God “Father” can unintentionally reduce God to an object, an idea or “it” rather than “Thou”. Theism can produce the very impersonalization of God of which many accuse Tillich. The discussion last week, where the best and brightest of the cultural war clamed this loving “Father” either actively killed or passsively allowed children to be killed based on his judgement upon national public policies. This comes full circle with what I believe is the topic at hand, that evangelicals in their defense of religion as an idea or issue to be defended cannot capture the meaning intended in that original image of a “Father.”

        I don’t think the point of Tillich is to reduce God to impersonality but to attempt replace religious symbols which he saw as devoid of their original meaning with new ones. That is one approach. The other I believe is to redeem the old symbols from those who have hijacked and misused them for their own personal and political gain.

        But even the Jews in using the unutterable name to refer to their God understood that the names we give God can themselves become idols. That unutterable name did not impersonalize God but prevented God from reduced to an idea or idol.

        • As Christians, however, we dare to name God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Certainly the Bible itself uses other metaphors for God but the essential metaphorical matrix that identifies our language as Christian is the Trinitarian one. Jewish, along with Muslim, theology has always suspected Christianity of idolatry exactly because of the specificity of our name for God and because we assert that Jesus was both fully human and fully God; that is, we assert more than symbolic meaning for the Incarnation. The stories told and things written about Jesus in the New Testament do not symbolize truths that are universally accessible or that can be disclosed under names, metaphors, images, statement and narratives that do not refer back to the proclamation and assertions of the New Testament itself. Tillich attempted to divorce Christian theology from its concrete source because he believed that the essential truth about God or the ground of being or the dimension of depth or whatever was accessible to any person at any location without revelatory mediation; he believed that meaning was embedded and discoverable in existence itself, like water in the earth, and all we have to do is dig to find it. This is why his worldview is really Heideggerian and humanist rather than Christian. Heidegger was moving in the direction of Zen Buddhism rather than Christianity; when you strip the superficial patina of Christian nomenclature from Tillich, he also turns out to be closer to Zen Buddhism (or human potential theory) than Christian theology. Once again, this was not anything like Lewis’ intention in his always allegorical fiction. Lewis was always directly or indirectly referring back to the New Testament and the theology of patristic Christianity for the meaning that filled his stories. That was primary to him; his own fictions were secondary and dependent on the sources for their meaning.

          • Heather Angus says:

            Jesus said unto them, “Who do you say I am?”

            They replied, “You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the ontological foundation of the context of our very selfhood revealed.”

            And Jesus replied, “What?”

          • Heather Angus,
            LOL!

          • flatrocker says:

            Heather Angus –
            Isn’t this a quote from the Book of Confusiastes?
            (it’s little known but somehow highly quoted).

            Thanks for the chuckle.

          • No, we’re not drunk–why, it is not yet the third hour of the day! We’re just charismatic Heideggerians.

          • +1 for Heather and for Dumb Ox’s first comment..

            -2 for losing me in the ensuing discussion.

    • David Cornwell says:

      “evangelicals retreated to their ghetto ”

      In many ways this captures the essence of evangelicalism. Don’t bet on it changing much. Evangelicals dare not stick their heads out from that ghetto. Words like “myth” and “symbol” seem to strike unspeakable fear. So they arm themselves and fight the same old battles over and over. Scopes was 90 years ago, yet we hear the same arguments repeated. Some are boldly leaving the ghetto, others are sneaking out. Maybe in another 100 years it will be different.

      • David,
        If you’re eluding to me: sorry, I’m not an evangelical; I am, however, a Christian realist who believes that at the core of faithful Christian beliefs and affirmations there is an objective center which cannot be subsumed under the categories of “myth” and “symbol,” although these beliefs and affirmations generate myths and symbols that reflect the reality of what lay underneath. You will find Christians like me in every denomination, including those in the post-evangelical wilderness; we will always be here, so just get used to us.
        Oh, and we are not afraid of words like “myth” and “symbol,” we just know the proper place that they occupy, which is subordinate to, and in service of, objective truth.

        • David Cornwell says:

          Robert, not really eluding to you. I was mainly commenting on dumb ox’s statement about the ghetto. If you can isolate and identify objective truth, more power to you. I’m already “use to to you” and to many other varieties of Christians. However I do know people who are afraid of myth and symbol and therefore are not adept to their existence in theology.

          It does seem however that in many ways attempting to identify objective truth has become the stumbling block of Christian theology.

          • David,
            I understand your concern. Much of what I know about evangelicalism reveals a tendency to flatten the world and sap reality of its colors and beauty, as if God created the world as only a platform to launch object moral lessons and as a stage for the drama of salvation rather than as a inextinguishable expression of his creative identity and essence. The ghetto that Dumb Ox refers to is what sociologist Peter Berger calls a plausibility structure; all societies and cultures have these. Their purpose is to uphold the taken for granted reality that is the narrative the society or culture tells its occupants to order their lives. Plausibility structures become ghettoized when the subculture that adheres to a specific narrative is exposed to the relativizing effect of other cultural narratives and as a defensive mechanism chooses to construct barriers to protect it own narrative and occupants from the cognitive dissonance of competing stories ( a very clear, if extreme, example of this is the Amish). My own feeling is that Evangelicalism has always existed in a ghettoized plausibility structure because it is the result of Christianity reacting to the relativizing effects of modernism and now so-called post-modernism. But Christianity in general is now becoming ghettoized in the west (Europe and North America) because the prevailing assumptions of the culture are such that Christian belief and life can only take place in enclaves, whether physical or intellectual, where Christian narrative is upheld as the assumed account of existence. Any group that makes a specifically Christian profession and lives a specifically Christian life will become sect-like; if not, it will become another diluted institution of secularism, serving the values and upholding the narrative not of Jesus Christ but of (in our case) American secularism, consumerism and pragmatism materialism. Most of us serve those values every day of our lives more than we serve the narrative of Jesus Christ.
            Regarding identifying objective truth as a stumbling block to Christian theology: your very statement contains an assertion of what you take to be objective truth. Whenever I hear someone claim that objective truth is somehow a barrier to achieving some desired result, they are always inevitably making an assertion that their viewpoint is objectively true. It’s just that they don’t recognize the claim of objectivity in their own assertion (or more ominously, they are intentionally or subconsciously hiding their objective assertion as a manipulative power ploy in the service of attaining a specific goal). We cannot avoid the risk that certainly exists in the project of identifying objective truth without giving up saying anything meaningful; the truths expressed in orthodox patristic Christianity, the truth contained in Jesus Christ, is worth that risk.

          • David Cornwell says:

            Robert, thanks for your last reply. You have a philosophical mind that takes a bit of work to follow! I’m not complaining and I do admire it.

            “your very statement contains an assertion of what you take to be objective truth. Whenever I hear someone claim that objective truth is somehow a barrier to achieving some desired result, they are always inevitably making an assertion that their viewpoint is objectively true.”

            Not sure I agree with this. Sure, I give a lot of weight to my opinions, but they remain just that– opinions. Many times I’ve been argued into another side of a debate and over the years have moderated the views of long past youth, when indeed my opinions were “objective!”

            Behind it all I’m sure there is objective truth, if we want to call it that. However ultimately the basis of my belief comes through faith. Although I can find much evidence of the resurrection and try to prove it, in the long run proving it will never work. Non-believers will remain just that. Piling up proof all around them, yet they still do not believe. My faith in the resurrection is stronger than ever, but I cannot prove it.

          • David,
            I don’t mean to imply that your,or my, opinions can never be false, or that I’m not open to logical suasion. But would you really offer a personal opinion if you believed it was false? There is a very subjective element all Christian conviction about the resurrection, but it is rooted in a factual reality that is congruent with the subjective element that arises. We cannot offer proof of many things, in the strict sense, even proof that we existed a millisecond ago; nevertheless, we accept many things as self-evident and it’s reasonable to do so.
            When you assert that your opinions are just opinions, is that just an opinion? You don’t honestly believe that, David. Nobody in fact can believe that. Examine what you believe when making the statement that opinions are never assertions of truth but only opinions; what you are actually asserting is that this is your opinion and also the truth, as best you can apprehend it. If you come to a place where you no longer believe it’s true, you will change your opinion to one which you believe is true, as you obviously did when you were “argued into another side”; you won’t continue to hold your erroneous opinion just because it’s only an opinion and all opinions equally valid. You won’t consciously choose something you believe is false as your opinion.

          • David Cornwell says:

            “would you really offer a personal opinion if you believed it was false? ”

            In a sense, the answer is yes. At least when I was 15-17 years of age. I’d argue with my mother giving arguments that for a few moments were my opinions. As a teen I could convince myself, for a few hours or days that I was correct. She would play along, sometimes stating another side, mostly just wishing I’d shut my mouth.

            Going back to the resurrection. This was an objective event that was witnessed to by those to whom He appeared. This does not make it any easier however, because the world mostly thinks anyone who asserts this “fact” is crazy. Yet it is the event on which history hinges, the old history ends and a new begins. The event is different from all others, and cannot be repeated. So, in a way, here is an absolute that changes everything else, before, in the now, and forever. And we look forward to His coming.

          • David,
            I feel as if you’re playing the same kind of game with me that you played with your Mother back then. The unfounded, momentary flights- of- fancy of an adolescent involved in a rebellious power struggle with his Mom are hardly the same as a mature, reasoned opinion based in experience, honesty, reflection and consistent thinking. You seem to be asserting that an opinion based in a perception of truth is the same as a preference, like preferring vanilla to chocolate ice cream. But we all know that the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie is not a mere preference.
            I agree with everything you say about the resurrection. Our conviction about its objective reality depends on God revealing to us directly, in various ways, that it is a fact and true; the evidence and logical arguments for it do not prove it to us or anyone else, but demonstrate that it is not a logically impossible and unreasonable belief to hold. If the world thinks otherwise, it’s because the world does not think clearly, and perhaps does not want to think clearly.

          • David Cornwell says:

            Robert, I really have not been playing a game with you. And if you think what I have to say is adolescent, then so be it. I’m not sure at this point even what our differences might be. I think at some point I must have offended you, which was not my intent.

            All I was saying in the beginning is that I think objective opinion about theology is difficult. I don’t have sufficient knowledge, apparently, to adequately state this to your satisfaction. When I mentioned my behavior with my mother I meant it as humorous aside, but yet containing an element of how I feel. She never called me a liar, and I never felt like one.

            You have the ability to parse and analyze statements to the satisfaction of a philosopher. I don’t have that ability.

            This should probably be the end of what apparently has been a fruitless discussion. In the beginning you seemed to think I was directing my comments to your statements as some kind of personal attack. That should have been a signal to me to end the discussion.

            Peace.

          • David,
            Apologies. Not my intention to call you a liar, please forgive me if I did that by implication, nor to suggest your concerns are adolescent, which just goes to show that I don’t have the ability to communicate what I’d like to without giving offense. I did not take offense at your initial comments, but I did rise to what I thought was the bait, maybe too quick to like an argument rather than the irenic spirit that a Christian should exhibit, especially to another Christian. Please forgive me.

          • David Cornwell says:

            Robert, I too am sorry. You are a good communicator, so don’t worry about that. I think one of the downsides of web postings is that we are just writing and therefore we do without seeing the other person’s body language and misinterpretation is possible. Maybe I did bait you a little, but I really meant no harm. It just seemed toward the end we were on a downward spiral, and that shouldn’t be. I’ll take my share of the responsibility.

            My daughter says I like to argue too much. But it’s normally with people I like. And I’ve lost many of the arguments!

            Seeing that we might be back on the right track, please don’t avoid me in the future. Sir, you are forgiven. I’ll ask you to do the same.

          • I will try to be more careful generally in my comments, but I promise that won’t involve avoiding you.
            The peace of the Lord be always with you, David.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            David,
            I understand your concern. Much of what I know about evangelicalism reveals a tendency to flatten the world and sap reality of its colors and beauty, as if God created the world as only a platform to launch object moral lessons and as a stage for the drama of salvation rather than as a inextinguishable expression of his creative identity and essence.

            In four words: “It’s All Gonna Burn.”
            So why bother? Sell that Fire Insurance!

            My own feeling is that Evangelicalism has always existed in a ghettoized plausibility structure because it is the result of Christianity reacting to the relativizing effects of modernism and now so-called post-modernism.

            Including reacting to the 19th Century Social Gospel (which became a Gospel without personal salvation) with a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation. Sell that Fire Insurance!

            Communism begets Objectivism.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      American evangelical religion fails to capture the imagination of an America that is truly searching for meaning and answers, but can’t find them in a religious world more interested in shoving the defense of its dogmas down everyone’s throats.

      Which is why on every Christian F&SF writer’s list I’ve been on, I’ve been the vocal gadfly about going mainstream. And in my current fan obsession, I have read half a dozen excellent My Little Pony fanfics with more echoes and reflections of the Gospel than anything you’ll find in the Official Christian(TM) “evangelical ghetto”.

      A couple years ago on this blog, someone commented about hearing a direct word from God, what my church calls “Special Revelation”. As I’m from a church where “Mary Channeling” is the traditional way to flake out, I’m pretty skeptical about Special Revelations. But this one got me thinking:

      The claim was that God was withdrawing His mantle from the Christianese Ghetto movie/art/publishing and placing it on secular moviemakers/artists/writers/publishers. (Mene, Mene, Tekel, Uparshim…) Henceforth the mainstream would begin to show and say what God wanted shown and said. And maybe some of that would even come through colorful cartoon ponies and theiir derivative fanfics.

  7. I was born in Bethlehem and it was neither one of these 2 :-) It is called “The Christmas City” and it is beautiful to visit the historic Moravian area. However, this “little town of Bethlehem” now has a casino. Oh well, you can’t go home again.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      That’s gotta be Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
      (I have a contact in Northampton north of Allentown.)

  8. Michigan is Ann Arbor , Michigan St is E. Lansing

  9. That was an interesting article about C.S. Lewis. I surely do love him.

    And hey, I would be all for Jesus being born in the Bethlehem of Galilee. It would have made more sense for Mary to make that shorter trip in her very pregnant condition. And the place still has some great beauty, according to photos I found of the hills and trees and ruins that I found online.

    I do find it a bit odd sometimes the way the Hallelujah song gets “used.” It’s a song about sex and love having died. But it is a beautiful tune and with all those Hallelujahs in it, it feels “spiritual” to people.

  10. I think the archaeologist, Aviram Oshri, is looking for his 15 minutes of fame. In Luke, the Bethlehem mentioned is in Judea, not Galilee. Here is Luke 2:4-5 in the ESV, which follows pretty closely the Greek in my interlinear bible.

    4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child.

  11. “Hallelujah” is a break-up song with lots of spiritual imagery. Very beautiful, but rather inappropriate as done on the Voice for a tribute to the Newtown shooting victims. But then, the Voice – consider the source … And yes, I think it’s been way overused, especially on talent shows, as well as being misunderstood.

    Buzz words? Oh yes, please make them go away. And take Psy with you!

    Love Red Green. He’s an extremely creative and resourceful man. Just give him a roll of duct tape.

  12. I don’t know which I enjoyed more, the parables of Father James Martin or the creative cooking of Red Green. I think the parables are more apt for these times, though. Hard to find an Oldsmobile these days.

  13. The husband is a HUGE Leonard Cohen fan – it goes way back to listening to “rock” music for the first time when he was interning with a design firm during his Bob Jones University years. As much as he loves him, he wasn’t big on letting our sons listen to too much of him early on. And now they are into the if dad likes that music I probably won’t, so we’re good.

    He doesn’t like many of the redo’s of Cohen’s songs and got really frustrated by the overplay of Hallelujah a few years back. It seems to have become a catch all sad event song.

    Words have power. We need to listen to the words of music and not just to the feelings a song elicits. But that is a long rant to go into on a Saturday morning.

  14. I never could figure my evangelical friends using Cohen’s Hallelujah like a hymn. Do they even know the lyrics? But there’s the shallowness of so much in the evangelical ghetto. It sounds religious so it probably is and the tune is catchy. Don’t think about it too deeply or you might have questions and that’s bad. As long as you believe in a 7 day creation, like guns, and vote conservative, you’re in the club and being in the club is all that really matters. Being in the club gives you the assurance that you are a tad bit better than the unwashed, unbelieving masses…

    • There are so many versions of it I can hardly keep them straight, but to me it’s very Jewish–the biblical stories all kind of flow into each other (David and Samson) and serve as archetypes informing the singer’s real-life existential issues.

  15. Speaking of Leonard Cohen, I love the lyrics in his “Anthem” some of which are:

    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.

    • Joanie, an old friend of mine put those same lyrics up on his facebook page a month or so ago. Is there something going on that I’m in the dark about? I’ve got that album too, and it’s great.

  16. Richard McNeeley says:

    Will Ison turn out to be another Kohoutek? Kouhotek was hyped to be the comet of the 20th century, yet failed to live up to expectations.

    • I hope not, Richard. I’ve already got my lawn chair pointed toward the west, and my binoculars in hand…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Kohutek DID trigger a local Rapture Scare where I was. Something about Isaiah and the light of sun and moon increasing sevenfold due to reflection from the comet which fulfilled some End Time Prophecy or other…

  17. Brianthedad says:

    Father Martin’s satire is very interesting (and funny) and I understand the points it is making. I even agree with much of it. I have some questions, and they are sincere as I seek to understand how I should live and act in light of the Gospel and Jesus’ grace and mercy.

    Like everywhere in this fallen creation, there are bad people where my family lives. Crime is real here. We have been victims of crime. There is a question here that I would really like some thoughtful, scriptural, imonk answers to, not just the empty clichés offered elsewhere.

    As a father and husband tasked with the defense of my family, what is a Christian to do? I am willing to turn the other cheek for myself, but not at the expense of the little ones I am responsible for. I firmly believe in Paul’s statement that the government bears the sword to punish evildoers and I leave it to them and their swords. In our form of government, however, we are part of the government, aren’t we? So do we have some right, some duty, to protect the weak among us from those who would harm them? I’m not advocating roving bands of vigilantes. I’m talking about defense, even armed defense, in the home, or elsewhere, of those I believe I am duty bound to protect. There has to be a practical, scriptural middle way between the satirical example Martin uses and the opposite extreme of peacefully watching as your family is hurt.

    Any ideas?

    • Randy Thompson says:

      It seems to me that Christ brings us to the border of pacifism but doesn’t cross the border. In a violence-saturated culture, it’s probably a good idea to emphasize “Blessed are the meek. . . ” while knowing where the border is.
      It seems to me that pacifism can be about looking good while avoiding doing good, especially in the situations you mention.

    • Dan Crawford says:

      I’m not so sure the United States of America has shown itself terribly capable of protecting the weak from the predations of those who use the government to protect their behavior – in fact, the government has done all sorts of things to ignore the criminal conduct of corporations and their executives in the name of “free enterprise”. The “Gospel” Father Martin satirizes is in fact the gospel clung to by far too many Americans.

      • Brianthedad says:

        Whoa, there cowboy. I’m talking real life here. Not corporate robber baron politics. I’m looking for what imonks think the word says about individual actions in regards to defense of family, not knee jerk political reactions I can get at the water cooler. Read my question again.

        • Brianthead,
          I live in an area of central PA that has many Mennonites, both plain and not; they all adhere to the principle of Christian pacifism because that’s part of what they believe Christian discipleship to entail (granting that some of them remain Mennonite not from any deep conviction but for the same reason that others remain Roman Catholic or Baptist or etc.: because all their friends and relatives are Mennonite). But their practice of Christian pacifism is rooted in the church as a community, a community that practices and professes its faith together and finds its strength for nonviolence in a shared history and way of life, in shared worship and exhortation and mutual support in the way of discipleship. Apart from being rooted in such a community and its practices, I don’t think it’s possible to practice the purity of Christian pacifism. Christian pacifism is not a lone-wolf exercise nor a kind of non-violent vigilantism, if you’ll excuse the uncomfortable analogies. I suggest that you do the best you can with the situation you’re in, as much as possible being at peace with your neighbors (to paraphrase Paul), and maybe trying to build your own church into a community that practices peace and reconciliation in all areas of life.
          One final note with the purpose of ameliorating your anxieties: the Mennonite community in this area is part of the establishment, honored and protected by local authorities, respected (by most) and firmly entrenched in the everyday life of the wider community. Mennonites in fact lead a charmed life in this area, prosperous and secure, and its members are unlikely to have violent encounters of any kind; on the rare occasion when they do, the authorities step in quickly and serve as protectors. It is easy to profess pacifism in such a situation, and I’ve sometimes wondered if the current generation of Mennonites is living on the inheritance of their forbear’s strong convictions rather than their own, and whether they would stand up to the test if it ever came. And finally, Mennonites (especially the plain and Amish) own many rifles because they are hunters, using game as an important part of their diet; so, I hope they remain pacifists for the foreseeable future.
          Peace to you and yours, brother.

  18. Randy Thompson says:

    RE: Spiderman.

    Didn’t Mr. Spock do this in one of the Star Trek movies?

    • And Jesus in all four of the gospels? Stay tuned…

      • What?! Is there some gospel where Jesus switches minds with Judas, who then gets to go around being Jesus? While Jesus (in the body of Judas) is plagued with disturbing images of his mother from way back when she was dating Judas…? Because I’m totally converting to that religion!