October 18, 2017

Saturday Ramblings 12.7.13

RamblerIt’s beginning to look a lot like … well, in the middle of these United States, it’s beginning to look a lot like winter. And feel like winter. It might even smell like winter for all I know. I’m trying to stay inside as much as I can. I like to be warm. Not too warm, mind you. But not cold either. Lukewarm is not good spiritually, but it is bodily. Blankets and sweatshirts and slippers, oh my. It’s beginning to look a lot like … let’s ramble, shall we?

Those of you who know me know what my reaction was when I saw the headline, “What Dave Ramsey Gets Wrong.” I first wondered how they could get it all in just one article. Then I saw it was what he gets wrong about poverty. And it was written by our friend Rachel Held Evans. Now you want to read it, too.

I have to confess that I used to be a Rushaholic. I listened gleefully to all three hours of his hot air every day. Then I read in Michael Horton’s Beyond Culture Wars that many Christians would put up more of a fight if you disagreed with Rush’s opening monologue than if you disagreed with one of the basic tenants of the Incarnation of Christ. I realized he was right, and haven’t listened to more than 15 minutes total of Rush for 15 years. And after Rush declared Pope Francis to be spewing Marxism, I have to say I think Al Franken may just be right. Rush is a big, fat idiot.

And then there is Adam Shaw of Fox News who says that Pope Francis is the Catholic Church’s Obama. Sigh … Do you think it is possible to discuss this pope without using the terms “liberal” or “conservative”?

Have I mentioned that I really like this leader of the Church? Not the pope. This leader.  A Cross that has no weight is not worth carrying. Indeed.

Rev. Randy shares the story of a Baptist preacher and Hindu monk who got married. It sounds like a joke (and I’m sure you could make a good one out of that), but it’s a true story. Is this being “unequally yoked”?

Been following the Mark Driscoll plagiarism controversy? A part time radio producer has resigned over the situation, saying, “All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes. You may not go up against the machine. That is all.” Well, maybe not all. I would think that a publisher is going to think long and hard before signing Driscoll again. Oh, what am I saying? If they can make a buck off of him, most publishers wouldn’t care if he photocopied Purpose Driven Life and called it his own.

What famous Christian author gave away all of his book royalties, almost leading him to financial ruin? Considered himself a very poor communicator? Had a really messed-up personal life? Give up? Check here for the answer. Surprised?

Ok, let’s continue our guessing game. Guess what Southern Baptist leader is now defending rap music? Well, kind of. Here is what he has to say:  I want that language taken for the cause of the Gospel and I pray to see a generation of young Gospel-driven rappers take dominion of that music for the glory of God. I don’t care for rap (if we had country rap, would that be called “crap” for short?), but that statement bothers me. What do you think?

Adam Palmer found this article by Patton Dodd to be encouraging. “Hopefully it’s a sign of where megachurches are headed and will be an inspiration to some.” I agree. You?

AP also wonders if the hiring of screenwriter David McGee to pen the script for the next Narnia movie portends to something that will be watchable. Nothing could be as bad as the last Narnia movie. Well, ok, the third Pirates movie was rather horrible.

Do you remember the long-ago (last year) story about “Pastor” Alois Bell who left her waitress at Applebee’s a note that read, “I give God 10%, why do you get 18?” She left a note, but no tip. Well, perhaps that story has led to a happy ending. There is an anonymous person or persons leaving huge tips at restaurants around the country going only by the moniker “Tips For Jesus.” Interesting. Your thoughts?

Martin Luther, professional cusser? Apparently so. Telling an opponent to “eat sh*t”? In Christian love, of course. Was he just the Mark Driscoll of his day? And guess what state is the “sweariest” according to The Atlantic? No, guess. Guess again. Damn it, guess again. Got it? Good.

iMonk Mike Bell, can’t you get your country in order? Now Canada is claiming the North Pole as their own. No, really. Santa Claus included, I assume?

Richard McNeeley took me up on finding the most unusual Christmas gifts. And while his list contains a lot that could be the star on the tree (like Instant Irish Accent Breath Spray), I think I will have to go with this as this week’s winner. I mean, who would NOT want one of these? What do you have for me for next week?

Those celebrating birthdays this last week include Winston Churchill; Allan Sherman; G. Gordon Liddy; Noel Paul Stookey; Abbie Hoffman; Bo Jackson; Richard Pryor; Michael McDonald; Aaron Rodgers; Andy Williams; Francisco Franco; Dennis Wilson; Jeff Bridges; Walt Disney; Jim Messina; and Dave Brubeck.

I saw Loggins and Messina play at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio (the sweariest state) in the early 1970s. Then I went to see them again in Fresno, California in 2005. They are about as musically pure as it gets. And Jim Messina (seen here on the mandolin) was always the more musically talented of the two. I love this song of theirs. I hope you do as well. Enjoy.

Comments

  1. Any time someone uses a phrase like “take dominion” it’s a big red flag, and I’m outa there. The great thing about extreme fundies is that their lingo gives them away, so you can spot them almost instantly. And get outa there.

    • So you don’t consider “extreme fundies” to be Christians? Otherwise, why would you want to break all fellowship with them by getting “outa there,” rather than engaging them in difficult and uncomfortable, though boundaried, dialogue?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > So you don’t consider “extreme fundies” to be Christians?

        No, I do not. Everything I’ve found their points to ‘thin identity’ politics.

        >why would you want to break all fellowship with them by getting “outa there,”

        Personally, I do not want to hear it [I have heard it all before]. Listening to it accomplishes nothing – and they will interpret that as you being ‘convicted’ by their messages, thus edifying their message to themselves. Turning your back on some messages is the most compassionate thing you can do.

        >rather than engaging them in difficult and uncomfortable, though boundaried, dialogue?

        Boundaried dialog can only occur when all participants desire it.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Personally, I do not want to hear it [I have heard it all before]. Listening to it accomplishes nothing – and they will interpret that as you being ‘convicted’ by their messages, thus edifying their message to themselves.

          And now to see if Robert F follows that pattern.

          • HUG,
            You really are a master of the cheap shot.

          • Cheap shot includes talking about people instead of to them, if you want to know.

          • Which you probably don’t, because you think I’m not worth engaging in dialogue, so you just want to shut me down.

            But that ain’t gonna happen, because I like to talk, just like you do, HUGGY.

            And it’s all good, because I love you anyway, you big, sarcastic LUG, you1

            And a blessed Advent to you.

        • Of course, if no real communication is occurring because a dialogue partner is not truly dialoguing, then an open-ended pause in the effort to engage is obviously warranted; that itself is a form of communication. But I would think there always needs to also be an openness to resume dialogue, when and if the other is willing to truly enter into dialog.

          In any case, I can’t see how there would be warrant for avoiding any and all possibility of communication on the basis of other Christians use of “code” phrases and words that automatically disqualify them both from being identified as Christian, and from being in dialogue with us, even though we have not yet really even attempted to discuss anything with them.

          In addition, if you profess belief in the Trinity, and affirm Jesus Christ as redeemer of humanity, and don’t define humanity in such a way that excludes other human beings (racism), then I consider you Christian, however else I might disagree with you. Which means that I won’t automatically preclude you from dialogue or fellowship, anymore than I can preclude from the Communion of Saints the many Christians of past centuries with whom I have deep moral disagreements.

        • “Boundaried dialog can only occur when all participants desire it.”

          Exactly. And when the extreme fundy calls me a “so-called Christian” there is no desire on his part. I’m still here, waiting.

          • “So-called Christian”. Kind of like hearing the small town Baptist family member who disapproves of the church you attend telling another family member, “well at least they are in church”.

      • Al Mohler isn’t extreme fundy. And whatever he is, he’s at least up-front about it.

        But the question isn’t whether I consider extreme fundies Christian. I’ll assume that they are, and let God sort it out. The question really is whether they consider me Christian. I know some that don’t. FINE. I’ll be polite, smile through my teeth, and let God sort that out too.

  2. It’s surprising how many people don’t know that Dennis Wilson wrote one of the Beach Boys’ best songs:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Tokxcbu_Uo

  3. I mostly agree with miss Evans about the message of Dave Ramsey. Sure, he dispenses some good advice, advice that can actually work if people try it. But, unfortunately, Dave just doesn’t get it when it comes to poverty. lack of education, lower mental abilities, accidents of birth, and just plain bad luck, ALL of these things contribute to poverty and people’s lack of ability to climb out of it.
    And another thing Dave…if a person has advanced as far in life as is possible, given what that person has to work with, living debt free does NOT guarantee prosperity! I personally know people whose work lives are stable, but they have advanced as far along the pay scale as is possible, but due to their income level they are living on the razor’s edge of solvency. As long as nothing goes wrong they do just fine, but when a medical issue pops up, or a vehicle needs extensive repair, no amount of “envelopes” can keep them from getting buried.

    And saving? Are you KIDDING ME? When all of your efforts go toward normal living, rent food, and other usual expenses there is NOTHING left to save! The simple bell curve at work. Jesus said “the poor ye always have with you…” and there is a reason for that. But what I am concerned about is the current trend of the destruction of the middle class. I’m there and feeling the pinch. I’m not poor, but I am one disaster away from it.

    • I agree with everything your saying. Including the concern over the destruction of the middle-class.

      Historically, the middle class was the new socio/economic location for most people who escaped poverty; as the middle-class goes into decline, those people’s children and grandchildren and great grandchildren will wind up right back where there forbears started.

  4. Seneca Griggs says:

    Does our government have a solution for poverty? I’m thinking they don’t.. It appears to me, they’re “solutions” seem to simply guarantee greater poverty for more people.
    *
    Poverty is stubborn.

    • That Other Jean says:

      I’m more inclined to think that, while the government may not have a solution for poverty–although I’d be happy if they got into the business of actually creating jobs again; Lord knows there’s enough that needs fixing–it is the government’s job to keep people from starving and freezing even though they’re poor.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      >Does our government have a solution for poverty? I’m thinking they don’t.. It appears to me,
      > they’re “solutions” seem to simply guarantee greater poverty for more people.

      Yep.

      > Poverty is stubborn.

      Or not; there are actually many quite proven approaches to reducing poverty and creating mobility. But most of them are “un-American” and we are so afraid of the idea of creating a ‘moral hazard’ that we will never do them.

      Many studies indicate –
      – Public transit reliably drive revitalization, and in conjunction with price-controlled housing provides an upward mobility path for the wage class. And most *local* chamber’s of commerce will totally be on-board with a segment of housing being price-controlled as local business need those workers. But big-picture conservatives will fight this tooth-and-nail; witness the current debacle in Cincinnati. There world-view is threatened by public infrastructure that works efficiently; not to mention that transit-enabled urban areas are some of the least segregated places in the world – and you cannot attend those debates or discussions long without sensing a racial [or at least classist] undercurrent; you really need to set the charity meter to 11 of 10 not to interpret much of what is said that way.
      – Providing housing to the homeless is *cheaper* than dealing with them on the street, especially if you include the inevitable emergency room visits related to the homeless. But now the “moral hazard” meme asserts itself – you cannot *give* people housing! Even if it costs *less*. Add in the variable of acknowledging the issue of mental illness and this gets even stickier.
      – Education. That is so documented it is not even worth mentioning; most of our public policy in this regard is completely brain-damaged.

      Eliminating poverty is impossible; producing increased prosperity actually is not that hard. We know what works. We just don’t like it, it tastes bad. A faction of our nation seems devoted to a 1950s model of the world and demanding 1950s policies in response to 2010 problems.

      • Providing housing to the homeless is *cheaper* than dealing with them on the street, especially if you include the inevitable emergency room visits related to the homeless.

        A big problem with the homeless situation is you have to separate the mentally ill from the economically big hurt folks. And it’s hard to do with “rules”. And while it varies greatly by state our cure to the horrible institutions for the mentally ill prior to the 70s is to basically make them homeless. And legally hard to deal with as their desires come first in most legal situations. Which leads to the desires of a paranoid person driving being the primary decision maker in their situation. Which is not good.

  5. Seneca Griggs says:

    All the Jewish people under the old covenant were required to pay the tithe. Poverty was no excuse. That actually guaranteed that ALL the people had “skin in the game.” Poverty did not excuse one from paying a tithe.

    • True all were required to pay a tithe however if you only had nine sheep they all went thru so there was no tithe owed. the same convention was used in all of the worship and so the bottom 30-40% didn’t pay a tithe only those who had an abundance and it was from the abundance or increase that the tithe was taken.

      The modern preacher wants to trot out the example of the widows mites but seemingly forget the greater part of the lesson Jesus taught just back up a few paragraphs and see what he really taught and about whom, yes it was the church that was keeping this widow poor.

      And further most forget that Jesus was very concerned with the poor. When asked about true religion Jesus replied that the care of the widow and orphan in their time of need was God the fathers religion. Shalom

  6. Seneca Griggs says:

    Also interesting to note, rich or poor, your percentage was the same. Rich to pay 10%, poor to pay 10%. The rich were not punished.
    *
    [ As most readers know, there were charges associated with the various feasts and festivals. I’ve heard that ultimately it added up to about 30% of one’s annual income.but for simplicities sake have just focused on the 10% tithe.

  7. Maine doesn’t make the “sweariest” state and doesn’t make the least religious state (almost). One website says we are the most forested state, but another site says NH is. Darn you, New Hampshire! (Notice the “darn”, not “damn.” I am contributing to Mainers not being the sweariest.)

    Have a good weekend, fellow imonkers. Our Christmas tree goes up this weekend.

  8. Ah, Rush Limbaugh. There’s a lot that could be said about his current outburst, but I’ll just point out that he makes two egregious mistakes of definition. First, the Pope could not be spewing pure Marxism, which considers religion the opiate of the masses, because he would then be out of a job. Marxism is an economic system, not a religion, and the Pope is a religious figure. Second, capitalism is an economic system, not a political one. A democracy, oligarchy, monarchy, dictatorship, or survivalist anarchy could all consistently aspire to capitalism.

    Somehow with Rush and many, many others, misrepresented and largely misunderstood economic systems have replaced religion and civil polity.

    • David Cornwell says:

      “Somehow with Rush and many, many others, misrepresented and largely misunderstood economic systems have replaced religion and civil polity.”

      And is true regardless of whether it is communism, capitalism, or some mix thereof. So wealth and capital, in one way or another become the new gods. Thus “in god we trust” on our medium of exchange. Or maybe Marx. Makes no difference.

  9. Yes, I also had been a DittoHead–until ~15 years ago. In the late 80’s – early 90’s Rush was very entertaining. Especially liked the “caller abortions” and the animal rights updates.

    Rush is a prime example of the Religion of American Pelagian Protestant White Exceptionalism. It will be fascinating when Rush is confronted by Christ.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      In the late 80?s – early 90?s Rush was very entertaining. Especially liked the “caller abortions” and the animal rights updates.

      Back when he had a sense of humor and was doing “Conservatism as Theater”. Before he listened to too much of his own PR and came to believe every word uttered by his mouth Is Of Cosmic Importance. From Theater to Fundamentalist Religion.

    • “the Religion of American Pelagian Protestant White Exceptionalism”
      😀

  10. Defend rap? Gotta be kiddin’ bro. For something to be redeemed there must be something there to redeem.

  11. Yes, I did know before reading the linked article that Lewis gave so much of his income to charity that it nearly impoverished him, and that he continued to give until it hurt despite his terrible life-long dread of becoming poor. He clearly believed in putting his money where his mouth was.

    I wonder how many people during his lifetime were aware of how much he gave. I would guess not many did, because Lewis also would have believed on a biblical basis that giving should not be a public performance done for self-glorification, but a kind of secret discipline undertaken quietly and with as little hoopla as possible.

    I wonder how many Christian public figures today quietly give enormous amounts of their resources to charity, even to the point of pain; and I wonder how many of them are roundly criticized in the media and by the public, even perhaps by some of us, for being shameless capitalists and exploiters, only in it for the money, fame and power.

    On another note, and in connection with the rest of the article about Lewis, as I’ve learned more about the private Lewis I’ve come to admire him more as well. That he was human with human imperfections does not detract from his stature as a giant among Christians in the 20th century; and what the article shows is what I think was his greatest virtue: his faithfulness to people throughout his lifetime, even when it cost him much to be faithful, and his denial of himself in the name of following Jesus Christ, even to the point of suppressing his own phobias and denying some of his own real needs.

    Despite the spanking fetish (really? I wonder about the documentation for this) and living together with a woman in an ambiguous relationship for decades, or whatever else sparkles the enquiring minds, he followed an ascetic path, undertaken as a secret discipline for the sake of the love of Jesus Christ.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > Despite the spanking fetish (really? I wonder about the documentation for this)

      There is ample evidence; he expressed soda-masochistic ‘preferences’ on numerous occasions, including in letters to his friend. But so? There is *zero* evidence he ever tormented or injured anyone. Is there anyone who if there every letter [or now – message] was examined wouldn’t be found to have some creepy or weird fetish or tendency?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “SODA-Masochistic”?

        Does that mean you drink foul-tasting soft drinks for the erotic effect?

      • “But so?”

        Sometimes I wonder when claims like this are made about a public figure just what the documentation is, exactly because communications may be misinterpreted and distorted by those citing them; context is everything.

        I certainly don’t mean to say that I have no skeletons in my closet, either literary or behavioral.

        • Not to mention the fact that people – especially men – jest about these things endlessly. I had a boss once who called his own motorcycle “child molester yellow” (actually a common term in the industry). He wasn’t condoning the behavior or implying that he partook of it; rather, he was poking fun at his own garish choice. Lewis may have had issues, but I would really like to see this case put together before just accepting it.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Just out of curiosity, what shade of yellow IS “child molester yellow”?

          • Exactly.

          • I’m not sure. “Chrome yellow” it is sometimes called, but bright yellow like a Crayola is the best description.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            No, that is not applicable to Lewis. You can acquire anthologies of his letters. Even the most generous biographers (see the “Narnian” by Alan Jacobs) acknowledge this odd, and slightly disturbing, facet of Lewis’ character

            There is no way around that his relationship with Ms. Moore and the *extreme* secrecy he exercised in all things related to that relationship was creepy.

            Note that I say this as huge Lewis fan who owns pretty much everything he ever wrote.

            On top of the creepy masochistic thing – he was also an arrogant jerk who engaged in blunt-force intellectual snobbery for the first 1/3 of his life. Something he himself acknowledges.

  12. Welby on the cross brings up a strong point. Good to see that the book is written by G. Tomlin, also known as one of the members of the wonderful Godpod, which I first heard about years ago from M. Spencer, here at IMonk.

    http://sptc.htb.org.uk/godpod

    • Me too, and I still tune in. I’m always impressed with their measured and articulate response to issues of theological controversy.

  13. Richard Hershberger says:

    “I have to say I think Al Franken may just be right. Rush is a big, fat idiot.”

    The first time I heard Rush was back in the ’80s when he was first going national, but wasn’t yet ubiquitous. I stumbled across him on the radio dial one day and had no idea who he was. I thought at first that he was an inspired parodist, as he had the blowhard ignoramus shtick down cold. It took me a couple of days to conclude, with growing horror, that he was serious, or at least meant his audience to take him seriously.

    • Christiane says:

      I think RL likely is ‘an entertainer’ in the same way that Coulter is . . . both say the outrageous to get attention, and it works . . .

      problem is, a growing part of our American population HAS taken them seriously . . . I have a cousin that has gone bonkers thanks to RL et al.

      My cousin started out as a mere NRA gun nut, and is now totally right-wing in the extreme. It’s hard to see this happen in my own family.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > problem is, a growing part of our American population HAS taken them seriously

        ‘Entertainment’ politics is a poison in the American body politic; you can always say “Oh, I am a comedian!” to get off the hook for being simplistic, insensitive, crude, factually incorrect, or historically fallacious. And everyone says they watch X, Y, or Z for ‘entertainment’ – when it is just something that strokes their prejudices.

        Clever now trumps sincere on both sides of the isle – or it does for anyone on ‘my team’ when they score a good dig.

        And people wonder why real substantive conversation is so hard to achieve…

        • I listened to RL, too, back in the day, but became increasingly tired of his rants. I gave up completely when he had the drug problem (he did rail against drug addicts with some regularity). He reminds me of a prof at the local Lutheran seminary who says equally outrageous things about other denominations and others’ beliefs, and has for years. It’s his schtick but far too many earnest students take what he says as the gospel truth and proceed to go out and spread hate and discord.

          And I am continually surprised at the pro-family people who love the multiple times divorced, drug addicted Rush. When will I get old enough that this stuff doesn’t shock me any more??

    • I used to listen to Rush. I stopped in the mid ’90s because he started picking on Chelsea Clinton’s looks. She was 12 at the time. Frankly, a grown man who had to ridicule a preteen for her looks is not terribly mature. Nor is he funny. He is pitiful.

  14. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    I have no idea who Dave Ramsey is.

    Yes, I think the Baptist and Hindu are unequally yoked. When (if) they have kids it will become a huge problem – assuming they actually take their religions seriously.

    I knew all of that about CS Lewis.

    I don’t know what to think of “Tips for Jesus” except to say, “Good for them!”

    • Yes, raising children is the biggest temporal problem, but the eternal peril is worse. I pray that God graciously regenerates the husband’s heart and allows the wife to repent as well. I put myself in a similar situation once (sexes reversed), so I can’t feel superior to this poor woman in any way — although doubtless I do and need to repent of that myself.

      • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

        After I posted I wondered if the challenges of an inter-faith marriage are part of the reason for a 50% divorce rate in our country?

        My mother married a non-Christian, and she has reaped the fruit of that sin in spades every day of her life since then.

        • Joseph (the original) says:

          re: A Baptist Preacher & A Hindu Monk walk into a bar…

          well, I for one do hope their marriage is based upon mutual respect, patience, understanding, forgiveness & love. and who knows, it could be any children resulting from said union could be raised Baptist in their 1st lives, then Hindu in their 2nd, or visa versa…

          since marriage was a recent topic in the Sex Isn’t Arithmetic article, I am amazed there wasn’t more issue taken with what does constitute a marriage that, “God has joined together”? is it the wills of the couple involved? sexual intercourse? a certain formula of vows recited+blessings bestowed?

          what about all those so-called marriages where there is no Christian faith represented? are they marriages? if so, did God join them? does God have His hands tied (then wrings them) when 2 broken, imperfect, but sincere people leave their parental past & become one in the flesh??? and who is God referring to when He says, “let no man separate”? a Family Law Judge declaring a divorce final? or the adulterer/ess responsible for dissolution? or the decision of one spouse to no longer be ‘yoked’?

          what 50% of failed marriages were actually “joined by God”? do we accuse God of being either unconcerned about marriage, or that He is powerless to intervene, or He simply knows beforehand that our hearts are hard (damaged, hurt, weak, defensive, etc.) & therefore had Moses include divorce as a recognized (though undesired) possibility? what about the fact there is no ritual for marriage spelled out for us in The Beginning. no explanation of what is said or who should officiate???

          I’ve known some ‘good’ marriages that were not overtly spiritual/religious. I’ve known some severely dysfunctional marriages that were Christian. I’ve known some very devout Christians that ended up divorced. I’ve seen some marriages that didn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell actually work out. any rhyme or reason to this conundrum???

          I like the way Chap Mike approached the marriage issue as it relates to our sexuality. there is no simple answer to how much God is either complicit, standoffish, involved, directed, resistant, etc. regarding any couple willing to make a marriage commitment in spite of their known or unknown issues. why does marriage work at all???

          anyway…good food-for-thought this brisk morning after a much needed rain storm last nite…

          saude! 🙂

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          After I posted I wondered if the challenges of an inter-faith marriage are part of the reason for a 50% divorce rate in our country?

          Being “Unequally Yoked(TM)” in that way DOES add another stress point to the marriage. Any major difference between the two does; maybe “Don’t be Unequally Yoked” is another way of saying “It’s going to increase the things that can go wrong; don’t borrow trouble”.

  15. Regarding Martin Luther’s vulgar mouth: by comparing his use of language with Luther’s, you do a disservice to Driscoll, who after all has never rubber stamped in writing the expulsion of the Jews or the smashing of a peasant’s rebellion, both true obscenities, along with others, penned by Luther.

    In addition, Reformer Martin Luther was no more willing to use vulgarity and obscenity than Roman Catholic Dante, who used a whole host of vulgar terminology in his Inferno, including the Italian equivalent of the word you reference in the post. Also, Dante did not hesitate to locate his political enemies in the bowels of hell in the Inferno, even some who were not yet dead, and to my mind, that’s arguably a far more vulgar and obscene language act than the mere use of the word “shit.”

    Let’s remember that it was a different time and culture, using a different language, and we may be quite ignorant about the standards and habits in those different worlds.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    <<>> Well….we can’t seem to discuss anything around here these days without it falling on politics, so why should the media? In this case, we can’t seem to even bring up those we disagree with without name calling (big, fat idiot? Really?). I certainly don’t agree with Rush about the Pope. If anything, the Pope is being disrespected by Obama by his words being used for political reasons. Making the discussion about Rush and not Pope Francis doesn’t elevate the Pope.

    • Elizabeth says:

      What I was quoting disappeared. I was referencing this:

      And after Rush declared Pope Francis to be spewing Marxism, I have to say I think Al Franken may just be right. Rush is a big, fat idiot.

      …….Sigh … Do you think it is possible to discuss this pope without using the terms “liberal” or “conservative”?

    • Yes, Elizabeth, the liberal habit is to call those they disagree with “stupid”‘; the conservative habit is to call those they disagree with “evil”. The discussion gets lost in the midst of all the name-calling, and the half the world is dismissed as either stupid or evil.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        Actually, in my experience the liberal habit is to briefly wonder whether the individual in question is stupid or evil, before concluding that it doesn’t matter. Conservatives likewise are readily apply “stupid” to liberals. How to sort this out? Matthew 7:16. Of course one’s conclusion depends on what fruits one considers desirable.

    • And I do not think it’s better call someone “a big, fat idiot” than it is to tell them to “eat shit,” even in Christian love.

      • Yeah, I try not to hate anyone, but I really dislike and distrust Rush Limbaugh. However, Al Franken is…a real piece of work himself. And calling someone a “big fat idiot” is just unnecessary nastiness. Anyhow the problem with Limbaugh is not that he is fat, but that he is a demagogue who stirs up hatred and deliberately misleads and lies to his listeners.

        • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

          I disagree with Franken about just about everything, but Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot was a really funny book. It wasn’t meant to be a rant as much as it was meant to be comedy. E.g. using Rush’s then-ubiquitous technique of playing audio from recorded bits from TV and stuff to make fake interviews with the people he was lambasting in an absolutely absurd way against Rush was absolutely hilarious. I have no clue what Franken’s up to these days, but at the time, he was a comedian who did left-wing political humor mostly. And it was, indeed, funny stuff.

        • Honestly, I think the bigger problem for ME is that the insult was echoed HERE.

  17. Al Franken is a Democrat senator from Minnesota. For him to say what he did just fits with his own character, being a comedian elected to government office. Such a delicious development!

    But on the subject of who calls whom whatever name: Terms and name calling are to be no part of a Christian’s life, “for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh”. Name calling is one way to depersonalize a person and to marginalize their views and arguments. It’s a common trait practiced by ALL of us at one time or another. In the political class it is stock in trade, but if you are honest about it, and observe who it is that does it the most, you might be surprised. I’m not speaking about radio personalities or bloggers (who can say pretty much ANYTHING), I’m speaking about our elected officials.

    I read a lot and DO listen to a couple radio talk shows and, for the record, I have not heard anyone called stupid OR evil. Oh, wait, I just remembered! Dennis Prager says “There are two political parties in this country, the Stupid and the Dangerous. I belong to the stupid party” . Pretty much sums it up.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      “Al Franken is a Democrat senator…”

      No, he is a “Democratic” senator. This grammatically idiosyncratic usage of “Democrat” is a tribal marker of the right. If you are serious about having actual dialogue with persons outside that tribe, I strongly urge you to eliminate this usage from your vocabulary. Do you expect a reasoned discourse from someone who calls Republicans “Repugs”? Of course not. And you would be right. This use of “Democrat” is more subtle, but is frequently meant the same way. If you don’t mean it this way, don’t use it at all.

      “For him to say what he did just fits with his own character, being a comedian elected to government office.”

      Franken is actually something of an anomaly in American politics: a former entertainer elected to political office as a Democrat. For all that we have the myth that the entertainment industry is a leftie monolith, it is the Republican Party that has the history of electing entertainers to public office. I suspect that you are too young to remember George Murphy. He was a song and dance man and one-term Republican Senator in the late 1960s. More recently we have Fred Grandy, Gopher from “The Love Boat” in Congress and Arnold Schwartznegger as Governor of California. Then, of course, there is Ronald Reagan: a B-grade (at best) movie actor, whose person is idolized by the Republican Party, even though anyone espousing his policies is vilified as a Stalinist and any President who commanded over his military fiasco would face calls for impeachment (at least if it was a Democratic President).

      “Terms and name calling are to be no part of a Christian’s life,”

      “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you…” Matthew 15:7
      “O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but…” Matthew 16:3
      “Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?” Matthew 22:18
      “Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye…” Luke 6:42
      “Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you…” Luke 13:15

      Or, for the full rhetorical artillery, the better part of Matthew chapter 23. The serpents and vipers is my favorite bit, though “blind guides” has a certain poetry to it.

      • The use of the phrase “Democrat” instead of “Democratic” came about as a subtle method of disassociating the party’s name from the nature of democracy. A Republican might be just as “democratic” as a democrat, or moreso. The idea was to counteract the assumption that Democrats are more democratic than Republicans. Not to create a disparaging label.

        • Nate, the only problem is that the *legal* name of the party is the Democratic Party. Corrupting the name of the party *does* devalue the name.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          Even stipulating that this was indeed the origin, it is not the usage. To assume otherwise is known in linguistics as the “etymological fallacy.” Even stipulating that it is the intent when you use it, it is not how it will be understood. In actual practice it will be understood as a tribal marker and a declaration that whatever follows will follow the dictates of that tribe. If you are attempting to engage in actual communication with someone outside the tribe, this usage is counter-productive. I am not claiming that some on the left don’t do this as well. When someone uses “Repugs” I stop reading, because experience has shown that nothing new or interesting or insightful or considered will follow. The difference is that “Repugs” doesn’t wrap itself in passive aggression, and one is pretty safe in assuming that anyone on the left who uses it is not a thought leader.

        • Nate, I’m with Richard that the term “Democrat” as an adjective is often meant disparagingly. It’s something like pronouncing negro “NEE-gruh” to avoid technically using the “N” word.

      • You know Richard, you took a grammatical error and conflated it into something for which it was not intended. I saw my mistake after I hit “post”, but since there is no “edit” button for comments I had to let it go. I don’t know where your hostility is coming from but, again “out of the abundance of the heart…” Hope you feel better later.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          I take you at your word that you inadvertently stumbled into a linguistic hornets nest. The fact remains that any hostility to what was posted was in reaction to what was posted. There is no mystery about it. And no need for smarm http://gawker.com/on-smarm-1476594977.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Sidetracking a thread into parsing Semantics letter-by-letter is an old debaters’ trick. Get the fight onto semantics and abstract words — your specialty, where you have all the advantages — and go in for the kill.

      • Richard,

        Are you suggesting that Christians, or just people in general, should feel free to name-call because the Lord of creation used strong language in declaiming sin and warning of judgement?

        In that case, the rest of us have a ways to go to catch up with the Westboro Baptist church.

        And you’ll note, Jesus never said something harsh about someone that he wouldn’t say to them; in fact, most of the quotes you offer were spoken directly and in person to those he was criticizing.

        Until we are willing to follow the same policy, we should hold our tongues.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          “Are you suggesting that Christians, or just people in general, should feel free to name-call because the Lord of creation used strong language in declaiming sin and warning of judgement?”

          Jesus is traditionally presented as, among other things, the model of a Godly life. If we accept this premise, then the quotations I provided lead inevitably to the conclusion that such language (what you call “name-calling” when you disapprove of it, but “strong language” when Jesus uses it) is appropriate under at least some circumstances.

          “And you’ll note, Jesus never said something harsh about someone that he wouldn’t say to them; in fact, most of the quotes you offer were spoken directly and in person to those he was criticizing.”

          I was responding to the specific assertion, which I explicitly quoted in an attempt to avoid confusion: “Terms and name calling are to be no part of a Christian’s life”. The passages cited show that this generalization is false.

          Of course it is still possible to analyze those and like passages to reach a narrower conclusion regarding the circumstances in which Christian behavior is compatible with such language. But that was not the assertion i was responding to. To hint otherwise would be an example of moving the goalposts: a cheap rhetorical ploy, and particularly ill suited to a medium such as a comments thread, with its written record of the discussion.

          • Not my intention to “hint” that you were asserting something other than what you were asserting. I guess I was responding more to my own concerns than to your specific assertions. And my concern is the use of insulting and vilifying language against people who are not present, and for whom one would moderate one’s language if they were.

            It’s easy, and cowardly, to name-call people who are not involved in the conversation,who are not present, and whom one would never in a million years speak to directly in the same manner. It’s clear to me that when Jesus spoke in “strong language” or “name-called,” whatever you prefer, he spoke also in love for the one he was criticizing, and most often he spoke directly to them.

            I’m not convinced name-calling Rush Limbaugh “big, fat idiot” in the above post is at all in the same spirit as Jesus harsh language. In fact, the context clearly shows that the harsh language used against Limbaugh is merely meant to belittle and insult, and is spoken from a perception of self-righteous moral superiority.

            These are my concerns; my apologies for any inadvertent, clumsy and unintentional attempt on my part to bend your comments to my agenda.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > is spoken from a perception of self-righteous moral superiority.

            Nah. It is not “self-righteous” to say that something “idiotic” is “idiotic”. Sometimes strong language is warranted. Like when someone says the Pope is a Marxist. That is *****IDIOTIC****; anyone who says it is being, deliberately, an idiot. They are either being inflammatory just to be inflammatory [aka acting-like-a-juvile-idiot]- or – they have no idea what Marxism is – in which case claiming someone is a Marxist is just plain stupid [aka being-an-idiot]

            Calling him “big, fat” is, yes, tactless – but that is actually a quote/paraphrase of one of Rush’s opponents. It is a literary gesture.

            Personally I’d leave “big, fat” out of it, as his corpulence is not relevant. I’d call him a weasley[1] inflammatory[2] selfish[3] ignorant[4] juvenile[5] idiot[6].

            [1] he throws out accusations and claims with no avenue for disagreement, he can say whatever he wants and remains immune for challange. He picks fights without putting skin in the fight. The word for that is “COWARD”.
            [2] he exaggerates and makes claims merely to excite and engender hostility
            [3] the more he fumes the more he personally benefits, regardless of what that does to sincere people’s reputations and efforts or how it poisons legitimate debate about deadly serious issues. He, frankly my dear, does not give a damn. Mr. Rush is the polar opposite of a patriot, he is a parasite.
            [4] he obviously does not know what Marxism is, nor even what Socialism is, and his facts are frequently just wrong
            [5] See 1 and 3
            [6] See 2 and 4

          • “Calling him “big, fat” is, yes, tactless – but that is actually a quote/paraphrase of one of Rush’s opponents. It is a literary gesture.”

            Disagree. It’s more like a gesture of playground petulance. It’s certainly not in keeping with the spirit of the current Pope. And it’s nothing like the way Jesus used harsh language against those to whom he was speaking God’s judgement.

            As far as I know, I do not share the views of Limbaugh, but since I don’t listen to him, I’ll have to take your word for the degree of his villainy. I can say this: the use of the word “fat” as invective against anyone is not only tactless, but betrays an insensitivity on the part of the user that is sophomoric and cruel, and exhibits a willingness to use a cheap and coarse insult that is hurtful to many in the name of belittling a single target, be damned the collateral damage.

            And once again, no one addresses the issue of speaking ill about others rather than speaking criticism, even harsh criticism, to them. The attitude seems to be that if the target is evil, then total war is appropriate, and once again, the hell with the collateral damage, which is the only damage that will be done, since Mr. Limbaugh in all likelihood is not listening to iMonk.

      • “No, he is a “Democratic” senator.” “Franken is actually something of an anomaly in American politics: a former entertainer elected to political office as a Democrat” I’m a little confused here – you JUST said that was inappropriate. What subtle difference as I missing.

        • The criticism is of the use of the word “Democrat” as an adjective, not as a noun

          The assertion is that people who use the word “Democrat” as an adjective are unwittingly betraying their enthrallment to reactionary, right wing agendas and fanaticism, and are unknowingly flying their tribal identity and gang colors, revealing themselves as advocates for the business classes or members of the beer swilling blue collar masses who follow them like so many ignorant sheep.

          I know, it’s a fine point of grammatical usage employed as an index of sociological analysis and categorization, but the knowledge classes have a habit of doing that.

          In fact, it’s a tribal marker of the knowledge classes to interpret such fine grammatical distinctions as very important signifiers.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Al Franken is a Democrat senator from Minnesota. For him to say what he did just fits with his own character, being a comedian elected to government office. Such a delicious development!

      Yeah, I remember Al Franken from old SNL. Guy wasn’t funny then, and he isn’t funny now. Right down there with Jerry! Seinfeld! in the Not Funny department.

      I especially remember the bit that was Franken reading the Manifesto of the Revolutionary Communist Party. That was it. Heard later that it wasn’t an act.

  18. If Santa is a deep sea diver and his home base is on the ocean floor, we (Canada) might succeed. Otherwise, your presents shouldn’t get cut off for the foreseeable future.

    Of course, Russia and Denmark are giving it a shot as well. If the geography of the seabed permitted a claim under UNCLOS, no doubt the US would be going after Santa with extreme prejudice and, if successful, soon have him packing heat. We’ll just teach him to say “eh”.

  19. I used to listen to Dave Ramsey quite a bit and still believe his advice is sound. But I finally had to stop because he would make me too angry when he’d inevitably wander into politics. As Jesus warned us, success is a quite dangerous thing. Its easy to fall into the temptation of rationalizing your good fortune by deciding those less fortunate are simply of lesser character.

    As for Dr. Mohler, I’ve listened to Bach many times and it hasn’t once brought to my mind the meaning of the Gospel. But I have listened to many of these very talented young artists and find myself transported to the world of early Christianity – poor, oppressed but triumphant in Christ. God bless them all.

    For your Christmas listening pleasure: Odd Thomas – The Incarnation http://tinyurl.com/lfczm4o

  20. For a few seconds I thought Mark Driscoll was somehow mixed up in the Pelagian Controversy.

    • lol lol lol
      I’m sure he’d like to see himself as St Augustine.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I have an old essay copied off the Web called “The Christian Sex Cult” which claimed that St Augustine brought a lot of sexual baggage into his writings. So in that case, he’s not far off.

        The author of this essay? A “Mars Hill” (no other surviving source ID). I wonder if it’s the same Mars Hill…

    • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

      lol, me too!

    • Semi-pelagian. He says he may have been a little careless with the footnotes. 😉

  21. Cedric Klein says:

    I’m kinda leaning to say that if the Hindu husband & his Baptist pastor wife are unequally yoked, it’s only because he’s serious about the integrity of his faith.

  22. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    The other thing I wonder about the Baptist/Hindu – is why hasn’t she been asked to step down? How can any congregation take her seriously when she talks about the One True God, when she deliberately married a man who believes in many gods?

    • Am mystified by the evangelical interpretation of “unequally yoked.” It’s something nobody in Lutheran or higher Anglican circles would ever think to equate with marriage to someone who professes another faith. Just simply does not appear in that text for many of us.

      I’ve been a professing xtian for most of my life, and to be honest, I wish I had looked outside my own narrow evangelical circle (when I was younger) for a husband. At this point, I have no doubt whatsoever that I might well have gotten married and had kids if I’d been willing to accept a man of truly good character who was Buddhist, of any number of monotheistic faiths, etc. – or of no religion at all. I’ve known FAR too many people whose supposed xtianity is all on the surface to think otherwise at this point.

      Beyond that, I believe that “unequally yoked” is something only God can know. We look at the surface; he sees the heart.

    • Actually, a Hindu monk would not believe in many gods; rather, he would believe that the one God, or Brahman, can be known in many, perhaps an infinite number of, forms. He would, however, likely be a pantheist rather than a theist, believing that the Atman, the true Self of every living being, and indeed of the universe, is Brahman known under manifold forms.

      This is why Shirley Maclaine’s guru told her to repeatedly yell “I am God! I am God!,” over and over again, to attain this realization of divine identity. It’s also why the Sanskrit term “Tat tvam asi,” Thou art That, is meditated upon as an expression of identity between the limited self of the individual and the Ultimate Self of God.

      • I somehow don’t think it’s fair to equate Hinduism with Shirley MacLaine’s channeling mentor!

        • Well, I was having a little fun, paralleling the Western popularization with the Sanskrit source, but the assertion that all is God and God is all is fundamental to the main current of Hinduism, and there’s nothing at all unfair about saying that it’s so, because it is so.

          • But there are many currents within Hinduism, so…

          • There are many eddies, and in those eddies there are a host of different philosophies/metaphysics, including some theism, but the river runs in one direction. Pantheism is the that direction.

          • Oh boy… I’m no scholar of religion, but there seem to be an incredible number of currents in that stream, partly due to the sheer age of what we call Hinduism. Its beginnings go back an awfully long way, and there have been so many changes and schisms and layers upon layers of accretion over time… I think there actually is monotheism of a kind in some schools of Hindu belief. There are even Hindu atheists – in the same sense as Buddhism not being a theistic religion. Besides, many Hindus seem to believe that the god they’re devoted to is simply one *aspect of* the Ultimate – while others are true pantheists. Go figure!

          • I have to disagree. While Hindu metaphysics is tolerant of a wide range of views, its tolerance is a religious version of the British Imperialism that once ruled India, because it simply subsumes all views into its massive pantheism. The majority of peasants throughout Indian history worshiped one or more of the deities in Hinduism’s vast pantheon, practicing Bhakti, or devotional, yoga, which was considered by their Brahmin priests to be the most suitable form of yoga for those who were incapable of the other more philosophically orientated forms of yoga, and for those who had been reincarnated in the lower castes due to negative karma accrued in past lives.

            But the objective of all yoga, and all forms of religious discipline and thought in the wide river of Hinduism, is to realize the oneness of the individual with the many, the identity of the one and the many, and to escape the wheel of death and re-birth.

            From the Vedas and the Upanishads to the Mahabharata (which includes the Bhagavad Gita) and the Ramayana through the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali right up to the religious systems of Vivekananda and Ramakrishna, including the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and even the iconoclastic none-teaching of Krishnamurti, what is expressed is what Aldous Huxley admiringly called the Perennial Philosophy, an ever re-emergent pantheism in a multitude of forms and shapes.

            And, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, pantheism is a worldwide phenomena of religious thought and life, that seems to naturally arise out of human religious experience across cultures and eras. Ancient Greece had it, as did ancient Rome. Much neo-Platonism is barely distinguishable from pantheism. Meister Eckhart can reasonably be interpreted as a pantheist, and if Walt Whitman wasn’t a pantheist then no one ever has been.

            But it has been India’s particular religious genius to systematize and proliferate a multitude of metaphysical systems explaining the nature of this identity of the one with the many; the vast majority of those systems are variations on a single theme, with minor excursions into monotheism or atheism or whatever that always wind back around to the main current of Hindu pantheism.

          • Regarding Buddhism: what made Buddha a non-Hindu was not his metaphysics, or non-theism, but his rejection of the caste system and the vast religious machinery of Hinduism, along with the priestly Brahmin caste.

            I also think that the pantheism of Hinduism dovetails with the non-theism of Buddhism very neatly. I guess what is really salient from my perspective isn’t whether God-language is used or not, but that the many are subsumed into the one in these religious philosophies. To me, that is the sine qua non of pantheism, so I would consider Buddhism pantheistic even though it claims to be non-theistic.

          • I honestly don’t see much, if any, difference between the bhakti movement and much that has taken place – and still takes place – in many different Jewish, xtian and Muslim devotional practices, as well as in many forms of mysticism in the major monotheistic religions. The beliefs differ, but the impulse and many of the practices are the same, just carried out in differing guises.

            My keyboard wasn’t cooperating earlier, and athesic should have had a hyphen between the 1st
            and 2nd syllables.

            If you want full-on pantheism, China has it – Daoism is almost as overcrowded with deities and semi-divine beings as India. And hey, I don’t really disagree with you. We seem to be looking at the same things from slightly different perspectives.

            Per Buddhism, I was simply trying to state that while it’s a religion, it’s not a theistic one, albeit many forms of it come close to pantheism (some of the Japanese esoteric sects come to mind, plus the whole notion of a Pure Land). I know that you’re far better versed in all of this than I’ll ever be; just trying to clarify in case someone else is interested in this sidetrack we’ve created.

            Don’t you think Buddhism tends to meld with/adapt to local beliefs rather than being pantheistic per set? Tibet is a case in point.

          • Also… our watered-down, cosmic soup versions of Eastern and S. Asian religions don’t seem to bear much resemblance to the real item – hence my calling you on Ms. MacLaine’s “guru.” (Shades of Kumare!)

          • err… I meant to say “polytheism/pantheism” in several of my previous comments. Oh well.

          • Historically, Buddhism has integrated local beliefs into its practice, but it never gives away the core philosophy, like the doctrines of no-self or co-dependent origination. Buddhism adapts to local circumstances, as it is doing in the USA, where it has made many converts (if you want to call them that), and throughout the world, where interest in and practice of Buddhism is growing exponentially.

            Hinduism, on the other hand, omnivorously absorbs and appropriates every shade of practice and philosophy into itself.

            From the perspective of Hinduism, most Christians are practitioners of bhakti yoga, who make the mistake of thinking that their image of god is the only correct one while all the others are incorrect. If Hinduism used the terminology of idolatry, they might say Christians are the true idolaters because we, unlike Hindus and others, believe that our limited and finite definition(s) of god is (are) the only true understanding(s) of god, even though they are not, and so we fanatically cling to an image of god, thereby making it an idol.

            Yes, the Hinduism practiced in the West is often watered down and adulterated pablum, but much of the devotional practice taking place in the cities and countryside of India is also pablum, not different from the devotional sensibility that used to place cheap plastic images of Jesus and Saint Christopher on the dashboard of cars in this country, or that consults the daily horoscope for clues to the future, etc.

            And our Western practitioners of watered down Hinduism have this significant virtue: they don’t subscribe to the morally hideous Hindu caste system, which, supported by traditionalist Hindus, still warps the fabric of Hindu society, and makes the life of the Dalits a living hell.

          • The comparative study of religion is a worthwhile endeavor for Christians.

            I continue to find Buddhism especially fascinating, and I think Christians should be cognizant of the fact that the worldwide growth of Buddhism in the last 100 years has been phenomenonal, slow and steady and persistent.

            Buddhism is comprised of a group of religious philosophies and practices that are extraordinarily sophisticated and subtle, and compellingly speak to the human condition in calm and reasonable tones with a depth that Christianity that often lacks in its public manifestations.

          • I don’t know that it’s possible to implicate all Hindus in Hindutva extremism, though. (Your comment can be taken that way, though i’m pretty sure you didn’t intend it as such.)

            The point you make about “popular” religion is one that I was trying to make as well.

            As for Hinduism absorbing everything, how then do you explain the continued presence of other religions -like Sikhism, Jainism and Islam – in India? I bet there are more than a few Hindus who would take issue with your somewhat un-nuanced portrayal of their various beliefs. (Not meaning to be contentious; just saying’…)

            It seems to me that you view Buddhism as innately superior to Hinduism, too – what’s that about? Besides the caste system, that is…

            As for comparative relion studies, you’re preaching to the choir, insofar as i’m concerned. It would be *hugely* helpful within xtian circles in general, and evangelical churches in particular.

            A p.s. re. the bhakti movement: it’s populist; priests are far less important, no? That is, IMO, an important point. What makes me crazy are the many “godmen” who con so many who live in poverty with their fraudulent miracles and outrageous financial demands! Last year I watched a film (western-made and it showed) about the Kumbh Mela – what rackets those “holy men” run!

          • Yes, I overstated how much Hinduism absorbs; as you say, there are non-Hindu religions in India.

            It might more rightly be said that, historically, Hinduism absorbs every religious influence that a) doesn’t resist absorption and b) accepts the social system involved in the caste system, and the instrumentality of the Brahmin priesthood.

            Things of course have changed somewhat in the last 100 years, with significant government efforts to dismantle the caste system and establish a more democratic polity; conservative Hinduism, however, still wields significant social power in India.

            In thinking about the fate of other religions in India, it’s salutary to remember that in the land of its birth, where it once was a spreading religion, Buddhism has faded away in terms of number of adherents and visible presence; in fact, Buddha has been absorbed into the Hindu religious system, where he is now considered one deity among the vast Hindu pantheon. Buddhism as a separate religion exists in only a few small enclaves.

            Priests less important in bhaktiism? Well, in Hinduism, bhakti yoga involves frequent sacrifices to the particular deity in their temple, and the sacrifices are conducted by priests dedicated to the service of the temple and the deity. So I don’t believe it’s correct to say that in the practice of bhakti yoga priests are less important; just the opposite, they are absolutely essential. In some places and denominations, though, priests are chosen with less regard to caste than in former eras.

            I have a greater interest and fondness for Buddhism than Hinduism. Because it does adapt to local circumstances so well, it makes a better fit for a democratic polity and the people formed by democratic polity. In addition, there is a strong correlation between the profound Buddhist doctrines of no-self and dependent-origination and contemporary deconstructive theories about the nature of the self as process rather than being, becoming rather than being, as well as the scientific reduction of self to a penumbra effect and illusion caused by impersonal physical processes.

            I don’t hold all Hindus responsible for the evils of the caste system, in fact most have been victims of it; but many Brahmins exploited their privileged position to exploit and victimize those subject to them.

          • There are Hindu social activists who adamantly oppose the caste system, though.

            Also, I think you have to take into account the great ethnic, geographical and regional diversity of India into account when speaking of culture and religion. Punjab is not Rajasthan; Bengal is definitely not Kerala. There are, from what little I know, very diverse Hindu sects and varieties of religious expression inthe south that are very unlike the north, and on and on its goes.

            I am actually less interested in Hinduism than might be apparent, but I am intrigued by the many cultures and arts of the subcontinent, which are diverse and sophisticated – even, to my mind, so-called “peasant” music. And I’ll freely admit to a love for a lot of Bollywood soundtracks from the 40s-60s, as well as being a fan of some of the older movies. Indian popular culture is exuberant and often very joyful, and it’s very infectious!

    • But should the spouse’s religion be relevant. I mean, no one cares if the realtor’s spouse is a Communist or the chemist’s spouse is an anti-vax nut. Americans typically don’t judge people based on their spouse’s attributes. Besides, what if they had been married and both were Baptists and then he converted. Would she still have to step down?

      I mean, my partner and I were both Catholics when we married. Today, he is an atheist and I am a Jew due to similar crises of faith at around the same time with different end points.

  23. Vega Magnus says:

    Jezebel posted a very long article on Driscoll yesterday. He’s getting some criticism outside of theological circles now. Fascinating.

    • He has been getting a lot of coverage – not exactly favorable – in national media for several years now. The NYT did a long and unflattering piece on him a couple of years ago; ditto for Salon.com.

    • The NYT article on Driscoll is called “Who Would Jesus Smack Down?”

  24. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I have to confess that I used to be a Rushaholic. I listened gleefully to all three hours of his hot air every day. Then I read in Michael Horton’s Beyond Culture Wars that many Christians would put up more of a fight if you disagreed with Rush’s opening monologue than if you disagreed with one of the basic tenants of the Incarnation of Christ. I realized he was right, and haven’t listened to more than 15 minutes total of Rush for 15 years.

    I used to listen sporadically to Rush Limbaugh around 20 years ago and occasional clips recently. What I figure happened is that Rush has been listening to his own PR for too long. And the gushing of his Dittoheads (fanboys). Twenty years ago, he was what Wm F Buckley described as “Conservatism as Theater” and had a sense of humor — borderline cruel, but it was there. In recent sound bites, he has NO sense of humor; he takes himself and every word he utters as Totally Serious, like a religious fanatic. Everything he utters is Of Cosmic Importance; GOP Presidential hopefuls rise and fall on his say-so. It is no longer theater, it is The Ultimate Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything (FORTY-TWO!)

    I can only liken him to the guy behind the later Billy Jack movies, other actors who came to view their every word as Having Cosmic Importance., and Ayn Rand (“The Only Truly Rational Mind Who Ever Existed”).

  25. Just for the record, concerning the Baptist marrying the Hindu:

    One time Michael Spencer had Q & A post where people could comment with any question they wanted and he would write a quick answer. I asked him something that had been nagging me for a long time: Does the oft-cited passage about not being “unequally yoked” actually have anything to do with marriage, or is that just the street-level assumption that all Christians seem to make about the verse, without question, because that’s the only way anyone ever uses it?

    His answer was that no, the verse was not about marriage.

    But he also commented that there didn’t appear to be anything like “inter-faith” marriages in the early church.

    Anyway, I just thought I post this because I always notice when that passage is used in that way, and it continues to nag me.

    • @ Nate.
      I’m with you there.

      I think the “yoked” teaching is one factor of several that has led to a lot of unnecessary, prolonged singleness among Christian women who had hoped to marry, such as me.

      I was set up with one or two guys in the past who may have made great spouses, but I dropped them like hot potatoes once I found out they were Non Christian. I now regret that. I’d rather be married to a stand up Non Christian guy than still not married in my 40s.

      Also, I am puzzled why Christians keep insisting on the Christians should only marry other Christians spiel when I see dozens after dozens of news stories of Christian married men who are arrested for child pr0n, abusing their wives, etc.

      There are blogs for Christian women who were physically or emotionally abused by Christian husbands, who ended up having to divorce the creep. I see zero benefit in marrying a guy who claims to be a Christian when most of them appear no better than a typical Non Christian male.

      • Vega Magnus says:

        But non-Christians might have different views on sexing and politics! And if one is not a believer, he/she will go to hell and the believing spouse won’t have anyone to sex with in heaven!

    • +1, Nate. As for that interpretation, it’s pretty much an unknown quantity outside of Evangelical Land…

    • “But he also commented that there didn’t appear to be anything like “inter-faith” marriages in the early church.” This baffles me. Many early Christians were married to non-Christians, St. Monica chief among them. They didn’t have the choice that many modern people do, though — is that what Michael was getting at?

  26. Well. I am still right wing and tend to agree with Rush Limbaugh more often than not, though I don’t regularly listen to his program.

    Even during a phase where I’d tune in to Limbaugh’s show every so often, I would occasionally disagree with him, not often, but once in awhile.

    I was a Christian since childhood, but due to several factors, have been leaning towards being agnostic the last year or more.

    I still consider myself Republican and a social conservative, though I no longer agree with some of the tactics used by either group.

    My understanding of the Bible and Christianity is still aligned with conservative views.

    One trying factor for me in participating on these post-evangelist, or spiritual abuse type blogs is, that though many of the people are quite nice, that those who participating who were once conservative, have now gone full-on opposite, and rant and rave against right wing stuff, make fun of “biblical literalism,” and conservative figures such as Rush Limbaugh, and so on.

    I don’t think such Christians realize they sound just as bad as the right wing, conservative, biblical literalists they are criticizing and mocking.

    As much as I may disagree from time to time with Christian social conservatives or Republicans on how they handle certain issues (I agree with them on principle, though not in how they choose to get their message across or policies carried out), I can never, ever agree with liberals, Democrats, or theologically liberal Christians on most issues.

    I believe most terrorism in the world today is due to Islam, that is by fanatical Muslims, but you can’t say something like that on blogs such as this, without getting raked over the coals.

    I don’t agree with homosexuality, I still see that the Bible teaches it as being sinful behavior. I don’t agree with teachings of Roman Catholicism, most notably the RC rejection of sola scriptura and sola fide, but no, I don’t hate homosexuals or Roman Catholics.

    I believe the Bible should be taken literally where it’s being literal… I see some (usually liberal or moderate) Christians who try to argue away 90% of the Bible as being “allegorical” or “too vague,” so that they can twist it to mean whatever they want it to mean.

    These are views you’ll get picked apart on from about 90% of participants of sites such as this one.

    • Seneca Griggs says:

      Good post Daisy.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > These are views you’ll get picked apart on from about 90% of participants of sites such as this one.

      Then put me in the 10%

      > I don’t agree with homosexuality, I still see that the Bible teaches it as being sinful behavior.

      I am a Socialist, on the ‘Left, I vote for Democrats – and I agree with you.

      > I believe the Bible should be taken literally where it’s being literal

      I am a Socialist, on the ‘Left’, I vote for Democrats – and I agree with you. Although the “where it’s being literal” is a subject of some legitimate debate. Some of that debate happens here.

      > I see some (usually liberal or moderate) Christians who try to argue away 90% of the Bible as

      I am a Socialist, on the ‘Left’, I vote for Democrats – and I see no hesitation to abuse scripture from or graft it to the purposes of the Right. Somehow liaise-faire capitalism is endorsed by scripture; which since you take scripture very seriously, you must admit is a whole cloth fabrication. Scripture says precious little about economic issues.

      > I don’t agree with teachings of Roman Catholicism, most notably the RC rejection of sola scriptura
      > and sola fide,

      I am a Socialist, on the ‘Left, I vote for Democrats – but on this one I think you misunderstand the issue. I do not believe the RC rejects these teachings anymore than anyone else does. Because *everyone* rejects these teachings. It is always “sola scriptura” ***according to my tradition***; that is not to say that there is not a lot of clear scriptural practices – but *everyone* adds and nuances. *Everyone*. Culture is the meat on the bones, without the meat you just have a dead skeleton.

      > I believe most terrorism in the world today is due to Islam, that is by fanatical Muslims,

      I am a Socialist, on the ‘Left, I vote for Democrats – but on this one, no, I do not agree with you. Making this statement requires a very precise, and disingenuous, definition of “terrorism” [the use of violence and fear for political ends].

      > but you can’t say something like that on blogs such as this, without getting raked over the coals.

      I prefer to use by coals for grillin’. While the meat is cooking we can have a cold one and disagree civilly.

  27. Hey Jeff, forget the geographic north pole. Canada has had the magnetic north pole for years! Though it is slowly creeping towards Russia.

  28. I’m always wary of Ramsey critiques because it seems the loudest protesters are those who need to listen to his advice the most. The thing is, the only really “biblical” thing about his (mostly common sense and commonly available) advice is that the Bible seems to really be against usury (it is more complex than that, but for the sake of blog-comment brevity…). The fact is, in our greed for stuff, many Americans have gone deeply into debt, and as a result fail to properly care for their families as they spend their labor to pay both principle and usury to others. The other stuff – including the underlying attitude that seems to believe that financial failure or success is based solely on one’s will to power I find troubling.

    • I listened to Dave Ramsey a few times… he has a nice common sense message and my wife and I do use his envelope system and try not to spend money we don’t have. I think anything followed to the point of fanaticism tends to lead to a narrow view of things. Dave could probably be taken the same way. I have never really equated his advice and religion except that he has some nice bible verses quoted sometimes throughout the show. Aside from that his advice and message, although simplistic, was helpful to me.

    • I listen to Ramsey regularly, and as a Catholic I tune out some of his evangelical ramblings……I learned a long time ago to take what is of value from persons and programs and let the rest fall to the side. Of course, I respect scripture but view it through the lens of Catholic theology, which does not disparage the needy and downtroden of this world.

      However……

      Ramsey’s common sense advise about living within one’s means and knowing wants from needs is of value whether one is a billionaire or living on minimum wage or disability. I find nothing political in the ideas of paying for shelter and lights before new clothing or restaurant meals, saving for a rainy day to break the cycle of using credit cards for every minor but inevitable household emergency repair, or not being concerned with keeping up with the Jones. One CAN choose to live without the latest and greatest in electronics, entertainment, and transportation….many “needs” of 2013 are actually conveniences or toys, literally or figuratively.

      In addition, many are trapped by poverty due to illness, abuse, lack of education, and other pernicious problems of this world. Others are trapped by a lack of effort, poor choices in relationships, hopelessness, or choices that favor spending on “fun” before necessities. Those in the latter categories need education and a reality check regarding paths OUT of poverty and debt. Ramsey provides this for free for those who wish to listen and change their behavior.

    • To be honest, this result if far more creepy than the original story. Originally it was “big name YRR dude pirates materials” (to which most would reply with a yawn “What else is new?”). Now, it seems like the evangelical publishing industrial complex is engaged in some kind of smoke-filled back room conspiracy.

    • She apologized for the venue she chose to express her concerns. She did not apologize for what she said.