December 21, 2014

Saturday Ramblings 2.2.13

RamblerRamblings is hearing rumblings of some big to-do down in the Big Easy this weekend. Once again, we have not paid the NFL (the No Fun League) the rights fee in order to say the name of this Really Big Game. So we will continue our tradition, started by Adam Palmer, of sliding one letter to the left, and referring to Sunday’s party time as the Superb Owl. We are having a big Superb Owl party here at the iMonastery, and you are invited to join us. I suggest you bring cookies and milk to share with us all. Until then, what say we ramble?

So, who is God picking to win the Superb Owl? The San Francisco 49ers, or the Baltimore Ravens? You say God doesn’t really care who wins? Twenty-seven percent of Americans would disagree with you on that. And 38% of evangelicals think God plays a role in who wins. Mark Galli says athletes are not role models, not even Christian athletes. I agree with him. You?

Feeling drawn to Scientology because, well, you want to be just like Tom Cruise? You may want to put your conversion plans on hold until you read a new book  that pulls back the curtain and gives a look at Scientology’s secrets. One of the scariest comments by the author is this: “Oftentimes people who go into Scientology are dealing with a personal problem. If you enter a Church of Scientology building you’ll be asked, “What is your ruin?” That is, what is standing in the way of your financial, spiritual and emotional success? And they will talk through things with you and offer a menu of courses designed to help.” Is this Scientology, or an evangelical megachurch we’re talking about?

Guess what city has the most megachurch attendees? Go ahead—guess. I’ll bet you don’t get it right.

It has been a week for gay news. First, Rudy Gay was traded from Memphis to Toronto of the NBA. The Boy Scouts of America are rethinking their stance banning gays from the Scouts, upsetting Southern Baptists to no end. One Baptist preacher is “refining” how he preaches about homosexuality. It’s still a sin, just not a special sin. And a man in Tennessee took a dog to a shelter and demanded it be euthanized because he said it was gay. Really. No, I couldn’t make this kind of stuff up.

I don’t think it is related, but legislation is advancing in Arkansas that would make it legal to pack heat in church.

The Synonymous Rambler tells me of a group of women in Lake City, Florida who didn’t need no stinkin’ guns to chase off a would-be bandit. No sir, they just chanted the name of Jesus. And it worked. Really.

Oral Roberts University has a new president-elect, Billy Wilson. Wilson currently lives in Tennessee. No word if he has a dog.

Chaplain Mike brought this story to my attention. At first I thought he was making it up. Then I saw it was from Perry Noble’s church. Have you ever heard of a money-back guarantee on your tithe before? And how long before other churches jump on this bandwagon-from-hell?

The Vatican now admits it doesn’t fully understand today’s youth culture. Ok, so, who really does? But do you think listening to Amy Winehouse CDs is the best place to start?

iMonk Michael Bailey spotted this story that makes me mad. Really mad. Christians really do make the worst tippers, and those who serve them pay the price continually. How about if, as penance, this “pastor” has to wait tables at Applebee’s for a week? And all the tips she gets—if she gets any—go to the waitress she got fired.

iMonk Kevin Nelstead offers this unique look at Genesis chapter one. Just from reading this, I can’t tell if Kevin is a Young Earther or not …

And finally, have you seen those bumper stickers that read “My drop-out can beat up your honor student”? Well, something like that occurred this week at the Vatican when the pope released a dove. You know, a nice peaceful dove. I’ll bet the seagull was Lutheran …

Birthday greetings went out this week to Douglas MacArthur; Paul Newman; Bob Uecker; Eddie Van Halen; Wayne Gretzky; Art Rooney; Skitch Henderson; Nick Mason; Joe Bob Briggs; Cris Collinsworth; Elijah Wood; WC Fields; Katherine Ross; Oprah Winfrey; Jonny Lang; Gene Hackman; Dick Martin; Jackie Robinson; Nolan Ryan; and Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks.

Ok, so maybe you are just not that into football. You can still enjoy tomorrow’s Superb Owl for the commercials. Hey, the companies advertising are spending three million taco chips per 30, so the least you can do is watch them, right? To get you warmed up for the big game, here is the E Trade Baby, who has provided us with lots of laughs on previous Superb Owls. Enjoy.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1ldoUQuP54′]

Comments

  1. MattPurdum says:

    That packing heat thing in church is no good. In St. Petersburg last year a pastor’s 20-year-old daughter was accidentally killed by people playing with a gun at church, even though the gun’s owner was “trained’ and licensed. It was a nearly unbearable tragedy for scores of people. If you need a gun for home defense, fine, but keep the guns at home.

    • Jesus, Smith and Wesson – the American trinity

      • “God, Guts, and Guns Keep America Free”

        —seen on bumper sticker

        • That doesn’t surprise me nearly as much as the website entitled BiblicalSelfDefense.com

          • Brianthedad says:

            I wouldnt condemn it just based on the title. I just read the entire thing, and found a good bit of information regarding questions I’ve asked myself for years.

    • My brother’s best friend was engaged to this young women. The entire incident was incredibly tragic and completely avoidable. I agree with you, Matt, bringing a gun to church is absurd.

    • The mega-church where I interned has many law enforcement and other firearm carrying professionals in the choir. The pastor asked them to carry on Sundays just in case. They always joked that robbing or assaulting our congregation was a doomed enterprise because we had enough firepower to outfit a third world army. Then there was the day somebody dropped a table in the lobby. It made a loud crash. About half the men in the room crouched, looked around, and stuck their hand into the left side of their coat. Was that a safe place to worship?

      • I am just happy that IF they are packing, they are at least professionals. It took me several years of being friends with another couple where the husband was a police officer….his blue “fanny pack” went with him everywhere, at the request of his employer.

    • How about a gun in an L.L. Bean outlet clothing store? In recent news a few towns from here, a loaded handgun was left in a public restroom by a doctor who had been deputized by a local police chief (for reasons unclear, but possibly because he works at the county jail). The doc got distracted by a call on his phone while in the restroom and forgot to put the gun back onto his belt. It was found later by a customer, and the doc has been charged with reckless conduct. He is no longer deputized.

  2. Hmm, it says “2 Comments” when only one is showing…

    I guess Seoul for the most megachurch attendees…

  3. I guessed Tulsa because I thought you were toying with us, but Las Vegas makes more sense. Orlando surprised me.

    • Yeah, I would guess that the key thing here is not that Las Vegas is more religious but that its inhabitants are more trained to expect “rully big” shows, for church as well as for everything else.

    • It’s also simply about the newest American city — how many churches there are even 35 years old? (How many anythings there are even 35 years old?)

    • I would have guessed Houston.

    • It was my guess for #1….but I lived there for fifteen years. Like with Vegas, people tend to forget how many people call these cities HOME, not a place to vacation.

      A favorite Orlando bumper sticker from years back……..

      “Shut up and drive….some of us AREN’T on vacation!”

  4. James the Mad says:

    I have mixed feelings about the pastor’s tip. Yes, she has embarrased herself, her church and her ministry, and she pretty much deserves everything she’s getting. But by the same token she should be able to assume a reasonable level of privacy in her transactions with a business like Applebee’s. Which means Applebee’s was pretty much forced to fire the person who uploaded the image of the receipt.

    I guess the most disturbing aspect of this whole mess was the pastor’s vindictiveness in demanding everyone involved be fired. As I’ve seen in comments elsewhere that just doesn’t reflect well when one claiming to serve Jesus goes against His teaching so blatantly.

    Then again, haven’t I read somewhere about a couple guys that picked up the nickname “sons of thunder”? ;)

    • That’s a good point about Applebee’s almost being forced to fire the worker. But the thing for me is, as you said, the vindictiveness of the pastor. She gets exposed as a sanctimonious cheapskate (and terrible at math–God gets 10% of everything, the waitress gets 18% of a bill for a single meal), and responds to online shaming by demanding that everyone who came in contact with the bill lose their jobs. Somehow, “Everyone’s mad at me for being a cheapskate, so no one at Applebee’s should be allowed to have a paycheck,” doesn’t add up. Especially for a pastor.

      • The 18% comes in from the large party of around 20 that the waitress had served. They then asked for individual checks to avoid paying the large party 18% gratuity. Once the server gave them the individual checks the paster then collected them and paid with one card.

        (http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/applebees-boycott)

        • EV,

          That large party tip add is independent upon how many checks there are. Last weekend, I was with a group at a different chain, and each of our individual checks had the 18% gratuity added to it. (There were 9 of us and 9 separate checks). I noticed it, and made a comment about it, just to make my friends aware (and not double tipping by accident)

    • In the links to the story at The Smoking Gun, she claims that she actually tipped $6 in cash at the table, and that her comments on the receipt were a joke.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        If so, it was NOT a good joke.

        And whether it was or not, said pastor’s hissy-fit when it went publicwas just wrong.

        • Agreed. If I tip in cash, I always write “cash at table” on the receipt so they know I did not intend to stiff them.

    • Why I don’t (and won’t) watch the Super Bowl or other pro football games: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704281204575002852055561406.html
      Football Games Have 11 Minutes of Action
      online.wsj.com

      • You must avoid baseball like the plague.

      • I wish I could join you in abstaining…I hate the game as well but now it’s a yearly national holiday – social get-together and various significant others must go – therefore I must go as well…

  5. That story about the pastor at Applebee’s was sickening.

    Money and pride. That’s what we’re all about. Our money, and our pride.

    Lord have mercy upon us. :-(

    • Just ask any min. wage worker serving the evangelical after-church restaurant clientele about wait staff abuse.

      • That Other Jean says:

        Minimum wage? In my state, waitstaff gets $3.63 an hour, with employees expected to make up the difference between what they make in tips and the minimum wage; employers up their contribution if waiters don’t earn that much in tips–or fire them and hire someone with more experience. Some states require that waitstaff be paid as little as $2/hr. Tips aren’t an extra incentive–they’re part of a waiter’s salary. It shouldn’t be so, but it is, until we’re willing to pay more for restaurant meals, which doesn’t seem likely with the current state of the economy.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And they’re taxed on the “Tip Credit” (the difference between their base pay and actual minimum wage) whether they get those tips or not. I used to work at the HQ of a restaurant chain; I saw their payroll figures.

          Which is why any Christian who leaves a tract instead of a tip (especially one of those fake $100 bill tracts) needs to be kicked in the nuts repeatedly.

          Jerry Falwell used to deliberately tip big in an attempt to make up for all the Christian cheapskates.

  6. I’m going to go one further than just not liking football: I’m going to say that I think football is a semi-barbaric sport that glorifies pagan values of power, violence, and success-at-any-cost; I think the crowds that scream and howl at professional football games are not too different from the mobs that gathered to watch gladiators fight in ancient Rome; I think the cost in physical injury (especially brain injury) that football causes both to adults and children is too high to pay for the entertainment of a violence hungry audience. I hope that as parents become more aware of the physical damage wrought to their children’s brains by participating in football, they will do there best to keep them out of the sport, thereby drying up the pool of experienced football players that go to feed the flesh hungry NFL meat-grinder . I wouldn’t be surprised to be pilloried by post for the above statement more than if I had made a scurrilous comment about Jesus or the church, so deep is this nation’s slavering adoration of the violence and aggression of football.

    • To the extent that it is safe to do so, I think I agree with this! :P

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Football is the State Religion of the USA, and all Heretics and Infidels must be purged. I was the Omega Male of a football-worshipping high school.

      Oh, and in an old tabloidish history of the Roman gladiator games, Roman & Byzantine chariot racing was also known for rabid sports fanatics. You think football fanboys started the shtick of painting yourself in team colors?

      If “crowds that scream and howl at football games are not too different from the mobs watching gladiators fight in Rome”, then what does that make MMA cage-fight fanboy Mark Driscoll? (P.S. In the late Empire period, live sex, kink-sex, and snuff-sex shows were used as “half-time intermissions” between gladiator acts, and there was more sex in the audience — in and under the stands — than in the arena.)

      • Along similar lines, the Wartburg Watch has a post on the proliferation of sex trafficking at the Super Bowl and other big sport events.

    • MattPurdum says:

      Robert, you are right on! Football stirs bloodlust, and I can’t understand why any Christian would want to do that to his/her spirit.

    • Given that football can be fairly tame compared to hockey, I have a pretty clear idea of what you must think of Canadians given our passion for the game.

      We have no interest in anything vaguely resembling the Second Amendment, but don’t dare threaten our right to beat each other senseless on the ice. ;)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Given that football can be fairly tame compared to hockey, I have a pretty clear idea of what you must think of Canadians given our passion for the game.

        Friend of mine just showed me the 1977 Paul Newman film Slap Shot.

        And then there’s The Arrogant Worms

      • I’d have to disagree with you, Warren. Hockey requires that participants make a play on the puck. The rules are occasionally broken, and fistfights occasionally break out, but the concussion rate among youth players is 18% lower (Meehan, 2011) than in football. Hockey seems like a controlled brawl, but the goal has never been to physically stop or damage the opponent (in fact, players who behave this way have earned the title “goon”). In contrast, football is designed so that players must physically smash the opponent to stop a play. If any hockey player tackled an opponent they’d get 5-10 in the sin bin, if not outright ejection.

    • Yikes. I hope this doesn’t lose me my salvation, but I love football. Loved watching it as a kid, even as an adult. Flag football is great to play.

      The sport I don’t understand right now, especially considering its barbarism and gladitorial style, is MMA. Why anyone would want to get involved in that is beyond me.

  7. Athletes as Christian role models? No, i would say. They can thank Jesus all they want, but you don’t make it to thet top tier of the NFL level by being a nice person. You just don’t.

  8. I don’t know where to begin with the tithe story. There’s the sanctimonious, pious, self-righteous angle. There’s the angle which exposes Christian’s over-emphasis on defending their rights and constantly playing the “persecuted” card, while claiming to follow a Savior, who laid down all his rights and glory. There is the angle, where Christians parrot the fiscal conservatives and Randians who jeer the poor to get off welfare and get a job, then demean them when they do, as if gratuity equals welfare.

    But I’ll go with this angle: evangelicalism needs a good kick in the back side when it comes to its understanding of vocation. I just saw an article on Christianity Today talking about the need to expand our world view into secular business, but this shows how evangelicals still don’t get it from the consumer side of vocations. Luther wrote about a vocation being a face of God, delivering our daily bread through the face of a merchant. It brings sanctity to all vocations, not just those we respect, because they generate the biggest tithe check. As I mentioned once before, one cannot salute a soldier in an airport, then turn around and make the clerk behind the ticket counter feel like dirt. If we would see God in the face of all vocations, we would show thankfulness and respect to those who serve us. That alone would speak volumes more than leaving your waitress a tract.

    • I meant the tip story.

    • +1

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      But I’ll go with this angle: evangelicalism needs a good kick in the back side when it comes to its understanding of vocation. I just saw an article on Christianity Today talking about the need to expand our world view into secular business, but this shows how evangelicals still don’t get it from the consumer side of vocations.

      Bronying out again, but these days My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has a better understanding of vocation than Evangelicalism. Remember those butt tats on the ponies? They’re called “Cutie Marks”, and appear spontaneously/magically around puberty as a visible symbol of the pony’s vocation. In the show, there is a secondary group of main characters — three pre-pubescent “blank flanks” who are trying to get their cutie marks/find their vocations NOW. And their desperate-to-crazy attempts to do so (and the resulting “hilarity ensues”) are a continuing story arc through three seasons and counting.

    • Josh in FW says:

      +1

  9. Yes, the 90-day-challenge of tithing with a money-back-guarantee is nothing new. My own church did the very same thing back in 1999 and I was quite angry about it. A friend of mine at the time said he had heard the same thing from a church he used to attend, so apparently this load of crap has been around the block a few times.

    I asked the youth minister his opinion on the matter, and his thought was that we should trust the senior pastor’s decision to do the money-back-guarantee because he was the man that God had placed in authority. I offered my reasons why I thought it was a horrible idea (treating giving like some sort of business transaction, giving for the purpose of receiving, and–not least of all–the ridiculous idea of getting a “refund” on a gift to God). There was also the problem with what sort of criteria one would use to judge whether any particular “blessing” was a direct consequence of the giving. I wasn’t the only one who questioned the program, either. At least one other person from the youth group vocalized opposition.

    Nonetheless, every week during offering time some soul would stand up and give a testimony about how God had blessed them due to their giving. It was ludicrous.

    • The way fundagelicals handle tithing sooooooooooooooooooo pisses me off. I better stop before I get started but basically I get sick at fundys who look at their congregations like they are an ATM and then twist the Bible to justify it. It makes me sick.

      • Of all the absurd ways that Scripture gets twisted and various seeker-sensitive gimmicks are used or abused, this particular one is so unpredictably weird and obviously illogical that it almost surprises me that it keeps coming back around. Even the much abused Malachi 3:10 doesn’t imply anything about God giving refunds. It’s just so absurd.

    • Yikes. Explain a charitable donation with a money-back guarantee to the IRS. Sounds like rendered service, rather than a charitable donation – let alone an “offering”. Steve Taylor’s “Written Guarantee” is suddenly ringing in my ears (“It’s a written guarantee…when I give it up to you, give it back to meeeeee!”).

    • My wife and I were trying out a church few months back that did this. It was part of a 3 week sermon series with the MBG as a part of the last sermon. The 3 weeks were based on Dave Ramsey’s money management series. And on top of the MBG it was also stated from the pulpit that if you tithed you were guaranteed to receive financial rewards.

      We moved on.

      • Dave Ramsey teaching tithing…..those with very limited funds…. If you owe the plumber who goes to your church you need to tithe first to be Holy? Plumber is out of luck?

        Ramsey teaches tithing first and foremost because most of his business and profit comes from churches. But if you analyze what he is teaching for those in debt, it ain’t a pretty picture of how Christians should behave to those they owe money to.

    • This kind of took me aback. A pastor many years ago did the same thing, but from a different slant. If you decided to tithe, or actually, to give any amount regularly, but then found you needed money to pay a bill, he would give you money back. However, giving of any sort was seen as a thankful response to God’s blessings – but never done with the expectation of getting more or deserving more.

    • My church offers a money back guarantee with tithing, but it’s not about receiving tangible benefits from God in exchange for tithing. It’s that a lot of people think they can’t afford to tithe, or to really give any money to the church, so the idea is to get people to commit to giving regularly to the church for a month or two. If during that time they decide that they really can’t do it, and that they really needed that money for other things, they can have the money back. The decision would be based on the person’s own criteria and is solely between them and God. I don’t know if anyone ever takes up the guarantee–I suspect that most people, once they start giving, learn that they can rearrange their budget successfully and that giving is not the terrible drain on them that they were afraid it would be. So it’s really about providing a safety net to help people overcome a fear about letting go of some of their money and trusting God. I believe there are real spiritual benefits to giving, but this sort of guarantee does not specify certain benefits or couch them in material terms. (I can speak only from my own experience, of course, I don’t know how it plays out in the linked-to church).

  10. Every sin is special. Each deserving of God’s special wrath and anger. Just ask Jesus.

  11. My pastor has always wanted to deliver this very sermon in a mega-church, any mega-church, and then to watch what happens:

    http://theoldadam.com/2012/01/25/preaching-this-sermon-would-probably-get-you-thrown-out-of-saddleback-church-calvary-chapel-or-willowcreek/

    Give it 5 min. …then the fur will start to fly.

    • Hands down awesome

      • Hmmm….at my church the pastor usually preaches from the Bible, not Luther. But besides that, and the pastor’s apparent confusion about whether “belief” is a work or not, I didn’t hear anything that Rick Warren or Bill Hybels would object to.

  12. “I wanna show ya my shocked face…”

    ;o)

    T

  13. wow…a money back guarantee on your tithe…..there are no words

  14. My Bible Study sometimes meets in a pub, but when we do we try to make sure to tip at least 25% or so. I figure if it’s obvious we’re Christians, we’re representing Jesus and ought to be generous. One time when we were there, we were all being cheap and just ordering appetizers and splitting entrees, and the waitress must’ve been so disgusted at how cheap we appeared to be that we didn’t get _any_ service all evening. So… we left about a 50% tip, at least the equivalent of what would’ve been a generous tip on a full meal instead of the cheap-o meal we’d paid for. Because that’s what Jesus would do.

    I have a Southern Baptist cousin who leaves gospel tracts with the tip. Every time she does I toss another five dollars in to compensate.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      How cool is it that a) you repaid bad service with kindness (hot coals on her head), and b) your Bible Study meets at a pub. I read the back half of Judges at a local brewery once; for some reason, I felt really guilty.

  15. Concerning Christian athletes as role models: How about Eric Liddell?

  16. Very surprised to see who #1 is for most “megachurched”. But not at all surprised to see two cities in the top 7 from my home state of Florida, and especially not surprised to see the town I grew up in, St. Petersburg.

    • I was surprised when I read that…from time to time I’ll watch Central Christian Church in Las Vegas online.

      • Eagle, I’m not too surprised as Christian Standard, a monthy pub thats been around for about 150 years, and is affiliated with the Independent Christian Chruches and Churches of Christ claims 3 mega churches in the greater Las Vegas area. Central rated second, right behind Southwest Christian in Loiusville, KY with over 20K attendance with Canyon Ridge claiming over 6K.

        • “Central rated second, right behind Southwest Christian in Loiusville, KY with over 20K attendance with Canyon Ridge claiming over 6K.”

          There have not been 20K at Southeast for many years. NEVER believe mega church numbers.

    • Personally, I was very surprised to NOT see Colorado Springs on that list. The place is like the Mecca of Evangelicalism. It would probably be near the top if they only considered 2000+ as a mega church.

      • Oh yeah, good call Miguel, I hadn’t thought of Colorado Springs… I had guessed Dallas, although Jeff’s hint kinda told me I was wrong.

  17. David Cornwell says:

    “And a man in Tennessee took a dog to a shelter and demanded it be euthanized because he said it was gay. ”

    This man is just showing his ignorance of dogs and other animals. Some male dogs will try to “do it” with just about anything. Living on a section of my son-in-law’s dairy farm, I could tell you more stories about female and male animals. But this isn’t the place for animal porn!

    And in point of fact, there are animals which do prefer the same sex for some reason. Let God be their judge!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “And a man in Tennessee took a dog to a shelter and demanded it be euthanized because he said it was gay. ”

      Life imitates South Park

      “Kyle, your dog is a gay, homosexual.” — Cartman

      (No wonder I Bronied. I’m living in South Park. We’re all living in South Park. (“We All Float!” — Pennywise the Clown, Stephen King’s It.) Where would you rather live — South Park or Ponyville?)

    • It not same sex with dogs. If they get aroused they are going to find ANYTHING they can to pretend with. People’s legs being on of them. To the mortification of the more genteel in the crowd. But in a pinch a fence post or old tire will do.

      That dog owner was/is an idiot. But so are way too many people.

      • Dog-Trainer of many years: It is dominance, not sex……

        • Yes. But I say both.

          We have two females from the same litter. 13 years old now. Relatively large. 70 pounds when in good shape.

          If you look at their behavior around us and when interacting with other dogs and try and apply US human gender roles you’ll get some really strange ideas of the mental processes of dogs.

          Most people who have trouble with dogs rail to understand the basic premise. Dogs ARE NOT people.

  18. I don’t know if you guys saw this…when I was attending National Community Church years ago Mark Batterson spoke about this. I read this on the Christian Post the other day and it looks like this is becoming reality.

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/dc-church-step-closer-to-building-community-dream-center-89116/

    • Eagle, we have one that our local mega-church, Seacoast, built about two years ago. It is certainly not in this league, but they are trying to meet the needs of one of the poorer areas of North Charleston. I’ve found it interesting. It has challenged the idea of what a church’s role in social issues is and perhaps should be. (http://www.seacoast.org/dreamcenter/)

  19. Since this blog touches on baseball I learned the other day that Harrison Ford is doing a movie of Jackie Robinson that will be released this spring. Here is the trailer.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9RHqdZDCF0

    That said…I’m torn about the Super Bowl! Grew up in California but living in DC right outside Baltimore. (Or Balymore as the locals say!) :-P

  20. Regarding Scientology and Tom Cruise; Check out the then and now pictures of the Top Gun cast.

    http://d2tq98mqfjyz2l.cloudfront.net/image_cache/1353358811766472.jpg

    Maybe there is something to that religion after all :)

  21. Hey, put some skin in the game. If you’re serious (and truly believing), offer me double my tithing money back. With that, we’re talking a real wager here!

    • Maybe churches could start offering tithing derivatives, speculative donations, maybe even junk bond offerings. Of course, mega-churches would then be “too big to fail” and need a federal bail-out when the tithing bubble eventually bursts.

      • I refuse to search for them, but I would bet there are examples of exactly what you are talking about, dumb ox. No one has yet come up with a fiction more outrageous than reality, at least not in the area of religion.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.”
          — attr to Mark Twain

          And in an age of extremes like ours, as crazy as you can get in fiction there’s going to be some True Believer twice as crazy and Dead Serious.

        • I’m more worried about someone thinking, “Gee, that sounds like a GREAT idea!”

  22. In the hermeneutics of the Episcopal Church USA, nothing in the Bible needs to be taken literally except for tithing.

    • I’ll believe in Episcopalians preaching about tithing when I hear it.

      • Randy Thompson says:

        Good point, Miguel. Episcopalians believe in endowments.
        By the way, thanks for the link to the YouTube video on contemporary worship a couple days ago. It was hilarious.

        • Miguel,
          As an Episcopalian who has belonged to several parishes over the years, I can say that the 10% tithe is taken quite seriously as a norm for giving in the yearly stewardship drive and the literature that goes along with it.; it’s either suggested as a goal or a starting point for parishoners, depending on their financial wherewithal. You are correct, though, that there is not much preaching about the 10% tithe; that, however, is probably due to the fact that very little real preaching on any subject is done from Episcopal pulpits.

  23. Randy Thompson says:

    Putting down “gay” dogs? What won’t they think of next in Tennessee?

    Maybe there is something odd in the drinking water down there. During a brief visit to that part of the country a few years ago, I learned that the indignant citizens of Erwin, Tennessee lynched an elephant named Mary sometime during World War I, hanging her from a railroad crane, as they didn’t have big enough guns to shoot her. (Oops. I may have provided the NRA with some valuable propaganda here.)

    Of course, the citizens of Erwin did have reason to be upset, as the elephant did-in her handler in a rather gruesome and public way the day before the lynching.

    I should note here that the last time I told this story, I was one-upped by a friend who sent me a link to a YouTube video showing Thomas Edison (yes, that Thomas Edison) electrocuting some poor, hapless elephant at Coney Island.

    By the way, I have nothing against elephants; in fact, I love them. I am merely the reporter here.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Well the former Confederate States DO have their own “cultural peculiarities”…

  24. David Cornwell says:

    Talking about pastors at restaurants, it reminds me of a pastor friend from back in time, who was always an embarrassment to eat out with. First, both he and his wife, would start complaining about something on the menu. From there it went to not liking the way something was cooked, and sending it back, or totally changing their mind once it arrived. Then, of course, the tip was always low. I knew in advance that I’d end up making a larger tip than usual as an apology for his behavior.

    Part of the problem is the restaurant pricing system. It isn’t honest because it attempts to get by on low pay for its waiters (who are one of the most important parts of public face of the business). They don’t value their employees. I hate hidden pricing systems, but it’s everywhere in our economy these days. Another part of the problem is the old idea that pastors deserve special consideration in the community.

    I had another pastor friend that took me out to dinner once. He was pastor of the largest downtown Methodist Church in that city, and was very well known. As we got up to leave the waiter confronted him, almost in public, about his failure to leave a tip for his last 4 or 5 visits. In the end the pastor was gracious enough to admit the wrong he had committed, and to make it up to the waiter.

    • In the comments above there was a discussion of waiting table as a vocation. There is no shame, as John Bunyan said, in a calling to the close, the milkhouse, the stable, or the barn. This was brought home to me once in Finland, where I offended a waiter by attempting to leave him a tip. One could argue socialism has pervaded that culture to the point where a lowly waiter is paid his or her worth without depending on voluntary generosity. Imagine that ! But Finland is a Lutheran country, and it seems reasonable to me that their thinking is that the sacred calling resides in the secular service.

  25. this whole tip conversation sickens me. even Jesus paid what was owed (coin in the fish)…and He didn’t have to!

    if they don’t want to tip…move to europe.

  26. This may be taking the tipping story too far, but I have a growing concern over the elitism which came out of the presidential election, particularly emanating Romney’s closed door comments about those “dependent” upon government voting Democratic in order to keep their “entitlements”. I am seeing many comments from conservatives (including Christians) who view anyone receiving government assistance as aiding and abating an administration which they see as an enemy of the state. The language in many cases is quite dark and threatening. I think this carries over to view of the working poor as well. This “everyone’s out to get my fair share” to the point of paranoid threats of insurrection is shear insanity. Now the waitress serving your table is out to steal your money?

    I saw the reports from Alabama of the man to kidnapped a child from a school bus and barricaded himself in the bomb shelter because the government was out to get him as perhaps as what to expect more of from this new brand of paranoid conservatism, where even innocent children are meaningless, valueless pawns in a battle against evil big government. This is what Randianism has done to this country: one does not see the image of God in huddle masses but collectivist zombies doing the bidding of a controlling government.

    • David Cornwell says:

      You’ve got it right. The language IS dark, threatening, and paranoid. I’ve heard it from people who should know better. They were so shocked that they lost the election that they can only see dark and evil behind it. Now every law that is passed, every statement uttered by the President, and every situation that doesn’t suit their philosophy & theology of the way things SHOULD be is the work of evil and anti-Christian.

      This kind of stuff isn’t going to help them, the Church, or their country. They’ve insulted and alienated a large segment of the population, yet they show few signs of changing.

      I remember a better kind of conservatism that knew how to argue, discuss, and work for a better way. They knew how to cross party lines, show respect when it was due, work for compromise, and learn from their mistakes. They now have managed to even alienate those who would be their allies.

      • There’s a cartoon this week along those lines:
        http://0.tqn.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/O/3/5/patriot-yesterday-vs-today.jpg

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        You’ve got it right. The language IS dark, threatening, and paranoid. I’ve heard it from people who should know better. They were so shocked that they lost the election that they can only see dark and evil behind it. Now every law that is passed, every statement uttered by the President, and every situation that doesn’t suit their philosophy & theology of the way things SHOULD be is the work of evil and anti-Christian.

        We saw something similar between 2001 & 2008 with Bush Derangement Syndrome and Truther Conspiracy Theories. Then the parties switched off in 2008 and we have Obama Derangement Syndrome and Birther Conspiracy Theories.

        Ever since the Reagan years ended, there’s been this Derangement Syndrome and Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory popping up among the party who LOST the White House. And with the present-day mania for Conspiracy Conspiracy Conspiracy Conspiracy Conspiracy, it’s been getting darker and more extreme with each round.

        Remember the two bloodiest regimes of the 20th Century — Naziism and Communism — were built around Conspiracy Theories.

    • That Other Jean says:

      These are the same folks carrying “Hands off my Medicare!” signs at Tea Party rallies, aren’t they? How many of them are willing to give up that particular evil government program?

      I’m one of the last of the bleeding-heart liberals, but I remember kinder, gentler, rational conservatism, too–and I miss it.

      • David Cornwell says:

        ” kinder, gentler, rational conservatism, too–and I miss it.”

        When I was 17 on up to about 15 or so years ago, this is what I thought I was. But I never hated liberals. I guess I was the Eisenhower or Gerald Ford brand of conservative. Even then I thought it took a political balance to hold the country together. For instance, big labor helped keep big business honest. Collective bargaining lifted everyone up. Corruption was always there, on both sides, but still there was balance.

        Trying to label Obama as a communist or socialist is nonsense to me. In the 50’s and 60’s we had real communists and socialists around. Yet we didn’t panic, start wars, and dismantle civil rights (at least not most of the time).

        • I’ve been trying to cut my dad some slack about his “Hands off my Medicare and Government Pension.” That is until he had 2 surgeries and paid $35 due to Medicare and his Government retirement (he was an electrician for 26 years at the USDA) is 500 less per month than my husband makes working as a mid-level web developer for a college. I’ve been mulling that for a while.

          No wonder he doesn’t see any problems in society and thinks the rest of us gripe and don’t know how to save money. He’s doing just great. It doesn’t affect him.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “I Got Mine,
            I Got Mine,
            I DON’T WANT A THING TO CHANGE
            NOW THAT I GOT MINE…”
            — Glenn Frye

      • How many of these Tea Party folks are willing to give up the mortgage deduction? It’s a government handout in disguise. But set up so people don’t think of it as so.

        And yes, my life would be very different without it.

        • Not to mention that the US military is the largest and most successful socialist program south of the Canadian border. Put that in your teacup and drink it!

          • “Not to mention that the US military is the largest and most successful socialist program south of the Canadian border.”

            Huh? Have you considered what they do, might be called to do…die for YOU and what they give up in the way of rights that I have that they don’t simply by being in the military? And you would quibble over health care for their families?

            The biggest socialist program in the US is the US Congress. They of course, are exempted by Obamacare. Wonder why?

            . I realize I am a lone liberatarian here among flaming liberals but there is an entitlement mentality out there that is shocking. I was seated next to a government actuary at a dinner not too long ago and he was throwing out facts irrespective of political parties. He was telling me that in the mid 70’s there were 58 people paying in for one person living on government disability. Today it is 13 people paying in for every single person on government disability. There were other shocking stats that are not so convenient. Instead of looking at the horrors we have created I suppose it will take a crisis when the pension checks and SS checks stop. Then it will be another fight over who is responsbile instead of doing the hard work it is going to take.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Instead of looking at the horrors we have created I suppose it will take a crisis when the pension checks and SS checks stop. Then it will be another fight over who is responsbile instead of doing the hard work it is going to take.

            Probably with a couple coups along the way before things stablize under a Strong Man.

          • Martin — You misunderstood me. The military, like say the Swedish government, provides single-payer health care and housing allowance, pays its members according to a government-mandated scale, and offers such benefits as education and retirement. I won’t quibble over their health care at all. I might wonder why so many people who *live* for their country, by educating its children, cleaning its streets, building its infrastructure, etc,, aren’t accorded the same respect as those (the tiny minority even of the military) who die for it. I actually have no problem with the occasional socialist program, and my daughter is in the military. I was implying that some Tea Party members are inconsistent in their philosophy.

    • More to the point, why should we spend billions giving war jets to Egypt and ferrying tanks and troops to Afghanistan, but not support the poor within our own land? Something is wrong with our values.

      • The way overly simplistic answer is if oil get’s cut off we’d all be in poverty.

        But as I said that’s way overly simplistic. And I don’t disagree that maybe they way we’re “solving” the issue now isn’t the best way.

      • Maybe the government could fund some more “green” companies like Solyndra where they go bankrupt and the leaders walk away with millions. Freddie Mac also comes to mind….

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Every time you have someone — Government or Investors — throwing money at a crisis, the con men and frauds come out of the woodwork. If they’re like Solyndra, they’ve got lawyers on board who cover their asses from any legal reprisal in advance. Pretty slick, actually. Not only did Solyndra con the Feds, they conned the Prez into photo-op free publicity.

  27. Richard McNeeley says:

    All of this talk about a big game on Sunday helps remind me that in 9 days the darkness ends with pitchers and catchers reporting. Spring training starts early this year due to the World Baseball Classic.

  28. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    Kevin N is an old-earther/theistic evolutionist, excluding humans.

  29. The story about the pastor stiffing the waitstaff then managing to get them fired is just beyond appalling.

    I try to tip generously (about 20% if I can) precisely because waitstaff consistently say that the church crowd are the worst about tipping, and because, embarrassingly, my own parents, who were lifelong missionaries and depression-era kids, were both terrible tippers (bad enough that ever since I have had my own income I would supplement their tips when with them – and let them know why).

    It still baffles and angers me that so many supposedly good Christians fail to honor the work, the sanctity of life and the image of theGod they purport to worship in those who serve them. This is a fundamental failure because it fails precisely at the point of one of the greatest commandment: to love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s precisely this kind of bad behavior that makes people leave the church, or never want to darken the door of one.

    • When I was in high school (centuries ago!) I worked as a store cashier. The worst, meanest, crabbiest crowds were always the Sunday shoppers. Many of them were well dressed and probably had come from church…and loaded for bear.

    • Margaret Catherine says:

      People “dine up” on Sundays after church. Instead of McDonald’s, Applebees. Instead of Applebees, maybe Outback. Most of them don’t think to “tip up”, though, or can’t afford to – “fixed income” diners abound. The same thing happens on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day…half again the work for not necessarily more money.

  30. Putting down the gay dog: I once had a gay chicken. Well, ok, gay may not be the best word. This rooster was an omni-sexual: he went for the cat on a bad day. Miss Kitty didn’t know whether to be defensive or offended. True story!

    • Yours was omnisexual, our rooster was narcissistic: He was in love with his reflection in the shiny hubcaps of our car and would stare for hours until the lamb, who had no tolerance for that kind of self-absorption, came and chased the rooster all over the yard.

      • Cedric Klein says:

        That rooster could have had any hen in the barnyard but to him, none matched his own beauty…

        You mean?

        He was not master of his domain.

  31. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    That pastor’s church website has now been hacked: http://tiwdm.webs.com/

    Personally, I’m surprised nobody messed with the bio. If I had done it, I would have put in there about her sponsoring deep fried puppy dinners on Wednesday night, stealing candy from children on Friday, spitting on the homelss for Jesus…

    • Margaret Catherine says:

      No, the bio speaks too well as is. Pregnant and living in a Catholic homeless shelter…raised out of that situation by God, seeking to be a “humble servant”…now proud to say she “only gives God 10%”, and did you know she’s a Pastor? :( The whole thing reeks of “prosperity gospel” idolatry.