August 21, 2014

Saturday Ramblings 2.23.13

RamblerWelcome to the holiest of all days, the last Saturday in February. Why is today so special? It is the annual Holland Hall Book Fair. What, you ask (if you could ask me), is the HHBF? It is a used book sale to support a private school in Tulsa. Is the school in trouble financially? I doubt it, not with tuition being more than some colleges. (Would you pay north of 15 grand a year to send Johnny or Sally to first grade? Will that kind of jack buy better crayons?) No, I’m not interested in helping spoiled kids feel better about themselves. (You ought to see the cars the high school kids drive. I mean, really.) I want great deals on used books. There will be thousands of books lining tables in the gym. The doors open at 8. My friend Mike and I get there at 6. I asked Mike this week if he was fasting and praying for a good book fair. “I’m praying I am faster at you to get the books I want.” As is our custom, as we are walking in the doors at 8, Mike will turn to me and say, “Once inside, I no longer know you.” So happy HHBF, iMonks. If you want to join us, feel free. Just don’t get in front of me in line. Now, let’s ramble.

Adam Palmer, our eagle-eyed rambling scout, told me about a Saturday Night Live skit from last week that he thought particularly insightful to how some Christians want to view Jesus. It is either insightful or highly, highly offensive. Not sure which side I fall on. You?

Don’t know if this is directly related, but NBC will finish this latest ratings period in fifth place. Even Univision, the Spanish-language network, beat the Peacock …

Here is a poster for a movie coming out next year that I’m sure I will find highly offensive. I only wish this were a spoof. Count me among those who would rather sit through a Saved By The Bell marathon than go see this. Again, you?

nicolas-cage

And speaking of offensive, Bill O’Reilly really has a thing about killing people, doesn’t he? Next up: Killing Jesus. Oh, how I wish I were joking …

Something good to say about a video? Ok then. How about this Gospel lesson from the just-concluded season three of Downton Abbey? 

You didn’t think the pope could announce his resignation and that not start a landslide of conspiracy theories, did you? Now we are hearing of a covert “gay lobby” within the Vatican. Accepting his explanation of being too tired and weak from age to continue to do the job is not enough, huh?

In case the cardinals tasked with electing the next pope reach a stalemate, here is one funny-shaped hat tossed in the ring they should consider. Can you imagine Jim Martin as pope? His homilies would have the faithful rolling with laughter in St. Peter’s Square. EWTN’s ratings would skyrocket.

Seems megachurches continue to get more and more mega. A new survey shows giving to large churches continues to increase, with many of these churches planning to increase the size and pay of their staff. I think most faithful iMonks know my feelings about megachurches. If you don’t, well, I’m a-gin ‘em on principle. Why? Because, as a rule, these churches don’t foster Jesus-shaped spirituality. Discuss.

The Louisville Courier-Journal says that while Christians are not the best tippers at restaurants, we may not be as bad as some have said.

We mourn the loss of Howard Hendricks, the long-time seminary professor, pastor and author, at age 88 this week. Blessed are those who can say they were mentored by Hendricks.

Christian entertainer Carmen announced this week he has terminal cancer, with doctors giving him three to four years to live. Like his music or not, this, too, is sad news.

Another Christian entertainer, Tim Tebow, changed his mind this week and will not be speaking at First Baptist in Dallas. Seems Tebow has decided he doesn’t want to be associated with the controversial pastor of First Baptist, Robert Jeffress. I guess this will give Tebow more time to prepare to play quarterback for the Jets next year. Oh, wait …

Having trouble coming up with a menu during this season of Lent? Here’s a list of ten acceptable foods you may have overlooked on your last trip to the Piggly-Wiggly. And don’t you think Skunk-Headed Coot would make a great name for a country-western band?

A motorist in New Jersey caused problems this week when going to get his driver’s license renewed. Seems he didn’t want to remove his headdress, saying it was part of his religion to wear it in public. Can you guess where I’m going with this? No? Try harder. Ok, ok. Read about it here.

Do you feel a call to the ministry, but are having trouble deciding what kind of preacher you want to be? Worry no longer. Here is a handy chart you can use to make your selection—based on the kind of facial hair you want to sport. This is for males only, of course. Except for women preachers in Arkansas …

And finally, as Spring Training games began yesterday, I thought it would be good to show that baseball and literature make good bedfellows. So I turn to Baseball Hall of Fame writer Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News who shows us that Shakespeare himself was a baseball fan.

FOR BASEBALL FANS who aren’t William Shakespeare fans, well, consider that The Bard made constant references to baseball, before baseball was born. These were sent by a Reds’ fan:

—I shall catch it ere it come to ground. — MacBeth.

—A hit, a very palpable hit. — Hamlet.

—You may go walk. — Taming of the Shrew.

—For this relief, much thanks. — Hamlet.

—You have scarce time to steal. — Henry VIII.

— And so I shall catch the fly. — Henry V.

— O hateful error. — Julius Caesar.

— Run, run, O run. — King Lear.

— Fair is foul and foul is fair. — MacBeth.

— My arm is sore.  — Antony & Cleopatra.

— (And the most applicable these days:) I have no joy in this contract. — Antony & Cleopatra.

Hippie happy birthday greetings go out to Edgar Bergan; Sonny Bono; Jerome Bettis; Red Barber; Hal Holbrook; Paris Hilton; Enzo Ferrari; Johnny Hart; Yoko Ono; J Geils; Walter Becker; Erma Bombeck; Kelsey Grammer; Sparky Anderson; and Drew Barrymore.

The closest rock and roll will ever come to perfection is found in the recordings of Steely Dan. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker will never win any beauty contests, but they create an incredible sound. Walter Becker is the old guy in the middle of the stage playing guitar. Crank this up and enjoy.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cz5BXCJrFM']

Comments

  1. 1. I thought the SNL skit was more making fun of Tarantino than Jesus.

    2. The link re: the O’Reilly book quotes Bill talking about Jesus’s life, teachings, legacy, and death. Shouldn’t there be another word in there? (scratches head) I think it begins with an “R”…

    3. How bad could the movie be? Could it be worse than the original? I mean, that poster lists one of the names who does voices for “Phineas and Ferb”. HOW COULD IT NOT BE POSSIBLY AWESOME?

    (4. I am thankful for the book series that the film is based on for finally breaking me of the mentality that in order to be a good Christian, one must only read Christian books, listen to Christian music, etc. I am also thankful for reading “The Forever War” and “Game of Thrones” during that same time period for a good good contrast in quality…)

    • The Forever War by Joe Haldeman?

    • It would be redundant to satirize Tarantino since he satirizes himself so completely and frequently.

    • O’Reilly is an outspoken Catholic and as such, I don’t think he will ignore the “R”.

      • Dan Crawford says:

        O’Reilly is certainly outspoken – he does seem ignorant about much of the Gospel, though, and I wouldn’t be too eager to proclaim him an example of Christian teaching and living.

        • I’m not proclaiming him an example, only that he mentions his faith tradition often enough which, I presume, would include belief in Jesus’ resurrection. I don’t think he would shy away from it in his book.

          He does have a wide audience that is not necessarily Christian. His books always hit the best seller list, so he may (I hope) do some good.

          • O’Reilly is a theological ignoramus who wouldn’t know the difference between a resuscitation and a resurrection if a NDE hit him in the head. To typify Jesus as a “beloved and controversial young revolutionary” is already to be embarked upon a road rife with banal and bathetic misunderstandings of who Jesus was and is that will inevitably lead to a caricature with considerably less messianic allure than a good re-telling of the killing of Che Guevara. But O’Reilly will probably make a lot of money from it, so what the heck.

    • So many lines for Phineas and Ferb in the End Times….

      Mom!! Phineas and Ferb are the two Witnesses of Revelation 11!
      – Ferb, I know what we’re going to do for the next 1,260 days.

      Left Behind II — Hey, Where’s Perry?

      Aren’t you a little young to be piloting a plane during the rapture?
      – Yes, yes we are

      “Vanessa, I really need you to be part of my evil plan to be the Anti-Christ over the whole Tri-State Area, now try just focusing on the ‘of Babylon’ part of your title, it’s really not so bad….”

    • Though I really can’t see myself rushing out to the cinema the moment the re-make of “Left Behind” hits, the quality of the movie will depend on the part Nicolas Cage plays.

      Given his propensity for good old-fashioned scenery chewing, if he’s the Anti-Christ, it should be great, If, as that poster seems to indicate, he’s a hero, then not so much :-)

  2. “it was part of his religion to wear it in public. Can you guess where I’m going with this?”

    Believe it or not, I guessed correctly before clicking the link!

    • Me too. But I’ll have to say I wonder exactly which branch or body of Judaism got the OK for them to wear a yarmulke and same with the scarves and such worn by Muslims and some Christians. The minute the government declares that one religion is ridiculous and another is real is the moment it crosses the line. One man’s ridiculous is another man’s religious and vice versa.

      • It does matter whether the “religion” in question is seriously believed by its putative adherents, or was invented as a joke. I’m not seeing the injustice.

        • I don’t see the difference. Who’s to say that Judaism wasn’t started as a joke or that something started as a joke like the Jedi religion can’t change into something more serious? Seriously, I think the state errs when it tries to decide which religions are seriously believed and which are jokes.

          • Even if some mainstream religion began as a joke, the point should be whether so-and-so believes it seriously today. In this case, we would have to inquire after the sincerely of the guy wearing the…sorry, I can’t remember what his utensil is called.

            As long as certain concessions are made to religious belief, but not other kinds of preference, this sort of problem is going to come up. I remember an IRS case in which a group of air traffic controllers started their own religion in order to get a tax break for donating beer, chips, etc. They were prosecuted for fraud, I believe rightly.

            The Jedi campaign is a good example, because according to Carole M. Cusack’s book “Invented Religions,” a few people really do believe that they are Jedis. They tend to get lost amidst the thousands of others who affiliate as a joke. In fact, several “parody religions” have developed real-world communities. A few people even start to believe their own patter. So there is some ambiguity. Unfortunately, I doubt that very many judges would be as prepared as Dr. Cusack to consider the genuine religious dimensions of a parody religion.

          • I don’t think the government is the right entity to try to look into people’s hearts except in limited cases (e.g. was it first degree murder or 2nd, was the person competent to consent to a contract, etc). Plus, now you are privileging mainstream religions. After all, the clergy project has found that some pastors don’t believe and are just going through the motions because they find themselves trapped. Should the government therefore examine every clergy person to see if they really believe what they’re pushing in order to qualify for vicarage and other tax exemptions?

            Especially in the case where mainstream religions are acting to try to prevent secular chaplains, I think it is only fair that everyone get to benefit from religious exemptions regardless of whether they actually believe. If a youth group gets to buy chips and soda tax free (and I don’t believe they do, but if they do, then yeah) then anyone should be able to claim a religion to get that benefit.

            Perhaps a better idea is to get rid of all religious exemptions.

  3. I have to take Tebow’s side on this. Mohler, Jr’s covering of the subject in Christianity Today was horrible. Tebow should have known what he was getting into, but I don’t fault him for bowing out. Jeffress sounds like a head case. Tebow would have been his tool. I’m glad Tebow is standing up for himself, rather than agreeing to be the poster boy for every evangelical agenda. But now he must brace for the wrath of the likes of Mohler. I think he needs all the support he can get.

  4. “Maybe this reality explains why Christianity has been such a flawed enterprise. Think about it. Virtually nothing of what Jesus intended has come to pass. His followers aren’t one, they aren’t even nice. Humankind has neither learned to love God or neighbor, to make peace, or to proclaim the good news of salvation in any way deeper than institutional arrogance. Nor have we learned to be bold in justice, magnanimous in healing, generous with wealth, or welcoming of outcasts.”
    - Tom Ehrich, “Gospel lessons from ‘Downton Abbey’”

    Well, there you go, Christianity Today: there’s religious themes in Downton Abbey afterall! Happy? No? Why am I not SURPRISED!!!

    • Thanks for sharing the link. Good perspective.

      • It’s not surprising that Mark Driscoll’s complaints about a weak savior seem to mirror Ayn Rand’s. Jesus is now a killing machine mowing down the mindless collectives. It’s funny how easily he skips in Revelation the hosts of heaven falling prostrate before the lamb who was slain.

        • Cedric Klein says:

          And it’s funny how many Christians skip in Revelation the Faithful & True Rider unleashing bloody slaughter on the armies of the Beast. Jesus is the Prince of Peace AND the Reaper of the Bloody Harvest.

          • Mattpurdum says:

            Thanks so much for brightening my day, Cedric!

          • Jesus’ robe is soaked in blood before the battle begins in Revelation 19. So it’s not the blood of His enemies that stain His robe, but rather His own. He overcomes His enemies by the sword coming out of His mouth. In other words, He defeats His enemies through simply speaking the truth. This isn’t a Jesus who’s kicking ass and taking names. Rather it’s a Jesus who wins by dying and not through the use of sheer force.

          • Right on Phil. His dying and rising again is the battle that he wins, and evil is overcome by the power of His Words.

          • Wrath is an attribute of God. No doubt. But that should instill a sense of reverence and awe, not seen in Driscoll’s comments. There is a disturbing self-identification with God’s wrath that I can’t explain. Worshiping a God who executes judgement against evil is one thing; worshipping a killing machine is something completely different, and very bizarre.

          • Blood up to the horses bridle. ‘Nuff said.

          • Revelation was written at a time when Christians by the scores were being paraded to gruesome deaths. I can understand the imagery used in Revelation to promise that God would avenge those deaths. But I don’t see early Christians reading those words, rubbing their palms, and telling God, “Bring it on!”. I could be wrong. When a plea for justice crosses the line with bloodlust, something has gone terribly wrong. If I am wrong in this, it’s time for me to find a new religion.

          • Persecution has taken on many forms over the centuries, not just state-sponsored but church-sponsored. To hear Driscoll speak in such violent tones, am I not supposed to believe he is capable of inquisition-style bloody persecution against anyone who opposes him?

  5. Kyle In Japan says:

    I really hope the new Left Behind movie is a tongue-in-cheek satire of the whole thing.

    • Cedric Klein says:

      There is no reason for anyone to film a Left Behind novel when James BeauSeigneur’s THE CHRIST CLONE TRILOGY remains unfilmed.

      Other worthwile but offbeat Rapture projects, George Romero could take on Mark D. Rogers’ THE DEAD or Quentin Tarantino film Brian Caldwell’s WE ALL FALL DOWN.

      If I want standard Rapture movies, give me parts 2-3-4 of Cloud Ten’s APOCALYPSE series or better yet THE THIEF IN THE NIGHT series!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        There is no reason for anyone to film a Left Behind novel when James BeauSeigneur’s THE CHRIST CLONE TRILOGY remains unfilmed.

        Rayford Steele LaHaye and Buck Jenkins are CELEBRITIES and their 22-volume piece of hackwork made ALL The Best-Seller Lists while Beausiegner is a Nobody who hasn’t been on any best-seller list. Q.E.D.

    • I’m sure it will be, but unintentionally!

  6. “Except for women preachers in Arkansas.”

    ??

    Sorry bro, that’s just your Okie inferiority complex speakin’. ;o)

    T

  7. I think this Pastafarian might have a point; it is very hard to support the idea that he was intelligently designed.

    No god? So what?!?! Big deal! MANGA!!!!!!

  8. “Bodhisattva, I’m gonna sell my house in town…..”

  9. The SNL satire was bang-on about the American Constantinian Jose. That Muslims would be “offended” should be no great suprise since Islam prides itself as the offended whereas Jesus followers should be offense bearers.

    T

  10. SNL missed one thing in their skit: in the West, the traditional revenge fantasy undercurrent would have Jesus coming out of the tomb gunning for the Jews, not the Romans. Pogroms were exactly this revenge fantasy run amok among European Christians mobs (not discounting how the rulers in Christian lands sometimes used anti-Jewish sentiment among their subjects to deflect responsibility for misfortune in their communities from themselves onto the Jews, who they blamed for bringing God’s curse among them). Another shameful chapter in Christendom’s history. Glad it’s nearly over (Christendom and its aftereffects, that is).

  11. Downton Abbey. Thomas sacrificial love for another was touching. I think he probably surprised himself. Those he worked with saw him in a new light and with a new respect. And the act itself melted away some of the harshness of Thomas and allowed a kinder humanity to show through. At least, temporarily.

    LOVE this show. We have to wait til next January for the new episodes.

    • I have a friend from the UK who has a source that provides him with the series BEFORE it shows in the USA, but he is very UN-Christian about sharing it :(

    • Also, the story line about Ethel is redemptive.

  12. Regarding the SNL skit: isn’t there in fact a revenge fantasy that forms part of the text of the Bible itself? Some of the book of Revelation certainly is easy to read this way, but it can be found elsewhere in the Bible. This was one of Nietzsche’s central criticisms of Christianity and the New Testament; he believed that what supported much of Christian faith and morality was a belief system of people who lacked the strength of soul to seek their own justice/revenge, but rather dishonestly projected their hunger for vengeance onto a God who would do it for them, thereby turning what should be simple vengeance into a metaphysical principle, and using the concept of “justice” to mask their own deep impotent desire for revenge. This he called resentment. For Nietzsche, the character of Django is a far more noble and honest one, seeking vengeance for himself, rather than Christians calling fire down from heaven on their enemies (even while their pretending to forgive and pray for them). It’s still a devastating critique, against all forms of Christianity, and against certain central strands of our Scriptural texts.

    • Oh, it’s not *that* devastating. Christians eventually amassed sufficient political power to organize the Crusades and such.

      • Yes, they launched the Crusades in the name of God, supposedly to avenge his honor by reclaiming the Holy Land from the Muslims; so, when Christians did exercise temporal power, they ostensibly did it not for their own human reasons but rather in obedience to God, thereby projecting their vengeance and violence onto God to justify their own actions and desires. That would be another example of what Nietzsche considered the ignoble subterfuge of Christianity.

  13. Great choice of music video. One of my favorite songs from one of my all-time favorite bands. Check out YouTube for the version of Pretzel Logic with Drew Zingg on guitar some time. Dude could play.

  14. Jeffress is a perfect example why megachurches becoming more and more mega is dangerous. These churches become too big to fail; to big to hold accountable, too big to censure, to big to correct. They become tools of power wielded by megalomaniacs. They become billboards for the rest of Christianity and evangelicalism. They are like fires generating their own weather patterns; they create their own doctrinal norms apart from traditional orthodoxy.

    • Mattpurdum says:

      First Baptist Dallas recently spent $150 million on the new sanctuary — not sure but I think Tebow was speaking at its dedication when he cancelled. Jeffress is a power-monger who wants to be the next Falwell/GOP Kingmaker. Christians across this nation should repent for our selfishness and spending so much on ourselves. It’s deeply grievous. I speak with missionaries who struggle to obtain clean water, medicines, bibles in other languages. First Baptist Dallas is the poster child for what’s wrong with us.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Jeffress is a power-monger who wants to be the next Falwell/GOP Kingmaker.

        GOP Kingmaker as in Rush Limbaugh?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        P.S. I understand “Good Christian Bitches” is set in the Dallas big-bucks Megachurch scene.

        I just spent three days at the Riviera in Las Vegas(My Little Pony convention), and the Dallas Megachurch whirl sounds “Just like Las Vegas, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

    • The greatest disappointment in the Tebow thing is missing the first time anybody would ever genuflect on the podium at FBC Dallas.

    • …too big to be wrong, so they never are.

  15. Fr. Martin never fails to bring a smile to my face.

  16. Re: Mega church

    “Because, as a rule, these churches don’t foster Jesus-shaped spirituality. Discuss.”

    I’ve attended a mega for the last three years and have been blessed by the people I’ve come to know. I am beginning to understand what you are saying about mega’s. In a nutshell, I’ve noticed that, by virtue of being so big, its hard for the pastoral staff to attend to all of the flock… to get to know them on an intimate, personal level,

    I’d be interested to know other specifics about megas that don’t foster Jesus-shaped spirituality.

    • Mary Anne Dutton says:

      Yes, as would I. We need rational understanding which is so lacking in our emotion-based culture.

    • Quite often larger churches have gotten larger by shamelessly exploiting cheap gimmicks or appealing to a lowest common denominator. Their services are oriented towards consumer response, not the proclamation of truth even if it is costly (or bad for business). Being large does not automatically imply these bad things, but it is fairly dependably true that these large institutions become quite institutional, and often Jesus only gets in their way.

    • “It’s hard for the pastoral staff to attend to all the flock.” Sorry, but I laughed when i read that. Did you mean to use the word ANY instead of your word, ALL?

      You asked for specifics, so here goes. From my experience, the Professional (I purposely didn’t use the word, Pastoral) staff ministers to hardly anyone. They aren’t accountable to anyone. They aren’t tied to the rest of Christianity, in either a historic sense, or even in the current day. The typicaly measure of success at the megas are dollars given, and number of fannies in the seats. Sadly though, neither of those two metrics measure spiritual growth. The “service” is driven by consumerism and entertainment and the “service” is largely focused on the person of the Sr. “pastor” and not focused on Christ.

      • Jeff’s post today sent me back here to if anybody else had specifics on Mega churches.

        Thanks Alan.

        In our church it seems that “small groups” sometimes carry the load of “ministering” to such a large group of people.

  17. Travis Sibley aka BigLove says:

    OK, maybe I shouldn’t have; but, I giggled at the DJesus Uncrossed skit.

    I like to fun poked at Tarantino and Christians alike. Why is it that we have issues with God’s eventual vengeance and even the fact that certainly Jesus had anger, smiles, giggles and even in all likelihood, appreciated a good dump?

    He was a man, and God. Something I cannot even pretend to comprehend.

    I fear the days when Christian extremists would push for death threats for such a video as we see in the Muslim world…

    • I agree, but I also feel slightly uneasy about the alternative: When the Muslims are more offended when our Savior gets dragged through the mud, it makes one wonder who really respects him more.

  18. Wait, I’m not sure I understand. The 8 bazillion Left Behind movies we already have weren’t enough? Or are they just leaping at the chance to have a big name plastered on it?

    • There were only three movies, out of God knows how many books (30 by now?). These were low-budget, poorly distributed affairs. While Nicholas Cage’s involvement is no guarantee of box office success, let alone criticals laurels, it does signal a certain mainstreaming of a franchise which had been more or less confined to the U.S. evangelical / fundamentalist ghetto. Did they say who would be playing the Antichrist character, Nicolae Carpathia?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        There were only three movies, out of God knows how many books (30 by now?).

        22 books, not counting the 40-volume Left Behind: The Kids.

        12 volumes in the main series.
        3 volume prequel (“Antichrist’s Baby Pictures”).
        1 sequel (set AFTER the end of the world — nice trick).
        and TWO shared-universe trilogies by other authors.
        Total 22 Volumes.

  19. It sounds like some of you here doubt the inerrancy of “Left Behind.”

    • Perish the thought! A Thief in the Night, The Omen, Omega Code, and Left Behind–four textual “witnesses” who agree on all essentials. How can this testimony not be God-breathed? (Prince of Darkness would then be like the Gospel of Thomas.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Ever heard of the phrase “History Written in Advance”?

      Or “67th to 86th Books of the Bible”?

  20. Prince of Darkness (with Donald Pleasence, an underrated masterpiece! ), transmitted to our time from the future as an encrypted prophetic message on a tachyon beam.

  21. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Do you feel a call to the ministry, but are having trouble deciding what kind of preacher you want to be? Worry no longer. Here is a handy chart you can use to make your selection—based on the kind of facial hair you want to sport.

    Did anyone else notice the Edgy Youth Pastor facial hair was combined with a balding head and wrinkled brow (as in looked about 50-60)?