December 20, 2014

Saturday Ramblings 5.25.13

RamblerGood morning, Mr. and Mrs. iMonk from border to border and coast to coast and all the ships at sea. Let’s go to rambling …

Here is a very good story about a family who lost everything—but say they lost nothing—in the Moore, Oklahoma tornado this week. By the way, this pastor’s new church is about four miles from where I live. Welcome to Tulsa.

Let’s just get this one out of the way now. Evangelical leaders are lining up to high-five C.J. Mahaney after a judge ruled 9 out of the 11 people accusing Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries of abusing them as children waited too long to file their cases. At the head of the line was Al Mohler, talking about Mahaney’s integrity. Our friends at the Wartburg Watch have a different view of things.

Is Pope Francis an exorcist? It appeared so when he laid hands on a man purportedly possessed by the devil after a mass last week. The man shook in his wheelchair, then slumped forward. Some are saying the pope performed an exorcism, but the official word is that this was just a simple prayer for healing.

If the pope is not an exorcist, is he a heretic? He created quite a stir when he dared to say Jesus has redeemed the entire world, even atheists. Who does he think he is, saying something like that? One thing I know, Pope Francis is no heretic. What I wouldn’t give to sit at tea with Robert Capon and Pope Francis …

Ok, iMonks, just for fun. You can invite any two living Christians to tea with you this afternoon. You’ve heard who my two would be. Who are you inviting?

If you travel to the Vatican and plan to tour the Sistine Chapel, don’t look up. You might just have your pockets lightened.

And it seems applicants to become nuns are increasing in Great Britain due to the economic situation there. Not being a Catholic, I’m not really up-to-speed on such things, but since when do nuns wear make-up?

An interesting story on how the granddaughter of Hall of Fame Goofball Fred Phelps escaped the family.

Since Downton Abbey won’t start up again for another seven months, I’m not spending much time in front of the boob-tube. So can anyone tell me if I missed anything in Anne Heche’s new program?

I just have no clue what to say about this. None at all. You?

I am going to save you $29.95. That’s right, you don’t have to buy Dan Brown’s latest, for lack of a better word, book. I bought it and read it. How can I describe it? Inferno makes Tom Clancy sound like Ernie Hemingway. To say it is “crap” is just too nice for this collection of words. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, about this work that requires your money or your time. I’ve read cereal boxes that had a better plot. Roving Rambler Adam Palmer found this article about Brown’s book and thought it interesting. I find it hilarious. Renowned indeed …

Now, with all that money I saved you, how about making a donation to Internet Monk? We can use all we can get right now for our on-going expenses. Thank you in advance.

Famous people who had birthdays this last week include Frank Capra; Pope John Paul II; Reggie Jackson; Rick Wakeman; George Strait; Tina Fey; Pete Townshend; Dusty Hill; Joey Ramone; Jimmy Stewart; Joe Cocker; Cher; Mr. T; Bernie Taupin; Joan Collins; Drew Carey; and Frank Oz.

Pete Townshend has lost much of his hearing after nearly 50 years of rock and roll. Maybe he should have played more acoustic numbers like this one. Enjoy.

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

Comments

  1. Frederick Buechner and Kathleen Norris. The tab’s on me..

    • Can I join you? What a treat that would be.

      As alternates, may I suggest Marva Dawn and Eugene Peterson?

      • Robert Capon, Thomas Merton, and Jerry Garcia.

        T

        • Jerry Garcia, hmm. I’ve come to wonder about him, and hope it’s true.

          There’s a youtube of him singing So Many Roads, a few weeks before he died, and it’s like an appeal to Jesus. I won’t link it, but you can paste this into the youtube window:
          Grateful Dead – So Many Roads (complete) – 7/9/95

  2. I just have to roll my eyes at the premise of Anne Heche’s new sitcom. Leave it to pagans to think it’s so novel and unique that someone could hear God.

    But you never know. Touched by an Angel struck me as a dumb idea too, and it turned out far more right than wrong.

    • David L says:

      TBAA. “more right than wrong”

      Really?????

      As to AH, after reading about her life in her Wikipedia entry, I don’t know whether to feel sorry for her or something else. As to what, I’m just not sure.

    • Cedric Klein says:

      Love how judgemental Anne is about her judgemental religious mother.

      I might happen on this accidentally. Heck, I actually checked in on NBC’s The Book of Daniel. Alas, the last time this was done well on TV it didn’t go past two seasons. I still miss Joan of Arcadia.

  3. Christiane says:

    Pope Francis and Billy Graham (this would be an awesome pairing)

    (I’m a Kathleen Norris fan, too . . . loved her ‘Cloister Walk’ . . . so beautifully written ) so . . .

    Kathleen Norris and Malcolm Guite (Christian literary giants)

  4. Dumb ox says:

    A commentator named “Desley” on the wbw article made the comparison between the defense of SGM at the neglect of the alleged victims and Oklahoma tornado victims being lectured on how to mourn. I think that is an astute observation. I also thought both Mohler and Piper in different ways both put defense of the neo-reform movement above those who suffered. It’s easy to do, and I think it is a self-examination we all should make. The difference between defending truth and defending dogma is often revealed in how people are treated in the process.

  5. Early Tom Clancy or Red Rabbit Tom Clancy (and presumably onward)? Because the gulf to Hemingway got wider in the later years…

    • The same thing happens with all commercial writers. Once they have a few successful books, the editors don’t bother to edit, the writers don’t bother to rewrite, and their books get longer and looonger and loooooooooonger.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      You lasted to Red Rabbit?

      Early Clancy was rip-roaring cold war techno thriller fiction: not great art, but definitely fun. The reader could reasonably guess the author’s political affiliation, but it didn’t really enter into the books. Then disaster struck: the cold war ended. Clancy was always good with Russians as worthy, even honorable opponents. With them out of the picture, his antagonists rapidly devolved into caricatures of villains that would make a comic book writer blush. We also discovered that he hates Asians: eastern Asians, central Asians, western Asians: it doesn’t matter. Where the Russian leaders were worthy opponents, the Asian leaders are sexual deviants. The sole Asian character portrayed favorably is so thoroughly Americanized that Clancy repeatedly emphasizes how foreign this character finds Asian culture. Clancy also struggled with the absence of plausible military opposition. He didn’t want to write just spy stuff, where an opponent with limited resources can be plausible. He wanted to write military fiction, with aircraft carriers and tank battles. The problem is that the US defense budget is pretty close to that of the rest of the world combined. So we have increasingly ridiculous plot devices to even the odds. Notice how in the book with the sneak attack by the Japanese, the plot still requires pretending that the US Atlantic fleet pretty much doesn’t exist. Having reenacted Pearl Harbor, he wants also to reenact Midway, but there is no Germany in this scenario tying up the other half of the navy. Then he devolved into “If I were God” fantasies by putting his Mary Sue in the White House, with the rest of the government killed off so that he is unconstrained by having to accommodate opinions other than his own. I finally threw in the towel with the book where we learn that the Sierra Club really wants mass genocide. feh. To top it off, his writing grew progressively sloppier. He would repeat entire passages two or three times within one book, driving up the page count without the burden of writing additional content. Then there is the issue of his farming out his name for use by truly terrible writers. So in summary, Clancy’s work peaked early. I would say with Cardinal of the Kremlin, but your mileage might vary. It has been a downhill slide ever since. The only question for the individual reader is where the threshold of palatability lies.

      • Excellent analysis, I couldn’t agree more. ‘Red October’ was taut, sharply paced and fun to read. The later stuff is just terrible.

  6. Dumb ox says:

    “The hypnotizer never lies.”

  7. Marcus Johnson says:

    Ok, iMonks, just for fun. You can invite any two living Christians to tea with you this afternoon. You’ve heard who my two would be. Who are you inviting?

    1. Pope Francis. 2. A toss-up between Jeff Dunn, Chaplain Mike, and Rachel Held Evans (CM is probably at the top of the list; Tennessee and Oklahoma are just a bit too far away from me.

    And, after the painful experience that was reading The Da Vinci Code, I would rather suffer through a Michael Bay movie than read Brown’s latest atrocity against literature. Don’t get me wrong: I love reading books that people deem “heretical” (it’s the main reason why I am reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood). However, Brown’s problem isn’t that he is a bad theologian or historian (although, wow, he REALLY is). He is just a crappy writer.

    • David L says:

      Hey. I read “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” in the 80s and used that walk through that pile of rambling nonsense as my excuse to skip all of DBs works.

      • David L, I must confess to finding “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” fascinating back in the day.

        My daughter convinced me to read “The DaVinci Code.” That was enough of Dan Brown for one lifetime. But I did find the linked article funny.

        Tea this afternoon would be with Anne Lamott and Corrie Ten Boom. And an interesting time that would be.

        The tatoo of Jesus … either he has a wonky eye or he’s winking at us. All in all, that back looks painful.

        • Or, since she’s rejoicing with the angels nowadays, you might stop to talk to Corrie ten Boom’s nephew, who still runs (or did back in ’91) the watch shop there in Haarlem.

          There’s always “The Last Temptation of Christ.” Far from orthodox/Orthodox, yes, but still good literature. (Can’t speak for the movie.)

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” is a masterpiece of crank history. It starts out reasonable, with the crazy introduced gradually. It is impressively footnoted, with the unsupported leaps done discreetly. I read it in college. I was a history buff, and intrigued by the idea that the Masons are the descendants of the Templars. I read that section carefully, referring constantly to the notes. I remember being impressed when I spotted the leap. It would be very easy for a casual reader to miss. I set the book aside at that point, as I was interested in actual history and knew that this wasn’t it. But I also have an esthetic appreciation of crank scholarship. Regarded in this light, this is a clear commercial and artistic success. (For anyone interested in the non-fantasy origins of Freemasonry, see “The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s Century, 1590-1710″ by David Stevenson.)

    • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

      When I read Da Vinci Code I figured I could excuse the poor writing as it was his first book. Then I found out it wasn’t.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        Poor guy, Isaac. You have my sympathies.

      • Suzanne says:

        DaVinci Code. Ugh. Can’t even call it a thriller since I figured out pretty early who “The Teacher” was and that the woman’s name opened up the secret whatever the heck it was. After reading the DaVinci Code and the Bridges of Madison County, I had only utter fear for our country’s future. These were best sellers for how many months????

      • I read renowned author Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code too. It fizzled out toward the end, and I seem to remember a romance that wasn’t. Like he didn’t know what to do with two healthy characters, male and female.

        But the article about him is a hoot. Here’s my favorite part:

        The 190lb adult male human being [renowned author Dan Brown] nodded his head to indicate satisfaction and returned to his bedroom by walking there. Still asleep in the luxurious four-poster bed of the expensive $10 million house was beautiful wife Mrs Brown. Renowned author Dan Brown gazed admiringly at the pulchritudinous brunette’s blonde tresses, flowing from her head like a stream but made from hair instead of water and without any fish in. She was as majestic as the finest sculpture by Caravaggio or the most coveted portrait by Rodin. I like the attractive woman, thought the successful man.

        I don’t think his feelings are as hurt as the article suggests, though. He’s crying himself all the way to the bank.

  8. Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

    So, reading the article about the nun boom in England and Wales, at first I was amazed at the 66% surge in religious vocations. Then I saw that that surge was an increase from 24 new vocations to 40. Don’t get me wrong, it’s neat to see more calls to the religious life, but that was a bit anticlimactic!

    Also, FWIW, the nuns in Call the Midwife are Anglican nuns, not Catholic. They said so in the first episode. And their chanting is from the Book of Common Prayer offices, albeit to the ancient Gregorian tones. Incidentally, watching that show was what inspired me to bust out my St. Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter and really learn how to chant the Psalms and Offices. In fact, I've gotten the OK from my Rector to spearhead building up a choir for a quarterly plainsong choral Evensong.

    I guess, though, that I can't be too annoyed at the article. After all, it was Henry VIII that pretty much destroyed English monasticism when he shut down all the monasteries and convents and took their money and lands. From what I understand, it wasn't really until the 19th Century that they were allowed to open again. Such a shame; historically, it was the monasteries that shaped and preserved the rather unique form of Christianity on the Isles. Oh, well.

  9. Adrienne says:

    Thank you Jeff for the great video. In my young days The Who were “my group” and their rock opera “Tommy” played a big role in my coming to Christ believe it or not! “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is timeless because, well, it’s too depressing to explain. But I have never seen this video and it is the calmest I have ever seen Pete T and the best on his guitar playing. Thanks very much.

    Hmmm – two living Christians. Eugene Peterson and Chaplain Mike.

  10. Elizabeth Elliot & Wayne Monbleau – http://www.lovinggrace.org

  11. JoanieD says:

    I haven’t seen that Anne Heche show, but after reading the article I may check it out.

    Very creative article written about Dan Brown’s newest book!

    Wow, two living Christians that I would like to meet for tea. How about N.T. Wright. Kathleen Norris was mentioned and I have read two of her books and would like to meet her too. Pope Francis is always surprising me so I would invite him to the tea too. Come on over, Eugene Peterson, and have a good time with the friends I am accumulating. What’s that…you would like to talk with Robert Barron too? OK, he can come. I LOVE his ten part video series on Catholicism and I love two of his books. I am not very good at following directives. Jeff asked for TWO people. I want a large table surrounded with them. Rachel Held Evans can come too. To round this out, I am inviting Chaplain Mike and Jeff Dunn himself. We will have fun! Do you have a favorite tea? Do you like scones? I bet N.T. Wright can tell us how best to conduct a “tea.” Oh wait, I want another woman at the table…how about Sister Joan Chittiser? She and Pope Francis can have their own little tete-a-tete after the tea. Oh my goodness, I almost forgot Thomas Keating! He was born in 1923 so we better get talking NOW!

  12. Steve Newell says:

    I would invite:

    1. Jimmy Carter. While I don’t agree with many of his is political positions, I do respect how he places his faith in action with Habitat for Humanity.

    2. Bono(and if the rest of his co-workers would come, i could set a few extra places at the table).

  13. What I loved about the Pope Francis remarks about redemption is the wonderful follow up blogs by Catholics around the Internet. Christ died for all, but we have to accept God’s grace. Sounds like my Baptist upbringing (before the Calvinistas). Also, sounds like most Lutherans.

    We have much more in common than most of us like to admit.

  14. My tea party would host both living Popes…but hey, I AM Catholic!!!

    The Dan Brown article made me laugh until I snorted my morning coffee……..

    And…..pretty sure the “nun” in the photo is a stock picture of a model, not a current, live Sister!

  15. Brianthedad says:

    The Michael Deacon piece was brilliant! It was infinitely better than anything I’ve ever read by Brown. I’m going back to read it again to find more little nuggets of sarcastic mockery. Great stuff! Thanks for the link.

  16. Maybe I’m all alone but I found what Pope Francis said to be troubling Jeff. While I believe Jesus died on behalf of a sinner such as I (mot to mention a church lady, a theif on the cross beside him, and yes, for atheists as well), I don’t believe any of us have a claim to heaven by doing good works. If an atheist (or a priest for that matter) doesn’t abandon their false hope that their good works can save them and hope only in Christ, I’m afraid heaven is out of the question (as must I, you or anyone abandon such hope). Whether it’s the new pope or whoever, it’s preposterous to assert that any one of us has any chance whatsoever at walking the streets of gold if we can’t abandon believing our good works can save us and simply turn to the Christ (who accomplished all on our behalf) – just as the thief on the cross did in his final breaths. Gene Veith had this to say over at his blog yesterday about the pope’s words, “Pope Francis preached a homily in which he pretty much said that atheists too can do good and therefore can go to heaven. (Notice the assumption that salvation is by good works and not by faith, which is being presented as not really necessary.)” Again, maybe I’m alone, but I cannot concede that an atheist or an angel from heaven has any claim on heaven by doing good. It seems clear to me that Jesus set down the prerequisite clearly whan he said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Without believing in Christ, the atheist is just as lost as any common sinner – many good works or not..

    • Robert F says:

      Ken Stoll,
      It seems to me that all the Pope said is that, to use Reformed terminology, the Atonement is universal, not limited; that is, on the cross Jesus paid for the sins of the whole world, not just those who will be saved. I don’t see anything in the article that suggests that the Pope is saying that people can be saved by good works apart from faith (although Catholic theology admittedly includes the possibility that people may have an implicit, undeveloped faith that does not yet include identifying themselves as believers in Christ); I don’t think there is anything controversial in that, beyond the controversy that exists between those who assert a limited as opposed to unlimited atonement.

    • Michael says:

      Ken, I think you’re misunderstanding what Francis said. Some if it is because Catholics use different terminology, some of it is because the quotes are being taken out of their proper context, and some of it is because he was speaking off the cuff. Here are some good clarifications from a Catholic perspective (because, let’s be honest, the people freaking out about what he said aren’t Catholic):
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2013/05/friends-dont-let-huffpo-writer-do-theology.html
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2013/05/did-pope-francis-preach-salvation-by-works.html

      • I read both blog post you linked. They were good and fine, but neither reflected what I read that PFrancis said. I’m above-average-informed concerning RC systematic soteriology, which isn’t substantively different from much of what’s spouted by many Prods. However, I didn’t read the Pope to say that people are “potentially” redeemed, he said that ALL of humanity has been redeemed by the blood of Christ. I agree with him because I think he’s in agreement with Jesus, Paul, Peter, et al. (Not sure about James….)

        We don’t have a choice to either “accept” or “reject” that salvation–it’s a done deal–“God in Christ is reconciling the world (cosmos) to himself”. However, we can choose to either believe that or not believe that; to believe God or to believe our own fabrications of reality. Believing our own fabrications and stinkin’ thinkin’ stories does not in any way alter what God in Christ has done. It’s a done deal; no more haggling. We all have been pre-qualified to attend the party. However, if we want to sulk outside and bitch about the beef and the music, then that’s a hellava situation–but the party is still rockin’ and the invite still stands and Dad will still be coming out from time to time saying, “Give it up, son. Come on in, get a glass of Chardonnay or Petit Shiraz, fill your plate and ENJOY.”

        “Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home and have supper (deípnon) with him, and he with me.”

        I choose this passage not because I intend to make a full commentary on the letters that Jesus, in a vision, told John the Divine to write to the seven churches in Asia but because it enables me to ring some changes on the image I just introduced of the house set in illusory darkness. In those early sections of Revelation, Jesus speaks to John in a vision of light: he is holding seven stars in his right hand and he is walking in the midst of seven golden lampstands. So much for the outer darkness: even as he stands out there on the world’s front step and knocks—even there, outside the door of the swept and ordered house (Lk, 11:25) he has provided for us in his death and resurrection, there is light; even those of us who perversely choose to love the darkness are standing in the Light. And so much for the threat of the seven devils worse than our first uncleanness (Lk 11:26) whom we might possibly invite in to make that house dark again: the judge of the world is on the doorstep and there isn’t room for a single one of them.

        For the judge who stands there is not alone. There is a crowd with him, and it isn’t the cops. It is a party. It is all the guest at the Supper (deípnon) of the Lamb—plus the chefs and the caterer’s crew and the musicians and the stars of the evening—all making an eternal racket, all pleading to bring the party into the house. And they have found our address not because they looked it up in the “books that were opened” at the last judgment before the great white throne (Rev. 20:12)—not because they examined our records and found us socially acceptable—but only because he showed them our names in the “other book that was opened” (Rev. 20:12, again): the Lamb’s book of life.

        Do you see? If he had looked us up in those books, we would all have been judged according to our works (Rev. 20:12, still), and the eternal party would never even have come down our street. But because he only looked us up in the book—because he came to save and not to judge, because in the Lamb’s book we are all okay, all clothed with his righteousness, all drawn infallibly to himself by his being lifted up in death and resurrection—because of that only because of that, he finds the door of every last one of us and lands the party on our porch. All we have to do is say yes to him and open the door. We do not have to earn the party; we already have the party. We do not have to understand the party, or conjure up good feelings about the party; we have only to enjoy the party. Everything else: the earning, the deserving, the knowing, the feeling—our records, our sins, even our sacred guilt—is irrelevant. “No man,” Luther said, “can know or feel he is saved; he can only believe it.” And he can only believe it because there is nothing left for him to do but believe it. It is already here. There is therefore now no condemnation. The Light has come into the world.

        Even at the judgment, therefore, the gracious Light—the Ph?s hilarón—is still the only game in town. When the Lamb stands at the door and knocks, only an inveterate nonsport would say, “Darkness, anyone?”
        (The Parables of Judgment, pgs, 28-29, Robert Capon)

        • Robert F says:

          I like this way of reading what the Pope said, and I like the idea that the possibility of apokatastasis is kept open, Tom; I’d also like to believe the door to salvation, to the party, is kept open even beyond death, but I’m just not sure. I also question whether I have the requisite volition to make myself believe with nothing but the firmness of my own decision; I’m afraid that if Someone doesn’t, in some sense, make me believe, and make me believe lastingly and firmly, then it’s all over for me. It seems to me that there has always been something else to do but believe, and that belief was fragile and shifting. So I pray to God to give me his power to trust and believe, and then to save me despite my unbelief.

          • Robert,

            I understand what you’re saying, which prompts to memory two quotes from Thomas Merton (and Barth).

            The certainty of Christian hope lies beyond passion and beyond knowledge. Therefore we must sometimes expect our hope to come in conflict with darkness, desperation and ignorance. Therefore, too, we must remember that Christian optimism is not a perpetual sense of euphoria, an indefectible comfort in whose presence neither anguish nor tragedy can possibly exist. We must not strive to maintain a climate of optimism by the mere suppression of tragic realities. Christian optimism lies in a hope of victory that transcends all tragedy: a victory in which we pass beyond tragedy to glory with Christ crucified and risen.

            And…

            Magnificent lines from Barth:
            “Everyone who has to contend with unbelief should be advised that he ought not to take his own unbelief too seriously. Only faith is to be taken seriously; and if we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, that suffices, for the devil has lost his game.”
            —Dogmatics in Outline

            This is one of the great intuitions of Protestantism. And, of course, from a critically Catholic viewpoint, one can find fault with it: but why? To say “only faith is to be taken seriously” can be understood in the light of that Christian—and Catholic—humility which puts all its trust in God. Our “good works” are necessary, hut they are not to be “taken seriously.” The Catholic dogma of justification never told anyone that he had to take his good works seriously in the sense of trusting completely in his own righteousness, but to take one’s good works seriously is to be a pharisee. Only faith is to be taken seriously because only the mercy of God is serious. And if we put too much emphasis on the seriousness of what we do, we not only make the judgment of God the most serious reality in our life, but we are in fact judged: we are judged as men who have taken seriously something other than His infinite mercy. He who takes mercy seriously will hardly sin seriously. He who takes his own works seriously will not be kept, by that seriousness, from sin. It is pseudo-seriousness. It is not good enough.

            What about unbelief, then? If faith is to be taken seriously, it follows that unbelief is also serious. No, because in taking faith seriously it is God whom we take seriously, not ourselves, not our faith. I do not take faith seriously as something which I definitively possess, but I take seriously God Who gives me faith und renews that gift, by His mercy, at every moment, in spite of my unbelief. This I think is one of the central intuitions of evangelical Christianity, and it is something which we must all learn. It is something, too, which many Protestants have themselves forgotten, becoming instead obsessed with faith as it is in themselves, constantly watching themselves to see if faith is still there, which means turning faith into a good work and being justified, consequently by works. “To believe is to be free to trust in Him quite alone” and to be free from every other form of dependence and reliance. This is true freedom, and from it springs the capacity for every good work, for it removes all obstacles to love in our hearts.

            Barth stresses the fact that God must not be regarded as “pure power’ in the sense of unbridled and arbitrary potential. His power, potestas, is the power of love and truth. It is not the infinite, arbitrary will that flies into action unchecked by any responsibility to anything but its own whim: He is responsible to His own Love and His Truth. His power is the power of love.

            “Absolute power,” power responsible only to itself is the program of the devil—it becomes the ideal of man who thinks that the “power” to sin is essential freedom.

            Barth’s concept of evil: that which has been denied existence by God, and which we affirm by our own choice, thus attempting to give it existence in spite of God.

            The world is the theater of God’s glory—says Calvin, following Augustine. Man is the witness of the great acts of God, and “has to express what he has seen.” It is a great conception, but it is inadequate. 1 like better St. Irenaeus, who brings it even closer: man himself is the glory of God, but this glory in himself is not a spectacle which man contemplates. It is something that he lives. Gloria Dei vivens homo. I think it is most important today to get away from the idea of Cod, God’s glory, God’s attributes merely as “objects” which man contemplates, and then praises. Even though man may see nothing whatever of God, his life may still be filled with God’s glory. To say that he will “know” this in another world is all right, as long as we remember that we do not know precisely what we are talking about.

            Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, pages 333-4

          • Robert F says:

            Thanks, Tom. I pray that God will give to me the childlike trust to rely on his love; I will also continue to work out my salvation in fear and trembling, with a little help from my friends.

  17. I’m with CM. My guests would be Marva Dawn, and then a few days later, Marva Dawn again.

  18. Ended up staying for both half-hour episodes of Anne Heche. On the whole, it could have been worse. The larger issues for a comedy beginning at 8:00 PM have to do with the lead character’s husband’s marital affair, and the daughter’s “neighbors with benefits” relationship with the boy next door. The portrayal of church people and the ways in which a prophetic gift operates were iffy at best, but nothing that sent me reaching for the remote; though her ability to invoke lightning strikes certainly isn’t in my New Testament. I also doubt you’d be able to walk into any church and simply saunter upfront to join the worship team. And no, co-executive producer Mark Driscoll isn’t the same Mark we know.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And no, co-executive producer Mark Driscoll isn’t the same Mark we know.

      Not with the Uppity Wimmen you describe. (Though the “neighbors with benefits” DOES suggest MD’s “I SEE THINGS” Visions…)

  19. Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

    Since we’re inviting folks for tea, I’d probably invite Steve Brown and Pope Francis. I was originally going to invite Tom Wright instead of the Pope, but since he’s a British bishop (i.e. a natural tea connoisseur), I’m afraid that he’d find my Starbucks Earl Grey to be substandard (I know, I know, but it really is my favorite tea… I think it’s the smack of lavender they throw into the blend). And let’s not even talk about how horrible I am at making cucumber sandwiches….

    If we’re going for beers or Scotch, then I’d have to invite Lino and Fr. Rob from “The Catholic Guy” show. Those guys are so funny and, well… just regular guys.

  20. Robert F says:

    I think many orders do allow nuns to wear some make-up, but the so-called nun depicted in the photo is definitely a model with a model’s mannequinesque make-up; a high fashion idea of what a nun should look like. It’s a wonder they didn’t show her in a midriff baring habit!

  21. That Other Jean says:

    Tea with Desmond Tutu and Jay Bakker might make for some interesting discussion. I think they’d enjoy each other’s company, and I’d love to listen in. I’d have to go shopping in a hurry, though–we’re seriously short of fancy finger food.

    Happy birthday, Joe Cocker! You’re beautiful, too. Now I have to go find a video on Youtube.

    The less said about Dan Brown the better.

  22. Robert F says:

    “Won’t Get Fooled Again”: a wonderful piece of legend behind this song is that Townshend wrote it after having been disillusioned by the supposedly revolutionary goings-on at Woodstock when he was there; of course, the songs title was, sadly, not prophetic.

    • Hmmm… I always assumed it was about Nixon, or at least about Vietnam.

      • Adrienne says:

        Townshend stated in 2006 that: “It is not precisely a song that decries revolution – it suggests that we will indeed fight in the streets – but that revolution, like all action, can have results we cannot predict. Don’t expect to see what you expect to see. Expect nothing and you might gain everything. The song was meant to let politicians and revolutionaries alike know that what lay in the centre of my life was not for sale, and could not be co-opted into any obvious cause. […] From 1971 – when I wrote Won’t Get Fooled Again – to 1985, there was a transition in me from refusal to be co-opted by activists, to a refusal to be judged by people I found jaded and compliant in Thatcher’s Britain.”

        • Robert F says:

          I suppose that “what lay in the centre” of Townshend’s life has much to do with being a disciple of Hindu guru Meher Baba, who Townshend has been following since the late 1960’s. It’s a very interesting example of a very public figure quietly putting his spiritual path at the core of his life rather than the periphery; although as a follower of Christ I question the direction of his loyalty, I have to admire his dedication and seriousness in sticking with it for so long when so many others quickly fell away from the fad of following Eastern gurus or made it all into an ostentatious publicity stunt without substance.

  23. I was going to invite Tom Wright but I see he is already booked. I’m going with Rob Bell and hoping he will agree to a little stronger libation than tea. Also Don Carlson, former, and for all I know still, ELCA Lutheran pastor in Grants Pass, Oregon.

  24. Oh brother, that exorcism article has had me tearing my hair out all week. An Italian TV station did a sensationalist report, this was picked up and cut-n-pasted into most of the English language papers over here (you can tell by seeing the exact same wording in the versions from “The Independent”, “The Telegraph”, “The Irish Independent”, etc.) and now it’s been fixed in the public mind that ‘the Pope performed an exorcism’ (I’ve heard jokes on radio comedy shows).

    When, in fact (a) by virtue of his priesthood, yes, Pope Francis is an exorcist (b) nevertheless, the rite of exorcism requires training and to follow the guidelines set down and perform the ritual as revised in 1999 (c) it certainly is not going to happen in public, in an appearance where the pope is blessing the sick in general and most importantly (d) this was the imposition or laying-on of hands, a completely usual method of blessing.

    As for the “opened his mouth and slumped down in his wheelchair” and all the rest of it, if you’ve ever seen someone with cerebral palsy, this is not unusual.

    And of course, they’ve run with the “redemption includes atheists” sermon to splash around headlines saying “Pope says atheists saved by good works”. Argh!

    :-)

    • Christiane says:

      Hi MARTHA,

      I was reading one blog that was titled ‘Pope Francis says Atheists are Saved’ . . . written by a Calvinist who is also a Southern Baptist . . .

      surprisingly, some Southern Baptists came along to defend the Pope!

      there ARE some people out there in the evangelical world who are learning more about the wider Church, and they are also understanding some of what they are learning, so I have hope for better days

      maybe when Pope Francis stirs the pot a bit, it will really help folks to begin talking with one another instead of at one another ???

      Holy Spirit at work in the Church? I think so. :)

  25. Met Kallistos Ware and JI Packer

    • Cedric Klein says:

      I’ve spoken to both James B. Jordan and the late David Chilton on the phone. (Separately.)

      • Sorry for the confusion, “Met” was shorthand for “Metropolitan”. I was typing with one hand while eating.

  26. David Cornwell says:

    The first two persons who popped into my mind about having tea with this afternoon (right now I’d go for coffee however) were N. T. Wright and Luke Timothy Johnson. I can read Wright forever and always come away inspired and thinking of the Kingdom.

    Johnson, though not so well known, because I like the way he does theology. He’s a bit of a rebel. Yet he teaches about the importance the Creed and the Kingdom in ways that I like. He also has shown the impertinence of the search for the “historical Jesus.” The church I attend had Johnson for a lecture series a few years ago, and I had the opportunity sit with him and several others for talk and desert one evening. So I know he is good company.

    There are some here also I’d glady have tea with.

  27. I would invite Saeed Abedini and ++Abp. Paul Yazigi, with fervent prayers that their captors would allow them to attend.

  28. Juniper says:

    John Lennox and Dominic Crossan

  29. Robert F says:

    David Bentley Hart and Rowan Williams.

    • Rowan Williams and NT Wright. I think they would be a hoot together and I could just listen in. Wright has told some very interesting and uplifting stories about Williams and how he handles conflict and reaches out to people. I am not Anglican at all. But planning a trip to England soon so can dream, can’t I?

  30. Two living Christians?
    1. Jesus (c’mon, somebody had to say it)
    2. His invitation will simply say “and guest”. Whoever he chooses will confound my expectations, no doubt.

  31. Robert F says:

    Regarding Dan Brown’s oeuvre: I don’t believe human beings are competent enough or possess the necessary qualities of intelligence and diligence and conscientiousness to bring off truly successful, long-term, large scale conspiracies, so these books are completely off my radar.

    • Josh in FW says:

      Best articulated statement against conspiracy theories that I’ve come across to date. Thanks.

      • Wow, two disinfo agents right here at the monastery. Who knew? Of course they could both be the same person. I must say that Michael Deacon’s review made me laugh out loud literally and repeatedly. Been a long time and very welcome.

        • Robert F says:

          Same person? Of course not; there are many of us here at iMonk. But there, I’ve given us away, haven’t I? Or have I?

  32. Jeff, about the birthday thing: come on, you missed Pete Seeger’s birthday a few weeks ago (age 94) and Bob Dylan’s yesterday (age 72).

    Or are you too young to know about these guys???

  33. Ted, we’re gonna have to serve somebody. It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but we’re gonna have to serve somebody!

  34. Robert F says:

    If we are allowed to invite dead Christians to the tea, then my choices would be Simone Weil and Saint John of the Cross.

  35. Angels play basketball? Who knew?

  36. Denis Lamoureux and Walter Kaiser, for a discussion of common descent (Lamoureux) vs. common designer (Kaiser).