August 30, 2014

Saturday Ramblings 6.22.13

RamblerBuckle your seat belts, iMonks. Today’s Ramblings will be fast and curious, with lots of twisty roads and some unseen bumps to navigate. Please don’t throw your trash out the window, and don’t eat in my car. I don’t like French fry wrappers shoved under the seat. If you all behave, maybe I’ll stop at Sonic during Happy Hour for a large Diet Coke with pineapple (my current favorite). Above all, DO NOT MAKE ME TURN THIS CAR AROUND. Now, are you ready to ramble?

Exodus International, the ministry that was founded to lead gays out of their lifestyle, has closed its doors, and the president issued an apology for what they sought to do. The floor is now open for your comments.

You are hearing it here first: The next big battle in evangelical churches will be over the decriminalization of illegal drugs. Here is a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand that has appeared on the horizon. Make no mistake, a storm is a-brewin’ over this.

Of course, soon smoking or shooting or popping a drug will be old school. Futurist Ray Kurzweil says by 2045 we will be downloading our brains from a computer. And as we get dressed in the morning and pick out the brain we need for the day, why not schedule some recreational times throughout the day when our brains go into “high” modes? Did I not warn you to buckle up today?

After all that, perhaps you will want to wash your non-computer downloaded brain out with this, the best feel-good story I have read in a long time.

Or maybe join Pope Francis cruising around Italy on a Harley. Hey, he’s got a leather jacket now. All he needs is to jump on his hog and he’s off …

… But he will have to be back in time to canonize Pope John Paul II. Seems a “mystery miracle” has been attributed to the Blessed John Paul II, clearing him for sainthood. Isn’t “mystery miracle” redundant?

The federal government has come up with “guidelines” for what to do if someone pulls a gun and starts to shoot in your church. Um, you people really need this? I live in Oklahoma, and we don’t need no stinkin’ guidelines for what to do if someone starts flinging lead in our churches. We rush right out the door to the nearest publisher to seek a three-book deal on the breakthrough we experienced during the ordeal, that’s what we do.

ok-archer-plate-628We also have the coolest license plates in the country. Well, except there is this one Methodist pastor in Bethany, Oklahoma who says he is being forced to be a “mobile billboard for a pagan religion” with our plates. Sigh …

I like Mumford and Sons, and I really like Cathleen Falsani as a writer, but I am linking to this simply because she uses the word “hootenanny.” Your assignment today: Work “hootenanny” into as many conversations as you can.

And this week’s most creative use of Scripture award goes to “Prophet” Mark Barclay, who says we are not to lay up treasure where it can rust, and thus wants you to help him foot the bill to repaint his private jet for the paltry sum of $79,000. Seriously. I am not making this up.

If I were to make up a story, I think I would start with a helicopter, not a plane. I would say the pastor, no—make that bishop—reports his “aviation director” said his helicopter needs new blades. Then I would  say the bishop is calling for people to make faith contributions so he can get new blades on his ‘copter, but that God would reward the givers with all kinds of things like new cars. But I can’t even make this story up, because it is true.

We do not have airplanes or helicopters here at the iMonastery. But we do have some very modest expenses, and your generous giving helps us meet those. Thanks to each and every one of you who give whatever you can, whenever you can. I can’t promise you a new car, but I can say a very sincere Thank You.

Happy Birthday was the song of choice this last week for Yuri Andropov; Martha Vaughan; Waylon Jennings; Harry Nilsson; Wade Boggs; Igor Stravinsky; Red Foley; Sir Paul McCartney; Oz Fox; Harry Moses Horwitz (you have to ask?); Lou Gehrig; Chet Atkins; Brian Wilson; and Garfield.

Any time the mother of the greatest guitarist of all time, excepting Hendrix, has a birthday, we will celebrate it with a video or two from her son. You can say Hendrix is one and SRV two, or the other way ’round, but you cannot make an intelligent argument for any other human as the greatest to pick up an electric guitar. (Duane Allman is three. After that, have at it …) If in watching these videos you can’t see God’s hand on this man, well … Enjoy.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6vUmlT2Q2E']

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYIq-y6cg_w']

 

Comments

  1. Most of the time, in our church, you could shoot a cannon off and not hit anybody.

  2. SRV!!! What a great start to the first weekend of the summer! any reason to celebrate his music is a good reason.

  3. I for one think it is a hootenanny that google has hired Kurzweil. Hasn’t he predicted these things for a while now? (I haven’t paid attention to see if he moves his goalposts in his predictions.) When I first heard about the singularity idea a sci-fi author referred to it as “Rapture for nerds”. Since it was at a time when I was still trying to convince myself the “left behind” novels weren’t… uh… substandard, I didn’t immediately catch that this wasn’t intended as a compliment.

    Also, the article states that we would be uploading our minds to computers, not downloading a new mind into our bodies.

    • “the article states that we would be uploading our minds to computers, not downloading a new mind into our bodies”

      But if you could do the one, why couldn’t you do the other?

      • Well, off the top of my not-yet-caffeinated head, I can think of two reasons
        1. It might be a lot more difficult to “write” a new mind to a brain than to copy one out of a brain. Biology might be a read-only medium.
        2. Self preservation – if you download a new mind to your body then you cease to exist. Sort of. Depending on how you define identity. Too much philosophy for a Saturday morning… :)

  4. JoanieD says:

    Hey, I would like to see Pope Francis wear that leather jacket and go for a ride on a Harley!

  5. Richard Hershberger says:

    Umm… Andres Segovia, anyone? Or is that changing the subject?

  6. While SRV was a great way to start the weekend, the best way to end it is a medication on Sunday evening on Mark Knopfler. Finding the “best guitarist” is like finding the “best vehicle.” It depends on what you want to use it for. The 2014 ‘vette is a pretty little thing, and the pope WOULD look good in it, but if he’s wearing leather, then the Harley is the appropriate vehicle. However, if I were to join the hootenanny, it would have to be in a pick-up where the best guitarist for the occasion, no debate here, would be Chet Atkins.

  7. mmmm…..”In the year 2525, if man is still alive, if woman can survive, we may find….”

  8. Robert F says:

    Will the computer-brain downloading that Kurzweil is forecasting occur before of after the flying jet cars that futurists in the 1960′s promised us that we would have by the year 2000? Before or after California sinks into the Pacific because of a massive earthquake? Before or after we colonize all the planets in our solar system? Before or after world peace occurs due to the fall of the Iron Curtain? Before or after the secularization of the world and the demise of religion? Before or after the next Ice Age? Before or after the next hootenanny?

    Promises, promises.

    • Let’s leave questions like this to the league of benevolent scientists responsible for carrying out central planning for the world government.

  9. Robert F says:

    It’s far past the time when Exodus should’ve made an exodus. The whole endeavor smacks of the cult-like attempt to program human personality and behavior. Chambers says his organization did a lot of good, despite its failings and the pain it caused; I’d like to know what that good consisted of and how it could possibly justify the at-long-last admitted pain and suffering that was caused. Shameful.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      I’m just as glad are that Exodus International is now history, yetI suspect I am just as unsatisfied with Chambers’ apology as you are. I’m willing, though, to call this a win for the side of logic and acceptance.

      • At last the world knows the answer to the question, “Is it possible for a gay man to become a lesbian?”

  10. Robert F says:

    Although I agree in large part that “the war on drugs” has been a failure and a destructive and costly failure at that, incarcerating hundred of thousands of non-violent criminals and creating a vortex for illegal markets of supply-and-demand to decimate our urban landscape and produce a popular culture that glorifies drugs and criminality, I disagree with the disease-model that has become the common way of understanding addictions of all sorts. All people have addictions of one kind or another; some inhibit normal human functions and activities more than others, and disrupt social dynamics and wholeness. But all addictions, whether to coffee and cigarettes (ever been to an AA meeting?) or the internet or heroin or methadone or a certain routine in the morning are the result of the same universal underlying human attachment to and dependence on things that ultimately cannot meet our core spiritual need, not a unique genetic predisposition that some are afflicted with but others aren’t.

    • I am addicted to chocolate-chip cookies. And if I’m not, I sure like them a lot.

    • SottoVoce says:

      And yet a search for “genetics and addiction” on PubMed brings up over 3000 articles exploring the ways that certain genetic predispositions influence or may influence addiction. Don’t get me wrong—there are plenty of studies (including many of these search results) that also discuss social and environmental contributions and most people agree that addiction results from multiple complex factors, but why are you so certain that a physical cause such as genetic predisposition is not playing a role here? Is it unreasonable to ask whether the problems of physical creatures may have physical components? The disease model asks whether some variations of body chemistry make certain substances more addictive for certain people, and current research indicates that this is probably the case. So what’s wrong with trying to mitigate a physiological issue so that we can focus on the other, nonphysiological components of addiction? It would be easy to interpret your comment as saying that addiction is a purely spiritual ailment with no physiological component and that investigation of genetic influence is a waste of time. Is that what you meant?

      • Robert F says:

        The somatic and psychological and spiritual are all aspects of human being; the fact that we all share in the attachments that we normally call addiction should not minimize the somatic aspect but rather universalize it so that we recognize in the crippling addiction of another human being our own possession of attachments that would be called addictive if they were more socially obvious and destructive. The result is more compassion, not less, because we recognize ourselves int those clinically labeled addict. Addiction/attachment is a universal human phenomenon, deeply rooted in our psycho/spiritual being and needing a multifaceted approach when addressed; but the “disease” model as an explanation has been so overused that it’s becoming meaningless

        • SottoVoce says:

          Why is this necessarily incompatible with a disease model? What model do you propose in its place? How does your model specifically succeed at describing and treating addiction where the disease model fails?

          • Robert F says:

            A disease is not something which everybody has; in my model, everybody is afflicted with the condition that produces attachment/addiction. We all possess genetic predispositions in a multitude of forms toward attachment/ addiction, which means it’s not unique to certain individuals and doesn’t set them apart, like lepers.

            Perhaps it makes sense to talk about addiction as a condition that possesses a disease component, to a lesser or greater degree.

          • Robert F says:

            Please don’t misunderstand me. If using the nomenclature of disease about those in the grip of full-blown, advanced addictions helps them to receive more compassion and material assistance from others, then how could I object to that? But I’m not sure that’s what it actually does.

            I agree that there is a component to addiction that makes it impossible for some to deal with it alone, and that this component may have a greater or lesser physiological aspect in different cases; but that it also may have a central spiritual component does not mean that it is something that someone can just shake off by adopting a certain kind of spiritual understanding and approach.

            I guess I think of addiction as a kind of possession, which doesn’t mean I advocate locking addicts up in the attic with a team of exorcists and a crucifix; but addicts have invariably lost control, and softer or harder intervention is necessary at one level or another. If the intervention, however, does not enlist the addicts moral and volitional support at some point, it will fail, no matter how well the physiological aspect is dealt with. That’s what makes the disease model inadequate.

            Anyway, what does the therapeutic community care about my quibbles with their therapeutic model?

          • SottoVoce says:

            “We all possess genetic predispositions in a multitude of forms toward attachment/ addiction, which means it’s not unique to certain individuals and doesn’t set them apart, like lepers.”

            This I can agree with to an extent, though I think it is important to preserve the pathological distinction of addiction vs. a coping mechanism (e.g., I am rather attached to the occasional cheese popcorn binge when I have a hard day at work–if I did this every time I had a difficulty of any kind instead of addressing the underlying problem, that would be harmful and more indicative of addiction whether one is thinking medically or spiritually). I think that the disease model has served a purpose in helping to move addiction out of the realm of “moral failure” and a simple lack of personal willpower and into the realm of a persistent problem that needs a lot of intervention to overcome, particularly in churches like the one I grew up in which had a strong “bootstraps” mentality. The question of whether addictions (as currently understood medically) have a distinct genetic component is one that is well worth the asking, and now that we have data indicating that there is a genetic component, it is problematic to argue that this plays no role simply because everyone possesses some addictive tendencies. “Disease” seems to be the best word for conveying a distinct physiological component to most audiences.
            That said, you make an excellent overarching point that the medical community should not have a monopoly on the definition of addiction and that as people of faith we may have different ideas about what is harmful and how our fallen nature can affect our temporal desires. Your proposal of addiction as a more universal condition with a disease component certainly gives me some nuances to chew on. Excellent thoughts and thank you for engaging.

          • Robert F says:

            I understand your perspective, and the current therapeutic perspective, though I disagree in a nuanced way.

            One last thing: I believe your cheese popcorn “coping mechanism” is exactly what is at the core of attachments that develop into full blown addictions. How do we know that there isn’t a genetic component to your attachment to cheese popcorn? How do we know that you don’t have a genetically determined predisposition to attachments that may or may not turn into full blown addiction, depending on the confluence of a number of different factors? This is exactly what I’m talking about when I say that attachment/addiction is a universal human issue.

            Thanks for the civil discussion.

  11. Robert F says:

    I guess you’ve never heard Pat Metheny play electric guitar; I’ve seen him in concert several times, and each was a real hootenanny.

    • Preach it, brother! I do believe Metheny is objectively superior to Hendrix in terms of skill, finesse, technique, and artistry. Hendrix’s angle is his greater level of influence. But Hendrix was a rock star, and Metheny is a fine artist. They are sort of on different playing fields. However, one might say Metheny was a rock star of an artist and Hendrix was an artist of a rock star, if that makes any sense.

      Tough call indeed.

      • Robert F says:

        Someone being a “rock star” doesn’t get any traction from me anymore; I’ve heard Metheny play compositions that were really hard rock, and he was like Hendryx, Iggy Pop and the Stooges and Yes all rolled into one.

      • Good distinction. I’ll buy that.

  12. Robert F says:

    One of my favorite rock albums is the Replacement’s “Hootenanny.”

  13. I was at their conference for a day last year — yes, a lot of good came from Exodus. When a couple can tell the testimony of bonding with their gay son’s boyfriend and the room erupts in applause and tears, I think it’s safe to say people didn’t always see the whole story.

    I would look up Christopher Yuan’s response for a rather tempered, honest opinion. Like Alan, he admits both shortcomings and strengths, and seems far more nuanced than both the Evangelical responses that see this as a culture war loss, and the more “progressive” responses that refuse to see a nuance beyond “Gay” and “straight” labelling and fatalism.

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/christopher-yuan/my-response-to-the-closing-of-exodus-international-full/557204404323303

    I’m genuinely curious to see what Alan Chambers does next. I met the man last year and was impressed with what I saw from a man both liberals and conservatives tell us can’t exist: A happily married man who admits to same-sex attraction.

    • Thanks for posting this link, which captures some of the more subtle distinctions in Chambers’ statement. My late brother was active in Exodus-related ministries at times, and we talked together about the concepts he encountered in counseling and how they pertained to our family. What Exodus provided was a help to us. Did they get everything right? Who does?

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      I can’t speak with authority as to what you saw, but I suspect that you saw what Exodus wanted you to see. Exodus never published verifiable success rates, but an independent study of Exodus clientele found that out of a sample of 73 participants, only 38% reported that the therapy was a success (and out of that, less than half were actually “converted” to heterosexual orientation).

      I have no doubt that Exodus had some “success” stories, individual instances in which someone with a more fluid sexual orientation and accommodating support network of family and friends was able to maintain a purely heterosexual lifestyle. However, I would not be surprised if, for every instance of “rehabilitation,” there were many stories of people who adopted a crippling sense of self-loathing that will follow them for the rest of their lives, regardless of whether they were “fixed” or not.

  14. Robert F says:

    Levon Helm frequently held hootenannies at his home in upstate New York.

  15. petrushka1611 says:

    I can make an intelligent argument in two words: Richard Thompson. ;)

    And, yes, those license plates are cool, way better than Ohio’s new ones, which are the blandest I’ve seen yet in this state.

  16. Sorry, but greatest electric guitarist for me has to go to Michael Angelo Bateo. He played for quite possibly the crappiest band in the history of the ’80s, but he had (has?) skills that remain unmatched.

  17. I hope Diet Coke with pineapple tastes better than it sounds, because it sounds AWFUL.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      When I was volunteering for Rose Parade float construction in the Seventies, our float was prepped next to the Dr Pepper float. The DP float had DP on tap for free, so all the rest of us would tank up at their taps. Which included HOT DP. With lemon. Through experimentation, we discovered that lemon juice and DP would cancel out each other’s flavors in the right proportion.

      (And at my weekends over pencil, paper, and funny dice, Dr Pepper was also known as “The Elixir of Life”, as it was THE favorite of D&Ders “consuming mass quantities”. Mountain Dew did not replace it as number-one among gamers until around Y2K.)

  18. The story about the license plates is so sad. It’s already difficult to speak of Christ to most native Americans — after our forefathers twisted the Biblical narrative to justify genocide, reading themselves as chosen people and natives as Canaanites to be exterminated. (But — there is near me a native American church that incorporates native music and dance into their worship, it’s kind of awesome.) I simply can’t believe a minister of the Gospel in the 21st century can be that ignorant, so what I’m thinking is that this guy instead is grandstanding to the ignorant people around him and looking for the “courageous hero” status that will pack his pews. And that’s even worse.

    • Methodist minister says bad theology for Oklahoma: communicates a pagan practice, that of shooting an arrow into the sky to draw rain from a ‘rain god,

      Piper says good theology for Oklahoma: Your sons and daughters were eating and a great wind struck the house and it fell on them and they are dead.

      • Christiane says:

        Oklahoma is better off with the rain god . . . they for sure don’t need Piper’s wind god

    • David L says:

      I simply can’t believe a minister of the Gospel in the 21st century can be that ignorant

      Why not. Many/most are ignorant about modern medicine, science, culture, other nations, etc… What does this one subject surprise you?

      • Probably because the man lives in Oklahoma. I might be wrong, but I think he knows exactly what he’s doing.

    • I appreciate the solicitude, but wish that more modern images could be found to represent “Native America.” I’m afraid that many people associate American Indians with the distant past. (Perhaps this is less of a problem in Oklahoma.)

  19. Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

    Heh, at my church, I don’t think a gunman would get off a second shot before he was himself gunned down. This is Texas, folks. I’d bet 50% of our parishioners are packing on any given Sunday.

    • Robert F says:

      Let’s hope nobody else gets caught in the crossfire.

      • Christiane says:

        no wonder some Churches have nurseries for the little ones during the main Church service

      • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

        Nah, our folks know how to shoot. Funny thing how folks that have spent their whole lives around firearms tend to know how to use them safely.

        • I challenge that assumption. You can’t just make a blanket statement like that with no statistics or facts to verify it.

        • Robert F says:

          “Nah, our folks know how to drive. Funny thing how folks that have spent their whole lives around automobiles tend to know how to use them safely.”

          Really?

          • It is a scientific fact that alcoholics can function at a higher level of inebriation than other people. (Thanks to long practice.) So hopefully the judge will take that into account at my hearing. *Hic!*

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “Nah, our folks know how to drive. Funny thing how folks that have spent their whole lives around automobiles tend to know how to use them safely.”

            I’d like to introduce you to the streets of Orange County, where every car but mine is driven by a cellphone, and walking in front of incoming cars at night dressed in head-to-toe black while texting is the local extreme sport.

        • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

          You guys are so funny! I’m digging the knee-jerk reactions and judgments! Firearms are simply a part of life in this part of Texas. I don’t need to defend it as if I’m advocating a position or anything. I’m just making an observation as to how things are in these parts. Sorry if that ruffles feathers :)

    • …and I’m gonna wager there just ain’t a whole lot of church shootings in Texas for that very reason.
      Where I did my internship, I happen to know that several members of the choir were packing heat every Sunday, at the request of the Pastor. I always thought it was for sopranos who sang flat. :D

      • Robert F says:

        Are there a lot of church shootings anywhere, with or without armed congregations?

        • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

          I remember a few in the late 90′s or so that led to a bunch of churches hiring security. Apparently the government thinks that it’s at least a potential issue otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about church shootings. I can’t remember reading or hearing about any in the last 5 to 10 years or so, though.

    • Ichabod says:

      But if a Texas church has a 30.06 (serendipitously named) sign under the law, concealed weapons are not allowed. Odds are, you won’t see one in cowboy church. In fact, a number of rural Texas churches consider their concealed handgun permit course to be an important men’s outreach ministry.

      • Robert F says:

        Is there a peg outside the sanctuary door for folks to hang their sidearms on when they go to worship, like the Wild West?

        • Ichabod says:

          Not sure; I am an economic immigrant from the Rust Belt to Texastan. Not many cowboy churches are liturgical, so that genre doesn’t appeal to me. There may be a blessing of the ammo, I really can’t say. Maybe the guns worn during the service mainly to protect themselves from each other…

      • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

        When I was given my grandfather’s old Colt 1903, I decided to see exactly what Texas’ various weapon laws were, and they’re a lot stricter than most folks here realize. Truth is, they’re not well-enforced.

        Interesting example, while knives with blades under 5.5 inches are generally legal in the rest of Texas, in San Antonio (where I lived from junior high until a few months ago) lockback pocket knives of any length are illegal to carry. You can own one, but not carry one. This law was put on the books a few years back as an anti-gangbanger law. However, most everyone in San Antonio I know who carries a pocket knife, has a lockback that they carry. None of them even KNOW about that law. Why? Because no one is ever arrested for carrying one. Rather, if you’re picked up for suspicion of gang activity (or, presumably, for other suspected trouble-making), it’s something additional for them to book you on.

  20. That http://www.PimpPreacher.com website is relentless – LOL Get a cup of coffee and enjoy. LOLOL THANKS FOR THAT LINK.

  21. Exodus International, the ministry that was founded to lead gays out of their lifestyle, has closed its doors, and the president issued an apology for what they sought to do. The floor is now open for your comments.

    Kathy Baldock discusses the challenge and opportunity the exodus of Exodus presents for the [conservative Evangelical] church: http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/we-have-asked-gay-people-to-change-it-is-time-for-the-church-to-change/