October 21, 2014

Saturday Ramblings 9.1.13

RamblerFootball fever is in the air, iMonks. Either that, or my neighbor is burning his trash again. But I think it is football fever. It started Thursday night when my Tulsa Golden Hurricane (singular; one hurricane is enough) lost to some team from Ohio. But we have a long way to go, right? College football is addicting to me. I sit and watch whatever game is on, not even caring what teams are playing. Are there any other sports on the tube that attract you like college football does me? (Baseball is still God’s game, but I prefer to listen to baseball on the radio. Yes, I am very, very old.) So while you are digging out that old pigskin to toss around at halftime, what say we ramble for a bit?

You may have already read about this, as we linked to it earlier this week, but it bears repeating. Get your measles vaccine. It is not evil to do so. And if you don’t, you may want to avoid Kenneth Copeland’s church. Why is it we are always making following Jesus so weird? And why do we want to get medical advice from a preacher?

There is nothing new here, really. But it is still true. Does anyone know any churches that still bill themselves as “seeker-sensitive”? I try to avoid such churches, so I don’t know. Question for you: Do churches where Jesus is not present have any value for a Christian?

In a related article, check out this interview with college minister Katie Diller. She seems to get it, don’t you think?

This week was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. How well do you know this epic speech? You can take this quiz and find out for yourself.

What would you say are the three top enemies of Christianity in the West? Communism? Check. Islam? Check. You will never guess the third, so just check here and get ready to scratch your head. (If you are wearing your football helmet, take it off before scratching, ok?)

Eagle-eyed rambler Adam Palmer spotted a web site this week called endbiblepoverty.org. His response? “Barf.” Your response?

New Jersey governor Chris Christie signed a law this week preventing “any licensed therapist, psychologist, social worker or counselor from using therapies to change sexual orientation of children under age 18.” Really? Ok, I have another question for you. Can anything good, other than The Boss, come from New Jersey?

In a sign that the cheese has officially slipped off of Pat Robertson’s cracker, that ancient purveyor of grand wisdom said perhaps the stupidest thing he has ever said, and that really takes a lot.

What do Muslims and Christians have in common these days? They both see the conflict in Damascus, Syria as a precursor to the End Times. Really? Ok then …

If you want to truly see a sign that the end is nigh, take a look at the picture of this airplane, coming to an airport near you. Oh Lord Jesus, please come quickly and deliver us from this evil …

Who said church buildings have to be boring? Well, certainly not the architects of these ten churches. Which is your favorite? Really? That one?

Before we get to the celebrity birthdays, we need to wish a goodbye to Russell Doughten, the producer of the movie A Thief In The Night. You did see it, didn’t you? I know it was meant as a movie to evangelize the unsaved, but I only knew of Christians who actually watched it.

Happy birthday was sung this last week to Carl Radle; Cal Ripken Jr.; Rupert Grint; Leonard Bernstein; Sean Connery; Regis Philbin; Gene Simmons; Billy Ray Cyrus (ironic, isn’t it?); Alex Lifeson; Danny Seraphine; Jack Black; Fred MacMurray; and John Phillips.

The Mamas and the Papas. What a nice, clean-cut musical group of the 60s. Only they were some of the most messed-up people you could ever imagine. Still, they made great music. John Phillips is the one in the fur hat. Enjoy.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L4ZeL81v8c']

 

Comments

  1. For all those anti-vaccination folk out there – please go back and read medical history in Europe and the Americas before 1900. A good flu could wipe out 30% of the population. Throw in measles, Diphtheria, and a host of others, especially in the urban areas and it was one sure way to thin out the herd. It would surely be horrible to go back to that.

    Ma Mas and the Pa Pas… great stuff to sing along with…..

    • +1. And it’s not just ignorant Christians beating the anti-vaccination drum, and indeed the anti-medical science drum.

    • I worked at a mainline seminary a few years ago and was shocked at the number of students who were anti-vaccine. Truly shocked. These were supposedly well educated men but the fear of anything outside of what could be found in black and white in their Biblical studies was eye opening for me. They mistrusted the medical community, the educational community (even parochial schools to a great extent), and absolutely the government (except the Tea Partiers). I have great sadness for our churches if this is what we are sending out to lead.

      • Mainline seminary? What denominational affiliation? Maybe your definition of “mainline” is different from mine, because in my admittedly limited experience and knowledge of the subject, the mainline seminaries fall all over each other trying to keep up with the latest intellectual fads; meaning that if people were anti-vacine at these seminaries, it would have to do with post-modern distrust of the scientific project rather than biblical fundamentalism.

        • Lutheran, and not ELCA, but one of the more conservative branches, Robert.

          • As I suspected; I would not consider even the conservative Lutheran Church Missouri Synod mainline, never mind the even more conservative branches.

  2. Hey, not all preachers are fools when it come to medical advice. Puritan clergyman Cotton Mather was very much pro-inoculation in the 1720s.

  3. Love the Mamas and the Papas! Thanks for putting this on.

  4. Katie Diller makes an interesting point about “mystery” being an entry point of Faith. “Just the mystery, Mam.”

    • Agreed. And curiously I’m finding that the longer I study God and the longer I walk with and follow Jesus, the more mysterious some aspects become. And I find that oddly comforting, as if the mystery continues to drive my faith.

  5. “Who said church buildings have to be boring?” The Parish Church of Santa Monica seems to be a giant representation of flipping the bird.

    A few weeks ago weren’t most of these non-boring churches on the Ugliest Churches list? Of the ten here, the Thorncross Chapel in Arkansas is probably the most attractive to me, although it seems imbalanced.

    • Josh in FW says:

      Was the Lena Pope Chapel around back in your Fort Worth days? It was done by the same architect as Thorncross. I’m generally not a fan of modern architecture but the Lena Pope Chapel is very effective at creating a sense of wonder and reverence.

      Of the ten on the list my favorite was clearly St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, especially after googling additional photos. Thorncross and Air Force were tied for 2nd in my opinion, but I hate even giving an opinion of a work of architecture by only viewing one two dimensional image.

      • I don’t remember it, Josh, but it does look similar to Thorncross. I left Fort Worth in 1979 and haven’t been back since then.

  6. From the “Emergent Church is one of the top 3 threats to Christianity” article:

    “These guys don’t even talk about sin for fear it’s driving away the postmodern generation,” Ally said. “The Emergent Church has watered down biblical Christianity to the point that John the Baptist would have been shocked.”

    Why, of all people, did he mention John the Baptist? If you want to name drop a dead Christian and say how they would have been shocked at the watering-down of Christianity, maybe you could choose someone who didn’t die before Christianity existed?

    • flarocker says:

      When John lept in the womb, I think he got his membership card issued.

      • Indeed. Just wondering why he chose him.

        • ‘Cause he don’t mince words. In Southern parlance, his one tune was, “Ye betta geet RAWT wid Gawudh.”

        • fwiw, Josh in FW, where John the Baptist practiced his baptism (southern Jordan) the water is only a few inches deep – maybe knee deep in the wet season. It seems unlikely that his baptisms included dunking (admitting that I don’t know what the river looked like 2000 years ago).

          • Josh in FW says:

            hmmm, I did not know that. All the paintings show him waist deep. ;-)
            [I've changed my mind on quite a few things over the past 2 decades]

          • I was at the southern Jordan river last fall. The water was a couple feet deep. Our Israeli guide told us that it contains only about 5 percent of the water that it did a few generations ago, because both Israel and Jordan divert the water for agriculture. This is why the dead sea is shrinking so fast.

          • Yes, I’d heard that. Apparently it is a pretty big deal too – water is scarce in that part of the world.

  7. The immunization issue sounds like modern-day snake handling: if you have sickness “covered in faith” then you don’t need immunizations; if you don’t, well, you better get immunized. Turning faith into the power of the super-spiritual seems so diminutive. Rather, faith in El Shaddai, the all-sufficient One, the One who is enough, brings hope among the hopeless. Turning faith into a leash by which we control god turns god into a mere genie, which places the burden of mastering the cosmos upon our shoulders. Faith as trust in the One in whom all things are possible brings peace and also courage to act.

    • The anti-immuzation folks are generally their own kind of nutty. Most of the ones I’ve seen haven’t been particularly religious. They just don’t trust science.

      • Dana Ames says:

        On top of not trusting medicine, they really do seem to want to do what is best for their children (protecting from bad side effects), perhaps to the point of idolatry… Their concern doesn’t seem to extend to other people’s children, in terms of the effects of an epidemic, though.

        Dana

        • On top of not trusting medicine, they really do seem to want to do what is best for their children (protecting from bad side effects), perhaps to the point of idolatry… Their concern doesn’t seem to extend to other people’s children, in terms of the effects of an epidemic, though.

          My mother thinks doctors are evil. Except when they do good. But that’s an exception to their normal day to day methods. Of course she’s deep into GNC and such, especially the formulations mentioned by the “blue haired preachers” as my brother calls them.

          It has made for an interesting journey these last 60 years.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Turning faith into a leash by which we control god turns god into a mere genie, which places the burden of mastering the cosmos upon our shoulders.

      That’s the classic difference between Religion and Magick.

      In Magick, the Sorcerer controlling the supernatural beings/forces is the one in control.

      • I see similarities between secularism and word-faith/faith-prosperity teachings: one side ultimately controls its destiny through the power of science and technology; the other ultimately controls its destiny through the esoteric power of “faith”. In either model, god plays a secondary role or no role at all. Gospel concepts of redemption and grace are superfluous.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “The Devils hail a Materialist or a Magician with equal delight.”
          — C.S.Lewis, Preface to Screwtape Letters (edited for standalone)

  8. Tootsie Rolls, Campbell Soups, NJ Tomatoes, Ocean Spray drink, Thomas Edison (light bulb), Giants, Super bowl….and ME

    • ALL FROM NJ

      • Brookdale Soda, Frank Sinatra, Island Beach State Park, tens of millions of people of great ethnic and religious diversity living side by side and working together in a very small region (especially northern New Jersey), the best bagels in the world, the best pizza in the world.

        • The best pizza on the planet is Marion’s in Dayton, Ohio. Sorry. You will have to settle for second place in that category…

          • Randy Thompson says:

            Sorry, Jeff, but the world’s best pizza is in New Haven, Connecticut (where pizza was invented or at least developed, according to some). Specifically, Pepe’s, Sally’s, and Modern Apizza.

            Pepe’s clam-garlic white pizza is the best on the planet if not the galaxy, period. (The galaxy reference is a bit of a leap of faith, but I think I’m on safe ground.)

          • Best pizza made in Dayton, Ohio?! Oh, please….next you’ll be telling us they have the best, real Italian bread in Kalamazoo, MI.

          • I would definitely have to stand up for Chicago when it comes to pizza.

          • New Haven, CT? Best clam chowder, maybe; best pizza…not a chance.

          • Randy — Is Town Pizza still around? I used to work there many years ago, to support my teaching habit. I actually liked the pizza better than Pepe’s, although Pepe’s was excellent.

          • Robert F. — You are aware that New Haven probably has more Italian speakers than English speakers?

          • Damaris,
            It’s the quality of the pie, not the concentration of Italians in an area, that counts.

          • North, South, East and West…I’ve tried ‘em all and they’re the best ( Gino’s East, Chicago, IL).

        • Christiane says:

          A shout out to Luigi’s Pizza in Ringwood NJ . . . Luigi and his family came from Italy, it’s a family business, a little ‘hole-in-the-wall’ place in a tiny strip mall . . . the absolute BEST pizza we have EVER had, and we have had pizza all over the country . . .

          Luigi’s eggplant parmigiana ? Heavenly !!!

          • I grew up in Oakland, NJ, just a short trip over Skyline drive from Ringwood. Never been to Luigi’s, though; sounds like my loss.

          • Christiane says:

            Hi ROBERT F.

            my husband worked for a company in Oakland (at the little ‘industrial park’) for many years, but we chose a home up in the lake district which was tons of fun and was also a ‘money pit’, sadly. Oakland is beautiful! I love that area. Aside from how expensive, and the high taxes, it is a good place to raise children and there is a lot to do . . . I miss going into the city (NYC) for the theatrer (twofers) with friends, and where we live now, I surely do miss all those great Greek diners . . . that is some of the best food ever, and so reasonably priced. My daughter went to Neumann Prep up on Black Oak Ridge in Wayne, but it was closed by the bishop after her senior year . . . she considers herself a ‘Jersey Girl’ for sure. My husband and I enjoyed the lake club where we lived, and the children all enjoyed the lake summers, and ice-skating in the winters.

            That beautiful library in Oakland! great architecture with those wood beams . . . the Hillside Diner, the little Dojo in Pompton Lakes where my kids took karate, St. Catherine’s Church in Ringwood . . . good times.

          • Yes, Christiane, that library was originally the first Reformed Church in the area when the Dutch settled, if I remember my history correctly, in the late 17th century; I attended Valley Middle School, which was right behind the library and beside the tiny municipal building/police station, close under one of the low shoulders of the hiker friendly Ramapo Mountains.

            It was small town living in the Northwest corner of Bergen County. My father and mother managed to buy a nice home there on a truck driver’s salary in the late 1960’s; but now it’s prohibitively expensive for working class people.

            I attended Catholic religious instruction at Our Lady of Perpetual Help school, which has also been closed for financial reasons. My first communion was there at OLPH church.

            Bringing back memories, now, Christiane.

        • Have to agree with Robert F. Best pie I ever had was in North Jersey. I wish I could remember the name of the place, but they had a whole wall of autographed celeb shots from people who ate there. I remember because they had one of Chris Cormier and I knew who he was.

          • Randy Thompson says:

            Sorry, but I must emphatically disagree with all of you. Pepe’s, Sally’s and Modern are the best anywhere. How many of these wannabe places described here have giant, coal-fired ovens which give the pie’s an ever-so-delicate smoky taste? With paper-thin crusts ever so slightly singed?

            (Hah! I thought not.)

            I tried one of the best pizza places in New York (in Brooklyn, to be specific) and although it was quite good, it couldn’t compete with New Haven. (Besides, the place in question was closed by the New York City Board of Health a year later for reasons none of us want to know about. It has since re-opened, though, hopefully cleaner and wiser.)

            And, Damaris, as far as I know, Town Pizza is still there, a Yale and New Haven institution, it is true, but not in the same league as the big three. (While we’re talking about other New Haven pizza places, did you ever try “Est, Est, Est” or “Pepe’s of Westville”? Both were (are?) quite good indeed.

          • There’s a best place for pizza every other block in some cities in north Jersey.

          • I don’t know those other places, Randy. I left New Haven in 1984. Sadly in 1989 I developed food allergies that preclude my ever eating pizza again, this side of heaven anyway. (There IS pizza in heaven, right?)

          • Randy Thompson says:

            Damaris, if there is pizza in heaven, it will be Pepe’s.

      • But the thing that makes Jersey the greatest is that I’m in love with a Jersey girl; my wife, that is.

        • And then there’s Elizabeth, NJ just a hop, skip and a jump from the Goethal’s bridge… Used to ride over with my folks when I was a kid on my way from Longggg Island, back before I moved to Pittsburgh. Sorry, best pizza was in Queens at the time.

  9. Richard Hershberger says:

    “(Baseball is still God’s game, but I prefer to listen to baseball on the radio. Yes, I am very, very old.)”

    I too am beyond the demographic so desired by marketers, and I absolutely agree. Baseball is best live, second best on radio, and third best on television. We could further divide television into better with the local broadcast crew and worse with a national network crew. Football, on the other hand, is a great television sport, but doesn’t really work on radio, and literally unviewable live: you go to the game for the group experience, not to actually see the plays. The rise of football in national prominence corresponds with the rise of television. This is not a coincidence.

    “What would you say are the three top enemies of Christianity in the West?”

    The thing is, the Emergent Church nonsense is getting all the play, the Communism and Islam are no less nonsensical. Communism? If we are talking big-C Communism, these guys are still fighting a war that ended a quarter century ago. Say what you will about Reagan: at the very least he knew when to take “yes” as an answer. If we are talking little-c communism, then even were this really an issue, I would point out that the Book of Acts clearly describes the earliest Christians as a bunch of commies. Moving on to Islam, how exactly is this an threat? Are the mosques converting our children? With only very rare exceptions, no. Is the army of Islam at the gates of Vienna? No: Islamic countries haven’t been a military threat in half a millennium. Can radical Islamic groups pull off the occasional act of violence which, while spectacular, is ultimately only a threat to us to the extent that we allow it to play to our fears? Yup: that would be it. If this is one of the top three enemies of Christianity, I would say that Christianity is pretty darned secure.

    “Who said church buildings have to be boring?”

    I don’t recall where, but I was recently pointed to an “ugliest church” site. About half of these church were on it. I wonder if this site wasn’t intended as a response. (I do like the Ukranian church in Chicago: clearly modern design, but the architect also clearly knows what a traditional church looks like and respects it in his design.) In any case, to answer the question, I certainly never said any such thing. I find the neo-Gothic architecture of American churches built between the Civil War and WWI lovely, and anything but boring. If I am driving down the street and come across one, if possible I will stop and get out of my car to admire. The post-WWII church design of the giant wall of brick is indeed boring. I have always assume it was adopted because it is cheap. But church buildings in general need not and ought not be boring.

    • My thoughts exactly on the article about Art Ally. I distinctly remember a big concrete wall falling down my freshman year of college and a really big country in East Asia which noticed the same thing and so decided that One Party State was the next best thing, even if they never got around to actually dropping the c-word.. But maybe Ally’s right about Islam: “It’s not a religion; it’s a relationship with Allah!” Right?

      All of which brings up the smart money question, namely, why in the name of all that’s holy and also what’s not (mammon) would one put his retirement nest egg into a mutual fund managed by someone with such a phenomenal lack of insight into the trends of our time?

    • And the New Testament records how, as a result of Book of Acts communism, a collection had to be taken among the gentile churches to rescue the mother churches from financial debacle.

      As it was in the ancient, so it is in the present.

      • A misreading, I think, Robert. The “communism” of the early church (not really the best word to describe what happened) was a short-term solution to immediate needs and not a permanent characteristic of the early church. And the offering Paul took from the Gentiles was for famine relief, not because the Jerusalem church was financially irresponsible or following a flawed system. Apart from that, the instruction to always “remember the poor” was front and center in the church’s mission and an inheritance from their Jewish roots. Reading “communism” into that is not appropriate.

        • I know “communism” has a very specific meaning, but I was using that word in response to Richard Hershberger’s use of it in his comment; I accept the rest of your correction, since you are a more familiar with the biblical texts than I am and I spoke out of ignorance, parroting something I heard long ago.

          My point should really have been simply that the Acts community was not a communist community, since the force of the state was not behind it, and it was historically singular, not continuous, so it’s unfounded to compare a modern communist state with the inner workings of the church in that place at that time.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            From Merriam Webster Online:

            Definition of COMMUNISM
            1
            a : a theory advocating elimination of private property
            b : a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed

            Acts 2:43-44:

            All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

            The right word for what is described in Acts is indeed “communism”. In fact, the description is virtually the *definition* of (one sense of) “communism.”

            The problem is twofold. The first is that most people don’t understand the difference between little-c communism and Marxism. The second is that modern Americans are trained to respond to the word “communism” by either huddling in terror under their bedclothes, or by chanting “USA! USA!” (in their church as that bald eagle flies into the window…). These traits don’t lend themselves to a sensible discussion.

            Little-c communism is perfectly compatible with Christianity. Many monastic institutions have been based on it, and the Hutterites build their entire community around it. The problem is that communism is not compatible with fallen humanity, with its sins of avarice and sloth. This is why communism lasted in the early church until approximately Tuesday afternoon of the first week. It is a constant struggle for those monasteries and Hutterite colonies, and can easily go horribly wrong.

            What can we learn from the experience of the early church? For one, trying to model modern society off it is neither necessary nor necessarily a good idea. We know much more now about how human cultures work, and what does and does not work well. But this isn’t to say that we should abandon the ideals of the early church. Do that and you end up with Art Ally lecturing about the evils of advocating for social justice, while imagining that he is holding a Christian position.

          • I agree with all you say, Richard; I was reflexively thinking of Communism, not communism.

        • If I remember correctly, Thomas Merton had some very helpful things to say regarding the distinction between communism and commonality. The latter, he argued, is a more apt description of the first church.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            I have not read Merton on the subject, so I am talking through my hat here, but I suspect he was trying to work around the communism/Marxism confusion by assigning a different word to the former concept. If I am right about this, then feel free to replace in your mind little-c “communism” in everything I wrote with “commonality.” But in the broader case,this strategy has not received general use, if Merriam Webster is to be believed.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “Anyone who lives in a commune is a commune-IST.”
            — Archie Bunker

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            “– Archie Bunker”

            And that,ladies and gentlemen, is what the voice of authority sounds like!

    • Josh in FW says:

      St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church was also my favorite one on the list, especially after googling it and seeing images of the interior.

  10. What happen to the other part of my post???

    Anyway, light bulb, Giants, Campbell soup, NJ Tomatoes, Ocean Spray, and ME. From NJ

  11. Five minutes in the penalty box for roughing New Jersey, wise guy.

    And remember, after you cross the Tiber, any future uncharitable jibes at New Jersey will be subject to the Rite of Reconciliation (that’s Confession, newbie) or a special indulgence that can be granted only by the Boss.

  12. “We need the wisdom, experience and leadership of every generation, but unfortunately, we fail to ask for it from those in their 20s and 30s – See more at: http://michaeloloughlin.religionnews.com/2013/08/26/7-questions-keeping-college-students-catholic/#sthash.Bkb6eMLr.dpuf

    Wisdom and experience come with age (time). Twenty-somethings and even some thirty-somethings just don’t have it. What they DO have is energy and enthusiasm, maybe even vision and a natural ability to lead and finding a place for them to exercize these qualities in a 2000 year old hide bound setting are a real challenge. There is a reason why most Masses are populated by the older demographic…because they find peace, satisfaction and uplift in the liturgy.

    Kids want change, excitement and a reason to BE excited. Can the Catholic church give this to them, or do we just accept that time and life experience will bring them around?

    • There is a natural tendency among the young to believe that this world, that this life, is enough or should be enough or can be made to be enough. When you have lots of energy, the world seems inexhaustibly promising, and it seems like you can make the world give you what you want, or need. Certainly, there are young people who despair of doing this, but their despair is a result of having their natural tendency to look for satisfaction in this world prematurely crushed, and their youthful energy throttled. There seem to be more of these sad cases now than there ever have been before.

      It takes time, decades, before some of us begin to realize that not only is this world, this life, not enough, but it can’t be; it’s not meant to be, and we can’t make it be. It’s then that the assurances of faith begin to really mean something lasting and deep to us, and we no longer look for excitement, which is no longer exciting, but the to the promises that reach us from beyond this world with a sober and real energy that is inexhaustible, unlike ours or this world’s.

      All this takes time.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        At the same time, you don’t want to focus on Fluffy Cloud Heaven and miss this world and this life completely. Otherwise, you’ll be ripping off your face and gargling lye with St Rose of Lima.

        As JMJ/Christian Monist puts it, the dividing line is between the Created and the Uncreated, not between the Physical and the Spiritual. One is of God, the other of Plato.

        • I do believe in the resurrection of the body, HUG; but the diminished body that we command, and are, in this world is on the road to entropic heat death, along with everything else. Things in this world should be appreciated for the perishable value that they have now, but to place too much value on them is to lose them even as we grasp them; along with us, they will be embraced in the imperishable life of the renewed creation. At least, that’s what I understand the Creeds to affirm.

          Where former eras placed premature emphasis on the world to come, our present mistake is to place too much burden on this world, burden which it cannot carry and falters under. Witness our polluted biosphere/environment.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > Kids want change, excitement and a reason to BE excited.

      Or we teach them to want that. Or just assume they want that. Or some want and so we assume they all do [oh, no! the cool kids are leavin' - remix everything!]

      I spent a few years in youth related ministry – the above just isn’t true.

      Maybe if things were just better explained, it would be much easier to be interested. The church seems to either [a] assume you know why X is Y or [b] throw out X because apparently nobody gets it.

  13. Re the Katie Diller article: there is no conflict between science and most religions, but there is a conflict between philosophical materialists and those who profess religious belief of any kind, and there is a much higher percentage of philosophical materialists among scientists than among the general population.

    Why are there so many philosophical materialists among scientists? Does the practice of science attract people who already have a commitment or tendency to philosophical materialism? Or does the practice of science tend to produce philosophical materialism in those who undertake it? Or is it that, because as an historical community, scientists and their discoveries and research have been so often opposed by religious believers, and that opposition has produced a communal tendency among them to dismiss religion?

    While science is not a religion, neither is it a philosophy, and scientists have no advantage over anyone who can think clearly and rationally about the issues at hand (and being a scientist does not mean that one can think clearly outside the boundaries of one’s own scientific discipline) in determining the truth value of any religion.

    • Maybe it’s because scientists have been told repeatedly by many churches that their kind isn’t welcome behind church doors. What motivation is there to look deeper into a faith when you’re told you’re doing the work of Satan?

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        “Maybe it’s because scientists have been told repeatedly by many churches that their kind isn’t welcome behind church doors.”

        This may be true with regard to Evangelical churches, but it is hardly true generally. Check out the churches near any major university. It is unremarkable to find faculty from the science departments in the Catholic or Lutheran or Episcopal or Methodist churches.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          +1

          So much of this ‘conflict’ or rivalry or vitriol – is simply in someones imagination. It makes a good story; Oh, Science vs. Religion, again! Notice that almost all these stories are [a] bad science, [b] simplistic/thin religion, [c] vague on both counts, and [d] short – really you can address Science vs. Religion in six paragraphs?! Impressive.

          S vs. R is nothing more than schlock space-filler journalism.

          • Ah, NO.

            I and some friends were in the middle of what was supposed to be a civil age of earth debate. At the end of the day we (on old earth side) were basically told there’s a good chance we were not really Christians.

            Lots of comments about how you can’t trust sciend, data hiding, conspiracies, etc…

            schlock space-filler journalism.
            There may be some of this but anti-science is alive and well in many evangelical circles.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > anti-science is alive and well in many evangelical circles.

            That is not Science vs. Religion at all. That is polemicists and their propaganda; and extremist group off to one side does not a pervasive over-arching debate make.

          • and extremist group off to one side does not a pervasive over-arching debate make.

            About 10 years ago I thought of them as a small fringe group. That was then. I’ve learned since then.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And elevating Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles to the Fourth Person of the Trinity sure hasn’t helped.

        Scientists, swim the Tiber. You’ll be welcome on the other bank.

        “We have the Vatican Academy of Sciences and the Vatican Observatory. They have the Kentucky Creation Museum.”

      • Is that so?

        At this point, it seems like the churches take inordinate pride in any scientist who is also a believer, and make sure to publicize the fact widely that such-and-such is a scientist and a believer, as if that makes Christianity any more plausible.

        But my questions were not just about Christianity and science; scientists tend not to be followers of any religion, by a wide margin.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          That’s just a variant on Celebrity Convert Syndrome, where the Celebrity Convert gets paraded around until they burn out — “SEE? SEE? SEE?”

          As if having a *CELEBRITY* on Our Side validates everything automatically. That’s what it all comes down to, doesn’t it? “THE BIBLE IS TRUE BECAUSE *WE* HAVE *SCIENTISTS* IN OUR PEWS — SEE? SEE? SEE?”

          • Yes, HUG, that’s why I called it “inordinate pride in any scientist who is also a believer.”

            But since, in my view, scientists are just human beings with specially cultivated skills, they are no more in a position to validate the truth of any religion than a backhoe operator would be.

        • I still think it’s true in many evangelical churches. There definitely are some scientists who are Christians in these churches, but I think there is an expectation that they shouldn’t talk about things like evolution. I still see people like Ken Ham making headway in many churches. There are some churches where it’s less a big deal – that’s true.

          As far as why scientists are less religious in general, I can’t say for sure. I think that they tend to see religion more in terms of something that people participate into fool themselves. A lot do see the world in purely materialistic terms, and I guess they haven’t been convinced to do otherwise.

    • cermak_rd says:

      One of the fascinating aspects I’ve seen is as young people reared in a faith, leave home and lose that faith, a lot of them discover science and start learning about it. Atheist discussion spots almost always have a subset of people really into science and new scientific discoveries. And these are usually not professional scientists, but simply laymen who want to know more and are learning more.

      Certainly, Dawkins and Coyne have both written excellent layman accessible books on evolution. Krauss on cosmology and Lisa Randall on particle physics and the work being done at CERN.

      Even high church traditions have their problems with presenting an appealing philosophy? Catholicism is rife with Natural Law with its essences and teleologies but trying to rely on the Thomists in an exciting era where we are discovering new subatomic particles is just, well, odd.

      I know a lot of young and not so young atheists (my partner is a very outspoken one). The ones from Young Earth Creationist backgrounds feel lied to by their faith community and parents, they tend to react to that. The former Catholics and Jews tend to just refer to the lack of evidence for a divine being. After all, if you make the claim that the sun literally stood still or that the Earth is only x years old or that a given population of people is descended from another population of people, those are scientific claims that can be tested. As is the claim that without the deity, the earth would stop rotating and all life would cease. When you take away these claims from religion all you are left with is metaphysics, emotionalism, and symbols.

      • So, unlike Katie Diller, it sounds as if you believe that there is a conflict between science and religion, and that science tends to be correct in those disputes wherever those disputes arise, whatever the specific religion is. If the Quakers say that the source of religion is the inner Light, and science has evidence that there is no inner Light (hard to imagine what that evidence would be, or how say a biological cause of inner Light would rule out other causes alongside it that cannot be investigated by science), then the inner Light has to go.

        Do you believe that science has a coherent philosophy to provide a meaningful framework within which to live human life as an individual and in community?

        • cermak_rd says:

          No, I don’t believe all religion has a conflict with science. But I believe that much religion does. Things like the inner light of the Quakers and the burning in the bosom of the LDS faith are about the human emotional need to find a purpose to life. Other aspects of religion such as the need to have rules and the concept of an afterlife where the scales of life are balanced are also about emotional needs. Emotional needs are very real and clearly, there’s a reason that humans have them, but I’m not sure how much they have to do with how the physical world works.

          And I believe that when you take away any physical ability of deities to alter reality, you wind up with a much more pallid faith than you had before.

          • In your opinion, do emotions or human concepts alter “reality”, cermak_rd? Or do they have any effect on the “physical world”? Or is it only “reality,” or the “physical world,” which causes emotions and human concepts?

          • No, they only alter reality when they cause people to react. If I stew over an angry word from a co-worker, this changes nothing. It’s only when I react in anger or resentment that our relationship might change. But even that is about emotions. It doesn’t alter the weak force or other quantifiable measurements having to do with reality.

            It’s an interesting question and I suppose why we have Physics, Cosmology, Botany, etc. and sociology, anthropology and such.

          • Are you a reductionist? Do you believe that human consciousness, or any consciousness for that matter, is just an epiphenomenon of material/energy processes?

            If not, once you admit the existence of any enduring consciousness that is not merely a kind of illusion caused as a byproduct of impersonal processes, haven’t you in fact thrown open the barn door to metaphysics, and at least the possibility of God, miracles, etc.?

            But if you do reduce all consciousness to a byproduct of impersonal processes, does this not lead, if logically followed, to philosophical nihilism? I mean, in that case, how would you give an account of existence that would render it meaningful?

  14. In regards to the seeker-sensitive article, I have to agree with what Adam Shields wrote on the comments:

    “Church is not a zero sum game. We need to stop suggesting that one type of church is the answer for everyone. There are many types of churches because there are many types of people. Do some people (of whatever generation) leave the seeker sensitive model? Yes. But those seeker sensitive churches (depending on what you are really talking about) are still quickly growing, many with those millennials that this post are claiming are turned off by the same churches. My seeker sensitive church is expanding again (after also planting new sites and new churches) primarily because there are new people coming. And when we watch the baptisms the people are mostly saying they grew up in the church, but never understood the gospel, left until some friend brought them back to church. They understood the gospel and came back to church and are getting involved and after a few years usually get baptized. But I also celebrate those that have moved to Rome, Orthodoxy, Anglican or other traditions.”
    But also the author’s response to Adam:
    “Adam, My intention was not to suggest that one size fits all. I am glad that your church is growing. Clearly, you must be doing lots right. My hope was to explore how the seeker sensitive model can get sidetracked and lose sight of what’s important.”

    • Unfortunately, for many in a church, it is a zero sum game. In no church I’ve ever been associated with was there much celebration when someone moved to another church tradition. The strong sense in many churches is “We’re right; everyone else is wrong” so if a member leaves and goes elsewhere, well, they are thought to have gone off to some “dark side” of Christianity. And the “dark side” isn’t good…

  15. Has anyone heard of Father Robert Barron? I know he’s a RC priest in the Chicago Archdiocese and is popping up on Youtube and facebook quite a bit.

    • He’s become fairly popular. Responsible for the Word on Fire website. He was also involved with the Catholicism. DVD series. For those interested in learning about Catholicism or perhaps those who are coming into the Catholc tradition (not mentioning any names Jeff….) I’d strongly recommend it as he’s a very good teacher and it’s a well crafted series.

    • Yes, Barron is a “cool” Catholic priest doing apologetics with lots of pop culture references. I’d probably like him more if I were younger and hadn’t heard it all before.

      • I saw a video of his where he rags on Stephen Hawking. He sounded the same as evangelical “world view” advocates, i.e. science needs to stick to the empiracle and leave religion to answer the ultimate questions. I don’t know why I expect more from Roman Catholics. Perhaps JP2 and B16 set a high bar. He does remind me of Fulton Sheen in his charisma, but even Sheen seemed to drift more populace than intellectual, e.g. his criticisms of Enstein’s Cosmic religion as “comic”.

    • Christiane says:

      Hi OX,

      I purchased Father Barron’s ‘Catholicism’ DVD set which has been on television recently (it has ten parts).
      It is not cheap and I found it was not a waste of money . . . it is a beautiful production and I think it would be understandable for people who are not Catholic but have an interest in finding out something about the Church.

      I don’t know if public libraries carry the ‘Catholicism’ set, but the series has been on PBS stations and on EWTN from time to time. It is simply entitled ‘Catholicism’. Many of the segments have excerpts that can be found on ‘youtube’.

      Here is a trailer for the series:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXz7CiIovJ8

      • My local Catholic parish bought the Catholicism DVD set and small groups watched it over a period of 10 weeks. I thought it was very well done and have read two of Barron’s books since. I like him a lot.

  16. Goodness the typos and spelling. Must have 2nd cup and type on a computer versus iPad……

  17. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    In a sign that the cheese has officially slipped off of Pat Robertson’s cracker, that ancient purveyor of grand wisdom said perhaps the stupidest thing he has ever said, and that really takes a lot.

    It’s another variant on The Poison Ring. But then, there’s speculation Ol’ Pat has been losing it for some time, possibly Alzheimer’s, possibly another form of dementia from age. However, he’s the CELEBRITY, and nobody dares tell the CELEBRITY it’s time to step down.

    Before we get to the celebrity birthdays, we need to wish a goodbye to Russell Doughten, the producer of the movie A Thief In The Night. You did see it, didn’t you? I know it was meant as a movie to evangelize the unsaved, but I only knew of Christians who actually watched it.

    Typical. When it was The Latest Movement of the Holy Spirit back in the Seventies (dovetailing neatly with The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay), it was heavily plugged; I think it was ONLY shown in churches, probably as a “Scare ‘Em Into the Kingdom” run-up to The Altar Call. (But if you screen it in churches, the only Heathen(TM) who’ll show up are those who have been frog-marched in by Friendship Evangelism, and that’s a whole ‘nother story. Otherwise, the audience is all-Christianese and the flick is probably used for “rededication”.)

    I stayed away, despite the pressure to go to church screenings and see it. My head was too messed up already with what’s now called “Left Behind Fever”, and I didn’t want to push my temperature any higher.

    In the Eighties, local radio talk-show host Rich Buhler remarked that Thief in the Night caused a lot of Christian kids to freak out; he had to pastoral-counsel some of the long-term damage. A couple years ago, Slacktivist compared and contrasted Thief in the Night to Left Behind: the Movie and TitN came out well ahead — yeah, it was bottom-of-the-barrel budget and Conventionally Christianese, but it showed some skill in moviemaking and was genuinely sincere in presenting its message. Like it’s theme music: Larry Norman’s “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”, sung by Larry as a Tragic Lament, NOT a crow of triumph.

    My own exposure to TitN consists of three clips shown on a long-ago PBS documentary about Christianese Subculture. Actually seeing the clips was quite a contrast with the movie’s ominous reputation. My exact reactions?
    Clip 1 — “That’s Thief in the Night? Looks more like Manos, Hands of Fate.”
    Clip 2 — “Where’s Joel and the Bots?”
    Clip 3 — “AAAAGH! WE HAVE MOVIE SIGN!”

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Born 1972, I’ve only seen references and occasional clips of TiTn.

      I actually tried to find a copy [in the 1990's]. No luck.

      I’d just finished reading “Satan; alive and well on planet Earth” by some guy whose name I can’t remember. The 1970s (which I can’t remember much of, and as in the rural north anyway) had some really wonky stuff! Fascinating in an archeological kind of way.

      The way those guys could mangle the symbolism of Revelations and David – at least was creative. Now it is just droll, people constantly retrofitting the same mangle onto current events.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I’d just finished reading “Satan; alive and well on planet Earth” by some guy whose name I can’t remember.

        Hal Lindsay?

    • Love “Manos, Hands of Fate” especially the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Where do you think I heard of it?
        Not just MST3K, but Joel-Era MST3K.

        “He worked for Gizmonics Institute,
        Just another face in a red jumpsuit;
        He did a good job cleaning up the place
        But his bosses didn’t like him
        So they shot him into Spaaaace!

        “We’ll send him cheezy movies,
        The worst we can find
        (la la la la)
        He’ll have to sit and watch them all
        And we’ll monitor his mind!”

  18. Football = the pagan elevation of power, prestige and glory, akin in kind, though not extent, to the “games” in the ancient Roman Colosseum. And professional football cheerleaders are the new Vestal Virgins, questions of chastity and modesty notwithstanding.

    Go easy on me, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

  19. I don’t understand Adam’s “barf” with respect to endbiblepoverty.org and The Seed Company. We have interviewed the Seed Company on the air at Broken Road and I consider them legitimately engaged in a valuable ministry. Might he elaborate a bit?

    The science vs. faith issue is complicated by money and prestige. We recently interviewed Mark Armitage, the microbiologist who (among others) has discovered soft tissue in the bones of dinosaurs and argues that they cannot be more than several thousand years old, not the scientific establishment’s “best guess” of 65 million years. He offers some interesting perspectives on the debate. If you’re interested, our podcast is available at: http://brokenroadradio.com/morning-show-august-26-2013-click-here-to-reveal-links/

    • I kind of agree with Jim Park on this one. While the “End Bible Poverty” tag is a bit heavy-handed, I saw a lot of good, legitimate ministry aspects to what they’re trying to do.

    • I’d like to hear Adam’s reasons, too. The organization doesn’t look terrible — but I admit that Chan’s hyperbole, even hubris, in setting goals rubbed me the wrong way. The mission agency I used to work with went in a very negative direction once they “stepped out in faith” and made a pledge to increase drastically the number of people in the mission field to “seize the land for Christ.” Chan’s jargon sounded too close to the craziness I heard then.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      I can’t speak for Adam, and this seems like a perfectly harmless initiative, but these Bibles are going to places where people are malnourished or starving, and receive a pathetic amount of medical care. With all due respect to the good intentions of this initiative, I wouldn’t be surprised if a Bible had the same effect as a “Get Well” greeting card from Walgreen’s. Sure, let’s evangelize, but are we blatantly disregarding the more pressing needs from which these folks are suffering?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        If true, that smacks too much of “So what if they die, we shall have Saved their Souls.” As spoofed in the opening scenes of the South Park episode “Starvin’ Marvin in Space”.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The science vs. faith issue is complicated by money and prestige. We recently interviewed Mark Armitage, the microbiologist who (among others) has discovered soft tissue in the bones of dinosaurs and argues that they cannot be more than several thousand years old, not the scientific establishment’s “best guess” of 65 million years.

      That sounds like Ken Ham meets Art Bell at 3 Ayem.
      YEC Uber Alles with the accompanying Scientific Establishment Conspiracy Theory.

    • The palentologist who started all of this and continues to do research into the subject is a professor at NCSU here locally. And a member of a fairly large local church. She old earth. The pastor young earth.

      My last Sunday there (I would go occasionally) was when he preached a terrible sermon on why the science supports YEC. The prof is friends with him so who knows what that relationship is like.

      Anyway, the prof, Mary Schweitzer, is none too please with how the YEC crowd uses (and mis-uses) her research.
      http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dinosaur.html

  20. Phyllis Tickle’s hair-brained pseudo-scholarly theory of the “Great Emergence,” as she calls it, being the next installment of church’s supposed every five-hundred year theological, institutional and spiritual “attic cleaning,” (she trots out the Reformation, the Great Schism and the fall of Rome as evidence) as she calls it, is bathetic.

    It’s more like the Late, Great Emergence, in my opinion, and Tickle is doing what second and third rate “scholars” (like Bishop Spong) often do when they overreach in making unsupported predictions, all for a little intellectual immortality for themselves.

    My prediction: her theory won’t even have a footnote in church histories within fifty years.

  21. Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

    Hmm…. I thought the St. Joseph the Betrothed church building wasn’t too bad.

    So, back in high school (we’re talkin’ mid-90’s here), one of my social studies teachers rested our ENTIRE grade for the six-weeks-term on if we could memorize the “I have a dream” speech. Sadly, I still only scored 60% on that quiz!

    I’m not sure what was so barf-worthy of the “end bible poverty” site. I don’t think I’d have used the term “poverty,” but historically Christian missions would deal with both social problems (poverty, sickness, wells, etc) and with spiritual ones, especially with regards to bringing the bible to folks and translating it to other languages. I don’t see this as a bad thing!

  22. Randy Thompson says:

    Yes to listening to baseball on the radio. It’s great to have on in the background as you’re doing other things. College football works well on radio too, if you’re listening to the local announcers.

    What doesn’t work on radio at all: Chess.

    • What’s a radio?

      ;)

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        A radio is a device that automatically subscribes to the RSS feeds of local audio content producers then streams in real-time based on a cryptic mapping of the channel to a random number between 88.1 and 107.9 [inclusive]. It also programmed to introduce static to the audio, or drop out intermittently, when you drive near high-tension power lines or into tunnels; no one remembers why they added that feature, it probably had something to do with Hoover and Marxists.

    • Baseball on the radio is not only one of the supreme joys in life, it will also be the name of my rock band should I ever have one.

      • Randy Thompson says:

        The absolute best when it comes to baseball on the radio is a Dodger game called by Vince Sculley, at least as far as I’m concerned. (I’m willing to be less dogmatic on this point than I am when it comes to pizza.)

        To hear Sculley call a Dodger game is evidence for the existence of God (although I suspect old-time Cubs and Tigers fans would spin this in other directions. . . )

        • Vin Sculley is indeed a treasure. Ernie Harwell was great too. My Cubs’ experience was formed by Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau. My personal favorite is John Miller, who no longer does Sunday night baseball but does do the Giants’ games. I listened to him in Baltimore and in Boston when we lived in the east.

          One of the great features of the Internet is the MLB.com app, which lets you listen to any game in any market.

        • Listening to Vinny (Sculley) on the radio is one of the best memories of my 56 years. And it’s still a gift.

          When he finally hangs it up, it will be a very sad day.

          Some of the young announcers that they (the Dodgers) utilize when Vinny is off, are just terrible. They don’t shut up for a second, and half the time they are talking about… who knows what.

        • I grew up in Seattle, and while most of our teams have sucked since Day One, we had one of the great announcers, Dave Neihaus. I’m not sure I would enjoy baseball as much as I do today had I not grown up hearing him call games. And yes…via radio.

      • The only problem with radio is, depending on the announcer’s skill with English, things can be ambiguous. Such as the classic by Jerry Coleman. (Padres broadcaster). “Winfield goes back…back. He hits his head against the wall. It’s rolling toward second base…This is terrible for the Padres”

        And Winfield one might think. And kind of gruesome for the fans as well. Of course, the ball was rolling toward second base, and not Winfield’s head.

        • LOL. This reminds me of how much I would laugh while listening to Jack Buck and Hank Stram doing Monday Night Football on the radio. Here is a typical exchange:

          Buck: Marino drops back. Marino throws. Duper! Duper’s got it!
          Stram: That was a great throw by Marino and a great catch by Duper.

          Buck would consistenly fail to provide any sort of context, such as the length of throw, the general direction (sideline? over the middle?), how the play ended (tackle? out of bounds?) and where on the field the ball was. Stram would consistenly fail to provide any sort of insight. (“That was a great catch” or “that was a great run” seemed to be the extent of his color commentary.)

          I don’t do many impressions, but I can do a pretty good Jack Buck/Hank Stram MNF radio broadcast.

  23. Vega Magnus says:

    Chaplain Mike, have you ever considered adding forums to iMonk? It seems to me that too often, good discussion in a given article ends because the article gets shoved down the front page by newer articles. Forums would allow for discussions to continue for longer periods of time and for more extensive discussions created by members as well.