July 29, 2014

Saturday Ramblings 9.14.13

RamblerGreetings, iMonks. Welcome to our weekly gathering here at the iMonastery where we pick up the pieces that were left over from a busy week. Well, we assume you had a busy week. We did a lot of lying around, arguing over who was to wash and who was to dry. In the end, our Mother Superior and First Lady, Denise, decided that we would just use paper plates from now on. Now we just have to decide who will erase them when we are done eating. As we discuss this, what say we ramble?

What a shock! Some are actually using the crisis in Syria to sell their ideas—and books—on the End Times. We’ll bet you didn’t see that coming, did you?

And then there are those who are attempting to hasten the end times on their own. At least, hastening their own end. I would think that there may not be a real cause for a retirement plan when you are a snake handling pastor.

And then there is the one-man Westboro Baptist Church, Terry Jones, who attempted to burn copies of the Quran, one copy for each person killed in the Twin Towers on 9-11. All in the name of Christian love, of course. He was arrested. No need to discuss.

Oh goodie … another boycott. This time, Betty Crocker. That’s right, Betty Crocker is off-limits because she baked a cake or two for some same-sex weddings. Fortunately Tony Perkins found out and is sparing us from eating brownies made by Betty. No word what Duncan Hines had to say.

If you are going to buy illegal drugs, wouldn’t it be better to buy from dealers who don’t sell on the Sabbath? Observant Jewish drug dealers. No, that would not make a good name for a rock group.

Christianity Today’s Books And Culture magazine lives to see another year. Print publications are hurting, and print publications about printed books are really, really hurting. This one is worth saving. Glad it will keep going. On the other hand, two other Christian organizations are laying off employees.

Tomorrow is National Back To Church Sunday. I’m sorry I didn’t get you anything this year for this great holiday.

Remember Rev. Bob Larson? His daughter and two of her friends were in London recently, revealing why England has become a “center of witchcraft.” Guess whose fault it is?

God has a sense of humor. He has to in order to create the blobfish. You have to work hard to earn the title of number one. And the blobfish is number one. You’ll have to read this to see what it is number one in …

Did you wave goodbye to the spacecraft Voyager as it left our solar system ? It passed the boundaries of our neighborhood last year, but we just got its postcard recently. I know, I’m a space geek. What are you a geek about?

Did you hear the one about the pope’s new car? No, really. He got a new car this week. A 1984 Renault. Think you have a good joke about that? Not as good as the Car Talk guys.

Happy birthdays were wished this week to Peter Lawford; Paul Brown; Buddy Holly; Jimmie Rodgers; Otis Redding; Billy Preston; Hugh Grant; Adam Sandler; Arnold Palmer; Bear Bryant; Leo Kottke; Jesse Owens; Roald Dahl; Woody Woodpecker; David Clayton-Thomas; and Peter Cetera.

In the heyday of 1970s rock and roll, there emerged a genius on the acoustic guitar named Leo Kottke. Here he is from 1977. Enjoy.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QOf_fl9Sp8']

 

Comments

  1. “Observant Jewish drug dealers.” Similar to the Mafia hit men back in the day who had no qualms about committing murder but would never dream of eating meat on Friday.

  2. Teen exorcists? Are they the evangelical version of the Charmed sisters?

  3. Jeff – you’ve worked in the publishing business. Do publishers have a stock of end-times books tailored to whatever world crisis might happen available to publish when the time is opportune?

    I am a bit disappointed with the snake handling article – I expect a journalist to know the proper definition of “nonplused”.

    If the Huffington Post article didn’t make you cringe enough, continue on to one it linked to. The headline alone could loosen up skin frozen by botox. I just can’t figure out if these gals are opportunists or if they really believe some of the things they are quoted as saying.

    Also – not sure if this is appropriate – but a commenter shared a possible health scare 3 or 4 (maybe 5) weeks ago on the Ramblings. I am praying for you and I hope you are doing well.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      If the Huffington Post article didn’t make you cringe enough, continue on to one it linked to. The headline alone could loosen up skin frozen by botox.

      They’re carrying on a long if hardly noble tradition. The guy who wrote Malleus Malefacarium was kind of obsessed about Incubi and Succubi. And about how Witches could steal his Manhood. Christians have been kinked about sex from WAY back.

      I wish someone had turned these girls on to D&D before they discovered Spiritual Warfare. Not only do we need more good-looking female gamers, that way they could get their FRP game fix as Mighty Magic-users and Mighty Clerics bashing the demons along with the dragons in the dungeon without pulling all the rest of us in as Orcs and Red Shirts in their little Fantasy LARP.

      • Be careful what you wish for – they might be KJV-only-ers and would probably get into heated arguments over which version of the rules to use…

      • HUG, you might be the one with the health scare that srs was asking about. How did the tests turn out?

        (I read it on jmj’s blog, but it would be better to hear it from you.)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          All 12 biopsy cores negative. Accompanying low-res greyscale ultrasound shows enlarged prostate (63g, four times normal size), no abnormalities visible in prostate, prostate casing, or seminal vesicles. However, my PSA is still over 50% higher than it should be for that size prostate and my Free PSA is still suspiciously low, so my urologist has me under active surveillance, retesting me every six months. So it’ll be next February before the next possible Prostate Panic Party.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      It is a common feature in text editors known as “Search & Replace”. There is probably a stock text that can be easily customized to the current crisis.

    • SRS, I had lunch with a top Christian literary agent this week. (Strictly for fun; we are good friends; and he paid for the lunch.) I said, “If there isn’t someone working on an instant book right now linking what is happening in Syria with End Times prophecies, they aren’t working hard enough.” Then we both mentioned an author’s name who we felt was probably doing this. I won’t mention the author, but he continually turns out books on the Middle East, touting himself as an expert with top-secret clearance, etc.

      I will be very surprised if this author doesn’t have a book out on Syria/Iran before the end of the year …

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I am a veteran of the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay.

        End Time Prophecy fanboys are like Spiritual Warfare fanboys; you could rip a fart and they’d take it as Fulfilling some (reverb) End Time Prophecy(end reverb).

        “A lot of Christians are more interested in The Antichrist than Christ.”
        – J Vernon Magee

  4. Those are really good jokes. Probably been around “forever”, but still got me to chuckle.

    As a 2nd/3rd shift person, add to the list of why people don’t go to church is that it’s geared for first shift people or morning people. Very rarely do I see evening services or services geared towards night owls.

    ‘Nice’ to know about the boycott. I’m just not sure how effective it’ll be.

    I liked the Aye Aye and the description of it.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      They say if you Google the words “Christian” and “Boycott” together, you’ll get well over a million hits.

  5. Marcus Johnson says:

    I thought Easter was National Back to Church Sunday. Crap, now I have to rearrange my calendar…

    • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

      I agree about Easter being National Back to Church Sunday.

      Did you see the thing about children’s sports being a reason some people don’t/can’t attend services? That’s messed up. Though hubby and I often see children out playing soccer or lacrosse on our way to meeting.

      • Sports are one of the primary rituals of the true religion of most Americans. This has never been a truly “Christian nation” (whatever that is), and I think it’s a good development that now people don’t feel compelled to act as if it is.

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          +1

        • If sports is the civil religion of the US, it appears to be the civil religion of America’s men, golf at the top.

          The civil religion of American women appears to be real estate. I see a lot of lady realtors out on showings on my way to liturgy.

          Not complainin’

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            Beware the ire of the red power suited realtor.

          • I’m a Realtor and it’s fun to see the reactions on folks faces and hear it in there voices when I say that I don’t show property on Sunday. The initial reaction is usually one of bewilderment and confusion.

  6. Happy Birthday, Neil Peart.

  7. Leo Kottke still kicks it. Saw him in Springfield MO 5-8 years ago. I wonder if he and Tommy Emanuel ever do gigs together?

  8. David Clayton-Thomas, the amazing vocal in front of Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

  9. Clearly, the guy with the ‘fro in the front row had never heard of Kottke before he started playing, judging from his lack of enthusiasm at the introduction. Not sure the audience was fully prepared for his particular stylings.

  10. That Other Jean says:

    Happy birthday, Hugh Grant! We named our Siamese cat after one of his dumber roles (you’d understand if you knew the cat), Mickey Blue Eyes.

  11. That Other Jean says:

    Missed one, Jeff! today is Walter Koenig’s birthday. Happy 77th, Mr. Chekov!

  12. Woody Woodpecker’s birthday is this week! And I still can’t do that crazy laugh he does.

  13. Off subject from the “center of witchcraft” story: I find the rise of neo-paganism in the West fascinating. Of course, neo-paganism bears only a superficial resemblance to its ancient forbears, which were actual religions organized around sacrifices and group rituals and religious obligations, etc.

    The neo-pagans I know do not hold any common faith together, neither are they obligated to observe any practices as a group. They seem to pick and choose what they prefer from a kind of supermarket of practices and beliefs, designing a kind of custom fit spirituality. In other words, their religious model fits neatly into the practices of our larger consumer society, in a way requiring less of a subculture than traditional Christian practices do at this time.

    They don’t need specially dedicated buildings or superstructure; their religious instruction and resourcing is found in bookstores and special classes that fit neatly within the framework of the already existing marketplace; they don’t work together in large scale special projects of proselytism or works of charity as a group (no missions, of either the conservative or liberal variety).

    They travel light, with very little binding them to any community or practices; they are the ultimate post-moderns, hard to define or keep in one place, which gives neo-paganism a distinct advantage over Christianity and other traditional religions among people who have been formed in a society that tells them to put their own preferences and tastes above anything else, and to define themselves as they wish.

    How very unlike the practices of the ancient Druids or the worship of Vesta in ancient Rome; neo-paganism is religion custom tailored for the post-modern era, individualistic, private, tremendously flexible. Expect it to grow exponentially in popularity.

    • Did I forget one of the most important things, that neo-paganism elevates the feminine to a divine principle, thereby attracting the interest of younger, post-feminist women, something that with all their gender-neutral Bible translations and inclusive liturgies even mainstream Christian churches are theologically unable to do?

      • Masculine and feminine energies. Systole and diastole. Yang and yin. One of the basic dichotomies of biological life.

        And everybody lands on my tuchus when I bring it up, and fervently confess it.
        He who marries the spiritus mundi soon finds himself a widower.

        • The reason your view on the subject raises hackles is because many people are now cognizant of the way traditional Christian complementarianism has been expressed in institutional Christian and social hierarchies that raised subordinationism to a theological principle, privileging the male roles socially and economically, and trapping women in roles that made them the victims of institutionalized male domination and depredations against them.

          One of the ways you see this working out even today is, for instance, in the advice given by groups like Focus on the Family to couples in troubled marriages: despite hollow assertions of mutual subordination of spouses to each other, the onus invariably is placed on the wife for finding creative ways to be spiritually free while expressing an innate role subordination to the husband; in fact, the wife is invariably given the greater share in fixing the marriage due to some supposed constitutional/biological advantage women have over men in areas like communication and relationship skills. In effect, what is called a female advantage is used to disadvantage the woman by placing impossible burdens on her shoulders, and making her responsible for fixing the broken man in her life.

          Neo-paganism doesn’t do that; it equalizes the male and female roles socially and religiously, and leaves women empowered to be free of male domination. In fact, it insists that the divine is both God and Goddess, something which Christianity is constrained from doing because of our scriptural texts; but we could at least free women from impossible and punishing social burdens by emphasizing the liberty of male and female rather than their need to fill prescribed social/sexual roles.

          • Thanks for clearing that up. The Orthodox are good at discerning essence and energies.

            “Traditional” Christian complementarianism by your definition appears to be as Orthodox as altar calls. We are closer in spirit, I believe, to the neo-pagans, although we don’t have, and will never have, women priests. I remember a neo-pagan priestess(?) rebuking some misandric remark made by one of her co-religionists. “You are mistaking the body for the energy flowing through it. The problem is not the man, but the lack of energy he manifests” A clairvoyant eldress is a fearful thing. At that level she could, yes, be said to transcend male and female, as do the children of the resurrection. I haven’t read enough literature on the geronae . It would probably be a god penance for me. :) Even if you are a Metropolitan, it would behoove you to attend to what she says.

            This isn’t the first time I’ve been misled by superficial similarities, or mistaken the map for the terrain.

          • RobertF wrote;

            despite hollow assertions of mutual subordination of spouses to each other, the onus invariably is placed on the wife for finding creative ways to be spiritually free while expressing an innate role subordination to the husband; in fact, the wife is invariably given the greater share in fixing the marriage due to some supposed constitutional/biological advantage women have over men in areas like communication and relationship skills. In effect, what is called a female advantage is used to disadvantage the woman by placing impossible burdens on her shoulders, and making her responsible for fixing the broken man in her life.

            You got that right. I know so from experience.

            I kept tripping over “mutual subordination”…the usual phrase is “mutual submission“. However, your use of subordination twigged a thought.

            Not only do modern Complementarianist mess up what Paul was addressing in Eph. 5, but they grease their own slide into Subordinationism, which the Nicene Fathers rejected as a warped perspective of the Trinity and one which drove Arius into heresy.

          • The reason your view on the subject raises hackles is because many people are now cognizant of the way traditional Christian complementarianism has been expressed in institutional Christian and social hierarchies that raised subordinationism to a theological principle, privileging the male roles socially and economically, and trapping women in roles that made them the victims of institutionalized male domination and depredations against them.

            Exactly.

          • Tom wrote

            Not only do modern Complementarianist mess up what Paul was addressing in Eph. 5, but they grease their own slide into Subordinationism, which the Nicene Fathers rejected as a warped perspective of the Trinity and one which drove Arius into heresy.

            You got it – so-called “eternal subordination of the Son,” which many comps claim is found in the Nicene Creed, even (!!!). My hunch is that they don’t even know about the Athanasian Creed, or that if they do, they conveniently ignore it. Pushed to an extreme (and it doesn’t need much pushing to get there), it all sounds very much like certain key concepts in Mormonism. (Includes wives being eternally subordinate to husbands, even on the planets that some of the faithful will supposedly get…)

          • Tom,
            Yes, I should have said “mutual submission,” but as I get older my synapses frequently misfire; along with omissions in editing, I’m prone to embarrassing errors like this.

            Anyway, if my error twigged an insight for you, then perhaps it was fortuitous in at least a little way. Would I be going too far to attribute it to the work of the Holy Spirit?

            Probably.

        • Mule, you fall back on making belittling comments about women, characterizing them by their hormones, whether they’re pre-/post-menopausal, and other things that just are – imo – rude and disrespectful.

          I’ve read some of your posts and comment son other sites and I’m amazed that you get to publish here, quite frankly. You’re a smart guy in many ways, but – again, imo – you could stand to learn a good deal about (and from) women.

          I gave up on your posts after the 2nd one on how you believe relationships between adult men and women are supposed to work. I want to like your writing, but the attitude you show toward women is one that has been very, very hard for lots of us and I’m one of many who has the scars to prove it. (In my case, emotional, not physical, but there’s really little difference.)

          You said something a couple of weeks ago about people being complicit in others belittling them. If you take a quick look at a definition of “belittle” (and related words), it’s clear that those who belittle others do so in order to harm and shame them. It’s the exact opposite of what Christians are called to do, which is building one another up in love – regardless of gender.

          • numo,
            I agree with you. The issues you describe in your above comment are exactly why I recently quipped in a comment that I was beginning to think that Mule was actually Howard Stern trolling.

          • Robert F – I’ll admit to being mystified as to why iMonk is presenting such a hardcore comp (verging on patriarchal) view on relationships between men and women. I know that Michael Spencer had his own views on the subject – ones that I disagree with (see “Girls Trading Up”) in the iMonk archives), yet… he was very much a proponent of “We’re all equal before God” (i.e., neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female etc.) view and I think that, in the main, he was quite balanced.

            I see some things that seem very off-balance in Mule’s views on men and women. Mule, if you truly believe in the Yin/Yang analogy, you might be interested in seeing the actual philosophical framework (Chinese ) for that – they are never static, but constantly flowing in order to maintain balance, which is why the symbol for Yin/Yang is a circle with the two “elements.” The view is that for life to work properly, the two principles need to be in motion at all times. If that motion stops or slows, then there is a problem. (btw, not saying that I believe in Taoism, from which this comes, only that these forces/elements are *not* opposed in the traditional view, but equal.)

  14. Blessed feastday of the Exaltation of the Cross to you all!

    And second to the blobfish is the potoo bird

    So there are real spells in “Harry Potter”? ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ is plucked straight from the pages of “The Book of Abramelin the Mage”? Better not tell these young lassies about The Weirdstone of Brisingamen which I read in my pre-teens back in the 70s, the afterword to which tells us that the Latin spells are based on real ones (but the wording has been changed, so don’t try this at home, kids!)

    Regarding the pope’s new car, I maintain an 84 Renault is still better than any model of Fiat (now cue jokes about the one thing we know will be working in the Vatican) :-)

  15. David Cornwell says:

    The Pope made me very happy with the announcement of his car, the 1984 Renault. Now here is a true man of the people. He brings back memories for me. Early in my marriage in the mid 1960′s we had reached the point of desperation in needing a car. I looked around, and went in the showroom of a Renault dealer on Main Street in Lexington, Kentucky to see their little cars.The Renault Dauphine struck my fancy. The new red one. When I went to the bank, the banker laughed at me, and told me to go see the VW bugs if I wanted that kind of car. He pissed me off, so I walked out and went to another bank, which, probably with reluctance, gave me the loan.

    This was the start of a run for fun! The car had a rear motor, with the trunk in front. It barely used gasoline. In case the engine refused to turn (battery down) it had a hand crank (seems like it doubled as a tire wrench). The crank actually worked. Parking it on a hill and starting with the clutch also worked.

    I drove this car like a jeep. Once we drove up a rutted road into a cemetery on top of a hill in Kentucky where most people walked the last quarter mile. Another time way into the interior of a national forest in the Smokies to the end of the logging road, all just for fun. We drove it from Lexington to Dallas once, and back up the Natchez Trace on the way back home. My main kicks came from passing VW bugs on hills and not even slowing down. Once the fan belt broke in Louisiana, which made no difference so long as the car was moving forward. The man in the service station found a belt that fit, way back in cobweb filled room in the rear of his building.

    I can’t say it was really a quality car. The plugs fouled up constantly. The throw-out bearing would go bad, the breaks wear out, and so on and on. But it was the most fun car we ever had. We were in our 20′s and still loved great adventure. And this car gave it to us, in spades, at a price we could afford. Try finding that these days.

    So– I hope the Pope enjoys his new ride.

    • Great story, David. I drove a ’64 Bug all over the back roads of Mexico for two months of camping out in 1966. Went on one road where only Army trucks and Coca-Cola trucks ordinarily made it thru. Took us three days to go 75 miles. Another American was with us in his Corvair which punched a hole in the transmission pan on a sharp boulder in the road. We took the pan off and had it soldered up in a nearby village, put it back on and poured Wesson Oil in the transmission to complete the trip. He also got it stuck in a ditch and it took a passing oxcart driver unhooking his cart to pull him out. That team was one of the more impressive sights I have seen in my life. They didn’t even lean into it to pull that car out, just calmly walked ahead like they had walked over to get in position with no load at all. Those back roads were probably safer than the streets of Southside and Westside Chicago where I had spent the previous couple of years, but I wouldn’t want to travel either place these days.

      • David Cornwell says:

        Speaking of the Corvair, I think both it and the Renault Dauphine were nominated for the worst car awards at around the same time. The banker who warned me about the Dauphine was right of course, but in my 20′s I could have cared less! It was cheap and fun. On interstates, especially on hills, the pedal was always on the floor.

        I sort of envied the VW Bug owners, but I didn’t have the money!

        • That Other Jean says:

          I still drive an old VW bug, David, though not that old. My husband refers to it as the anti-BMW. They still go when and where you ask them to; as long as you remember that they’re Shetland ponies and not racehorses, you’re fine.

          Congrats to the Pope on his old new ride. It’s nice to see that the man appreciates class, not flash.

        • My dad had an 81 Honda Civic where the pedal actually went through the floor! Seems the paint Honda used actually encouraged oxidation of the frame…

    • Great story indeed, David!

      By some strange twist of fate, twenty or so years after your story began, I somehow found myself driving a Renault Encore as a teenager. It was actually my grandfather’s car that we borrowed extensively. All I remember about the car — which didn’t require a crank, by the way — was that you had to take it in to the dealer to get the oil changed due to some specialized oil pan or filter rather than doing it yourself in the driveway.

      To say that didn’t sit will with my retired Midwestern dairy farmer of a grandfather…. Well, I’m sure you’re familiar with the type.

      • David Cornwell says:

        Later I traded my Dauphine for a Renault R10 (I think that was the designation). It was a much better car, more stylish, and had more power. It accumulated a lot of miles before I gave up on Renaults altogether.

  16. Any thoughts regarding the Pope’s letter in the La Repubblica stating, ““Given that…God’s mercy has no limits, if you go to him with a sincere and repentant heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience,”

    http://www.religionnews.com/2013/09/11/pope-francis-tells-atheists-to-obey-their-conscience/

    I saw some comments on Facebook this week expressing horror over this statement.

    I didn’t have a problem with it. In fact, I particularly like this statement:

    “Speaking about the church’s relationship with Jews, Francis stresses that Christians, and humanity as a whole, should be grateful that Jews have ‘kept their faith’ despite ‘the terrible tests of the past centuries.’ ”

    For me, I also think about the Tibetan Buddhists on the brink of obliteration under what can be called nothing but ethnic cleansing by the Chinese government.

    I also like this from the same article:

    “For Francis, there is no such thing as an ‘absolute truth’ if that means a truth that can stand by itself ‘without any relationship…Truth, according to the Christian faith, is God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, truth is a relationship.’ ”

    The context of the letter is that it was a response to a letter from a staunch atheist. I find Pope Francis refreshingly winsome and dialectic.

    I’m not sure I understand him as saying one is saved by obeying ones conscience, or if ones conscience will ultimately lead one to Christ. I agree with the latter; the former would seem to contradict with Romans 1-7 and be pretty blatantly semi-Pelagian.

    • I go along with what the Pope said, except that one’s conscience needs to be formed in community, that is in the context of real, living and fundamentally healthy relationships of mutuality and self-giving, in order for it not to be misshapen; if you’re a member of the Assad family, or caught in a web of abusive relationship, your conscience may be terribly mutilated and misinforming you.

  17. I’m a geek about the kinds of discussions and exchanges that are had on this blog.

  18. Out past the rim of the solar system

    gliding endlessly toward the edge of existence
    forever falling into emptiness

    An invisible shadow
    accompanied by a billion burning
    galaxies
    pregnant with their own births

    of pregnant space

  19. When the poem show up, please ignore the last line; editing mistake.

  20. Betty Crocker boycott

    Oy vey.

    Back in the late 90s when the SBC was big in to boycotts of places like Disney my church had many people promoting it. They had two main reasons. One was that Disney parks had days that were promoted as “Gay Days”. The other because Disney was offering “partner” benefits without requiring a marriage between a man and a woman.

    My problems with this derieved from two facts:
    1. Most larger companies had “gay marketing” groups. They just were not very well known. But they were there and generated a lot of money. They didn’t really target the gay lifestyle but they did target media and events where gays were dominant. DINC’s had/have a lot more disposable income than those of us with kids. This was especially true of companies that were in the travel industries or sold higher end goods.
    2. Most larger companies were already offering benefits to couples of almost any definition as long as both were human.

    Now you look at the membership of my church, about 1/2 of them worked for companies that fit the two points above and almost all of them bought products from such companies.

    And when you brought this up with them they either got very quiet or started jumping through some very convoluted hoops to rationalize why their work and behaviors were “different” from the boycott issues and OK.

  21. There is a really good article on the exorcists here: http://www.vice.com/Fringes/teenage-exorcists-full-length

    • MERRINNNN!!!!MERRINN!!!!!!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      My writing partner told me this morning to wait about 10 years for these Teenage Exorcist(TM) CELEBRITY Tell-All autobiographies to hit the bookstores. Probably “Just like Mommie Dearest, Except CHRISTIAN(TM!”

      He also claimed that these Teenage Exorcists(TM) charge for “private sessions” starting at $100 American. My response was “Base price of $100 and Extra for Kink?”

  22. Terry Jones burning copies of the Koran? I must have missed that Monty Python episode. :)