October 20, 2017

Saturday Ramblings, January 24, 2015

1959-rambler-postcardHello, imonks, and welcome to the weekend.

First, some sporting news.  The Superb Owl is set: The Seattle Seahawks will attempt to defend their crown from the New England Patriots.  The Patriots had a little controversy after their blow-out over the Colts: Deflate-gate (hey look, a”gate” controversy that actually rhymes!) The NFL is looking into whether the Patriots illegally deflated the balls they used on offense (which would make them more catch-able in the rain). Later in the week Coach Bilichick said he was “shocked” to learn that 11 of the 12 footballs were deflated.  On a completely unrelated note, this is one of my favorite movie clips:

Okay, I’m just being silly. I have no idea whether this was all done intentionally or not.  And I actually don’t really care who wins the Superb Owl this year.  But I am apprently in the minority. Not only do most Americans have a favorite team (harmless enough) but one in four believes that God intervenes in the outcomes of the game, and 53 percent agree God “rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success,” (wow).

Pope Francis visited the Philippines last week, and on the way home said that Catholics should not “breed like rabbits”.  Of course, this being the internet age, even an off the cuff remark like this has people peeved:

At least he got  a sweet, new Popemobile for his trip:

Part-REF-TS-Hkg10139738-1-1-0What’s that about a river in Egypt?  67 percent of American Christians feel their church is “doing enough” to be ethnically diverse.

Well, that’s a relief.  A German court has said that men in that country have the right to pee standing up.  Didn’t know that was an issue there? Well, it is.  Big time.  The Atlantic explains. The dispute in Duesseldorf is actually part of a long-running debate in Germany over whether men should be encouraged to sit down when urinating. The controversy pits stehpinklers (men who stand up to pee) against sitzpinklers (men who sit down), and it has taken some bizarre twists over the years. In 2004, for example, The Telegraph reported that sitzpinkler had become a synonym for “wimp,” and that a company had invented a gadget that attached to toilets and scolded stehpinklers when they lifted the seat.

They even print helpful posters to illustrate

They even print anatomically-correct posters to illustrate. How thoughtful.

But Judge Stefan Hank said stehpinklers have rights too: “Despite growing domestication of men in this matter, urinating while standing up is still common practice.”

This reminded me of this sermon I heard recently.  If you can spare 5 minutes and a few million brain cells, you may find it…interesting.  After all, who knew the NIV translators peed sitting down?

Oklahoma is trying to ban hoodies.  Because only baddies wear hoodies, see.  Some feel the law is designed to take racial profiling to a new level.  A group of pastors in that state protested by wearing hoodies in the pulpit last Sunday.

They don't call it the priestHOOD for nothing

They don’t call it the priestHOOD for nothing

NASA released a new photo this week of a nearby galaxy. It may take a while to download, though.  It’s 1.5 billion pixels.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the controversial Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.  The Republicans in Congress, after their big win in November, decided this was the time to pass a bill they had endorsed for years: banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a point after which infants can feel pain and survive if born prematurely.  The house had passed the bill before.  It was supported by almost two-thirds of Americans. We are one of the few countries to allow late-term abortions without restriction (hello, China and North Korea). And now Republicans controlled the Senate.  This was  a political layup.  And…they muffed it.  House Republican leaders, at the last minute, pulled the bill before the vote.  The excuse was that two female representatives were concerned that the bill only allowed for exceptions for rape and incest if those were reported.  Of course, never mind that abortion could be done in these cases for five months with no reporting.  And never mind that both these representatives had voted for the exact same bill in the previous two years. Now, it was a deal breaker somehow.  I have no idea what to make of this, except what Ross Douthat at the N.Y. Times noted:

What is the most famous archaeological relic in the world?  Well, until they find the ark in that government warehouse, most of us would probably say that it would be King Tut’s burial mask.  You know, this one:

Born in Arizona, Moved to Babylonia

Born in Arizona,
Moved to Babylonia

That’s why it was so heartbreaking to hear that his braided beard was broken loose recently. But surely they restored it perfectly, right?  Well, if you count using irreversible epoxy which left a gap of yellow glue as perfect, then, “yes”. And surely its not that big of deal that the epoxy spilled on the face, and was removed by a spatula that left scratches.  Right? 53534437

Did you know that Saudi Arabia is building its own great wall?  For all 600 miles of its border with Iraq?  This is too keep out Isis, a group that owes its ideology more to Saudi Arabia’s exported wahhabism than any other single factor.

430-1421230259686332861

It’s a long read, but a very good one. This article, published this week after the death of Saudi’s king, explains the recent history of Saudi Arabia, and the tension in trying to run a modern country while still upholding the strictest interpretations of Sharia law.

Well, here’s some good news: The tiger hobbespopulation in India (where most tigers live) has increased 30 percent in 4 years.  Now, we are still talking about less than 2,500 animals, but it’s a good trend.

Professor Judy Haiven of Saint Mary’s University, during a discussion of classroom equality, revealed she has a simple classroom rule to that end: Only women can answer first.  This was met by a round of applause.  Realizing that special treatment is the bedrock of equality, the panel members then insisted the men to open the doors for them on the way out. (Okay, I may have made that last sentence up.)

Speaking of irony, did you hear about the campaign in Canada aimed at getting companies to only hire lawyers who believe in same-sex marriages?  And what is the name of the group trying to punish and exclude those who dissent from their viewpoint? Legal Leaders for Diversity

Richard Noll just wanted a sandwich.  But he needed to break his $100 bill before he could buy lunch, so he stopped at the next door grocer and bought a couple lottery tickets. Which won him 10 million dollars.

Well, this is bad.  A drone carrying eight pounds of meth crashed just south of San Diego this week (apparently because it was too heavy).  Drug cartels have already been using them for surveillance.

You will be happy to know that, unlike the last two weeks, there are no stories about snakes hanging out in toilets.  No, this week, it’s a story about a snake hanging out in a cabinet at Lowes, and biting a customer right between the eyes. Best quote: “Responders had to cut the snake’s head off before removing it from the man”.   Happy shopping.

Marcus Borg, the great liberal New Testament scholar, has died.  He was 72.

Do you recall a few weeks ago we mentioned the PEGIDO movement in Germany, an organization opposing the growth of Islamic immigrants in Europe? Its leader, Lutz Buchmann, has been accused of being a nazi sympathizer, something he has denied.  Until this selfie popped up this week:

"Just trying out a new do"

“Just trying out a new do”

You probably heard that the Obama administration took a LOT of flak for not sending a high level figure to the Paris marches.  But it’s all good, now.  Cause John Kerry came (a week later) “to share a big hug with Paris.” He even brought along James Taylor… to sing… “You’ve got a Friend in Me”. Really. I believe they may have also joined hands in a circle to sing, Kumbayah.

Admit it, you thought I was kidding, didn't ya?

Admit it, you thought I was kidding, didn’t ya?

In related news, the president is reportedly ready to send Diana Ross to Syria, so that she can sing, “Stop! In the Name of Love” to ISIS.

Well, that’s it for this rambling.  Have a great weekend, imonks, and remember: haters gonna hate, deflaters gonna deflate, and stehpinklers gonna stehpinkle.

 

Bonus question (please play): If Obama is sending Kerry on “guitar diplomacy”, then what is the next step?  Where should he send an American singer, and with which song?

Comments

  1. Sitzpinklers versus stehpinklers: the difference between married and single. And that graphic gave the man a rather generous appendage.

  2. Re: diversity in the church – People want to worship where they feel most comfortable, and that includes majority African American churches as well.The church I attend is mostly Caucasian with a few African Americans and some Latin Americans. There are majority Latin AND African American churches within a few minute of ours, yet people tend to clump together with their own.

    If no one is being outwardly exclusionary and are welcoming of ANY visitor, is there anything wrong? Who, exactly, says we HAVE to be racially balanced according to the latest societal zeitgeist? The bible is silent, specifically, but one can always interpolate some sort of requirement.

    • A long time ago, in our then predominantly Caucasian church, we had only a few African American congregants. I was chatting with one of them one day and he said something like, “Rick, I’m always on my guard here.”

      I looked at him askance. “Here? You’re kidding. This place is safe!”

      He said, “You may think so, because no one here is going to call you a name when you least expect it, or make a comment that makes you flinch. Everyone here is like you.”

      Again, I looked at him askance. “But…certainly not here.”

      He nodded, then said, “It’d be the same if you attended Mt. Zion (local African American church). I’d tell you, ‘Don’t worry, Rick. Everyone here is a friend, and good and kind. No one would ever say anything to you. You will feel safe.’ Yet if you were the only white standing amidst a congregation of African Americans, you would soon learn that it’s not safe, there’ll be people there who would not like you being there.”

      Somehow we have to let Jesus break down those barriers of country club tribalism.

      • I found it very interesting that my wife used similar language a few months ago. Certain folks whom she’d hung out with at church for some time, and thought she knew,…started using very “abstract” language when it came to race and issues of race. She said to me, “I would never feel SAFE (my emphasis) around them anymore. My guard will always be up when we go back there, except when I’m with those who I know LOVE (my emphasis) me.”

        • Experienced this many times.

          toggle-ironic-voice-on
          But don’t worry, they are not racist, because they did not use the naughty words to describe those people, they were only speaking generally.
          toggle-ironic-voice-off

      • Rick, it’s not “country club tribalism”, it is fear and human nature mixed with sin nature. It has ALWAYS been so, and most probably ALWAYS will remain so. And if not skin color then we have doctrinal differences to separate us. There are a multitude of things that can, and DO, separate even God’s children till “…when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. ”

        Some may say that I am defeatist, but after many years I say that I am a real life observer. Does that mean that I am saying that we shouldn’t, at least, TRY? No, but don’t expect there to be some great change in the heart of man.

        • Daniel Jepsen says:

          “Rick, it’s not “country club tribalism”, it is fear and human nature mixed with sin nature.”

          I don’t necessarily disagree, but surely one of the goals of our churches should be to move beyond our fear and work against our sin nature.

          • Daniel, “coulda, shoulda, woulda” doesn’t mean it will happen. I guess I’m just a pessimist on this matter. Sure, we SHOULD move beyond our fears, but we also SHOULD “be conformed to His image” as well. Seen many Jesus Images lately? Nothing but feet of clay…

          • “one of the goals of our churches should be to move beyond our fear”

            I agree, and it should be one of the goals of our society as well. But it is operationally hard to do when you are surrounded by people of your own ilk in your day-to-day venues, any endeavour to do so is going to feel out-of-the-way and forced, which is more reason people won’t do it.

            This is a problem, but just wait. In large part it is going to be a problem that solves itself in the next generation. Homogenous venues are going to become harder to find, it’s just math.

            I see this play out in college students. We get a lot of students from the north where the population is white, protestant, and quasi-rural. They come to ‘the city’ to go to university or for jobs. In September/October they will be on the bus huddled into themselves or in little clumps, looking nervously askance at all those other people, or furiously using their mobile devices to distract themselves. Come February/March they are relaxed and occasionally engaging in small talk, or helping someone with directions. These things can sort themselves out; and pushing people who aren’t ready or just-don’t-want-to will not work. It works best when it is part of the natural day-to-day cadence of life.

        • The whole Bible is about country club tribalism and Jesus’ attempt to break down those barriers. If you don’t get that message, I suggest you read the OT and the gospel accounts a little more closely. Tribalism is everywhere in the OT, and the first covenant didn’t help fix that. Along comes Jesus. Look at who He hangs with and look at who He admonishes. He blasts people for the tribalism (Pharisees) while offering the keys to the Kingdom to people of all tribes.

    • I absolutely love the fact that in our small congregation no one ever brings up ‘race’. We are there to hear God’s law…and to receive His gospel. We are ONE in Christ.

      I love this respite and sanctuary from racism. Or the ‘reverse racism’ (same thing) that so pervades this country.

      • If this is something you are thankful for, then change *from* in your last paragraph to *of.*

        It’s not acceptable to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom on one hand, and dismiss it’s everyday application towards our suffering brothers and sisters on the other hand. If the church does not speak truth to power, who will?

        • Focusing on ‘race’, makes one a ‘racist’ (to treat people differently based upon the color of their skin).

          We treat all people the same. For ALL are sinners.

          You tell me what is wrong with that.

          If we could forget about the color of people’s skin…then we would go a long way towards the sort of society that MLK Jr. dreamed about.

          But many just are obsessed with skin color.

          No thanks.

          • Exactly. We are called to be color blind, accepting men for who they are, not what they look like. Our small congregation hasn’t lifted a finger to achieve racial diversity, and our pastor regularly says stupid politically incorrect insensitivities from the pulpit. The “offended” parties just roll there eyes and laugh about him after the service: They know they are loved and treasured and valued by the pastor and the whole congregation. And on any given Sunday, you can easily see over 20 different ethnicities represented in our attendance.

            And I’m the only Mexican, go figure. 😛

          • I will shout this:

            GOD IS NOT COLORBLIND, AND WE ARE NOT CALLED TO BE SO.

            This theology betrays the image of God as it exists in all people.

            Hurray for your congregational demographics — but this mentality is a load of BS. I’m not surprised though given your context — it’s all over churches in Long Island.

          • Steve, MLK’s life & service did not exist in a vacuum. Go read a book. Go watch ‘Selma.’ His life & service existed in a context of aggression & violence towards black people. Lynchings in the south, for instance. You CANNOT translate what he stood for into “colorblindness.” He called for white people, especially those in political & religious authority, to repent and embrace the Kingdom.

            All those famous quotes from so many people about failing to act in the face of evil…. why do we get a pass when it comes to racism??

          • Do you mean those others are obsessed with skin color? If only people like Al Sharpton would stop focusing on race, this would all go away?

            Is that what you mean?

          • Stuart,

            No, not sure how you got there. I’m trying to address USE (insofar as us = the church). I see too much defensiveness and deflecting of racial issues among the church. I’m asking that we take these conversations seriously and approach them from a humble theological/sociological position, starting with taking ownership for the complicity of the church in the racial oppression that still exists today.

            Al Sharpton-types may be right at times, or be blowhards. I think the church tends to see the sensational blowhard side and scream “See, we have to stop making everything about race” to the detriment of the real issues and the real people who are hurting.

        • Wait just a second. Are you seriously saying that the place where race is never mentioned is actually a hotbed of racism? So people who are not politically active enough in the cause are automatically the enemy?

          • To the first question: Potentially, yes. If the status quo is never acknowledged, there is much danger to assume that everything is ok all the time.

            To the second question: You have over exaggerated, as I am not using the terms of “enemy.” And “politically active,” as we know, is a loaded phrase when used in an ecclesiological context. But at the very least, if the church is not doing *something* to make its people aware of institutional sin and its own propensity to fall into it, it is doing an injustice, and failing to address the plight of the “least of these” in our context.

            All theology is contextual.

          • Well, at least we know where Sean stands…

          • And this is also why we cannot have a REAL discussion on race, when people automatically assume the worst in others and then proclaim “If you don’t see it MY way then you are a defacto racist”. They may put it in more “tolerant” language but it adds up to the same thing.

          • Oscar, not sure what you’re saying. What I’m trying to do is think critically and address the *implications* of what is being said. That’s much different than making *accusations*, if that is how you’re reading me. Perhaps it comes across as a fine line btw. the two, and I’ll be aware of that. But hardly think I have the final word on this, nor do I think I’m shutting down conversation.

          • From what I can see, you’re standing in a pretty good place on this issue, Sean.

      • It’s easy to not bring up race when everyone is the same color.

        Curious what your church looks like.

    • I completely agree Oscar – churches should always be welcoming to whoever comes in regardless of race, background, etc. But they should never try to force “diversity.” It should always be something that arises organically. I go to a church that is predominantly white but also has many black people, Asians, and Hispanics in the mix.

      I would never fuss at black Americans who go to a church that is mostly black, or white people in a church that’s mostly white. The only time it’s really an issue is when churches forcibly exclude people and make them unwelcome. I think we can all agree that’s wrong, but it’s rarely the case in churches where the Diversitistas complain because we don’t meet their arbitrary quota.

      • Plus we also have to keep the modern preoccupation with branding in mind. I have attended “black” churches before precisely because I loved the music, the preaching style, and the atmosphere (plus good luck finding a spirited choir in our city anywhere else). On the other hand, the local mega absolutely brands toward upper-middle class white folks. The aging machinist in our congregation who got fired 6 months from retirement and drives a pile of junk and wears Goodwill jeans would be about as welcome as a cockroach in a KFC bucket.

        All that to say that I agree with Oscar that painfully forced “diversity” is pretty awkward for everyone and while diversity is a result of the gospel, it is never causal. However, the plain fact is that almost every church I know has some specific branding and marketing scheme, and that usually means it will appeal to a specific race.

        • I agree, except for the last sentence. You’re giving a lot of churches who will never even put together a branding or marketing scheme way too much credit. Sometimes the people just come together and express who they are in Christ through the materials of their culture, and they don’t care who joins them. I like to thing many typical Catholic parishes are a lot like this. IMO they do the best job of being “culturally neutral/open.”

        • -> “… painfully forced ‘diversity’ is pretty awkward for everyone and while diversity is a result of the gospel, it is never causal.”

          Yes. This is why I absolutely love The Message’s take on Matthew 11:28-30…”Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” We absolutely need to LEARN how to do GRACE that is an UNFORCED RHYTHM. It has to be like water flowing. So how can we LEARN to be like “flowing water”?

          There’s the rub. Forced diversity will be fought. Unforced diversity is true grace in action.

        • And their websites employ a lot of stock photography to give the impression of diversity.

    • The Bible really is not silent about racial diversity in the church. Really. Like, there’s a whole lot.

      • +1 THANK YOU

      • Where? How many of Jesus’ apostles were Samaritan? How many were Syrian? How many Egyptian? The truth is, we don’t KNOW because that was never a consideration. Paul goes further to say that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

        The whole “diversity” meme is just an outgrowth of our western, mostly American (sorry Canada, you are not that large of a population), political philosophy which has been ascendant within the past 20-30 years or so. Before that it was the “melting pot” philosophy.

        As far as the whole “diversity” thing goes, it is a worthy goal, but whenever you start judging others because they do not measure up to YOUR definition of “fair” or “diverse”, then you are entering into the same intolerant meme as those whom you are accusing.

        We ALL judge others in view of our own self regard. We ALL exhibit some sort of prejudice, maybe not always racial, but that matters little. Political, economic, national, family, it is ALL wrong! We are ALL sinners, and the sooner we take that statement to heart the better chance we will have to become like Christ.

        • Where? Are you kidding? It’s hard to even know where to begin.

          The very fact that Paul had to admonish people that “there is neither Jew nor gentile” means that there most definitely were Jews and gentiles in the church, and that they were at odds. Paul levered the Gospel as the foundation on which a new racial unity was to be built. “Neither Jew nor gentile” means there ARE Jews and gentiles, and they are to RECONCILE such that there is no more division between them. Racial identity is precisely NOT an excuse for the church to drift into little segregated camps where everyone looks alike. If the rule of American churches was “neither Jew nor gentile” then local churches would not be predominantly segregated by race.

          Jews were not to force gentiles to become Jewish, and the gentiles were not do lord their freedom over Jews. Romans in a nutshell. Justification through faith: race, and the works that mark out racial distinctions, is no longer the identifier of the One People of God. Faith in Christ alone. Therefore, be reconciled.

          I’m not interested in America’s “diversity meme,” or anyone’s dislike of it. When we drop these silly polemics against various liberal bugaboos and just read the Bible, we find the story of the elect race, called to be distinct from all other races, who in their distinction are shown out as a magnifying glass for sin itself. Then, once the fullness of time arrives and the Torah has been allowed to kill off the perceived privileges that come through that racial identity, they become the vessel, through Christ, of the reconciliation of all races (greek: “ethne”) with God and with one another. A sermon in the Spirit, newly poured out, unites, through the Gospel, a multi-ethnic mob of 3,000 from all over the Mediterranean. Peter baptizes Cornelius. Paul launches a mission to the gentiles to bring them into Israel. The world is never the same. The final vision of the Book is of the singular nation, freed from the racially segregating rule of Torah, coming from “every tribe and every nation” to offer Christ their worship in a new Kingdom within whose borders “the dividing wall of (racial) hostility” has been torn down once and for all.

          ‘Reconciliation’ does not mean we smile and share some vague pleasantries with one another occasionally (“Isn’t that cute? I know a black person! I’m so not-racist”). It means we share, as the church, real crucified-risen life together in Christ, despite deep differences and historic enmity. When this is the exception and not the rule, then we’re looking at sin. It’s not ‘judgmental,’ to point this out, it’s clear-headed and honest.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      “If no one is being outwardly exclusionary and are welcoming of ANY visitor, is there anything wrong?”

      Yes. We are called to love our neighbors. To do this in any consequential way requires some level of understanding them. A few people have a gift of empathy, but most of us rely on our experiences and those of the people around us. If the only people you interact with are people with similar experiences to yours, your understanding of your other neighbors is blinkered. An ideal church has a wide range of races, ethnicities, social and economic classes, ages, etc. That this ideal is usually unobtainable is not cause to shrug your shoulders and exclaim “Whadda ya gonna do?” before quickly moving on to something else.

      The same principles apply to colleges. Talk of “diversity” puts conservatives in danger of strained muscles from all the eye-rolling, but the colleges promoting diversity are absolutely right. If being “educated” means anything, it means knowing that the way they do things back home is not the only way to do things–or necessarily the best way, or even a good way–and condescending pity–or an invasion force–should not be the automatic reaction to other places doing things other ways. One way to avoid this parochialism is to actually know people with different experiences from yours and to interact with them as peers. A diverse student body is one way to encourage this. You can’t force the issue. Some people are going to carefully wall themselves off from those other people, and afterwards will go home and talk about how horrid those other people are. But a diverse student body at least creates conditions where peer interactions can occur naturally, for anyone willing to let them.

      I think I have told this story before, but it is a good story. In college I had a close-knit group of friends, centered on gaming. One of them was a guy named Carlos. Carlos was a great guy: smart and funny, he was always ready to help a friend, and wouldn’t hurt a fly. He did not, however, look the part. He looked like a hoodlum. See him walking down the street and you would cross over to the other side. He had cultivated this look because he grew up in a rough neighborhood. As he explained it, the crazies would leave you alone if they thought you were crazier than them. This look had been a defense mechanism through high school, and he never adjusted it when he went to college (where it wasn’t as if he were the only guy not dressed for a formal occasion).

      So one day it occurred to one of us that we hadn’t seen Carlos for a few days. This in itself was not remarkable. Maybe he had gone home for a few days. Normally everyone knew everyone else’s schedule–did I mention that we were close-knit?–but maybe he had forgotten to mention it. So one of the guys calls his parents–we were that close that we knew each others’ parents. No, Carlos hadn’t gone home. They didn’t know where he was. Then one of the guys had a hunch. (To this day I give him credit for this. I wish I could take credit, but I wasn’t nearly that smart.) He went down to the sheriff station and asked if they had Carlos. Yup: he had been sitting in a holding cell for all this time. Our hero, who was conspicuously white and middle class, asked when they were going to let him go. The sheriffs shuffled their feet embarrassedly, and released Carlos. He had been picked up for walking down the street in a nicer neighborhood than the cop thought he should be in. There were no charges, and certainly no phone call. I suspect that once they actually talked to him, they figured out pretty quickly that he wasn’t in fact a street hoodlum, but at that point they didn’t quite know what to do with him, and were relieved when our hero showed up and took him off their hands.

      When I see blacks telling about being pulled over the police for driving while black, I believe them. Oh, I’m sure it’s not always true. We also all know the guy who swears that he was pulled over for no reason, when actually he was going fifty in a school zone. Undoubtedly some–perhaps many–of these stories are like that. But I also know Carlos. Knowing Carlos, I am unable to believe that such things don’t actually happen. Had I never been in an environment to know Carlos or someone like him, would I be snorting derisively at these stories and dismissing them as nothing but self-entitled whining? I don’t know. I hope not, but I can’t say. I do know that I am a better person for having been in such an environment.

      • ” If the only people you interact with are people with similar experiences to yours, your understanding of your other neighbors is blinkered.” Yes, yes, and yes. It’s so easy to see others who look different than us, act different than us, and see the world differently than us as somehow “flawed”. I see this over and over where I live because it’s overwhelmingly white and rural. My neighbors and friends are decent, hard working, God loving people but have very little interaction with anyone who is not just like them. Their idea of evangelism is mostly to bring people into the church so we can teach them to be just like us.

        A worked for a time at a small career college with many low-income students from a number of racial backgrounds. The job was a nightmare but I am thankful I worked there because of the people I met. It changed how I viewed people for whom life has been a constant struggle to survive. I learned a great deal about what it’s like to grow up in a poor, dysfunctional family and then try to overcome that. I also discovered that many of these people who are looked down on are just as decent, hard working, and God fearing as the people I’m surrounded by at home, but have been dealt a couple of lousy hands by life and suffer for it. because they are unable to “pull themselves up” no matter how hard they try. Like you, Richard, had I not been exposed to this, I too would be “snorting derisively at these stories and dismissing them as nothing but self-entitled whining”. I know I would.

      • “If being “educated” means anything, it means knowing that the way they do things back home is not the only way to do things”

        +1

      • …hear, hear…

      • “If only he had dressed/acted more white…”

      • Vega Magnus says:

        I spent my first two years of college at a community college because it is so much cheaper to take general courses there than at a four-year school. That was a very good thing for me. I met a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds, ranging from people like me who were going to transfer to a four-year school, to less academically successful kids who couldn’t get into anywhere else, to adults who were going to college for the first time. It prevented me from getting so absorbed into my own culture that I couldn’t identify with others.

      • Nothing you have said contradicts my post. You just expanded on my thoughts.

        And Richard, who SAYS that your idea of the “ideal” church should be as you stated?

        And I have to disagree with you on university and college campuses in general. Whenever certain speech is shut down, and whenever certain political views are marginalized, and whenever invited speakers are shouted down or disinvited because their views are not “accepted”, then diversity is not present. Perhaps racial diversity is the order of the day, but little else is.

        • Jazziscoolithink says:

          Out of curiosity, what is your idea of the ideal church, Oscar?

          • Jazziscool, the ideal church is one where all people, believers and those seeking, can come together and worship/seek the creator. Everyone comes to church with their own set of needs and prejudices, their own hopes and disappointments, their own hurts and regrets. But knowing that each person is in the same sinking ship is the one equalizer that all should recognize, and having recognized it they can experience God’s forgiveness and count themselves as brothers.

            Race and socioeconomic status notwithstanding, ALL have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. If we make efforts to be “diverse” (read RACIALLY diverse) then we are becoming consumed with the least important aspect of salvation. In death we are all the same: worm food! In resurrection we are ALSO all the same: Sons of God!

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          “Nothing you have said contradicts my post. You just expanded on my thoughts.”

          I wasn’t trying to contradict you. You asked a question. I answered it. I even helpfully quoted the question, so as to avoid confusion. Were I trying to be argumentative, I would have focused on that peculiar usage of no one in the church being “outwardly” exclusionary.

          “And Richard, who SAYS that your idea of the “ideal” church should be as you stated?”

          I am confused. If my post just expanded on your thoughts, then why this argumentative tone? But what the heck: The ideal I described is the result of a church welcoming all. If a church thinks it is welcoming all, yet, for example, hardly anyone under the age of [fill in a number here] wants anything to do with it, then its welcome is flawed. I am surprised to find this is controversial–especially since I purposely omitted the more contentious forms of possible diversity.

          “And I have to disagree with you on university and college campuses in general. Whenever certain speech is shut down, and whenever certain political views are marginalized, and whenever invited speakers are shouted down or disinvited because their views are not “accepted”, then diversity is not present. Perhaps racial diversity is the order of the day, but little else is.”

          Now I am very confused. It seems that you are arguing that a diverse campus is a bad thing, as it shuts down the exchange of views so a homogeneous student body is better, since no position is out of bounds. Seriously? Did I get that right? I am displaying the early symptoms of what I suspect will turn out to be the flu, so perhaps my reading comprehension is reduced. But let us suppose I read that right: Imagine your ideal college campus. Now imagine that through some inexplicable quirk, some group on campus wanted to put forward one of the following arguments in a public forum: “All the world’s problems are caused by white people”; “All the world’s problems are caused by white men”; “All the world’s problems are caused by Christianity”; “The Pledge of Allegiance is a Fascist text”; “The US Army is a Fascist organization”; “Workers of the world unite!” “Death to America! Allahu Akbar!”; etc. etc. etc. I can keep this up all day, flu or no flu. Now imagine the response on your ideal college campus. Would there be nothing other than a lively yet respectful exchange of views, firmly founded in facts and logic, as the administration looks on benignly? Was this the response back in the day, before when “diversity” became trendy?

          Some of the actions you described are indeed problematic. But the shutting down of discourse is not because of diversity. Some areas have always been taboo. What we are seeing is a meta-discourse about what topics these are. Homogeneity produces a false appearance of open discourse by putting many points of view so far out of sight that people don’t realize they even exist. This is a safe environment if your goal is to come out of college no more educated than you went in.

          • Richard, we suffer the problem of mere words on a page without context of inflection and facial cues.

            As far as college campuses is concerned, I wasn’t saying that we should all agree but that on many of today’s campuses divergent views are NOT welcome, even though they claim to be a “diverse” campus. The healthy exchange of ideas, where one can hear divergent views and make a reasoned choice is the ideal, but unfortunately SOME views are considered to be “hate” and are not welcome. In many cases it is the administration who regulates what is “accepted” thought, and in others it is the loudest protest voice that determines what things may be spoken about. Indeed, some speakers HAVE been excluded because of their stated beliefs, the latest being Bill Maher, surely no conservative, for his views on Islam.

            The homogeneity that you mention is one that real life experience quickly dissipates. Once the college educated hit the real world their newly acquired views get challenged and, in many cases, moderated. I have seen this in my church where young people enter the workforce, fresh out of college, and discover that life is far from ideal and that ideals are just hopes, not reality.

            The homogeneity we see in churches is just a result of people wanting to see themselves in a church assembly and not a conscious act of racism or exclusion. People go where they feel most comfortable. We are human, we are flawed, and only the resurrection will change that.

            If my tone seemed to be argumentative please forgive me, it was not meant to be so

  3. Thanks for the pointer to the article on Saudi Arabia. A bit out of our usual range, but very enlightening.

  4. Regarding the Super BOWL (I can’t believe you’d mock such a hallowed tradition!!!)…

    I live in the Seattle area, been a fan since Day 1 (Seahawks Day 1, not Earth’s). Those of you who follow football know the minor miracle that occurred for the Seahawks to beat the Packers last Sunday to reach the Super Bowl.

    During a class at church this past Wednesday, our pastor asked, “Where and when do you find yourself most connected to God and Jesus?”

    After a few people shared their own experiences (reading the Bible, praying in the morning, serving others), I said, “Well, I felt pretty darn connected to God during the last 5 minutes of the Seahawks game, seeing them pull off that miracle. But you know, if I’m a Packer fan, I guess I’m not so sure that God exists.”

    I don’t think God cares a lick about who wins ball games, and yes…outcomes are WAY over-spiritualized by folks.

  5. I love to use the phrase “shocked there’s gambling in Rick’s Cafe” when I hear people say or read really dumb things that miss the obvious.

    If they don’t get the reference it also let’s me know they have a not very wide exposure to life. 🙂

  6. As to standing or sitting…. who cares and why?

    I’ve got to ask my daughter about this. She spend a year in Germany and visits periodically.

    • Standing can cause splashing. This upsets some people. Personally, I think standing is fine but we should be courteous and wipe up any mess that results.

  7. In regards to the Pope’s comments, those were not the only ones insulted. Wascally Wabbits were also upset.

    Bug Bunny said he was not amused,

    Thumper was disappointed and would be issuing a statement later.

  8. chipand mybrothesnameis dale says:

    We could send Edwin Starr to sing War huh yeah / What is it good for? / Absolutely nothing, oh hoh, oh / War huh yeah / What is it good for? / Absolutely Nothing.

  9. chipand mybrothesnameis dale says:

    During the Coach Bilichick pressser the image that came to mind was Sgt Schultz “I see nothing”

  10. I ignore football, and I like to think that God does, too.

    • “I ignore football,”

      Ditto.

      “I like to think that God does”

      Oh no! Now queue the tedious and inconsequential debate over if an “omniscient” [useless word if ever there was one] God is capable of ignoring something… and if those who believe he can ignore something are challenging the omniscient nature of God. Isn’t that making God less?!?! Heretics. Will this be the first church schism caused by football?

    • I don’t ignore football entirely, but don’t get the God infused athletic thing. People are dying in horrible circumstances all over the world and I’m supposed to believe that God can’t or won’t do anything about that but He will make darn sure some QB has the best game of his career when playing the toughest team in the league? I remember as a kid praying that my favorite team would win some big game…and then I grew up.

    • I like football, but I don’t hold it against you that you don’t…LOL.

      Your comment reminded me of a comic strip someone told me about recently. In it, players from two football teams are clumped on their own sidelines, each huddled together, praying.

      The next panel shows God up in heaven, watching a soccer game.

    • God ignores football, and wants all of you to do the same.

      • He ignores football, but maybe not football players…?

        Maybe just as He ignores paintings, but not the painter…?

  11. Brianthedad says:

    Wow. Great ramblings Daniel! I sure hope Jeff Dunn is reading this one. This ranks right up there with his. As to the great sit/stand debate? Well, I’ve never heard that particular sermon, but I’ve heard the sentiment. And can’t we all just get along? Living in a house full of women, midnight trips are easier, aiming is not required, and there’s no grief from the gals in the morning if you just go the old sitzpinkler route. And, side note, LOVE the Germans and their language! They’ve got a word for everything.

    • +1! With only two women in the house I made the concession to sit, but only at night when I cannot see the target well.

  12. If Obama is sending Kerry on “guitar diplomacy”, then what is the next step? Where should he send an American singer, and with which song?

    China, any decent Beatles cover band, “Can’t Buy Me Love”

    North Korea, Twisted Sister, “We’re Not Gonna Take It”

    Venezuela, Weird Al Yankovic, “Dare to be Stupid”

    Your turn. 😉

  13. Here’s what my SonInLaw the Engineer observed about “Inflategate”;

    Let’s say the balls were filled in a 78 degree Fahrenheit room up to the designated 13 psig. Then they were taken into the stadium. Weather underground says it was 30 degrees Fahrenheit in Boston on Sunday evening. If you recall Boyle’s law:

    PV = nRT

    If we divide an initial state by a final one we get:

    P1V1/P2V2 = n1R1T1/ N2R2T2

    The volumes, moles (and of course gas constants) are all the same, so we are left with:

    P1/P2 = T1/T2

    Rearranging, converting to absolute T and P and solving we get:

    P2 = P1(T2/T1) = (13+14.7)*(30+460)/(78+460) – 14.7 = 10.5 psig

    That’s exactly 2 psi below guidelines, which is what the officials found! Has no one else thought of this? Am I taking crazy pills?

    • But why rely on science when you can kick up a great controversy for the media to obsess over for days on end?

      • Did you notice it was the lead story in CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley (TM)?

        Saudi government headless, Yemeni government dismantled, France under attack, and Scott Pelley is shocked, SHOCKED, that footballs are underinflated. They called in Tom Brady as an expert witness.

        By the way, I NEVER watch network news. That was a random moment, reminding of me why I never watch it.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      From what I’ve read, the counterarguments would be:
      –The footballs of both teams were checked at halftime; the colt’s footballs did not show significant deflation.
      –The Patriots were given properly inflated footballs at halftime and they were measured again after the game. No significant differences in pressure were recorded.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        This. It isn’t as if football in cold weather were a novelty. Yet I haven’t seen experienced football guys explaining that this happens in every cold-weather game. Nor have I seen anyone perform the easy experiment of properly inflating a ball then letting it sit for an hour and half under the conditions of the game, then checking it.

        Obviously this isn’t why New England won the game. What it tells us is that the New England organizational culture is to seek every edge, regardless of legality. How should we react to this? Indignant outrage is one response. So is admiration for their initiative.

        Gaylord Perry is in the Hall of Fame. If the topic of spitballs comes up, a typical reaction is admiration for his ability to get away with them. Barry Bonds is not in the Hall of Fame. If the topic of steroids comes up, a typical response is indignant outrage. Why the difference? I am not suggesting that we should be outraged at Perry or should admire Bond’s initiative. I am trying to understand the different reactions.

        So is football deflation more like throwing a spitball or more like using steroids? My inclination is that it is more like a spitball, but I am open to further discussion.

        • Exactly what I was thinking too. Thousands of games have been played, many of which were played in even far colder circumstances than this, and so I’m wondering how often this has happened before but not reported. Clearly this is only a nationally-reported story because it’s the game before the Superb Owl 😛

        • My analogy has also been that a deflated football is more akin to a pitcher throwing a spitball. It’s a player trying to gain a slight advantage during play. And you can argue how much a deflated football really helps a player just as you might be able to argue that spitballs don’t really do that much, but the point is someone thinks there’s enough of an effect to try it.

    • I thought of it. I wasn’t interested enough to do the math. 🙂

    • As a physics professor, I am happy to see that your son not only correctly used an absolute temperature scale, but also the absolute pressure (not simply the gauge pressure)! It’s starting to bother me reading all these stories online where people are incorrectly using a basic scientific relationship.

      Anyways, I think the problem with your son in law’s analysis is the temperatures being used in that calculation. From what I’ve heard, the weather at kickoff and during the first half of the game was actually a fairly balmy 50 degrees F (it was raining), which is when they were underinflated (and fixed during halftime). And that number represents the “lowest bound” for the temperature, since even if it was 50 degrees outside, and the ball happened to start at 78 degrees F (which is also seems rather high, who keeps it at 78 degrees inside a room?), there wouldn’t be enough time for the ball to come to complete thermal equilibrium by cooling all the way down to 50 degrees. The cooling of the gas inside the (somewhat insulated) ball would occur over a somewhat longer period of time, not instantaneously. Also, you have the repeated actions such as touching/compressing to the ball, which would actually have a slight warming (probably negligible though) effect if anything I would think.

      Using more realistic numbers of starting at 68 degrees (room temperature) and cooling all the way down to 50 degrees yields a drop from 13 psi to 12.1 psi, or if it happened to start at 12.5 psi (Tom’s preference), yields a drop to 11.6 psi, both of which are above the reported 10.5(?) psi that the balls were measured at. Not saying the balls were deliberately deflated, but I don’t think this effect solely explains what happened one way or the other.

    • That is the first thing I thought of Tom…except the game ball pressure is measured on the field about 15 minutes prior to kickoff, and the balls have been sitting out there for hours. So I doubt temperature was a factor.

  14. How ’bout we send Grace Slick to France with Kerry…she can sing “Somebody To Love”.

  15. doubting thomas says:

    My church doesn’t believe the bible. We have urinals in the men’s room. The plain teaching of scripture is that a man pisseth against the wall.

  16. Je suis stehpinkler!

  17. Regarding NASA’s amazing picture of the Andromeda Galaxy, think how amazing it is that, even with our most advanced scientific instruments, we always register the profundity of the Creator’s handiwork. It would be one thing to have simply created the stars in that particular corner of heaven, but to make it look like the light from them has been traveling a couple million years when they’re only a bit older than the Pyramids is just that much more amazing. So seamless is this work of the Creator that you can’t even tell!

    I just wish those scientists at NASA would admit that this perfectly invisible “trick” is indisputable evidence of a Designer and stop relying on their fallible human reasoning.

    • I think you’re saying everything was created a few thousand years ago. And made to look like it is millions/billions of years old.

      You do understand that means that God created more illusions than exist grains of sand on the earth.

      • Daniel Jepsen says:

        I took Trevis as spoofing Young Earth Creationists.

        • Indeed!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Problem with a spoof in an Age of Extremes like today is it’s really hard to tell a spoof from a Dead Serious True Believer.

          • People commenting on blogs need to remember that we can’t see their facial expression or hear the inflections in their voice.

            And I’ve had YEC diehards say almost exactly that kind of comment to my face. 🙁

        • Don’t worry David L, Daniel’s right (and, as usual, so is HUG): 13.78 billion years is my own rough estimate of the age of the universe. But what’s a factor of 2 million between friends?

          When it comes to scientific details about the origins of the earth, I tend more towards Answers in Gneiss than Answers in Genesis. (I made that up just now and hereby totally copyright it — though I’ll allow Mike the Geologist free use.)

  18. Christiane says:

    What a GREAT Saturday Ramble post !!!

    I’m still laughing from the hoodie comment . . . ‘they don’t call it the priesthood for nothing’ . . .

    And the Douthat comment is startlingly quotable when engaging is hopefully civil dialogue with them from another political party that we do not name:
    “@DouthatNYT
    Follow

    The idea that GOP is a party of moneyed interests posing as a culturally conservative party is, um, not always without empirical support.
    9:53 PM – 21 Jan 2015″

    And the ending line is perfection itself: ” and remember: haters gonna hate, deflaters gonna deflate, and stehpinklers gonna stehpinkle.”

    Caveat: A Mother’s Comment/Rant follows:
    (goodness, bathrooms would be easier to clean if SITzpinkling was MANdated.
    ‘alles in ordnung bringen mit grundlichkeit’ is a great motto for bathroom etiquette reform, I say.
    We mothers get our little boys sitzpinkling on their little baby pots, and their fathers come along and teach them to stehpinkle . . .
    ‘Joel, there’s pee all over the bathroom!!!’ . . .
    ‘oh Mom, I know, but I was trying to hit a fly’.

    (sigh)

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Christiane. I thought your last paragraph was really funny. Did that conversation really occur at your house?

      • Christiane says:

        I’m afraid it did, DANIEL. About thirty-some years ago. We Moms never forget!! 🙂

      • Hey Daniel! Two things:

        1. I like, too. 🙂

        2. Google “Getman toilets” and you’ll quickly see why the issue in question is, well, an issue. The design is radically different from ours. Would post links, but it’s hard when typing on my phone. Anyway, i think the differences could be something gor a future post… 😉

  19. If you live in Indiana, you get Deflate-gate on steroids. Every Colts fan I know HATES the Patriots with an abnormal passion that borders on psychosis. It’s kind of hilarious. Coach B is a cheater beyond all cheaters and Tom Brady, well, he is the worst of the worst of the worst, or so I’m told. I’m not sure what he’s done that is so terrible except impregnate a woman and then not marry her (shocking, I know in this day and age and among pro athletes) but the hatred is palpable. I learned years ago to never watch a Colts vs Pats game at the home of a Colts fan as it gets ugly very quickly.

    • Hey here’s a surprise: your humble Chaplain, often accused of being a theological compromiser, likes both the Colts and the Patriots!

      • Daniel Jepsen says:

        James 1:8 🙂

      • Sad day at my house. RIP-Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub
        My hero, growing up-I played shortstop and wore #14 in little league, just like Ernie.
        He was a hero who never disappointed me.
        Met and talked with him when I became an adult. He found out I was a preacher and wanted to have a service right there. His mother wanted him to be a preacher, but his dad wanted him to play baseball.

      • Well, I am a Chicago Bears fan AND a Green Bay Packers fan, which people tell me is not possible, but I manage.

  20. While with this Saturday’s ramblings the Internet Monk may not have literally jumped the shark, it’s certainly literally gone to the toilet.

    But in a good way.

  21. President Obama should send Bob Dylan to the Republican Party to sing “Ballad of a Thin Man”:

    “Because something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.
    Do you, Mr. Jones?”