August 23, 2014

Saturday Ramblings, January 25, 2014

A student in Canada has renewed discussion about how far universities and other institutions should go in order to honor religious viewpoints.  The young man in question refuses to attend classes or discussions where women might be present.  “One of the main reasons that I have chosen Internet courses to complete my BA is due to my firm religious beliefs, and part of that is the intermingling between men and women,” the student wrote in explaining his refusal to meet with a discussion group. The professor was ordered by the Dean to accommodate the young man, whose religion was not identified.  Presumably, it was not Unitarian.

Picture is unrelated

Picture is unrelated

chgross

From the “we Christians aren’t the only ones with a lunatic fringe” department, comes the story of a Satanist musician murdered for not being Satanist enough. Apparently the murderer felt the musician’s lack of faith disturbing, and said it was “tarnishing” Satanism.

By the way, the murdered musican’s bandmates posted a “hellbook” announcement, in which they encouraged their fallen  comrade to “have a rest down there brother”.  And they say Satanists aren’t thoughtful…

Phillip Yancey says there is a new genre of books: Christian Hip.  These are penned by authors who “came out of a strict evangelical or fundamentalist background, and they write about their spiritual detours in a loose, memoir-type style with a few obligatory bad words sprinkled in.”  I suppose we should throw previous offerings of Donald Miller and Rachel Held Evans and their ilk in this camp as well. Yancey sums up the best of the recent books.  It’s a short list.

A Victoria’s Secret store came under fire for banning breast-feeding. After buying $150  worth of lingerie, Ashley Clawson was told she couldn’t feed her crying infant son in one of the dressing rooms; an employee helpfully directed her to an alley outside the store. Clawson felt this was sadly ironic for a company dedicated to “celebrating women’s bodies” and said the attitude conveyed was, “if you are a mom you don’t have a right to feel sexy.”  Or perhaps the type of women’s bodies they celebrate (and the way they celebrate them) undermines the notion that women’s bodies should be valued for anything other than their sexual appeal to men.

An Albany man was convicted of murdering his wife because she was not sufficiently supportive of his new-found interest in Islam. At some point the man apparently took his wife’s cellphone and text-messaged naked pictures of her to all her contacts.  One text said: “I’m so evil I tried to contract AIDS and give it to my loving and caring husband.” Another text stated: “I’m sorry everyone but I pretend like I’m a Muslim when in all reality I’m a (prostitute) and I represent Satan.”  Seems legit.

Proving craziness does not discriminate (even when people do), two middle-aged men were arrested for attempting to build a portable X-Ray device that shoots radioactive beams at Muslims, as well as N.Y.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

70′s pop stars Captain and Tenille announced their divorce this week.  They were best known for their song, Love Will Keep us Together. Hmmm.  In any case, I best remember the duo for their incredibly profound Muskrat Love. This sublime ballad forever speaks to the deepest and holiest part of my soul:

Such erudation. So sagacity.  Such grammar. And besides, without this gem, I would have gone through my teens years never knowing that muskrats dined on bacon and cheese.

I have previously argued that Imagine is the most over-rated song in the history of the universe.  Remembering that Muskrat Love actually climbed to Billboard’s number 4 spot, I am now open to reconsidering that.

In other entertainment news, Justin Bieber was arrested Thursday for driving.  He had no license, but he did have booze on his breath.  Apparently the police like it the other way around. They released his arrest photo yesterday:

Justin Bieber was arrested this week on drunk driving charges

Chattanooga, Tennessee, is the most Bible-friendly city in the U.S., knocking Knoxville (winner of last year’s crown) all the way down to tenth.  Providence, Rhode Island, comes in dead last (filthy pagans).  All this courtesy of the American Bible Society, and no, I have no idea what methodology they used.

Do you ever feel that funerals are just too darn depressing?  Too bad you don’t live in Naples, Florida, where a funeral Home has added a wine cellar room where “mourners” can drink and remember their good times with the deceased without the icky corpse harshing the mellow. Seth Minson, General Manager at Hodges Funeral Home in North Naples: “Nobody wants to go to a funeral; nobody wants to stay at a funeral home…They still want to have a party, still want to celebrate and have the means to mourn their loved ones…but they don’t want to do it over a person’s body. For the younger generations that’s become such an old fashion idea.” What are the odds this man attends a Mega-church?

The 85 richest people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion (about half the population).  Please read that sentence again.

Pope Francis this week called the internet “a gift from God”.  Presumably the Holy Father has never watched the Muskrat Love link above.

Adam Shaw is not impressed with this Pope.  In particular, he is not a fan of Francis’ economic views, and the young journalist lectures that the Pope should “bring himself back into conformity with Catholic social teaching and reality”.  No, I am not making that up.

The president of the largest Muslim nation in the world admitted this week that he believes in witchcraft.  He’s not alone.  A 2012 survey by the Pew Forum showed that 69 percent of Indonesian Muslims believe witchcraft is real.

The owners of a Oregon bakery who refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple are facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian: “Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate,” …“The goal is never to shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate.”  Rehabilitate….Rehabilitate…what does that remind me of?  Where did I put my copy of Orwell?

Apparently some big football game is coming up next weekend, so maybe a couple NFL links are not out of order.  First, the league released the audio from Richard Sherman’s mike yesterday, and seems to vindicate his side of the dispute with Michael Crabtree.  Sherman rushed over to the receiver at the end of the game, slapped him on the butt and said “Hell of a game!” twice as he extended a hand. Rather than accepting the handshake, Crabtree shoved his left hand into Sherman’s facemask.

Also, as NFL   ratings continue to climb, the league wants to put a team in London.  If so, they may need to educate the British announcers, as this video illustrates:

Famous birthdays this week include Edgar Allen Poe, Douglas MacArthur,  Ernest Borgnine (real name: Ermes Effron Borgnino), Oral Roberts (what was his mom thinking?), Ray Stevens (73), Wayne Gretzky (52) and Mary Lou Retten (45).

170px-Ernest-Borgnine_2004

 

Comments

  1. I’m not generally a fan of “Christian hip.” Though many of them have lots of good things to say, it generally seems to me like former fundamentalists (by birth) trying to escape the fundamentalist subculture without actually challenging it’s theological underpinnings. While their current destinations may seem much more socially palatable, they seem too willing to write off their cradle tradition with caricature, rather than engaging its substance. Generally, it boils down to: “That isn’t a nice way to treat people, I’m gonna find a version of Christianity where people can be nice.” I can appreciate their journeys, but I need a deeper engagement with Scripture and tradition if I’m gonna buy the conclusions. But I had to grin when he called Bolz-Webber a “sheep in wolves clothing.” Ain’t we all?

    • I am not sure some scholars don’t do the same thing. They got burned in some way, and they bring that hurt into their writings. Not that their research and opinions are not scholarly, but they are overshadowed by tone and an apparent agenda.

    • Miguel, well said. They have bible studies in a brewery, say a couple of curse words, and claim themselves free. But, they still keep the foundation of theology that creates the legalism.

      • Their youthful memoirs make for entertaining reads. But when navigating theological complexities, they tend to resort to Occam’s razor too quickly and frequently. It just makes me feel like they’re more interested in what works for them than what is really true. Such pragmatism never leads them too far from where they started. I’ve got nothing against Bible studies in a brewery, but once you get to the beer, you really don’t need the Bible for much anymore. :P

        • The Episcopal parish I’m a member of has an ale small batch micro-brewed once a year by a parishoner who is brewmeister at a local micro-brewery. They sell it in a local pub to raise money for weekday free-breakfast program that the parish has run for decades in the parish hall. It was a front page article in the local section of the area newspaper, and boy did it draw a lot on unfriendly fire in the op-ed section in the days following its publication. I live in the Bible belt of Pennsylvania, Lancaster county, where the evangelical churches are the Promised Land people end up in after traveling through the post-Mennonite wilderness, and these people have a double whammy against alcohol in all its forms.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            And yet if asked, they doubtless would assure you that they read the Bible literally, and take it very seriously…

        • Miguel:

          “And malt does more than Milton can
          To justify God’s ways to man.
          Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
          For fellows whom it hurts to think.
          Look into the pewter pot
          To see the world as the world’s not.
          And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:
          The mischief is that ’twill not last.”

          AE Housman

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        They have bible studies in a brewery, say a couple of curse words, and claim themselves free. But, they still keep the foundation of theology that creates the legalism.

        Hipster Fundamentalism?

    • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

      I’m about the same, Miguel. I don’t really get much out of those books. But I noticed just about everyone on that list has been recently interviewed on Steve Brown, Etc. And good interviews, I must say. The one with Bolz-Weber was downright inspired. And I love Yancey’s description of her as a sheep in wolf’s clothing!

  2. This was the most depressing one of these ever. D:

  3. Somewhere out there, there is a Muslim blogger posting a similar story about a crazy Christian.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      I don’t think anyone can accuse this site of ignoring Christian craziness…

      • I don’t think anyone can accuse this site of not sometimes exhibiting Christian craziness……

        • Daniel Jepsen says:

          That too. We’ve got all the bases covered.

        • petrushka1611 says:

          Yep. I’ve been thinking about that because of how this site (staff and commenters) talks about Creationists. I’m still trying to come to terms with creation and evolution, and if some of the posts the last few weeks had been written years ago and I’d read them, I never would have come back to this site, and that would have been a damn shame (obligatory bad word from an ex-fundamentalist).

          Creationists are treated like they’re the worst enemy in Christendom. Believe me, I’m not saying they’re right, but the vitriolic way they’re spoken about on here is pathetic.

  4. Having never met the man, I wouldn’t go so far as to call Adam Shaw a snot-nosed, wet-behind-the-ears, ignorant nincompoop with a reading comprehension problem.

  5. NOOOOOO! Not Captain and Tenille. What can I do without Muskrat Love?

    • I think the basic problem was his inability to communicate. (You know, because on the show he never talked.)

  6. I, too, got a kick out of Yancy calling Nadia Bolz-Weber “a sheep in wolf’s clothing.” Cute! I have read some of her online sermons and liked them. I will get around to reading her book some time.

    I see Portland, Maine is one of the least Bible-minded cities. Maine in general is considered to be very non-religious by some accounts.

    • My guess is that Nadia is a bit more complicated than the other hipsters, I haven’t quite figured her out. I have great respect for her sermons, and I love what she has done to bring some basic Lutheran theology to a mass audience. But, I fear the path of the celebrity speaking circuit.

  7. I watched an interview with Richard Sherman last night. The guy is incredibly intelligent and articulate. He admitted that game time Richard is a different guy. I saw his rant last week and really had no idea what he was talking about but thought it was kind of hilarious, but I am pretty shocked at all the racist backlash from it. He was pumped from just having saved the game! It does seem from above that there was also more to this story than met the eye.

  8. Daniel Jepsen says:

    I’m curious to know other people’s opinion of the most over-rated song in the history of the universe

    • MacArthur Park. What an abomination of a song, and yet so very popular over several iterations.

      • It”s definitely Imagine. A song about a world where there’s no Instant Karma, his actual best song from the post-Fab era.

        • “Imagine”……the New Atheists’ official anthem!

          • I don’t like part of the lyrical message of “Imagine,” but it’s a hauntingly simple and beautiful melody, and although it is critical of religion, it is far more critical of materialism, when in the last stanza Lennon sings, “Imagine no possessions, I WONDER IF YOU CAN…..”, an implicit recognition that greed and acquisitiveness are the most powerful false values.

            Then again, as Elvis Costello sang (paraphrasing from memory): “Wasn’t it a rich man who said, imagine no possessions?…”

      • For albums I nominate Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell.” Bombast away!

      • That Other Jean says:

        With you on MacArthur Park. It just doesn’t get worse than that.

    • MacArthur Park’s status has fallen considerably in the past 45 (!) years, and seems to be on every list of annoying songs out there. I think Dave Barry’s book on bad songs spends a lot of time on it.

      Still, it’s hard to outdo Imagine. No one takes “Muskrat Love” seriously anymore, and it’s a good song to throw out when people complain that all new music sucks.

    • Smooth Criminal.

      30 seconds in I lose all interest on whether or not Annie is ok.

      w

    • Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

      • Agree, agree. The song is nonsense. Can’t believe some Christian couples have it sung at their weddings..

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Dude, some couples have Sting’s “Every Breath You Take” (a song about an obsessive stalker) sung at their weddings.

      • It’s been way over-played and over-covered, but not over-rated. Stick to K.D. Lang’s version. All others fail.

  9. Paul Davis says:

    I think we need more british broadcasters, I rather enjoyed his take on the old game.

    Quite Good…

    -Paul-

  10. American ‘football’ in the UK? How much more arrogant and/or willfully clueless can the NFL get?
    Football is the game you play with a ball and your feet. american, should-be-called ‘hand eggball’ is a game anti-British biased americans devised so brutes can dress up in spandex and helmets and smash their heads together and give TV a 4hr platform for nearly-nonstop commercials…

    Here’s hoping the British media and comedy have a heyday with one of the silliest and most incomprehensible games on the planet… (its very name doesn’t make sense). I imagine besides the comedic appeal, that mostly ex-pats and rich american bankers working in London finance who are too obtuse to learn what real football is – will go to the games…

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      So…no Superbowl party at your house?

    • Uh, Andrew? Cricket??? A silly incomprehensible game, indeed! And btw, soccer is an E.U. excuse for hooligans to riot. So, to each culture, let there be silliness…

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        Sports nerd here: baseball is my first love, but cricket is a wonderful game. In many ways it is similar to baseball, but on deeper examination it is the reverse. It is only incomprehensible to those who have never bothered to try to understand it. I could sit down with you at a match and in about ten minutes teach you the basics of what is going on. The advanced bits would take years to learn (and I wouldn’t be the one to teach them, as I have only an inkling of them), but then that is true of baseball, or any really worthwhile sport.

    • Andrew Zook,

      I’m no fan of American football, but exactly what kind of brutes play incomprehensible and anarchic rugby, with no padding at that? Mostly upper-class and middle-class brutes is what the history seems to indicate. Maybe that’s your problem with American football: its the domain of the hoi polloi…

    • Lol. The NFL is in England for one reason. Money. The fan base over there is HUGE.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      Fair warning: I am a sports history geek, and largely bored by the chest-thumping approach to the subject. So here goes:

      American football is called “football” for exactly the same reason as Association football and Rugby football (both League and Union) and Australian rules football, etc., are called “football”: because it always has been.

      Football is an old game, going back at least to the Middle Ages. Modern football arose out of the English boarding schools. Many of them played it intramurally, each with its own rules. Some tended to favor kicking the ball and others carrying the ball, but all had elements of both (as do modern football codes).

      Around the 1860s or so, clubs started forming to play football. (Why this occurred is interesting, but a separate subject: google on “muscular Christianity” if you are interested.) They wanted to compete against each other, so they had to agree on rules. They weren’t entirely able to, with the result being that football split into two distinct forms: the Football Association (founded 1863) playing a primarily kicking game, and the Rugby Football Union (founded 1871) playing a primarily carrying game.

      American football came out of various northeastern universities. They had a similar kicking-vs-carrying split. They began intercollegiate competition in the 1870s (with the first game traditionally, though not entirely accurately, dated to 1869). Most of them favored the kicking game, but Harvard favored a carrying game. Harvard initially played a local version, but they were introduced to Rugby by the team from McGill University in Canada, and adopted the formal Rugby code. Harvard was Harvard, even back then, and they refused to play the kicking game, and the other universities ending up giving in.

      The split between Rugby and American football occurred through a rapid series of rules changes instituted around 1880. These apparently were enacted due to difficulty interpreting the written rules, and absent an oral tradition to explain how the game was actually played in England. They adapted the scrummage, which they held after every tackle, by changing it from either team being able to gain control of the ball to a system where the side possessing the ball retained control of it. This is the origin of the system of a series of designed plays, each having a beginning, a middle, and an end. This in turn created the problem of the team with the ball playing excessively conservatively, rather than risking a fumble. This problem was solved by requiring the side with the ball to move it a set number of yards within a set number of plays, or give up possession. The third major change was the legalization of offensive blocking: a radical revision of the principle of offsides, apparently instituted because teams were routinely violating the offsides rule, and the decision was made to allow it rather than enforce the existing rule.

      With these changes we had American football. It was rapidly recognized as distinct from Rugby, but the Rugby connection was obvious. You can find newspaper references calling it “American Rugby” through the turn of the century. The forward pass was instituted in the early 20th century, for reasons that are interesting but not relevant here. There has been a steady trickle of rules changes since then, most of them working through the implications of the forward pass, and mostly tending to favor making the passing game stronger. Why? The likely answer is because passing is more visually exciting than running, and since the late 1950s the popularity of American football has been driven by what works well on television.

      I am deeply skeptical of the NFL’s wished-for intercontinental expansion. It is not at all clear that there is a market for it in Europe. NFL Europe was hardly a resounding success. I suppose the argument would be that it was really just a developmental league for the real NFL, and top level play would attract an audience. But I am unpersuaded. Europe has a mature sports market, and these are hard to break into. Just look at the history of professional soccer in America. MLS seems to finally be making a go at it, but I think the jury is still out: its numbers only look good if carefully chosen. It has other sets of numbers that look much less good. I foresee an NFL team in Europe will be a money sink. Fortunately, the NFL has ample money to burn.

      • flatrocker says:

        Ya, ya, ya, that’s interesting and all. However, what’s really the deal is the history of sideline cheerleaders. Get back with us when you’ve finished the research.

      • Thanks, Richard. That was a fascinating history lesson.

        I think major league soccer may have a better chance here in the US because of our immigrant populations. Pretty much everyone I run into in Chicago is originally from somewhere else and most of those somewhere elses are soccer (albeit called football) strongholds.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      As the Omega Male of a high school where Varsity Football was everyone’s Personal LOORD and Savior(TM), I have little good to say about American-rules Football.

      Something that showed up on Wartburg Watch some time ago was that several dynasties of abusive/control-freak preachers which TWW keeps an eye on (usually tied in with Complementarianism or Hypercalvinism or Reconstructionism) were all HEAVILY into Fantasy Football leagues. Still scratching my head over that one, especially these Menagawd wouldn’t have hesitated to denounce me as SAY-TANN-IC for playing D&D. (Guess it depends which Fantasy Role-Playing Game you’re into, and Fantasy Football RPGs are Godly(TM). I wonder if these guys send death threats to the RL players in their FF team lineups if said RL player has a bad game and brings their FF team stats down?)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        P.S. Just paged up into my Yahoo Newsfeed:

        Today is the 40th Anniversary of the first publication of Dungeons & Dragons!
        http://games.yahoo.com/blogs/plugged-in/happy-40th-birthday-dungeons-dragons-214544046.html

        “It’s Friday night and I’m ready to roll
        With my Wizard and my Goblin crew;
        We’re all going down to Mom’s basement
        Bringing Cheetos and Mountain Dew;
        I got a big broadsword — it’s made of cardboard –
        And the stereo’s pumpin’ Zeppelin;
        It’s that time of night — turn on the black light –
        LET THE DUNGEONS AND THE DRAGONS BEGIN!”

    • My brothers call it American hand-egg. Makes me laugh to see something similar here.

  11. “a game anti-British biased americans devised so brutes can dress up in spandex and helmets and smash their heads together”

    As opposed to rugby that doesn’t even use helmets.

    • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

      But, I bet they wear athletic cups. Good thing they know what’s important.

    • Granted, rugby has the head-bashing but imo not the other wus-elements. Sorry if I offended anyone… to be more clear and honest – I despise American eggball and I especially despise its encroachment on the turf of real football.

      • The thing about “American eggball” (love it, by the way) is that it is the greatest game for television ever invented, with the just the right amounts of action, strategy, scoring, and pacing to make it perfect for the screen. That’s why it has ascended. In a world where television and visual media rule the world, American eggball is king of the hill.

        • well… tell that to the millions of soccer fans worldwide, for whom the only real football is *not* our game.

          Works pretty well on TV, too. ;)

        • Your right, CM! It is so hard to watch baseball on TV after a season of great football, followed by March Madness.

          Go Seahawks!

        • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

          Oh puh-lease. All eggball is is an adult version of the game Kill the Guy With the Ball that we all played with kids. One guy gets the ball, runs for the goal, and everyone else tries to knock him down.

  12. Few of those 85 richest or 3.5 billion poor are in countries that readers of this blog visit. Corporations need to be looked at in respect to wealth and that starts to include countries we inhabit. And the subsistence lifestyle of those 3.5 billion includes about 1 billion children and hunger. Norman Borlaug maintained that the people who were opposed to tractors, irrigation, and genetically modified crops sat in offices in the countries that we inhabit, with never having been personally hungry.
    Overall, poverty worldwide has decreased in the past century. If you take China out of the statistics, because of its high population, poverty has remained constant.
    It is most interesting to look at the countries of the richest people and lifespan( compared to the poorest and dying early). The richest/longest living( highest first)- Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Japan, Spain, Israel. The poorest/shortest- Zambia, Angola, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Afghanistan, CAR, Rwanda, Congo DR.
    The USA used to be called the world’s breadbasket, because of its unique ecosystem’s ability to grow wheat. This thought has gradually changed, although it has nothing to do with income. Southeast Asia and China have rice-bowl regions, but after Africa they have the second highest poverty that goes beyond their income inequalities. Zimbabwe has the richest ecosystem in Africa, and as Rhodesia it sent wheat and corn to the rest of the continent and beyond, but no more. The reasons for subsistence agriculture, lack of food, water, and health go way beyond the inequality of incomes. Income inequality was much higher in Rhodesia than it is in Zimbabwe today. We humans need much more than income to provide conditions for water, food, and health.
    I do think our poverty lies in our abilities to relate. Relating has an good analogy in dancing. In dancing you are trying to relate, it’s not about rich/poor or black/white, or whatever/whatever. Makes you think about why we always have the poor with us. It really isn’t just because the rich are stealing resources from the poor, and we all need to become Robin Hoods. Relating is part of a bigger thing which is divine love. That, in a mysterious way, is why a Trinitarian belief sinking into one’s life is better than a monistic or naturalistic one.

  13. Marcus Johnson says:

    So, is Chattanooga really the most Bible-friendly city, or does it just have the most hotel rooms?

    • Hey…here in Lynchburg (Virginia, not the Jack Daniels town over in Tennessee) we are number three but we try harder!!

      Of course, we also have Liberty University and all of its throngs of eager young students and alumni reading their Bibles in the finest of Baptist fashion. Jerry Senior must be so proud, watching from his celestial home!

    • Speaking as a Chatanoogan, I can agree that it is the most Bible-idolotrous city. It is also very biblically illiterate and very opposed to actually following the teachings of Christ. A very strange combination if you ask me. I would be interested in seeing the methodology of this surgery, if there actually was one.

  14. Before we denigrate the richest in the world let’s take a look at what they do with those riches: http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/world/rich-people-who-will-not-leave-their-wealth-to-their-children/

    Also, although hunger, REAL hunger, not the “food insecurity” that we hear about in the USA, is a problem, most of it can be blamed on governmental absence, incompetence or indifference, with a sprinkle of blame to be placed on those who oppose GMO food, such as golden rice (http://www.goldenrice.org/) which has the ability to reduce death from disease by means of enhanced nutrients.

    The same fecklessness was exhibited by the total banning of DDT in third world countries, allowing malaria, which was in retreat all across the world, to come storming back, taking millions of lives a year. No suitable remedy has been found.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Human sacrifices to Mother Gaia…

      “BUT THE PLAAAAAAANET WILL THANK US!”

    • Not sure about the long-term benefits of GMO foods as I fear there may be an ecological disaster in the making, but you’re right on with your expression of caution when it comes to denigrating the wealthy.

      I understand that there’s a wide range of economic systems between laissez faire capitalism and totalitarian Marxism, but my sentiments will always be influenced by my experiences growing up in Cuba (BTW, we were middle class, not wealthy). Criticism of the wealthy–and religious–and nationalization of corporation and private property, coupled with the expulsion of foreign priests, shutting down churches and parochial and private schools, resulted in both capital and spiritual flight, resulting in an economic and spiritual impoverished nation where only party members lived well. And now that Raul Castro has acknowledged–begrudgingly–the failure of Marxist economics and is allowing for some private enterprise and ownership of property, you are seeing a rising class of wealthy sans the morals and ethics to make much of a significant improvement to the Cuban people. And my biggest concern is for retired government workers (all workers since the revolution and until recently were government workers) who must now live on a $50 monthly pension at a time when prices will rise and goods will become un-affordable. What’s to become of them?

      My point is that as the Church we are likely to do more good encouraging the wealthy to be generous–especially with providing employment and benefits–than by criticizing the wealthy and taxing them to oblivion. Certainly beats the alternative.

      OK you “workers of the world unite” (light or full-bodied), I’ve just made your day–let me have it!

      • I agree that the church should encourage the wealthy to be more generous, but the Bible has innumerable texts criticizing the wealthy, and includes legal provisions that require them to give up much of their wealth during Jubilee. I’m not in favor of establishing a theocracy with such rules, but I am in favor of supporting initiatives that mold our larger society into one that reflects and practices some of these values, and I’m in favor of supporting a mixed economy as part of the way to do this.

        There’s a story in our local paper about a 73 year old man with psychological issues who has been evicted from his apartment because of smoking in the non-smoking building, and is now on the street in sub-zero temperatures with no where to go. This should not happen in a wealthy nation.

        That doesn’t make me a Marxist or Communist.

        • No, as a nurse, it suggests strongly to me that we need better mental health care in this country. The fact that he is 73 doesn’t change his mental health issues…..and smoking is strongly related to mental health concerns and diseases.

          • And where will better mental health care for an impoverished 73 year old come from in this country if not provision made by the citizens, including the rich, through the government, resulting in a better social safety net?

        • Robert F – very much agreed re. your comments on this topic.

        • The year\of Jubilee was never actually honored in the Jewish tradition. It was one of the reason the prophets thundered judgement against God’s people.

    • petrushka1611 says:

      Thank you, Oscar.

  15. Thanks for the Adam Shaw link – I was vaguely contemplating doing a post on “Is the Pope a Catholic?” and jings, here’s the Spirit telling me get a move on! :-)

    Expect something sometime soon-ish (I can’t be any more definite that that) on the topic.

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    In any case, I best remember the duo for their incredibly profound Muskrat Love. This sublime ballad forever speaks to the deepest and holiest part of my soul:

    A little Momento from classic Dr Demento:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSt2RoZ8Ek4
    “Hamster Love” by Big Daddy

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      That made my day, HUG. Thanks.

    • Joseph (the original) says:

      before the Captain & Tennille version of Muskrat Love soiled the airwaves, BTW, the version my mother (God rest her soul) absolutely ‘loved’, there was America’s version that was much more, um…’palatable’…

      the original was written by Willis Alan Ramsey (Wiki) who titled it: Muskrat Candlelight (not sure the title difference helps IMHO).

      I tried to convince my mother to listen to the ‘better’ version, but could not win that debate. and the repercussion of the song also impacted the group America once they released it as a single. oh well…I’m sure most popular bands have one ‘stinker’ their fans wish would never be played at a live concert. this is one of them…

  17. “The president of the largest Muslim nation in the world admitted this week that he believes in witchcraft. He’s not alone. A 2012 survey by the Pew Forum showed that 69 percent of Indonesian Muslims believe witchcraft is real.”

    That explain why these folks insist on calling US the “Great Satan.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I consider the Indonesian president’s anecdote to be “his Weird S**t Incident”. Everybody has at least one of them in his/her/its life, and that was his.

    • I think that belief in witchcraft is prevalent in many nparys of South and SE Asia, even among many xtians. It’s part of the cultural milieu, which is quite different to the US – or is it? The widespread fascination with the paranormal over here (va!mpires, ghost hunters, lurid supernaturally a themed horror movies, etc.) is more than likely something that would make most Indonesians shake their heads at our supposed embrace of xtianity.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        One of my writing contacts used to tell me about “Pow-Wow”, the Pennsylvania Dutch folk-magic tradition. (And Hexerai, the dark side of that belief.) Claimed that during the Great Depression his mother was healed from an infected dog bite by a Braucher (traditional folk healer), though we figure the herbal poultice the Braucher used was the determining factor, not the charms and prayers and rituals accompanying it. I believe SE Pennsylvania is in a First World country and most PA Dutch are xtian (Lutheran or Anabaptist).

      • I’m offended! You left out zombies…

  18. Would anyone really want to live in a society where there were no rich people?

    Equality isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

    Equality of opportunity is wonderful.

    Equality of outcome is a proven disaster.

    • Thank you for helping take some of the heat off of me.

    • “Would anyone really want to live in a society where there were no rich people?”

      I would like to live in a world where no one suffered because of hoarding, and in which those who had many resources and much wealth shared much of what they had with those who didn’t have enough.

      It’s a by-now sociological commonplace to note that the rich share less as a proportion of their wealth than the less wealthy. Just conjecturing, but I think this may be because the poor know that they are dependent on circumstances beyond their control, and so are willing to share the little they have because they know they can’t control the future by keeping their meager wealth only for themselves. The wealthy and comfortable, on the other hand, have fallen under the delusion that their wealth is something they’ve created themselves and deserve, and that they are masters of their own destiny, and they are not going to risk even a little of that destiny with those who are so foolish or weak as to not master their own lives.

      But the fact is that if you are wealthy, you did not create that wealth by yourself; wealth and abundance always depend on a vast iceberg of circumstances that, like all icebergs, is mostly beneath the surface and invisible.

      If you are a wealthy Christian, be grateful and give until it hurts; follow the example of C.S. Lewis, who is a great example in this regard.

      • The societies where most of people have the best lives are the societies where there are rich people.

        There are some really stingy and greedy rich people. And there are some really good and generous rich people. And a lot of rich people who are in-between.

        But the greediest, nastiest rich person does far greater good for society than the sweetest and most generous poor person.

        That rich person hires people and buys things and starts businesses and invests…all of which help poor and middle people quite a bit.

        Economics 101.

        (which I do realize has taken a real beating these days)

        • petrushka1611 says:

          Thank you as well, Steve.

        • You realize you are defining the greater good by a purely materialistic measure? What about the welfare of the rich? If being or becoming rich tends to make people greedier, as sociologists have noted for a long time, then perhaps they are endangering their own greater good by making and hoarding their wealth, the remedy for which is to give that wealth to those in need, as the Bible exhorts them to.

          • The love of money surely is a problem for those who do it.

            Even poor people do it and hoard it (the little that they have).

            The problem lies within the hearts of humans.

            That’s why we just aren’t up to it (to love God and the neighbor as the self). All of us will just go so far…and no farther.

            That’s why Jesus came. To save the ungodly. Those who just aren’t up to it. People like me.

        • flatrocker says:

          “But the greediest, nastiest rich person does far greater good for society than the sweetest and most generous poor person.”

          I always knew that widow’s mite story was a line of crap.

          • As is all that biblical inveighing against the injustice of the wealthy against the poor, which could only be true if wealth is frequently made through illicit and immoral means, which after all we more enlightened free-marketers know is not true. To paraphrase Steve, greed is good….that was Steve, right?

          • The widow’s mite story wasn’t a story about money.

            It was about the state of our hearts and where our allegiances lie. That story is meant to expose all of us.

            In this fallen world, filled with fallen people, our semi-free market (limited controls), that allow those who take risks to profit from their risks, is the best system this side of Heaven. Not perfect, by any means. But it affords the best way of life for the most amount of people.

          • Flatrocker, that’s almost exactly what I was going to say. Good job.

            Steve, you really outdid yourself with that line. Have you read James 5?

          • Yes, Ted, I have read it.

            Lots of law in there.

            Do you think that anyone can measure it?

          • ‘measure up’ (is what I meant to say)

          • Chapter 5? It reads like Jesus to me.

            Oh, maybe a bit of law; it’s James after all, and Luther hated it.

            It doesn’t mention getting our jobs from the rich. Something about the rich defrauding the workers, and the wages crying out in judgment. Gold and silver rotting, and how it could be used as evidence against them, like Arlo Guthrie’s 8 x 10 color glossies with the circles and the arrows and the paragraphs on the back describing what they had done…

            Parts of it read like Karl Marx. Sometimes I like to scare people with it.

            I wonder if Arlo and Luther would have got along?

          • Sorry to poke fun at ya, Steve. I go through this with the deckhand on the mailboat, same argument about never getting a job from a poor person.

            I learned something about saving the whales from him too: turns out that John D Rockefeller was on top of that—he provided cheap kerosene so people would stop buying whale oil and the whaling fleet would go out of business. He did it out of the goodness of his heart.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “TONIGHT ON WWE — THE ULTIMATE RING RUMBLE!
          IN THIS CORNER — KARL MARX!
          AND IN THIS CORNER — AYN RAND!”

        • “That rich person hires people and buys things and starts businesses and invests…all of which help poor and middle people quite a bit.” Except that in the past few years, for the most part, the rich aren’t hiring and investing. They are hiding their wealth overseas; corporations are having record incomes but not raising wages or hiring more employees. I used to believe that a rising tide raises all boats, but from what I’ve seen in the past few years, that rising tide is becoming a tsunami that is swamping the little boats and sinking them. “Oh well, should have gotten a bigger boat” That is not a society I want to live in.

          • Exactly, well said.
            I’ll believe the long-term efficacy of the attitudes that say, “it’ll trickle down – we can’t live without these mega-rich hoarders (blessed be the ground they walk on) – woe are we if we ask them to pitch in a little more – when I see it.

        • @Steve… Are you a libertarian or wanna-be aristocrat?… Not all rich people are bad, but that kind of wealth-worship is… (I’m not sure what to say – I don’t want to be unkind)

          • Andrew Z.,

            I’m 56 years old and of modest income (not too far above poverty level, actually).

            But I’m a student of history and a lover of liberty.

            And I can look back, and look around(the world), and see which systems have done the most good for the most people.

            And I do know this, no poor person has ever given me a job.

            As for all the pious stuff about living the way Jesus did, or the way He wants us to live…we’ll…like I said earlier, that just condemns us all. Unless we want to start selling off all that we own to give it to the poor.
            Maybe we could start by selling our computers and all that time we’d save could go to good use down at the food pantry or by visiting the prisoners in our jails.

        • Which is why the Gospels are full of Jesus saying things like:

          “Blessed are the rich, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:3)
          “Lay up for yourselves treasures on earth. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” (Matt 6:19a,21)
          “Truly I say to you, it will be easy for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 19:23)

      • They *may* share less of their wealth as a percentage, but as an amount it is, of course, far, far larger. In other words, they share more. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that Bill Gates has shared more of his wealth than all of the non-billionaires in the US combined. That’s a pretty big lever, and I’m not about to discount it just because it might be a lower percentage.

      • The difference between what CS Lewis said and did and enforcing equality by way of overbearing taxation is one of generosity/philanthropy vs. government theft of privately owned goods and the inevitable loss of liberty which comes with it.

        And not just financial liberty. As government grows in its power over its people it will take every measure necessary to quiet critics, first by endless investigations and litigation, then by seizing assets, then by imprisonment, and finally by death. Please don’t call me radical; I’ve seen it, OK?

        Jesus wanted us to feed, clothe and shelter the poor, to heal the sick, and to ensure the rights of the oppressed. But neither He nor other NT writers said anything about doing so through government agencies; the intention was that such processes would be carried out through the church and, presumably by the church influencing society (the “salt & light” thing). Instead of we read “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9.7) I don’t know of too many folks who “cheerfully” pay excessive taxes to a government which is utterly incompetent in practically everything it does.

        Why some of you native-born Americans can’t see this is beyond me!

        • There is no such thing as a completely free market. A completely free market quickly becomes a monopoly, so government regulates the market by legislating against monopoly, and in addition regulates against a small number of companies colluding to control the market (there’s a word for this, though it embarrassingly escapes me at the moment). This is the purpose of anti-monopoly laws. The government uses tax revenues to enforce this control of capitalism in the market.

          Once we’ve established that it would be a bad thing to allow capitalism to go completely unchecked, and that therefore it is a good thing for government to legislate against monopolies and etc., (I realize there may be some free market absolutist who disagrees with this, but I don’t know how one would engage such a person in a reasonable discussion on this matter; I’m willing to hear advice), then it’s really just a matter of where we think a line should be drawn beyond which government is not allowed to regulate, not whether or not government is allowed to regulate, because we all agree that it is allowed to regulate against total capitalism. There is nothing unChristian about believing that, for the greater good, there needs to be more rather than less regulation of the free market. As free citizens of a free country, we have a right to try and mold a social and economic national reality that reflects the values we think are best for not just ourselves but our neighbors. Neither Jesus or the NT writers prohibit us as members of a republic with democratic institutions from doing so.

          That your native nation underwent a horrendous communist revolution that quickly led to a dictatorship which stifles creativity and ingenuity in the marketplace, among other things, is not determinative for what may or may not happen here in the U.S. Your experience is not necessarily predictive of what has to happen everywhere.

          • I understand you mean well and that your concerns are for social justice and the rights and needs of the less fortunate. Mine are, too. But I want the Church to take the lead in this, not the government, which proves its incompetence over and over again, not to mention its desire to grab power and freedom away from its people.

            Regardless, I cannot/will not forget what I experienced and the pain and suffering my parents and relatives experienced. Consequently I do not trust government to maintain the boundaries set forth by this nation’s fathers.

    • Equality of outcome is a fable told by governmental insiders to cover their OWN avarice. Look at Chins, for instance. Recent news is that governmental insiders have stashed away BILLIONS in offshore accounts. The same goes for the Soviet Union in its day. Poverty in the populace, obesity and alcoholism in the governmental class. It is ever such…

    • That Other Jean says:

      Would I like to live in a society where there were no rich people? Not particularly, since I think that people who are smarter, luckier, or work harder than most other people ought to be able to enjoy the rewards of their success. I would like to live in a society where everyone is guaranteed enough to maintain a modest life, health care, and a bit over for occasional luxuries. Many people want more than that, and will be happy to work for it; other people have their identities tied up in what they do, and will also work. I don’t like to see people suffer because they can’t afford the basics. Not that I expect an income floor ever to be established in the U.S.

      • I can agree with this sentiment as well. There’s a balance. But in this country ‘wealth’ is over-worshipped,,, and the faith in it seems to be greatest amongst (the wealthy as starters) but also amongst a lot of religious, well-intentioned people who have been misled by a social Darwinism/corporate capitalism that masquerades as the ‘responsible, common-sense, biblical’ way of handling money…

        • Exactly Andrew. Wealth is over-worshipped, in my opinion. People can say that no poor person ever gave them a job, but so what? Is that the fault of the poor person? When did wealth and business become seen as this benign overseer that just works for the good of us all? And if it does, why did Jesus so regularly speak against it?

          • Jesus spoke against making it (money, wealth) the focus in one’s life. When they lavished costly perfume on him, he didn’t rail against it (as did Judas)…but he did say that the poor will always be around.

            As my pastor often says, “I don’t see any stampede amongst Christians to run out and help the poor.”

            The free-market system of incentives (profit and ownership of private property) works better than any other. It’s one of the reasons that we live so well.

            Look at systems where equality of incomes is striven for. It’s not a pretty picture. And in those systems freedom and liberty and hard to come by, as well.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I’d be a lot more sympathetic to The Free-Market Economy(TM) if our local Libertarian(TM) county newspaper could give another example of the Perfect Free-Market Economy(TM) than Victorian England or Gilded Age America. And in the process, stopped quoting Ayn Rand chapter-and-verse as proof texts.

        • But, Steve, the problem now is with out of whack capitalism. The free market should offer incentives, but when the inequality becomes as bad as it is now, those incentives become impossible to grasp and become meaningless. When a few people own so much of the wealth, and the power that comes with it, the rest have no chance. Remember, people that have nothing and no hope that they ever will, also have nothing to lose.

          • The problem is that govt. has put so many restrictions and regulations and has raised taxes so high, that the little guy cannot start anything. Only the BIG companies and corporations can survive.

            Govt. is the problem here.

            In California, where I live, the state has driven business out and stifled start ups with super high regulation and taxes.

            Crony-capaitalism (which is what we have going on today) is a far cry from relatively free-markets.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            Yea, yea, poor little companies. Except I am surrounded by start-up companies and small companies, a great many of which are thriving. And a group in our area just concluded a `start up weekend` helping people launch their ideas as companies. And a majority of the vendors in downtown are independent.

            … You statement “ovt. has put so many restrictions and regulations and has raised taxes so high, that the little guy cannot start anything” is demonstrably false. People start businesses all the time. At least around here you can get a building permit approved in 10 business days or less.

    • Dan Crawford says:

      Where has equality of outcome ever existed? Even the most rigidly dogmatic Marxists have their own oligarchs – check North Korea. And where in America does real equality of opportunity exist? The divide between the classes grows wider and wider, while access to education and opportunity seems to diminish by the day. But why point that out to ideologues?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Purity of Ideology trumps Reality.

        Whether that Pure Ideology comes from Vladimir Lenin or Ayn Rand.

  19. “…Rachael Held Evans and other ilk…”

    Wut?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Somebody doesn’t like RHE.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      ooops…should be “Rachel Held Evans and her ilk.” I like what I have read of her.

      • But…but… Daniel, “ilk” carries some connotational baggage with it. And it rhymes with “filth.”

        • Daniel Jepsen says:

          Does it? I always considered it a neutral term, but I could be wrong.

          • Most on-line dictionaries have variations of this statement:

            Ilk – Pronoun. Represents a group of items of the same type. Has a connotation of the typed group being of bad or questionable character.

          • Daniel Jepsen says:

            Dang. I hate being wrong. Especially when it happens so frequently.

          • Go with it, Daniel. It’s a way that God keeps, or makes, us and our ilk humble. At least, that’s the way I interpret it now that it happens so often to me.

      • I figured it was something like that. I don’t think anyone here worships the ground she walks on, but she provides meaningful critique on this nonsense called American Evangelicalism.

  20. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    Where does this guy in the first item imagine he’s going to get a job that he won’t have to come into contact with women at all? Is he getting a degree prior to entering a monastery?

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Presumably not Victoria’s Secret.

    • I am not aware–enlighten me, though–of any Christian or “christian” group that eschews all contact with women. Methinks he would be a radical Muslim or Ultra Orthodox Jew. Or perhaps he’s one of these guys who has all six cans but is missing the plastic thingy which holds them together.

      • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

        Unless he’s planning on entering a monastery, and thinks having contact with women might distract him from his vocation. It’s my understanding that many of the cloistered orders to encourage potential postulates to earn at least a bachelor’s degree before entering.

        The Muslim or Ultra Orthodox Jew things doesn’t really hold either because at some point he would still have to hold employment that would bring him in contact with women. Ultra Orthodox Jews don’t say they can’t have contact with women – they’re not allowed to touch them.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And Extreme Muslim or Ultra-Orthodox Jew would have their own education systems (Madrassas or Yeshivas) other than a presumably-public university. And Christian Complementarians (AKA Male-Supremacist Christians) usually homeschool to further guard against Heathen (and female) contamination.

        • one of the reasons the monastery wants their postulants to earn a bachelors degree before joining is so that they have contact with others (presumably even women) and have some idea of what they’re giving up to be a brother. I wouldn’t think that any formation director would care much for this solution.

      • Daniel Jepsen says:

        I’m with you on your last sentence, CalvinCuban.

  21. That Other Jean says:

    Happy birthday, Edgar! I’m sorry there were no roses and cognac again this year.

  22. “Not being Satanist enough”??? That’s a reason for murder? Then most heavy metal groups would be targets. For them, Satanism is merely part of the act. I remember seeing an interview with Ozzy Osbourne where they asked him if he worshipped the devil. He quipped “It’s all I can do to conjure myself out of the bed in the morning.”

    And continuing on Osbourne, when he was with Black Sabbath, there’s a story about a group of Satanists who were outside holding candles. The group came out, sang “Happy Birhtday” to them and blew out the candles.

    Not that I’m a fan of these groups, but it’s an interesting but tragic twist.

    • Most of these guys are more devoted to Mammon than to Lucifer. Marilyn Manson was really into it, though.

  23. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    I remember seeing AC/DC on some show like Behind the Music saying they just couldn’t understand why anyone would think they were Satanists. I love love love AC/DC, but even I laughed at that.

    The point for most of those heavy metal bands was to get parents to hate them because they knew if the parents hated them the kids would love them. When I was a kid, if you really wanted to upset your parents you went out and bought an AC/DC album. So, who did we all LOVE? AC/DC.

    When I worked for the DOC we had a trainer who was a recognized as an expert in Satanism and ritual abuse. One of my friends and I were arguing about whether or not AC/DC was satanic. So, we asked her and she said, “No. They think they’re funny.”

    • As an expert in Satanism and ritual abuse myself (eye roll), I can assure you that hardly any ritual abuse is committed by Satanists.

  24. It is purported that the Southern “hillbilly rock” band Black Oak Arkansas was a satanic band. Word was that the song “When Electricity Came To Arkansas” contained backward-masked satanic messages. This rumor was further “validated” when the lead singer, Mangrum, uttered the words “natas” three times preceded by some gibberish at a recorded live concert. I had a reel-to-reel tape player back in 1981 and when I played the gibberish + “natas” thing backwards it sounded an awful lot like “Satan, Satan, Satan, he is god, …”

    Good thing I kept a crucifix and garlic in the house!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      This rumor was further “validated” when the lead singer, Mangrum, uttered the words “natas” three times preceded by some gibberish at a recorded live concert.

      That performance by Black Oak Arkansas was one of THE Proofs of Satanic Backwards Masking (second only to “Stairway to Heaven” played backwards) cited by Backwards Masking activist preachers during the Satanic Panic of the Eighties.

      Talk-show host Rich Buhler put it best: “You can tell where some of these bands are coming from when you play their records forward; why do you need to play them backwards?”

      • The gibberish + “natas” thing was deliberate on BOA’s part; what else could “natas” mean? Whether it was an intentional Satan invocation or a publicity stunt or just to yank the chain of some nutty preachers (who love having their chains yanked) is another story.

        As for “Stairway to Heaven,” I tried that one, too, but it wasn’t very convincing.

        One that was fairly convincing, though, was the Beatle’s “Number Nine,” which when played backwards sounds an awful lot like “turn me on, dead man.” Word on the street back then was that Paul was dead.

        That crucifix and garlic sure does come in handy!

      • Play it forward and get you mind blown by some of the greatest music in history. If I could go back in time to tell my teenage self anything, it would be ignore the satanic music hysterics, don’t burn perfectly good records, don’t waste my money on CCM, and go out and buy some records by the Ramones.

    • If saying the Lord’s Prayer backwards is bad, then backmasking Satanic messages should be good. Just sayin’…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        How about “Theme from Mr Ed” backwards?
        http://youtu.be/bHbHpz3KwnM (raw footage)
        http://youtu.be/Oc0iP_VGrI4 (edited to the “Satanic” points; some cussing in the commentary)

        The preacher who started this one was DEAD SERIOUS. In a Christian radio interview during his 15 minutes of fame, he stated that ALL secular songs have Satanic backwards messages and ALL Christian music has “Praise the LOORD” backwards messages. To the interviewer’s credit, you could tell he was NOT taking the guy seriously by that point.

  25. Dana Ames says:

    “A funeral Home has added a wine cellar room where “mourners” can drink and remember their good times with the deceased without the icky corpse harshing the mellow.”

    In the olden days, this was called an Irish wake. Having the corpse around didn’t dampen the festivities at all. Interestingly, it is only recently that corpses have been thought of as “icky.” When most people died at home, before burial the bodies were cleaned and dressed by the family and laid out in the living room (“parlor”) for people to come and pay their respects and offer condolences. The wake and the funeral were a feature of community. Bodies were buried before they became anywhere near “icky.” The corpse is very cool, and if the person has not died in war or under suspicious circumstances, it is entirely dry.

    It is telling that as death in early years has become less common, and as more people die in hospitals, we don’t know what to do with death, and people in our society have become less able to grieve appropriately. Get rid of the body, it’s not important – the “real” person isn’t here anyway; have a memorial service, not a funeral; celebrate the person’s life, don’t grieve. This is not healthy. Not to mention the understanding of classical Christianity, which came from Judaism, that the body is a good thing and that it will be resurrected someday, in concert with the renewal of the whole material universe – in contrast to a person’s “soul” undergoing an eternal exile to a “spiritual”/non-material “place” called “heaven.”

    As the daughter of funeral directors (yes, my mom was one, too), burial customs are of interest to me. When I was growing up, we lived in an apartment on the premises of the mortuary. One of my regular chores was to vacuum up all the flower petals from the chapel floor.

    Dana

    • In Reform Judaism it is considered rude to gaze upon the dead because they cannot gaze back upon the living, so it’s sort of like an invasion of privacy. Therefore funerals are almost always closed casket.

      Among Orthodox Christians, it is considered imperative that everyone gaze upon the face of death to prepare for their own, so funerals are almost always open casket.

      So different traditions have their own customs. What’s going on in the US right now is a wave of people giving up their nominal hold to institutional religion and so needing to come up with their own customs. This makes perfect sense to me.

      • Cermak, I much prefer the Jewish approach (not just Reform). It seems much more respectful to me – and easier on the immediate family, close friend, et al.

        • Also,I don’t think for one minute that memorial services are necessarily about the denial of grief. Not everyone can handle open-caskets, viewings and all the rest. While it might be natural for many, it can be anything from mildly difficult to extremely hard for others – very much including the bereaved.

          While I agree that death is not acknowledged in society in a healthy way, I don’t think the fix is necessarily what’s been traditional in much of America gentile culture. (No,I’m not Jewish,but yes, I did grow up among/around many Jewish people.)

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Good comments, Dana. It seems to me the main reason we over-value youth and physical beauty in our culture is a suppressed fear of death. So we minimize it and ignore it when possible. The only exception is the cartoonish violent deaths in popular culture.

  26. Great comments, Dana.