September 19, 2014

Saturday Ramblings, March 1, 2014

Hello, fellow imonkers.  Many thanks to Adam Palmer for pinch-hitting for me last week as I escaped the Midwest tundra for a week in Arizona to visit family.  I hate family fights,  and am therefore happy to report I successfully dodged all attempts to argue over the proposed Arizona Religious Freedom bill (vetoed on Wednesday by the governor).  If you want to read the post-mortem, here is a pretty good take.  And you are welcome to argue the merits of the bill.  I may even join in the argument since you’re not family.

It would be easy to fill this column every week with stories about gay marriage and the controversy thereof.  I try to avoid them, just because of the over-exposure, and, quite frankly, because I am stinking tired of this debate being center stage in discussion of religion and society.  But this caught my eye: Among those who say they left their childhood religion and now have no religious identity, nearly one in four (24 percent) say their church’s negative teachings or treatment of LGBT people was an important reason they left. That rises to 31 percent of millennials, damaging churches’ ability to bring in — and keep — young adults…

What do Hasidic Jews, hipsters, and transgender men have in common?

If I remember right, Jeff Dunn linked to the 35 ugliest churches in the world (in 35 web pages, arghh). One of them, perhaps the champion, is coming down, much to the relief of its dwindling congregation.

At first I thought it was an Onion parody of academic silliness.  But, no, the url was definitely that of the Harvard Crimson.  “If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom?’  Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of ‘academic justice.’ When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.” I was going to make a snarky comment like, “Chairman Mao couldn’t have said it better” but I was afraid the author would take it as a compliment.

The Anti-Defamation League called it, “most anti-Semitic document to come out of a mainline American church in recent memory,” while a prominent Rabbi called it “worthy of a hate group, not a prominent American church.”  They were referring to a study guide produced by a group commissioned by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that depicts Zionism as a heresy at the root of the Middle East crisis.  In fact, the study guide challenges the legitimacy of the Zionist project itself, saying it’s rooted in the belief in “exceptionalism” — that one’s own religious group is more important than anyone else’s.

The headline says it all. Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience. I’ve never been to this temple.  What do they worship?

Roma Downey has “cast out the devil”. At least in her upcoming movie.  But rest assured, she knows what she is doing: “I played an angel on Touched by an Angel for almost a decade, and I’ve learned a thing or two about spiritual warfare.”  So basically, “I’m not an angel, but I played one on TV”.

A Philadelphia Pentecostal couple has been sentenced to 3 1/2 to seven years in prison for the death of their son after neglecting to take him to the doctor.  Herbert and Catherine Schaible were already on a 10-year probation for the 2009 death of another child, who died of untreated bacterial pneumonia.  The couple are part of a church that believes in divine healing and eschews medical treatment.  The judge laid it on the line: “You killed two of your children … not God, not your church, not your religious devotion — you.” Your thoughts imonkers? what rights do parents have when it comes to withholding medical treatments for their children?  What about vaccines?

Update: Bob Jones University has decided they like GRACE after all.

Last year Rosaria Champagne Butterfield wrote about her “trainwreck conversion”: from leftist lesbian to evangelical Christian.  This year she spoke about that conversion at Wheaton.  And inspired student protests. The demonstration was named, “More Than a Single Story” and featured students holding signs that said “We’re all loved by God,”  “Rosaria’s story is valid, mine is too,” and “I’m gay and a beloved child of God. This is my story,” among many others.  Author Doug Wilson was not impressed with the “effete evangelical elites” running Wheaton, and wins this week’s award for most insults within a three-word alliteration.

A couple weeks ago I linked to Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker essay on how we became secular. Ross Douthat published three articles in the New York Times analyzing the essay and they all worth reading.  They are here, here and here.  The last link includes an interesting quote from another writer: Ever since Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God a hundred years ago, there have been no more happy atheists. The world in which people relied on their own powers and considered themselves unconstrained legislators on questions of good and evil, the world where, freed at last from the chains of divine bondage, they could hope to recover their lost dignity — that world was transformed into a place of endless anxiety and suffering. The absence of God became a permanently festering wound in the European spirit, even if it could be forgotten with the aid of artificial painkillers. Compare the godless world of Diderot, Helvetius and Feuerbach with the godless world of Kafka, Camus and Sartre. The collapse of Christianity so eagerly awaited and so joyfully greeted by the Enlightenment turned out — to the extent that it really occurred — to be almost simultaneous with the collapse of the Enlightenment. The new, radiant anthropocentric order that was to arise and supplant God once He had been deposed never appeared.

Do you see this picture of a homeless man on a bench?  Any idea who he is?vlcsnap-2014-02-25-16h44m22s179

No?  How about this a closer look?vlcsnap-2014-02-25-16h44m38s101Still nothing?  Okay, one more:vlcsnap-2014-02-25-16h44m51s222That’s right, it’s a statue of Jesus as a homeless man on a bench.  And it’s causing quite a stir in Davidson, North Carolina.  “It’s Jesus representing the most marginalized of society,” said Rev. Doctor David E. Buck, the rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church.  “We’re reminded of what our ultimate calling is as Christians, as people of faith, to do what we can individually and systematically to eliminate homelessness.”  Neighbor Cindy Castano Swannack had a different take: “Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help…We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”  Where do you side, imonkers?

Funny or simply juvenile?BhU8riZCQAADB00

Steve Taylor is my favorite modern musical artist, so I’ve always been bummed that his last cd came out 20 years ago.  So I was thrilled when I heard he will be coming out with a new cd this year, with  Jimmy Abegg, John Mark Painter and Peter Furler.  His kickstarter campaign page included a nice video of him re-applying for his license to rock at the Tennessee DMV (Department of Music Veterans). Also, since his best album, Squint,  is still not on iTunesfor some reason, Taylor just published a public link to download the entire album (including a booklet with lyrics).  You can find it here.  [Note, when I tried the link it told me to come back because of high traffic].

Was it Chesterton who said that if people do not stand for something they fall for anything?  In any case, our increasingly secular society is remarkably superstitious, and the most secular segment (the youngest people) are the most superstitious.  Representative example: 29 percent of young adults believe that knocking on wood prevents bad luck while 13 percent of seniors believed this.

Famous birthdays this week include: actually, I don’t care about famous birthdays.  I just don’t.  If enough of you [at least 20] protest I will begrudgingly include them again, but really I’m just picking names out of a list of several hundred with no rhyme or reason.  How about we end with a nice Steve Taylor video instead? (Forgive the haircut; it was the 90′s.)

Comments

  1. The PCUSA would probably be happy is Israel was wiped off the map.

    The alliance between leftists and Islamic Jew haters is an unholy alliance. It’s ok to have 20 something (maybe more than that) Islamic states in the region…but the world must end at the presence of one Jewish state in the region, the size of New Jersey.

    • Are you aware that there are Palestinian Christians?

      • Yes, there are also Israeli Christians. 20% of the Israeli population is made up of non-Jews. As for Palestinians it’s a fabricated name of a people who were never a nation state. If anything, they were lastly part of the Jordanian State.

        • And there used to be Christians in Iraq until the US invaded and deposed the dictator who protected them.

          • And in Saudi Arabia, how many Christians? And what about Lebanon? Christians have been fleeing that once liberal, tolerant state at an ever increasing rate. The same goes for Syria. And do you blame the USA for THAT as well? Or is it “The Jews”?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And now the Chimpy Dubya Bushitler Party Line begins.

            And it’s not “Teh JEWS” any more. The Newspeak word is “Zionists”.

          • cermak_rd says:

            Well, technically, Zionism and Judaism are two different circles with heft overlap between them. Some Jews are big fans of Israel, some are meh. Few hate it. Some Jews are concerned with specific legislation and specific actions of the security forces.

            As an American Jew happily living in the Diaspora, I don’t much care for what is going on over in the ME, as long as it doesn’t involve external nations. The demographic projection for Israel involves the nation becoming an unappetizing mix of anti-feminist Haredi and anti-feminist Muslims with a small batch of feminist seculars in the middle. Feh!

          • davidbrainerd2 says:

            “And do you blame the USA for THAT as well? Or is it ‘The Jews’?”

            Is there a distinction? Atheist Jews run Washington.

          • Robert F says:

            “Is there a distinction? Atheist Jews run Washington.”

            Another voice from Ruby Ridge?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And Palestinian Christians get stomped on from both sides. Extreme Israelis don’t trust them because they’re Arab, and Palestinian Muslims are against them because they’re not Muslim.

          “If you were Palestinian, where would you rather live? The Gaza Strip, the West Bank, or California?”

          • Josh in FW says:

            Tell them to come to Texas. We even have a town in the piney woods named Palestine, but it’s pronounce “Palesteen”.

          • cermak_rd says:

            There was a case some years ago, when there were some refugee Jews and the German government cheerfully offered them asylum. Which led to some bitter Israeli government officials referring to it as Anti-Semitism because obviously all Jewish refugees should be forced to become Israeli citizens! (And it’s an unpleasant fact that immigrants are often settled into disputed lands, rather than say the shining city of Tel Aviv).

        • Donalbain says:

          EVERY name for a country is a fabricated name for a people who were never a nation state.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            Really?

            Greenland.
            Canada.
            Iceland.
            Finland [the Finns didn't really displace anyone.. who else would want the place?]
            India [a spot of earth no one group can hope to claim]
            Mexico [shouldn't this by your theory me Azteca?]
            South Africa [which sounds like it might be, I don't know, in southern Africa]
            New Zealand [damn those Old Zealanders!]

          • Donalbain says:

            Yes. Really. At one point, all of those countries had a name fabricated for them, and at one point they were not nation states.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Donalbain is quite right. Also, almost every single ethnic group replaced another where they are. We humans have been on the move for many, many millennia.

            The Fins partly replaced the Sami. Mexici is a Spanish colonial creation. New Zealand is named after Zealand, a Dutch Province. It is not the name the Maori gave it. Iceland is a bit of an exception, since the decendants those that found it still live there – plus of, course, the decendants of the Irish slaves they brought along. Canada is named for a village out east, Kanata. The Cree here on the plains did not name it thus. Nor the Haida on the West Coast.

            You are brimming with…. ignorance.

        • davidbrainerd2 says:

          “Yes, there are also Israeli Christians.” But they’re Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, not good evangelical Calvinist, so the PCUSA doesn’t give a crap about them, nor does any of the rest of so-called evangelicalism which is in reality nothing but Calvinism.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      I was in Israel a year and a half ago. Our Jewish guide was very open and appreciative of Christians, but seemed totally flummoxed by the Presbyterians. He asked me why they had such a problem with Israel. I had no answer.

      Is this just a PCUSA issue? Are the other Presbyterian branches on the same page?

      • Josh in FW says:

        I don’t recall any animosity towards Israel during my time in the PCA.

        • I think it is an attitude of most Christians on the left.

          I’m pretty sure that the leadership of the ELCA also has a strong anti-Israeli bent.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            I don’t recall the subject ever having come up. There may be some sort of resolution out there saying something on it, but if so, it isn’t something with an actual effect on anyone. I would personally find the ELCA leadership being strongly anti-israel surprising. I would be less surprised to find that they disagreed with the current government of Israel, but I trust we can agree that these aren’t the same thing.

      • Fr. Isaac (or possibly Obed, but definitely not Fr. Obed) says:

        I think some of it has to do with Reformed Covenant Eschatology that generally doesn’t see the Jews as remaining God’s chosen people, but that sees the Church as the New Israel, though Jews are certainly allowed to be part of it.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Or it has to do with them being a nation of occupiers in violation of innumerable international laws which terrorize, impoverish, and ghettoize the people who where there when they decided to move it. And that they are allowed to be high-and-mighty about it.

        • What you are referring to here is “replacement theology,” aka “supersessionism.” Luther and others before/after him taught/teach this, which is to say, that the Church replaced Israel as the “people of God.”

          But this is not exactly what Reformed eschatology teaches, nor is it what Calvin, Edwards, Spurgeon, et al. believed and many of us continue to believe today. It is a bit more complicated than that and I cannot do it justice here. Suffice it to say that many of us in the Reformed tradition believe that God will keep His promise to Abraham (see Genesis 15) and that one day “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11.26).

        • Hm. Maybe. I think it stems more from the fact that many Christians see their first allegiance to Christ, his kingdom, and his ethics, rather than to an Abrahamic bloodline. If something is wrong, it is wrong; certain genetic markers are no excuse for evil. And I think most folks familiar with the situation would say that the state of Israel has done some things to Palestinians and others within and without their borders that are just wrong. If eschatology figures in the picture it would seem to be an “inaugurated kingdom” eschatology, in which God calls all men – Jew and Gentile alike – to repentance and obedience to Christ. But you may be right.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Don’t forget the influence of Darbyite Dispensationalism (now that’s a mouthful), the default in American Evangelicalism.

            Dispys split things very neatly into Israel and the Church, a not-quite-replacement theology where Israel got put on the back burned in 33AD for The Church Age Dispensation, and will only come into play again after The Secret Rapture of the Church.

            This takes a sinister turn of “Anti-Semitic Zionism” when it comes to modern Israel. Israel Is In The Land, fulfilling End Time Prophecy (tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick….). So at present, Israel Can Do No Wrong and any objection to the Israelis is Blasphemy and Rebellion against God. But the only reason Israle exists is to Fulfill Prophecy and jump-start the end of the world; after that, they’re expendable — only there to be massacred in the Great Tribulation checklist and the survivors forcibly converted to Christianity by Christ Himself at Armageddon. It’s an extreme form of Zionism, but only as it serves Dispy Christian purposes; the Israelis (like everyone else) are only pieces to move about on the End Time Prophecy gameboard, nothing more.

    • Isn’t there a difference between being anti-Zionism and pro-Israel? I don’t want to see Israel wiped off the map, but neither do I support Zionism… Granted, it’s a confusing nuance, but possible I think.

      • Fr. Isaac (or possibly Obed, but definitely not Fr. Obed) says:

        This is a really good point, Andrew. Despite (or maybe because of) spending 15-20 years in the Messianic Jewish movement, I find myself less and less sympathetic to Zionism, but I still support Israel’s right to exist and be self-governing. I think their goals of being both a Jewish State and a western-style democracy are contradictory and some of what they do drives me nuts (I’ve got family living there), but I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be pro-Israel and anti-Zionism.

        • I’m with you on this.I think the Zionist movement got some things right and many things wrong. While I am not a fan of many of Israel’s policies (and its internal politics are truly messy), I am for its right to exist. That said, I think it has a *lot* of territory that it needs to relinquish (among other things).

        • I grew up in a very pro-Zionist atmosphere, but find myself verynon-Zionist at this point.

        • Mule Chewing Briars says:

          Single, secular state.

  2. Right now, reading this at 10:52 Mountain Time, I am in Flagstaff Az and I think there will be fresh snow on the ground in the morning….

    • I am reading this at 0630 just north of chicago, and there is LOTS of snow on the ground. Only one inch last night. Count your blessings Tom. Two more years of working and we are snowbirds in Mesa!

      • ronh, I lived my first 17 years of life on the west side of Camelback Mountain from Mesa. Probably would have attended ASU if we hadn’t moved to NW Arkansas in 1972. We drove through Scottsdale and Mesa last week. Damn that place has outgrown my ability to appreciate…

  3. dumb ox says:

    “Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help”.
    (sounds a bit Randian).

    “We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”
    (Sounds like entitlement collectivism. I am so confused).

    Pragmatic objectivism. How is this any better than atheism?

    If imagining Jesus as a homeless person is offensive, then the essence of the incarnation is completely lost. God condescended Himself to become man. Jesus emptied himself of all glory, reaching its complete emptiness in the words of the creed: “crucified…died…buried…descended”.

    Perhaps now we view the incarnation as an ascension – God becoming the glory of humanity.

    • dumb ox says:

      It’s like that old Joan Osborn song: “What if God was one of one of us…just a slob like one of us…” When we gaze upon Jesus, it is not the face of God that offends and terrifies us, but the reflection of our own humanity. We run from him back to the stream and bow down to our own narcissistic reflection.

    • Matthew 8:20 “And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

      Luke 9: 58 “And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

      • Matthew 25:31-46 speaks pretty strongly to this as well.

        I don’t know if Jesus would literally be a homeless person sleeping on a park bench if he were to physically walk the earth today, but these passages make it clear that helping “the least of these” is an act of love for Jesus himself.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Incarnation means God Almighty having to squat down and take a dump behind a bush beside a dirt road in Palestine. (There was a Medieval form of Docetism which insisted “Jesus did not poop”.)

    • I loved how the woman who called the cops on the supposed homeless person also thinks that the statue should be of Jesus protecting the homeless person. From people who call the cops on homeless people, no doubt.

      • Robert F says:

        Yes. Or perhaps she feels a need for a Jesus who will protect her from homeless people.

        • Maybe it’s not necessarily a product of being snobbish and bourgeois for a woman to be afraid of vagrant men who, in our society (which is NOT first century Judea) are often mentally ill, out of control, or drug-addled…I know I will get slammed for this, but just saying. Put yourself in *her* shoes too, before jumping to judgmental conclusions.

      • Robert F says:

        Okay, as a person who has never traveled in evangelical cultural circles (present company excepted), I have to ask: Steven Tyler I’ve heard of, but who is this Steve Taylor?

    • That Other Jean says:

      But Jesus IS a homeless vagrant. Have they forgotten what He said? ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ …

      • ‘Zactly!!

        That IS the miracle that IS our God Incarnate. The very ONE who created the universe comes to His love and lead His disobedient creatures, who mostly ignore or hate Him, to the point of the Cross.

        He could have come as an earthly King…..but He who has EVERYTHING shows Himself to us in poverty.

        Fully human and Fully God is a tough concept to wrap our tiny brains around.

    • Um, I’m pretty sure Jesus was a homeless man…

      • Vega Magnus says:

        Was not! He was an upper-middle class white man who voted Republican and watched college football!

      • davidbrainerd2 says:

        You’ve never read Mark then. He had a house. Whether it was his house or Peter’s is beside the point. He wasn’t sleeping in the street. And since there are nail scars in the feet of this abomination statue it obviously is meant to imply that he rose from the dead to sleep in the street rather than ascend to heaven. So any argument about his situation prior to the crucifixion is irrelevant to the point anyway. This is pure blasphemy.

        • I do find myself befuddled as to how anyone claiming to be a Christian would not only be flip about His words, but call what Jesus said about himself blasphemy.

          What exactly does “no place to lay his head” mean?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And the nail scars in his feet are NOT an Identifier to show it’s Jesus and not just Willie the Wino?

          Remember the Parable about the Sheep and the Goats.
          “Whatever you do to the least of these you have done to Me.”
          So Jesus apparently identified with the down-and-out.
          Unfortunately, we have “More Christian than Christ Himself” in play.

        • Robert F says:

          ” And since there are nail scars in the feet of this abomination statue it obviously is meant to imply that he rose from the dead to sleep in the street rather than ascend to heaven.”

          Just a word of advice: please avoid any encounters with art, because your ability to misunderstand visual symbolism and metaphor is so gargantuan that you are bound to completely misinterpret what you see. Avoid art galleries and museums at all cost!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Christianese Hyper-Literalism at work.
            Natural side effect of Bibliolatry.
            There is no art, there is no symbolism, there is no metaphor, there is only SCRIPTURE, a Spiritual Engineering Manual of FACT, FACT, FACT, FACT, FACT.

            “When you point at something with your finger, the dog sniffs your finger. To a dog, a finger is a finger and that is that.”
            – C.S.Lewis

        • Susan Paxton says:

          Only to right wing Christians who ignore the social implications of Gospel is it blasphemy. Clearly you belong to the school who claim that Jesus was quite well-off.

  4. dumb ox says:

    Secularism is indeed killing the American church, but that secularism is wrapped in the guise of cultural war, civil religion, therapeutic-moralistic deism, and pragmatism. The enlightenment is as much at the heart of the demise of the American church as the European church, but the symptoms may be different. Perhaps the most important point of the Book of Revelation is lost on the very evangelicals who are the most obsessed with it: what kills the church is abandonment of Jesus and the gospel – regardless of how that is manifested.

  5. Jesus could walk on water. But ordinarily, Jesus took a boat across the lake.

    In the same way, God can heal. I absolutely believe in divine healing. I’ve seen it firsthand. But ordinarily, God gave us the brains to figure out medicine, and the common sense to use it where necessary. Parents who don’t avail themselves of it, especially when their children’s lives are in danger, are unfit. That’s child neglect.

    Vaccines: Same deal. Vaccines are proven science. The “dangers of vaccines” are unproven, anecdotal hearsay. Or if you wanna be biblical about it, false witness.

  6. Look, I know you’re tired of the debate and overexposure but you can’t help feeling empathy for the kid in last year’s article in The Onion:
    “Area Teen Quickly Running Out Of Chances To Be First Openly Gay Anything”

  7. w/regards to the Dave Ramsey link in the bulletin board section, I’ve never heard the parable of the talents interpreted to refer to financial success. Is this a common thing?

    • In my Fundi upbringing, this was the missing link between financial success and spiritual success. I can’t remember how the preachers (and there were many) made the cross over, but I think it comes from the: “If God is pleased with you spiritually, then he will bless you with success (read money and power). If God isn’t pleased with you spiritually, you will know it because you are poor.” ideal. Incidentally that is why we all switched from Democrat to Republican (in the South) when trickle down economics was proposed – It’s my money and God blessed me with it so my theology is right and you are poor because you aren’t spiritual enough – you need to get a work ethic so you can get onboard with being spiritual enough to be wealthy like me. Good times those were.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And God becomes the God of The Rich.
        All the rest of us can go to Hell.

        • davidbrainerd2 says:

          If you apply the parable literally to finances the point then becomes don’t bury your money int he ground, use it. Each guy in the parable had received different amounts. Only the one who buried it was condemned. Its more often than not the rich who bury their money rather than using it, isn’t it?

    • Josh in FW says:

      Yes, I’m sad to say that I’ve often heard this parable used that way.

    • Suzanne says:

      I’ve heard the parabale used this way many times. See? God wants you to save your money in an interest bearing institution.

      Which kind of segues into the discussion of young people leaving the church and gays. The millenials I know (really hate that term, btw) run from a church that tells them how to vote, invest their money, and which people are “acceptable”. Whethere or not someone is homosexual to them is simply a non-issue; they don’t see it as right, wrong, or indifferent. They see gay people as people, nothing more, nothing less. For so many churches to make such an issue about it really makes them wary of church in general. Ditto with the “God wants you to invest your money this way” and “God wants you to vote only this party” mentality. Reproductive issues are similar. Even young pro-life leaning women bristle at the mentality that almost all birth control is wrong and the only reason for marriage, really, is to have children. Yes, we are losing the younger generation, but not because we don’t have way cool worship.

  8. “Faith healing” resulting in the deaths of children: throw the book at them. Same with JWs who let their kids die for want of a blood transfusion. No sympathy here, it’s just cruel idiocy. A person’s right to be an idiot ends at the point where they let a kid die in agony for the sake of their idiocy. There’s a “Christian” cult in my area who is notorious for their bloody trail of gruesome, unnecessary deaths of children, newborns, and women in childbirth. The stories are harrowing, and it’s fairly common for a family to have multiple kids die agonizing, prolonged deaths of simple infections. There’s just no excuse.

    Skipping vaccines is often stupid, but it’s not homicide. It’s like the difference between pushing me overboard then watching me drown and failing to buy me a life jacket. One is cold blooded sociopathy, one is just dumb.

    The Merkel photo is puerile. John Cleese did the “awkwardly can’t stop obsessing about the Nazis with perfectly nice Germans” shtick long ago and far better, it is now time to leave it alone.

    The PCUSA has some nerve defining heresy for someone else’s religion. I don’t think they get how that works. They can say it’s heretical for Presbyterians to be Zionist but to say that Zionism, a philosophy that grew out of Judaism and the Jewish experience is just, capital h “Heresy” is way out of bounds. But I am not surprised. The Christian left these days has a compulsive need to antagonize on this subject. The situation in the Middle East is painful and awful, no doubt, but it’s also complex, and it primarily involves people who…are not Presbyterian/Episcopalian/Lutheran/you get my drift. There’s some aggressive butting in going on that is just insensitive and inappropriate.

    But when I was still in an ELCA church, if it wasn’t about gays or global warming, it was about “Palestine” so again, I am not surprised that this “progress” marches on.

    • Robert F says:

      They had to call it heresy because they couldn’t call it what they really wanted to: racism. They were caught in a politically correct conundrum, and felt in was the lesser of two evils to colonize and expropriate Jewish theology rather than play the race card. But make no mistake: they meant racism, and they are indirectly calling the Jewish state, forged to serve as a refuge for Jews from the anti-Semitic racism of Europe and the rest of the world, racist.

      • Well if they can’t out and say what they mean in so many words, why should anyone listen to them? Sure it takes courage to speak out with an unpopular opinion, but if they lack that courage, what credibility does their argument have? They are comfortable Americans sitting and judging from afar…the least they can do is spell out their judgment honestly instead of playing games out of cowardice.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The Merkel photo is puerile. John Cleese did the “awkwardly can’t stop obsessing about the Nazis with perfectly nice Germans” shtick long ago and far better, it is now time to leave it alone.

      But if you keep on about how “All Germans are Nazis and all Nazis are Germans”, it provides a lot of cover and wiggle room for your own Nazi-esque attitudes. As long as you don’t speak Hochdeustch, hoist the Hakenkreuz, and salute from the shoulder, you can wipe your mouth and say “I have not sinned”.

      And why does Hitler get his desired immortality in memory as a God of Evil while the bloodier Stalin and Mao (and their imitators) are so Tres Chic?

    • cermak_rd says:

      Absolutely! I’ve read stories of women who died in childbirth. It appears to be the worst torture imaginable. Honestly, they labor until they die and it’s usually because the baby’s head is too large to pass through the birth channel and in modern days a C-section will solve the problem nicely. Quite honestly, if someone were to shoot a woman dying in childbirth (assuming no other medical care), I’d be apt to consider it merciful, it’s that bad!

      I’ve also seen pictures of kids with hideous tumors growing on them whose parents pray over them, but don’t offer any other care; in many instances they don’t even do proper wound care! People who do that are stone cold killers and need to be called on it and yes, jailed for it. None of this 9 year probation business. If you kill your child via medical neglect that was obvious and intentional, then that is homicide or at least manslaughter and both parents should go to jail.

  9. Robert F says:

    “Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help…We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

    Jesus’ cross always has, and always will, give great offense, especially to the religious.

  10. Robert F says:

    “Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience.”

    The affluent, secular classes in Euro-America are every bit as religious, and superstitious, as their forbears. It’s just that this religiosity and superstition take different forms, and express themselves through different institutions. Health and Wellness are the new religious disciplines, and health care providers are the new priesthood. And there is enormous opportunity for fleecing of the faithful and credulous in this new religious dispensation.

    • Robert F says:

      “In any case, our increasingly secular society is remarkably superstitious, and the most secular segment (the youngest people) are the most superstitious.”

      Yes, yes, yes. The fear of the dark, and of the unknown, does not go away just because traditional religions have less influence. Human beings are religious animals, and I wouldn’t be surprised if genetically we are hard-wired in such a way that religious and superstitious attitudes arise among us like so much mold in a wet basement. The young, non-Christian people I encounter are extremely superstitious, and also very interested in spiritual things.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Wasn’t it Funk who wrote of the “classic degeneration: priest, teacher, artist”. I think we need to add one more step: doctor.

    • The greatest lie that Whole Foods ever told was that kale is palatable.

  11. Robert F says:

    I’m sure Roma Downey’s new film, “Son of God,” would send me running for “Life of Brian.”

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      It sent me running for Reza Aslan’s Zealot. Not a perfect read, but a much better use of my time.

    • +1

    • “If life seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten, and that’s to laugh and cry and smile and sing. If you’re feeling in the dumps, don’t be silly, chump! Just push your lips and whistle, that’s the thing!”

  12. “don’t care about famous birthdays” ???? couldn’t agree more.

  13. dumb ox says:

    “In any case, our increasingly secular society is remarkably superstitious.”

    Do I get any bonus points for saying this last week? :-P
    (Actually, I said it the first time well over a year ago.)

    In my opinion, the anti-science, reactionary, magic-book pragmatism of much of American Evangelicalism is also superstition.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Roman Empire also had extreme skepticism hand-in-hand with extreme superstition. Practical atheists who were skeptical about everything but wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning until an astrologer had cast their horoscope or soothsayer had taken the omens.

  14. Robert F says:

    “‘It’s Jesus representing the most marginalized of society,’ said Rev. Doctor David E. Buck, the rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church. ‘We’re reminded of what our ultimate calling is as Christians, as people of faith, to do what we can individually and systematically to eliminate homelessness.’”

    While I have no objection to the statue, I totally disagree with the idea that our ultimate calling as Christians is to do what we can to eliminate homelessness. That’s an admirable objective, and congruent with Christian faith, but it’s far from our ultimate calling as Christians. This is another example of the Episcopal church doing bad theology in the public square, and as an Episcopalian, that bothers me.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Buck went a little over the top there. Non-Christians should have just as much of a calling to end homelessness as Christians, and by referring to the end of homelessness as “our ultimate calling,” Buck can’t see the forest for the trees.

    • “our ultimate calling is as Christians, as people of faith, to do what we can individually and systematically to eliminate homelessness”

      Really?

      The Right Rev. Dr. Buck is clearly the Wrong Rev. Dr. Buck.

      The elimination of homelessness, in certain areas of the world, would disrupt nomadic societies. Could we eliminate hunger instead? Or disease? Or dirty water? The list goes on and on. The elimination of homelessness is far from our ultimate calling as Christians.

      Our ultimate calling is “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” Our ultimate calling is “to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Sometimes that entails helping the homeless with food or clothing or a warm place to sleep, but there are worse things than not having a permanent residence.

      “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

    • Further, it is not possible to eliminate homelessness unless you sanction state powers of coercion. You may reduce it by re-establishing mandatory care of the mentally ill but, even so, there will always be those who, for whatever reason, find it easier to live outside than to hold a job and struggle like the rest of us.
      Freedom of choice and pursuit of happiness has their downside. Of course NEITHER are officially mentioned in the Constitution of the USA, but I could see a time when government actually contradicts the Declaration of Independence as a dated document and not representative of the modern world. As someone said “Politics is the art of the possible”.

    • This is another example of the Episcopal church doing bad theology in the public square, and as an Episcopalian, that bothers me.

      Really? I dunno, just nothing I hear from the liberal mainlines ever surprises me anymore.

      • The Evangelicals just wait 50 years to say it.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          With a lot more proof-texting for justification.

          (They have to; Evangelicals have no Magisterium, no historic institutional memory, no parallel oral Tradition, distrust of reason and thinking. Their only authority is Rewordgitate the Koran — I mean quote SCRIPTURE(TM).)

  15. It’s really simple and not a religious issue. If I don’t want o bake your cake, that is my freedom. Your freedom is to boycott my bakery. Why does NO ONE get that? We were guilt-tripped into giving up basic freedom of association back in 1964, the Civil Rights Act, an assault on freedom that every church seems to endorse. Every new law, every new right, means a new enforcement power for the government. Government is for control freaks – those who cannot achieve on their own must control others.

    Homeless Jesus is just even more cultural Marxist rubbish, like the “Trayvon Nativity”. Expect “Transgender Jesus” and “Learning Disabled” Jesus soon, at a church near you.

    • Michael Z says:

      Have you read the Gospels? Jesus _was_ homeless (Lk 9:58). And he said that when we encounter people who are hungry or in need of housing, we are encountering him in them: “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Mt 25:45). And yes, that would also imply that when you encounter a gay or transgender person or a person with disabilities, God will count your treatment of that person as if you were behaving that way toward Jesus himself.

      “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’” (Mt 25:41-43)

      That’s not “Marxist rubbish,” it’s the words of Jesus himself. Words that, if you are a Christian, you ought to think very seriously about.

    • When you open a public business, there are certain laws and rules you must obey, like it or not.

      You must collect sales tax on eligible sales.
      In most cases you must make your business accessible to handicapped persons.
      In many localities, if you are selling food from a store front (think restaurant) you must provide bathroom facilities to our patrons.
      If you have a storefront, usually you must keep the sidewalk clear of obstructions (including ice and snow).
      If you are in a mall, you might be required to be open a certain amount of hours on certain days.
      Some businesses need special licenses and permits.

      And there are other rules, regulations and laws that businesses must obey. One of them is non discrimination. It’s the cost of doing business. just like sales tax and permits.

    • @clark….chapter and verse for any of that? (Or chapter and verse from a Rand book or John Birch pamphlet?)

    • Donalbain says:

      Will the Son of man have a place to lay his head?

    • cermak_rd says:

      Here’s the thing. That 1964 Civil Rights Act was based on the 14th Amendment. And it was adjudicated that way by the courts which means that is now settled law which would be used as precedent for any other types of like legislation. Which means there is a steep climb to get it changed. It’s one thing to grumble about the 1964 CRA, but it’s just about impossible to change legally and more importantly, politically. Politically, overturning the CRA would be a cocktail of arsenic, lead, polonium and cyanide.

    • Robert F says:

      Clark,

      Are you really criticizing the Civil Rights Act? Do you have a fondness for Jim Crow laws? How would it go in your non-Civil-Rights-Act world? Something like this, I imagine: “You can either sit in the back, or GET OFF MY BUS!!”

      Is that the view from Ruby Ridge?

      Oh, and Clark, right next to the homeless Jesus, that church should place a statue of Jesus as a convict being executed by lethal injection, just to fill out the theological implications.

      • There’s no such thing as “settled” law. That’s a totalitarian concept. It’s why we have a Supreme Court — because law is never “settled.” If it were, abortion, which has been outlawed by western nations since Constantine’s time, would have stayed illegal.

        And just because we were guilt-tripped into giving away our freedom way back in 1964, doesn’t mean that we did not give up our freedom.

        The lazy and the covetous prefer to use the totalitarian coercion of the state to accomplish their goals. The idea of freedom appalls them. A “boycott” would obviously be too much work. Or anything else that resembles freedom.

        Finally, Jesus is not “homeless.” He is at His home now, building homes for those who trust him, but not necessarily for those who use him as a brainwashing/propaganda icon. Ultimately churches such as the one displaying the statue will be entirely secular organizations. If everyone is equal, the very idea of “God” is offensive, because it’s an idea that entails not only hierarchy, but yes. patriarchy. You can read Luke 9:58 out of context until you turn blue.

        Christianity died with the Enlightenment. Clearly the American church is just another Marxist propaganda arm now, entirely compromised.

        • Robert F says:

          Some people had no freedom give away back in 1964; in fact, for them, 1964 was the beginning of their real freedom.

          • Actually, Robert, in 1964, America’s icons were Willie Mays and Nipsey Russell; black kids in New York City schools were pulling even with white kids on achievement tests, and three-quarters of black children were born into families with two parents. Amazing that you consider absolute dependence on government, dysfunctional families, and functional illiteracy to be “freedom,” but you aren’t alone. Under slavery, breaking up families, and refusing to teach reading and writing, were tools of the slavemaster. Now we break up families by paying fathers to split, and we make people illiterate with poor schools and incompetent teachers (ask any PR professional). This is not freedom, friend.

          • Robert F says:

            Clark,
            The North, although not perfect, was different from the South, where Jim Crow was entrenched; and you can’t equate the acceptance by White Americans of a few African Americans as high-profile entertainers with political liberty for all African Americans.

        • Clark,

          From the sculptor’s website: “this sculpture is a representation that suggests Christ is with the most marginalized in our society.” It is not about Jesus being homeless. I really don’t understand the controversy over this statue.

          Also, could you clarify what you mean when you say that your freedom was “given away” with the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Freedom to do what, exactly?

  16. Robert F says:

    ” How about we end with a nice Steve Taylor video instead? (Forgive the haircut; it was the 90?s.)”

    That explains why he had an 80′s haircut…

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Yeah, fair point. But it’s still a great song.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Christians have a rep of being Late Adopters in pretty much everything.
      Be glad Steve Taylor’s late adoption was only in the realm of hairstyles.

  17. Thanks for the Steve Taylor. My husband had a Bob Jones tan. I never did because there was never enough skin showing to tan.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Oh, I bet they loved Steve Taylor on campus. Did they ever play, “We Don’t need no color-code” during chapel?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “Down in Carolina way
        Lived a man named Big Bee Jay;
        Bee Jay went and got a school
        Founded on Caucasian Rule;
        Bumper sticker on his Ford:
        Honkies if you love The LORD!”

  18. EV!!
    You mean you never went to the “beach” to get your tan? Our “beach” was a very large area filled with sand where we could lie in the sun and expose our stripped down selves, listen to the radio, laugh and chat. Fun. A huge fence around it of course.

    • I heard from my husband’s sister about a sandy volleyball court near the women’s dorms. It after my time. I did get in trouble once for wearing a sweater that I had worn many times before because one of the teachers thought the sleeves didn’t cover my shoulders enough. Although my personal favorite was wearing panty hose under my culottes for sporting activities like dating outings.

  19. I don’t care who ya are , the Netanyahu/Merkel pic is hilarious.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Prime Minister of Israel clowning around a bit with the Chancelloress of Germany.

      • Daniel Jepsen says:

        I think it was accidental, which may make it even funnier

      • Donalbain says:

        Chancellor

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          German doesn’t gender “Kanzler”?
          “Kanzlerin” would be an obvious feminine form.

          • German has its own grammatical rules, but we don’t carry those over literally in translation or things would sound very awkward. English does not normally gender “chancellor,” however, unless it’s being written to be purposely obnoxious by some neo-Chestertonian windbag. (Present company excluded, of course.)

  20. I’m willing to bet that some of the loudest voices in the Arizona affair never read the text of the bill. Ultimately it is the legislature’s fault for writing a not too specific text for the bill. It seems like vagueness is stock in trade of government so that you can read whatever you want into any law at any time. Just look at the separation of church and state debate, or the freedom of speech guarantee and you will get a preview.

    • Richard McNeeley says:

      I’ve spent the last week reading and listening to pro and con arguments and it is very obvious that people didn’t read the text of SB 1062. It became known as an anti-gay bill only sexual orientation was never mentioned in the text, the main sponsor used it in an example. SB 1062 was a bad bill and completely unnecessary as Arizonans already have the right to refuse service.
      Warren Severin of the Libertarian party had this to say “While all individuals and non-government businesses retain an absolute right to refuse to do business with anyone (including government) for any reason, proposing a law to that effect is not only redundant, but unnecessarily incites argument….

      The ‘bread and butter’ for the kind of politicians who would propose such legislation is the division of the electorate. They seek only to divide us (the American People) up into groups, pit them against one another, and then offer to referee.”

  21. Well, Douglas Wilson certainly has a way with words, for better or worse. Anybody besides me remember “feminist bed-wetters” or “egalitarian pleasure party?” As if it wasn’t creative enough to coin those phrases, actually finding an opportunity to use them is borderline genius. Evil genius, perhaps, but I chuckle every time I think of them. Oh, the vocabulary! :P

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Anybody remember “The Man Penetrates, Colonizes, Conquers, Plants; the woman lies back and Accepts”?

      Or the fanboy gushing over the Godliness of the Confederate States of America and their Peculiar Institution regarding Animate Property?

      Or his “Kirk” (AKA CULT Compound) in Idaho?

    • cermak_rd says:

      I still get the giggles about the egalitarian pleasure party. IMO, if sex isn’t that, it isn’t good sex.

      • Robert F says:

        There are some people for whom the egalitarian part would void the pleasure party part.

      • If you followed the debacle on both sides, you would know that he didn’t actually mean what you think he meant by that. Nonetheless, your understanding is the more obvious meaning of the words, so the blame lies with him for carelessness. But still… I can not think of the phrase without a grin.

    • I love love love Douglas Wilson because he produces more testosterone in five minutes than the whole editorial staff of Christianity Today produces in an academic year.

      I loved what he said he said about Eastern Orthodoxy; “Salvation through Plotinus”, to which our response is basically “you say that as if it were a bad thing.”

      And the answer to Bullies is always Knights, almost never Moral Suasion.

      • Robert F says:

        I didn’t know testosterone was in short supply….In fact, there seems to have been an overabundance of it through most of world history, and even in most parts of the world today. That’s why it can still unfortunately be described as “a man’s world.”

        And if Wilson heard you say you “love love love” him for his testosterone, it might push him over the edge into homosexual panic, except that you are a mule, of course.

      • Robert F says:

        “And the answer to Bullies is always Knights, almost never Moral Suasion.”

        I hope there are enough Knights to repel the Russian Bullies in Ukraine even as we speak.

        • Mule Chewing Briars says:

          Oh, that bad boy Vladimir Vladimirovich! He most certainly does give us the vapors. I know, we’ll send him a Strong Warning. That’ll get his attention.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Russian troops seizing Crimea; Russian military massing on Ukrainian borders; ousted Ukrainian strongman on Russian TV… Waiting for the Ukrainian terror-bombing that kills a tour group of little schoolchildren from Pskov any minute now.

            NATO unlikely to do anything due to all those new-construction Russian nukes that have to be pointed their way by now.

            “Just look to the White House and have Faith Faith Faith in The One.”
            – 2009 urban legend attributed to Slow Joe Biden

            “OBAMA Wuvs Us… OBAMA Will Save Us…”
            – “Hymn to The One”, a fanboy-production 2008 campaign video by “The Obama Children’s Choir of Venice, CA”

            I expect a LOT of End Time Prophecy preaching from the pulpits today. Since Hal Lindsay “baptized” the Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War trope of the Late Cold War, it’s been the one-note go-to for any war scare.

      • His insulting technique is in the tradition of Luther and Shakespeare.

  22. I’ll take The Obvious for $10, Alex.

    The Answer is…”The Object of Worship at Whole Foods.”

    “What is… their bellies?”

    w

  23. Caleb W says:

    I actually like some of those “ugly’ churches. Yes, some are hideous. But some are elegant.

  24. davidbrainerd2 says:

    So I guess the artist thought Jesus rose from the dead to sleep on a bench. What a moron.

  25. re: the Jesus statue. We have a work by this sculptor in Toronto. It depicts Jesus as a panhandler and is very powerful. It was stolen from the church property in December, sparking citywide anger about the theft and discussion about the nature of the statue (and therefore of Jesus). The thieves returned it secretly. Its a great piece, as is this one.

  26. Almost 10:00 PM Eastern Time Saturday, and I’d say you won the battle on the Famous Birthdays referendum.

  27. “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for in doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it.” – Hebrews 13:2.

    “Therefore we know no one after the flesh from now on. Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more.” – 2 Corinthians 5:16.

    The theology of finding Jesus on a park bench is a bit odd, but the power of seeing more in the figure on park bench is truly Christian.

    The person to whom you deny services may be an angel, but there is a much greater chance that person may be an Alllen Turing, even more likely that it will be a broken person in need of compassion.

    That is the point of the Christian faith and vocation: it isn’t that we see Jesus in those we serve, but that they might see Jesus in us.

    The actually theology of finding Jesus on the