August 30, 2014

Saturday Ramblings, March 29, 2014

Hello, imonk family.  I hope it is starting to get warm wherever you live. Several of the imonk writers (myself, Chaplain Mike, Lisa Dye, Damaris Zehner and Joe the Plumber) were let out the asylum long enough to meet for breakfast this week.  And Pope Francis met with President Obama this week. Of course, the liberal media covered only one of those meetings…

POTUS was also  scheduled to meet King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Friday.  Perhaps they can discuss the Saudi textbooks which teach eighth graders that  “God will punish any Muslim who does not literally obey God just as God punished some Jews by turning them into pigs and monkeys.” Or the tenth grade text saying  that gay people should be burned, stoned to death or thrown from high places and also instructs, “kill the person who changes their religion”.  Christians, pagans and Jews are described as “the worst of creatures” who “will dwell in hellfire”.  All this from a report ordered by the U.S. state department.  The report also notes the textbooks report conspiracy theories as if they were fact, “gave elevated praise to violence against non-Muslims”, and “made direct calls to violence”. The Daily Beast helpfully notes, “Saudi textbooks are not only used in Saudi schools, but they are also sent free of charge to Muslim schools all over the world, including in the U.S.”  Great.

th (7)March madness is in full swing (go Michigan!).  Did you know nine of the 68 tourney schools are Catholic?  Five of these are Jesuit.  And this is no fluke. Seven Jesuit schools made the tournament in 2007. A full eighth of the field was Jesuit in 2012. Not bad,  considering that of the 351 schools that play Division I basketball, only 20 are Jesuit.  What gives? Michael Schulson argues it is a combination of the Irish potato famine, American nativism and 20th-century Italian demographics. Who knew?

Did you hear about the UC Santa Barbara Professor who took a sign from, and allegedly assaulted a pro-life protestor at her college? In the police report, the prof argues that her actions were “in defense of her students and her own safety.”  Because someone exercising the wrong opinion is very dangerous.  The school president responded with a letter, in which he neither named the professor or directly criticized her behavior.  He did, however,  spend the first two paragraphs complaining about “outsiders” and “evangelical types” who  “create discord” and “promote personal causes and agendas.” Besides the dismissive language, what is one to make of the claim that arguing for a pro-life cause is a “personal cause or agenda”?  How could advocating for policies which protect unborn others possibly be construed as a “personal cause”? Would the good president refer in the same way to those advocating for the other side of the issue?

Speaking of intellectual vacuity, Skidmore College will be offering “The Sociology of Miley Cyrus” during summer school this year. The course will delve into “gender, sexuality, intersectionality and appropriation.”  And among the themes to be discussed: The “rise of the Disney princess”; a section on “allies and appropriation”; and a third on “bisexuality, queerness and the female body,”

Pictured: Scholarship

Pictured: Scholarship

Eighteen of the 32 top management jobs in the federal agency that is “ground zero” for running Obamacare are either vacant or filled on an acting basis. Meanwhile, the net cost for Obamacare is now set at 1.5 trillion.

“What is happening is that the hard line of Christian Zionists was not successfully passed forward to the next generation, because it was based on theological themes that are now being questioned by younger evangelicals.” So said David Gushee, professor at Mercer, describing how Israel is losing its grip on evangelical Christians.  49% of American evangelical leaders (49%) expressed neutrality when asked if they sympathize more with Israelis or with Palestinians. Thirty percent expressed support for Israelis, 13% for the Palestinians.

Did you know astronomers have now discovered a pink frozen world 7½ billion miles from the sun? It is very, very dim. They call it Biden.

The Bling Bishop has been fired. This is what happens when you spend 43 million dollars to renovate your house.  But hey, when you spend $27,000 on light switches and $673,000 on doors, it adds up.  But I hear they are really nice doors.

Ken Ham has called on Bill Maher to repent.  I’m sure the comedian will carefully and thoughtfully consider the advice.

Sad subject, but interesting time map of which states used (and use) which method of capital punishment.

The headline of the week sounds like it came from the Onion, but didn’t: British Government bans burning of fetuses to heat hospitals.  Yes, in case you missed it, this has been going on.  In the last two years alone the bodies of more than 15,000 aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated by twenty-seven National Health Service trusts. Two used the remains to burn in waste-to-energy plants that provide power for the hospitals. It’s hard to argue with the Telegraph: “That’s right – institutions created to protect life are being fuelled by burning the remains of the dead. Some bureaucrat somewhere obviously regarded this as ‘efficient recycling’. It’s more akin to cannibalism. We pride ourselves in the West on being more civilized that the rest. We have a free press, jury trials, human rights and relative peace…But what we actually do in Europe and America is to tuck our social evils away into spaces that we can’t see.” This case should remind us Americans of the recent case of the abortion Doctor, Kermit Gosnell, who left fetal remains haphazardly scattered throughout his clinic—in bags, milk jugs, orange-juice cartons, cat-food containers. The bioethicist Leon Kass has argued for seeing the wisdom in the very sensation of repugnance that we feel towards such activities. “”As pain is to the body so repugnance is to the soul. So too with anger and compassion. Repugnance is some kind of wake-up call that there is something untoward going on and attention must be paid. These passions are not simply irrational. They contain within them the germ of insight. You cannot give proper verbal account of the horror of evil, yet a culture that couldn’t be absolutely horrified by such things is dead.”

Though this headline almost took the title: Ukraine Was Never Crazy About Its Killer Dolphins, Anyway

Someone pointed me to this: 12 things TED’s speakers do that preachers don’t.  Hmmm.

From the what on earth were they thinking department comes the story of clothing retailer H&M, which had to apologize for producing a t-shirt with a skull over the star of David.BjagcrLIgAAOOhk

Scientists at the British Museum performed a CT scan on an ancient Egyptian mummy.  They found a tattoo on the mummy’s thigh. It was the name (in Greek) of the Archangel Michael.

A Roman Catholic diocese in Minnesota is suing a diocese in Ireland, alleging it transferred a priest to Minnesota without warning that the man had been accused of sexual abuse.

So pretend you are being offered an award.  It’s named after someone in recent history.  The person for whom it is named wrote a book which asserted charity was “cruelty” because helping the low-income allowed them to reproduce, which was “positively injurious to the community and the future of the race.” This person also made statements like these:“I personally believe in the sterilization of the feeble-minded” “No permit for parenthood shall be valid for more than one birth.” “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” “The greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world that have disease from their parents”.  Would you accept the award?  You would if your name was Nancy Pelosi.

A Utah man found human bones while digging in his backyard. I hate when that happens.

A young porn star didn’t like the Catholic high school she graduated from.  As “revenge” she staged a nude photo shoot on its campus.  Then posted the pics.  She got 45 days in the local pen for public indecency and trespassing.

Oprah Winfrey is on a mission, and Rob Bell is her wingman.  What is that mission? “All of my life I have wanted to lead people to an empathy space. To a gratitude space,” …”I want us all to fulfill our greatest potential. To find our calling, and summon the courage to live it.”  And Oprah will only charge you $100 dollars  to lead you to the empathy place. .  Well, actually $100 only buys  a nosebleed view in a 16,000 seat stadium. But for a cool $1,000 you can upgrade to the VIP package where you might even meet the queen of empathy herself.  Just thinking of her self-sacrifice puts me in the  gratitude place.

Yes, it’s an ad.  But it’s funny. So we are going to end this week’s rambling with it:

Comments

  1. I’m pretty sure that Saturday is the 29th of March.

    (picky, picky, picky)

  2. Looks like I’ll be the first this week…I heard a secular talk show host questioning why it is that only Christians are being taken to task over the “gay marriage” (really the redefinition of marriage) while orthodox Jews and most Muslims are just as opposed to the issue. Good question, but I’m not sure I like the answer.

    • Perhaps its due to the fact that we don’t regularly hear from influencial orthodox Jewish or Muslim spiritual leaders in this country denouncing homosexual rights. Or see them using their influence to promote a political party which is proudly anti-gay. Or picketing funerals with signs advertising AllahHatesFags.com.

      • OR…the media doesn’t care. They just want to hit the easiest target.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          If Christians called Jihad and went foaming-at-the-mouth kill-crazy on anyone we thought might possibly be dissing us, everyone would be tiptoeing on eggs around us, too, always careful to NEVER say anything against us. Phobos Kedros Doxa — Fear Breeds Respect.

          And I can’t be the only one who noticed this.

          • Not at all, HUG. Confounds me, too.

            Christians state that homosexuals should be respected as children of God, but that their behavior is unhealthy and sinfull….and the response is…

            HATERS!! HOMOPHOBES! (but isn’t a phobia a fear of something, not a hatred of it???)

            Muslims state that homosexuals and anyone supporting them should be killed….and the response is….

            *crickets*

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Because if you speak out against Islam in any way, the death Fatwas come out and the riots and killings begin. (And all the Jihadis come out for the killing, eager to show they’re more Islamic than Mohammed and get their 72 eternal virgins in Paradise.) Media Crusaders and Activists are Very Very Brave about Speaking Truth to Power as long as they’re NOT in any personal danger.

            Again, Fear Breeds Respect.

          • Dr. Neurobrain says:

            So Patty I’m supposed to give you props for keeping your homophobia polite?

            Will you settle for a golf clap?

          • Robert F says:

            Dr. Neurobrain,

            A polite Protestant (Pattie, I’m pretty sure you’re Roman Catholic, but in the U.S. even Catholics have learned to always flash the Protestant smile) smile is far better than a grim Saudi executioner.

            And I speak as one who supports the full inclusion of GLBT people in all aspects of civic and religious life.

        • Danielle says:

          Easiest target? More like the biggest target. In the US, conservative Christians vastly outnumber Orthodox jews and muslims; and it is conservative Christians, being close to the US mainstream, that wish to reclaim the idea of “Christian America” and ascend podiums to fight the culture wars. Orthodox jews and the issuers of fatwas are addressing small, insider audiences. Everyone generally ignores them, because they don’t enter the mainstream debate all that much.

          Islam just gets ignored entirely by the US media unless something about it connects back to 9/11 or terrorism. Islam oversees? BORING, says the public. Where’s our newest Miley Cyrus video?

          • Danielle, maybe in the US, but that view is not applicable in other western nations, and the response is exactly the same. They freak out if Christians don’t support gay rights, but give muslims a free pass.

            Muslims are quickly becoming a majority minority in Western Europe.

            But, I actually don’t think the Jew and Muslim leaders (who aren’t the foaming at the mouth types) get involved, because our westernized definition of marriage – one man and woman for life – isn’t really their definition. In the old Ottoman Empire, where Jews and Eastern Orthodox Christians lived for centuries, the state had a civil form of marriage, the various religions had a religious form of marriage. Everyone (of means) would get the state-sanctioned civil form, but the religious institutions only recognized their own religious marriages as legit for their followers. Since that was the history of numerous Jews, E.O.s and Muslims, a western marriage licence carries less weight for them, so less reason to face ridicule from the media over it.

            That is the way I feel religious institutions should go. Allow the courts to grant whatever marriage licences they want, then, especially now, with the internet making mass communication so easy, have Churches reserve the right to perform a “Christian” wedding (Catholics would do a wedding mass). It would allow Christian institutions freedom to only hire those who were married in the church, but wouldn’t allow non-Christians the right to marriage in their churches under their stipulations.

    • cermak_rd says:

      Because in the US Orthodox Jews and observant Muslims together make up less than 5% of the population. Minority religions don’t usually go out of their way to make targets of themselves.

  3. No comment, but I appreciate your hard work compiling a great list of stories and topics. Plenty to chew on this week. Thanks.

  4. Daniel, perhaps it would be better to put those Margaret Sanger quotes in context? I certainly don’t agree with her on every issue, but I sure *do* have a lot of sympathy for her in. re. her pioneering work in getting birth control on the table for discussion, as well as admiration for her work in trying to make it available to those who were in great need.

    I spent a couple of decades in churches where she was routinely vilified and presented as if she was a female Satan, so I admittedly don’t have much tolerance for the script. Ditto for the gender studies stuff you mentioned – I know it might seem absurd (and sometimes people take it to extremes), but it really does matter.

    • He links to the context, it would appear. Though I cannot imagine what “context” could possibly make ANY of those quotes less repulsive. Can you? Honestly?

      This is annoying and alarming to me. As the left wins the gay rights battle, they increasingly throw the poor and vulnerable under the bus…again. Woe betide any public figure who espouses the position Obama held in August 2012! But say “sometimes the best thing for a poor baby is to kill it” and well…CONTEXT amirite?

      • Katie, I think you have to keep in mind that prior to Hitler and the ascendance of the Nazis, the US was *far* and away the biggest proponent of eugenics in the world. Sanger’s thing was birth control (which you’ll see if you read more on the site Daniel linked to), and very unfortunately, she imbibed a lot of the lethal cocktail that was eugenics. (We had forced sterilizations happening here, in some Southern states, w/out the consent of this women who were sterilized, or that of their guardians, up until the late 60s-very early 70s. The women were black. You might also Google “Tuskegee experiments” – actually occurred under *federal* oversight. There’s much more, and it’s reprehensible and horrifying.)

        If you get some actual context on Sanger’s advocacy of affordable birth control – for the poor especially – things will make more sense. She was demonized by the Culture Wars people back in the early 80s. As I said above, in no way can I or will I ever support some of the things she believed in, but those quotes really *are* presented here in a way that makes her look far worse than she was – and she wasn’t even close to the views of the most prominent eugenics people here in the US. (Who, as I’m sure you’ve inferred by now, were also extremely racist. Not surprisingly, they became well known during the same decades that saw the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, huge proliferation of lynchings, etc.)

        • Sorry, autocorrect magled your name – Kathe.

        • Please don’t lecture me. I am well aware of the history. But if she had ranted about wanting to send gays to camps, you would not be sitting here pleading with me that I just need to understand the context and appreciate how her good deeds outweigh the bad words. That’s the damned, pathetic truth.

          • I had no intention of “lecturing,” and few people *do* know about eugenics in the US – that’s how thoroughly it’s been covered up.

          • Covered up? I thought everyone knew about it. Germany actually imported US thinkers to engineer their brave new reich. Learned that in college. But I have to go with Kathe here. There is absolutely no context on the planet that makes Sanger less of a racist bigot who not only advocated killing the weak, but was adamant that the african-american population had to be eliminated. She was disgusting, on multiple levels.

          • Dr. Fundystan, I don’t know where you attended, or when, but I think you were lucky to get all of that info in a course. I am probably older than you (I gave a clue to that re. the encyclopedia set, which was new), and was never taught anything about this. It was something I had to learn on my own.

          • Well, to be fair, I did get a liberal arts degree. Yes, America led the world in eugenics and even experimentation. The National Socialists were just the only ones to really run with it.

          • So did I (liberal arts degree), but as to anyone actually teaching about it, well… Then again, WWII and Korea were so recent, they weren’t covered, either.

        • I thought the quote was going to be from Alfred Nobel. How do we feel about him these days?

        • Dan Crawford says:

          Im sorry, but I find no redeeming social value in Ms. Sanger’s ideas. They echo so much of what Robert Jay Lifton described in his book, The Nazi Doctors, and their obvious contempt for the poor, the “feeble-minded”, the racially different, and those who do not share her “enlightened” values and elevated social status undermine so much of what passes for many in the US today as rational, even compassionate, social policy. The great irony, of course, is that there is no essential difference between Sangerism and the social darwinism, racism and xenophobia of the contemporary Republican party – They ought to embrace her as enthusiastically as they embrace her ideological ally, Ayn Rand. Being hypocrites, they claim they are “pro-life”.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Katie, I think you have to keep in mind that prior to Hitler and the ascendance of the Nazis, the US was *far* and away the biggest proponent of eugenics in the world. Sanger’s thing was birth control (which you’ll see if you read more on the site Daniel linked to), and very unfortunately, she imbibed a lot of the lethal cocktail that was eugenics.

          Steven Jay Gould wrote several “history of science” essays on the subject, including how Darwin was used to prop up Eugenics and White Supremacy.

          “Only Perfect Seed must be Sown.”
          “Life to the Fit — Extinction to the Unfit!”

          IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE EXAMPLE OF THE NATIONAL SOCIALIST GERMAN WORKERS PARTY, EUGENICS AND MASTER RACE THEORY WOULD STILL BE RESPECTABLE MAINSTREAM SCIENCE.

          All the NSDAP did was (like all Eugenists) define themselves as The Fit; the difference was they Acted on their Belief System and carried out Eugenics to its logical ultimate end state.

        • I should clarify the reasons for Sanger being demonized by culture wars types: eugenics were never mentioned. The furor was over birth control.

          • Robert F says:

            Some culture warriors do make a connection between Sanger’s promotion of eugenics and the promotion of birth control among ethnic minorities. I’ve read occasional op-ed columns by them on this subject in my newspapers for many years now, so sometimes they do mention eugenics.

          • I was speaking in retrospect, re. the really hard line types that I came in contact with back in the 80s. Otherwise, completely agree, though I try to stay away from reading the kinds of columns you mention. They do bad things to my blood pressure.

      • We threw the poor and vulnerable under the bus on an unprecedented scale here in the US, from the late 19th century through the early 1970s, as a direct result of eugenics coupled with racism and de facto segregation in the Southern states.

        What Nazi Germany did with eugenics was not too far from what many Americans wanted to do, though this part of our history is largely ignored. To speak of it is difficult, not least because many prominent people were involved in financing it and in promoting and/or carrying out so-called “scientific” research in support of it.

        Even the encyclopedia set that my parents bought when I was a kid (probably purchased early 60s) had aHUGE article on “inferior” and “superior” races, skull measurements, cranial capacity – the works. I told my mom about that, not knowing what it really was about, and she politely but firmly told me that I should ignore it, since none of it was true or in any way accurate.

        • Robert F says:

          “We threw the poor and vulnerable under the bus on an unprecedented scale here in the US, from the late 19th century through the early 1970s, as a direct result of eugenics coupled with racism and de facto segregation in the Southern states. ”

          At the same time as the rise of social Darwinism. Causal connection? I’d wager so. Not that there weren’t plenty of social sins before, but it gave them a pseudo-scientific justification and validation. Survival of the fittest, you know.

          • Robert F says:

            “What Nazi Germany did with eugenics was not too far from what many Americans wanted to do…”

            It behooves us to remember that not only were many, or perhaps most, of those Americans wealthy and influential, but many were also prominent scientists. And in Europe, too.

          • Robert – yes on prominent scientists. Many appear to have been closely allied with the rich and powerful of their day,and vice versa.

          • Robert F says:

            And why wouldn’t they be allied with the rich and powerful? After all, it’s not exactly counter-intuitive to view social Darwinism as the logical societal extension of naturalistic evolution, and it’s not surprising that scientists in the the immediate wake of Darwin’s discoveries and theories would have a view of society in which eugenics played an important part.

            I understand that science since then has developed more nuanced views of the relationship between the mechanisms of naturalistic evolution and the social reality of the human species, views that often identify empathy as a characteristic important to the survival and thriving of human communities in previous eras and now.

            But, then again, it’s still not unusual to come across scientific spokespersons lapsing into the kind of “killing compassion” language that Sanger used, although usually with more euphemism: “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” It all depends on what the words “empathy” and “compassion” mean, doesn’t it?

            And this is one reason why I do not now, nor will I ever, accept that theory of NATURALISTIC evolution. Not only is it unable to meaningfully explain the transcendent dimension of empathy, it actually undermines the idea that there could be such a transcendent dimension by reducing all explanations to, and finding all causes in, the immanent (naturalistic).

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          We threw the poor and vulnerable under the bus on an unprecedented scale here in the US, from the late 19th century through the early 1970s, as a direct result of eugenics coupled with racism and de facto segregation in the Southern states.

          I think it more likely that Eugenics was just cited as Cosmic-level justification for what “Men of Sin” wanted to do anyway. “Less Evolved” just replaced “Curse of Ham” as Cosmic Justification for White Supremacy, getting Rich by exploting the poor, and for Holding the Whip in general, just with proof-texts from Darwin instead of Kynge Jaymes.

          There are three main branches of Social Darwinism. All involve Survival of the Fittest and Extinction of the Unfit (in practice with a little help from the Fit). The Weak are the Meat which the Strong do Eat.

          * Yuppie-ism: The organisms fighting to the death in the March of Evolution are individuals playing the Zero-Sum Game with each other, with Money and individual Power being the Marks of the Fit.

          * Naziism: The organisms fighting to Extinction of the Less Evolved are Macro-level organisms: Races and Nations. Milder versions of this are just raw racism citing Darwin chapter-and-verse, Hold the Whip or Feel the Whip.

          * Communism: The organisms fighting to Extinction of the Less Evolved are also Macro-level, in this case Ideological/Economic Philosophy Systems instead of Races and Nations, but still possessing and animating Nations as bodies to carry out the fight. This can syncrete easily with religions as well for Holy War, as Religion is a subset of Ideology.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Even the encyclopedia set that my parents bought when I was a kid (probably purchased early 60s) had aHUGE article on “inferior” and “superior” races, skull measurements, cranial capacity – the works.

          Including “facial angle”? According to Gould, that was one of the BIG indicators in 19th Century Scientific Racism. Naturally, whites had the largest facial angle, NorthWest Europeans (Anglo-Saxons & Nordics) were alleged to have the largest of those, second only to Classical Roman or Greek sculpture of gods and heroes. (Never mind that relative “facial angle” was first measured by an artist in an attempt to properly proportion non-European faces.

          As for “skull measurements” and “cranial capacity” in general, were there any acknowledgments to a certain H. Himmler and his Blut & Boden boys?

      • Honestly, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard good, anti-abortion, middle class Christians advocate sterilization for the, (ahem) “underclasses” because they are “breeding” too quickly and are nothing but lreeches on the government dole.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Yep, I hear that one at least once a month. Eugenics is alive and well.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “RULERS OF TOMORROW! MASTER RACE!”
            – Ralph Bakshi, “Wizards”

          • I though I ran with a varied crowd from all ends of the political spectrum but I’ve never heard anyone mention that. At least not out loud.

            Now there was this one guy back in the 70s, a relation by marriage who expressed incredibly racist views and he may have said such things but I don’t remember it.

        • First it was the filthy Irish, who were oversexed and bred like rabbits in their dirty little Papist hovels….

          Ditto for Italians, Poles, and Gypsies (the latter were also thieves).

          Then blacks, Hispanics, and poor white southern trash.

          Sanger was touted by the early Feminists (I should know, I was a card-carrying NOW member as a very young woman in the 70′s) as the guiding light of birth control, freeing poor immigrant women from the curse of yearly pregnancies due to the lusts of their animal-like husbands. She was portrayed as a saint, for saving the health and lives of these women.

          NO ONE at that time pointed out her eugenic and racist beliefs….to her, these tenement dwellers were no more than feral cats who must be spayed, lest they and their offspring become an increasing burden to decent people.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            First it was the filthy Irish, who were oversexed and bred like rabbits in their dirty little Papist hovels….

            As pointed out by Monty Python:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUspLVStPbk

            NO ONE at that time pointed out her eugenic and racist beliefs….to her, these tenement dwellers were no more than feral cats who must be spayed, lest they and their offspring become an increasing burden to decent people.

            Decent people like herself?

            “I THANK THEE, LOORD, THAT I AM NOTHING LIKE THOSE FILTHY TENEMENT DWELLERS OVER THERE…”

    • So, it’s OK to make horrible comments and have despicable views if you do one thing that may be laudable?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Absolutely, YES. History makes that *very* clear. We mine history for candidates of the archetypes we need. Those archetypes are not the people themselves but symbolic of some virtue [or believed virtue]. Attacking people’s ‘heros’ is nothing but playing into the historical grudge matches.

        George Washington was a bigoted slave owner after all who made numerous vile comments about the populations of the other colonies. Yet he is on our money, and next to nobody objects to that. Because what is on the dollar bill is not really George Washington but an archetype necessary to establish a sense of solidarity. That is not bad, or bigoted, or ignoring the brutality of slavery, or ignoring history, it just is what it is.

        Even Andrew Jackson has fans! As a manly rugged individualist, when the guy was a coin toss short of being a mass murderer.

        These grudge matches are stupid, and beneath the IM community.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          Excellent comnent, Adam. Full agreement from me!

        • Adam,

          Does what you’re saying mean that it is pointless to attempt more accurate reconstructions of history in which, say, Columbus is not glorified in the way he traditionally was, and his faults are acknowledged in the name of recognizing historical injustices that may still have an effect in our contemporary reality?

          Are you completely against the revisioning of history that has taken place in the last half century, a revisioning at least sometimes intended to redress the grievances of oppressed communities for whom honoring the oppressors that the dominant culture has called heroes is not possible without continuing to diminish their own suppressed histories?

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            Of course not, but that is business of history and historians. The complexity of history can inform us. That is what “H”istory is for.

            BUT we need to aware of context, just a we must be when reading scripture [or any text]. Like the Nobel prize or whatever eponymous thing – we need to recognize what we are talking about – and it is not the named people [usually men]. Devolving the award of a Nobel Prize to a discussion of Mr. Nobel would entirely misses the point. When we socially use these historic figures we are not really discussing history. That is all, and everyone does this, all the time, and they understand what is happening … until someone refuses to [or can't, due to either mental illness or unmanageably intense bias] and then it gets all tedious, angry, and pointless.

            Every serious person understands the significance and *point* of the award given to Nancy Pelosi, regardless of how they feel about the historical figure. If you disagree with Pelosi dragging the history of the awards name-sake into it is just rhetoric. Let’s talk about the policies and positions of Pelosi that one disagrees with [or agrees with] and why. That is a discussion. Beating the dead is just rhetoric.

            History is like Theology. It is a powerful truth-filled thing. But it is only a good force when used in the appropriate context, and carefully, by cautious minds. Thrown to the hands of the crowd to use in their crusades both cloud as much, if not more, then they enlighten.

        • Adam – +1.

        • “These grudge matches are stupid, and beneath the IM community.”

          I’m glad we have you here Adam, such a model of morality and rectitude. You’ve changed my mind about Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, etc. Heck, even John Wayne Gacy had his GOOD points! After all, he did clowning for children…

          • There is a world of difference between A)Doing things that make the world an overall better place, even though holding wrong/evil/etc views and B)Being a wretched, evil monster that happened to have some good points about them.

      • Martin Luther has an entire church body named after him and is considered a vital part of the modern era…and wrote some very horrific things about Jews. And he was German and then there was that whole Holocaust thing against Jews, but “Move along! Nothing to see here!”

        Yes, this is nothing new.

        • Robert F says:

          “Holocaust thing”?

          I guess I’m a bit old-fashioned when I think that the style and tone should match the gravity of the subject.

          Call me a dinosaur.

        • And if anyone here said, “Suzanne, you’re taking Luther’s comments on the Jews out of context. See, you have to understand…” then someone should also point out to them that “context” doesn’t make his statements any more defensible.

          That doesn’t mean every other thought he had was bad–notice I didn’t say Sanger never had one good thought, either. But trying to play down the horrific is inappropriate.

          • I apologize for sounding glib about the Holocaust! Oh my, that is not how I meant to come across! Lesson learned…

          • I am Lutheran and absolutely abhor Luther’s virulent antisemitism. The synod I belong to has repudiated “On thebJews and their lies” and has tried to apologize for the evils he perpetrated (right down to his hideous foreshadowing of Kristallnacht and worse).

            Kathe, I think you misunderstood what I was, albeit awkwardly, attempting to say above re. birth control. Not for one second can I or will I excuse Sanger’s eugenics rhetoric. It is evil.

            Birth control, imo, is not evil.

            OK?

      • Martin Luther said some horrific things about Jews but nobody seems to bother with that too much. Not much at all…

      • So, it’s OK to make horrible comments and have despicable views if you do one thing that may be laudable?

        So where would you place Martin Luther and his view on Jews?

  5. A most excellent post, especially the second paragraph. Its good to know that other people on this site understand this.

  6. Donalbain says:

    As a matter of reader feedback, I thought I should let you know that I am done here. Saturday ramblings used to be a light hearted little look at the world. Now it is just a bitter angry right wing affair. Have fun with that.

    • I feel much the same re. the politicization of the Saturday Ramblings posts.

      Daniel, I don’t really understand why you’ve changed the direction of this space quite so radically, but … It just doesn’t feel like a welcoming space anymore. I hope that changes, but…

      • Final Anonymous says:

        Agreed.

      • Are you kidding? Saturday Ramblings were always full of political as well as cultural content. I think what may be bothering you is something else entirely…

    • I’ve noticed that too… I’m open to hearing some of the culture war perspectives now and then – keeps me honest and still thinking and empathetic – but I already hear it everywhere around me (i’m the lone moderate, left leaning individual in all my circles)… I come to internetmonk to get away from some of that and hear about how the church/followers of Christ are dealing with other things in our society (and our churchianity bubble) besides the ‘sex’ issues…I’ll still check-in but I may ‘bounce’ out again quicker.

      • I have to agree. When Jeff was writing this Saturday post it was a light-hearted, somewhat quirky take on the happenings of the week; you could almost see the crooked grin on his face all the way through the post. And for that I came here first thing every Saturday morning. But now the Saturday Ramblings has become a culture wars diatribe, something I come to the Internet Monk to get away from. I’m really disappointed, and I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who’s disheartened by this.

        • What a HOOT! I stopped visiting daily because the site was leaning to far to the anti-Tea Party, political progressive side of things! Either the lefties can’t take it as well as they dish it or this site tries to cover both sides of the spectrum and NO ONE is happy.

          I WOULD like o see, though, a more light hearted, maybe ironic and slightly sarcastic, take on Ramblings. It is still the one thing I look forward to reading.

          • What is so right wing about OPPOSING eugenics?? Basketball stories? Laughing at Miley Cyrus? Finding fetus-fuel repugnant? Ridiculing Queen Oprah??

            I am with Oscar….more lightness would be welcome, but if I wanted left-leaning progressive Christianity I can find it 101 other places.

          • Final Anonymous says:

            The lightness is the issue, I think. A little eye-rolling and even group self-deprating humor. Seems to be a little too much focus on cultural war issues right now, and we all know how that turns out.

            Daniel, I do appreciate you taking the time to do this. Hope the feedback is helpful.

          • Rick Ro. says:

            I’m kinda with Oscar on this, too. I appreciate the slightly right leaning take Daniel offers. It’s refreshing here. To me, it offers a healthy contrast to the slightly left leaning slant of most of the other articles I read at iMonk. Funny how people agree with things and find things funny, until it pokes fun at their own viewpoint and offers a counterpoint to their own beliefs.

            As full disclosure, though, I liked the slightly left leaning take that Jeff did as well.

    • Daniel is just into this a few weeks. I am sure he appreciates hearing feedback (though maybe couched in a little more friendly terms.)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Donalbain, I’ve been there. I have a few times been utterly disgusted by things I have read here. And there have been more frequent times I have thought “that crazy like a barrell of monkey”. But many many times what I find is enlightening, beautiful, or a textual embodiment of kindness. I occasionally drop out for a couple of months if a few barrell of monkeys in a row come along, that is probably healthy – it is just a BLOG after all, if it is making your angry… there is a lot of other stuff to read. And as I’ve been reading IM for a l-o-n-g time I can tell you that it does goes through moods and occasionally picks up an obsession. That happens to everything. They come, they pass.

      However, I have been reading IM for that l-o-n-g time and even when the authors here completely stuff it [in my opinion at least] I still trust them. The frequency of the good stuff is high enough.

      If anyone writes any significant number of anything they are going to make a few clinkers. And sometimes they are just going to be wrong. I don’t write this kind of stuff, but other usually more technical kinds of things, and I still manage to achieve that level of failure – with really really ‘boring’ stuff. There is a slogan in some software development shops: writing code is hard, writing efficient and reliable code is really hard, writing documentation is even harder, writing good documentation is impossible. It is geeky but I pivot that around to life: life is hard, taking life seriously is harder, explaining life is impossible. Yet we are compelled to try; so try to be charitable about the result.

      And humor – that is the hardest thing to write, hands down. The training and presentations I have done prove that. Try to make something amusing or funny…. bewildered silence, awkward. But the joke seem obvious to me! And that may be success. Humor is like wet dynamite – it can blow up in your face at any given moment.

      • Documentation. Producing it — the bane of my existence. Not producing it — just making my own life harder down the road.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Ditto, mega-ditto.

        • Isn’t good code self-documenting! :P

          • Hmmmm. Let’s define “good”.

            Some of the “best” code I wrote for for a business system where the code and data had to fit into 8KB. Dense stuff. Self documenting. Maybe if you were a top 10% programming and had been working with the system for a few months. :)

            We would go out for dinner if we saved 2 or 3 bytes. Throw a party if we found 10 or more.

          • David L., octal & paper tape?

          • Wang 2200 P-Code system. Interactive compiled as you entered the code. The microcode executed the tokens that resulted.

            Most programs has a single comment at the beginning with the name and version number.

            A few tight ones didn’t have the luxury.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Hi all

      Actually I do appreciate the feedback. Chaplain Mike asked me to write this, but it’s not like I have a job description. So it is helpful to hear the take of others.

      I try to ask two questions when I decide what to include. First, what would the readers find interesting or discussion-worthy this week? Second, which of those items has already not been covered this week at imonk or the mainstream news?

      I have little interest in furthering the culture wars. This week I just happened to find a lot of interesting items that I did not hear covered in the mainstream news. I usually listen to NPR, so perhaps that is not representative.

      I am not a rightwinger, actually. I track as a moderate with strong libertarian leanings, if you’re interested. I split tickets when I vote. The main exception to this is abortion, which I feel very passionate about. I also care deeply about freedom of expression.

      But I will certainly try to be more light-hearted. As Adam noted, being whimsical, especially about important subjects, is very difficult to pull off.

      • Robert F says:

        I think you’re doing fine, Daniel. So what if the “parting on the left is now parting on the right”? The pendulum swings.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > being whimsical, especially about important subjects, is very difficult to pull off.

        I’ve written things whimsically that when *I* reread them I didn’t get the joke. It is sad to read something you wrote yourself and think “this guy is an ass”. I suspect that I am not alone in that experience.

        But to go and still crack the second joke – that is courage! You also have to be good at dodging flying fruit.

      • Sorry if I came on too strong, Daniel. like others, I guess I’m here on Saturdays mainly for enjoyment and conversation. I used to write for publication and am really aware that it takes time to find the right groove; also that humor is difficult to pull off.

        Looking forward to future posts by you.

        Cheers,
        n.

      • Daniel, thanks for the reply and explanation about yourself. That’s helpful and some of us, including me, may have assumed more about you than was appropriate. Thanks for your work in bringing the ramblings and your humble openness to feedback.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Is there a set schedule for someone to come on this site and complain about how InternetMonk is changing? Perhaps one for conservatives, one for liberals (as it seems that both are equally upset)? Can we get that posted up somewhere, so I’ll know when it’s my turn to register the “Waaa…it’s not Michael Spencer” complaint of the week? I’m pretty sure I missed a couple of postings.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      ->”I should let you know that I am done here…Now it is just a bitter angry right wing affair.”

      So let me get this straight. As long as it matches your beliefs, you’re good with it, but the second it drifts toward something you don’t agree with, you’re going to leave. Gee…there’s open-mindedness for ya!

      My opinion…while Daniel’s writing drifts toward the right, it’s hardly “bitter angry right wing” stuff. I like the fact that he presents a little counter-balance to the typical slant of most iMonk articles.

    • I was thinking just the opposite. Saturday Ramblings used to be a cynical affair. Yes there was humor, but it struck me as bitter not light. Now I find the articles and links very interesting, but I do agree that a bigger infusion of humor would be a plus.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        ->Begin bigger infusion of humor.

        HUMOR HUMOR HUMOR HUMOR

        ->End bigger infusion of humor

        • Rick Ro. says:

          I messed up. Should’ve been:

          ->Begin bigger infusion of humor.

          INFUSION OF HUMOR INFUSION OF HUMOR INFUSION OF HUMOR

          ->End bigger infusion of humor

  7. Re: Miley Cyrus:

    Admit it–you’re not just interested in the educational or theological aspect. You like to watch.

    • Robert F says:

      When I’ve seen pictures of Miley Cyrus like the one above, I feel pity for her. There’s something sad about her cartoonish antics, and the way that some intellectuals (like the ones at Skidmore college) ridiculously view them as liberating and subversive.

      No, Wexel, I for one don’t “like to watch.” They make me cringe.

      • Agree. I’ve seen more amusing train wrecks. And her hair stylist should be sent to prison for that abomination. It’s but ugly, and apart from the die hard wannabe fans, it ain’t catching on.

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          In defense of the hairstylist, I want to believe it’s an attempt to distract from the clothes, the lewd dancing, the mediocre talent, etc. It doesn’t help, but I’m willing to give a D for effort.

      • Miley has no idea how much she looks like Bill the Cat. That was before she was born.
        http://www.mooseadventures.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Billthecat0284.jpg

      • cermak_rd says:

        I wouldn’t feel too much pity for her, I think she’s having fun with the whole thing and laughing all the way to the bank.

        I mean, she’s really not much of a trainwreck compared to Lohan or Spears.

        • Yes, she is…just in more embryonic stage of meltdown.

          • Vega Magnus says:

            Or is she? Honestly, it all strikes me as completely manufactured. Most aspects of pop singers these days are manufactured by the record labels, so why not manufacture a “meltdown” to get attention as well? It obviously worked perfectly for Miley, as she has gone from being an afterthought in the pop world to a massive big deal. Her voice still sounds like a dying chipmunk though…

          • Robert F says:

            Vegas Magnus,

            Yes, this, all cynical manipulation and no talent. Phoney rebellion. Not a train wreck, but the image of a train wreck. She probably didn’t inhale.

            Give me Johnny Rotten any day…

      • If you’re suggesting that just because something leads somebody to a big pay-off, and a personal attitude typified by derisive laughter, it means that what they are doing is not pitiable, I couldn’t agree with you less…

        • cermak_rd says:

          I think what I’m saying is she wouldn’t want your pity. She is an adult doing adult things her own way and she seems to be having fun doing it. Quite honestly, she doesn’t seem to have done anything Madonna didn’t do 20-30 years ago.

          • Robert F says:

            Wexel asked a question. I responded to his question. That Cyrus would not want my pity has nothing to do with it. Do you take exception to my feeling about this subject? If so, why?

          • Robert F says:

            “She is an adult doing adult things….”

            Seriously? Maybe you should take another look at the image above…..

          • Marcus Johnson says:

            I agree. Nothing about Miley’s career suggests to me anything remotely “adult.”

          • Well my 6 month old kitten did it when she “came of age” a couple years ago too, and that doesn’t give the behavior anything like the dignity of being “adults doing adult things.”

      • When I see the words “Miley Cyrus” my eyes skip several sentences so as to avert pain.

        Some things are only worth looking at with your bad eye….

    • I don’t like to “watch,” either. I feel sorry for the young lady, not to mention the bad image she portrays onto impressionable girls.

      And it ruined my first sip of freshly ground French roast this morning. I will never recover the moment.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Which brings another tie-in with the Saudi Islam sub-thread:

        No Miley Cyrus in Saudi Islam.
        No Bratz Dolls in Saudi Islam.
        No Prostitot Fashions in Saudi Islam.
        Only ferocious public morality, continuous Prayer, and Praise of GOD.

    • petrushka1611 says:

      She sang pretty well with The Flaming Lips recently…she can’t be TOO much of a train wreck for that to happen!

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Are you admitting you like to watch, Wexel?

  8. He did, however, spend the first two paragraphs complaining about “outsiders” and “evangelical types” who “create discord” and “promote personal causes and agendas.”

    “We are now confronted by a series of demonstrations by some of our Negro citizens, directed and led in part by outsiders.”

    The first shows the quotations by the university official objecting to pro-life demonstrators; the second is from the letter by eight white clergymen objecting to Martin Luther King’s demonstrations in Birmingham. We can’t be having these outsiders, evidently, despite King’s claim that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

    • Sorry, but you can’t quote MLK as a moral authority in this thread — Daniel Jepsen already told us in the post above that Dr. King was a moral reprobate beneath contempt.

      King didn’t just accept the Sanger award from Planned Parenthood — he was proud to do so. He actually considered it an honor to be associated with Planned Parenthood and exuberantly praised its work in a speech accepting the award.

      In King’s partial defense, though, he was praising the actual Sanger and the actual Planned Parenthood, and there’s no way he could have known in 1966 the kind of mythic evil those names would come to signify half a century later.

  9. I love the ad! Thanks for that, Daniel.

  10. In other news, David Trampier (aka “Tramp”), one of the most prolific illustrators of early Dungeons and Dragons materials, died yesterday. If you’re not an old gamer like me, you may not know his story or appreciate his impact. I encourage you to Google it if you’re not familiar, but I warn you, it is somewhat mysterious and sad.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Bummer. I remember what Gary Gygax died, there was a moment of silence held on several IRC channels I use.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And a lot of Christian Spiritual Warfare Activists rejoiced about Gygax’s death like Fred Phelps at a funeral.
        “Now He KNOWS ALL ABOUT HELL & DEMONS!!!!!”

        The Satanic Panic of the Eighties drove a wedge between Christians and Gamers that may never be healed.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Again I think you overstate.

          (a) I played D&D in a church owned facility, at least once. I can’t count, that was a scary long time ago. And it was a church youth facility run by a *woman* no less. How that happened there I have no idea. It didn’t last long as it didn’t attract the proper sort – still, it happened. My memory is that she was pretty cool.

          (b) I’ve met no shortage of Christian ‘gamers’, from various stripes of Christianity.

          But certainly some damage was done. I grew up in a place where it was common knowledge that the Baptist church was built on a site that was previously used by a conven…. well, depending on one’s definition of “knowledge”. I studied Latin, and I carried my text books in a brown paper bag, to avoid suspicion. Still, it was easy enough to distinguish between those headed towards the 21st century, and those headed the other way.

          • Adam, I remember people reacting pretty much the way HUG says.

            Much is dependent on where one was at the time, I guess.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            Me too, they were down right scary. People talking about other people killing babies in their basements, like What??? My point is that is wasn’t everybody, even then there were people saying those people were nuts. Even in rural, mostly abandoned buildings, Michigan.

          • You don’t recall the campus murder case where D&D was seen as a spur to the actual killing? That was in1981 or so, and coverage was in mainstream media.

            By no means were “crazies” the only people who thought the game was evil, or potentially so.

    • Clarification – apparently he died earlier in the week, but because he was so reclusive it took several days for the word to reach the gaming world.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Checking my old AD&D1 books for his “DAT” signature. Looks like he did a third of the original Monster Manual, and his bold, slightly “off” pen-and-ink style shows up on several unsigned pics in Players Handbook & DM’s Guide. Can’t find any with his signet or style in Deities & Demigods.

      Looks like he came onboard with AD&D1, though. No mention of him in the original “Brown Box” stuff I used in the mid-Seventies.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        I don’t think I owned anything until the Red Box came out. No clue what year that was.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      I remember my old D&D days with great fondness. Several great friendships through my years of playing in the dorm at the University of Washington. And curiously, part of my personal salvation story includes a D&D friend who became a Christian and had a role in me becoming a Christian. And some evangelicals claim D&D is evil…

      • Around 82 NPR did a story about the emerging Christian Contemporary music. Amy Grant and all that. They interviewed a big time Baptist pastor and his comment was if music makes you want to tap you toe to it, it is the work of the devil. I guess he’d have a heart attack if he attended many of the Baptist services in the south these days.

  11. Cedric Klein says:

    When it comes to Female Pop Singers With Questionable Messages, I like to watch Katie Perry, Pink, Christina Aquilera, even Britney Spears. This new abomination Miley Cyrus has transformed herself into is not by any imagination what I’d like to watch.

    • cermak_rd says:

      Oh, I love Pink! She’s my favorite contemporary musician.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Ditto, ick. She is neither beautiful or alluring, just sad.

    • Vega Magnus says:

      Lol. Aguilera has been a punch line for years now and Katy Perry is coasting on inertia at this point. (Go listen to Dark Horse if you don’t believe me.) Besides, pop sucks. Hail metal!

  12. Could have done without the Miley Cyrus picture. But then I guess it does show what a train wreck she has become.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And what happens when that becomes old hat and she has to top herself to keep the fame going?

    • I would $ay $he know$ what $he i$ doing and i$ $ucce$$ful at what $he intend$

    • Aren’t we all?

      I recall the post earlier this week regarding moral gag reflexes: we gag on the site of other’s brokenness while our own sin has long since become an acquired taste.

      We don’t see our own reflection in the sin of others; rather, we come compare ourselves to them and think we’re at east better than they. I thank you, “god”, that I’m not a despicable sinner like that celebrity?

      The old Adam is terrifyingly deceptive and self-delusional.

  13. You just HAD to put up THAT picture of Miley Cyrus, didn’t you?! It beamed into my eyeballs right as I was taking my first sip of fresh ground, French roast coffee this morning. That’s just wrong! Worst injustice since Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer was burned at the stake in 1556. Shame on you, sir!

  14. Saudi ultra-fundamentalism (Wahhabism) is not representative of the Muslim world, thankfully. But the enormous wealth that their oil has created has given them the resources to export that point of view by creating and funding schools and missionaries in Africa and elsewhere. Oil wealth has allowed what was a numerically insignificant sect to aggressively proselytize and disseminate their views throughout the Muslim world. So the spreading of the hateful message is financed by the people of the industrialized nations, who are lapping up their oil.

    • And not all Saudis are Wahhabis, despite the stereotypes…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        But the Wahabis dominate Saudi.

        Islamic Reconstructionism/Dominionism?
        With al-Wahab as its Rushdoony?

        • There is an alliance between certain members of the royal family and the Wahhabis. But that does not make all Saudis into Wahhabis by default.

          They have been on the ascendant for some decades, yes. But it doesn’t mean that people necessarily agree, only that they are in a position of power.

          It isn’t exactly a democracy…

          • Correct. These Muslim states are still essentially monarchies. Still, when it works, it works well. I loved my time in UAE, and have profound respect for Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

          • And with the USA, which opposes Middle Eastern democracy for fear of the effect on oil and Jews.

      • Of course not, but those who are not are repressed.

        I have a Saudi friend who is Shi’a. The things she has told me about life in a society dominated and controlled by Wahhabi fundamentalism are chilling.

        There is a movement in SA dedicated to bringing about reform and a more just and open society. But those who agitate for such reform often end up (like my friend’s aunt) in prison.

        • Bill – very good and relevant points. Though as I noted just above, political dominance is not the same thing as majority support or rule in this case.

          I think the threat of prison and reprisals keeps most Saudis fearful of saying or doing anything to attract the notice of the powerful there. Can’t say I blame them, as there is no way out of a downward spiral, short of successfully fleeing the country and beginning a new life elsewhere. That isn’t an option for 99% of the people there…

  15. You’re doing a great job Pastor Daniel. It can’t be easy finding all of these things to write about every week. Keep up the good work.

  16. Interesting Saturday rambling type material here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/03/28/4801079/elevation-church-pastor-steven.html#.UzbUS_ldWdg

    The new mayor of Charlotte, NC is arrested for corruption after less than 6 months in office, and resigns the same day. And who should be seen leaving his house a mere day or two later? Can’t make this stuff up.

  17. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    Daniel, I also get the impression that the Ramblings have been playing into the (Conservative) Evangelical Persecution Complex, rather than making fun of it. The Ramblings have always been a tool of making fun of the crew in the mirror. Sure, lets make fun of both sides, but with the balance swinging this far to the right, it is decidely less fun on a Saturday morning. And coming here on a Saturday morning is one of the first tasks of my weekend – sometimes late on a Friday night here on the northern prairies…

  18. Dan Crawford says:

    Daniel, keep up the good work. The site needs an equal-opportunity gorer of every sacred cow, and even when I feel some of mine have been gored, I am forced to stop and take stock of what I think and why. I love Internet Monk and havew for a long, long time. It’s required daily reading for me.

  19. Ronald Avra says:

    Not sure that the opening remark about getting together for breakfast was intended to be taken literally; would have been nice if you had actually been able to pull it off.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      You’d need a really big corner table.

      “I go into restaurant, waitress asks ‘How many in your Party’, I say ‘six million’, she gives me corner booth.”
      – Yakov Smirnov

    • David Cornwell says:

      It opens itself to literal interpretation. I can tell by the genre of the writing, and the intent of the original purpose. I’m using my expertise in inductive study that I learned many years ago in seminary. I just do the parsing, and use a literal method of exegesis. And then consult the commentaries. Or write my own.

      But, since the writer is still living, just ask him!

      Or, don’t take me too seriously today. It’s still gloomy, clouds, cold rain, and makes me want to read a book until nap time.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        I guess. But sometimes one tires of “The Culture Wars, without end. And all God’s people say Amen, Hallelujah”.

        One can make fun without partaking in it. So C’mon Daniel, throw us a line there!

      • Robert F says:

        “But, since the writer is still living, just ask him!”

        Under the influence of inspiration, the writer may not have been aware of all he was conveying. Add to this the fact that the boundaries of the text are never merely co-extensive with the writer’s intent, and there’s enough here to keep a convention hall full of scholarly experts in business for a few thousand years…That’s good, it keeps the off the streets.

        • Daniel Jepsen says:

          That’s true. But we did, in fact, meet for a literal breakfast at a literal Panera Bread restaurant.

          • Robert F says:

            Excuse me, but you will just have to leave that to the historians to determine, argue about and make a good living in academia from.

          • Daniel Jepsen says:

            My bad.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            Hah, I first read that as a “liberal Panera Bread” and was like, huh? I mean, one did just open on my nearest bus route, so I’ve eaten there… but don’t damn the whole chain on account of me. The French Onion soup there is really good, especially in the sour dough bread bowl.

    • Actually, while you were writing your comment, Ronald, some of us from iMonk, including Daniel, were having breakfast together. But yes, the rest of you were only there in spirit, which is the lowest-calorie way to have breakfast. Well done.

  20. David Cornwell says:

    Internet Monk is about the “post-evangelical wilderness.” Don’t forget the “wilderness” part when you comment on the direction “Saturday Ramblings” is taking. There is nothing wrong with Daniel’s approach. The responses to his writing just show that the wilderness is still very much a thing to reckoned with. Some of the responses show that there are those who are afraid that the Evangelical agenda of the past is being corroded, and are attempting to show the way back into that wilderness. Just let it take is course. Wandering around in circles will eventually get tiresome. Strident defensiveness isn’t a good thing to hear over and over again, but, in the wilderness there is fear. And fear will keep us in a dark place.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Is it still a wilderness? It is getting to be a rather crowded one.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        Hmm…now there’s an interesting observation. Could there be a time when the churches are empty, and the crowd of believers is outside? (Some may say that’s already happening.)

  21. Bones in the backyard? More common than you think. A late friend of mine was using his backhoe on his acreage in Colorado over a decade ago and started turning up human bones. Called the sheriff, who quickly figured out that they were a little too old to be his bailiwick. Local college sent over an anthropologist, who realized he now had a research site that would keep him busy for years.

    Basketmaker II site, from 1700-2000 years old. Amazing what still out there just waiting to be found.

  22. Another of my favorite accidental discoveries:

    http://www.kpax.com/news/florence-hunter-finds-fossilized-plesiosaur/

  23. First the dog, then the car. Replaced with Miss Miley? I’m old enough to remember when I could come here once a week in the olden days to get away from political and theological and sociological wrangling, find something to laugh about and forget my troubles for a bit along with those of the world at large. Oh well, I did get to witness first hand Steve Martin staying up all night out in the freezing rain and snow to be first in line as usual, only wonder of wonders:
    1) No doctrinal lecture
    2) A different subject than the last 1000 posts
    3) Even provided the date so I could mark it on my calendar
    As to what it meant, I dunno, but then I never do. You go, Steve!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I know. He’s first in the comment thread so often, I wonder if he camps out on the site.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      It means the rapture happened. Again.

      I love Steve’s comments, though. Whether you like his mini-sermons or not, at least he keeps bringing us back to the one thing we should all be aiming at: Jesus.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      I had the wrong date on the post at first. That is what Steve’s remark referred to. I realized this just as I was drifting off to sleep last night: “crap, tomorrow isn’t the 30th”. But there was no way I was getting out of that warm bed to fix it.

  24. Dana Ames says:

    And for the weather report:

    We have had a few inches of gentle rain over the past week, with enough clearing to keep the vitamin D being produced, to continue through Tuesday. We are not collectively letting our breath out yet, here in northern California. The same kind of precip will need to keep going into June, and even then the effect will be to simply stave off water rationing for this year. So please keep praying, thank you.

    Now, back to the anchor desk…

    Dana

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      So that last set of rains came in the north?
      We got hardly at all in the south.

      • Dana Ames says:

        We got the latest rain – you got the latest quake….

        D.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          You don’t know the half of it. I was on the phone with one of my writing partners (the son of a steelworker I team with on My Little Pony fanfics) when the quake hit. Jolt, rumble and roll, I go “Earthquake…” and he’s the one who starts panicking from 3000 miles away.

  25. Marcus Johnson says:

    Wow, Rob Bell and Oprah. I was okay with the internet interview, enjoyed his Tumblr posts, and read most of his books, but he’s going pop gospel in a way that makes me cringe. And few things make me cringe.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Sounds cringe-worthy, yes. But what might look like “pop gospel” to us could be “reaching a broader audience for God and Jesus” to him. Don’t we all wish we could get our own specific belief in Jesus and God to a few more people? Isn’t that why we come here and comment, to share our glimpse of how we see Jesus, God, the Gospel, etc.? It’s just that he’s been more successful at it than we have. I’m sure any of us, if asked by Oprah to participate in something related to our beliefs, would leap at the chance.

      • Robert F says:

        Wrong-o, Rick Ro. I would leap away from any such chance.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          +1. Count me out. No way.

          First because I do not want that kind of drama, and second because I just straight-up do not believe that works [your message, whatever it is, is going to get owned-and-chown'ed], Does Ophrah successfully really *promote* an idea… or is she a total wizard at choosing what is already popular and buffing it up to appear novel?

          I can’t think of anything that might cause a real ruckus, or anything really substantial, that she has totally gotten behind. Rob Bell fits comfortably into that category – a non-confrontational hyper-moderate vanilla religion which will allow both the pauper and the billionaire to do an enlightened head bob, “why, yes, of course”.

          Which is sad, she could really pick just about any issue, anywhere, and totally move the needle. Not going to happen. New York city is trying to figure out how to pay to harden the city against future storms – Oprah Winfrey has the capital to just pay to have it done, and still live very comfortably. It is *staggering* how much money [aka power] some of these celebrities have – and when they take up a cause it is a safe one and mostly they just talk talk talk. Yes, I resent them, it is absurd. They should shut up or pony up. And certainly people should stop listening to their blather. But that is not going to happen either.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        After reading all your responses, I guess I agree…LOL. I like the relatively drama-less iMonk community, too. (But my “writer-self” – the one who is close to finishing the first draft of his sci-fi novel – thinks, “Wow, wouldn’t it be cool if my book made Oprah’s book club thingy!?” We can dream, can’t we?)

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      If Oprah asked me to put on my best suit and roll around in poo for some Oprah money, I would probably do it with very few questions asked, sure. But I’m not interested in a crowd-sourced, mass-marketed version of the gospel. It’s a very complex, mysterious message that requires a serious level of commitment from its listeners.

      I’m not trying to be a Rob Bell by coming on InternetMonk. I’m not a pastor or a evangelist. I’m just a guy writing on the internet, and I’m not particularly interested in drawing a mass following of faithful disciples. So if Bell is becoming successful at something, I don’t think he’s interested in the same goals as me. I’m sure he’s nipping on Joel Osteen’s heels, but not mine.

  26. Vega Magnus says:

    I have a question for you guys that has been gnawing at me for the past month or so. With all of the crap going on in “Christian” circles, ranging from Steven Furtick, to Mark Driscoll, to World Vision, and all of the other stuff that has been swirling about recently, have any of you been tempted to quit hanging around “Christian” circles? It’s just so discouraging and depressing.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I pretty much have, except with the local Romans. Not so much really because of WV and all that kind of crap – but mostly because they just aren’t interesting, and they don’t do anything. Hurl some money over the wall to some missionaries somewhere else, or send their kids on morality play vacations [aka short-term mission trips], but generally … really… nothing. Ah, they have a prayer chain. The Evangelical communities [what we are really talking about] I’ve encountered seem more like self-imposed ghettos than communities. And they just have so very amazingly astonishingly little integration with the larger community – which is really full of interesting people, doing [or trying to do] interesting things, and really a lot of good.

      But the Evangelical communities hang on to this 1970s era malaise and Reagen-esque world-view of fear and decline. I grew up with that, then I found it mirrored in the Evangelical circles I entered. I’m rid of it now and no desire to go back, and honestly, quite little patience for the people who want to stay there. I’m not going to chase after them. I did try that for bit.

      It is so strange, because the world I live in now – one of openness, most everyone I meet on the street is happy, the local economy is booming, we have a new park, the river just got a sparkling clean bill of health, several times a week hundreds of people get together and dance in the central park. Even the low-income housing down the hill from me is being rebuilt – from 60s era [dark very ugly] tenement buildings to bright open buildings on tree line avenues. There is so much good stuff. But the world I grew up in – all that was impossible. Could never happen, the world is broken, corrupt, cities are dangerous, people are to be viewed with suspicion, foreigners are going to take all the jobs, and on and on and on… I step back into a Evangelical community and I listen to people talk – and then I can look out the window and see a dangerous world filled with suspicious people and looming enemies. Because that community is still there, like the dwarves in the stable in The Last Battle. They want to be there, they need the fear.

      I am so glad not to be there. Go back? Never. They have nothing to offer. Nothing. But they are welcome to join me, and lots and lots of other people, out here where the sun shines. And Jesus is here too.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        Tagging onto Adam’s comments…a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go to this conference:

        http://www.ligonier.org/events/2014-west-coast-conference/

        I went to the website and checked out the schedule of speaking sessions, and it struck me as odd that most if not all of the talks are basically, “We need to circle the wagons, boys, and defend against the world view. Time to draw the line in the sand and plant the flag on the hills of Truth and defend them at all cost.”

        It’s just so dang anti-world and anti-culture. To use Adam’s words, it feels like a conference built around fear and “a dangerous world filled with suspicious people and looming enemies.” Gee…no thanks! What about a session or two on Jesus Christ, and how we show Him to the world. Rather than being anti-world and anti-culture, how about a session or two on how to INTERACT with those who don’t agree with our “truth.”

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          The banner image on that website describes it all perfectly – the Evangelical as the lonely warrior sojourning through the barren waste. And he probably is, in actually, lonely.

          > Rather than being anti-world and anti-culture, how about a session
          > or two on how to INTERACT with those who don’t agree with our “truth.”

          The scandalous truth is – it isn’t hard. Don’t try connect with them on the premise that you *disagree*. Duh! Have something else to talk about. Enjoy their company, as people. People who build kites, swing dance, organize parades of crotch-rocket riders [something everyone should see], do zombie walks, paint impossibly tiny action figures, switch freight cars at the rail yard [Yeah, that's a hobby! Who knew???], organize community bicycle rides, clean parks, rescue abandoned animals, teach refugees and the elderly to use the transit system, document the history of old buildings down to detail the FBI would be proud of, … I mean, it just never ends. People are amazing.

          • Vega Magnus says:

            But acknowledging that people are amazing would require ditching the “Everyone is more or less a completely selfish and sinful savage who would kill someone for a cookie if not for the WILL OF GAWD” interpretation of total depravity that fundigelicals hold to.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            And yet in Christian Fiction you can’t show these Utterly Depraved, “kill someone for a cookie” HEATHENS actually DOING anything Evil. Can’t offend the Church Ladies who buy the books and have their fingers on the boycott button.

      • Vega Magnus says:

        As someone who grew up on the homeschool videos of Pensacola Christian Academy, I am well aware of the massively pessimistic views of the extreme evangelical right, and like you said Adam, their views are simply not reflected in reality. But while there is still some damage done to the way I think that was caused by PCA, I’m pretty much free of the influence of such people now and free to hang out in Mr. Spencer’s wilderness. But even on places like iMonk, and actually pretty much every theological blog I’ve read, the discussion inevitable will circle around to the Fundies and the Kulture War Without End, Komrade, and that just gets exhausting. I’ll fully admit that my own views on how to think as far as theology and God are still cooking and probably always will be, so I’m not comfortable fully quitting reading places like this, especially since I’m not certain that I have distanced my mind enough from fundigelicalism to really read the Bible properly yet, so I doubt I will quit reading anytime soon, but sometimes I just feel like opting out of it all and adopting a quasi-agnostic view that essentially states that I don’t know, I can’t know, but God will make things work out for the greatest number of people possible.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > But even on places like iMonk, and actually pretty much every
          > theological blog I’ve read, the discussion inevitable will circle
          > around to the Fundies and the Kulture War Without End,
          > Komrade, and that just gets exhausting

          Agree. While I am a quite conservative old-school guy concerning most of the moral issues all that is about – I do in a way look forward to it being over. The war is over, really, but not all the parties have surrendered. The baby boomers are funding the war, the funding is going to start to dwindle. There is a least hope for more quiet.

          The warrior thing is one reason I am out of anything Evangelical – I just want to do something, read about something… else.I can engage in advocacy, talk to people, find common ground, all informed by my values and beliefs without it being *about* my values and beliefs. Which, I find, is how most people live.

          > but sometimes I just feel like opting out of it all and adopting a
          > quasi-agnostic view that essentially states that I don’t know

          I very much understand the temptation; that is a verypersonal choice. I wouldn’t want to ‘argue’ with anyone about that.

          For me, speaking for me an only me, I didn’t begin here [Evangelicalism]. Somedays I think that makes it easier. Religion, in the beginning, mostly an ethnic formality for me. I did see ugly and corruption in the world, and I saw [and read] people who were different. I can still see that difference, for all the fumbling bumbling crass stupid that is sometimes the church – I still see the evidence that testified to me. But I was before the Internet – now things are crappier, I think it would be harder to see. Before there were a few people and only the books that managed to get published. Now there is a wide river of all manner of stuff, most of it filth. I struggle to understand how one finds one’s moral bearings today; I am grateful to be childless. As much as I resent the malaise of the time and place I was from – the years that it stole from me – and the mean red-neck stupid of so many of that time and place’s inhabitants – the experiences they stole from me – I also must recognize that it provided many advantages. The features of a smaller landscape are more pronounced. There is probably very little of my story can offer for someone who came from the Evangelical world by birth; except that my testimony, for what it is worth, that I can still see The Church.

          I offer advice only with great trepidation – as the saying goes – advice is a dangerous gift … all courses may run ill. But it would be to make sure The Internet is not your church, and to seek a community if you do not already have one. Faith fed only, or even mostly, though the feeds is a thing that takes on a different color without the leavening of holding someones hand.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        It is so strange, because the world I live in now – one of openness, most everyone I meet on the street is happy, the local economy is booming, we have a new park, the river just got a sparkling clean bill of health, several times a week hundreds of people get together and dance in the central park. Even the low-income housing down the hill from me is being rebuilt – from 60s era [dark very ugly] tenement buildings to bright open buildings on tree line avenues.

        And where is this?

        But they are welcome to join me, and lots and lots of other people, out here where the sun shines. And Jesus is here too.

        God’s Presence is wherever you’re living your life. So say Rabbis and St Therese.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > And where is this?

          Grand Rapids, MI.

          We’ve had great community engagement, solid civic leadership – cooperation between government, the chamber of commerce, the universities, developers. From a nearly empty, drained to suburbia, city with an auto-dependent [and thus recession amplified] economy, racially divided city – with 76 empty store fronts in a six-ish block stretch – people have turned it around. When I was young visting my grand parents – who lived “in the city” – I could ride my bike around the empty downtown passed the rusting hulks of abandoned rail stations. When I attended a local college everything in ‘downtown’ closed and locked up at 9PM.

          Currently Grand Rapids is rated the #1 market for rental properties in the nation, #3 for employment for mid-sized cities, and in the top 10 cities to which to retire. We host, annually, the largest art fair in the world [which is good and bad I suppose, once a year our transit system is crushed - but they'll do better this year! - new rapid transit route completed on schedule and *under* budget].

          Watching what happens some places – and then watching people really work together, make compromises – it is encouraging, it has changed a lot about how I feel about ‘politics’. I have learned an immense amount watching and listening to *obviously* very wise people.

          There is fun too – News Week Magazine listed Grand Rapids as one of America’s most `dying` cities. So the community organized a massive lip sync – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPjjZCO67WI a version of “American Pie”

          And I mentioned that rusting hulk of a train station I played around as a kid – the new train station gets its ribbon cut this May.

      • I hang out with Christians all the time. Last week I helped one of my friends landscape. We talked about sourcing natural foods and cooking. The other week we hung out at a cigar bar and smoked some very nice cigars while enjoying some Willet Pot-Still Reserve and Glenfiddich. I think we talked mostly about how astonishingly unbelievable the gospels would be if they weren’t actually true. Maybe you are just hanging out with the wrong Christians?

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Hi Vega

      I think you ask a good question. I love this site. I have learned a lot, and usually it’s from the posts and people I don’t agree with. And it can be healthy to discuss the misdeeds of Christian leaders, in that it may help us from repeating those faults (or perhaps a smaller version of them).

      But the danger of discussing these things is that it can make us cynical. It can make us miss Christ’s continuing work through the church. We can miss seeing the beauty of the sky if our gaze is on the garbage on the ground (even if we’re just trying to clean up the garbage).

      I think Chaplain Mike actually strikes a very good balance here with his postings. But the danger is there.

      I think it helps to remember that the Church is always larger and more diverse than we think it is, and that high-profile leaders are not very representative of what is actually going on in the world-wide church. If anything, their failings should make us turn our eyes back again to Christ, who died for them and us, in full knowledge that we would all still be pretty messed up in this world.

      Practically speaking, those who find themselves becoming jaded or less loving should probably avoid those posts that focus on cleaning up the trash.

      On a less serious note, I love your avatar :-)

  27. I always enjoy and respect your comments, Rick. But “I’m sure any of us, if asked by Oprah to participate in something related to our beliefs, would leap at the chance.” No. Sorry, but no. Sometimes the medium is the message, and not all media lend themselves to every message. I’m afraid that my beliefs would be misunderstood, trivialized, or belittled — if not by Oprah herself then by the shallowness and evanescence of the medium. I would leap away from the chance as fast as I could.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      The way you, I and, Robert are all leaping about – we are a pretty nimble bunch!

    • Rick Ro. says:

      But…but…but…wouldn’t just a part of you like the chance to explain and describe the Christ that YOU know?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        To a TV camera? No. I would have, in a previous decade. But today? No. I’ve been interviewed for news paper articles as well as in trade and business journals, regarding really technical/specific topics – and even that ends up chopped, diced, and not what I said. I wouldn’t take the sacred there, it is too important. When you step onto the media stage you surrender control of the message, you are theirs, they will do the reaping, what is wheat and chaff is determined by them.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And what is wheat is what boosts ratings at that moment.
          And Laugh at the Freak Show is what boosts ratings.
          Gotta have someone even the Ted Bundys in their trailers can look down on and feel superior.

        • As someone said to me several decades ago;

          “If 60 Minutes rang your door bell why on earth would you answer the door?”

  28. IM Ramblings used to be more whimsical, poking fun at ourselves and the Christian universe oddities. I miss it. The pic of Miley Cyrus is just so unnecessary. She is beyond vulgar and really does not need more attention, especially from this perusers of this site.

  29. Daniel –

    Thank you for the work you are doing here. I just have a few suggestions:

    1. Please bring back the dog. (yeah, I know, not the most constructive suggestions but I am a dog person…)
    2. Maybe a few less links. I usually try to read most of the links on the IM ramblings but lately I’ve felt overwhelmed trying to do so. I haven’t gone back and actually counted the number of stories in previous ramblings but it seems like there are more now.
    3. Please pass our greetings to our friend Jeff and let him know he is missed and prayed for.

  30. Rick Ro. says:

    Okay, given the discussion of yesterday (World Vision), someone has to say it:

    “I don’t like Daniel Jespen’s writing. It’s too right-wing. I’m pulling my funding of this site and putting it somewhere else!”

    (Please note heavy sarcasm.)

  31. I just absolutely busted a gut laughing over the Aussie Snickers commercial.

    “What do we want?” EQUALITY!!

    “What do we hate?” MISOGYNY!!