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Happy weekend, imonkers. Here in the Midwest, we are finally above freezing (at least during the day). And, of course, Lent began this week. Did you give anything up? One analysis of the top things people gave up for lent is based on tweets, and looks like this:
|Rank||What||Number of Tweets|
Mark Galli has given up self-discipline for Lent. And, no, he is not being facetious. Will Willimon gives a thoughtful (as usual) take on why we can be joyful during Lent. And the Wall Street Journal reports on Ash Selfies.
Who would hate the Dalai Lama? These guys, who have been following him around with pickets signs, and called him “The Worst Dictator in the World.”
Does the Catholic Church have a drinking problem? Some Catholics think so: “From parishes to parochial schools to university classrooms, the Church is failing in its responsibility to talk about the pernicious impact of alcohol (and even drugs) on so many people in our society, along with the detrimental impact it has on achieving the common good. One is more likely to see devout Catholics being flip about drinking—or even romanticizing and glorifying it—than confronting the nihilism, escapism, and despair that are a big part of our nation’s drinking culture and the wreckage that it leaves in its wake.”
From the Truth is Stranger than Fiction Department comes this quote about church outreach: “One of the things we’ve been doing recently is morphing these wild-game dinners into Second Amendment rallies. You know, we get in there and we burp and scratch and we talk about, you know, the right to bear arms and all that stuff….One of the things that we’ve learned in doing these is that when you do an affinity event, you have to have a hook that draws the unchurched. In the event of a Second Amendment rally the number of unchurched men that show up will be in direct proportion to the number of guns you give away.” That’s right, churches are giving away guns as a form of evangelism. Not just one or two churches; it is part of the Kentucky Baptist Church’s outreach strategy. So many questions arise here:
- What caliber of church would do this?
- Is the Second Amendment in the Bible? Did I miss that?
- Are the burping and scratching mandatory? If so, how much of each?
Well, this is interesting. 82% of white evangelicals believe that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people, but only 40% of American Jews who believe the same. Also, 46% of the first group believe American Foreign Policy is not supportive enough of Israel, while only 31% of the second group concur.
The 2014 Oscars were last Sunday night? Did you watch? I confess as I get older I have less and less interest in glitterati worship services. So, no, I didn’t watch. But I did hear of this quote, from the acceptance speech of Matthew McConaughey: “There’s three things that I need each day. One of them is something to look up to, another is something to look forward and another is someone to chase. First off, I want to thank God, ’cause that’s who I look up to. He’s graced my life with opportunities that I know is not of my hand or any other human hand. He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. In the words of the late Charlie Lawton who said ‘when you got God, you got a friend and that friend is you.’” I am really, really not sure what to make of that last sentence.
NPR had a story about a drive-in church in Florida: “Other parishioners say the drive-in approach is perfect for those who have trouble walking or for antsy children who enjoy the open space. Others say they revel in the ocean air and Florida sunshine. And some say they like that the church welcomes the whole family, including pet dogs: When ushers hand out Communion, even the dogs get treats. At the service’s close, things get even livelier when people use their car horns to “clap.”
In Nigeria, an Islamic group called Boko Haram struck again, leaving 32 people dead. In the last week, they have killed over 150 people, mostly Christians, as they attempt to set up an Islamic state. Our Coptic brothers and sisters are also in trouble: seven Christian men have been shot execution-style on a beach outside Benghazi, security officials in Libya announced Monday. And Brunei has recently passed a law indicating 19 Islamic words that non-Muslims are not allowed to utter.
John McCain joked this week that because of his close friendship with Joseph Lieberman, “I was bris close to converting to Judaism.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is objecting to the “cartoonish” idea that good Mormons will receive their own planet.
Donald Trump and Pope Francis have something in common, at least according to the Donald: “The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me, which probably explains why I like him so much!” Yep, Donald, just like you.
But at least Trump didn’t call the Pope dead, like he did this week to “the late, great Jimmy Carter” (who is still very much alive).
Your tithes at work? Mark Driscoll’s church paid a marketing company at least $210,000 to ensure that Driscoll’s book, Real Marriage, made the New York Times best-seller list.
A few years ago, Philadelphia schools passed a grooming policy in 2010 that mandated beards on police and security officers be no longer than one-quarter of an inch. They recently demanded that a Muslim security guard shave his beard in conformity with that. The U. S. Justice department is now suing the school district for discrimination. Also this week, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new, detailed guidelines for employers as the number of complaints and million-dollar settlements for cases of religious workplace discrimination neared record levels in 2013. Examples of discrimination cited in the report include:
- An Albuquerque hotel that would not allow a Muslim woman to work in housekeeping unless she removed her head-scarf.
- A Newark auto dealership that refused to hire a Sikh unless he shaved his beard
- A fast-food outlet in North Carolina that sought to force a Pentecostal woman to wear uniform pants even when her faith teaches women should only wear skirts.
- An Orthodox Jewish woman being asked to wear a short skirt
- Rastafarians being asked not to wear their hair in dreadlocks.
First Things published an interesting article on how Mike Huckabee could win the 2016 Republican primaries. Would this be a good thing? I heart Huckabee (even if not all his views), but can’t help but feel he would re-ignite a culture war that he just cannot win (the high ground being held by the opposition). What are your thoughts?
How many times have we heard that, “Christians divorce at the same rate as non-Christians”? Not true at all, at least if you define “Christians” as those who actually go to church. One sociologist found that that 60 percent of those who claim Christianity but do not attend church have been divorced. Of those who attend church regularly, 38 percent have been divorced. Another prominent sociologist adds, “‘active conservative Protestants’ who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans.” His other findings: Active Catholics are 31 percent less likely to divorce than secularists, while nominal Catholics are only five percent less likely. The biggest difference active faith makes (in this area) concerns Jews. Active Jews were 97 percent less likely to divorce than secular Americans, while nominal Jews were 53 percent more likely to do so. What got me started looking at this was a link in a very fine article, What God Teaches Us About Broken Marriage Vows.
Gee, thanks, Science Guy! A proposed Noah’s ark theme park led by Ken Ham will be built after all. Ham has announced that the publicity surrounding his debate with Ken Nye has helped raise enough money to sell the bonds needed.
Memebase has a cool show (thankfully, in just one page) of 30 awesome finds on google earth. I think the Badlands Guardian is my favorite.
The Mayor of London views “religious radicalization” as a form of child abuse, and want to remove children from homes where this occurs. He is speaking of Muslim families here, and his goal is reining in terrorism. It’s a good thing the war on terror never produces any undesirable consequences, isn’t it?
Apparently there is some discussion over whether the Son of God movie that debuted last weekend featured a Jesus who was “too hot”. This is carrying over into discussions over whether Russell Crowe (as Noah) and Christian Bale (as Moses) also have a little too much buffness, tan, and dental perfection for their roles in upcoming movies. I admit I had not thought of this before. But some people not only have, but have created a slide-show (if you’re interested) of the most attractive actors to play Jesus. Hmmm. None of them look very Jewish. And who knew the list would include Will Ferrell. I haven’t seen most of these movies, so I’m not sure who would be my favorite. The only one more laughable than Ferrell was (unlike Ferrell’s) not played for laughs (but got them anyway): William Dafoe as a red-headed Jesus with a British accent in The Last Temptation of Christ. Or maybe Dafoe just seems too creepy to me to play anything but a whacked-out villain. Anyway, what are your favorite and least favorite actors to play Christ?
Speaking of creepy, did you know they are finding severed goat’s heads in Brooklyn?
Finally, by tradition, I am supposed to end the Ramblings with a music video. But I stink at choosing videos. Apparently my taste in music is like my taste in beer: non-existent (though for different reasons — I don’t drink). So unless The Good Chaplain Mike™ wants to take over this role, you have to put up with whatever is on my mind that week. And this week my mind is still on Steve Taylor. After all, who else would make a Claymation video about a ravenous cow terrorizing a city, all in the name of spoofing our materialistic mindset? The last few lines are actually quite thought-provoking (but forgive the poor recording quality).