December 2, 2020

Saturday Ramblings: Sentences Edition — September 6, 2014

this_might_be_the_most_incoherent_ramble_ever_p_hat-r57578b50306c4f488bb7f0904b51af7c_v9wfy_8byvr_512Today, each entry in Saturday Ramblings shall consist of a single sentence.

I have no idea why.

PencilI also have no idea why anyone would expect Victoria Osteen to say anything that wasn’t silly and theologically unsound.

PencilYou know the dog only did this so they could call him the pyromaniac pooch.

PencilI was not a big Joan Rivers fan but she was funny, especially when mocking herself like this: “I’ve had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware.”

Pencil Speaking of silliness, Matthew Paul Turner reviews a movie that claims to prove the Holy Ghost is real by saying the Spirit told its director and his friends to visit Salt Lake City, Monaco, a Korn concert, and Varanasi, India so they could record his powerful presence in their experiences in those places.

PencilOn the other side, atheists and skeptics are marking the death of Victor Stenger, who wrote a book arguing that God is a failed hypothesis, that “scientific observations actually point to his nonexistence.”

PencilThe always thoughtful David Brooks writes about why recent videos showing ISIS beheading people are so revolting to us, grounding his point in the common teaching of the Abrahamic faiths that human beings are both body and spirit and that “the human body is a transcendent temple . . . worthy of respect.”

PencilFunny-Best-Sayings-Life-Humorous-Hilarious-Quote-32At the outset of the American football season, one life-long football fan has written a “reluctant manifesto” full of “obnoxious opinions,” with the thesis that “our allegiance to football legitimizes and even fosters within us a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and homophobia.”

PencilAt the outset of the American football season, one life-long football fan has written “an elegiac account” recounting his appreciation for football and the life lessons it teaches, calling it “a gift to American culture.”

PencilFinally, definitive proof emerged this week that Pope Francis is indeed Catholic, when the pontiff tweeted, “The Christian who does not feel that the Virgin Mary is his or her mother is an orphan.”

PencilBy the way, the “Christian news” source of the last article actually has a tab linking to a page called “Apostasy.”

PencilLast year it was Israel, this year a plague of locusts is overwhelming Madagascar.

PencilAt 85 feet long and 65 tons, the newly discovered dinosaur Dreadnoughtus schrani was not even yet full-grown!

PencilHere is a story both serious and uplifting, containing this wondrous and marvelous sentence: “Fr. Themi Adams [a Greek Orthodox priest] was once a member of Australian rock group, The Flies, and once shared the stage with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, but after a dramatic conversion, became a missionary to West Africa, and is now facing the greatest challenge of his life – Ebola — which is sweeping his adopted country and causing panic, death and destruction.”

PencilI enjoyed these fresh insights on the parable of the Prodigal Son.

PencilA Palestinian Christian family that has long promoted non-violence in the West Bank, saying, “Nobody can force us to hate,” and “We refuse to be enemies,” is contending with the Israeli military and settler groups in an attempt to hold on to the land they have owned for 98 years.

Pencil1554513_390870774382098_121403157_nThe Russians recently sent a team of geckos (geckonauts!) into space to, uh, get to know each other (in the biblical sense), but they apparently didn’t hit it off, and it has now been discovered that the Russian scientist responsible for providing music for the trip forgot to put any Barry White songs on their iPods.

PencilFour of the nine pastors at Mars Hill Church who recently urged Mark Driscoll to step down have now resigned, the latest being worship leader Dustin Kensrue, who cited an “unhealthy, fear-driven, self-protective leadership culture at MH.”

PencilBBC asks, “Is religion an impediment to humour, and is it more acceptable to make fun of Christianity than other faiths?”


  1. I loved Joan Rivers. I think she was one funny lady.

    I pray that the Lord will have mercy on her.

  2. It is moronic utterances like these from Victoria Osteen that are causing me to completely examine my place in the Evangelical segment of the body of Christ. The amount of biblical errors and pop theology, not to mention seeing many popular Evangelical bible teachers espousing heretical views is has me doing some real soul searching,not to mention digging into the ancient manuscripts as never before. I’m reevaluating everything

    • If the Osteens are really a part of evangelicalism, then the word evangelical has become so watered down that it is now pointless. If all it means to be evangelical is to not be Catholic, Orthodox, or mainline Protestant, then we need to just quit using the word.

      • I think you’ve described it (evangelicalism) pretty well – a mixed-up mish mash of shifting sand that’s now FREE! (From those Others)
        Where I live, you’d have to add conservative Mennonite/Amish to that list…anybody who leaves those becomes evangelical and often to a fault…

        • What’s also amazing is how often conservative Mennonite/Amish emigrate out of their pacifist sub-cultures into the mainstream to become sword rattling jingoists and law-and-order shoot-first-ask-questions-later adherents of muscular evangelicalism and even more muscular Americanism.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        “If the Osteens are really a part of evangelicalism, then the word evangelical has become so watered down that it is now pointless”

        This, yes.

      • Evangelicalism seems to be a wheel with no center, which means that the spokes are flying away in all different directions. I wonder if it’s this way in Africa, Latin America and Asia, where so many people have been converting to evangelical forms of Christianity. If it is, then the gain in numbers of those baptized is not necessarily an auspicious development for the future survival of historic Christianity.

        • Robert, of COURSE it has no “center”, it never HAS! I have no idea who first coined the phrase, or who really popularized it, but my guess is that it somehow began to be used as a descriptor to differentiate those who REALLY evangelized as opposed to some high church bodies and then it sounded so good that others picked it up.

          Evangelicals, as a group, have always been a diverse lot encompassing many different emphases, but they all held to the bible as the touchstone for their beliefs. Unfortunately there is no real rule book on how to READ the bible, so you get groups as diverse as Osteen Inc. and the Westboro Baptist Church all saying they are evangelical.

          There is a trend amongst younger believers to jettison the term “Christian” in favor of the descriptor “Jesus Followers” because the name “Christian” has become too polluted with distasteful implications. It’s the same thing that we are talking about here, just a different perspective. Too many “me too!” believers.

          • “Evangelical”, as commonly used today in the U.S. developed as a term to describe a middle way between liberal theology and fundamentalism. Evangelicalism has, however, a rich history going back at least to the 1730’s. As a life-long “Evangelical”, I would say that the center is Jesus (this is not meant to negate the God the Father and the Holy Spirit in any way). I have found evangelical individuals and congregations in many different settings, including both evangelical and main-line denominations (I’ve spent most of my adult life in the main-line). The list of outstanding Christians in the evangelical tradition stretches from John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards up to Billy Graham, John Stott, and J. I. Packer and is still ongoing.

            While this is obviously not a full description, David Bebbington lists four primary indentifiers of Evangelicalism:

            InterVarsity Press publishes a fascinating multi-volume set on the history of Evangelicalism.

    • senecagriggs yahoo says

      I wouldn’t actually put Mrs. Osteen into the Evangelical camp. I really wouldn’t.

  3. I’m having a little whiplash trying to figure out which bugs me more: Victoria Olsteen, or the article about Victoria Olsteen.

    In one corner, we have Victoria, who inspired me so much that I almost spat my venti nonfat vanilla latte all over my plush seat and designer pants, but luckily I didn’t, hallelujah. The blessings just keep coming.

    In the other corner, a morass of Christianese culture war bear-baiting.

    >It’s the age old sin of idolatry

    Insider buzzword standing for “anything I oppose” … (rather like “unbiblical”)

    >Osteen’s statements were humanistic in nature…

    Which of course always, mysteriously has to do with humanists, irregardless of how tenuous the actual connection is with actual humanism…

    >The gospel is always counter-cultural…

    “Always” works in this space, because “humanists” are always controlling everything, everywhere …

    >Camp . . . said that if he were to encourage Victoria—whom he noted should not be serving as “co-pastor” in >the first place . . .

    But actually it’s all about gender.

    • I’m with you, I found the opinion section far more tone dead.

      Honestly, what she said wasn’t even as bad as some things Osteen himself has said anyway. Some camps take it as a point of fact worship is not “for God “, because that kind of construction seems to imply God “needs” our worship. In a very real sense, worship is “for” our benefit.

      • Unfortunately Camp makes the case as always for the other end of the spectrum. I wonder if we might critique his use of scripture out of context. To think God did not want communion with us and to share all the benefits that come from that as dying on a cross to make a way. I can’t think of anything that says more loudly how he loves us and would do anything for us to know him. His heart being totally exposed and revealed to us. It is not just about us its about God and us, so therefore it has to be about us too. How else would our joy be made complete. Singing and praising God is a joy and a privilege as is prayer and fasting all done in communion with Him. Try fasting without drawing close and it becomes a chore but drawing close and it becomes a joy as he meets us there everyday as we call out to him. How can it be any other way. As always I see a man who would rather not watch less he be brought down but go to the ends that are not edifying or helpful. I have to remember that even responding to Camp brings me to the brink of falling off the tight rope I am now walking. I have often wonder as I watch the Osteen’s what is wrong as I turn the channel and ask the Lord. He has not responded to my inquiry as the scripture to Peter is once again brought to my attention what is it to you what I am doing with them. How often that happens to me. Do you think he trying to tell me something. I only wish I could listen better by obeying.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      Yeah, I hear you. Two wrongs don’t make a right, or something like that.

    • Here’s a better take on the Mrs. Smiley debacle for you:

      • Interesting quote from the article:
        “Do you know why a teetotaler’s favorite drinking game is ‘Take a Shot Every Time Joel Osteen Talks About Jesus?’ Because Joel Osteen doesn’t talk about Jesus.”

        I had never heard of Victoria until now. But she and Joel seem to make a nice couple.

      • Miguel, Without doubt you are one of the deepest thinkers I have read here. I read the Federalist link. It is very good. The thing that stuck out to me is that God is complete and Holy as is His glory. I like the fact that the man said He wants to include us in it. Thank you Jesus. Now having said that and seeing His great love for us it would seem the greater is God made by being more complete within the relationship He now enjoy with those He has created which had fallen away redeemed by His own hand. Wow that was a mouthful. Seems He goes to a lot of trouble through the past thousands of years for that. Again it reminds me of can’t be anymore saved than saved but…. oh wait a minute there are no butts in the Kingdom… Oh wait a minute now I’m being one…shoot…

  4. By year’s end, I expect nine of the nine pastors who called Driscoll to resign, will have themselves resigned, claiming irreconcilable differences.

    Why would they think Driscoll would answer to them? He doesn’t even answer to Jesus. “I cannot worship a guy I can beat up,” he famously said once, cluelessly describing the Suffering Servant.

    • Did you read the article? From what it sounds like to me is that the pathology extends far beyond Driscoll and is deeply embedded in the leadership structure of the church. Cutting Driscoll loose wasn’t so much lopping off the head of the beast, but more like cutting the head off the hydra.

      • Nah, it’s a hydra of Driscoll’s design and control. Don’t kid yourself, of the three big cheeses that run the show with an iron fist (of which Driscoll is one), one of the other two was hired specifically by Driscoll, from the corporate world with no background in ministry, and rather recently, too. Driscoll is not a figurehead of a sick machine. He is the engine and the caboose. Case in point: Driscoll will not be cut loose and replaced by another Fuhrer. It won’t happen. He owns the show. The leadership structure and pathology of the institution are by his deliberate, strategic design, intended to consolidate power and diffuse accountability. At every step along the way of his alleged repentance/reform, every time, over the last ten years, have been very clear signs that it’s nothing more than a publicity gimmick. What more proof could we possibly need that we don’t already have that Driscoll actually is the problem, and not the MH organization?

        • Cult of personality. In the end, there is little difference between Driscoll and Osteen. Give the people what they want. Therapeutic, Moralistc Deism comes in many shapes and forms. Tell the people they’re wonderful or tell them everyone else is weak, stupid scum in comparison. Once they’re hooked, they won’t desert you.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

          That seems like a pretty good analysis, Miguel. MH may indeed be rotten through, but it is by Driscoll’s engineering. Unfortunately I think Driscoll has fallen for what Fisk might call the “were-church” myth – in fact, a great deal of the entire emergent thing seems to have fallen for this. And then it seems like Driscoll evolved out of emergent into something Reformedish (I know there are a lot of reformed readers on this site, and I’m not trying to be insulting here; I am aware of the differences!) that decided that top-down autocratic control would result in the ideal church – which ends in legalism and the idea that if we just had the “right” rules, polity, or “marks” that somehow the church of Jesus would manifest. I wish only the best for Driscoll, but I’m not willing to sweep his failures under the rug either.

    • ““I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.”

      What he meant was, “I cannot worship a guy I can crucify.”

      • I don’t see it that way. I am a very strong man who could do great bodily harm to 95 % of the people in this world with just my hands. If I were to get into it with someone now I would let them beat me to a pulp and never say a word. They didn’t beat me up and they didn’t win. If there could ever be a winner in such a thing which I believe there isn’t. Christ did in fact win and He was a stronger man than anyone ever………….Trust me Driscoll can’t beat Him up.

        • w, I think you’re going to a deeper theological level than Driscoll was in making his statement. He apparently was thinking of Jesus as a stereotypically macho dude who, solely in his humanity and without calling on the legions of angels or the power of his divinity, had better be able to physically overcome any human being, otherwise he would not be worthy of being called “Lord.” Driscoll was indirectly complimenting, and flattering his sense of, his own machismo: that’s what his comment was really all about.

          This is the way I see it: in the Passion he was beaten up and put down, but in the Resurrection God showed us that Jesus can’t be kept down.

          • Yeah I see what you are saying. I haven’t followed very much Driscoll stuff. Although there is something to the beauty of male strength. Very different from the feminine but extremely beautiful and powerful at the same time. Not saying that female beauty is not powerful. I believe what is missing a lot in our worship is the strength of very rich and deep powerful voices of a man and how that can speak to the young men seeing that gentleness and humility are extremely strong characteristics of men.

          • Oh and I forgot the last sentence about Driscoll can’t beat him up, which I think you got it, was he can’t harm Him with what he is doing> Christ will only take those deeper than.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            W, I agree completely with your paragraph, i.e. the beauty of masculinity. I think God designed it for a reason. On the other hand, I think Driscoll’s (and others’) cartoonish take on masculinity actually tears down that image.

  5. Not only does the Christian news source have a tab called Apostasy, the news about Pope Francis is listed under that tab. Or not news, really. Nothing he said was new. Sadly, noting the writer of the post said was new, either, not even that Catholics and Christians belong to different religions.

    • But the story about Victoria Osteen was under “apostasy” too.

      The site looks pretty tabloid and inflammatory. French people support Islamic terrorism and the Bolivian left-wing government wants to outlaw evangelicals.

      But at least they filed Victoria under apostasy.

  6. I want to see the Holy Ghost Doc. It looks interesting to me.

    • I just finished watching it. It’s being broadcast for free online all weekend. First showing was 1 pm Central Time; second showing was 2:30. Not sure when the next showing will be. Go here and sign-up for free on your computer:

      Other than a few parts, it was largely underwhelming and a bit boring. I would like to think the “feelings” the people felt were the Holy Spirit. I would like the supposed healings to be real and lasting. Too much time at the beginning spent arguing against cessationism and playing off against a cessationist preacher in Salt Lake City, UT. ISTM that much of what was purportedly the Holy Spirit could be explained otherwise. Brian “Head” Welch’s (Korn) testimony was quite compelling – I’ve read his books, too, and liked them (Jeff Dunn edited Brian’s first book) – but not much else was.

      I want to believe in and see the power of the Holy Spirit, and I don’t doubt that some of this was genuine, but I don’t think the film lives up to its hype.

  7. Thanks for the Christian Palestinian article. I admit to immediately posting it on facebook where it will cause a weekend long bout of constipation (consternation) amongst all my premillennial dispensationalist friends and family as they try to square this story with their fervent belief that Israel in general is God’s most precious kingdom outpost; worthy of much adulation, much willful ignorance and much conscience searing…

    • “Constipation”? Funny. I had an English teacher who told us, concerning some of our essays, that we had ‘diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the mind”. I think THAT is more fitting for Facebook discussions.

  8. I don’t think what Victoria said is “bad”, or even “bad theology”. However, as is the case with many people in our culture, it could have been said more articulately and with greater clarity. Doesn’t the quote at the end of the article say it well?…

    Guyton later added, “Victoria Osteen is absolutely right if what she’s saying is that God doesn’t need us to worship him for himself, but he wants us to worship him for our sake.”

    • It’s a matter of emphasis, Tom. Victoria Osteen got it wrong because she placed the emphasis in the wrong place. Placing the emphasis in the wrong place results in focusing on the self rather than freeing the self from itself to be focused on God. The irony is that she just stated in a blatant form what is actually the underlying theological practice of a lot of worship in Evangelical and other Christianity in this country and throughout the world.

      • I mostly agree Robert in the what you are saying. I’m not sure about the theological thing as most people I know have no clue as to where they stand there. Sometime I’m not sure about that myself. Everytime Christ is spoken of I have this faith that His calling is being furthered whether we see it or not. I have stood in worship songs and realized as I was singing that the very lines I was singing to Him He was singing over me. Now to be sure not all but there are these times when I am in perfect union with Him in a mutual love that go beyond any expressions I could make. Boy I hope you have them too.

  9. Curse you! Curse you to PIECES! How? How can you POSSIBLY link to an article on the Prodigal that is so intriguing, so interesting, so thought-provoking, only to get to the end and find is HAS NO ANSWERS!!!!! It is basically a promo for the forthcoming book.

    Seriously, just when it gets interesting and just when the reader is expecting a resolution to the objections raised (which do become tedious, just a bit) it closes with a “…for the answers to these and other questions, buy my book that comes out 9/9.”

    Reminds me of the two secrets to success in business – The first is never to tell everything you know.

  10. I might be able to agree with the Pope’s statement about the relationship of the Christian to the Virgin Mary, depending on exactly what he means. But the linked article does not adequately unpack the statement theologically, so anxious is it to get to refuting the Pope and Roman Catholicism.

    There is another side to the subject, though. If the Christian focuses too much on the Motherhood of the Virgin Mary, he or she may forget that God is their Father (believe me, I’ve known those who did so focus: the shrine to Mary was in the corner of the bedroom, but any mention of the Trinity was responded to with blank stares).

    • If God is my father, and Mary is my mother, what does that say about their relationship to one another? And if Jesus is God, then we wind up with some sort of theological Oedipus complex.

      I understand that as the bearer of Christ, Mary is a type of the church. But the Church is the bride of Christ, not his mother. Augustine says, “the church is a whore, but she is also my mother.” I tend to agree with the first part, but to call the church “Mother” involves a sort of dissociation from the institution. I am not my own mother, but I am a part of the church.

      • If Mary is the Mother of God, the Theotokos, because she is the mother of Jesus, and his person is not divided into human and divine attributes, but is rather a whole and integrated Person, and Jesus is the one who, trough the Holy Spirit, called the Church into being, then Mary is also our Mother by virtue of our being in Jesus.

      • Paul calls the Jerusalem above our “Mother.” If one conflates Galatians and Ephesians and Revelation, then the Jerusalem above is the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb, and hence/also Christ’s body. If believers get their birth from the church, then the church is the mother of believers.

        Galatians 4:24 These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written:

        “Be glad, barren woman,
        you who never bore a child;
        shout for joy and cry aloud,
        you who were never in labor;
        because more are the children of the desolate woman
        than of her who has a husband.”

        28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

      • Faulty O-Ring says

        In the same way, Christ is his own Father who eternally begats himself through Mary, who eternally submits. At the same time we are all sons of God. Any way you slice it, you get either tautology or heresy!

    • My priest often reminds us that the purpose of the Theotokos is to point us to Christ, particularly reminding us of the reality of His incarnation. Her qualities that we celebrate come from God, are of God, and glorify God. Every feast that centers on an event in Mary’s life (birth, death, etc) is ultimately a celebration of God’s saving acts in human history, culminating in the “the cross, the tomb, the resurrection from the dead, the sitting at the right hand, the second and glorious coming…”

      • Now that sounds like a balanced, catholic view of Mary. I don’t think Lutherans would have a problem with that, except that we too often succumb to the influence of fundagelical culture that insists that anything relating to Mary is Popery. Our next step is to achieve a more consistent practice of celebrating the “purification of Mary” along with the “presentation of our Lord,” and a more consistent liturgical use of the Magnificat, which is one of the most Christological hymns ever written.

        • There was a recent tweet where Francis made the comment that the Christian who does not see Mary as his mother is an orphan. It was a tweet–not the best way to communicate and not an authoritative statement. This past week at the weekly audience he gave this fuller explanation.
          Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catecheses, we have often noted that we do not become a Christian on our own, but by being born and nurtured in the faith in the midst of the People of God, that is the Church. She is a true mother who gives us life in Christ and, in the communion of the Holy Spirit, brings us into a common life with our brothers and sisters. The model of motherhood for the Church is the Blessed Virgin Mary, who in the fullness of time conceived through the Holy Spirit and gave birth to the Son of God. Her motherhood continues through the Church, who brings forth sons and daughters through baptism, whom she nourishes through the Word of God. In fact, Jesus gave the Gospel to the Church to bring forth new life by generously proclaiming his word and winning other sons and daughters for God our Father. As a mother, the Church nurtures us throughout life by illuminating our path with the light of the Gospel and by sustaining us with the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. With this nourishment, we are able to choose the good and be vigilant against evil and deceit, and overcome the difficult moments of life with courage and hope. This is the Church: a mother who has at heart the good of her children. And since we are the Church, we are called to live this same spiritual, maternal attitude towards our brothers and sisters, by welcoming, forgiving and inspiring trust and hope.

  11. I Too still weep

  12. If you will indulge me and forgive me but this is what I mean about worship and how I see it and how I’ve been shown……It’s called ….Vice versa

    I find this life now worth living
    You pour into as I am pouring out
    Received in grace surely given
    I am learning what we’re about

    Now this heart in being restored
    In the image of my maker
    Oh how I love You Lord
    The beauty of my creator

    So in confidence I surely speak
    For by blood the path is found
    In warm embrace as we meet
    With our feet on solid ground

    I love You so, I love You so
    These are the echoes in my ears
    I need You so, I need You so
    As the love drops in these tears

    Now I see You, Who You are
    The very best of who I am
    Eyes alight like a star
    In You is where I stand

    • Because you see I was born of blood and now of spirit and the path has been made. My King of Kings and Lord of Lords as you all are. You see everyone within the context of this post and beyond have me spilling my tears on a keyboard this morning because you are the ones responsible for the above writing which he poured into me and then….. It is magnificent, beyond words all of you so beautiful. All of it for our good. Those written about and those that write. I’m sorry now I’m rambling

      • Thanks for sharing the lovely poem, w, so obviously from your heart.

        It’s perfectly okay to ramble, w; after all, it is Saturday Ramblings (not that the day of the week prevents many of us, myself included, from rambling at other times, too).

        • +1

          W, Ramble away. Somewhere along the line IM became a safe zone for thinking out loud and trading thoughts—including thoughts that are incomplete or that can’t easily be shared elsewhere. I am thankful for that fact. I look forward to the gathering of souls in the comments here. (Sadly for others, this also means that I can’t resist inflicting my pedantic musings on everyone.)

          You write in a very soulful way, and as far as I am concerned you should carry on for as long as you wish.

          • How nice…. and I look forward to pedantic musings as I hope to remember the word you just taught me. Guess which one.

  13. The Pope Catholic? I’m SHOCKED! Next you’ll tell me that bears poop in the woods (maybe that’s why they star in toilet paper commercials).

  14. Re: Jesus still weeps: It’s a miracle that there are those in the Jewish community, like the man who wrote the linked article, who are willing to speak out against the persecution of Christians in the contemporary world, despite the terrible history of oppression and persecution that they themselves have suffered at the hands of Christian communities. Perhaps we as Christians should learn something from our Jewish friends about forgiveness.

  15. I find that humor and religion both refer me to the reality of a state of transcendence that is not overcome by the tragic vicissitudes of history, immanence and change. Dante didn’t call his masterwork The Divine Comedy for nothing (yes, I know that Dante’s use of the word “comedy” differs from modern usage, but they share a common root, unless by comedy you merely mean irreverence and sarcasm and pessimism dressed up as heroic contempt).

  16. I too am troubled that the massacre of Christians around the world is not broadcast as an appalling crime against humanity the way it should be.

  17. Vega Magnus says

    I’ve come to realize that for as long as I can remember, my belief in God has been primarily motivated by a fear of hell, or “fire insurance” as HUG likes to call it, rather than anything else. How can I get past that?

    • Realize that the hope of the world to come, King Jesus ruling over the New Heavens and the New Earth, is the driving force behind Christian faith.

      Come back to it (him) again and again. Not fear of hell but expectation of his rule/kingdom. Gradually, fear will be replaced by love.

      Penny-thoughts from one newly initiated into this perspective himself.

    • The thing about the fear of eternal hell is that, once it gets into your head and gains a foothold, it’s very hard if not impossible to root out. I got a good dose of it as a child receiving religious instruction in the Roman Catholic Church, and I’ve never been completely free of it since, though I’m fifty-five years old now and make my church home in the “liberal” Episcopal Church.

      Perhaps it’s just something we have to live with, and accept that we can never be completely free of motivations that are significantly tangled up in fear. Maybe we can’t get past it, but must travel with it, and learn how to be brave in the face of our uncertainties; maybe we can discover a kind of faith in the grace that moves us along in the journey, despite being crippled inside. Maybe.

      Lord, have mercy.
      Christ, have mercy.
      Lord, have mercy.

    • Vega, I find it helps to consider the beauty and complexity of creation. It gives me an objective reason, beyond my own fate, to worship God. So do great acts of human creation — music, art, literature. I can praise God for them without considering whether I am saved or damned. In this way I build up a relationship with God that would theoretically be the same whatever my ultimate destiny.

    • Evaluate the evidence for the existence of this “hell”. When you see how non existent it is, you will be OK.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > Evaluate the evidence for the existence of this “hell”.
        > When you see how non existent it is,

        Really? As I watch the world and much of what happens in it – Hell has always seemed the religious construct easiest to believe in.

        “Kick ’em till their down, and once their down really start kicking ’em” feels like an axiom for how the world operates.

        Besides the vast majority of the spaces in the Universe are, simply, hellish.

    • For me to say anything about this issue is like the blind leading the blind… But here are some thoughts, in case some bit of it helps.

      In my experience, it’s been helpful to admit to myself and God that I feel this way, and to let it alone. It’s very human to be afraid of a genuinely scary things, and Hell is the king of scary ideas. It’s also rather human, when confronted by repeated appeals to fear in order generate conversion and repentance, to swallow that hook. Once the hook is deep the gut, its horrible to get back out again. Being afraid of God and believing in God are now linked firmly in the mind, and fear is stubborn and mostly grins in the face of arguments with it. In fact, feeling terrible about it and struggling wildly to get the hook out seems mainly to have the effect of driving it deeper. At least, this has been my experience–perhaps others escape it more easily. I don’t know. Anyway, admitting to it and accepting that I might just have to co-exist with it–and other unfortunate facts about myself–frees me up to focus on something else. It becomes an unpleasant part of myself that I suffer with and that I try to let God have.

      In some small way, I think (I hope)… this failing and the place it forces a person can open to the door to loving God. The necessity of having to trust that God is the sort God to whom I can admit such a failing … which would be nothing but a totally blind, idle hope, except that God has presented a truly disarming picture of divine love in Christ and the cross …. drives me to see God as Someone much greater than the miserable smaller god of my fears, who I’ve only run to by threat of force. Perhaps it is possible to love that God, given that this God loves first and supplies love so gratuitously that fear begins to lose some of its power. At least, I can survive under the weight of own fears and inadequacies, if for no other reason than God permits me to look away from them, toward something better. The cross transforms everything, in a way, The fracture that meant one was so far gone ultimately becomes a place where God reaches. The only place I really know to go is to Robert’s refrain, which is the refrain of all the church, ‘Christ have mercy.’

      And even as I say that I doubt it. Maybe it’s all lost of me, I don’t know.

      Christ have mercy.

  18. You had some pretty long sentences there, Chaplain! 😉

  19. That Other Jean says

    And on a somewhat lighter note:

    “All the faith that he had had had had no effect on the outcome of his life.” is a fine sentence; it just needs a little punctuation there amongst the hads.

    Here’s another, from an old copy of _Ripley’s Believe It or Not_:

    “That is is that that is not is not but that that is not is not that that is.” (Solution on request).

    Ain’t English grand?