December 2, 2020

Saturday Ramblings: September 27, 2014


It’s a beautiful fall Saturday in the Midwest, and I am rambling around Chicago this weekend, reuniting with friends and classmates from my junior high and high school days. I graduated from high school in 1974. That was in Baltimore — I moved at the beginning of my senior year. But I have always considered the kids from Downers Grove South High School as my “graduating class.” And it’s actually my 8th grade class friends that I have stayed closest to. We have reunions annually, reflecting a time in our lives when we were going through the wilderness of adolescence together in the bewildering days of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Today, when you comment, please state the year you graduated from high school and the school from which you graduated.

peaceJust as it should be. From

There was so much discussion about how to best script the perfect moment, the ideal way for Derek Jeter to bid farewell to the Bronx in the only pinstriped uniform he ever wanted to wear. And in the end, the only way to properly handle someone who fought so hard never to come out of the lineup was to just let him play the game.

Manager Joe Girardi never moved from his spot in the dugout during the top of the ninth inning. It was Jeter’s game to play, and it was his game to end, slashing a walk-off single to right field in the bottom of the ninth inning that lifted the Yankees to a 6-5 victory over the Orioles on Thursday at Yankee Stadium.

Here’s the complete MLB postseason playoff picture (a couple of spots will be finalized this weekend). Wild card playoff games will be held on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. OK, iMonk baseball fans, who are you pulling for?

peaceFrom the sublime to the ridiculous: The pastor of “America’s manliest church” has stepped down after being charged with DWI last week for driving home drunk from a bar. Heath Mooneyham relinquished control of Ignite Church in Joplin, MO during last Sunday’s service.

Mooneyham was the subject of an article at Vocativ called, Sex, Guns and Jesus: Inside America’s Manliest Church,” in which the foul-mouthed macho “pastor” described his church like this: “We’re just a bunch of dudes with beards and beer guts and hot wives. We love our God. We love our country. We love our trucks. And we love our guns.”

Only in the good ol’ US of A.

peaceDoes your church have choirs? An article by Cathy Lynn Grossman discusses why many congregations have moved away from choirs and choral music. But at a site on worship that is fast becoming one of my favorites, Jonathan Aigner gives 9 reasons to keep the church choir alive.

I’ve sung in choirs most of my adult life. I have directed choirs. My wife has been an accompanist and/or choir director as well, and is currently directing a choir in a small Presbyterian church. I think Jonathan has good things to say here.

peaceHere’s a company policy you’ve gotta like. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has introduced a new company policy that lets his personal staff take as much vacation time as they like, whenever they like.

However, some people think this might not work so well, especially in corporate environments like those in the U.S. (one of the countries where the new policy will apply). As Alexander C. Kaufman writes in the Huff Post:

Americans are infamously averse to vacations as it is. About 40 percent of U.S. workers don’t plan to use all their paid vacation time this year, according to a recent survey by the U.S. Travel Association and GfK, a market research firm. In a Daily Telegraph article that Branson cited in his blog post, Daniel H. Pink described the British perspective on vacations, which applies just as well to Americans: “[W]e view them as minor betrayals — of our obligations to customers and clients, of our responsibilities to the colleagues left behind, even of the values we hold most dear.”

Minor betrayal or not, I’m ready for another vacation, how about you? Why do Americans in particular seem so averse to taking time off?


  1. Holy Name High School, Cleveland, Ohio class of 1969. Never been to a reunion, mostly because I’ve lived in California since 1975, but I intend to make my 50th in 2019.

    On choirs: They just aren’t cool enough these days. They require a unified voice, discipline and dedication to following the director. Such things just do not sit well with people these days. I have sung in choirs for many years and love the practices the most. There were many times that I was just down in the dumps, or outright depressed, and by the time practice was over I was invigorated. I think that has to do with the forced oxygenation that takes place with rhythmic breathing and feeling a part of something greater than myself.

    My current church eschews choirs in favor of the “worship band”. I have found that the current songs being used for worship have left me cold, resulting in me not even singing anymore. Sad, really. I know that it is MY responsibility to truly enter worship, but I just do not have the “want to”.

    • I love being in a choir, despite or maybe because of the fact that it requires discipline and sacrifice to keep my commitment to practice and sing with the choir. The variety and richness of music that I’ve been exposed to by singing in churches with choir traditions has really deepened my appreciation of music in general, and made me understand that complexity and beauty of rich music is something that everybody can and should participate in, not just rock stars.

    • “On choirs: They just aren’t cool enough these days.”

      Since I am an uncool person, I love the fact that choirs support the singing of traditional music. There’s a large range of music that falls into this territory that I’d hate to see disappear out of the cultural repertoire. Plus, it seems often to support or involve the congregation more than the supposedly friendlier worship band style. I appreciate that the choir is often a unity, in which the individual belongs.

      It’s possible for worship bands to merely support the congregation, but my experience they tend to lead or overpower or showcase particular personalities.

      • Home schooled, Hanover, NH, 1998.

        So, no high school reunions for me. However, I am currently at a conference, which is also being attended by several of my colleagues from my graduate school days. Most of us gave papers. Since we took a group picture, I will consider this as having counted as a reunion like moment.

    • Emma Willard High School 1976. My husband points out that choir, or at least the use of hymnals, is the only thing that allows baritones to participate without jumping octaves or squeaking. Our church uses a hymnal that has only the tune, so any man not a tenor has a hard time singing along. We just hired a new music director and may be getting a regular choir, if not congregational part singing.

      • Oh, I forgot: Troy, NY

      • Amen! Same goes for basses. My time in our church choir was a pleasure …up until they assigned me a nice bass solo on “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy”. Somehow I gutted my way through it. Whew …pressure! And then they never asked me to do it again. Bummer.

        I would trade in our praise band for a choir any day, truth be told. 🙂

        James Monroe High School, Sepulveda California, 1966.

    • 1978 Cumberland Valley H.S. I never sang in a choir before till just 4 years ago. I wanted to do it to honor Him who has done so much for me. We don’t have choirs but for special occasions. This was for Christmas. Practice was the most fun I had for a long time,The director called me basement Bill… She would always ask can’t you sing any higher. I said no but I can go lower. There was only five men and the rest women. When it came to bass we practically had her on the floor laughing at times with the blank expressions we had on our faces as we tried our best to do what she was asking. It was good to laughing at ourselves with the rest of the room. During our time in front of the congregation the two men next to me must of notice the hard time I was having as I was shaking trying to control myself as I sang to Him with tears streaming down my face and they put their arms around me to prop me up and give me strength to finish it meant that much to me. My sister God rest her soul watched me the second time which was the next year and it was just as much fun and as powerful. I hope I can again sometime.

    • 2000, Wellesley MA.

      I’ve sung in a church choir for the past few years, and one thing I would add to that article’s 9 reasons for choir is that choir singing requires you to pay very close attention to other people, not just yourself. Am I singing so loudly that the altos keep losing track of the complicated line they’re singing? Or so softly that the tenor’s harmony doesn’t have anything under it? Plus, there’s the neat effect where if you’re able to match tone quality well enough with someone else, even if they’re singing different notes, your singing bolsters theirs and gives them more confidence.

      So, choir singing requires focusing your attention outside yourself and on other people in a way we hardly ever do, except in the context of a really deep, intense conversation. (A musician friend of mine describes that as “feeling other people’s voices in your mouth.”) To me, learning that sort of focus and attention feels like a spiritual practice, of sorts.

    • Holtville, CA, 2002.

      They just aren’t cool enough these days.

      This is the dogmatic commitment of “church leadership” who have no deeper vision than their wet finger to the wind of popular culture. Just because they can sell it doesn’t mean it isn’t wrong or stupid.

      I have half the youth group in our choir. Some require a bit more encouragement than others, and I have resorted to everything from bribery to shameless manipulation to rope them in. I do this because I believe in the good it brings both to our congregation and to the people who participate in vocal leadership through this ensemble. Anybody under the age of 28 is like mojo to an ensemble whose typical members are elderly and median age is usually well over 45. We love and appreciate our older, more experienced, and more skilled elderly singers. They are the backbone that keep things going, and they are more accustomed to higher levels of commitment.

      Perhaps the “uncool-ness” of church choirs are their greatest strength. For me, it is a middle finger to the beauty pageant/popularity contest of popular American religion and the church growth movement. It says “we don’t need the stupid cool you’re trying to sell, we’re family and we love each other, and that is more than enough.”

      We still rock out with bands and sing disposable pop ditties, and the youth are well involved with that as well. There’s nothing wrong with having fun and a little “cool” in church, but at the end of the day, we owe them SO much more when it comes to leveraging music in worship as a means of serious discipleship. The discipline and dedication this craft requires of them challenges them to accomplish things they may not have thought possible, and the musicianship skills they learn enable them to do the more “fun” music better.

      You find me a leader who thinks that choirs aren’t good for the church, and I’ll show you a shallow vision with an American “buff the nearest bottom line quickly” mentality that commits to a trendy spirituality people quickly tire of and outgrow. The diversity of our music program always leaves more for us to grow into.

      • Lutherans have historically been big on choral singing (not to mention chorales,), so i would be very surprised to find out that choirs have lost ground in any Lutheran church. I was in the childrens’ choir back when, and congregational singing has always been my fave part of Lutheran services.

        • Unfortunately, so many Lutheran churches chase the cheap fads of the Evangelical circus, only they’re about 15 years behind the cutting edge, and by the time they get around to trying anything “cool,” it’s been too well worn. So in many of our churches, the choir has been replaced by a band, the church’s song with the culture’s pop, and an intentional strategy to facilitate congregational song with a slick production. You would think, why would anybody trade in something so beautiful for schlock? The ironic thing is that as soon as it becomes all about “preference,” suddenly people become so much more dogmatically committed to their own.

    • I don’t know about the not cool to practice thing. I’m joining a community band and that seems a popular thing to do now, at least among my circle of friends and acquaintances.

  2. Dan from Georgia says

    Coon Rapids High School, Coon Rapids, MN 1986.

    I think Americans are averse to taking vacations because many of them are overloaded with work and deadlines. Just my $0.02. Me? I take all I can get. I get paid well in the aviation industry, but when the bell rings, so to speak, I leave work at work. And. I. Am. Off!

    • Dan from Georgia says

      Been to one reunion (20th) BTW. Met up with some old familiar faces. Was hit on by drunk girl. A jerk or two remained jerks.

      Manliest church? I thought Mars Hill wanted that title?

    • Conrad Weiser High School, Robesonia, PA, 1977. (Conrad Weiser was a friend of William Penn who negotiated with the local Native Americans in the 1700s. Pretty cool dude, from what we know.) Went to my 10th HS reunion. Not enough time had passed; people were still their HS selves for better and worse.

      Speaking as an American worker, I’ve always felt like not taking all my vacation helped show I was committed to the office and protected me from being the first to be laid off, as much as possible. I have always felt I needed to “justify” taking vacation to the higher ups with some long explanation. Still feel that way, probably more so because of the recession.

  3. ” Why do Americans in particular seem so averse to taking time off?”

    We know that when we come back, we’ll have to double-time it to do all the work that went undone while we vacated; in fact, studies have shown (no, I can’t cite sources) that the stress levels immediately following a vacation for most workers are such that they void and outstrip the stress reduction experienced during the vacation itself, leaving a net balance of increased stress from taking the vacation.

    • Indian Hills High School, Oakland, NJ, 1977.

    • Still 1978. When I was younger I went on vacations for my children. I spent weekends and nights working as hard as I could to try and get ahead before leaving only to do the same to try and catch up upon return. It was a stress filled time to say the least. I use to think I’ll be glad when its over so I can rest by just working more normal hours. Vacations to me now are working around the house at my leisure, walking the mountains and praying, an afternoon nap with my naptime buddy alex the cat and sleeping in my own bed. This is what I prefer and it only happens when work is slow.

    • @ Robert….. yes, this! ^^^^

    • Marcus Johnson says

      Um, how about a +++++1 for this. That, and an “Amen”!

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      I know a lot of folks who don’t use their time because they are afraid it will make them look “bad” or less committed to their company or something. Which is total BS. France is famous for its extensive vacations etc. – and if you divide their GDP by their total workforce, guess what? They are the most productive nation in the world, and far more productive than the USA. Seems like that would be common sense, but…

  4. Athletics! (Even though they’re backing in).

    And the boys in blue.

  5. Another wonderful things: Choirs(along with good hymnals) help the rest of the congregation learn to sing PARTS, which is one of the great riches of vocal music in traditional congregational singing, and seems to be completely lacking in follow-the-bouncing-ball (the older ones among you will know whereof I speak) praise style music (in which congregations sing only the melody, even if it’s completely out of their register and they really can’t sing it [as it must necessarily be for many or most of them]).

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      Choir singers are obviously enjoying themselves, but other people often find this kind of music dull. Imagine how you would feel if church revolved around harpsichords. (Of course the harpsichordists would insist that they were absolutely indispensible.) Or something like this:

      • “Imagine how you would feel if church revolved around harpsichords.”

        Renaissance music gets no love. It’s kinda sad.

        “Or something like this…”

        Tell you what. I’ll happily fly to Bali. You go sit through Spin Me Around Jesus:

      • Interesting video. Where are all the women?

        I’m sure there are other people who find this kind of music dull, but I happen to be one who finds praise music styled worship dull, and I’m sure there are others out there like me. The music is almost always derivatively inferior to the pop/rock music imitated. In addition, there’s often something cloyingly cringe-inducing in most of it that makes me feel exactly the same kind of embarrassment I did when my mother-in-law played organ theatrical/soap-opera-style at one of the in-laws memorial services (though most of the others present seemed to love it) . Ugh.

        Choirs are of course not indispensible to worship. Neither is good music. Neither is music. I love a said service, as is sometimes done in the Episcopal Church, though I’m sure you would find that boring.

        • Faulty O-Ring says

          Most people find it boring. It’s not just the music, sermons are famously soporific.

          I enjoy bagpipes. What if bagpipes had become standard church music a couple of centuries ago? Now people who didn’t like them would find themselves arguing with bagpipers on the internet about how important bagpipes are to Christian tradition, or all the lessons in life that we can learn from playing them, and how nay-sayers just don’t appreciate the finer things of culture.

          Or suppose that churches had doily societies dedicated to making sure that every pew had doilies, and that the preacher and doily director understood their importance. Doily-making might have become a required subject in seminary! The mind boggles.

          • For we liturgical Christians, singing the music that our forbears sang expresses our contemporaneity with them in the Communion of Saints, just as using liturgical styles and archaic language does; where everything is new, there is a loss of awareness of the Church as a community across time and generations. That doesn’t mean that innovation should never occur, but it should be slow and incremental, so that the preponderance of what we do in worship in singing and liturgy should keep us connected in word and action with those who came before.

            Where churches and congregations demand mostly or only what they already know from the general culture, they inevitably either have or will sever themselves from living, embodied connection with Christians across time, sorting themselves into numberless parochial ghettos typified by increasing fractiousness about what is appropriate in liturgy and music. What we prefer as a generation or half generation becomes more important than what the Church has done and said across time. The result is amnesia about what and who the Church has been, and who it has historically said God is.

            It’s not really just a matter of taste and preference; there are theological issues at stake.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            “Nothing gets old-fashioned faster than over-relevance…”

            Ever seen footage of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In lately?

            To their credit, Dan & Dick weren’t doing anything more than a weekly current-events comedy revue. Now imagine if they presented Laugh-In as Cosmically Important Message, the Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything (“Forty-Two…!”)…

            “…Except pretentious over-relevance.”

          • To add to my comment above: In connection with underscoring and expressing the catholicity of the Church in worship, it’s a good thing that liturgical churches have added some praise music to their hymnals in recent decades, but just as or more importantly, it’s a good thing that they’ve also added music of non-European Christian traditions. The current ELCA book, Lutheran Worship, has a substantial number of hymns from other traditions around the world, and I love many of them. I also like some of the CCM selections in the hymnal, though for someone wanting nothing but the latest, these songs will not do, since they are mostly a decade or two or three old. Such is the tyranny of the current.

            Do many evangelical churches use worldwide and multicultural Christian music in their worship?

          • Faulty O-Ring says

            That was just what I was going to say about bagpipes!

            Your hymns mostly are not that old. A lot of them are 19th century.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Interesting video. Where are all the women?

          They’re using Castratos because “Women shall keep silent in church”?
          (That was the actual reason for manufacturing and using Castratos in the 17th through 19th Centuries. “Women cannot sing in church! They must keep silent! It Is Written in SCRIPTURE by St Paul!”…)

          • No, I checked the Wikipedia article about the Balanese Monkey Chant, and the absence of women is due to the fact that its a kind of re-enactment of a legendary battle in the Ramayana, a battle that would have been fought by men. That and old-fashioned traditional tribal misogyny and male privilege.

          • Faulty O-Ring says

            If you really want to know, the battle (from the Ramayana) was fought by monkeys. The kechak* dance was actually choreographed a century ago by…wait for it…a German who thought they needed a big song-and-dance routine to show to tourists! Women have a lot of cool Balinese dances as well.

            *chak is the noise a monkey makes, and the ke- construction makes it an adjective.

        • A lot of the “contemporary” material IS dull and tediou, no question. The music is 3-chord, the words are repetitive and often pretty devoid of meaning. It doesn’t have to be that way, but it seems like the companies that publish this stuff work very hard to ensure that all true creativity is discarded, left outside the door – however you want to put it.

          I was a church musician for a good while, and most of what we played was just awful, with a few notable exceptions. However, music ed in public schools isn’t what it was at one time, and i think that’s part of the problem.

          • Too true.

            Just heard on the radio within the last few days that there is a movement to change STEM to STEAM, adding the arts back into secondary education, linking them to the more technological areas of study. That’s all well and good; any way to get the arts into schooling at any level is okay by me. And they also should be in curricula because the arts are valuable in themselves, and actually increase global brain activity.

            California had a really good music curriculum when I was a child; it had basically disappeared by the time my kids were in school. My husband and I required that they participate in a musical activity, anything they wanted. All 3 played in the school band, and one sang besides. Oldest also took piano lessons, and has been able to make a career out of music; he also did pretty well in calculus 😉


  6. To Pastor Mooneyham, I have this to say: In the words of Owen Meany, “THERE’S NO NEED TO BE CRUDE.”

    • See my 1:31am comment. Do we say the same about Nadia Bolz-Weber, who is just as crude but tends to get a free-pass because she’s reaching a specific audience? Isn’t Mooneyham reaching a specific audience, too?

      • Don’t you go dissin’ my Nadia, now Rick! ;o)

      • Rick Ro., I wasn’t talking about his language. I was talking about his behavior with the waitresses, boorish and crude. “THERE’S NO NEED TO BE CRUDE.” And rude in that disgusting macho style one too often sees played out in public.

        • Umm, comments of the sort that he made to the waitress would have him sued in a minute if he made them to an employee. And rightfully so. He makes her feel uncomfortable and weak and he gets to feel “manly” and powerful. Somehow I think the truest man who ever lived, Tool Time’s Tim Taylor, would not approve.

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

        I wouldn’t call Nadia crude at all. I would call her crass at times, but not crude. O, maybe I’m just splitting hairs. What I mean is that Nadia displays humility and love in her communication, even when it is frank. This guy just displays arrogance and lack of maturity.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      But it’s more manly!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      To Pastor Mooneyham, I have this to say: In the words of Owen Meany, “THERE’S NO NEED TO BE CRUDE.”

      I remember a certain Gigachurch Pastor/Dictator who’s recently been in the news & blogs being called “The Cussing Preacher” early in his career. Maybe Mooneyham’s just trying to out-Driscoll Driscoll?

  7. Interlake High School, Bellevue, WA, 1979. Go Saints!

    While it appears that picking on Heath Mooneyham for his macho, foul-mouthed persona is low-hanging fruit, I wonder if he’s much different than Nadia Bolz-Weber and her “macho” (female version), foul-mouthed persona, just at the other end of the spectrum. Why do we tend to criticize one and praise the other?

    • I for one don’t like vulgar language in general, and won’t give Nadia a pass on that score.

      She does communicate an understanding of grace that is a quantum leap beyond our Joplin preacher, however. Plus, if you read the article, you will see that Mooneyham’s vulgarity includes a misogyny that dismisses women or is cruel toward them. I don’t see that kind of hatefulness in N B-Z.

      I could do without the tats and the f-word though.

      • Faulty O-Ring says

        Tattoos are vulgar?

        • Just not a fan

          • +!. Mostly because I find it annoying how often the tattooed seem to expect praise for the ink on their bodies, not too different from the way that new parents want everyone to coo over how beautiful and special their newborns are. The problem is, I don’t see beauty in most tattoos, so I neither praise them nor join in the general approbation of the admiring crowd. Tattoo me uncool.

          • MelissatheRagamuffin says

            I have four tattoos. All of them were placed so as to be easily covered up for work and such. So, this inked person doesn’t expect praise or for anyone to even notice them.

          • Perhaps, MelissatheRagamuffin, what annoys me is extroverted attention seekers who expect praise and admiration for whatever they happen to do, whether they are tattooed or not; when they happen to be tattooed, perhaps I focus my negative response on them more than others, and I find it a little more difficult to suppress my feelings of irritation with their expectations. Tattoo me uncool and unfair.

      • I have weeks worth of ink. The last is called the lion and the lamb. A lion with Jesus in the flowing mane. I think vulgar language shows a lack of strength. My father always said never talk like that in front of others and especially ladies. God told me to stop altogether. I prefer His take on things. Being manly has nothing to do with anything this preacher Mooneyham has to say. It is confidently knowing who you are and not having to prove it. I am 260 and wanting to be less with 20+ inch arms and can still do much heavy lifting at my age. I pray before sets at the gym and thank him afterwards as I need Him in all that I do. I do it because I love the time with HIm and it releases good feelings inside of me. Strongest men I know have a humility that I admire immensely and seek to have more of myself.

        • I know Robert and you are my brother. I never got tattoos for others they have been personal and mark certain times in my life and not for others to know about and most of the time they are for the most part covered. They are now an intimate part of who I am and no they don’t say things like I love so and so…lol. I actually cringe a little if someone stares. When I sweat at work my shirt becomes transparent and then they can be seen which when I work around church people I become self conscience. One time a man I know from church walked in and I was soaked and I heard him say I figured. I try to stay away from him because he was the one who said I was getting paid but somehow conveniently forgot to and never worked that out with me. Last I saw him he said he wanted more work done. Yeah okay.

          • Of course I’m your brother, w.

            My dislike of tattoos boils down to this: I don’t think the tattoos I see, or the ones I’m shown, are beautiful or interesting most of the time, even though they may be important to the people who have them, just as I don’t find the photos people show me of their vacations very interesting or pretty most of the time, though they may have much significance to the people who show them to me. Add to this that some people sporting tattoos seem to crave approval and admiration for them, and I get a little annoyed with the fad, unjustly no doubt, just as I get annoyed with the fact that people no longer need to convince you to come over to their homes to watch slides of their vacations, since they have vacation pictures with them all the time on their hand-held devices (What a boring disaster this is for captive audiences who don’t want to be rude by expressing disinterest!).

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Up until about 10-20 years ago, tattoos were primarily associated with sailors, marines, “tough guys” in general. Or sideshow “attractions” a la Ray Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man”.

            Then overnight, ZANG!!!!! Everyone’s strutting around tatted like Yakuza!

            My main objection to tattoos is that they’re PERMANENT. If you get inked, then change your mind, you’re kinda stuck.

          • But many people like them because they are permanent, believing that they express something permanent and lasting and unchanging about their own lives and experience. That’s why they get them, to express some immutable aspect of their identity, as they understand it. It can also be a way of establishing identity, for those less certain about who they are. In some cultures, tattoos where widely used to serve as a marker of tribal identity, of having gone through a rite of passage establishing one’s tribal identity.

        • I like your response about the vacations and I do understand that is why I don’t like to discuss my tattoos. When and if someone asks I don’t really give responses because I’m fairly certain it isn’t that important. I had one young man going to prophesy over them when I interrupted and told him what God had already showed me. He later called me one of the sons of thunder. Lol. I know your heart my friend

        • I’ve been baffled by the resurgence of tatoos, as (like HUG said), only sailors and biker gang members (etc.) sported them when i was young. I have always associated them with unsavory people, and even though that’s changed, something about permanent ink makes me very uncomfortable.

          I bet that a lot of people who get inked when young are going to wish they hadnxt done it later in life, after their skin starts to show its age.

          As for NBW’s tattoos, while not a fan in general, i’ve gotta say that the art is gorgeous.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      Rick, if you can’t tell the difference between Mooneyham and NBZ, we may need to have coffee.

      • I’m always up for a cup of coffee! 😉

        And yes, I know the difference. It’s an inward heart thing. It’s just that pointing out one person’s OUTWARD vulgarity (Mooneyham) while giving pass to someone else’s OUTWARD vulgarity (Bolz-Weber) seems disingenuous. For all I know, Mooneyham is reaching as many people for Christ as NBW is.

        • Full disclosure: I have Nadia’s book; I doubt I’d buy a book by Mooneyham.

        • “I’m always up for a cup of coffee!”

          I’m always up after a cup of coffee.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          “I’m always up for a cup of coffee!”

          Agree, but that is what the coffee shop is for. It is just a short ride on route #11 and then a four block walk to go from St. Alphonsus to The Lantern.

          Really, coffee is great, but who wants to drink church coffee?

  8. 1993. I wasn’t even alive for CM’s June of 74 graduation. Also, what’s with those steering wheel symbols scattered throughout the article?

  9. Don Lugo High School, Chino CA, class of 1992.

    Rooting FOR the Doyers (which is the transliterated term for “Dodgers” in Spanish, if you weren’t aware; side note, there is a Doyer Dog you can buy at the stadium, complete with bacon and jalapeños!) and AGAINST those dirty bird Cards.

    There’s a bit of subtext to the “unlimited vacation” stuff that smacks of a bait-and-switch. The text is, “Since everyone is so well-connected and we can’t easily track your hours anyway, take as much vacation as you want!” Which sounds great. But I think the subtext is, “Since you’re so well-connected, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t be able to work while you’re on vacation, even if it’s just little stuff like checking email or unsticking problems to keep projects on-task.”

    Or maybe, as a business owner for 15 years and a 24×7 systems person for almost 20, that’s the subtext *I’m* reading…

    • I agree with you, PCG, about the implied subtext. But I’d take it for the ability to monitor stuff from a distance rather than sitting at my desk because I have to when I’m just monitoring stuff I could do from a distance everyday.

      Oh, I forgot: Mt. Vernon High School, Alexandria, VA 1976. (Yay for the Bicentennial!)

  10. Mexico High School, Mexico, Maine 1972.

    Generally speaking, I don’t like to hear “curse words.” But I do like Nadia Bolz-Weber very much because she has such great things to say and says them beautifully.

    The foliage is peaking in parts of Maine now. Off to take some photos today. I think where we are going will be better next week though. Have a great weekend, iMonkers!

    • I like the occasional well placed curse word. What would the Bard be without “muck”?

      • The Bard earned his prerogative to plumb the depths of the crude because he was able to scale the heights of the profound and the rarefied. More accurately, he discovered that in the heights there were some lowly and earthy things, and that they could be made to speak eloquently.

        If a pastor is able in his or her preaching and public speaking to attain something roughly approximate to Shakesperian eloquence (after all, no one can really come close to the Bard, so it would be absurd and unfair to set the bar that high), then they on occasion may be entitled to pepper their addresses with a little vulgarity or crudity here or there without losing the right to a hearing. If, on the other hand, they are incapable of such feats, and they resort to profane speech because they have no other rhetorical or expressive colors on their palette, then they are mere vulgarians. I suspect that Mooneyham is the latter, based on the public behavior described in the linked article, though I of course may be wrong.

        • Correction: “If a pastor is able in his or her preaching and public speaking to attain something roughly approximate to Shakesperian eloquence” and profundity….

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I’ve listened to “blue comics” of the Sixties such as Lenny Bruce. Despite their reputation, they didn’t actually use many cusswords. But each one was timed and inserted for maximum effect. It wasn’t today’s usual “there are 50,000 words in English other than ‘F***’ and ‘You’. You might want to increase your vocabulary.”

          A more accessible example is the “Ballad of Rock Ridge”, the musical number which kicks off Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (uncut version). The entire song is three minutes of buildup to ONE scatological cussword at the very end — again timed and positioned for maximum effect.

          • Skill and craft make a difference, too, when deploying crude language, as Dante illustrated in The Inferno. I doubt that the pastor in question possesses either such skill and craft, or eloquence and profundity, or anything remotely like them. He probably uses crudity merely to pander to the lowest common denominator, and because that’s all he’s got in his arsenal, although, as always, I may be wrong.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Don’t forget the opening scene of Romeo & Juliet, with the line “Cut off the heads of the maidens. Or their maidenheads — no matter!”

        And Torah and Tanakh in the original language has some zingers that didn’t make it through translation. (Ezekiel — that guy had a dirty mouth and even dirtier over-the-top imagery…) Or not even in the original language; there’s enough distance between Kynge Jaymes Englyshe and today’s that a lot of the KJV-era zingers fly over contemporary heads.

        I’m reminded of a story about HBO’s Deadwood — you know, more Cusswords per Minute than anywhere else on TV? The story goes that originally they used accurate 18th Century cussing (primarily blasphemous references instead of scatological and sexual), but it came across as ridiculous — “They all sounded like Yosemite Sam!” (Or more likely the other way around — Yosemite Sam’s rants were a parody of 19th Century cussing.) So they had to replace the 19th Century cussing with contemporary F-bomb barrages to get the equivalent “feel”.

    • Also from Maine. Mount Desert Island High School, Bar Harbor, 1974. Would have had our 40th reunion this summer but the class officers (my wife included) decided they’d talk it up on FaceBook instead of researching and contacting classmates. “Oh,” they said, “we’ll just get word out that way and everybody will show up at the Side Street Cafe in Bar Harbor.”

      Have you been to the Side Street? A great little restaurant, I recommend it highly; but the key word is “little.”

      Well, that never happened. According to facebook, I think about two of the women showed up, wife not one of them. We boycotted and will hold out for a proper 50th reunion at Kebo Golf Club where they can actually handle a party. Stupid facebook.

      No Choir. That got phased out in our church about 15 years ago. I really like choral music, especially medieval, but don’t remember that choir as anything outstanding so no great loss. Instead, we have 3 or 4 praise songs with a small band (guitar, bass, drums, piano, and my wife on flute) early in the service. And, on a good day, 2 traditional hymns “if there’s time for both.” Last Sunday, we were running late and the pastor decided to forgo the closing hymn, “Freely, Freely.”

      On the boat on the way home, wife and I grumbled over the inclusion of the 5-minute “inspirational video” at the beginning. Something about the glory of God’s creation, with photos from Hubble Telescope. Given the choice, we both would have canned the stupid video and sung the hymn.

      Sometimes I think the best part of the service is the hymns. Never, ever, the videos. They’re only good for bathroom breaks.

      As for foul language, this is the coast of Maine, settled by well-mannered fishermen and sailors. Nobody around here swears.

      • I always get amused when I see “Freely Freely” in the hymnal, as I remember singing the cantata (or whatever they were calling it then) it was in back in HS (MVHS, 1976) – I think we were singing it in ’73-’74, so it must have come out a couple of years earlier. The group I sang with came out of our student “Bible Club” group at HS – much more spiritually nourishing than my church youth group.

        • I think it was more of a praise song back then. We got new hymnals a few years ago and it showed up. Still use a lot of the 18th & 19th century ones though.

          Yesterday’s final hymn got canned too. I can blame my wife for that one. She’s on the missions team and showed not only a mission video of a couple serving in Lebanon but a scype call with them, live. At least that was interesting and worthwhile.

      • Ted wrote, “Nobody around here swears.” Ha, ha, Ted! Sometimes you do just need to swear. My husband does not know if I am really angry unless I use certain words he recognizes as “mad” words. Thus, the well-placed swear word. He, on the other hand, uses the words all the time. They tend to lose their impact that way, methinks.

      • Agree on the videos. Distracting. Bathroom break. Hmmm. May need to try that, but since it’s often the opening ‘buildup,’ I’ll be hard pressed to explain to my kids where I’m going, especially since I give them the stink eye and tell them they should’ve gone before service when they try to pull that.

  11. Cortez High, ’72, Phoenix, AZ. Go COLTS!

    High school was probably the roughest part of my life. If you held a gun to my head trying to force me to redo that time of my life I’d encourage you to squeeze the trigger…

    • Amen to this. Talk about the valley of the shadow of death.

      • Yes, high school was surely a taste of what hell must be like. To echo Tom, I’d rather play a round of Russian roulette than attend a reunion. In the words of Steely Dan, “…I’m never going back to my old school…”

        • Yes for so many of us life began after high school.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          Ditto. You would have to pay me a lot of money to get me to attend a reunion. And I’d probably just end up breaking someone’s nose, then there is hassling with the police, ….ugh. I’ll just skip it.

          • Went to my 5yr. That was 22 yrs ago. Nobody had changed. Haven’t been since. Went to some funerals recently where I ran into others. Still no change. I have some good memories, some bad, of high school. I’m content where I am. Too many of them still live those Bruce Springsteen glory days.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      High school was probably the roughest part of my life. If you held a gun to my head trying to force me to redo that time of my life I’d encourage you to squeeze the trigger…

      Same here. Only other part of my life that compares was watching my mother die of lung cancer plus chemo side effects a couple years later.

      Remember Twilight (sparkle sparkle)? Commenters (and even actors) fixated on EDWARD (sparkle sparkle) being a virgin at over 100 “so you know he had issues”. They missed the bigger issue that HE HAD BEEN GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL FOR 90 OF THOSE YEARS, transferring from high school to high school under different identities every four years. (All I could conclude was that Stephanie Myers’ high school career must have been very different from mine if she thought of high school as The Best Time Of Life and wanted to stay there forever…)

    • @ Tom….

      For me, JUNIOR high was purgatory on earth. An Army brat who had lived all over the globe, shy and nerdy, was dropped into a working-class school populated mostly with the kids of steel-workers and longshoreman who had never left Baltimore County….except MAYBE to spend a week in Ocean City.

      I was chum in a pool of sharks.

      Fortunately, my parents listened to my pleas to attend high school at the local Catholic school. I enrolled where no one knew me from Adam’s housecat, and I was able to re-invent myself and bloom in that environment.

      Which brings me to Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School in Baltimore, Class of 1976*

      [I actually left in 1975 to start my freshman year at The College of Notre Dame of Maryland as an early-admit student. My HS diploma still says 1976, and I was allowed to attend the Senior Prom with my handsome boyfriend in full dress uniform….the same uniform he married me in in 1979!]

      • Awww…

        Pattie, that is such a nice happy-ending story!


      • Wow Pattie, sounds like you lived in Dundalk, Md., or thereabouts. Steelworkers and longshoremen…
        I live near Catonsville.

        • Vera, you are 100% correct!!!

          We did live in Dundalk (7th grade) and then my folks bought a house in Essex (8th grade) and finally to Mt. Carmel on Eastern Ave. for high school.

          As a side note, one of my classmates at Mt. Carmel (who I briefly and chastely dated at CYO dances and movies) went on to become the Archbishop of Baltimore until this year, when he was re-assigned elsewhere!!

    • East Washington High School, 1960. I’ve got you all beat!

      When I die and go to hell, I’ll be back in those unhallowed halls, on my way to algebra class.

  12. Yay! The Royals are in the playoffs for the first time since the glory days of George Brett in 1985. It’s been a long time, but we’re back!

  13. St Paul’s Grammar School, Sydney. Class of ’99.

    I too did a double-take with the ‘manliest church’ thing. Was expecting Mars Hill. Haven’t heard of this other one before. So beards, beer guts and trucks are what it takes to be among the manliest, eh? Don’t have any of those. I guess my finely trimmed moustache and I will settle with being just manly enough.

    I’m curious to see how this new Branson policy works out. Perhaps he’s counting on an internal sense of duty and company solidarity to keep workers working, rather than externally applied rules? Will it become a shaming culture where too much time off will get you whispered about and neglected for promotion down the track? Could be an interesting social experiment, this.

    Speaking of vacations, National Day is coming up over here in China. Everyone gets a full week off for that, and most folks head home to their families. When I told a few of my students we only get one day’s public holiday back home, they thought us a terribly unpatriotic bunch.

    • Patrick Kyle says

      Lincoln County HS Eureka, Mt. Class of 1981.

      ” Will it become a shaming culture where too much time off will get you whispered about and neglected for promotion down the track? Could be an interesting social experiment, this.”

      I hear you… we have been so conditioned by our work environments that even a generous offer like Branson’s
      is viewed with suspicion as a likely trap to disqualify yourself from promotions and raises. I know how this would have worked out at my last several places of employment. Slavery is alive and well,only now(at least in the West) it is wage slavery.

  14. Jesuit High School, Shreveport Louisiana, 1968. It’s now called Loyola Prep and is now co-ed (our sister all-girls school, St. Vincents) closed a while back. Jesuits were the brightest bunch of guys I’ve ever associated with. As a university professor I associate with some pretty smart folks, but Jesuits were true intellectuals in a holistic sense.

    About this “manliest” church you mentioned, aside from the sheer idiocy of it I don’t get this notion of theme churches. There’s a “cowboy” church up in Santa Fe where, as I understand it, the gospel message is conveyed using cowboy philosophy (I don’t relate). There’s also a “rock” church here in town which, as I understand it, tailor mostly to youth with loud music and “relevant” messages. Whatever happened to “church” church?

    And no, we don’t have a choir, never have had one. In my 40 years in the same Evangelical association we’ve always had guitars, keyboards, drums and such. The closest thing we have to a choir are two to three singers who don’t play an instrument. Even growing up Roman Catholic we never had a choir in the parishes I belonged to. So with the exception of a couple of other churches I’ve visited I don’t have any experience with this and cannot speak to it much one way or the other.

    I wish the University of New Mexico gave unlimited vacation time to the faculty and staff. As a 12-month faculty member with added administrative duties I get 21 days of vacation a year which I use up, not so much for leisure but the get stuff done around the house and at church. But on the other point as to why many Americans don’t take vacation, I think we just don’t know how to relax and settle into a work, come home, back to work routine. I think this is unhealthy.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      About this “manliest” church you mentioned, aside from the sheer idiocy of it I don’t get this notion of theme churches. There’s a “cowboy” church up in Santa Fe where, as I understand it, the gospel message is conveyed using cowboy philosophy (I don’t relate).

      Including Barry McGuire’s “Cosmic Cowboy” as a hymnal?
      (Hard to believe that’s the same guy who wrote “Eve of Destruction” before He Got Saved(TM)…)

      That Song used to be all over the place on Heavy Rotation on Christianese AM Radio in the Seventies. It’s the Star Wars Holiday Special of Theme CCM — including the ability to earworm you when you come across a reference reminding you after you’ve happily-forgotten about it. Just like the Star Wars Holiday Special.

    • From the “Cowboy Church of Santa Fe’s” website:

      “Now we may call ourselves the “Cowboy Church”, but if ya love the real American West, the beautiful Rocky Mountains, great music, or the true Gospel of GRACE…then we’re YOUR church too!”

      “There are already exciting changes comin’ round the mountain! Now’s a great time to get involved & see just how much FUN bein’ part of the Cowboy Church family can be!”

      I believe they refer to their pastor as “Doc,” although this may be a nickname and not his actual title. Even though I wouldn’t fit into either community, I would prefer the Cowboy Church over the manliest church any day.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        The Applejack Accent from the editing and proofing doesn’t help.

      • Yes, I suppose a Cowboy Church is a cut above a Manly Church, Fighting Church, Cussing Church, …

        Now, if they fed you steaks each Sunday, I might just go visit them.

        • My understanding is that cowboy church started as an outreach for the rodeo circuit, where people were moving around a lot and usually only owned casual clothing such as blue jeans, so weren’t comfortable going to regular churches.

          To this day, cowboy churches are casual dress affairs where you can come as you are, where you are unlikely to be asked a lot of questions and the preaching tends to be heavy on grace.

          It’s not my cup of tea (it is a Christian worship community) but I can see its appeal.

  15. Richard Hershberger says

    Twentynine Palms High School, class of 1981. (Anyone who now or ever has been in the US Marine Corps may now shudder.) I have never been to a reunion, and don’t anticipate going. Most of my closest friends were either a class ahead of me or a year or two behind me. I look at my yearbook and wonder “Who are these people?” So attending a reunion seems just pointless.

    Manliest Church: is there some sort of competition out there for most ridiculous ? I would have thought that Driscoll would win easily for Most Ridiculous Pastor (Macho division), but it seems I was wrong. He must be so disappointed.

    The unlimited vacation policy is not a new invention. Some companies have had this for years. How it plays out depends on the company culture. It sounds great in principle, but in practice it can be “Oh, this isn’t a good time. You’ll have to take your vacation another time” and this other time may or may not ever arrive. The advantage of traditional vacation is that it is yours. When you take your vacation, you are merely using something that is yours. Yes, the other people in the department might have to work extra to pick up the slack while you are gone, but they will get their vacations, too. Make vacations open-ended, and this is not so clear. The guy who takes a bit more vacation than average is no longer using what is his (having a bit more due to seniority) but is simply dumping work on everyone else.

    I am also deeply skeptical of the “whenever they like” part. How does that work? if everyone in the department wants to go on vacation at the same time, do they simply turn off the lights and shut the door for a couple of weeks? I doubt it. My guess is that you end up with internal politicking to decide who gets to go and who has to stay.

    The ultimate problem with “as much as you want” is that we all know that it doesn’t really mean that. You can’t announce that you are taking the next five years off for vacation, and expect your salary to be direct deposited every two weeks while you are gone. That is obviously unreasonable. But what is reasonable? Two weeks in Bermuda? Three weeks? Four? Five? If you have a fixed amount of vacation, you know what you have.

    This isn’t to say that the system can’t work. I work in a small law office. In other words, while I technically work for a firm, I actually work for a guy. Furthermore, he is a mensch. I have been with him for five years, and don’t expect to leave any time soon. We have never discussed vacation policy. I take a week off in the summer, a few days in the spring for an annual conference, and a few days around Christmas, when he is enjoying his Chinese food. I have done this for years. If I want an odd day off here or there, I just ask a couple of weeks ahead of time and he says yes. We also don’t have fixed sick days. If I call him and say I am sick, he believes me. I accommodate this by not claiming to be sick when I’m not. So the system works for us. But I have also used to work for a guy who is decidedly not a mensch. With him, I would want a formal system.

  16. Dan Crawford says

    Holy Cross Preparatory Seminary (Passionist Fathers) June, 1962. No class reunions – though many of us, ordained or not, keep in relatively close contact.

    Play-off hopes: Maybe the Bucs will go beyond the first round this year.

    “Manliest” church, heh? Churches with gimmicks and cute (iChurch) or non-descript (Community) or other kinds of ad-slogan names ought to be avoided. Something else is going on than the preaching of the Gospel.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      “Churches with gimmicks and cute (iChurch) or non-descript (Community) or other kinds of ad-slogan names ought to be avoided.”

      There is a storefront church on Main Street in my smallish town whose sign in the window calls itself “Church 3.0” and has the slogan “church for the non-religious.” I have no idea what either of these mean. The one time I happened to be walking down the street on a Sunday morning, I saw a bunch of white men standing around inside with cups of coffee. I was not in the least tempted to check them out further. (Were I inclined to be snarky, I would say that we already have a church for the non-religious: the Uniterian Universalists. But since I am never snarky, it would not even occur to me to say such a thing.)

      • I would guess they mean Christian church for the non-religious. Unitarianism is more open than that. Of course some areas are getting Sunday Assemblies which appear to be Church for the irreligious. I asked my partner (who is an atheist) if he wanted to go and his response was absolutely not, one of the perks of being an atheist is no church!

      • Ha, I once got a postcard from church 2.0, which also promised it wasn’t religious.

        So I guess 3.0 is like that, but with coffee.

        Of course they don’t mean not religious. They mean they’re just so cool, and for kids who understand ‘2.0’. The flip side of the mailing promised this organization was “not your grandma’s church.”

        This was mass mailed, presumably to everyone in my apartment building, which was occupied at least 50 percent by older people. Marketing fail? I guess they saved old folks some time. “This church, it is not for you.”

        • It also figured this was all I really needed to know too.

          “This church, it is run entirely by people under 40 who think they know everything, and are cool.”

          Yeah, that’s OK. You have go have fun.

          • We have a church in our neighborhood, formerly named Ephrata Mennonite Church, that’s now known as Alive Church, which I suppose is pretty hip, but always makes me think of that pathetically bad old horror movie, It’s Alive. In my mind its name is now It’s Alive Church.

          • Ha! There’s always the possible Frankenstein reference too.

          • Richard Hershberger says

            The sad thing is that thirty is the cutoff for “youthful cool.” This is when the hip youth pastor who relates well with the kids begins the transition to vaguely embarrassing person trying too hard to keep current with youth culture. A forty year old man trying unsuccessfully to talk like a teenager just looks ridiculous. Oddly enough, a forty year old man successfully talking like a teenager is even more so. Worse, left unchecked it is all too easy to slide into creepy old guy territory.

  17. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Hoërskool Drie Riviere, Vereeniging, South Africa, 1992. Missed the the 10th reunion due to being shot. Missed the 20th due to living 10000 miles away.

    The manliest church thing is, at its core, just a bunch of kids playing at being something they would like to be. Last week was the first big comic expo here in Saskatoon, and we went as it was my son’s 14th birthday. Of course, you meet and see a lot of people that self consciously play roles, dress-up, etc. These manly church fellows are just doing the same, but are quite oblivious to the fact. Would have been funny if the stupidity of it was not so overwhelmingly sad.

    • Klasie — I went through Form 1 at St. Mary’s School for Girls, Johannesburg; I left in 1972. Very interesting time to be in South Africa. Sorry you were shot. Did that have something to do with the 10000 miles away thing?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Last week was the first big comic expo here in Saskatoon, and we went as it was my son’s 14th birthday. Of course, you meet and see a lot of people that self consciously play roles, dress-up, etc. These manly church fellows are just doing the same, but are quite oblivious to the fact.

      Remember Doug Phillips ESQUIRE(TM)? Big Christianese muckity-muck (Vision Forum) and Commander of Gilead until the scandal broke about him sexually abusing his Handmaid? HE liked to cosplay all the time, in pulpit and video — as an 18th Century nobleman and/or General Patton. (I would pay to see the REAL George Patton run into this poser…)

      • Richard Hershberger says

        I believe it was Fred over at Slactivist who described the police in Ferguson, Mo., wearing jungle camo, as LARPers.

        Cosplay in the church is an interesting issue. As soon as you dress differently on Sunday morning than you do on Saturday or Monday, there is an element of cosplay to the affair. The jean-and-teeshirt church crowd at least avoids that. But cosplay in moderation and with self-awareness is not a bad thing. It can put you in a mind frame that sets sacred time apart from profane. It is easy, however, to go too far. In a liturgical church you end up with this stuff: The first time I attended an Anglo-Catholic (aka ‘Oxford Movement’) service, a Sunday Evensong more elaborate than any liturgy I had previously attended, it dawned on me that this was ecclesiastical theater. To their credit, the execution was splendid. It would be wrong to describe it as absolutely fabulous. But I couldn’t shake the sense that i was attending a show more than a worship service.

        • That vestments site is like watching a train wreck – you can’t stand to look, but you can’t look away. (The Tweety Bird stole is my nomination for the WTF???!!! award, just because.)

          But more seriously, yes, the Anglo-Catholic crowd are very much into theatrical staging and presentation, to a degree that’s, in its own way, as elaborate as what happens in St. Peter’s on Christmas and Easter. I am 100% certain that the Anglo-Catholic crowd are very sincere about it, but it sure does come off as overdone (for my taste, at least).

          • apologies for the profane abbreviation, but –

            – I usually just think of it as the letters wtf

            – that stole deserves to get that kind of reaction, even if we just use the Battlestar Galactica eupehmism for it. 😉

    • Saskatoon is very pretty. Best pie I ever had was at the Station Place restaurant. It was, of course, Saskatoon Berry Pie.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Pretty only between the end of May and the end of September. Between the end of March and mid-May it is dirty, muddy and/or dusty. The same for October and the first week or 2 of November. The rest of the year it is too cold to be pretty – lots of yellow snow 🙂

    • Wow, Klasie! I taught in Saskatoon back in the late 60s/early 70s. A beautiful if rather chilly place. My dad from Ohio visited me up there and was startled to see they had paved streets and electricity. How is the old city doing?

  18. Jefferson High School, Lafayette, Indiana, 1983. Because, Go Bronchos!

  19. Gulfport High, Gulfport, MS …’79. The mighty Admirals.

    Derek Jeter – of course. It was only appropriate. Ironically the Yanks had to blow a 5-2 lead in the top of the 9th for this to transpire.

    At the mass we pray, we sing, we confess our sinfulness, we hear scripture read, we hear a homily that tells us what the scripture is saying, we participate in the Eucharistic supper. I don’t get themed churches. Manliest?

    The church I attend has a choir that sings more traditional music. We also have a schola choir that engages in a decent attempt at Gregorian chant once a month.

    Vacations are nice. I always take all my days off, no roll over days, as my company encourages its employees to do that. And try to go somewhere. Even if just for a few days. I’m not quite sure though how unlimited time off would be practically employed though. Would be interested in hearing how this works.

  20. Mansfield High School, Mansfield, Texas, 1958. I’m an old codger. I went to our 30th reunion but missed the 50th and 55th. Many of that class spent 12 years together in school. I joined them in the second grade.

    For the past four years I have been playing piano (well, it’s actually an electronic Yamaha Clavinova that also has a “pipe organ” sound that is useful for doxologies and postludes) and leading congregational singing (hymns and a “prayer chorus,” all in unison, from the bench) at a small Methodist Church (80-100) here in north Georgia. The choir loft, which can seat around 20, has sat empty for over 20 years, I’m told. Our new forty-something pastor not only likes traditional music but has asked that we form a women’s chorus (and perhaps add men at some later point) that will sing twice a month. Last Tuesday was our first meeting. I didn’t know what to expect. Four women showed up, all of them sopranos. I’m expecting an alto or two. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir we are not. I am not a trained conductor, but can do a passable job. We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Fittingly, our first song will be “He Giveth More Grace”….

    • By “we” I meant the singers. I, their leader, am male. If you run out of things to pray about, pray that God will be glorified through this little group. Little is much when God is in it.

      • Winter Haven High School, Winter Haven, Florida, class of 1965

        To “been there done that…”: As one who has spent most of my life directing choirs and/or playing the organ or piano, I will be praying for you and your new choir. God’s blessings on all of you.

  21. That article about the skivviest paster in America should come with a warning label:

    Make sure the bathroom is clear when reading this article – It will induce vomiting.

    Bob Jones Academy – class of 1988.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      BJU? Poor sod…

      • My husband actually went to the Jr. High, High School, and University. I only attended the High School although we went to chapel with the university folk in the Amphitortium. Our high school graduating class included Stephen Jones, the now former president and grandson of the founder Bob Jones, Sr.

      • Here’s the bonus story from high school:
        In January of 9th grade Bill Gothard convicted me of a sexual sin while I attended his Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts (parents where huge fans). I went in to the principal and confessed to kissing my boyfriend off campus – even wrote an incident report. They did not expel me (or him) because there was an unknown and possibly mythical semester rule – you couldn’t be punished for something that happened the previous semester. However, I was warned that if I kissed another guy again, I was out.

        Plus HUG – I love your breadth of knowledge and use of sarcasm.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Same Bill “Got Hard” who was feeling up his young teen interns?

          At least Elron’s “Commodore’s Assistants” has a uniform of string bikinis instead of white blouses and long blue skirts…

    • EV, you should get to know Jeri Massi over at Blog on the Way. She’s a BJU gal.

  22. Theodore Roosevelt High School, Wyandotte, Michigan, 1957. Reunions have been every five years since the 30th year and I’ve made them all so far from then on. Valuable to me to get other people’s take on what was happening back then in school, and also now. Exploring my roots in a way not readily available any other way I can think of. Has helped me revise what was mostly a negative experience for me at the time. My high school made national news by banning the wearing of Levis because the rowdier elements wore theirs “shackled”, low-slung without a belt. I wore Levis underneath the gown when I graduated. Nyah nyah nyah!

  23. David Cornwell says

    Wow, do I feel old here this morning! Reading down through the comments I realize that I’m old enough to be either the father of everyone here, or the grandfather. And if I hang on a just a few more years I’m sure I’ll be a great-grandfather. And– it is all “great.” But sometimes you make me feel much younger, so thanks for being here, being intelligent, being lovers of Jesus, and being human.

    My year of graduation was 1955 at the Chesapeake High School, Chesapeake, Ohio. This is immediately across the Ohio River from Huntington, West Virginia, where I was born and lived before moving to Ohio in the fourth grade. When I first attended an elementary school in Chesapeake, it was a two story wooden frame building with outdoor toilets.

    I love choirs for most of the same reasons stated above. The city church where I hold membership has a wonderful choir. The church loves to sing, and to sing the older hymns as well as some newer ones. In fact it probably has the best singing of any worship I’ve attended other than college and seminary chapel services. But the little rural church I now attend also does a decent job singing, but without a choir.

    And– Derek Jeter is a class act in a pro sports culture that seems so lacking in that which is good these days.

  24. Wow, based on graduation dates, no wonder most commenters here have issues with a literal view of creation. You were there when it happened! ; )

  25. That Other Jean says

    JEB Stuart HS, Fairfax, VA, 1965. Haven’t been to a reunion. I firmly believe that anybody who looks back on high school as the best years of their lives needs to get out more.

    May your choir increase and make beautiful music, BTDT.

    I don’t get “manly” churches. Guys being rude, crude, and obnoxious and calling it “manly” Christianity seem to me like little boys huddling together in their “no girls allowed” clubhouse. What’s manly about swearing and misogyny?

    I’m willing to bet there’s a caveat somewhere in that “as much as you want” vacation time that says you’d better not want more than a couple of weeks, and not when more than one other person wants time, too. Otherwise, half the office will end up doing all the work.

    Concerning the playoffs–Go, O’s!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I don’t get “manly” churches. Guys being rude, crude, and obnoxious and calling it “manly” Christianity seem to me like little boys huddling together in their “no girls allowed” clubhouse. What’s manly about swearing and misogyny?

      But they have Guns!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      P.S. Something I heard once: “When a man find himself without a purpose, Manliness becomes picking fights, shooting guns, and getting laid.”

      • You grew up in the SGV…what’s wrong with those things? 😀

      • “Manliness = picking fights, shooting guns, and getting laid?”
        Well….I’m too old and decrepit to pick fights….Oh yeah, guess that would apply to ‘getting laid’ too (not to mention the fact that I’m divorced/single)…so that only leaves ‘shooting guns’, which thankfully, I’ve loved since before I was 10. Guess I’m only 1/3 ‘manly’ then.

        High School? Attended 6, (what can I say, we were transient)….including 3 christian boarding schools, spread across the Canadian Prairies

      • “Manliness = picking fights, shooting guns, and getting laid?”
        Well….I’m too old and decrepit to pick fights….Oh yeah, guess that would apply to ‘getting laid’ too (not to mention the fact that I’m divorced/single)…so that only leaves ‘shooting guns’, which thankfully, I’ve loved since before I was 10. Guess I’m only 1/3 ‘manly’ then.

        High School? Attended 6, (what can I say, we were transient)….including 3 christian boarding schools, spread across the Canadian Prairies. Dropped out in Grade 11, took courses periodically during my 20’s…retired at 54…got my diploma at 54, finally! They mailed it to me in a brown envelope…so I missed out on the cap and gown, the banquet…AND the reunions!
        However, about 14/15 years ago, I tracked down some of my Christian College High School buddies….and actually met one several times, and spoke to another on the phone. the one I met was 53 going on 17…., called his lovely wife “Babycakes”…as in, “Hey Babycakes, can you get me another beer?” when the fridge in his expensive RV was less than 10 feet away! It was as if I’d slipped through a rent in the space/time continuum and was back in high school. Once we got past the “Do you remember the time when….”…we had nothing in common. I didn’t dare any better with the other one, so never bothered traveling to meet him.
        Oh well, so no Grad Or reunions, but I work in a High School now…so can attend all the ‘Grads’ I want to, along with the Banquets and cruises.

        As for music…just as in Bible Translations, there will always be a segment who cling to past eras, and enshrine them, when in actual fact, they were often controversial and not accepted when THEY were written (whether song or translation) because a sizable proportion of THEIR contemporaries hacked back to a PREVIOUS email, and hated the ‘new’ stuff. I simply refuse to get my knickers in a knot….as the saying goes..”The only constant in life IS change!”

        • Sorry for the couple of typos in my post….what can I say, my thumbs are much larger than the keys on my cell phone, and the screen’s not that big.

    • Patrick Kyle says

      TOJ, my mom graduated from that High School, 1960 I think my aunts did too. Last name was Fosberg.

  26. I graduated at the end of the 90’s from a school that is about three blocks north of Miguel’s current church.

    On paper, our church has purely congregational singing. In reality, we have choir-led congregational singing with an informal choir that you could not pick out by eye apart from the director. When I showed up three and a half years ago, it made for a very welcoming environment. As one of our choir directors now, that is something I try to keep up for the new people who will arrive on my watch. The majority of many of our services in the Orthodox Church are sung, so the idea is to enable people to participate as actively in them as they are inclined to.

    I can’t easily comment on the choir situation in protestant churches, as becoming or staying orthodox in America is very much a choice. As such, we have something of a selection bias – people have chosen to at least tolerate our music tradition if they are here as adults. Still, it is weird for me to hear people talk about “young people” not wanting choral music or to participate in choirs. Of the orthodox choir directors I have met, fully half were in their early 30’s or in their 20’s. When I ask if there is a particular arrangement or piece anyone would like us to sing at practice or make part of our regular rotation, it is the younger people (often teens!) who generally have requests.

    Look at the continued growth of choral and acapella groups on college campuses. Plenty of kids still pick chorus over art class, and if they are christians then church choirs are the next step in a logical progression.

    If your young people aren’t joining choirs, is it possible that simply no one has asked them or made it clear they would be welcomed as full members thereof?

    • Marcus Johnson says

      Tokah, you’re making a great point about our young folks; the idea that the under-40 disdain choirs is really false.

      However, the article brought up two very important reasons for why choirs are in decline: people move, and with the hit the economy took, church communities either can’t afford to maintain a choir, or laypeople cannot afford to sacrifice the time needed to make a choir work. Neither of those reasons are anything we can really blame on people’s desire to avoid “fuddy-duddy” choral worship; in many cases, they are just unable to commit.

      • I did read that in the article, and the first point confused me a lot. How does maintaining a choir cost the church money? I guess you can’t have a choir director on staff, but once you get a volunteer for that job, what else is there? I’d say our own church’s primary choir cost is toner for our copier.

        • Well, organs are pretty expensive, compared with guitar and drums, and organ is standard and assumed for much choir repertoire.

          • Actually, what I just said is incorrect. Most of the choir anthems we sing are accompanied on piano.

  27. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Arroyo High School, El Monte, California, 1973.

    I was the Omega Male of the school — beaten up in bathrooms, threatened with gang rape “behind the backstop”, constantly rubbed in my face what a failure I was. All high school did was make me suicidally depressed and taught me how to HATE.

    In the Nineties, I was contacted for a 20-year-reunion. I still remember my reply: “I’ve spent the last twenty years trying to forget those four ever happened. Why would I want to go back and be reminded of them?”

    • I’m sorry you had to go through that. : (. Hug for you HUG

      • Not to mention just breathing. Back in those days the smog was thicker than sea poop.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Yeah. I remember daily smog alerts in the summer and the far side of the schoolyard fading out in the haze.

          Though Seventies summers at Cal Poly Pomona were worse. That was when the steel mills at Fontana were still in operation and you could literally taste the metal if you inhaled through your mouth.

          Nowadays, I can’t remember the last time I heard of a smog alert. Must have been at least 20 years since we’ve had one.

          • We didn’t have the steel mills to contend with in the SFV…but everything else.

            My uncle from New Jersey stayed with us a week, one time…and the Santa Ana winds kicked up near the end of his visit and he was shocked to see the hills and mountains behind them that were about 3 miles in back of our house.

            “Where did those come from!” he exclaimed…

          • My husband grew up in Simi Valley (Simi Valley HS class of 1971) and also has stories of soupy smog and staying indoors at recess on smog alert days.

            He also said he and his friends used to ride their skateboards in the Santa Anas, using their unzipped windbreakers as sails – really got the speed on. I can see it in my mind’s eye…


          • I remember driving into (my dad was driving) Simi Valley to play a Pop Warner football game. After the game we stopped at an old house made of glass bottles. I think it is long gone.

            Ask your husband if he remembers that house. Lots of old Westerns filmed in the hills of Simi Valley. Quite beautiful.

          • Steve,

            My husband took me to see that house when we moved to Woodland Hills in 1982. It’s still there, and they now give tours, according to the interweb…

            You & your dad probably drove over the old Santa Susana Pass road, pre-freeway. That’s still there, too.

            Husband and his friends used to take a stick of salami and a canteen of water and go caving etc around Simi Valley on Saturday afternoons. When we lived in the SFV, every time we went by Stony Point at the junction of Topanga Canyon and hwy 118, we would solemnly assure one another that we recognized those rocks from the movies 😉


  28. John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley, CA. (Poly High) (The Fighting Parrots! – no laughing …ok…laugh )

    Enrolled in 1972.

    I just need 2 more continuation classes and a letter from my parole officer to graduate.

    Looking forward to my first reunion when I am 67.

    • The Fighting Parrots? I won’t laugh. My first two years were at a small high school in northern Maine. We were the “Pandas,” often referred to by opposing teams as “the Lee Academy Pansies.”

      Then I went to MDI High School where we were the “Trojans.” I think there was some irony there. The school was built in 1968 and the students were allowed to pick the name of the mascot. Joe Namath was a hero at Southern Cal, I understand, so the name “Trojans,” but I really think it was from dirty-minded kids with smirks on their faces.

      Unofficial team mottos: “Roll on, Trojans!” and “Trojans don’t break under pressure.”

      • Every team that we played had a banner (that their players would break through before the game) that read, “pluck the parrots!”. They did…more often than not.

        Broadway Joe went to Alabama, I believe.

        But it never fails that the Trojans are the tip of the spear when it comes to the coverup jokes.

    • Steve, your comments are frequently so funny that I think you must actually be that other Steve Martin.

  29. Scotts Consolidated (grades 1-12) Class of 1952, Iredell County, NC. I loved school, and really have no unpleasant memories. As we were the only Catholics in the school, I enjoyed the attention when, I believe it was in the seventh grade, I was asked to stand up and answer questions about my church. I assured my classmates that no, we didn’t worship the Virgin Mary, and no, the Priest did not spend the wedding night with the married couple!

    As a member of the Glee Club, I was allowed to visit Protestant churches, where we often sang as part of the service, and I really loved hearing the old fashioned, hearty hymn singing in these little country congregations, so different from our Latin responses, which I also loved.
    Our Senior Class of 34 is still 20 strong, and a dozen or so of us have breakfast together every three months..guess we just don’t want to let go of high school!

  30. Calhoun High School in Calhoun, GA 1994. Our class has a 20 year reunion in a couple of weeks. The first 10 years seem to actually take 10 years; went to college, got married, it seemed as if time had passed. These last 10 years have gone by much more quickly.

  31. Fort Bragg (California) High School, 1973.

    Jr High was harder – I was easy to tease – but things got better every year. Never wanted to be one of the “popular” kids, but was somewhat dismayed that I never was asked to a HS dance (girls asking boys or going as a group was Not Done). Have been to all my reunions, because I want to keep in touch with some of the people, in person. It’s so interesting how, even with the passage of so many years and through all our life experiences, our personalities are still the same. I went through school with these people from 2nd grade on, so the common experiences from growing up in a small town through perhaps the most formative part of life have kept us connected, to whatever degree. Having a few good friends (and terrific parents) enabled me to get through the hard parts.

    My older daughter and my godmother will be happy about the Giants being in the rotation. Of course, the possibility of a Giants/Dodgers match on the way to the pennant is always exciting for us Californians… That’s as far as my interest extends, sorry sports fans…

    I think we Americans don’t take long vacations because we have been trained not to (we believe as workers we’re not worth much, and sadly today more than ever are easily replaced), we don’t want the stress of “catching up” when we get back, we don’t generally work for the kind of mensch Richard has as a boss, and we have to work a long time to be able to earn enough to actually travel someplace. I’m sure there are other reasons, too.

    Choirs – I’ve sung in church choirs and community chorus all my life, and in worship teams. I think the best scenario for Protestants is what Miguel has going. Of course, many churches don’t want choirs. One of my fondest wishes as a 6-year-old was to be able to be in the 8th grade choir directed by the Principal of my Catholic grammar school in Butte, MT (Hi Eagle). Their voices were so lovely, floating over all of us at Mass. If there’s going to be a choir in a Catholic or Protestant church, I think it should be in the “traditional” loft in the back of the building. Generally the acoustics are better, and it’s easier for the rest of the congregation to keep a good focus that way. I’m in the choir in my Orthodox Church; we’re more organized than Tokah’s but it’s also assumed and encouraged that people will sing along as much as each feels comfortable doing. There are a few places during services where individual choristers chant, but those rotate among the capable. On the whole, the choir is meant to work in tandem with the priest, to be the “lead voice” of the worshipers and to help everyone stay present.

    Groovy peace signs, CM….


  32. ” and no, the Priest did not spend the wedding night with the married couple!”

    Lol. Thanks for sharing this. These kinds of stories are a blessing to hear.

  33. Escondido High, 1977

    Only attended 10 th reunion…these weren’t people I grew up with; only lived there my soph-sr years. But, met my husband there!

    What I notice is that when singing, congregantional singing with praise music is quiet when compared to being much louder and in unison when singing hymns. Just my observations in a variety of venues. Liked Jonathan A’s post, thanks.

    Regarding vacations– my husband rarely takes one….because being self-employed it’s challenging to leave your business behind. The only way for him to take a real vacation is to go where there is no internet, and spotty cell service. (Yes, there are places like that, because we go to them!)

  34. Randy Thompson says

    Pasadena (California) High School, 1968.

    World Series picks, in order of preference:

    The Dodgers are my first choice. (I was 8 years old when they moved to L.A. from Brooklyn, and have many, many fond memories of watching them play in the L.A. Coliseum and then at Dodger Stadium. (I attended the first regularly season game ever played there.)

    If the Dodgers can’t or don’t go all the way, then I’m for the Angels. I remember seeing them play the Yankees at Wrigley Field. (Go ahead and figure that one out!)

    If neither the Dodgers nor Angels go all the way, then I want to see the Pirates or Royals win. I have no rational reason for wanting them to win, other than that these franchises have suffered so long . . .

    Finally, regarding Derek Jeter’s last game in New York: Baseball heaven, as scripted by Frank Capra.

  35. Concord High School, Concord CA, 1982 (Concord Minutemen) We had a core of four friends that I still regularly keep in contact with, but outside of that, I don’t have many other contacts. And I live just down the road. Go figure.

    The San Francisco Giants are my team, but I also grew up with the Oakland A’s, so if they go far it’s fine with me. Still looking for another Bay Bridge World Series, sans earthquake.

    I’ve never been much of a “choir” person, as I prefer congregational singing of hymns. But even that isn’t around as much.

    I try to take all of my vacation time, but often it is so busy that I can’t take the time off. One problem with vacations: you have to work twice as hard the week before you leave to get everything done that needs to be done, then the vacation is to rest from preparing. Then when you return, your desk has a pile of work on it that wasn’t done while you were on vacation.

  36. Bakersfield High School, Bakersfield, CA -1975 Go Drillers! Yes the oil companies have been major employers here for about a century.

    They say every cloud has a silver lining. Many churches in town have given up on having choirs. So those of us who still have them sometimes inherit their singers. We aren’t back to the numbers we had in the 1980s, but our choir is growing.

  37. Paul Willingham says

    Kudos to Mr. Aignor. I miss choir and choral music, both as a participant and as a listener. My grandkids are singing in school and hopefully will carry that love of music into their adult participation in the life of the church.

    Polo (Illinois( Community High School, 1954

  38. HA! Plymouth, MN, CLASS OF 2003!!

    I may be the youngest regular commenter on Internet Monk…

    and LOLZ to the comment about all the commenters being around during the creation!

    • Who let the young whippersnapper in???


    • Stuart, for a while there, I was looking like the youngest. But now you, Miguel, and a few others surfaced. Now I’m not so much the freshman, but only the sophomore (wise fool). :p

      On another note, perhaps I am slightly sentimental in my sleep deprived state (I sent the weekend getting to LA, then back again to MD). But there’s something heartening about this post’s conversation about music. We’ve been over this ground before–clearly IM is full of people who like organs and choirs. But was nice to read some of the more personal comments on affection for music, from across our age distribution. Thanks to all those who are making music– I cannot (trust me, my not singing for anyone is a small mercy upon man and beast alike). But I glad for it.

  39. sleepoutside says

    Hmmm, maybe some people are afraid to take vacation.
    Afraid the position they hold will be discovered to be unnecessary.
    Afraid someone else may do the job better.
    Afraid the position will be “re-positioned” when they get back.
    Afraid workplace political wrangling will have then pulling knives out of their back after they return.

  40. sleepoutside says

    Live Oak ’78.