October 22, 2020

Saturday Ramblings — Nov. 22, 2014

ChristMarketSaturday Ramblings, Nov. 22, 2014

Greetings from Cincinnati, where Gail and I have rambled this weekend to visit the Germania Society’s Christkindlmarkt, a traditional German outdoor Christmas market featuring German foods, beer and mulled wine, crafts, music, and traditional events such as a lantern parade and a visit from St. Nicholas.

These markets are common in northern Europe, and here’s a site, for example, that explains the history of those that developed in Austria.

Street Christmas markets have been held since the Late Middle Ages throughout Austria, Germany, northern Italy, certain regions in France, and Switzerland. They are well established in historic German-speaking communities in many U.S. cities and regions and are increasing in popularity each year.

While we enjoy a German pastry with our coffee this morning, have fun rambling wherever you are!


Thomas Merton is our patron saint here at Internet Monk. IM friend Chris Smith has just taken up reading through his works, and is posting insightful quotes from them on a Twitter feed that you can follow @TMertonQuotes. Here are a couple of good ones so far:

“Just remaining quietly in the presence of God, listening to Him, being attentive to Him, requires a lot of courage and know-how.”

“How necessary it is for monks to work in the fields,in the rain,in the sun,in the mud . . . these are our spiritual directors & novice-masters.”

One great resource for all things Merton is The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University, which is the official repository of Merton’s artistic estate. It includes over 1,300 photographs and 900 drawings in addition to his writings. The Center’s archives house more than 50,000 Merton-related materials. December 10 will mark the 46th anniversary of Merton’s death.


Pastor Rick Warren on Tuesday urged religious leaders to show their followers ways Christians can maintain their faith in a world with changing views about marriage.

“Today marriage is ridiculed, resented, rejected and redefined,” Warren said. “We cannot not do something.”

Warren was the 28th speaker in a three-day conference at the Vatican focusing on marriage and family. It started on Monday with Pope Francis saying that marriage between a man and woman is a “fundamental pillar” of society and that children have the right to grow up with a mother and father.

Conference participants were selected by the Vatican and included leaders from 23 countries and 14 religions. Topics included traditional marriage, cohabitation and same-sex marriage.

Warren affirmed his position on traditional Christian views of marriage between a man and a woman.

• Erika I. Ritchie, Orange County Register

Maybe it was the jet lag, but Warren came one point short of a perfect 8 for 8 when he alphabetized his “action plan” for Christians with regard to this issue:

Affirm the authority of God’s word
Believe what Jesus taught about marriage
Celebrate healthy marriages
Develop small group courses to support marriage
Engage every media to promote marriage
Face attackers with joy and winsomeness
Give people confidence
T(?)each the purposes of marriage

Ah, nothing like evangelical preaching. One reporter remarked that Warren turned the Vatican into “a revivalist meeting.”


While Republican leaders blast President Obama for taking executive action on immigration reform, some prominent evangelical leaders are welcoming the president’s plans to keep about 5 million undocumented immigrants from being deported.

Evangelicals are a key voting bloc for the GOP, but on immigration some are taking a pragmatic step away from the party. They include Hispanic leaders such as the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez who say the time has come to manage what has become a “de facto humanitarian crisis” for millions of immigrants.

“This merciful action takes place because for years our government, under the leadership of both parties, failed miserably as it pertains to immigration,” said Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

. . . Other Christian groups, such as Church World Service, welcomed the president’s move Thursday but questioned whether it goes far enough.

“However impressive 5 million people sounds,” said the Rev. John L. McCullough, CWS’ president and CEO, “the fact of the matter is that there still are 11 million … who wait with anticipation and have a deep concern about what will unfold over the course of this day.”

• Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service


And now, a public service announcement from your friends at Internet Monk . . .

Your mom or dad probably told you to bundle up against frigid temperatures like the ones hitting much of the United States right now. That’s good advice if you want to stay warm and avoid frostbite or hypothermia — but they were wrong if they thought they were protecting you against colds and the flu.

“Grandma was being good-hearted to tell us to put on mittens,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine — but a person is not more likely to catch a cold or flu because they’re freezing, according to health experts.

. . . That’s because getting sick has much more to do with how people are exposed to cold and flu viruses. In fact, there are two main theories for why cold and flu season peaks in winter — and neither of them revolves around people being cold.

When a person with a respiratory virus coughs or sneezes, the virus escapes the host via a small droplet. In colder months, the virus can more easily remain in the air to infect another person, Schaffner said. “When that moisture evaporates, that virus in its little core can be in the air for longer … and then inhaled by party [two], which causes the infection,” he said.

It’s also likely that the more people stay indoors or in school, in close contact, the more chances viruses get to spread, Schaffner said.

. . . Schaffner said the best advice for people wanting to avoid getting sick this year is wash their hands often and be sure to get a flu shot.

• Gillian Mohney, ABC News

838322   LOCAL Carport c#53

All those urban planners who envision “walkable neighborhoods” in the nation’s great cities might hardly contain their delight Thursday on Seneca Street in South Buffalo.

Hundreds of people from the South Buffalo neighborhood were afoot in force even before Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo arrived to tour the area late in the morning. Then again, with some snow piles cresting at 25 or 30 feet above the pavement along vast stretches, there was just no room for a car.

Melissa Mune was among those out gathering supplies for elderly neighbors, even if she had her own concerns.

“My balcony is about to collapse and I’m going to have to replace about six windows,” she said, “but what the heck?”

And as dozens of city, county, Cattaraugus County and National Guard pieces of heavy equipment began attacking the area’s main drag, neighborhood kids took every opportunity to complicate the process – sledding down the massive piles into Seneca Street.

• Robert McCarthy, The Buffalo News

Over the River and Through the Wood, Matt Tavares

Over the River and Through the Wood, Matt Tavares

[A]n improving economy, more disposable income, consumer optimism and low gas prices are combining to create the biggest Thanksgiving travel rush in years.

Auto club AAA projects that 46.3 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home during the Thanksgiving weekend, a 4.2% increase over last year and the highest volume since 2007.

. . . More than 89% of holiday travelers – 41.3 million – will travel by automobile, a 4.3% increase over last year. Thanksgiving air travel is also expected to be at the highest level since 2007, with 3.55 million people flying to their destinations, AAA says. That’s 3% more than in 2013.

. . . Thanksgiving travelers are expected to spend an average of $573 over the course of their holiday travel, AAA says. “Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to carve out more money from household budgets for travel this Thanksgiving,” Doney says.

• Larry Copeland, USA Today

Heard while rambling around this week . . .

cslewis_photo_smNovember 22. Fifty-one years ago today. 1963. The world lost three prominent men.

  • U.S. President John F. Kennedy, age 46
  • C.S. Lewis, age 64
  • Aldous Huxley, age 69

“There’s no evidence that Huxley read Lewis, or that Kennedy read either—though his wife Jackie would certainly have read some of their books—but Lewis knew enough of Huxley to mention him in a letter of 1952 as an author of a future dystopia alongside H.G. Wells and George Orwell. The mental worlds inhabited by Kennedy, Lewis and Huxley—an Englishman translated permanently to West Coast America from 1938—were as mutually remote as their social worlds. Yet each devoted his energies to matters of universal concern, and together they form a curious triptych on the mortal condition.” (John Garth, The Daily Beast 11/3/13)

The week that was and is . . .

lake effect storm GEE14Watching the New England Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night was like watching the major leagues vs. the minors. Total domination. I’ve had an increasing dislike for the NFL for many reasons, one of which has to do with the fact that there seems to be no definition of “good” anymore. When virtually anyone can beat everyone else at any time, well, some call that “parity,” but I call it “mediocrity.” The Patriots, on the other hand, may really be good. We’ll see. I haven’t been thinking much about Thanksgiving. I will be on call all week and so we’re keeping it low key. On the other hand, we’re gearing up to see most of the family over Christmas, which will include some travel, and I’m ready. I went to an open house for a friend’s new travel business the other evening and felt the old wanderlust rise within. If it were possible, I’d be on a train, boat, or plane tomorrow heading for some far horizon. A couple of days in Cincinnati is fine, but it takes me two or three days at least to shake off the stress before I can really start enjoying a trip, so this won’t give much real refreshment. People think I’m crazy, but I would love living in Buffalo. What an adventure! And what an opportunity to love your neighbors! One of my best days as a pastor was when we lived in Chicago and I spent a day going around the neighborhood with the church’s snowblower cleaning folks’ driveways after a big storm. Amazing what can happen when the sky falls, we’re all forced to slow down, and we have to get back to basics. It brings a certain clarity I like. Hats off to the good people in western New York.


  1. November 22 also happens to be the birthday of Benjamin Britten, possibly the greatest English composer who ever lived, as well as the feast day of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music, making this particular choral masterpiece rather appropriate for the occasion:


  2. -> “…marriage between a man and woman is a “fundamental pillar” of society and that children have the right to grow up with a mother and father.”

    Sure. A fundamental pillar of society, like the sanctified marriage between Charles Manson and whoever it is he just married. And would a child be better off in a “fundamental pillar” home with Charles Manson as a dad, or two loving lesbian women? And is a child better off with Adrian Peterson as their dad, or two loving women? Or maybe no dad at all?

    With domestic violence stats at alarming levels (see http://www.safehorizon.org/page/domestic-violence-statistics–facts-52.html), it’s hard to argue that marriage between a man and a woman is a fundamental pillar of anything, except maybe brokenness and violence.

    • To deny the importance of male/female family structure, DESPITE its faults, is to deny thousands of years of civilization. Are same sex relationships any freer of violence and brokenness? http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/a-same-sex-domestic-violence-epidemic-is-silent/281131/

      Humanity itself is broken…

      • To deny marriage to non-heterosexual couples is to deny the thousands of years of civilization that have taught us that marriage is a good, though imperfect, institution.

        • This would be…. denying the thousands of years of civilization that also denied marriage to non-heterosexual couples? I think you lost me somewhere.

          • You’ve never heard of expanding the franchise?

          • Well, yes. But we do gotta draw the line somewhere, right? Where do you suggest we stop?

          • Robert,
            Your language seems to contains an underlying premise in favor of coupling. If we follow the line of logic this establishes why then should monogamous coupling be granted special status? If we are for “expanding the franchise” wouldn’t it be time to consider removing our fixation with monogamy as being some sort of higher moral calling?

        • melissatheragamuffin says

          Roman culture not only tolerated homosexual relationships – in some cases they encouraged it. Yet, marriage was always reserved as between a man and a woman for the purpose of raising children.

          • One of the defects of Roman and Greek culture was their acceptance of sexual relationships between older men and younger boys (we rightly call it pedophilia), which is not the same at all as recognizing the legitimacy of marriage between non-heterosexual adult couples. Different time, different purposes for the institution of marriage (in which romantic love had little to do), and very different values. I don’t think you want to hold up the Romans as an example to us of who we should and shouldn’t allow to get married.

          • Romantic love has nothing to do with marriage. Where the two coincide, there is a blessing to be enjoyed. But our Western concept of “romance” was originally something reserved for a man and his mistress, not his wife. Indeed, most married couples could probably testify to more romance prior to the wedding than after. The concept of being bound together by desire is precisely what I believe has led to so much divorce, and societies with arranged marriage, where the parents who are wiser and more experienced than hormone driven teenagers are given more authority, tend to have higher success rates and greater relational stability. Marriage is an act of responsibility first, before passion. A marriage with no magical spark to it is no less legitimate, valid, and valuable as those under the delusion that their infatuation will see them through sickness and health. Gay marriage, on the other hand, is based on desire, not function. It presumes the entitlement to be fulfilled rather than the obligation to fulfill.

          • Ronald Avra says

            Agree completely with Melissa and Miguel’s comments

          • If marriage is primarily about the raising of children, then couples who are unwilling or unable to bear children would not be allowed to marry.

          • No, that would be if marriage was ONLY about raising children, but it isn’t.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            Robert, loving and committed homosexual relationships were well known and well spoken of long before the Romans in Greek culture. The historical sources are full of this. In fact, one author wrote that the best Greek soldiers were homosexual, because they were fighting to protect their lovers. The idea that we have discovered something new in the past century doesn’t bear the weight of historic evidence. The only difference is that in the past people were defined by their social role, and now (for some odd reason which I cannot figure out no matter how hard I think about it) by their sexual preference.

          • Dr. Fundystan -yes, the Sacred Band of Thebes comes to mind.

          • @ Miguel, yes, exactly, marriage isn’t only about raising children; it’s also about unitve intimacy between the married partners. And in the absence of children, this unitive intimacy is no less valuable. In fact, I think there is a good argument to be made for the idea that if unitive intimacy is not given first priority throughout the life of the marriage, and not treated as something even more important than children, then not only the marriage but the children will suffer for it.

          • @ Dr. F, no argument from me. Some have interpreted Achilles rage and grief at the death of Patroclus in the Illiad as the result of their having been lovers. But Patroclus was a good dealer older than Achilles, and they had known each other for a long time, possibly since Achilles was a boy. The ancient Greeks, including Plato/Socrates, were not shy about letting it be known that they found great beauty in boys. It’s disturbing to us, and rightly so, but they didn’t think anything of it.

            Perhaps you’d be willing to serve as editor for my comments? (Insert Smiley Face HERE)

          • @Dr. F.–“The only difference is that in the past people were defined by their social role, and now (for some odd reason which I cannot figure out no matter how hard I think about it) by their sexual preference.”

            But in the past, weren’t social roles far more heavily determined by gender, and in turn the sexual dynamics that were rigidly drawn around gender, than they are today? So, weren’t social roles in fact heavily determined by sexual identity, the only difference being that sexual identity was attributed by social default rather than personally discovered and acknowledged?

          • @Miguel, in India, where traditional arranged marriage is still quite common, it’s women who are resisting the tradition, which has usually shackled them in loveless marriages to older, wealthier men who frequently abuse and exploit them. The more educated Indian women become, the more likely they are to 1) defer childbearing and 2) reject arranged marriages.

          • @numo, I looked it up, and actually the Sacred Band of Thebes supports my point about the pervasiveness of older man/younger boy couplings in ancient Greece. If Wikipedia is correct, each pair of the Sacred Band of Thebes was composed of an older man and a younger boy. My understanding is that among the Greeks the older man acted as a mentor in every aspect of life, including the sexual, and the younger boy was a kind of apprentice. Erotic friendship among males was highly valued, partly because women were considered inferior, fit “only” for bearing children and taking care of domestic matters.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            But in the past, weren’t social roles far more heavily determined by gender, and in turn the sexual dynamics that were rigidly drawn around gender, than they are today?
            Social roles were definitely determined by gender, including the social responsibility of men to have children. But as long as these kinds of responsibilities to the tribe were fulfilled, no one seems to have really cared what a male did with his sexuality. There is less information available on women.

        • The gay subculture has been known for its high level of sexual promiscuity, in comparison even with the sexual mores of the rest of liberalized Western culture. This may in significant part be due to the insular sociological nature of all sexual subculture, in which case the expansion of marriage to include gay and other non-heterosexual couples would likely result in a decrease of sexual promiscuity among these groups by the exercise of positive social constraint, probably to the levels that exist in the rest of the culture. If this is true, conversely it is also true that to continue to prohibit non-heterosexual, and especially gay, couples form marrying could be understood as indirectly contributing to, enabling and fostering the high levels of promiscuity that have existed among them. “No man is an island.”

          • In other words, we should practice moralistic appeasement.

          • Sheer conjecture with absolutely no basis in real life. Or, more charitably, wishful thinking.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            A bit wordy, Robert, but a good point. Regulating sexual behavior through marriage has always had positive value for society, and homosexual marriage should not be different.

          • Dr. Fundystan – yes, the same ethics apply regardless of sexual orientation.

          • Robert’s argument contains some speculative, but I’m not sure why anyone wants to fight his conjecture — much less the appeal to people to get married ‘moral appeasement.’

            Robert’s arc of argumentation repeats a doctrine long championed by “traditionalists”: that most basic social function of marriage is to give official legitimacy to sexual activity that establishes a household wherein people provide longterm mutual support to one another, and (in many cases) produce or adopt heirs. The common goal is to either to limit sexual activity to this constructive activity (esp. for the moralist), or at least to distinguish what liaisons get to perpetuate family lines. In this sense it controls sexual activity and places social sanction on some practices over others.

            “Traditionalists” usually recount some version of what I just wrote, and appeal to the fact to why marriage is a valuable institution that the government must support and regulate. If there is no institution like marriage offering this ‘service’ to a community, the argument runs, then promiscuity will be the rule and *dum dum dum* CHOAS.

            Now, that argument does contain conjecture. But if you think something like this is true about the general population, and that this is a solid enough basis for government policy, then it stands to reason that similar principles would be operative within a sexual subculture. And one very good reason to suspect that it is true is that in recent years large numbers of LGBT activists in fact did latch onto marriage rights as their cause–meaning they’re basically affirming the dominant legal/social framework as applying to them.

            Traditionalists ought to be breathing a sigh of relief about this fact; in the early days of the movement, LGBT activists were more likely to see themselves as presenting an alternative pattern of sexuality that challenged established patterns. Were that still the case, marriage really would be challenged to some degree by the growing recognition that LGBT orientation exists. Instead, the rush of activists to get the community access to marriage and to assume what marriage entails has done more to bolster idealism about marriage than perhaps any other single development in recent years.

          • Sorry, I typed this on my phone, and the results were terrible.

            *Robert’s argument contains some SPECULATION, but I’m not sure why anyone wants to fight his conjecture — much less CALL the appeal to people to MARRY ‘moral appeasement.’

            *“Traditionalists” usually recount some version of what I just wrote, IN ORDER TO ARGUE THAT marriage is a valuable institution that the government must support and regulate.

            No doubt there’s more. Mea culpa.

          • @Robert…..sadly, wishing does not make it so, regarding monogamy in homosexual “marriages”. Male homosexuals continue at an exceedingly high rate to have other sexual encounters. True, these are not romantic affairs, but a quick episode of sodomy with a stranger is hardly part of the committed ‘gay marriage’ paradigm that is set forth in the media.

            Sexual continence amongst homosexuals, and to a lesser degree, lesbians, is not a common virtue. When one’s energy is directed toward pleasure, it is easy to rationalize almost anything sexual.

          • Sexual continence amongst homosexuals, and to a lesser degree, lesbians, is not a common virtue. When one’s energy is directed toward pleasure, it is easy to rationalize almost anything sexual.

            And you know this how, exactly? Your generalizations are just amazing, especially since they apply to many heterosexuals as well.

          • To Numo…..not my opinion, peer-reviewed research in medicine and sociology. Will look for the links when I have time tomorrow. Facts are facts, regardless of our personal worldviews.

          • Pattie, i think i was intending it as a rhetorical question. You have already made up your mind about gay people. I wish you would reconsider in light of better research and via friendships with people who happen to be gay.

            I can’t help wondering what kinds of studies there would be of straight men if prostitution was legal in this country. I’m not being facetious or sarcastic, either. Just because a given individual is married does not equal sexual restraint. And since there are lots more straight people out here, then the odds are stacked in favor of checkered sexual histories for many.

            Few gay people live as if they were in the Castro in the mid-70s. That was true then, and it’s still true now.

            Besides, if sexual fantasies = committing adultery in one’s heart, then we’re pretty much all going downhill fast, eh? Sexual orientation isn’t the main isdue here – it’s our common humanity that’s central.

          • @Danielle, this is exactly the point I was trying to make, in my wordy (thanks, Dr. F., for that no doubt accurate observation) and inefficient way, but you did it so much better. It’s surprising to hear conservatives like Miguel say that we shouldn’t at least partly weigh the value of marriage on the basis of its function as a social brake on promiscuous sexual behavior, because I so often hear them trot out that argument as a socially positive aspect of heterosexual marriage. I actually agree with them. And if it serves as a brake on such behavior among heterosexuals, then there is no reason to believe it wouldn’t among non-heterosexuals.

            Shunning non-heterosexuals by prohibiting them from marrying, on the other hand, is bound to have a destructive influence on the way sexuality is expressed among them. There’s not much speculation in that, though I acknowledge there is a little.

          • @Pattie, I’d like to see these statistics that purportedly show that married homosexuals continue to have higher levels of promiscuity than heterosexuals even after marriage. How large is the sample? How large could it be? Far as I know, socially approved and sanctioned homosexual marriage is a very recently developed phenomenon, in a very few places, and there couldn’t be a large sample, or long history, to analyze. Is that incorrect? Is there something I’m missing?

          • Robert – somehow i don’t think that there are studies of married LGBT people to point to…

          • numo, if there are such “studies,” I’d wager that they don’t meet anything like minimally acceptable scientific criteria. More likely is that they are “studies” in name only….

          • Robert – my point is that such documents are, in fact, entirely imaginary.

            But there are more thsn a few studies out there re. fidelity vs. infidelity in heterosexual marriages, and either there’s a *lot* of dishonesty in the answers (along w/male bragadoccio) or a lot of those surveyed were truthful about the fact that they’d cheated, or perhaps a bit of both.

            Btw, re. Theban warriors, i can’t imagine that very youg people would havr bern psrt of an elite squad of warriors, nor that the presumed “older men” coild have bern all *-that* much older – if they were, they’d hardly fit in that kind of elite regiment, either.

          • Why not let The Church of Your Choice™ be the arbiters/regulators of “marriage” and the State the arbiters/regulators of “civil unions”?

          • Yes, concerning the studies, numo.

            Re. Theban warriors: I agree that elite warrior would likely be at the height of physical maturity, which would preclude most boys in their mid-teens. That doesn’t mean, however, that the relationships weren’t started when the younger party was a boy in his mid-teens, and the older one a man by our own age modern criteria.

            My understanding is that this was the nature of the typical male to male bond in these relationships, which would have had to start with a significant age difference, because it would have been deemed socially inappropriate for one noble male to be sexually submissive to a dominant male if they were both mature men of equal standing. Sexual dominance/submission was the distinction around which sexual identity was defined, rather than male/female; but the status of nobility, which elite warriors would have had, made things complicated, and required justification for the submission of one to the other despite their shared noble status. The man/boy distinction provided that justification without either party losing honor.

          • @Tom, if I’m not mistaken, the idea that there should be a “Church Of Your Choice” raises some hackles around here at iMonk, since it seems to be rooted in enlightenment values of autonomous decision-making, and something like Baptist “soul competence” ( I lean more toward “soul incompetence, but God competence”). While reality on the ground forces it to be accepted, many iMonkers seem to accept it only begrudgingly, and wish it would somehow just go away, along with denominations and independent evangelical churches, especially the megas.

          • Robert, re. that Wiki article, have a look at the “talk” page. Apparently the “info.” cited is contradictory, with one source saying that young men weren’t inducted into the Sacred Band until they were around 20-21. So, that means that even if their lovers were older, they were adults in consensual relationships by contemporary standards (ours, not theirs!)

          • a contributor to the “talk” page – and main article – also notes that the apparent age at which warriors had to leave the Sacred Band was… 30.

            I had never heard of the Sacred Band being what some say (with relationships between young adolescents and older men) until the current edits to the article, and am not sure the current text is correct. But then, I’m not exactly a specialist in ancient Greek history, so who knows? It might well be that the primary sources on this contain conflicting accounts/info.

          • @Damaris…That same-sex relationships may be more violent than heterosexual ones may well be the result of the social marginalization that such relationships have suffered in society. Until such relationships are recognized as legitimate, up to and including non-heterosexual marriage, and social pressures and constraints are brought to bear on them, as well as socially structured accountability, I think it will be impossible to accurately compare non-marital/non-civil union non-heterosexual relationships to heterosexual relationships. Shunning distorts people and relationships; where there is self-hatred as a result of social opprobrium, as there is in non-heterosexual relationships, there will inevitably be deeply entrenched personal demons that express themselves in domestic violence.

      • melissatheragamuffin says

        I worked in a domestic violence shelter for eight years and the absolute abuser we had knowledge of was female as were her victims.

    • RickRo,

      I understand what you are saying but having grown up without my Dad, who died of cancer at the age of 39, I can tell you how devastating it is to be fatherless. I was 11 and my brothers were 5 and 18 months. Not having a Dad impacts a child’s life forever in so many ways. My Mom did a great job and is my hero and my grandparents stepped up and made many sacrifices to be there for us but I think the older I get the more I “understand” why I am the way I am. In Junior High School in a new town during my first week of school one of my teachers told me to stand up. I did and he announced, “This is the girl who has no Father.” Can you imagine that happening today?! Just this past week I was talking with my 60 year old brother on the phone and for the first time ever I heard him weep as he talked about the impact losing my Dad had on him. It broke my heart.

      The great blessing is that, because of the absence of a Father I searched and found (or was found by) my heavenly Father and being adopted into His household, knowing I am accepted and loved and secure obviously changed my life. He places the solitary in families.

      • Thanks for your experience, Adrienne. I think my argument isn’t with people’s realities and experiences (such as yours), rather it’s with declarations like “marriage between a man and a woman is a fundemental pillar” and “children have the right to grow up with a mother and a father” when reality doesn’t match those declarations. Reality is: marriages between men and women are far from perfect and there are too many cases of abuse and divorce to declare them “fundemental pillars,” and likewise there are too many cases of loss of parents and single parenthood and BAD parenthood (like alcholoic mothers/fathers, abusive step-parents) to make a declaration that children have a right to grow up with a mother and a father.

        A better declaration, or maybe a declaration I might propose, is “God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman, but the world is broken and marriage is far from what God intended, that’s why Jesus needs to be your fundemental pillar, and God intended that all children have a mother and a father, but the world is broken and some childhood experiences are far from what God intended, that’s why people should realize that God is their Father.”

        I don’t know. Maybe that doesn’t make much sense, either. Maybe best declaration I can make isn’t about the fundemental pillars of marriage or childhood or anything in this earth that is ultimately broken, but about God’s grace toward all people as shown through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. If two people are in love but that love is imperfectly represented, who am I to argue with it? My marriage is far from perfect, and the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman is already in question when Charles Manson is allowed to marry and divorce rates amongst Christians is so high and yada yada yada.

        • That should be “Thanks for SHARING your experience…” I sympathize with your experience and obviously wished it hadn’t happened, but appreciate your sharing of it.

      • melissatheragamuffin says

        My son, now age 25, grew up with no father simply because his father ran out when he was a baby. I didn’t get married until he was already an adult. My husband has no children of his own. This past father’s day my son shocked us by calling to wish my husband a happy father’s day…… at age 25 the most desperate desire of his heart is still for a father who loves him.

  3. Still trying to comprehend why the Presdident’s proposal would be at all attractive to someone who already decided to live in the U.S. illegally.
    Option 1: come clean, pay all back taxes owed, register and you will be allowed to live here “temporarily”.
    Option 2: do nothing, pay no back taxes, and continue life just as before.
    Tell me why option 1 will have takers?

    • Steve, its all meaningless political theater. These people have been living here for years without any danger of deportation. It is the nail that stands the highest that gets hammered and these people are quite adept at keeping a low profile. Law abiding, hard working and peace loving. They are my neighbors, literally! I live in a working class neighborhood and they are here in numbers. Good people, generally, they just want to fit in and live quiet lives. The president’s actions have little impact on them.

      On the other hand, the Republicans in the House have been unable to agree on a strategy or path to allow these people live with a little more security. Shame on THEM, and I vote mostly Republican. It is time for them to act, AND time for the president to actually compromise, something he has been loath to do. Get your acts together or get out of the way!

      • I keep hearing people blame this on the Republicans. Have people forgotten the fact that for the first two years of Obama’s presidency the Democrats had complete control and did absolutely nothing about immigration?

        • Jon, I’m not totally blaming Republicans, just partially. And, yes, the Democrats had their chance with power in all three branches and chose to pass Obamacare instead.

        • It’s all political.

          The floodgates will open and bring in millions more who vote for Dems and BIG govt. And anyone who doesn’t think it will cost us is kidding themselves.

          Build a fence, build a wall…and have regulated immigration.

          This ollie ollie auction free stuff has got to stop.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            I thought is was “olly olly oxen free”?

          • “Ollie ollie auction free.” Oh, my, that gave me a good chuckle.

            I used to think the lyrics to Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” were:

            “She’s got electric boobs, her mom has too (or two)…”

      • On the contrary, I know some illegal immigrants who live in virtually constant fear of deportation and go to some lengths to avoid it. They don’t do anything (fly, rent a car, get a hotel room) that requires a license. They avoid police, making turns on the road that lead away from their destination, have fake names and live in an all cash economy. They also change addresses every other year or so. These are otherwise law abiding hard working people. That’s just another view from what you see where you are. I’m in Texas.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          “I know some illegal immigrants who live in virtually constant fear of deportation and go to some lengths to avoid it”

          This. Living without documentation is difficult and stressful – it includes a myriad of limits to opportunity, mobility, and access. It is worst for families that are split where the wife may be documented but the husband is not.

          And, BTW, they do pay taxes. They own things and they purchase things. I’ve never met one who would not be very eager to pay income tax if given the opportunity – they understand that taxation is the deal of the century.

          • They own HOMES and CARS! In my neighborhood we have a number of Mexican citizens, undocumented, who have made a better life than many U.S. citizens by thrift and hard work. Their kids begin work at an early age and the family saves much of its money with which they use for a down payment.

            This is not to say that they ALL experience this, of course not. It is just in testimony to human resourcefulness.

          • One tax nobody knows about is the driving tax. They get pulled over for looking illegal (I’ve seen it firsthand) and get five to six hundred dollars in tickets for their myriad infractions. It’s a regular source of income for the city. Most of those tickets get paid too because if they’re not, the next time they definitely will be jailed and possibly deported. I’m not espousing illegal immigration or illegal driving, just noting how it plays out. Some of these guys will pay more in traffic court than they would have in income tax.

        • And I’m in California! The fact that they’ve been here for years just shows how careful they are and how they have developed strategies for remaining off the grid. People are resouceful…

      • Oscar I agree with political theater. I have a son who married a Filipina young lady who got her citizenship through the legal process. She was here a long time and when she got it she was proud to be a dual citizen. I have a daughter who married a man from Honduras who has not done anything in the correct manner. My daughter in law feels cheated in a way and my son seems angry that others would not have to do the same things. I keep telling him we need people to be a part of our system in a legal way and it doesn’t make any less of what Rena has done. He says they are taking our jobs away as we are in construction. Yes, maybe and no maybe. Alot of times things being built are down to the lowest dollar and we wouldn’t be there anyways. Besides if the people using these hard workers were paying the things they were suppose to we could compete on more common ground.

        Ooops forgot paragraphs……. I have mixed feelings on the whole thing as you can tell. I see the horrible way people are being taken advantage of in so many ways. Jose my daughters husband without a true father figure and he stays away from me because he doesn’t do things right and knows I wouldn’t approve of his driving without license and putting my daughter at risk with some of the things he is doing not to mention my grandson. He is young and has far to go. I want for them all to do well and know God and love and have good things. May God have mercy on us and lead us into what is right.

      • Oscar, I too live in southern California, and I am also old enough to remember (republican) President Reagan’s amnesty on immigration in 1986. The big push was to (a) first get amnesty to as many people as possible who had already been living here, then when that was complete (b) tighten the border control. We accomplished (a), but never enforced (b) to any significant degree.
        For those of us who remember that grand bargain and who live in border states, we’ve lost faith that there is any political will to enforce the borders. that piece of unfinished business looms large of any future discussion of amnesty. The amnesty in ’86 definitely helped many people. Wages initially increased for previous immigrants, as they could no longer be exploited by the underground economy. That was short-lived, as they were eventually displaced by a whole new wave of illegal immigration (due to lack of border control).
        There was an explosion of I.D. fraud business, as people were buying faked documents to prove previous residency for amnesty purposes. To this day, you can go to MacArthur Park in LA and pick up fake documents and ID for between $20-$50.
        After 1986, the number of “undocumented” immigrants DOUBLED in the U.S. It was a well-intentioned effort at amnesty, but without border control, fraught with unintended consequences. I predict more of the same from this latest action.

    • A chance to live, even for a while without the fear of having your family ripped apart by deportation. I can’t imagine the fear that a mother must have who fears that one day she would have to choose between leaving her child behind in the USA or bring them back to the country she herself fled from.

      • I am so deeply of two minds on this subject. Christ implored us to welcome and care for the stranger, widow, and orphan….but that was by consent of the Church, who made them part of the community, and the support was voluntary. I question the use of citizens’ money in the form of taxation to care for those who not only broke laws in entering this country, but may also be criminals.

        On the other hand, many illegal aliens are living quiet lives and supporting their families as best they can, thrilled to be away from the violence and corruption that is a fact of life in so many countries from Mexico to South America. Many do work the jobs that no ‘real’ American wants, often at sub-legal levels and off the books.

        All I am sure of is that unilateral action by a lame-duck president is NOT the answer, and causes more chaos and uncertainty then it solves…

  4. 1. Ok. I get redefined, but how is marriage being resented and ridiculed?

    2. Happy Thanksgiving iMonkers! May you stuff yourself silly.

    3. CM and JD and others – Blood Oranges on the Snow – thoughts?

    • 1: When gay people marry, part of the ceremony demands that they immediately point and laugh at the straight couples present.

    • petrushka1611 says

      I’ve only heard a song or two from Blood Oranges on the Snow, but I’ve REALLY liked what I’ve heard. And I’ve not been a huge OTR fan — whenever I’ve listened to an entire album, it just got a little too samey-samey after a while. But I might spring for Blood Oranges.

  5. Well, seeing as it is a rambling day…

    My daughter Amy and I are on the west coast where she is participating in the Canadian National Track Cycling Championships. We just concluded day one and Amy won a Silver and a Bronze!!! If you are interested in watching I am videoing all of our team’s events. They are being slowly uploaded to Youtube and can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjAumTBvAzwy3HAR0bDmCTg

  6. I’m sure that Thomas Merton would have had some less than flattering things to say about that marriage conference at the Vatican. I have no doubt that he would have been in favor of expanding the definition of marriage to include non-heterosexual couples. He was, in many ways, a progressive. I think conservative Roman Catholics have tended to forget that.

    It is nice to see a Pope and prominent evangelicals shaking hands and making common cause together; not so different, after all. Though I believe that both Martin Luther and his Roman Catholic contemporaries would have been both shocked and displeased to see it.

    • Nice to see THOMAS MERTON proclaimed a patron saint here at iMonk. May I use that announcement to shamelessly put in a plug??

      This coming year, 2015, will mark the centennial of Merton’s birth. To mark the occasion, Spiritual Directors International (SDIworld.org) will be holding their annual global conference in Louisville KY this coming April 14-17. There will be Merton-oriented talks and seminars and remembrances of all kinds, plus day trips to his nearby Gethsemani Monastery. And you don’t need to be a certified spiritual director to attend. All are welcome!

    • Well, yes, shocked, since Luther believed that the pope was the antichrist…

  7. Football and snow, you can keep them both. I have no use for either.

  8. Aldous Huxley’s book “The Perennial Philosophy” had a good amount of influence on me for many years; it also expresses a universal spiritual philosophy that is the opposite of the religious particularity of Christianity as it’s expressed in Jesus Christ and the Church. The fact that certain values and insights overlap between the two only serves to make their differences even more apparent and pronounced; it also demonstrates how words and their meanings cannot be extracted and abstracted from their particular discourse contexts beyond a certain point without also being changed.

  9. Hi, I’m a fairly frequent reader at iMonk, first time commenter. I just wanted to say that Saturday Ramblings used to be my favourite post each week, that is until the format changed recently. It’s just boring now without the commentary and opinion. I hope you’ll consider changing it back.


    • Thanks for sharing that, Barney. We try different things. I did add a little more opinion and personal perspective this week. Be assured, we will keep changing it up. Input like yours is always helpful.

    • melissatheragamuffin says

      +1 Saturday Ramblings used to be the high point of the week. Now it’s just like: YAWN!

    • I second your opinion Barney! I think the new format may be easier on the author. Nothing wrong with that…

    • +1. Even with the risk of an occasional kerfuffle when there is disagreement with the tone or opinion of the Rambler, the old school ramblings is much preferred. I do like that we have the car back in recent weeks. This would have been a great week for the sleigh as the rambler, especially for our northeast friends.

    • Yes, Ramblings used to seem more light-hearted and off-the-wall. Since that format is probably a lot more difficult to write, I understand the change…but I didn’t find myself laughing at or “enjoying” today’s Ramblings.

      By the way, that comment is made with the understanding that I’m not the one coming up with this stuff and it’s a semi-thankless job that requires a lot of time and effort…so I offer the critique as one not willing to put in the time and effort myself…LOL.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      I also liked the old format better. The humor was half the fun!

      • Humor is notoriously difficult to write, though – especially on a weekly or daily basis. While i miss the lightheartedness, i also realize that it requires a certain kind of person, eith a certsin amount of free time, to pull it off successfully. I honestly don’t know how CM is able to write as many posts as he does in the girst place, given that he has a job and a life…

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

          Oh yes, totally. But I have to say, CM’s monkey-shine humor is a real treat on Saturday mornings!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Humor is notoriously difficult to write, though – especially on a weekly or daily basis.

          Which explains a lot of church signs.

    • Great feedback, everyone. We’ll see how the week goes, but I have a suspicion your opinionated, monkey-shine monk may return soon.

      • And sadly, human nature being what it is, we’ll probably criticize you for whatever you bring next week, too.


  10. I got the flu shot late in September, and then, a couple of weeks later, I got the flu early in October. Oh well.

    • Since I started getting flu shots, I haven’t had a nasty case.

      Colds on the other hand…. I just seem to notice them a whole lot more…

  11. Dan Crawford says

    I lived in Western New York for 16 years, eight of them in Buffalo. I loved the city from April to October – summers in the Queen City of the Great Lakes were delightful. From November to March, life became an adventure. One never knew when lake effect storms would hit, usually with heavy, water-soaked snow. Buffalo has great, affordable restaurants – I think because we had to have something to enjoy in the winter.

    • Buffalonians will know the “Griffin index”. During one of these whiteouts in 1985, Mayor Griffin’s advice when the snow got out of control was “stay inside, grab a six-pack and watch a good football game”. I love to see the photos captioned “residents trudging to the corner store for needed supplies”, showing some bundled-up folks dragging a kiddie sled loaded down with Genesee beer. Growing up, we did our street’s sidewalks because we had a snowblower. Everybody did something to pitch in. Whenever the Griffin index peaks, the neighborhood really comes together as community. Good times.

      • And then there was the Blizzard of ’77! I wrnt to undergrad in NW PA; some of the students from Buffalo had to drop out for a semester, as they were literally unable to reach campus until after the sdmester was well underway.

      • “Melissa Mune was among those out gathering supplies for elderly neighbors, even if she had her own concerns.
        “My balcony is about to collapse and I’m going to have to replace about six windows,” she said, “but what the heck?” ”

        I really LIKE this girl!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I love to see the photos captioned “residents trudging to the corner store for needed supplies”, showing some bundled-up folks dragging a kiddie sled loaded down with Genesee beer.

        Genesee Beer?
        Not the usual East Coast “EGGS & MILK, EGGS & MILK, EGGS & MILK”?

        • “grain soup” . . . my husband, who is of German heritage, says beer is like ‘grain soup’ . . . go figure

        • That Other Jean says

          Around here (Maryland), it’s “bread, milk, and toilet paper.” Grocery shelves are swept clean at even a hint of snow in the forecast.

  12. My son lives in the South West. Whenever he comes back to Indiana, he’s asked by at least one person (usually more) what it’s like living with all those Mexicans and then comes the “Aren’t you scared?” It bothers him. He knows a number of Latino people and says that they are generally hard working, decent people with strong family ties. I don’t know what the solution is for immigration problems, but realistically, the country can’t afford to deport all those millions. Do politicians who say they stand for “family values” really want to rip loving, families, many who are Christian, apart?

  13. Get your point. But it doesn’t change the fact that they are breaking the law. The law does not need reforming, it just needs to be followed and enforced. What about those who have followed the law? Those who have gone through the process of working and becoming a citizen legally? My wife recently became a US citizen. The monetary cost was 800 dollars. Plus time off work for interviews. How about we hold our politicians in BOTH parties to enforce the laws already on the books? How about we hold our businesses to follow the laws instead of looking the other way? How about we finish building the fence that was in the last immigration bill? The only change needed is for all involved to simply follow the law already there.

    • Oh, one more thought, for what it is worth. When we lived in Florida, we were members of a bilingual (RC) parish. There were about 850 families; roughly 450 were Anglo and attended one of the three English Masses, the other 400 or so were Spanish speakers OR bilingual people who preferred the Spanish Mass at noon. The Hispanic parishioners were almost all Puerto Rican, with a handful of Mexican immigrants.

      [For clarification, easily 90% of the parish was solidly middle class, and those struggling financially were divided fairly evenly, lest one assume that the Anglos were middle to upper class and the Hispanic folks poor.]

      So, what became an issue in the parish was the fact that, despite the almost even split, the Anglo parishoners provided over 85% if the contributions to the parish. Considering the fact that many of the Hispanic parish members drove big expensive cars, dressed in the latest fashions, and dropped $15-20 K for quincineras, this eventually led to a split in the parish. The Hispanic parish failed due to lack of financial support, despite money from the Diocese.

      Not sure at ALL what this means, and is not a rant, but does show some of the issues that places like the southewest and Florida deal with.

      • The Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states have large Hispanic immigrant populations these days, so these issues are hardly confined to border states and FL anymore.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      What about those who have followed the law? Those who have gone through the process of working and becoming a citizen legally? My wife recently became a US citizen. The monetary cost was 800 dollars.

      She should have been born Mexican, jumped the border “undocumentedly”, and let the Raza Boys play the race card for her off the bottom of the deck.

      I’m in SoCal. Those outside have NO idea how high the feelings are running out here. I expect to hear Anglo calls for Ethnic Cleansing(TM) any day now, and I’m surprised we haven’t had a Fifth Klan arise preaching “Self Defense White Supremacy” — not out of any classic White Supremacist ideas, but a pure “It’s Them Or Us” zero-sum game.

    • I wish it were as simple as following he law, if we did that then we would be forcefully ejecting millions in mass deportations. How wonderful that would be for Amerca’s image! I think we are way past that point.

  14. Today is the anniversary of the death of three famous people. John F. Kennedy, Aldous Huxley, and especially C.S. Lewis. Has anybody read a book by Peter Kreeft called “Between Heaven and Hell?” It is a fictional conversation between the three just after they died. Lewis represents orthodox Christianity, Kennedy, optimistic humanism, and Huxley, Eastern pantheism. It is a very interesting book.

    • Cedric Klein says

      I’ve read it. It’s not too bad, though hopefully I hope either Kreeft or someone inspired by him uses it as the foundation for a better book.

  15. Re: The ABC’s by Rick Warren: “Develop small group courses to support marriage”

    Why is it always the idea that another workshop or book or teaching the answer. Community should walk with each other giving support. Stop the idea that teaching is the primary purpose of Christianity.

    • Ronald Avra says


    • And exactly what would a book or study or a course supporting marriage look like? What does that mean? Setting aside same-sex unions for a bit, as I’m sure his idea is geared toward traditional marriage, what would it teach? Is he talking about courses that would help couples improve their relationships, mitigate conflict, make better decisions together? Or is it simply a series of courses that would promote, using what “the bible clearly says,” what he believes marriage is supposed to look like? In other words, are his ideas for courses to support marriage simply another means to continue the culture war? Cynical me suspects so.

      • Tune in Tuesday. I have an idea.

        • Looking forward to it! One question that entered my mind when I read EV’s comment about the Rick Warren statement was, “But what if you’re having a workshop or study and a married couple within it end up divorcing? Is there shame involved in that ‘they didn’t follow the program?’ Is there condemnation then?”

          Which begs the question, What does a HEALTHY “marriage support program” look like? Because let’s face it, people are human and marriages will fail despite our best efforts to support them. (Or am I being too cynical?)

  16. Adam Tauno Williams says

    > Affirm the authority of God’s word

    Nice, very general, vague. Of course people have fought wars over what that authority says.

    > Believe what Jesus taught about marriage

    Which isn’t much.

    > Celebrate healthy marriages

    I feel that healthy marriages do that for themselves.

    > Develop small group courses to support marriage

    Oh, no. It is about to get creepy. Runnnnn! I recall Evangelical marriage support – and the discussion that “breasts” do not refer to part of a Chicken… I had never been more grateful I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, or at least near the tracks.

    > Engage every media to promote marriage

    Is this actually a calling of the The Church? To promote marriage?

    > Face attackers with joy and winsomeness

    But what if nobody is attacking you? What if, reality is, most people just don’t care about you? That requires a more aggressive response?

    > Give people confidence


    > T(?)each the purposes of marriage

    There seems to be mixed agreement on those. RCC claims marriage is about family and reproduction; I agree with that to an extent. But the picture painted in scripture seems – to me – to be that marriage is [a] an important part of wealth management, particularly inter-generational wealth and [b] a cage for the very destructive nature of human sexuality. And I believe both [a] and [b] are good and legitimate reasons for marriage as [1] wealth management is required to make civil societies anyone would want to live in and [2] humans, of both genders, are dangerous, predatory, and prone to developing unhealthy pathologies. I doubt my beliefs jive with Warren’s; the Evangelicalism I knew didn’t have to guts to openly endorse [a] – it kinda sorta wanted a egalitarian face on economic issues – and while it technically supported [b] it always went somewhere Rockellian with it (which is weird, IMO).

    • That Other Jean says

      Wealth management and the channeling of sexual impulses are certainly part of the purpose of marriage, perhaps more in scripture than today in the US, but what about mutual support and loving companionship? In the Bronze Age, when women were regarded more as property than people and social support outside the family hardly existed, conserving a family’s resources passing them on to the right people took precedence over love; but that no longer has to be the case in this country. Heterosexual people who only want to love and support one another, who are too old or simply unwilling to reproduce, are allowed to marry, so why should homosexual couples be denied marriage?

      • Adam Tauno Williamsa says

        > perhaps more in scripture than today in the US”

        Yes, true. So perhaps the scriptural vision of marriage is difficult to take from scripture – because one has to drag it forward across numerous centuries, cultures, and technological and economic contexts.

        > but what about mutual support and loving companionship?

        It could be. That does not seem to be acutely portrayed in scripture. And there are many, perhaps more robust, modes of life for providing for support and companionship. I feel that we’ve put so very much demand on marriage for s&c that this is one of the reasons the institution has been damaged. One person cannot meet all the needs of another person across a lifetime. Friends, neighbors, and community cannot be replace with one person; it is not healthy.

        > conserving a family’s resources passing them on to the right people

        I believe it is widely, and extremely, under-estimated how much inter-generational wealth [which is more than “money”] actually effects the prosperity of both individuals and communities, in modern society.

        > took precedence over love; but that no longer has to be the case in this country

        I count tangible substantive support as Love. I believe this still place a significant role in families; as is acutely clearly in communities where inter-generational family has collapsed.

        > so why should homosexual couples be denied marriage?

        I never mentioned the homosexual marriage issue. There is too much entanglement here. For the church this is a complicated question – the issue of marriage for the church includes the issue of sexuality – the appropriate caging of our ugly atavistic nature(s).

        But this is chronically discussed in the same breadth as what should be legal or what the state should do. That makes the discussion much more difficult.

        As a Christian the first question is of concern to me, what the Church should do. And as I said this is complicated by the caging issue.

        As a strong advocate of a decisively secular state I pretty much have no interest in the second issue. For the state marriage is an issue of contract law. As the state has no legitimate concern with the sexual behavior of adults [so long as it is not nakedly predacious – the state always has an interest in all overtly predacious behavior] it should get out of the way. But that is what it is slowly doing. Since I favor the idea of Incrementalism-In-All-Things I am very comfortable with the slow clumsy herky-jerky way this issue is being resolved in the political realm. Societies can deal with change in a civil manner when the change is a long process; when change is thrust fiercely upon societies they respond less well.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        In the Bronze Age, when women were regarded more as property than people and social support outside the family hardly existed, conserving a family’s resources passing them on to the right people took precedence over love; but that no longer has to be the case in this country.

        Then what happens (in the words of Eighties nuclear war/total society collapse Survivalists) “When Push Comes to Shove”? I have heard that “Feminism is a luxury of a Rich Stable Society.”

        • That Other Jean says

          Should society collapse, let us hope we have learned that women have brains as well as men, and can contribute to the rebuilding of civilization as more than baby-makers. In the absence of feminism, half the potential of a society is ignored. We have, I hope, advanced a bit since the Bronze Age.

    • >> Believe what Jesus taught about marriage
      >Which isn’t much.

      Maybe they are trying to slip in what Jesus taught about divorce…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        No way. Never know when a ManaGAWD or other Good Christian(TM) might need that escape route himself.

    • Good stuff. You’ve said a lot of what I was thinking in fairly clear manner!

  17. “Lower prices are increasing disposable income….”

    Say what? Economics was never my forte, but one’s disposable income doesn’t increase because of lower prices. Disposable income is what it is (allowing for minor ups and downs as installment payments come and go). Lower prices may enable a person to get more “stuff” than higher prices do, but the disposable income remains unchanged.

    If I’m wrong, please enlighten me on how and why.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      It is only phrased wrong – lower prices do create more disposable buying power. And fuel, if you take it as a non-disposable budget item, will create more disposable income if its cost declines. Transportation consumes on average 18-27% of the budget of an american household [on average] so changes in costs in that slice of the pie does move the needle.

  18. On colds: Maybe Grandma was smarter than the doctors give her credit. When you get chilled your resistance level is lowered which makes you more susceptible.

    • an old folk remedy from my Memere (grandmother):

      if you have a stuffy nose and a rotten cold or sinus infection, boil some water and fill a basin with it and add some Vick’s vapor rub to the water, hang your head over the basin, and place a large towel over your head and the basin. Breathe the steam.

      it works . . . I don’t know HOW it works, but it does . . . peace and good to all who suffer this winter, and thanks to God for my beloved Memere so full of wisdom and good sense

      • The steam loosens up the gunk. I have trouble with sinus infections, and find that running hot water in the shower, with a closed door and me sitting and breathing in the steam, is really helpful, though it’s palliative and doesn’t “cure” the infections by itself. My internist suggested it to me. She’s a fan of commonsense approaches to eymptom relief.

      • P.S. for anyone sick out there,
        I have Memere’s chicken soup recipe if needed. Just ask.

        Yes, the soup works too,
        and when your boil your bird, you don’t even need to leave the chicken’s feet on the carcass in order to get the full effect. 🙂

  19. What I find most interesting about the immigration issue is the ultimately contradictory attitude that permeates discussions of economic freedom and immigration.

    To wit, if you want to trade goods and services with a person in Country X, the overwhelming majority of Americans say that it’s a Good Thing to let such trade go on as freely as possible. Reduce or eliminate tariffs, streamline border inspections, etc., etc., etc. and both sides benefit.

    But if the person from Country X wants to actually come here to work, well, that’s another matter! We’re for free movement of goods and services, but not so much for the free movement of labor.

    I know there are entirely practical reasons why we can’t just throw the gates open tomorrow. I get it. But shouldn’t that be the direction we want to move, a world in which all people can choose where they want to live and work? Why is this vision for the future absent? Is it mere nativism? Or is it that so few Americans (apart from high-flyers) ever work abroad themselves and so think of movement of labor as being them-coming-to-us?

    Or is that we spell labor wrong?…

  20. Immigration Issue. I live in SoCal where there are more II’s.than anywhere else. Also, more Hispanics. The real problem is that neither the Democrats or the Republicans have the guts, huevos, or internal fortitude to do anything about. It’s about power, money, or politics Millions are here illegally and shouldn’t be. The facts are these. You can’t deport them, that isn’t right. What can be done? They all broke the law. They have performed a criminal act, but have escaped punishment. They have had children that automatically become US citizens. But I know and move among them They mostly are hard working and love their families. What the politicians will do, I don’t know. But somehow a way must be found for them to be assimilated into our country. But as to the future, what can be done? Change the law. To automatically become a US citizen, one of your parents must be a US citizen
    No more citizenship just because you are born on US soil That solves most of the issues like the anchor baby problem. I’ve actually presented this to my congressman. The founding fathers, as smart as they were, never foresaw this issue

    • I don’t believe it IS a criminal act.

      • Okay. Is crossing the border of the US and deciding to live her without being a citizen of this country legal according to US law. Yes or no? Explain

        • Richard Hershberger says

          The question is ill formed. The act of unauthorized crossing the border is the crime of “improper entry.”. It is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months incarceration and a fine of $250 for a first offense, and up to two years incarceration for any subsequent offenses. The act of being inside the US without proper documentation, “unlawful presence,” is a civil matter, subject to the civil penalty of deportation. A typical example is someone entering the country on a tourist visa and staying after it has expired. Such a person has not committed a crime, but is subject to deportation.

  21. Here’s an interesting question: is it really true that our present culture takes a lower view of marriage than in the past? For most of history marriage has been viewed mostly as a social or economic arrangement, or even as virtual slavery of a woman. If you compare the last century or so to all of history before it:

    – We now expect marriage to be based on romantic love and mutual affection.

    – Domestic abuse is generally much less tolerated than it has been in the past.

    – Marriage is increasingly seen as an egalitarian relationship, or at least as one where both partners have equal value.

    – We are arguably less tolerant of adultery today than many past cultures have been. (In some senses, e.g. at many times in the past it has been quite socially acceptable for married men to have mistresses or visit prostitutes.)

    Even our increasing divorce rate can be seen, ironically, as a sign that we now have *such* high expectations of what marriage should be like that people see lack of romantic feelings as a valid reason to end a marriage. And, gay marriage can be seen as a natural response to a culture that no longer considers it acceptable for someone to be in a mixed-orientation marriage for social reasons and to find extramarital ways of satisfying their sexual urges. (Which also explains why staunch defenders of “traditional marriage” occasionally get caught doing exactly that!)

    It seems to me that people who bemoan the current state of marriage are not taking the long view – they’re comparing it to an idealized memory of 50 years ago, rather than to a realistic assessment of what marriage was like 500 or 5000 years ago.

    • Yep. Our model is June and Ward Cleaver, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, etc. etc.

    • Thanks for your comment! I think the idealized view comes from 50s TV shows like Leave it to Beaver, with Barbara Billingsley presiding over a perfect house, wearing pearls while doing housework.


      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I have often said that the Godly Christian America of the 1950s isn’t even based on the REAL 1950s but a MYTHIC “Fifties” According to Ozzie, Harriet, and Donna Reed.

        And if you’re not into The Nifty Fifties as America’s Perfect Christian Past, the second runner-up is the Antebellum South and/or the Victorians.

        Note that the Mythic Perfect Past (complete with unicorns farting rainbows and free ice cream for everyone) is also the first axiom of a Grievance Culture, i.e. a culture whose only reason for existence is Revenge on the Other:
        1) Once WE were Lords of Creation and Everything was Perfect!
        2) Then THEY came and took it all away from us!

    • “Here’s an interesting question: is it really true that our present culture takes a lower view of marriage than in the past? ”

      This is a big fiction! It depends what one means by “lower” and “higher,” of course. So I’ll put it this way: over the past century+ what couples expect from marriage has become quite lofty — there is great idealism. And, compared to the Victorian era, marriages rates went UP.

      Interestingly, these expectations also pair with rising divorce rates. That, in turn, has prompted a new class of marriage ‘experts’ to create an industry out of helping the middle class get married, stay married, and remain fecund. Ironically, this literature takes the high idealism about marriage for granted, and seeks to help people live up to their ideals (while gently suggesting that compromise will be necessary, especially for women).

      The middle class love affair with marriage is alive and well.

  22. We now live in a post modern, post Christian,and “whatever” society. A
    Anything goes now. No ethics. No morals It’s your opinion. It’s my truth. Truly all have gone astray each to his own way. I truly think marriage is on the way out

    • I doubt you’re as old as me, Prophet, or you would remember the “ideal” Christian society of the 1950s better. The double sexual standard was in full swing (as it were), thus giving the local police chief’s wife a nice income as a non-degreed abortionist. Reading in the newspaper about another lynching of a black person in the South was routine, as was our local skating rink’s refusal to admit “Negroes” and the local movie theater requiring the “coloreds” to sit in the balcony. And I’m from Pennsylvania.

      Now, as a white middle-class *child*, I loved the 50s. There was tons of freedom and safety for white middle-class children that only a millionaire could purchase for his children today.

      But remembering my black classmates, and the girl friends who were sent to “visit an aunt” for a year or so, I don’t get all choked up about wishing for a return to those days. I think today’s ethics on a lot of sexual and certainly on racial issues are much better.

      • H. Lee – yep.

        There were also those horrific “homes for unwed mothers,” well into the late 1960s, which some parents used as emotional blackmail to try and keep their daughters from getting pregnant. I knew perrs who had been forced to have abortions, too, but it was *all* hidden from public view. Ditto for the recognition of sexual abuse and domestic violence, along with sexual assault. You just didn’t acknowledge or dare to talk about these realities, let alone report them. (I used to know a man who was secually abused by a priest in the early 60s. It really wss unthinkable to bring that to either the civil or religious authorities. So very many people suffered in silence.)

  23. Speaking of cold and snow:

    “Within a few years, winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event. Children just aren’t going to know what snow is.”

    — Dr. David Viner, senior scientist at Britain’s University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit, forecast in 2001.


    Better enjoy it while we can…

    • Oh no, polar bears drowning! Not in Buffalo there not. “Our whole earth could be a burning ball of fire!”. Al Gore We’ve only got 10 years left!” Ted Danson, 1992. Maybe Santa Claus won’t get to Buffalo this year, too much snow! Full power, Rudolph!

    • That Other Jean says

      Depending on where you live, that’s still likely to be true. Despite the snow in the US, globally, 2014 is shaping up to be the warmest year on record. Continuous temperature records only go back to about 1850, though individuals tracked temperatures before that, and really accurate records over wide areas are only available for a few decades.

      • They are LIARS…in the same mold as Jonathan Gruber. Don’t believe the ‘Chicken Littles’.

        They were wrong about Global Cooling (70’s) Overpopulation (60’s) Heterosexual Aides (80’s)…etc…

        They are playing God and do NOT know what they are doing.

        According to satellite measurements (the most accurate system of recording temps that we have) the earth has NOT warmed in 18+ years.

        • Richard Hershberger says

          There are lots of ways to lie. One classic way to lie with statistics is to carefully select your end point to arrive at your desired conclusion. Climate data, like all real-world data, is messy. If you ever see purported scientific data that shows nice, clean, smooth curves with no spikes and not outliers, you are probably looking at fraudulent data–incompetently fraudulent at that. At the same time, there are mathematically valid, intellectually honest ways of taking messy data and finding broad trends in it. This is what tends to get into textbooks and popular science reporting, so a lot of people don’t realize how messy the raw data is. This in turn opens the door to this particular technique for lying with statistics. Year to year global temperatures vary widely. One year it might spike upward, and the next year downward. Any honest attempt to identify trends will take the broadest data set possible and use those mathematical techniques to figure out what is going on. If, on the other hand, your purpose is merely polemical and you want to claim that there is no global warming, you start with a year in which the temperature spiked high, and compare everything to that alone. You could do the same thing to claim that the earth has warmed more than it really has by picking a year where the temperature spiked low. It is all fun and games, if you don’t care about the truth, or its consequences.

        • Steve, Steve. It’s time you had a refresher course from Armstrong & Miller:

          • LOL, Ted!!

            Nice one.

            (and not really all that far fetched when you hear the vitriol that comes out of the mouths of many alarmists)

          • I’m hearing even more vitriol from the mouths of the deniers.

            It’s interesting. Is Climate Change becoming a new line in the creeds?

            HUG often mentions the new anti-Trinity (Abortion, Evolution, Gay Marriage). I’m reading Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, written mid-1990s, and he acknowledged that Evolution had become second only to Abortion as a cause to fight over among Evangelicals. No mention, none whatever, of the third person of the anti-Trinity, Gay Marriage, because it didn’t exist. Now that that is a done deal in most states, do we have to add Climate Change as a hill to die on?

            I mean, look at James Dobson and where it got him.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I mean, look at James Dobson and where it got him.

            In the words of Chaplain Mike, “Remember James Dobson? Did a lot of good before fear of HOMOSEXUALS drove him over the cliff with most of his constituency in the car?”

            Now he sits on the sidelines SCREAMING, with memories of being Kingmaker at the White House during the age of Reagan and the Moral Majority.

          • I haven’t heard much from Dr. Dobson lately, but I’m not surprised that he’s railing against gay marriage. That at least is family-oriented, whichever side you’re on.

            What baffled me though, and I think discredited him, was his railing against climate change. Now why is that a family issue, or a point of doctrine?

      • Richard Hershberger says

        Not even “despite the snow.” Snow doesn’t mean particularly cold. Quite the contrary, when it is really cold, as in sub-zero, conditions rarely line up for much snow. This is particularly true of lake effect snow like the storm that just slammed Buffalo. Lake effect snow happens when a cold front passes over relatively warm liquid water. The warmth pumps moisture into the air, which drops again as snow. This doesn’t happen if it is really cold, because then the lake is frozen. Look at the temperature data in Buffalo during the recent storm and it turns out that the highs were around 30 degrees and the lows in the mid-teens: not especially remarkable for the area this time of year.

        • I lived in a snow belt part of NW PA during undergrad – we got tons, but the Buffalo area was always the worst for freakish lake effect snowfall.

          I will never live in a climate like that again, if i can help it, that is.

        • Hey RH, are you secretly from Vulcan?????

          • LOL, by the way. Can’t get emocons app to work

          • OP, he is accurately describing lake effect snow. Seriously. It can be a total whiteout, dumping inches in a couple of hours. What happened in parts of the Buffalo area was a very extreme version of it. A lot of places around town got next to zero snow while other locales were getting blizzarded in with 6 feet of it.

            It is hard to believe unless/until you’ve been in one of these storms.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            I used to live two blocks from Lake Michigan. The lake effect used to dump about six inches on us every April like clockwork.

          • “Fascinating, Captain.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Anyone remember the Global Cooling Panic of the Seventies? Never dislodged Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War(TM) from the top of the panic charts, but was a major contender for a couple years.

      Started as the synergestic union of two facts of the time:
      1) The discovery from Antarctic Ice Cores that Ice Ages started over much shorter timeframes than previously thought — a matter of years (decades at the most) instead of millenia.
      2) This discovery was made at the near-peak of a short-term cooling trend.

      I remember the TV Global Cooling Special. After an hour of Solemn Warnings from Talking Head Experts interspersed with disaster footage (much like you get from every “Climate Change(TM)” special today), it ended with a studio model of the Earth being covered completely with falling snow from above while an Important Message Voice solemnly intoned “One spring, the winter snows WIll Not Melt. That Is How IT! WILL! BEGIN!”

      But all this is How Many Angels Can Dance On The Head of a Pin. Global Warming has become a Fundamentalist Faith, and Anti-Global Warming isn’t far behind. It’s all over except “DIE, INFIDELS!!! DIE, HERETICS!!!!!” and who gets control of the power of the State to enforce their One True Way.

  24. Actually, there aren’t polar bears in Buffalo. But they couldn’t play football if they were! LOL

  25. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

    1) The article on cold and flu transmission is balderdash. Bundling up absolutely affects sickness and health, as lower body temperature suppresses immune response.

    2) I sometimes don’t understand Christian approaches to marriage and gay marriage. Let’s assume that traditional Christian teachings are correct. Let’s further assume that as a result, the best thing for people and society is to outlaw homosexuality and, of course, homosexual marriage. Do we really want to replace democracy? And if the democratic consensus is in favor of homosexual marriage, what is the next step for the church? I personally have no problem at all separating my sexual ethics – which are a part of my faith – from public policy, but that seems to be a concept quite lost on some Christians.

    • Adam Tauno Williamsa says

      “I personally have no problem at all separating my sexual ethics – which are a part of my faith – from public policy, but that seems to be a concept quite lost on some Christians.”

      This is the underlying unmentioned overlooked 800lb gorilla of the current political discussion

      It is ***assumed*** without question that everyone – Americans – accept the notion of the state as a secular institution, the executor of the will of society as expressed through the processes of politics.

      Many American’s do not accept this notion. If you believe the state is some type of agent through which the divine will can be substantiated you will hold very different positions.

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

        Absolutely. Although what is called the Divine Will is more often the will to power…

  26. about the immigration issue . . . if we get it right for the sake of the CHILDREN, I have a feeling all else will fall into place . . .

    but if we don’t look out for the well-being of children and their families, then our problem really is not the immigration issue, is it?

    It’s like the ‘abortion issue’ . . . some people say they are pro-life, as long as there is not cost to them, but if living children need support and taxes need to go up, these pro-lifers sing a different tune that is not consistent with good will towards children in need, no

  27. Agreed, Christiane. I really have never understood the pro-life but anti-safety net mentality.

  28. Vega Magnus says

    Sorry I’m so late to the party, but something Miguel said in the giant comment thread towards the top requires addressing:

    “Romantic love has nothing to do with marriage. Where the two coincide, there is a blessing to be enjoyed. But our Western concept of “romance” was originally something reserved for a man and his mistress, not his wife. Indeed, most married couples could probably testify to more romance prior to the wedding than after. The concept of being bound together by desire is precisely what I believe has led to so much divorce, and societies with arranged marriage, where the parents who are wiser and more experienced than hormone driven teenagers are given more authority, tend to have higher success rates and greater relational stability. Marriage is an act of responsibility first, before passion. A marriage with no magical spark to it is no less legitimate, valid, and valuable as those under the delusion that their infatuation will see them through sickness and health. Gay marriage, on the other hand, is based on desire, not function. It presumes the entitlement to be fulfilled rather than the obligation to fulfill.”

    First, yes, most people probably would say that “romance” was greatest in their relationships in the early stages. That is natural as is the decline of “passion” over time, but that is natural too. Of course, wise couples should work to keep the “spark” in their marriages because of the inevitable decline in the “passion.” Therein is the real issue with some marriages I think; it is okay for there to be infatuation and heavy sexual attraction early in a relationship/marriage, but there MUST be a deeper love than that (Agape alongside eros, if you will.) as well, but some people get into marriages where the infatuation/sex is all that there is, and of course, those relationships crash and burn. (People also operate under the false assumption that sexual attraction will just always be there in the same degree as when they first meet and then they bail out when it declines, not realizing that sexual relationships require maintenance to keep them sexy and engaging. That is a huge problem IMO.)

    HOWEVER, that is NOT to say that a loveless arranged marriage is good or preferable. It’s just as bad as a marriage based only on sex. Yeah, the concept of a romantic marriage may be relatively new, but that does not mean that it is incorrect. Arranged marriages may develop into something holy and awesome, but they are IMO not at all either of those things to begin with. I honestly don’t know enough about modern cultures that utilize arranged marriage to talk about them, so instead, let’s go back in time to when the European aristocracy was at the height of its power. Say the male and female spawn of two aristocratic families are wed for the function of preserving the line, merging properties, gaining political pull, or some other reason. They’re pretty much indifferent towards each other and only have sex once or twice in order to produce some heirs. Totally loveless marriage, but it is at least serving its social function. Now, of course due to gender roles and so forth then, the woman is stuck, (I’m assuming.) but the man probably is maintaining a relationship and building a family with his childhood sweetheart in the village, who he loves very much. Now tell me, which of those two relationships is better? The legitimate one that serves its grand social function, or the illegitimate one that is based on love? (Assuming that the village woman does love the aristocrat and that he isn’t using his power to force her to do what he wants.) I think the answer is obvious.

    Moving back to modern times, your points about the stability of arranged marriages doesn’t take into consideration the possibility and dare I say likelihood that the cultures in which these marriages are taking place frown heavily upon divorce for any reason and do not allow women to get out of abusive situations. Many arranged marriages probably just sputter along over the years totally loveless and miserable, but at least they serve their social function. Hooray. Many others also probably see women get beaten to hell by abusive husbands and/or repeatedly cheated by said husbands, but they serve their social function. Oh goodie. Other arranged marriages probably do see love eventually blossom and lead to strong and loving relationships that serve their social function. Huzzah, but as nice as that is, that does not validate the concept of arranged marriage. It would be better to let people choose for themselves who to marry. What modern times have done is legitimize what used to happen secretly or semi-secretly all the time in times past in that it is now okay to be in a relationship just for love.

    And finally, in regards to gay marriage being based on desire rather than function, that is a pretty broad generalization. In fact, I’d say that the very concept of gay people trying to legitimize their relationships in the eyes of the law and greater society indicates that there is a function intended to come out of it. If its just about sex, why should they care whether or not they’re married or not? There is pretty clearly something else going on as well. And in response to people discussing the promiscuity of gay people, well, assuming the gay people involved aren’t Christian, they have no need to follow the Christian sexual ethic, so the entire point is irrelevant. And it isn’t like straight people aren’t promiscuous too. So should we just say that promiscuous straight people should not be allowed to marry either just because they’re promiscuous? And finally, if people of any orientation want to have open relationships, that is entirely their own business. It may not be moral, but it doesn’t make their marriages illegitimate. It just makes them weird IMO.

  29. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    HOMOSEXUALITY is now in play.

    Let’s shortcut the next 100+ comments and save a lot of bandwidth. Everyone just point-and-howl like the Pod People in the end scene of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake:

    • That Other Jean says

      Excuse me? We’ve been having a fairly civil discussion about homosexuality and same-sex marriage for a while now. Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, HUG?

  30. thank you Miguel for some of your comments above; they are an incarnation on Chap Mike’s words today about words that are both ‘breaking’ and healing. Strong and helpful: my marriage needs those words. Thanks again.