September 25, 2020

Saturday Ramblings: Dec. 13, 2014 — Gaudete Edition

B16267Saturday Ramblings — December 13, 2014

Quick! Why is the third candle on the Advent Wreath pink and not purple or dark blue like the others?

Answer: Because the third Sunday in Advent is different. It is known as Gaudete (Rejoicing) Sunday. On this day, having passed the midpoint of Advent, the Church lightens the mood a little, the third candle is a lighter color and the vestments in the church may also match that. The change in color reminds us that our “redemption draws near” and provides us with encouragement to continue our spiritual preparations.

In the spirit of Gaudete Sunday, we’re going to lighten the mood a bit this week and look at some of the funnier and sillier things we saw on the world wide web this past week.

• • •

fe22bb94-5da1-48ac-8193-9764283aec2b-584x600We begin with a fashion statement: The ultimate bad interfaith Christmas sweater.

Made by the Leicester-based British Christmas Jumpers, the stunning sweater you see here features the Christian cross, the Star of David, the Islamic crescent and star, and the Hindu Aum, plus the yin-yang sign, a snowflake and a Christmas tree. There’s also a peace symbol and an atom, covering the atheist bases.

Apparently this was just too much for many people, who took to their Facebook and Twitter accounts to decry the sweater as “political correctness gone mad.” But that’s not deterring the company from hoping this novelty item will bring folks together in the spirit of the season:

Britain has never been more multicultural, so we thought we’d create a Christmas jumper with a twist – something that brings people from all walks of life together in the spirit of love, joy and festive cheer. We think everyone should be able to wear a British Christmas Jumper and celebrate the festive season – however they wish, no matter what their colour, creed or culture. This is why you’ll see all the world’s major religions represented on this high quality factory-knitted Christmas jumper, proudly made in Britain.

My only question would be: what color pants should I wear with this?

Frozen Service 2

Need a fun church event where you can wear your new Christmas sweater? It seems that one of the rages this year is for churches to hold events and services based on the Disney movie, “Frozen.”

Alert reader Dave sent me some pictures and links of congregations that are using the Disney film to attract crowds. One church in Phoenix, in fact, is shipping in over 15 tons of snow and creating a sledding area for kids. They’ll be having a photo booth where you can have your picture taken with Queen Elsa and Princess Anna and get a chance to be selected to sing a “Frozen” song with them at a special performance. There will be toys and gift cards and prizes of all kinds.

I have a little three year old granddaughter who eats, drinks, breathes and lives “Frozen.” And we have a lot of fun with it. I must say, though, I personally don’t see a Disney movie as particularly apt for helping people focus on the incarnate Christ.

What do you think, my iMonk friends? Does this sound like something Jesus will be showing up for?

noahs-ark

I once accused Ken Ham of “Disney-izing” Christianity. Disney takes classic stories and turns them into cartoons. Which is what Ham and the Answers in Genesis crowd do with the Bible. And like Disney, they think it should be done on a large scale, with theme parks and attractions and rides and fun for the whole family.

But there’s a big problem. The organization has tried to fund part of their newest venture, The Ark Encounter, by getting public tax incentives from the state of Kentucky. Now, the state has said no.

“State tourism tax incentives cannot be used to fund religious indoctrination or otherwise be used to advance religion,” Tourism Secretary Bob Stewart wrote in the letter. “The use of state incentives in this way violates the separation of church and state provisions of the Constitution and is therefore impermissible.”

Having received a lot of criticism about this of late, Ham’s organization is putting up billboards (like the one pictured above) across Kentucky and elsewhere, which address the ministry’s “intolerant liberal friends,” i.e. anyone who says anything critical about them.

ucs-banners-3DMore ugly Christmas sweaters . . .

Maybe the interfaith Christmas sweater was too, well, pious or goody-goody for you. Never fear. We found the source for awesome ugly Christmas sweaters.

UglyChristmasSweater.com has just what you never imagined you’d ever be looking for — a creation sure to put you right in the tacky center of your Christmas party — like the awesome 3D sweater on the right. Here’s their pitch:

We happen to be the leading provider of this particular type of holiday tackiness and as such we have been featured in such media outlets as Trend Hunter, USA Today and the NY Times! Why are you still reading this? Go find your Ugly Christmas Sweater!

Warning: some of the sweaters they sell are on the “naughty” end of the spectrum, but there’s nothing too explicit.

Hey Gail, I’ll take a Christmas Story Fragile Leg Lamp Sweater, size XL.

Meanwhile, at the movies . . .

Yesterday, the new biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings opened nationwide. Anyone see it yet? Planning to see it? Heard any good reviews or recommendations?

Here’s the trailer:

 

Comments

  1. Watching “Noah” was a big mistake. Everyone said it was awful, and it WAS! But the reviews on “Exodus” have been mixed, so I plan on seeing it this weekend, but NOT in 3D.

    The Frozen Chosen? I thought that was the Presbyterian church down the street, At least thats what my former Assembly of God church told me.

    • What was so awful about Noah? I thought it was great.

      • If I had no knowledge of the scriptural story of Noah, I MIGHT have been a little less critical. But the overall tone of the movie was turgid and depressing. Jennifer Connoly rescued the whole affair with her depiction of Noah’s wife, a minot character in the original story. Other than that, a horribly depressing movie, full of modern environmental angst.

        • Huh, I thought the tone of Noah was appropriate, given that the movie was focused less on getting the “facts” straight and more on the psyche of a man who was asked to carry a terribly heavy burden. I would have been depressed in his shoes, too.

          • Agree Sean. I also don’t find it necessary to present the story literally since the message is the point. And despite Aronofsky’s claim it was the least biblical movie ever, I kinda disagreed with him. And I’m Eastern Orthodox; were generally pretty conservative, for lack of a better word.

        • Hmm. Those weren’t my thoughts. I’m by no means liberal, but I don’t understand the conservative issue with modern environmental questions. Why is it so bad to want to protect & preserve the earth? Why should it be exploited for financial gain?

          • I saw the scenario as more of a modern angst about the environment than what it could have been in Noah’s day. Were there enough people around then to devastate nature as it was depicted in the movie? I doubt it.

            I have nothing against protecting the environment, but projecting environmental disaster on a story like “Noah” is just going too far, to the point of naked advocacy at the expense of reality.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            You can tell what the major worries and fears are at a time & place when you look at that time & place’s dystopias & disaster movies.

          • oscar, I thought the anachronism of placing environmentalism at the center of the film’s concerns, and of making environmental disregard the primary reason for God’s decision to destroy humankind (along with every other land-dwelling creature), was awkward and parochial on the part of the filmmaker. And I found its combining of fantastical special effects with novelistic psychological narrative both clunky and unconvincing.

            The ensuing cinematic mess did, however, make me even more appreciative than I already was of the Bible’s laconic, compressed and mythic handling of its narrative materials. Those ancient writers and redactors of the Bible may or may not have been good historians, but they produced a matchless work of art; its matchless literary artistry is the reason why it’s almost impossible to translate into successful film.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            placing environmentalism at the center of the film’s concerns
            Honestly, I’m not sure anyone who actually watched the movie could say that. The center of the film’s concern wasn’t environmentalism, it was the way in which the line of Cain destroyed God’s creation in its relentless will to power.

          • Dr. F,

            Well, I did watch the film, and the environmental theme was hit on so often, and so clumsily, that it became excruciating. There is definitely a link made in the film between homicide, starting with Cain, and the destruction of creation by humankind, which is most frequently symbolized in the film by the meat-eating (and raw meat-eating) of the villains.

            It’s odd that the film would make meat-eaters the villains, and Cain and his line predatory hunters of both animals and humans, reversing the Biblical depiction in which it was Cain the murderer who offered the vegetable sacrifice while his brother Abel the victim who offered an animal. But Aronofsky obviously felt it was necessary to bend the Biblical materials to his own values and purposes, and to make them say what he wanted them to say, even when this amounted to adopting a kind of tone-deafness in the face of the materials themselves.

            If an “artist” decides to bend and ignore the source materials, he should have a compelling and consistent viewpoint in the re-telling. Aronofsky has no such viewpoint. His god from the beginning of the film sets out to destroy humankind for its murdering and creation-destroying rapaciousness, and through most of the film that’s what he does, saving only Noah, his family and a pair of each kind; in the last scenes, this same god suddenly changes course, and drops the whole decision about the worthiness of a human remnant to survive in Noah’s lap for him to decide (or so we are editorially told by Noah’s wife, rather than shown by the narrative arc [which makes the turn of events feel very ad hoc , a mere convenience for finding a resolution to the melodrama’s tension]).

            Ironically, this god makes Noah the arbiter of deciding whether humankind is essentially good, or evil, once again reversing the thrust of the Biblical narrative. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if the filmmaker knew how to alter and bend his source materials to his purposes, without merely cherry-picking what he wants to keep, ignoring the rest, and making the elements he does reserve work against their traditional purposes without offering any kind of re-contextualization.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            Robert F –
            Interesting take. From my perspective, the flood narrative is universal (according to Ken Ham, appearing in over 200 ancient cultures – sorry, couldn’t help a Ham reference, given the post today!). Anyway, the story has been told numerous times in numerous ways, and I don’t have any problem with a new interpretation. To confuse it with the biblical account would be absurd from the get-go. I thought it was a well-done movie with a good message.

        • In a similar vein, I made the mistake of recording both episodes of “The Red Tent”, despite warnings. I could only watch this re-telling of the story of Jacob and his wives for fifteen minutes before the goddess-worshipping feminism in the sequestered and oh-so-cutely named ‘red tent’ for women made me sick to my stomach. Add in the fact that Rebecca made the choice to substitute her (ugly) sister for the first marriage because she got squeamish about the wedding night activities as described by her sisters (and that Dad had NOTHING to do with it) was the final straw. Cannot believe this drivel was written by a Jew…..apparently a “cultural” rather than observant version of the Chosen People!

          • I never saw The Red Tent movie, but read the book after it was recommended to me over and over. I was not impressed. I thought it was all very odd

    • Marcus Johnson says

      I hated Noah, too, Oscar. It was just a bad movie, pretty comparable to the recent Robin Hood remake (another brooding Russell Crowe movie that was so obsessed with its moodiness). Aronofsky has blown me away with earlier projects (Black Swan being the most recent), but the license taken with a relatively short Biblical narrative was unnecessary and ridiculous.

      • He actually used a lot of later Jewish commentary, as well as various Jewish legends about Noah and his times. He talked about it at length in some interviews with Jewish publications. I can’t recall where i read some of yhese pieces, but Google will likely get you there.

  2. On the other side of the world here, I’m inside with the aircon cranked up, so no sweaters for me. Let’s see, any eye-searingly ugly, or potentially offensive Christmas shirts make the list? No? Shame, I would’ve jumped straight on those… Well I guess I have no option but to go without 🙂

  3. Faulty O-Ring says

    What’s that symbol below the tree (on the sweater)? Is it the Bahai 8-pointed star?

  4. the ‘fragile’ lamp sweater is something my spouse might wear . . .
    however, if I ordered the actual FRAGILE leg lamp itself inside a FRAGILE wooden box, he would be utterly over the moon. (pun intended)

    problem: the Christmas Story is big with my husband and he insists the whole family watch it together in the family room every Christmas season, and every year he says ‘if I had a lamp like that, I’d put it in the front window, too’

    decisions, decisions

    • My sons’ barber has the leg lamp in her front window. It is a statement.

    • “A Christmas Story” is a ritual for me on Christmas Day. The scene downtown at Hallee Brothers department store was filmed in my home town of Cleveland, Ohio, and I have fond memories of scanning their front window and dreaming of a Christmas I’d never see. Also, the hillbilly neighbor’s dogs strike a chord in me because of verisimilitude.

      • A major turning point in my self-awareness was realizing I was the hillbilly neighbor.

      • The part that strikes the chord for me is Randy’ snowsuit. Living my first 7 years in Butte, Montana, I can relate. I actually had a cute one – 2-piece coat + pants made out of gray wool, with red piping and buttons. My red rubber galoshes matched it nicely. But the time spent layering up getting ready to go outdoors, complete with the scarf going around the neck and face several times, and the difficulty moving yourself in it…. oh yeah. (And woe betide you if you had to use the bathroom between home and school….)

        Dana

  5. Vega Magnus says

    I’ve heard from people whose opinions I trust that Exodus is a very bland and generic movie that wastes really good actors. Avoid it.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      I enjoyed Noah very much. Artistically speaking, it was well-executed, but the best part was the theological message. The juxtaposition of Noah’s faith vis-a-vis Tubal-Cain’s will to power was brilliant, and very, very rare in anything coming out of Hollywood.

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

        Sorry, cut off mid comment. That’s what happens when you type while holding your hungry one year old 🙂
        To finish up, Exodus was about exactly the opposite. Artistically I felt it was very poorly done, and there was no realistic message as in the Noah film. In all, I felt like Exodus was just another Hollywood mass movie, while Noah was a real art project.

        • It’s “realistic message” was one of the main things I found deficient about the film Noah. The translation into psychological realism of such a mythical narrative seemed like a complete failure of artistic imagination. Method acting and the stories of the Biblical patriarchs are just incompatible.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            Honestly…I don’t know what your comment means.

          • This is what it means: the psychological “realism” and wordiness of modern story-telling and acting do not do justice to the masterful sparseness and compression, and the long silences, of biblical narrative.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            Oh, I see. Yes, it is certainly a different media entirely. I’m not sure I would expect many similarities between a text so well written it survives since the bronze-age with modern digital visual story telling which is only given the green-light if the bean-counters give it.

  6. Frozen and churches: I’m no longer surprised at the lengths churchianity goes to lure in consumers…using everything or anything besides Christ.
    And to those who don’t like the “negativity” of exposing such Christ-lessness; The OT prophets couldn’t nor wouldn’t stop hammering Israel/Judah until those entities repented and stopped doing the wicked things they were doing. God wouldn’t let them stop.
    Same goes for our current situation… unless “churches” who claim to be following Christ and building His kingdom stop doing things that do the opposite and until they repent, the downer of questioning and/or confronting them can’t stop either. I’ve always felt that negativity is the first step towards repentance. If you don’t feel bad or down for the sin’s you’ve committed, then it’s unlikely you’ll ever change. Thank God for negativity or else nothing in this broken world would ever change for the better.

    • “The OT prophets couldn’t nor wouldn’t stop hammering Israel/Judah until those entities repented and stopped doing the wicked things they were doing.”

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say the “Frozen” services were WICKED. STUPID, or MANIPULATIVE, or even DESPERATE, yes, but wicked? No.

      • Yeah, its silly beyond measure, but I’m not sure its OT plagues-and-locusts bad.

      • Good point oscar… my wording is a little over-bearing… I personally enjoyed the film, but I wouldn’t use as a marketing tool for building God’s kingdom…that’s going too far and is trying to hard to “attract” – I think that kind of “any means” should be questioned, but I think a lot of people give things like this a pass because the “church” is doing it and one shouldn’t be too hard or “judgmental”…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I can see using “Frozen” as a well-known story for illustration or making a parallel (parable?), but there’s such a thing as Going Way Too Far.

  7. Christian Bale, while a good actor, might be too much for me as Moses. Gloria Steinem’s stepson/Little Women’s Laurie/American Psycho-not sure I can see him as Moses. I would like to see one of these biblical movies once cast with some actual Middle Eastern actors, but then I guess a lot of Americans would be shocked that Biblical characters weren’t exactly Caucasians of European descent.

    Ken Hamm, just go away.

    Frozen church services? I have no words.

  8. Klasie Kraalogies says

    “Frozen church services?”. Just let it go….

    • “What do you think, my iMonk friends? Does this sound like something Jesus will be showing up for?”

      I don’t know if Jesus will be showing up but I wouldn’t be surprised if some Disney lawyers show up.

      • “…I wouldn’t be surprised if some Disney lawyers show up.”

        Probably NOT! I’m willing to bet that Disney LICENSED the whole fiasco and churches BOUGHT INTO it!

      • So is there anything that Jesus doesn’t show up for?
        In spite of our folly, fear and frenzy, isn’t he there, somewhere, amongst it all?

        • Marcus Johnson says

          To answer that question, I think we need to first understand that the phrase “Jesus showed up for ____” is a metaphor for us, so that we can try to wrap our heads around the mystery of how Jesus engages humanity. My faith tradition affirms a triune, omnipresent God, so yes, Jesus would “be there” at that service. He would also “be there” when I’m filling up my gas tank, or microwaving oatmeal in the morning, or clipping my toenails.

          But that’s not what you mean, right? You aren’t just asking if Jesus will be present; it sounds like you are asking if Jesus will actually engage with us, if the conditions of the event at which He is present are such that participants in that event leave having been made aware of, and impacted by, His presence.

          If that’s what you mean, then no, I don’t think that Jesus is necessarily revealed to us in events that we justified by a “by any means necessary” approach.

          • I think the underlying question is: Would, or does, Jesus approve of this event? It sounds a bit moralistic when put that way, but that’s the question that’s looking for an answer here.

      • If you see Jesus walking down the road…

        • “If you meet the Buddha walking on the road, kill him.”

          But then, my Buddhist friends have a serious metaphysical bias against idolatry of any kind that’s not often shared by Christians. We want Jesus in some form to give us the definitive answers, even about whether things like this Frozen extravaganza are morally legitimate.

          • Brianthedad says

            Pardon my ignorance, but I’ve seen lots of statues of Buddhas, Buddhas on necklaces, and shrines with Buddha statues etc etc. I always thought them to be idols. Or do Buddhists not consider them idols but something akin to icons?

          • It’s complicated, Brianthedad, and my statement is an is an oversimplification of something that’s far from simple on the ground. The statement I quoted is a traditional word of wisdom in Buddhist lore that the Buddha one are likely to meet in the road is probably a projection of one’s own fear and desires rather than the “real thing.”

            Buddhism is a non-theistic religion, but it also is a religion that historically inducted the indigenous religious beliefs of many cultures, including their pantheons of gods and goddesses, into its metaphysical systems, giving a non-theistic philosophical interpretation to what, at the popular level, sometimes is indistinguishable from polytheism, and includes much reverence of statuary and images.

            My statement refers to my own Buddhist friends, who for the most part have been influenced by Japanese Zen Buddhism of a particularly austere quality, that uses traditional Buddhist iconography only sparingly and as a matter of formality. The American version of this Zen Buddhism is even more iconoclastic. I tend to identify this particular strand of Buddhism as being most in keeping with the spirit of the historical Gautama Buddha, as I understand him; some would disagree with me.

          • Brianthedad says

            Thanks! That served to push back the frontiers of my ignorance. I think I understand a little better.

  9. Really! What is it about Frozen? I thought it was an okay Disney film. Olaf was cute, and the scenery was beautifully done, but . . . Tangled is my all-time favorite, followed closely by Beauty and the Beast and Fantasia. The Hunchback of Notre Dame may have had the best soundtrack, but Orff’s Carmina Burana is better still. And I’d take Mulan and The Incredibles long before Frozen. But I guess I’m grateful that my favorite movies are just movies and not Life Lessons and Sermon Plans.

    • My kids are a little old to obsess over Disney movies but we did go see it when it first came out and thought it was great.

      I’m a sucker for movies about redemption and I probably read way too much into it but if you think of Elsa’s curse as “the curse” it makes more sense. It taints everything she does–the things she wants to do she doesn’t, the things she does do she doesn’t want to do. She finally gives into it and it consumes her, separating her from the one thing that actually matters–love. It takes the self-sacrifice of someone outside of herself to free her from this bondage and, in the end, even the thing that has enslaved her is redeemed and used for good.

      At least, that’s my take on it. Chris explains more below. but really, isn’t it a good thing that little girls are drawn to a movie about grace and redemption? Aren’t we all drawn to that one true story? I am with you, though; while I might use the story for a brief sermon illustration, I wouldn’t make a huge extravaganza out of it–our efforts as churches are not to entertain but to preach Christ, and Him crucified.

      • The main point about this movie that I like is that the big “L-L-L-O-O-O-V-V-V-V-V-V-E” interest is within a family, instead of the usual focus on the prince who solves everything for the poor hapless girl when she runs into an issue. I LOATHE Disney princesses with every fiber of my corpulent body for exactly this reason.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      For some reason, “Frozen” hit a winning combination. Only knowing about it secondhand, I don’t know what that combination was, but it was probably several things in the story that just came together.

      An in-universe adaptation (theater or movie) of “Frozen” would also hit a winning combination in the world of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magi. — maybe even with Royal sanction. The story of Princess Winter Joy (Elsa) “going Nightmare” and her sister Princess Summer Grace (Anna) and companions bringing her back parallels the “RL” story of the ponies’ Princess Luna & Celestia.

      • The two narratives are so close, you don’t even need to adapt them much. You could switch out the characters, add a little pony, and viola!

    • Someone else with kids explain it to me. Frozen has been such a BIG thing! But when I finally saw it on Thanksgiving Day, when over at someone’s house, my hopes were a bit dashed. It seemed okay, even good to me – fun. But not a high point of my life watching kid’s movies, and some of it seemed a little bit illogical. (Trolls? huh….) Am I just too old and grumpy for it to seem as great as the movies I remember from childhood?

      I do dig the whole sisterly bond theme. It took Disney, oh, about 20 years to figure out this was a topic worthy of depiction. Bonus points for an evil prince. But they got there.

      • Maybe another way to put is this: I like the fact the movie changes up and subverts the usual Disney formula. I like that it’s about sisterhood, friendship, and the bonds within families over romance. I like the fact that there are two women as the more important characters.

        I was less wowed by the actual storytelling.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

          I’m trying to think of a Disney cartoon movie that doesn’t have a woman (or two) as the more important character. Lion King for obvious reasons. The Jungle Book. Hmmm. Seems like pretty slim pickings.

      • I was not wowed with it either, although it has produced two fabulous ‘drive my tween-aged boys crazy’ songs for me to sing at random times when I need to clear the room to get some peace and quiet. But it is the marketing engine that just keeps on going…and going…and going… Can’t walk through a store that doesn’t look like Frozen threw up in it’s aisles.

        So I suppose it should not be surprising that so many churches have grabbed onto it as a holiday theme, one in our area that I know of, and our youth group went to a convention last weekend and then visited a church on Sunday that had a Frozen theme. I’m a little amused by the fact that each of these churches not only does the theme, but also has people dress up as Anna and Elsa. That starts crossing lines between sermon illustration and The Complete Disney Experience.

    • I loved the movie too; I just see the value of making a big hoopla of it at church or using as a way to attract people into church.

  10. Richard Hershberger says

    “There’s also a peace symbol and an atom, covering the atheist bases.”

    Umm… Huh? Anyone who thinks that a depiction of an atom (actually a stylized depiction of a Bohr-model of the atom) is a symbol of atheism doesn’t understand either science or religion or both. And the notion that a peace symbol is somehow atheistic is just too weird to wrap my mind around.

    • Brianthedad says

      No idea as to why there’s a peace symbol, but the ‘Bohr atom’ with an A in the center is the officially recognized symbol for US military headstones for atheists who request it. A humanist symbol is also available for those identifying with the American humanist association, along with an infinity symbol. No word on who the infinity is for, just one of the 60 or so approved symbols. A trip to the VA site for emblems of belief is interesting, as there is quite a variety represented.

      • Richard Hershberger says

        That is extremely weird. Why did they glom onto the Bohr model of the atom? Christianity, or religions in general, have never had any problem with 20th century theoretical physics. That depiction of the atom doesn’t say “atheist” to me. it says “mid-20th century pop science”. If they had used something like a depiction of the evolution of man, that would have been misguided and would have at least superficially made sense.

        I don’t get the infinity symbol, either.

        • I suppose they’re trying to ally themselves with science as a source of truth and human advancement – but the fact that they’ve latched onto a symbol that screams pop culture or ‘fad’ may underserve the cause. If I were an atheist, I’d wonder if there wasn’t symbolism that was a little deeper or more stirring. (That is essentially the objection I have with some religious self-depiction too – it seems a bit ‘thin,’ and of the moment.)

          Regarding symbolism and language that falls short, I just saw a poster up in my neighborhood from the Unitarian Church for a ‘Winter Solstice Ritual.” It escape any language suggesting too much, they’ve retreated to an important but bland and entirely academic word. I think this is the first time I’ve heard a religious group refer to their own practice as a “ritual.” Why not “celebration” or something that at least connotes emotion?

          • *To escape…

          • Danielle – the term “winter solstice ritual” seems to be used frequently by various pagans, including Wiccans (but it certainly isn’t limited to them). As to whether this UU church means the same thing, I have no idea.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

          The atom symbol is representative of a materialist philosophy, which is by definition atheistic. The infinity symbol represents a belief in reincarnation or other spiritual dimension without admitting the existence of God or traditional theological anthropology.

      • Tohu Wabohu says

        Checked out the VA’s “emblems of belief website. Fascinating array…. But really, Thor’s Hammer?

        • Brianthedad says

          Yes. Agreed. That one struck me as funny. What religious group is that for? And the symbol for the humanists? Who does their graphic design? It looks like someone raring up to do the wave or signaling a touchdown.

          • The humanist sign is the Happy Human (H) and is quite common among those groups affiliated with the International Humanist and Ethical Union. It dates back to 1965.

            Thor’s hammer is probably Asatru which is a neopagan group.

            BTW the UU Winter Solstice Ritual is almost certainly organized by UU pagans. My local UU church will have one on Dec. 21 (nice fire, plenty of food). Hanukah and Latkes on the 18th. Christmas Eve service on the 24th.

    • http://www.gotquestions.org/peace-sign.html

      Later, some Christian churches glommed onto the occult possibilities of the symbol and procalimed it was satanic in origin.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I remember that from The Satanic Panic of the Eighties. Christian Urban Legends preached from pulpit after pulpit and in book after book claimed to trace it back to Caesar Nero as representing “The Cross, inverted and broken”. No provenance outside the Satanic Panic pulpits or evidence of prior existence before that.

        • Richard Hershberger says

          And in any case, even if one believes the Satanic nonsense, this has nothing to do with atheism except to the definitionally confused, and I would not expect actual atheists to adopt the symbol on this basis.

      • Jack Chick said it was an inverted broken cross. So let it be written; so let it be done.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

          So say we all…

        • Similar equals same. I hope these people remember this when the same perverse logic is used against them. Of course, then it will be fallacious and cruel persecution.

          • Example from past encounters in my early days as a wide-eye zealous evangelical: Greek mythology is full of stories of sons of gods born as men; therefore, Christianity is no different. That was tough to counter then. Seeing evangelicals use the same logic makes it that harder to refute.

      • The peace symbol is for sec’lar humanist environmentalist liberals who voted for Al Gore.

        The same intolerant liberals who want to sink God’s Holy Ark.

        ‘Nuff said about that crowd.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      It is, or used to be, the symbol for American Atheists (who cut off the atom at the bottom so that it made the shape of a stylized “A”). Probably created back in the days when nuclear power was considered the wave of the future.

  11. Exodus: Gods and Kings – very good movie. Yes artistic license but solid Scriptural message underlying the movie. Went to coffee shop afterwards with several members and discussed that. Would love to hear an on-going conversation spread.

  12. MelissatheRagamuffin says

    Frozen church services? What’s that got to do with Jesus?

    • Richard Hershberger says

      My daughters watching it will provoke intermittent extravagant displays of sisterly affection, as contrasted with their more usual attempts at mutual homicide. This seems pretty much like how a lot of Christians respond to Jesus, so there is that.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      We’ve had “Frozen Church Services” for some time.
      Different meaning of “Frozen”, but ya can’t win ’em all.

      • Richard Hershberger says

        I used to belong to a church with a somewhat iffy furnace. A couple of times every winter we would have a frozen service.

        • MelissatheRagamuffin says

          We used to attend a Quaker meeting that straight up didn’t have heat. Going to worship meant wearing three or four layers of clothes and bringing a quilt or two.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      The characters seem to be at least cultural Christians.

  13. Ken Hamm – passive aggressive much?

  14. Regarding Frozen, perhaps it is worth noting that it is loosely based Hans Christian Andersen’s short story, “The Snow Queen”. Andersen published his story during the week of Christmas in 1844 and through poetry at the beginning of the story he cites the reason for warmth in this world, ‘Where roses deck the flowery vale,There, Infant Jesus, we thee hail!’

    Andersen’s The Snow Queen closes with the grandmother reading the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

    So, while Disney took lots of liberty with the movie, the story that it is based on is one of a transformative power of Jesus Christ and His ability to change lives and give warmth to even frozen hearts.

    One pastor writes that Frozen succeeds in presenting Jesus maybe even better than the original Snow Queen story. You can read his thoughts here……. http://e-nklings-revschuldheisz.blogspot.com/2013/12/theology-goes-to-movies-frozen.html

    • Indeed. The movie makes no reference to Christ, but it draws a crowd. And that’s what’s Christ(TM)-mass is all about!

      “Let’s face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big [megachurch] syndicate, you know.”

    • When they proclaim, “Keep Christ In Christmas”, they never bother to mention where.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      During a comment thread on IMonk years ago (about Jesus Junk stores), someone posted an account of a Private Revelation that might apply to this. Normally I’m skeptical of Private Revelations, but this one stood out:

      The Private Revelation was that Christianese creative media had dropped the ball so bad that God was “withdrawing His mantle” from them and putting it on secular creative media. Henceforth secular fiction, art, and movies would start to say what God wanted said.

  15. David Cornwell says

    I was so looking forward to a trip on the Ark during my next drive to Lexington, Kentucky. Now all I get is a quick glance of towboats on the Ohio River.

  16. Chaplain Mike,

    we also had the swastika wrapping paper situation this week. Hallmark pulled off the market after a woman complained.
    http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/hallmark-pulls-swastika-wrapping-paper-article-1.2040798

    And the University of Maine has changed their “policy” re: candy canes and other “holiday” decorations that may be seen as offensive. We really pulled the wool over their eyes on that one. If they knew of the origin of the candy cane they would have stuck to their original announcement.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/12/12/jingle-bell-crock-maine-university-backpedals-after-banning-candy-canes-as/
    http://www.spanglercandy.com/our-brands/candy-canes/legends

    I have a large plastic candy cane with a big red ribbon on my front door this year. I am really getting bolder don’t you think?

    But nothing can steal my joy today as later I will be putting on my ugly Christmas sweater to attend my church’s Moravian Love Feast. This is an beautiful musical celebration of Christmas and always draws a crowd. It is my personal favorite service of the season. God bless us every one.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The paper in question was based on a Greek decorative pattern. (Kind of like a Greek equivalent of Celtic Knotwork.) However, part of said pattern DOES form hook-crosses/sun-crosses and that’s when the uproar began.

    • About the wrapping paper: I’m glad she filed the complaint. Not so coincidentally, the blue/silver colors directly echo the blue/white used in Judaism, so it made the swastika-ish patterns screamingly obvious.

      HUG, are you thinking of the Greek Key pattern? It has no intersecting lines, though I just read that it *has* been adopted as the official symbol of the Greek Golden Dawn (neo-Nazi) Party, so…

  17. Do you suppose they celebrate Christmas on the other side? I can picture Moses and Charlton Heston sitting down, possibly with a jug, to watch a screening of Exodus. Maybe they would invite Jimmy Stewart to join them, tho I imagine he would get a lot of invitations this time of year and might have a prior commitment. Cecil B. DeMille might be free. It looks like a pretty good movie from the trailer if you can suspend your disbelief.

    This could be the best Ramblings since beloved Jeff Dunne left the building, God bless him and keep him safe, only eight more days until the darkness begins to lift. Hang on, everyone. The old Ramblers help, which don’t look all that old to me, but I sure miss the dog.

    • You’re right, the Ramblers don’t look all that old. However, sad to say (because my first car was similar, but not a wagon), they are over 50 years old. They each appear to be a 1961 Rambler American.

  18. When I read that billboard, ‘You can’t seek this ship!” I have technie / materialist moment and think,

    “There’s a U-boat that says otherwise.”

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yes! I always enjoy your comments.

    • Good one! And heck with a U-boat, how about just an iceberg?

      • A friend of mine claims to have recently read an analysis by a structural engineer who specializes in ocean-going vessels. The analysis pointed out that the ark, as described in the Biblical narrative, would have broken up as soon as it was launched. Essentially, it is structurally impossible, given the dimensions and specified materials.

        • Danielle is Polishing the Readying the Torpedo says

          At the very least it looks like a beast to steer, let alone turn.

        • Brianthedad says

          And a friend who is a church of Christ minister preached sermons that regularly noted scientists had declared the ark’s dimensions to have been optimum, many years before ship design really reached its stride. It’s one of those things that someone above mentioned as urban myth sermon illustrations. I took it for gospel for years. Now, who knows?

        • Does your friend believe in the resurrection? I point that out, because that’s kinda impossible, too. On the surface, anyway.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

          I disagree with your friend – there simply isn’t enough data to come to that conclusion. Now, if it actually contained one pair of every specie, then yeah, I can see where he is going.

  19. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

    Are we really, really sure that the billboard from AiG isn’t from an onion article? I mean, I have a very difficult time believing that a grownup person – let alone a self-professing Christian organization – would spend (no doubt donated) money on something so juvenile. Why not just tattoo “idiot” on your forehead in giant red ink?

  20. I haven’t seen Exodus: The Movie yet, but here’s a great review by a critic I enjoy reading. He’s written the review from Aaron’s viewpoint, which is kind of clever.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lookingcloser/2014/12/moses-and-errin-a-review-of-exodus-gods-and-kings/

  21. Shouldn’t Ken Ham just begin securing funds for building a statue of himself so as to make sure we all know what and who it is we should truly idolize?

  22. Regarding the sweater of multi-faiths, including atheism…

    At first I thought, “How ridiculous! That would be like me, as a Seahawks fan, wearing a sweater that had the logos of all the NFL teams on it! What’s the point? Why would I want a sweater that supports ALL the teams? I want people to know I’m a SEAHAWK fan.”

    But those questions led me to a different take. Wearing a sweater with all NFL logos on it MIGHT a purpose, if that purpose was to my show support for the NFL organization AS A WHOLE. If I want to take off my Seahawk hat for a moment and show that I’m a part of something LARGER, then maybe an ALL NFL TEAM LOGO sweater would have a purpose.

    So maybe…maybe I can, as a Christian, wear such a sweater, if I just want to acknowledge I’m a part of a world that’s as diverse as the symbols represented. Keep in mind, Joshua 24:15 is one of my life verses, but…could it be okay to wear a multi-religious symbol-ed sweater and still claim I’m a Christian, just as I could wear a multi-logo-ed NFL sweater and still claim I’m a Seahawk?

    • Rick, I’m thinking the sweater is okay with Jesus, tho not necessarily something he would wear himself. Maybe. There’s a similar bumper sticker around. I would much rather sit down for a beverage of choice with you and any of those various other people than with a Christian who would stand in the place of Jesus and condemn all those “others” to excruciating torture forever and ever. In fact I would guess those same so called Christians might be the same ones giving the thumbs up to torture on this side.

      And I agree that scientists and peace activists are not automatically atheists, and it does them great disrespect to lump them that way. I don’t mind sitting down for a drink with an atheist as far as that goes, unless they are Evangelical atheists bent on destroying the opposition and converting everyone to their way of thinking.Jesus was noted for sitting down with a beverage and something to eat with people like on the sweater, non-approved outsiders as seen from a certain narrow religious point of view. However if you show up with an image of Baphomet hanging around your neck, I may reconsider my invitation. There are differences and then there are differences. I’m not one of those who think Satanic worship gets a free pass next to the Manger Scene and the Chanaka display, nor one of those who consider Buddhist worship Satanic.

  23. You know the end times are near when Hell has “Frozen.”

  24. “Does this sound like something Jesus will be showing up for?”

    You know, I am not a fan of the service you described. The importing of snow seems like a particularly obscene extravagance. But this kind of pompous tsk-tsking makes me want to take the side of the people putting on a three-ring Disney circus of a church service. I hate the idea of someone driving a refrigerated truck full of snow into the desert to put on an Icecapades extravaganza at church. But even more, I hate the idea of enlisting Jesus as a fellow cultural snob, imagining him rolling his eyes and doling out the sick burns and the cold snubs to those who are clearly not as sophisticated as we, the readers of iMonk.

    • Perhaps a valid point. And even if Jesus himself wouldn’t show up for it, apparently some of his followers would (and do), which means He’s there with them.

    • I don’t know a way for this not to come off as snarky, so apologies in advance.

      I truly do not care whether their is a presence of the Christ at such places, and I entirely agree about the extravagance of the snow in such a location.

      I do care that there be a presence of the Christ with those in suffering and those working to help the suffering in
      West Africa, as well as those being tortured for some reason somewhere, and those facing their last breathes, and those who cry as they do, wherever they may be.

      I am so, so, tired of the opulence and self-centered navel gazing of people like me.

      • It seems if the problem really is too many ice trucks and not enough being a presence to suffering, the solution is to sell everything you own and go help the poor. I assume that old invitation still stands to anyone willing to accept it.

        Not snark about how glad one is one isn’t a tax collector, online, though. I don’t think that was ever put forth as a righteous alternative.

        Ironically, I know someone whose church put on a rather bombastic pop culture based service a while back (no ice imported, though) and their church is also a huge center of charity and sender of medical supplies, food, etc, to the poorest.

        Maybe the people who aren’t embarrassed to be corny and over the top for the sake of bringing souls to the church are also the ones with the energy to get out there and do something with the Gospel instead of sitting online and wringing their hands about how everyone else is doing it wrong.

        • Käthe is throwing down the gauntlet today!

        • I am most often the tax collector I suppose, no sarcasm intended.

          Two weeks ago my family buried my 54-year old brother in law who died from pancreatic cancer, I sat with him in ICU as he died.

          I work in rural Arkansas in environment public health trying to help keep human waste out of road ditches, people’s yards and their well water. I know a few people currently in West Africa trying to slow the spread of Ebola.

          Some of that was on my mind as as I wrung my hands online recovering from pneumonia, and I guess it came across badly in the way I wrote.

          I am grateful to all who give a cup of water to the thirsty, even if they truck tons of ice to a desert.

    • Jesus did attend a few opulent dinner parties during his mortal life on earth; nowhere in the gospels is their any mention of him criticizing his hosts for the extravagance of their viands. But I still don’t like the idea of Jesus approving of this particular piece of icy opulence. You can chalk that off to my tax collector-iness.

  25. Anne Rice of all people posted a link on Facebook to an article claiming the Smithsonian had covered up the discovery of the remains of giants in Native American burial mounds over 100 years ago. Needless to say, the article descends into a morass of pseudo science, questionable, tabloid news of the past treated as fact, and standard conspiratorial logic (the lack of evidence is proof of a cover-up and substantiates the conspiracy). Sadly, this is heralded by creationists as evidence of the Nephilim described in Genesis.

    It is disturbing, perhaps no surprise, that certain creationists (no, not all) drink from the same conspiratorial, pseudoscience trough as other fringe groups like UFO enthusiasts, who believe stories of giant skeletons prove the existence of alien life forms.

    I know some lump post-modernism with post-Christianity, but they really are different. Post-modernism seems to be a rejection of rational thought, scholarship, and science and an acceptance of superstition, conspiracy, and pseudoscience as the new frontier of truth. Therefore, the Noah’s Ark museum seems to me a monument to post-modernism.

    • “Anne Rice of all people….”Doesn’t surprise me in the least.

      Good points about the overlap between post-modernism and some forms of popular Christianity. My own evangelical in-laws, who question whether my wife and I are truly Christian because we’re Episcopalians, have completely bought into the value of Himalayan salts, alternative nutrition as a substitute for medical science, and a host of other whacky stuff.

  26. I don’t wear sweaters.

  27. Stephen S. Mack says

    Everyone knows that you wear purple slacks with the sweater.

    With best regards,

    Stephen S. Mack

  28. “The devil has seldom done a more clever thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.”
    – Charles Spurgeon, from “Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?”.