January 19, 2021

Saturday Ramblings – June 13, 2015


These guys resting on the Rambler are watching the amazing Pastor Dan as he “hangs ten” on a gnarly wave off the coast. While Dan’s away playing in the surf, your humble Chaplain is attempting to fill his flip flops by leading us in some Saturday Ramblings. So, let’s go!

• • •

PBRIANMTWO BIG MOVIES are on my mind today. First, speaking of summer, surf, and sand, I can’t wait to see the new biopic about Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, Love and Mercy. The New York Times’  A.O. Scott says this in his review:

For the most part, this movie, a smart, compassionate, refreshingly unconventional biopic directed by Bill Pohlad, makes good on both promises, exploring the mental world and the artistic method of a great artist. It’s a loving tribute to the Beach Boys and the man responsible for their distinctive sound, but it goes to deeper and stranger places than most movies of its kind.

Love and Mercy features Wilson and Beach Boys creating their masterpiece, the album Pet Sounds, which is on most critics’ lists of best records of all time. The film looks not only at that creative period but also the 1980’s, a troubled time when Brian Wilson suffered from mental health issues. Scott says the movie does a great job taking us inside Wilson’s mind, exploring both his genius and his demons.

Sounds like the perfect summer movie to me.

But if blockbusters are more your cup of tea, Jurassic World just opened, and I will definitely shell out the dough to see this one in IMAX 3-D, probably with my boys and grandson.

Enjoy this little taste:

Tell me, iMonks, what summer flix are you looking forward to?

Jim Gaffigan, the popular stand-up comedian known for his Comedy Central special and the books “Dad is Fat” and "Food: A Love Story," will be featured in “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” a new series premiering on TVLand on July 15. Photo courtesy of TVLand

Jim Gaffigan, the popular stand-up comedian known for his Comedy Central special and the books “Dad is Fat” and “Food: A Love Story,” will be featured in “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” a new series premiering on TVLand on July 15. Photo courtesy of TVLand

JIM GAFFIGAN is one of my favorite comics, and he often finds a way to speak in a self-deprecating way about his Catholic faith in his routines. Gaffigan will have a new show on TVLand beginning July 15, and it will attempt to give a realistic — and funny — portrait of his family’s Catholicism.

“It’s part of the story,” said Jeannie Gaffigan, an executive producer of the new show and Jim’s frequent collaborator. “We are just trying to portray our reality.”

That reality ends up looking a lot like an accurate portrait of American Catholicism. As portrayed in the series, Jeannie is a more knowledgeable and reverent Catholic than Jim. Their church’s pews are only about half-full, and many members of their parish are little old ladies waiting for a moment with a priest who was born in a foreign country.

In an episode titled “Bible Story,” Jim says of a Bible given to Jeannie by the pope for her tremendous service to her parish: “Catholics don’t read the Bible. That’s why they give us Cliff Notes on Sunday.”

As I said, I like Gaffigan a lot, and I hope the show is a quality effort that succeeds, because it would be great for television to include some down-to-earth, likable examples of ordinary people whose faith is important to them.

THIS WEEKEND, we will be driving through Williamstown, Kentucky and right past the site of Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter, which is scheduled to open in 2016 with a life-size 510-foot-long Noah’s Ark.

But stop, you don’t have to wait until then! For only $20 per car, you can drive in and see the ark being constructed! Here’s the announcement:

Now that the lumber is arriving for the Ark Encounter, we know that many of our guests at the Creation Museum will want to visit the construction site. So that people can witness the building of the Ark based on the biblical proportions as set forth in God’s Word, we have set aside an observation area just outside the actual hard hat area.


From this vantage point, you can watch the crews assembling the lumber and timber framing in sections called bents, and then the placing of those bents on the foundation of piers. You will be able to see the Ark built from the center out toward both ends during the summer of 2015.

Starting June 1, 2015, the observation site will be open seven days a week from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM Eastern Time. Access may be canceled due to inclement weather or certain construction restrictions.

What do you think, iMonks? Should we stop?

Laugh all you want, but you do realize they’ve already raised almost twenty million dollars for this fiasco. Somebody truly believes.

AND NOW, just because I can, here are some funny pictures . . .

eys2R1nyTjiCDcqrlkQb_Deer Crash

The deer later testified, “I came around the corner and saw him, but it was too late. He had that ‘old bald white guy in the headlights look.'”

ZNU7J0rjT42Fr1F2Fp6Y_Basketball Jesus

He can dunk without even girding his loins.

FaEDwaMJQTSAyU3RyFtF_Free Cremation

Sorry, I got nothin’ here. They all just look so damn happy.

B80gWmIZQz6IgKPlAsn8_Coke with Caitlyn

The real thing?

THE OTHER DAY WE ASKED if acceptance of same-sex marriage was a “moral continental divide.” Some are indeed convinced of it. As of this writing, almost 43,000 people, including a long list of prominent religious and political leaders, have signed the Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage. This document is written as a warning to the Supreme Court not to “redefine marriage,” promising that the signees will be conscience-bound to practice civil disobedience if they do. Here is some of the text:

We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.

We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.

One of the authors, Rev. Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America Action, put it this way: “I believe we are there. We are approaching a Bonhoeffer moment in America.” They also cite the example of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and quote from his Letter from Birmingham Jail to ground their statement. A summary of the pledge was also published in the media as an open letter to SCOTUS.

Meanwhile, this week’s Southern Baptist annual convention, SBC 2015, will be dominated by discussion of this issue, highlighted by a panel discussion on the topic, “The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage: Preparing Our Churches for the Future.” The largest U.S. evangelical denomination’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has also issued “Protecting Your Ministry,” a guide for Southern Baptists and other evangelicals in an age of lawsuits related to sexual orientation and gender identity. It will be distributed at the meeting. Clearly, the Southern Baptists have drawn a line and are digging in for a lengthy fight on this issue.


10musetto-obit-web-popupWE LOST SOME WELL KNOWN PEOPLE this past week, including actor Christopher Lee, portrayer of villains extraordinaire, and Ornette Coleman, “free jazz” innovator.

But you may not have known that Hermann Zapf, a giant in the world of type design, who created such fonts as Palatino, Optima, Zapfino, and Zapf Dingbats, died at age 96. Jerry Kelly, a leading American typographer, wrote, “What Michelangelo was to sculpture and Beethoven was to music, that’s what Hermann Zapf is to type design and calligraphy. We’re all followers of his now.” The world of religion also lost Eugene Kennedy, a psychologist, former priest and public intellectual who, inspired by the ideas of Vatican II, emerged in the 1970s as a powerful voice for reform and modernization of the Roman Catholic Church. He died in St. Joseph, Michigan at age 86. Music lost a dynamic voice when Ronnie Gilbert, who with Pete Seeger and others formed the groundbreaking folk group The Weavers, died at age 88. And the author of one of the most famous headlines in U.S. newspaper history (see picture), Vincent Musetto, a retired editor at The New York Post, died in the Bronx at 74.

instaprayMISS THE OLD MIDWEEK PRAYER MEETING? There’s an app for that, thanks to Instapray, which lets you enter a prayer request, change the text of your prayer, mark it as answered, leave a comment, or add a hashtag. Once you’ve written the prayer, you can easily share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or via email; it automatically gets sent out to the Live Feed that all Instapray users see when they log in.

My favorite example from the article about Instapray was this: “One member from Arkansas posted a picture of his drivers’ permit test and said that, on his 6th try, he “asked God to give me the victory and He gave it to me even though I hadn’t looked at the material for weeks until today and stayed up until 3 AM last night.”

Yep, that’s prayer meeting as I remember it.

6a016300f919ba970d01901ed2f387970bFINALLY, a few acknowledgments and announcements:

  • We are sad to have announced yesterday that our Canadian office is closing. Keep Mike Bell and his family in your prayers (use Instapray if you like), as they have more on their plate right now than I can possibly imagine handling. We’re grateful for Mike’s contributions over the years, and hope that this will be a sabbatical and not a permanent leaving.
  • I want to say “thanks” again to Michael Buckley and Joe “the Plumber” Stallard for their top-notch work on getting our new banner up and running. If you missed the post about the site banner and our new purpose statement, you can read it HERE.
  • I too would appreciate your prayers as I work on a book project that I’ve hinted at in a few posts. Happily, my boss is Jeff Dunn, and he has been providing support and encouragement along the way to this neophyte. My first deadline is July 1, and I’m trying over the next couple of weeks to pull it all together. I’ll let you know more details as we get things in shape.
  • Recent busyness has meant I’ve been woefully neglectful of some commitments regarding the site I made for this year. I really, really want to get all the old essays and posts that we have from Michael Spencer back up on the archives (few things are more frustrating than getting a 404 error), and I plan to get all the podcasts we have uploaded to a site where everyone can access them. Thanks for all your patience, we’re trying not to “grow weary in well doing.”

Have a wonderful weekend.


  1. *I* wanted the free cremation!

    Now my family will have to use the hibatchi!

    • They might have another contest again…

    • Twenty, twenty, twenty-four hours to go,
      I wanna be cremated,
      Nothing to do, no where to go,
      I wanna be cremated,
      Just put me in a pine box, put me in the flames,
      Hurry, hurry, hurry, before I go insane…
      (My apologies to the Ramones. Just don’t bury me in a pet cemetery.)

  2. Not much to laugh at this week. Luv ya CP, but I miss Mr Jensen.

  3. Vega Magnus says

    I am sick to death of talking about gay marriage, largely because I have personally already made up my mind that I am in favor of it and it strikes me that those opposing it are just wasting everyone’s time, but even the more liberal parts of the theology blogosphere keep bringing it up over and over again. I know it is a big cultural thing these days, but I am super burned out on talking or reading about it.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yes. Not much new has been added to this discussion in a l-o-n-g time.

      I sure am glad I don’t have to sit through that SB panel discussion [which notably doesn’t seem to feature any actual lawyers].

      We, as a society, have much bigger fish that need frying.

  4. So, how exactly would the marriage change fly in the face of the U.S. Constitution? Where does the Constitution address marriage? (Sorry if this opens a can of worms – I’m curious what the arguments are, not necessarily having one)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Some days I feel bad for the Constitution. It is possibly the only document which endures more literary torture than The Bible – some people just *need* to finds things in it, regardless if they are there or not.

      One argument looks at Wolfle v. United States [1934] which established spousal privilege [a man cannot be forced to testify in court against his wife, and vice versa] and that it recognizes the imperative value of the relationship over the administration of legal justice – thus SCOTUS found the definition of marriage to be…

      And they only get more sketchy from there.

      If you ever can’t sleep at night spend some time researching these arguments, it is a sure cure for insomnia.

      • “One argument looks at Wolfle v. United States [1934] which established spousal privilege…”

        Sounds like SCOTUS defined marriage – not the Constitution.

      • I believe the question primarily is, Do the individual States have the right to redefine marriage or is it truly a civil rights issue which is defined (somehow) in the Federal constitution?

        In California, they bypassed the argument by determining that the State constitution is the deciding factor.

        If they decide the authority lay with the State then we are in for a lot more argumentation, but if it is a Federal issue and the decision goes THAT way, well then, it is CASE CLOSED. It is quite clear how Ginsberg, Kagan, Sotomayor, and maybe Breyer sit, as well as Thomas, Scalia and Alito. Less clear is Roberts and Kennedy.

        This reminds me of waiting for the OJ verdict…

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          And that is a legitimate topic for legal debate. Even what is or is not a Civil Right is a topic for constitutional cases [one where I often end up on the ‘other side of the aisle’ with more “C”onservative citizens]

          But it is hard to get from that argument to a statement like “A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution”. The clear logical back-track of that statement is that the Constitution says something about marriage. If it is a states-rights-vs-federalism argument these are odd, not very effective, ways to declare it.

        • Define “redefine”.

  5. Henry Darger says

    Them comparing themselves to MLK or Bonhoeffer is like all those crank theorists who compare themselves to Galileo.

    • The Bonhoeffer reference is the scary one, because it implies a moral obligation to engage in…how do I put this politely…regime change. This will be the justification for their saber-rattling about civil war…and worse. This is not a well-founded Merika-loving, intelligent argument; it is shear madness. As I said before, it is very thinly veiled violent extortion (give us what we want, or else).

      It goes back to Franky Schaeffer and his father. Read “Christian Manifesto”. Pay close attention to references to reformation-motivated violence and Bonhoeffer. The Schaeffers wrote the playbook for what’s coming next. Don’t for a second assume those threatening a violent response are just kidding.

      • African nations like Zimbabwe are finally breaking free of their endless cycles of politics by revolution and coup, and the United States is about embrace politics-by-violence as some sort of Constitutionally-sanctioned safety valve. Once might-makes-right becomes the norm, it will be difficult to reverse.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          As Jordan179 put it,
          “You can never have Just One Coup.”

          And the Game of Thrones begins…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        The Bonhoeffer reference is the scary one, because it implies a moral obligation to engage in…how do I put this politely…regime change. This will be the justification for their saber-rattling about civil war…and worse. This is not a well-founded Merika-loving, intelligent argument; it is shear madness.

        And their response to that?
        “GOD WILLS IT!!!!!”

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Evangelicals use Karl Marx as a boogey man in nearly every third paragraph – but are completely unaware of the deep irony – that they sound more and more Hegelian with every season. And they rattle their sabers with impunity – and little response from the, according to them, evil state. Much like Marx fleeing Germany where his political views were, actually, persecuted… to England where he regularly sat in the public library writing his political treatise concerning the evils of western society and capitalism. He seems to have been completely oblivious to the irony of safely composing his Hegelian masterpiece in a library in a detestably democratic nation.

        Evangelicals should study Marx – at least his life – they would benefit from it.

        How much human suffering could have been avoided if humans were only more aware of our own ironies? If we were better at taking a step back, and having a good laugh.

      • that Bonhoeffer reference really is scary…it’s one thing if a national stands up to another national who is systematically murdering and enslaving others. but to stand up to a leader or leaders who are putting policies in place that you don’t like but aren’t actually enslaving or murdering others…that’s scary.

        but it could be so, so much worse. i hope Jesus returns to put a stop to the madness before people start using Bonhoeffer as an excuse to take physical action against abortionists…

        • I wish I could find the quote from Randal Terry after a particularly heinous abortion clinic shooting during the nineties. He basically said yes, but what about the babies killed in the clinic everyday? We’ve already been here before. The church was silent then; I expect the same now. Are conservatives going to harass court justices in their homes and threaten their families, like they did to abortion doctors in the nineties? The madness needs to stop.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        The Bonhoeffer reference is the scary one, because it implies a moral obligation to engage in…how do I put this politely…regime change. This will be the justification for their saber-rattling about civil war…and worse.

        Remember that Congressional impasse a couple years ago? Where there was Govt Shutdown du Jour and nobody budged an inch?

        Remember who was calling for a Military Takeover as The Solution?
        Hint: It was being called for the loudest from pulpits. The same pulpits that once preached (while Focusing on Family) about how it was so Wonderful and God’s Handiwork that since Vietnam so much of the military were now BABBECs (Born-Again Bible-Believing Evangelical Christians).
        Notice a pattern here? (At least in the minds of the pulpit-pounders…)

  6. CM, I’ve been saying you need a book deal since we met up for brunch. I am so excited to hear about this. I will most certainly buy 10 copies to give to all my friends. Do you worst! We will all most certainly be better for it.

    FWIW, there is a member of the congregation I currently serve who says that Spencer’s book is the only reason she’s even here (in church). She is a leader in our choir’s alto section, and her son who just graduated High School is a pillar in our youth band (sings in the bass section too, but you should hear him rock the timpani).

    You might have no idea how much your writing is a blessing to so many others. Even those of us who think your’e a liberal heretic! Traffic stats may say one thing, but the effect you have on individual readers IRL can not be quantified. You know my story, but it is hardly the tip of the iceberg. Write your heart out!

  7. Robert F says

    Civil disobedience? Do they intend to picket the weddings of same-sex couples? Or chain themselves to the doors of churches, chapels and government offices where same-sex marriages might be conducted? There’s an ominous edge to this threat that makes it more than a little frightening.

    What is it they would be protesting? Do they think the Supreme Court is on the cusp of ordering them to divorce their current mates and marry a person of the same sex? Why is it so hard for them to “live and let live”?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      “””Do they intend to picket the weddings of same-sex couples?”””

      Does the sun rise in the east? I think you can count on that one, it is nearly as certain.

      “”” There’s an ominous edge to this threat”””

      On the upside, in many districts, this will push political candidates back towards the center – to avoid being seen as affiliated with this kind of thing. I see a bright shining silver lining here. I hope these groups go big-and-loud. The bigger and louder they go on something like that the sooner it will be over.

      • Yes. I’m with you on that too. Let them make big public displays of “righteous indignation” – I’m even tempted to encourage it. Meanwhile I know a whole lot of marriage traditionalists who will keep on humbly living their lives, getting married to the opposite sex, having children and raising God-fearing families, giving an answer for their faith when called upon to do so, serving whomever shows up at the door, but otherwise leading normal, harassment-free lives…

        • Brianthedad says

          The world’s been going to hell in a hand basket since Adam. We can’t run around chicken littleish all the time. What do we fear? I’m with you. I plan to try to do as you write in the latter part of your comment.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Let them make big public displays of “righteous indignation” …

          After all, Fred Phelps isn’t around to do it for them.

          And that;s what they’re going to look like — “We Are All Fred Phelps! GAWD Hates Fags!”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “””Do they intend to picket the weddings of same-sex couples?”””

        Does the sun rise in the east? I think you can count on that one, it is nearly as certain.

        Fred Phelps: A man ahead of his time.

        While pastors’ widows still have to eat out of dumpsters.

    • The Atlantic had an article recently detailing the prospects of conservative civil disobedience on this matter, and how it would likely backfire on them…


    • Marcus Johnson says

      I think they’re going to defiantly resist all those marriages which no same-sex couple or government agency would order them to officiate.

      • It seems like the clergymen that I am Facebook friends with seem to be just itchin’ for somebody to try to make them officiate at a same sex wedding so they can stand up to them. They are starting to look like a screaming toddler that no one is paying attention to so they are screaming louder.

        • Clay Crouch says

          I would like to see credible legal claims (yes, I know Scalia’s arguments) that all ministers will be forced to perform same sex marriages. I think that is just a scare tactic to gin up opposition from the uninformed church member.

          • Clay, I don’t believe it IS a scare tactic. Once an institution is enshrined in law then any ambitious D.A., or other legal advocacy group, can bring charges against someone who does not believe the party line. They don’t necessarily have to be successful in their attempt because the intimidation and legal costs will act as a coercive force to cow opponents into submission.

            You can see this today with government departments such as the EPA, IRS, ICE, etc. Because they are the controlling parties they can do as they please unless legally restrained by court order (expensive) or legislation (HIGHLY unlikely).

            But if you believe that those who hold the power are basically benevolent, well…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            “Those who hold the power” ARE basically benevolent —
            As long as all their enemies are the same as mine!

      • That Other Jean says

        I think there is a great deal of (deliberate) confusion over marriage as a legal contract and marriage as a sacrament. Nobody has, and despite Oscar’s comment in this thread, nobody will force clergypersons to perform weddings contrary to their beliefs. That’s what the separation of Church and State is about, after all. I can find no reasons, for myself, why same-sex couples should not have the same legal protections in marriage as my husband and I do, and I hope the Supreme Court will recognize them. As for religious recognition, I’m willing to leave that to the consciences of the couple and their clergy..

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          But as pointed out above, no-life Activists whose Activism For The Cause IS their entire life WILL throw their weight around HARD — “We’re the Winning Side Now!”

          And ambitious DAs will always jump at a chance for a high-profile Juicy Popular prosecution to kick-start their career plans — first High-Profile Celebrity DA, then State Attorney General, then Governor’s Mansion, then finally — The White House!

        • If a minister/church wants the tax benefits, they should be forced to perform civil ceremonies, or at least be fully open to doing them if forced were to have a different meaning than “coerced”.

          But *marriages, as defined within the Christian tradition or their version of it…absolutely not.

          There’s a difference. And we’re muddling definitions with our words.

        • Patrick Kyle says

          There is talk in some quarters of the LCMS to give up doing marriage ceremonies at all, and have members get married by the Justice of the Peace. Later they can offer a solemnizing/blessing ceremony to those church members who wish it.

    • Clay Crouch says

      Will conservative Christians participate in real civil disobedience? The true believers and those fleecing the flocks to save America and Jesus from destruction will. I figure the rest, like most middle class families, are too busy dragging their kids every day to practice to recitals to sporting events to church on Sunday night, to youth group on Wednesday night, to lock-ins on Friday night, then up early on Saturday to crisscross the state for even more weekend sports activities. I also wonder how many are willing to bear the expense of a criminal prosecution and face the real risk of a criminal record.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        i.e. The rest of us Have Lives.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        I know that reading your comment makes be grateful, again, to not have children. Whew, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

        “””I also wonder how many are willing to bear the expense of a criminal prosecution”””

        Yep. Was at a lecture a few months ago by a former NSA director – his statement: “If you want to make a people peaceable, make them middle class. Middle-class people don’t loot and riot.”

        I thought to myself: it is even more effective if you dangle wealth in front of them and convince them to get some of that on credit. Then calmly remind them that they will loose everything if they are unemployed for even a few months. There you go – peace!

      • No they’d just rather get off on the pent up frustration and hostility they are fed at church each week and bring it back home to their lawfully willfully submitting and readily available wife.

    • My question as well. I get the feeling sometimes they’re just “looking” for a fight and that kind of stance is only going to make their position less inviting or socially bearable and the subsequent “persecution” will be self-inflicted… Just to be clear, I’m a traditionalist on sexual standards/ethics, but I do disagree with these cultural warrior’s way of confronting popular culture. It’s so self-defeating and often not Christ-like, yet they keep digging in and digging in. I wish someone with the public clout in their midst would help them see this. (And that’s the direction I wish Campolo would have taken)
      Question: Is there any traditionalist out there who is standing up and saying this political/judicial us vs them isn’t the right way, while still retaining trad sexual morals?

      And finally, where were these guys when divorce was being made so easy or any number of equally (or more) damaging to “traditional marriage” issues were being debated? I shouldn’t be amazed, but why some people pick this hill to die on or why they so deeply fear losing their current political/civil place or why they think “losing” america is the end of the world is beyond me, especially considering their claims to follow Christ (which according to Jesus/the Gospel, such losses are to be expected, even welcomed!) I have to wonder who or what they really serve. Is it Jesus or their place in society? Is it Jesus or americanism?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Question: Is there any traditionalist out there who is standing up and saying this political/judicial us vs them isn’t the right way, while still retaining trad sexual morals?

        Not while the rules of Power Struggle are still in effect.

        “The Game of Thrones — You Win Or You Die”, nothing in-between.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        “And that’s the direction I wish Campolo would have taken”

        Perhaps he realizes it is pointless.

    • Civil disobedience means that if told to perform gay marriages, they won’t do it. Or if forced to hire a transgender minister they won’t comply. You don’t have to agree with opponents of gay marriage to recognize that making it the law of the land can have devastating consequences for the church. On some college campuses, Christian groups are not recognized anymore because they won’t allow members of other faiths to hold leadership positions. How long before local ordinances and city laws are used to force churches and Christian schools to do the same because of sexual orientation or sexual identity? I sad that this page appears to have no readers who understand the peril.

      • This is simply fear-mongering. Ministers will not be forced to conduct these kinds of ceremonies. But the thing to remember is that marriage is NOT a religious institution. A marriage ceremony in a church may solemnize the occasion but you still have to go downtown and get that piece of paper. That’s what makes you married and that’s what the SC is deciding. Whether or not a gay couple can go downtown and get that piece of paper.

      • Monkfan, I DO! You are not alone. Unfortunately many people just tire of the constant drumbeat of a particular subject so they just metaphorically say “Just shut UP and leave me alone!” That is what passes for discourse.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        First, it’s worth pointing out that pastors don’t “perform marriages”; they officiate weddings. It’s a pretty important distinction to make, unless you’re going into one of those relationships in which the pastor climbs into bed with you.

        Second, where is this fear pastors have of being forced to officiate weddings which they don’t approve come from? Can anyone tell me of a same-sex couple who is so masochistic that they would want to exchange vows while a pastor who doesn’t approve of their union glares at them with condemnation? I’ve been to enough weddings to know that most couples only want people in the venue for their marriage ceremony who want to be there, pastors included. Of course, maybe I’m wrong, and you folks know of someone who wants the church packed to the gills with their worst enemies. Maybe follow that up with a George R.R. Martin-esque massacre at the reception?

        • Rick Ro. says

          Exactly. If you’re gay, why get married at Westboro Baptist? There will be plenty of folks willing to help a gay couple celebrate this union without going some place that hates you.

        • Marcus, they don’t HAVE to have a minister “glaring” at them while officiating the ceremony. All they have to do is to ask a minister, have him say “no” and then a lawsuit may commence. And who would actually do it? There are plenty of people with axes to grind, on BOTH sides, and all it takes is one to start the ball rolling.

          The famous Florist incident occurred AFTER the couple walked away and then considered a lawsuit after speaking with others. There are plenty of activists who could enlist the help of prospective newlyweds in order to push their agenda. I’m not saying that it is a slam-dunk to happen, just that it IS possible, and the consequences would be far ranging.

          Personally, I’d like to see language proposed that would separate the actual ceremony from the state licensing process. Right now I believe that the presiding minister must sign the license before it is submited for recording. If THAT is the case then we may have a problem.

          • Marcus Johnson says

            I’d be more than happy to see the actual ceremony separated from the state licensing program. That would render this entire argument moot, as couples would have the necessary state protections that marriage affords, and churches/pastors wouldn’t have to violate their convictions.

            However, judicial action is usually quite well known for not taking into consideration what-ifs. The Miranda decision freed a rapist and murderer. The current King v. Burwell case, currently at the Supreme Court, could possibly result in millions of people losing insurance (the quality of which is so-so, in my experience, but that’s another discussion). Those cases, and many more like them, have had more obvious, more predictable, and more dire consequences than the prospect of having to officiate a wedding that violates a person’s convictions. Somehow, we’ve still been able to keep people in jail despite Miranda, though, and if the ACA gets overturned, we’ll figure out how to get folks health insurance. With state legislatures becoming both more conservative and creative (at least, in the Midwest), I still can’t validate this concern.

          • Donalbain says

            A Catholic priest can currently refuse to marry people who Hindus and not be liable for any legal action. What makes you imagine that it will be any different if he refuses to marry a gay couple?

          • Donal, I think those concerned just aren’t familiar with law. There may be plenty of good reasons to resist redefining marriage at the SCOTUS level, but this isn’t one of them.

      • A couple of points.

        1) I remain suspicious of the argument that ministers will be forced to perform marriages they don’t want to perform. Doesn’t the RCC decline to marry divorced people ALL THE TIME? I’ve never heard of a lawsuit being brought against them for it. Like Oscar, however, I can indeed imagine nuisance lawsuits being brought by gay couples against ministers — with all the headaches that would entail for the defendant. But it’s hard to see how they’d prevail. Would the minister have to come over to their house for the ceremony? Would they get to use the church building for the service? Could the minister agree to do it, but only for, say, a suddenly nominal $1,000,000 fee? Etc., etc.

        2) None of this would matter if ministers just STOPPED ACTING AS STATE OFFICIALS. Long ago, the state decided not to have anything to do with ordinations or baptisms, but for reasons of inertia, the same is not true of marriage. Churches can and should keep their own definitions. Here’s an excellent post and discussion on this idea from Baptist theologian Roger Olson:


        3) Religious student groups on campus nearly always constitute themselves within Student Government guidelines. Why they do so is beyond me. Because SGA participation opens doors to baseline budget funding, they put themselves on the hook. Here’s a better idea: STOP TAKING THE MONEY AND WORK OUTSIDE THE SYSTEM ALTOGETHER. If the university has an open policy of letting groups use its facilities for meeting, this should generally include religious groups. If it were a state university and failed to be so accommodating, I’d be upset then. But I’m not upset that Christian groups receiving general funding find themselves having to play by rules they don’t like. Stop playing the game.

        Friends, it’s really simple: Christians shouldn’t take government money and shouldn’t be acting as the state’s agents by default.

        • Brianthedad says

          True. Same goes for 501c3 groups. While I appreciate the furor over government hassling of groups in the news recently, none of this would matter if they just said what they intended to say outside of the 501c3 process. Is what you’re saying important? Say it. If others agree, they will support it outside of a tax exemption. If what you say is only important if you get a tax exemption, how important is it? The govt typically only gets in your business, per se, when you have your hand out for a tax exemption. Otherwise, people are free to say whatever they want. Do away with that whole thing.

        • Robert F says

          Yes, if you ask for the exemption, you already are playing the game.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            And if you get Uppity, you could lose all those tax-exemption benefits.

            Voila! Peace & Quiet.

        • Robert F says

          And, yes, the churches should stop acting as agents of the state by officiating marriages. Let the state look to its own business, and pay its employees a little overtime to absorb that influx of couples needing to get hitched at the courthouse rather than the church. I think this is the way to go no matter what side of the same-sex marriage issue you are on. Olson’s idea are great.

          • Dana Ames says

            At least one Orthodox priest has told his congregation that he will not require a government marriage certificate for couples wanting to be married in the Church, but neither will he sign one. This makes de facto the European way of doing things: you go to the County and get a civil union with the papers signed for the government entity, then you go to your faith community for a religious ceremony if you want one.


        • Pushback to Roger Olson with the civil vs covenant marriages:

          So if you switch denominations, can they officially not recognize your “covenant” marriage and insist that to be a member you must be re-married under their “dual covenant”, “white covenant”, “biblical covenant”, “5 pt covenant”, “spirit-annointed covenant”, etc, version of marriage?

          Oh, you just have a civil marriage? What, do you hate Jesus? Why don’t you obey his word and receive a covenant marriage? I see no reason why you shouldn’t come forward, repent, and we’ll restore you into a covenant marriage. Then you won’t be living in sin, and you can be a member, and you can serve in our sunday school classes…

          • Just as I am without one plea…

          • StuartB,

            I encourage you to read Olson’s post if you haven’t already. Similar questions are discussed in the excellent comments section. The short answer to your question about whether switching denominations means they can refuse to recognize your marriage, however, is: “Yes.” This is already the case for baptism, ordination, and general membership. Why not marriages? (For example, some hard-nosed Russian Orthodox priests sometimes require couples who convert to sacramentalize their marriages — though this isn’t standard practice throughout EO as I’ve observed it.)

            But you bring up an interesting discussion as devil’s advocate: Does only having have a civil marriage mean you’re living in sin? What if your civil-union spouse has no interest in joining the church so that regularizing the marriage in the eyes of the church is not an option? These are thorny questions that would probably be partially resolved by appealing to Paul’s Corinthian advice to basically just stick with the (civil) marriage you’re in. But these are perfectly valid question you’re raising.

            That said, I think Olson’s main contribution here is to remind churches that they are — or should not let themselves be — under any obligation to accept the state’s definition of marriage any more than they are of ordinations or baptisms. If this makes life more complicated due to cases like you bring up, so be it. Better to deal with those questions on their own terms than on the state’s.

      • MonkFan, respectfully… then how do the Amish survive? (And thrive btw – they double/quadruple in numbers every generation) How come they’re still driving horse and buggies all over my county’s roads – and have their own schools, etc. Respectfully again, but a lot of american christians need to grow some spine…seriously. If you think being denied on a college campus is a hardship try living everyday without electricity and a car and phones… You and Oscar can have your fear fest.
        I’m Not Afraid. Jesus Christ still sits on His throne and His Church will prevail – forever. Bring on the gay marriage or worse. I’m Not Afraid.

        • Robert F says

          I agree with your rejection of the fear-mongering. But the Amish have stood their ground and kept their way of life as close-knit, subcultural communities, not as heroic individuals, and there has been very little “I’m Not Afraid” in it. Part of the price they pay is the surrender of the development of individuality to the needs of the group; I daresay most of us would find some of it quite cult-like and controlling. I’m not sure the rest of the Church should take this as a model for how to arrange its life; Village Church-like debacles and scandals would spread like wild mushrooms overnight.

          • Robert, i would be caustious re. the Amish. One thing their cultural isolation allows (unchecked) is pedophilia and other sexual abuse, especially of girls by their brothers and cousins. PA has has a number of high-profile cases in recent years, as have OH and, i believe, IN. in one case in Western PA, a little girl had all of her teeth forcibly removed by an Amish “dentist” in order to prevent her from speaking out. The women in the family were complivit.

            Because the Amish fo not participate in civil govetnment, these kinds of cases are in the hands of the local Amish churches, for the most part. You can imagine how well *that* works out…

            Similar dynamics were at work re. academic John Howard Yoder’s decades-long sexual predation. The women – mostly Mennonites – were told to shut up and let the church handle it. Which meant, badically, that Yoder got a free pass to keep abusing his students.

            It’s only bern within the past 7-10 years that women from these traditions have begun to find their voices, and to be heard. Re. pedophilis, i am sure many boys have bern/are being victimized, but the shame involved in speaking out – against family members, no less – must bea soul-crushing burden.

            There is so much more going on in many of these communities than individual identity being subsumed, though thst is one of many reasons that sexual abuse can run unchecked. Another is the patriarchalism in Amish society, as well as in conservative Mennonite and Church of the Brethren circles.

            By no means am i saying that this is something going on in all Amish families, but i believe it is far more prevalent than anyone who is outside that subculture knows.

          • Robert F says

            I agree with you entirely, numo. That’s what I meant to convey in my comment. The insularity, and secrecy, of the inner-workings of Amish/Mennonite communities is not something the rest of the Church wants to emulate; it’s not different from what the Village Church and other are trying to pull off with their covenants.

          • I want to be very clear about the pedophilia issue: fathers and grandfathers are common predators in Amish society.

            If you do some Googling, you will find plenty on the Amish cases that have come to light, as well as on John Howard Yoder and the cost of speaking out vs. keeping silent. The internet has bern a godsend for many conservative Mennonite women, and Amish communities are drawing more scrutiny (though doubtless not nearly enough) due to the reporting on some of these cases.

          • The thing is, abuse is pervasive in many churches, as well as in Hasidic communities, etc. You don’t have to be Amish, but they are more easily able to kerp doing it and enabling abusers than most.

            I think one of yhe keys is that authoritarian, patriarvhal groups – as with TVC – are enablers, regardless of stated beliefs.

          • Robert, all fair points and things that I’m aware of and not condoning. I was trying to get at the point that Trevis made in a better way. Ie, there’s a way to do life and faith without a gov/state/society stamp of approval and thrive at doing so. I see the Amish/conservative Mennos being able to do that. I see the right-wing, cultural warrior evangelicals seemingly unable to do that, mostly of their own choosing. They seem unable to think outside the box and graciously accept life as it comes at them. Instead it is fear, anger, bitterness, revenge, fight!… and even though I’m a traditionalist in many areas, including marriage, I won’t be able to side with that attitude or the actions it might inspire.

          • Robert F says

            I get you, Andrew, and I’m not trying to be critical. But I’m not sure, given the things that numo’s comments enumerate and that I glancingly referred to, that the conservative Amish/Mennonites have really been successful in this endeavor, nor do I think other conservative Christians should emulate them. I think more creativity will be needed, and that secrecy and insularity must be avoided at all costs; in the shadows, ugly things grow, as numo’s comments illustrate.

          • Robert F says

            numo, When I first learned about John Howard Yoder’s secret life a few years ago, it was a real shocker. Up until that time I had been impressed by his theology, but the revelations made me doubt the value of his work.

          • Robert, I was shocked about Yoder at 1st, but his story is depressingly familiar now, if only because I knew profs who were like him when I was a young woman in undergrad….

            As for the patriarchal nature of the conservative German anabaptist churches, well… it’s very real. I know a man up here who left the Church of the Brethren (his family background) mainly due to the way they treated – still treat – women. He has two daughters.

          • Want to reiterate that by no means do I think everything is bad re. German anabaptist churches or the people who are part of them – but that said, abuses are abuses and need to stop.

        • Andrew, it’s NOT a “fear fest”, that is a mischaracterization of my concerns. I’m thinking about what is POSSIBLE, judging by events that have occurred in areas OTHER than marriage.

          For instance, when Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act they did so with good intent. But what ended up happening is that some ruthless people (attorney types) began surveying local businesses for infractions and then filing suit in court. The way the law was set up was that the aggrieved would automatically received $10,000 from the accused BEFORE any corrections were done. So the poor business owner was never given a chance to correct the infraction before he was penalized. He was penalized AND had to make the construction changes, usually costing thousands of dollars. I KNOW that this is true because part of my job is helping businesses meet the ADA standards.

          This is the kind of issue that I am conceerned about. If it is possible, then it WILL happen!

          • Andrew Zook says

            And I will say, so what – society and business have learned to adjust to ADA – it’s hardly an afterthought now… and someday the christian org at some university who got kicked out for wanting their cake (unrestricted autonomy) and eating it too (university funding) will still be existing in some other form, will get together, worship together, who knows what and they’ll have forgotten what life was like before the “persecution”… and no they won’t be sitting in some cell or prison camp/gulag. I still don’t understand the hysteria… I just really don’t.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        “How long before local ordinances and city laws are used to force churches and Christian schools to do the same because of sexual orientation or sexual identity”

        A very long time, probably never. A University is not a municipality. Religious institutions already have long standing and well established protections regarding hiring. There is no there there, there is not slippery slope, this argument compares legal apples to oranges.

        • WRONG Adam. Technically you MAY be correct, but that does not preclude lawsuits from being filed. Once the process begins then only attorneys profit and those least able to pay for legal protection are the ones who pay.

          You have much too much faith in the legal profession.

      • Rick Ro. says

        No peril. There will be plenty of people and clergy willing to marry a gay couple. Hopefully a gay couple will have sense enough to go to someone who is willing to marry them and help them celebrate their union than go to a church/pastor who isn’t. I mean, if you were gay would you get married at Westboro Baptist? I think not.

    • They threatening much more than picketing,

  8. Adam Tauno Williams says

    I have heard rumors that Jurassic World has not only dinosaurs [awesome!] but decent writing, a coherent plot arc, and solid characters. Can it be true? I am looking forward to this one.

    • petrushka1611 says

      It was terrific – better than I’d even hoped it would be.

    • Weak on character development, especially the kids. But who cares? It is entertaining!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        In an Event or Milieu-driven story, it’s enough for Characterization to play a supporting role.

        You saw that all the time in classic pulp.

    • That Other Jean says

      I have read one review, by paleontologists, that they were disappointed by fact that the movie, unlike “Jurassic Park,” failed to incorporate the latest knowledge regarding the actual appearance of dinosaurs,missing a great opportunity for teaching and fantastic visuals. It read, in part, “No feathers.”

      • petrushka1611 says

        And the velociraptor (picture, of course) I saw with feathers was FAR more nightmarish than the raptors in JW. But, I suppose to change their appearance would be like changing directors and lead actors for sequels, I suppose.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I think that’s the actual reason.
          They’ve established a Jurassic Park Franchise look for their dinos.

  9. “Access [to the ark] may be canceled due to inclement weather” — Seriously? Do these people even hear themselves?

  10. MelissatheRagamuffin says

    The Catholic church around the corner from us is very well attended for all of it’s Sunday morning services. Judging from the people I see milling around on Sunday morning, they have a good mix of all ages too. The Catholic church I used to go to in Exton was always packed for the 7:30 am Mass, I can’t imagine that the later services weren’t just as well attended.

  11. Marcus Johnson says

    The Ark Project will also be headed by a construction-management team with a LEED-certified staff. It will also be outfitted with solar panels, “passive solar, geothermal, water, and wind technologies,” and “some other innovative and sustainable technologies.” You know, just like the original Ark.

    Gotta give it to them for going green (which, apparently, they refer to as “non-conventional”). The only way they could be anymore environmentally-conscious would be if they, you know, didn’t waste tons of resources, manpower, and funding to affirm the historicity of a story that people are perfectly fine with either taking on faith or assuming as a myth. But you can’t make everyone happy, can you?

    • But think of all the millions/billions of people that will come to faith by a mere glimpse at the reconstruction of a giant ship. Think of all the powerful and life-changing testimonies it will lead to. Are you unaware that it’s not the kindness of God that leads us to repentance, but the historicity of the ark? Look no further than Christ himself. After all, rather than wasting his time and resources serving others, He saw it as his mission to compel people to acknowledge and defend the literalism of Noah’s ark. THAT is how you demonstrate the love of God to a world in need.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        But think of all the millions/billions of people that will come to faith by a mere glimpse at the reconstruction of a giant ship. Think of all the powerful and life-changing testimonies it will lead to.

        Think of all the SOULS(TM) who will be SAVED(TM) by It’s WITNESS(TM).

        “But if even One SOUL(TM) Was SAVED(TM)…”
        — Mike Warnke fanboys after Warnke was exposed as a total fraud

      • And to think Ken Ham is supposed to be the smart one…

  12. IndianaMike says

    Mom works hard to sell the Mary Kay and the boys get to take the car to the beach without her.

  13. Clay Crouch says

    CM, congratulations on your upcoming book. Have you sold it or will you self-pub?

  14. Chaplain Mike I saw LOVE AND MERCY and it’s indeed terrific! Everybody is good in it and it has a thoughtful, literate script.

    Biggest disappointment of the summer has been TOMORROWLAND which had some good ideas but was spoiled for me by the incoherent plot.

    There is some controversy about JURASSIC WORLD from actual paleontologists because apparently the depiction of the dinosaurs is 50 years out of date. Where are the feathers?

    • That Other Jean says

      That’ll teach me to read through the comments before I post. I saw, and commented on, the same review. Sorry.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      “controversy [among] paleontologists” Wait, what??? sorry, I dozed off. 🙂 Look – dinosaurs!

  15. We saw Spy the other weekend and loved it. A spoof on the James Bond genre, it’s fun while also having a female lead that actually develops over the course of the movie. If you’re not the fan of the f_bomb and some female cattyness, avoid, but otherwise enjoy!

  16. *yawn*
    I think the Solidarity in Defense of Annoyingly Long and Clunky Titles Regarding Our Current Pet Social Project people would get more traction if they toned down their rhetoric. I mean, ‘Bonhoeffer moment’? Really? I guess I missed the part where SCOTUS was gassing Jews. I am entirely unclear about the purpose of the franticness and why this social/political issue is so important to some. It seems to me that the Bible is chock-full of social/political issues for us to worry about without inventing new ones.

    • Nobody in those circles ever seems to notice that Canada, which has had same-sex marriage for nearly 10 years now, hasn’t fallen to pieces…

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Do you spend much time with Advocate types? I do [although not that kind]. Trying to explain that you’ll make more progress toward your goal with an imperfect moderate incremental agenda….

      This is “The Sin Of The Advocate”: perfection is made the enemy of the good – ‘go big or go home’.

      Some days nobody can be more exasperating than people you agree with.

      “When you hold a gun, point it down, and fire; you end up not walking very far.” – unknown

  17. Dana Ames says

    The only movie I’m looking forward to seeing is “Love and Mercy.”

    Chaplain MIke, glad to hear about the book, and that Jeff is involved. Good deal.


  18. Robert F says

    “Love and Mercy” may be a great film; I haven’t seen it. But no film could ever possibly compete with the brilliance of “Eraserhead”:


  19. I love the new banners which will soon be here! Thanks, Michael Buckley.

  20. The pledge has a respectable level of ecumenical diversity in its signatories. Cathodox, Fundagelicals, Jews, Pentecostals, and Mexicans. Kind of warms your heart, like a “let’s all get together, hold hands, and get along” moments. Perhaps I’ll even read the thing.

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