January 22, 2021

Saturday Ramblings: October 3, 2015

Now that the Pope finally went home, we can pull out the '57 Rebel again.

Now that the Pope has finally gone home, we can pull out the ’57 Rebel and ramble. Here we go!

• • •

Ramblers-Logo36But as we go, we have to get in one more parting shot at Congress . . .


Ramblers-Logo36Oh sorry, I forgot, there’s more about the Pope — the Kim Davis story . . .

Earlier this week, the Kentucky county clerk announced that she and her husband met briefly with the pope at the Vatican’s nunciature in Washington and that he thanked her for her courage and encouraged her to “stay strong. “Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything,” she told ABC.

However, at the end of the week the Vatican issued a statement that made clear the pope intended no such validation. Rev. Federico Lombardi said Francis met with “several dozen” people at the Vatican’s embassy in Washington just before leaving for New York. Lombardi said such meetings are normal on any Vatican trip and are due to the pope’s “kindness and availability.”

The Vatican also confirmed that the Pope only had one “audience” while he was in Washington. Pope Francis met with a former student, Yayo Grassi, an openly gay Argentine who visited Francis with his longtime partner and some friends.


Ramblers-Logo36Okay, okay, just one more . . .


Ramblers-Logo36Now, let’s get to some news you can use . . . well maybe in a hundred years or so when you become one of the astronauts who travels to Mars. NASA said they have their best evidence yet that there is water on the red planet.

We’re talking about liquid water on the daggone surface, folks, not in subsurface oceans, or scattered around as vapor in the atmosphere. Mars, said NASA spokesperson Lujendra Ojha, is the only place where we have solid evidence for liquid that sits right there in the open air.

This leads to a couple of intriguing possibilities: (1) that there might actually be some forms of microbial life on Mars; (2) when we finally get our stuff together to send an expedition there, they might have a way of having water available for the crew. “If we ever go there, we could probably utilize this. We wouldn’t have to bring tons of water,” Ojha said. “This stuff seems like science fiction, but in 100 years or so it could be fact.”

No Martian life was harmed in taking this picture.

No Martian life was harmed in taking this picture.

Ramblers-Logo36Cubs in the playoffs! Cubs in the playoffs! 

Gail and I sat in the rain and waited two and a half hours to see the Cubs beat the hapless Cincinnati Reds (sorry Jeff, I’ve been waiting years to say that) on Tuesday night. The Cubs will be in the NL Wild Card game against the evil Pittsburgh Pirates next Wednesday. This chaplain is seriously considering hopping in the Rambler and driving to Steeltown to see them play.

As I write these words, however, there is the slightest of chances that the game could be played in Chicago. In order for that to happen, the remarkably talented and beloved Cincinnati Reds will have to beat the Pirates this weekend and the Cubs will have to win their games against the Milwaukee Brewers.

I’m not holding my breath, but if there’s a God in heaven, he knows that the Rambler already knows the way to Chicago . . .

Cubs score against the Reds on Tuesday

Cubs score against the Reds on Tuesday

Ramblers-Logo36I guess Billy Graham doesn’t read Internet Monk. If he did, he might not be so quick to pronounce eternal doom with such certainty in his latest book.

In Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond, Graham declares that non-Christians are doomed to live in a fiery hell. “Hell is a burning inferno,” Graham writes. “I can say with certainty that if there is no literal fire in Hell, then God is using symbolic language to indicate something far worse,” proclaims the famous evangelist. “Just as there are no words to adequately describe the grand beauty of Heaven, we cannot begin to imagine just how horrible the place called Hell is.”

Here are some more of his pronouncements on the subject:

You may be thinking, ‘Billy surely you do not believe all of this Hellfire and brimstone!’ My dear friends, it is not what I say that counts; it is what the Word of God says.

The worst kind of death is described in Scripture — unending death in a lake of fire and brimstone that burns forever. Just as we cannot fathom the wonder of living forever in glory, we cannot possibly comprehend the alternative.

Every person who rejects Christ and His atoning work will be cast into this horrible pit of despair. Worse will be to remember that it was by choice — that God called you to salvation but you rejected His wonderful gift. God does not send unrepentant souls into the pit of darkness; those souls choose their destiny. You’ve heard the saying, ‘They aren’t living; they are just existing!’ There will be ‘no purposeful living’ in Hell, just an existence beyond all misery.

You may wonder what Hell is really like. Don’t look to comedians for answers. The Bible tells you the truth. Hell is a place of sorrow and unrest, a place of wailing and a furnace of fire; a place of torment, a place of outer darkness, a place where people scream for mercy; a place of everlasting punishment.

Ramblers-Logo36On a gentler note . . .

The U.S. Postal Service dedicated the Charlie Brown Christmas Forever stamps on Oct. 1, to mark the beginning of the holiday mailing season. The booklet of 20 stamps features still frames from the 1965 TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” celebrating the classic’s 50th anniversary. The. Best. Ever.

This is such good news that it almost puts me in the holiday spirit now.

And I haven’t even begun to think about our annual Michael Spencer Halloween post yet.


Ramblers-Logo36I’ve known a lot of people over the years who think Dr. David Jeremiah is a pretty good evangelical good Bible teacher. Jeremiah, pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, a megachurch in El Cajon, California, and voice of the Turning Point television and radio broadcast.

Well, he didn’t get this from the Bible, that’s for sure.

Jeremiah joined with what one source called “an odd mishmash of religious folk” at Donald Trump’s New York office to lay their hands on him and pray for success in his presidential bid. Along with Jeremiah, the group included Robert Jeffress (First Baptist, Dallas), Darrell Scott (New Spirit Revival Center, Cleveland), Kenneth Copeland, Paula White and Jan Crouch (charismatic televangelists), and Rabbi Kirt Schneider (Jews for Jesus).

Here’s a link to the YouTube video. To be honest, I couldn’t stomach the idea of watching it.


Here is a report of what Dr. Jeremiah prayed as the group gathered around the Donald:

“Today we pray for Donald Trump. We pray for his family. We pray for his associates. We pray that what he has heard today from those who have spoken into his life, he will consider. Lord I pray you will bring into his life a strong African-American who can stand with him and represent that community so that his voice can be heard even in a stronger way there,” declared Jeremiah.

Shortly before making that request of God he noted that Trump “not only says what he believes but is willing to put himself in jeopardy for what he believes and will help us economically and spiritually in every way in this nation.”

After asking God to give Trump hope and direction, he noted, “Lord thank you for allowing us to be here for this special moment. Perhaps we’ll look back on this day and remember that we stood together and we prayed over the next president of the United States.”

Silly me. And I thought studying and teaching the Bible brought wisdom.


Finally, twenty six years ago this week, on Sept. 30, 1989 Neil Young appeared on Saturday Night Live and delivered one of the most intense live television music performances ever, an incendiary version of “Rockin’ In The Free World.”

The performance made the 25th SNL Anniversary list of all-time best musical guest appearances.

Here is rock-n-roll at its anarchic, chaotic, undomesticated best.


  1. 🙂

  2. “…if there is no literal fire in Hell, then God is using symbolic language to indicate something far worse,”

    Like, spending eternity in heaven with Donald Trump? Uh…Yay… Maybe he and Mark Driscoll can spend eternity battling each other in the heavenly octagon. That might be worth the trip.

  3. Regarding Pope Francis – I got a chance to attend the Festival of Families and the Papal Mass in Philadelphia last week… one of the amazing things I noticed was how quiet close to a million people gathered together can get… specifically right before the opening prayer. It was something to witness….

  4. there’s more to the picture
    than meets the eye
    Rock and roll can never die…

  5. Re: Flowing surface water on Mars, and it’s possibilities of harboring microscopic life and providing water for future missions to Mars: Doesn’t the high level of surface radioactivity on Mars make both of these things unlikely?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yes, very unlikely. The radiation on Mars is a serious problem for surface life – as well as for human explorers.

      • If this is so, as I learned for the first time in a conversation this past week with someone about this Martian water news story, then why are there scientists (who should be in the know about this radiation issue) trumpeting the increased possibility, due to the presence of flowing water, of finding life on Mars today; and furthermore talking about the usefulness of this water for future human exploration of Mars? Are they massaging the facts, making things appear more exciting than they actually are, to build support for a trip to Mars? If so, they are planting the seeds for even further distrust of science, and scientists, than already exists among the general public, and that’s not good.

        • Water on the surface means water just under the surface, where bacteria could survive. As for humans, the main problem is simply having to live for years with no possibility of rescue if any of a number of things go wrong. Most planetary scientists would rather spend a billion dollars on a robot instead of hundreds of billions for a single manned mission to Mars. I don’t doubt that the public might confuse enthusiasts for colonization like Musk with planetary scientists who would love a steady supply of funding for the much cheaper unmanned missions, but these are not the same.

          • Thanks for this. I certainly confused the real thing with the enthusiasts; they’re not differentiated in the media presentation.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            What I’m wondering is how that water can stay liquid on-surface. Mars’ atmo is so thin and low-pressure that water normally can’t exist as a liquid; like CO2, it sublimes directly from solid to gas. I think there’s only one lowland area on Mars where the air pressure is enough to allow liquid water.

          • High salinity. Perchlorate salts according to what I’ve read, which are extremely nasty and highly reactive.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            One thing about Elon Musk and his goal to colonize Mars:
            Unlike what’s “normal” today, THE GUY DOES *NOT* THINK SMALL.

            All too often these days, the parent-teacher meeting scene in Interstellar is a Documentary, not SF. Hard to get people enthused enough to look up from their Social Media Smartphones and Selfies when all you have to offer is “x-percent Carbon Reductions and y-percent Carbon-Friendly Fuel Efficiency” instead of Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Would such perchlorate salts work against the possibility of life? Given what’s being documented about extremophile bacteria, I wouldn’t be too sure.

            And in a colonization situation, could such perchlorate salts be filtered out or otherwise removed to purify the water itself?

  6. Anybody want a couple books written by David Jeremiah before they get tossed out?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      What really puzzles me is how The TRUMP gets so much enthusiastic support among the Christians. Like he’s the Second Coming or God’s Special Anointed or the latest Fourth Person of the Trinity.

      Is it because he’s pulling a Ross Perot and never letting himself get pinned down on any details, just “TRUST ME”? And letting everybody project their Messiah fantasy onto him like Perot tried in 1992 and Obama pulled off in 2008? Is it because “He’ll get rid of all those Mexicans”? What?

      • I’m going with the Mexicans thing.

        Which reminds me of a funny story. I had a classmate in grad school who was an engineer from India working in a small town southern Indiana. He told me that everyone knows who he is because he is the only Mexican in town.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Back in the summer of 1992, both my parents were Fundamentalist Perotistas. I got Witnessed to about how Ross Perot would Make Everything Perfect (what I later referred to as “Unicorns Farting Rainbows and Free Ice Cream”) FOREVERMORE. All that needed to happen was to put President Just Trust Me in power. Including my stepmother’s certainty that President Perot would make all those “Mexicans and Orientals” magically disappear — “America for REAL Americans!” (She had a real hair up her ass about anything and anybody Mexican or Asian). This got very disturbing very fast.

      • I’m going with that he’s a businessman at heart, and he knows to pander to the darker side of his target audience. This makes him unafraid to act like a racist, elitist jackass, because that’s exactly what his supporters want. While Romney could only express his “47 percent” opinion in private conversation, Trump says it onstage.

  7. Billy Graham has been preaching on heaven and hell since 1939. Do you really think reading Internet Monk now would change his tune now?

    I read Internet Monk. We agree on some things but not necessarily on others. The full text of my Sunday sermon will not be online until tomorrow morning, but here’s a snippet:
    In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus describes the difference of where the two men ended up after their natural lives were over. There are other parables but in Matthew 8 Jesus marvels at the faith of a Roman centurion and speaks directly of heaven and hell without veiled references and symbols. “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 8:11-12) Jesus is speaking plainly in Mark 8 about the effects of sin and says of hell “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” Finally in Revelation 20 death and hell are cast into the lake of fire (death and hades in ESV). Hell is not the lake of fire, but the lake of fire where death, hell, Satan, the false prophets and all those not found in the Book of Life will end up.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      Does your sermon also teach works righteousness, as Jesus does in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man?

      • Good point. Jesus inextricably links Dives’ perdition with his treatment of one in need. The clear implication is that if Dives’ had used the heart that God gave him, if he had reached out to Lazarus in his poverty, he would have avoided his fate. If one is going to preach about the reality of hell from this passage, it’s wrong to start from anyplace but where the text shows Jesus startin: God’s “preferential option” for the poor and needy, and his willingness to give judgment against the wealthy and powerful for their neglect of the former. Extracting hell from the import of the text is missing the point of the parable, and using part of it for ones own doctrinal purposes rather than listening to, and preaching it, in its entirety.

        • But that would upset the average middle-class congregation, in which many would rather take their chances and become rich like Dives, rather than poor like Lazarus. Otoh, it won’t upset a congregation full of people who already profess belief in Jesus to be told that it is only faith in Jesus that will save them from hell-fire. So, preachers end up using this parable, and others like it, to preach about the reality of hell rather than the reality of God’s love for the poor and needy, and the responsibility of the wealthy and powerful to the poor and needy.

          • I’ve always thought the point of the parable was that if the brothers won’t believe Moses and the prophets, whom they have, they wouldn’t believe even if someone rose from the dead. And then, who would have thought it, Jesus himself actually did rise from the dead — proving the point of his story. Thanks to all the erudite commenters above who correct such a ridiculous and simple-minded notion.

            Sarcasm OFF.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            It is ridiculous and simple minded not because it deals with the “main point” but because it ignores the actual text and content of Jesus’ words. “Main point” is not free license to ignore the things Jesus said that we don’t like.

          • And what, in the parable, made Lazarus a “believer”, and Dives not? To disconnect the conclusion of the parable from its beginning, as if the conclusion neutralizes the starting point, may fit it nicely into a preferred theological niche, but does injustice to the parable itself, and seems exploitative.

          • Let me partly answer my own question, and then you can turn your sarcasm back ON: If Dives had noticed Lazarus and treated him with compassion, that would have identified him as a “believer”, whether or not he had any knowledge of the resurrection.

          • In this view, the Good Samaritan was a believer. How so? Because he recognized and responded to the image of God, which is the image of Jesus, in a needy stranger, and foreigner, with compassion and mercy, thereby obeying the two great commandments together.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I’ve also heard the parable was a veiled dig on the House of Annas, who had a lock on the High Priesthood in the Temple and had gotten very rich in the process. Annas had five sons, and a son-in-law — the current High Priest Caiphas. And there is mention in one Gospel of a plot to kill Lazarus (the one outside of the parable). Dives mentions his “Five Brothers”; if Dives was a stand-in for Caiphas, he WOULD have “five brothers” — his five brothers-in-law, the Sons of Annas.

            Never mind the fact that even in the afterlife (when he can see that Lazarus the Leper is exalted and he, Dives, is cast down), he cops an attitude as if he still outranks Lazarus and tries to order him around.

            And of course, there’s the line “If they don’t believe now, they will not believe even if one should rise from the dead“. Before I was indoctrinated into What The Bible Really Said, that always struck me as a snark on what was going to go down later in the Gospel.

        • Could Jesus simply had been stating what makes one a true Israelite (i.e. welcomed by Abraham’s embrace)? The audience is the Pharisees, who were confident in their own self-righteousness but were extravagantly wealthy at a time of dire poverty for the average Israelite under the boots of Herod, the Temple priests, and the Roman occupation. Jesus seems to be evoking the words of the prophets against the Pharisees. This would seem to fit the theme of the gospels back to John the Baptist: those who don’t cross over through the waters of the Jordan are not the true Israelites and are left out like those who died during the 40 year wandering in the desert. It would not seem to be a message for Gentiles.

          Again from my study of Hosea, there is the image of the priests as bands of robbers lying in wait to attack the innocent. I really think Jesus is making a statement about the so-called religious class of Israel. It is not a passage which lends well to pithy religious generalities.

          • Were the Pharisees even Levites? What gave them such a place of honor?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Especially from the hereditary religious caste you see in so many churches, where the Pastors and their Elders get very very rich and live very very high off the Tithes they demand of the pewpeons. (Check Wartburg Watch for “Furtick Mansion”.) And where the surest way to become a Megachurch Lead Pastor is to be born the son of a Megachurch Lead Pastor and have a name ending in “Junior”.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      My Spidey senses always start to tingle whenever someone suggests that Jesus “plainly” speaks anything. The deep, incisive truths about the kingdom of God are neither simple nor simple to relate.

      Take the passage in Matthew 8, for example, and the fact that Jesus didn’t just “marvel” at the faith of a Roman centurion, he specifically told him, “great is your faith,” a phrase used only one other time in the Gospel of Matthew, in chapter 15, to the woman of Tyre with an afflicted daughter. In both cases, Jesus was praising foreigners, who had no expectation of receiving grace from a Jewish rabbi, but they came and sought it out anyway, because they had great…well, you know.

      Coming back to the passage you quoted, I think the Church has been far too quick to equate phrases like “the outer darkness” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” and similar phrases with “hell,” a literal place (either in existence or to come) of eternal punishment. Doing so might miss the point that Jesus was trying to make, a point much more revolutionary and rage-inducing for his Jewish listeners than just the fact that, sometime in the non-specific future, they would burn in divine torment. His Jewish audience, especially the upper class and ruling aristocracy, thought that they were the “sons of the kingdom,” because they could trace their lineage back to Abraham. Now, Jesus was telling them that the promise to which they believed they were entitled could go to “many…from east and west.” He was expanding the kingdom to include non-Jews, while pushing Jews who were not concerned with justice and love to the outside to rot in their own misery.

      If Jesus was just saying, “Wow, look at how great that guy was. Now let me tell you a few reliable descriptors about hell,” I seriously doubt anyone would care. Instead, he said, “See how that foreigner received grace from Me? The Promise he receives is the same you believed you always owned, but because you are so corrupt, it’s going to people like him. Suck on that for a while.” And that’s why they killed Him.

      In short, I find something inherently problematic about knitting phrases together like “the outer darkness” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” in Matthew 8, the “undying worm” and “unquenchable fire” of Mark 9, and the “lake of fire” of Revelation 20. I can see how they sound like they’re referring to the same thing, but they’re really not.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        +1 You’ve nailed it.

      • Using your interpretative key, is it possible that the in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Dives), the Rich Man represents that part of Israel which was rich in the knowledge of Moses and the Prophets, and yet neglected to act compassionately and walk humbly in that knowledge, as God would have them do, instead neglecting the needy in their midst, and living lives of comfort and ease while giving little thought to the beggar at the gate? And just as they did not heed this call to act justly toward their neighbors, neither did they perceive and acknowledge the same call made by the risen Jesus?

      • +1

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        My Spidey senses always start to tingle whenever someone suggests that Jesus “plainly” speaks anything.

        Especially when such “plain speaking” and “plain meaning” in the past has included such things as the complicated Dispy Tribulation Charts including Demon Locusts of Revelation “plainly” being helicopter gunships armed with chemical weapons and piloted by long-haired bearded hippies.

    • Yes. It is a lake of fire. And what happens to things one tosses in the fire? Do they just lie there writing or do they burn up?

      If our God is a “consuming fire” wouldn’t we expect things that experience the consuming fire of God to be, well, consumed? And if Sodom & Gomorrah are emblematic of hell and they are not still smoldering but have been totally destroyed, wouldn’t we expect the same end to those things tossed into hell?

      If the damned were going to have a conscious existence, why would it be called “eternal death”?

      • “If our God is a “consuming fire” wouldn’t we expect things that experience the consuming fire of God to be, well, consumed?”

        ….except that fire as a metaphor in scripture is not referential to the idea of “consuming” but rather to judging and purifying.

        The understanding that annihilationism is what a good God might possibly be up to, rather than rescuing and bringing all of his creation to its telos, makes that god little better than the portrayal of him as the hellfire and brimstone judge, or electing people for the sole purpose of damning them. It changes the meaning of “good.” This is not how we see Jesus talking and acting. The only “God” that has been revealed to us is the one revealed in Jesus Christ. That doesn’t mean we discount scripture, but that we have to find a better way to ****interpret**** it.



        • It seems to me, Dana, that if a just God keeps people conscious despite their suffering in an “unredeemed” postmortem state, it could only be because he’s not finished working out their redemption with them yet…

          • Indeed…


          • Dana, Every time you’ve commented that “the only ‘God’ that has been revealed to us is the one revealed to us in Jesus Christ”, and you’ve said it few times, it always reminds me of Karl Barth. It’s the kind of thing he repeated again and again throughout his work, and even more emphatically in his later theology. Is this a common idea in Eastern Orthodoxy?

          • As far as I know, it is, Robert.

            Fr Stephen writes on it. Fr John Behr writes and talks on it. I can’t recommend either of them more highly, for helping me understand O. theology.

            I’ve put up links to some of Fr John’s videos. You can do a youtube search for them, too. Since the time leading up to the publishing of his book “Becoming Human” in 2013, he has been saying basically the same thing as he wrote in the book, but he comes at it from different angles, depending on what the people inviting him want him to address. They typically last between 60 and 90 min, with or without Q&A. (In one of the talks I heard recently, he said that he basically gives the same speech all the time now, and the only question his wife asks him when he goes somewhere is, “What’s the name of the talk this time?”) He’s dealing with patristic interpretation re Christology and anthropology, and it can get somewhat knotty, although his line of thought is very clear. It’s always easier for me, as a mostly aural learner, to absorb something like that through videos/audios. There are a handful I keep going back to; like the book, I get more out of them the more I listen. Like Fr Stephen’s writings, Fr John’s talks go to the depth of my being with the ring of truth.


          • Re Barth,
            I really don’t know him other than a few quotes I’ve read. One thing I love about the Orthodox Church is that it affirms what is good and in keeping with O. theology wherever it is found. That doesn’t mean an “I’m ok – you’re ok” kind of relativism – it means that God is at work in lots of hearts and places in his world 🙂


    • A lot of discussion in the thread below my original comment about how to interpret the Rich Man and Lazarus parable. My only point in referencing such a parable was to say we have other instances of Jesus describing hell without speaking in parables. Marcus Johnson doesn’t like the way I string together Matthew 8, Mark 9 and Revelation 20 as if they are all about the same thing “but they really aren’t.” I suggest adding Matthew 25:31-46 to the list of things I’m stringing together. Or just forget the others and read from Matthew 25 in which Jesus describes the final judgement. He described “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” in verse 41 and then in verse 46:

      “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

      Why make a leap in logic that there is no eternal punishment and that we must be misunderstanding some illustration Jesus is trying to make? I find it easier to believe what Jesus said, which should be the basis for all Christian faith.

      Below is a link to my Sunday a.m. sermon. I preached on heaven, hell and encouraged my congregation to share the Gospel. The Bible doesn’t spell out plainly everything we would like to know but it certainly gives us enough. From what the Bible says about heaven, and what I believe it is saying about hell, then I am sure of which place I would rather go.


  8. I believe in a literal hell. I also hope that in the end it is empty

  9. David J & others praying over Mr tRump (who has admitted he never really asks for forgiveness, I assume because he feels he doesn’t need it) confirms my belief that what many evangelical churches worship is success & money. Jeremiah started a church in my area years ago (Baptst Church) and it was all the rage in town. People flocked, huge chancel dramas were given for the big holidays, services were shown on tv, and it was drawing people in right & left. Then Jeremiah left but the next guy was quit charismatic, too, and the church held its own. Preacher #2 quit, ran for political office, lost, went elsewhere and returned to the area opening up a new mega church in a different area of town. The wealthy area. Jeremiah’s original church still exists, they’ve taken the word “Baptist” off the marquee (it puts people off one of the members told me) and a guy I know who attends and it very involved told me they just don’t get the crowds any more and fewer and fewer young people. Guess what? You aren’t the cool church anymore and the money pot dried up because the wealthy moved to a different part of town.
    Follow the money.malways follow the money…

    • Ronald Avra says

      I get the distinct impression, which depresses me, that many church leaders are now principally businessmen rather than ministers, which may explain the attraction of these people to ‘the Donald.’ Yes, operating a church does require some business smarts, but the emphasis needs to be on the care of the sheep and not growth and bling.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > that many church leaders are now principally businessmen

        More specifically – failed businessmen.

    • Brianthedad says

      @PetersonDaily: The vocation of pastor has been replaced by the strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans. – Eugene Peterson

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Follow the Money = Follow The TRUMP?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Praying over” or “Anointing God’s Choice for King”?

      It used to be that GOP Presidential candidates would make pilgrimage to BJU to get God’s Anointing from the presence of Bob Jones N; now if you’re Trump enough, they make pilgrimage to you to give you The Anointing.

  10. Did anyone notice the Peanuts stamp doesn’t say, “Merry Christmas”? Where’s the Donald when you need him?

  11. Thoughts concerning Pope vs Kim Davis:
    Culture warrior evangelicals just doing what they so often do… using bad means to get what they think is a good end. It’s one reason they’ve totally and maybe forever lost the cultural, hearts-&-minds battle; they consistently and without irony or self-awareness, twist, fudge, inflate, manipulate, dismiss or “forget” objective truth/reality.
    It’s obvious what she (and her lawyers/handlers) wanted to accomplish: curry favor with the large swath of people who respect the pope – hoping she’d get some more respect too… but now she’s back to square one (her little swath of like-minded cultural warriors who will believe her over everyone else) and she’ll probably lose some respect/support she may have already had… sad – ultimately another reason people in general will give to dismiss religious people and their faith and concerns (some of which are valid). And I can’t blame them. Too many of the visible and chattering spokesmen/women for christian values are untrustworthy and devious.

    • I’d have to agree, Andrew. Davis meeting the Pope sounded “off” to me from the start considering that her branch of Christianity likely does not consider Catholics to even really be Christians. With all the faithful Catholics who would have Loved to see the Pope, I smelled a rat that she was chosen. Yes, this is exactly why so many young people in particular stay away from churchiness. They may have their issues but they have finely honed BS-ometers…

      • If you smell a rat then don’t blame Davis. She didn’t twist the Pope’s arm or command him to see her. He CHOSE to see her. Why? Well, you’ll just have to ask Francis on that one.

        And if you think that the audience was orchestrated by other “outside” forces then you also have to ask why Francis allowed himself to be manipulated. Don’t just climb all over Kim Davis on this one, even IF you don’t care for her brand of faith.

        I’m not a supporter of what she did. If I were in her position and shared her convictions then I would have just quit my job rather than violated my convictions.

        • I don’t blame Davis, other than for being manipulated. I don’t think she realizes she’s how much she’s being used.

          • I have to agree. The whole Mike Huckabee thing made me sick. A white version of Al Sharpton.

          • Christiane says

            I also think she has been used. I don’t think she is aware of the extent of it, no. The ‘culture wars’ have become obscene ways for people to play to their bases and gain political power and big money . . . the participants have no shame in who gets used and who gets abused.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Like the Activist response to something like that college-campus mass shooting in Oregon a couple days ago: “WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY TO ADVANCE *MY* AGENDA!”, nothing more.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      On the flip side, though, many culture warrior progressives (and I speak as someone who has been labeled a “progressive”) were way too quick to accept the idea that the Pope had actually blessed Davis’ actions, and that the two were now dancing in fields of flowers, plotting the ultimate takeover of the country from the gays and the liberals and Hillary Clinton. I had my concerns, too, but I chose to sit back and say, “Wait, Davis seems a little too publicity-hungry right now; let’s see how this plays out.” Other progressives were not as wise. So much for having the moral high ground.

      • Yes, Marcus.

        As it turns out, she apparently was one member of a group of dozens who bid farewell to the Pope at the end of his stay, in a receiving line set-up in several rooms. It’s likely that the list was assembled by others, and that the Pope didn’t necessarily know all the details behind all the names and faces he was meeting.

        It would also be completely unreasonable for any of the people on that list to presume that by meeting them in a receiving line the Pope supported whatever controversial actions they had taken or positions they had adopted. That the meeting may have been misrepresented by Davis’ “handlers” to mean this, and that progressives reacted so quickly to that spin in the media with anger and recrimination aimed at the Vatican, are unfortunate.

        Hey, when did evangelicals start appealing to a Pope for moral support? Is that acceptable now? If so, it means that evangelicals are recognizing the Pope as a real Christian, and one with moral authority at that; at least this is something positive in the middle of this otherwise cynicism producing story.

        • And Kim Davis and her posse should consider this: if being in the presence of the Pope means that the Pope supports one’s actions, then what does it mean that the Pope had a private audience with a gay couple? Both sides can’t claim that they have the Pope on their side! Logic, people . . .

          • I’m not in that posse, but I’d be glad to tell them what it means: This Pope is bridge-builder, not a wall-builder, but he rightly pays more attention to the places that need bridge-building the most.

          • But…but…Damaris…(are you waxing ironic here???)…

            Both sides always DO claim to have the Pope on their side…or, if not, at least GOD on their side.

            Here’s a musical illustration—sorry, not by a Canadian, but Minnesota is pretty close:


        • Brianthedad says

          Let me put on my tin-foil zucchetto for a second. I’ve read it was internal Vatican intrigue that may have finagled the invitation for Ms Davis. This article deals with it, somewhat crudely, but I’ve seen the name of the bishop mentioned here in other articles as well. Not quite Angels and Demons level conspiracy, but hey, these conspiracies can’t all be book-with-movie-option level. It’s a shame, because I like this pope, but there’s always people in your organization working against leadership, thinking they’re doing the right thing. I’ve seen it in many organizations, my own included.

          • This is a possibility, but the evidence is not all in, and may never be. But even in the absence of something like this, I don’t see that inclusion of Davis in a receiving-line meet-and-greet should cast a pall on the reputation of a Pope who is a bridge-builder.

          • That Other Jean says

            Finally, Mule! Something you and I agree on.

          • After all, he had met with Castro only a couple days before; do we really want to say that meeting with Davis is more morally questionable than meeting with Castro? Oh, some might claim that Castro is, or was, a national leader, and the Pope at times must meet with important and influential people in the name of international understanding and peace-making, even when those people have morally reprehensible reputations; but to make a distinction between “important and influential people” on the one hand, and less important and less influential people on the other, would be completely out of keeping with the character of this particular Pope.

          • That Other Jean says

            Stupid computer glitch! This was a reply to Mule concerning Rock and Roll.

            Re Pope Francis; The latest thing I read suggested that the Papal Nuncio for the US, a man appointed by Benedict , set up the meeting with Kim Davis with malice aforethought, to discredit Francis’s US trip. When he has to submit his resignation in January, when he turns 75, the Pope will almost certainly accept it, although he isn’t obliged to do so. Or maybe he’ll send him off to someplace obscure, like Cardinal Burke, who is now serving as the Patron of the Knights of Malta. Surely, you don’t rise as far in the Church as Francis has without being able to give as good as you get.

          • Eckhart Trolle says

            The Knights of Malta are headquartered in Rome, not Malta, although either would be a fairly plum posting. So Burke hasn’t really been exiled.

          • That Other Jean says

            Well, nuts. At least, if he’s not in exile, he’s no longer the head of the Vatican’s highest court. Patron of the Knights of Malta is mostly ceremonial, though, so even though he’s still in the centers of power, he’s no longer one of the most powerful.

      • re – cultural warrior progressives – yes I’m sure this got them going to. It’s why I try (often failing) to stand apart from either poles…

    • Since the Pope’s visit I’ve wondered what the first Pope would have said to Congress.

  12. Frankly, the Cubs in the playoffs scares me more than any blood moon ever would. Lunar cycles are at least a natural phenomenon. The Cubs in the playoffs… That’s just *wrong*. 😛

    • I’m not worried. They’ve been to the playoffs before. Now if they get to the World Series? Get out the “Times of Trouble Beans”. 😉

  13. Re: Assembled Christian ministers anointing Trump: Back in the old days, Christian leaders would bless their national military before it went off to slay the heathen and heretic. Some things will never change….


  14. Re Billy Graham… There was a time about 15 years ago when I helped to run a few Samaritan Purse shoebox campaigns around this time of the year. Then came 9-11 and in the aftermath Franklin Graham gradually started being more vocal about some of his political leanings. These made me uncomfortable and I stopped supporting SP.

    Somewhere in there he became the head of his father’s main organization. And then you began to hear pronouncements, made in the 90+ year-old Billy’s name, that seemed uncharacteristic of him.

    I have wondered for several years now whether Billy himself is actually saying these things, or whether his name is being used. I also wonder how much input Billy actually had in the production of this new book.

    • That Other Jean says

      I don’t think there’s a chance in . . .well, pick a place. . .that Billy actually wrote any of “his” latest book, or said the things attributed to him. They sound too little like Billy, and WAAAAAY too much like Franklin.

    • I was thinking the same thing—that Franklin’s ghost writers were on the job. But I don’t really know what else Billy has said or written about hell. I do know that at 96 and with Parkinson’s he didn’t write this very recently if at all.

    • I had pretty much the same thoughts, especially as a few years ago Billy talked about the “wideness of God’s mercy” in some fairly public forum (radio or TV I think but can’t recall exactly). I remember it because I happened upon John MacArthur’s reaction to it and it was, to put it diplomatically, sharply critical.

  15. Marcus, let me run something by you here and see how your Spidey senses react. Dr. Jeremiah called on God concerning The Donald to “bring into his life a strong African-American who can stand with him . . . .” I can not think of a better answer to this prayer than Mr. T. He is not only still alive, but probably at the peak of his powers. It strikes me as a match made in Heaven. If the Donald makes it into the White House, who else would I want a heartbeat away from taking the helm. They would be unstoppable together. It could get me to turn my television back on. I pity the fool who would dare stand in their way.

    • I love it when a plan comes together.

    • The only hitch I see in this ticket is that it likely won’t attract many Hispanic voters. The only person I can think of that might turn that around is Cheech Marin. Now you can only have two people running as President and Vice President, but you need someone acting as campaign manager, someone holding press conferences and talking with reporters, someone constantly in the public eye. Mr. Marin would be a natural for this and later would be the obvious choice for Secretary of State. There is a faint possibility that our own Manuel might not get on board with this, but then you need a couple of votes for the opposition or it starts to look, you know, kind of funny.

    • I was half expecting Steve Harvey. The fundygelicals would lay their souls at his feet.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      Well, I’m not sure why we’re not all thinking about Kanye West, who has both praised and been praised by Trump. Trump now has his Black friend.

  16. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

    So I read the Kim Davis article….then I read it again. Then I googled it. And to put it bluntly, she lied. I mean, flat out lied. As in “fabricated from whole cloth”. This is a shame, because while I don’t agree with her, I do support her right to religious freedom and the right to use our justice system to seek her own good. These are hallmarks of a free, democratic society. Unfortunately, there are a significant number of people who can’t distinguish between wild-eyed spiritual hooligans like Davis, and conservative/traditional Christians who believe homosex is a sin while not making asses out of themselves. I’m afraid this latest round of shenanigans is just more ammo to paint most evangelicals with a wide and gross brush.

    • I doubt you were surprised.

      They are all liars. Utterly and completely and totally. Liars.

      May God damn them.

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

        Well, no, I wasn’t exactly surprised. She has behaved exactly like a media whore up to this point.

    • Unfortunately, there are a significant number of people who can’t distinguish between wild-eyed spiritual hooligans like Davis, and conservative/traditional Christians who believe homosex is a sin while not making asses out of themselves.

      In fairness, you have to admit that it can be pretty difficult for a real outsider to evangelicalism to make this distinction because people like Davis consistently get the microphone, and because most evangelicals don’t in fact work to distinguish themselves from Davis and those like her. Why? Having been there, I can say that it’s probably because it would mean alienating themselves from a significant part of their tribe.

      Until that dynamic and reality changes, the broad brush is at least understandable and probably even self-inflected and sometimes deserved.

      • Good point.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Take it from the veteran of Furry Fandom:

        It’s really difficult to try to distance/distinguish yourself from the Loud Crazies who Proclaim to Everyone (especially The Media) that They’re One of You and You’re Just Like Them. Especially since those Loud Crazies really really really LOVE the Media Spotlight.

  17. Christiane says

    thinking about Kim Davis and Pope Francis . . .

    and how the two ‘sides’ of the culture wars tugged and pulled and tried to get a ‘win’ where there was none to be had in the way that they wanted

    and I am reminded of a quote by Flannery O’Connor, this:
    “”The stories are hard (her Southern Gothic short stories) but they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism… when I see these stories described as horror stories I am always amused because the reviewer always has hold of the wrong horror.”

    I suppose, looking at the no-win result of the infamous encounter between Ms. Davis and the Pope, that people can understand how it MIGHT have played out in a Francis-sort-of-way, given some good will and ‘heads-up’ from them that set up the fiasco. But on the whole, each ‘side’ bemoans its lost chance to get a ‘win’ in the war by using the Pope’s credibility, so I have to assume that both sides ‘had hold of the wrong horror’.

    I suppose reconciliation is not something that is a part of Christian ‘realism’ in the fundamentalist world. And I suppose among folks in the gay community, Francis must have seemed to have ‘let them down’ by appearing to ‘get on board’ with poor Kim who is herself more victim of manipulation than agent of change. . .

    I suspect also that in some better world than this, ‘the wrong horror’ would be seen by everyone involved in the light needed to recognize it, and having seen it for what it is, another outcome would have been possible in that encounter between Kim and Francis

    . . . the sadness is not so much the loss of what was possible as the failure to recognize the possibilities themselves had the pope known the facts of the case and Kim Davis not been under the influence of her ‘handlers’ . . . somehow, though, is very possible, Francis being Francis, that the story isn’t over quite yet . . . 🙂

  18. (cue BBC voice)

    In American news today, it seems the Westboro Baptist Church is going to picket the National Weather Service. Apparently all weather is still controlled by God, and it’s only by his grace we gather any data or intelligence, and the Lord God Almighty will judge us all for same sex marriage.

    In sports, the Packers are now 3-0.


    • Wow, our good Chaplain is extensively quoted by name with link on the Progressive Christian Channel. We have arrived!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      There’s a song I can’t find on YouTube whose verses included (with a still of a Westboro Baptist Church protest)
      “Jesus didn’t die
      So you could be an asshole…”
      Followed by a still of some televangelist or Mega-pastor:
      “Jesus didn’t die
      So you could get rich…”

      • Not the same, but the fiasco reminds me of this classic from Hans Fiene:
        “Also, conveniently, God doesn’t care about
        Harmless transgressions like ours,
        So, if you’re hateful or angry or vile,
        That’s okay, JUST AS LONG AS YOU AINT A FAbleep

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