January 24, 2021

Saturday Ramblings: March 12, 2016


1902 Rambler 2-1/4 hp Model B

It’s another vintage Rambler day here at IM.

One of the pioneers in the modern American transportation industry was Colonel Albert A. Pope. In the late 1800’s, he turned Hartford, Connecticut into the bicycle capital of the world. Pope later took control of the “bicycle trust”, which had consolidated many of the major bicycle manufacturers in the country, and then folded it, along with his Pope Motor Company into The Pope Manufacturing Company, which produced both bicycles and automobiles. He led a movement for better roads across America, became the first person to use mass production practices in making automobiles, and was a pioneer maker of the electric car.

51Uvy3Zj7hL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Today’s Rambler photo is of a motorized bicycle made by Pope’s American Cycle Manufacturing Co. Jim O’Hair at Hemmings gives the background to this vintage machine:

Rambler Cycles were part of the American Cycle Manufacturing Company, along with other small bicycle companies such as Cleveland, Columbia, Crescent, Imperial and Tribune, and were built by Albert Pope. Rambler and the American Cycle Company were both fairly short-lived as the Rambler brand name disappeared in 1904 and the company stopped producing bicycles in 1905. Pope went on to manufacture motorcycles of renown in Hartford, Connecticut, from 1911 to 1914 and then in nearby Westfield, Massachusetts, from 1914 to 1918. Models included both single-cylinder Popes and  V-Twins after 1912.

The Rambler was unique when it was produced because the frame was designed specifically to accommodate an engine and has a longer wheelbase than a conventional bike frame. The 1902 Rambler is considered to be one of the oldest and most original American production machines in existence. Like the 1901 Indian Camelback, both were being sold well in advance of the first Harley-Davidsons in 1903.

We’re picking up speed! Let’s ramble…

• • •

stock-illustration-37197158-vintage-motorcyclechurch-in-jerusalem-creative-commonsReally different points of view.

A recent Pew survey ought to make U.S. Christians who consider evangelical “Christian Zionism” — unquestioning support of the modern state of Israel — a central tenet of correct Bible interpretation think twice. Christians in Israel, it seems, don’t agree. According to a report in Christianity Today:

American Christians have largely supported the modern-day Zion; in 2013, 82 percent of white evangelicals believed that God gave the land of Israel to the Jews. In contrast, only 19 percent of Christians actually born, raised, and living in Israel believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people. Significantly more than half (66%) believe this is not literally true, while another 9 percent don’t know what to think.

…The vast majority of Israeli Christians (86%) believe the United States is too supportive of Israel. Just 6 percent said the American government wasn’t supportive enough, while 7 percent said the level of US support was just right. The numbers stand in stark contrast to the views of American Christians. A 2013 Pew study found that just 18 percent of them said the US is too supportive of Israel. Even fewer white evangelicals (12%) and black Protestants (16%)—two-thirds of whom identify as evangelical—said that America is too supportive of Israel.

You can read the rest of the survey results at the CT article. Same God, same Bible, vastly different backgrounds and experiences. Quite different perspectives. Huh.

stock-illustration-37197158-vintage-motorcycleReally funny Christian vs. Lion story (even if it may not be true).

Alert reader and IM contributor Randy Thompson (who has a great sense of humor, by the way) sent me this hilarious story from South Africa. Now, there are questions about its veracity, but that’s okay, it’s worth a Saturday morning laugh, fiction or non-.

christian-martyrs-mosaicA self-styled Christian prophet reportedly tried to prove himself by charging lions at Kruger National Park in South Africa, under the belief that God would intervene.

Instead of being prevented from attacking Alec Ndiwane, one of the lions tore a piece out of his rear end.

Ndiwane is expected to recover.

According to South Africa’s Daily Post newspaper, Ndiwane and members of his church were recently driving by a pack of lions eating an impala. Ndiwane went into a trance, began speaking in tongues, jumped out of the vehicle and ran towards the pack.

The lions charged.

Ndiwane quickly high-tailed it back to the vehicle, but before he could reach safety, one of the lions swatted at him with a clawed paw and slashed his butt.

“I do not know what came over me,” Ndiwane told the Daily Post. “I thought the Lord wanted to use me to show his power over animals. Is it not we were given dominion over all creatures of the earth.”

The newspaper reported that Ndiwane feared he would lose his left buttock, but emergency surgery saved his rear end.

What we have here is another Christian who abandoned his convictions just to save his own ass.

stock-illustration-37197158-vintage-motorcycleReally old lizards.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

“Some 99 million years ago, 12 unsuspecting lizards stepped or fell into sticky tree resin and couldn’t tear themselves loose in the forests of what is now Myanmar. Over time that resin fossilized into amber, preserving the little lizards for scientists to study later. Now, researchers are looking to these prehistoric golden chunks to better understand how lizards have evolved.”

I share this story for two reasons:

  1. First of all, the pictures are beautiful and the story intriguing.
  2. Because “Lizards in Amber” may be the best name for a rock band that I’ve ever heard.



stock-illustration-37197158-vintage-motorcycleReally dumb Bible interpretation.

One forgets (or wasn’t there to experience) the kinds of crazy biblical interpretations people used to resort to in order to warn us about the modern world and the idol of progress, especially when it involved science and took place in the context of the Cold War.

the-bible-and-rockets-to-the-moonMr. Boone attempts to use the Bible to build his case that a rocket to the moon would not sit well with God in Heaven. He begins by claiming there are “three heavens,” drawing this conclusion from some verse fragments (particularly 2 Cor 12:2) and rabbinical writings. The susses out the three heavens thus: 1. The realm of gravity, 2. The sun, moon, and stars, and 3. The abode of God. He finds further evidence of this in the Bible’s frequent references to “the heavens” (plural), not simply “heaven.” Of course, if he was familiar with Hebrew, he would know that the word here (shamayim) is a dual form (i.e., two, not three) and that this form doesn’t necessarily mean anything about number (for example, the word mayim, which just means water, is also a dual form).

But let’s pretend there are “three heavens” as delineated by the author. So what? Well, according to Edward Boone (I don’t know why, but I just love that name), we’re okay to go up into the first heaven (still within the realm of gravity), but not into the second or third. The biblical evidence is supposedly Genesis 1:26-28, which limits man’s dominion to the water, the air, and the earth. Also offered as evidence is Psalm 115:16, which reads, “The heavens are the LORD’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.”

Man is thus in danger, from Boone’s point of view, of trespassing in forbidden territory. He doesn’t come right out and say it, but the author seems to think that going into space gets us that much closer to God’s abode in heave (Psalm 11:4), but without going through the proper channels—some kind of cosmic-spiritual loophole. Therefore, we’re in danger of following the path of Satan. To quote The Bible and Rockets to the Moon, “Every time a Sputnik or Explorer circles this globe with its ‘beep beep,’ it is . . . declaring that judgment is soon to visit . . . the whole WORLD.” (Emphasis original)

This desire to ignore God’s “No Trespassing” sign and thrust our way into his sacred backyard is anything but new, though. No, Boone sees this as the same prideful, man-centered spirit that led to the rebellion and disobedience present in the building of the Tower of Babel. In making this case, he selectively buys into certain Targums (Jewish interpretive translations) and makes bizarre leaps to try and paint a striking similarity between the Tower of Babel’s construction—in direct defiance of God—and those evil rockets to the moon, also in direct defiance of God.

Both projects are all about humans patting themselves on the back for what they’ve accomplished in order make a great name for mankind. Just like no one acknowledged the One True God in building the Tower (and subsequent empire) of Babylon, no one is acknowledging God in this race to the moon.

stock-illustration-37197158-vintage-motorcycleReally cool eclipse photos from NASA.

Speaking of the moon…

This composite video from NASA of Tuesday’s total solar eclipse lets us see the event not from the surface of the Earth, as most of us do, but from deep space, looking back at our beautiful blue marble. This clip is a mashup of 13 separate photos snapped on March 9 by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera, or EPIC instrument, aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite.


stock-illustration-37197158-vintage-motorcycleReally good memories of “Sabbaths” past.

Remember “blue laws?” I have such good memories of weekends when I was younger — surely filtered through years that tend to distance and sentimentalize them — when life seemed to move more slowly and freely. One important feature of those weekends was that on Sundays, most stores and businesses were closed. We didn’t even think about shopping or doing business on Sundays because it mostly wasn’t possible. Our minds as well as our schedules were freed from those kinds of concerns.

Well, they haven’t gone quite that far, but leaders in the UK think that keeping things slow on Sunday is still a good idea. CT reports on the UK’s decision to preserve limits on Sunday shopping:

The House of Commons voted that large stores in England and Wales can only be open a maximum of six continuous hours between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The stores must also close on Easter and Christmas.

Smaller stores—those that are 3,000 square feet or less—can be open all day.

A letter from the Evangelical Alliance approved the decision.

Sunday shopping laws protect “the common leisure time essential for family life and shared social activities” as well as “protect small stores from near-monopolies,” stated the letter, which included signatories from the Church of England and Church in Wales.

“Most fundamentally, however, we are concerned that the further deregulation of Sunday trading laws is likely to disrupt the rhythms of community life that are so integral to the common good,” they wrote. “In a world of increasing commodification the space for shared time and activities, central to human flourishing, is becoming increasingly rare. Needlessly extending Sunday opening hours will only exacerbate this trend.”


stock-illustration-37197158-vintage-motorcycleReally questionable project (IMHO).

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that: “San Diego televangelist Morris Cerullo, widely known for his overseas healing crusades and the occasional legal skirmish, is now hoping to cement his spiritual legacy with the help of hologram-filled catacombs, a 20-foot tall wailing wall and an interactive Biblical museum.”


More than four years after purchasing a foreclosed Mission Valley hotel, the sometimes controversial Pentecostal preacher is banking on faithful followers and religious-minded tourists to flock to a planned Christian-themed resort that will transport visitors back to Biblical times with underground passages reminiscent of Rome, an homage to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, and a domed theater outfitted with full motion seats and sensory effects simulating wind, snow and fog.

The $125 million project, which still needs the approval of the San Diego City Council, promises to transform the 18-acre site of the nondescript Mission Valley Resort and mini-mart into a tourist destination that Cerullo’s world ministry is convinced can draw as many as 400,000 visitors a year….

…Part theme park, part vanity project celebrating Cerullo’s more than six decades of evangelical missions and teachings, the Legacy International Center, as it’s being called, will also serve as the new headquarters of his operation that took root here in the early 1960’s.

Cerullo’s ambitious foray into hospitality, though, will still showcase the luxury accoutrements one would expect of any self-respecting resort operator: a spa and fitness center, fine dining, dazzling fountains and well appointed suites. But an immersive 12-minute journey through the Bible, complete with mists of water during the parting of the Red Sea?

Or, as a verse from this week’s Gospel (John 12:1-8) says, “The poor you will have always, but you only get one chance to build a Christian tourist resort” (Mercer Perverted Translation).

stock-illustration-37197158-vintage-motorcycleToday in music: Really cool marble music machine

From NPR’s All Songs Considered:

The “Marble Machine” is a musical instrument by way of a Rube Goldberg contraption, the love child of a barrel organ, a kick drum, a vibraphone and a bass — all powered by hand-cranked gears and 2,000 steel marbles.

The machine was built by Swedish musician Martin Molin, who fronts the Swedish band Wintergatan. Molin told Wired UK that he had budgeted two months in his schedule to build his contraption. Instead, it has taken him 14.

The video, beautifully filmed and edited by Hannes Knutsson, gives you a real sense of the instrument’s size and engineering complexity in all of its carved wooden parts, which Molin built after drawing his design in 3-D software — the various elements are programmable, and Molin can change keys midsong. You can see videos about the process of creating the machine on Molin’s own website.



  1. Of course, if Zach Bartels, author of “Rockets, Moon Landings, and Bad Bible Interpretations,” were familiar with Hebrew as well, he’d know the masculine -im ending is a plural form, not just a dual. But he is right about it not meaning anything about number. Like “pants.”

    Likewise if he were familiar with rabbinical writings, namely the pseudepigraphal 2 Enoch, he’d know there were ten heavens, not just the three:

    • 1st. Two hundred angels managing the stars, snow, and dew.
    • 2nd. Prison for rebel angels; possibly the “outer darkness” of Matthew 8.12.
    • 3rd. Paradise; the Garden of Eden. On its north, a place for the wicked, as Jesus describes in Luke 16.23-31. This’d be where Paul’s friend went in 2 Corinthians 12.2, probably in a near-death experience.
    • 4th. The sun, the moon, 8,000 stars, and 150,000 angels. (But only 1,000 angels at night. Not sure why. Maybe they sleep.)
    • 5th. Rebel watchers: The “sons of God” in Genesis 6.1-4 who bred with humans. According to 2 Enoch and other Pharisee myths, Enoch was the one who told on them, so God rewarded him with this trip through the heavens. (Or, in some stories, God turned him into his number one angel, renamed Metatrón. In any case, Peter even taught Jesus went there to preach to them. (1 Peter 3.19-20)
    • 6th. Archangels.
    • 7th. Other scary angels.
    • 8th. The seasons and times of the year, unleashed once their time came.
    • 9th. The constellations of the zodiac.
    • 10th. God.

    Dante’s Divine Comedy describes nine heavens, represented by a planet or stars; God in the highest one, the Empyrean. So obviously the three-heavens myth propagated after 1320. But I don’t know who coined it. Certainly not the Jews before the middle ages. Sure got popular though. The Mormons base their whole eschatology upon it.

  2. 2% of Israel’s population are Christians. 161,000 or so. 19% believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people. That is 30,590, for some perspective, or .3% of the population. 66%, or 20,190, do not believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people. 1.3% of the population.

    20% of the population, or 1,600,000, are atheists.

    All pretty insignificant. What would be more interesting is to know WHY they do not believe.

    • “What would be more interesting is to know WHY they do not believe.” A legitimate question. I can’t actually speak for them, of course, but over a longer conversation they’d probably say something along the following lines:

      A) We were here before the Zionists showed up. Like 1900 years before they showed up, and American Christians suddenly decided this was important theologically.

      B) When Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek” he meant “There is neither Jew nor Greek.” Christian Zionists still insist on the difference.

      C) When he also said, “Those who_believe_ are the children of Abraham” he meant “Those who _believe_ are the children of Abraham.” We believe, ergo, we’re the children of Abraham too.

      D) If circumcision — the most basic sign of being Jewish — doesn’t actually matter, and it was PRE-MOSAIC, then why should we continue to literalize the pre-Mosaic promise of the land to Abraham’s descendants?

      E) Not to be a bunch of Captains Obvious, but we’re not Jews: we’re nearly all Arabs, and a Zionist State treats us, at best, as second-class citizens, even if we’re better off here than in many Muslim countries.

      F) Americans living on land taken from Native Americans in the last several hundred years should be cautious in asserting the automatic right of a recently arrived Jew from London or Philadelphia to land that Palestinian Christians have held for centuries.

      • Those may be some of the theological reasons, but the (very few) Christian Jews I have spoken with don’t take it that far. Their argument is more along ethical lines – the state of Israel is engaged in some very unethical human rights violations. Sort of a “God or Caesar” approach – they feel they can’t live out their Christian convictions and support the state.

      • They also tend to come from Eastern Christian traditions, which have always taken the land promises in the OT typologically (Israel becomes the Church, the land becomes the world).

        • The Orthodox Jews believe that only Messiah cal lead the return. No Messiah, no Israel. Perhaps this, also, has influenced Christians in Israel. And we cannot discount Arab Christians who may have antipathy to Jews as a race.

      • I can’t support a position that I can prove conclusively was made up.

        I support the Palestinian Christians, and I certainly do not “stand with Israel”.

    • A couple of years ago I read ‘My Promised Land’ by Ari Shavit. It is a history of modern Israel, written by an Israeli journalist, through stories of people (including his great grandfather [ if I remember correctly] who was one of the first European Jews to come to Palestine in the late 1800s). It is fascinating, heartbreaking, inspiring, and shows what a mess modern Israel has created for itself. If Christian Zionists would read that book it would scandalize them! There is also a lot of insight into the ‘faith’ of Israelis in that book. A definite recommended read.

      On another note, I was in Israel for about 6 weeks back in 1985 working at an archaeological site. During that time we stayed at a moshav outside of Jerusalem and had a lot of free time to ride the bus into Jerusalem, walk the markets, meet the people. At that time I was in college and a devoted dispensationalist/Christian Zionist. I was shocked to find that most Israelis aren’t religious at all, and even more surprised that they weren’t ‘looking up’ waiting anxiously for their Messiah to come, as I had been led to believe by everyone from Hal Lindsey to Pat Robertson to some of my college professors.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Before I heard the term “Christian Zionism”, I called it “Anti-Semitic Zionism”.

        To them, Israel is just a Fulfillment of End Time Prophecy, nothing more. Just a prerequisite item on the End Times Checklist. Israel is in the Land, Fulfilling Prophecy. (Remember Hal Lindsay and his “Forty-Year Generation” from the founding of Israel in 1948? 1948 + 40 = 1988 – 7 (for the Tribulation) = RAPTURE BY 1981 AT THE LATEST! IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”)

        Israel is in The Land, Fulfilling Prophecy to kick off Armageddon. Therefore Israel Can Do No Wrong. If you oppose Israel in any way, You Rebel Against The Father, Too. And when Armageddon comes, the Israelis will have outlived their Prophetic Usefulness and can (and WILL) be destroyed by Christ whom they Killed. (“IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”)

        Israelis, Arabs, You, Me — all just pieces to move about on the End Time Prophecy Gameboard and items to check off on the End Time Prophecy Checklist. Nothing more. (“DON’T BE LEFT BEHIND! IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        And Christian Zionism opens up the probablilty of being manipulated. Since 1948, Israel has been in Survival Mode and getting as much support (especially from a Superpower) is a vital survival trait. So Israeli politicians have some strong motivation.

        All Mossad or Likud has to do is hint about Rebuilding the Temple (“IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”) or about breeding a Red Heifer (“IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”) or something else from the End Times Checklist and American Evangelicals will not only fall into line, but support Israel 1000% (“IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”) under pain of Judgment/Eternal Hell/Being Left Behind. During the Cold War, Israel and the Middle East were considered one of the most likely flashpoints to kick off Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War — an Armageddon Christians would NOT be around to experience. Because they’d be in Heaven, watching from their catered box seats — Raptured just as the ICBM warheads cut atmo overhead and the nuclear detonation sequences began. (“LOOK TO THE SKY AND REJOICE, FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH! IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”)

        • I don’t think the Israeli government cares what motivates the material support it receives from American evangelicals; they are perfectly happy to let the Christian End-Timers write Israel into whatever role they like, as long as it motivates them to keep lending support to Israel. Unlike American evangelicals, Israel is in in the midst real life and death matters, as are the Palestinians, not religious fantasies projected on the screen of world history. I have no doubt that they are very conscious of what buttons to push to get the Americans in motion.

        • You gotta wonder about a theology that says prosperity is a blessing from God, but then immediately turn around and say prosperity turns people away from God because then they don’t need God, so God has to punish them to remind them to turn to God so he can prosper them…


        • When the Zetas fill the skies
          It’s just our leaders in disguise
          Fully loaded satellites
          Will conquer nothing but our minds

          I am waiting patiently
          And I’ll wait for the sign, yeah
          And I’m waiting patiently
          And I’ll wait for the sign


          • From the dark side of folk music:

            Here comes the helicopter, second time today
            Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away
            How many kids they’ve murdered only God can say.
            If I had a rocket launcher
            If I had a rocket launcher
            If I had a rocket launcher
            I’d make somebody pay.
            — Bruce Cockburn

            Look out, look out from your schoolroom window;
            Look up, young children, from your play.
            Oh, when you see the warplanes flying,
            Each one is named Enola Gay.
            — Utah Phillips

          • My mother, my father,
            My sister and my brother
            My son and my daughter
            Killed by drones

            Our lives between
            Your fingers and your thumb
            Can you feel anything?
            Are you dead inside?
            Now you can kill
            From the safety of your home
            With drones



    • This whole thread of comments…Fascinating!

  3. I haven’t read the CT article, but it should be pointed out that the vast majority of Christians in Israel are Arabs. That may come as a shock to many (not on this page but in American Evangelical churches) but it is true.

    I’ve heard it pointed out that American Evangelicals are more pro-Israel (or maybe I should say pro-Likkud) than the average Israeli is.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I haven’t read the CT article, but it should be pointed out that the vast majority of Christians in Israel are Arabs.

      And they’re targeted by both sides — by the Israelis because they’re ARABS, and by other Arabs because they’re NOT Muslims.

    • Praying to Allah, our Father in heaven, hallowed be his name.


  4. Richard Hershberger says

    The early motorcycles were scary things. The engine technology ran ahead of the brake technology, with predictably wacky results.

    Anyone who finds themselves in or near Hammondsport, NY with half a day to kill could do worse than to visit the Glenn Curtiss museum. Curtiss was an aviation pioneer, but before that he was an early motorcyclist. Supposedly he was the model for Tom Swift.

    Blue laws: My county began allowing liquor stores to be open on Sunday only with the last ten years, and this is in Maryland.

    The blue laws were not, however, about spending the day sitting on the porch sipping lemonade while the kids played on the front lawn in innocent diversions. They were about getting people into church. American lawmakers never quite had the nerve to try to explicitly mandate church attendance, so instead they outlawed any other activity that someone might want to engage in on Sunday. This included those innocent diversions. My early baseball research routinely turns up instances of the police being called in to arrest kids for playing ball on a Sunday.

  5. “A domed theater outfitted with full motion seats and sensory effects simulating wind, snow and fog . . .” Call me crazy, but when I’m in a theater, I don’t WANT to be snowed on. Heck, when I’m in San Diego, I don’t want to be snowed on.

    • I’d say it depends on how hot it would be in San Diego that day. 😉 But that’s assuming I’d even set foot in such a kitchzy abomination in the first place. I’d rather spend MY time and money in a good air conditioned cigar bar.

    • Right now we in San Diego would settle for more rain!

  6. Re: Blue Laws: The town of Paramus in Bergen County NJ has retained many of the traditional Blue Laws from its history as an area that was settled by the Dutch Reformed (like the rest of Bergen County) in the first waves of European colonization centuries ago. Today, Paramus is a shopping mecca, with several huge indoor malls and innumerable smaller malls and strip malls along its two major highways, one of which makes the fifteen minute trip from NYC. The car traffic in Paramus is enormous every day of the week, and residents have to deal with it constantly. It can be very frustrating for them.

    But on Sundays, the Blue Laws prevent most of those stores, and other businesses, from opening. Only grocery stores, and places like pharmacies that sell “necessary” goods and services, may be open. In the supermarkets, you may only buy items on the approved list; I once tried to buy disposable razors on a Sunday in a Paramus supermarket, and was told that it was not allowed. Some aisles are barricaded to prevent customers from entering.

    The reasons the municipality and its citizens choose to retain these laws are like the ones given by authorities in the UK. It’s a brief, one day respite for the residents of the municipality, who otherwise live with constant business and traffic the rest of the week.

    But there is no real religious motivation in the retention of these Blue Laws. If there was, there wouldn’t be an exception made for entertainment venues (like movie theaters and bookstores) and liquor stores, which are allowed to open and do business-as-usual on Sundays. Or perhaps these too are a necessity?

    • Worth mentioning perhaps that the original motivation for sweeping away Sunday Trading laws in the UK was that the law had come into disrepute (people found out that it was illegal to sell a Bible on Sunday, but legal to sell pornographic magazines) and certain business owners started to take the p*ss (the guy who claimed all his staff had suddenly converted to Judaism was one, the guy who was claiming exemption on the grounds that his business was in the well-known tourist area of … Hemel Hempstead, or something similar. But rather than spend time and money cleaning up the anomalies, the government just said “go ahead”, albeit with the limitation on large stores.

    • I worked in retail management for several years in the 1980’s. The local blue laws had been repealed less than ten years earlier at the first store where I worked and within the previous five years at the next store. However, I heard plenty of discussion about an unintended consequence of the blue laws’ repeal: the divorce rate among managers soared.

      That didn’t directly pertain to me; I was single then and remain single now, more by circumstance than choice. I long ago left retail; the chain for which I worked is no longer in business. However, it’s a reminder that what’s good for the customers may not be so good for employees and their families.

    • Is the term “Blue Laws” a holdover from the days when conservatives were the Blue party?

      • That Other Jean says

        Snopes says that the term “Blue Laws” derives from the same 18th Century source as terms like “bluenose,” indicating someone/something rigidly moral. Makes sense to me.

  7. Why, oh why, do American Christians veer so often to “Christian” museums & theme parks & the like? It so diminishes the whole notion of religion as any kind of divine encounter, or am I in the minority on this? I can’t think of God as a Disneyworld/Madame Tussaud combo pack.

    • Well, if your identity is formed mostly by being American rather than being Christian; and if, as an American, you really enjoy theme parks and museums, but your veneer of Christianity is offended by many of the things you encounter in them; and if, like many Americans, you have plenty of resources to use in building your own alternate reality, so that you can pretend to be religious while you’re really just indulging your own entertainment appetite; then the you kill two birds with one stone, by making your religion your entertainment, and building theme parks and museums and the whole Christian entertainment subculture.

      • Well said, Robert, well said.
        As I get older, I am more & more disturbed by the alternate reality so many American Christians, evangelical & not, have created for themselves. The fear it creates when reality attempts to creep in is palpable. The problems in the world are always about the others, not about looking at the log in our own eyes

        • The tragic thing is that the alternate reality being produced by this Christian infotainment subculture and industry is being identified as part of the Kingdom of God.

      • Well, if your identity is formed mostly by being American rather than being Christian…

        Stop RIGHT THERE. That’s the problem. No need to explain further.

    • Glenn A Bolas says

      This isn’t limited to Christianity.

      Here in China, a short drive out of Xi’an is the temple complex of ??? (FaMenSi) which houses a fingerbone of the Buddha, sent to the Chinese, according to legend, by Ashoka back in the day. Sometime in the last 10 years or so, the government decided this was something worth putting money towards and developing. So now if you go there, you’ll find a six-or-so storey tall building in the shape of the reliquary that holds the fingerbone, at the end of a broad and lengthy pedestrian avenue flanked by massive statues of boddhisatvas, with various exhibits and whatnot off to the sides. Which sounds like it could be religious enough, but then you also have the people-movers in the shape of trains, like you find in Disneyland, that carry people back and forth to the various attractions along the way, and the chant music being piped through speakers cunningly concealed in trees and foliage along the way.

      It’s a very odd place, and seems to be some curious cross between a theme park, a place of pilgrimage and, for want of a better word, an outreach centre (one exhibit, spread through interconnected gardens, comprises a series of statues and tableaux describing the life of the Buddha, for example). When I visited there, I found it an incredibly strange experience. Not disagreeable necessarily, but…strange.

      Funny thing is, the old pagoda that actually houses the Buddha’s fingerbone is way off to the side down a rather inconspicuous road that you really need to look to find. Probably a fair few of the considerable number of visitors never even see it. So I guess mistaking the trappings for the substance is not a problem exclusive to Christianity either.

    • We don’t have sacred spaces. Granted, by late medieval-ism pilgrimages to sacred places became lucrative business. There are no shrines, cathedrals, or tombs to visit where God’s presence is pronounce. A protestant congregation without an altar and real presence through the sacrament, God’s presence has to be conjured through heightened emotional sacrifices of worship. With the destruction of sacred places during the reformation, protestants still long for them through strange substitutes and euphemisms. Christmas and Santa Claus is a type of bizarre protestant sacred substitute.

  8. We still have one blue law left here in Fayetteville Arkansas;

    Can’t buy liquor in a store on Sunday–not even in WalMart. If I just havta, I drive to Springdale.

  9. Clear blue sky, sunshine,
    not a single cloud in sight,
    the whole day ahead.

  10. Are there still dry counties in Arkansas? When I was in college in the 70s, I visited my roommate’s family in Arkansas. As part of a “fishing trip” he took us on (I think we were just a blind), her dad loaded up cases of liquor and drove it into the Ozarks to supply a dry county. My college years were very educational in every way. 🙂

    • This was meant to be a reply to Tom/Volkmar.

      • Don’t know why but my reply is not appearing…

        • Funny how that one did, though…

          Yes, Damaris, there are still some “dry” counties in Arkansas. In NW Arkansas 2 hold out dry counties voted to go wet in 2012. It didn’t take no time atal for a big, fancy pottery shop to sprout from the soil in Huntsville, Madison County (aka, “Booger county”, which I think stayed dry because the moonshiners didn’t want commercial competition) where I lived for 21 years. Washington County, where I currently live, has always been wet. Can’t have a state university in a dry county could ya now? ;o)

          I have a daughter who lives in eastern Ark. in Jonesboro–which is in a dry county. Everyone drives a few miles north, south, or west and gets their booze while supporting the tax revenues of those other counties.

        • Is there a language filter on the comments? I’ll try leaving out the local referent for Madison County…

          Yes, Damaris, there are still some “dry” counties in Arkansas. In NW Arkansas 2 hold out dry counties voted to go wet in 2012. It didn’t take no time atal for a big, fancy pottery shop to sprout from the soil in Huntsville, Madison County (aka, “______ county”, which I think stayed dry because the moonshiners didn’t want commercial competition) where I lived for 21 years. Washington County, where I currently live, has always been wet. Can’t have a state university in a dry county could ya now? ;o)

          I have a daughter who lives in eastern Ark. in Jonesboro–which is in a dry county. Everyone drives a few miles north, south, or west and gets their booze while supporting the tax revenues of those other counties.

    • “I think we were just a blind”

      The modern parlance is “beard”. 😉

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Dam’s Dad turned boolegger?

      “There was thunder, thunder
      All over Thunder Road;
      Thunder was his engine,
      And white lightning was his load…”

  11. Thanks for the Wintergaten ‘tube. This guy is amazingly creative and intelligent.

  12. I wonder if Wintergaten was inspired by anamusic:


  13. A couple of months have passed, but I’m still meditating on David Bowie’s death. Here’s a wonderful, emotional version of “Life on Mars”. It is evidence that Bowie actually was a good, albeit idiosyncratic, singer, and that his singing had improved as he got older.


  14. My brother rented a room in Dutch-Reformed Holland, Michigan, back in the 60’s and one nice fall day went out to rake the lawn as a good will gesture. It being the “Sabbath”, his landlady came running out horrified to stop him. I think that incident helped solidify the cynical and antagonistic attitude toward Christians he took to his grave. I also remember from that time that Holland had a reputation of having way more teen age pregnancies than the norm. In fairness, I doubt if raking your leaves there on Sunday would raise many eyebrows today.

    At the same time, I don’t like hearing your leaf blower or lawn mower or chain saw on Sunday. Just seems like I should be able to catch a break once a week from the noise and I try not to do it to my neighbors. Maybe if we can get Ted Cruz elected this will no longer be a problem. If you are Jewish or Muslim or Adventist, sorry, but the Sabbath is on Sunday after all. Read your Bible!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      In SDA End Time Prophecy, isn’t the true Mark of the Beast the “National Sunday Law” where the Feds make Sunday Keeping mandatory?

      • >>In SDA End Time Prophecy, isn’t the true Mark of the Beast the “National Sunday Law” where the Feds make Sunday Keeping mandatory?

        HUG, that sounds like a joke, and I don’t know the answer to your question, but it would not surprise me if so, as it would not surprise me if that actually happened under “freedom of religion” with the high priest and king Cruz. I would say highly unlikely to occur in our lifetime, but not because the will to impose it isn’t out there. Given the choice, I would take SDA Ben Carson over Senor Cruz as by far the lesser of two evils. Seems like we have a record number of evils to choose from this time around.

    • –> “Maybe if we can get Ted Cruz elected this will no longer be a problem.”

      Elect Ted Cruz and make Sunday’s peaceful again!

  15. Christiane says

    somewhere between the Christian-lion-saving-ass story and the wonderful Swedish marble-music, I forgot the week’s troubles for a while, just long enough to feel revived . . . some blessings come in strange costumes and evoke laughter and wonder . . . thanks, Chaplain MIKE, for the gift of joy this morning

  16. “What we have here is another Christian who abandoned his convictions just to save his own ass.”
    That’s professional grade comedy work right there.

  17. the idol of progress …kill me.

    Been listening to Tool’s Lateralus a lot lately, especially the title song. Realize how much of a great life anthem it would make, how it’s basic message of always improving, always spiraling outwhere, being willing and able to grow and change, makes so much more sense than any Christian message I heard growing up. Obviously if “love God, love others” had been the core, that’s one thing, but it wasn’t.

    A friend shared with me this awesome video of how Lateralus is structured to follow the Fibonacci Sequence. So very cool. Such a good song and message.


    • Random thought.

      What’s the point of eating from the Tree of Life if you don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

      I think I’d rather choose knowledge over life. Adam and Eve made the wise choice. Knowledge brings life.

      • It isn’t really chased down in Christian theology, but that is the whole point. Christian eschatology teaches that we all – having eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, will gather in the next life eating from the trees of life. So in a way, eating from both was God’s plan all along…

      • And yet the importance of unknowing. Knowledge (cerebral) ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

        • I call bullshit.

          • Hmm…I might agree with Chris. Let me explain…

            I’ve been leading a men’s group through a study of Phillip Keller’s “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.” In it, he describes his experience as a shepherd and how actual shepherd/sheep things relate to what David wrote in the psalm. One thing that struck me (and I believe I mentioned this in a comment a few weeks back) is that sheep, unlike us, aren’t blessed (or maybe “aren’t cursed”) with very large brains. When things go BAD, they don’t KNOW why they go bad, they don’t dwell on the suffering, they don’t think “why did my good shepherd desert me”. Nature and predators sometimes overcome and overwhelm them, but maybe they’re better off for “not knowing” or dwelling on the whys or the why me’s. The fact is, a good shepherd will suffer losses and his sheep will suffer moments of calamity. Sheep – those without large brains and without opposable thumbs – don’t hold it against anyone or anything.

            Having said that, I’m glad I HAVE a brain, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something to be said for “maybe I’d better off if I knew less.”

          • The shepherd metaphor has begun disturbing me on a very american, very free will type level. There’s something to be said for some guy in the distance guiding and offering advice, but the idea of that person being in and on you, physically moving you with a stick, breaking your leg (true or not), just so he can profit off of you, violate you, take from you, even kill you…


            Supply Side Jesus would approve.

          • Stuart, read Keller’s book and you’ll change your mind about the shepherd metaphor. It’s an awesome metaphor in reality. For example, the rod (which it sounds like you fear, but which David draws comfort from) is in reality, in the hands of a good shepherd, a tool of GENTLE correction (“Hey, sheep of mine…you might want to stay away from that ledge”) and for GENTLE examination (“Hey, sheep of mine…let me see what kinds of things are milling around under your wool”). Correction and examination are VITAL to the well-being of a sheep.

            And what’s really cool about Keller’s book is looking at what a SHEPHERD gets out of his shepherding: “Nothing pleased me more than to see my flock flourish and prosper. It delighted me personally, to no end… To see them content was wonderful. To see the land benefitting was wonderful. The two together made me a happy man. It enriched my own life; it was a reward for my efforts and energy. In this experience I received full compensation for all that I had poured into the endeavor.”

            Reading the book and then studying it with a dozen other guys…well, the experience has changed the way I view God and Jesus and my own interaction with them.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says

            Stuart – shades of Hitchens’ Celestial Dictator?

          • Sorry, I can’t buy into that. Medieval mysticism disguised as thinking. It’s just a story – a fairytale or myth designed to explain things we don’t know about. Which, you know, makes the whole project ironically self-defeating.

        • When you say that, ChrisS, I guess that you’re not commending simple ignorance as higher than knowledge, but referring to the kind of unknowing that the medieval mystical treatise, The Cloud of Unknowing describes: an unknowing that transcends cerebral knowledge but does not contradict it.

          Is that correct?

    • Dana Ames says

      That is an awesome video. When my kids were still at home, I really enjoyed it when I heard their Tool music coming through the doors. I may just send the link to them.

      “Knowledge brings life.” Forgive me, Stuart – that is spoken like a true Enlightenment materialist, the epitome of our culture, including most brands of Christian. Not trying to insult you at all, that’s just the water in which we all swim… just want you to think, man… I have been in the same boat as you with regard to rejecting much of the fundamentalist-flavored, bibliolotry–undergirded interpretation I picked up during my Evangelical years. One of the things I came to was that knowledge is neutral; it may or not make any difference in a person’s life or outlook – if it does, that is a result of what a person already has in him/her. A person without much knowledge can still give and receive love, which truly is the source of life. Long ago, the ancient Greeks came to understand that knowledge does not equal virtue. It is virtue – in ourselves and especially in others – that we actually insist upon. That’s why you get upset at the nonsensical things some Christians say and do.

      In my faith tradition, we believe God was eventually going to give the fruit of the knowledge tree to the first humans. Knowledge was not the problem – lack of trust in God and the determination to be life unto themselves without reference to God was the problem. Not every Christian tradition is as problematic as that which you rightly exited.


      • Dana, I agree with this wholeheartedly!

        knowledge is neutral; it may or not make any difference in a person’s life or outlook

        Good comment and pushback, thank you!

      • I was going to call bs on the “knowledge is life” comment, too.

        WISDOM might bring life, but no way that knowledge does. How else do you explain all the smart people in the world who do nothing but bring death…

        • I get the distinction, and I would agree, but I think I was making a bigger point. I actually deleted that line then rewrote it, debated putting it there.

          But from a lot of my perspective, knowledge does bring life. Wisdom is just that form of correct life, or life experienced ergo knowledge.

          Is wisdom a religious term? Kinda like good and evil?

          • I see wisdom as the application of knowledge. I don’t think it’s religious, though certainly it’s often used in religious circles.

            When I think of the difference these days I think of Ben Carson. Smart man, obviously, but how, then, do I explain his anti-vaccine stance, his “pyramids were built as storehouses for grain” belief, his endorsement of Trump. Smart, yet not.

            Knowledge doesn’t bring life, only the correct application of it does.

      • Burro [Mule] says

        A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
        How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any
        more than he.

        I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
        green stuff woven.

        • Despite his mystical narcissism, you still gotta love Whitman. At least his was a generous, wide, inclusive narcissism.

  18. She lights two candles,
    crosses herself, bows her head–
    steps into silence.

    • She is raging, she is raging
      And the storm blows up in her eyes
      She will suffer the needle chill
      She is running to stand still

      fyi, i never mean to detract from your original work by quoting lyrics. you just spark things in my head, lol

  19. The “Christian vs. Lion” story…

    Reminds me of something a friend at church often says: “Self-inflicted problems don’t count.” I don’t know how often he and I hear someone’s drama and then look at each other, sharing the same thought: Doesn’t count.

    • And then Jesus looked around and saw all the problems of the human race, violence, hatred, war, lies, inhumanity of every kind, and, lo, he said unto himself, Doesn’t count.

      • Yes…I don’t disagree…

      • But in the case of the Christian and the lion (and Christians and snakes), he (they) can’t really complain when things go awry, right?

        • I guess it depends on what you mean by the word complain. I’m not someone who can shut off all sympathy for people (Christian or not) who do stupid things, and end up suffering for it; I’ve done too many stupid things myself, and still hoped for empathy from others when suffering inevitably followed.

          • So…we’re supposed to feel sympathy for the guy who runs out toward a lion because God told him it would be okay and the guy almost gets his rear end whacked off…? Okay, I *might* feel *some* sympathy, but if he COMPLAINS about it…nah…

          • Rick, You’re not supposed to do anything…you’re free to do as you choose. It has always been so.

          • I feel sympathy for him. Not because his rear end hurts, but because he is, apparently, a total dumbass.

          • I don’t think you can entirely dismiss the possibility that the dumbass is in the grip of psychological and/or cultural dysfunction, not least of which is a tendency in African religion, Christian and non-Christian alike, to see spirits and supernatural events everywhere. Such beliefs can induce a kind of mental disorder, as I’m sure a number of the commenters here at iMonk could testify to, because they’ve experienced it when they were in the grip of such beliefs themselves.

            And then there is the fact that the dumbass is in all likelihood not the only when to suffer from his action; likely he has family, perhaps a wife and kids, or parents and extended family, who perhaps depend on him and will suffer as a result of his rash and foolish act. “No man is an island”, not even a dumbass.

    • Rick, I’m surrounded by people whose problems are largely self-inflicted. They don’t run after lions, but they go back to their abusive husbands or dangerous friends and think it will be different this time — again and again. And my sympathy is stimulated exactly *because* their problems are self-inflicted. As tragic as it is to see an innocent victim, it is in a way more tragic to see someone victimizing themselves. Yes, their problems could have been prevented if they had just not done that dumb thing, but how sad that they couldn’t or didn’t stop themselves. They have no friends — they are not even friends to themselves.

      At the same time, I think there is a level of Darwin-Karma, if I may coin a term, that the rules of the universe bring to bear on these people. It’s funny, but it’s also tragic, in the most literary and philosophical sense of the word.

      • Meh. I think there is a categorical difference between someone approaching a feeding lion, and someone who returns to an abuser. The former is an example of hubris and poor character, while the latter is the result of complex and not entirely understood psychology and probably manipulation.

    • I’m inclined to agree, yes!

  20. The newspaper reported that Ndiwane feared he would lose his left buttock, but emergency surgery saved his rear end.

    A new Christian bestseller?

    Left Behind: The Alec Ndiwane Story.

  21. “According to South Africa’s Daily Post newspaper, Ndiwane and members of his church were recently driving by a pack of lions eating an impala.”

    At least it wasn’t a Rambler.

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