November 26, 2020

Open Mic: May 2016 (New folks, come join us!)

Conversation, Photo by Daniel

Conversation, Photo by Daniel

Open Mic, with a special invitation to new commenters.

It has been awhile since we’ve done an Open Mic. It has also been some time since we’ve extended a specific invitation to those who are new to Internet Monk, or who read but rarely comment.

An Open Forum is an opportunity for you to choose a topic you want to discuss, or simply make a comment, ask a question, or pass along some news or a greeting.

And I would like to especially invite people who are new to Internet Monk or who have not commented before to check in and say hi. We certainly appreciate all of our regulars, but we also know there is a large group of folks out there who simply read and never participate in the discussion. Here’s an invitation for you to put in your two cents worth today, even if it’s just to let us know you read IM.

As always, we expect courtesy, good listening, and thoughtful interaction.

I’ll be on the road, on the way to visiting friends and family, and will check in occasionally to meet the new folks and see how the conversation is going.

But other than that, the day is yours. Enjoy.

• • •

Photo by Daniel at Flickr. Creative Commons License.


  1. Robert F says

    Insect crawls across
    the kitchen floor, exposed in
    the lucid moonlight.

  2. That Other Jean says

    invisible moon,
    swathed in gray, damp clouds, and cold–
    another morning.

  3. CM, a hacker seems to have spoiled the end of your post and you may want to fix it!

  4. Ronald Avra says

    Extra coffee please

    • Danielle says

      Cream or no cream?

      • Heavy cream if you got it, half and half otherwise.

        • Robert F says

          Black, no sweetener.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            The problem with comments like this is that even if it is past my bedtime…I am now craving coffee. Black and strong.

          • Robert F says

            Perhaps some nice biscotti to go with that demitasse of espresso.

          • Rick Ro. says

            Coffee, biscotti…Yummmmmm….

            Though as a former New Orleans guy I’m now dreaming of chicory and beignets.

          • Robert F says

            For a perfect desert treat, put a little anisette in that espresso, just enough to make the coffee spill over the side of the demitasse cup, just enough to make it cry, as the old Italian-Americans used to say.

          • Robert F says

            Correction: ..dessert treat…

          • I can only do good coffee black. Otherwise, it needs a little cream to help it go down easy, like water with your whiskey.

  5. Hello everyone
    I am not really new here, but
    I follow along.

    I’m Andrew. I’m a stay-at-home dad of two boys, ages 3.5 and 2. I live in Omaha, Nebraska. I’ve been reading IM for about 4 years. I’ve maybe commented three or so times, but I always enjoy the conversations and dialogue in the comments section. (A thing I’ve never said before…)

    My journey in faith actually started sitting under Chaplain Mike when I was a young kid. He was the associate pastor at the church my family attended. It’s where I became a believer and was baptized. So there’s that interesting connection. Since then, my journey has been winding. I graduated with a Bible degree from a proudly fundamentalist college (Pensacola Christian College) and then earned my MDiv in 2012 from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (something my fundamentalist college told me I’d have to stand before God for and give account of).

    Since graduating we’ve attended a few churches (evangelical free) due to moves. When we moved to Omaha at the beginning of last year we struggled to find a church we felt ok with and ended up settling with a Reformed Acts 29 church. After a number of red flags had gone off, we made the final decision to leave the church and have been attending a progressive United Methodist church since Easter. So I guess we’re officially post-evangelical, or progressive Christians. I’ve spent most of my adult life being the most liberal person in the room, and now I think I’m probably one of the most conservative at my church. It’s been quite the shift.

    We are still getting used to the many differences at the United Methodist Church right now, including a different understanding of atonement theory as well as being very inclusive, something we generally agree with but have never experienced in a church before. (Side note: The United Methodist Church is having their conference right now to discuss major issues for the church as a whole, including perhaps including LGBTQ clergy in the future.)

    Anyway, I thanks for letting me blather on. This site and the conversations in the comment section have been very helpful to me on my faith journey. They’ve supplemented me, helped me know it’s ok to ask tough even heretical sounding questions.

    Maybe I’ll join in more convos in the future now that I find many of the conversations on this site more relevant than ever.

    • Andrew, it sounds like you made the journey rather quickly. I wasted over 30 years of my life in that kind of fundamentalist environment (though none quite as conservative as PCC – mostly Southern Baptist). You should be thankful for God’s grace in leading you out so soon! My feet are still a little shaky – I don’t know exactly where I’m going to end up, but I know I’m not going back.

    • Hello and welcome Andrew! And my condolences on going to Pensacola. Of all the fundamentalist options I had coming out of high school (Bob Jones, PCC, Maranatha, Northland…), PCC was the one my parents absolutely forbade me from ever considering.

      Sounds like you and I would have a lot to talk about, very similar journeys.

    • I like your story, Andrew. Recognition and acceptance that churches, being composed of humans, are flawed by definition. Ongoing search for best ways available to meet God. A journey, not a destination. Refusal to be hoodwinked, brainwashed, or shamed. Refusal to be a victim, refusal to indulge in blame and recrimination. Realize when it is time to move on and do it without pointing fingers or looking back. Not a story of moving from church to church but of moving from one aspect or set of lessons to another within the church at large. I will be interested in any reports from the front as you explore your Methodist studies.

    • Danielle says

      “I’m a stay-at-home dad of two boys, ages 3.5 and 2.”

      Allow me to tip my hat to you. We’ve got boy who is almost four. My husband works from home, and is usually the one keeping home life in order.

      BTW, we have a similar trajectory. I spent junior high and high school in fundamentalist/evangelical communities (I had feet in both due to being embedded in home school networks that included more evangelical and fundamentalist-Quiverfull types). I also went to Trinity, but was “across the street” at the College for my BA. Took a couple of TEDS classes, but in the end chose to pursue an academic degree (history Ph.D.) rather than enrolling in seminary.

      After the Trinity years, we spent several years in United Methodist churches. It was a good place to decompress, and slowly ask myself some questions I had to sort over. The Methodists were very good to us, and we’d still be in the UMC if our last move hadn’t necessitated a church switch.

      I keenly recall the shakiness Greg mentions – some of this has quieted, after looking behind me & realizing how long I’ve spent practicing and praying where we now exist. God is good.

    • Rick Ro. says

      I’ve been a stay-at-home dad since my daughter was 6 months old and she’s now 14. Interesting job! Good luck and have fun!!!

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      Fellow PCC grad here. ’04
      And now a proud Louisville grad as well, MBA ’12

    • Hey Andrew,

      Great story! Never went to PCC, but shared dorms with transfer students from there, who told us horror stories about pink and blue sidewalk.

      Just throwing this out there: If you’re still curious, St. Mark’s Lutheran in your town might be a nice place. It would be more conservative in theology, but possibly a similar worship culture. The music director there is an acquaintance, and a great guy. Could be worth a visit.

      • Miguel-

        Small world! I grew up at St. Mark; it was the parish I was confirmed at. And that same music director (if It is the one that has been there for years now) helped teach me music, and is a close family friend.

  6. Thanks, Greg. Yes, my life has been one marked with grace. One I can’t be too grateful for.

    Like most things, I hold my relationship with fundamentalism in tension. Would I go back and do it again? Probably not. But it’s a part of my past. Something I can’t simply ignore. It’s shaped and formed me in all sorts of ways. It’s a part of my spiritual DNA now. If anything, being a part of fundamentalism for four years showed me God’s great mercy and how he allows us to put him in our theological boxes. He works within them and through them in his great mercy. I think the same is true for all theological streams. And to me, that shows a God that is deeply interested in relating with us. And that gives me hope.

    • But it’s a part of my past. Something I can’t simply ignore.

      Very true. These things crop up. But I’ve also discovered being ruthless with cutting out it’s sources and toxicity can do wonders. Tougher I imagine if you have family and friends attached to it still.

    • Danielle says

      “If anything, being a part of fundamentalism for four years showed me God’s great mercy and how he allows us to put him in our theological boxes. He works within them and through them in his great mercy. I think the same is true for all theological streams. And to me, that shows a God that is deeply interested in relating with us. And that gives me hope.”


  7. Rick Ro. says

    Well, since we’ve only had a few posts thus far I’ll toss some stuff in here.

    Currently reading:
    Terry Pratchett’s “Making Money.” Only recently discovered Pratchett’s writing. Oh, gosh…brilliant stuff! Clever and funny.

    Currently listening to:
    Rediscovering U2’s “Pop” album. Dark, bleak, full of angst and unanswered questions about “Where is God”.

    • After you finish Money, you MUST read Guards! Guards!. One of his all-time best. 😉

      • Rick Ro. says

        It’s now on the list. Thanks for the tip, Eeyore! So far I’ve only read “Thud” and “Going Postal.” Gosh, there are moments in “Making Money” that are just so darn clever and funny!!! The whole bit about the guy trying to raise his eyebrow like Lord Vetinari…that’s just darn good writing.

      • That Other Jean says

        May I throw in a plug for “Wyrd Sisters” and “Witches Abroad”? If you haven’t yet, you need to meet Granny Weatherwax and Gytha Ogg. Granny Weatherwax has a great deal of wisdom, and the ultimate definition of sin. Gytha Ogg attempts to keep Granny Weatherwax from being as hard on herself and their world as she is inclined to do.

    • Pop is great. Highly recommend swapping out album tracks for Single Mixes where you can, much better produced.

      Staring at the Sun is in my top 10 favorite U2 songs.

      • Rick Ro. says

        SB, see my Internet Monk FB post about what I’m learning about “Pop” during my recent listen.

    • Danielle says

      Rick, the book discussion reminds me – I seem to recall an earlier book thread where you were talking about “Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson. I finally finished it, a few months ago. Loved the ending. So, I might need to move onto “Lila.” She’s ever-present in Gilead, but one never knows what she is thinking.

      On a totally different literary note, did you say recently that you write science fiction? My husband and you may be ships passing in the night – so does he, at least between the hours of 4 and 7 am, and whenever else he can get the time. Sadly his day job is programming, which he is good at but dislikes. But writing is good.

      • Rick Ro. says

        Hi, Danielle…

        Yes, I’ve talked about “Gilead,” “Home,” and “Lila” here on the boards. “Gilead” was such a strange book for me. I struggled getting through it, then when I reached the end I immediately wanted to re-read it. When I finally got around to re-reading it (about a year ago), I absolutely loved it second time through.

        “Home” is technically the second book in the series. It is extremely well-written, but there’s an underlying sadness to it that is difficult to shake.

        “Lila” was one of the most fascinating books I’ve read. I would swear that Lila is a real person. And some of the insights I’ve gotten about “damaged” people, like how they might not want to be fixed, or might not trust those who you and I would say “Trust them!” Brilliant book.

      • Rick Ro. says

        Also, yes…I’m going through a second major edit – and hopefully my last – on my sci-fi book. I’m hopefully in a position to need to figure out the whole publishing thing here by the end of the year!!!

        • Danielle says

          Rick, send up a signal flare when you get to the point where make your writing available. We love us sci fi over here in Baltimore, so I’ll be sure check it out.

          Jeremy (my husband) has been working on shopping out short stories this past year. He has had a few successes. Quite a process, but I think he’ enjoyed sending things out.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      You know what:Just start at “The colour of Magic” and go all the way to “A Shepherd’s Crown”. Some you might like more than others. I have my favourites among them, yours might be different. But the journey is fantastic..

    • I love Terry Pratchett. Love Vimes, Tiffany and Granny Weatherwax. His books are full of wisdom and hidden treasures. If you want to know what the church is like without God… read small gods. How unique God made mankind… Thief of time. Something about grace and second chances… Going postal. Best leadership book…. Nightwatch. How we dehumanise people to use them… Feet of clay. Faith…. Carpe Jugulum. His female characters are strong and if you have a daughter, Tiffany is a must read. Is it just me who sees these themes in these books? What has your experiences been?

  8. CM,
    I’m convinced that you are continuing the tradition of Michael Spencer very well indeed. Internet Monk is an island of peace and sanity in the middle of the American Christian craziness. Keep up the great work! And don’t forget to get some rest. Even bloggers need some.

  9. 3rd congressional District candidate meet sponsored by the local League of Woman Voters. Nine candidates showed up for the meet ‘n’ greet; 7 Republicans and 2 Democrats. This is THE most conservative district in the state, and probably one of the most conservative in the country. The winner of the GOP primary is likely to be our next Congressperson. Make that Congressman. The only female in the race is a Democrat.

    Wondering how the Trump and Sanders insurgencies are playing out downticket?

    Surprise! You would have thought it was 2010, or worse, 2002 by the way the GOP candidates talked. Not one of them addressed the hot-ticket issues that are likely to propel the national contest; immigration and trade. The GOP candidates seemed to be intent on distinguishing themselves on the basis of who would be the most draconian budget-balancer.

    Fugwaddafug? Who cares about THAT? When all your banknotes are basically IOUs anyway, you can keep issuing them until nobody wants any more. If we eliminated the deficit, we wouldn’t have any money to use between ourselves. I’m not interested in THAT much deflation. Forget these idiots.

    The Democrats aren’t much better. The lady is, surprisingly, a Sanders supporter. She made a lot of sense about single-payer health care, military demobilization, and gun control. She’ll get maybe 6 votes in this district, but I’m glad she paid the $5k filing fee to run. I hope she can spare it. The other Democrat was a pastor to the right of Hillary Clinton.


  10. Grace C. says

    Hi everybody,

    I’ve said hello before on this forum but not properly introduced myself. I’ve been following this blog since chancing upon a Saturday rambling post (by Daniel) which gave myself (and my friends) laughs for days (It was the one with the video of a guy playing a keyboard and singing “Obama is a lizard king” and “It’s prophesied, It’s prophesied!”). I still have a giggle every time I remember that song – so thanks Daniel. 🙂

    I’m of Malaysian origin, a naturalised Brit, and currently live in Basel, Switzerland. (As a side note, there’s a “Karl Bath” tour here which one can do in the town). Not being American, I find the cultural debate and the American brand of religion/politics mix in equal parts fascinating and mind-boggling and I love reading the comments and debates on these pages.

    I grew up in an “independent charismatic” church (pastored by my dad who is/was a fan of Kenneth Hagin, John Wimber, Smith Wigglesworth, etc but who also had deep roots in the Anglican church (due to Anglican missionaries in the village where he grew up). Church growing up was a mix of faith teaching, healing and deliverance services, and a modified prayer book which in hindsight was loosely based on the Book of Common Prayer. At one point, dad was also hosting conferences featuring IBLP (Bill Gothard) videos and considered home-schooling my youngest sister. Thankfully, that phase passed before anything concrete came out of it – Dad later rejected Bill’s teachings but I still tease him occasionally about it (“Remember that time…?”). Looking back, I would say that church life was pretty “conservative” and patriarchal. I can think of a lot of ways on how my dad could have done a better job at the whole church experience and I think he realised that too – about c.10 years ago he had a real revelation of the grace of God which I think changed his approach slightly to pastoring (less fire and brimstone, more gracious). But as someone who has been an inside witness to the tears and toil of a pastor, I would also say that my dad had a genuine and strong love for God, for the church and for the people under his care and he did his best with what was in his hands.

    When I moved to London, I attended Hillsong church (for about 10 years and yes, I know all the songs:) – It was exactly what I needed at that point in my life and my spiritual life grew in unexpected ways. I met my husband and made a lot of life-long friends at church. The Hillsong experience taught me not to take myself too seriously, and to learn how to just “be”. They also have a real commitment to excellence and to giving their best – but again, as with my childhood church experience, I realise that no one church is perfect, and I guess “doing church” is like a commitment to family – we will inevitably disagree but I hope we can still share a meal and hang out and not sweat the small stuff.

    Now in Basel, we are part of the local Anglican church and my husband and I go to the more “traditional” evening service. It’s full of mostly elderly folks (some of whom have been coming for almost 30 years) and we meet in a side chapel next to the larger cathedral. The music is great and we have loved getting to know slightly older folks who despite their age are full of enthusiasm for life! (Our friends in London were mostly in the 20s-30s). The anglican church liturgy is a different expression of devotion (compared to Hillsong, and my childhood church), and we are experiencing the presence and love of God in a different way.

    Dotted around Basel city are various reminders of the reformed movement which started in this part of the world – I’m discovering a deeper appreciation for the Swiss and German tradition of reformed/Lutheran Christianity. Basel is also host to the International Bonhoeffer Congress this July (If any of you are in town for that, please get in touch!).

    That’s all I guess – thank you Chaplain Mike (and the other contributors) for all your efforts in maintaining this site. It’s the one website I return to again and again (second only to the NYT). 🙂

    • Michael Bell says

      Visited friends in Basel in 1974. My only trip to Switzerland. So I have visited your fair city. About the only recollection I have is driving through the Alps in a blizzard to get there. A very harrowing experience.

    • Robert F says

      As a side note, there’s a “Karl Bath” tour here which one can do in the town..

      Perhaps a Karl Bath is the style of baptistry (credobaptism only, please) preferred by Professor Barth?

      • Lol 🙂 – I believe it was auto correct as I recall changing it from “Bath” to “Barth”!

    • Hi Grace

      I will rest easy tonight, knowing I have exposed your mind to the music of William Tapley, the “third eagle of the apocalypse”. Be sure to check out his other videos. “Doom and Gloom” is, of course, a masterpiece, but “Mitt Romney, a Hero in my Mind” can’t be beat for succinctness.

      • Daniel,

        Had tears watching the Mitt Romney video! “Early in November” is now playing in the background – the music is slightly stylistically different from the rest (bit of a celtic twang to it).

        The scenery in the background though? He lives in a beautiful place!

        Oh and now “Take the R train” is playing – he’s got a wide repertoire which I wasn’t aware of before. 🙂

  11. Hi comrades

  12. Moosemane says

    I’m a lurker here and have been for years. Raised as a two holiday Missouri Synod lutheran, moved to United methodist (basic lay speaker for a few years) and now wandering. My wife leans more evangelical (brought up Elca, with her family building the corner church several generations back) and I lean more…. Well I’m here in the wilderness.

    A topic I’d really like to see more of is Vocation out of the Christian complex, so to speak. Most of the readings I buy are from people who make their living in “Christianity”, many commenting here are attached to church leadership and function in that world. Few churches I’ve attended seem to recognize that careers outside the church take significant time/commitment but we still need care and Christian direction too. Programs and involvement seem focused around children (ours is 24) or retirees. I get most fed by quiet time in the evenings with a thoughtful book and the bible. Thoughts?

    • Here is a good post that expresses what I think you’re saying, and I do agree.

      • Moosemane says

        Thanks for the post Greg,

        It’s not that I need to read people like me, just the opposite. My reading can include C. S. Lewis, . N. The. Wright, and Richard Foster, Augustine (Confessions was great and made it half way through City of God before losing ability to focus on the points) as well as others, but it always seems so segmented between the way things “should be” and the way life functions. Almost no TV shows show faith struggles, growth, doubt etc. (not that TV shows are the greatest metric). You’re either all in or all out. Best show I can think of for showing life/Christian struggle in modern secular culture was Joan of Arcadia, for all it’s mixed messages and confused, mixed doctrine and religious views.

        Anyway, thanks for listening. I appreciate this site and the sincere work and views expressed.

        • Rick Ro. says

          Philip Yancey’s “Disappointment with God” is a great book that asks tough questions and doesn’t seem to provide nice, tidy answers. It was a book that helped me immensely during my spiritual desert walk.

    • I’m a lurker here also. Two books I have appreciated on the topic of vocation outside church stuff are by Gene Veith. The first one is God at Work. The other is Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood. They can be found at amazon. Either one might make a thoughtful read on one of your quiet evenings. God bless.

  13. Robert F says

    I sometimes think that Christianity is an illusion, that reality is this,,

    and that I have not yet Caught the Bull.

    • I went through a phase of being strongly attracted to Zen Buddhism, which I felt offered a lot of what was missing from Evangelicalism. True story, that’s how I found this place, as I was searching for podcasts under the term “monk.”

      • Robert F says

        Miguel, I would say that Lutheranism, at least in some of its expressions, with its embrace of paradox and its theology of the cross, speaks a theological language that it in certain ways parallels and mirrors the anti-metaphysical metaphysics of Zen. “The finite contains the infinite” is an utterance that sounds so much like Zen it’s uncanny.

        • I do see many parallels, though paradox and mystery are the heart of all Christianity, not just Lutheranism, even those expressions who miss the point.

          “The finite contains the infinite” is not necessarily a Lutheran teaching. It’s the teaching of all Christendom on the incarnation. Nestorians often forget this 😛

          My undergrad philosophy prof taught world religion, at a conservative dispensationalist Southern Baptist institution, by attempting to convert you to each one. Oddly enough, he succeeded on many counts, and several students left his class Zen or Sufi. The saying went, “If you survive Fred’s class with your faith intact, it was real.” One of the projects was to write a tract, like a Chick Tract, selling one of the religions being studied.

          These days I don’t take Zen very seriously, in terms of potential adherence. But I do appreciate some of the interesting things I learned, and how it sharpened my thinking to encounter eastern religion, culture, and thinking. I wound up marrying a girl from Japan (from a Catholic family, go figure!) and her parents have taken us to tour many of the major Zen temples there. My mother in law is a tremendous tour guide, she understands the religions and the traditions very well. It is fascinating to see so many parallels among different religions, and recognizing these helps think through the crucial differences.

      • ‘True story, that’s how I found this place, as I was searching for podcasts under the term “monk.”’

        Now that’s funny! Miguel, you are an interesting fellow. Blessings.

    • Danielle says

      I don’t understand Buddhism nearly as well as I should; perhaps one can’t without practicing it for an extended period. However, I was living in Bloomington, Indiana when the Dalai Lama made one of his visits (there’s a monastery and Tibetan cultural center in Bloomington) and did a series of teachings at the university. It was a very interesting experience, both visually and because I’d never been introduced to it before.

      Being clueless, there was a whole lot I didn’t follow, but the idea that enlightenment would involve turning back into the world until all people reached enlightenment made a deep impression on me. I struggle with the idea of anything less than a wholly inclusive picture of redemption, so anyone who says anything remotely like this has my attention. The emphasis on practical compassion that seems the corollary to this idea is also very attractive.

      Not surprisingly, the Dalai Lama seemed to regard Buddhist and Christian monastic practices, etc, as being similar. I don’t know how similar he regards them, or if he just values interfaith dialog and was nodding strongly in that direction.

  14. Arriving a little late to the party. Long time reader (since 2005, I think, maybe before), very infrequent commenter. I’m a pastor of 2 United Methodist churches in the area around Chattanooga, TN. I’ve been in ministry my entire life, as a clergy person for the past 10 years. Grew up in the 60’s and early 70’s. Avoided Vietnam by only a couple of years.

    Active in the church as a youth singing in the youth and chancel choirs, in leadership at the congregational, district and conference level. Walked away from the church as a senior in high school when i watched a Christian Education director fired in a most humiliating meeting of the church council. In college I was a paid singer at the high steeple UMC in my college town, but I was there for the money… figured that I wasn’t any worse than the hypocrites sitting in the pews, I was just honest about it. When I look back on that time, I was probably more agnostic than anything else.

    Came back into the UMC in 1989 and things progressed to where I am today. The journey has been a good one.

  15. I’m from South Africa. Grew up in Dutch Reformed Church. Met Jesus in 1985. Life was never the same. Went to University. Met God the Father. Visited lots of congregations and denominations. Became a Done in 2000. We now have a small house congregation and sometimes visit another small congregation in town. South Africa has unique challenges, but I know the love of Jesus can counter all of them.