September 23, 2020

Saturday Ramblings: August 20, 2016

1906 Rambler Type 3 Surrey

1906 Rambler Type 3 Surrey

Welcome to Saturday Ramblings for August 20, 2016!

Cubs all star Kris Bryant

Cubs All-Star Kris Bryant

In case you didn’t know this about baseball, the Chicago Cubs have never been a post-season juggernaut. The franchise has been to ten World Series, winning only two. And the last World Series the Cubs played in was in 1945. Since then, they’ve made the playoffs only seven times, beginning in 1984 after a drought of almost forty years. The closest they came to returning to the World Series was in 2003, when they lost to the Florida Marlins in the NL Championship Series, four games to three.

This year, the Cubs seem to have the best chance since 2003 to make it to the Series. Right now, they have the best record in baseball, and have been on a real tear since the All-Star break. Of course, given the history, we Cubs fans are always looking over our shoulders for the next jinx, the next curse, the next bad thing to happen to keep us from this happiness. And it may not be our year again this year, but we’re hopeful.

Today’s Rambler picture above shows the 1906 model. That was the first year the Cubs played in the World Series, and it was a special event in the city of Chicago, because the Cubs played their cross-town rivals the White Sox. Also, it may well have been the Cubs’ most remarkable regular season ever — they won 116 games and lost only 36. The Cubs held that by themselves as a Major League Baseball record until the Seattle Mariners also won 116 (losing 46) in 2001. Nevertheless, back in ’06, the White Sox rose to the challenge, defeating the Cubs four games to two.

That year, the World Series seemed a mismatch. The Cubs with their amazing record were playing a team that was known as the “Hitless Wonders.” The city of Chicago went bonkers to see the two squads go at it on the field. Here’s a description from the Chicago Tribune:

1906 sox cubsFan rivalry was intense. Tempers flared in bars, and fights broke out. On Oct. 9, the opening day of the Series, business stopped and City Hall closed down. Tickets were $2 for box seats and 50 cents for bleachers.

The teams split the first four games, and then the White Sox took game five. They needed only one more game to win the Series. Nearly 20,000 jammed Comiskey Park, and thousands waited in the streets. With Cubs ace “Three Finger” Brown on the mound, a seventh game seemed certain.

The Cubs scored a run in the first inning, but the Sox, now called “the Hitting Wonders,” scored three, then exploded with four in the second. In the Cubs’ ninth, with the score 8-3 and two out, Frank Schulte hit a weak ground ball to the mound. Doc White tossed to first, then ran for his life as Sox fans swarmed onto the field and into the streets. That night, bonfires were set for a party that lasted into the morning. Cubs faithful stayed inside and mourned. An embittered Frank Chance said, “There is one thing I will never believe, and that is the Sox are better than the Cubs.”

Well, Frank, as a Cubs fan in 2016, I can tell you that a whole lot of unbelievable things have happened in the interim. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908, and haven’t even been to the Series since the end of World War II.

However, in a spirit of faith, hope, and love, 110 years later I keep following the Cubs, and it would sure be cool to have a sweet ride like this 1906 Rambler to take me to a Series game this October. Then I will be able to truly pray Simeon’s prayer.

For today, we’ll just have to settle for a bit of rambling. Come on, let’s go!

• • •

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GOTTA START WITH THIS…

This is an older article, but someone drew my attention to it again this week. Cracked Magazine, correctly observing that Christianity has given us some of the greatest art treasures the world has ever known, decided to forgo looking at any of them, instead treating us to “The 11 Most Unintentionally Hilarious Religious Paintings.”

They’re all great, but let me highlight a few of my favorites.

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The Introduction, Nathan Greene

The Intended Meaning:
As the artist puts it: “The Introduction is a stunning portrayal of that first moment of man’s special blessing from God. A brand new world sparkles and vibrates with color and movement as Adam and Eve gaze with a wonder and tenderness to set the standard for all time.”

The Actual Meaning:
First of all, the artist clearly put a lot of thought into what objects to use to cover everyone’s genitalia, Austin Powers-style, then discarded those thoughts and said, “Screw it, I’ll just put a damned tiger there. It’ll be awesome.” And you know what, it was.

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The Undefeated, Stephen S. Sawyer

The Intended Meaning:
“We should realize that Jesus willingly fights and intercedes on our behalf…. He bears the scars of many previous battles, most of which are unknown to us.”

The Actual Meaning:
How is this even Jesus? This is just a boxer with long hair and a glove that says “Mercy,” which is clearly meant to look ironic as it pummels you in the face.

Via Dolorosa by Jon McNaughton

Via Dolorosa by Jon McNaughton

The Intended Meaning:
137223“The man in the middle represents the modern Christian … a man who must decide whether or not he will stand up for his Christian beliefs. Many are shouting out to tell him what to do. He raises his hand to say, ‘Be silent, for I know that Jesus is the Christ!'”

The Actual Meaning:
This is how the Bill & Ted reboot would end if it were directed by Kirk Cameron. Jesus is surrounded by a series of important historical figures who have traveled in time just to … wait, is that Roy Orbison there between Henry VIII, Vlad the Impaler and fist-pump Hitler?

q9gvs07u72gc9xr3395u6jh68THEY COULDN’T SWIM FAST ENOUGH TO GET AWAY FROM THIS ONE…

Four U.S.A. swimmers, led by 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte, found themselves in the deep end of the pool, only this time it was filled with doo-doo.

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The swimmers had claimed in a statement issued by the USOC that they were robbed by armed men posing as police officers while traveling by taxi from France’s hospitality venue to the Olympic Village early Sunday morning. Ryan Lochte told reporters earlier this week that one of the robbers put a gun to his head and cocked it. The police said it wasn’t true, and we’ve learned it wasn’t.

Turns out these boys were being boys, out late drinking and bashing up a gas station bathroom. Security guards detained them, and one of them held them at gunpoint to prevent them from fleeing. Lochte’s account made it sound like the swimmers were the victims. It just wasn’t the case.

Two of the swimmers were allowed to leave the country, and Lochte flew back to the U.S. later. The fourth, Jimmy Feigen, left Friday evening after paying a fine of nearly $11,000. Lochte may eventually be charged with filing a false police report, said Fernando Veloso, head of Rio de Janeiro’s civil police.

q9gvs07u72gc9xr3395u6jh68WHAT BECAME OF PUBLIC CHRISTIAN INTELLECTUALS?

At Harper’s, Alan Jacobs wonders where the public Christian intellectuals have gone, the ones who might bridge the cultural gaps that appear to be widening in our world today, who understand the language and impulses of those on many sides, and who have the intellectual ballast to speak to other intellectuals with credibility about both secular and sacred matters.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Reinhold Niebuhr

Jacobs gives a historical review, describing with specific examples such as C.S. Lewis and Reinhold Niebuhr,  how a certain sort of Christian intellectual arose in the context of World War II to address the public and help the democratic West understand “why it was fighting and what it was fighting for.” He notes that, since the 1970’s, our lack of such prominent figures has been known by some as the “Where Is Our Reinhold Niebuhr?” problem.

Jacobs’s thesis? “But the disappearance of the Christian intellectual is a more curious story, because it isn’t a story of forced marginalization or public rejection at all. The Christian intellectuals chose to disappear.” (emphasis added)

In the post-War period, Christians largely focused on building institutions, which Jacobs says, gave them the opportunity to speak more to each other than to address the public sphere. And, as we went through the turbulent Sixties, fault lines developed within culture and Christianity itself that made the role of the public Christian intellectual problematic.

It was the Sixties that changed everything, and not primarily because of the Vietnam War or the cause of civil rights. There were many Christians on both sides of those divides. The primary conflict was over the sexual revolution and the changes in the American legal system that accompanied it: changes in divorce law, for instance, but especially in abortion law. (Many Christians supported and continue to support abortion rights, of course; but abortion is rarely if ever the central, faith-defining issue for them that it often is for those in the pro-life camp.) By the time these changes happened and Christian intellectuals found themselves suddenly outside the circles of power, no longer at the head table of liberalism, Christians had built up sufficient institutional stability and financial resourcefulness to be able to create their own subaltern counterpublics.

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IS BIBLICAL ILLITERACY A PROBLEM IN THE CHURCH TODAY?

Despite a common lament among Christians, in which I myself have participated, Jeremy Myers says, “No.”

Bible, by Lauri Rentaia at Flickr. Creative Commons License

Bible, by Lauri Rentaia at Flickr. Creative Commons License

One of the problems, he says, is that we haven’t adequately defined what we mean by “biblical illiteracy.”

Then, there’s the common observation that those who do “know the Bible” do not generally live any differently than others who don’t. “If there is no direct correlation between gaining Bible knowledge and facts and actually living like a follower of Jesus,” asks Myers, “then what’s the big deal about becoming biblically literate?”

In his post, Myers looks at two other articles, one responding to Ed Stetzer and another to an article at Biola University. The Biola piece suggests people are biblically illiterate because they waste too much time on other things, like TV, video games, social media, etc.

Myers’s rejoinder: “Yes, we humans waste a lot of time. No argument from me there. But I am not sure that Bible study is a good substitute. I often think that maybe Bible study is the biggest waste of time, because we think it is what God wants us to do, when really, He wants us to get out there and love others.”

Good point, that. If studying and becoming literate in the Bible doesn’t lead us to lives of greater love and participation in life with and among our neighbors, what good is it?

q9gvs07u72gc9xr3395u6jh68SOME QUESTIONS FROM THE WEEK…

Can one photograph help end a war?

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Do we need another “Ben Hur” movie?

Do religious people have more children than the non-religious?

Has Tony Perkins given up believing that storms represent God’s punishment of the wicked?

On the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, are Lutherans and Catholics making real progress toward unity?

Is the KKK rising again? (Note this article in our local Indianapolis newspaper last week)

Why do some people find the “burkini” offensive?

Is chance as found in evolutionary theory irreconcilable with God’s providential governance of the world?

What will happen to “Obamacare” as insurers keep dropping out?

Has Colonel Sanders’ secret KFC recipe been found?

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REAPING WHAT WE’VE SOWN WITH “DECISIONS FOR CHRIST”…

Michelle Van Loon has had a good occasional series at her blog called, “Unintended Consequences of the Jesus Movement.”

In her latest post, she discusses the emphasis of modern evangelicalism on getting “decisions for Christ” by getting people to “pray the prayer,” and what we’ve reaped from that emphasis. I wonder how you respond to her analysis.

What we hoped for a generation ago when we focused on encouraging others to pray that prayer:

  • Individual responsibility for faith – Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus called individual people to follow him. A “Get Out Of Hell Free” card inked with infant baptism or childhood church attendance was not the way Jesus changed lives.
  • Simplicity – We could talk about faith in an easily understandable way. You didn’t need to be a theologian or a pastor to understand the message in the Four Spiritual Laws*.
  • Marketability – Too many of us downplayed what discipleship might cost in our excitement to invite others to join our team. (See Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23.) We may have done so because we ourselves simply didn’t understand the cost.

What we’re reaping today:

  • Confusion – Stories abound of kids who’ve prayed that prayer dozens of times, insecure about whether they’re “in” or “out”. Others rest in the notion that they just prayed that prayer at some point, and can tuck that salvation card in their back pocket and go on with their regularly-scheduled program. A prayer of repentance is one step in the marathon. It is not the entire race.
  • Frustration – Simplicity in presenting the decision was a bait-and-switch for the Christian life. “Just pray this prayer and you’ll be saved” was a gateway drug to “Just send the televangelist your paycheck and you’ll be blessed” for some. Others discovered that praying a short prayer had little to do with the challenges of lifelong fidelity to Jesus. We don’t live it alone, because God himself is with us, but neither is it easy – and may cost us our lives.
  • Abandoning of the faith – Shallow roots don’t grow healthy plants. A measure of the statistical numerical decline in Christianity in recent years comes from those who once prayed a prayer and were taught this was the most important thing they could do to sew up their eternity.

q9gvs07u72gc9xr3395u6jh68Today in music…

Speaking of evangelicalism and people (especially prominent people) “making decisions,” on Aug. 18, 1979, Bob Dylan released Slow Train Coming, an album of religious songs, including the Grammy Award winning single, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” The album alienated many of his long time fans.

It was recorded at the famed Muscle Shoals recording studio, was produced by the renowned Jerry Wexler, and featured Dire Straits’ guitarist Mark Knopfler.

Jann S. Wenner in Rolling Stone gave Slow Train Coming this glowing review:

It takes only one listening to realize that Slow Train Coming (Columbia Records) is the best album Bob Dylan has made since The Basement Tapes (recorded with the Band in 1967 but not released until 1975). The more I hear the new album — at least fifty times since early July — the more I feel that it’s one of the finest records Dylan has ever made. In time, it is possible that it might even be considered his greatest.

 Here’s Bob Dylan at the 1980 Grammy Awards singing “Gotta Serve Somebody.”

Comments

  1. I still love, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” – cause it’s true.

  2. That Rambler makes for a good picture, but I’d hate to drive it in the near-constant rain we’ve been havin’.

  3. That first pic, “The Introduction”, looks like something that would be in a Jehovah’s Witness tract…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Third one looks like that Last Judgment scene by that one Mormon shlock artist I saw on this blog years ago.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And the list’s own header comment says it best:

      It’s really easy to get this kind of painting wrong. Terribly, hilariously wrong.

    • The subject of The Undefeated looks like Fabio, from the cover of one of those popular romance novels.

    • I think it would be more apropos to make the figure of Jesus in these painting look like Bob Dylan.

    • Brianthedad says

      Agreed on the JW artistic style. Aside from that, one of the first questions to my mind was if Adam and Eve were naked, why wasn’t God? And Jon McNauhton? Pardon me while I hurl. I had to block shares from his site so they would quit showing on my Facebook feed from all the evangelicals that are fanboys and girls. Such a presumption of heaven and hell for all these historical figures!

      • Nakedness as shamefulness. Be not ashamed. So if we were to get closer to God and our original true state, we should embrace nudism.

        So much you could unpack from those things.

        Most likely response. The storyteller decided to one up himself, “and they were both naked!! shocking!!”

  4. Wasn’t William F. Buckley a “Christian intellectual”? How about Robert Capon? Popes John Paul II and Benedict?

  5. Steve Newell says

    I loved the picture of Jesus holding the US Constitution in #2. One Nation Under God by Jon McNaughton. As theologically bad this painting is, the truly sad part is that many Christians actually believe that what this correct.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Yes. The Last Judgment scene.

      Last time it surfaced here, I pointed out that it is composed EXACTLY like a classic Last Judgment icon:
      * Jesus at the center, focus of the composition, separating the Sheep and Goats.
      * Upper Background (above and behind Christ), the Hosts of Heaven standing as Cloud of Witnesses.
      * Left Foreground (bottom left corner, Jesus’ right), The Righeous Redeemed “ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM PREPARED FOR YOU BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD”.
      * Right Foreground (bottom right corner, Jesus’ left) “BEGONE FROM ME YE CURSED INTO EVERLASTING FIRE! JOIN THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS!”

      Note the Who’s Who of all three groups.

      • What’s that line from Terry Pratchett? “Sheep are stupid and must be driven. Goats are smart and must be led.”

  6. What do you mean that we don’t have “Christian intellectuals?’ Go into any so-called Christian bookstore, and you will find scores of books by those that, sadly, some would view as intellectuals: Joel O., Pat R., the late Tim LaHaye, Joyce Meyer, etc. Well, maybe not. 🙂

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Don’t forget HAL LINDSAY!
      JACK VAN IMPE!
      RAY COMFORT!
      KEN HAM!
      KIRK CAMERON!

      After all, IT’S ALL GONNA BURN, so WHY BOTHER?

  7. melissatheragamuffin says

    I think studying the Bible is important. A while ago, I watched a documentary on Jonestown, and Jim Jones was able to fairly easily lead people astray saying the Bible said things it didn’t or he’d mash up scriptures. In the documentary, it was probably a good 20+ years after Jonestown happened. Former members of the People’s Temple were STILL saying the Bible says what Jim Jones said because they STILL haven’t read it for themselves.
    Similarly when I was in college, and took New Religious Movements, we went to visit the Moonies. A lot of what they said sounded really good. If I hadn’t had some kind of working knowledge of the Bible it would have been really easy to fall for. “My people perish for lack of knowledge….” Hosea 4:6

    Another problem with the just praying the prayer part of the Jesus Movement is a lot of children’s workers became so desperate to get little kids to pray the pray that they effectively started pushing the prosperity gospel on them. They promised these kids that if they prayed the magic prayer and gave their hearts to Jesus that their lives would be hearts and flowers and rainbows, and the end result is some very bitter and disillusioned young adults. I had no idea they were pushing that crap on my son down in children’s church until he was an adult and started saying things….

    • Yeah, but would that tactic work if he wasn’t telling people what they already wanted to hear? I’ve heard plenty of pastors say, “the Bible says.” – and they are right (at least, given their hermeneutic), and my response is “Meh. Dumb idea.” We can talk about epistemology and the inherently recursive nature of written text, but the bottom line is that I’m not sure this problem is created nor solved by Biblical literacy or lack thereof.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > easily lead people astray saying the Bible

      And would Bible study have helped? I’m skeptical. There will always be Biblical illiterate people and there will always be mentally unstable people – which contributed more to Bob Jones’ success? Apocolyptisism always finds an audience of people who want to here that story. Some of those people are very educated. My own experience with Apocalyptics is that it is about emotion not thought, and you cannot debate people’s feelings.

      Bible knowledge will do nothing to inoculate against Apocolyptisism. People don’t work that way.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        I was thinking the same thing. I have met and known lots of people that are avid bible studiers , and are prone to the most ridiculous nonsense, or come up with diamtrically opposite ideas etc.

        The fact is that people approach it with a certain amount of baggage and preconceptions; and when you do that with an ancient document several cultures removed, anything is possible.

  8. melissatheragamuffin says

    Re Church Intellectuals – isn’t our whole society pretty anti-intellectual? I’m pretty sure that if CS Lewis were alive and just writing his books today – people would be renouncing him as some kind of heretic. I mean the Narnia books have magic and witches in them….ooooooooohhhhhhhhhh

    There are some heavy hitting intellectuals in the Russian Church that when their stuff gets translated I’m just like, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!”

    • Yes, I think society is quite anti-intellectual. There is a popular radio host who is known to call educated people “pointy headed intellectuals” and disparage them. So many of my Christian friends seem afraid to venture off the evangelical literature path of things like Left Behind or The Shack. They seem afraid to read even non-Christian intellectuals. I think they are afraid they won’t understand it or worse, that they will and question their beliefs or religious practices. “Don’t venture off the Christian path for any reason! You might not come back!”

      I remember a few years ago a woman from my church tole me that her husband has read a lot of CS Lewis and was amazed. “He is so smart he understands Lewis!!” I didn’t quite know how to respond as I always found Lewis quite accessible

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      To some extent yes, but since the sixties, or even since the McCarthy the majority of public intellectuals have been more to the left of the spectrum. This has fed into greater anti-intellectuism on the right, which is where the majority of (avid) Christians are to be found, especially since the seventies. Couple that with the rise of YEC in the seventies, which is as anti-intellectual as they come, and then ask yourself why you still wonder about the lack of Public Christian Intellectuals.

  9. Katherine Zehner says

    “Boys will be boys” seems like an unfair way to describe what Lochte and his friends did. If they’d been black and done what they did in America, they’d probably be dead now. Why is drunken destruction of property just an amusing little peccadillo for an elite athlete?

    • And the drunken destruction of property in a country so desperately poor is a far greater matter than it would be here, not to mention the waste of police resources that a false claim of robbery diverted away from a city in which more than fifty killings occurred during the Olympics (and partly as a result of police resources being used to protect Olympic facilities and visitors rather than the residents of Rio De Janeiro).

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Lochle has a reputation of being “dumber than dirt”.

        Though he did have enough brains to get out of Brazil before his story unraveled and the Rio cops came looking for him. His dudebros weren’t that lucky — there’s footage of them getting grabbed right off the plane as it’s about to leave.

    • “Boys will be boys” … Lochte is 32, not a boy by any stretch of the imagination. At least in the physical sense.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        There’s a LOT of arrested development cases out there.
        A LOT of three-year-olds in sexually-active adult bodies.

      • That Other Jean says

        Not “boys will be boys”—grown men being drunk and stupid.

        • Sadly, Hope Solo demonstrated that stupidity isn’t confined to one gender. Granted she didn’t trash private property, at least in this instance, though she has a past history of violence. But she, like the male swimmers who trashed that bathroom, represented the U.S. poorly in these Olympics.

          Part of me hopes that Ryan Lochte and Ms. Solo have competed in their last Olympics, but part of me wonders if that’s too harsh. In the end, others will decide. I’d rather focus on Olympians like Katie Ledecky, Ginny Thrasher, the women’s gymnastics team, and others who represented us well. And how about Michael Phelps overcoming his alcohol issues to win more gold medals? I think that’s remarkable.

          • That Other Jean says

            I had forgotten about Hope Solo’s trash-talking the opposition after their game. Not in the same league as Lochte and his teammates, but not good sportsmanship. I’m glad there were others who were outstanding athletes and fine representatives of the USA. And I was amazed at Phelps. I hope he can find a career after the Olympics that uses his talents.

    • Katherine, yes. It makes me mad. If they were not athletes, they’d probably be locked up somewhere or dead. Boys will be boys!?!? Lochte is 32!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        But he’s a CELEBRITY ATHLETE!

        • Klasie Kraalogies says

          You forgot “WHITE”.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Sez the Afrikaaner…

            For that matter, Adam & Eve in “The Introduction” look as “WHITE” as they come. Never mind that human genome drift analysis points to the Khoi-San of SW Africa being the original modern humans; Adam & Eve would have looked like they just stepped off the Kalahari, short and wiry with medium-brown skin and highly-Africanized features.

            At least the artist didn’t paint Adam as having a Fifties crewcut; you used to see THAT a lot in the Sixties.

  10. Michelle Van Loon’s series on what the Jesus Movement thought they were doing and the real consequences is very interesting indeed! I highly recommend reading the whole series (all short pieces). It helps understand how Christians of that era kind of thought that they were bringing huge spiritual revival but The unintended consequences ultimately overpower most of the good it did. Her writings, along with the article on Christian intellectuals, give a good narrative of what has happened to the church in the modern era.

    Michelle also did a short series on baby boomers leaving the church that was very enlightening. If I can find the link, I’ll post it

  11. Richard Hershberger says

    As a historian of 19th century baseball, I have to point out that the Chicago National League club (not yet called the Cubs) was in the World Series of 1885 and 1886. See http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CHC/

    The 19th century World Series competitions dropped down the memory hole for reasons having to do with mid-20th century baseball historiography. Essentially all 19th century baseball went down the memory hole at the same time and “modern baseball” was deemed to have begun in 1901. But look at accounts in the early 20th century and they didn’t believe anything so ridiculous. The World Series competitions between the National League and American League were explicitly considered a revival of the older series.

    As for Chicago’s World Series woes, I wrote on this last fall: http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/2015/10/27/the-curse-of-anson/

  12. There’s a lot of good stuff here, but unfortunately my mind keeps spinning over Jacobs’s phrase “subaltern counterpublics.” What? It sounds like something Wither would have said at the end of That Hideous Strength.

  13. Feathery tickle
    across my nose and eyebrows —
    In the spider’s web!

  14. I don’t see how the recognition of the operations of chance in evolutionary theory is incompatible with God’s providential goodness. If God’s sovereign actions and intentions are not in competition with the proximate causes of nature and the events that they determine (and how could they be, if there is a transcendent God who’s existence is not identical with the existence of his creation, however much he may fill it with his presence?), then there is no problem, aside from the problems of theodicy that have always existed, and predated the development of evolutionary theogy . Shit happens, but shit is not the first, last, or even the middle word. God’s reign looks like it doesn’t exist much of the time because God’s wisdom and power seems like foolishness and impotence to us.

    • In fact, I would go so far to say that if God’s acts are not displayed in the midst of an essentially chaotic milieu, then they become meaningless, and God becomes Fate…and a cruel one at that.

    • Chance? Here’s a proverb that speaks about chance. Pro 16:33 AMP
      (33) The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly of the Lord [even the events that seem accidental are really ordered by Him].
      Chance does not bother me at all!

      • Oscar, When scientists talk about evolution, or any natural phenomenon, happening by chance, they are saying that no intention is obvious in the causes that result in events, that no intention is found when investigating those events, and that no intention is needed to account for them. In science, God is an unnecessary hypothesis, and the vagaries of chance underscore that.

        But it has always been so, long before the advent of evolutionary theory, or the development of scientific method. Naked observation of phenomenon does not reveal God, though it also cannot determine whether or not God exists. Only God reveals himself, as he has done in the past and present, but most especially in Jesus Christ.

        I don’t think we disagree in this.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says

          Excellent summary there, Robert!

        • I believe God is bound by chance and there’s ample evidence in Scripture to support that.

          The God that knows the entire future is a myth.

          We can surprise him.

          • I have no doubt we can surprise God; at the same time, I believe that God is not in causal competition with God’s creatures. To my understanding, it’s both/and, not either/or on this subject. In Jesus’ life and crucifixion, God was subject to many events that he did not determine beforehand; in Jesus’ resurrection, he exhibits the divine life as causally not in competition with his creatures actions. One and the same person of Jesus Christ embodies both truths, even as he is both God and man. That’s how I understand it.

          • Jesus’ resurrection also means that God’s power and creativity are not limited or circumscribed by randomness and causality in the created world.

          • Stuart, you find the idea of an omniscient super-being is inherently contradictory? The idea that we can keep him guessing places some pretty severe limitations on him. I think this is equivalent to arguing that God must be impotent simply because evil exists.

          • “Religion is one of the larger roadblocks that God has had to put up with in the process of getting his message through to the world. The usual religious view is that God has his finger in every pie, and, as the infinite meddler, never let’s anything act for itself. People bolster such ideas by an appeal to Scripture, pointing out things like the parting of the Red Sea or Elijah starting fires with wet wood on Mt. Carmel. That won’t do, however. To be sure, I am not about to make out a case that God can’t do miracles–that he can’t from time to time stick in his thumb and manufacture a plum if he feels like it. Nor am I going to maintain that he can’t answer the prayers of those of his free creatures he has bizarrely said he would take advice from. All I want to insist on here is that most of the time he doesn’t meddle; that his ordinary policy is: Hands off.”

            – Robert Farrar Capon

            (The Romance of the Word: One Man’s Love Affair With Theology)

          • @Miguel,
            You think that God being surprised would indicate there is limitation to his power; but what if the inability to be surprised is actually a limitation of God’s power?

      • Meh. It’s a proverb. It’s a very nice wise saying.

        It is in NO WAY utterly and absolutely true all the time.

        • Yes, it is a proverb. However, the proverbs are part of the wisdom literature. They are not statements of “fact”, nor are they even statements of “truth”. They are lenses intended to shift paradigms. So in this case, the intended meaning of the proverb is probably something more like, “You might think you are being impartial by using lots to make a choice, but there are forces at work that you can never understand and will influence the outcome.”

  15. Obamacare failing? Who’da thunk it? It seems like a system designed to fail from the beginning. Force insurers to cover all and act surprised when the costs exceed the income. It sounds (and sounded then) like the perfect setup for a ‘we tried a public-private system and it failed, leaving us the only option of a single-payer public system’.

    • Good! Let’s get to the single-payer, universal public healthcare system as fast as we can! Because of the nature of American politics, the failure of an Obamacare-like arrangement first is the only way we could possibly get there, if get there we do (still a very open question, obviously). I only hope that I live to see it. Away with the healthcare insurance industry!

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > Good! Let’s get to the single-payer,

        +1,000. The ACA is an improvement – a lot of which is on the back-side regarding costs. That back-end part is an unmitigated success. The front-end part is more of American Quasi-Market non-sense; much like we do with utilities and transportation. These things are barely Markets, and they are certainly in no way what so ever ‘competitive’ ‘free’ markets. Turn them into true Utilities, as nearly every advanced economy in the world has done.

        • To which I would add that the cost of insurance premiums, while increasing, is increasing at a significantly lower rate than prior to ACA. In fact, every measure of health care delivery success is up. Unfortunately, the very large and very wealthy health insurance conglomerates have done a good job of distracting from these basic facts.

          • To which I would add that the cost of insurance premiums, while increasing, is increasing at a significantly lower rate than prior to ACA. In fact, every measure of health care delivery success is up.

            I don’t recall my premiums rising that fast when I was on my previous employer’s insurance plan. They rose fast enough as it was, but not like the rapidly rising premiums I paid while in the federal exchange. My current employer finally started offering health insurance this year and I switched to their policy. My premium went down, but so did my insurance coverage. Also, my deductible quadrupled.

            One more thing: has anyone else besides me noticed how fast the price of prescriptions, even generic drugs, is increasing? Earlier this year I paid more than $100 for a 90-day supply of a generic medication for which I’d previously paid more like $12-15.

          • My premiums have gone down–to 0 actually.

            I’m “working poor”, below 135% of poverty level. I pay NOTHING out of pocket.

            I like the ACA.

          • Larry, the data on insurance premiums – which is publicly available – is based on the aggregate, not on any one individual.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        But then what about all those hot investment tips — “Big Healthcare! Big Insurance! THE MONEY WILL COME IN IN BUCKETS! INVEST NOW OR BE LOCKED OUT FOREVER! DON’T BE LEFT BEHIND!” — that keep showing up in my spam filters?

      • HOLD UP, I’m still angry that Obummer lied about me getting to keep my health insurance exactly as it was, way before the fine details and fine print came out. HE LIED, and millions are now insured. I’m outraged.

        /s, morons

      • +2000 Robert.

    • Aetna has all but admitted that their pulling out of Obamacare is due to the DOJ blocking their acquisition of another insurance company because of antitrust laws. In other words, the DOJ wouldn’t play by their rules, so they are taking their marbles and going home.
      http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/aetna-threatened-quit-obamacare-if-u-s-blocked-humana-merger-n633456

      Healthcare is just an odd beast. Market forces don’t work very well because you don’t get to choose, to a great extent, if and when you will purchase healthcare. You break a bone or have a heart attack or get cancer and, boom! There you are accessing healthcare.
      You can’t shop around because pricing depends on so many individual factors and often, you don’t have that luxury. You cut yourself and are bleeding, you can’t get on the phone and call around for the cheapest price.
      I have a friend who owns a physical/occupational therapy clinic. Don’t ask what a therapy session costs. I did once and got an earful which was, in a nutshell, that she could not tell me. I had a bad reaction to a wasp sting this summer and ended up at an urgent care clinic. Another acqauntence who works at a neighboring hospital told me that she was glad I didn’t come there. Their census is very low and she was pretty sure they’d have slapped me in the hospital for a day or two, just to fill a bed.
      I don’t know what the solution is, but what we’ve got now with profit as the main motive, does not seem to be working.

      • Market forces don’t work very well because you don’t get to choose, to a great extent, if and when you will purchase healthcare.
        Or, to put it in economic terms, the five forces that define a free market are not present in health care delivery (Ref.: Porter). It is by definition incorrect to speak of free market healthcare in the US.

      • That Other Jean says

        So much what Suzanne says. When a major insurer can withdraw from the ACA just for spite, leaving millions uninsured in its wake, it’s time to change the system again. We are in dire need of single-payer healthcare, which works well in other countries, despite the nay-sayers insistence that it can’t possible work here, because reasons.

        • The aggravating thing is how political this has become. The original PPACA was included single-payer and was designed by the Chicago School (a conservative economics school). The individual mandate was originally proposed by The Heritage Foundation. All of a sudden, once Obama’s name was attached to the legislation, the Conservatives started raising a ruckus, when originally many of these ideas were non-partisan or even conservative. Now for the sake of political point scoring people are embracing and promoting stupid and harmful policy. Sigh.

    • Sounds good to me. I wanted the public option in 2008 but your side said ‘it will be too popular.’

  16. I love this Dylan song, and this Dylan album, though I don’t rate it as one of his best. The early Dylan is the best Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, etc., and the early period ended with the magnificent Blood on the Tracks (arguable his best). Still, Slow Train Coming is perhaps the best of his post-Blood on the Tracks work.

  17. I’m not sure Al Jacobs has thought through the issue of dwindling public Christian intellectuals in light of actual intellectualism. The challenge in this regard is that intellectualism is always changing – the thoughts and paradigms of intellectuals are built on the works of others. And the past 50 years has seen dramatic changes in our understanding of everything from the very nature of the universe to epistemology and other philosophies. And the bottom line is that most of these new understandings of the world in which we live aren’t easily compatible with historic Christianity. For example, Roman Catholic theology is founded on Aristotelian philosophy, which is of course entirely passe these days. American protestantism is generally incompatible with any consistent philosophy, but the few branches that are (PCA comes to mind) are essentially built on a form of foundationalism, which is not considered any kind of realistic model these days. In fact, the divide between philosophy and Christianity is not so broad, that a great deal of American theology now openly embraces some kind of “worldview” argument, where Christianity is essentially a closed system that must be accepted as is, with no justification. We already saw this coming with the 20th century Christian intellectuals, where Neihbur himself was generally accused of being a wicked liberal by mainstream American Christianity. At this point, I think it is probably very difficult for one to be an intellectual Christian without seriously reconsidering popular American Christianity.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > without seriously reconsidering popular American Christianity.

      Hence the popularity of sites like this one. 😉

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      …a great deal of American theology now openly embraces some kind of “worldview” argument, where Christianity is essentially a closed system that must be accepted as is, with no justification.

      Yet another parallel to Islam (especially the forms of Islam that get in the news these days).

  18. “The Introduction”: So, Adam used a depilatory on his chest? I wonder what plant material that was. He could also have used sandstone to scrub the hair off. Or maybe his testosterone hadn’t had time to kick in yet?

    “The Via Dolorosa”: Isn’t that guy in the suit center stage Joel Osteen?

    • I think he’s a sales representative trying to sell high cost life insurance. Must’ve lost his briefcase somewhere in all the excitement.

    • I can’t tel from the angle, but apparently Eve was busy with her razor as well…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Actually, commentary to “The Introduction” pointed out the typically-Christianese artist put top priority on covering the genitalia (and Eve’s nipples) on all the nude figures to the point he ran out of stuff to hide them and pulled in Shere Khan.

      And did anybody else notice a LOT of these paintings were done in an identical style, no matter what the artist? Like they’re the same guy under a lot of handles or all exact clones of each other? (In the words of the Prophet Alice Cooper, “All are One and One are All”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBA36Hb6dLc) Or is this the One True Christian Way to paint?

      • Adam and Eve’s navels were covered too. The artist didn’t want to get into a theological debate over whether or not they had them.

  19. Christian intellectuals? Harold Lee “Hal” Lindsey is still alive.

    The picture of Jesus carrying the cross was obviously painted by someone who never wrestled with logs and cants and timbers, as Jesus did much of his life. Unless those are 2″x8″ Pine boards, it’s absurd to think of expecting anyone to drag that whole thing half a mile, especially someone severely injured and in shock. The cross piece, which is what the “cross” actually was, would have been bad enough. The modern Christian looks accurate tho. He’s spouting doctrine while declining to help shoulder the load. Admittedly it would have mussed his nice suit.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      I believe that in modern era art you see a lot of unfamiliarity with manual labor.

      Aside – at my garage sale this weekend I sold the families last two cant hooks and two man cross cut saw. Logging is insanely hard work.

      • Sorry I missed your sale, Adam. I hope whoever bought the tools uses them but likely they will end up on the wall of someone’s summer home. I finished stacking what I hope is more than enough wood to get me thru the winter a week ago and have been kicking back recovering.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          The cross cut saw is certainly doomed to be hung in a garish living room, probably with an obnoxious Norman Rockwellian scene painted on the length of the blade. It was picked up by one of the arty craft resellers who patrols the neighborhood.

          Part of me feels being shredded and melted down at the metal recycling yard would be a more dignified fate. But they pay less… the conundrum of all things.

          • I have a timing light and dwell meter that I have not used in over 25 years. They likely still work. I just can’t bring myself to toss out working tools. But I’d likely have to find a 1980 or earlier car in need of a tune up to use them.

          • David L, I still use a ’71 F-350 and my dwell meter and timing light are useful.

          • Quick quiz. How do you use gasoline or kerosene for a quick test when a car suddenly stops running? Especially on a damp day/night. For cars with points. (Mostly)

      • Adam, I’ve used both tools to great effect–especially cant hooks. My Stihl chain saws relegated the cross-cut to display status.

  20. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Four U.S.A. swimmers, led by 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte, found themselves in the deep end of the pool, only this time it was filled with doo-doo.

    Local morning drive-time radio has been following this with maximum snark. Apparently Lochte managed to get out of Brazil before the arrest warrants went down (cops have no sense of humor about false-alarm reports). His dudebros didn’t — there’s footage of them getting dragged off the plane at Rio airport for “a little speed-rap practice down at the Station”. And from what I heard about Brazilian cops, that means they disappear until they can cough up enough ransom money.

    Final comment about Lochte himself:
    “If he committed suicide the bullet would have nothing to hit.”

  21. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    REAPING WHAT WE’VE SOWN WITH “DECISIONS FOR CHRIST”…

    Mix a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation with “Say-the-Magic-Words” soteriology, stir well, and bake at 350 for a couple decades for Entropy to set in and what did you expect?

  22. I think most people are rushing to judgment on the incident in Rio, whether it’s one side or the other. The narrative is ongoing, it is far from over. While Lochte is receiving bad publicity for what he did/said, and deservedly so, that does not imply the other swimmers are equally blameworthy, nor does it exonerate the Brazilian authorities. The continuing gathering of evidence appears to be discrediting the officials’ handling/account of the incident as much as the swimmers’. From the official NBC olympic news coverage:

    ————————–
    “A Brazilian police official told The Associated Press that two of the swimmers said Lochte had made the story up…Hours later, the official changed the story and said two security guards pointed guns at the swimmers. The change in the version of events came after police interviewed one of the security guards on Thursday.”
    ————————–

    Sounds like Lochte wasn’t the only one to lie. If true, pulling a gun on nonviolent people (there was no physical altercation) is FAR worse than pulling down an old advertisement sign from a wall. I’m sure more details will emerge as time passes (hopefully none of the footage is destroyed), so I think it wise to hold on passing a final verdict one way or the other.

    • I actually agree with you. A uniformed security guard pulling a gun on drunken men/boys outside a gas station restroom to get money from them for damage they supposedly caused could have been a shakedown of assumed-to-be wealthy gringos. I’m also sure more details will emerge in the future, but I’m not sure they will clarify the matter. Any way you cut it, the young men handled this poorly, from the get-go; we probably never will know exactly what happened, but they will end up taking most if not all of the brunt of the responsibility for this, due to their own foolish actions at the time of the event in question and subsequently.

  23. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    This is how the Bill & Ted reboot would end if it were directed by Kirk Cameron.

    THAT IS ONE MOST EXCELLENT (AND SCARY) ONE-LINER!
    DON’T GIVE HIM IDEAS!

  24. Richard Hershberger says

    Here’s my take on Biblical illiteracy: The fundamental problem here is that many people read the Bible as a series of disconnected snippets of text, each of which stands on its own as The Word of God. This approach is especially characteristic of Evangelical Protestantism, but is all too common elsewhere. Biblical literacy is incompatible with this approach, as this approach denies scripture the ability to construct an argument, to engage in a discussion with itself, or to build overarching themes. We can’t, as Luther advised, let scripture interpret scripture. This gap is instead filled by interpreting scripture through modern culture or one’s personal prejudices or passing whimsy.

    When I read laments about Biblical illiteracy I suspect that the complaint is that people aren’t memorizing snippets of text, ready to regurgitate on demand. Frankly, I think it it a good thing when people can’t do this. It is not merely a waste of time. It is worse than useless for people to proclaim modern culture of personal prejudice or passing whimsy, thinking it The Word of God.

    • The most well read Bible people are often the most illiterate, agreed.

      AWANA messed me up. Instead of letting me discover the beauty and passion and truth of scripture, I instead memorized whole sections to pass quizzes and exams. Biblical literacy became a goal and not a source of life.

      In essence, that’s all theology was to me for decades. Protection from those meant to hurt me, and nerd cred and rules to be memorized and debated and followed.

      There’s a reason why I compare it to fan fiction and D&D nowadays.

    • Exactly Richard.

      StuartB, the CofC didn’t have AWANA, but I was the top Bible Nerd in my age group. Didn’t help at all in being an actual disciple of Jesus….

  25. An aside to that article about religious people having more or fewer children, I read this when it came out and it spoke deeply to me, helped me confront some blatant lies I’d been believing for years.

    http://jezebel.com/godless-parents-are-doing-a-better-job-1682844001

  26. quiet pavilion
    outside busy library
    small birds take a rest

  27. “WHAT BECAME OF PUBLIC CHRISTIAN INTELLECTUALS?”

    Let’s see…how many “family bookstores” carry anything by Niebuhr? Or Bultmann? Or Otto? Or Tillich? What can you find? Don’t get me started. Heck find a Christian bookstore with anything by George MacDonald!

    The dialectic approach is gone. Evangelicals have a one-way communication channel: telling others how to think, act, believe, vote, etc. but not listening.

    In the public debate between Niebuhr and Billy Graham, Graham won the popular opinion. Graham is the one whose great turning point began when he decided to suppress his doubts and questions about scripture and just preach like they didn’t exist. I think you can start there to determine what happen to Christian intellectualism. Now, we have 120 million dollar edifices to the glory of Christian anti-intellectualism. Post-modernism also happened.

    I’m starting to read a book by Rudolf Bultmann. I have discovered he, among other prominent Christian theologians of his time, were quite critical of liberal theology – particularly it reduction of Christianity to emotionalism and moralism. Hmmm. That sounds a lot like contemporary evangelicalism!

    • The dialectic approach is gone. Evangelicals have a one-way communication channel: telling others how to think, act, believe, vote, etc. but not listening. Yes, I think you nailed it. Bultmann, Tillich, Fretheim, and Crossan are my favorite theologians. All intellectuals, with varying degrees of “public”.