September 30, 2020

Saturday Ramblings: November 5, 2016



Our Rambler of the Week award goes to a team and a great company of long-suffering fans in Chicago, who waited 108 years for this day to arrive — the day when the Chicago Cubs would be crowned World Series Champions. It has happened, and great is the rejoicing!


Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace,
For my eyes have seen your salvation!

• Luke 2:29-30

The deciding game, Game 7, was as dramatic a baseball game as this fan has ever seen. It will go down in history as legendary, with even God getting involved by sending rain and delaying the game so the Cubs could regroup and come back for the win (yes, that’s bad theology; no, I don’t care!). There were so many story lines, so many great moments, so many excruciating twists and reversals, that most of us who were invested in rooting for either the Cubs or the Indians ended up exhausted and drained. It was exactly the kind of baseball game we fans live for.

The MVP of the Series, Ben Zobrist, is a pastor’s kid who maintains a strong faith along with his wife Julianna, a singer-songwriter, author and speaker. To show you what kind of a guy he is, after he arrived home on Thursday, he went outside and signed autographs for his neighbors, who were all waiting in a long line down the block to give him their praise, thanks, and congratulations.


An estimated five million Cubs fans — nearly twice Chicago’s population — crowded the city’s streets and gathered Friday in Grant Park to salute their World Series champions as they rambled through their victory parade.

The Chicago Cubs, and especially their fans — including my own beloved grandfather, in whose lap I sat and watched the Cubs on TV as a child — are our Ramblers of the Week.


• • •

TIME TO VOTE! (An IM editorial)


After another excruciating experience — a seemingly never-ending campaign season — the time for the big vote has arrived. Tuesday is Election Day, which means one form of agony is ending, and another may be beginning. If Donald Trump wins, well, I can’t imagine what the future holds. If Hillary Clinton wins, at the very least we are in for four years of conflict between the President and Congress that will make the gridlock of the last eight years look like the Cubs hugging each other after winning the World Series.

I voted yesterday. In down-ticket races, I chose some Republicans and some Democrats, and I wrote in the name of someone I deem qualified and competent for POTUS.

I know some will argue that I “wasted” my vote, but I don’t think for a moment that following my conscience and exercising my civil responsibility to vote for a worthy candidate is a waste at all. If more of us exercised personal responsibility and refused to let the big money, the media, the politicians, and the two-party system define us and make it seem like the only practical thing is to fill in their little boxes, then perhaps we might actually move toward a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Another fact: less than 50% of the eligible population will probably vote. That means, in my view, that neither of the presidential candidates will have a true mandate by winning, no matter how big the margin. But that’s not their fault. It’s squarely on our shoulders.

So, vote.

You heard me. Get out there and fulfill your responsibility.

It’s your country, after all. It doesn’t belong to the politicians.

• • •


beware-of-mortal-sin_designA newsletter from a Catholic church in San Diego included a flier that told parishioners they’ll go to hell if they vote for Democrats.

Then this past Sunday, the message was reinforced and stated even more strongly: Satan is working through former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Oct. 16 bulletin from the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was stuffed with a flyer written in both English and Spanish that cited five legislative policies — support for abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, human cloning, and embryonic stem cell research — that will doom a politician and their supporters to eternal damnation.

The flyer went on to warn: “It is a mortal sin to vote Democrat … immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell.”

Just wow.

• • •


Of course, we can’t mention any public event without hearing what John Piper has to say about it. (Does the guy ever not have a public opinion?) Piper thinks Christians are under no moral obligation to vote.

“[God’s] children are free! Free from human institutions. As citizens of heaven, we are not bound in every situation to participate in the processes of human government. We are not bound! This is not our homeland! We vote — if we vote — because the Lord of our homeland commissions us to vote, and he does not absolutize this act above all other considerations of Christian witness!”

Here is just another example of someone proving the old charge against Christians — we’re so heavenly-minded that we’re no earthly good.

Just listen to the Platonic crap this guy is laying out here.

john-piperFirst of all, Dr. Piper, the world is our homeland. We are looking for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells — that’s the goal, not heaven. “Thy will be done on earth as in heaven” is the way our Lord taught us to pray. I may in some sense be a citizen of heaven, but heaven is not my ultimate home. This world is my home, I’m not just a-passin’ through to somewhere beyond the blue. God’s design for human beings is to be his image here in this world, now and forever, to represent him by living lives of love, faithfulness, and wise stewardship. That includes participating in our communities and in our world through such acts as voting.

Secondly, I don’t vote and I don’t believe Christians should vote only because “the Lord of our homeland commissions us to vote.” Where in the world does that come from? God gave us new life in Christ so that we might begin to fulfill the vocation with which he blessed us at creation: fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion (Gen. 1:28). The task of the Christian is not to withdraw from this world, even when knowing how to participate is murky or when it is clearly distasteful. And not everything we do is a matter of getting specific instructions from our Commander. He expects us to grow up and to act wisely as mature adults. As I said above, the two-party system need not constrain me on Election Day. I will vote as a follower of Jesus Christ who takes the mission of tikkun olam seriously, and I will vote for a worthy candidate. I will live with the results and carry on.

Thirdly, none of us are “free from human institutions.” This is just more separatist jingoism that serves only to inflate the pride of Christians and make them think they are too good to walk the same ground as their fellow human beings. Please. That’s utterly ridiculous.

In this case, I think “the Lord of our homeland” is giving us a clear directive: pay no attention to the man behind the pulpit.

Be a good neighbor. Plant a seed of righteousness. Vote.

• • •


red-barn-fed-fall-foliageWhat do Cubs fans have to live for now?

Is St. Augustine the patron saint of this year’s election?

Should selfies be allowed in the voting booth?

Why does fall foliage turn fiery red?

Why is an ancient disease still haunting us?

Did a big collision make the Moon, and also knock Earth on its side?

Will the “supermoon” on Nov. 14 have any biblical import?

• • •


I encourage you to take a look at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s poignant pictorial of former houses of worship in the city that are not in active use at present.

In addition to viewing the strikingly sad yet beautiful pictures, you can learn about each building’s history and current uses. Here are a few sample pictures from the piece.


Albright United Methodist Church

Albright United Methodist Church


Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church

SS. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Church

SS. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Church

St. Canice Roman Catholic Church

St. Canice Roman Catholic Church

• • •


It was my privilege to be interviewed recently by our local county newspaper about my work and my book. The article came out this past week, and I thought the author did a good job putting it together.

I hope you’ll enjoy it and pass it on if you think it might be of encouragement and help to someone.

Season of decision: Chaplain helps hospice clients plan for end of life

• • •


Though All Saints Day is officially Nov. 1, many churches will celebrate it this Sunday.

As we remember the “great cloud of witnesses” that has gone before us, having completed their journey of faith and now in God’s care awaiting faith’s consummation on the day of resurrection, let us be inspired by one of the greatest hymns in the English language, William W. How’s 1864 composition, “For All the Saints,” set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

It is sung here by the choir and congregation of First Plymouth Congregational Church, Lincoln, Nebraska.


  1. what if I write in John Piper?

    I’m actually more or less in agreement with him

    • seneca griggs says

      I’m also in agreement with him – within the sovereignty of God, ALL politicians serve His purposes; be they good or evil.

      • Seneca, knowing that is one thing. That brings comfort if we believe God will ultimately work things for good. That does not excuse me or anyone else for choosing someone who promotes evil, or from dropping out of the system because it’s too messy for my tastes.

      • Oh, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure God isn’t exactly excited about either of the two main candidates.

        • seneca griggs says

          I think you’ve got that right Rick. But either one will, ultimately, serve His purposes [ probably without them actually knowing it.].

    • Ok but will all the Christians who decide not to vote because this is not their homeland please please please SHUT UP ALREADY about America being founded as a “Christian Nation” or God’s “plan” for America or how we need to “repent” or face God’s “judgment” on our nation?

  2. I am glad that the political wars around us have not invaded this peaceful space. I have also been impressed how several pastors on my FB link have been so good (unlike myself and I would make a horrible pastor) about never sharing their political opinions, knowing they would alienate some of their parishioners by doing so. I sense that this is a place where Christians can (occasionally, not constantly) discuss political matters without offense and with mutual respect. With that said, your post about the CA Catholic priest’s flyer is like an experience I had a week ago. So, it prompted me to write an essay yesterday on the “Moral Permission for Christian to Vote for Hillary.” I’m not offended if anyone votes for Trump as some of my family members are. The other option, like Piper suggested, not to vote at all. But I tried to do a thoughtful presentation of why those who say that a good Christian must vote Republican are wrong. I’ve linked my essay to my name below.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I work in election department management software (NOT actual ballot counting). This time around has been The Election from Hell. Candidate choice is equivalent to German elections of 1932; I have contacts who are making book as to how long before the first military coup.

      That said, it appears mobilization for the Election from Hell has completely bypassed mobilization for The Devil’s Holiday(TM) this year. Except we haven’t heard the REAL Biblical/Godly stuff about this election. No Focus on the Family “I Send this Letter from the Future to you as a Warning (Persecution, Homosexuality, Persecution, and Homosexuality just because YOU voted Wrong)!”. No 40-day Spiritual Warfare schedules to Bind and Rebuke the Hillary and put God’s Anointed Choice into the White House. NONE of the Predictable; maybe a little jump in End Time Prophecy with Coming Global Thermouclear War to scare ’em into the Kingdom (like the Armageddon junk mail I got from Ollie North), but little of the actual Christianese Craziness I’ve come to expect from this time of Election year.

      • Less Christianese Craziness this Election year because the secular election craziness has actually surpassed it….I mean, how do you outdo the real-world threat and hysteria of the upcoming Electiogedden with religious fantasies? It has to be a little humbling for some in the Christian religious community; nobody cares about their End Times scenarios, this is the real world.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Well, a week from now Piper is going to be on Twitter all the time Twittering about God’s control of the election, we’re going to her “Now God’s JUDGMENT on America Begins!” dueling with “Don’t Go Stupid on Me!” from (not the same) pulpits, and the mobilization for the War on Xmas will begin.

    • –> “I am glad that the political wars around us have not invaded this peaceful space.”

      +1. Other than popping up sporadically, the Internet Monk site has been a relatively safe haven.

  3. I’m Catholic and I’m voting for Hillary.
    Father Perovich over in Cali: I’m calling steer pucky on your theory that anyone who votes Dem will go to hell.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Candidates or who I support aside – I would very much like someone to address why positions on “””abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, human cloning, and embryonic stem cell research””” should be the deciding factor on who I support/endorse as the federal executive? [and “human cloning” … really?]. What percentage of the federal executives time in a given term is spent dealing with these issues – I’d wager it is vanishingly small. As leading causes of human death, setting aside natural disease, abortion and euthanasia still don’t come near to the top of the list. In the context of all issues – I really don’t get the hyper-hyper-prioritization of these issues – which really distills down to marriage and abortion.

      I’m just tired of the same-sex marriage debate; fortunately it appears to essentially be over. Anyone else read “What Will it Take for Presidential Candidates to Defend Marriage?” over on Mere Orthodoxy? Aside from being a screed, it make me happy – it is over. And even I, as a Leftist, find this McMullin guy to be a breath of fresh air: “””Well my position on that is that as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman but I respect the decision of the court and I think it’s time to move on.””” I hope he represents the Conservatism of the future.

      • Adam,
        Your statistics are off, abortion accounts for more deaths than any other cause. The Catholic Church ranks issues in order of priority. Killing of preborn babies is number one as killing innocent lives is considered the ultimate sin. Killing of disabled and vulnerable (euthanasia) is number two. Likewise using stem cells from aborted babies and cloning also devalue human life. Use of adult stem cells is encouraged. Then comes capital punishment. Once a society devalues human life, it will descend into chaos. Look at Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, etc.

        • pilgrim,
          So, for the sake of argument, let’s say that on one side we had a candidate who was a blatant racist, homophobe, xenophobe, sexist, warmonger and believed in letting the poor die of neglect rather than instituting government programs to assist them; she would always be preferable from a Catholic moral perspective to a candidate on the other side who was non-racist, non-homophobe, non-sexist, etc., but who supported abortion rights?

          • I failed to include that the first candidate claims to be opposed to abortion rights….

            Surely the moral calculus is not this simple. I would be surprised if even one reputable conservative Catholic moral theologian would say that it is. And since we are talking about an area within the boundaries of the more complex moral calculus, then Adam’s observation and position is still valid, and not obviously the wrong one, even from a Catholic moral theology perspective.

          • All your “phobes” are media propaganda, not facts. And if someone is willing to end the life of vulnerable human beings without a second thought, where will she stop? Old, mentally retarded, those with mental illness, people with disabilities are all vulnerable via euthanasia. Thus did Hitler start. Cynically, anyone who would not consider voting for her is vulnerable. Catholic Charities and individual Catholic churches provide food, clothing, shelter, language instruction, counseling, etc for refugees, immigrants, and citizens regardless of race, religion, or any other category. This will never stop unless religious freedom continues to disappear.

            • I asked you to entertain a hypothetical, something Roman Catholic moral theology is usually very willing and able to do. You didn’t engage it, so I guess you don’t know how to do so. As for my “phobias”: if you really think the discussion about racism in this election cycle is merely media driven propaganda, you are morally clueless and misinformed.

              • I am merely relaying the current stand given by the bishops. Ask them your theoretical question. I marvel at your ability to discern my “moral cluelessness” from a couple sentences. I wouldn’t presume to judge you, I leave that to God.

                • You know, you’re right. It was wrong to accuse you of “moral cluelessness”. I apologize for that.

                  The American Catholic bishops definitely do affirm that entrenched racism is a problem in the US, and not merely media driven propaganda.


                  That is part of the current stand they take, and has been for a long time.

                • By saying that the perception of the ongoing problem of racism in the US is merely the result of media propaganda, you are contradicting the bishops’ teaching. You should consult them.

                  • There is racism that is blatant, like before the 1960’s. It was clear, evident and everywhere. What is called racism now bears no resemblance. The story I tell from New England is thus: My white son has 4 white high school friends. One married a white girl from town. The second married an African American girl from GA. The third married an Asian girl from Taiwan, and the fourth married an Asian girl from Laos. My son married a girl whose mother came from the Dominican Republic. What race are my grandchildren? I don’t know and don’t care. That’s a far cry from the 1960’s. So we have not yet completely eliminated all racism from every heart. I think we’ve made substantial progress.

        • –> “Once a society devalues human life, it will descend into chaos.”

          But as has been pointed out before, pro-lifers tend to stop their defense of human lives once they’re out of the womb and walking.

          • …even before they’re walking.

            • LOL. Yes, even in blob stage.

              • There is no blob stage. The child is a unique human being from conception, with DNA defining eye color, hair color, height, personality, and resemblance to mommy or daddy.

                • Well, I think you took me literally. By “blob stage” I meant the stage from out of the womb to crawling, you know…when they’re just a “blob.”

          • That is definitely not true! Catholic pro-lifers have been very involved in providing classes in parenting, food, clothing, and shelter for new families, and career counseling and training.

            • And forgiveness or a place at the table for those who’ve had abortions? Or divorces?

              • Catholics have a very active ministry for post-abortion men and woman including reconciliation and full participation in all sacraments. Divorce is a more complex issue and is handled on a case by case basis, but full reconciliation is possible.

          • Yes, Robert and Rick.

            I have yet to see one anti-abortion advocate who is a supporter of child welfare. Once babies are born, they’re someone else’s problem, and (presumabyl) do not matter one iota as much as they do when they’re in utero.

            pilgrim, before you jump on that, I must tell you that I spent decades around avid pro-lifers, many of them actively working to shut down Planned Parenthood and the like.’

            So I kinda do know what I’m talking about here. (So do Robert and Rick, actually.) Also, I’m a woman, which they are not. 😉

            • numo,
              Sorry your experience has been so. And I can not share my experiences, because, alas, I’m a newcomer and suffered both a stroke(stroke of luck) and a broken back (lucky break) before my work schedule could allow me to participate. I am relying on EWTN and their anecdotal stories, CareNet, and Catholic Charities for their information.

            • HI numo,
              Sorry your experience of pro-lifers was like that. My experience has been otherwise.

            • Numo, that is true to some extent. My son is a social worker. They are crying for foster parents but there are not nearly enough. Of the people I know who have “vote pro-life” signs in their yards, not one does foster parenting. If all those involved in the pro-life movement would take in even one at risk child, there would be more than enough homes for the at risk kids. But that doesn’t happen. I get it. Foster parenting is tough, very tough. But, if we are going to complain about abortion, we have to be willing to step in, even at our own discomfort and monetary cost, and take in those unwanted children.
              We have a very wonderful crisis pregnancy center in our town that does wonderful work providing parenting classes, information, STD testing, baby clothes, diapers, support, etc but will not help once the baby reaches a certain age. What happens when the help stops?

              • Brianthedad says

                I recently read a statistic, can’t recall where and I’m unable to verify the calculation, that stated if a single family in each of only one out of every three US churches adopted a child from foster care, there would be no more kids in foster care in need of permanent placement. It is hard work, but it is good work, and work worth doing.

              • Perhaps Catholics and conservative evangelicals could start by convincing their own members to have a significantly lower rate of abortion than the general population; they’d prevent an enormous number of abortions without a single law being passed.

            • I’ve worked with crisis pregnancy centers in several cities over the years and while you may have experienced what you write about, Numo, my experience is exactly the opposite. We educated people about choices. And if a woman chose to give birth, she was supported in every possible way. We helped her find housing and assistance, provided maternity clothes as well as furniture for the nursery, clothing, diapers and formula after the baby was born. There are many such non-profits in this country who take the role of being pro-life very seriously.

        • abortion accounts for more deaths than any other cause

          Prove it.

          • According to CDC, from 1970 to 2012, 51 million abortions were induced in the united states.

          • According to CDC, 2012-2014 time period (couldn’t find stats for same year) Abortion deaths about 700,000 while heart disease 614,000. Heart disease was listed as leading cause of death.

            • Okay, that figure is actually quite scary and much higher than I expected. Even more scary, look up the “induced abortions per 1,000 live births” figure. Wow, I had no idea it was that high!!!

              • It does not, however, not the percentage of pregnant women whose lives were at risk, or the number of infants in utero with severe birth defects (including those that could not have survived outside of the womb, which is probably a lot more than one would like to imagine). There are also, sadly, far too many cases of infants dying in utero, where it is extremely risky (per physical and psychological health) for women to carry to term. Those cases also are generally classed as abortiins, unless they occur early enough in the pregnancy to be dealt with via d & c (dilation and curettage).

                I am also not seeing any stats about the number of women in the 2-3 decades prior to Roe v. Wade who died due to illegal abortions. Again, the figure is likely higher than sny of us would like to imagine.

                This isn’t all as black and white/cut and dried as some of you are making it out to be. And while I’m not at all certain that I could ever have undergone an abortion, I think the choice to do so should always lie with the individual and her doctor/nurse-midwife. Few people *want* to get abortions. I knew someone, back when I was much younger, who was literally forced to go through the procedure *by her Catholic parents.*

                This is more complex, and much messier (for people of many religious faiths) than simplistic articles make it out to be. Further, though i do believe that Christ understands the suffering of women (per all aspects of pregnancy, and in all painfail gyn problems, and much more), an all-male clergy is very much limited in their comprehension of what *any* of this is like. And a celibate clergy, where no man can, by the rules, ever have a chance of knowing 1sthand what it’s like to go through a normal pregnancy with a spouse, let alone a pregnancy where things go terribly wrong, well… I’m sorry if this offends, but I do not see how these things can be mandated for other people. Ever.

                • Painful


                • I understand that there is acknowledgement that deaths due to illegal abortions were highly inflated by the pro-abortion lobby. I have a DVD that describes this but I haven’t written down the source.

                  You do not address all the physical, mental, and spiritual pain suffered by mothers and fathers of aborted babies. Christ sees their pain in an unexpected pregnancy and is there to help them through it. He would not condone taking the life of an innocent to avoid the challenges on new life. Abortion is also used for underage girls used for sex trafficking and goes unreported by Planned Parenthood.

                  Life is full of pain and suffering through which we become better, stronger people. Are you condoning killing a born child with any disability because you don’t think they have enough quality of life? Is it a mother’s choice to kill her 2 year old child? Then why one that is preborn?

                  And saying men can not be compassionate in relation to a pregnancy is nonsense. Or that celibate priests don’t have a clue just because. They don’t live shut up in ivory towers, they spend their lives being with people through all their crises.

                  • Let’s agree to disagree.

                    Yes,the suffering undergone is terrible, but please cut me a break here, since i did *not* say otherwise. I still don’t see any links to the CDC or any other reputable source of info., or to anything that addresses the issues i raised.

                    As for your views on suffering, I’ll pass.

                  • “Preborn” is …not a good way to describe a being that is unborn.

                    Would you apply these standards to women who miscarty? That is a truly huge source of pain for both parents, yet rarely is it publicly acknowledged.

                  • Btw, by severe birth defects, i was thinking of infants who literally are not viable outside the uterus. Whose brain stems have not developed, whose hearts are literally sealed off from the rest of the circulatory system, whose lungs have not developed enough for proper respiration of air – and so on.

                    Please do not jump to conclusions, pilgrim. More people than you realize are faced with exactly this dilemma. To call it “killing” in these cases simply doesn’t make any sense, since these infants cannot live once born. They have no chance. Imagine knowing that snd having to go through birth snyway, then watching your child die.

                    • I’m sorry, numo, if I seemed harsh or rude. I guess I wasn’t ready for a well reasoned debate, as I said, I’m new at discussions on abortion. I did supply the best link I could. It is a table generated by CDC and appears on Wikipedia under abortion statistics.

                      I thought pre-born works. I’m not sure what standards you are referring to.

                      As far as the other types of induced abortions for medical reasons, I don’t have a clue. There is a growing movement to allow babies with the severe disabilities as you described to be born and held and loved by their parents until death with the appropriate medical supervision.

                      Again, I apologize for the tone of my earlier response. I’ll try to do better.

                    • pilgrim, thanks. This space is known for thoughtful, reasoned discussion – friendly ones. It’s not like Facebook or just about any other online forum or comments section I’ve ever read, which is precisely why I post here and pretty much nowhere else.

                      So, maybe just read a bit more, to get a feel for this place? It would help, imo, to see how most folks here tend to handle highly emotional and potentially divisive issues. Though i hasten to add that we’re far from perfect – but mostly, we do try to be civil and considered. More like f2f than a lot of other comments sectiond, i think.


                    • pilgrim, I’m not certain too many people are able to deal with seeing their baby die because it has a condition that literally will kill it once it’s out of the womb. I do not think I’d be able to deal with that.

                      Late-term does not mean that people cannot see or hold their babies, though, contrary to what you might have heard or read. I would not want to deal with anyone who didn’t do the procedure as gently as possible – and it can, in fact, be done in ways that are truly respectful and kind. I cannot imagine any decent doctor would want to have to do a termination any other way, most especially a late-term one. It’s extremely difficult for everyone involved.

    • It seems that Immaculate Conception Catholic Church could make use of some Jack Chick cartoon art…

      • Richard Hershberger says

        I had the same thought. That and how so many super-Christians, regardless of what flavor, are so eager to go separating the wheat from the tares, despite Jesus’ explicit instructions not to.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          When he was saying not to do that he was being metaphorical; otherwise he was being literal.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          What would God ever do on J-day without these Uber-Christian Grima Wormtongues to whisper in His ear as to who is REALLY Saved and (more important) who is NOT?

      • I can’t tell how many times I’ve been told that it is wrong for a Christian to vote for a Democrat because of abortion. However, it seems to me that voting only on that when the pro-life candidate clearly has other huge moral failings (such as advocating the death of others, including innocents, via massive bombing) is kinda of like Satan tempting Jesus with earthly power & wealth if only He would bow down to him. “Support my candidacy & I’ll give you the one thing you desire (or at least I will say I will to get your vote)!” If I, as a Christian, am willing to forgo all my other ties to morality, human kindness, and civility in order to maybe get the one thing I think is the most important, well, I am uncomfortable with that. Once you become a one issue voter, an unethical politician will figure out pretty quickly he/she only has to say that magic phrase, and the votes will come. Making a deal with the devil for a righteous cause is still a deal with the devil.

        I am kind of thinking out loud, here, as you can probably tell. Thoughts?

        • If you let everything hinge on one issue, it makes it like shooting fish in a barrel for political manipulators. All they have to do is blow your whistle, however insincerely and cynically, without the least intention of actually promoting your issue, and they have you, no matter that you disagree with them in all other matters. And they know it.

          This is what the Republican Party has been doing to Christians for 20 years now. And Trump, well: if you honestly believe he’s antiabortion, or that he will follow through on his promises to nominate antiabortion judges to the Supreme Court, you’re being snookered. He’s blowing the biggest, loudest most effective political whistle he can, and (to mix metaphors) he’s shooting fish in a barrel with a cannon.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            More like 30-35 years.

            I remember getting an Armageddon high-pressure telemarketer call from American Life League during the Bork confirmation circus. As much as said if I didn’t fork over the money to get Bork confirmed and Roe v Wade overturned, “God WILL Hold YOU Accountable” for every baby aborted. Fork over the cash or God Will Punish You.

        • I can’t tell how many times I’ve been told that it is wrong for a Christian to vote for a Democrat because of abortion.

          Or our current predicament, aka the same scenario for every election since 1988.

          One candidates says he’ll vote pro-life and end abortion, and never does.

          Another candidates says they’ll vote pro-choice and reduce abortions, and always does.

          Whatcha going to do…

        • Suzanne – +1 (many times over).

          Same, btw.

        • This question is what I tried to address in my link (I won’t say much here but follow the link with my name). It isn’t a black or white situation. Such as, 1) If Hillary is elected, abortions will continue or increase. 2) If Trump is elected, they will stop. The reality, which I point out in the linked post, is that abortions are on the decline, thank God. But they have declined faster under “Pro Choice” presidents. The reason is because they fight for more for the funding and availability of birth control. Roe Vs Wade cannot be overturned at this point in history by Trump or anyone. Christians have lost this culture due, in my opinion, to their own misbehavior. Now, we can’t impose Christian ideals upon the post-Christian majority society. We are exiles in Babylon. We can, however, influence the hearts of people by the way that we love them. We can’t win this culture back by saying thinks like it is evil to have gender-neutral bathrooms because we are so pro-family (and decent people, wink wink) and we don’t want anyone to get molested, then turn around and consider a man who boasts about molesting women and make him our hero. This mischief of behavior is how we lost this culture to start with.

  4. Congrats, Chaplain Mike, for writing in a choice for president. That is one more step than I did because I left it blank. Both major parties need to reformulate how they choose candidates, the Republicans for allowing outliers to even attach themselves to the party, and Democrats for anointing someone eight years beforehand.

    The one good thing about the Cubs winning is that now we don’t have to hear about “lovable losers”, “curse of the billygoat” of even Steve Bartman. They are now just a normal baseball team, unremarkable to all but their fans. Halleluiah!

    • Richard Hershberger says

      I would say that writing in a name, or voting for one of the vanity candidates, is indistinguishable from leaving the space blank. Either Trump or Clinton is going to be the next president. Pretending otherwise is sheer fantasy.

      • flatrocker says

        > “Pretending otherwise is sheer fantasy”

        Actually, taking a precious vote and casting it for an illusion of competent leadership is the fantasy.
        Keep playing the game…
        or find someone who you like and simply vote for that person.
        I’ll take this reality.

        • Richard Hershberger says

          The thing about the lesser of two evils is that is is less evil than the greater of two evils. It is a lovely thing when one of the candidates meets that magical threshold of agreeing with a sufficiently high percentage of the time that I get a warm fuzzy glow about my vote. But in this vale of tears, “less evil” is the best outcome in the cards.

          • flatrocker says

            Who said anything about “lesser of two evils.”
            Out of the 150 million eligible American adults, find one you believe in and confidently cast your vote.
            It really is just that simple – and powerful and freeing.
            Props to CM for the courage to do so.

            Also, the whole “lessor of two evils” rhetoric leads us to today’s church bulletin story. Enough with the demonic imagery already 🙂

            • But flatrocker, in some states you can’t write in just anybody on the ballot. If you do, they won’t count your vote, they’ll just throw it away. In those states, they only keep and count write-in votes for candidates who meet certain criteria. Research your state’s rules regarding write-ins before you write-in just anybody.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                Here in Cali, it’s been illegal to write in a fictional character since 1968. One of those unenforceable laws done for doublepluswarmfeelies by Our Betters in Sacramento. (We’ve got a lot of them.)

                The urban legend was this was after the state’s electoral vote almost went to Snoopy or Batman through write-ins.

            • Richard Hershberger says

              It depends on your purpose in voting. If you are using your franchise to elect the best possible candidates in order to positively influence the polity, then writing in the name of your grandpa, who is a wonderful person in every way, makes no sense at all. But if the point of the exercise is self-affirmation, then sure: write in Gramps’ name. It seems rather Onanistic to me, but that is the advantage of a private polling booth.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Write in CTHULHU.
            Why settle for the lesser evil?

          • I think the word “evil” is banded about much too carelessly here. Hitler was evil. Stalin was evil. Mao was evil. None of our politicians rise (or descend I suppose) to that level. Clinton is a moderately corrupt middle of the road professional politician, a true child of our system. Trump is a loutish bored rich guy who figured being president would be a good way to recapture his virility.

            Folks the politicians only get away with what they’re allowed to get away with. How many people complaining about the choice took any part in picking the candidates? The system rewards those who have the most invested in it.

            The responsibility and the blame belong where it always has – with the American people.

      • Burro [Mule] says

        There are other things you can do with your vote besides vote for the lesser of two evils. You can vote for the least of several evils.

        I voted last week for Jill Stein of the Green Party, not only because, of the available candidates, she most closely aligned with my views, but also because I think this country would be well served by having third- and fourth-party candidates I wish Mr. Castle and Mr. McMullin all the best on Nov. 8 as well. If, against all odds, McMullin takes Utah and Johnson takes New Mexico, the constitutional crisis precipitated may get us to put our heads together and come up with a more representative form of government. Say what you like about the US Constitution, but I think our present oligarchy is the inevitable result of it.

        My animus against Sec. Clinton was that I believed that she would appoint Victoria Nuland as Secretary of State. Now I hear she pushing for Joe Biden. If that’s true, that would have moved her from my seventh choice to fourth. If Trump or Clinton wins Georgia by less than the Green and Libertarian votes combine, you can sharpen your pitchforks and come for me.

      • Richard, I am not “pretending otherwise.” I am exercising my right and responsibility as an American citizen to vote for people I think are qualified and competent and concerned for the common good. That is the only way I can in good conscience vote in this election, and it’s the way I hope I will always vote.

        Don’t give in to the politicians, big money, and political parties that say it’s a binary system and thus it will ever be.

        Here’s an article that states it better than I. “The two major parties have enough advantages in our system without our giving them a moral veto over other choices that they do not deserve.”

      • –> “Either Trump or Clinton is going to be the next president. Pretending otherwise is sheer fantasy.”

        I’ve decided that this is a shame tactic meant to try to shame someone into voting for their candidate. In other words, telling someone ” A vote for a third party is like a vote for ” is just trying to shame them into doing what you want.

        I’ve also decided that another “shame” tactic is the old rhetoric “Oh, so you and your spouse’s votes canceled each other.” No. I voted for one candidate. She voted for another. They did not “cancel each other.”

        I’m going to begin calling bull* on these more frequently. Stop trying to shame people for how they vote, people!!!

        • I think a great result would be HC or DT win 36 to 35 with the rest voting other. That would definitely give the winner no way to claim a “mandate”. This is in the popular vote. The electoral college is set up to more likely get someone to 270.

  5. Is Piper still relevant? Has he EVER been relevant?

    • Piper? Piper Jones you say? ;o)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      What is the Relevance Threshold? I’d guess there are ~300,000 people for whom he is The Calvinist Pope – based on the number of Reformed Calvinist podcasts and their subscribers. So his Relevance is somewhere around 0.00094 … (300,000 / 318,860,000) If I am underestimating by half he rises to a lofty 0.00188. I have to be underestimating by 10X for it to reach 1.0 [1% of Americans care what you say – which might equal Relevant].

      I am going with No. But props for him on the use of the term “absolutize”, that is hip!

      • Richard Hershberger says

        I heard his name for the longest time as the great Evangelical intellectual, before I ever read anything from him. When I finally did, my response was “This is the best you people can do?” In fairness, he represents only one branch of Evangelicalism, but still…

    • Probably not, Oscar, in the big picture. I have long found Piper’s particular way of phrasing things to be weird. For example, I would have responded, “Ask me a question about word or sacrament; ask your poly-sci professor about voting.” But if I were to respond, I would just say, “Vote or don’t vote. That’s what being free is all about.” Instead, Piper – as usual – proceeds from a place of slavery. He continuously speaks and behaves as if his audience are spiritual slaves, who need God’s permission to do pretty much anything. This is another classic example where I agree with Piper’s conclusion, but the way that he gets there is dysfunctional at best. I could never live in his mental universe; it is toxic.

    • senecagriggs says

      The fact that we’re constantly discussing him proves his relevance.

      • But all we discuss is whether he’s relevant or not…he’s like the Kardashian: irrelevant, but famous (that is, famous in his subculture).

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          He IS a Khristian Kardashian.

          Definition of Celebrity: someone who is famous entirely for Being Famous.

          • The Kardashians are a lot more successful at the “fame game” than Piper; outside of his little subculture’s pond, who has ever heard of him? Not most Christians, not most Americans, certainly not the Kardashians.

          • Maybe he needs to circulate more selfies…

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              Like the Santa Cruz Shooter.

              All he left behind after that mass murder/suicide was his Manifesto and thousands of Selfies Selfies Selfies Selfies.

      • I mean, people discuss the Kardashians incessantly; that doesn’t make them relevant.

    • I know several people who put Piper just below Jesus, maybe equal with Paul, maybe even a bit higher than Paul.

    • Yes, Piper is relevant because he is a child of God and our brother in Christ.

  6. It’s difficult to embrace the Cubs World Series win without thinking about President Biff.

  7. Fortunately, I did not have to write in my 3rd party candidate. She was on the ballot in TN.

  8. Adam Tauno Williams says

    Pittsburgh has an embarrassment of riches in terms of great architecture. I mean, seriously, even their Baptist churches are great – Baptist here in the Midwest is synonymous with “pole barn w/pews”.

    Someone needs to develop a way to tele-port buildings – those places would be worth a fortune in the right spot.

    The line in the article: “””They go from community-based congregations to commuter-based congregations, where you have people coming back into the church because they have some heritage there. But they have lost just about every bit of connection with the community. If the congregants don’t adopt the community as their own, the clock is ticking.””” Succinctly sums up so much.

    • There used to be a gorgeous, ivy-covered romanesque orthodox church across the street from the U of L baseball field. It was for sale, and I briefly considered purchasing it and turning it into the most hipster home ever. Unfortunately, it was purchased by the used car lot next door who promptly bulldozed it and turned it into a parking lot. I am not making this up.

    • “Baptist here in the Midwest is synonymous with “pole barn w/pews”. LOL, Adam T! Because it is so true.

    • So sad to see so many beautiful buildings vacant and deteriorating. More sad that it is the result of the decline of once thriving communities.


  10. Those who decide to write-in a candidate that they consider competent and qualified, as CM did, be aware: some states will legally discard your write-in vote if the candidate is not on their list of candidates qualified by state criteria to be written-in. Be aware of your state’s rules regarding write-ins, otherwise you will really be throwing your vote away, since it won’t even be counted.

    • Are you sure that’s not just a scare tactic by the powers-that-be to try to get you to vote for the powers-that-be…?

      • No at all. There’s this thing called the electoral college. They elect the president. How they get elected is mostly up to the states. In some states it’s obvious. In others, especially in the past, not so much. Writing in a name for a candidate that does not have any “electors” standing by tends to mean your write in is, yes, “worthless”.

      • No, write-in votes are regulated differently by different states. Some will literally throw away your vote if the name you write-in is not on the list of names allowed for write-in.

        • Oh, gosh…our system is more broke than I thought… 🙁

          • For example, here is a how the state of Illinois, where CM voted (I believe) for his write-in, regulates write-in votes. All write-in votes must be for candidates that have filed a declaration of intent no later than 61 days before the election; all other write-ins will not be counted.


            • There it is. Oh well.

              Anyway, I hope CM voted for a registered write-in; otherwise, his vote didn’t count toward any candidate.

              Check the regulations governing write-in votes in your state, if you want your write-in vote to be counted.

          • Well, I tried to post a comment, but it went into limbo. I’ll try again.

            In Illinois, where CM voted (I believe) for his write-in, all potential write-in candidates must file a notice of intent at least 61 days before the election; any vote for write-ins not so registered will not be counted. You can easily look it up. I tried to provide a link in the first comment, but I think that’s what put it in limbo.

  11. The photos of the derelict church buildings strike me as a documentary of the true state of the church in America. Sadly anchored to an all but vanished past and taking on water anywhere from slow trickle to Titanic. I don’t see the true church dying, but the form that served for two millennia has run its course. Unlike the Titanic, there are plenty of lifeboats available for anyone able to think outside the box. It is unfortunate that these buildings can’t be maintained as historical treasures, but they aren’t the only wreckage to be seen. A new day is dawning if you can find a piece of flotsam to hang onto.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > the true state of the church in America

      Agree, although I think there are also demographic and economic factors at play here. People spread out – that make community harder. There is also less spare wealthy – partly due to the very high cost of spreading out – so communities can’t afford to built such monuments.

      But I can think of more than a few Bloggers who would to well to stare at those photos for awhile and let that reality sink in. There is still no shortage of Triumphalist Christianity out there, which is just baffling.

    • It’s sad to see these abandoned buildings because many are or were beautiful, but it is reality. Those huge buildings are expensive to maintain and with falling membership, where will the money come from? It seems the answer is nowhere.
      I agree, Charles, it points somewhat to the state of the church in America and I don’t see it getting much better. This election has exposed a very ugly side to the religious right that the non-religious or non-hard right religious are noticing. We can’t go back to the halcyon days when these old church buildings were thriving, even by force, although there are those who would advocate this I believe. The past is the past and can’t be revived. I do hope some of the buildings, though, can find another life as something else.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > Those huge buildings are expensive to maintain

        I question that to some degree – i think they are relatively speaking inexpensive to maintain [so long as they haven’t actually broken – then YOWZA!] Brick-n-mortar work from that era is generally fabulous and extremely robust. You’ll find granite and slate in many of these buildings – which has orders of magnitude the durability of concrete.

        The huge price tag is in trying to **adapt** these building. We have had some old glories here turned into housing – – – but rents gotta get pretty darn high before it makes sense.

        • True, they are well built, but funding a roof replacement or an interior repainting, or stained glass window repair, or an upgrade of the heating system and the bills pile up pretty fast & pretty tall. My church building in is over 100 years old so I know first hand. Even the old organ is pricey to maintain because organ tuners are increasingly rare and can ask top dollar.
          There are no simple solutions for these buildings.

          • And just you try to replace that old organ once it’s beyond repair, even with a digital one of comparable performance abilities. Big dollars. If the replacement is digital, it won’t last anywhere near as long as the old pipe organ did.

          • Richard Hershberger says

            Bells. Don’t forget the bells. The bells themselves are big chunks of bronze, but there is a lot of machinery around getting them to ring. This machinery, by the nature of the beast, tends to be old, and while well-built, still needing of tender loving, extremely specialized, care.

            Those slate roofs go about forty or fifty years between major renovation work, but when that time comes the church is hit with a big bill, partly for materials and partly because slate roofing is, yet again, an extremely specialized field. You can’t have that general contractor who is a member of the congregation handle the job. Quite the contrary, unless he is unusually sensible and aware of his limitations, you want to keep him as far away as possible.

            Growing up in California, where the vast majority of churches were new(ish) construction, we thought wistfully of the old established eastern churches with no mortgage payments. Then I moved east and learned better.

            • Different, though somewhat related, subject: The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine (Episcopal) in NYC is an unfinished building. It is being built as funds become available. But since the special skills needed to do the work required to finish and maintain (it’s well over a century old) the cathedral are not really available in the marketplace, the cathedral also as part of its expenses has had to implement an apprenticeship program to train local residents in the crafts required. And this will have to continue in perpetuity to maintain it once it is done (if that ever happens). Big dollars.

              • Adam Tauno Williams says

                Had so.ethng like that here restoring a railroad era hotel – with crazy masonary, lion head reliefs, etc… A crew had to come in from the east coast to do that part if the work. On the upside there are actually more people doing that now than ~40 years ago, it has kinda returned as a skilled trade as more of these buildings re-enter revenue service.

        • Adam, on a much smaller scale, the beautiful 100 seater, 100 year old, wooden church building I was attending when it shut down nearly a year ago had an operating bare bones budget of roughly three grand per month. Divide that by the roughly average attendance of ten and you come up with $300 per person per month. In my case this would have amounted to about 25% of my income, close to the triple tithe Herbert W. Armstrong charged his Worldwide Church of God members. The great majority of attendees were retired on Social Security. Young people were a rarity.

          It kept going because of an endowment bequeathed with no strings. The old time members whose grandparents started the church wanted to keep it going as is and hope they could have their funeral there for sentimental reasons before the money ran out, and funerals were the only time the church was filled. Others, including the part-time pastor, felt this was not exactly fulfilling the teachings of Jesus and we needed to downsize to reality now and spend money in service to the community. He was run off by the church before it was closed by the synod because they couldn’t even come up with a quorum to deal with the problem. This is the picture of the American church at the other end of the scale. The building is still there if you want to buy it and start your own church. You could commute or buy one of the many houses for sale here in this recovering economy.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            I am talking about the cost to go forward as not-a-church; yeah, they make no sense as churches relative to cost of operations .

            Anything wood frame single-story isn’t worth saving; the insulation and windows are probably completely obsolete if not shot. It the brick and stone buildings that are a painful loss – building anything like that today is almost unthinkable.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says

              Currently there is also a steel-glass office block being de-skinned here – it is actually four masonary buildings under the skin that was build over/around it as part of “urban renewal”. OMG, they are beautiful – and occupants will one again have windows!

        • You’ll find granite and slate in many of these buildings – which has orders of magnitude the durability of concrete.

          The issue with most of these buildings starts with water and/or freeze/thaw cycles. Let water or just some dampness get into a very tiny crack then freeze and the crack will get bigger. Over time things will fracture. Even granite. Then more water gets in and …..

          As others have noted keeping roofs intact (and thus the water out) gets expensive.

          Ivy looks nice to most people but what it does is …. drum roll … get moisture into masonry and other semi porous materials and then you get … cracking.

          Now toss in a heating system or other material full of asbestos and $$$$$.

          Oh, and those oil tanks for the ancient heating system (maybe removed) are now hazardous waste pits.

          Many times these older buildings are imitation sail boats. Which everyone I know who has every owned one has called a “hole in the ocean into which your pour money”.

  12. two planes cross the sky
    under crescent moon and stars
    temporary lights

  13. an old church’s ruins —
    a haunt for owls and ivy,
    graffiti showcase

  14. The Cubs win was epic! As someone pointed out on Facebook, the last time the Cubs had won, Leo Tolstoy was still alive!
    I missed the end of the game. When it was tied up, rain falling, and 11:30 pm, I gave up and went to bed. I woke up assuming there would be no joy in Mudville, but no!!! Woot & double woot!!

    Go Cubs Go!!

    • Same here Suzanne… the rain delay did me in, and I did NOT think the cubbies would rebound. FORGIVE my unbelief.

      Congrats , Cub fans (especially our dear Chaplain Mike)….. Royals would not have gotten close to their world series without Ben Z…… (sniffle, sniffle…… you can come back Ben…..)

  15. Not a baseball fan, but we were following it in CA on the radio, and could not believe the twists and turns…yes, that’s exciting baseball. We were rooting for the Cubs! Way to go! Not quite get how you east coasters manage to stay up for all the sports goings-on.

    So sad about those churches. Think about all the intentional theological and biblical thought that went in to designing and building them, as well as those who built them–which is why they’re still ‘attractive’ and worth seeing and learning about even after all these years. I for one, love old churches, here and abroad.

    And…Piper…really? Cringe-worthy. It’s pretty simple, to quote Jesus, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, render unto God what is God’s. I’m not even sure he’s heavenly minded as he dwells on hell so much. Yes, Jesus talked about it, too, but, please, I wouldn’t compare them at all in terms of loving your neighbor in that regard.
    I voted, albeit absentee, knowing I would be traveling, but, in Crazy Cali–not sure any of our votes count or make a difference. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
    And so it goes….

  16. On the music, Ralph Vaughan Williams not Vaughn Williams (two ‘a’s in Vaughan) who btw was a cheerful agnostic in his later life.

  17. Randy Thompson says

    I may have said this four years ago, but if I did and have forgotten doing so, you certainly won’t remember either. So, here goes. . .

    This Tuesday, I’m voing for the This Old House guys.

    They can fix anything, and they have their own tools. . .

    And, instead of press conferences, they offer “Ask This Old House,” and will show up locally to fix things, when asked.

    • But, can they build a wall? And get Mexicans to pay for it?

      • Randy Thompson says

        Ted, I’m sure they can build any wall. Getting the Mexicans to pay for it, however, would depend on one incredible PBS pledge drive, presumably in Spanish!

  18. I respect your opinion Chaplain Mike. Yet at 70 I have lived in the USA for all those years, except one in Vietnam and one in Paraguay- and I have never voted. Korea, Vietnam, Grenada ,Nicaragua, Panama, Iran, Philippines,, Persian Gulf, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya. My no vote is that our leadership sucks. We are as Eisenhower warned. We need to let our nation see we don’t support our leadership- same this election in either case. Few of over the 50% who don’t vote have this opinion, but maybe we who dissent over our direction could be heard if the percentage gets higher. Washington, over this time. has become the most prosperous place in this country. A powerful centralized government should have always been resisted, and the executive branch has most recently been the worst. It should not have turned out like this. I understand you all are exercising what should be a democratic responsibility- the people getting their say. If the people have gotten their say in this country, shame on us. And a third party vote would mean little in all those years. I do believe that may not be so in the very near future.
    I think the Benedict Option has received a mixed review here, but from the sense of the church being what it should be, and the largest responsibilities being local, it makes sense. Yes, historically we live in what has evolved as the best governmental system yet- democracy. But that does not mean you can make others more liberal or democratic by a CIA or military intervention. And it does not mean casting a vote, when that vote is part of a system that is on the wrong track for at least 60 years. And the vulgarization and commercialization of our idea industries( TV, radio, print, movies) over this time period has led to our unknowing.