January 18, 2021

Saturday Ramblings: December 10, 2016


John Glenn during his space flight in the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft


This week’s Rambler of the Week is a no-brainer, as far as I’m concerned. This week we witnessed the passing of one of the greatest heroes of my generation: John Glenn.

It is hard to express what it was like to see rockets and astronauts and to watch on our black and white and early color TV’s as Mission Control counted down to lift-off and we saw those blazing missiles soar into the sunlit skies over Florida. To imagine what it must have been like to look down on our planet from above for the first time in the history of the world. To express the breathless anxiety we felt as we awaited the return of our space heroes to splash down and be recovered at the end of their journey.

And it all started here in the U.S.A. with John Glenn. Fellow astronauts Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom had achieved suborbital missions previously, but it was only after ten launches were postponed because of weather and mechanical problems, on February 20, 1962 that John Glenn finally made it into earth orbit, catching up with the achievement of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who had made the journey not quite a year earlier. On that historic day for the U.S., Glenn launched 160 miles into space and orbited the world three times at 17,500 miles per hour.

Our own Jeff Dunn is himself an Ohio boy (and the American hero who founded these Saturday Ramblings). He grew up in those glory days of the space program, and has written a heartfelt paragraph of tribute for his greatest hero.

john-glenn-1962-turns-90-7-17-2011As I walked to meet John Glenn in July of 2003, I struggled in my mind as to how to address him. Colonel Glenn? Senator Glenn? Both were appropriate, but neither seemed enough. After all, this man was the first American to circle the earth in space. He was one of the most decorated fighter pilots of both WWII and the Korean War. He had served my state as a senator for 24 years. What should I call him?

I was meeting him in advance of introducing him on stage to a crowd of thousands who came to hear him speak during Ohio’s celebration of the centennial of flight. I walked up the door of a small house where a security person was standing talking to a woman with a clipboard. Maybe one of them would know how I should address this living legend. But as soon as I gave my name I was taken inside and ushered into a room with an elderly man and woman standing hand-in-hand. The man reached out his other hand to shake mine and said simply, “Hi, I’m John. This is my wife, Annie.” It was as if I were talking to them after service in the Baptist church a block down the street where I had attended for years. He was kind, genuine, warm—every bit the gentleman. “Just call me John.”

John Glenn was my greatest hero. And I would dare say he was my generation’s last hero. He traveled where no other American, and only one other human, had gone. Yes, seven years later another Ohioan would set foot where no other human being had walked. Yet there was something about John Glenn that set him apart from Neil Armstrong. Armstrong returned from the moon and withdrew to a farm in my hometown of Lebanon, Ohio. Glenn wanted to return to space, but President Kennedy ordered that he remain on earth lest something should happen to America’s hero. So instead he invested his life into helping people through politics. I remember voting for him in the 1984 presidential primaries. I knew he wouldn’t beat Reagan if he received his party’s nomination. A ticket of George Washington/Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have beat Reagan in his re-election bid. So why did I vote for Glenn? Because he was John Freakin’ Glenn, that’s why.

One story out of a million that could be told about Glenn involves another of America’s heroes, the great Ted Williams. Williams took time out of his brilliant baseball career to fly combat missions in both WWII and Korea. While in Korea, he served as Glenn’s wingman, and credited Glenn with saving his life after his plane was hit by enemy fire. Williams was not known to be a religious man and admitted that he didn’t pray. At least, not until February 20, 1962 when Glenn lifted off into space. “Then,” said Williams, “I did say a prayer for John Glenn.”

Our last hero. There are certainly many great women and men who are alive today, saints-in-the-making, who have great stories to tell. But none who lived as great a life as John Glenn. Godspeed, John Glenn.

More about John Glenn:

Finally, here’s an video overview from the BBC on our Rambler of the Week and great American hero. GODSPEED, JOHN GLENN!

• • •



We must mention another death this past week. Theologian Thomas Oden, who coined the term “paleo-orthodox” and advocated a “classical Christianity,” died at age 85.

I encourage everyone to read this 1990 interview with Christopher Hall at CT called, “Back to the Fathers,” in which Oden explains how he moved from advocating more trendy theological positions and perspectives to appreciating and affirming the faith represented in the Church Fathers and the consensus of the early church.

In that interview, this description of how he would like to be remembered:

CT: You have told about a dream in which you were walking in the New Haven cemetery. You came across your own tombstone and the epitaph read, “He made no new contribution to theology.” Were you happy or distressed to read that?

TO: In my dream I was extremely pleased, for I realized I was learning what Irenaeus meant when he warned us not to invent new doctrine. This was a great discovery for me. All my education up to this point had taught me that I must be compulsively creative. If I was to be a good theologian I had to go out and do something nobody else ever had done. The dream somehow said to me that this is not my responsibility, that my calling as a theologian could be fulfilled through obedience to apostolic tradition.

• • •



I just returned from Scottsdale, Arizona, where I spent a few days basking in the sunshine and temperatures around 70 degrees. Then I flew to Denver, where the temperature was 8 degrees. And now I read that a very unwanted visitor is about to invade the Midwest where I live next week, bringing cold I don’t want to even imagine, must less negotiate every day.

The dreaded Polar Vortex is about to attack.

According to USA Today:

After a chilly, snowy weekend and a brief stretch of slightly milder weather early next week, the next cold blast will invade the northern Plains and Upper Midwest by the middle of the week. The frigid air will eventually make its way to the East Coast and Southeast by week’s end.

The cold will be similar in scale and magnitude to the infamous January 2014 Polar Vortex, meteorologist Ryan Maue of WeatherBell Analytics, tweeted Wednesday.

The Polar Vortex is a large area of cold air high up in the atmosphere that normally lives over the poles (as its name suggests) but — thanks to a meandering jet stream — parts of the vortex can slosh down into North America, helping to funnel unspeakably cold air into the central and eastern U.S., like what’s forecast next week.

Just how cold could it get? High temperatures may only reach the single digits for much of the upper Midwest, including Chicago, on Wednesday and Thursday, the Weather Channel said.

“If the GFS were to pan out, we would be in record territory for cold,” the National Weather Service in Chicago said, referring to the Global Forecast System, one of the many computer models that forecasts weather.

“If you have not gotten your hats and gloves and scarves out yet … this is time to do it,” the weather service said in an online forecast.

I wanna go back to Arizona!

Please? Pretty please?

• • •



Brian Moss is senior pastor of Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Salisbury, Maryland. He blogs at Next Level Leadership. In attempting to reach out to the “unchurched” in their community, Brian and his church came up with the following list of general characteristics they need to keep in mind. Not every family, of course, fits all these, but these are general trends in the culture of families that they have noticed. In his article, Moss suggests that these represent a “radical cultural shift” in the past 16 years, when they began making these observations.

  1. They are a blended home.
  2. They are spiritually mismatched.
  3. They are financially strapped.
  4. They are “over-calendared.”
  5. They are biblically illiterate.
  6. They are ethnically diverse.
  7. They have a special-needs child.
  8. 1 in 5 have experienced some form of trauma in the home.
  9. They want to be successful.
  10. They are spiritually hungry.

Well, Brian (and a multitude of other churches who look at their unchurched neighbors like this), allow me to respond with some observations of my own.

  • All of these (except often #6) are the exact same characteristics we see in “churched” families. Do you know your church families?
  • I have no idea what you mean when you say there has been a “radical culture shift”  in the last 16 years that has given birth to these characteristics. With a few changes in emphasis (#4 is certainly more pronounced where I live, for example) this list sounds like the majority of American families I’ve observed during most of my adult life since the 1970’s. But in some ways it fits the notion of “American decline” that makes many Christians nervous about the changes in society they perceive.
  • “1 in 5” have experienced trauma? What world are you living in? Maybe 3 in 5. Maybe 4.
  • Since when has wanting to be successful and being spiritually hungry represented a “radical cultural shift”?

In brief, this is another one of those white suburban evangelical faux-analytical approaches to “trying to ‘understand’ our neighbors so that we can make them like us.”

Please, for all who look at their communities like this and think, “This is what ‘THEY’ are like,” get out of your church buildings and start spending the majority of your time in the real world. Please!

Stop “strategizing.” Start living in your actual community. Listen well. Get to know real people and their stories.

• • •



Unearthed by amber hunters in Myanmar (Burma), a specimen has finally provided a link between feathers and identifiable dinosaur bones. Amber is the hardened resin from trees, and in this case it not only trapped feathers in its ooze but also eight vertebral segments as well as soft tissues of a dinosaur.

Ben Guarino at the Washington Post reports:

Artist's rendition of a coelurosaur. (Chung-tat Cheung and Yi Liu)

Artist’s rendition of a coelurosaur. (Chung-tat Cheung/Yi Liu)

X-ray images revealed that no ancient bird grew this tail. The tail tip belonged to a two-legged dinosaur called a theropod. “We can tell that this specimen came from a theropod dinosaur because the tail is flexible and the vertebrae articulate with each other, instead of being fused together to form a solid rod — which is a characteristic of modern birds and their closest relatives,” [Ryan McKellar of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada] said. Specifically, the researchers hypothesized the animal was a type of dinosaur called a coelurosaur, and likely a juvenile.

Scientists like McKellar are hopeful that spectacular fossils will continue to be pulled from Burmese amber mines, granting us more insight into these and other ancient creatures.

• • •


Whither the hotel Bible?

Were Neanderthals religious?

Perry Noble, church consultant?

What do surveys say about Americans’ support for assisted suicide?

Should Southern Baptists who are Calvinists just get honest and become Presbyterians?

What happens when an evangelical church welcomes LBGTQ members?

• • •


Time for another round of “family Christmas photos you can’t turn away from because they are so much like a gruesome traffic accident…”


“Oh, deck the fam with holiday towels, Fa la la la la, la la la la…”


“All I want for Christmas is my own tombstone, my own tombstone…”


“Bells on alpaca ring, making spirits bright…”


A scene from the Stephen King Christmas movie


A scene from the Gene Kelly Christmas movie


A scene from the Ingmar Bergman Christmas movie


Elves on a shelf?


“All is calm, all is [not so] bright”


Maybe, if Christmas were “Buddha-mas”


  1. I have no idea what you mean when you say there has been a “radical culture shift” in the last 16 years that has given birth to these characteristics. With a few changes in emphasis (#4 is certainly more pronounced where I live, for example) this list sounds like the majority of American families I’ve observed during most of my adult life since the 1970’s. But in some ways it fits the notion of “American decline” that makes many Christians nervous about the changes in society they perceive.

    Reality has gotten so unignorable that even these guys feel forced to acknowledge it. Whether that translates into a real grappling with a non-bubble-ized Christian life and ministry is another question.

    • Seriously, seminary was full of these lazy, self-centered boys who wanted to go into ministry so they wouldn’t have to work. Like, pastoring consists of waking up at 9am to sip a latte and vision cast about collecting tithes from 98% of the greater metro area…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I have no idea what you mean when you say there has been a “radical culture shift” in the last 16 years that has given birth to these characteristics.

      In Christianese, “radical culture shift” usually means HOMOSEXUALITY(TM).

      With a few changes in emphasis (#4 is certainly more pronounced where I live, for example) this list sounds like the majority of American families I’ve observed during most of my adult life since the 1970’s. But in some ways it fits the notion of “American decline” that makes many Christians nervous about the changes in society they perceive.

      America in Decline, It’s All Gonna Burn, Get Your Fire Insurance and free complementary Rapture Boarding Pass NOW! IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!

  2. Dan from Georgia says

    A couple of those awkward Christmas photos are borderline NSFW!

    The whole “radical culture shift” commentary…couldn’t agree more…sounds like some self-important white hipster pastor who thinks he’s all that in making some grandiose cultural commentary.

  3. I was sick and home from school on February 20, 1962, so I got to watch TV, showing John Glenn’s time in orbit. He was a truly great man for the character he brought to whatever he did. Thomas Oden – as a Protestant – confirmed my hunch that to know the early Church, I had to get to know the Church Fathers. I am grateful to God for his work. May the Lord grant them repose, and memory eternal.

    It boggles my mind that so many Evangelical Christians favor doctor-assisted suicide. (I will not call it euthanasia. It is not “good”.) There are so many holes in the law, in terms of accountability, in places where it is allowed. I can’t even express how afraid I am of this trend – it is chilling.

    Good news is that we are finally getting a really good rainy season in northern California.


    • Dana, I also have great reservations about doctor-assisted suicide, and not because I’m committed to preserving life at all costs. Where it’s done in Europe, there seems to be a less than total commitment to obtaining the consent of the “patients”, when those “patients” are old and/or have serious incapacity.

      • So it’s more opposition to the application of PAS than the very concept itself? I’m not saying I’m adamant one way or the other, but isn’t there at least merit to the idea of showing mercy by allowing someone to be put out of their incurable, intolerable misery?

        • That Other Jean says

          I don’t have a problem with Physician-assisted suicide, if there are really good safeguards in place to assure that that is exactly what the patient has freely, without pressure from family members or doctors, requested–with plenty of opportunities for changes of mind. If those safeguards are not there, there is too much–if not likelihood, at least possibility–of someone else deciding to do “what is best for the patient.” Enthusiastic consent matters, even here.

          • The deal is, those safeguards are routinely ignored and there is no redress after the patient has been killed. Do some research; there have been some articles and op-eds in respectable news sources outlining the problems. There is credible testimony that most “mercy killings” in Europe are done because of mental illness issues, which are treatable.

            notdeadyet dot org
            epcc dot ca

            Neither of these is a religious-based organization.


            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              There is credible testimony that most “mercy killings” in Europe are done because of mental illness issues, which are treatable.

              The Reich League of Doctors would approve.

              Neither of these is a religious-based organization.

              Which these days gives them more credibility than anything Christian(TM).

          • If those safeguards are not there, there is too much–if not likelihood, at least possibility–of someone else deciding to do “what is best for the patient.”

            Yes, or for the patient deciding to do what is best for someone else (Oh, I don’t want to be a bother and drain on my kids…sometimes I think they feel as if it would be much less selfish if I just go with PAS…maybe they’re right..I don’t know….)….

    • I still get confused about so much of the discussion. In every city and every state in the country, people regularly pass away from doctor assisted suicide. It is just called “Pain management”. At what point do we switch from “Pain Management” to doctor assisted suicide?

      The current debate really isn’t about whether doctor assisted suicide is present in our county, it is about the ethical and legal consequences when “pain management” helps someone who appears to have months or years of life left.

      Chaplain Mike, I know it is a complicated subject, I am sure you see it in hospice care. It seems to be one of those things everyone in hospice care knows, but doesn’t talk about.

      • Allen, I think it’s a misconception to say that people pass away from pain management. At least in my hospice, use of pain and symptom management drugs at the end of life neither hastens nor prolongs death. They are used to make whatever natural process the patient is going through more comfortable. The question is not whether the patient will die sooner, but whether he/she will die in pain or peacefully.

        There are instances (rare) when we will use palliative sedation, which means that the patient will be, by his/her own or by a health care representative’s request, sedated so that they are not responsive during final days. But this is only in the case of severe pain that is unmanageable by other means. Even this, however, does not hasten death; it merely shortens the time the family has to interact with the patient.

        And I have also been involved in cases where people had an advanced directive and we presided over a terminal wean from a respirator or turning off a regular pacemaker at the patient’s request. But in these cases the patient had already made his/her wishes known regarding the use of “extraordinary” measures.

        Assisted suicide is different from any of these in both intent and practice. The drugs used and their dosage is specifically designed to bring about cessation of life.

        • But CM, use of morphine and its derivatives for extreme pain inhibits respiratory function, and thereby shortens life. My father received synthetic morphine for pain in the last stages of his metastasized prostate cancer, and the inhibition of his respiration was visible (he was in home hospice) from day to day. He finally died because his lungs stopped working, and his last hours were spent gasping for breath in a comatose state. It would’ve been more merciful for him if he’d received an intentionally fatal does of some other drug rather than slowly suffocating to death as a result of the secondary effects of synthetic morphine.

          • Robert, with due respect and condolences for your loss, this is not an accurate portrayal of what morphine does at the end of life. Here is an article separating myths from facts. One quote from the article says clearly: “Chronic ventilatory failure appears to be neither common nor severe when oral morphine is used to treat chronic severe pain in advanced cancer-even in the presence of pre-existing respiratory tract disease.”


            • It wasn’t delivered orally at the end; he was on a subcutaneous drip, administered automatically on schedule by a dispensing device, with elective boluses delivered (mostly by me) when he was in extreme distress.

              Of course, it may be that my impressions were wrong, and my takeaway was incorrect. In the last two weeks of his life, he reverted to speaking only Italian (his native language) and seemed to be in a hypnagogic state, sometimes reliving episodes from his childhood. The nurses who visited daily told me this was a normal side effect of the synthetic morphine, along with depressed respiration and severe constipation (which neither laxatives nor enemas relieved — I had to take him to the ER on several occasions due to extreme discomfort caused by constipation). It was the nurses who gave me the impression that the subcutaneously delivered morphine would have the secondary effect of shortening his life by seriously inhibiting his respiration. If as you say that in fact was not the case, it would be great relief to me, as I’ve carried much guilt these decades over what I believed was the almost certain likelihood that I hastened his death by being too generous with the boluses of morphine. Do you know if the double-effect is amplified by subcutaneous administration of the morphine?

              • I’ve read to the end of the article and see that morphine drip does indeed amplify side-effects, including fatality. So I guess I have to continue to carry my feelings of guilt. Some comfort knowing that the device had a programmed limit to the number of boluses that could be delivered in a given time period; it was the doctor that set that limit, not me. But it still haunts me.

                • I don’t see what you are saying about the end of the article, except that it includes a paragraph describing how some doctors have used morphine drips to give doses beyond what is necessary for pain management in order to achieve euthanasia. The article is quite pointed in its conclusion: “Prescribing or administering appropriate pain medication does not hasten death.”

                  Robert, I’d be happy to talk further with you about this some time. It sounds as though this has been troublesome for your grief and mourning. I hate to see that, but I realize I can’t (and won’t try) to “fix” your pain by typing words on a comment thread. Be well, friend.

              • I don’t believe it is, Robert. We use pumps all the time. The dosing is usually not drastically different from what the patient would take orally in a long-acting opioid if he/she could swallow. Breathing patterns at the end of life are notoriously unpredictable, no matter what meds the patient is taking, and many factors contribute to that. Morphine acts to make the heart more efficient and generally eases breathing in dying patients. But in the end, our bodies fight to live and will manifest that in a variety of ways.

    • I disagree entirely with any “only God can take a life” theology, so I’m not sure what opposition I have to doctor-assisted deaths, since that seems to be one of the main ones, the idea that we are “playing God”….well, yeah, we do all the time, he told us to…

  4. With the new evidence concerning theropods, farmers are now confirmed in their intuitive realization that chickens are little more than mini-me dinosaurs.

  5. What happens when an evangelical church welcomes LBGTQ members?

    More than likely that church becomes non-denominational…

  6. Great Ramble Chaplain Mike!!

  7. a few snowflakes fall
    and silently disappear
    in the moonless night

  8. Supposing that Neanderthals were religious, I then wonder if some of them were more invested in religion than others. I mean, why wouldn’t there be the equivalent of agnositics/atheists/dones/nones among them? I understand that, if they were religious, their religion was comprised of ritualistic approaches to everyday activities rather than belief systems, but given that, why wouldn’t there be among them some who had a skeptical view of the rituals, who stepped back physically or intellectually (and why shouldn’t they have an intellectual life?) when the rest of the tribe was fully engaged by the ritual activity? It might even be that such reticence/skepticism about, and personal distancing from, the purpose and value of ritualized acts among early human beings was how both systematic religious beliefs and philosophical skepticism about religion got started; in that case, religious belief and unbelief would be offspring of the same parent, both typified by personal belief rather than communal acts, and as such would both be departures from the kind of religiosity practiced by early human beings.

  9. The hotel Bible? Well, hotels are businesses. Since our society is now consciously pluralistic, and hotel customers are multicultural (as the hotel owners and works themselves are), how would putting a Bible in every room satisfy the expectations or preferences of those customers? Perhaps some would prefer the Bhagavad Gita, others the Necronimicon. Get over it, Christians. This nation is beyond any possibility of going back to the 1950s and its zeitgeist, no matter the outcome of the recent election. Temper tantrums, political or religious, will change nothing.

    • Perhaps some would like it if hotels advertised that they were BYOB — Bring Your Own Bible…

    • “This nation is beyond any possibility of going back to the 1950s ”
      And thank goodness for that! I am saddened by the number of people who see their religion and really, their lives, in light of how it was when they were kids. I was an end of the 1950s baby and my childhood was pretty great. Or so I remember but I was a child and not facing adult decisions, adult problems, and adult work. I didn’t have to concern myself with how I treated gays, or blacks, or Muslims, or Jews because I didn’t know any. I didn’t know some of these groups even existed. Life was simple. But I see it that way because I was a child looking at the world through a child’s eyes.

      Grow up, people. It’s now 2016 and we aren’t children any more.

      • They may be able to repeal abortion rights, undo laws protecting the environment and requiring a minimum wage, demolish unions and collective bargaining, privatize prisons and schools, etc., but they will not be able to make this country “white” again, and they will not be able to force their version of Christianity down everyone’s throat. A woman I work with, who is an immigrant from Trinidad and a naturalized American citizen, said to me recently, “We’re here, and we’re not going away, no matter what Trump or his people want” Amen!

      • Burro [Mule] says

        Imagine my surprise and delight when, checking into a non descript non-chain motel in San Jose, California on a business trip, I found a copy of the Tao Teh Ching beside the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

        I spent the evening reacquainting myself with an old favorite.

    • Steve Newell says

      If you stay at a Marriott related hotel, you not only get the Gideon KJV bible, but also the Book of Moron.

  10. That Brian Moss list of what “they” are like is cringe worthy. Why is it always Us vs Them? We are them!! We are not a club you join in order to access the benefits accorded to members only. We are not Costco. We are not the country club.
    When your view is that “those” people out there are different from you and deficient because of their religious or not religious beliefs, why do you suppose they aren’t beating down the doors to join you? Do I want to invest my time and emotions with a group of people who think I need to be changed because something about me is not right? I am a Christian and “in the club” so to speak but feel that separation because I don’t enjoy listening to the right music or seeing the latest Christian(TM) movie or buying up the books of the hot, new Christian(TM) author. In some church goers eyes, I am deficient.
    Non-Christians love their families, love their country, go to work, have troubles and live life just like we Christians do. We are to love them as God loves them. Period. It’s amazing how open the world seems once you stop peering at it only through the window of your Christian(TM) bunker.

  11. No, calvinist baptists should not just become presbyterian. There is a long history of calvinistic baptists. The real issue with the latest crop is their dishonesty and intolerance. Spurgeon was a famous calvinistic baptist (no one with a theological education will ever refer to a baptist as “Calvinist”, since the two are by definition mutually exclusive) and the majority of his congregation wasn’t. Baptists have traditionally been diverse and respected “soul liberty” of the individual believer. The modern neo-Puritan baptists are an historical anomaly.

  12. Forgot to add – calling smoking cigars and home brewing “sin” is EXACTLY why so many new Baptist seminarians are going neo-cal. They are sick and tired of the legalism (which, to be honest, they are trading in for a new kind) and “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men”.

  13. Richard Hershberger says

    Calvinism and Baptists: I started reading the link, but got distracted by this:

    “… the Baptist position from the time of the Anabaptists, really from the time of the New Testament…”

    I knew that Baptists had a pious fiction that there have been Baptist churches since Apostolic times, but my impression was that this evoked eye-rolling from any Baptist with a self-image of not being an ignoramus. Is this guy outing himself as a buffoon, and doesn’t care who knows it? Or is my understanding optimistic, and Baptists say this sort of thing with the expectation that others will nod in agreement and give it a hearty “Amen!” Or worse, is this something that Baptists are required to pretend to believe to remain in good standing?

    • well, some SBC Baptists who are neo-Cals believe in some extremely ancient heresies regarding Christology: I refer to their insistance that Our Lord was ‘eternally’ subordinate to the Father. That kind of heresy has its roots in the time even before the great Councils of the Church and the Church dealt with it in their Councils.

      So, maybe the Baptists who feel connected to the early Church ;are feeling the connection through some of the ancient Christian heresies regarding ‘Who Christ is’ and ‘The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity’. Or, maybe not. Maybe it’s just a hope that there were early Christian people who were ‘like them’ in a recognizable way. (?)

      There is nothing wrong with wanting roots. But once people go backwards into time, they leave the Reformation behind them and are confronted with the early writings of the ante Nicene Fathers, the Cappadocian Fathers, and even some who sat at the feet of the Apostles (although many writings credited to them are spurious) . . . . . it is not likely that the early Fathers would please the modern SBC neo-Cal Baptists very much. And I can’t imagine WHAT any of early Fathers might think of the theology of today’s neo-Cal Baptists. 🙂

    • Is this guy outing himself as a buffoon, and doesn’t care who knows it?

    • Richard,

      that brought me up short, too. I couldn’t even form a coherent way to put my thoughts in polite speech. My experience in every Baptist and other non-liturgical church I have ever been to is that the members believe that the way they do worship (songs/hymns + lecture based on 1-2 scripture verses + extemporaneous prayer) is the exact same way the New Testament believers did it; it was the Catholics who came in and messed everyone up with a “rote liturgy”. This is simply another blatant case of the ahistorical streak characteristic of American non-liturgical churches.

      The NT actually has very little to say about what exactly went on in Christian worship. We know the first Christians were Jews, who were still attending prayer services in the Temple (Acts 3.1), and who believed that God gave them their form of worship. Why would they abandon that willy-nilly, especially if they believed the full meaning of that worship had been fulfilled in Christ? In both RC and EO, the first portion of the Liturgy up through the Gospel reading and homily is structured like a Jewish prayer service, just using different psalms, prayers and readings. The regular daily Jewish prayer services came into the Church as the Liturgical Hours. The Eucharistic portion of the Liturgy is also structured like a Jewish mini-prayer service, although there is no Jewish service like it. Non-liturgical Christians who actually study the Jewish roots of Christianity will eventually run into this fact, which seems to be routinely ignored.

      I mean no offense to anyone; stating my experience. Forgive me.


    • So you’ve never heard of Landmarkism?


  14. The great cultural shift Pastor Moss speaks of is probably mostly a great shift in his personal awareness. It is actually more of a cultural divide, and it is real. The people I shop with at Walmart are much different than the people at Meijer when I go there because Walmart ran out of jalapenos. The people shopping at Meijers, as we Walmartians call it, are paying a 10% premium at the cash register so that they do not have to rub elbows with the people down the street at Walmart. This is basically the difference between working class people and middle class people. A sociologist would find the people at Meijer measured higher in income, IQ, education, and standard of living. Not necessarily smarts, tho I don’t think that is testable other than maybe by handing someone a shovel or broom. Most of the people who hang out here would be more comfortable shopping at Meijer. It’s a matter of lifestyle and perception, and altho I can function in either group I lean toward what recently was referred to as the deplorables. It’s all good.

    That aside, there was in fact a very large cultural shift 16 years ago, tho mostly showing up in 2001. Part of this was the shift of millennium, which was a biggie even if somewhat artificial, but the pinpoint of the shift happened with the demolition of the World Trade Towers. We live in a much different world before and after that event, even tho it was but one in a series of world-changing events we can trace back thru the years and centuries, and indeed millennia. Culture and perception do change even if human problems remain fairly consistent on back to leaving Eden.

    In my view we are in the midst of the biggest cultural shift since Cain was exiled and built a city. The outcome is still up in the air as far as our limited perception allows, but this could be where the Great Dragon is finally captured and imprisoned. It’s looking good in my view, and far more significant than other signposts along the way like Jack Kennedy’s death, VJ Day, and Pearl Harbor to name the most notable world-changers in my lifetime. I’m sure this will give great merriment to all our many resident scoffers. Keep watching. It may even eventually show up on your TV.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      In my view we are in the midst of the biggest cultural shift since Cain was exiled and built a city. The outcome is still up in the air as far as our limited perception allows, but this could be where the Great Dragon is finally captured and imprisoned.

      I’ve heard similar from you before, but what exactly are you talking about?
      “…biggest cultural shift since…”
      “…this could be where…” (at least you didn’t whisper ‘The Rapture(TM)’…)

      I have heard similar Generic Apocalyptic many times from others, and like THIS IS IT! dates for the Rapture, none of them has ever paid off. How do you differ from all the others? Do you have any speculations or theories in more detail than Generic Apocalyptic statements? Do you have any specific indicators or scenarios?

      • >> Do you have any specific indicators or scenarios?

        HUG, I have many, but they all need to be viewed with an informed skepticism as well as an open mind. While some of them present themselves as specific sources of truth, it is wise to view them as links or clues or pieces of the puzzle, as well as possible sources of ignorant misinformation or intentional disinformation. Sort of like studying theology or church doctrine. There’s light in there somewhere, but no one source necessarily has a complete handle on it. And, no, it isn’t the formal Dispensational scenario, tho even that has glimpses of apparent truth mixed in with a lot of low level escapism.

        It would be inappropriate to go into sources in these pages. You have above average intelligence and know how to navigate the internet. You probably think of yourself as open-minded but you might not be open-minded enough to consider some of what is being disclosed as going on behind the curtain, some of which is wilder than most movies these days, tho in fact movies are one of the sources of disclosure being used as well as sources of mass programming. In my view most people here are probably better off continuing to live as if what they read and see in the mass media is what is really going on in the world, and you can actually pick up clues there as well if you don’t believe the Wizard is real.

        I don’t know whether you have the cojones and stomach to explore that far outside the box, and it can get a bit unsettling to understate the matter. If you rubbed two brain cells together you might come up with a way to email me with a subject to get my attention, and I could give you a start to save much time and dead ends, but this really demands a great deal of discernment and understanding of just how disinformation works. Also a determination to follow truth as best able wherever it goes. Most folks prefer their comfort zone.

    • Wrong. We saved an average of 7% by switching to Meijer. Depends on market, but Meijer has always had better prices on groceries (not on GM though).

      • Doc, believe me if I thought Meijer groceries were 7% cheaper I would be shopping there in spite of having to rub elbows with its clientele. You could be right about the 7%, but it’s a premium, not a discount. Suzanne is right about superior produce at Meijer, meat too, but it is no longer far superior as it was ten years ago, and you do pay extra for it. Walmart is cheaper in general but you can get even more for your money if you know how to sniff out the sales and bargains and closeouts and outdated. That 7% may not mean much to the people who patronize Meijer but 7% can be life or death to the folks living at Walmart level.

        • It is well known in the retail world that Walmart does not have competitive grocery prices. In fact, Business Insider published an article on it earlier this year. Do a shopping cart comparison and let me know what you come up with.

          • Meijer current per pound for jalapeno peppers: $1.99
            Walmart same from recent receipt: $1.28

            A more competitive one:
            Meijer bananas $.54/lb
            Walmart $.52

            Meijer Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter: $3.19
            Walmart same: $2.57

            Meijer store brand refried beans 31 oz: $2.09
            Walmart same: $1.38

            I’m not being selective here. These are on my usual shopping lists and the prices are representative of what I usually find. Maybe someone handier at math can come up with the actual difference, but it surely is a lot more than 7% or even 10%. There are other considerations in life than price, but not many when you’re squeaking thru on Social Security. And I don’t think I want Business Insider doing my shopping for me. There is an Aldi across the street and a Sav-A-Lot a mile away, which occasionally have something cheaper, but mostly don’t have what I want anyway. You can go by what is well known in the retail world, I will continue to go by my total at the cash register while still trying to stay healthy. And I can get organic celery and carrots at Walmart, for whatever that is worth. But please do continue to patronize Meijer. They need the business and it’s often a bit crowded for my tastes in Walmart. The price you pay.

    • Well I shop @ Meijer because their produce is far superior to Walmart!

  15. Randy Thompson says

    I find myself increasingly uninterested in “the culture,” whatever that may be, and more and more interested in the specific human faces and human stories I come in contact with.

    Concern for “the culture” deposits one in the vagaries and abstractions of the social sciences. Human faces and human stories tend to link us to Christ.

    Aren’t we more likely to find Christ in our neighbor than in “the culture”?

  16. Randy Thompson says

    One more thing. . .

    Why is it that Chistmas pictures bring out the complete lunatic and complete cluelessness in some people? Yikes!

    • That Other Jean says

      Indeed. All of today’s examples are their very own brand of special–the sort your children hide from prospective spouses, lest they run away, screaming in terror.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says


      “People are people and the world is full of tricks and twistiness yet undreamed of.”
      — one of The Whole Earth Catalogs

      “Stupidity is like hydrogen; it’s the basic building block of the Universe.”
      — Frank Zappa

      (This past week at work was our annual photo shoot for company holiday cards. At least it was photo shoot until this time around. Now it’s “upload a Snapchat Selfie” with unspecified filters & overlays. (“What do you mean, you don’t have Selfies uploaded? EVERYBODY’s on Snapchat/Facebook/Twitter/MySpace!”)

      I shudder to think what the final result will look lilke. I saw some of the “filters” they intend to use.

  17. Burro [Mule] says

    After spending some time on the Pray,Tell blog reading the [unlinked] suggested reading, it appeared to me that there is a lot of unrest bubbling just under the surface of the American Catholic Church.


    We have Francis fans and Benedict fans among the Catholics here. Anyone care to give the three-nickel summary?

  18. Perry Noble as a church growth consultant, especially considering how his previous career as a megachurch pastor ended? I think not. Noble would do well to stay out of the public eye and work on his own healing.

    • It appears that these guys don’t know how to exist if they are not the expert everyone refers to or the leader of something “big”.

  19. When John Glenn was trying to return to space as an old man, Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers doubled up in laughter imagining him driving the space ship at 35 miles per hour with the forgotten turn signal blinking. Maybe John laughed himself if he heard that one. Personally I’m keeping an eye on Buzz Aldrin these days.

  20. The unchurched list seems more a list about those who are actually showing up at their church. I suspect btw the unchurched are a lot more diverse than the churched because many would have reason to darken their church door.

    Also I found financially strapped category to seemingly be still concerned first with tithing and how to get the person into a situation where they can tithe. Not much about people who are unlikely to ever be in that situation (e..g., an elderly infirm person on a small fixed income).

    “They need desperately not just to understand what tithing is all about. They need the basics. They need to learn how to earn, budget, spend and save their money. Fortunately, the Bible is one of the greatest manuals for money management on the planet!

    POINT: Churches must teach on money beyond giving. We must offer classes on sound money management. In addition, when planning events and programs such as camps and conferences we need to consider whether the average family in our church could afford this and how we can make these extras more accessible.”

    BTW the dinosaur is estimated to be about the size of a sparrow.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Also I found financially strapped category to seemingly be still concerned first with tithing and how to get the person into a situation where they can tithe. Not much about people who are unlikely to ever be in that situation (e..g., an elderly infirm person on a small fixed income).

      But PASTOR has to keep up with the Furticks!

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      “””Churches must teach on money beyond giving. We must offer classes on sound money management. “””

      No, they don’t. There are numerous civic organizations that provide such classes and assistance. Perhaps a church can go find those [not hard!] and PARTNERSHIP with them, rather than doing something (a) redundant and (b) probably less well (having no experience doing that).

    • >> BTW the dinosaur is estimated to be about the size of a sparrow.

      I make it a point to feed the ground birdies who can’t handle the hanging feeders, Doves, Sparrows, Juncos, and whoever else comes along. My eyes no longer can identify them with certainty without binoculars, but I would sure love to focus in on that little dinosaur out there some day. When I used to have chickens, when I would call them for supper they would all come running looking just like the herd of raptors in Jurassic Park. Chickens can fly for very short distances but they use their wings for stabilizers when they run, like outriggers.

  21. A bit, or a lot, off topic, but I’m a long time reader, very rarely comment. I don’t always agree with but highly respect the community here and your insights. Could you direct me in the way of some books defending Egalitarianism. I was raised and still attend SBC but don’t subscribe to a lot of their practices. Long story short, I am trying to step out and read differently and learn. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  22. Big Al, all liberal/progressive denominations hold to [ at least officially ] egalitarian roles within the marriage. Certainly the discernment blogs reflect the modern/secular/feminist perspective on marriage. You have to read the conservative Evangelicals if you wish to understand the orthodox Biblical perspective.

    • “You have to read the conservative Evangelicals if you wish to understand the orthodox Biblical perspective.”

      Hi SENECA,
      if you want to understand an orthodox concept of marriage, I highly recommend this site:

      • Or read Ephesians 5, verse 21 (Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ) and verse 25 (Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her).

        Verse 22 is often a victim of domestic abuse. I’ll give that one the day off.

    • Seneca,

      For another Orthodox view – try the Orthodox Church’s 🙂
      If one wants to find out what the Orthodox Church believes, one listens to the appropriate liturgical expression of the thing in question, in this case the marriage service. The usual “Russian-flavored” marriage service is found here:
      (On the Greek side, the prayers are the same, but some of the other ritual actions are a bit different.)

      On reading through it, you will notice a few things.

      -There are no vows – no expressions of legal language whatsoever, not even “covenant”. The Orthodox Church sacramentally blesses the relationship already begun. We believe Love (the love of God) will keep the couple together, if they attend to God and to their marriage; vows and other legalities are simply not necessary. The bride and groom don’t really say much at all, other than the normal responses in any liturgical service (Lord have mercy, Amen, the Our Father).

      -There are similarities to a Jewish wedding. The service consists of 2 parts, just as the weddings in Jesus’ day. The couple drink wine from one vessel (no smashing, though). They are led by the priest, with the best man and maid of honor following the couple, 3 times around a table in the center of the church building on which are the Gospel book, the Cross, a candle, and their crowns, which symbolize the offering of their marriage (as martyrdom, giving up their lives for one another) to God, with Christ as the center; this is somewhat like the Jewish bride circling the groom 3 times under the huppah.

      -There is no language whatsoever about roles. The prayers contain words of blessing hearkening back to the Biblical patriarchs and their wives, asking God to enable the couple to be faithful to one another and to Him, and to grant them children. The Epistle is Eph 5.20-33; it is merely read, and no commentary on it is made in the ceremony itself. The Gospel reading is Jn 2.1-12, the wedding at Cana. The priest may exhort the couple following the ceremony, but the words of the ceremony (like Scripture) do not contain any specifics about supposed roles, or definitions of “masculinity” and “femininity” and the (inferred) related duties/responsibilities, other than procreation. *****The couple are left to work all that out within the context of their own marriage.***** This is not what one expects from a “patriarchical institution” as the Orthodox Church is perceived to be. I found it completely refreshing.


      • I have 3 or 4 times visited a local Orthodox congregation. Priest are men, the Patriarchs are men. It appears the roles are very evident. I don’t think they’re actually a good illustration of egalitarianism – dryly. They appear to uphold pretty traditional gender roles.

  23. Dan from Georgia says

    Whither the hotel Bible…I wonder if Franklin Graham will take this up as his latest issue du jour in the wast-of-time cultural wars?

    • No doubt, and probably with the tag-line, “Next, they’ll be taking Bibles from YOUR HOME!”

      • “If they come for you, will you have the courage to not step on the Bible and stand up for Jesus?”

        Even as a child, I would have stomped on that Bible for all it’s worth. Because it’s paper and ink. It’s worthless. It would in no way symbolize denouncing anything.

        I remember a middle aged woman growing up go into absolute hysterics when she caught me throwing away an old church bible that was missing half the pages and one of the covers.

        Because “God’s Word”.

  24. Dan from Georgia says


  25. Adam Tauno Williams says

    “””Please, for all who look at their communities like this and think, “This is what ‘THEY’ are like,” get out of your church buildings and start spending the majority of your time in the real world. Please!”””


  26. Uh, oh. No wonder Glenn was a D. He believed in evolution. So he had to be a fake at his religion.
    [/snark off]

  27. I don’t understand all the put-downs about Brian Moss. If he is late to notice reality, at least he has noticed and is seeking to minister to people where they are. It seems to me this is a good thing.

    Thomas Oden is one of my favorite authors. I had hoped to get to hear him in person someday.

    John Glenn has long been one of my heroes.

    • always admired how John Glenn stood up for his wife Annie, who suffered at the time with a speech problem

      to me, that says everything about this man whose bravery is unquestionable …. that he thought about others in their distress and stood up for them

      That makes him a hero in more than one way in my book.

  28. homeless guy
    asleep in a back pew
    returns to the cold night
    when Mass is over
    Christ have mercy

  29. The “What happens when an evangelical church welcomes LGBTQ members?” video was heartbreaking. Evangelicals have for a generation fostered this antipathy, condemnation and even hatred of LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and I don’t see any comprehensive change in sight. And it’s not like it’s impossible to reach out to this community; clearly the pastor in the story is doing it and succeeding. It reminded me of a segment in the film “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” where the filmmaker manned a confession booth at a gay pride event in Portland, at which he confessed on behalf of the church to anyone who came in for the hurt done to the LGBTQ community. This broke down barriers almost immediately; people wept and thanked him and forgave him. There was a shared grace and humility. The film was also a window into the mistreatment, discrimination and outright hate members of the LGBTQ community have suffered, and the fear an anxiety that has caused.

    I know it’s useless to play “what if?” but I often wonder how different things might be today if during the early 1980s at the beginning of the AIDS crisis American evangelicals had been the first to help, show compassion, push for medical research, and generally love the LGBTQ community. Instead, what the LGBTQ community got was condemnation, proclamations of God’s judgement, and the beginnings of the Moral Majority.

    This has been a major failure of the church in America, and largely continues to be.

    • when I think of fundamentalism, I think of hatred for gay people, mean-spiritedness, extreme fearfulness, and a great ability to whine and complain about perceived problems that they have encouraged with their bad treatment of other persons for whom they publicly have scourged with their hate and contempt

      what I don’t see is the fruit of the Spirit in fundamentalism

      no Good News there, none

      • I have a fundamentalist sibling and a lesbian niece, so I have seen a lot of what you are saying first-hand as well as in a broader context, and I couldn’t agree more. The problem extends beyond fundamentalism into mainstream evangelicalism, but fundamentalism is uniquely destructive in how it seems to be devoid of any ability to love anyone outside an ever-shrinking group of whoever is deemed worthy.

        It’s been really sad to see my sibling go down this path over the past 10 or 15 years. This used to be a joyous and gracious and giving person who loved life and ordinary things and people. All of that is gone.

        • “This used to be a joyous and gracious and giving person who loved life and ordinary things and people. All of that is gone.”

          That is sad. Can anyone help this person?

    • And a major failure of America, too, not just the church. Read The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle, by Lillian Faderman.

  30. Late, but that ‘Ingmar Bergman’ family photo kills me 😀

  31. Oden deserves a post just about him. His impact was tremendous.

  32. Regarding your advice on how to reach the unchurched:
    “Stop “strategizing.” Start living in your actual community. Listen well. Get to know real people and their stories.”

    I read that right after I had read an article on an election post-mortem with Democrats wondering why they didn’t connect with heartland voters. The feedback was similar. One excerpt:

    “[Q] What could the Democrats to do speak to these voters more directly?

    [A] “I would say it’s NOT speaking to people,” she said. If Democrats want to do better with these voters, she said, it would require spending time with them and asking them what’s on their minds and then LISTENING to their answers. Only then can they try to deliver a message. “There’s so much respect that has to be conveyed to people before they start listening to the message,” Cramer added.


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