January 15, 2021

The IM Saturday Brunch: Memorial Day 2017 Edition


”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

Half Mast

From PBS.org

Originally called Decoration Day, from the early tradition of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths and flags, Memorial Day is a day for remembrance of those who have died in service to our country. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former Union sailors and soldiers.

During that first national celebration, former Union Gen. and sitting Ohio Congressman James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there.

This event was inspired by local observances of the day that had taken place in several towns throughout America in the three years after the Civil War. In 1873, New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday. By the late 1800s, many more cities and communities observed Memorial Day, and several states had declared it a legal holiday. After World War I, it became an occasion for honoring those who died in all of America’s wars and was then more widely established as a national holiday throughout the United States.

When Is Memorial Day?

In 1971, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act and established that Memorial Day was to be celebrated on the last Monday of May. Several southern states, however, officially celebrate an additional, separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead, sometimes referred to as a Confederate Memorial Day: January 19 in Texas; third Monday in Jan. in Arkansas; fourth Monday in Apr. in Alabama and Mississippi; April 26 in Florida and Georgia; May 10 in North and South Carolina; last Monday in May in Virginia; and June 3 in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery each year with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Traditionally, the President or Vice President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually.

• • •


Memorial Day is, of course, a great time to gather with friends and family, light up the grill, and enjoy wonderful food together. Here is a list of articles from Bon Appetit that should cover most everything you’d want to know about making the feast grand. Below you can find a few examples of culinary delights for the cookout from several of the articles there.

Hey Ted! Do you guys cook lobster on the grill up there in Maine? This looks fantastic to me.

Grilled Split Lobster

When it comes to seafood, my wife loves scallops. How do these look, dear?

Grilled Scallops with Lemony Salsa-Verde

Everybody (who’s a carnivore, that is) loves burgers, right? My mouth can’t stop watering looking at this one.

The BA Burger Deluxe

For our non-meat eating friends, here’s a veggie version.

Ultimate Veggie Burger

How about a few amazing sides?

Smashed Potatoes with Chorizo Aioli and Scallions

Crispy Potato Salad with Chiles, Celery, and Peanuts

Grilled Corn and Poblano Salad

Did you save room for dessert?

Chocolate Palmiers

Honey Hazelnut Financiers

Apple Raspberry Crumb Bars

If you are blessed to enjoy a feast on Memorial Day weekend with loved ones, may you eat, drink, and be merry in the Lord. But let us also take time to pause and consciously remember that there are far, far too many around the world who will feel the ache of hunger and thirst, no matter what day it is.

• • •


The “Trump Shove”

The beer is obviously the priority here

The Chicago Cubs go on road trip dressed up in “Anchorman” theme 70’s gear

Christian Mingle Inspector (John Crist Comedy)

• • •


“Joel and Victoria Osteen Slammed for Doing “Hook ‘Em Horns” Hand Sign at Son’s Graduation”

Folks who don’t understand the symbolic world of Texas took to social media to rebuke the Osteens for taking pictures with their son and flashing a hand sign in the shape of longhorn cattle, which represents the slogan of the University of Texas.

The Christian Post apparently thought this was news.

They cited several Twitter critics, including:

Twitter user @ian_indimuli asked Joel Osteen and his son, “Why on Earth would you use the devil sign? My goodness a thumbs up would work or you don’t have thumbs?”

“Doing horns?! Even though is UT, that symbol ain’t good! Thats devil’s symbol!” Twitter user @isaachogg wrote.

Ah, good old fashioned journalism. Ya gotta love it.

• • •


Willow Creek Community Church will be opening its newest campus location in Glenview, Illinois, on the first Sunday in December.

Architect Magazine includes this description from the architects:

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) has designed the new Willow Creek North Shore, now under construction at the Glen, in Glenview, Illinois. The 72,000 square-foot Willow Creek North Shore was designed to feature a large 1200-seat, state-of-the-art auditorium in the center of the facility with administration offices, adult ministry spaces, educational classrooms for all ages, a café, and a large sky-lit preassembly area surrounding the main sanctuary. There will also be several gathering points throughout the building. Additionally, two open landscaped, elliptical-shaped courtyard spaces will bring natural light into the sanctuary and to the corridors accessing the classroom and office facilities.

…A youth group worship room, located at the north end of the building and facing opposite to the auditorium, will strengthen youth ministry activities, while the Harvest Café, located in front of the auditorium, will be used for more casual meetings and as a gathering space on Sundays for those who wish to watch the service on video screens. The café will have direct access to two landscaped courtyards that can be used for weddings, funerals, and other functions.

The design concept was inspired by the form of a mustard seed, a biblical reference that symbolizes the strong faith and fellowship of the congregation, as well as the connection the building will have to nature. The building’s elliptical shape was designed to strategically bring the experience of the outdoors inside to the occupants.

Are these the new cathedrals?

What do they say about us? our faith?

• • •


Here’s a terrifying article by Ina Jaffe at NPR:

People complain about nursing homes a lot: the food’s no good or there’s not enough staff, and so on. It’s a long list. But the top complaint, according to the federal government, is eviction from a nursing home.

Technically, it’s known as involuntary discharge, and in 2015 it brought in more than 9,000 complaints. Now, a couple of states are looking for ways to hold nursing homes accountable for unnecessary evictions.

One of those states is Maryland. Brian Frosh, the state’s attorney general, says that, in Maryland, more than half of all involuntary discharges have come from just one small chain of nursing homes run by Neiswanger Management Services, or NMS Healthcare.

“Your odds of getting evicted from an NMS nursing home are about a hundred times what they are of any other nursing home in the state,” says Frosh.

Maryland is now suing NMS for Medicaid fraud. The suit alleges that the company charged the state for services it didn’t deliver, specifically for discharge planning. Nursing homes are supposed to make sure a resident has a safe place to go. But Frosh says that NMS sent residents with complex medical needs to homeless shelters or to unlicensed board-and-care facilities.

For example, according to the complaint, a woman with severe dementia was dropped off in front her son’s home. Someone from NMS “just opened the car door and let her out and drove away,” says Frosh. “Her son found her wandering around several hours later when he came home from work.”

The company’s motivation was purely financial, says Frosh. To understand his argument you need to know two things. First, Medicare pays nursing homes a lot more than Medicaid does. And, second, Medicare payments for long-term care only last for 100 days. Frosh says that NMS evicted hundreds of residents just as they were transitioning from Medicare to the lower-paying Medicaid.

“We cite emails in the complaint that offer a bounty for getting patients out quickly,” says Frosh. “A hundred bucks is offered for somebody who can make a bed vacant within two hours.” That made more room for new patients who were on Medicare.

The article also cites problems in the state of Illinois, where evictions have more than doubled in the last five years. State Senator Daniel Biss, who has sponsored legislation to stop nursing home facilities from performing unwarranted evictions, says, “We’re seeing nursing homes that have made a financial decision that they would like a certain type of resident,” meaning residents that are compliant and don’t require too much staff attention and time. If they don’t fit the mold, Biss notes, “they’re able to essentially drop them at the hospital and walk away…”

• • •


That’s the question Mark Silk asks at Religion News Service.

…In contrast to the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Israel, Pope Francis did not exactly roll out the red carpet.

He squeezed Trump into an early morning slot so as not to have to cancel or delay his regular Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square. And because of the gathering crowd, the President of the United States was ushered into the palace through a small side entrance used by Vatican employees.

…Then, during the meet-and-greet with the Trump entourage, Francis proceeded to make a fat joke at the President’s expense, asking his wife, “What do you give him to eat, potica?” A sweet Slovenian nut roll of which the pope is himself fond, poticais inarguably fattening.

Of the subsequent private meeting that followed with only a translator present, the communiqué issued by the Vatican indicates that discussion between the two men ranged from areas of presumed agreement (“life,” freedom of religion and conscience, peace and protection of Christian communities in the Middle East) to those of presumed disagreement (health care and assistance to immigrants).

Of climate change and whether Trump will pull the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris Agreement the communiqué makes no mention. But we may infer that Francis was sending a message by giving Trump a copy of his climate change encyclical, Laudato Si’.

• • •


In another article at RNS, Josephine McKenna writes:

Photo by Brother Guy Consolmagno

In a forgotten corner of the pope’s sprawling summer estate at Castel Gandolfo in the hills outside Rome, an unusual group of astronomers and cosmologists looks to the heavens for divine inspiration.

Twelve Catholic priests and brothers live, work and pray at the Vatican Observatory as they explore some of the universe’s biggest scientific questions, from the Big Bang theory to the structure of meteorites and stars.

“The observatory exists to show the world that the Catholic Church supports science,” says Brother Guy Consolmagno, an astronomer from Detroit who is also the observatory’s director.

“We have two jobs — to do science and show the world. My job is to make sure the other scientists have the space and resources to do the work.”

…The observatory recently hosted an international conference to discuss black holes, gravitational waves and other scientific questions.

Pope Francis personally greeted the 35 participants, who included the 1999 Nobel laureate in physics, Gerald ‘t Hooft from the Netherlands; British mathematician Sir Roger Penrose; and Renata Kallosh, a theoretical physicist from Stanford University.

• • •





• • •



  1. Did I make it? COmments later…

  2. Dan from Georgia says


    • I just thought about you two days ago. I don’t check in every day so maybe you’ve been around but I hadn’t seen you in quite awhile. I don’t imagine we’ve ever interacted but for some reason I thought of you and there you are-magic.

      • Dan from Georgia says

        I’m an infrequent commenter….usually reserve my comments for the IM Saturday brunch!

    • Tagged in. Looks like I’m 3rd.

  3. Dan from Georgia says

    The Christian Post is always good for a laugh.

    BTW, “journalism” and “Christian Post” and not compatible.

  4. The Trump Shove was amazing. I need to watch it several times in order to execute the nuance of the move…

  5. Compare and contrast: the Vatican Observatory, and the Dinosaur and Fossil Museum in Glendive, Montana, which ‘presents exhibits on the Earth’s age and the origins of the dinosaurs “in the context of biblical history.”’ (WaPo). Backed by the thug and newly-elected Congressman Gianforte who copies many of his moves from Trump.


    • Robert F says

      Not only does he copy Trump’s moves, he upstaged him this week. It was pure WWE in Montana. I don’t believe he was pissed at the reporter he body-slammed; he just was intentionally putting on a show to illustrate what a tough guy he is, because that pays off now among a certain electorate.

      • Well, they have tossed “care for the poor” and “welcome the syranger” out the window, so “turn the other cheek”‘s turn was coming. Do these people even read the Gospels?

        • Robert F says

          Gianforte is an example of the overlap between the values of the Alt-Right and the Christian right, and what we can expect to see from that unhappy convergence.

          • Rick Ro. says

            Well, there is always balance in the Force. Here in liberal Seattle we have politicians that are so far left that they’re practically in bed with the Fascists.

            • Robert F says

              When was the last time one of them body-slammed and punched out a reporter?

              • Rick Ro. says

                Passive aggressive can be much more insidious.

                • Robert F says

                  Oh, I’d bet that Gianforte is passive aggressive as well as aggressive aggressive; the one usually precedes the other, like a gateway drug.

                • SottoVoce says

                  It’s also not a criminal offense. Stop pretending two complete different things are somehow equivalent.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  Passive-aggressive just means you’re better at gaming the system. With the bonus of plausible deniability. Manipulation instead of physical force.

                  In many ways more dangerous — you’re not obvious.

        • Dana Ames says

          Meh. There have always been Montana politics/politicians of both parties who have been rough around the edges, and some outright playing dirty. My mom told me once in passing that there were some local Tammany wannabes who didn’t like something about my dad’s connections (not sure if political or work-related) and tried to thwart my adoption. Whatever they tried to do didn’t work – too many people knew my parents, and Catholic Charities wasn’t fooled.

          There was a time within Living Memory when large parts of Montana were solidly Democratic (and the Republicans were decent). My parents knew Mike Mansfield. Butte is still a very strong Union town, and the counties with most of the larger cities (large Union presence), college student population and National Park Service employees are islands of blue in the current Red Sea there.


          • Robert F says

            Is it really not too outside the normal way of things in Montana for campaigning politicians to physically attack reporters asking questions, Dana?

            • Dana Ames says

              Of course it’s not normal for Montana politicians to physically attack people. It’s wrong. All of the dirty pool politics there and everywhere else is wrong. And such a thing happening in Montana is not outside the realm of possibility, and is not all that “cover your mouth in horror” type of newsworthy, considering the state’s history, ***unfortunately***. That’s all I’m saying.

              Such things happen all over this country, but we’re shocked (shocked!) when it happens in a rural area that has a reputation **among those who don’t live there** as somehow being “above” all that, for whatever reason we conclude – laid-back rural lifestyle, pioneer spirit, independence, neighborliness, whatever. It reminds me of people getting on Bernie Sanders’ case for not voting for certain stricter gun laws, because the people he represents don’t want them. “But Vermont – laid-back, rural, green, home of all those back-to-nature granola-eating hippie types! Whattsa matter with them, why can’t they get into line on this? And whattsa matter with Bernie that he won’t make them?”

              But at least Bernie has lived in Vermont for almost 50 years. Gianforte is not a typical Montantan, Montana’s political history notwithstanding – he’s a rich businessman who, like other wealthy folks from other places, have moved to Montana relatively recently. Some of them still complain about the hardships of living there – it’s out of the way and the winters are brutal – while having more than enough resources to mitigate all of those hardships, including the ability to go elsewhere during the winter… I know Montana because I lived there and I still have family there. Montantans welcomed a lot of immigrants, like my grandparents and their neighbors, because in those days everyone was on the same footing economically and socially, for the most part. In some ways, the economic and social realities are more difficult now, even there. That’s not an excuse for anyone’s bad behavior.

              My grandfather went to the show put on by the English troupe with which Charlie Chaplin was performing before he got into the movies. You can read a bit about Butte, Montana in those days in Chaplin’s autobiography – it’s pretty hair-raising, and the politics was equally so. See the book “The War of the Copper Kings”.


              • Robert F says

                I’m not sure of what you’re saying, Dana. I myself have never heard of a journalist being directly, physically attacked by a campaigning or office-holding politician in the US in my adult lifetime, whether in a city, suburb or rural area; and in a public setting where other people, including other journalists, were present. That’s what shocked me — that it happened anywhere in the US. I think it was a first, and that it may become a frightening precedent.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  And all the pulpits go “HAYYYYYY-MENNNNNN!”

                • Dana Ames says

                  I’m saying it was wrong.

                  I’m saying that people, not only journalists, get physically attacked in this country because of things they say or questions they ask – Trump supporters attacked people at Trump rallies, a recent president got shoes thrown at him, some university students have recently physically attacked speakers and professors with whom they disagree. It’s all wrong, no matter who does it or where it happens – and some people have preconceived notions about how folks are supposed to behave based on where those folks live, and those notions might be incorrect.

                  I’m saying dirty politics is an unfortunate part of our history, and I’ve known about some of it in Montana. It’s wrong.

                  I don’t know how much clearer I can be.


  6. May I recommend Brother Consolmagno’s book “Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist” It is very interesting, especially his path to where he is now.

  7. Robert F says

    It’s great that Catholics do science right.

    It’s sad that their pope body-shamed someone.

    • flatrocker says

      Of all the ways Trump will be shamed this week (and most of them deservedly so), having a slightly pudgy octogenarian ask his wife if she fixes him a revered Slovenian desert doesn’t seem to register much on the shaming scale. Lighten up and smile a little.

      • Robert F says

        Body shaming doesn’t just shame the immediate target it’s aimed at. It results in a lot of collateral damage. Nothing to smile at here.

        • flatrocker says

          If the collateral damage is real, does that go for all types of shaming? And if so, then why do we shame at all? Trump shaming included.

          • flatrocker says

            And this also assumes a malice of intent by the Pope.
            How about it simply is a comment on the goodness of her national dish and nothing more than that. Which then begs another question, why do we conclude this as something more than an innocent question by the Pope on a dessert that he is personally fond of?

          • Robert F says

            Shaming is not the same as criticism or calling a person out on their lies and manipulation.

            As far as making fun of those who weigh more than average and/or the obese (not the same thing, btw): Thinness is not all it’s cracked up to be, either in terms of health or esthetics; yet people are routinely and blithely ridiculed and shamed for having what is considered by others to be even an extra pound or two of fat. People with more body fat are treated like shit in our society, and if they do need to lose weight (in many cases they don’t, because it’s just a matter of esthetics) feeling humiliated by others does not help. It perpetuates whatever problem that may actually exist.

          • Rick Ro. says

            I’m with you on this one, flatrocker. What we have here is that “micro-aggression” thing. If no shaming was intended, and none felt by the person on the receiving end, why should others feel something shameful happened? (I know that’s not always the case, but it does seem to fit here.)

            • Robert F says

              How do you know how Trump felt about the comment? He acts like a person who has suffered many humiliations and much shaming since the time he was a child, then turned around and visited revenge for it on others.

              I’ll leave it at that.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              And when Micro-Aggressions are completely stamped out, then there will be Nano-Aggressions. Then Pico-Aggressions. Then Femto-Aggressions….

              Such is the alternate reality of The Perpetually Offended.

              • Rick Ro. says

                –> “The Alternate Reality of The Perpetually Offended”

                Good name for a rock band or a metal band.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  Right up there with the other fictional band names I’ve encountered over time:
                  * Fetuses of the Damned
                  * Steaming Piles of Fresh Produce
                  * Crazy Children in the Attic

      • Not octogenarian. Septuagenarian.

        Is this an example of age shaming? Do you prefer suicide or euthanasia as a remedy?

        • flatrocker says

          Francis became an octo in December last year.
          and I only prefer bourbon, ice with no water.
          That’s a remedy for pretty near everything.

          • Rick Ro. says

            –> “I only prefer bourbon, ice with no water.”

            Have something against water, do you? That’s shaming of water.

            (note sarcasm)

    • Really? Oh my gosh.

  8. Robert F says

    Is that a church, or a flying saucer?

  9. Richard Hershberger says

    From the description of the Willow Creek campus:

    “the Harvest Café, located in front of the auditorium, will be used … as a gathering space on Sundays for those who wish to watch the service on video screens. ”

    Huh? I thought I was progressing nicely in a sociological study of Evangelicalism, but I am bewildered by this. If I am reading it right, you can wander over to the campus and buy your morning coffee and perhaps a light breakfast, and consume it with the service on a video screen in the background, and this constitutes worshiping God. Am I getting this right?

    • I think you are right, Richard. It’s apparently the new evangelical model for worship. Church services are not a gathering together of believers to honor the almighty God together. The church’s new mission seems to be finding ways to pack the most people in over the course of the week. I work with a guy who attends a large evangelical church in our area. I was surprised when he told me all the activities that go on there on Sunday. Kids’ church, Bible classes, worship(tainment), social services activities all going on simultaneously. You can pick what you want. He seemed kind of surprised that I was surprised that all other activities did not stop when the worship service was going on so that all could join together as one.

      • Richard Hershberger says

        If the food and prices are good, I could imagine myself popping in on a Sunday morning for breakfast, on my way to, you know, church. But I suspect that I would be disappointed on both counts.

    • Reminds me of an incident at a church we visited (once!) a few years ago. It’s a plant from the stodgy First Baptist in our town, but it’s a rockin’ place (music was too loud for my wife). Anyway, the sermon was traditional SBC and now we’re at the invitation. The preacher (in skinny jeans no less) said the usual ‘every head bowed, every eye closed’ (on the 46th verse of ‘Just As I Am’ – okay maybe it was the 2nd or 3rd). Anyway, this guy gets up a few rows in front of me – during the most ‘sacred’ part of the service – when God is dealing with sinners and all that – and goes to the back of the room and returns with a jelly donut and a cup of coffee! He proceeds to eat the donut and drink the coffee as we continue to sing. I guess worship really is about self-indulgence after all.

      • That is probably what I would do at a Baptist altar call (sans donut).

        We attended the funeral of the son of a coworker, and the hayseed Southern Baptist preacher used the funeral for an altar call.

      • Burro [Mule] says

        If the bar for worship is set so low, I guess we Cathodox do worship Mary and the saints.

        At least we treat them with more respect than that.

    • This is just part of the progression you speak of. Worship as entertainment has been a thing for many years now. This is just another facet of that. Christian version of the sports bar.

    • Richard, that part of the description really hit me hard as well. If the medium is the message…

    • Yes, and as bourgeois as it sounds, it is perfectly legitimate worship by any meaningful standard.

    • Guess it could be for all the atheist husbands dropping their believer wives and kids off for church…

  10. Robert F says

    I bet Osteen secretly attends Slipknot concerts, wearing one of those slasher masks.

  11. Adam Tauno Williams says

    > The design concept was inspired by the form of a mustard seed,
    > a biblical reference that symbolizes the strong faith and
    > fellowship of the congregation,

    Emphasis “*OF* the congregation”, notable inward focus.

    And would’t an earth moving motif be a better fit? A cathderal shaped like a back hoe – ’cause with that mustard seed you can move mountains!

    > as well as the connection the building will have to nature.

    What? Urgh, every time an architect say this they should immediately be fired – it means the design is going nowhere goof.

    > The building’s elliptical shape was designed to strategically bring the
    > experience of the outdoors inside to the occupants.


    > Are these the new cathedrals?

    A key to being a catherdral was being a center piece; which this isn’t.

    > What do they say about us? our faith?

    That this brand of Christianity is *far* to obsessed with symbolism – particularly in asserting its great and noble faith – – – devoid of any historical context… or honoring any principles of good taste.

    > The café will have direct access to two landscaped courtyards that can be
    > used for weddings, funerals, and other functions.

    Contained “Nature” available for use on a scheduled basis for programmed events.

    Rather than honoring nature and bringing nature indoors why not build something that honors the community in which you live? Unless, of course, you don’t live in one.
    All doctrinal statements aside – what we build reveals our values.

    • “This brand of Christianity is *far* to obsessed with symbolism – particularly in asserting its great and noble faith – – – devoid of any historical context… or honoring any principles of good taste.”

      I’m sure you’ve noticed that “symbolism over substance” is quite the trend in American culture of late.:-/

    • Josh in FW says

      “what we build reveals our values”

    • There was something unsettling about this — beyond what’s been stated — and I followed a hunch and behold, the Willow Creek campus in Glenview opened on December 3rd, 2016. The architectural story is from March, 2016.

      This is an old story. So why now?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        It’s spring. Architecture gets attention in the spring, not in the winter. Doesn’t seem to matter where you are – it is just a thing.

      • Just noticed it, Paul, and the article I read was confusing. Made it sound like some kind of “opening” was happening in recent days.

  12. That’s an interesting thought comparing a Christian mega-campus to a medieval cathedral. Both huge and hugely expensive while coexisting with the poor and homeless and nursing home shenanigans, the campus at a much greater distance from them. The cathedrals overtly more esoteric in nature and origin, and arguably more inspirational, but somehow these campuses don’t bother me a whit. Yes, I know, as a good iMonker I’m supposed to be outraged by their very existence, but I’m more like different strokes for different folks, live and let live. It would greatly alter the balance of the picture if the campus included a large facility to take in nursing home evictees. I do wonder what Paul’s reaction would have been to have been given a tour.

    • At least cathedrals were built to last and are full of Christian symbolism. 100 years after western civilization collapses, you won’t be able to tell the difference between a megachurch’s ruins and those of any other office building.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        There was a French blogsite several years ago that critiqued such church(TM)es for their suitablity of conversion into mosques. Used the term “Post-Christian, pre-Sharia Era” to describe today.

        • The Brick Lane Mosque in London started as a Huguenot chapel in 1743, then Methodist, then the Spitalfields Great Synagogue and now a mosque. The area is generally where new poor immigrants arrive and then move out after they become established and a new group moves in.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            That kinda makes sense. Changes to match the faith of the new poor immigrant group.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      I am not so much outraged as bemused. The first time I attended an Evangelical service as an adult, it was in a modestly sized building that looked like a church. So far, so good. But after spending the hour or so, I walked out wondering when the worship service would begin. I recognized nothing that had occurred as Christian worship: the service of the Word or of the Sacrament. I hadn’t expected that second part, not being totally naive, but I had expected Bible readings and preaching on those readings. Joke’s on me!

      Now, a quarter century later, I look at this description of the new Willow Creek campus and see even less evidence of anything resembling Christian worship. The critique that conservatives make of liberal churches is that they are more social clubs than they are churches. This is mostly unfair, but not entirely–at least not in all cases. I have a gradually building suspicion that the conservatives landed on “social club” long ago. I have to admit that they seem to be better at it than the liberals. Having long since given up any but a vestigial sense that the life of the church should be centered on communal worship, they can go all in with marketing research on what people want in a social club.

      • Ronald Avra says

        Good assessment on the “social club” mentality.

      • Richard, I attended two evangelical type services in the past few months (one a funeral) and that was my reaction was similar to yours. Neither service had a distinct end; at the Sunday service, people just started wandering out and at the funeral, after the casket was taken out of the sanctuary, we all sat there not knowing if the service had ended or not, until someone came back and told us the service was over. Both services were devoid of any structure, just a sort of stream of comciousness. Now let’s sing a song (which no one seemed to know) or listen to someone else sing a song, and then a random Bible reading or two, then maybe another song which the congregation may or may not participate in singing, then a prayer here or there, and then a message which doesn’t seem to have any connection to anything else in the service, & then some other random announcements or music.
        I left unfulfilled and wondering what exactly was the point of all of it.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Both services were devoid of any structure, just a sort of stream of comciousness.

          Structure is just those Worldly Fleshly Vain Repetiton Works of Men getting in the way.

          Now let’s sing a song (which no one seemed to know)…

          You don’t need to know. Just look at the perfumed and primped eye-candy “Worship Leader” in the spotlight behind the mike, that’s all.

          I left unfulfilled and wondering what exactly was the point of all of it.

          Not only a failure as a service, but a failure as performance entertainment.

      • …..they can go all in with marketing research on what people want….


      • >> I am not so much outraged as bemused.

        Richard, I try to be bemused by the outrage expressed in these pages at Evangelical culture, but it does get tiresome. I fail to see how this mega campus is any skin off my nose, or off God’s nose for that matter. If these people were not spending time and money together on Sunday morning gathering in the name of God as they see fit, if the campus burned to the ground, would they be flocking to fill the mostly empty pews of the struggling smaller churches around them? Dream on.

        The little Lutheran Church I faithfully attended here for a year and a half before it shut its doors proved itself ultimately to be a social club and ancestral shrine by the very fact of shutting down rather than to meet in the name of Jesus at the local school or tavern. Only difference with the local VFW shutting down shortly after is that the VFW was up front about it being an unsustainable social club that was not attracting the younger generation. The mega church is set up on a business model and so what? It succeeds, at least for now. Would those people be better off sleeping in or on the golf course or at the casino? That those people are wrong and to be castigated, excoriated, for choosing to follow different cultural expectations than the ones I follow because they are the right ones and approved by God Almighty, well, like I said and you said too, I try to be bemused. Or at least tolerant, and sometimes that’s a stretch.

        • Rick Ro. says

          I’m with you on this one, Charles. You’ve stated what I was thinking much more elegantly than I could or would.

          I was trying to figure out the reason for the “outrage” here. Is it because people feel this kind of thing misrepresents Christ? Is it deemed wasteful? Is it too showy, too “entertainment” oriented? Not enough “true worship”?

          Maybe it’s all those. Whatever the case, there are some criticisms which fall flat. If serving is a form of worship, who cares if people do some sort of ministry on Sunday instead of heading into a building to “worship”? If someone wants to serve in a soup kitchen for the homeless instead of taking communion, more power to them! If someone wants to watch a service from a cafe instead of sitting in a sanctuary, go for it!

          I was talking to a millennial the other day about his generation. Fascinating conversation. This guy was very atypical of millennials and he knew it. He’d been at his current job for 10 years, had a savings account that was growing, etc etc. He said almost all his friends his same age (early 30s) had already had 4-5 different jobs having switched jobs voluntarily. The mentality and mindset of 20-30 year olds is totally different than most of us here at iMonk. This guy told me that he was doing his MBA and studying on “how to manage millennials” and his quote was, “My generation is totally flakey!”

          Some churches are trying to figure out how to present Christ to that generation. Maybe they’re going overboard in the attempt, but I give them credit for trying.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > “My generation is totally flakey!”

            In IT am surrounded by Millennials.

            This statement may be true – but they also have a point: “You are not committed to me, why should I be committed to you?”

            Jobs are just jobs, an exchange of value. There is no patina anymore – corporations are there to maximize the extraction of value from their employees. And if that employee has a problem, or they can get a cheaper one, there is the door buddy! That is not “flakey” it is honest wise self-preservation.

            • Rick Ro. says

              –> “You are not committed to me, why should I be committed to you?”

              I’m not sure which came first, though. The millennial I spoke with said he thought the lack of commitment came from millennials’ upbringings. Too much helicopter parenting, too much rescuing, too much “award for participation” mentality. If there’s some truth to that, then I think the millennial’s perceived lack of commitment might not be real, or maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        • Robert F says

          I agree with you on this, Charles.

          Although I continue to think that church looks like a flying saucer; maybe flying saucers will actually be part of the implementation of the Rapture…

        • +1

  13. Ronald Avra says

    Working through the weekend’s first pot of coffee; good to see all of you; back when I wake up.

  14. Mike, lobsters around here are usually boiled or steamed, then cracked out and dipped in melted butter, preferably with lime juice. Some people split them down the middle and grill them, though, but you’ll normally find steaks and hot dogs on the grill.

    And what’s better than broiled scallops? Broiled scallops wrapped in bacon! No, that’s not a cliche, as in “everything is better with bacon”—this is really what bacon was made for. I mean, if you’re going to violate kosher law, then go for it. I think this is what Martin Luther meant by “Sin boldly.”

    • Scallops in bacon are good… scallops with black pudding are sensational.

      (For the uninitiated: black puds are made with barley, pork fat and pig’s blood, plus seasoning)

      • “black puds are made with barley, pork fat and pig’s blood, plus seasoning”

        More proof that the Scots should stick to making single malt and leave the food recipes to the rest of humanity. 😉

  15. And then there is Portland, Oregon, where two men were stabbed to death and a third injured on a train after a man harassing two women for being Muslim turned on them when they intervened. Thoughts for the families of those men who did a good thing and died for it. Thoughts for the Muslim communities in the US who have to face this as Ramadan starts. Thoughts for the Coptic Christians of Egypt who have been facing ongoing violence. Thoughts for the people of and near Manchester (I have relatives near Manchester). Violence begets violence and the innocent suffer.

    • Violence begets violence. Yes. Sadly yes.
      He who lives by the sword will die by it.

    • Robert F says

      Thoughts and prayers for all of them, and for the uncounted multitude of innocent civilians across the middle east who have been killed as a result of being in the path of our aerial bombing and drone attacks.

    • Burro [Mule] says

      Prayers for the repose of the soul, and the comfort of the family of General Nagwa El-Haggar , a Muslim woman and police commander, who gave her life defending Coptic Christians on this past Palm Sunday.

  16. The same week I read about the Catholics running an observatory, I read John MacArthur’s website calling Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter a “Monument to Biblical Truth.”

    I’m still not ready to swim the Tiber, but there sure are times I stand on the shore and look with a lot of admiration at the other side.

    • flatrocker says

      And don’t forget our bingo and beer-laden church festivals.
      We gaze at the stars while we hoist our pints.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I’ve heard that in Lutheran church potlucks, the most important question is “Who’s bringing the beer?”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      We have the Vatican Observatory and Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
      They have the Kentucky Creation Museum.

  17. Ever study the history of so-called Satanic imagery? It’s fascinating. And no more real than a 6000 year old earth, lol.

    Not gonna lie, I quite enjoyed throwing up the “horns” to the beat at the Ghost show I attended last year…lol

    • Robert F says

      And I continue to enjoy singing along to the lyrics of “Stairway to Heaven”, despite Jimmy Page’s involvement with Crowleyinism.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I associate that “horns” gesture with metalheads.

      Though I’ve also heard it called “The Wolf’s Head”, where the two upraised fingers represent the ears of a wolf.

      Whatever the origin or source, it’s become just another Satanic Gesture inside the Christianese Bubble. (Even saw it used by the Devil character in that cheezy Christianese movie looping in my opthamologist’s waiting room a couple weeks ago.)

  18. Rick Ro. says

    The images of violence that close today’s brunch are sobering and kind of ruin the levity of some of the other elements. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but it is kind of jarring. Thanks for the reminder that as we laugh and play, others are in deep mourning.

    • In a probably related observation, I have been noticing a hard edge to the Babylon Bee lately that turns me off. This is, of course, a subjective matter, but it’s noticeable enough to me to wonder if they have changed hands or acquired a new writer. There’s enough division and rancor in the world without adding to it, and gentle fun is becoming rare and precious. Here’s hoping the Church Curmudgeon is holding fast.

  19. Robert F says

    shadows pass quickly
    on the road in front of my car–
    unseen flock above

  20. Dana Ames says

    From all I have read and otherwise heard about, the Willow Creek staff is motivated by only the best of intentions. I wonder what they internalized from the survey that made news a couple of years ago. As someone above wrote, there is nothing noticeably distinctly Christian about this building. I am aware that people put up outward symbols and don’t live by what the symbol actually means, but really? I’m not outraged or bemused, but dismayed. The interior of my husband’s church building doesn’t even have a cross; he says it’s because his pastor doesn’t want to offend anyone who might otherwise be inclined to check out the church service. My husband – a very strongly non-liturgical Christian who is convinced that I’m still a Christian but those other Orthodox are idolaters – is also dismayed by this.

    I am glad that in my Church on this Sunday (as on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and 4 July) there will be one line of prayer – for those who have given their lives for our country, to which we will reply “Lord, have mercy” (“God, please act as God in your love toward them and answer this prayer in your wisdom and time.). Our time to remember all those who have served in the military is St Demetrios’ day, 26 October, or sometimes the Saturday before that date. There is a special prayer service during which the priest will pray for everyone’s military relatives, living and departed, whose names are submitted to him. On Monday our priest will conduct a prayer service at the Veterans’ section of the largest local cemetery.

    When I was a child in Montana, May was generally the first month one could be outdoors in the daytime without a sweater, so Memorial Day was a good time to attend to family graves after the long winter. I remember going to my aunt’s house to prepare the year’s flower tribute: plastic flowers (’cause they lasted through the year’s strong summer sun and harsh winter freeze) held in place with paraffin in 1-pound coffee cans (remember those?). My aunt put the fear of God in me regarding hot and potentially flammable paraffin 🙂 It was a nice day spent with family, and seeing lots of my parents’ friends in the cemeteries taking care of their families’ graves, too. I looked forward to it every year.


    • Rick Ro. says

      –> “As someone above wrote, there is nothing noticeably distinctly Christian about this building. I am aware that people put up outward symbols and don’t live by what the symbol actually means, but really? I’m not outraged or bemused, but dismayed. The interior of my husband’s church building doesn’t even have a cross; he says it’s because his pastor doesn’t want to offend anyone who might otherwise be inclined to check out the church service.”

      Before I helped open a humble little “coffee shop ministry” at my church six years ago, we visited a couple of similar local church coffee houses. One of them was so devoid of ANY Christian symbols that it was almost creepy. When we spoke to the pastor who ran the shop about it, it was for the same reason: “I don’t want to offend anyone who comes in off the street.”

      Those of us who opened our coffee house decided we couldn’t go to that extreme, so we kept some things that were distinctly Christian (a shelf of Bibles, for instance). We felt removing all traces of where we find hope and light – aka Jesus Christ – was too counter to our own nature and belief.

      It gets to a theme of a different thread on today’s comments: offending and shaming. Am I ashamed of my Lord Jesus Christ? Am I worried that portraying Him in a coffee house might offend? I think I’d have a fun argument with anyone who suggests I should be.

      • Dana Ames says


        Do an internet search for Agia Sophia Coffee Shop in Colorado Springs. They are unabashed about who they are, but because of their theology they don’t have to close any deals, so there’s no pressure on people who choose to go there. They also get some great reviews for the quality of their coffee and food. If the coffee and food are all people go in for, that’s enough reason to serve them well and to be grateful to God for them (of course they are prayed for, too).


        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          “Agia Sophia” as in Greek for “Holy Wisdom” (as well as a popular name for Orthodox parishes and cathedrals)?

          Checked their website. Noticed three sizes of Greek Espresso:
          Mikros, Metrios, and Megalos.

      • I am not sure people are offended by seeing the cross. I think Chrisitans in their own thinking are reminded of the “offense of the cross” and take it literally instead of thinking through the context in which the phrase is used.

        Seems to me people are more put off by Christians themselves who have given the religion a bad name by not actually following how Christ said to live. Meeting some good folks who actually do follow Christ matters more than anything else, IMO.

      • It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a fish on a business sign or card, but when they were more common amongst Evangelicals I learned from repeated experiences to regard them as code for “Watch Your Wallet”. Also developed a learned negative response to Evangelical bumper stickers which usually strike me as snide bragging. God is My Co-Pilot (and not yours because you’re too ashamed to have a bumper sticker). It does strike me as peculiar that anyone would intentionally go into a church and be offended because it had religious artifacts, so peculiar that I can’t imagine it happening in reality other than wacko snowflakes. On the other hand if I went into a coffee shop hoping they had tea and they brought me a religious tract with my order I would be very much on my guard and would not go back. Would be different if they were in an unobtrusive rack free for the taking. I was in a non-religious hospital yesterday that had a Bible, probably Gideon, on a table in the waiting room, but that’s different than selling Jesus like Vege-matics.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Also developed a learned negative response to Evangelical bumper stickers which usually strike me as snide bragging.

          Don’t forget to factor in the number of bumper stickers:
          One or two — no problem.
          Five or six — alarm bells.
          So many you can’t tell what color the paint is — RUN!

  21. Pellicano Solitudinis says

    I am getting a fairly strong sense of “this is what Jesus would do” from Pope Francis giving the Trumps an early morning audience rather than cancel his general audience. I also thoroughly approve of his choice of gift, which isn’t mentioned in the post above: copies of his encyclicals, including the one on global warming.

Speak Your Mind