December 2, 2020

The IM Saturday Brunch: Nov 18, 2017 — Thanksgiving 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.”

• • •


• • •


The $500 million Museum of the Bible opened in Washington, D.C. this week.

Here’s a report from the Washington Times:

Organizers said they designed the 3,100-object museum for people of any faith tradition or none at all, keeping exhibits light on evangelism and heavy on education.

“We’re nonsectarian, which means that we want to be a comfortable place for anybody — faith, no faith, we don’t care who it is,” museum President Cary Summers said Wednesday at the facility. “Come in and enjoy and walk away and say, ‘I learned something about the Bible while I was here.’”

The three major exhibits — on the stories, history and impact of the Bible — employ impressive audiovisual effects to immerse museum visitors in the worlds of the Old and New Testaments.

…William Lazenby, director of research with the museum design firm PRD Group, which helped design the exhibitions on the Bible’s history, said his goal was to “tell the biography of the Bible.”

“We look at it through the lenses of time, technology and culture, trying to tell the story of the Bible from something that was initially accessible to very few people in just a single language, to what’s grown into something that is near-universally accessible in hundreds and even thousands of languages,” Mr. Lazenby said.

Some of the museum’s most impressive objects include Dead Sea Scrolls fragments that date to the middle of the first century B.C. Also on display is Julia Ward Howe’s original draft of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which contains biblical language and is included to demonstrate the Bible’s influence on American history.

The above pictures are from this tour at History.

The $500 million project was paid for with private contributions — most notably from the Green family of Hobby Lobby. Admission is free.

The museum has its critics. Here are a couple:

And here’s an article that remarks about how hard the museum tries to be non-controversial, but wonders if it that’s even possible.

• • •


These are good for a few smiles. Enjoy some of the finalists for this year’s awards:

• • •


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (USA Today) — A man accidentally shot himself and his wife at an east Tennessee church while he was showing off his gun during a discussion on recent church shootings, police said.

FAROE ISLANDS (Mashable) The Faroe Islands, an archipelago between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic, didn’t have Google street view, but they wanted to. So they strapped 360-degree cameras on the backs of sheep to make their own.


THE INDEPENDENT: It’s the news that Grinches everywhere have been waiting for: overdosing on festive music is officially bad for your mental health. Not least because of the clangy harmonies and insipid lyrics that make Christmas haters want to say “bah humbug” at every smiling passer-by in a bobble hat. It turns out that Christmas songs actually stop us from being able to focus on anything other than mince pies and mistletoe.

• • •


The Thanksgiving holiday has given filmmakers abundant material for their craft, since it brings together groups of interesting people, families, and strangers around a common table, producing plenty of drama, conflict, and opportunity for character and story development.

Here’s one of my favorite Thanksgiving movie scenes of all time, from Woody Allen’s film “Broadway Danny Rose,” It kind of reminds me of church, starting with the crazy characters who come together at Danny’s house each Thanksgiving for frozen turkeys — the stuttering ventriloquist, the blind xylophonist, the balloon folder, the lady who plays the water glasses, and the woman with piano playing birds. Somehow, there’s an inexplicable bond of grace and hospitality we who are broken share with one another, along with the “pastor” who feels like a failure but truly cares for and believes in all the “losers” (like himself) who gather around. Finally, we meet the sinner who has a hard time fitting in, and the ultimate triumph of Uncle Sidney’s famous saying: acceptance, forgiveness, and love.

It brings a tear and a smile every time I see Danny running down the street to catch Tina in front of the Carnegie Deli, to bring her back for Thanksgiving dinner with his friends.

Blessed are the misfits; there is always a place for them at heaven’s table.

Note: The clip includes the film credits; skip them if you like (though the music is touching).

• • •


Some humanists, atheists, agnostics and other non-religious individuals want you to know that they are thankful too this Thanksgiving.

“Thanksgiving is a uniquely secular holiday, as gratitude is a universal human emotion,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “This special day of the year is a chance for humanists and other nontheists to express gratitude to their friends and loved ones.”

“The humanist worldview is one that celebrates life,” said Rebecca Hale, president of the American Humanist Association and a Humanist Celebrant. “Because this is the only life that we have, we must constantly practice gratitude toward the people who make our life meaningful and the compassion and love that we experience. By doing so, we can appreciate not only what we have but also strive to make the world a better place for those less fortunate.”

Here is an example of a Thanksgiving Prayer (2016) by Dan Blinn at The Humanist:

We are grateful to be
In a universe in which stars
Are born and over time will die
Giving forth the elements of everything.

We are grateful to be
On a planet orbiting a star
Just close enough that water
Can course over land in oceans, rivers, and streams.

We are grateful to be
In a climate where rainfall
And sunlight both are delivered
In just the right measures for plants to grow.

We are grateful to be
The descendants of life
That began very simply but
Over eons of time developed to great complexity.

We are grateful to be
Members of a species that
Against all odds has developed
The means to understand who and what we are.

We are grateful to be
Members of a society that
Grants us the freedom in which we
May dream of the things that we might become.

We are grateful to be
Among others whom we love
And who love us and support us
Helping us to find meaning and purpose in life.

We are grateful to be
Able to share in a harvest feast
But, first among all of our blessings
We are grateful to be.

For those of us who come to the table with Christian faith, I can’t think of a better Thanksgiving prayer than this general thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer:

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have
done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole
creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life,
and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for
the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best
efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy
and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures
that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the
truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast
obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying,
through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life
again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and
make him known; and through him, at all times and in all
places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.


  1. Amen. Give thanks. For God is good. Psalm 107:1.

  2. BCP is my go-to.

  3. Dan from Georgia says

    “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”

    • +1 for P,T,A.
      Many cringe-worthy scenes, and heartwarming at th same time.
      The thing that always get me is aftr the end credits – – where the client still can’t make up their mind.

  4. “Not least because of the clangy harmonies and insipid lyrics that make Christmas haters want to say “bah humbug” at every smiling passer-by in a bobble hat.”

    AMEN TO THAT!!! That, and they start playing them EARLIER AND EARLIER EVERY FREAKING YEAR…

    (I’ve GOT to stop Christmas from coming… but HOW?)

    • It doesn’t bother me anymore. I just ignore it and go on my way. The world does not exist to make it easier for me to practice my own preferred religious observance of Christmas, or to give me a silent night or season. It is as it is.

    • Dan from Georgia says

      I want wife and I to start up our own Christmas traditions and behaviors, and to avoid the mass panic that ensues around Thanksgiving re: gift buying and selfishness and bad driving.

      However, I will never forgive Christmas for bringing us Wham!’s “Last Christmas”.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Not least because of the clangy harmonies and insipid lyrics that make Christmas haters want to say “bah humbug” at every smiling passer-by in a bobble hat.”

      Including “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt?

      AMEN TO THAT!!! That, and they start playing them EARLIER AND EARLIER EVERY FREAKING YEAR…

      One day I expect to enter a store on December 26 and hear “ONLY 364 SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL XMAS!!!!!”

      • That Other Jean says

        Yes, including “Santa Baby.” There are not words (at least none that I could type here and not be banned) for how much I hate that song. Ditto for “Christmas Shoes” and “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.”

        • I’d like to add “Dominic the Donkey” to the list, and “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time”.

        • Dan from Georgia says

          Yes, “Christmas Shoes” with it’s incredibly horrific theology and emotional assault! Any radio station that mindlessly plays that song (and is there any other way to play that song other that mindlessly), should be mowed down by an A-10 Warthog.

          Was that a threat?

        • HEY!!! Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer is a holiday classic! It ranks right up there with Weird Ali’s Christmas At Ground Zero!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Both of which always made the cut on Doctor Demento every December.

            The other three mentioned (“Christmas Shoes”, “Dominic the Donkey”, and “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time”) are new ones on me.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          In poll after poll for “Worst Xmas Song Of All Time, “Santa Baby” always wins.

          Like the William Shatner cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” always bottoming out Dr Demento’s annual “Bottom Five”.

    • Eeyore,
      just forego the Black Friday/Ciber Monday crazy and bring out the little Nativity set your family had long ago and light some candles, and go out and cut some greenery and find some red pyracantha berries and set them out around the candles, and make some home-made baking and heat up some cider and light a fire in the fire-place and read the nativity out of St. Luke’s Gospel on the holy night and be peaceful. Try to arrange with the weather man for a nice slow gentle snow-fall, too. Play an old record of carols that were put away before the evangelical music craze . . .

      it’s not so hard to walk away from the crazy

      bake ’em, knit some scarves, visit the old people and take some home-made food for them . . . . and stay out of Walmart this season

      but the little kids? hmmmm . . . . . their wisdom might surprise you

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Or enjoy Black Friday after the fact on YouTube’s “Crazy Black Friday Fights” compilations, withLemon Demon’s “Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny” as your accompanying mash-up soundtrack:

        “This is the Ultimate Showdown
        Of Ultimate Destiny!
        Good Guys, Bad Guys, and Explosions
        As far as the eye can see!
        And only one will survive —
        I wonder who it will be?
        This is the Ultimate Showdown
        Of Ultimate Destiny!”

  5. From the WaPo article in the Bible Museum…

    “the Museum of the Bible reflects the discouraging state of Christianity — especially evangelicalism — in the United States today. It is lavishly funded and larger than life to the point of performance, often literally. Yet the approach is strangely superficial given the wealth of complexity inherent to its subject.”

    … not much to add after that, is there?

    • Ronald Avra says

      Unfortunately, it sums it up quite well.

    • A must to avoid.

    • Not that I ever travel to Washington, DC, but in the event I do, skip the museum I will. The fact that it is funded by the Greens, buyers of black market artifacts, likely stolen to fund the likes of ISIS, who then tried to sneak them into the country, is all I need to know about it.

      I won’t step foot in a Hobby Lobby & I won’t visit this museum.

    • There was too much bias evident in the Vox article but the WaPo article makes a strong point differentiating between “the book” and its content. From the beginning, the goal of the museum was quite carefully — perhaps narrowly — defined as an exercise in literary history and antiquity; evangelism wasn’t part of the package. I’m not sure you have one without the other. You can’t say, “This book has had a remarkably enduring quality that has influenced language, thought and history itself;” without saying something about the content which has given it that lasting quality and made it the world’s all-time best-seller.

      Or the God to whom it clearly points.

      That said, were I in DC, I would definitely make a point of visiting.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        From the beginning, the goal of the museum was quite carefully — perhaps narrowly — defined as an exercise in literary history and antiquity; evangelism wasn’t part of the package. I’m not sure you have one without the other. You can’t say, “This book has had a remarkably enduring quality that has influenced language, thought and history itself;” without saying something about the content which has given it that lasting quality and made it the world’s all-time best-seller.

        Does this mean the museum will end with an Altar Call room with “volunteer counselors”, like the “First Century Village” planned for Ken Ham’s “Ark Experience” theme park?

        Because THAT’s what “Or the God to whom it clearly points” has come to mean these days.

        (Yes, I am a survivor of Wretched Urgency and The Gospel According to Jack Chick…)

      • Regarding the bias…

        Reading the article was like reading a review of movie. Sometimes a movie reviewer’s bias comes into play, but when I put that aside I ask myself, “Is there stuff within this review that resonates with me?”

        Much of what was commented upon sounds like stuff I’d tend to agree with, even apart from the bias.

    • I live here (here being Wash DC) and I won’t be able to resist so I will be happy to take one for the team and report back at the earliest possible convenience. (Which won’t be this week cause I’ll be back home in Georgia.)

      • It will be interesting to see if it’s as cheesy as it sounds. The name has a Creation Mueseum vibe to it.

      • Yes, please report your perception of it!

      • Eventually I will break down and visit it… but I really don’t want to reward the Greens’ shady artifact procurement shenanigans either. :-/

    • That Other Jean says

      If the rest of the museum is as sloppy as Mr. Lazenby’s quote above–“something that was initially accessible to very few people in just a single language.. . . ” it’s not going to bear the scrutiny of non-Evangelicals. The Bible languages? Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, that I know of. Were there others?

      Also, archaeologists are already doubting that the museum’s Dead Sea Scrolls are authentic. Personally, I hope they’re not. If they’re real, they ought to be with the others and carefully studied, not sitting in a museum.

    • The Oriental Institute in Chicago’s galleries on Israel/Canaan/Palestine are excellent.

  6. If they walk the talk, the folks at The Humanist are better at gratitude than I am.

  7. no haiku
    is forthcoming
    and so it goes

  8. The reports of how the museum got its artifacts are very disturbing, most are either fakes or obtained illegally.

    Also, there is almost no chance the dead sea scroll fragments are real. All real fragments are in Israel archaeologists control (for good reason).

    • Wasn’t Steve Green’s Hobby Lobby involved in the purchase of illegally acquired and sold antiquities last year? Why would anyone trust the artifacts in a museum for which he is the chairman to be above board?

    • Back in 2007 (I think) I got to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit in San Diego – some fabulous examples of the real deal. The exhibit also included some examples of bibles, from just before the printing press to an original illuminated page (by Aidan Hart, a British iconographer) from the Saint John’s Bible. I don’t think anything in the museum could top that, even if I were inclined to go there.


  9. Richard Hershberger says

    Bible museum: I will have to check this out, perhaps in a couple of months so the opening crowds will have thinned out. I doubt that it will be good, but in fairness this would be really hard to pull off, with the best of intentions. The problem is that manuscripts are boring as exhibits. By background and inclination I should be a total sucker for Medieval illuminated manuscript exhibits. In practice they tend to be a big yawn: a book open to a page, under thick glass and poor lighting. The Bible museum apparently has some of the Dead Sea scrolls. They are amazing, but not because they will make for a good display: a tiny scrap of dimly lit parchment. There are very good reasons for this, but it doesn’t make for an engaging exhibit. Then there is museum-as-video display. This can be done well, but why endure sore feet for something I could see at hope on my computer? Then there is museum as Disney ride. It might make for a good ride, but this is not museum stuff.

    Reading the accounts, the Bible museum seems to combine all three poor museum experiences into what I suspect is a complete mess. But it’s free and not too far from me, so I’ll give it a look.

    The other problem this particular museum has is the competition. It is a couple of blocks from a museum with an actual spaceship! How do you compete with that? Walk across the Mall and you can see a fantastic art museum, with the only Leonardo in the hemisphere! Actually, there are multiple outstanding art museums within walking distance. It is easy to overlook the Freer and Sackler, but don’t. If art isn’t your thing, there is always dinosaurs at the natural history museum. And so on.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > n a couple of months so the opening crowds will have thinned out

      Crowds? Like at the Ark museum?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Then there is museum as Disney ride. It might make for a good ride, but this is not museum stuff.

      As was said about the Kentucky Creation Museum/Ark Experience on this very blog.

      • Is there a METHOD in the ‘shallowness’?

        Why is there so little sense of ‘the sacred’ in fundamentalist/evangelicalism?

        • Fundamentalism is premised on having All the Answers.

          The Sacred is based, in no small part, on Mystery.

          The two are quite incompatible.

  10. Did anybody see the video in the news yesterday of the robot doing a backflip? Was anybody as creeped-out as I was by how human-like its movement were? I had visions of a race of extraordinarily agile and strong robots housing self-aware AI taking over the world, and dooming humanity. It became easy to imagine that this might be the next step in the evolution of consciousness on this planet, a step leaving behind the carbon-based human form.

  11. Steve Newell says

    In the Museum of the Bible, how do they show the two tablets of the Ten Commandments: Catholic/Lutheran/Anglican ordering or the Reform?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Probably whatever’s the denomination of the Hobby Lobby family.

      (Given what I know of their background, it’s probably the “NO POPERY!” ordering…)

  12. Ronald Avra says

    On an altogether different subject the Leonid meteor shower peaked last night. There is a lot of light contamination in the night sky where I live, but I was able to catch a bit of the show shortly before dawn, when the shower had ascended in the sky away from the horizon. Next year I may make an effort to get away from the city lights and get a better view.

  13. blackbirds scatter
    as the dumpster lid slams
    exiled to the sky

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    “Celebrating the day Americans fed undocumented aliens from Europe”.

    You know, that could be taken both ways.
    Look what happened to THOSE Americans…

    “Sure, they ended up defending Cape Cod and ended up getting pushed into the sea at Santa Monica…”
    — George Carlin

  15. 1. Woody Allen..always a fav

    2. Because of Advent, I don’t I intentionally listen to Christmas music…and I avoid shopping to the best of my ability.

    3. We’re in DC a lot to visit our kids, so will probably go to the museum at some point – not making it a priority

    4. Could someone help me with BCP? Which one is this prayer from? It’s not in my BCP which is the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA. Thank you, I always feel like I’m using the wrong one, but are there multiple ones? Thank you!

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    NOXVILLE, Tenn. (USA Today) — A man accidentally shot himself and his wife at an east Tennessee church while he was showing off his gun during a discussion on recent church shootings, police said.

    Oh, yeah.
    That made morning drive-time out here in SoCal:

    He removed the magazine, cleared the chamber, and showed the gun to some of the men in the church. He put the magazine back in, apparently loaded a round in the chamber, and returned the gun to its holster, Parks said.

    “Somebody else walked up and said, ‘Can I see it?’ ” Parks said. “He pulled it back out and said, ‘With this loaded indicator, I can tell that it’s not loaded.’ “

    He pulled the trigger.

    Putting a .380 round through his hand and his wife.
    STOO. PID.

    Anyone got The Darwin Awards on speed-dial?

    • This is rapidly becoming a very big problem. I have family in that area and every time I talk to family members they brag about the large number of people carrying firearms into church. They sit around the fellowship hall and brag about it. It has gone crazy.

      • I hear that, too, Allen, because, in my experience, every gun owner believes every other gun owner is a responsible gun owner, except for the criminal or mentally ill sorts, which naturally none of them are. A friend of mine’s nephew killed himself a year or so ago trying to get his concealed carry out of his brand new holster at home. He had a concealed carry because, you know, you gotta be prepared. You just never know, right? So no he’s dead by his own accidental hand because of the unrealistic fear that there is an armed bandit around every single corner.
        You are right. It has gone crazy.

        • every gun owner believes every other gun owner is a responsible gun owner

          Responsible is only a part of it. I recoil at the one who thing they could have done something if in that Colorado movie shooting or similar. Shooting a gun at a target on a range does not mean you’ll react well in a chaotic situation. They will likely injure and kill more “innocents” than do anything to take down the shooter.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “Being crazy used to mean something. Now everybody’s crazy.”
        — Charles Manson, prison interview sound-bited on KFI morning drive-time

    • “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them. If they shoot themselves, however, yeah and verily, that is on them.”

      Mark 16:18, East Tennessee Version

    • Well, if they have kids, which I’d be willing to bet they do, being Red Stater octogenarians, they cannot qualify for the Darwin Awards, although they can receive honorable mention. The whole point of the Darwins is that the people awarded have done themselves in in a stupid way, without first passing on their genetic stupidity to offspring.

    • Several people pack heat at my church. I only get scared when one of them pulls out their weapon to show that they’re packing heat.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Back when I used to go shooting with a group at Angeles Crest (before they shut down the open ranges), there was one guy like that.

        AKA Firearms Accident Waiting to Happen, and none of the rest of us wanted to be in range when it happened. Never invited that guy along ever again.

    • It amazes me that police and soldiers are trained for MONTHS on how to wield firearms in stressful situations – but many states will just hand out concealed carry permits almost for the asking. I mean, seriously?!?

      • It’s due to a wide streak of insanity in our national psyche.

      • It depends on how many politicians are owned by the NRA.

      • As a person who in the past carried concealed and had a permit…the stupidest thing about it all is the getting a permit to carry part. The logic is a major fail. In my experience when a permit is issued–which requires a background check, finger prints, and the serial numbers of the weapons to be carried–a flag is put on your identity with the state’s criminal records department so that when you’re pull over for a traffic violation (in my case it was a “California stop” at a 4-way on a Sunday morning going to church with the family) the officer who runs your driver’s license is informed that you have a weapon in the car or on your person–which makes the police ANTSY AS HELL, so much so that I had some concern that the officer was inclined to draw and level his side-arm at me while the officer on the other side of the car was at the ready. In that time of my life I always kept my hands in plain view of the officer.

        If you try to be “legal” by getting a RTCP you will be putting your life at greater risk of being shot by a fidgitty policeman.

        My advice; if you think you must carry, then do so and don’t tell anyone. DO NOT GET A RIGHT TO CARRY PERMIT. The permit does not give protection from anything, rather it puts you at risk of death from a traffic stop.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      In retrospect, it’s more like a “Major Brain Fart Moment” instead of Darwin Award Stupid.

  17. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Battle Hymn of the Republic…

    They realise of course that was the human of the folks fighting against the Confederate Flag, with which the right (and seemingly, and unfortunately, by extension and association the evangelical world) is enamoured of? Or does their beloved David Barton tell them otherwise?

    • All they realize is that it uses war as its controlling metaphor, and they like war very much, since they see themselves at war with secular culture, Islam, feminism, liberalism, the MSM, etc., and they think that this willingness to do battle and make war vindicates the authenticity of their faith.

      • Let us prey:

        Our divine warrior
        Righteous Justice is your name
        Your government come, your will impose, on earth as it is in our ideology
        Give us this day the daily bread to which we are entitled
        And forgive us even while we carry resentment
        Lead us not from the image of the enemy we have created
        And do not test us on Jesus’ commitment to nonviolence


        (Michael Hardin)

        • I’ve enjoyed quite a few Michael Hardin YouTube videos in the past couple of years. Must admit he is a little too cocky sometimes. I appreciate his help with disseminating and explaining Rene Girard who, it seems to me, is/was on to something important.

          • I spent an evening with Michael Hardin in the home of one of my friends. MH is very personable face to face. However, when he sermonizes or writes FaceBook post he can be very “cocky”, to say the least.

    • john barrry says

      Klasie, Even Elvis could accept the Battle Hymn of the Republic for what it was , a good song to promote patriotic feelings for the Federal troops who were fighting to free another race of people from the terrible bondage of slavery . The song sums us why they were fighting for the most part. History is history.

  18. Perhaps he attended the Deputy Barney Fife course on firearm safety. People who do not handle guns well if they must carry a gun should carry a double action revolver. If you are not well trained then better to leave the gun at home. Remember Barney Fife had to ask Andy for the “bullet. If Mayberry were real it would be a great place to live if the most dangerous thing in town was Barney when he had the bullet

  19. Randy Thompson says

    We just saw “Boadway Danny Rose” (Netflix or Turner Classic Movies, I forget which) for the first time in decades. What a wonderful film, and yes, the Thanksgiving scene is grace-filled.

  20. R.I.P., Malcolm Young.