October 25, 2020

The Saturday Monks Brunch: March 17, 2018


Top o’ the mornin’ to you!

Welcome to the Monks Brunch on this St. Patrick’s Day, 2018. Here are a few Irish blessings to share with each other as you lift your glasses this day:

  1. Bless your little Irish heart and every other Irish part.
  2. May the Lord keep you in His hand and never close His fist too tight.
  3. May the Good Lord take a liking to you — but, not too soon.
  4. May your troubles be as few and as far apart as my dear Grandmother’s teeth.
  5. May you die in bed at ninety-five years, shot by a jealous husband.
  6. Here’s to your coffin!
    – May your coffin have six handles of finest silver!
    – May your coffin be carried by six fair young maids!
    – And may your coffin be made of finest wood from a 100-year-old tree, that I’ll go plant tomorrow!
  7. As you slide down the banisters of life may the splinters never point the wrong way.
  8. May you live to be a hundred years, with one extra year to repent.

We start today with good news, life-changing and heart-warming, from a scene that is almost Gospel-like in its wonder and joy.

From NPR:

The blind have descended in droves on the Bisidimo Hospital in Eastern Ethiopia.

The Himalayan Cataract Project is hosting a mass cataract surgery campaign at the medical compound that used to be a leper colony. For one week a team from the nonprofit has set up seven operating tables in four operating rooms and they’re offering free cataract surgery to anyone who needs it.

On the first day of the campaign it’s clear that the need is great.

“We have like 700 or 800 patients already in the compound and many more appointed for tomorrow and the day after and the day after that,” says Teketel Mathiwos, the Ethiopian program coordinator for the Himalayan Cataract Project.

…The entire operation takes four minutes. Some more complicated cases take longer. It can be harder to work on a person with an extremely deep eye socket. Also if the patient has suffered from trachoma or some other eye disease in the past, the cataract surgery might take up to 20 minutes. But even then this is a relatively quick procedure.

“It doesn’t really cost very much money,” Oliva says, “and it’s insane that there’s so many people waiting around for cataract surgery, people that could have their sight restored by a simple and inexpensive operation.”

…As more and more bandages are peeled off, family members of the patients start singing and dancing in the courtyard. Several patients experiment with putting a hand over one eye, then the other, checking out their restored sight.

Oliva says the entire cost for this event — including paying staff, renting equipment, transporting patients back and forth to their villages — breaks down to just $75 per patient.

He calls cataract surgery the low-hanging fruit of international health. The Himalayan Cataract Project started working in Nepal in the 1990s and now hopes to tackle the leading cause of blindness in sub-Saharan Africa.

The HCP was a semi-finalist last year for the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition, a search to find a group delivering bold solutions to one of the world’d most critical problems. (The $100 million prize went to Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee to educate displaced kids in the Middle East.)

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 2 million people in Africa have lost their sight due to cataracts.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, here are some of the notable entries in the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards. This year, the contest drew nearly 320,000 entries from more than 200 countries. Winners will be announced on April 19. Here are a few of them. Go to the site to see more.

Click on each picture to see a larger image.


RIP Stephen Hawking.

From the New York Times:

Stephen W. Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, pondering the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe and becoming an emblem of human determination and curiosity, died early Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.

A university spokesman confirmed the death.

“Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world,” Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, said in an interview.

Dr. Hawking did that largely through his book “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” published in 1988. It has sold more than 10 million copies….

On a few topics, in his own words:

On Scientific Discovery: “I wouldn’t compare it to sex, but it lasts longer.”

On His Life’s Work: “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

On Black Holes: “They’re named black holes because they are related to human fears of being destroyed or gobbled up. I don’t have fears of being thrown into them. I understand them. I feel in a sense that I am their master.”

On Depression: “Black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up — there’s a way out.”

On His Physical Limitations: “I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.”

On God: “There is no god. I am an atheist.”

On Climate Change: “Climate change is one of the great dangers we face and it’s one we can prevent.”

On Knowledge: The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

One of Hawking’s long time collaborators paid tribute to him in these words:

What distinguished Stephen from the rest of our pack when I first met him, and ever since, was not his insane brilliance or his consummate knowledge of every last detail of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. It was his passion in the search for the truth. This helped keep him alive and in good spirits through unimaginable and unrelenting physical challenges. Einstein once said “Of all the communities available to us, there is not one I would want to devote myself to except for the society of the true seekers, which has very few living members at any one time.” Einstein would have counted Stephen as a member.

Andy Strominger

Speaking of scientific mysteries and discovery…

From CBS4 Denver:

Astronaut Scott Kelly set a record for the longest single spaceflight in history and now NASA is saying the trip made him a “new man” as well. A study of Kelly and his identical twin brother found that spending nearly a year in space significantly changed the astronaut’s DNA.

Kelly spent 340 straight days aboard the International Space Station from 2015 to 2016. When the NASA veteran returned to Earth, researchers immediately noted that he had grown two inches in height. A new study comparing Scott to his identical twin, Mark — who is also a NASA astronaut and stayed on Earth during the 340-day trip — has revealed that long-term space travel alters more than just your height.

“Scott’s telomeres (endcaps of chromosomes that shorten as one ages) actually became significantly longer in space,” NASA researchers wrote in a statement. The space agency added that Kelly had hundreds of “space genes” activated by the year-long flight which reportedly altered the astronaut’s “immune system, DNA repair, bone formation networks, hypoxia, and hypercapnia.”

While Scott Kelly’s height and 93 percent of his DNA returned to normal after returning to Earth, NASA confirmed that seven percent of his genes have remained changed and may stay that way. “This is thought to be from the stresses of space travel, which can cause changes in a cell’s biological pathways and ejection of DNA and RNA,” researchers added.

But then, there is this clarification.


Isn’t it way past time for this breakthrough?

Whatever happened to Jim Bakker’s theme park?

Can we get this guy a break for Easter or something?

Why can’t United Airlines seem to be able to deal with pets?

Can Christian foster parents legally refuse to teach about the Easter Bunny?

Did you know that in 25 U.S. states, there is no minimum age for marriage?

Again we ask: “What is evangelicalism?”

Would you go surfing here?

A surfer rides waves under snowfall on March 11, 2018, in Unstad, northern Norway, Lofoten islands, within the Arctic Circle. (OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Let’s end with one of the all-time greats from N. Ireland, Van Morrison.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and be careful if you’re planning a wild night.


  1. RIP, Stephen Hawking.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      One unlisted attribute: Hawking had a genuine and kind sense of humor. He was a very different guy than Tyson (and some others), who lack ‘playfulness’, for lack of a better term.

  2. Hawkins’s soul was as sick and twisted as his body. Even after they found the God Particle, he kept on being an athianist. Lets hope he repented before he died. (I read somewhere that he did.)

    • Where you see sick and twisted, I see a man with the tremendous faith to live fully despite an unimaginably hard lot in life, a lot that would’ve stopped most of us in our tracks from the outset. Let’s thank God for the gift he gave us in the genius and example of life well-lived in Stephen Hawking. As for the rest, our God is a God of love.

      • Robert, that was a more gracious response than I would’ve had, and more gracious than it deserved. Thank you for showing restraint, and being Christ-like here.

    • It is quite common to see sick and twisted souls inside the Church as well as in opposition to it.

      • Ronald Avra says

        Unfortunately, that is quite true, and after two thousand years we still have to patiently and thoughtfully deal with that issue.

      • That Other Jean says

        I don’t know that I’ve ever read that Stephen Hawking was “in opposition” to the church–he just didn’t believe in God. His choice. I assume that, if there is a god, he/she/it/they are forgiving enough to laugh and introduce themselves to Dr. Hawking.

        • I was speaking to Craig’s assumptions, not attempting to accurately describe Dr. Hawking.

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      I am very interested in this Athianism that you talk about. Is it a Christian sect, or perhaps an eastern religion? Do you have any links to Athian and what he (or she) taught, or can you tell me more about the faith? Also, who is this Hawkins you are talking about? He must be a terrible, evil man from what you are saying. Is this something to do with his Athianism? Is Athianism some kind of cult, or one of these religions that teaches that its followers should hate unbelievers and speak ill of them when they are dead? I am so glad that Christianity is nothing like that, aren’t you?
      On a separate note, it was bad news about Professor Stephen Hawking dying, wasn’t it? Even though an atheist he obviously had a great love for God’s creation and his fellow men which are the image of God, and I am sure that he rests in God’s peace now the veil is lifted and he sees God face to face.

      • Yes it is a cult in my opinion. And yet it is required to be taught in school.

        Hell is a Black Hole from which nothing escapes. As an astrologist Hawkins should have known that.

        • Iain Lovejoy says

          You think you are funny, but you are not.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Jesus Juke, Hellfire-and-Damnation sub-type…

          • Iain Lovejoy says

            I don’t think so. He’s having us on. You can’t tell from the original post, because even the genuine article are beyond satire, but there is no way doubling down on the Hawkins / Hawking thing after it’s been spotted, pretending not to notice the atheist / athianist joke and then sticking in an “astrologist” as a cherry on top is not someone doing the “ignorant fundie” act to wind people up deliberately.
            I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.

            • You think he’s a Poe?

              • Iain Lovejoy says

                Hawking / Hawkins and atheist / athianism are well known less literate fundie errors they get mocked for, and he’s stuck both in. This would still be plausible but if a genuine mistake it would be corrected in the reply, together with something self-justificatory. At the very least a real fundie have avoided repeating the error to try and avoid looking less stupid. And I really don’t buy the astronomer / astrologer one on top of all the others. He’s overdone it and given the game away.
                (And if nothing else, if he’s genuine, he’s not going to be able to come back and say “no, I really am genuinely that thick”.)

              • Poe, Poe, pitiful me
                Poe, Poe, pitiful me
                All these Poe’s won’t let me be
                Lord have mercy on me
                Woe is me

    • Why is it so dang hard to spell the word “atheist” correctly? I see it butchered all the time on this here internet. Even by atheists!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Lets hope he repented before he died. (I read somewhere that he did.)

      That story you “read somewhere” is also a common Christianese Urban Legend which gets applied to EVERY dead atheist or agnostic. Right up there with the one about Terrifying Glimpse of Hell just as they die. Both are a crow ot Triumphalism — “We’re RIGHT! You’re WRONG! SEE? SEE? SEE?” — and I’m sick of them both.

    • Your response is a common one. And it’s surprising to me how many people tell me I’m being sarcastic or joking when I say that I see that response often.

    • Dan from Georgia says

      I heard Satan became a Christian before he died.

  3. the smell of coffee
    in a bright highway rest stop
    revives weary souls

  4. About all the “what is ‘evangelicalism'” questions of late… I think the time has come to let the term go. The religious nationalists have it sewed up lock, stock, and barrel. Believers in Christ have gone by many names throughout church history – we find a new name for our time that is less of a stumbling block.

    • Ditto.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says


      Let go, move on.

      It letting go of a **WORD** is so very hard it is indicative of something else.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        And please please please – Words or not a history lesson. Nobody cares that in 1860 something meant something, BTW, pronunciation changes over time too.

        A word is defined by how it is used TODAY. Historical defense of any word is nothing more than a deflection from the actual conversation.

        • john barry says

          I think now the reason this is such an issue that according to CNN, MSNBC NYT and most media evangelical now l means someone who voted for Trump and says they go to church and live in a state where Trump won. They have one tooth and married their cousin. They believe Jesus loves them because the Bible tells them so and it may be the only song they know. They want a wall like they have in China but not built in China. Martin Luther could not be an evangelical , he was a foreigner.

          Would not be an issue if Trump had not won like it was not an issue n 2012 when Romney lost. Would the evangelicals got the credit for Romney if he won? 79% percent voted for Romney , Clinton lost 5% of the evangelical vote Obama got. .

          Evangelicals are part of the reason H. Clinton lost, it could not have been the issues, that is impossible. Now a days it is certainly not a compliment , it is like the word queer use to be, it must go and let the “evangelicals” decide what to call themselves or we could not use labels to describe a vast group with many different viewpoints, or we could use Clothed and Afraid.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            What always gets me is how so many white Evangelicals act like cult followers when it comes to Trump.

            Back in 2008, Obama attracted some pretty over-the-top scary fanboys, but some of these Trump fanboys are not only influential but SCARY.

        • That Other Jean says

          If you want to understand history, you have to know that “in 1860, something meant something,” or you will fall into the error of believing that the “something” meant then what it does today. For example, “gay” in 1900, meant light-hearted and carefree. That is not what it generally means today. Further back, in the Christmas carol, Deck the Halls, “Don we now our gay apparel. . .” gay meant colorful–also not what it generally means today. Words certainly are a history lesson.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            But reading or singing it with today’s meanings/baggage can get real hilarious…

            (Including the last stanza of the opening theme to The Flintstones…)

    • @Eeyore — Okay. When you come up with one, let me know.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Do we need one? Real conversation doesn’t need labels. Perhaps we should leave our religion to when we are in actual conversation?

        • That’s fine, I can drop the term; that’s easily done. But I’m not sure those we converse with will be ready to let go of the term, or even cognizant of the need to. I’m not sure I feel up to the task of being a missionary for the need to; that’s not so easily done. I’d have to take a pass on that one.

      • If I could do that, I would be much wider and holier than I am now.

    • The problem for “evangelicals” is that people are starting to let more than just the title go. More and more everyday. I hope sociologists and religious historians are paying attention as Christianity slowly but surely loses its position of cultural privilege in this country. What fascinating times in which to live! Rightly understood, no matter how painful, this is the best thing that could ever happen – to Christianity!

      • john barry says

        Stephen, nothing better for the world than the influence of Christianity in human endeavors. Would have been a lot easier historically. It would be like Richard Burton character in the Robe.

        • john barry says

          I messed up my own thought and I have precious few . It would have been a lot easier historically if they just minded their own business and had no influence. The world surely would be a better place without Christian influence for the past 2000 years. I am a good Christian, my wife blames me for everything..

          Still probably makes no sense but why let that stop me?

          • John,

            IMO Jesus changed everything by challenging our common assumptions about what it means to be Human. However, Christendom has been just the doubling-down on the old story of humanity–with Jasus syrup poured on top.

    • Christiane says

      nothing wrong with ‘Christians’ . . . . to replace the term ‘evangelical’

      but I heard a nice way of speaking about a missionary to China \\\\ in a movie starring Ingrid Bergman . . . she was called (sp?) ‘Jenai’ by the Chinese she helped, which meant ‘the one who loves people’

      What WAS the name of that film?

      Gosh, today if you don’t vote Republican, and you don’t support Trump and his ilk, and you don’t despise and reject people with gender issues, and you don’t despise and reject all Muslim people, and you aren’t ‘old Earth’ , , , , ad nauseum . . . . . then evangelicals who are of the fundamentalist persuasion will not accept you as a Christian.

      How did they get that way? Please someone explain this to me. Please!

      • Heather Angus says

        You’re probably joking about wanting an explanations, but it happens that I’m reading a book about that now. It’s by an old-style conservative, and it’s called “How the Right Lost Its Mind.” Interesting. y Charles Sykes.

        • john barry says

          You mean the anti Trump MSNBC otken old style conservative Charles Sykes wrote a book explaining why some people would vote for someone he does not agree with. Sound like a fair and balanced old style guy.

      • The movie may have been “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness” (1958), about British missionary Gladys Aylward.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Take this from the guy with 30 years around Furry Fandom:




  5. The Sony Awards Photo. pics are amazing. My fav is “Mammatus”.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I have seen cumulus mammatus only once, some 35 years ago.

      Since the phenomenon is associated with tornadoes (especially when the clouds spouting udders become a dingy earth color), I have no with to repeat that sighting. Those protuberances are wannabe tornado funnels which can’t quite form.

  6. 3 HURRAHS! to The Himalayan Cataract Project.

    • It is a great thing they are doing. But it did make me wonder what an American hospital would charge now that I know it can be done so cheaply.

    • Ronald Avra says

      Identified a serious need that could be simply and efficiently addressed, then went to work on it. That will serve many more people than flying humans to Mars.

      • I tend to agree although we spend very little actually on some imaginary trip to Mars. On the other hand we could stand to shed some of our bloated defense budget. Talk about a rat hole. They have so much money they can’t keep track of it.

    • That Other Jean says

      Hear! Hear!

      Hear! Hear!

  7. senecagriggs says

    Why did God invent Alcohol?

    So the Irish wouldn’t rule the world.

  8. Burro (Mule) says

    I am glad I don’t have to be a judge in the Sony Photography contest. All of those pictures are phenomenal, Congratulations to the photographers,

  9. Sadly, our president and his enablers took Andrew McCabe’s scalp yesterday. It’s a disgrace that a man who served his country for 20 years in law enforcement could be dishonored, maligned and disgraced on a “trumped-up” charge for not being a loyalist to the POTUS, but only loyal to the Constitution and rule of law. Political retaliation of the pettiest kind practiced by despots. Watch out America, it’s not going to end here. This is no time for silence or inaction, or becoming desensitized. Let your representatives know where you stand.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Heh. Law-and-Order voters are extremely selective about which Laws, and whose Order, is/are a matter of principle.

      Watching them pivot to harshing about how unreasonable and unfair law enforcement is can cause whiplash – just suggest the police actually enforce traffic laws [as Motorists murder more people in any given metro than other forms of violent crime – and most of the time they can just drive away].

      POTUS could lock-up 1/3 of all the police chiefs in the nation . . . A healthy share of Law-and-Order voters wouldn’t even blink: “it wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t guilty”.

      And there are Progressive Law-and-Order voters aplenty. It is an ‘interesting’ cohort; especially in a time of record-low levels of crime.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      Robert F: I believe CNN!

      Honestly, I have cable. I can hear this stuff 24×7 if I want to. I don’t know any more about McCabe’s firing than I do about the motives of the Las Vegas shooter or what Putin was up to when Skripal ate the potassium pill. The news feeds from everywhere more and more resemble a Rorschach blot that you project your own resentments onto.

      I know I do. (PS – I don’t believe Theresa May)

      Let’s keep them out of a brunch that didn’t even mention you-know-who.

      • Okay, I’ll keep off the politics. I wonder if others will, though, or if they’ll make snarky little political jabs in the midst of their comments about brunch items, as has become par for the course with some commenters.

        • Why stay off them? When more people start standing up to the tyrannical bully he can be stopped. Your comment was fine and appropriate.

          Likewise this morning’s comment from former CIA director Brennan responding to Trump’s morning tweet:
          John O. Brennan
          When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you. https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/974859881827258369

          5:00 AM – Mar 17, 2018

          • I understand and appreciate that many here are cynical about and sick of the new media, and the way they affect political discourse and thinking in our country. At the same time, some of these same commenters have sourced their criticism of the viability of the term and category “evangelical” in reports from the same media about the way evangelicals have gotten in bed with politics. It seems contradictory to me.

          • Christiane says

            Bravo to John Brennan!

            Alabama and Pennsylvania . . . bravo to you, too.

            I kid you not, this phrase was in a post over on SBCtoday, and it left me speechless and it turned my stomach:
            ” Tony Perkins, writing for the Family Research Council, stated,
            “For Nashville, who’s always counted the God-loving, gun-clinging ‘deplorables’ as its strongest base, this is a defining moment.
            Anyone who underestimates the buying power of patriotic America, especially after the last year-and-a-half, isn’t paying attention.
            If country music joins Hollywood in its open attack on faithful America – a faithful America mighty enough to send Donald Trump to the White House – they’re sealing their own fate.”

            well, I don’t think it was a ‘faithful’ American that sent Trump to the White House, no. It is SO nice to disagree with the likes of Tony Perkins. I must be one of them ‘liberals’. (?) No, I’m just me. Just me. No label fits quite right on me these days anymore. Just being ‘human’ takes all my strength.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Yep, it is all pretty much data-free. I dropped cable. And “news”, almost entirely. It improves Quality-of-Life; that all reminds me of a constant droning sound – mean to increase anxiety, and not much else.

        It is 2018, there are a myriad ways to know stuff; relevant and at least tangentially actionable stuff. “The media” is reduced to vapid pandering, IMNSHO, because they are – truly – obsolete.

        If I had a bumper I would get a “Just turn if off” bumper sticker.

        • john barry says

          Adam TW, I agree with your comments about NPR below and the lack of real facts or real “news” on the airwaves. It is time consuming and difficult to shift thought the different filters and get as Sgt. Friday use to say “just the facts”. The internet new pages and the various opinion sites are no better than Fox, CNN and all the rest. What do you go to just to find out the “facts” without a filter and make your own informed decision. I am having a hard time to find a trusted news source. lately I have become disenchanted with NPR also and I think it has changed and gone commercial. I am so tired of the talking heads who have to fill up a 24/7 news world. Also we live in a five minute sound bite world, due to the short attention span of most Americans and I think I am at the end of my five minutes.

          • Christiane says

            Hello J.B.

            Other than CNN, Wolf Blitzer’s ‘Situation Room’ works for me
            , I do find CNN generally very repetitive . . . .

            real news? well, here’s an idea:
            look at Saturday Night Live and work backwards from there to figure out the news stories that inspired the funniest skits.
            This is a lot more fun and informative than watching 24/7 news channels.

            Fox and MSNBC are extremists in ways, but I LOVE Rachel Maddow’s
            show . . . . . she connects the dots in a NEW way and it changes one’s perspective

            Did I say Fox was a joke?
            Not only that, but Trump watches it before making politicy. He never departs from the flattery paid openly only to him from Fox ‘news’ newscasters and commentators.. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump picked some of the Fox patronizers to become cabinet ministers,

      • Just for the record: I don’t watch CNN, although I’ll read a CNN article online on occasion, and I don’t watch TV more than 2 hours a week, on the TV that’s in the cafeteria at work. I will cop to listening to NPR on a regular basis, as I drive to and from work.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          Ugh, NPR. Yeah, I dropped them too.

          Last straw was 45 minutes of blather about some poll results, capped by a brief comment that the poll were known not to be predictive. This 45 minutes was after a hour long interview with a guest about how the science of polls is deeply questionable and that we should stop focusing on them so much.

          They are addicted to the poll oriented garbage with informs nobody of anything.

          • But they have great live music (Tiny Desk) and interviews!

          • But let me get this straight: you’re saying it would be better not to listen to the national news anymore?

            • Or read the national news?

            • flatrocker says

              Did Jesus?

              • No, but then Jesus didn’t use toilet paper either.

                • flatrocker says

                  So the national news and toilet paper are somehow related?

                  • Yeah, neither of them were available in first century Palestine. But there was news (otherwise no gospel/Good News), and backsides needed to be wiped. Just because Jesus didn’t have the option of doing something in his earthly life doesn’t mean we should not avail ourselves of the options we do have.

                    Now give me a real argument about why I shouldn’t pay attention to the national news, instead of one based on Jesus’ inability to watch TV, listen to radio, or read news articles online.

                    • flatrocker says

                      Oh, I thought it was simpler than that – we use the one to wipe the other with.
                      Thanks for the enlightened history lesson.

                      I would add, however, that first century Palestine was probably well aware of the national news – one just needed to look at the crosses on display or the military occupation to notice and report about it.

                      He didn’t protest the injustice. He didn’t travel to Rome to register a complaint. He didn’t organize the community with a call for civil disobedience And He didn’t sit and grind his teeth in futility. He was on to something else.

                      So we all can grind away each day listening to the national news. Have at it.
                      At least we have our Charmin ultra soft. It oughta come in handy.

                    • I get it. You are against using democratic freedoms to protest, advocate or organize against injustice, so no point in keeping apprised of national politics through media or anything else. That’s your understanding of Christianity, not mine.

                    • flatrocker says

                      What I’m intrigued by is what would it be like to not only be captivated by his words but also be equally amazed by what he did and how he did it. Allow us to expand our thinking beyond the obvious personal implications and apply this to the civic arena in our modern life. What would his methods look like? Not ours, but his?

                      And, I would add, resist the temptation to automatically assume he would be marching on Washington, DC to protest injustice. There is scant evidence of that possible response by our Lord.

                      Chesterton’s quote seems appropriate here –
                      “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

                    • flatrocker, I get your drift, but I have a question: Would you really think it more Christian to not defend yourself against a false criminal accusation in a court of law, because Jesus didn’t?

                    • And remember that Paul did not hesitate on several occasions in the New Testament to insist on having his rights as a Roman citizen respected and upheld. In my opinion, he was exercising true Christian liberty, not being imperfectly faithful to Jesus’s example or words.

                    • flatrocker says

                      I understand the difficulty and tension that our “real lives” present.
                      However, it’s a risky proposition to selectively apply his methods – good over there but not so good here. What we’re toying with sounds like we should imitate him but only within boundaries and practical limits. For as we know, what was good for him was good for him. But these are different times and they call for different responses. Sounds a little hollow to me.

                • Well he did but it was made out of papyrus. Ouch! The old time folks were a lot tougher than we are.

                  • That Other Jean says

                    The Romans favored sponges on sticks.

                    • john barry says

                      T O Jean, I think I ate one of the sponges on a stick the Romans favored at the State Fair, it was deep fried and did have an Italian flavor but not as good as the fried corndog and Oreo.

                    • jb,
                      You should try a sometime.

                    • john barry says

                      Robert F. I tried an a once but did not like it.

                      Thanks You are correct , I type faster than I think which I believe is impossible and also bad news for me. No one can mengle the langwich lyke mi. Bare with mi, I will git sum bettor..

                      My wife will not proof read as she says has a life, do not understand her but it is her fault.

                    • Dana Ames says

                      “The Romans favored sponges on sticks.”

                      Someone in one of my previous Protestant churches made a pilgrimage to Israel and took a picture of an excavated public toilet facility from the Roman days in one of the towns near Nazareth. He is a civil engineer, so was interested in the sanitation method. The toilet was completely open, a long row of “stalls” carved out of some rock, with a little niche behind each “seat” (one stone extension from the back for each haunch) for the sponge/stick assembly. There was running water through the facility, with the cement floor of each “stall” angled so the dirty stuff would flow into a little channel then away from the “stalls”. Yes, the Romans had cement, and built marvelous things with it. Slaves were responsible for making sure the sponges got cleaned off between each use, and for keeping the channel clear.

                      Since Crucifixion was meant to be the uttermost humiliation and degradation a person could undergo, perhaps it was one of those used sponge/stick assemblies that was the means of offering the Lord the “gall and vinegar” – perhaps a euphemism for urine. It’s not outside the realm of possibility, given how cruel we humans can be.


                    • Slaves were responsible for making sure the sponges got cleaned off between each use, and for keeping the channel clear.

                      We still have such a system in place, but we provide as little wages as we’re allowed to as well as a mandated 15 minute break.

                      Nothing changes.

                    • john barry says

                      Dana, Roman cement ifs one of the great marvels of the Roman Empire. I read that the slaves were also assigned to be seat warmers so the “elites” would go a warm seat .

                      I know now why my Dad told me not to take the spongy side of the stick.

                      SturatrB In the old days, pre interstate days, the Amoco and other gas stations kept their bathrooms locked and you had to ask for the key. It was usually on a big paddle or a big piece of wood. The reason they attached the key to the big piece of wood was to remind employees not to make a mistake and clean the bathroom, they were terrible. However I never saw a Roman sponge stick but I was given the bad end of the stick during my formative years..
                      They have a major campaign in India now to get the majority of people to use indoor plumbing but a lot think it is unsanitary .
                      The poorest American lives better than the old rulers of Rome. Also we can flush the toilet God Bless John Crapper , who gave his name to two everyday words.

          • To those who say that one should tune out the national news media, I want you to know that, though I disagree with you, Morrissey concurs.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      While all the Evangelicals chorus “AAAAAAAAA-MENNNNNNN!!!!” like those who’ve taken The Mark in a Bad Christian Apocalyptic flick.

    • Something tells me that when all is said and done getting dumped by Trump is going to look really good on your resume.

  10. Burro (Mule) says

    RE: The Jim Bakker update – For some reason having Bakker’s real estate in the hands of Rick Joyner is not comforting. Bakker may have been a con man, but Joyner is barking mad – David Icke level crazy.

    I’m glad that Jessica Hahn is happily married. She had expressed some concerns about this in the 90s.

  11. On this fiftieth anniversary of the My Lai Massacre, remember the heroism of Hugh Thompson, Jr.

  12. –> “Bakker’s vision, he told the leaders, included a roller coaster ride through ‘heaven and hell’…”

    Based on “It’s a Small World” at Disneyland, I would assume.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Any wagers on if the ride spent more time in hell than in heaven?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Wouldn’t surprise me.

        This whole thing sounds like the hybrid spawn of South Park & Jerry Springer.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I think Hambone’s Ark Experience has finally been topped in the Disney-fication of Faith department.

      I shall let memories of classic Dr Demento comment for me:

    • That Other Jean says

      A few minutes of Disney World’s “It’s a Small World” ride would certainly qualify for a short sojourn in Hell.

    • john barry says

      when my Granddaughter was 6 years I rode Its a Small World ride 6 times in a row with her . She was in heaven , loving he ride and I thought I was was in hell except I knew she was in heaven which was worth it for me. Now she is a grown woman I wish I would have gone on the ride 7 times but that’s life.

      When she was 16 and in Disneyland she asked me to go on the ride with her like we use to, I was touched and I am obviously a macho man so you never know how it is going to turn out. There is a song Little Things Mean a Lot and I have found that to be true.

      Hell to me would be watching the new Jim Bakker show and having to eat the survival food he sells.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        That’s become a running joke. I remember a small-press comic from a local guy.

        One strip was “We Go to Disneyland”, including It’s a Small World:
        Panel for IaSW — the females in the group are all gazing dewy-eyed and dreamy while all the males are puking over the side of the boat.

  13. So, if a couple spend an extended time in outer space, then get pregnant, their children are more likely to be the inheritors of genes that have mutated in a way not conducive to survival? I have to think that the random mutations that occur as the result of being in outer space are as likely to be non-adaptive as ones mutated randomly on earth (is that something like 99% non-adaptive?); the result would be severely disabled offspring being born from the couplings of astronauts who have spent much time deep space, no? What does that say to any hoped for colonizing of other planets by human beings?

    • Dana Ames says

      Yet another reason why we should not venture into space, Star Trek and the medical use of tools developed for the ’60s-’70s space program notwithstanding.

      Let’s put our money toward everyone on this planet having clean water to drink, and proper sanitation. That would go a long way toward solving other problems, as does the cataract surgery clinics.


      • Agree.

        • That Other Jean says

          Can we not do both? If we stopped piling up debt on useless/excessive/unworkable projects, we wouldn’t have to sacrifice space exploration. I’m not willing to give up things like communications satellites, teflon, and the large number of benefits the space program has given us.

          • Yes, do both, and instead have the billions spent in election campaigns go toward betterment of our world’s problems and our human condition!

            • That Other Jean says

              That would make so much sense–probably why neither political party will really get behind the idea.

          • It seems to me that unmanned missions are most cost effective, safest, and yield much technological innovation. Humans traveling through space and colonizing new planets is impracticable, far more expensive, extraordinarily dangerous, and on top of that this new report seems to indicate that it alters human genetics, which would be a bad, debilitating thing for offspring of space travelers that would have to colonize new worlds.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Translation: “MAN WAS NOT MEANT TO KNOW….”

        • Christiane says

          I was thinking about that ‘Man was not meant to know’ and I decided that if we are intelligent enough to ask really good questions,
          then there may be answers out there somewhere, just not available to us quite yet . . .

          I’d say a good measurement of intelligence is the ASKING of really good questions,
          rather than the fundamentalist’s ‘Know It All’ act OR the Gnostics ‘secret knowledge’ bull . . . . what say you?

        • @HUG — Limits, baby, limits. The Promethean dream that imagines a humanity without limits is hubris; humankind is defined by contingency and limits, just like every other created thing.

    • Or maybe they come back with superpowers.

      • I repeat: most genetic mutations result in non-adaptive changes to the organism, i.e., damage to it. Children born to parents with such mutations are likely not to survive. This presents a huge problem for the idea of human beings exploring and colonizing space, if such colonization means spending extensive periods of time in space to make the transit to new worlds. The first generations of offspring of those colonizing new worlds would have many serious birth defects, even if afterward the new planetary ecosystem protected the human gene pool the way ours does, which it might not necessarily do; the damage would already have been done in transit. It seems to me that humanity would have to master human genetic engineering before it could undertake such missions, to reverse and neutralize the damage that extended periods in outer space does to human genetic make-up; even then, it might be a very dicey affair.

  14. If Jesus spent time in hell, why would he ever send anyone there?

    • –> “If Jesus spent time in hell, why would he ever send anyone there?”

      A: “I don’t want to do it, but you’re making me.”

      All joking aside, it would seem very passive/aggressive, which is something I don’t see in Jesus’ nature. It also strikes me as kind of odd that the OT perception of God is one of a very passive/aggressive, almost vindictive, God. There’s nothing that causes more confusion in my understanding of God than that, leaving me to believe a lot of the OT texts were not really reflective of His nature, but more “flawed human interpretations” of His nature.

      I could be wrong, of course, but that’s the only way for me to reconcile it in my own mind.

      • The OT is more the revelation of who and what WE are. Jesus reveals the reality of his Father.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        And are we talking “Hell” as commonly envisioned today, or “Hades”, the Land of the Dead where once there, you STAY there in a weird not-life FOREVER?

    • *insert C S Lewis “thy will be done” quote here*