February 20, 2019

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: February 2, 2019

Icicles transforming the winter sky and trees on a brilliant sunny day. Photo by jaisril at Flickr

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: February 2, 2019

The cold grows colder, even as the days
grow longer, February’s mercury vapor light
buffing but not defrosting the bone-white
ground, crusty and treacherous underfoot.
This is the time of year that’s apt to put
a hammerlock on a healthy appetite,
old anxieties back into the night,
insomnia and nightmares into play;
when things in need of doing go undone
and things that can’t be undone come to call,
muttering recriminations at the door,
and buried ambitions rise up through the floor
and pin your wriggling shoulders to the wall;
and hope’s a reptile waiting for the sun.

“February” by Bill Christophersen

• • •

NOW THIS GUY IS COUNTER-CULTURAL…

I enjoyed the discussion-worthy article at Crosswalk about the pastor who refuses to have a cell phone. Not just a smart phone, mind you, but a cell phone of any kind. Tim Suttle interviews him, and I find his perspective refreshing and insightful.

Here are a few excerpts:

TS: Let’s start with the obvious question: why don’t you have a cell phone? Is this technophobia? Are you a Luddite? This has to be a philosophical objection, right?

GL: I do not suffer from technophobia. Truthfully I like the idea of a portable handheld computer. It is the phone that I find objectionable. My reasons have multiplied through the years but there are basically three.

First, I don’t think that level of connection is healthy for me, and possibly not for anyone. I fear a cell phone would place me on a tether which stretches out to hundreds of people who are making dozens of rash decisions a day. If only a fraction of those rash decisions involve expressing momentary negativity or asking for my immediate assistance with a crisis, I could be exposed to a hail of need/hate bullets for which I lack the emotional Kevlar….

…Second, by observation I now find that people with cell phones are present everywhere on the planet, except in the place where they actually are. People now talk to me (sort of) while carrying on a second (text) conversation with someone else, somewhere else.

…TS: What do you see in cell phone users that we can’t see in ourselves?

GL: You are part of a massive cultural phenomenon that has grown so much faster than any sort of good etiquette to regulate it. You are present to everyone in the world except for the people who are right there with you. You are on a leash.  If the cell phone rings you feel guilty for not picking it up immediately. If not guilty, you are at least anxious until you can get somewhere and look at that screen and see what it is you have missed. It’s been months since you did only one thing at a time in your own home. You are experiencing so much more anxiety.

TS: In your estimation, has this had a net positive effect on your life? What is the net effect?

GL: The effect on my life has been overwhelmingly positive. Before cell phones I was not considered a focused or warm and fuzzy person. But now the bar for what is considered focused has dropped so low that I am considered nearly super human  in what I can accomplish. The recouped time I have to spend on family and friendships also makes me appear to be relational and attentive by stark contrast to the surrounding culture.

• • •

“MOBBING” AMONG THE LUTHERANS?…

Jesse Bogan at the St. Louis Dispatch reports on purported institutional shenanigans known as “mobbing” in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS).

A controversial academic paper published online by a Lutheran scholar last week has the spirit of a Cold War spy novel. There’s intrigue, subterfuge and blackmail — except the accusations are leveled at the Kirkwood-based Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which has about 2 million baptized members in North America.

The Rev. Edward A. Engelbrecht, a former editor in St. Louis who leads an LCMS-affiliated church in Columbus, Ohio, claims sabotage and other tactics are part of an “institutional mobbing” strategy used by some church members to antagonize pastors within the large but shrinking denomination until they quit.

Engelbrecht cites Steven R. Vensel, who did a study of “mobbing” in American Protestant churches, for a definition:

Mobbing is defined as the prolonged malicious harassment of a coworker by a group of other members of an organization to secure the removal from the organization of the person who is targeted. . . . [It] results in the humiliation, devaluation, discrediting, degradation, loss of reputation and removal of the target through termination, extended medical leave, or quitting.

Tactics used include: withholding support from the Synod office, threatening false lawsuits, blacklisting, covertly gathering information and blackmailing, provoking outrage by intentionally teaching false things or mishandling sacraments in order to upset the target, using the call process to reward/punish, breeching confidentiality, corrupting congregational or denominational processes, stirring up gossip, and hacking electronic data.

Bogan also reports the LCMS response:

LCMS headquarters described Engelbrecht’s article “as misguided and melancholy musings,” “sadly bizarre” and “disconcerting because it attacks an entire church with no factual basis to do so.”

“The only potential truth we see in the article is that apparently Rev. Engelbrecht feels he has been the target of some type of personal bullying,” according to the statement. “What is put forth in this article concerning the Synod is simply false. There is no ‘machine,’ no ‘Main Nag,’ and no other fantastical evil conspirators within the church.

“We are a church body made up of sinners, every one of us, and we certainly have disagreements and differing views, as one would find in any organization. We know that all too often our sins cause pain and hurt in congregations, districts and the Synod. The only remedy is Jesus and His blood-bought forgiveness. That being said, the kind of widespread state of affairs described in this article is patently false.”

• • •

VEAL’S ICE TREE…

Not far from where we live, some folks whose family members we know have kept up a long tradition each winter. Since 1961 they have created a base “tree,” sometimes out of old Christmas trees, sometimes out of wood, brush, and twine. Then, when the weather brings five consecutive days of sub-30 degree temperatures, day and night, they position multiple hoses, fed by an irrigation pump from the pond, around the base. Ice forms on the foundation, limbs and brush are added, ice forms and then they repeat the process. Voila, their “ice tree” is formed and grows.

The tallest tree reached 80 feet in the winter of 2013-14.

HERE is the story about Veal’s Ice Tree, a 58 year tradition around here, from the Indianapolis Star.

• • •

THE GREAT MOOSE BATTLE OF 2019…

From BBC News:

Since 1984, residents of Moose Jaw have had one big thing about which they could boast: Mac the Moose.

The Canadian city was long the proud owner of the world’s tallest moose statue, a 9.75m (32-foot) steel-framed creature, covered with metal mesh and cement.

But a few years ago, a slightly taller moose statue was erected in Norway, beating Mac’s record by some 30cm.

Now, Moose Jaw has launched a campaign to reclaim the crown.

“We’re considered to be very mannerly and respectful, but there are things you just don’t do to Canadians,” Fraser Tolmie, mayor of the prairie town, told the BBC.

“You don’t mess with Mac the Moose.”

Norway’s Storelgen, or “Big Moose”, stands on a highway partway between Norway’s capital of Oslo and the city of Trondheim.

It was built in 2015 by artist Linda Bakke in partnership with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration in an effort to reduce traffic accidents.

According to an article that appeared in the Daily Scandinavian, Ms Bakke felt it was “important that the elk was made higher than Mac the Moose”.

Mr Tolmie was recently alerted to the loss of the crown by Saskatchewan YouTubers Justin and Greg, who posted a video in January urging the city to add 31cm to Mac or to rename the city simply “Jaw”.

The mayor said the city has since fielded a number of suggestions from residents on how to add to Mac’s height.

“There’s even been a suggestion about stilettos,” he said, but noted the most popular suggestion so far has been to “give Mac a bigger rack” of antlers.

• • •

PICS FROM AROUND THE MIDWEST DURING THE POLAR VORTEX…

Lo! now the direful monster, whose skin clings
To his strong bones, strides o’er the groaning rocks:
He withers all in silence, and in his hand
Unclothes the earth, and freezes up frail life.

• William Blake

“Sun Dogs”-Sioux Falls, SD. This phenomenon appears when sunlight refracts off of ice crystals in the atmosphere.

Minneapolis, MN

Crash near Rochester, MN

Port Washington, WI

Milwaukee, WI

Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL. A rare sight – the Chicago River frozen

Chicago, IL

Grand Haven, MI

• • •

WHAT CAME FIRST — THE BEAR OR THE BELLY BUTTON?

From the CBC:

There is finally an answer to a mystery that captivated Canadians this week.

CBC News successfully contacted the artist behind the snow bear that appeared this week on Montreal’s Lachine Canal, and asked her the question everyone is wondering about: How did the snow bear get its belly button?

The bear was wide — at about 12 feet — making the jump from the bear’s outline to its belly button almost impossible.

Hundreds of Canadians have sent in theories as to how the bear got its navel — and very few of them guessed the truth.

It was five snowballs, lobbed successfully into the middle of the bear.

A photo of the bear went viral this past week, leading to any number of theories as to how the belly button could possibly have been made. Amanda Arnold comments:

Hundreds of enthralled Canadians were quick to make their best guesses in the comments section and on social media, many of which journalist Kate McKenna judged based on credibility. A popular theory was that the creator made a very long leap, which McKenna thought was unlikely, as few “would be able to execute a jump so flawlessly without leaving any other marks in the snow.” Others guessed that the snow artist used a tool to make the indent — snowballs, a hockey stick, a broom, a drone, a fishing pole — though those hypotheses had their faults, too. One person even used some sort of weird computer app to prove their theory that a bird had made the belly button, which is my personal favorite, despite being completely bonkers.

Unfortunately, not only is the mystery over, but the bear has disappeared. It was destroyed by the wind about 24 hours later.

Then, adding a curmudgeonly postscript, a spokesperson for the Lachine Canal reminded Montrealers that walking on the canal is illegal in the winter because of safety concerns.

• • •

DISCUSS THIS…

As part of an article looking at trends regarding pastoral compensation, Matthew Bloom from Notre Dame’s “Wellbeing at Work” initiative said the following about clergy wellbeing. I thought it might be a good item for us to discuss around the Brunch table today. What do you think?

Being a pastor is much more difficult than it used to be. The ecosystem is not as conducive to flourishing: the demands are higher, the support systems are not as strong. As churches have seen their membership rolls drop, they have responded in ways that have sometimes been very detrimental to the well-being of clergy.

• • •

THIS WEEK IN MUSIC…

This is the time of year when I catch up on some of the best music of the previous year while I’m awaiting anticipated new releases. By The Way, I Forgive You by Brandi Carlile was one of 2018’s standout albums. It is up for a Grammy for album of the year, and the song we present today — “The Joke” — is a nominee for song of the year. It’s an anthemic tribute to the dignity and worth of each person, calling us all to endure to the “end of the movie,” when all will be revealed.

Comments

  1. It got down to 9 degrees here in DC the other night. Snowed two inches today. Go ahead and snicker if you want.

    Don’t get me started about cell phones but too late you already did.

    Scenario 1: In the restaurant the couple at the table next to me and my companion whip out the smarty phone and set it between them and watch some dumb TV show while they’re eating. At full volume of course.

    Scenario 2: A group at the table next to me in my favorite Chinese restaurant whip out their cell phone, makes the call , puts on the speaker phone and sets the contraption down in the middle of the table and proceeds to have a conversation that lasts for fifteen minutes. They all had a great time.

    Scenario 3: I sat at a lunch counter and listened to a guy instruct someone on how to reconfigure his hard drive over the cell in between scarfing down his BLT.

    One thing that is particularly disturbing is how smartphones are being used as pacifiers and babysitters. It’s perfectly understandable. Who wants to be trapped with an unruly child out in public? But there is something unnatural about a little kid sitting quietly, hypnotized by a smartphone. You have to wonder what that is doing to their little brains.

    My not quite facetious solution is to treat phones like cigarettes. Any place where it is inappropriate to smoke it should be inappropriate to use a cell phone.

    But this war has already been lost.

    ps: I own a smartphone and have even browsed the internet and watched Youtube on it. Like the man said, a wonderful servant but a terrible master.

  2. john barry says:

    Stephen, good comments and I agree, the war is lost. I also rage against the inevitable change that smart phones are producing when “googling: and you tube have replaced real learning experiences and all that entails. I cringe when I meet someone who prides themselves on their children being so “tech” savvy and smart however they struggle to carry on a normal conversation covering a broad spectrum., with almost no social grace and this is not limited to any age group. Honestly, there are few people, I really enjoy having a long conversation with and I think the internet/smart phone culture has a lot to do with it.
    I know many commenters here effectively know and use all the tools of the internet age but they are well rounded in their education and grounded in the basics. Even on the internet I can tell if people are using their education, their life experiences, their quest for expanding their knowledge and enjoying a good exchange of ideas. Well, I should state I Think I can tell and I do believe most commenters here would be enjoyable to actually talk to in person.
    I guess I am at heart a Luddite. I resent having a phone smarter than me . I was happy with “AOL” dial up and using an answering machine, which at one time was high tech.. I guess I am at heart, a Luddite.

    • I was happy with…. using an answering machine…

      Even answering machines sucked — I hate your Answering Machine.

    • Michael Z says:

      I’m one of the holdouts who is still using a flip-phone, in part because I’m pretty sure I would turn into one of those people who checks their smartphone all the time if I had one. (Also, it’s indestructible, and economical, and the batteries last about 3 weeks between charges!)

      But, I will say that among my particular friend group, people use smartphones pretty responsibly, e.g. I almost never see someone pull out a phone in the middle of a conversation to fiddle with it (unless they’re bringing out the phone to look something up to show to the other person, I guess).

      What I see more frequently is that the phone becomes a way to keep boredom or loneliness or isolation at bay – the moment you’re not feeling stimulated for two seconds, the phone comes out. What I also see is that if they’re in a situation where using a phone is not appropriate (e.g. in church, or in a conversation, or driving) people will immediately jump to their phones the moment that situation ends, like an addict who’s getting the shakes from going too long without their fix.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > I will say that among my particular friend group, people use
        > smartphones pretty responsibly

        Agree, the notion that there is not an etiquette around mobile devices, or at least an etiquette rapidly evolving, is false. Even mobile devices have acknowledged this – all current devices have a feature to only audibly ring for numbers in your address book, or even a subset of those. So, myself, and many people I know keep the phone on silent at almost all times; so that is my servant and not a master.

        No-Data-Day is also something someone calls when going out and about in the town; this restricts anyone in the crew from looking anything up.

        There will always be those without etiquette, as there always were. I suspect that varies based upon location and context; I cannot ever recall someone using speakerphone at a towny coffee shop. But I’ve seen it plenty at the places near the freeway exists – it’s likely a cultural adaptation, as is most etiquette.

    • That Other Jean says:

      “I guess I am at heart a Luddite.”

      You and me both, sir. I own a smart phone, because some people I know would rather text than talk. I don’t get that; but I will accommodate to it, if I must. Also, it’s rather nice to be able to tell the spouse to pick up something at the grocery store that we forgot to add to the list. But I have major trouble with people who are attached to their phones at all times when they aren’t asleep. I will never get used to people on the street, apparently talking to themselves, until you notice the buttons in their ears. They, and the people who stare at their phones while attempting to cross streets, are a menace to themselves and traffic, since they are apparently blind to their surroundings. Don’t get me started on people in movies and restaurants. Apparently, I am also a curmudgeon.

  3. Susan Dumbrell says:

    I wont get started on Australia’s weather at present, but I will, Heatwave, Bushfires, with Smoke inhalation problems over huge areas,Torrential floods in the wrong areas. Monsoon rains in Queensland which do not send rain to the south.I could go on.

    Google us. We are suffering too, but differently.

    Susan

    • Pellicano Solitudinis says:

      Fire, flood and drought, the great Australian trio.

      I always think its interesting that the ancient Near Eastern peoples thought of Hell as being a very hot place, while the Norse envisioned theirs as being very cold. I suppose we make Hell in the image of the things we know.

    • Christiane says:

      Hello Susan, good to hear from you, even if the news is dire

      I remember a summer we had ‘smoke’ for many weeks because there was a great swamp in the next state where the mosses and peat caught fire from a lightning storm and burned perpetually for what seemed like forever. You couldn’t go outside without noticing the smokey quality of the ‘fresh’ air. Grim times.

      Your weather ‘extremes’ and our weather ‘extremes’ are BOTH signs of global climate change, which may soon be irreversible, I fear.

      What was that last line in Chaplain Mike’s ‘song of the week’? ” It’s an anthemic tribute to the dignity and worth of each person, calling us all to endure to the “end of the movie,” when all will be revealed.”

      We live in interesting times. May God help us all. Stay in touch. Stay well. Stay well away from dangers in “natural” (?) climate change that now threaten Australia. Soon may the seasons change and bring relief for all of us, some respite from ‘extremes’ for a time, maybe.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I’m already hearing the “Point at the polar vortex freeze and sneer ‘GLOBAL WARMING?'”

        I have to keep silent because where I am “climate change” is Wrongthink.

        • john barry says:

          Headless U Guy, I thought perhaps wrongly you lived in California, a bastion of free speech and differing opinions.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            First of all “free speech and differing opinons” only if they agree 110% with those in power. And this is a One-Party State.

            And CA is the Bluest of Blue States, plus the Weird Religion Capital of the USA (and that includes “Secular Religions” who have Evolved Beyond Any Hint of God-talk). And a lot of those Blue State Secular Religions are in power, including Global Warming as Fundamentalist Ideology.

            The “Global Warming HOAX! GLOBAL WARMING SCAM!” is a growing underground pushback, as the burden of The War On Global Warming falls upon us Lowborn who cannot afford Carbon Credit Indulgences on top of a tax burden (“For Your Own Good”) higher than even Taxachusetts. Outside of the cities, it’s Trump Central, totally opposite of The Party Line.

            I’m currently stuck here by my job and medical insurance. I have 4-5 years to retirement and when I’m getting retire, I’m getting out to a Red State where prices and taxes are lower and I hear there’s something called freedom, something called America. Now to see if My Enlightened Betters have laws in place to confiscate all my nest egg when I flee….

  4. Being a pastor is much more difficult than it used to be. The ecosystem is not as conducive to flourishing: the demands are higher, the support systems are not as strong. As churches have seen their membership rolls drop, they have responded in ways that have sometimes been very detrimental to the well-being of clergy.

    AGREED

    • Christiane says:

      Hello Senecagriggs,

      I found this which I read and think may be VERY helpful for pastors who want to prevent ‘burnout’:

      https://www.churchleadership.com/leading-ideas/4-practices-help-prevent-clergy-burnout/

      These days, for a profession that ‘serves’ those who are troubled, it must also positively be pro-active in suggesting ways to cope with the impact of interacting with troubled people, because denying that the professional is un-affected is unrealistic . . .

      for ministers, who are often the FIRST RESPONDERS to profound suffering among their flock and among those who seek out their help, there has to be a reliable way to re-charge one’s batteries, so to speak, and I think that web site offers some good advice. Your thoughts?

  5. Dan from Georgia (formerly from MN) says:

    -56F at Cotton MN…twice.

    TWICE.

    During the cold outbreak.

    That was the air temperature mind you, not the wind chill.

    You’re welcome.

  6. Dan from Georgia says:

    When I look around at restaurants and walking around in public and I see that all-to-familiar glow on people’s faces, or with their arms in that familiar 60-degree bend (or is it 30 degrees bend?) with their cell phone in front of them, all the while looking down…makes me think that just maybe this pastor has a good point.

    • Patriciamc says:

      A frequent plot device is the cell phone poised on the bedside table waking characters at all hours. I refuse to do that or to always have my phone on the table in front of me. Unless I’m expecting a very important call (very rare), my phone stays where it belongs: in my purse. People can text me just fine, but it might be a few hourse before I respond. Also, at the university where I work, there’s definitely a generation divide between those who can ride the elevator without looking at their phone and those who can’t. I want to tell them that life is in front of them and not on a screen.

      But you’ll have to pry my iPad out of my cold, dead hands…

      • Dan from Georgia says:

        Good comment! I like where you said “life is in front of them and not on a screen.”

        What really drives me nuts is, here where I work people who walk down the hallways with their head, and hence their attention, buried in the phone. How’z ’bout saying “hi” to your fellow co-workers?

        I also like my iPad more than my iphone. My phone is for minimal texting and phone calls. I really REALLY don’t understand the need to have something like “Garage Band” on a phone. The iPad I understand, but on that small screen?!?!.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          What really drives me nuts is, here where I work people who walk down the hallways with their head, and hence their attention, buried in the phone. How’z ’bout saying “hi” to your fellow co-workers?

          Why say “Hi” when you can Text them “Hi!” with an Emoji?

          Nine months to the day someone uploads an app where you can have sex over (or with) a smartphone, the birth rate drops to ZERO.

        • Patriciamc says:

          Or they slowly walk down the sidewalk while texting, blocking it for others and then running into people. I deliberately didn’t move one day, and the girl looked startled when she almost ran into me.

          Exactly about the small screens.

      • As a sole proprietor doing customer service I have to be able to answer calls. But my default ring is vibrate only. So at night I can leave the ringer on and not be disturbed except by people where I’ve set the ring to be audible.

        During the day I have an Apple watch that’s basically a remote for my iPhone. iPhone set with ringer off and all sounds on the watch set off. Now if someone calls my wrist get a vibration.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And another way of outsourcing your brain to Social Media:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_O7aM0J3CI

  7. The associations of this feast with light is also where the hedgehogs come in. Christian cultures have usually never let the feasts of the Church stay within the Church itself, but have exported them to the house and farm. So it was that in Europe (particularly Germany) there arose a folk custom that on the Feast of the Presentation (also called “Candlemas” because candles were blessed on that day) that if a hedgehog [badgers in some areas] should come out of his burrow and see the light (and thus his shadow) he would return to his burrow because winter would last six more weeks.

    German immigrants brought this folk custom to America in the 1800’s. There being no hedgehogs in North America, the groundhog was drafted to take its place. Thus the secular calendar in America celebrates “Groundhog Day.” But only the faithful Christian knows and understands the secret of the Light that shines on February 2nd. Not the light of the sun, frightening a furry creature back into his hole, but the Light of Christ, which frightens all the evil powers that would do us harm.
    From Father Freeman. Happy Groundhog Day

    • Punxsutawney Phil says early Spring, while the local oracle around here, Octorara Orphie, says more Winter, or vice versa. And they’ll both be right.

  8. I read all of this on my cell phone lol

  9. black ice —
    just a little
    is enough

  10. I would have guessed a pole with something on the end of to stamp the belly button, I mean, 12 feet isn’t really that long of a span.

    Maybe, as they say, it was snowballs tossed into the middle. If anyone has that good an aim for five in a row.

    But it was probably space aliens.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Or DEMONS!!! if you’re into Spiritual Warfare.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        P.S. I’ve had a longstanding interest in what’s now generally called “fringe” and “paranormal” (i.e. “Weird Sh*t”). I often binge-watch paranormal story videos (usually from allegedly-true internet postings) on YouTube, and am getting good at spotting the Creepypastas (weird fiction) either mistaken for or passed off as fact. (And there’s a lot of them; the rules of Oral Tradition, Folk Mythology, and Urban Legends are all in effect.)

        Besides the usual Stupid YouTube Comments, there’s often continuing flamewars between True Believer Fringies and True Believer Skeptics, generating much heat but little light. Whether the subject is Cryptozoology, UFOlogy, Forteana, Ghosts, or just plain Oddity.

        I have also found an accompanying YouTube Law of Nature whenever these appear:

        The first five comments on such a video always include one in Christianese claiming “It’s All DEMONS! All Fallen Ones Come To Deceive Us!”, sprinkled through with chapter-and-verse zip codes (“SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!”) and ending with some form of altar call. And similar comments in Christianese continue through the reply threads.

        A sub-type of this I run across a lot when the subject touches upon UFOlogy and/or Cryptozoology is the claim that “Rebuking them in the Name of Jesus Christ” or “Calling Upon the Name of Jesus Christ” will Always stop/dispel an alien abduction or cryptid encounter.

        • Patriciamc says:

          LOL!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            That’s not the worst of it. YouTube comment thread vary from Stupid to Crazy, but the absolute CRAZIEST comment (one that had me sitting there “gopping” with my lower jaw on my chest like a snake swallowing) was one from a sub-type of Weird Sh*t called “Missing 411”.

            “Missing 411” is a sub-genre about Mystery Disappearances in National Parks and similar wilderness areas. By “Mystery” they mean disappearances that have very anomalous things about them, Fortean Phenomena, bodies found months later in areas that had been thoroughly searched, disappeared children found on top of high cliffs far away from their disappearance site with missing shoes, patterns of time, space, and clothing color, that sort of thing. True Believer explanations vary from Bigfoot to Aliens to Dimensional Portals to DEMONS, with attached elaborate Deep State Conspiracy Theories (Conspiracy within Conspiracy within Conspiracy within Conspiracy within Conspiracy) to explain why this has not hit the mainstream. Like a lot of such Fortean subjects, lotsa noise compared to the signal.

            But this one was really out there. On a Missing 411 comment thread, the following explanation: THE JEWS had tunneled underneath all our National Parks and wilderness areas, using these tunnels to snatch Goyish children for human sacrifice, their Goy blood and flesh baked into Matzoi for Passover.

            Yes, you heard that one right. The Blood Libel, straight out of classic rabid Jew hatred. I must have sat there with my mouth hanging open for ten minutes.

    • They could have done the belly buttons first. Then they only need to be consistent throws. Not highly accurate.

  11. Dan from Georgia says:

    That bear carved in the snow…

    I smell Photoshop.

    Or aliens.

    • Christiane says:

      Describe these aliens please. 🙂

        • Christiane says:

          no, no . . . . I think the culprit had to be one
          FIREMAN RANDEL PORTMAN, the hero super-powered prototype for (wait for it, wait for it):

          Liberty University’s fireman Prophet MARK TAYLOR who talks to God and tells all

          you cannot make this stuff up . . . . take a look at the link, and scroll down to super fireman Portman:
          https://www.scribd.com/document/36297164/Aberrant-Core-Rules

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            From ABERRANT, a Superhero Role-Playing Game,
            another Foolish Thing to Confound the Wise.

      • Dan from Georgia says:

        The green kind a la Robert F’s comment.

        Crop circles.

        • Christiane says:

          on second thought, THOSE aliens are a possibility . . . crop circle aliens, of course! 🙂

          • My aliens can time travel — what about your Super Fireman Portman, huh?

            • Christiane says:

              ‘fireman’ Porter is a mythological person in a story, but he ends up after a medical incident with special powers;

              now supposed, former fireman Mark Taylor, ended up with the ability to hear God talk to him and Mark Taylor was believed (?) (or used) by Liberty University to promote the Trump Prophecies in a film . . . as a serious on-going phenomenon

              I give you the fireman Randel Porter fantasy character as a possible ‘prototype’ that might have given Mark Taylor’s handlers the idea to set him up as a ‘prophet’ in the first place

              in short, ‘fireman Porter’ is a cartoon character;
              and now Mark Taylor is making a laughing stock out of Liberty University’s ‘president’ who made a film about the ‘prophet’ Mark Taylor while promoting President Trump and his agenda

              imagine a ‘fireman’ with special powers . . . fireman Mark Taylor’s situation resembles the cartoon ‘fireman’ Porter . . . . ‘inspiration’? . . . . imitation? . . . . . or just another con job on vulnerable impressionable people ? take your pick

              if you’ve been following Mark Taylor’s daily prophecies, you are probably already on to him as a phony;
              I think he is based on a cartoon character, a fantasy fireman with special powers . . . you can’t make this stuff up

              🙂

              • Liberty University’s “president” makes a laughing stock out of himself; he doesn’t need any help to do that. I was on to Taylor’s phoniness the first time I read about him. Taylor and Falwell, Jr.: two peas in a paranoid pod.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                Liberty University’s “president” is already a cartoon of himself.
                Ditto for the Heir of House Graham.

  12. Patriciamc says:

    No wonder the LCMS is experiencing toxicity. Looking at their beliefs and culture, they’re very restrictive and authoritative and very much “we’re right; everyone else is wrong.”

    • Dan from Georgia says:

      My limited engagement with those from the LCMS has yielded similar results unfortunately.

      • cheesehed says:

        I believe the author’s experience. The response from lCMS HQs: shameful but predictable.

  13. What bothers me is all the drivers taking calls, texting, taking pictures, and doing God-knows-what-else with their phones as they drive. You would think most people would have more sense than that, but many don’t. I’d be curious to see data linking increase in auto accidents over the last few years to use of phones in cars; I don’t see how there wouldn’t be such an increase.

    • Robert, I agree with you absolutely. Many accidents cause death and serious injuries. Why it’s not illegal everywhere just boggles the mind. If you need to talk while you drive please pull off to the side of the road. Peoples lives are at stake !!!

      • Even where it is illegal, people continue to do it. My state, PA, for instance. How anyone could think they can read and send texts while driving is completely beyond me.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Why do you think there’s such a push on for Self-Driving Cars?

    • It’s a hoax: Q says it, our president believes it, and that settles it.

      Greetings from Lancaster, PA, where the black ice is colder than the whiteout.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        No, the Christian bumper sticker goes:
        TRUMP TWEETED IT
        I BELIEVE IT
        THAT SETTLES IT!

        • senecagriggs says:

          Silly

        • Patriciamc says:

          LOL! Sadly true. I’m related to some of those people

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Eagle (in the blog list) has a regular Bible-spouting chapter-and-verse troll on his blog who is a Trump Fanatic (and I mean FANATIC). Just go to his blog and scroll for entries with 20+ comments to see said troll in action. I’ve got Eagle’s OK to counter-troll the F’er when he shows.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Lancaster, PA, home of the Pennsylvania State Railroad Museum and the Strasburg RR.

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