May 24, 2019

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: February 23, 2019

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: February 23, 2019

• • •

OUR LONG DARK NIGHT IS OVER…

Major League Baseball teams reported to Spring Training this week. Here are a few shots from Mesa, Arizona, where the Cubs train. Few things in life bring as much hope as the beginning of baseball…

• • •

BIG WEEKEND FOR THE UNITED METHODISTS…

Today is the day when the United Methodist Church meets for a special General Conference, where they will hold a critical vote on whether to ordain openly gay clergy and allow individual churches to conduct same-sex marriages.

At First Things, Dale M. Coulter outlines the three options being put before the UMC:

Last July, the Council of Bishops offered three possible plans for moving forward: the One Church Plan, the Connectional Conference Plan, and the Traditional Plan. The One Church Plan calls for removing language from the Book of Discipline that upholds traditional teaching on sexuality, and allowing individual churches and conferences to decide on the basis of conscience whether they will permit same-sex unions or homosexual bishops. The Connectional Conference Plan calls for completely reorganizing the regional conferences around shared beliefs rather than geography—in other words, creating traditionalist and progressive conferences and trying to hold them together. The Modified Traditional Plan calls for upholding the traditional teaching on sexuality and then offering an exit path for any local churches or conferences that disagree.

Even though the bishops offered three plans, most have come out in support of the One Church Plan, even creating a website to push it. They hope this plan will preserve the denomination’s unity by allowing individual churches and ministers the freedom to follow their own theological convictions. Most of the traditionalists urge adoption of the Modified Traditional Plan—traditionalists that include organizations like the Wesleyan Covenant Association and the Africa Initiative Group, which represents many African Methodists.

RNS tells of a prayer journey undertaken this week by Helen Ryde, who “began a 600-mile pilgrimage from the North Carolina mountains to the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis, site of the meeting. As she travels through Tennessee and Kentucky and Illinois, she planned to stop in dozens of United Methodist churches to say a prayer and pin an envelope containing her prayer to the door of each congregation.”

“Holy God,” her prayer read, “may every LGBTQ person who has ever been baptized, confirmed, attended or served this church know how fearfully and wonderfully made they are.”

A married lesbian, Ryde works as a regional organizer for the Reconciling Ministries Network, a group that encourages Methodists to embrace LGBT equality.

But the bigger issue is survival of the denomination itself. Dale Coulter sees an inevitable schism.

This is a war for the soul of the UMC. People on both sides feel strongly about their positions, and I don’t see how they can live together any longer. Progressive and traditionalist churches are pledging to leave if the outcome does not go the way they want. This includes significant churches like Mt. Horeb UMC in Lexington, South Carolina, the largest church in the state conference. The One Church Plan feels like a shotgun wedding when what is really needed is for both sides to walk away. The recent history of the TEC, ELCA, and the PCUSA on this same question suggests that the best way to avoid either a scorched-earth campaign or a slow death with a steady stream of churches departing is to agree to separate amicably.

• • •

I’M SORRY, I HAVE TO LAUGH…

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett staged a racist, anti-gay attack on himself because he was unhappy about his salary and wanted to promote his career, Chicago’s police superintendent said Thursday. (NBC News Chicago)

Ever since this happened, there has been a hot and heavy firestorm about the supposed assault on Jussie Smollett in Chicago. Folks on the left immediately latched on to the idea that the actor was a victim of a hate crime motivated by racism and homophobia. Folks on the right immediately blamed the “left-wing media” of blowing the story all out of proportion and using it to further their radical agenda of identity politics.

And guess what? Now we find out that none of this was actually about racism, homophobia, or any political agenda. AT ALL!

This was an example of PURE CAPITALISM.

This was about an actor using his talent in a devious way to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes so that he could make a few more bucks and get a little more fame for himself. This was an all-American story of greed and self-aggrandizement. This was about a guy marketing himself, taking advantage of the spirit of the age, to climb the success ladder. We may be liberals, conservatives, or moderates, but together, in this great land, it’s all about buying and selling when it comes right down to it.

Come on, America. A hand for the entrepreneur!

It was a good old fashioned grift. And a lot of us fell for it.

Cue the timely P.T. Barnum quote.

• • •

OSCARS, ANYONE?

Tomorrow night is the Oscars. I can’t remember a year when I was less invested in the Motion Picture Academy Awards. In fact, the last time we even went to the movies was two Christmases ago. It seems I get less and less interested with each passing year. Not sure why, but part of it is probably just due to the season of life we’re in. Add to that the variety and content available on our TV screen at home, and I guess I’ve become a going-to-the-movies dropout.

What about you? Here is a list of some of major categories up for awards this year. Any favorites?

BEST PICTURE

Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Roma
A Star Is Born
Vice

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

• • •

R.I.P. PETER TORK OF THE MONKEES…

By Probyn Gregory at the Washington Post:


It may be difficult to imagine now, but there was a time in the 1960s when a pop band, in a single year, outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined — and not even a real band at that. Really, the group was four strangers thrown together on a TV show about a band all living in an imaginary group house. Both the band and the show — the Monkees — were instantly and wildly popular among a certain set of American kids.

Those kids are now in late middle age (or older), and that band is finally going home. In 2012, lead singer Davy Jones, at 66 years old, was the first to die ; on Thursday, 77-year-old Peter Tork died from a rare form of cancer. Along with Mike Nesmith, Tork was one of the two real musicians in the quartet. (Stephen Stills had recommended Tork for the role after being passed over for being too snaggle-toothed.) The other two Monkees — Jones and drummer Micky Dolenz — were actors.

The most technically skilled in the group, Tork had trained classically and played guitar, banjo and French horn and was particularly talented on keyboards, though he was best known on the TV show as the band’s bassist. Nesmith has been quoted as saying that Tork, not himself, should have been the band’s main guitarist.

…How to explain the Monkees’ unlikely staying power, their stalwart presence on oldies radio? I think many baby boomers, obviously, found them accessible and relatable, certainly unthreatening. But more importantly, Tork once said the band had real chemistry — not just any four young men could have done what they did. I think there was a sense of vindication they shared among themselves that critics had turned up their noses at the supposed ineptitude of the Prefab Four and were proved wrong — in which case, all among us who are judged and found to have come up short still have a chance.

Most of all, there are the sounds of those hits, pristine in their peculiar moment, which when matched to those particular voices, still succeed. They form a part of the soundtrack of many baby boomers’ lives, a validation of their memories, making believers of us all.

Comments

  1. The Smollett attempt to stage a hate crime was a calculated , planned operation that could have caused major problems and disruption to this country. This was not a man out just to get a raise even though that was a part of it. Smollett is a high profile anti Trump activist with an agenda and political motive.

    The initial coverage of the Smollett story again shows the unprofessional behavior and bias that the main stream media bring into their reporting of events. Smollett knew he could count on a friendly and uncritical reporting by the media of his “story”.

    This is how close we as a country came to having this crime cause the country major upheaval. Smollett planned and picked his location for the “attack” based on the location of the security cameras. He even had a run though with the 2 guys to get it right. Here is the fortunate turn of events for those who want the truth. Smollett did not know he picked a camera that faced north and his staged attacked was made south or behind the overhead camera. Smollett knew the “video” of his “attack” would be released and would show the ski mask, red hat wearing, noose carrying MAGA yelling guys attacking the innocent and lovable Smollett who just went out to get 12 inches of Subway. Smollett was deeply mortified and probably in shock when the police told him the video camera did not pick up his “attack”. That is when he knew is story would fall apart and he tried to do some damage control at the beginning.

    View the interview he did on Good Morning America when he , not the interviewer brought up the terrible fact that the camera was facing the “wrong” way and as luck would have it no video. If only they had the video was his lament. The video if he had been in front of the street camera would have changed everything. Even if all the rest of the story came out, if the video had been released quickly showing the fake attack , people and many in the media would still be spinning the attack as the “truth” and we would have another Ferguson type debate. Smollett absolutely knew the majority of the press would believe his story without doing their job as objective reporters of events. He almost got away with it.

    Couple that with the fake letter , he sent to Fox it is evident this was not a hoax but a serious attempt to gain profit from committing two crimes. Smollett should absolutely stand trial for both offenses and if found guilty, which he certainly is, should go to jail. This is necessary to stop the reporting of fake crimes, staged crimes and people trying to fan the fire of social ills.

    The public cannot allow the press to spin the story into a story of drug abuse, homosexual rights, gay bashing, a cry for help etc. and all the rest of the nonsense that is going to be used as defense . The media will try to help but there is just to much evidence and history to overcome in this case. If only he had been in front of the street camera , he would have probably gotten away with it.

    Smollett needs to be held accountable for his dangerous, selfish, stupid and harmful attempt to gain from lying and promote his own agenda. The noose was for his close friend Kamala Harris, pushing her anti lynching law and he narrated a documentary about, what else , lynching. This is shameful beyond belief and he should be given the max sentence when found guilty.

    The press should do some serious soul searching but they will not. Smollett was really counting on getting this on the video tape but fate was on the side of the truth that night. Great ad for Subway, that anyone would go out for a sub at -23 and still bring it home after a brutal attack. Smollett , racist, arrogant and stupid.

    Watch the media start to spin it now to help out the Russian Jussie. That is why the Nigerian Americans attacked him,, maybe that is the story. Anyway , Trump supporter would not attack Jussie, he is Russian and they love Russians.

    • senecagriggs says

      Jussie Smollett tweet from the past:

      “Shut the hell up you bitch ass nigga. You will continue to run this country further into the ground and risk lives every time you breathe. You’re not the president. Just a dumpster full of hate. FOH. Sick to my stomach that literal shit currently represents America to the world.”
      __________

      “Dumpster full of hate”, ah the irony

    • IMHO, everyone’s taking Jussie Smollett far too seriously. It says so much more about us and our hysteria these days, as well as this horrible bad habit we’ve developed of rushing to judgment. He played us, plain and simple. For money and fame. But he couldn’t have done it if we didn’t take ourselves and our opinions so damn seriously. I think this provides a great moment to look in the mirror and tell that sour looking person so filled with indignation to chill out and laugh at yourself for being such an easy mark.

      • But CM, Smollett hurt the claims of victims of actual hate-crimes, of which there are more than a few these days, with his stunt. It was no harmless lark. It’s no laughing matter to those victims that he made it that much more difficult for them to be taken seriously.

        • “He made it that much more difficult for them to be taken seriously.”

          No he didn’t. Only if we look at things from within a tribalistic perspective where everything proves our own point of view.

          Something has got to change.

          We cannot ever hope to live and flourish and truly help others if we maintain such hair-trigger indignation.

          • I disagree completely. Smollett has harmed people with his lies, and they will have a harmful effect in the future as well as the present.

            • Only because we keep talking about it ad nauseum and stressing our tribalistic points over and over and over and over…

              I, for one, will listen to no more news reports about this clown. Let the justice system deal with him and let’s move on. Maybe then we can focus on some better approaches to serious matters.

              • Agreed — I never heard of the clown before, and I’m willing to forget about him and his name entirely now. But senecagrigg, john barry, and great numbers of people all over the internet and the country intend to exploit this hoax ad infinitum to advance their political agenda. They will be saying, “But Jussie Smollett” every time a hate-crime is reported in the media the way they say, “But Hillary” every time they want to deflect from the POTUS words and actions now. They won’t let us forget.

                • Robert is right. Case in point, senecagriggs has a blog (Wartburg-whiners) that is dedicated to discrediting the good work that The Wartburg Watch has done in advocating for abuse victims within the church at large.

                  • Absolutely, & every time Jimmy (Seneca) commented there, it was in a way that deliberately ignored victims, highlighting instead topics such as the right of a paedophile coming home from a prison sentence to live in a house that was legally his, even though that meant his victims would see him every day, have him live amongst them, & be re-victmised. His ‘legal’ right trumped their moral right & need for him to sell the house & move away from his victims.
                    It is always, ALWAYS, the Law over the Spirit for him, no matter how anti-love that is, & how many people get hurt. He will milk this story for all it is worth to dehumanise those he disagrees with. Sad but true.

          • Although I agree that we need to not be trigger happy, I think that is a different issue from the question of the real negative consequences of Smollett’s hoax for real victims of hate-crime.

            • thatotherjean says

              Let’s not forget that by reporting a fake hate crime, Jussie Smollett also wasted the time and money of the Chicago Police Department, which has serious crimes to deal with. I’m not quite sure where Chaplain Mike gets the idea that liberals instantly bought into Smollett’s story. A couple of high-profile Democratic candidates had an instant (and wrong) opinion about it, but nearly all of the people I’ve heard from found it fishy from the get-go. Why would Trump supporters be lurking around a Chicago street at 2am in the middle of a polar vortex, looking for someone to assault? Why would Smollett still be wearing a noose around his neck when the police arrived, nearly an hour later? None of it made much sense, and it was greeted with appropriate skepticism. It’s a shame that Smollett’s stunt will mean that actual victims may find it harder to be believed.

              • Not to blow my own horn, but I am an example of a liberal who didn’t buy into the Smollett hoax. On first reading, it didn’t pass the stink test for me. As for the talking heads, liberal and conservative, nobody’s gonna stop them from talking, editorializing, and drawing premature conclusions — nobody.

                • Robert F. It was not the “talking” heads not the Hannity, Rachel Maddow, Don Lemon, Tucker Carlson types that are the problem. We know what they are. They serve a purpose but they are not news reporters. Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer and opinion maker not a reporter and if you listen to him for the “news” than good luck but he is great at what he does.

                  Look at the initial coverage of the major news media from the beginning of the Smollett crime. His story was taken at face value, the “interview” was a softball enabling him to tell his story with no challenge. If a good hearted , liberal like you had “doubts” about the story do you think that the true news outlets should have more objective? To this day they have missed the camera angle portion of the story. If the video would have been produced Jussie would be given cover and believed.

                  Compare the slanted coverage of Jussie real crime to the media, I am talking the real news, not the talking heads talking about the Convington kids. Based on their race, religion, political views as expressed by their hats they will given a press beat down until the “real” news could not be held back.

                  Last week a UC, Berkley, student was beaten by a liberal thug for trying to sign people up for his conservative club. Be objective, if this was a conservative much less a Trump supporter, who attacked a liberal for trying to register socialist voters and the video was the exact same, what would the press do with it and how much press coverage would it get.
                  I am refereeing to the video of a thug physically attacking a smaller student for having a different political opinion. It should be easy to find on google. We know if this was a Trump supporter doing the same thing it would be a breaking news story for a long time with much “panel” discussion and we know who would be at fault.

                  Jussie should go to jail and be forgotten but the absolute collapse of our fourth estate , which is vital to our freedom and government is a , perhaps the major story.

                  If the 3 knuckle heads in Va. were Republican do you think it would have been a 2 day story and now not even covered by the media. Not even the Me Too movement can crack the news moat of protection by non reporting by the media to protect those they agree with.

                  Watch the storyline change in Jussie story or watch it drop from the headlines. What happened to the noble Nathan Lane, who was the darling of the press until the truth could not be ignored or the black racist groups verbally attacking the Covington kids.

                  This is a time to have the media look objectively at their coverage. We have to have a free, objective, unbiased in reporting and professional press in the USA for the system to work. We are losing that. That is part of the “plan” in my opinion.. Jussie , the Russian was not a part of the plan, he was just going to use it to his personal and political advantage.

                  • I don’t see the story dropping from the news. And it seems to me a lot of what you’re saying about it is highly subjective and interpreted, by you, limited to your selective intake of the info and coverage. I don’t see the collapse of our Fourth Estate; that’s your interpretation.

                  • Why hasn’t the story of Paul Hasson, the White supremacist Coast Guard officer who was plotting mass murder of liberals, been thoroughly covered and prominent in the main stream media, John? How does that fit with your liberal bias theory?

                    • Robert F. Watch CNN, Fox, etc., Hasson story is being reported, goggle and look at the coverage, it will be the subject of many a “panel” talking head round table and it will come back to its Trump fault. Right now there is not that much to go on with real reporting on Hanson as it is ongoing investigation but it is getting widespread coverage. Again, from what I have read so far this nut idiot was doing his nut job writing and research at his Coast Guard work desk. Now that is news, that he was so stupid but good for us he was an incompetent nut.

                      Of course any statement other than absolute fact is subject to interpretation. That is the purpose of discussion and debate. George Washington was the first President of the USA is the fact, that he was our greatest President is my interpretation.

                      If you read my “interpretations” I tried to back them up with reported facts and issues. Were the Covington kids initial news media coverage accurate, unbiased and fair? Not if you look at the sequence of events. That is my interpretation of course but it is based on something more than my “gut” feeling.

                      Have you seen any media coverage of the thug attacking the small conservative guy at Berkley. Again , what if that was a MAGA hat wearing guy doing the same thing. Really, think it would not be news. Berkley was the birth place of “free speech” in the great 1960’s. Wow it is actually anti free speech, who did that happen. Not too much “alleged” description in the initial coverage of Jussie coverage just presented as fact. Easy to check out.

                      About the coverage given to the women with excellent professional achievements and backgrounds and achievements. Their witness and documented statements against the Lt. Gov. of Va. is being ignored to a large extent. Why? If true the about the initial reporting of Labor Sec. Acosta then he should be fired unless there is more to the story than I know so far. We need the press to be reporter of facts not feelings or political slant. This is the issue Jussie the Russian brought to the front burner.

              • Some (perhaps small, or maybe not so small) number of people will not report experienced hate-crime for fear of police and media skepticism, just as rape victims have traditionally been reluctant to report their own experiences.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        IMHO, everyone’s taking Jussie Smollett far too seriously.

        Of course everyone will.
        He’s a *CELEBRITY*!!!!!

  2. I’d never heard of Smollett before this fiasco. When I read the story a couple weeks (?) ago, I was immediately suspicious of it — too much stereotype was playing out in it, too perfectly, in too unlikely a way, and that final detail about how he fought the attackers off after they had put a noose around his neck — really? So I wasn’t surprised when last week it was revealed to be a hoax. Smollett exploited and worsened the polarization in this country. False accusations are always wrong, but in this context they are worse than usual. Smollett should be ashamed, and prosecuted for his crime.

    What should we take away from this? Certainly not that hate crimes never actually happen, or that we don’t live in a situation in which they have come to the fore in a big way over the last years. White supremacist hate-mongers have planned and/or executed numerous high-profile hate crimes in the last couple years. Just this last week a White supremacist Coast Guard officer was apprehended as he made plans to mass murder liberal journalists, politicians, and celebrities (you know, the Enemies of the People and purveyors of so-called Fake News, according to the man holding the highest office in the land), and there was no hoax involved in that. Smollett set-up a narrative that was easy for many in the media and public to believe, because it’s themes have played out again and again in real, not hoax, events; and it’s hard to see how that story could’ve been punctured any faster by the media than it was by a thorough and expeditious police investigation. It is a good thing to step back and wait for the full story to unfold whenever we feel our political triggers being pulled by any current news event; don’t rush to judgment. But one false report of a hate-crime, or even a dozen, does not neutralize the many more authentic ones we’ve seen play out recently. Smollett deserves condemnation for his lies, and also for providing cover for those who would use his hoax to deny what is really happening in our country.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > I’d never heard of Smollett before this fiasco . . .

      Ditto/Same. I had to look up who he was.

    • With his actions Smollett has made it harder for the hundreds of people every month who really are the victims of racist or homophobic or transphobic violence. Every time they report it, their chances of being taken seriously have been reduced by a fraction. The attackers are a little more likely to get away with it, and repeat their violence on another victim. That is real tragedy here.

      • Agree. That is the greatest disservice Smollett has done.

      • A worse fraud is the one Mark Harris perpetrated against the voters of North Carolina, but I don’t see criminal charges being filed against him. He stole votes, and tried to steal the election. And he’s a man of the cloth, a Protestant pastor; he has no excuses. He should face criminal charges as surely as Smollett.

        • That man should be jailed. But, he probably “wouldn’t do well in prison”, so let’s slap him on the wrist, make him serve a few weeks, but let him out between 9-5 so his lifestyle is not negatively impacted. He’s white, and not a Democrat, after all.

          We are so, so corrupt. So should have jailed Nixon and Reagan when we had the chance.

    • Robert F. What should we take away from this? We should take away the main point I was trying to make in my comments. The biased, compliant press who do not do the basic job of reporting the “news” but inject their opinion, bias and political viewpoint into the reporting of an incident. Jussie counted on that to support his poorly planned crime. If I call Jussie , stupid is that a “hate” crime. If Trump was a black, female, homosexual he would use that as a shield against the hate directed toward him.

      No, the greatest disservice that Smollett has done is not that he has “hurt” the reporting of hate crimes but he has shown now complex the issue is and how it can be exploited. Examples already are the conflating of other crimes and actions into hate crimes. The reporting and tracking of hate crimes is fluid and in my opinion hard to factual track. Is language a hate crime. Is attacking a political foe a hate crime? Even I digress, but the press will cover them selves and move on.

      However let us stick to Smollett, he knew and it proved to be true the press would take his “story” and run with it. The camera placement did him in. Watch the “true” news morph the story into issues cited above as Jussie tries the drugs made me do it, gay rights, gay bashing and of course bringing Trump into the issue as of course he encouraged Jussie to take this action out of fear. Flip Wilson years ago had a comedy skit “the devil made me do it” whenever he got caught doing something. Now Flip could do a “Trump made me do” it skit as the true press does.

      Going to hear a lot of “this might not have happened” to Jussie but “it could have happened”, so lets talk about what could have happened instead of what did happen and expand the crime committed by Jussie. And you know it is coming, the Coast Guard nut is only a nut because of Trump, no Trump , no Coast Guard nut.
      .

      Jussie almost played the nation with the help of the Press, they are sorry he got caught as it was a story too good to be true.

      • “..they are sorry he got caught”, and you are happy — I don’t see the difference. And I don’t know enough about the unfolding of the case to know if the media were in a position to uncover what the police could by investigation; do you? But whatever the case may be with regard to the biases and failings of the so-called MSM, if you want the takeaway to be that we should not believe accusations of hate-crime just because they are reported in the “liberal” media, that is ridiculous, and it’s not going to happen. Hate-crimes occur, they are occurring more than a five years ago, and there are political and social factors that have fed the increased trend.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          “..they are sorry he got caught”, and you are happy — I don’t see the difference.

          I do:
          Which polarity of Trump Derangement Syndrome is in play.
          WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

      • What do you make of the White supremacist Coast Guard officer who was planning mass-murder against liberal media, political, and celebrity figures (the same groups our POTUS calls the Enemies of the People)? Do you believe that this story fits your idea that the “reporting and tracking of hate crimes is fluid and in my opinion hard to factual track” ? The fact is, you’re just opposed to the category of hate-crime, and want such reporting to disappear so that you can be comfortable inside the idea of an America that has no real problems with racism, except in the imaginations of Blacks/people of color, and liberals.

      • And right on cue you come along and use the Smollet story to downplay the existence of actual real hate crimes.

      • Someone who has been a hawker for Trump, despite his well documented moral, ethical, and social indecency, has little room to cast stones. But I’m sure that won’t stop you.

  3. ” It is a good thing to step back and wait for the full story to unfold whenever we feel our political triggers being pulled by any current news event; don’t rush to judgment.”

    Good Morning Robert F.

    yes, good advice

    This coming week promises to begin revelations of those things that have kept closed to the public for a long time.
    And we can begin to ‘connect the dots’ a little better in the light of these coming revelations, yes.

    I’m wanting most to know THIS:
    ‘why did they all lie?’
    (and if you don’t understand what I mean by this question, well, we all will understand soon hopefully)

    Poor Jussie must not be very bright . . . when law enforcement questions people formally, most often, law enforcement already has incriminating evidence and is wanting to see if a suspect is telling lies . . . . Jussie reminds one of the Tawana Brawley incident and the fuss that whole thing raised and the harm it did to the cause of justice for many people on the margins who may have a real case that needs to be heard without prejudice. . . .

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Poor Jussie must not be very bright . . .

      “Poor Jussie” is a *CELEBRITY(TM)*.
      And demonstrated *CELEBRITY(TM)* IQ in staging his Publicity Stunt:
      * He hired his two accomplices to fake the assault through Social Media, leaving a BIG trail.
      * He paid them off by CHECK. EASILY TRACEABLE.
      Was he auditioning for the next season of America’s Dumbest Criminals or what?

      Jussie reminds one of the Tawana Brawley incident and the fuss that whole thing raised and the harm it did to the cause of justice for many people on the margins who may have a real case that needs to be heard without prejudice. . . .

      I heard the Chicago PD press conference live on morning drive-time.
      Chi-town’s Top Cop said pretty much the same thing, and he did NOT sound happy.

    • well, there IS a long and bitter history of injustice towards many marginalized peoples, and we can turn away from this history, or we can embrace it, understand it, mourn it, and BEGIN to attempt some kind of justice for people who have no voice, no one, and nothing in this world to help them . . . . If not now, when????

      Jussie messed up and he added to the prejudice of those who tolerated injustice in the past. That is HIS legacy.

      The injustice? How bad can it get? Take a look:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIsovWTejRc

      • 90 pounds, 5 foot 2 inches, fourteen years old . . . . he carried a bible into the execution chamber . . . they used the bible for him to sit on because he was too small for the electric chair

        2 and one-half hour trial, the scion of a wealthy family later made a death-bed confession that HE had actually been the murderer

        the wealthy family was in on choosing Stinney as the ‘guilty’ murderer . . .

        Stinney’s family did not attend the trial or the execution BECAUSE the town told them if they didn’t leave town immediately, they would be lynched

        the family got to attend the funeral: open casket showing the innocent boy’s badly burned body

        So, I think Jussie did wrong. And I think there is a legacy of injustice in this country that was bolstered by Jussie’s selfish actions, sure.

        May God have mercy.

        • It has been less than a hundred years since this injustice was perpetrated, not ages and ages ago as some would have us think it; but such deep wounds are not healed by time alone in any case. May light perpetual shine on George Stinney, and may God have mercy on his murderers’ souls.

  4. Christian Bale!

    Wow. I’ve seen the movie trailers and my goodness, impressive his adaptation to the character..

    I loved his performance in one of my favorite films of all time: ‘The New World’ by the director Terrence Mallick

    Here’s a photo of him in that character:
    https://c8.alamy.com/comp/BPNYRX/christian-bale-qorianka-kilcher-the-new-world-2005-BPNYRX.jpg

    to contrast that photo of him ‘in character’ to his new role as Cheney, here’s a look at Bale in character:
    https://movies-b26f.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/christian-bale-vice-01-600×350-770×470.jpg

    miracle? no, eight hours in the make-up chair every morning before filming

    Maybe they could give the make-up artist an Oscar? Maybe they will. 🙂

  5. All I can say is, if the *Episcopalians* couldn’t compromise their way out of splitting, the Methodists don’t have a chance. :-/

    The ball, of course, is in the conservatives’ court. Given current political and social tensions, how willing to compromise will they possibly be?

    • Why exactly is the ball in the conservatives court? They aren’t the ones pushing for change. This whole thing is because of the liberals who keep pushing the issue. I read a note the UMC put out saying they are dealing with this because the issue hasn’t been “settled”. But it was settled about twenty years ago when they decided to stick with a traditional Christian understanding about sex and marriage. The fact is until one side leaves the issue won’t be settled, and even then, I’m sure it can come back up.

      • It’s in their court because it’s their decision to stay or go. If they win, they will likely expel the moderates. If they lose, they will likely exile themselves.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      The Episcopalians have a long tradition of schism. Look up the Reformed Episcopal Church. They tend to wring their hands over it more than others, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do it. The pattern is always the same. Some elements of the church body are doing something some other, more conservative element doesn’t like. The more conservative element concludes that it can’t have a sign out front similar to the sign out front of those Other People’s churches, so they leave. The purity cycle often then hits the splinter group, causing it to further schism. Repeat as needed.

      So look, for example, at American Lutheranism. The ELCA is the dirty hippie group, and by far the largest. LCMS looks down their noses at the ELCA as impure, and is about half the size of the ELCA. WELS similarly looks down at LCMS, and is about a quarter the size of the LCMS. You can keep going, working your way through ever-smaller bodies until you end up with a single church somewhere in North Dakota, surrounding itself with trenches and barbed wire.

    • Frankly, as a United Methodist, if you aren’t United Methodist, please shut the *&^% up and keep your noses out of our business. This discontent has been pushed by the IRD (sponsored by the Koch Brothers) and the folks who brought us the John Birch Society. These folks have been ticked off since FDR and have been systematically working to discredit and destroy the mainlines and their social justice ministries. The United Methodists are the last domino standing.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        These folks have been ticked off since FDR and have been systematically working to discredit and destroy the mainlines and their social justice ministries.

        Until all that’s left are the Born-Again Bible-Believers with their SCRIPTURE(TM) and MAGA hats.

  6. Yes, the Monkees were part of my elementary school sound track. RIP Mr. Tork.

    • The songs were cute, and catchy, like any good commercial jingle. They shared that pop music skill with many early Beatles songs. The Monkees were musical fluff, making the kind of sounds that float away on the slight breeze of a warm summer day. Nothing wrong with that, nothing especially noteworthy either.

      RIP Peter Tork.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > Nothing wrong with that

        +1

      • thatotherjean says

        Musical fluff, indeed–but highly memorable. I have been known to sing “I’m a Believer” to my cat, now and then. Nothing wrong with that.

      • Some of the songs were cute and catchy; some were better and more serious music. You could find both kinds in the Brill Building in NYC, the denizens of which wrote a lot of those Monkee hits, esp the early ones: Neil Sedaka, Carole King, Boyce & Hart – some of the best songwriters of their era.

        Yes, I loved the Monkees. They were more approachable for me at the age I was (late elementary school) than the Beatles, and even more so the Stones. Though I liked the music of the soundtrack of my youth, I really didn’t appreciate most of the bands and what they produced until I reached my 40s.

        My favorite Monkee has always been Peter. May God grant him rest.

        Dana

    • For some reason I had believed that all four were basically actors. Then last night I watched a live, solo YouTube video of Tork playing Pleasant Valley Sunday and I suspected he didn’t just pick up that skill after the fact. (Look for the words “The Encore” with the song title.)

      • Apparently Tork was the only one of the four going into the Monkees who was musically talented and skilled from the get-go.

        • I have to admit , I have loved Daydream Believer from day one. I remember Mickey Dolan from Circus Boy series on early TV. Daydream Believer is my go to song when I am alone in the car with the windows rolled up. Last Train to Clarksville up there with William Tell Overture aka Lone Ranger theme. Monkees will be like the Brady Bunch and Love Boat, better in memories than reality but I can find peace of mind, singing Daydream Believer. That added joy to the 60’s like my beloved Barbara Eden and Edie Adams cigar tv ads.

          Plus Tork Mom invented White Out for typing mistake which was a great trivia fact when people knew what a typewriter was and the need for White Out. What a great time to be alive, at least that is my interpretation.

  7. Adam Tauno Williams says

    I guess I only saw one movie this year [Black Panther, it was fun].

    The pickings have been slim; I have no interest in seeing any of the other movies on that list.

    But now the dirty dogs are building a new movie theater that will be ~7 minutes away, on the line that stops at the corner of my block. And it has a bar in the theater. And a lounge with a roof-top deck. Truth is, I will probably see more movies – – – speaking in terms of “capitalism” [really, this is about Markets not Capitalism… ] they will win off me by making it so easy; vs. finding some way out and back to the dreary shopping mall district to drink fountain soda.

    A nice roof top lounge in the late evening in Midwest spring and autumn. Sounds great right now.

  8. I wish the Methodists well. It seems fracturing of the denomination is almost a foregone conclusion of this big meet. I’m Protestant, and likely will remain so, but I admit that such fracturing is inherent in Protestantism. Sectarianism and ecclesial atomization (in the direction of “independent churches”, mega or not) are the only other options once you decide that visible and institutional unity are not sine qua non for the Church.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > foregone conclusion

      Agree, again. This issue is the Theological Kobayashi Maru,

      The “So long and thanks for all the fish” time has come for the UMC.

      > fracturing is inherent in Protestantism

      In increasingly wonder if Protestantism is fracturing . . . . or if it never was a whole? They accumulated like sediment in a current, and now that the current has changed they will be dispersed like sediment.

      • For my part, I wonder if fracturing is inherent to Christianity, the germs of it rooted in Christianity’s apocalypticism, and first historically manifested in its institutional separation from Judaism.

        • I think fracturing is inherent to religion, because it’s practiced and organized by humans. Islam has Sunni, Shia and Sufi divisions and those are just broad categories which, themselves, encompass numerous smaller sects. Ditto for Judaism, Buddhism, etc.

          • Yes, that’s true, I suppose. To their credit, the Buddhist sutras at various point assert that not only will there be a falling away from the Buddha’s dharma, the path of enlightenment, in the latter part of the age, but this is entirely as it should be, that all things change, and that even the teaching is not permanent but subject to alteration. No permanent teacher, no permanent identity, no permanent Buddha-nature, no permanent teaching. I’m not sure any other world religion has faced the starkness of this truth as it bears out in our experience, and not in despair or mere equanimity, but as an affirmation to be embraced and practiced. Nirvana is samsara: the phenomenal and experiential world of flux and change, just as it is, is the world of non-attachment and suffering’s cessation.

            • The Roman Catholic Church, unlike Protestantism, has managed its fractures, by pasting them over as theological and doctrinal development under the umbrella of a continuous institution, with no small amount of co-opting of what would have otherwise been fracturing religious movements within the Church. But the fractures, changes, and reverses are there for the unbiased observer and investigator to see.

              • I look at the first centuries of the Church, and I see the ancient ‘heresies’ being addressed by the Councils as the Councils worked to define the Creeds . . . I’m not so sure that all the ‘divisions’ that threatened the early Church did not make the Church stronger in those days. . . .

                loved it when St. Francis came to reform the Church as his words were received with respect and with love and did, for a while, make a difference then;
                and in many quarters of Christianity, St. Francis still is a welcomed voice

    • Protestantism split the day there were two Protestants.

  9. I too have left most movies over the years. One set has action more computer than real. Another set has badly written scripts. But, I streamed “A Star Is Born” last night. It was intense, bringing out deep emotions. It was simple, well written, and well directed. And it reinforced my belief that Lady Gaga has the best voice in pop music.

    • “Lady Gaga has the best voice in pop music.”

      True this! It’s too bad that Stephanie’s early theatrics overshadowed her voice and made people not want to listen to her. She got my attention when she did the duet album with Tony Bennett. Straight music, classic songs, no theatrics. Wow, did her voice shine…

      Dana

  10. I just realized how much I have changed in the past 15 years since I left the circus. Then, same sex marriage was a hill to die on for me, now I don’t even think about it.

    • Hello Allen,

      would you mind sharing why you ‘left the circus’ in the first place? If you don’t want to, I’d understand that, too.

      • Christiane, thank you for asking. It has been so long now, in some ways it is a distant memory and in some ways it was like yesterday. I first left the fundamentalist circus after events mostly beyond my control caused me to lose everything, resulting in questioning everything I believed about justice and rewards. For several years I tried the more modern branch of the circus. This branch is called by many names, using phrases like “God has a plan for your life”, “hopeful expectations”, and “Purpose driven life”. I still experienced an emptiness deep in my heart and soul, as I never could find God’s plan for my life.

        I still don’t have any answers, but I found a place to rest. I take communion in a mainline Lutheran church, but my readings are all based on Eastern Orthodox concepts of energy/essence distinction. It is bit of an awkward mix, but I no longer endlessly search for more.

        • Hello Allen,

          thank you for responding

          I’m glad you’ve found a kind of ‘peace’ . . . . there is nothing wrong with people ‘searching for more’, and sometimes I wonder if they are ‘running from’ as much as they are ‘running towards’ . . . to find the peace of Christ is a blessed thing, like finding a resting place after a long journey

          “Not all those who wander are lost”
          (J.R.R. Tolkien)

  11. If I had something to say about baseball I would say it.

    • lol

      The only thing I would say is “there are so many other better sports out there to follow as well as play”

  12. this morning’s fog
    bears no memory or trace
    of yesterday’s snow

  13. UMC, it’s really quite simple. On one side, you can focus on Jesus and what he taught to do for others. On the other side, you can focus on dogma developed by white males who used a deity to reinforce their cultural and personal mores.

    Listen to the Spirit and choose wisely. Because if you choose poorly, you’re dead, like so many other denominations, and just don’t know it yet.

    • Evangelical-fundamentalists who sign on for warrior duty with the Culture Wars NEED to read this from sacred Scripture, just so they know how God sees them in their self-righteousness as they fingerpoint in their contempt for ‘the others’

      “The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (from Ch. 18, the Holy Gospel of St. Luke)

      9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

      13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

      14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.””

      It doesn’t get much more clear than this Gospel testimony, no.

    • Oh yes, the ever present ever evil “white males”. The ironic thing is that many of those who are most opposed to the changes being pushed are Africans who are trying to be faithful to what Jesus and the apostles actually taught and the church has until recently always believed regarding marriage. And many of those pushing for the change are white males who are following the winds of our western culture rather than seeking to be faithful to Christ. But that is a nice straw man you and Christiane have built there.

      • “But that is a nice straw man you and Christiane have built there.”

        with a little help from St. Luke 🙂

  14. senecagriggs says

    Actually, the debate is about the authority of Scripture. Scripture has never meshed well with the culture.

    • The debate is about interpretation, of Scripture and of the Spirit of Christ as if informs the Church. Scripture was birthed in and grew in a culture.

      • Correction: …the Spirit of Christ as it informs the Church…

        • “‘The Church is, in a phrase used by the Fathers, “THE PLACE WHERE THE SPIRIT FLOURISHES” ‘

      • Burro (Mule) says

        When the Culture issue comes up, I always remember what CS Lewis said about paying especial attention to the Culture into which Christ came. If that culture was patriarchal, non-scientific, and profoundly inegalitarian , etc, well Jesus could have come in our culture if He wanted.

        The Scriptures do say “in the fullness of time”, which doesn’t appear to have included modern concepts of democracy, feminism, gender ‘fluidity’, or even the abolition of chattel slavery.

        • “..in the fullness of time” could easily mean that Christ came at an apogee of religious and political corruption. If your last sentence is to be blindly applied, then we would have to say that Christ’s coming when he did somehow signaled approbation of legal infanticide and killing of amputees as well. The fact is, we don’t know what it means to say that Christ came “in the fullness of time” because we don’t know God’s mind, and God’s values and way of keeping time do not overlap completely with our own, to say the least. If Lewis meant what you think he did, then he was wrong on this matter, as he was in others.

        • My understanding is that Jesus came exactly when the world, including the Jewish people and Romans, were in their worst condition, and the world was in its worst need. Isn’t that a far more natural reading of the Biblical/New Testament narrative arc? Why would that mean God did not consider the sociopolitical condition of first century Palestine especially bad? Just the opposite.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says

          Wow. I think this is the most perfect statement of confirmation bias I have ever seen. Mule, a good look in the mirror is advised…

        • Jesus came into a patriarchal and unequal society… and proceeded to turn those cultural norms on their heads. Chapter and verse is available upon request.

      • senecagriggs says

        The difference between Evangelical thought and liberal progressive thought.
        ________

        Episcopal Church – “Nice book.”

        SBC – the very Word of God.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I have seen Christ thrown under the bus to put “The Very Word Of God(TM)) on the Throne.

          I have been on the receiving end of the Weaponized WORD OF GAWD. Chapter and Verse.

          • . . . . they know not what they do

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              During my time in-country, there was this One-Upmanship shtick (and maybe tribal recognition code/loyalty test) that went:

              Hold up Bible, ask question “What Is This?”
              The only correct answer was “THE WORD OF GOD!”
              If given the wrong response, the Bible-holding questioner would correct you with “THE WORD OF GOD!!!!!”, sometimes shaking the Bible in your face.

        • Clay Crouch says

          When it comes to the Episcopal Church, you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • Classic historical Christianity: Jesus is the very Word of God & here is the book that pays witness to Him.

        • SBC – the very Word of God.

          Which is why the wine in the Bible did not have alcohol in it. Right?

    • The *Gospel* has never meshed well with culture. Scripture, on the other hand… well, slaveowners had plenty of verses at hand to back them up.

      • Yes. Slave-culture loved parts of Scripture, and read it with the “literal” eye.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          They still do.
          Remember that Jerk with his Kirk in Moscow, Idaho and his Southern Slavery as It Was?

      • senecagriggs says

        Nice try guys – but a miss

        The Methodist are arguing over the authority of Scripture; have no doubt.

        It’s what the Southern Baptist argued over.
        It’s what the Episcopalians have argued over.
        It’s what the Christian Church has argued over.

        THE SBC was actually the first major denomination to reverse the flow from liberal theology to conservative theology.

        • You can’t over the authority of Scripture, without arguing over interpretation. It’s impossible to debate the one without debating the other. I know you don’t get it, but that’s how it is.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            There is no “Interpretation”.
            There is Only The Plain Reading of SCRIPTURE(TM)!

            Like how the Demon Locusts of Revelation are PLAINLY Helicopter Gunships with Chemical Weapon “Stingers” piloted by Long-Haired Bearded Hippies.

            After being on the receiving end of that and similar, you start getting skeptical about Plain Meaning. Especially when you see many contradictory “Plain Meanings” of the same Chapter and Verse going “DIE, HERETIC!” to each other. Either God has the worst case of Multiple Personality Schizo in history or these guys with their Plain Meaning are full of it.

          • Iain Lovejoy says

            Scripture™ doesn’t mean the Bible, it means those bits of the Bible that the person speaking has ripped out of the Bible and reinterpreted to support whatever their personal prejudices are.

        • Their switch to emphsizing conservative theology was just paint, white wash to disguise the core of rot at the center of the denomination. Name a scandal, the SBC’s been there. The stereotype of the hypocritical Baptist exists for a reason. Once agin, the SBC proves my observation that those who scream the loudest about how holy they are, or how they’re the only ones who take scripture seriously, are always, always, always the biggest sinners.

  15. This is the first year I have not see ANY of the best picture nominees. I’m not sure I can draw any conclusions from that. It was not a conscious decision.

    The best movies I saw in 2018 were THE ENDLESS, a quirky low budget Sci-Fi flick about a couple of brothers who were raised as kids in a UFO cult and escaped. The younger brother decides he wants to go back and his older brother accompanies him although he is much less enthusiastic. This movie is proof that imagination makes a big budget unnecessary.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reMwL8uYXps

    and, FIRST REFORMED, which features a stunning performance from Ethan Hawke as a minister undergoing a “crisis of faith”. The movie is flawed and I thought the choice at the end was over the top but how many movies even begin to ask these questions?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCF5Y8dQpR4

    and, NICO 1988, a biopic of the last tour of the German singer, ex-model. A middle aged rocker coming to terms with her past. A brilliant performance.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38RBdHtWkWo

  16. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Celebrity makes news, to our detriment. As the Smollett story came out, Christopher Paul Hasson was arrested for planning terrorism – with a whole cache of weapons, a hit list, and drugs. Having previously expressed admiration of Brevik, and voicing White Supremacist views, he barely makes a blip on the news.

    If he was famous, or not white, or Muslim, it would have beem different.

    Is it the media’s fault? Or is it ours – because the media reports what sells, what brings clicks or viewing figures.

    We have met the enemy, and they are us.

  17. senecagriggs says

    Ironically, one of the arguments here today is actually about the authority of Scripture – just like the Methodists and all other denominations sooner or later.

    The argument first reared its head in Genesis when the serpent asked Eve,
    “3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘DID GOD REALLY SAY ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
    _______

    It’s always about the authority of Scripture, “Did God really say.”

    • David Cornwell says

      Bull. It goes to the authority of the one teaching about scripture, be it the Pope, a local Southern Baptist pastor, or whoever. You missed your calling. You could have been the final arbiter in all matters relating to scripture. You’d be famous, have a TV show, and write books. In many cases there really isn’t a “plain teaching.”

    • Nice way of casting those who disagree with you as agents of Satan. But we’re not having it here; peddle that nonsense somewhere else.

  18. “You have heard it said… but I say to you…”

    I believe those were Jesus’ own words, regarding His contradictions of the OT Law.

    Not all Scripture is equal, or you’d still be sacrificing cows in Jerusalem today.

  19. David Cornwell says

    Smollett: I never heard of him until the controversy. For some reason I don’t even care. It doesn’t interest me. Period.

    But I do care about the UMC. I was born to a Methodist family, always attended Methodist Churches, was baptized and confirmed in a Methodist Church. For many years I was a UMC pastor. When the evangelical renewal movement began in the church, I admired a lot of its work. I even went to one of its conferences many years ago. I liked a lot of the leaders, their fervor, and their dedication to evangelical principles.

    But they forgot a couple of things. One is this: the UMC has always been a diverse church populated by all kinds of people. I began to see some conservatives write off Christians who looked at things a slightly different way. They weren’t really “saved.” When I was young I went to a fairly liberal Methodist seminary for a year. I found out that some of the most dedicated Christians I’d ever met were not as conservative theologically. I remained basically a conservative for many years after this. But I’ve always valued the friends I made the the outlook I was made aware of.

    Later the evangelical wing of the church became active in the culture wars. And certain members of this coalition would attack anyone who differed with them as being “unbiblical.” But I noticed that there are many “plain teachings of scripture.” Nothing is that plain!

    Also I’ve met many gay persons, claiming to follow Jesus, who are more loving than many fundamentalists. They have learned some hard lessons in life and taken some hard blows from fellow Christians.

    I left the UMC at about the same time I left the Methodist ministry. But in my heart I’ll always be a Methodist, the church of my childhood and teens. The church where I was nourished, taught, made friends, and learned to love several pastors. It gives me great pain to think that in all these years these two groups haven’t found a way to come together. And I may be wrong — but I place most of the blame on the evangelical coalition who have been divisive in action, mean in words, and unloving toward those who are different.

    • David I grew up in a rural Georgia Cotton Mill town in a SBC Church that was so hardcore that we didn’t think Methodists were saved. It was a natural thing the way I was raised to pursue a career in some area of the ministry so I went to Southern Seminary in Louisville just in time to have a front row seat when the SBC, which has always consisted of the most conservative church bodies imaginable, was saved from “liberalism” by some of these same divisive, mean and unloving folks you speak of.