October 22, 2020

Open Forum: July 2019

Open Forum: July 2019

I have had a busy week as our hospice organization is going through some changes, which involve extra training and transitions, so I haven’t had time to put together my Friday post on Romans. We’ll catch up next week.

Today, we’ll let you choose what you want to discuss. As with all our Open Forum conversations, we just ask that you keep things civil and respectful.

Have a great Friday.


  1. Christiane says

    I promise to be civil, yes.

    Today I came across another complaint from a trumpist about a person making comparisons between trumpism and the Nazis. He felt very strongly that it was unfair and misleading and over-the-top. So I gave him this:

    We now know that it is the policy of trumpism’s camps to over-crowd the cells, sometimes to ‘standing room only’ which has caused much discomfort, as well as the fact that people must sleep ‘standing up’, and the lights are kept on 24/7.

    But it is known also that in the planning of Auschwitz camp that the barracks were designed to be over-crowded so that ‘suffering was built into the design’ from the get-go by the architect Bischoff. We know this because he himself, in his own handwriting on the plans, increased the number of prisoners assigned to each barracks from 500 plus to over 700 plus. So ‘overcrowding’ was one of the ‘features’ of the most famous of all of the Nazi camps, over-crowding to cause suffering, to foster disease, all designed purposely to torment the innocent.

    It is my opinion that what is ‘old’ is back again, with a vengeance. And although the ‘comparisons’ will be denied, I think, if I am aware of the truth of some part of them, that I must speak, even if no one listens. I must speak.

    • Oops. I wrote a response to you but forgot to attach it to your post.

    • Robert F says

      Christiane, An American born citizen, Francisco Galicia, was detained by US Border Patrol and held in an ICE detention center for 23 days. He has now been released and is speaking about the inhumane conditions he was held in during that period, only allowed to shower once, 70 detainees sharing one small area and only one toilet, insufficient nutrition, intentional cruelty inflicted by guards, not allowed to see his lawyer or make a phone call. He is confirming what you said in your comment. It is very clear that the cruelty is a feature, not a bug of the administration’s policy.

    • This is a standard rhetorical technique. We all agree that the Nazis were the worst thing ever. Therefore any comparison to the Nazis can be denounced as over the top and inappropriate and just plain mean. This is a deflection technique, avoiding discussing the substance of the matter. Similarly with racism. During the 2008 presidential campaign there was some guy who gave backhanded praise to Obama for marrying a black woman rather than miscegenating. This guy was an open racist, but he was honest about it. I had more respect for him than for the hordes using thinly coded language, then reaching for their smelling salts if anyone called them out on it.

    • Christiane, how do we know this? Here is my problem, people have become so polarized these days, including and especially the news media, that I don’t really trust them. I’ve seen people lie too much on both sides to say that I believe either one. Some people claim to have gone and the conditions are horrible. Others have gone and claim that the conditions are not good, but not as horrible as reported, and simply the result of the system being overwhelmed. Whose telling the truth? How can I know? About the only way I could know is either to go myself (don’t have the time or money) or for someone I actually know and trust to go and tell me. So I don’t like to hear that people are being purposely mistreated, but at the same time, I’m not sure I believe that they actually are.

      • You have to make a determination on who you are going to trust. Is someone’s account colored by their bias? How many other accounts corroborate a story? What about official reports and (I hate to even say it) Tweets?

        In a world like we live in, finding the truth is a learned skill – and takes a bit of elbow grease. And most people are just fine with getting their news pre-packaged and ideologically approved.

    • Trump is not a Nazi. He’s not even a fascist. What he is, is a good old fashioned American huckster. Our system breeds these folks like flies or mosquitoes. But we should remember that incompetence and stupidity can cause great damage too. His constituency bought a pig in a poke. Maybe out of fear and desperation. A sense that the world is changing and they’re being left behind. (And maybe it is and maybe they are.)

      • Richard Hershberger says

        Yes, he is a huckster. Under different circumstances he would use a different grift. But under the circumstances we in fact face, he is acting as an authoritarian (a word chosen to minimize the pearl-clutching) and he is actively facilitating authoritarians. So yes, while deep down he is merely a huckster, in practice this is a distinction without a difference.

      • Rick Ro. says

        What makes him different from your normal huckster and perhaps propelling him toward Hitler territory…

        1) He’s incredibly powerful.
        2) He doesn’t seem to have much of a conscience when it comes to certain things. Call it “selective morality.”
        3) He’s a narcissist the Nth degree, with an almost super-power-like ability to disregard for other thoughts and opinions, and a super-power-like ability to react to every offence with exponential vehemence.
        4) He’s got lots of money.
        5) He’s got fan-boys out the whazoo.

        Other than that, yeah, just your typical huckster…LOL.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          5.1) And a lot of those “fan-boys out the wazoo” (often the most fanatical) are Evangelical Christians.

          Trump is basically a bombastic autocratic jerk boss who hit the big time. (My writing partner described it as “he’s New York City all the way — loud, rude, crude, and with an Attitude.) I tend to compare him more to Mussolini, both for the bombastic style and the general vibe of being in way over his head and reacting by doubling down and brassing it out. (As in sledgehammering square peg after square peg into round holes yelling “YOU’LL FIT! YOU’LL FIT! YOU’LL FIT!”)

      • I don’t think Trump himself is a Nazi; possibly he’s not a fascist, either. I don’t think he has many political convictions at all, except that he should be on the winning side of any issue. But he has both Nazi and fascist friends. Also, he is pathetically easily led by people who praise him, as both groups do, when he does something they like.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The only similarity I can see between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler is (from the 1943 OSS psych profile of the latter) is that both have a similar style in “working an audience”. Take the base’s resentments, fears, and dreams, amplify them, and throw them right back to the base until they and you go synergistic in an increasing frenzy. Their emotional state amplifies yours, yours amplifies theirs, and things just boil over. This depends on an initial “seed” of resentment already in the audience that can be fertilized and grown to start the process. (A fictional example is “I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE!” from the Seventies movie Network.)

          (Footage of AH speeches and rallies were edited to “hit the high point” when everything hit critical mass, giving the impression of a constant screaming fit. According to the 1943 report, AH would actually “start out slow”, spending the first 10-15 minutes kind of quiet and hesitant, getting the “feel” of his audience then things would build, ramping up and up and up, juicing off the growing back-and-forth emotional frenzy until everything cut loose. THAT’s the point where the cameras started rolling.)

          • Dave Greene says

            But to be fair Hitler’s base was probably 90 percent of the German population while Trump’s base is around 40 percent.

            • And of that whatever percent, nary a single one was to be found after 1945. “I didn’t vote for him, don’t know anyone who did.”

  2. Hi Christiane,

    I agree with you. I don’t know if you are on Twitter, but Adam Serwer, a journalist for “The Atlantic” magazine, wrote a story about Trump and his minions months ago. It was titled, “The Cruelty is the Point.” This phrase has since become widely used to describe the essence of Trumpism.

    Keep speaking up. And I will, too. We must.

    I believe it is going to get much, much worse before it gets better.

  3. This blog moved away from its core focus as a ‘post-evangelical blog’, providing a haven for those of us burned out by evangelical culture. Fine. People move on, the conversation moves on. I stopped reading closely when the comments section and the facebook group (particularly that) became as polarized as everywhere else on the internet, and the same few commenters engaged in a perpetual argument. The facebook group consisted solely of three to four people posting articles that criticised (or demonised) evangelical christians, and the criticism seemed to become more bitter and more personal.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      I can’t speak to the Facebook group. I joined briefly and then dropped out, it felt very facebooky. Limiting my “social media” to local topics and people/groups I actually interact with, or have a high probability of interacting with, has turned it into something quite nice.

      As for the site I feel it has kept very much on its rails. Evangelicalism has continued to move.

      • I’d say both have moved. But evangelicalism has moved more. The masks have finally started to come off, and they’re showing their true colors.

      • Here is a good barometer of the way evangelicalism has moved. Compare Roger Olson’s theses about evangelicalism (which represents their intellectuals’ historical and theological understanding of themselves) to what evangelicals in the pews and on the media stand for…


        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          Who gets to define a Label; the Leaders, the Historians, or the Congregations? [pssst – it is always the later, Historians forget that and Leaders never knew it]

          Statements, from your link, such as”””“Evangelical Christianity” is a spiritual-theological ethos found somewhere in almost every orthodox Christian denomination.””” …. ok.

        • Christiane says

          yes, I have begun to follow Roger Olson’s writing (he has a blog) and he strongly feels that the ‘evangelical’ label was stolen by fundamentalists some decades ago under such people as Falwell and Robertson. I think he is right.

          So when I usually speak about the kind of ‘evangelicalism’ that I think is most troubled, I try to connect it in this way: as ‘fundamentalist-evangelicalism’ but Roger Olson is angry about the original label of ‘evangelical’ having been co-opted by the extreme fundamentalists.

          I don’t know if the phrase ‘evangelical’ will ever get its reputation untarnished from white supremacy, from extreme patriarchy, from dominism, from extreme far-right ‘conservatism’, and now, from ‘trumpism’. I don’t know if the term can ever recover, but for Roger Olson’s sake and others like him, I hope it will recover. In the meantime, I must remember there ARE evangelical people who are not ‘trumpists’, who do not ‘look away’ from what is happening to children at the border, and who would NEVER, having seen the abuse of the littles and their parents, then wash their hands of responsibility and turn the matter over to the Trump, as though their own souls were not tarnished by the abuse of the innocents.

          I feel sad for Roger Olson and people like him. I understand the contempt folks can have for others that is unfair, based on a ‘label’ especially when that ‘label’ have been co-opted and/or severely tarnished:
          I am Catholic and I grieve for my own Church’s inability to face the truth of child sexual abuse among some of the clergy. We who love the Church are heart-broken. It is not ‘fair’ to blame all for a sub-group; but it is the way of this world to do it. May God have mercy on us all. What I know is that the abuse of the innocent harms the Church’s witness, no matter Catholic or ‘evangelical’, no matter. So the only hope I can have is that people face the truth of what has happened and DEAL WITH THE CURRENT PROBLEMS instead of looking ‘away’, and ‘washing our hands’ of it. If there is trouble in one part of the Body of Christ, the whole Body needs to address it and work to end the trouble with God’s guidance.

          The abuse of innocents is a moral issue. We in America now own this and must deal with it or we will lose who we are as a people and morph to that cruel something that no one wants to talk about. We are better than that. Trump won’t last forever, but his trumpism is just another phase of an age-old evil, come ’round again to destroy and bring chaos. We must face it and fight it. Openly. As ‘Church’.

          • “he strongly feels that the ‘evangelical’ label was stolen by fundamentalists some decades ago under such people as Falwell and Robertson.”

            I’m more of the opinion that evangelicalism was an attempted reform/splinter movement away from fundamentalism – but more and more, the evangelical base and media giants are reverting back to fundamentalism, leaving the evangelical academics eating their dust.

    • became as polarized as everywhere else on the internet, and the same few commenters engaged in a perpetual argument. Ben, I agree with you. Most days there is no difference between the blog and MSNBC news,

      • Robert F says

        I just scan-reviewed the last weeks posts and comments. While there were politically oriented comments, some that you would no doubt view as gratuitous, but others inevitable because religion in America after all does intersect with politics, the vast majority of it stayed on topic. No MSNBC.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          “Staying Out of Politics” in an era where churches are as Polticized as anything in the old USSR just sets you up for getting blindsided.

      • Is your assessment based on actually watching MSNBC, or your expectations about what MSNBC talks about and represents?

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          If people despise MSNBC, FOX, , why on Earth do they still watch it? Just stop

          Or are they using that as a trope? That’s dumb.

          Much like “Social Media”, one can simply stop following, reading, etc… those you think are boring, ignorant, or offensive. Why get all twisted up about it? The landscape is broader than ever before. There is more great content than can ever be read.

          • “If people despise MSNBC, FOX, , why on Earth do they still watch it? Just stop.”

            I did. I only watch BBC World News.

          • It’s important, though, I think, not to live in an echo chamber. If all you watch is Fox, all you will hear is news from a far right perspective (a few newscasters, like Shep Smith, excepted). If all you watch is MSNBC, all you will hear (with a few exceptions, like Chuck Todd) is news with a leftist slant. Having an idea where the rest of the country is getting its news is important, even if you’re absolutely sure they’re wrong. National news devoid of a political perspective appears to be a thing of the distant past.

      • MSNBC: the cable news channel with both liberals and conservatives. The horror!

      • Except nobody here ever comments about flesh eating bacteria or shark attacks.

      • Christiane says

        with all respect, when Christian people remain silent when they know innocents are being abused, what kind of solution is that? Are we not obliged to stand up for the abused, especially when they cannot speak for themselves and they have no power to defend themselves ?

        Isn’t there a ‘verse’ for that ?


        (Proverbs 31:8)

        there are plenty of blogs out there where people MUST be silent or they are banned . . . . those blogs may be more of a comfort zone for the ones who will not speak out, but here, we may do it, if we are civil, and I believe that even if no one reads it, or if no one agrees with me, that still I MUST speak

        we march to different drummers, and that’s okay . . . . . . that’s okay

    • Michael Z says

      Part of the problem might be that Internet Monk skews heavily white and Midwestern, so the *only* thing many people here are seeing in their churches is decline, and that leads people to fear or cynicism.

      The truth is that at the same time as white suburban and rural churches are collapsing, we’re seeing continued strength and new vitality in urban multicultural churches. What’s going on is not so much a decline of American Christianity as a shift in its center of gravity. (For example, recently the US passed the point where historically black churches have more members in the 18-35 age range than all white evangelical churches combined, and we’re rapidly approaching the point where in that age range, the majority of Christians will be non-white.)

      Of course, for people who take privilege for granted any cultural shift that pushes them out of the center of power is going to feel like a threat – that’s how we ended up with Trump, after all. But if evangelicals as a whole were able to see that what we’re experiencing is not the death of Christianity but just the end of the hegemony of one particular brand of Christianity, we might spend less time wringing our hands and more time trying to find ways to participate in the new things that God is doing.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        “””What’s going on is not so much a decline of American Christianity as a shift in its center of gravity”””

        Which itself reflects a shift overall.

        Essentially all of the 75 largest cities in America are experiencing a critical shortage of housing.
        There are more people trying to ‘get in’ than can get it.
        This is something unimaginable merely 25 years ago.

        “””any cultural shift that pushes them out of the center of power is going to feel like a threat”””

        Doubly so when who and where is pushing them out is people and places they’ve always looked down on.

        “””less time wringing our hands and more time trying to find ways to participate in the new things”””

        Some clearly cannot see it, yet one of the reasons this BLOG stays on my reader – and many have been removed – is that there is a consistent thread of hope, grace, and possibility. I certainly do not view IM as negative; it is critically observing a transition.

  4. senecagriggs says

    ““I am scared that if Ronald Reagan gets into office, we are going to see more of the Ku Klux Klan and a resurgence of the Nazi Party,” Coretta Scott King said in November, 1980. “I’m afraid things are going to blow sky high during this next term,” a nursing student said. He’s a “nitwit,” added a Democrat. “He’s shallow, superficial and frightening,” one of that year’s historic numbers of “undecideds” insisted.”

    “Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.”

    As noted many times previously, I-monk tends towards the political left. From that perspective, ALL Republican presidents are either bringing back Hitler’s Germany or the KKK. sigh

    • Robert F says

      You are using quotes from other sources as proof of political bias on this blog? That doesn’t make any sense at all.

    • Ok, so it took a generation to come to pass, but face it – the trends were there then, for those with eyes to see.

    • Let’s move away from ALL, to the present encumbent – is he, or is he not, actually doing things incredibly reminiscent of Hitler’s Germany, & seeing a rise in extreme-right adherents/actions/violence? Just answer the actual question with specifics, not generalities. Are you happy with what you are seeing?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > Are you happy with what you are seeing?


        Yet, I do not feel that ” reminiscent of Hitler’s Germany” is a useful framing. It is too near to Godwin’s law.

        I also strongly disagree – – I understand, I disagree – – with the sentiment “”””that I must speak, even if no one listens. I must speak.””” Speech has no magical power. The power of speech, such that it has any trends downward with quantity., Just as only a certain amount of pressure in a boiler is useful; furiously shoveling more coal into the hot box will not make the locomotive go faster, that steam will be blown off. The point is to move the train, not to boil water.

        I fear mostly deeply that a great number of Americans have forgotten [or never bothered to know?] how their government works. Now they are frantically running up and down the isles and swinging from the luggage racks as the train blows past station after station. The conductors cannot be heard of the din.

        • brianthegrandad says

          Great point. I’ve turned off most of the “I cannot remain silent” folks as slacktivists. In keeping with your illustration somewhat, I have only so much steam. I choose to use it to move my train. Too many folks are using theirs to incessantly blow their whistles. I once read somewhere that a wise man speaks when he has something worth saying. A fool speaks because he always has to say something. I do realize the irony in making a comment where I just had to say something…

          • LOL.

            –> “I do realize the irony in making a comment where I just had to say something…”

            Recognizing your own irony is a great character trait. Shows some self-reflection and self-awareness. I know way too many people with ZERO of either.

        • Christiane says

          it is interesting that the White Supremist-Nazi types think Trump IS on their side:
          take a look at ‘Hail Trump, Hail our people!”


          so maybe they are wrong?

          I don’t think so . . . . Trump himself addressed that openly . . . . then even he had to backwalk what he said after there was fall-out . . . . . I don’t know if he comprehends the fullness of what he is doing, but the white supremacists love the guy!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I don’t think so . . . . Trump himself addressed that openly . . . .

            Trump has always struck me as the type of boss who’s a real sucker for flattery, and the Tiki Torch skinheads made sure to lay on the flattery. All he could see was “They Praise Me! They Adore Me!” without realizing he was easy to use.

        • Christiane says

          Hello Adam,

          you wrote, this:
          ”””that I must speak, even if no one listens. I must speak.””” Speech has no magical power. ”

          I must respectfully disagree on two counts.

          That my phrase ‘I must speak’ means that even if doing the right thing doesn’t work out, it’s still worth doing for its own sake . . . . . that word ‘must’ indicates a commitment that doesn’t expect to be paid back with ‘success’ but that must still do what is right no matter how it turns out
          (a strange principle?) perhaps it is, perhaps I don’t know any better, but there it is anyway

          and as for the power of speech:
          boy howdy wouldn’t Trump love it if he could muzzle the press like the Russians have done?

          thank God for our freedom of speech, we may not always have it, I’m not disparaging it for anyone, whether they agree with me or not . . . . let’s speak our minds while we can, people . . . . let’s celebrate that while we still can

  5. Robert F says

    early morning
    the birds, still quiet,
    wait for a sign

  6. Adam Tauno Williams says

    The VOX podcast, hosted by Mike Erre, had an episode on “Misreading Romans”; seems related to the Reading Backwards series. The guests|authors are interesting. https://on.wmmi.net/2LIbyIK

  7. Adam Tauno Williams says

    IM’s Damaris has a new BLOG series over @ https://www.damariszehner.com/ (“Integrity of life”)
    Not certain where it is going, but it is well done [of course].

    • Pellicano Solitudinis says

      It looks most interesting, and very beautiful, but it doesn’t seem to have an RSS feed or any other way of subscribing, so it’s a bit of a nuisance to follow.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Agree, lack of a feed is frustrating. Whatever the hosting platform is, it is also cranky about various modes of viewing other than browser-on-“PC”.

    • Thanks to you both. Now I am desperately digging through the Wix settings to see how to set up an RSS feed. (Is “set up” even the right verb?) Do any of you have any experience with Wix? Adam, can you tell me more about other modes of viewing so that I can improve the settings? I only use my PC, but I want to accommodate people who use other devices — if I can without getting a smart phone or a Facebook page myself.

      The technology is a steep uphill climb, but I’m hoping the view from the top is worth it!

      • Christiane says

        It’s an informative well-written blog, Damaris. I’m glad we were given the heads-up about it here at Imonk.

  8. senecagriggs says

    President Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize
    “Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize this morning.

    President Obama has broken new ground here.
    Nominations for potential winners of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ended on February 1.
    The president took office only 12 days earlier on January 20.”

    So the “light bringer” won the Noble Peace Prize after 12 days in office. He was amazing – dryly

    [ NOTE: Mr. Obama was not campaigning for the award – even he appeared to be a little surprised – gave the money to charities . A few years later the Nobel committee suggested the award was pre-mature when it turned out President Obama was allowing our enemies in the mid-east to be killed [ a plus in my book]. But he was a handsome, articulate Democrat. Good enough reason to give him the award in today’s world. ]

    It’s politics I-monkers. God remains unmoved, un-phased by the little things that happen in our world – such as presidential politics.

    • RE Obama’s Nobel Prize – you’ll find a lot of people on both sides of the spectrum also found that episode rather specious.

      “God remains unmoved, un-phased by the little things that happen in our world – such as presidential politics”

      OTOH, I think He has some rather moved and phased opinions about keeping people in cages.

      • senecagriggs says

        Check with President Obama on that will ya

        • I’m talking about God’s views on the matter – doesn’t matter who’s doing it. If it wasn’t right then, it’s not right now.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > you’ll find a lot of people on both sides of the spectrum also found that episode rather specious

        You’ll find even more people who can’t be bothered to care.

        It is telling enough if someone is still – a decade later – riled up about that.

        What are their feelings on the winner(s) in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, or 2018?

        Whenever anyone brings this up ask who won in one of those years. If they do not know – turn and walk away.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        RE Obama’s Nobel Prize – you’ll find a lot of people on both sides of the spectrum also found that episode rather specious.

        You mean the “F U Dubya Bush!” Peace Prize?
        (That’s what it was getting called within hours of its announcement.)

    • Please enlighten us as to how you know that God is indifferent to the suffering caused by political leaders? Are you not moved by the suffering of mothers and fathers and children on our southern border?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Because God is so SPIRITUAL He only has interest in SPIRITUAL things.

        As N.T.Wright put it, a Spirituality that is the dream of those who want to grab as much of the cosmos as they can for themselves.

  9. senecagriggs says

    For those hypochondriacs among us:

    A North Carolina man has died after contracting an illness caused by a “brain-eating amoeba,” public health officials said.
    Laboratory testing confirmed the man, identified by local media as Eddie Gray, was sickened by Naegleria fowleri after swimming at Fantasy Lake Water Park in Cumberland County earlier this month, according to officials with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Cumberland County Department of Public Health

    • And let’s not forget the spread of disease-carrying ticks and mosquitoes due to the change-in-climate-but-only-changing-upward…

  10. If you really want to get Trump out of office, the democrats running for president and the policies they are pushing is not going to help.

    • And ain’t THAT a depressing thought.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      You mean “The Jihad Squad”?

      Their worst enemies are their own big mouths.
      Second worst enemy: Me and Only Me tribalism among the various Dem factions.

      • The “Jihad Squad”, HUG? Sounds like a pejorative name that came straight out of the Alt-Right meme machine.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Actually, it came from the august lips of Donald Trump, and thus is direct from God.

          That said, it is a very catchy phrase. Instant Meme Material.

          If you can come up with a better moniker for those four….

    • Bingo. It’s a flip of the last election all over again. Pick your poison: the poison you know (in this case Trump, last time Hillary) or the poison you don’t (last time Trump, this time whoever else ends up running against him).

      Either way, the good ol’ USA gets poisoned.

      I think God has something in store for us Americans…LOL…

      • There was nothing mysterious about Trump last time. Anyone with eyes to see could tell what kind of president he would be.

        • Rick Ro. says

          I didn’t say he was mysterious, I said he was an unknown poison. “Here, drink this, I don’t know what it is but it’ll kill ya,” is different than saying, “Here, drink this, but I don’t know what it is.”

          Both candidates were toxic in my mind.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            in 2016, both major parties succeeded in nominating their WORST possible candidate.

            A Cersei Lannister or a Benito Mussolini, take it or leave it.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        As the older British documentary miniseries World at War put it in their first episode “Germany: 1918-1939”:

        “Whichever one wins, Germany loses.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      the democrats running for president and the policies they are pushing is not going to help.

      Like the four female newbies who have been in the news recently.
      Their worst enemy remains their own big mouths.

  11. senecagriggs says


    Biden’s pitch to voters is moderation, electability and a callback to the halcyon days of the Obama Administration.

    Sanders seeks to expand the fiery leftist movement he built in 2016.

    Warren has staked her campaign on wonkishness and economic populism,

    Harris paints herself as a crusader for justice.

    Buttigieg offers a combination of generational change and executive experience.

    To imagine each of them in the White House is to conjure five very different hypothetical presidencies come January 2021.

    • Christiane says

      I think Warren would make a great cauldron set to boiling filled with trumpist fat-cats . . . the ones who ran away with all those tax cuts, while we go to Walmart and have to pay for the (bad word here) tariffs. Costs are up dramatically in a very short time, just since the tariffs kicked in. Warren hates corruption.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      How do you pronunce “Buttgieg”?
      My default is “Butt-Gig”, and given his sexual orientation that brings up too many images. All I can say is with a name like that, his grade-school years must have been hell.

  12. All the dem contenders are all lightweights who ha e no chance of beating Trump. After the Mueller debacle who according to Christiane was going to blow Trump out of the water, he will win by a landslide. The only possible contender is Biden if he could learn to touch himself instead of every woman around him.

    • Biden was running for President when I was a kid in the 80s. Somebody needs to pull him aside and say, “Dude… Let someone else have a go.”

      • This speaks to the absolute ZERO leadership within the Democratic party. No one with the guts to say, “You three need to take a seat.”

        The Republicans had the same exact issue when Trump made it to the top, no one at the party leadership level telling half of the 16 candidates that they needed to give it a rest.

        • The Republican “leadership” is scared pantless of their own primary base. That’s why none of them stood up to Trump.

          • Rick Ro. says

            Yep. They wanted the Win at any cost, so they propped up a guy who would get them the Win.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              And discovered they really didn’t win, HE did.
              The Trump is for The Trump, NOT the party.

              • anonymous says

                his ‘party’ is scared to death of him

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  One tweet on Twitter, and the streets fill with tiki torches and AR-15s.

                  What gets me is how a guy like him can inspire such levels of Fanaticism, especially among Christians.

                  I keep remembering the standard explanation for a major absurdity in End Times details a la Left Behind — all this in Revelation going down as written and NOBODY notices anything out of the ordinary?

                  The response was (of course) a Verse: “For God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. Tsk. Tsk.”

                  Who’s got the strong delusion now?

    • David Cornwell says

      LOL. Biden needs to learn to not touch women if he wants to win? This almost sounds like a joke, considering that Trump has grabbed, touched, assaulted many women and bragged about it for the world to hear. Plus he has had 3 wives. And paid-off several women to keep their mouths shut.

      • Christiane says

        thank you, David

        I’m trying to be civil. So ‘the bait’ wasn’t taken. But I’m grateful for your comment as it speaks to the stark contrasts between Trump and Biden.

        I can’t speak for Saint B, but I strongly suspect it was NOT a joke.

    • Patriciamc says

      There was no debacle with Mueller. Even though collusion was not proven (but most likely did occur), there is still obstruction of justice, and Trump could very well be indicted once out of office. This from Mueller and the Mueller report – which the Reps don’t like just because it’s unflattering to Trump. If it showed him in a good light, then it would be the greatest thing ever.

  13. senecagriggs says

    House Democrats: We Won’t Rest Until Trump Is Stopped . . . Okay, Time for 6 week summer Recess

    • At least they got a spending agreement lined up before they left. This time…

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        “””got a spending agreement lined up”””

        Well… it is complete trash by all accounts. 🙁 But, yeah, they did it.

    • Steve Newell says

      So my choice is between a socialism Dem and a fascist Trump. I will vote for Libertarian like I did in 2016.

  14. On the lighter side, five guys were arrested in Florida for starting a brawl… At a Five Guys.


  15. As usual, an “Open Forum” platform was a mistake…

    • Yeah, one person in particular seems to have turned it into his own grenade-tossing exercise…

  16. senecagriggs says

    Today’s Question:

    Is the United Nations a Circus or an Insane Asylum?

    [ Asking for a friend ]

  17. I agree Joel.

    This gets so far astray from Michael Spencer’s direction?!

    I’ve stopped commenting, I read this only occasionally now, and this was the one safe haven I’d found back in the day. Not anymore…no matter what ‘side’ you’re on.

    Politics do not define me, and never will. Thank God.

    MS wanted to have a Jesus shaped Christianity, and so many of the comments here do not that have tone or that-focus.

    I can not watch/read the news, fake or otherwise, and I do not need to read any of that here either.


    • –> “MS wanted to have a Jesus shaped Christianity, and so many of the comments here do not that have tone or that-focus.”

      Yep. I’ve really noticed lately that most comments are contrarian in nature and very opinionated. Sadly, that’s the direction the country has drifted, taking us Christians with it.

  18. senecagriggs says

    Phrase I have now added to my vocabulary.

    “Beyond my purview.”

    • Christiane says

      Good one!
      Mueller was very ‘careful’, wasn’t he ?

      • Robert F says

        Mueller did exactly what he said he would do if he was called to answer questions before Congress. He can’t be blamed for that. He was as good as his word.

  19. Can I ask for prayer? I’m out west with my brother in an ICU after he had a massive stroke. He doesn’t have any people he’s comfortable relying on out here, and I need to go back east early next week. He’s doing amazingly well considering and many circumstances throughout the experience seem providential, but there’s still a long road ahead. God has been trying to teach me not to plan for all the future, just the next step, but I’m a slow learner.

  20. Okay, in an attempt to bring some “Jesus” stuff into this open forum…

    Some of you might enjoy reading this book for the connections it makes between Jesus’ last words and the entirety of scripture.

    “The Last Words of Christ: A Call to Understanding” by Wallace Clausen.

    It’s not the easiest read at times and he gets a tad redundant, but I think some of you will enjoy the thinking and analysis, the connections, and much of what Clausen says. At first I was unsure of some of the connections–think about the times in English class when we were told, “The author sprinkles their book with x-y-z as metaphors for a-b-c”–but then I kinda concluded that who’s to say God doesn’t operate much like an author does, sprinkling little nuggets of stuff throughout scripture, waiting for someone to see the metaphor and make the connection.

    Overall, I’ve really enjoyed it.


  21. How about something uplifting? Our pastor linked to this in his blog today. Well worth the time to read it. I remember when folks in my (former) tradition used to joke about the ‘failed minister’.


  22. senecagriggs says

    Rick Ro; I do have a question for you. You attend a Nazarene church – they do NOT believe in “Once saved always saved.” Correct?

    Where do you stand?

    [ There’s nothing “gotcha” about this question; I’m just curious. I’m a “once saved always saved guy myself.” ]

    • Rick Ro. says

      Regarding Nazarene “beliefs,” I believe that you are correct in this. I just pulled this off the internet, which isn’t ALWAYS true, but I believe this lines up with what I’ve heard said:

      “Two Nazarene beliefs set this Christian denomination apart from other evangelicals: the belief that a person can experience entire sanctification, or personal holiness, in this life, and the belief that a saved person can lose their salvation through sin.”

      Personally I fall in the “Meh” camp. Scripture supports each position (always saved vs. you can lose it), so I’ll just put my trust in Jesus. He is The Way, not some man-made mantra/theology, so whether I believe that He’ll save everyone or just those who’ve never backslid or just those who’ve said the right words isn’t really up to me.

      Frankly, this is why I’m glad I don’t call myself anything except a follower of Christ. It gives me the freedom not to let myself get boxed into some theological corner by man-made doctrine. I feel sorry for some folks, actually, who need to tow the party line regardless of whatever theological issue they might suddenly be questioning. This is where religion and religiosity become extremely unhealthy.

    • anonymous says

      best stay out of ships that wreck easily then . . .

  23. Robert F says

    After scanning today’s comments, I see that the so-called “conservatives” have turned the conversation again and again back to partisan politics. But when liberals take the bait, the cons start moaning about how partisan and politicized iMonk has become. Please.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Quite noticeable, wasn’t it? Only took 2 of them…

    • Christiane says

      conservative, liberal, politics ?????

      abuse of children IS a moral issue and keeping quiet about it is wrong . . . that’s trumpism for you, ‘nothing to see here’ ‘move on’

      people, this is OUR country, not Trump’s torture chamber for little asylum babies . . . . speak up, it’s your civic duty!!

  24. Robert F says

    Remember Emmett Till.

  25. God does not care about nations or politics, , Jesus came to save individuals who accept Christ , they are assured salvation. All others might be saved at the end of time as we do not know, Jesus came for all. Jesus saves, not me , not the nation, not the Democrats or Republicans.

    To Dana, the person who asked for prayer for their loved one, you have mine and God Bless you for asking. We are Gods children and we will take care of us. We do have the comfort of being believers but we are human.

  26. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Folks complain saying this is not what Michael would have done with this blog. Nonsense. Michael did not operate in a pietist corner. Since his death in 2010, the church in general, and evangelicalism in particular has moved into extreme political territory- it has sold what little soul it had left for political power. Those that had been driven into the post-evangelical wilderness cannot but speak to this lamentable state of affairs. As someone who knew Michael personally, and who now stands outside the faith altogether, I am often appalled at what has become of the religion I largely grew up in. Of your moral, friendly and caring evangelical there are none left – they have become the handmaidens of a political machine, abandoning every principle except being anti-abortion, and will do anything for power.

    On the other hand, as an atheist, I can recognize an end-game when I see one…

    • Yes, Klasie, None left. And you know this how?

      Maybe charity is scare when we evaluate those we have abandoned for another way. But it all seems of a piece with the preoccupation of the assuredly better, i.e., post evangelical voices on the blog who have the astounding courage to separate the good from the evil, the wheat from the chaff and to finally call Trump a Hitler in the White House.

      Plenty of zeal to that, true, but a claim that lacks much evidence. And, given the lack of evidentiary support, more than a little uncharitable. Whether Jesus was charitable I leave for others to say.

      But it does seem that the judgements we want to make against the failures of our ideological opponents are exquisitely untempered by our own failings. This enables us to wave off the failings of those presidents we are disposed to favor. And to recognize that, if evangelicals can summon the decency to support such proper leaders, they would no longer be consumed by the thirst for power but in fact might be acceptable human beings again.

      • Where is the charitableness of Christians who say that their country has no responsibility to help refugees?

        • Wherever it is, it’s cause is not aided by the hyperbolic judgement. The border crises is real and needs to be solved at the national level. Solving it will require a measure of bipartisan cooperation. Calling out Trump as Hitler in the name of all that is righteous is incoherent. Asserting that the only moral stance regarding the border is one that agrees with mine reveals a failure to see nuance and complexity, heretofore supposed hallmarks of those who have left the ignorance of evangelicalism. I respect your compassion for the immigrants, Robert F. We should resist the demonization of the other, namely the people who are undocumented immigrants to our country. A country that should recognize the humanity of the immigrant should also recognize it in those with whom they disagree politically. A civil society requires people who can see something other than evil in their political opponents. Americans used to know this better than we seem to now.

          • I’m not aware of Klasie ever having called out Trump as Hitler on this site. As for moral nuance and complexity, it is generally a good and necessary thing to recognize both, but there also comes a point beyond which it is a betrayal of basic humanity and morality to hide behind them. My opinion is that we are now, under this administration, well past that point, and that we are where we are due in no small part to the unprincipled support of my coreligionists for the amoral grifter currently occupying the Oval Office. Political power is the real religion that hides behind a pious facade of Christianity in America; the lust for power behind that facade needs to be exposed.

            • Klasie Kraalogies says

              I can’t either, tbh. Thank you Robert.

              • Klasie, I agree. But may I also say I did not write that you did. What I did say that your judgement of the US evangelical community as a whole as immoral uncaring and unfriendly is about as well evidenced as the Trump is Hitler claim advanced by other on this thread. But we can always agree to disagree?

                • The public statements and policies of the administration – and the unmovable approval numbers of self-identified evangelicals for him despite those statements and policies – are all the proof anyone should need. If you don’t like what evangelicals are doing, now is the time to say so – or even better, come out from among them.

            • Just wondering, Robert F, how you know that your coreligionists who supported Trump are, as a whole, primarily driven by their lust for power? Is is because you disagree with their politics? Is it because a small percentage of well publicized evangelical leaders, driven to Trumpian excess, stand for the whole, while the less publicized evangelical leaders who criticize the Trumpian approach as well as the ordinary evangelicals living day to day are ignored? Is Trump a test from God you either pass or fail?

              I hold no brief for DT and would be happy to see him resign tomorrow. But I doubt his voters were any more animated by a lust for power than HRC voters, in the deciding states some of the Trump voters also voted for Obama. Twice. Not sure that judging their moral standing as human beings because you disagree with their evaluation of the candidates for president is a recommended practice of charity. Civility is required if we want to live in peace with people who think differently than we do. Relinquishing nuance and complexity for the moral urgency of opposing Trump gives him too much.

              Maybe Trump is an apocalyptic antichrist who finally reveals whether we are riding with the lamb or the beast. Methinks he is much less than this. If so, maybe we need to recalibrate the unsubstantiated judgements expended on Trump supporting coreligionists accordingly.

              • Robert F says

                Their publicly documented majority opinion that the US has no responsibility to help refugees is clear indication of the amorality of their support for Trump. I’m willing to drop my inference that it is driven by a lust for power, but that doesn’t make the amorality any prettier or any less real, nor does it decrease the need for it to be exposed and called out. That doesn’t mean I approach every White evangelical assuming that they hold to the majority view; but if it comes up in conversation that they do, I will not hesitate to point up the immorality and unChristlike character of their position.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        I am unsure what to make of your question to me in the 2nd sentence . What are you referring to?

        • Klasie Kraalogies says

          Sorry, now I see. It was a generalised statement. Sure you can find a specific individual. But as a generalised statement -nope, that milieu is gone. At least in the US.

          • In my view the US evangelical milieu is too diverse to reduce to such a simple generalization. Which is kind of my point. We can disagree with the evangelical ethos while recognizing there are plenty of evangelical churches and schools where people feel safe to settle. If you have actual evidence of such a strong claim other than that evangelicals voted for Trump and you disagree with their political worldview I would be glad to hear it. Otherwise it reminds me of what some evangelicals still say about atheists and with just as little justification.

            The evangelicals regularly paraded on this website as the evangelical circus are not the ones who care for the poor, the widows and orphans, who tend to the sick and dying and live lives of devotion and prayer. They are not the churches centered on worship and thanksgiving rather than politics and power. Of course the focus on the parade is in keeping with the post evangelical theme here. But as I suggested, charity may be scarce when we evaluate a tribe we have abandoned for another way. It is how we justify change.

        • How do you know that there are no moral, friendly, caring evangelicals left?

    • Bouncing off something you said, Klasie,

      As someone who knew Michael personally, and who now stands outside the faith altogether, I am often appalled at what has become of the religion I largely grew up in. Of your moral, friendly and caring evangelical there are none left – they have become the handmaidens of a political machine, abandoning every principle except being anti-abortion, and will do anything for power.

      I’m finding myself identifying with Mr. Spock here, in the Star Trek episode “Whom Gods Destroy.”

      Captain Kirk speaks somewhat figuratively and with undue emotion. However, what he says is logical and I do, in fact, agree with it.

      I was noticing some cracks in the evangelical plaster a while back too, and now it’s almost as if the movement has sold its soul. And a lot of good people within it aren’t aware of that.

  27. My thoughts these days are consumed by what’s happening in our country. I am heartbroken, infuriated, confused, and despairing. Why? Because God has given me a sense of right and wrong. He has told me to love my neighbor as I love myself. He has given me the Bible to guide my path and in the Bible I learned that Christians should exhibit the fruit of the spirit–patience, love, faithfulness, peace, kindness, self-control, goodness and gentleness. These are the things we are to aspire to, aren’t they? I also learned that we are to avoid evil in all its forms–lying, adultery, cruelty, idolatry, selfishness, and so on. But when I look around my country, I see that these are all just empty words to so many people–Christians included. The hypocrisy is severely testing my faith.

    This week, the Trump administration decided to throw millions of people off food stamps.

    This week, the Border Patrol released an American citizen after holding him illegally for almost a month in deplorable conditions. They jailed him for no reason other than he was brown-skinned.

    This week, a 44-year-old immigrant died in Border Patrol custody. He is the TWENTY-SIXTH person to die in custody since Trump took office.

    This week, Donald Trump continued to repeatedly lie to Americans about things big and small. He is approaching an astounding 11,000 lies since he took office. He lies so frequently, so carelessly, and so shamelessly, we don’t even register this as newsworthy anymore.

    And yet, millions and millions Christians continue to support this man enthusiastically. I saw the footage from the North Carolina rally where they were chanting “SEND HER BACK!” over and over. How could any Christian look upon that kind of hatred and think, “Yep. I want to be part of that. God would like me to be part of this.” You talk to those Trump voters, 90% of them say they are Christian. I. Do. Not, Understand. Somebody explain it to me.

    And I am so, so sad about it.

    • Robert F says

      Sadness is a rational and sane reaction to seeing the support this amoral grifter has among so many people who call themselves Christian in our country. I hope we eventually see better days as a nation, but I’m uncertain we will. God save us.

    • anonymous says

      there are Christian ministers who are afraid to speak out against what is happening

      it’s the fear of losing a job

  28. Klasie Kraalogies and others, What is the purpose of this site? I was told that it was to help those who felt they had doubts about their fundamental church teachings off the Wartburg Watch. I see some of that as I have been following for a time. The information is good, comments are all over as most places. Of course we all know from the beginning the “church” has to operate in the culture and society of its time. It has always been political. My wife is a Roman Catholic, what could be more political than the Holy Roman Empire? Just a fact of life.
    I ask this politely , as an atheist what does it matter to you. Should religious people stay out of politics? What is the guideline?
    Every group , including atheist have an agenda or do not have one and have the right to pursue or not pursue that agenda , though our political and cultural system. Leads to what you have above , but it is the only real way.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Of course the world becoming a better place for all its inhabitants matters to me. Therefore I care about making it a better place, just like many of my Christian friends here – Robert, Michael, other Michael, other other Michael and more :). And therefore I also care about people falling into a deep political chasm, some because of the vagrancies of their belief system. There are some of those here too. But also, through many years, we have become a community
      At least one person here is a very personal friend of mine – because of, and only because of this site.

      Now I was a denizens of the post-evangelical wilderness, bit I moved ina different direction than some others. Yet a lot of the Jesus-shaped spirituality as practiced and expounded here is attractive to me – not because of pietism or identification with a divine Jesus – but because in this expression, there is a lot that I as a Humanist can agree with, in kindness, and unassuming virtues, etc etc. The world would be a lot better if more Christians lived their lives accordingly, instead of current evangelicalism (for instance).

    • Robert F says

      Klasie doesn’t need to justify his participation here. You, randy, should leave it to the administrator to decide who is in and out, and what can or can’t be said. It’s not your job or your place to do so.

      • Rick Ro. says

        1) Klasie spoke up for himself.
        2) The moderator can also speak for himself.

        • Robert F says

          I wasn’t speaking for Klasie, I was speaking about him to make a larger point to randy. Randy can speak for himself as well. Yes, the moderator can speak for himself, but didn’t, and I was drawing randy’s attention to that point.

  29. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    You’re not going to believe this, but…
    Something about “All Those Women Out There Looking for a ManLike You”.
    I thought they’d taken a hit after the Josh Duggar affair and getting hacked!