August 18, 2019

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: August 3, 2019

A butterfly is illuminated by a photographer’s flash (Springfield, VA). Matt McClain, Washington Post

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: August 3, 2019

• • •

Three years away…on my “want” list now

• • •

Joshua Harris, post-Christian

From CNN:

A former pastor who wrote a bestselling book on traditional relationships has confirmed the end of his marriage, apologized for opposing LGBTQ rights and announced he is no longer a Christian.

Joshua Harris’ book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” which railed against sex before marriage and homosexuality, sold over 1 million copies and became a fixture in Christian youth groups after coming out 22 years ago.

But Harris now says the 1997 work “contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry,” and that he has “undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus.”

Writing on Instagram, he added: “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”

“I have lived in repentance for the past several years — repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few,” Harris wrote in the post.

When fundamentalists fall, they can fall hard.

• • •

Questions of the Week

What does an invasion of locusts look like?

A man tries to catch locusts as they swarm over rooftops in Sanaa, Yemen. (Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images)

“How can we stop their singing?”

Can clergy earn back the public trust they’ve lost?

Can Willow Creek find closure after Bill Hybels?

What do “fine-tuning” and the “multiverse” say about God?

Which came first, the sponge or the comb jelly?

If comb jellies evolved before sponges, above, it would mean sponges had given up their nervous systems and more complex digestion. (F. Schneider/picture-alliance/dpa, via AP)

Should board gamers play the roles of racists, slavers, and Nazis?

How do you spell “gerrymandering”?

With a font made out of preposterously drawn congressional districts, of course!

• • •

Another Question: Who’s in John Dillinger’s Grave?

This week I did a funeral in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. Crown Hill is the resting place of many famous and infamous people, including Mooresville, Indiana native, Depression era bank robber, and Public Enemy Number One, John Dillinger.

Or is it?

The Indianapolis Star tells the story:

Dillinger, born in Indianapolis in 1903, became famous for a string of 1933 bank robberies as well as several high-profile escapes from police custody.

But his bank-robbing career came to an end when police and federal agents ambushed him outside Chicago’s Biograph Theater on July 22, 1934. Chicago FBI Chief Melvin Purvis told reporters Dillinger turned to run while officers surrounded him.

Dillinger took three bullets. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

However, in the 85 years since, historians and enthusiasts have debated whether it was Dillinger or a doppelganger, citing inconsistencies between Dillinger’s physical appearance and the body in the morgue.

And now, Dillinger’s family wants to finally know for sure. In June, they obtained a permit to exhume John Dillinger’s body. The exhumation will also be part of a forthcoming documentary on the History Channel. Retrieving the body will be a chore, since the crypt contains two and a half tons of concrete in order to prevent grave robbers from snatching it. No exact date has been given.

• • •

Love baseball, hot dogs, and ice cream. Not sure about this.

• • •

This day in music…

On August 3, 1973, the incomparable Stevie Wonder released his masterpiece album, Innervisions, which Rolling Stone called “the peak of his Seventies apotheosis.” The BBC said of this record:

Remarkably, Innervisions is Stevie Wonder’s 16th studio album. It is the album that best celebrates his musical maturity and completes the transition from Little Stevie Wonder to the grown-up artist with an active imagination and burning social conscience. Coming just nine months after Talking Book, Innervisions is Wonder at the absolute peak of his powers, a 23-year-old man with the world at his fingertips.

After the release of Talking Book, Wonder said: “We as a people are not interested in ‘baby, baby’ songs any more, there’s more to life than that.” As a result, Innervisions is like a snapshot of America in 1973, seen through Wonder’s mind’s eye.

Today, enjoy this live performance of “Living for the City,” from this amazing collection of music.

Comments

  1. Biologos loves them some intelligent-design pseudoscience.

    • senecagriggs says

      If there is no God, anything is permissable.

    • Dave Greene says

      I did not think Biologos was at the same low level as the Discovery Institute which is the bastion of intelligent-design pseudoscience. Why do you equate them?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Because in equating them, Biologos can be dismissed with maximum holy ridicule as easily as the DI fringe.
        “Y-E-C UBER ALLES,
        UBER ALLES IN DIE KIRCHE!”

        • The patter is more sophisticated, but it’s the same argument: appeals to complexity and the unexplained.

          • Dave Greene says

            That is easy to say but it it correct? It seems to me that Biologos is full on with natural evolution. They just don’t accept that evolution demands atheism. So it seems not to be the same argument to me.

            • How does evolution demand atheism? How does Christianity demand instantaneous fiat creation of new life?

              • Dave Greene says

                They do not. Biologos is full on with with evolution as a natural process that explains the variety of life forms today. While embracing evolution they reject “evolutionism” which they define as basically as an evolution that demands atheism. So for me, I cannot buy Craig’s position that Biologos is just a more sophisticated version of Intelligent Design pseudo science. But I do not read Biologos much so I asked about it.

  2. Tracking the Josh Harris kerfuffle on Patheos has been very interesting, if not very enlightening. Of all the evangelical reactions, Gene Veith’s was the most charitable, but even he had to get his “At least Harris was honest enough to become a full skeptic rather than one of those Bible-twisting ‘progressives'” dig in. :-/

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2019/08/on-josh-harris-renouncing-christianity/

    • Gene Veith is Lutheran, LCMS I believe. I don’t think that he self-identifies as Evangelical beyond being willing to be slotted there in Patheos’s absurd classification system. He typically agrees with Evangelicals on culture war and culture war-adjacent issues, but on the abstract level he is a traditional orthodox Lutheran. This is why I was surprised at his misuse (following Joy Pullman’s lead) of “antinomianism.” The point of antinomianism is not “rebelling against God’s law after observing how hard it is to keep it” but rather (as clearly stated in the link she provided) the doctrine that “the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation.” It takes the standard allowance for ham and cheese sandwiches with a shrimp cocktail as a side dish, and extends it to all laws, including the pelvic issues. In the later stages of the Reformation you found sects running around naked and screwing a lot. They were put down violently, of course. Whatever Josh Harris is, he hasn’t given any indication that he is antinomian.

      • “I was surprised at his misuse (following Joy Pullman’s lead) of “antinomianism.” The point of antinomianism is not “rebelling against God’s law after observing how hard it is to keep it””

        Given how embedded he is in the culture war, I wasn’t.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I’ve been involved in the comment threads on both Wartburg Watch and Spiritual Sounding Board re what I’ve come to term “Josh Harris’s’ Burnout”. There’s a lot of reaction from those burned by IKDG, and his association with SGM and mentoring by Chuckles Mahaney hasn’t helped his credibility.

      My take is that Josh Harris is the Christianese equivalent of a Child Star CELEBRITY with additional Famous Father Syndrome, raised in the CELEBRITY bubble and fast-tracked into a Best-Selling Author’s Pulpit at 18. That alone will mess up your head and personality. And now it’s hit critical mass and he’s thrashing. What were seeing now is an initial “Take Your God and Shove It” reaction common among those who just realized they got burned bad by the church. Like Eagle & me, I expect JH to probably swing back and forth for several years before he stabilizes somewhere in-between. Or (if he has a Fundamentalist personality) get stuck at the opposite anti-polarity. Unfortunately, his KDG marriage was the first casualty, caught in the initial blast radius.

    • Christiane says

      Harris writes:
      “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”

      what were those ‘measurements’?
      and how does he feel that they ” contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry,” ?

      is possible he IS in repentance for the book he wrote which apparently caused problems for many people who took it seriously, sure

      why is that so bad?

      could be that this man might be genuinely undergoing a re-evaluation of what he does believe and does not believe and
      IF he is laying aside all the fundamentalist ‘crazy’ and ‘mean-spirited’ junk, with which he heavily associated as ‘Christian’;
      THEN maybe he is setting out to integrate what remains or what he can now discover that is not clouded with the fundamentalist contemptuous spirit?

      sounds like what many adolescent Christians go through who reach a point of needing to look at the cards their upbringing dealt them and, realizing that some of these cards don’t fit ‘who they are’, are now trying to reach some kind of integrity concerning their beliefs as THEIR beliefs . . .

      this is so bad? I don’t think so. I wish him well if he is sincere. God won’t abandon him. Especially if what he is walking away from is mean-spirited bigotry and the kind of ‘exclusive’ prideful Phariseeism that speaks contemptuously of ‘those other sinners’. (?)

      I give him the benefit of the doubt for the time being. Mostly ’cause I don’t know his whole story, his whole history, and I don’t see his heart. In the pit of fundamentalism, isn’t Jesus kicked to the curb anyway, when men decide that they ‘clearly’ understand all of sacred Scripture without the lens of Christ to help them?

      I hope he find peace. But if this whole thing is a publicity gambit for attention, a ‘teshuva’ to his old ways, a speaking tour among his fundamentalist crowd, and a new book deal, I pity him. That’s the worst case scenario.

      Let’s see where he is headed. Life has a way of helping us achieve a kind of integrity through many trials.

      (?)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Is Josh Harris still a name in Evangelical ghettos? I missed the era of KDGbye by roughly a decade, but that was awhile ago now.

      I’m mostly surprised how much this blew up. Other than KDGbye I never heard of him.

      There have been many author’s who flashed briefly in the Evangelical ghettos, I can only imagine that many of them have subsequently exited the category without fanfare.

      • He was more than a minor celebrity. He was the poster child for how evangelical purtiy teachings succeeded. He was the counterweight to the changing culture. With his example gone, their argument is all the weaker. And his stepping back from Christianity entirely made it all the worse.

        That, and his books made the evangelical industrial machine a cr@pton of cash.

    • I haven’t read Gene Veith’s piece yet but I read a charitable response to Joshua Harris’ announcement from author and blogger Rebecca Lemke at Medium. Julie Anne Smith from Spiritual Sounding Board has also posted several charitable responses, both by her and other authors. I’ve also read quite a few responses, from both Christian and secular authors, which went way over the top in the other direction.

      I’m sad for Josh Harris, his wife Shannon and their three kids. My anger is mostly directed at the celebrity culture in evangelical Christianity and groups such as The Gospel Coalition, where Harris served on the council for a few years. TGC posted a piece on Harris yesterday that was totally inadequate, at least in my view.

    • Patriciamc says

      The whole Josh Harris story highlights the difference between a relationship with Christ and a religion (and to think, I’ve always cringed when people talk about a relationship with Jesus). In other words, on one hand, you have Christ; on the other, you have a system of religion such as the homeschooling movement, Calvinism, Gothardism, and any other -ism where it is possible to have the just the rules/actions and only pay lip-service to Christ. If God/Christ is so entwined in the man-made system, then when the man-made system fails, to people like Harris, God/Christ fails. Plus in the reaction to Harris, the true Christ-followers are the ones sympathizing and not condemning. The system followers, like at Pen and Pulpit (shudder) are the ones yelling “heretic!”

      • They are the modern equivalent of the Galatians who said, “if you want to follow Christ you have to keep Torah”. Nothing new under the sun…

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I think one dynamic in play is looking for Metrics to prove to yourself you’ve Been Saved.

          Never mind when you factor in “Can You Top This?” with such metrics.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        The whole Josh Harris story highlights the difference between a relationship with Christ and a religion (and to think, I’ve always cringed when people talk about a relationship with Jesus).

        That’s because “a relationship with Jesus” is usually talked about in a cringeworthy manner (as well as being badly overused). Not only can the term easily degenerate into “Jesus is My Boyfriend SQUEE!!!!” Bridal Mysticism Lite, but I’m sure we’ve all experienced the Jesus Juke Putdown “YOU have a (sneer) Religion; I have a (smiiiiiile) RELATIONSHIP!”

  3. “The exhumation will also be part of a forthcoming documentary on the History Channel.”

    …aaaand I’m out. 😛

  4. “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”

    This is both typical and telling. If you define Christianity in terms other than Christ, then growing past those terms implies abandoning Christianity. This also is a pretty decent functional definition of idolatry.

    • Except he didn’t tell us what those measurements are. What if he no longer believes in the resurrection, or that Jesus is the Son of God, or that there even is a God? There are some boundaries.

      • He might be hashing that through himself, privately – and given the reception his revelations have gotten so far, it would be hard to blame him.

        • I’m just responding to Richard’s comment. There are some measurements by which we can call someone a Christian. Otherwise it is a meaningless term. But if Josh Harris really wants privacy, posting things online about it is probably not the way to go.

          • Well it has tripled his Instagram followers already, so maybe there’s some influence and profit to be found here…just like this “survey” a year or two ago.

            I’m reminded he grew up in and was trained by the best people in how to manipulate and sway public opinion and monetize it.

            I hope his deconversion is genuine and he works hard on the long process of atoning for his sins and destruction. May he be the first of many in the coming years.

    • Michael Z says

      From other comments he made it sounds like he’s in the middle of a process of “deconstructing” his faith, and that he’s open to the possibility that he might one day “reconstruct” that into a new way of practicing Christianity, but that for now he can’t really imagine how to get there or what that would look like.

      That’s a process that every Christian goes through, over and over again – we build up these false images of God and mistake them for the real thing, and sometimes the only way we’ll be able to see the true God again is to tear down all those false images that have gotten in the way. The trouble is that when someone is a public figure in the Christian world, there’s enormous pressure on them to keep up the appearance of faith instead of going through that process. So you can end up with a backlog of years and years worth of questioning and deconstruction and figuring things out that you’ve put off to the point where when it all finally comes crashing down, you’re left with almost nothing you can be sure of anymore.

    • Ergo, fundamentalism and evangelicalism. No faith or belief required, just facts and law and systems/processes.

      Their gospel is nothing more than a transaction.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        A Fire Insurance Policy (individual, NEVER group).
        With or without a complementary Rapture Reservation.

    • –“By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.” “This is both typical and telling. If you define Christianity in terms other than Christ, then growing past those terms implies abandoning Christianity. This also is a pretty decent functional definition of idolatry.”

      Hmm… I had a bit of a different take. He could just be saying, “Boy, do I have my definition of ‘Christian’ wrong, and if I measure myself against my that definition, I’m certainly not one.”

      Or he could be saying, “Forgive me, for I’m sinner.” In other words, maybe he’s just acknowledging that he’s way off. This could be the beginning of new understanding, rather than the path to atheism.

      Only he knows what’s in his heart. Or maybe God does, too.

      • Richard, maybe I’m saying the same thing you are. My apologies if it sounds like I’m being argumentative.

    • Josh Harris may still hold to daunting standards for the meaning of “Christian.” This new-calvinist, 9Marks, CBMW crowd keeps hammering the sermon topic, “If you’re not following a godly life [insert party-line definition of ‘godly life’ here] you should consider whether you’re even a Christian.”

      So much for 1John 5:13, and so much for the hymn “Blessed Assurance.”

      If my theory is correct, there’s an irony in Harris’s adherence to new-calvinist doctrine while at the same time feeling unworthy of, and abandoning, Christian doctrine.

      • A bitter irony. As is often said in Reformed circles, “just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean it’s not true.” And if you’re taught and raised to believe that that system *is* true, then it can be very hard to abandon even as it is destroying you.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Because your Predestined Election (i.e. Salvation) is at stake.
          Eternal Hell can be quite a motivator.

  5. Board games: One hobby of my youth was old Avalon Hill-style wargames: cardboard counters representing military units, played on a mapboard with a hexagon grid. This often involved, for example, shoving panzers into Stalingrad. SS units in particular often were black with white lettering: very cool. That being said, while there were guys a bit too enthusiastic about certain elements, they were generally recognized as creepy. I suspect that in today’s atmosphere, they would go beyond creepy. But I’m not connected much with the culture nowadays, so I can’t say from personal experience.

    • RPGs have similar philosophical arguments. “Are orcs *inherently* evil? Is it always OK for the players to attack and kill them?” being the perennial favorite. One of the ironies of early D&D was that its inclusion of demons and devils – for which it was lambasted by fundamentalists – was so that players could have unequivocally evil villains to fight.

      • I’m playing a Paladin in a Pathfinder session with the owner and developers at work. Pathfinder not by true choice but because it was the best compliment to what everyone else’s characters were.

        We played a module where we needed to infiltrate by recruitmnet into a cult in a city in order to tear it down.

        I started leaning hard into my Lawful Good role. The cult isn’t evil, their teachings are wrong, we’re just doing what we’re told and they’re the lawful entity in town, they’re helping (some) people, so they’re not bad. We should totally keep following them guys.

        It was twisted and fun at times, but also… so surreal and real at the same time.

        How else would a paladin, forced into alignment, react? lol

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        One of the ironies of early D&D was that its inclusion of demons and devils – for which it was lambasted by fundamentalists…

        Ah, yes.
        OD&D Book 5, Eldritch Wizardry, circa 1976, which not only had a “nekkid chick tied down on an altar” cover, but introduced DEMONS (renamed “Tanarri” during the AD&D2 period). THAT’s what attracted the attention of Christians entering into the Satanic Panic, started all the Flesh-to-Pile-of-Rocks spells incoming, and drove a wedge between Christians and gamers that continues to this day.

        You want to know what an Old School gamer like me was doing during that period? Remember the opening scene of the original Star Wars with C-3PO waddling through the middle of a firefight with all the tracers from both sides zipping all around him? I was Threepio.

    • David Cornwell says

      My brother and I even into young adulthood would spend hours playing Tactics 2 (I think Avalon Hill). To the young now I’m sure it is considered ancient, but we could sit at the kitchen table, talk about the game or anything else, snack on something if we wanted, and simply enjoy each other. He kept it on his shelf for years, and we’d always talk about digging it out again. I wish we had.

      • GMT Games has some very good hex-and-counter wargames available, from all sorts of historical (and speculative) backgrounds. I’d own some myself but old grognard wargamers are hard to come by around here. 🙁

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Years ago, I found a really good SF microarmor game called “Dirtside II” by Ground Zero Games of England. (Anything But WARHAMMER!)

          Unfortunately, I would always find a gaming group that played it just as that group disbanded. The ruleset (and my TO&Es for forces) ended up on my shelf with all the other Orphan Games I’d get hooked on.

          • I have DSII on PDF. One day I’ll play it. :-/

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              If you do, contact me through Chaplain Mike and I can send you my accumulated notes on the game. Including a dozen TO&Es, adaptation to Traveller tech and tech levels, and some old USENET-era text downloads including WW2 adaptation. (Missed the two that could mash up to let you run “Hammers Slammers Meets Godzilla”.)

              Very fast play system using opposed die rolls for attack and defense, eliminating the usual miniatures shtick of one player rolling hits and damage for half an hour while the other breaks for lunch. Simple vehicle design system with a good variety of outcomes.

              I am planning on introducing a demo of GZG’s vintage spaceship-combat rules Full Thrust at a gamecon coming up this fall.

              • Full Thrust… Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time… A long time.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  One thing GZG accomplished was “Fast Play” games with understandable mechanics, the opposite of monstergames. I wish they’d been able to make a bigger splash against the Warhammer monopoly.

      • Tactics 2?!?! Lol. That was always considered an entry level game. I once played a game called War in Europe in which the map took up the floor of my friend’s garage and we played thru an entire summer. Yes, we were slightly insane.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          War in Europe was an SPI monstergame.
          The map taking up an entire garage and taking months to play out is pretty much the definition of a Monstergame. The only Monstergamers I’ve run into were all chronically unemployed and/or on full disability — it’s the only way you can have enough time to actually know all the rules. (And if it was like other monstergames, the monstergamers were coming up with lotsa house rules “to make it more realistic” — I’ve seen this kind of scope creep in both wargames and RPGs; the Magic the Gathering Extinction Event was a mercy killing.)

          • Three words… Empires in Arms. *drops mic*

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              I’ve seen worse. GDW had a whole series of WW2-in-Europe monstergames in the Eighties; they were the ones that coined the term “Monstergame”. But then GDW’s stuff tended toward Monstergame Carcinoma metastasizing into homebrew rules complications for “more detail” and “more realism”. When the Magic the Gathering Extinction Event hit, it killed off GDW and other companies who’d gotten stuck on more and more monstrous monstergames.

    • I played tons of wargames in my youth, still own most of them. Avalon Hill, SPI, Strategy & Tactics. Two of my wargame friends were crazy about the Germans, not so much for the Hitler aspect but because they respected their army, their equipment, and some of their generals (Guderian, Rommel). I usually played the Allies against them. The games were good for historical purposes, too.

      Speaking of games with historical purposes, I’ve recently purchased two COIN (counter-insurgency) games covering the Cuban revolution (Cuba Libre) and Vietnam (Fire in the Lake). Wow, talk about giving a good perspective on the complicated nature of those conflicts!! Highly recommended for you grognards out there.

  6. senecagriggs says

    “Sorry I took my pants off at your ‘gender reveal’ party. I thought we were all participating. My bad.”

  7. So according to Rolling Stone, Innervisions was Stevie Wonder’s peak of his Seventies peak. How do you top that?

  8. senecagriggs says

    When a woman says, “5 minutes,” think like 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter and both teams have all their timeouts.

  9. I hope the Oscar Mayer thing is a joke. It just sounds like a good way to induce vomiting.

    • thatotherjean says

      Indeed. Even if it’s not a joke, it violates one of my (few) rules for life: “Anything that makes you want to throw up is not fun.” I’ll pass.

  10. Steve Newell says

    As time goes by, I have come to agree more and more with Christian Smith in that many Christians actually believe in Moralistic therapeutic deism.

    1. A God exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
    2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
    3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
    4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
    5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

    This is why many people are leaving the Christian faith since there is no Christ in their belief system.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moralistic_therapeutic_deism

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moralistic_therapeutic_deism

    • What then, would be Christian Smith’s five points to the contrary?

    • “1. A God exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.”

      No problem there.

      “2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.”

      Again, no problem, unless you want to include the Church of Satan as a “world religion”. 😉

      “3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.”

      Well, there’s the rub. How do you define “happiness”? Stuff? Emotional highs? Service to God and our fellow humans? Obeying moral purity laws? This is where the tire impacts the asphalt.

      “4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.”

      The question of how and to what extent God is involved in our lives is a key point of discussion and thought here. I’m still hashing this one out, personally…

      “5. Good people go to heaven when they die.”

      Another big point of discussion here. Are we talking harps and clouds, or Resurrection? Does salvation imply any change of attitude and behavior on our parts?

      Long story short, there was a time when what Christian Smith is saying might have resonated, but now I think he’s blasting away at strawmen.

      • Michael Z says

        I think what those points come down to is whether we just turn to God as a band-aid to cover over the things we can’t face: our own negative feelings and experiences, guilt and shame, fear of mortality, and difficult life circumstances.

        I think a large part of Christianity still operates like that, but the more pressing problem right now is culture-war idolatry: people whose primary identity is build not around following Christ but around a political “team” that they want to see win and an opposing “team” they want to defeat at any cost.

        Both of those are very different from true Christianity, which involves being utterly transformed by the experience of intimate communion with God through the power of Christ’s incarnation, and becoming a person through whom God’s kingdom is breaking into the world. True Christianity means turning to God not just to sooth our hurts, and not just to justify our politics, but because communion with God has become our greatest desire.

      • “3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.”

        Well, there’s the rub. How do you define “happiness”? Stuff? Emotional highs? Service to God and our fellow humans? Obeying moral purity laws? This is where the tire impacts the asphalt.

        The natural next thought: so, God does not want us to be happy, Christianity isn’t a religion that will make you happy, the goal is to be unhappy or “not” happy.

        Now that’s a gospel!

    • How is this any different from actual ancient Israelite religious practice before it was idealized centuries later in scripture?

      How is this any different from the last two thousand years of actual Christian practice before it was idealized decades later in scripture and throughout centuries of passion plays and novels and homilies?

      MTD sounds like an accurate summation of much of religion, rather than anything new. What, if we get rid of MTD, are we going to have some fourth wave pentecostal golden age?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > What, if we get rid of MTD

        You’ve accounted for some ~8,000 years of being unable to get rid of it. Few things other than brewing beer and dogs have lasted that long.

        How likely do you thing a fourth wave really is?

  11. I’m not sure about Ice Dog Sandwich either. Is there an August Fools Day I don’t know about? QuikTrip made a milkshake a few years ago with maple flavored bacon. That was not as bad as it sounds. (I didn’t buy one but tasted a friend’s). I recently bought Burger King $1 tacos, twice actually. You should try the Ice Dogs and post a review. I’ll wait.

  12. rhymeswithplague says

    Eeyore, the point of #5 is not what kind of heaven we are talking about but whether you get there by being one of the ‘good people’ and indeed whether it is even possible for people to be ‘good’ — my Bible says it is not. “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

    • But the ones who are commended at the Throne judgment in Matthew are commended for what they DO, not just for believing.

    • That’s a fantastic series of words to lift out of context and divorced from their meaning and intent.

      It’s also bullshit as a pulled out phrase. There are many, many people who do good, and have always been. Prove me wrong.

      Now, back to the context, meaning, and intent. Or, we can talk about my theory that the Bible says Jesus never once slept on a pillow at night.

      • Oooh, I’m up for an argument over what kind of pillow Jesus used,& whether or not he’d go in for a hard t ackle in football…

        • Memory foam or not? I mean, seems to me Jesus wouldn’t need memory foam, but who knows…

    • (1) “Good” is such a subjective term. We need to first agree on an unambiguous definition before making such sweeping conclusions.

      (2) Jesus was one who lived among us, therefore the face-value interpretation of this verse necessarily applies to Him as well (yikes!).

      (3) There are “countless” other verses that contradict the face-value interpretation of this (e.g. Eeyore’s reference).

      (4) Context. Who is the audience and what is the purpose or lesson being taught? You can’t simply take a verse like this and draw a universal conclusion (as used to be my specialty). For instance, Jesus directly calls us to hate our family members (Luke 14:26). That’s in direct contradiction with His other commandments…

      (5) etc

    • RWP, stay tuned. Maybe Chap will address your Romans proof text in his current series on Scot McKnights new book about… Romans.

  13. As the linked article points out, if multiverse exists (and it’s highly debatable whether there can the kind of data that would conclusively support the idea of multiverse existence), it does not neutralize the issue of “fine-tuning”, but merely pushes it back a step to the origins of multiverse rather than the universe. If “fine-tuning” is a problem for materialism, postulating or proving multiverse does not resolve the problem; otoh, it may be that it’s not a problem, but only a perceived problem, and in any case, “fine-tuning” does not provide evidence for God’s existence. We are in the same epistemological place with regard to our knowledge of God’s existence with or without multiverse.

    What does multiverse and “fine-tuning” say about God, to those of us who believe in God’s existence? That God likes really big and powerful things, like multiverses, and really small (relative to the vast expanses of universes and multiverses) and vulnerable things too, like living creatures; and that God is willing to go to absurdly strange and incomprehensible lengths to arrange for both in his creation.

  14. I’m in Massachusetts at St. Joseph’s Abbey this weekend because my uncle, the monk, is in their hospice unit. I eat meals with the retreatants at the guest house where a recording is played during the meal. They are playing the audio book of Nouwen’s Return of the Prodigal Son. Made me think of Imonk. Please say a prayer for my uncle to pass peacefully. This actual experience of hospice is not quite as simple and peaceful as I had imagined it to be.

  15. Regarding whether or not Dillinger is actually buried where he is said to have been buried I have to admit that I have no interest in that question or its answer. I only hope that in the hereafter God has made something more and better of him than his bloodthirsty legend.

  16. senecagriggs says

    Walmart shooting; El Paso. Lone gunman; many injured. 300 plus million guns in the U.S.A. There does not appear to be an end in sight.

    ___________

    33 dead in Kyoto fire set by arsonist. July 18 2019

    https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/07/7cc0f7f7c6e2-dozens-injured-in-fire-after-man-sprays-liquid-at-kyoto-anime-studio.html

    • Whenever you cite these horrific news events, and you do so often, you do it in a way that I can’t help but think you want us to take the same hands-up–in-the-air, fatalistic, “This world is going to burn”, theology-of-passivity attitude toward everything that you do, or that you say you do. Despite your words to the contrary, there is a subtext of glee in your citations, as if you feel pleasure at having the world vindicate your cynical understanding of it. You remind me of the character Cottard in Camus’ The Plague, the outsider who takes pleasure at the onset of the plague, since everyone in the city of Oran is now as miserable as he has been; subsequently, when the plague recedes, he goes crazy at the thought of the return of normalcy, and starts shooting at people in the street from his apartment window.

      • senecagriggs says

        You are down playing an absolutely horrific tragedy. What’s wrong with you?

        • senecagriggs says

          I take it back. Sen

        • “What we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.” — Albert Camus, The Plague

          If an intellectual French atheist and secular humanist could recognize that much nobility in humanity, why can’t you, who supposedly believe that God ennobled humankind in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Whenever you cite these horrific news events, and you do so often, you do it in a way that I can’t help but think you want us to take the same hands-up–in-the-air, fatalistic, “This world is going to burn”, theology-of-passivity attitude toward everything that you do, or that you say you do. Despite your words to the contrary, there is a subtext of glee in your citations, as if you feel pleasure at having the world vindicate your cynical understanding of it.

        Sounds very CHRISTIAN(TM), as observed during my time in-country during the Age of Hal Lindsay.

        The type of CHRISTIAN(TM) who “will be laughing as the world burns” from his catered box suite in Heaven; what is called “The Abominable Fancy”.

    • Patrick Crusius, 21

      From Allen, Texas

      White supremacist

      Trump supporter

      Murdered 20 at Walmart, El Paso, TX

      Used an AK47

      No wall or muslim ban would’ve keep him out.

      Where was he radicalized?

  17. it’s so hot out
    even a zombie
    would sweat

  18. Josh Harris and his book (back in the day) and similar ilk…I was raising our kids during that era. Was over it then!

    Thank God my husband and I didn’t follow the crowd, didn’t get sucked in to every new fad, ‘biblical’ soapbox (i.e., Raising Kids God’s way), Purity culture, etc.

    Linda Kay Klein wrote Purity in response to the damage the purity culture had on her and others. I haven’t read the whole book yet, but she makes some good points.

    We would just nod our head at those who did these, and then say, yeah, no thanks. Look, our kids didn’t turn out perfect, cuz of imperfect parents of course, but they know what it means to live a life of balance and moderation.

    I just could not and still cannot stand it when some Christian avers they have the ‘right’ way or the ‘right’ answer.

    It was hard, because we were still in evangelicalism then, to be the lone fish swimming upstream. But, hey, my kids never felt the need to go extreme in their life choices.

    Oh well, I’m just thankful that peer pressure, no matter where it comes from, hasn’t been an issue for us as a family, and hopefully will continue that way.

    Even now, worshipping at a Lutheran Church–most of our Christian/believer friends think we have gone off the deep end. And my hardline evangelical family, too. That’s fine. Not accountable to them, now or ever. But boy, they sure like to make their comments. We speak back truth, they don’t want to hear/listen. Would rather be stuck in their ‘perfect’ world of church.

    I’m in CA, as you know. So not always on top of this. Wasn’t going to respond today. Didn’t like the tone here, mocking, a bit self-righteous, perhaps. But been thinking about the Josh thing, and felt I should comment before dinner guests come. And drinking wine. ]

    Just sayin’

  19. senecagriggs says

    If there is no God, everything is permitted. Fyodor Dostoevsky

    • Dave Greene says

      Just because he was Dostoevsky it does not mean he was right about everything.

      • senecagriggs says

        But he’s right about that.

        • As a thought experiment that resulted in the profound novel Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky’s idea was a good one and was “right.” But in the real world, psychologically speaking, the absence of belief in God does not equal the absence of closely held personal moral values, nor does presence of the belief in God equal the presence of closely held moral values. Human motivation is too complex to fit that simple equation.

          • I agree with you, Robert. The flip of the quote Seneca quotes is, “If there is a God, nothing is permitted” and sadly some believe that to be truth, too. Or at least, that’s the way they portray it.

            • Dave Greene says

              I would just use the words of Jesus to flip the quote: “the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” John 16:2 NKJV

  20. senecagriggs says

    A noble man!

    https://heavy.com/news/2019/08/glen-oakley-el-paso-walmart-shooting/

    Glen Oakley, he stood in the gap.

    • I was at a Giant supermarket earlier today. Just down the block is a Walmart. I couldn’t help but think about the shooting yesterday, and how it could happen anywhere. And I couldn’t help but wonder if I would risk my life, or even be willing to give it, to help others, if I found myself in the midst of such an incident. I hope I would. But fear and panic are powerful things. I admire the Glen Oakleys of the world for their ability to control and pass through their fear and panic, and being able to help others on the other side of them.

  21. senecagriggs says

    Expert analysis has been ignored in order to use mass killings to generate support for gun control initiatives which have little hope of solving the problem. Many such attacks have taken place in “gun-free zones,” for example.

    Notably, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey has advocated bringing back coercive treatment for the mentally ill, since many mass shooters are schizophrenics. He is certainly not alone among experienced psychiatrists, although you would not know it from reading the mainstream media.

    Psychiatrists realize that many patients simply cannot respond voluntarily to medication or psychotherapy. For them, there is no alternative but coerced treatment or institutionalization in order to protect them from themselves and society from their propensity towards violence.

    In addition, extreme political causes have historically attracted the mentally disturbed. Doestoevsky described the phenomenon of nihilist “mad bombers” in his novel, The Possessed (also known as The Devils).

    It is truly madness to pretend such massacres are not obviously acts of the mentally ill.

    Who really believes a sane person could target innocent schoolchildren, churchgoers, nightclubbers, or Wal-Mart shoppers for mass-murder?
    _____________

    Doestoevsky was a voice for the ages. – harsh truths.

    • Who truly believes that a sane persons would wipe out a whole tribe of people because they believed that God had ordered herem?

    • Are you saying that people with schizophrenia should receive free compulsory mental health care in humanely administered institutions? You socialist you! Remember that it was the administration of Ronald Reagan that repealed laws funding community mental health centers in the 1980s. And realize that institutionalization would not get all the undiagnosed off the streets; for that you would need to have universal screening that have to be paid for. Are you willing to pay your part, as well as undergo screening?