January 24, 2021

Tuesday Open Forum — Plus…

Tuesday Open Forum

We were having some site problems last night and I was on the phone with tech support until long after midnight, so today’s post ain’t gonna happen as planned, folks.

Many apologies.

On the other hand, this will give you a chance to have an open conversation today.

  • Make good, healthy, and wise use of your freedom.
  • Exercise it in love and consideration for others.
  • Try not to dominate any given discussion.
  • I know the world is preoccupied with a few topics these days — I’d love it if some of you would lead the way into helping us explore some other areas of interest and conversation.
  • See you tomorrow with a new post.


Some hot Latin music to energize you in the dog days, courtesy of Rodrigo y Gabriela


  1. I read on John Fea’s blog that Jerry Prevo, longtime “Falwell family loyalist,”has been appointed acting president of Liberty University. So Jr. has his marionette in place. These guys never really take their hand off anything they think they own, especially if it’s a gold mine for them.

    • Christiane says

      sad news for the innocent people who tried to get a credible education at this strangely-run institution

      • Not sure how many are “innocent.” Me-thinks most of them know the nature of the leadership. Well, the males, anyway. “I want to go to a Christian college run by a frat-boy-in-heart!”

    • > These guys never really take their hand off anything they think they own…

      …including female subordinates.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Rank Hath Its Privileges.
        And Alpha Male/Herd Bull has total sexual rights over ALL females in the Herd.

    • He actually had three of his parishioners dress up as devils to gaslight an anti-apartheid protest against him. Classy guy.

    • The template is already in place. They will wait a suitable interval and then Falwell will begin his “repentance” tour. Eventually things will back to “normal”. Tell me I’m being cynical if this doesn’t happen.

      • You forgot to mention the book that goes along with the tour.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Or the Paranormal Angelic Encounter at the gas station in backwoods Wyoming, where some anonymous guy comes out of nowhere with Word of Prophecy commanding his Comeback, Lays on Hands for the Anointing, then mysteriously disappears without a trace.

          • Was that an episode of the X-Files TV show? Or if you prefer, “The Springfield Files.”


            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              No, it was actually claimed by J Mac of Chicago — you know, the ManaGAWD who “joked” about putting kiddie porn on the PC of one of his enemies? Shot deer to pieces and stabbed pictures of his enemies (real or imagined) in his rages? Burned Mancow and got famous on the radio for it? Tried to destroy Julie Roys for blowing the whistle until his lawyers explained “discovery” to him?

              Never used the word “angel” but the narrative follows the plotline of the Standard Evangelical/Pentecostal tales of Angel Encounters. Mystery adult male human comes out of nowhere, delivers some sort of Message, then vanishes.

  2. Where is the haiku?
    Instead, it’s about Falwell.
    Could be a long day.

  3. I’ll take a good faith stab at the request…

    Mrs. and I watch a lot of Netflix in the evenings because we don’t want to go out (because reasons we’re trying not to talk about this morning). Two shows in particular have really grabbed our attention – both Asian TV series, both subtitled:

    Midnight Diner – about a tiny late-night bar/restaurant in a seedy Tokyo neighborhood and all the quirky folks who patronize it. A combination of Cheers and a cooking show, with a liberal dose of Parks and Recreation thrown in. If it sounds crazy, it is. 5 seasons (listed in Netflix under two similar names, go figure).

    Love O2OLove O2O – A romantic comedy where two Chinese college students meet and fall in love while playing the Chinese equivalent of World of Warcraft. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s absolutely hilarious. Great supporting cast arcs too. One season, 30 episodes, story arc fully developed in that season.

    • Eeyore,

      Midnight Diner looks interesting. As an aside, being from the Northeast US, we have a lot of old-school diners here, offering all kinds of food at all times (you want Yankee pot roast, mashed potatoes, and gravy for breakfast, then go for it). Of course, all kinds of folks eat there at all hours of the day (well at least before COVID-19). Wonder if they will do version of that in the US (but maybe visit different real diners),

      • Burro (Mule) says

        In Georgia and Florida, the equivalent eateries are the White Trash Meat’n’Threes, diners that offer a rotating menu of main dishes with a number of vegetable add-ons. They are usually inexpensive, and range in quality from the the sublime to the dyspeptic. Two of these kept me alive during college.

        I think they’re disappearing from the urban Southeast, with its more fru-fru and cosmopolitan culinary landscape, but they have their promoters .

        It will be a sad day indeed if these are all replaced by Korean/Mexican fusion kimchee taco joints.

        • Burro (Mule)

          Agreed. Fortunately, the old-school diners are still around up here. Some them mix it up it though due to changing demographics and add Brazilian or Mexican dishes. Or have diner layout and atmosphere but with ethnic dishes (e.g., a Brazilian diner where Brazilians can have their dinner meal at 8 am).

          That Korean/Mexican kimchee fusion food is good though. Kimchee is nothing more than spicy sauerkraut. The Koreans make a kimchee stew with beef and sausage that is awesome.

          • I have lived in California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and now Maryland. The diners are one of the best features of the latter two states.

            Also, the tomatoes. Growing up in California, my mother would rave about how much better the tomatoes were back east. As a snot-nosed kid I rolled my eyes at this. Then finding myself living in rural Pennsylvania in my thirties, one day I stopped at a roadside farm stand. I called my mother that evening to apologize for the eye-rolls. I should never have doubted her.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          You want old-school diners, go North into Pennsylvania. Avoid the big cities and stick to the smaller towns and older suburbs (where there is actually space between the towns).

          • In am in the older suburbs west from Boston actually. I see a fair number around here as well.

          • Christiane says

            Jersey has the best Greek diners. They feed you big portions and don’t charge an arm and a leg. GOOD eating !

            • Christiane,

              That is good to hear. One my local pizza and sub shops is run by a Greek family. Good food, huge portions, and been around since 1964.

          • In my area of Pennsylvania, most “diners” are not open 356 days a year, 24/7, which in my North Jersey formed understanding of diners means they are not really diners at all, just like the bagels aren’t really bagels.

    • Thanks for the video/show recommendations. Will look into them.

      I’ve got one. If anyone is into dry British humor filled with wonderfully quirky characters, you can’t do any better than the three seasons of “Detectorists.”


  4. Adam Tauno Williams says

    Does anyone have any examples/stores of churches (or faith communities of any stripe) being engaged in a specific, institutionalized, and positive [building not fighting] way *WITH* [not *IN*] their local community? Obviously such things can be hard to find.

    I mean things along the lines of Center for Interfaith Relations (CIR) in Louisville working to eliminate urban heat islands or IndyCan’s (Indianapolis Congregation Action Network) support of the 2016 transit mileage in Indianapolis.

    • Here in Boston, the city basically views the churches as a vital part of the community infrastructure and tries to support them in various ways. For example, except in time of covid, every year there’s a giant gospel concert on City Hall Plaza that is funded and advertised by the city, the same way they would fund any other outdoor concert. Thousands of people come.

      Meanwhile churches, as is true in many parts of the country, are running a large portion of the food pantries, homeless resources, etc. Churches also provide all sorts of assistance, financial and otherwise, for members and friends of their communities.

      I have a theory that the Northeast is actually so securely secular that secular institutions have stopped feeling threatened by Christianity and have come around to being willing to partner with Christians instead. (It helps that some of the more toxic expressions of Christianity are pretty rare around here.)

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        “””the Northeast is actually so securely secular that secular institutions have stopped feeling threatened by Christianity and have come around to being willing to partner with Christians instead”””

        I believe this notion has a lot of merit.

        Also, churches there seem comfortable in their minoritarian position.

        • Speaking as a northeastern (more or less, depending on how you think of Baltimore) minoritarian Christian, there is something to be said for it. Why does any given individual attend a church? The reasons vary wildly. Some are good. Some are bad. How can this be bad? Consider the affinity scammer, targeting the church members. Or the local politician going to the whichever is the largest church in town, seeking votes. Or the middle ground of the people who go to a church because that’s what people of their ethnic and socio-economic class do.

          I think a lot of the pathologies of modern Christianity derive from this phenomenon. Yes, once their butts are in the pews they might discover the Gospel. But in practice, it often goes the other direction. (And really, this is merely an extension of the effects on the church of Constantine’s conversion.)

          Say what you will about us northeastern liberal mainline churches. There may not be many of us in the pews, but the ones who are aren’t there because it is fashionable or trendy or the path to personal financial gain.

          Oh, and we hand out sack lunches to people who show up at our door. This won’t solve any of the underlying problems, but it can help with the immediate problem that this person is hungry.

          • Richard H and Michael Z,

            I am also in the Northeast, and I suspect many of those Christian church goers here are more genuine in their faith as their is no cultural, political, nor civil expectation to do the “church thing” as in the Bible belt. I suspect the infection of politics is also minimized.

            • rhymeswithplague says

              Wait, what? You’re in the Northeast? Did I miss something? I know I don’t come here as often as I used to, but I thought you were in Indiana. That’s the Midwest in my book, not the Northeast. Where are you now, and when and under what circumstances did that happen?

              • Clay Crouch says

                CM is not Chaplain Mike.

                • How do we know that?

                  • Well, we know it because each of them said so, unless maybe you’re going conspiracy theory on us and suggesting they lied and are actually one and the same…

                    • I think we’ve found Q….or Q has found us….

                    • Rick Ro.,

                      Actually we were once cojoined twins who were separated shortly after birth and then given up for adoption. We reconnected many years later in the blogosphere and he asked me to adopt the moniker CM on this site to confuse people and help generate crazy conspiracy theories for the purposes of web hits and causing the posters to add lots of comments. That way the my twin doesn’t need to post so much and he can enjoy his martini lunches.

                    • CM, How much is George Soros paying you? Fess up! Come on, out with it!

            • Dan from Georgia says

              Hi CM! I have been living in Georgia for the last 10 years, but spent the first 42 years of my life in Minnesota.

              Georgia = Bible Belt. God and Guns, and not necessarily in that order.
              Minnesota = Heck, we are so liberal we went with Mondale and Dukakis!

              I actually made a similar statement to my wife a few years ago. I remarked that it seemed like the faith of believers in Minnesota was more genuine than down here in Georgia. I could be wrong, but it seems like the culture is so infused with cultural Christianity that it’s just assumed that you are “Christian religious”.

              Down here in my area, we have “Hell Houses” (a Halloween thing), you can’t throw a rock without hitting a Baptist church (Southern and IFB), Chick Fil A and SEC football rival Jesus in terms of adoration, “talk radio” is only conservative, and Catholic Churches are, well, uncommon.

              Honestly, I miss living in Minnesota.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Also, churches there seem comfortable in their minoritarian position.

          Historically, the Church has been most influential when is is in a “minoritarian position” without political power, only unofficial soft power. My church (RCC) found this out the hard way; took many centuries to learn it. Now the Born-Again Bible-Believing RTCs will have to learn this the hard way over the next few centuries.

    • Our church has been working to find homes for a couple of people in the working-class suburban neighborhood who came for the Grab ‘n Go lunches who had became homeless as a result of pandemic economic dislocation.

    • Catholic Charities in Santa Rosa has always done outstanding work. The latest project has them working with the City to be able to build a whole apartment complex that will be transitional housing for homeless families, along with expanding their job training and other support services. Permits have been granted, and they are good to go on to construction. My parish has sponsored a room in their current facility for some years. We also work with the local Food Bank as a weekly distribution site in that part of town.

      In my own little burg, I haven’t heard of anything, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening; I’m generally the last to hear of those things anyhow, especially since we stopped taking the local paper (8-10-pages 6 days/week). They have cut so much from it but keep raising the price – nearly $30/month for the dead tree version.


  5. /me wracks his brain for non-political but still stimulating discussion topics.

    In the park near my house, I often see baby ducks following their parents around. And baby geese following their parents around. I can watch them grow up over time (teenage geese are adorably awkward).

    BUT, I never see baby squirrels following their parents around. In fact, I’m not sure I even see teenage squirrels. Squirrels seem to spring into the world already fully adult-sized. Where are the baby squirrels? Please discuss.

    • Squirrel pups grow fast (6-10 weeks), and generally stay in the nest until weaned (so says the Encyclopedia Wikipedia).

      • Brian Shelton says

        My crews accidentally disturbed a nest at work last week. 3 pups inside. Momma took off in the confusion. the little ones still hadnt opened their eyes. cute as could be but then started crying. 8 grown tough-guy construction workers shut down the construction site to wade into the fallen tree, gently collect the nest and the babies, and put them all back safely into the crook of an adjacent tree for momma to find. It was a very reassuring scene given all going on around us.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      We’ve got teen squirrels here; they are super scrawny. Like something from a goth Disney cartoon. They only exist from about mid-July to mid-August; they pack on the pounds faster than a freshman with a cafeteria card.

    • Here in DC we have a large population of black squirrels. Apparently they’re not a separate species but common eastern gray squirrels that pass on a pigment gene mutation. The mutation occurs throughout the natural range of the gray squirrel but in most areas constitutes less than 1% of the population. But there are areas where they dominate (the Great Lakes Region), and areas like DC where they make up a sizable minority of the population, here about 25%. They’re beautiful animals, very striking when their fur is thick. And of course like all urban squirrels not shy about making their wishes known. It is not unusual to have to them join you on a park bench and sit patiently waiting for you to either feed them or drop something they can claim. Much preferable to pigeons.

      • Back 5 years or so ago we had one guy/gal we could recognize as it had a white ring around it’s tail. Only one I was able to track over the 30 years in this house.

      • The town I was born in is famous for its population of albino squirrels, first discovered about 100 years ago. They are even featured on Olney’s police cars there in Southern Illinois.

      • > It is not unusual to have to them join you on a park bench and sit patiently waiting for you to either feed them or drop something they can claim.

        Those are very polite squirrels. Here in Boston they will jump up into your lap and try to grab whatever you’re eating…

    • Burro (Mule) says


      I always thought armadillos were born on their backs with their four feet sticking up into the air. Imagine my surprise when I caught one digging up my sweet potatoes at midnight.

      • One thing I will say about Georgia: you can grow some awesome sweet potatoes here. One year I turned a four pounder into a sweet potato jack o lantern in the form of the head of Family Guy’s Stewie.

        Never had to deal with armadillos on the West/North side, though.

        • Dan from Georgia says

          My wife and I live in Georgia (have for the last 10 years), and its sad that we have seen maybe 1 live armadillo.

          Seen numerous armadillos motionless on the road.

      • Around here they usually have a beer can between their paws, courtesy of some good samaritan with nowhere else to put it.

    • Pigeons, too. All of them are adults.

  6. Hats off to the churches making the investment in a quality online presence whether it be Zoom, YouTube, Facebook, or open live streaming. Most are improving, but some gave up and closed their doors. I found an online directory of many, and I usually visit two or three services each weekend and one during the week. The ones with the best audio-video, staging, and scripture-based sermons get me to return. Many pastors have recognized and seized the opportunity to increase their congregation. A few have added small groups and even a book club. Admittedly, attendance has dropped off somewhat for some since June. Personally, I like the informality.

  7. Tom Parker says

    I was always taught once saved always saved. I am not really sure about this anymore. Would love to know other people’s views about this.

    • What in particular has changed your mind? I’m not sure where I stand as I see scripture that could be used to support once saved always saved and others which show the possibility of falling away. As a practical matter I don’t know how much it helps anyway. In a Baptist church if someone makes a profession of faith and then later in life isn’t living as a Christian or denies the faith, it will just be said that they were never saved to begin with. So it would seem the only evidence that someone is saved is at least some fruit to indicate that they are saved and even then that can change. This is also only relevant if you believe in some form of eternal punishment whether conscious torment or total annihilation. If you take the stand of the book CM has been reviewing we are all once saved always saved, even if we don’t know it.

      • Tom Parker says

        Jon: It just seems to me anymore that at least the 42 years I spent in the Baptist Church you could walk the aisle and say certain words and you were “saved”. Thankfully, not everyone, but sometimes this person for all appearances and actions was done and went on with their lives. I want to be very honest, someone watching my life, might not be convinced if I am saved.

        I also am not sure what Hell is anymore, and definitely do not who ends up there.

        I am not trying to be a funny guy, but many days I am not as confident about the Bible as I used to be. It is a daily struggle for me.

        • the Baptist Church you could walk the aisle and say certain words and you were “saved”.

          I decided I had joined the wrong small group when one of the leaders was bragging about how they got the Blockbuster clerk to say the sinners prayer and thus they were saved. No need to even walk the aisle.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Or to “come alongside” the Blockbuster clerk in any form of community.
            “You’re on your own!”

            The Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.
            Lobsters in a bucket, pushing each other down as they climb up into Heaven.

        • Tom don’t be so hard on yourself. Lack of confidence is not always a bad thing. Indeed there are multiple examples where confidence led to disaster. “I don’t know” is not bad mantra these days. It’s possibly the truest words we ever speak.

        • Hi, Tom! Thanks for sharing your angst/doubts. And your “issues” are exactly why the Internetmonk exists—for folks like you!

          Many, many arguments and “flags planted and battles fought” over the once-saved-always-saved vs. you-can-lose-your-salvation. I don’t bother any more. Jesus saves. Period. Bottom Line. End of Story. If you’re worried you can lose your salvation or a loved one can lose their salvation, those are the wrong worries. Trust Jesus in all things… especially this “salvation” thing.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Many, many arguments and “flags planted and battles fought” over the once-saved-always-saved vs. you-can-lose-your-salvation.

            The sages have a hundred maps to give
            That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
            They rattle reason out through many a sieve
            That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
            And all these things are less than dust to me
            Because my name is Lazarus and I live.
            — G.K.Chesterton, “The Convert”, 1927

        • Tom,

          may I suggest that your diminished confidence in the Bible is probably diminished confidence in the interpretation of it you were given? It’s okay to set that interpretation aside. It’s okay to take a break from reading it for a period of time (simply reading Scripture is not what saves us…), or just read your favorite Psalms, or the Gospels. The Bible is important because it’s a witness to Jesus and all he is. And… Paul read Scripture for a lot of years, but it took an encounter with Jesus (while he was not reading Scripture) to change the way he understood it. It’s disorienting to be in the spot you’re in, but it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, or with the heart of Christianity – which is NOT The Bible. Keep trusting Jesus.


      • Michael Bell says

        I wrote an entire post on what changed my mind:


    • This notion of being “saved” is a peculiarity of Evangelical Christianity. It has (and has had since its beginning in the 18th century) an emphasis on–even demanding–the conversion experience–the Road to Damascus. This is not quite the same thing as the Evangelical idea of being “saved,” but it is close. Hence the traditional Evangelical quasi-sacrament of “testimony.”

      There were entirely understandable reasons for this emphasis in the 18th century context. Evangelicalism arose as a response to complacency in the established churches. (Hence the line that Methodists were Anglicans who got religion.) But it turns out to result in a startling broad range of problems, but theological and practical. These are far too extensive for a blog comment. But turning to your question, what is one to make of an individual with an impeccable conversion experience, who therefore is “saved,” yet turns out still to be a part of fallible humanity? There are various possible responses. One extreme position that a person who is saved is by definition not a sinner, so behaviors that might appear to be sinful actually is not. This is “antinomianism,” and never goes well. The other extreme is to conclude that this person wasn’t really saved after all, at best mistaking a bit of indigestion for a Road to Damascus experience.

      The idea of being “saved” turns out not to be all that useful in practice. The “saved” often turn out to behave as poorly as the “unsaved,” who take note of this. And the sincere Christian receives no assurance of salvation.

      I am Lutheran. We have an entirely different theology of sin and salvation. Should an Evangelical ask me when I was “saved,” the only answer I can give is “about two thousand years ago,” which isn’t what my questioner meant. Indeed, my answer is pretty much meaningless to him, but then so was his question to me. If we were saved two thousand years ago, what does it mean when we notice a buxom lass on the street? The answer is the doctrine that we are at the same time saints and sinners. (Use “Simul Justus et Peccator” if you want to impress people at parties.) And think of “sin” not as an act, but as a state of being: the human condition. Older texts sometimes use “crimes” for the acts that result from sin. This is a very useful distinction. And finally, and this is the big one, take seriously the doctrine that our salvation does not result from any action of our own. Noticing that buxom lass on the street has absolutely nothing to do with it. Your salvation is not endangered by it, and your being saved doesn’t mean you won’t notice. This isn’t to say that there isn’t a Christian response. We are called to love our neighbors. This includes that buxom lass, and harassing her with, for example, a wolf whistle is not a loving act. But this is not a question of your (or hers) salvation. It is a question of how we respond to our being saved–to Christ on the cross.

      • Richard,

        Of course the whole notion of the altar call and decisional regeneration is right out of Finney in the late 19th century. It was then popularized by Billy Sunday, Moody, and Billy Graham.

        It not was practiced during the First Great Awakening (Wesley, Whitfield, Edwards, etc.) nor by the various Puritan and Continental Reformed theologians in the 17th and 18th centuries, nor by folks like Knox, Zwingli, etc.

      • Clay Crouch says

        To your hypothetical question, “When were you saved?”, I would reply, “From before the foundation of the world.”

        I despise what the word “sin” has it has come mean in vernacular of evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity.

      • Hence the line that Methodists were Anglicans who got religion.

        And I thought they just wanted a more orderly world.

    • I don’t think in terms of saved vs. saved anymore, if I ever did. I’m not sure the first generations of Christians did either. Did Jesus? Did Apostles? Did Paul?

    • Clay Crouch says

      Saved from what?

      • In reading the gospels and taking particular note of who finds Jesus’ message “Good News” and who doesn’t, I’d say…

        Saved from bad, unhealthy religion.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Saved from what Jesus is going to do to you If You Don’t.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      The last letter of the Calvinist TULIP – final Perseverance – is a doctrine with some real meat on its bones. I think it is especially applicable to Universalists and those like myself who aspire to be. Basically the idea is that God will save you even if He has to kill you or maim you to do so.

      I’ve never been a Baptist, so I don’t know what the seminary version of this doctrine sounds like, but the version that Baptist guy on the street adheres to always struck me a very wussy version of the Calvinist doctrine.

      • Iain Lovejoy says

        My understanding is that the Calvinist’s “perseverance” isn’t really like the universalists’ version at all, except at a superficial level. In Calvinism one is saved by “faith”, by which they mean belief, and what one is saved from is hell, not death or sin. It is completely unnecessary for God to maim or kill to save someone, as it does not require their cooperation at all, and is completed at the point of conversion (so long as it is “sincere”). If you aren’t saved then, you never are, and God will not lift a finger to do make it otherwise.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      I want to see some discussion on this, but I don’t really want to participate, just listen.
      Especially on some of the points Richard made.
      Is that too selfish?

    • To follow up on a comment I made the other day to which no one responded, what about babies or those with no mental capacity for belief systems to begin with? People across the faith spectrum tend to confess that they believe they are ultimately saved, although if that’s the case, and some people die later in life and do go to hell (or experience annihilationism), then that proves someone initially went from being in a state of “saved” to “not saved”. If there is a hell and babies are ultimately saved, then according to that logic we ought to slaughter everyone that is born, since there will be many among them that will ultimately not become Christian and instead experience eternal separation. The fact that this line of reasoning leads to the ultimate good undermines the entire premise that either some end up eternally separate (i.e. annihilationism or hell) from God, or that people with limited mental capacity are saved.

      • David H, I saw your comment but didn’t know how to answer it then or today. The more I read the comments from Dana, Mule and Fr Stephen Freeman’s blog, the more I think being “saved” has everything to do with becoming more human, or Christ-like, and ALL are on the journey to that ultimate end thanks to Christ Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension.

        • Yea, that’s kind of how I view it too (which you have all put much more eloquently than I can). In this case I was proving that if one adheres to either hell/annihilationism, then by definition it is possible to lose your salvation (assuming innocent babies are saved). As noted below, I’m sure even as adults we are essentially still babies given how wide the chasm is between us and God. However, as adults we at least have a “capacity” for love and understanding right/wrong, which is what it means to be made in God’s image, so definitely a fundamental distinction to consider whenever discussing the topic of salvation.

          • I see what you are saying.

            On a side note, it is ironic that as adults we are commanded to become like children. Matthew 18:3

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        If there is a hell and babies are ultimately saved, then according to that logic we ought to slaughter everyone that is born, since there will be many among them that will ultimately not become Christian and instead experience eternal separation.

        You are not the only one to point that out.

      • –> “…what about babies or those with no mental capacity for belief systems to begin with?”

        Maybe “goo-goo, gah-gah” is baby-talk for, “Lord, I believe; help me with my unbelief!”

      • Iain Lovejoy says

        The Calvinist answer is apparently that since we are separated into elect and reprobate before we are born, the elect who die as infants are already saved and so will go to heaven. Calvinist are divided (and Calvin unclear) as to whether (a) there are no reprobates who die in infancy I.e. God ensures that only elect infants die before they have had he opportunity to sin (b) as all are damned and guilty by original sin it’s fine for God to send reprobate infants to hell either (i) for what God knows they would have done if they had made it to adulthood, or (ii) just because they deserve it anyway on account of that original sin.
        (And yes, neither option makes sense, and option (b) is horrible into the bargain.)

        • I see…it seems more often than not these types of discussions boil down to semantics too. The whole concept of “losing” salvation is based on time, which is difficult to discuss when it’s with regards to an eternal life and a God outside of time who knew us before we were born.

    • One way of thinking about this issue, which I’ve found helpful, is to notice and take seriously how often the New Testament exhorts its readers to persevere. If once-saved-always-saved, this exhortation don’t make a lot of sense. For example, I came across the following this morning in Colossians: “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled. . . if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard” (Colossians 1:21-23).

  8. Sorry to be critical but I wish you had left Mike Bell’s post as the last one for another day as comments were not working for most of the afternoon/evening.

    And around here comments mostly shut down as soon as a new post is up.

    • I believe comments are open for 7 days on posts unless I manually close them. But it is true that most of the conversation happens day of.

      When Jeff and I first started, we were trying to post 2-3X per DAY!!! But that was overwhelming for everyone. We eventually settled on a daily post.

      But people still read the previous posts and I see comments regularly on them.

  9. Rodrigo y Gabriela are terrific. I have a fond memory of the time I was sitting at my desk at work playing one of their CDs on my computer. Some Hispanic tradesmen were doing some sort of facilities work in the next office. At one point one of them looked in at me to see who was playing this, and obviously was astonished to find someone as white as me. As Duke Ellington said, “There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind.” Rodrigo y Gabriela are the first kind.

  10. Just want to say what a good place IM has been for me since a friend introduced me to Micheal Spencer’s ‘Coming Evangelical Collapse’ shortly after it was printed by CSM. Michael said things I felt and believed for a long time, and I do miss his humor, transparency, and his fantastic writing. He (and IM since then) has helped lead me out of evangelicalism (and know that it was OK) and through the wilderness. Thanks to Michael, Chaplain Mike, the other writers, and all the commenters. We don’t always agree but I always find affirmation, acceptance, and my thinking is expanded and challenged. This is probably the healthiest Christian ‘community’ I have known (certainly more than the churches I spend 30+ years in).

  11. Re TV:

    We bought a new Samsung TV earlier this year. It came with some of its own streaming channels – a few useful and entertaining ones, mostly not. One of them I’ve been enjoying is MHz. They have two versions, the “free” one on Samsung, and a subscription one for regular streaming if you want to pay $7.99 per month. I’m in front of screens too much already, so I just watch the “free” version a couple of hours a day. They show non-English-language programs – mysteries, historical dramas and “soapy” mini-series – from Europe, with pretty good subtitling. I’m not fluent anymore, so the subtitling helps. I understand the German shows most of all, second the Italian, and I can get a lot out of the French ones. I like the mysteries most of all, and some of the historical dramas. The shows are cut for commercials, unlike the originals, but there’s a lot more time between the commercial breaks than there is in US programs. Between MHz and PBS, my husband and I find we’re watching a lot of mysteries. It makes sense that we want to see programs that end with justice (such as it is) being served, as opposed to what happens so often “in real life”.

    Our favorite show on Netflix is “The Repair Shop”. Sad that there’s only 3 seasons so far; hopefully they’ll make more.

    (Our smart TV has no camera. We do not use the voice remote, just the regular one. We do not have Alexa or her friend, and we never will. Our phones already transmit too much information to places we would rather not send it, but can’t get around.)



    • My mother-in-law bought us an Alexa without asking me first. I refuse to install it. The benefits are tiny, while the sacrifice is vast. My wife thinks I am overreacting. My response is that if someone else sets it up, I won’t stop them. But I am the household installer of stuff. The idea of someone else doing it seems to be beyond comprehension, so the situation is stable.

    • I really like some of the police procedurals on MHz, interesting to see the foreign take on what I assumed was an American tv invention

    • I’ll second the recommendation for Repair Shop. The episode where they were trying to fix a 70s vintage battery operated Dalek was hilarious.

      • Dana & Eeyore: the Repair Shop is only about 15 miles away from where I live. It stands on the grounds of the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum that has loads of ancient buildings that were preserved & then rebuilt on that location.

        It also has lots of rare/old breeds of sheep & cattle, & uses old methods to plough fields etc, & has done a lot for preserving old crafts such as stone carving & thatching. It’s one of my favourite places to go – the Repair Shop building is down near the Forge where on open days you can see a Smith working.

  12. Burro (Mule) says

    One thing that has always intrigued me is Comparative Churchyness. A lot of the criticism I have to field from my Evangelical friends and relatives is that “The Orthodox aren’t saved. They never talk about what Jesus is ‘doing in their lives’. If someone in their family gets healed, you never hear anything about it in the church.”.

    That’s true. There is a certain kind of Evangelical who always wants to talk about what ‘Jesus’ is ‘doing’ in his life. he is on guard constantly for opportunities to ‘share his testimony’; how he used to ‘gamble, cuss, smoke, wench, cheat, carouse, kick, scratch, eye-gouge, and just plain drive too fast’ but now he doesn’t because Jesus. Or that she had inoperable cancer, but now she runs half-marathons because Jesus. That kind of talk makes the Orthodox very uncomfortable, not because they haven’t experienced it themselves (some have), but because it is so personal coming from a non-family member.

    That doesn’t mean the Orthodox don’t love to talk about Church. They dissect every Churchly event mercilessly and love to critique all parties involved. Church politics is a particular delight. The positive aspects of Church life are highly appreciated; marriages, baptisms, anniversaries, and yes, healings (usually marked by a dessert or banquet honoring Christ, the Virgin, or the saint responsible). When we do evangelism, we do have a tendency to talk about Orthodoxy, and not about Jesus, which is odd, because it is the Orthodox Christ who draws people when they get tired of the Jack Ryan Christ, or the hapless victim of His Father’s Pissed-off Fury.

    I’ll be the first to admit that Orthodox Evangelism is hard. Orthodoxy is demanding and it is a lot harder to become Orthodox than it is to become Evangelical, but someday I’d love to set up two big icons of Jesus and the Virgin with a garbage bag full of sandwiches, a couple of cases of Fanta, and just start some conversations.

    I wonder what I’d hear.

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      “The Orthodox aren’t saved. They never talk about what Jesus is ‘doing in their lives’. If someone in their family gets healed, you never hear anything about it in the church.”
      I’m puzzled: do you mean your Evangelical friends think that the Orthodox aren’t saved because Jesus doesn’t do anything in their lives or people don’t get healed, or that they aren’t saved because although it happens, people don’t talk about it? (The former sounds more Pentecostal than Evangelical, and the latter just bonkers.)

      • Most Evangelicals (when asked) will tell you that non “Evangelicals” are NOT saved. Well most of them aren’t.

        Well because. Jesus isn’t their personal savior. And so on. Because the Evangelical church is the only true church.

        And if you start asking about what about the first 1800 years after Christ you eventually get to some form of Landmarkism.


        Now layer on TULIP and the elect and Evangelicals can exclude a lot of people.

        • I can’t fathom the gall it takes for someone to say that someone else isn’t “saved”. It makes me sick. Unfortunately I think you can find this type of thinking in every tribe in Christendom. As a misfit and outsider among the religious, I will always have compassion for the excluded and find exclusion from any tribe to be gross.

    • Though interestingly the Orthodox concept Theosis and the writings of John Calvin in regards to Union with Christ are strikingly similar. Also, Calvin had a profound respect and appreciation for the Eastern Church fathers and it is reflected in his writings.

  13. Double post. Moderator…. feel free to delete this one.

  14. Dan from Georgia says

    A side discussion (hope to start one at least).

    I am a huge music fan. Always love discovering new songs, artists, etc. My usual route of adventure is iTunes (no gufffaws please). Also like to peruse stores that carry used music tapes/CD’s etc.

    Question: for you music lovers out there, how to you find new and exciting tunes, bands, etc?

    • Hi Dan, I love iTunes, especially the “new music” email that comes each week. Unfortunately I’m not that “hip” so this probably isn’t helpful to you. lol…

      • Dan from Georgia says

        Hi JoelG!

        I’m not a hipster either. I know that whatever avenue I would use to find new music, a hipster will come along and say “pfft….you use THAT still?” ha! Anyways, I just find it fun to click on an artist and find connections to other artists.

        • It IS fun looking for those hidden gems amongst all the new music out there. And the ability to pluck songs from albums and make your own playlists is GREAT! We are spoiled these days.

    • Here are a few ways I’ve discovered some new music…

      1) I have a millennial nephew whose music styles are close to mine, so I periodically ask him, “Any new groups for me to try?” He turned me onto the group Muse, which has been a huge hit for me. (Then I’ll search sites like AllMusic for “bands like” ones he likes.)

      2) I subscribe to AllMusic, which sends out weekly “new release” info. If something sounds intriguing, I’ll give them a listen view YouTube or some such method.

      3) Pandora is good for their “playlists” not being just of “U2”, but sprinkling in music that’s similar to U2 (or whoever your band of choice might be).

      4) Metacritic shows review compilations of new releases, so I’ll periodically peruse some of those for something that sounds interesting and worth trying, again usually checking them out on YouTube or some such platform.

    • Clay Crouch says

      Pandora and Spotify are good sources. I’ve had a free Pandora account for years. They are good at recommending artists who are similar (not too) to the ones you like. Happy hunting!

      • Dan from Georgia says

        That’s what I like about these services…you find stuff similar to what you already have, and you find stuff that may be off the beaten path.

    • I tend to use Spotify, which you can find lots of playlists on, so you can listen to playlists that are like various music you already like, or are just made up of new songs that are only just out etc. It’s a good way to find new stuff, though the algorithms will try to keep narrowing down to stuff it realises you like, in which case looking for new playlists or going off their main new recommendations is worth doing.

      • My kids prefer Spotify, as well. They are much more into music than I am. I suppose I will have to check it out now. 🙂

  15. dark clouds
    have cancelled the night sky’s
    open forum

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