January 23, 2021

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: October 10, 2020 – Open Mic Edition

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: October 10, 2020 – Open Mic Edition

Well, fellow brunchers, your chaplain is weary this weekend after covering for his colleague whose been on vacation and taking care of his own patients as well. I had posted a few things throughout the week, but find I’m lacking energy tonight to add more content and compose a slam-bang brunch for the morning.

So…we’ll move to the Open Mic format for today. Heaven knows, there was an overabundance of news this week to talk about. Or to ignore, so that we can focus on things less tiresome, more encouraging, and without as many apocalyptic overtones.

That’s up to you. But remember — this is no Trump v. Biden debate. I expect you behave yourselves and show the rarest of commodities in today’s social media world…

…respect and civility in the conversation, even when disagreeing.


  1. Michael Bell says

    Hey folks, just a reminder that I am updating Friday’s post throughout the day today. Feel free to take more guesses and hear some more humorous stories.

  2. Pellicano Solitudinis says

    The article about Chaim Potok linked in the sidebar is well worth reading, as are Chaim Potok’s books if you haven’t yet encountered them.

    In other news, my daughter sewed her first wearable garments this week and one of my sons is digging new beds in the garden. News from the world outside is bleak, and best taken in small doses.

    • I loved Potok’s novel The Book of Lights. It helped shape my religious beliefs more than many a Christian work of either fiction or nonfiction at a crucial time in my life.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        This might be due to the sheer EARTHINESS of Jewish culture.
        Concentration is more towards the Here-and-Now instead of the Hereafter.

    • Thanks for pointing that out. Chaim Potok has been one of my favorite authors for a lot of years, and one of my regrets is never having written to him (a friend of mine did, and received a reply).

      Along with Robert F, I’ll second The Book of Lights -a novel about a young rabbi who finds himself drafted into the Korean War as a chaplain. It’s a many-layered story and involves the moral dilemma of Hiroshima as well.

      I keep going back to the two Asher Lev novels, about a gifted artist from the Hasidic tradition, where gifted artists of his ilk are not encouraged. And also to Davita’s Harp, about a young girl growing up in a Marxist-Hasidic-Episcopalian dilemma. All of Potok’s books are lessons in early 20th-century history with art, religion, psychology, philosophy, woven throughout. Mysticism in some, like The Book of Lights. And Potok’s history of the Jews, entitled Wanderings, is not bad.

    • Making things for good use is a wonderful therapy for just about everything. Good for your children!

      Don’t know if the same thing happened in Tasmania, dear Pelican, but here in USA there was a great shortage of flour of all kinds in March and into April. Not only were distribution lines thrown into a tizzy with dealing with the contagion, but many people started baking at home. At least the groceries didn’t jack up the prices, but a sack of flour was scarce as hen’s teeth.


    • Christiane says

      the first book by Potok that I read was ‘The Chosen’. I was hooked. What an opportunity to visit inside of a culture that is fascinating and meaningful beyond words. Stunning read!

  3. To the sports fans out there, during this time of overlapping sports seasons, are you finding that you are as excited and interested as in years past, or less so?

    • Wait, there are still spots games playing? 😛

      • Michael Bell says

        Hockey and basketball is done, so nothing worth watching I’d left.

        • There’s still baseball, although Chaplain Mike’s Cubs were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round. The AL championship begins tomorrow night and the NL championship starts on Monday night. I have no plans to watch. The National Football League is also playing. I’ve yet to watch a single game, and neither are a lot of other fans if the ratings are any indication. NASCAR has a few more races left; I’m not sure how many folks are paying attention.

    • Andrew Zook says

      I’m excited about the English Premiere League and that playing without crowds and not much of a preseason has added some factors that may make games themselves more interesting (no 0-0draws yet..) So far there’s been more goals per game (or shoddy defense?) since the 90’s when the league was organized as it is now. And both Manchester clubs (whom I despise) are floundering, so that’s exciting…And some underdogs are shining, which always makes me happy. So that’s one distracting bright spot far from the shores of this overcast usa…

    • I was really excited that the MLB figured out how to get 60 games in, and I thought their attempts at making sure it succeeded worked well (7-inning doubleheaders, the weird extra-inning baserunner, DH in the NL). I’m mildly interested in the playoffs, though cramming all the first games so tightly together did lead to “burn out.” I mean, there came a time last week when I decided I’d had enough of ALL sports and just shut it off.

      Interest has a lot to do with how your own teams are faring, and I, as a Seattleite, have done well in that regard. Other than the lowly Mariners, I’ve got the exciting Seahawks, good Sounders, World Champ Storm, to root on.

      But yes, the overlapping sports seasons… SO MANY GAMES ON… make each game seem a little less exciting. I’m barely watching any college football, for example, when usually I love taking in NCAA games.

      • Dan from Georgia says

        I love baseball and it was interesting to see what the MLB did this season. Can someone…anyone….c’mon…anyone show my Twins how to win a playoff game?…anyone?…Bueller?….

        I am excited to see the Braves and Marlins make it this far…and far more excited to see the Yankees get the proverbial rug pulled out from underneath them.

        • Dan from Georgia says

          Dang tropics….

          Rays! The Tampa Bay Rays! That is what I meant…yeah…that is what I meant…

        • At least your Twins MAKE the playoffs. The Mariners haven’t BEEN to the playoffs in 18 years, the longest active streak in professional sports, ANY sport!!!

        • Fellow Twins fan here. Very frustrating. Last year was especially disappointing since they had such a successful season.

          Oh well. We’ll always have ‘87 and ‘91. That’s more than we can say for the Vikings.

          • Dan from Georgia says

            Yeah, seems like the Twins don’t even put up a fight in the playoffs. Eight-seven and 91 seem SOOOO long ago! I just recall, with disdain of course, the Twins blowing the 1992 season during a series against the Oakland A’s, and then from there until the start of the Gardenhire regime, I think in 2000, where our team trotted out retreads, guys at the VERY end of their careers, and no true All-Stars.

          • One of the strangest games ever between the Seahawks and Vikings last night!

  4. water drips
    in the tub like counting
    prayer beads

  5. Things have gotten so bad in America. I feel that whatever I say, or even think, only deepens the badness. I’m filled with dread about what is in the offing. I don’t know if my faith has any relevance to what is happening in this country. I don’t know if I have any hope for this country, and I wonder how soon it will be before the bottom will completely drop out. For someone like me who has always struggled with darkness my whole life, the darkness has gotten nearly as dark and light sucking as a black hole. “So it goes” and “Poo-tee-weet?”.

  6. Steve Newell says

    Well we should all be thanking and praising our dear leader for “saving Christianity”, per Eric Trump

    “He’s protected the Second Amendment, he’s literally saved Christianity. I mean there’s a full-out war on faith in this country by the other side. I mean, the Democratic Party, the far left has become the party of the atheist. I mean, they want to attack Christianity, they want to close churches … they’re totally fine keeping liquor stores open. But they want to close churches all over the country,”

    Maybe we should look at the POTUS as head of American Christianity as the Queen is the head of the Church of England.

    For many, they view The Donald as a moral leader of our nation.


    • Donald J. Trump, the American Constantine. Make America Christian Again! He will breathe the Holy Covid on us all!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        No, not “American Constantine”.
        The REAL Second Coming of Christ to establish The Millenium, Ruling Them With A Rod of Iron (and Christians as His Court Favorites).

        During last week’s drive-by outside Walter Reed, the audio was dominated by this one guy yelling “I’LL DIE FOR YOU!!! I’M HAPPY TO DIE FOR YOU!!!”

        He sounded just like Trashcan Man from The Stand when he first meets The Walkin’ Dude in Vegas:

        “Trashcan, where you goin’, boy —
        Your eyes are feet apart!
        Is that The End you’re carryin’?
        Shall I play the funeral march?
        Shall I play the funeral march?”
        — The Alarm, “The Stand (Prophecy)”, 1985

    • An appeal to fascism is often the last gasp of a dying cultural church. Just look at Europe…

      • Steve Newell says

        There are many scary parallels between German Christians of the 1930’s with Trumpian Christians.

        • Bingo.

          The fact a man of so little character and whose actions betray his total lack of having “fruit of the Spirit” can have so many Christians wrapped around his finger and ready to fight for him leads me to believe he’s a bit of an anti-Christ.

          • Steve Newell says

            Fruits of the Donald are Sloth, Wrath, Price, Lust, Envy, Greed & Gluttony.

            Jerry Jr. is a great example of how many American “Evangelicals” following the morality of our dear leader.

            • Galatians 5:19-23 couldn’t spell it out any clearer. Which makes you wonder about the selective avoidance or ignorance of scripture by many Christians.

          • Well I can only speak from my own experience but my evangelical relatives are ONE ISSUE VOTERS.


            They ignore everything else. I suspect many evangelicals are the same.

            • Yes. It seems to be the trump card for Trump fans (pardon the pun). I’ve heard so many say, “I can’t vote for anyone who is for killing babies.”

              Oh, but you CAN vote for a guy who displays fruit of the flesh MUCH MORE THAN any sort of fruit of the Spirit?!?!?!

            • Burro (Mule) says

              I am kind of a one issue voter.

              I do not want young Americans shipped off to stupid wars in places I can’t pronounce to prop up vampiric regimes that will fold as soon as our troops leave.

              So, Trump announces that he intends to pull the last remaining troops from Afghanistan by Christmas and I’m supposed to ignore this because buffoon or something? I also like Amy Barrett but I don’t want her undermining the shaky legitimacy of the Supreme Court.

              I’m in a tough place here. Trump definitely hasn’t grown into the job, but his instincts on this issue square with mine. Joe has always liked to rattle the sabres, and he voted to go into Iran.

              • “So, Trump announces that he intends to pull the last remaining troops from Afghanistan by Christmas and I’m supposed to ignore this because buffoon or something?”

                Yes. Because buffoon. And more importantly, because also liar. He’s had four years to do a drawdown. He’s only announcing it now out of sheer desperation.

                • Oh, and what about his reckless provocations of Iran? If you didn’t like the Afghan and Iraq wars, you’d absolutely HATE a war with Iran.

                  • Burro (Mule) says

                    There isnt much difference between a war you stumble into because of incompetence and one you propose as a matter of policy.

                    I know hes just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it will stick, he has no sense of consistency or program, but at least he’s throwing the right spaghetti

                    • One right string of pasta (I’m not a fan of the endless wars either) doesn’t make up for the 999 strings lying on the floor in a pool of marinara sauce.

                    • He’s a spaghetti monster. He never stops throwing it.

          • David Cornwell says

            He is anti-everything. He hates everyone. He thrives on chaos. I’m not sure you can actually “love” chaos, but it feeds his ego. He has an anti-social personality or is a sociopath which can be defined as the following symtoms :”Behavioral: antisocial behavior, deceitfulness, hostility, irresponsibility, manipulativeness, risk taking behaviors, aggression, impulsivity, irritability, or lack of restraint
            Mood: anger, boredom, or general discontent.” (anti-social personality).

        • No longer enablers, but collaborators

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            But he’ll Give Us What We Want!
            A Supreme Court That WILL Overturn Roe v Wade!
            Put PRAYER Back In Schools!
            Outlaw “Happy Holidays”!
            A CHRISTIAN NATION!!!!!
            HE IS LOOOOOORD!!!!!

    • Too funny — the same guy who just said in an interview that Iran better not f–k with us, or we’ll do things to it that have never been done before, has saved American Christianity?

      • Trump ‘saving’ american christianity?

        In my opinion, Trump has EXPOSED fundamentalist-evangelical ways more than any other person could have done it;

        and this may have been the ‘salvation’ of them that didn’t realize just how off-track their religion had wandered from ‘The Way’,
        but is it too late for them that knelt down before the trump and said nothing about the hate and inhumane policies that ‘affirmed’ who they really were as an entity ????

        when people can no longer distinguish that which serves the better angels of their nature, their souls must be lost and confused and in need of a REAL Shepherd and if DT is their ‘wake-up’ call, maybe he did them some good after all. (?)

        • “is it too late for them that knelt down before the trump and said nothing about the hate and inhumane policies that ‘affirmed’ who they really were as an entity ?”

          Not if they repent. I don’t see a lot of repentance going on though. A few, here and there, but not a lot.

    • thatotherjean says

      Eric, Eric, Eric. OK, there are a few loud atheists who oppose all things religious, including Christianity. The vast majority don’t care one way or another what religious people think, or what they do, so long as they don’t try to impose their beliefs on people who don’t agree with them. Churches may be closing, but it’s because the people who used to attend them no longer do, for their own reasons–not because atheists have frightened them away. Find another boogeyman, Eric. This one’s not working.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Best investment Vladimir Putin ever made.

  7. Pellicano Solitudinis says


    Ouch. Dark times, for certain.

    I can only offer up a small morsel of Tolkien by way of consolation.

    “There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      LOVE that quote and had forgotten about it; thanks

    • Both Vonnegut and Tolkien can make me laugh, which is important in these times. But Tolkien describes the natural world in a healing way that Vonnegut never even attempts, because it is not on his palette. For Vonnegut, the human world is not only at the center, but the only real thing; the nonhuman world can never be a symbol of hope and transcendence for him, he’s trapped in immanence.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says


      • Burro (Mule) says

        But he can make you laugh, at yourself, and that is no small feat in these times.
        RIP Mr. Leon Kilgore Trout Rosewater Bokonon Hoobler.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Vonnegut was too bizarre for me.

          Anyone remember a 1972 pastiche of his on PBS called “Between Time and Timbuktu” where some astronaut gets Chrono-Syncrastically Infandibulated and ends up jumping into and out of Vonnegut world after Vonnegut world, from Cat’s Cradle to Harrison Bergeron?


          • I remember BT&T very well. I still have the book published of the script with pictures from the production. Now there’s a DVD that needs to released.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              That was my first taste of Vonnegut, and It Was Just BIZARRE.

              “Am I dead yet?”
              — said astronaut’s tag line whenever he awakens in another Vonnegut world

              (And then there were all the TANG jokes by the media pundits covering his mission…)

        • I’m prone to think that Vonnegut would’ve despised Trump, but he would’ve despised many of the Never Trump Republicans too, for instance George Will, whom he once called an “owlish nitwit.”

    • thatotherjean says

      Thank you. I needed that.

  8. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln%E2%80%93Douglas_debates

    “Each debate lasted 3 hours. The format was that one candidate spoke for 60 minutes, then the other candidate spoke for 90 minutes, and then the first candidate was allowed a 30-minute rejoinder. The candidates alternated speaking first.”

    Can you imagine anyone trying this today? It would get zero clicks, and abysmal ratings…

  9. One thing that I’m sure we won’t debate: Chaplain Mike, please get some rest!

  10. As an indicator of a cultural sea change, I’ve noticed that since 2016, the usual Halloween Wars that so long animated portions of evangelicalism in the US – and often been featured on this blog – have seemingly died away almost completely, as far as I can tell.

    Trunk or Treat anyone?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Pre-empted by the REAL Second Coming of Christ (i.e. Trump).

      • christiane says

        the far right ‘christians’ got tired of waiting for the return of Christ

        so they celebrate the coming of the trump in all his ‘gory’ trappings

        what a witness

        what a witness . . . oh, the inhumanity

    • Now that they have their chosen one in the most powerful office in the world, they have much bigger things to be angry about, much bigger conspiracy theories, much bigger political and culture war prizes. A single evening with some scary props and candy for kids is small potatoes these days, hardly worth bothering about.

      • They graduated to The Big Time. They are fighting those emissaries of Satan, the Democrats and The Deep State.

  11. During this Covid season, I have been reading a lot of things by Matthew the Poor, who is sort of a modern day desert father. A Coptic monk, he died fifteen or so years ago. He’s something of a Protestant monk, as he went out into the Egyptian desert and joined a poor, isolated monastery so he could read the Bible. (Maybe things would have worked out differently if Luther did the same thing.) His writings make me want to pray and read the Bible. No small trick!

    I recently spoke with the pastor of Boston-area Arab Baptist Church and mentioned Matthew the Poor. Rather to my amazement, he lit up enthusiastically when I mentioned his name. Turns out Matthew the Poor has written a bunch of NT commentaries. Sadly, they’re all in Arabic. My pastor friend insisted that they were excellent.

    So, Ancient Faith Publications, what about it? How about translating these puppies into English so we non-Arabic speakers can benefit! (Maybe one of you Orthodox folks know someone there and has enough clout to make them consider this.)

    If you’re interested in reading any of his books, his “Do You Love Me?” is a great one to begin with. I found the translator’s preface to be very helpful.

  12. Open mic, right? Okay, so here goes, maybe for a bit of levity…

    So guilty pleasure time. Periodically (and usually on Friday evenings) MTV Classic channel has a couple hours of “I Love the 80s” videos. I can’t help myself but tune in quite often for the reminder of one of my favorite time periods. Yes, the videos were almost always schlocky and/or cheesy, yes, the music was often schlocky and/or cheesy, but there WAS SOME good music back then, and some good videos. And every now and then they will show a string of thoroughly awesome stuff, and even when it is pure cheese, I find it hilariously enjoyable.

    Here’s one that came on last night. You can’t get any more “80s cheese” than this!! I mean, I dare you to watch this without cracking a smile at the schlockiness!!


    So, the challenge… post your favorite 80s video, be it “good” or “cheese”!!!

  13. Music is personal, and all music is great to somebody. Among my faves, Eddie Van Halen. R.I.P. How could anybody be that skilled? In my Heaven, the angels try to play like Van Halen.

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