May 30, 2020

A Jesus Shaped Spirituality for such a time as This

Welcome to my new time slot! I am grateful to Chaplain Mike as it is much easier for me to write on Sunday night for a post on Monday. It gives me time to ruminate about my post throughout the weekend and allows me to better divide my work and personal life (Internet Monk falls into the personal category). One caveat: Chaplain Mike almost never sees what I write before the rest of you do. Sometimes I will give him a one or two sentence outline of where I think I might be headed.  So when I write what I write below, it is my own thoughts, and I don’t pretend to speak on behalf of Internet Monk as a whole.

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Today I want to welcome you inside my head as you follow my synapses down a stream of consciousness. I invite you to follow along with might be better described as a whirlwind,  rather than a flow, of ideas. Perhaps it will generate thoughts of your own in similar or dissimilar directions. You are are encouraged to share them in the comments below.

Many are you are familiar with Godwin’s law:

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”. That is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds, the point at which effectively the discussion or thread often ends.

We have experienced something similar at Internet Monk. Substitute “Trump” for “Hitler” and you see a similar scenario occurring. The comments descend into a vortex of nastiness, and for all intents and purposes the conversation ends.

[Oops, wayward synapse firing:

Our local aquarium has a special deal to those who are camping, or come dressed as an ocean mammal. Yes, for all in tents and porpoises it’s free!

Focus, Mike, focus. Okay, back on track again. ]

Read back through some of the posts. You will see that it is true. When Trump is invoked, the animosity increases, and the discussion ends.

Radagast had commented the following on Wednesday, and we can thank/blame him for initiating my particular thought process:

I am sure all folks here have great hearts, but the political bashing at a time when we should be coming together is too much for me right now. I am watching folks on my street from both sides of the political spectrum come together during this time. I am not seeing this here.

It got me thinking about how both sides of the political spectrum have come together in my own local situation up here in Canada. Both Conservative Provincial leaders and Liberal Federal leaders are receiving praise from the most unlikely sources.

While my feelings have not risen to a state of unabashed fandom, the burbling of a begrudging acknowledgement cannot be denied. I am going to say it, plainly and simply: Ontario Premier Doug Ford is doing an admirable job of shepherding the province, all of us, through this crisis. – Marie Henein (The Globe and Mail)

The prime minister appears in public every day, alone, outside his residence. He speaks sensibly, with authority, without hyperbole. This has been his finest hour.

Canadians trust him. They may not have voted for him – only about one-third did – but that doesn’t matter now. Nor do we question the competence of his ministers who are the other faces of the crisis – Chrystia Freeland, Marc Garneau, Patty Hajdu, Bill Blair. All are calm, competent and professional. This is what we want.

The provincial premiers, most of whom are not Liberals, have lost their congenital instinct to attack Ottawa. Doug Ford, no admirer of Justin Trudeau, now praises his leadership. – Andrew Cohen (The Ottawa Citizen)

I must confess that I did not vote for Ford, and I did not vote for Trudeau. In fact, a large part of me wants to shout out “Here is a long list of how they have failed their constituents both before and during this crisis!”

Then it hit me.

This is not how Jesus responded.

If we want to help each others achieve a Jesus Shaped Spirituality at a time like this (hence the headline), as followers of Jesus we need to respond in ways similar to how he responded.

Jesus did not come as a conquering Messiah, he came like a lamb to be sacrificed.

Jesus refused political power. (Temptation of Christ)

Jesus refused to be drawn into political debates. (Whose coin is this?)

Jesus welcomed those who were in bed with their Roman overlords (Zaccheus the Tax collector)

His criticism of the Pharisees and Chief Priests was not because because of their political connections, because of their hypocrisy.

In the Lord’s prayer, the call if for God to forgive us as we have forgiven others. (Not bless us and smite them)

In the Sermon on the mount his blessings are not on those who have power, but on those who don’t:

The Beatitudes
He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

An eye for an eye… becomes turn the other cheek.

“If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”

He turned prejudices upside down in the story of the Good Samaritan, and calls us to not only love our neighbours, but love our enemies as well. [Wayward synapse firing – despite what this skit portrays. Other wayward synapse. I am always going to spell neighbour with a “u”]

So here is where my thoughts concluded…

Loving our neighbour can be done regarded of who is in power. I am seeing more expresses of love throughout this pandemic than I have seen in a long time. I have seen more friendliness from strangers that I have in a long time. [Wayward synapse – though it seemed strange to be wishing people a Happy Easter today in such stark times. ]

We can welcome the refugee among us regardless of the policies of those in power.

We are not constrained in our ability to feed the hungry and heal the sick.

We can offer acts of mercy, and forgive those who sin against us.

We can be lights in dark times. Our actions speak louder than words.

The picture above was taken Saturday while on a walk in my neighborhood. I had walked by this house for 25 years, and never really noticed the flowers before.  (And yes, my own house is considerably more modest.)

To spiritualize that thought a bit. This crisis is starting to open my eyes, to possibilities I have never imagined, and to things I have never seen.

May I continue to be “Jesus shaped” in all the ways that I respond.

As usual your thoughts and comments are welcome, although today I will be moderating carefully so that we don’t fall back into our own Godwin trap.

Comments

  1. Mike Bell, I love the beginning of this fine , thought provoking article about the whirlwind of thoughts and brain synapses as I can relate. That makes me biased but I consider that a good , no, a necessary trait to be interesting. Your cauldron of thoughts produced a nice, informative, thought provoking and spring board to a lot of topics to ponder and discuss I am going to add a link here just to add to the conversation.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/10/canada-election-doug-ford-ontario-premier-kryptonite-conservatives

    Shows how things change quickly. One of the short falls in my conservative circle of friends is that they are slow to change attitude and opinion. This can be a good and noble thing if it applies to core values but as your Premier Ford actions show sometimes we must make hard, fast and uncertain decisions.

    On the Sermon on the Mount, none of Jesus teachings can be truly fulfilled without accepting Jesus, this is to those who we now call Christians. I am poor in spirit but the Pharisees and many modern religious people are certain they have the right answer, they are very rich in what they consider the true faith. I do not want to get into a lot as my thoughts wander and weave.
    So thanks again for sharing your brain wave activity, to get me to think and consider issues I would not even consider unless prompted. Of course if this were his brother , the name would have rang a bell but I monk has a bell that rings to awake us to new thoughts. His brother made the headlines big time in USA as it fit your 24/7 news cycle so well. Most famous politican in Canada for a while. Perhaps it as simple as my Grandmother saying , every cloud has a silver lining. Please tell me, somewhere in the Bell family tree there is a Liberty or would that ring up a an image in Canada?.

    My hope is this not become a Trump centered dialogue and your other issues and thoughts are explored. What are the odds?

    Keep up the good work.

    • Dan, I always read what you write. I do not *like* your style, and often I do not agree with you ideas and sometimes I am at a loss to make sense of some things you write (eg., “…none of Jesus teachings can be truly fulfilled without accepting Jesus, this is to those who we now call Christians.”). However, just to go on the record, I don’t think I’ve ever equated you with Hitler. If perchance I have I ask for your forgiveness.

  2. “This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud. We get to Marie Kondo the shit out of it all. We care deeply about one another. That is clear. That can be seen in every supportive Facebook post, in every meal dropped off for a neighbor, in every Zoom birthday party. We are a good people. And as a good people, we want to define — on our own terms — what this country looks like in five, 10, 50 years. This is our chance to do that, the biggest one we have ever gotten. And the best one we’ll ever get.”

    https://forge.medium.com/prepare-for-the-ultimate-gaslighting-6a8ce3f0a0e0

    • “We live in an age which is so possessed by demons, that soon we shall only be able to do goodness and justice in the deepest secrecy, as if it were a crime.”
      Franz Kafka

  3. Mike B., I do appreciate your thoughts and encouragements. I even appreciate your *seemingly* random synaptic firings–which you organize in a meaningful fashion, something like a practiced jazz improvisation.

    Something personal I want to share. Some here may know that I’m married to a wonderful Canadian beauty of Scots/Irish descent (her parents immigrated from Belfast ~1954 and first settled in Hamilton, she actually went through first grade in N. Ireland) and that my father was born of early settlers into Ontario and of some whom left NY colony during the Revolution because they were Loyalist–of which I am on the same Loyalist list. I still have one surviving Canadian aunt and several first cousins scattered from Ontario to B.C., not to mention a few friend contacts. All of this to say…

    I “get” Canadians. I think on the whole Canadians are more polite, more welcoming, better educated, more cooperative and civic minded that the majority of Americans. AND, Canadians do NOT live in a police state and/or military empire as do we in the US. When I cross the border into Canada tension falls from my shoulders. There is so much less violence of all sorts in Canada and I never have a sense of fear when I see an OPP or Mounty in person or in their cruiser.

    All that to say; The US was founded on distrust and violence–things that are not in the DNA of Canadians. I have no doubt that political corruption exist to some degree in Canadian government (ala Premier Ford’s late brother in Toronto), however, such is not institutionalized and becoming normalized as it is in the country of my citizenship.

    Honest discussion must be had. BS must be called out. Political animosity and cultural differences of which there are many in the US must be recognized, and, because of our system it is inevitable that 4T5 will enter the discussion. However, it is not necessary to equate everyone I disagree with as a clone of Das Fuhrer.

    • Not necessary to equate everyone with Hitler. But it is legitimate and necessary to invoke the era he ruled in. For instance, it is completely legitimate and necessary to ask when Christians in response to social and political injustice should stop legalistically looking to Jesus as the model for all our political involvement/non-involvement, and instead look to someone like Bonhoeffer – who broke the laws of the Nazi state in resisting it and was obviously very politically partisan in his views and actions — and the example of Christian freedom from the law that he embodied. Godwin’s Law be d—–d.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > But it is legitimate and necessary to invoke the era he ruled in

        Is it? Why?

        It is not effective.

        Perhaps there is room for, if not need for, greater rhetorical creativity, at least?

        And I say that as someone with a knee-jerk revulsion to the notion that there are “both sides” in this whole thing.

        • Christiane says

          “Adam, where are you?” (cf. Gen 3:9). Where are you, o man? What have you come to? In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God’s question echo once more: “Adam, where are you?” This question is charged with all the sorrow of a Father who has lost his child. The Father knew the risk of freedom; he knew that his children could be lost… yet perhaps not even the Father could imagine so great a fall, so profound an abyss! Here, before the boundless tragedy of the Holocaust, That cry – “Where are you?” – echoes like a faint voice in an unfathomable abyss…

          Adam, who are you? I no longer recognize you. Who are you, o man? What have you become? Of what horror have you been capable? What made you fall to such depths?

          Certainly it is not the dust of the earth from which you were made. The dust of the earth is something good, the work of my hands. Certainly it is not the breath of life which I breathed into you. That breath comes from me, and it is something good (cf. Gen 2:7).

          No, this abyss is not merely the work of your own hands, your own heart… Who corrupted you? Who disfigured you? Who led you to presume that you are the master of good and evil? Who convinced you that you were god? Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters, but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god.

          Today, in this place, we hear once more the voice of God: “Adam, where are you?”

          From the ground there rises up a soft cry: “Have mercy on us, O Lord!” To you, O Lord our God, belongs righteousness; but to us confusion of face and shame (cf. Bar 1:15).

          A great evil has befallen us, such as never happened under the heavens (cf. Bar 2:2). Now, Lord, hear our prayer, hear our plea, save us in your mercy. Save us from this horror.

          Almighty Lord, a soul in anguish cries out to you. Hear, Lord, and have mercy! We have sinned against you.

          You reign for ever (cf. Bar 3:1-2). Remember us in your mercy. Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what we men have done, to be ashamed of this massive idolatry, of having despised and destroyed our own flesh which you formed from the earth, to which you gave life with your own breath of life. Never again, Lord, never again!

          “Adam, where are you?” Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man, created in your own image and likeness, was capable of doing.

          Remember us in your mercy.”

          (Francis, 2014, Pilgrimage to Israel)

          • Christiane says

            for some of us who know to ‘remember’, to ‘never forget’, there is the knowledge that the seeds of what happened in that era are still within our DNA and have been from time immemorial, so there is a need to ‘never forget’ what our human kind is capable of doing,

            and if we do forget, will we be doomed to repeat that evil, in a different time, in a different way?

            Perhaps Francis got it right: The response to evil is to pray for mercy from God. There is a ‘silence’ too terrifying for us ‘to remember’, so we want to leave that era as a one off;

            but maybe the way forward is better walked in humility for what was done to innocents than to ‘forget’ and not ‘to speak of it’? I don’t know this, but I suspect it is true. We, who are ‘Adam’ are capable of such evil and such kindness. We are called to ‘choose life’. That is not a choice for people who look away or get shamed into keeping sweet or staying silent in the face of the torment of innocents, no. It is a choice given to people made in the ‘image of God’, and it requires us to stand up for those who are being persecuted and to speak for those who have no voice, and to remember those who perished whose blood cries up to us from the ground.. We will remember them. Yes, we will remember them and what happened to them. We will never forget.

            “The name Yadd Vasham is taken from the promise made by the Lord through the Prophet Isaiah:
            I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which shall not be cut off (Isaiah 56:5)

            Francis prayed before a crypt filled with the ashes of the victims of this evil. He laid a wreath of yellow and white flowers at the Hall of Remembrance. Then, in a moving and prophetic gesture, Francis of Rome kissed the hands of six survivors of the Holocaust.

            He did so, one by one, as he listened to their stories of survival and heard of the death of their loved ones during that dark and evil time.

            Francis spoke with deep emotion, “Never again, Lord, never again! “Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man – created in your own image and likeness – was capable of doing.”

            Then, he repeated those words, writing them in the memorial guest book. To them he added these words:

            “With shame for the fact that man made himself the owner of evil; with shame that man made himself into God and sacrificed his brothers. Never again!! Never again!! Francis. 5.26.2014.”

  4. In the US, large meatpacking plants where coronavirus has run rampant have recently been closed down, under the direction (though not order) of local municipal and state authorities — at the most recent meatpacking plant closure, hundreds of worker tested positive for coronavirus. As a result, there is a real threat to the supply of protein sources at the food markets. If this problem cascades to other grocery supply sources, and it’s bound to if the current state of affairs continues, there will shortly be a threat to many more food market supplies.

    The country faces a grim choice: keep open/reopen food processing plants/businesses despite widespread coronavirus at their facilities, or start running out of food and other products at markets. I think we all know what choice will ultimately be made. But let’s be honest about what that means. Low wage/low benefit blue-collar workers/unskilled laborers, in industries that have been historically poorly regulated with few worker protections, will be required to report to work at extreme risk for contracting coronavirus and dying; while more affluent people can continue to stay at home, and stay much safer, until the crisis is better controlled– and after that perhaps for intermittent periods of time rather than long hauls during future waves of the virus — working remotely via internet.. Without regard to Republican vs Democrat, Trump vs Pelosi, bankers vs college professors, if you don’t think oppressive political realities involving coercion about life-and-death matters are involved, if you don’t think that unjust social and political power disequilibrium is involved, think again. It’s political from top to bottom. And if you don’t think that Christianity should have anything to say to the political and social realities that make this oppression and injustice possible, for fear of appearing partisan on whatever side, then we disagree.

    • Mike Bell says

      And if you don’t think that Christianity should have anything to say to the political and social realities that make this oppression and injustice possible, for fear of appearing partisan on whatever side, then we disagree.

      I am not sure that that is what I am trying to say. It was a stream on consciousness, that I want to see continued with thoughts such as your own.

      I went back and read “I have a dream” this morning. One line that stood out was:

      Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

      I have seen in a number of people so consumed by bitterness and hatred, that their love no longer shines through.

      • Sometimes the struggle for freedom and against injustice will mean opposing the actions and words of your neighbor, and for that he may accuse you of bitterness and hatred, and resentment, claiming they are your secret motive. I have seen a lot of people making such accusation of late.

        • Christiane says

          it’s all over the web: accusations are that people are ‘off topic’ when the topic actually is very much on something of principle, or conviction, of ethics, of moral ‘choices’, of life and death issues that go far beyong the idol worship of some who wish for everyone to ‘look away, nothing to see here, everything is under control’

          ?

          we can keep sweet, sure, but do you really want to be a forum where people walk on eggs and ‘keep sweet’? or do want the kind of honesty that we found in Michael Spencer when we first came here?

          an honesty that was so real it was refreshing to the spirit of people who had already been so exhausted by situations where there was way too much disparity between the Christian message and the message being sent out by fundamentalist-evangelicals now openly supporting political entities who confused the public and turned their own Christian message into a failed witness ???

          I’m not wanting to say ‘the wrong thing’, no. But what is the right thing to say in the face of our present time? When the ‘issues’ are most definitely deeper than any ‘political’ realm and impact the well-being of the innocent and those bereft of all hope? A narrowing of the way may be a better discipline for helping us to find better words . . . . but there must be better songs to sing than ‘keep sweet’ and ‘look away, nothing to see here’ and ‘this is not connected to our topic’. If the topic is connected to Our Lord, we need to find better words that make that case. I’m all for that.

      • Btw, my “you” was meant generally, Mike, not specifically or necessarily addressed to you or the specifics of your post. Feel free to replace it with “someone” or “one’.

      • Christiane says

        I also am confused about what you are trying to say, Mike Bell.

        I was moderated for political in the past because I could not ‘separate’ or ‘isolate’ the suffering of people from what I perceived as political causes, and I am okay with any moderation done here, as I always trusted in the good will of Internetmonk and its supporters to speak up for those who suffer and have no voice.

        So I am left without knowing how to put a foot right when you are moderating and to not be ‘trouble’. I frequently quote my hero Bonhoeffer, and I am VERY interested in Dr. Roger Olson’s ideas on the differences between ‘ultimate’ and ‘penultimate’ decision-making in Christian ethics. I have been much moved by his writing on this:

        https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2020/03/the-ultimate-and-the-penultimate-an-important-distinction-in-christian-ethics/

        I am aware to the core of my being that it is wrong to stay silent and not to speak up when someone without a voice is abused, and that sometimes, in speaking up, the cost is great, as it was for Wade Burleson when he spoke out for missionaries and for fair treatment of women who were being abused by ‘the powers that be’ in his denomination. It cost him. He suffered. He has my eternal admiration for speaking out for them.

        And I frequently quote one of my heroes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran martyr whose words and actions on behalf of innocents suffering ended up costing him his life.

        I may be the person you are speaking to in your post about aligning certain present day incidents with those from another era (no names mentioned), and IF I have done this, it is ‘beyond political’ in my eyes because
        in that other era, people ‘looked away’, the Church ‘looked away’. Until the Church could no longer look away. And the Church was silenced.

        I quoted Niemoller’s words about this several posts ago in a comment and it is still there, so I will add it after this comment and if you feel it is not appropriate, please discard it and no hard feelings. Like Tom aka Volkmar, I am not a fan of ‘Dan’s ‘style’ because I recognize what is at the heart of it, and I cannot understand the ‘Dan’s of conservative Christianity which I admit to as a failure on my part.

        So I appreciate any ‘clarification’ of the new ways here on Internetmonk and I will try to respect by refraining from mentioning Herr ‘H’ or ‘DT’, in future comments, as long as that is the new reality of being permitted to comment civilly, which is something I hope to do, as I am not wanting to be ‘trouble’ or to be unkind.

        I have been honest in this comment which is part confession and part questing for some guidance, and I appreciate the grace of being allowed to comment on this blog that has meant so much to so many of us who treasure Michael Spencer’s memory and who value Chaplain MIke’s efforts to honor Michael Spencer and keep this blog going.

        Below is that quote, which you might want to delete, but I would understand as it would in either case show me where the new ‘boundaries’ are on this blog. And thank you for your good work here.

        • Christiane says

          Christiane says
          April 12, 2020 at 12:01 pm
          from MARTIN NIEMOLLER, a Lutheran pastor, this:

          “… the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it, it was printed in the newspapers. Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church? We thought: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians—”should I be my brother’s keeper?”

          Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it’s right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn’t it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? Only then did the church as such take note.

          Then we started talking, until our voices were again silenced in public. . . . “

        • “I also am confused about what you are trying to say, Mike Bell.”

          – Apparently you are not the only one. The problems with streams on consciousness, is that they may not always resolve into final lucid thoughts.

          “So I appreciate any ‘clarification’ of the new ways here on Internetmonk ”

          – As mentioned in the intro, these are my thoughts, not Internetmonk policy.

          Let me give an example of what I was thinking. I will use “Children in cages” as this is a subject that you have expressed concern about before. The following is not meant to represent your previous comments, just a general idea of what I have heard before.

          Side A: “Trump is a monster for putting children in cages.”

          Side B: “Obama did it first. And besides are they really their children.”

          Discussion goes nowhere positive.

          Alternative.

          Side A: “A am concerned that children are being separated from their parents. Is their something we as a nation can do to make this situation better?”

          Side B: “What do you propose?”

          Doug Ford, prior to the crisis, was prone to make some very bad, not well thought out decisions. On a number of them he backed down when he was shown why and how they were bad ideas, and some better alternatives were proposed.

          Maybe a pipe dream to see something similar in the United States, but it seems to me that there used to more bipartisan policies being brought forth.

          • Christiane says

            Thank you for responding, Mike.

            I have used (perhaps unwisely) this info as a jumping-off place for trying to sort out how the family separation policies of the present administration originated in past administrations, so IF I have been mis-led,
            and IF you have some better sources, please share them with me. I have a personal interest in how young helpless children are treated and I have to tell you, the present situation broke my heart. I am guilty of an ’emotional’ response, yes, but I cannot apologize for it because of what my own reality has shown me.

            Let me know if you have other sources of info more specifically accurate than this one. And thank you.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump_administration_family_separation_policy#Obama_administration

          • Thank you for this response, Mike Bell. I was trying to think through something similar. Maybe speaking out wouldn’t seem so much like fruitless complaining or other-bashing if we each more often examined our motives before doing so.

            If our goal is to speak out to enlighten people, then why not include reliable, primary sources? Where did we get and verify our information?

            If our goal is to speak out to empower people to action, then why not outline practical suggestions? What are we doing to take action and what is it specifically we would like others to do?

            If our goal is to speak out to those in power, then are we ourselves speaking out to those in power who are directly involved or who can actually effect change? Or are we just preaching to the choir?

            If our goal is to speak out to sort ourselves out, then why not just say so and humbly and graciously ask for help?

            I have learned in my own life that no one really cares what I have to say unless I am part of the solution or am seeking a solution—so no pointing fingers here, just sharing self-observations. I very much like your alternative discussion example, Mike. Ideally, both Side A and Side B would then be able to respond to the question, “What do you propose?” and proceed from there.

            • -Politically support universal, single-payer healthcare, so that nobody has to ask, “Who’s going to pay for it?”, when they are about to be put on ventilator for coronavirus treatment.

              –Politically support living wages and mandatory protection for low wage-workers in their risky supply chain jobs, so that they don’t need to unduly risk their lives to keep our markets stocked.

              –Provide for funding and oversight of nursing homes,and accountability so that they can’t hide horrors happening in them as they are right now. Make sure as a society that your old and vulnerable are taken care of, in the richest country in the world, instead of dying by the dozen every week from a single disease. Support policy that supports these goals.

              Just a few.

              • –Return to pre-Reagan highest marginal tax rate of at least 70%.
                –Forbid ex-congress/senate persons from employment with lobbying firms.
                –Overturn Citizens United ruling.
                –Increase the number of Justices on the Supreme Court and Justices serve a specified term.
                –Eliminate the Electoral College.

                Just a few to add to Robert’s list…

                • –Outlaw Gerrymandering.

                  • Christiane says

                    I was once told by a Baptist minister that ‘gerrymandering’ was necessary to allow for the rural states to have adequate representation in national elections.
                    (I think the dear man got ‘gerrymandering’ confused with the ‘Electoral College’, but I never corrected him as I didn’t want to embarass him or act like a smart a$$, but I wondered since how many good people get the two confused and is this maybe how some can keep the racket of gerrymandering going?

                    There are SO many ways people in power attempt to manipulate the vote. (sigh) The latest was absolutely disgusting, as people’s lives were put in danger.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says

              Very good points.

              THIS –> “What do you propose?” <— 1,000 TIMES THIS!

            • Christiane says

              ‘Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.
              Not to speak is to speak.Not to act is to act.’

              (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

              • Adam Tauno Williams says

                But where, when, and how to speak is still a very valid question.

                • With reference to Bonhoeffer, he spoke up to a certain point, expressing public criticism of the regime. But at some point, he decided it was to no avail, and stopped speaking out openly, choosing instead to to silent, to quietly and secretly conspire against the regime, even pretending that he was a supporter in the effort to overthrow the it.

                  But then, he was a special kind of Christian, noble and heroic, and we really don’t expect everyone to follow his lead, not even ourselves. But what does Christ expect?

                  • Christiane says

                    Robert F,

                    take a look at Dr. Roger Olson’s post on this link:
                    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2020/03/the-ultimate-and-the-penultimate-an-important-distinction-in-christian-ethics/

                    I have found this article to be very helpful when trying to understand how Bonhoeffer the pacifist chose to take action in the way that he did. I think he was doing what he felt he had to do to stop the predation on innocent peoples’ lives, which was occuring in a ‘penultimate’ situation: a ‘less than perfect world’ . . . or what I sometimes call a world ‘where the darkness lingers’. No doubt he was a man of principle and of moral conscience and also of great faith. He acted to step between the killers and the innocent in the only way open to him at that moment in that place which was his reality. He knew the consequences for himself, but that did not enter into his equation. I think he wanted to ‘shepherd’, to shield the innocent by his own intervention, as it was not so much a choice but at that point, having been ‘silenced’, the only thing he COULD do.
                    Brave man, yes.

                    You might want to pursue the term ‘Bonhoeffer moments’ as in ‘is this a Bonhoeffer moment’. I have, and it’s got me in a world of trouble. Yep.

                  • Adam Tauno Williams says

                    > choosing instead to to silent, to quietly and secretly conspire against the regime

                    I do not agree that doing so in most contexts requires heroism, or even in many cases all that much strategy. Mostly it is patience required to just be there.

                    ‘We’ [Americans] will have vastly more freedom and individual power than someone in 1940s fascist Germany. Let’s not slip into false equivalencies.

                    • They are so easy these days to fall into. They open up like great fissures all around ones feet, and one can hardly take a step without having to avoid them, or slip in.

                • Christiane says

                  “We must learn to be silent so that we may learn when to speak.”
                  (Martha of Ireland)

                  Martha once wrote for this blog and she was much missed when she stopped writing for us.
                  She was, like Michael Spencer, someone who opened our eyes and made us think.

                  • Christiane says

                    I am not opposed to being silent. There is a time and a place for silence in our lives, and there is a time to speak up for those who have no voice and who are being persecuted.

                    On silence, and it’s gifts, a story:

                    There is a wonderful account about holy silence from the Rev. Katie Crowe, this:

                    “A mother asked a minister to pray at the side of her premature infant. . The minister was tired and weary and had to walk to the other end of the hospital to get to the where the child lay. He found her in the silence of the neonatal intensive care unit in a ‘bubble’ hooked up to many tubes and wires. They were surrounded by silence. In that quiet, the minister sat quietly and said no words and the silence deepened and became noticeably more peaceful to him.. The minister felt the Presence of the Lord in that quiet.

                    All of sudden, the bells and lights went off around the infant and a nurse came over.
                    “Don’t worry.” said the nurse,
                    “She always gets excited when someone speaks to her.’”

                    Maybe the first time the Lord spoke to us was ‘in silence’, so long ago that we have forgotten.”

                    I hope to know when to keep holy silence;
                    and also when to SPEAK UP for the innocent ones who have no voice and who are being victimized and abused. If I get into trouble for the latter, then I have become the person who I was meant to be.

                    • Adam Tauno Williams says

                      > there is a time to speak up for those who have no voice

                      But, again, when? where? Are comments on The-Internet an effective place to do that?

                    • Christiane says

                      Adam, a response to your question, something to consider, this:

                      > there is a time to speak up for those who have no voice

                      But, again, when? where? Are comments on The-Internet an effective place to do that?

                      Adam, this:

                      “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
                      But when I am only for myself, what am I?
                      AND IF NOT NOW, WHEN?”

                      (Pirkei Avot, Hillel)

                      by turning away and keeping silent, what are we become? I don’t know, but it is too painful, this terrifying silence, for some of us who know ‘to never forget’

                • Yes, Adam, it is the question of when/where. Internet comments may be of dubious effect–especially so when “Christians” are so divided politically. When 81% of self-identifying Evangelicals support a questionable (*cough*…corrupt) candidate I begin to wonder if any dialog is productive.

                  • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                    Some have likened it to Cultists with their Cult Leader.

                  • Christiane says

                    My case is this:

                    that UNLESS people know that there are Christian people out there who oppose the abuse of innocent people, then the witness of the whole Church suffers.

                    81% of fundamentalist-evangelicals is not ‘the whole Church’, nor should they be allowed by Christian people to control the narrative.

                    When? Where?
                    Not on any blog where the narrative forbids speaking out, no. But we are trying to sort this out here as to what is the ‘new normal’ on Imonk.

                    What usually happens is this: someone who is a member of the conservative faith community protests if certain issues are raised that to them ‘target’ the one they follow. They then join with two or three confederates and lodge a complaint against those speaking out. Sometimes ‘sock puppet’s are brought in to shore up their numbers. And the admin is hearing all this and tries to caution the ‘offenders’. If the ‘caution’ fails, then the ‘offender’ is banished, and everybody happy.

                    the strange thing is that most who do speak out do not try to silence others, or to manipulate or control the narrative;
                    nor do the ones who speak out mind being put out on the curb, as the blog was likely a forum either formed to be or in transition to being an ‘acceptable’ and pleasing site for the status quo.

                    So there is a price for speaking out, an example is what happened to Wade Burleson when he spoke out concerning the treatment of missionaries and of abused women. He was badly treated for some time. But he was a man of principle and ‘endured’. He still speaks out for the plight of women and he runs a ministry for ex-convicts, which is an on-going blessing for them.

                    The confusion comes when to know the parameters of the narrative have changed, and whether or not to adjust to the new normal or to risk speaking out on issues related to those who are dear to the heart of Our Lord.

                    Those who comment don’t own or run the blog. Nor should they think they have the right to do so. It is not their blog. Sometimes blogs change. All things change in time.
                    So, evaluating the present situation on a blog is important to all concerned, yes.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > Side A: “Trump is a monster for putting children in cages.”
            > Side B: “Obama did it first. And besides are they really their children.”

            An issue here is that we are talking about People rather than Systems [*1]

            A first step of trying to talk about things WITHOUT NAMES helps.

            [*1] leaving aside if B is True has no bearing on A, so it is just rhetorical bilge – empty deflection. B as a response to A is a dishonest response.

            • Christiane says

              yes, it is dishonest

              these days, called ‘an alternate truth’, I guess

              so strange that good people repeat it without realizing the whole of the story, but these are strange times, yes

      • The Mark Nolls of the next generation will look back on American evangelicals of our era and try to figure out what the hell we were thinking.

    • And they would not only disagree with you, but with the majority report of the teachings of the Old and New Testaments. Let’s not beat around the bush here.

      • Mike Bell says

        Could you elaborate Eeyore?

        • “if you don’t think that Christianity should have anything to say to the political and social realities that make this oppression and injustice possible”

          James 5:1-5 – Come now, you who are rich, weep and wail over the misery to come upon you. Your riches have rotted and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and consume your flesh like fire. You have hoarded treasure in the last days. Look, the wages you withheld from the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous, who did not resist you.

          Many, MANY more verses available upon request. But I’m sure most here could easily fill in the blanks…

          • St. James is not as ‘accepted’ in the far-right fundamentalist evangelical world these days;

            St. James is being presented by them as someone who persecuted St. Paul and as someone who could not be trusted

            • He was too political…whenever anyone holds the affluent up to judgment, even if they are an apostle, they will be accused and/or disregard for being too political.

              • anonymous says

                now some are going after the four Gospels looking for how they vary as though that were a sign of untrustworthyness

                go figure

                can’t make sense of it, as these same folks are into bibliolatry aka ‘inerrancy’ big time

                what’s going on? is a new canon coming at their choosing?

                • At risk of triggering Godwin’s Law, just read about how the German Christians wanted to edit the Old and New Testaments during the Nazi era. Nothing new under the sun.

                  • anonymous says

                    maybe the selection of the canon has been a problem for many who came along and something about those Scriptures were ‘too much’ for them,

                    like the time a large denomination (evangelical) went fundamentalist and proceeded to remove Christ as ‘the lens’ through which Scripture should be interpreted

                    their reason?

                    too many of the people they disagreed with quoted Christ’s words and teachings and actions as written in Scripture

                    what then happen? a lot of sad going-ons in that denomination with a lot of bullying and targeting of innocent people

                    UNTIL

                    it was exposed that one of the ‘leaders’ of the movement had gone ‘too far’ and was removed from power

                    so when I heard that the Holy Gospels were on someone’s radar and possible chopping-block, I took notice

                    times are changing

                    maybe each closed faith community needs to come up with its own canon, ’cause those Gospels seem to upset people’s comfort levels on all ends of the spectrum of ‘sides’ and ‘divisions’

                    ?

                • Mike Bell says

                  I don’t understand your comment. Could you be more specific as to what you mean? Who are the “some” you are referring to? I fear that this is straying a little off topic, but want to provide you the opportunity to elaborate.

                  • anonymous says

                    sorry, will withdraw from that line of commenting so as to stay on topic

                    appreciate the needed prompt, Mike

              • Norma Cenva says

                Or they will claim that Jame is not saying what you think he’s saying…

                • Christiane says

                  true this

                  as has happened with so many of Our Lord’s parables

                  I’ve often thought, ‘when Our Lord says it, there are no ‘in other words’ ‘

          • Keep in mind that many or even most of those meatpacking workers are probably Latino/Hispanic, recent immigrant residents, and even undocumented. We should say thank you to them for keeping our grocery markets stocked with meat — at least up to the present — at great risk to themselves, but we won’t and probably don’t even know how to in our stratified, class-divided society.

  5. So how ‘bout Trump? Geez! What does everybody think about him? Oh……wait…..I mean….
    I love this post Mike. I do feel less consternated about politics these days, it’s very true. The atmosphere, literally and figuratively, feels less caustic. My mom is not a fan of “the Democrats” but has been praising New York governor Cuomo in glowing terms. I’m watching the news much less because it is essentially one story and I know it already. I still read the paper and look at my phone so I’m informed but I really don’t need the fix from the talking heads. That skit was hilarious. I liked the joke too. Peace my friend.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Over the weekend I watched a livestream of Governor Cuomo’s daily media briefing. The guy is making a lot of sense. One reporter had to ask him about becoming Biden’s running mate, and he replied he’s Governor and he’s needed here.

      • Cuomo is doing well communicating as a leader and it is resonating. Folks of both parties are commenting on his leadership and his ability to call out what is good and what is needed.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Watched another livestream of Cuomo this morning. He’s still making sense, explaining the details clearly, and coming across as a guy who’s been handed a major crisis and trying to handle it. Naturally the Q&A session started out with Celebrity Tabloid Political questions.

          Cuomo is pulling together a regional coalition of various NE states around NY to coordinate things. The three governors of the West Coast states (CA, OR, WA) are doing the same. Both recognize a fact: The USA is a large country where conditions can vary considerably from region to region; nationwide “one size fits all” solutions/decrees often as not just mess things up.

  6. Michael Z says

    I think part of the problem is that our society is *so* polarized that if you take sides even issues that ought to be apolitical you will be interpreted as either attacking or defending Trump and his followers.

    For example, I have no doubt that Jesus would have urged us to “love our neighbor” by socially distancing – but there’s a political divide on whether social distancing is necessary.

    Jesus would also be horrified at how the virus is affecting the “last and the least” – the vulnerable communities that also happen to comprise most of our “essential workers.” But, caring about inequality and structural racism is also a political issue.

    The Bible also has a lot to say about idolatry. I’m sure Jesus, today, would have things to say about how people in the US idolize the economy, literally to the point where a few suggest we sacrifice the lives of our elders to fuel that beast. But again, that’s become a political issue.

    Jesus would have loudly decried the spike in domestic violence that we’ve seen since the lockdown began. But even men mistreating and abusing women has become a politicized issue in the US.

    When we’re up against structural sins that are resulting in tens of thousands of deaths, it is *not* a sufficient Christian response to focus simply on “feeding the hungry and healing the sick.” The virus is exposing deep brokenness and sin at the heart of our society, and if we don’t name and deal with that sin, we are not being faithful to God even if we’re doing little things to palliate the consequences of that sin. The only “Jesus-shaped” response here is repentance and renewal of life, and that can’t happen if we hide our eyes from the depth and ugliness of our sin in the name of avoiding political conflict.

    • Mike Bell says

      I don’t know that I was suggesting hiding our eyes. I would suggest that we avoid partisan cheap shots.

      In Canada all parties worked together to ensure that displaced workers had some level of income almost immediately ($2000 a month $1400 USD).

      That money is already flowing.

      Parliament will be meeting again to approve wage subsidies for businesses.

      When we tone down the rhetoric we can actually get a lot more done.

      • Most of us don’t live in Canada, and the polarization we live in has to be dealt with. It can’t be ignored for the sake of an overspiritualized “unity”.

      • The suggested actions that you concluded with did not include any mention of naming or correcting the institutional sins of our society. It’s not enough to just focus on patching up the wounds caused by the unjust structures we have built. I believe God is calling us, in this time, to recognize our collective sin and to work together to imagine how we can root it out.

        For example, wealth inequality in the US is more pronounced right now than at any time since the Gilded Age. Of course in this immediate crisis assistance for people who were living paycheck-to-paycheck is important. But, if we as a society had chosen to structure our tax system, economy, corporations, housing markets, etc. differently, we would not have so many financially vulnerable people in the first place. If all we do is implement short-term fixes for workers, we’re hiding our eyes from the real issues we ought to be facing.

        • “If we as a society had chosen to structure our tax system, economy, corporations, housing markets, etc. differently, we would not have so many financially vulnerable people in the first place.”

          I agree completely.

          So how do we change that?

          Prior to the crisis Doug Ford cancelled a trial basic income project. One of the things I saw coming which is why I actively campaigned against him in the last election. I still think it is needed. I think we will now see its introduction in Canada as so many now see how important it is.

          What would have worked if the basic income trial been funded outside of political interference but the government invited to be a participant, and then the evidence presented as to its results.

          I guess what I am calling for is more collaboration in moving things forward rather than antagonism which seems to accomplish nothing.

          • I dislike the saying “We’re all in this together.” In the obvious sense it’s true, but the degree of risk we face is different form community to community, and subsequently for each of us depending on what community/communities we belong to. Coronavirus is not the great equalizer. If you’re poor, if you’re older, if you’re in bad health, if you work in an essential job, if you live in a densely populated inner city neighborhood (as opposed to a spacious middle-class burgh) dependent on mass transit to get around to your essential job, if you’re black or latino/hispanic (which often involves being in most of the other categories just listed) — in all those cases you’re way more in this than the middle-class college professor teaching online from home, with his well-stocked freezer and plenty of toilet paper “borrowed” from the university storage closets (look, I picked on one of my own kind, not a Republican or conservative — I’m to be commended!). Coronavirus does not equalize the already existing structural problems and injustices in a society; it exacerbates and deepens them, and that is a political matter.

            • anonymous says

              it looks like ‘coronavirus’ is going to illuminate peoples’ values in the nature of their responses to it

              and that CAN be frightening, yes

              • Illuminate them, yes, but who’s paying attention, who’s looking? “We’re all in this together” covers a multitude of sins, and puts an illusion over what is actually happening, because we as a country don’t want to see. We want to get back to business as usual, don’t bother us with the details.

                But God knows, and yes — my liberal Christian friends’ beliefs (many of which I share) to the contrary notwithstanding — God does judge. Just read the Magnificat and say it ain’t so.

                • Christiane says

                  https://youtu.be/trhxP6VAOuc?list=RDtrhxP6VAOuc

                  “The Canticle of Mary.
                  46 And Mary said:
                  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
                  47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
                  48 For He has looked upon His handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call
                  me blessed.
                  49 The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
                  50 His mercy is from age to age to those who fear Him.
                  51 He has shown might with His arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
                  52 He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.
                  53 The hungry He has filled with good things; the rich He has sent away empty.
                  54 He has helped Israel His servant, remembering His mercy,
                  55 according to His promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

                  (from the Holy Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 1)

                  • That “the rich He has sent empty away” should get us every time, if we have more than enough to eat, well-stocked pantries, lots of frozen pizzas in our upright freezer, and three months worth of toilet paper in the extra storage room.

                  • anonymous says

                    THE most revolutionary political statement of the ages, this Canticle of Mary

      • Again Mike, my comment early in this discussion. Canadians are not *like* the general population of the US in so many significant ways. Your parliamentary governance seems to respond more effectively than our “republic” system.

        I would rather live in Canada if it weren’t for my acclimation as a desert rat…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        When we tone down the rhetoric we can actually get a lot more done.

        But Counting Coup on the Other is so much more satisfying!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I think part of the problem is that our society is *so* polarized that if you take sides even issues that ought to be apolitical you will be interpreted as either attacking or defending Trump and his followers.

      Trump Derangement Syndrom (Positive polarity) or Trump Derangement Syndrome (Negative polarity)..

      Like the Irish joke during The Troubles where you’re taking a shortcut in Belfast and someone sticks a gun in your face and demands “Protestant or Catholic”? You respond “Atheist” and the guy thumbs the hammer back.and demands “PROTESTANT Atheist or CATHOLIC Atheist”?

      • LOL!

        Or this version;

        Like the Irish joke during The Troubles where you’re taking a shortcut in Belfast and someone sticks a gun in your face and demands “Protestant or Catholic”? You respond “Jehovah’s Witness” and the guy thumbs the hammer back.and demands “PROTESTANT Jehovah’s Witness or CATHOLIC Jehovah’s Witness”?

        I herd that version from wife’s relative who lives in Drumore south of Belfast.

  7. I read an article recently about a grade school cafeteria lunch worker who continues to make lunch at school during this time for pickup by families of needy children. She has health issues, and is over sixty, so at high risk for COVID-19, and also aware of the risk of bringing it home to her family. But she is a Christian, and says that to follow Jesus is to serve, so she continues to take that risk. I’m sure she’s not well paid, and as an African American is at higher risk of death from complications — as the vastly disproportionate death rate of black people from coronavirus in the US indicates — yet she continues. Even if there is an economic factor at play — perhaps she can’t afford the loss of her job and benefits,though the article didn’t mention that — her sacrifice is real and substantial. Ultimately, there is no following Jesus, whatever your politics, without personal risk, and that risk inevitably involves others to whom we are close, since “no man is an island.”

    • it’s those who sacrifice themselves out of love for innocent little ones who are the saints in our time, most surely

  8. Then I must remain silent. Not out of partisanship; this has nothing to do with “conservative” or “liberal” or how we feel about Obamacare. I live and work in Washington DC and perhaps this affects my perspective. For the last three years I have watched good competent people in government, political, military, judicial (the sort of people that many Americans don’t believe exist), being driven out and replaced by incompetents and fools.

    Sorry, I cannot “come together” with this. So I will remain silent.

    • I see that too Stephen. I am not going to pretend it doesn’t exist.

      But how do we speak to it in such a way that we get a response and action?

      I am going to guess that calling people “incompetent and fools” is not going to move us in the required direction.

      • Clay Crouch says

        You know, Mike, while I’m interested in what you have to say about your country’s response to the COVID-19 situation, I wouldn’t presume to tell a Canadian citizen what he ought to think or say about Canadian politics or their elected leaders.

        • [Moderated for tone – try again without using the H word.]

          • Okay, I hear ya, Mike Bell!!

            How about…

            “We speak into the politics and affairs of other nations all the time. I think Mike Bell is allowed to speak into ours.”

          • Clay Crouch says

            [Edited as have moderated the original response.] I have never told someone from another country, or my own, what they should think or say about their elected officials. I have told them what I think about their politics and their elected officials – which is a horse of an entirely different color.

            • (Truly seeking to undestand here, so read the following with that in mind. Help me see what I’m missing.)

              I’m trying hard not to see your point as a pretty insignificant difference. Isn’t the reason we tell someone our opinion about something hoping that they’ll see it our way, or at least acknowledge that our viewpoint is valid? Even your statement here — that you’ve never told someone what to think, only told others what you think — isn’t it your hope that someone acknowledges your point and changes their behavior? In fact, your initial post to Mike Bell was to get him to see things your way and stop telling Americans how he thinks they should behave… aka you’re telling him what he should think and how he should act.

        • Mike Bell says

          Clay – Can I not be speaking as Christian encouraging other believers where ever they may be?

          I don’t really accept that I can’t speak into a situation because I am Canadian, White, Male, cisgendered etc.

          • Christiane says

            I think you are trying to help people here, Mike Bell.
            [MOD: Some people] do come here and will try to silence those who they disagree with, so there is push-back, but I think we all know you are trying to sort this out in a way that works for everyone and for the integrity of the blog.

            I know that Chaplain Mike once said he was not fond of ‘politics’ and I remember that.

            It’s just that people see an ‘overlap’ which is upsetting as when [MOD: some people] along, the desire to silence seems to intrude on the part of the ‘overlap’ that was best worded by Michael Z in his comment above, this:

            “Michael Z says
            April 13, 2020 at 9:35 am
            I think part of the problem is that our society is *so* polarized that if you take sides even issues that ought to be apolitical you will be interpreted as either attacking or defending Trump and his followers.

            For example, I have no doubt that Jesus would have urged us to “love our neighbor” by socially distancing – but there’s a political divide on whether social distancing is necessary . . . . . ”

            Mike Bell, thank you for allowing this dialogue to take place. It will be a healing dialogue, I think, a necessary one. I hope you know that you are appreciated, even though not all of us see things the same way. I support your authority here to moderate as you see best to help the blog. We are trying to sort out at some deep level what went wrong that divided people in communities and in the Church so deeply in these last years, and it’s not all about the whims of politicians, but more about principles that are being challenged that we all held dear. Thanks for letting us speak honestly here. I think Michael Spencer would be proud of you for inviting this dialogue and allowing us to comment.

            [MOD NOTE: Christiane, I moderated/edited your comment because I would prefer that one commenter not speak to the author about another commenter critically.

            • Christiane says

              I understand. I admit to being puzzled by such commentators as the one I mentioned. I don’t understand the person’s need to silence folk in order for himself to feel ‘welcomed’ here. I have no problem with your moderation, Mike.

          • Clay Crouch says

            Mike, of course you can andI didn’t say you couldn’t speak to our current political situation. Just don’t threaten to moderate the responses of others just because you find them to be harsh. And to be clear, I’m not talking about ad hominem attacks on fellow commenters.

            • Mike Bell says

              To clarify, I am not moderating harsh comments. I am moderating comments that are hindering and not advancing the discourse. There is a fine line which I am carefully trying to tread.

              BTW. Chaplain Mike seems to have stepped in as the moderator in the comment immediately preceding this.

              I would love to get his take on this whole discussion!

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            +1

      • Mike Bell, noble effort and a good one to urge that we all try to have new perspective on how we interact with each other. Good , honest disagreement with others has historically led to positive change in our nation. Living in America and Canada we all start at a certain comfort and secure level that is unknown in the rest of the world. We have lost our civil discourse , debates and speeches have turned from discussion of facts to cheap dialogue . I appreciate your effort to even change the dynamic here and will try to keep the sentiment in my own dialogue and comments. Your willingness and many in your area to accept the changes in Ford’s actions as positive and to give him support and credit is noteworthy. Opinions are not facts, feelings alone are not legitimate to mandate policy and disagreeing with someone politically does not mean they are the devil.

        Robert F. mentioned in his comments at 11:40 alluded to a college professor as a example as someone on his side. If I stated that the vast majority of college professors are very liberal, almost all registered Democrats and are out of touch with the general American public , what would be the reaction? However, Robert F. is correct , most college professors are on his “side” politically and that is a problem in my opinion that bears honest discussion. College professors do not live in the real world that the majority of Americans live in. According to salary.com the average college professor makes $154,000 which could create a discussion on perception of reality.

        Stephen comments about the exodus of good competent people in the government needs more backgroud. Are these political appointments not reappointed? Are they regular civil service employees who have many levels of job protection? From what advantage seat of observation does Stephen make this statement? I am asking Stephen to flesh out his statement as I do not the point of his comment.

        Nice effort to better the dialogue and make us think , Mike.

        • dan, Most folks here know that the vast majority of university professors are liberal, and I’d wager they wouldn’t challenge you on the assertion that it’s so.

          • Robert F. My point was not the acknowledge by many that college professors are liberal , it was more that the culture, social and political impact of that needs to be addressed. There seems to be no true discourse of differing political , social and economic theories or rigorous testing of other economic systems compared to capitalism. Our upper level education system cost has outstripped inflation by 2 to 3 times the past 20 years, why? Why do college level professors not be called to answer this , a an example…Your civil answer was in the direction Mike Bell is pointing to. We can have a discussion to expand our thoughts. Thanks

            • dan, I understand that I wasn’t addressing your main point, but you were asserting something that wasn’t correct. You were saying that you as a conservative would get pilloried here by the liberals for asserting that most college professors are liberal, whereas as a liberal I could get away with it. That’s just not true, you are wrong. How can we proceed with an honest, open discussion if you accuse other commenters of applying a double standard to comments, when they, at least in this case, would not?

              • Robert F. I am lost on your take on my comments so will move on.

                • Mike Bell says

                  I think there was a little bit too much reading into comments there, which resulted in a breakdown in communication.

            • Dana Ames says

              Dan,

              a very large reason that college costs have ballooned in the last decades is that there are a lot of middle-level-management equivalents in colleges, with outrageous compensation levels. This situation didn’t exist when I was at University. Some of these positions have to do with “political correctness” issues, but not all of them. At the same time, about 45% of all college instructors are contract labor, without possibility of benefits or tenure (fancy title: “Adjunct Professor” – my son worked as an Adjunct for 9 years, for payment of less than $10K per year). Colleges need to trim the mid-level positions and divert the salaries back to hiring full time professors. That alone would go a long way toward solving the problems of higher education – at least the financial problems.

              Dana

              • Norma Cenva says

                I agree Dana, and I too favor a massive fluff removal and a downsizing of bloated bureaucracies.

        • Clay Crouch says

          “College professors do not live in the real world that the majority of Americans live in. According to salary.com the average college professor makes $154,000 which could create a discussion on perception of reality.”

          Dan, I’d wager that you and I don’t live in the real world that the majority of Americans live in.

          • Dan, I’d wager that you and I don’t live in the real world that the majority of Americans live in.

            Oh! Oh! I do!! I do!! Does that make me right?!?!?

          • [Mod: Inflammatory]

            • [Mod: Edited because of previous Mod]
              I graduated with a B.S.agri pre-vet in 1976. I didn’t experience much “liberalism” let alone Marxism in the Ag department. So, your broad-brush comments just hit me wrong, like splatter off a manure pitch fork…

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > College professors do not live in the real world that the majority of Americans live in

          ???

          What “real world” does the majority of Americans live in? As a data grinder guy, seriously, I would like your take on that.

          Aside: I hear descriptions of “the real world” all the time. Almost all of them are baseless poppy cock.

          • True. A significant portion of American social and economic wherewithal is used to turn to the “real world” into something else. It certainly isn’t just the professors who do it. It’s the American way.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says

              The “real world” far to often equates to “my world”, which may or may not have any wider applicability.

              This is extremely true in the United States.

              For example, the ‘coastal region’ of 275,000 square miles contains 104M people, like 1/3 of America’ s population; whereas it takes 1,451,000 square miles to get another third (~104M people). And I can zoom into any state and almost certainly find just as unequal a distribution of people – and probably find claims of “normal” from within that state which do not correspond.

              BTW, the most “normal” average place – by the numbers – in the United States: New Haven, Connecticut. Likely not what many Americans are imagining.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                BTW, the most “normal” average place – by the numbers – in the United States: New Haven, Connecticut.

                Not Eerie, Indiana?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Aside: I hear descriptions of “the real world” all the time. Almost all of them are baseless poppy cock.

            About as “Real World” as the old MTV Reality show?

            • https://wallethacks.com/average-median-income-in-america/
              Personally, I think most people understand what the term real world applies to. College professors for example are certainly in the top 10 of wage earner in USA and live in a bubble removed from the day to day work world. They are mostly not at risk for job lost or being laid off, benefits/pay are not at risk and inflation is not a factor. so I would personally say that compared to most American employees this is not the real world but of course it is just a common expression based on the world in which you live. My community, my circle of friends most of the people I know live in a world that is different than many Americans. No value judgement , no good or bad , just a short hand way to describe one’s perspective. Many examples an newly enlist E 1 lives in a different world than a 4 Star general, same organization but different perspective . Many here always refer to “tribes” which to me is better described as worlds but I quibble. This is not a major issue just a matter of semantics but worth thinking about. My sister and family are barely middle class, both work at good grocery store jobs and I know they live in a different world than I. Again just a figure of speech to convey a thought. However, I enjoyed the dialogue.

        • “According to salary.com the average college professor makes $154,000 which could create a discussion on perception of reality.”

          Dangit, missed my calling…

          • Michael Bell says

            I guess getting kicked out of University meant that being a college professor really wasn’t part of my calling.

            And failing first year calculus twice meant that I couldn’t get into computer programming like I wanted to. So I took economics, and then theology.

            And ended up as a computer programmer!

            Go figure.

      • “I am going to guess that calling people “incompetent and fools” is not going to move us in the required direction.”

        If they ARE incompetents and fools, it will, as any required direction must be towards the truth.

    • The turnover is troubling. The exiting – either by termination or resignation – of intelligent people from key positions is troubling. The purge or shaming of those who disagree with the “Power That Is” is alarming. I won’t mention the name that must not be mentioned, but the character and actions taken resemble previous dictator types. Just watch History Channel shows about certain individuals and it can be quite disconcerting.

      • Very close to tripping Godwin’s Law!

      • History Channel doesn’t talk about that person anymore. I’m not saying they only talk about aliens… But they only talk about aliens.

        • So I’ve heard — they now specialize in science fiction and conspiracy theory history.

          • Christiane says

            someone must have bought out the History Channel 🙂

            these folks have an interest in not focusing on ‘that era’ in hopes that people ‘forget’ or that the new generation doesn’t know what happened there

            that is why there IS a Yad Vashem, so people WON’T forget

            that is why the old ways are passing and the words on the Statue of Liberty no longer stand for the present time . . . it’s a matter of time when these words will be removed forever so no one knows they were once a part of our country’s honor:

            ““The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

            Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
            With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
            Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
            A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
            Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
            From her beacon-hand
            Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
            The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
            “”Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”” cries she
            With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
            Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
            The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
            Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
            I lift my lamp beside the golden door!””

            of COURSE, silence is now preferred, because the knowledge of the past is much too provocative for people of honor and conscience who, roused from sleep, might reconsider the present direction humans are taking and the status quo might be upset

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        The turnover is troubling. The exiting – either by termination or resignation – of intelligent people from key positions is troubling. The purge or shaming of those who disagree with the “Power That Is” is alarming.

        Except to the Christianese AAAAAAA-MEN Chorus.

  9. senecagriggs says

    Thoughtful post M.B.

    • senecagriggs says

      BTW, I appear to be banned from my home computer.

      • Christiane says

        I hope not, senecagriggs.

        you are a part of this community for many years

      • I don’t understand. You mean somebody is not letting you use your computer at home?

        • Christiane says

          Robert, he’s being ‘moderated’

          this makes me sad for him, a lot of folks here gave him grief, but he was never silenced before, he never tried to silence any of us himself that I know of

          not that we agreed with him or he with us all time, but it was for many years a bit like a family

          I am sad about this change, yes.

          • Mike Bell says

            Uhh, no he’s not! He must have other reasons why he can’t use his computer today.

            • Christiane says

              Sorry Mike,
              I misunderstood you in your comment about Seneca which occurs here on the 3rd note:

              “Mike Bell says
              April 14, 2020 at 9:31 am

              A couple notes here.

              3. ___________

  10. [moderated at owner’s request]

  11. The problem that exists in America today is that we have a two-party system in which both sides are becoming equally untrusting of the other. Both sides cater to the fears and outrage that exist within their own party. This is why, conservative that I am, I have had to pull away from the Republican Party. The knee-jerk reaction to anything deemed “liberal” has caused many Republicans to go brain dead. That’s the only way I can explain away my Republican friends’ initial (and still somewhat existent) skepticism of the potential of a pandemic which has now become real. When you can allow your politics to downplay and ignore what health experts and data analysis are clearly telling you, you’ve got a problem. Check that, we ALL have a problem, since those people’s actions (or non-actions) and clouded opinions affect the whole of America.

    Note: this is not a Republican-only thing. I’ve seen Dems go just as brain-dead in reaction to things deemed “far right.”

    There really needs to be a third party in the States.

    Oh, and Praise the Lord for Jesus!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The knee-jerk reaction to anything deemed “liberal” has caused many Republicans to go brain dead.

      That’s a good way of putting it.

      Defining themselves and their party ONLY by Negatives; after you do, is there anything left of you?
      Do you become a “grumble” like in that dialogue from The Great Divorce?
      Especially when politicized religion jacks everything up to literally COSMIC Importance?
      “You can tell when a preacher’s in trouble when he stops preaching what he’s for and only preaches what he’s Against.”

    • Just because there’s two polarized sides doesn’t mean both are equally distant from the truth.

      • “The opposition of two stupidities does not mean that the truth is somewhere in the middle.”

        — Wendell Berry

        However, I’m sympathetic to a multiple party system that is greater than two. A parliamentary system works well because it requires the formation of coalitions of disparate factions.

  12. Mike Bell, excellent post. Thankful for writing this!

    I, too, have been turned off by the divisiveness of some comment threads. But still so many good and helpful commentators on this blog that I keep coming back.

  13. I find it amazing that I haven’t been edited yet. I feel kind of left out.

    I’m not worthy! I’m not wor [Mod: just to help you feel included. 😀 ]

  14. When Zen students are practicing sesshin, which are long group sessions of sitting meditation that can go on for days — with breaks for meals, meditative walking, and sleep of course! — if they are not keeping proper posture, there is an advanced practitioner assigned by the roshi (teacher) to go around with a big stick and whack them on the back to help them with their practice. First the advanced practitioner taps the student on the shoulder with the stick, in response to which the student gets up and thanks the advanced practitioner ahead of his service with a deep bow, then the student sits again and the whack is delivered. The whole ritual is meant to involve a gracious exchange and interaction, but the whack STILL HURTS! — not unlike being moderated and edited on your favorite blog site!

    • I’ll take being moderated over being whacked in the back with a stick. Are you serious ?

      • No, I’m not serious; I’m joking. I mean, that was seriously the practice in traditional Japanese Zen, but I’m jokingly comparing it to being moderated. Moderation only stings a little, but that stick hurts!

        • Christiane says

          There are ‘parameters’ set by blog hosts that need to be respected. Sometimes when people feel very strongly about something, they may cross over those boundaries, in ways that are offensive to those who would rather not want strong feelings expressed on certain topics, so there has to be some way to ‘caution’ and ‘moderation’ seems appropriate to that need.

          In the Great Hall of Internetmonk, there are still standards that limit what may be said, and only the moderators can set those standards. It is for commentators to accept this in good grace.

          • I’m just making a joke. Guess it fell flat.

          • And yet……..

            ISTORIA BLOG (WADE BURLESON)
            Christiane said…April 10, 2020 at 9:10 am
            Hello Headless,

            I got in trouble over on Imonk. I wrote a three-word comment that was ‘removed’ as the moderator thought it was political. He was right. I wrote three of the most politically-charged words of the decade. Here’s the story, which starts with friend Robert:

            Robert F says
            April 10, 2020 at 8:49 am
            The sadistic spectacle entertainment of crucifixion was an extension of the things that happened in Roman arenas throughout the Empire. In fact, the deaths that occurred in the arenas during the Games, which not infrequently included crucifixions, were considered both punishments of subversive subhumans, and sacrifices to the gods necessary for the continued domination and flourishing of the Empire itself.

            Reply
            Christiane says
            April 10, 2020 at 9:10 am
            ” punishments of subversive subhumans, and sacrifices to the gods necessary for the continued domination and flourishing of the Empire itself”

            MOD NOTE: Edited for political content

            The missing three words I wrote were: WISCONSIN’S REALITY MATTERED

            so the phrase was taken away as ‘too political’ likely because there are two or three who love to ‘silence’ those who stand up for the victims of trumpism and I think these two or three have great influence on at least one moderator (Mike Bell)

            so things are changing on Internetmonk now and ‘silencing’ in enforced and I WAS guilty of speaking those three words ‘politically’ but also in a higher way, in the way that the injustice to the victims involved making them risk their lives getting coronavirus should they get in lines to go to the polls and vote, which they DID, in surprising numbers, which quite makes me think they do not intimidate easily, which also gives me more hope for our whole country.

            People will turn out to vote, unless their votes are not counted OR they are turned away from voting, or some other form of voter intimidation is employed (and it WILL be) but still,
            people will come out to vote. Why?
            Because that is a sacred right that was paid for in blood of our soldiers who fought for our freedoms, and NO ONE, and NO PARTY is going to keep these voters away from their civic duty. I don’t know how they voted, but I like it that they stood up against the hatred and the manipulation (which now includes the right wing five on SCOTUS, God help us!

            So that’s what happened. I’m okay with it. Cause it happened to me, but I hate to see it happen to others, as I think that Internetmonk was special for many more than just myself, and it wasn’t like folks could get away with trying to shut up those they disagreed with. Times are changing. Sads.

            • Mike Bell says

              “the phrase was taken away as ‘too political’ likely because there are two or three who love to ‘silence’ those who stand up for the victims of trumpism and I think these two or three have great influence on at least one moderator (Mike Bell)”

              A couple notes here.

              1. That was not my moderation.
              2. April 10th was Good Friday. Chaplain Mike’s moderation was completely appropriate given the date. The focus was on Christ.
              3. As to being influenced by those who love to ‘silence those who stand up for the victims of trumpism’ ask Seneca who get moderated the most by me. (Hint: It is him).
              4. The quickest way to get moderated by me, is to a) go off topic or b) participate in personal attacks or inflammatory comments on or about other commentators.
              5. In the post today, that was largely what I did.

              • Christiane says

                Mike, I apologize for thinking it was you who removed the three words, but I know that times HAVE changed for this blog, and maybe for all of us now that we have entered into uncharted waters, at least here is the United States.

                That I felt you were the one involved has to do with that person who tries to silence people who offend him by mentioning anything ‘DT’, and he is not alone, I know that. But I have not wanted for him or his cohorts to be silenced, nor can I defend myself for having spoken out against the treatment of the border children. Our handy-man and his wife are immigrants from S. America and we know something of their journey and how they try to help their relatives, and I am very emotional about how refugees are treated. The false-equivalency of ‘Obama did it too’ is the ‘defense’ of the abominable treatment of those littles, but there is no truth that the former leader had no mercy on these families, quite the opposite.

                So sorry for the comment involving your name. My bad. I take full responsibility for it.
                I wanted to express the horror of what happened to those voters in that state at the hands of those in power, and the three word comment was apparently ‘too much’ for this blog. There are no words for what happened, not even those three words can speak to the horror, no.
                Best to leave it for those places and those people who can make ‘sense’ of something that has so many of my countrymen wondering ‘what’s next’? And then came the virus. More trouble.

                Well, the thing about Seneca is that he is not one to try to silence people. I think that sets him apart from those who see things his way but do not want others to speak against the present government’s policies. I am sad for Seneca. He goes way back with us. I am like him in ways. But I wouldn’t want anyone silenced. Not Seneca, not the ones who ‘stir the pot’ for their leader, not the ones who speak for the incarcerated children and babies, no one…..

                I can defend Seneca for honesty about his viewpoint, and on the score that he has never tried to shut any commentator here up, and that he is a member (or was) of this blogging community which now is undergoing changes. He is not a bad soul, Mike. I don’t see things his way, but I am all for him having a ‘voice’. It’s not my blog. It was okay with me that there were people here who saw things differently from me. But now some of these people are uncomfortable and
                in the end, moderation may help all concerned or ‘being put out on the curb’ if need be. You must do what is best for the integrity of the blog. I am understanding and have no problem with the decisions of the blog keepers and helpers.

                Thanks for the post to help us understand the new changes. And it did help. God Bless.

            • Christiane says

              EIDOLON, there is also this, and likely other references which I will try to find for you:

              Christiane Smith • 5 days ago
              “In a sense, crucifixion was a form of entertainment. Everyone understood that the specific role of the passersby was to exacerbate the dehumanization and degradation of the person who had been thus designated to be a spectacle. Crucifixion was cleverly designed — we might say diabolically designed — to be an almost theatrical enactment of the sadistic and inhumane impulses that lie within human beings.”

              Dr. Olson, you may recognize the above quote from Fleming Rutledge’s book on the Crucifixion, to which a friend of mine on another blog commented that punishments of ‘subversive humans’ and sacrifices to the gods were seen as ‘necessary’ ‘for the continued domination and flourishing of the Empire itself’.

              In the light of this reflection, and in the light of your question about the Presence of God in this Pandemic, I have thought, this:
              that Wisconsin’s reality mattered.

              There IS a ‘higher law’ that values life over the power of ‘the Empire’, and if justice cannot value life, than that ‘justice’ is not enabling ‘right to be done’.
              The Supreme Court’s ‘decision’ was not ‘right’. On Good Friday, I will see those people in Wisconsin who were forced to come out to vote and placed themselves in danger as American citizens who were cognizant that they were offering themselves as voices against the darkness and I will pray for them.”

              EIDOLON,
              the source is Dr. Roger Olson’s blog on ‘Where Is God In This Pandemic’

    • HA!

      Robert, I refreshed my page from yesterday morning and noticed the level of moderation which reminded me of exactly what you described of the roshi. But, I commented before seeing your comment.

  15. Dana Ames says

    Not to change the subject, but….

    Since many Orthodox parishes and monasteries are livestreaming these days, if anyone would like to catch the flavor of Holy Week in Jerusalem AD 33 – uh, I mean, in how eastern Christians enter into these days, you can tune in. Monastery services are going to be longer. So I won’t get thrown into mod because of links, I’ll note a few places and you can look them up using your favorite search engines. Larger parishes/Cathedrals are more likely to have livestreaming, if you want to find something more local. Take time differences into account.

    The first three days of Holy Week have “Bridegroom” services. We see Christ on his way to his glorification and claiming his bride, the Church – but he comes in abject humility, bound and scourged. On Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, depending on the parish, the Hymn of Kassiane is chanted (subject: the woman of ill repute who washed the Lord’s feet with her tears) and in the “old countries” prostitutes tend to show up at these services.
    Thursday morning Liturgy commemorates the institution of Holy Communion. Thursday evening, all of the Passion accounts of the Gospels are chanted, interspersed with hymns, in more or less chronological order; this takes about 3 hours. Friday there is no Liturgy – we are grieving too hard, and attending to Jesus’ funeral with appropriate lamentation. Then, there’s Saturday… something’s coming… and then Sunday. And to put the cap on it, like the denoument of a good novel, Vespers on Sunday evening.

    For east/central:
    Monastery of the Holy Cross in West Virginia – they have a schedule at their web site, and you can watch on either Facebook or YouTube. Pretty much all the services, at full length. Traditional Paschal Liturgy at 11 pm Sat.

    St Anne Orthodox Church, Oak Ridge TN – Fr Stephen’s church (he is emeritus now, so different Rector) – they are serving only Thursday – Sunday. Schedule on their home page; Paschal Liturgy at 9 am Sun.

    For west/mountain:
    St Seraphim Cathedral, Santa Rosa CA – my parish. A happy medium – pretty much the full service schedule, but the services are abbreviated (except for Liturgies); Paschal Liturgy 10 pm Sat; Fr Lawrence will be ending about when we usually start… On Facebook at stseraphimofsarovsr.

    Thanks-
    Dana

    • Mike Bell says

      Hi Dana, normally I would encourage you to move this to a more relevant post, we just had several days of Easter related services that you could have linked from.

      Instead though, I have been impressed by the breadth and depth of Church services that I have experienced over the last few weeks while staying at home, not the least have been Chaplain Mike’s own services.

      I would like for our readers to be ready to comment next Monday on what they have found meaningful church service wise over the last few weeks. Send us links next Monday, I will rescue them from moderation.

    • Thanks for this. I have a bit of an affection for EO and have on occasions made some attempt to hook into the local Greek Church and pastor. This comes from my focus on Christian mysticism writings and the whole purgation/illumination/unity thing. Are these in the vernacular or are they in the cultural language?

  16. Dana Ames says

    Mike,

    Monday will be too late for this purpose. I put up this info for people to use to watch services this week, if so inclined, since Orthodox Pascha is a week later (this year). These won’t infringe on people’s usual routine, if they wish to see how the eastern side does things.

    Thanks-
    D.

    • Christiane says

      I would love to see the services. Is there a link ?

      • Dana Ames says

        Christiane, if I put links in the comment it will get thrown into moderation. Just look up Monastery of the Holy Cross, West Virginia in your search engine, or likewise Saint Anne Orthodox Church Oak Ridge TN, since you are on the east coast. You can get to their web sites, and the service information is there.

        Dana

  17. Mike Bell – I am honored that you cared enough about my comment (at a moment of weakness) the other day to pen this and mention my alias in this article. What you wrote resonates with me as I have a similar point of view and have experienced the moderation of Michael S. back in the day.

    I believe many here on this site have a gift at being able to convert coherent thinking to text, a gift that eludes me most of the time. And though many are politically on the other side of my conservative views, it gives me a chance to see things I may not have taken into consideration, even if I do not agree. I am a Catholic, I experience in my church conservative thought from a moral standpoint and liberal thought from a social justice standpoint. My overall view is that: too far right = greed, too far left = laziness, and in between a lot of folks trying to do the right thing for themselves and others. Point here is that my personal conservative bent does not provide me all the answers and that I need other points of view to keep me fresh, honest and open.

    I am not a big censorship guy although I like the guidelines Mike is setting here (although Mike you may get exhausted trying keep up with things). The intent of my rant was never to see anyone censored as it is my choice to be here on this site or not and everyone has the right to express themselves. My frustration was more on discourse… as both sides can have something good to say neither has all the answers. I know I will not change someone’s mind with my discourse, and I also know I might read something that will cause me to go take a look for myself (and it might even influence my view on a particular subject). And please note that at one time I was as emphatic in the other direction as some are here… but found that it just made me miserable all the time for things I cannot change.

    To sum it up I acknowledge the great spiritual conversation and debate here at IMonk. For other subjects, I do have the credentials to discuss (especially immigration, government, etc) because of the work I do, but don’t because it evokes too much emotion. All I can say is that sometimes things are not always what they seem, especially if one is getting their sources from the news organizations. One more thing; if you are ever coming to Pittsburgh please look me up. I know HUG passes through here at times, say the word and I will come from behind my alias and we will have lunch. That includes some of you Eastern Pennsylvania folks.

    My unrant…..

  18. Dana Ames says

    A propos the topic:

    Neither Jesus himself nor his early followers seemed to have any intention of influencing the governing authorities of their day. Up until Christianity becoming legal in the early 300s, even though much of the time people left them alone while thinking their beliefs ridiculous, they were at times fiercely persecuted, the severity worsening as time went on. What would someone think who lived to experience both torture in those years of persecution, and then the immense freedom that came with legalization? It seems that it would have been like those cartoons where a person’s head keeps going around in circles on the shoulders… And there was no guarantee that legality would last; under Julian the Apostate, Constantine’s grandson, persecutions resumed for a (blessedly) short while.

    And what about the masses living in later empires and kingdoms? Even if the rulers were Christian, and arguments could be made that things were probably better for the masses had the rulers been otherwise, did anything they do make a difference from day to day? The common folk could not have even imagined that they would have had a “vote” in how they were governed.

    So we come to our own day. I believe being a responsible citizen, in this very small slice of time when the masses have had a say in their government, includes letting governing officials know how I want the government to run, either by vote and/or by communicating some other way. How much of a difference does it make? I don’t know. I have to believe that with honest people in government, it probably factors into their decisions somehow. In the USA, it would be so much better if, at the very least, lobbying were outlawed and limits placed on the amount of money that could be spent on elections. I don’t know if that will ever happen. Failing that, I have to face reality and assume, contrary to the optimism of my youth, that on the Federal level (and perhaps the State level in places like California with such a large GDP) it’s not really going to matter what type of government there is. I think things are much more crucial on the county and city level – but they’re tied too much into State and Federal funding, especially in less affluent rural areas. There’s always too much money lurking behind the scenes, and the concomitant greed and gross misunderstanding of what power is for.

    Dana

    • Dana,

      Even more off topic – reading a book entitled “1453” by Roger Crowley about the fall of Constantinople by the Ottomans – great read and a great look at the divided politics/religion right at the most crucial point in the city’s history (Papal Loyalists versus EO Traditionalists). Written well with much description of leaders, war machines, the city itself and events immediately leading up to the siege.

      • Thanks, Rad. I’ll check if it’s in my library – when they’re open again 🙂

        D.

  19. Burro (Mule) says

    Since the beginning of the last month, the Atlanta beggars have gotten bolder and more importune. The white beggars grab all the lucrative freeway on-ramps leaving the black beggars to disperse into the neighborhoods and accost people at the grocery stores and at the gas pumps.

    I lost my temper and gave one of them a tongue lashing that I wasn’t very proud of. His response was pure Flannery O’Connor- ‘You a crackah from hell. You gonna be back there soon enuff.”

    What I need most is confession. I hear the Catholics do drive through, but we don’t.

    • Is confession over the telephone invalid?

      • Burro (Mule) says

        I’m still Protestant enough to believe that my personal repentance is ‘valid’, but the real benefit is when Father places the stola over my head and proclaims the Lord’s remission of my sin.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        I’m still Protestant enough to believe that my personal repentance is ‘valid’, but the real benefit is when Father places the stola over my head and proclaims the Lord’s remission of my sin.

      • Robert,

        “officially” it depends on the bishop. Mine has given the blessing for this temporarily. But Mule is right – there’s nothing that compares to feeling that (heavy) stole on the head. It’s the touch of reconciliation.

        Dana

        • That tactile dimension was not part of my experience of the confessional ritual growing up the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, at that time you could not even see the priest in the confessional booth, only hear him as you went through the ritual together with him.

  20. David Greene says

    With all due respect to Godwin’s Law, I think today’s society has moved beyond H***** all the way to Emperor Palpatine along with all the theatrical fantasy that accompanies it.

  21. Michael Bell says

    I want to thank everyone for their comments on this post. I think it goes to show that with a little bit of moderation we can all behave like adults and have a reasonably reasonable conversation.

    Thanks for all your input. And yes, you did keep me hopping!