July 9, 2020

Meet The Team

It’s a new year, and there may be some who have not been at the iMonastery for very long. Perhaps you don’t know the faces behind the names here, or the stories behind the faces behind the names. So I thought as we kick off 2012 we would start with a look at the iMonk team. Here is a directory of those whose writings make up InternetMonk.


Michael Spencer: Michael is the Internet Monk. Period. There is no other. Michael parted ways with this world nearly two years ago, but he will always be our founder and guide. That being said, the direction he set was one of afflicting the comfortable, so beware! If you did not know Michael when he was filling these pages with his heart twice a day, you should go back and read his essays found in the Archives section. You can read a further bio of Michael here.

First Lady Denise Spencer: Denise is the Mother Superior here at the abbey. She makes us mind our Ps and Qs and take our Flintstone vitamins every day. Denise does carry a wicked ruler with her which she is not afraid to use, but most often simply gives us stern looks and assigns us penance, such as making us sing My Old Kentucky Home before dinner. And breakfast. And lunch. She can be seen on the weekends sitting on the front porch of the iMonastery throwing homemade pies at the novices.

Chaplain Mike: Mike Mercer is really a member of the Chicago Cubs, using the moniker “Chaplain” as a disguise. Hey, if you played for the Cubs, you would want a disguise as well! Chaplain Mike writes his essays in the dugout while waiting to come to bat. And he almost never gets to bat, which is why he has time to write such great essays. When he’s not playing (or, rather, watching from the dugout) baseball, you’ll find Chaplain Mike at the Billy Goat Tavern discussing why the curse of the goat is worse than the curse of the Bambino, and how both point to the end of the world as soon as the Cubs beat the Yankees in the World Series. (We’re going to be here for a while if that is true…)

Joe Stallard: Also known as Joe the Plumber, he goes to endless depths to keep iMonk up and running on this new fad called the internet. Using only a ballpoint pen, a paper clip, and an old Bee Gees cassette tape, Joe somehow makes it possible for the ten billion or so people who visit here every week to have a pleasant experience. Just please, don’t trip on any of the wiring.

Lisa Dye: Lisa is a home economics teacher from Des Moines, Iowa. She went to vote in this week’s caucus, but was surprised to find Millard Fillmore not on the ballot. Lisa keeps our cupboards stocked with raspberry jam, raspberry pies, raspberry muffins and raspberry-flavored Kool Aid. When she is not teaching or writing for you, she coaches the iMonk hockey team.

Damaris Zehner: Let’s make this clear. Damaris is female. A woman. A lady. The pronoun to use for such is “she” or “her.” Ok? (You do know what a pronoun is, don’t you? It’s a noun that has renounced its amateur status and turned pro.) Damaris has run a ladies aid society, was voted “the most ladylike of all girls” in her grade school, and upsets Tim Challies whenever she reads Scripture aloud in church. So please stop referring to her as “he,” ok?

Martha O’Ireland: Martha O’Ireland is not her real name, but she does really live in Ireland. Really. Or rather, not really concerning her name, but really really concerning her location. Martha almost had a job pushing the Pope on his mobile platform, but then there was that unfortunate incident when she wanted to see how fast it would go, and, well … Martha is back home where she leads a four-piece traditional Irish folk group singing Prohibition songs in the local pubs. Most of the locals have caught onto the gag, but a group of visiting American preachers heard them and proceeded to start a new church in Alabama based on the idea.

Adam Palmer: Adam is a ghost. Ok, ghostwriter, but still, he’s not supposed to be seen. Like the Stealth B2 bomber, if you see it, something is wrong. It’s like he wears a cloak of invisibility over him at all times. Hmmm … that makes me wonder … Is it possible Jo Rowling had a ghost helping her with all seven Harry Potter books? And could it have been Adam? Next time I see him, I’ll ask. Adam is most often seen—er, not seen, that is—here at the iMonastery helping to sweep up the ramblings on Saturdays.

Joe Spann: If you think Adam is hard to see, try finding Joe! Well, don’t. Joe is in the witness protection program, now living in Phoenix, Arizona where he operates a taco stand using the name Josephine. It’s complicated.

Craig Bubeck: Craig is the smartest person on earth. He has PhDs in biometrics, civil engineering, fractals, modern Latin, osteopathy, string theories and temperature gauges. In his spare time he teaches third-world countries why they will never be second-world countries, let alone first. You know all those cartoon strips where you see a guru sitting on top of the mountains and a hapless seeker climbing up for advice? Craig is that guru.

The Synonymous Rambler: Hey, rambling is a heavy task. I can’t do it alone. And while Adam will sometimes come out of the shadows with a story or two, the SR never leaves the darkest recesses of the abbey. SR—see how deftly I avoid using pronouns (for definition, see above) so you don’t know if the Synonymous Rambler is male or female?—sifts through multitudes of stories all week long, looking for that perfect one to take Saturday Ramblings to new heights. Or depths, depending on what you thought of the Jesus Toaster story. (Since none of us has ever seen Synonymous, we had to rely on a police artist for this sketch.)

Yours Truly:  I am your humble publisher. I read and write and think and generally mess things up around here. Lisa follows me with a mop and bucket, Craig says if I come to him for advice he’s just going to give me a good shove, Chaplain Mike says he thinks of another use for a baseball bat when he sees me, and First Lady Denise loosens up her wrist and sharpens her ruler when I am nearby. Yes, I am a troublemaker. I find life a lot more fun that way.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the introductions. You may want to clip this out and keep it as a sort of souvenir program. That way if you meet any of us, you can get our autographs, which someday will be valuable. Hey, the price of paper keeps going up, you know.

(We are auditioning a possible new cast member. Here is the tape she sent to us. What do you think?)

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF9-sEbqDvU’]


  1. Randy Thompson says

    Of all the Internet Monk posts I’ve read over the past few years, this one is far and away the hardest to respond to, theologically speaking.

  2. It’s all true!


    • Pretty cute picture Martha – and I thought you were at least as old as me. Were you part of the cast of Riverdance?

      Also – I always thought the Pope kept the Irish at arms length – in case they get uppity and want to revert to the Celtic form of the faith.

  3. The Cubs had better be entertaining on the field this year. Today they traded Carlos Zambrano, who has provided the only entertainment we’ve had for two summers now.

    • Mike, what’s the point of rooting for a hapless team that refuses to repay such loyalty? Perhaps more Cubs victims, er, fans should follow the example of the former Kansas City Royals fan who, frustrated by years of mediocrity from the team, publicly ‘divorced’ them, making himself free to root elsewhere.
      Good grief, man, just break free and walk away from them.

      This advice is from, in the interest of full disclosure, a Yankee fan. Right. Say what you will, but the Yanks know how to reward a loyal fan.

      Come on over.

      • Jonathan, you will be happy to know that my American League team is the Yankees. That’s because when I was a kid, they were the only team on TV. I absolutely loved Mickey Mantle. This has been tricky, since I married a Red Sox fan.

        But alas, the Yankees are not the hometown team, so my loyalty to them is far below that of the Cubs.

        • Chaplin Mike…the Cubs are going to need a monkey with a jersey just like Northwestern University has. 😉 If one of you guys can break the curse there is hope for the other!!!! 😯

  4. Jeff, after a long tiring day to a medical appointment this is just the medicine I needed…a good laugh! Thank you! Your creative writing, as always, is so wonderfully playful and how you find just the right pictures…..the picture you gave yourself brought the most laughter… Throughout this new year please do keep up sharing this wonderful gift you have. 🙂

  5. This is so funny, Jeff! Thanks for the chuckle. I think my favorite line may be about Craig: “In his spare time he teaches third-world countries why they will never be second-world countries, let alone first.” 🙂

    Keep up the good work, all you writers and maintenance folks. I really appreciate all the time and effort that goes into keeping this site lively, active, fun, informative.

  6. Oh, and by the way, I love Marcel the Shell. She was very creative in getting a dog, wasn’t she!

    • She must be a Roman Catholic periwinkle. She’s using guilt tactics so her mama and papa Shell will get her a dog. :D)

  7. Lisa Dye looks remarkably like the original Betty Crocker. Craig Bubeck, not to be confused with Dave Brubeck, looks remarkably like the baritone in the Oak Ridge Boys. You yourself, Jeff, as we knew all along, are a force to be reckoned with.

  8. I expect Damaris to keep us abreast of Tim Challis and his next effort at elevating complimentarism. Though I have a sneeking suspicion its going to invovle a burqa and some theological ideas you’d expect in Mecca, Saudi Arabia or Lahore, Pakistan….certainly not Toronto, Canada….

  9. Just had to come here and declare my love for Marcel the Shell. That’s all.

  10. Very nice. Thanks to Jeff for all the light heartedness, cuts through all the serious talk.

  11. Christiane says

    I LOVE this site . . . after wandering through Southern Baptist blogs for a time, coming here is like a drink of cold water in the desert.

    The DIVERSITY ! it’s wonderful . . .

    please never forget the spirit of Michael Spencer, and his honesty, and his frankness

    we will not see his like again . . . but this site exists because there was someone brave enough to allow it to come into being . . . thank God for all of you contributors and commentators . . . it’s part of Michael’s legacy you keep going for the future . . . he saw ‘the Church’ was ‘sanctuary’ from the coldness outside . . . and his blog reflected the warmth of Christianity