January 27, 2021

Open Forum — May 28, 2014

table talk

I have a crazy week and it’s time to give you all a chance for some open discussion anyway, so we’re going to have an Open Forum today.

An Open Forum means you get to talk about what is interesting you at the moment. This is your chance to get together with others and bring up topics you would like to discuss, rather than being guided by themes arising from a post.

Please remember the basic rules of Internet Monk commenting —

  • Know that you are welcome here. You don’t have to agree.
  • Be respectful of others.
  • Be concise and clear in your comments.
  • Stay on topic. (doesn’t apply in quite the same way today, obviously)
  • Don’t dominate the discussion.
  • Please listen.
  • All good things must come to an end. You got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em, if you know what I mean.

The table’s yours today. Enjoy God’s gift of conversation.


  1. Ok, something somewhat silly: Mint+Chocolate is far superior to Peanut Butter+Chocolate. You are free to disagree. You are free to be wrong.

    • I vote for peanut butter and chocolate. My problem with mint and chocolate is that most of the time there is way too much mint so that the chocolate loses some of it’s richness. Just a dash, enough to remind you that it is there and no more.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        I am completely with oscar on this one.

      • Fr. Weejus says

        Agreed on the too much mint. And I’m going to say it: thin mints are not the best Girl Scout cookie for that reason. Please put down the stones. I am only stating the obvious. The thought police (or scolds) can’t keep me from speaking out on this most important issue.

        • Richard Hershberger says

          Shhh! People have been poked with a soft cushion, or even forced to sit in the comfy chair, for less!

      • Mule Chewing Briars says

        Mint-and-chocolate should always be dark chocolate. Never milk chocolate.

        Peanut butter is an abomination. Mixing it with anything just makes it an abomination.
        Except I have a soft spot for my bacon, cheese, tomato and peanut butter sandwich.

        • Mule, thank you. That is an epiphany. I’m planning a BCTPB now.

        • Mule, I’m with you on the dark chocolate, but I’m looking for some smooth, palm sized rocks because of the peanut butter comment!

        • Radagast says

          Peanut butter tends to be overpowering – but peanuts and chocolate… wait, make that almonds and chocolate -mmmm!

          • Mule Chewing Briars says

            Once,again, dark chocolate…

            Dark chocolate with almonds is right up there with the Brandenburg Concerto or the frescoes of Giotto

        • I was going to agree with Oscar on the superiority of chocolate + peanut butter. I was also going to agree with Mule that, when chocolate IS combined with mint the chocolate should be of the dark variety.

          And then I remembered the Frango mints I used to get at Marshall Field’s in Chicago. The exception that proves both rules!

    • I counter with “coconut and chocolate”. 😉

    • I like them both, but I think I like peanut butter and chocolate better. A little mint goes a long way. I am more concerned about the quality of the chocolate. There are a couple of makers of chocolate where the chocolate doesn’t even taste like chocolate to me (Palmer and Zachary). Lindt chocolate is great. Godiva is good. Cadbury is good. I am a chocolate snob, though I will eat Hershey’s, Nestle, Russell Stover and others.

      • I just KNEW there was a reason I like you JoanieD! Good chocolate, the kind that is buttery smooth and melts in your mouth, is like heaven on the tongue!

      • Radagast says

        Sarris chocolate – made here in Pittsburgh, if you like milk chocolate it is very smooth….

        • Ah, Sarris. Nothing quite like it. I once lived two blocks from the famous place in Canonsburg. Such wonderful smells that wafted through the neighborhood!

          • Radagast says

            I am not to far from there myself and actually worked on Water Street in Canonsburg somewhere around 1989…

            Easter is not the same unless you have those Sarris Chocolate balls (and jelly beans!).

      • cermak_rd says

        Lindt 90% cocoa chocolate. It took a while to get used to the assertiveness, but man is it my fave now (and bonus, it’s legal on my diet)

        • My sister just gave me a slab of Lindt 90% yesterday for my birthday, along with Lindt’s Sea Salt chocolate and their Intense Orange. One of the most practical gifts she’s ever given me.

          • Happy Birthday, Ted! I’m glad you’re celebrating with chocolate. MY daughter actually bought me the same Lindt chocolates for MY birthday . . . eerie.

    • Just chocolate…plain pure dark rich chocolate. Surely there is chocolate in heaven! 🙂

    • Drena (@DrenaBlanc) says

      But… But… But… I LOVE my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups…

    • Don’t forget the bacon.

  2. Oh, any news from Jeff D? How is he doing? We miss you Jeff!

    • Rick Ro. says


      • Jeff Dunn says

        I am alive and well … for the most part. Right now, working on trying to pass a kidney stone. If I was having any more fun, the U.S. Marshals would be on call.

        I was confirmed into the Catholic Church this Easter, and I could not be happier. As I look back now, I see God has been preparing me for this for more than 40 years. I worship in a small parish in Bixby, Oklahoma (just to the south of Tulsa). It is perfect for me. Simple and without pretense or show. By contrast, I attended Easter morning service at the evangelical church I was a part of for 15 years with my wife. Mind you, this was my church home for a decade and a half, but I had not been there in more than a year. I was overwhelmed by how noisy it was, how emotionally-driven the songs and preaching was (by that I mean how much they sought to draw emotions out of me), and how much technology was involved (Power Point slides with cute fades, lighting for the stage, etc.). I’m not saying any of this is wrong in itself, just that I was not used to it any longer.

        I love the depth and simplicity of the Mass. The Mass is not about me–it is totally focused on Jesus. And the first time that I received communion as the Real Presence of Jesus … well, I was amazed I was able to keep standing. I looked into the chalice and saw the very real blood of the Son of God that is given for me. It was and continues to be the most amazing thing I can imagine.

        God has opened a door for me to return to publishing. I am now working as acquisitions editor for a Catholic publishing house, laboring alongside some wonderful people whose hearts are centered on pleasing God, not on making money or making names for themselves. (Though we are not opposed to selling lots of books and making money!) As I am back where I know I should be–helping to produce books that call the readers to a deeper walk of faith–and as I am at home in the Church, I have felt the depression that kept me down for so long beginning to lift off of me.

        I appreciate you all continuing to pray for me. There are things going on in my family that I must trust God for, and would appreciate your prayers there as well.

        Set your hearts and minds and eyes on the Risen Christ. Follow him in all of your ways. Don’t make me come back here now …

        • Jeff…..welcome, my brother, to the long line of saints and sinners known as the Pilgrim Church on Earth!!! We are practicing Catholics ‘cuz NONE of us ever get it RIGHT!!!

          Pax +


        • It is so great to hear from you, Jeff, and I am happy that things are going well in your life. Your post is like a deep breath of fresh air to me today!

        • An answer to prayer. Great to hear your voice, Jeff.

        • Radagast says

          As a member of kidney stone club, my prayers go out to you. its like someone sticking a knife in your kidney and no matter how you twist and turn you can’t get away from the pain….

          I love your description of the Mass, very similar to the way I feel about it. My prayers are with you as continue to grow deeper in the faith, your new job and other trials you are experiencing.

          There was a person I once knew who had swum over from a non-denominational faith tradition… I always liked his description of the faith. As an evangelical he described himself as on-fire, once he swam the Tiber his description was more like a warm glow….

          Good to hear from you.

          • Ten pound baby without drugs, worked 9 hours on a shattered ankle, & all of these were a sweet Sunday School picnic compared to the kidney stone. MY SYMPATHIES! 🙁

        • Rick Ro. says

          Thanks for popping in and sharing, Jeff. Your writing and insights have been missed. Good to hear about the good stuff, sorry to hear about the bad. Hang tough.

        • So good to hear things looking up.

        • cermak_rd says

          I’m so glad you’re feeling better.

        • Dana Ames says

          Thanks Jeff – Hugs to you!


        • Josh in FW says

          Thanks for the update. I’ll continue to remember you in my prayers.

        • Drena (@DrenaBlanc) says

          So glad to hear from you Jeff, and God placed you in the right church. Congratulations on your confirmation. I’ve been praying for you, and as one who has also been battling depression, I know how much of a trial it can be. I am glad it is starting to lift for you.

          Last but not least… Remember to have your daily intake of oreos as Oreos can and do make life better :).

        • Danielle says

          It is wonderful to hear that things are looking a bit cheerier. Also, it is wonderful news that you were confirmed over Easter and feel so at home!

          “Depth and simplicity” – I like that description of what a mass can be.

          God speed!

        • The only good thing about having had a kidney stone is being able to recount the event in excruciating detail to people who have only heard about them, doing my best to portray the sheer immensity of the attendant pain and suffering, the vomiting, the feelings of despair and helplessness, the thinking you’re going to die and then fearing that you might not. I think I could easily make my tale of woe the subject of a gripping short story, a horror novelette, one that would give the listeners/readers nightmares.

          My prayers for your stone’s quick passing.

          • cermak_rd says

            ouch! Sounds like my diseased gall bladder. They thought it was a gallstone until they got a look at the swollen, mishapen organ. I went to the ER in excruciating pain after being unable to eat or drink for a day. They took it out that night. That pain is the stuff that nightmares are made of!

          • Eric, that is so funny. Many times I have listened to my friend in awe and horror at what happens when passing a stone. And she lives in constant anticipation! Praying.

        • Great to hear from you Jeff! Blessings to you!

        • Robert F says

          The peace of the Lord be always with you, Jeff.

        • Hooray! That’s the best news. Made my day!

        • MelissatheRagamuffin says

          Jeff glad to hear things are going well for you.

        • Welcome home, Jeff!!! So good to hear from you. Prayers and well-wishes to you from Florida!

        • I am pleased and relieved to read your good report, Jeff. Also glad that you’re back working in your calling.

          Wife and I are also finding great comfort in the tradition Eucharistic service of our Episcopal congregation. As you observed, the entire focus is shifted.

  3. Christiane says

    I saw Pope Francis’ visit to the Shoah (Holocaust) memorial in Israel ‘Yad Vashem’ and I was very moved by his speech there, For those who have not heard it, I’d want to share it here:

    “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.”

    (Pope Francis, Yad Vashem)

  4. Rick Ro. says

    My daughter and I loved the popcorn entertainment factor of the new Godzilla movie. But (SPOILER ALERT) Tokyo, Honolulu, Vegas and San Fran are going to need major makeovers…

    • It made a bit of a change from New York being destroyed.

      Seriously, I and daughter also loved Godzilla – initial reaction to a new Godzilla film had not been positive, but as the trailers started to appear, we got interested. And the film itself was a lot of fun.

      • Honolulu gets destroyed?! Well, that’s new. I’m almost intrigued enough to go see this film now.

        When teaching Greek mythology, I always get a kick out of telling the students that Thebes for the ancient Greeks was a bit like New York for Americans or Tokyo for the Japanese- it’s the place where bad stuff always happens (though perhaps on a slightly less grand scale).

        Mind you, oddly there’s no equivalent city here in China itself, so far as I can tell. I guess they just don’t make those kinds of movies here.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Besides which, I don’t think the Chinese government would permit a movie where Beijing gets Kaijued.

          Might give the people (or wannabe warlords) ideas. Most authorized chop-sakis coming out of China these days have the very traditional theme of “See what happens to individual heroes? Sumbit to the System.”

        • Dana Ames says

          Something that happened not *in* Thebes but to Thebans in northern Europe:



    • cermak_rd says

      Well, usually it’s earthquake that requires San Fran to rebuild, but a giant lizard…OK. It might take a bit more than new stucco though.

    • Drena (@DrenaBlanc) says

      I’m just glad they spared New York for a change… Oh man I LOVED that movie… Though sometimes I wondered what the point of all those humans were besides somebody needed to speak dialogue occasionally… Wait, there was dialogue in the movie?

    • Randy Thompson says

      Thank you for bringing up Godzilla.

      How can there be intelligent Christian discourse without reference to the greatest city-stomping monster of them all?

  5. Vega Magnus says

    Recent quality pitching from the Astros has officially pushed their record past the Cubs. Chicago is now the worst team in the majors.

  6. Robert F says

    The recent elections across Europe seem to indicate, not only that the citizens of European nations are decisively rejecting integration into a pan-European union, but that they are willing to elect far right radicals and fringe dweller to support that rejection. Is the progressive democratic experiment, ongoing in Europe since WWII, coming to an end? And is what may replace it something frightening?

    What will this mean, or augur, for the US?

    How will this mutate all those end times One World government scenarios born in the feverish minds of prophecy interpreting prognosticators, many of which seem to depend on a unified Europe?

    What is the real danger in all of this, as opposed to the illusory dangers in the minds of paranoid prophecy interpreters?

    “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

    • Robert F says

      If the Church spoke with one voice, what do you think it should say, if anything, to or about this change in the political/social landscape of Europe?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        I do not know that “one voice” could say anything coherent to all the citizens of the EU. The viewing of the polis through a homogenizing lens is part of the problem. With that lens the amorphous “mood” is all that can be discussed – when anger is the result of unanswered specific questions.

    • How will this mutate all those end times One World government scenarios born in the feverish minds of prophecy interpreting prognosticators, many of which seem to depend on a unified Europe?

      They’ll simply shift from the EU to the next bugaboo, as they have always done. My vote for most-likely-to-be-the-next-home-of-the-Antichrist is China and it’s Eurasian Trade Union. You heard it here first. 😉

      What is the real danger in all of this, as opposed to the illusory dangers in the minds of paranoid prophecy interpreters?

      I’m much more worried about the global financial and energy problems than the political/social state of Europe.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > I’m much more worried about the global financial and energy problems

        As a positive/optimistic note – I believe there is a strong argument to be made that higher energy prices, and even energy price volatility, can yield a strong and more fault-tolerant market possessing greater resiliency. I have no idea if that will happen – but industry captains are not stupid, there are ways to build systems which can both survive and thrive in such cicumstances.

        Here in the USA’s midwest we’ve seen decades of industrial decline and infrastructure decay. We’ve papered over it with sad feel good-gestures: Hey, that dirty old railroad is now a bike path…. masking the question – how come the railroad is gone?

        But the last surge of energy prices very much changed the mood. Midwest manufacturing is on a steady climb, in-shoring is a statistically relevant trend, and I know of at least one heavy-industrial company that actually turned a corner at that point – when paying to ship products [between phases of construction] back and forth across the world is met with a realistic price suddenly it makes sense to just-do-that-here. This is seen in rail transport volumes which are, even if fraking related cargoes are removed from the equation, **much** higher than decades ago – so someone is moving *lots* of heavy stuff [a single rail car replaces 4-5 semi-trailers]. DOTs all over the midwest are building multi-modal transportation hubs as the transit system is at near crush-capacity, the tier 1 railroads are *each* dropping multiple *B*illions a year into infrastructure [something they have not done, at this scale, until quite recently], the Chicago rail interlockings are swamped with traffic, – – – this is all about energy [and not just fraking]. The result, even as fraking wells are exhausted, will be an inheritance of robust efficient first-world infrastructure.

        The effects of this may take decades to be fully realized by `the masses` – building these things takes a long time – and will it be enough to deal with the stresses of expensive energy? Maybe, maybe not. But maybe is not doom.

        Lets not be hand-wringing natterers – there is opportunity here as well as risk. That the risk is real does not render the opportunity pointless.

        • cermak_rd says

          Midwest manufacturing is on a rise here in Chicagoland. My question is will that result in the small factories in the small towns in Central and Southern IL seeing a resurgence, or will this be limited to the big cities. I mean, fact is the big cities have the capital (both human and financial) to do it, but the small towns really don’t anymore what with emigration to the big cities over the past 50 years.

          So if the manufacturing recovery stays in the big cities then the rail roads we have are fine (by and large between big cities) so our bike paths are still safe!

          • petrushka1611 says

            And that makes me wonder if the railroads’ bet in leasing those for bike paths instead of selling them was savvier than I have long thought.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > will this be limited to the big cities. I mean, fact is the b
            > ig cities have the capital (both human and financial) to do it,
            > but the small towns really don’t anymore what with emigration
            > to the big cities over the past 50 years.

            The numbers indicate development is extremely urban centric; and becoming even more so. By the numbers small-town America [such that it actually still exists] is starving. Ask people about the “economic recovery” and you can see this; in rural areas people are wondering where it is, property values are recovering very slowly if at all. In many urban areas the recovery has come and gone on to become straight-up growth. How rural area’s will finance the maintance of their infrastructure and funding their schools, etc… is a troubling question.

            > So if the manufacturing recovery stays in the big cities
            > then the rail roads we have are fine (by and large between
            > big cities)


            > so our bike paths are still safe!

            Probably. 🙂 But there are at least two rails-to-trails rehabitations I’ve heard of. Is that rails-to-trails-to-rails? Given a couple generates that could get to be a long name!

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > The recent elections across Europe seem to indicate,
      > not only that the citizens of European nations are
      > decisively rejecting integration into a pan-European
      > union, but that they are willing to elect far right
      > radicals and fringe dweller to support that rejection.

      I believe this is an over-reading. Nationalism is certainly on the rise across Eurpoe, but if that is a functional rejection of integration [which would be *very* difficult to undo] remains an open question. As the fervent nationalist probably also drives across two borders for his/her mediterranean beech weekend…

      > Is the progressive democratic experiment, ongoing
      > in Europe since WWII, coming to an end? And is what
      > may replace it something frightening?

      I’ve never understood the “experiment” meme. It was not and is not an experiment, it is `merely` a form of governance; which operationally seems to be going strong. People say the same thing about the “American Experiment” in relation to the constitution, etc… I have no idea what that means either.

      Will it be replaced by something frightening? No, as I do not believe it will be replaced. Will it develop some dark[er] corners – most likely, that seems to be happening.

      > What will this mean, or augur, for the US?

      Probably nothing. The “Right” and “Left” of the USA and the EU are not equivalent; they differ in many very substantive ways.

      Anger seems to be able to assert much more power in polis of the EU than in the USA. The polis of the USA is flacid and disinterested in comparison to that of the EU. Most of the “right” here in the USA, people usually mean the Tea Party is almost doomed by demographics. And the rage on the Left at the bail out of Wall Street crooks and lack of concomittant regulartory change gets no traction here. That rage is a strong driver in the polis of the EU in response to the similair turn of events of there – the socialization of risk for the powerful and wealthy while, in appearance at least, of leaving everyone else at the mercy of “the market”.

      But moods of nationalist fervor are not unknown in european culture – it remains to be seen what happens. This mood may pass.

      > How will this mutate all those end times One World
      > government scenarios born in the feverish minds of
      > prophecy interpreting prognosticators, many of which
      > seem to depend on a unified Europe?

      Evangelical radio seems already to have clearly moved on to Islam as the feet of clay, ten-toes, blah blah woof woof. So kudos to them, if the EU dissolves they have side-stepped looking like baffoons this time.

      > What is the real danger in all of this, as opposed
      > to the illusory dangers in the minds of paranoid
      > prophecy interpreters?

      Economic catastrophy. The EU is an economic power-house and a generally efficient and well-run state [given its scale]. The capacity to do a soft and gentle dissolution of the single currency and market – very hard to believe. However hot someones rhetoric I’m certain this is commonly recognized by the real power brokers – so make some small inconsequential changes to release steam, the system will probably continue AS-IS. If not the world economy will crater.

      I had several long and fascinating conversations with a programmer who worked on the single-currency migration – moving securities and commodity shares from the national currencies to the euro. So many complexities. The euro continuing as a stateless post-EU currency… such scenarios are unworkable.

      > “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
      > Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

      Eliza Gilkyson does a nice rendition of that in “Roses At The End Of Time”.

    • People want their countries back from a faceless, soulless, tone-deaf bureaucracy in Brussels. Frenchmen want to be French. Danes want to be Danish. Britons want to be British. Cosmopolitanism and “diversity” is the issue here, not “progressive democracy”.

      The real danger is that immigrants will face some danger from mob violence if the protecting hand of the state is removed. I can’t speak in the same voice with you about Martine Le Pen [I like her], but I can agree with you about human safety and dignity.

      In other news, some Swedish functionary considers Orthodoxy the major threat to Western civilization. He’s probably right.

      The Shi’a and the Orthodox already consider the feminist, homophiliac, usury-driven “progressive democracy” of the West the Antichrist. There is no need for a replacement.

      • A slight misreading there, Mule, where “Britons” and “British” are concerned. Many “Britons” definitely do not consider temselves to be “British.” Some of my English friends state clearly and often that they are English and live in England. “British” is anathema to, say, the typical resident of Yorkshire or Lancashire (who is, admittedly, quite different from the typical resident of London). And I could say the same thing about Welsh/Wales, Scottish/Scotland, and Irish/Ireland. “Great Britain” has been a figment of the political class’s imagination since 1707 to which all do not subscribe.

        • Mule Chewing Briars says

          Thank you for the correction. I knew this in my heart of hearts, but I didn’t want to descend to that level of granularity.

      • Speak for yourself, Ivan, not for Orthodoxy as a whole.

    • Patrick Kyle says

      This is what happens when things like forced unity, (the EU) monetary policy, and irresponsible immigration policies are forced on people and countries from the outside or from elites within the country. There is a natural backlash that could very well prove to be destabilizing or dangerous. Apparently the rulers of Europe have forgotten the rise of Nazi Germany and the factors that led to it.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      I pointed out elsewhere that it helps to look a bit more closely at the results:

      Taking the UK: Turnout – 25%. UKIP got 30% of that, meaning 7.5% of the electorate voted for them. Most of those votes came from the lily white rural areas. This is important, because Nigel Farage made anti-immigration policies his strongest election issue. Those rural areas also have a decidedly older average voter. Old, white people swinging hard right to keep those of darker shades / different accents out? Sound familiar?

      The CBC had an interview with Alan Sked, the original founder of UKIP -http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/episode/2014/05/26/monday-ukip-and-eu-vote-ukraine-poroshenko-99-yr-old-degree-earner-and-more/ . He is very much upset about the direction Farage has taken the party – he founded it as a Liberal Democratic, centrist but anti-EU party. Now it has become right wing and racist (his assessment). Farage has National Front members in key positions. This is race politics at heart.

      Of course, considering the fact that we Europeans have been spreading across the world over the last 5 centuries, infesting 🙂 every corner, it is sort of hypocritical to through the toys out of the cot at a few brown faces in Europe. Or even Polish / Romanian accents in London. Etc. Brussels might be a bit heavy handed with the bureaucracy at times, sure. But the deeper discontent feeds on old fashioned tribalism. And it is ugky, and ritten at the core…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “National Front” as in British Fascists/Skinheads?

        But the deeper discontent feeds on old fashioned tribalism. And it is ugky, and ritten at the core…

        In most tribal languages, the word for their own tribe usually translates as “The People” and the word for all others usually translates as “The Enemy”.

        Translating into 60-year-old German instead of current English, probably something more on the order of “Herrenvolk und Untermenschen”.

      • Asinus Spinas Masticans says

        So, have the anti-tribalists evolved past and transcended tribalism, or are they only the dominant tribe at present?

        • Klasie Kraalogies says

          I sense a reductio coming on.. 🙂

        • Klasie Kraalogies says

          I think we need to distinguish between patriotism (to grab a term), and jingoism. The latter is on the rise…

          • Asinus Spinas Masticans says

            Inform me

          • Klasie Kraalogies says

            On the one hand patriotism, or love of country/region/place (I’m defining it for use here, definitions vary all over the place) is love of rocks and grass and hills, and children’s rhymes, recipes and beer, stories and the buzzing of insects, peculiar humour and the sound of swinging doors, accents and idioms.

            Jingoism is the prelude to imperialism (it doesn’t have to follow, though) – we the best, we don’t want others here, us vs them, we good, others bad, familiar = good, strange = evil, chest thumping and delusions of grandeur.

            Remember, I have lived in 2 countries, I am a citizen of a different country now than before. But were I grew up, I saw that in the end, jingoism was a stronger force in self-destruction than anything else. If you love the hills and the grass and…., you will also love your fellow man, even if he is from far away, speaks funny and looks different.

          • Asinus Spinas Masticans says

            I should inform you that both the US and Europe are probably close to ‘peak anti-racism’, meaning that accusations of being a racist will be met in the future less by “No, I am not [bona fides presented for supporting argument]’ and more by “So? And?” Pendulums do swing. Fifty years after we passed the Civil Rights Act, America is just as segregated as it has ever been, as soon as the whistle blows at the end of the work day and people leave public space.

            It is less stressful for people to associate with other people who are like them.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > Fifty years after we passed the Civil Rights Act, America is just
            > as segregated as it has ever been, as soon as the whistle blows
            > at the end of the work day and people leave public space.

            Yes, and no, so no. Talking about “America” in this way is not illuminating. Segregation is a very regional issue, America is a large and not homogenous place. Not even homogenous in our issues.

            Oddly – Milwaukee, WI was recently anointed as the most segregated city in the USA. Not quite where you’d expect to find that.

          • Mule Chewing Briars says

            Yeah, most people would assume Atlanta or Birmingham, wouldn’t they?

            Southern blacks and Southern working class whites never cease to astound me. They have, at their best, an easiness about race that I have never seen north of, say, Covington, KY. At the same time, race dominates practically everything, and if things start to get tense, the fault lines open like the San Andreas

            I grew up in an ethnic enclave in the American Midwest. I’ve felt like something of an exile since I left. Even the Catholic Poles and Hungarians had to live in their own part of town. Yet, in a way, I’m sorry I couldn’t give my kids that kind of upbringing, that kind of certainty and identity, raising them instead in the American Bosnia [South Florida]. Being a just a ‘human’ consumer and citizen-rightsbearer, which is where I see all of this going, is thin like water, and not thick like blood, as Adam quoted Lewis as saying, and there’s no Life there.

            A (European) Dutchman once told me something that gave me quite a start. “You Americans are far more like your Negroes than you are like us”. As someone with deep nationalist, even regionalist and yes, tribal, instincts, that gave me a lot to think about. It’s the old problem of the One and the Many, the Particular and the Universal, that has played itself out over and over throughout our sad history. The American Canopy held pretty well when it stretched primarily over Protestants from Northwest Europe. Jews were welcome if they left the really Jewish stuff behind. Same with Catholics. How far can it stretch? What will replace it when it breaks?

          • I can not cant fathom how you can create a “American” identity with out including blacks, as the vast majority descend from ancestors who were here before the revolution, at least without explicitly endorsing some sort of White Supremacist view of the country.

          • Written – thank you.

            Mule, you sound more and more racist as time goes by. I cannot fathom how you reconcile your religious beliefs with the political ideologies that you espouse.

            As for that crack about South Florida, yeesh.

          • Written – I believe he is a white supremacist, and is only just getting around to admitting it to the rest of the iMonk crowd.

          • The Increasingly Truculent Mule says

            The “American” identity has always been hard to define. Even Canadians have a tendency to define themselves over against the United States. I know the nation has changed in some pretty substantial ways since my boyhood, and not altogether for the better, and not all because there are so many additional faces around that are darker than a grocery bag. You can go from Billings Montana to Waycross Georgia and experience the same homogenized Applebees/Home Depot/Bed Bath and Beyond monoculture everywhere. There are regional distinctives, but they are gasping for breath. The lifeblood of commerce flows away from the local distinctive and towards the universal monoculture, for the most part., leaving the distinctive anaemic and powerless.

            To say that Black Americans don’t have an American identity is to talk crazy-making Sperglord talk. All you have to do is run into a black American on vacation in Brazil struggling with Portuguese who wouldn’t mind grabbing a beer and having a nice talk in English. To say that his the same as my “American” identity is equally as crazy-making. There are similarities and there are differences., deep similarities and deep differences. We may be better served by speaking about a multiplicity of American identities, as we are learning to speak about “Christianities”.

            Ethnicity simmers just below the surface, but where does ethnicity come from? The trail runs too far back into the pre-scientific past to be dogmatic about it one way or the other. It does exist though, in the same way that language exists

          • The Increasingly Truculent Mule says

            What was wrong about my crack about South Florida?

            Bosnia is a place where there is a lot of ethnic and religious friction. Which group you are a part of is a life or death issue there.

            South Florida hasn’t gotten that bad yet, but it is also a place where group identity matters a good deal more than other places I have lived in the US.

            What do you mean by racist, anyway? I don’t believe I ever said that whites are superior to blacks, or blacks to whites. Are we still allowed to say that there are differences between aggregates of human beings classified according to phenotype? I don’t have the CPU cycles to consider 6,000,000,000 people as individual cases and learn about them from scratch. I do try very hard to give believe the best about everyone though.

            My guess is that you do the same, even with me.

          • Mule, one example was in your post that referred to black women last year, plus your many, many comments and posts about black people and sex on manosphere sites.

            To claim otherwise is counter to your very vocal musings here, not even a year ago.

            But I suspect this discussion has run its course.

          • A South African reader has written me to say that he is getting quite distressed over the way this thread is going. My time away from that environment makes it difficult for me to completely understand the issues, but when we start resorting to calling each other names then it is probably time to move onto another topic.

          • @numo….your “concerns” are evidence of the crazy rules about who is and is not a “racist” or “bigot” or “homophobe”. Acknowledging differences amongst humans is NOT a sign of hatred or desire for segregation.

            We spend days and weeks talking about the minor differences in our Christianity. It is silly to pretend that differences in genetic makeup do not influence how a human views life, and how they are seen and see themselves as part of the community/area/country.

            Pretending that our origins and ethnic history does NOT influence who we are is ignoring the naked emperor! Just yesterday I had someone apologize for bringing me my new company logo jacket, because was a size XXL and the dear woman was afraid I would be offended……HELLO, the fact is that my body IS a size XXL!! “Fat” is not an insult, it is a matter of fact, and clearly obvious at a glance.

            Same with skin color and genetic background….my black patients are at higher risk of stroke and heart attack, thin Asian women lead the list for osteoporosis. The fact that there are often social differences as well is an observation, not racism or any sort of “phobia”.

          • Pattie – endorsement of Marine Le Pen and the Front National (France) + “jokes” about Bosnia (with its genocidal war) are much, much more than what you’re claiming.

            Google Le Pen and see for yourself. The Front National (and Ukip in the UK) are nasty customers – xenophobic, racist, etc.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Sorry about the typo’s…

  7. I am reading a great book by Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions. I can see how useful this could be for anyone feeling “stuck” in their lives.

  8. This is GREAT! I have had a question rattling around in my head for a little bit of time now, and was planning on having to wait for the next “Open Mic” day. What a sweet little blessing that this opportunity is here the very next day after I made this resolution…..

    OK….since Christ tells us “You did not choose Me, I chose you…” it certainly seems clear to me that He is saying that our faith in Him is a gift FROM Him.

    Where does that leave those without faith and/or knowledge of the King of Kings, the God of the Universe, and the blessings that flow from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? In other words, what is the position of the person who would go one to believe IF s/he had been chosen and exposed to a mustard seed of faith??

    Let me be clear…I am NOT, repeat NOT talking about the eternal fate of a Mongolian herdsman, or of a youth pastor who chucks it all to follow his pregnant mistress to a pot farm in the hills. I would like to know the thoughts and beliefs of fellow Christians about FAITH AS A GIFT…….and where does that leave someone who is not given this gift and leads a life without God because s/he simply does not “see” or “feel” or “hear” the call???

    • Patti, perhaps he has chosen ALL of us but some people may not know it until the very end. That is how I will choose to understand it.

      • “Many are called. Few are chosen.”

        Jesus said, “When the son of man returns to earth with His holy angels, will He find faith?”

        We are saved by grace through faith. But it is a question as to who and how many will hear…and come to a living faith.

        I pray that everyone would hear it (the gospel) and be saved. I don’t want a single person to die and go to hell. Because that is where I deserve to go.

    • It appears to me in the Bible that you are never chosen for yourself, but always that you should sudffer on the behalf of others.

      Ask the Jews about the benefits of being chosen.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > Ask the Jews about the benefits of being chosen.

        Something I have frequently pondered, and even more so recently: “Please, Lord, do *not* send me.” Half-joking, or more than half, maybe.

        Prophets are studied, admired, and looked up to… usually after a grisly end. The righteous hero rarely, if ever, gets the girl at the end of the story.

        “Holy places are dark places. It is life and strength, not knowledge and words, that we get in them. Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood.” – C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Something I have frequently pondered, and even more so recently: “Please, Lord, do *not* send me.” Half-joking, or more than half, maybe.

          “If this is how you treat your friends, Lord, I see why you have so few of them!”
          — attr to St Teresa of Avila

          • Christiane says

            somehow reminds me of this from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’:

            “We’re your chosen people,” Tevye tells God in prayer. “But once in awhile, can’t you choose someone else?”

    • Charles Featherstone says

      Why are you assuming “feeling” the call or even hearing the call is the same as having a call or even being called?

    • Rick Ro. says

      The analogy that I use for getting my mind around this is that we’re all bobbing around in the ocean, drowning, and God has lifelines dropping down from the sky to all of us, and some of us look up and see and grasp the lifeline, and some of us Jesus takes our hand and helps us grasp the lifeline, and some of us look up and see and don’t grasp it, and some of us never look up at all. To me, this covers all the various scriptures that seems to suggest we’re chosen and the other scriptures that alludes to free will.

    • Desert Storm Libertarian says

      “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32
      It seems that the resurrected Christ will empower his Spirit to woo or supernaturally shape the hearts and minds of lost men and women to seek after Jesus for their salvation. I don’t know what the mechanics of this “wooing” would take; be it direct, audible revelation to individuals, providential circumstances, or suffering and trials that drive a person in desperation to seek some sort of divine relief. Also, what is the dominant force in determining whether or not a person accepts Christ as Lord and Savior, the predestination of God or the free will choice of the individual?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      …or of a youth pastor who chucks it all to follow his pregnant mistress to a pot farm in the hills.

      Because that one’s easy to call:
      Spectacular Mid-Life Crisis, “I GOTTA BE MEEEEEEEE!!!!!” sub-type.

    • Pattie, it seems like you are trying to answer the question of “why some and not others.” The scriptures do not answer this, and any attempt to force an answer from them leads either to hyper-Calvinism at one extreme, or pelagian works-righteousness at the other. We simply do not know. It remains a mystery, and we’re better off leaving it that way than trying to make it into something we can understand. What happens to those who are not born “from above?” Most churches teach hell. I personally lean toward annihilation.

    • Patti wrote;

      OK….since Christ tells us “You did not choose Me, I chose you…” it certainly seems clear to me that He is saying that our faith in Him is a gift FROM Him.

      I do think it’s true that the faith of Christ is a gift to all persons.

      However, that portion of a verse which you quote from John 15 is contained within the context of the “upper room” discourse which is essentially between Jesus and his inner circle, especially the Twelve.

      As Mule indicated, we aren’t “chosen” for our own benefit–rather for the service and benefit of others. The Twelve were “called” by Jesus in Galilee to “follow (him)”. They choose to follow after Jesus had chosen and called them.

      I used to use this verse in my Calvinista days as a “proof” of limited atonement. That usage really rips the statement totally out of context. The “you” consistently being addressed in that section is those (the Twelve) he was speaking face to face with. Verse 27 nails the “you” in my opinion;

      …and you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

  9. Favorite beer(s) anyone? Two of my more recent favorites are Ommegang Three Philosophers and Brother Thelonious, both Belgian style beers.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      I have the good fortune of living in Beer City, USA; but when I’m out in the blight I generally fall back to Guiness.

      At home my go-to is Founder’s Dirty Bastard. But the seasonal Breakfast Stout is my favorite.

      Holland’s Dragon’s Milk is good as well.

      • cermak_rd says

        There s a night club near me where I go every other month or so to watch a buddy of mine who has a jazz quartet. Guinness is my tipple of choice there.

        At home, I like the dark, heavy beers. Doppelbocks, Christmas ales (usually dark and spiced), Trippels…

        • As we learned living in Bavaria, the “bock” type beers resulted from old Lenten rules. Apparently, the interpretation in medieval times in the area was that the Lenten fast involved not eating from dawn to dusk. The farmers and other manual laborers needed “fuel” during the workday, so bock beer, with same number of calories and carbs as a loaf of bread, was born. ta-DA! The rules were keep and the farmers could continue to work, fueled by a liter or two or three of liquid lunch….

      • I was just about to say Founder’s Breakfast stout. Another favorite is Dogfish head Chickory Stout. Preferably at the Troll Pub with pretzel bread and beer cheese.

    • Radagast says

      I was on a mission trip to Mississippi recently and was introduced to the “Southern Gentleman” – very tasty….

      • Ah yes, brewed by the Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co, hailing from Kiln, MS.

        So what area of MS did your trip take you to?

        • Radagast says

          Near Bay saint Louis – the group has been going down yearly since Hurricane Katrina… keep in mind this is a club in a public high school with no specific faith tradition affiliation.

          This year we worked on a Baptist Church whose members have been working tirelessly for the community since the hurricane… it was time to give back to them…


          • Know the region well. Have family all across that coastal area. Had a house about 15 minutes east of the Bay in the town of Long Beach, very close to the beach. Cat 3 winds with 25+ foot of storm surge took care of it.

            Thanks for giving back to that area. I know your efforts are very much appreciated.

    • Clay Crouch says

      Oskar Blues’ Deviant Dale’s. A wicked IPA. So happy they have built a brewery in mountains of NC.

      • These guys have a Scottish Ale called “Old Chub”. I haven’t had it, but if it tastes as good as its name it has to be good.

      • Good stuff from a great brewery. And they were ahead of the curve when it comes to putting premium craft beer in cans.

        Right now, though, my go-to beer is Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Brewed right here in Saskatoon, available here and at select locations across SK (and maybe AB): Paddockwood’s Loki. An Imperial IPA, 8.7% ABV, 78 IBU.


    • None better than Revolver – Mother’s Little Fracker (stout).
      It is a must try.

    • My uncle the monk (Trappist / Cistercian) is brewing beer now in Spencer, Mass. It’s called Spencer beer. It’s getting rave reviews but not sure about availability. They were taught by their Belgian brothers, the makers of Chimay.

    • Dana Ames says

      Brother Thelonius is made in my neck of the woods (literally – Redwoods) in the town where I grew up.

      I like beer but can’t drink much of it. Favorite so far is a seasonal, Newcastle Red.


    • Bell’s Two Hearted. Also Allagash White.

    • Randy Thompson says

      If you should find yourself in Quebec, try any beer by Boreale. What I tasted was excellent, when we were on a trip up there a few years ago. I wish it was available south of the border.

    • Augustinerbrau dark. If I can’t stand a spoon up in it, there’s no point drinking it.

  10. Rick Ro. says

    I’m a microbrew fan, preferring ambers over others. I may see if I can find your two faves, Donski.

  11. The first several posts were about food; I have one, too. Am I wrong that Christians seem rather judgmental about what one eats or , especially, does not eat? 10 years ago I had emergency surgery for a perforated ulcer. The Lord was with me because there was a fine young surgeon, board certified, just out of Rutgers medical residency, visiting our little hospital. His follow up advice was to avoid fast foods and red meat. I became mostly vegetarian; came to love it; lots of work tho. I am amazed however how many of Christian folk equate this with being “liberal” and P.C..

    • Radagast says

      Hi Hanni,

      From my experience it is not so much about what the person eats, but if that person expects everyone else to do the same, or spends a large amount of time talking about, looking for etc. I had this experience recently, not with those who chose to be mostly vegetarian, but with Vegans, who almost made it a religion about the rejection of animal, and the expectation that no one around them partake either. Most of us were jumping through hoops trying to satisfy this person’s needs.

      Sometimes I need to take a break from red meat and just do fish and vegee’s… very enjoyable… and then I get that craving…

      And as I get older, more of my peers are moving towards mostly vegetable diet just to stay alive for a few extra years ; )

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        From my experience it is not so much about what the person eats, but if that person expects everyone else to do the same, or spends a large amount of time talking about, looking for etc.

        Street Witnessing and/or Moral Superiority attitudes are NOT limited to Christians.


        I had this experience recently, not with those who chose to be mostly vegetarian, but with Vegans, who almost made it a religion about the rejection of animal, and the expectation that no one around them partake either. Most of us were jumping through hoops trying to satisfy this person’s needs.

        Neither is the Tyranny of the Professional Weaker Brethren.

        Or forcing others into the One True Way.

        “You might serve Veganism
        Or you might serve the LORD,
        But you gotta serve somebody…”
        — a little filking of a Bob Dylan piece

      • Rad aghast, you are so right about folks nagging everyone else to eat the way they do, I never mention my veggie ways unless it comes up in ordinary conversation or being questioned. I am happy to tell anyone how delicious this lifestyle can be, but only if prompted..

      • Wow, Hanni, in my neck of the woods it is mostly the opposite. Half my class was vegan, and eating meat or fast food (which I do) is almost as bad as admitting you drive a diesel 4×4 (which I don’t).

  12. cermak_rd says

    I switched out my mouthpiece on my soprano (i.e. normal) clarinet. Went from a B45 (open tip, ML facing) to a M13 lyre (closed tip, ML facing). Oh my gosh! The difference is amazing! I haven’t had many great leaps forward in my playing ability, but I’d say this mouthpiece has been one. My tone is much more focused and much prettier sounding. I also don’t go flat on big intervals now.

    Other than that I finally appear to be getting over my 3 week long cold/sinus infection/allergies/whatever the heck it is that has left me unable to breathe and kept me constantly hacking.

    • petrushka1611 says

      I finally switched to a DSLR from a point-and-shoot for my Ebay stuff and I feel about the same way. I described it as going from a dinky Casio to a Steinway and realizing I actually COULD play the piano.

      If you have a spare 12 minutes, go to clarinetsonatas.com and check out my clarinet sonata, Technical Difficulties.

      • Radagast says

        Very enjoyable… I need to listen to the three after working hours with no other external stimuli….

      • cermak_rd says

        whoah! nice. I’ll have to listen to it a few times to really appreciate it.

        I definitely agree with you, the change in mouthpiece was a matter of realizing I actually CAN play the clarinet.

    • cermak – wonderful news! I’m so happy to hear this, as the drudgery and frustration you’ve felt – and the freedom after gear upgrades – is very familiar to me. (Am a percussionist.)

      • cermak_rd says

        Yes, I remember you are a percussionist. Are your skins staying better now that the dryness is past (assuming it is in your part of the world).

        The B45 is a pro quality mouthpiece as is the M13 lyre. Most of my playing, though, is in the Western, classical idiom so the M13 lyre seems to work better there. My instructor was amazed at the difference the switch made. He was the one who was advocating a switch to a closer mouthpiece. Smart guy, that.

      • Yes, they’re surviving, although now that it’s getting hot (some of the time), I’ve got the a/c on, so they’re still dealing w/dry air. But this past winter was much worse than anything that a/c can produce!

        I remember hearing some Bukharan Jewish musicians say that back home, all they had to do to bring a drum up to pitch was step outside and put it down on the sand for a minute or so. They live in NYC now, so they’re battling humidity all the time. (Traditional a style frame drums like the ones they play aren’t tunable, because at home, there wasn’t a need for that. I bet most of them have switched to tunable drums.)

  13. It’s a conspiracy:

    Mike Spencer.
    Mike Bell.
    Chaplain Mike.
    Open Mike.

    Which leads to another question: If you cross Mike Bell with Open Mike, do you get Rob Bell?

  14. Has the reading of blogs and, more generally, most anything online hampered your ability to enjoy serious books? I, for one, seem less able to lose myself in a good book nowadays than I could some years ago.

    • petrushka1611 says

      I’ve read a lot more blogs than anything the last few years, partly because of the way my work is (very fragmented). Ihave picked more books up recently and had little trouble readjusting.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        And books becoming thousand-page trilogy components/murder weapons hasn’t helped. Wading through over a thousand padded pages to find it ends with “To Be Continued…”

        I’m reduced to Andre Norton YAs as old as I am just to have something that can be read in one sitting.

        • petrushka1611 says

          See, I rarely read fiction, so I have that problem less.

          In real books I’m reading, Vernard Eller’s Christian Anarchy is blowing my mind. It’s the best book I’ve read in twenty years.

          I don’t feel as bad about reading blogs more and books less because the quality of blogs I read is high. And God knows I’ve needed what I’ve found here and at Stuff Fundies Like and Recovering Grace.

          • Hey, kindred spirit! I read Eller’s book a year or so ago myself, and have also read a good bit of Ellul. (It apparently helps to get published as a Christian anarchist if your surname starts with E-l-l.) I found Eller a tad chatty in comparison to Ellul’s Christian Anarchism and The Subversion of Christianity, but am not surprised you’re finding it eye-opening.

            Every so often I make a little noise about seeing whether there’s any interest on this site for a look-see into the CA perspective, but so far no takers. I’d be a poser if I called myself a Christian anarchist, but I do think it’s a corner of Christian thought well worth exploring.

          • petrushka1611 says

            Eller is a bit chatty, but his style is so individual that I enjoy it. Well, more than enjoy it — I positively adore it. Ellul will probably be soon, but I do want to read some Barth or some about-Barth first.


            I’m slowly discovering the riches of writers from all over Christendom after fundamentalist years of hearing their names bashed because they weren’t KJV-only Baptists, etc. I’m bummed at how much I’ve missed out on, but at least I’m able to catch up on some of it.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Being busy and all that, I have found myself gravitating to audio books more and more. I especially listen when I’m doing chores by myself, or big projects ion the garden etc.

    • Nope. If anything, a lot of my internet time is spent in searching for books.

      The publishing industry’s overwhelming number of offerings is hard to deal with when trying to find worthwhile reading material, and the demise of newspaper book review supplements makes it even harder. Thankfully, most book reviewing has shifted from print to cyberspace, so it isn’t gone – just slightly transformed.

    • Yes, yes, Yes, YES – although it is not so much about the seriousness between the two as it is the time. Since starting to read blogs and sites like iMonk, I lose the time that I used to spend on novels – especially if I also read the comments.

      Also, the knowledge that more content might be waiting for me in google reader feedly makes it hard to put down the laptop and pick up the novel.

    • Reading of blogs may have hampered everything else, like writing, taking distance-learning courses, or posting on my own blog, but as for reading books in print it’s probably enhanced it. I’ve discovered several books from recommendations on internetmonk (reading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation right now).

      I also have become blogging friends with a couple of authors—and have bought and read some of their books, three from one (exposés of clergy abuse) and two from another (novels). And my wife just got hooked on one of the novels.

      Interesting thing about the internet—it’s made possible the publication of niche authors who would not otherwise get published. Amazon’s print-on-demand seems to work pretty well—I’ll order a book and when I receive it the publication date is usually the same as the shipping date. But, it’s up to the author to get the word out, often through blogging, Facebook and Twitter.

    • Not at all. I’ve read 24 books so far this year, and just picked up a load from Goodwill. By the way, Goodwill is The Bomb for books. I routinely find college textbooks and great non-fiction (cooking, decorating) and they charge something like 25 cents a piece.

  15. Darrel F. says

    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. – Pope Francis

    This made me think of the recent discussion of Memorial Day and having a flag in the church building. The nations and rulers and would be rulers build their kingdoms and as “gods” of this world they “sacrifice” the innocent and call upon their children to sacrifice themselves. When the early church said “Jesus is Lord,” they were saying Caesar is not.

  16. Drena (@DrenaBlanc) says

    Ever since you posted about the book “The King Jesus Gospel” in a previous post that I can’t remember the name of right now, I’ve been reading through it. It is a fascinating read and has impacted how I view things like the Story of Israel, story of Jesus, plan of salvation, and what is the real Gospel anyway?

    Must admit, I don’t like how it seems people are settling for less than the real thing. It kind of makes me love the liturgical churches more, as they haven’t settled for just the Plan of Salvation. I say it’s less than the real thing because the Gospel in the King Jesus Gospel is more real as it focuses on Jesus, as opposed how the plan of salvation is presented which I think focuses more on what God did for me through Jesus. As awesome as I am (yes, this is a bit of sarcasm), God is the center because I am just plain messy, boring, and a screw up compared to His awesomeness. And Jesus is the center of the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John… not how His followers got the free ticket to heaven, whatever that means.

    Anyone else reading through that book? I recommend picking it up. It’s cheap as an ebook on Kobo.

  17. How come I never read anything about ice cream on this site? So much talk about enjoying the simple things and yet, nothing about ice cream (that I can remember, anyway). Some would argue that next to preaching the word and receiving the sacraments eating ice cream is a means of grace. So, here’s my recipe for basic vanilla ice cream (all other ice cream flavors are derived from this recipe with added ingredients)


    * 8 egg yolks
    * 1.25 cups sugar
    * 2.5 cups heavy cream
    * 0.75 cups whole milk
    * 1 tsp vanilla extract (the real thing)


    * 1.5 qt (min) sauce pan
    * 0.5 qt (min) mixing bowl
    * Ice cubes
    * cold water
    * Very large mixing bowl capable of holding the sauce pan, water and ice
    * Stirring spoon
    * Whisk
    * Food thermometer
    * 1.5 (min) freezer ready container
    * Ice cream freezer


    1. Place sugar into a mixing bowl
    2. Place egg yolks in the same mixing bowl
    3. Whisk together into one gooey mess
    4. Place cream and milk in sauce pan
    5. Heat cream/milk mixture over medium heat until it reaches 100 F (or 38 C for you metric folk)
    6. Take about a cup of the warm cream/milk mixture and whisk it to the egg yolk/sugar mixture
    7. Whisk the egg yolk/sugar/cream/milk mixture until well blended and easy to pour out
    8. Pour the egg yolk/sugar/cream/milk mixture into the sauce pan along with the cream/milk mixture
    9. Stir constantly (same medium heat) until the mixture reaches 165 F (74 C)
    10. Place ice and water in the larger bowl
    11. Place sauce pan over in same bowl
    12. Add vanilla extract and stir in
    13. Stir occasionally until mixture is at least room temperature
    14. Whisk any congealed floating mixture until all of the mixture has the same consistency
    15. Place mixture into freezer-ready container
    16. Refrigerate overnight or until mixture is about 40 F (7 C)
    17. Free mixture in ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s instructions
    18. Place frozen mixture (“ice cream,” from this point on, back in freezer-ready container
    19. Freeze in freezer (where else, right?) for at least 5 hours or until hard
    20. Serve, enjoy, and “Give glory to God and enjoy Him always (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question #1) for having predestined you to such pleasure this side of eternity.

    Now, for other flavors simply add the following ingredients before or after freezing (as specified):


    1. Add 0.5 cups cocoa powder to mixture before freezing (before or after refrigerating it)
    2. Use an immersible blender (“stick” blender) to thoroughly eliminate all lumps
    3. Continue as previously directed…


    1. Defrost 1 cup frozen strawberries (you may also use fresh strawberries, but I find that frozen ones work better)
    2. Add 0.5 cups sugar to defrosted strawberries and stir well
    3. Let mixture sit in refrigerator for an hour or longer (no particular limit, but if it starts reading the “institutes of the Christian Religion” you may have waited too long)
    4. Some time before freezing, add the strawberry mixture to the ice cream mixture and stir well using an immersible blender (how much you stir depends on how big you want the chunks of strawberry to be)
    5. Continue as previously directed but with this precaution… The resulting volume will be about 5 cups; depending on your machine’s capacity you may need to freeze this in two batches

    Dulce de Leche:

    1. Freeze ice cream, place in freezer container, and let it sit in the freezer for about an hour
    2. Blend about 1 – 1.5 cups dulce de leche* into the semi-frozen mixture
    3. Return to freezer for about a half hour
    4. Blend again to ensure that the dulce de leche is not all lying at the bottom of the container
    * OK, so what exactly is “dulce de leche”? It is a combination of one part sugar to four parts whole milk.
    To make it from scratch you combine the ingredients in a saucepan and stir continuously over medium heat for close to four hours or until the sugar caramelizes giving the mixture a tan-brownish color.
    Or, you can buy a can of sweetened condensed milk and do one of these: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Dulce-De-Leche.
    Or, you can buy the stuff in a can or squeezable bottle in the Hispanic aisle at Wal-Mart or other store that carries such fare.

    Piña Colada:

    1. Replace the 0.75 cups whole milk with 0.75 cups coconut milk
    2. Proceed to cook the mixture as directed
    3. Mix about 0.25 cups sugar with 1 cup crushed pineapple
    4. Add pineapple/sugar mixture to ice cream mixture
    5. Some time before freezing, add the strawberry mixture to the ice cream mixture and stir well using an immersible blender (how much you stir depends on how big you want the chunks of pineapple to be)
    5. Continue as previously directed but with this precaution… The resulting volume will be about 5 cups; depending on your machine’s capacity you may need to freeze this in two batches


    Instead of 2.5 cups heavy cream and 0.75 cups milk use:
    1. 2 8 oz bars cream cheese
    2. 0.5 cups sour cream
    3. 0.5 cups heavy cream
    * You will want the cream cheese to be at room temperature, then blend the ingredients until they can be poured. This will all be quite thick.

    Sugar-Free Ice Cream:

    * Any of the recipes listed can be made sugar free by substituting the 1.25 cups sugar with 1 cup xylitol (also added to strawberries and pineapple on a one-to-one sugar/xylitol ratio) and added sweetener (I prefer a little stevia, added to be as sweet as you care for it to be).
    * Xylitol can be purchased online from Amazon or in a health food store. It is a polyol (sugar alcohol) that is just as sweet as sugar but with less than half the calories and, for diabetics or folks on a low-carb diet, minimal glucose spike and insulin response. Only caution is that it can half a laxative-like effect on some folks and create flatulence in others.
    * Warning: You MUST use a polyol, e.g., xylitol (my favorite, by far), isomalt, maltitol, sorbitol in order to make the ice cream freeze properly. The only polyol that does not work is erythritol.
    * Simply relying on stevia (Truvia), sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (Equal), or saccharin (Sweet n’ Low) will not work and will result in a very hard product when frozen which is impossible to scoop and difficult to eat.
    * Other possible additives to improve mouth feel include glycerin, polydextrose (I have used this to supplement xylitol but found it to be unecessary), alcohol, and antifreeze (the latter will kill you, and the penultimate requires that you be at least 21 in most states). Salt might also work, but I have not tried it–for obvious reasons.
    * Warning II: Although xylitol is perfectly safe for human consumption, it is lethal to dogs even in small quantities.

    • cermak_rd says

      Glad you added the warning about our canine friends. I keep my Xylitol way up in my cupboards (along with my high cocoa chocolate).

      Apparently maltitol doesn’t have the same effect on dogs as my little Skampy is very good at ferreting out my partner’s sugar free cookie stash and eating them. Honestly, she must have a steel stomach! I can eat at most 3 of the sugar free cookies before digestive effects become problemmatic. Her? A whole package. And she’s only sixteen pounds!

      • As a dog owner myself, I am very careful when I use xylitol. Even so, I use it for low-carb ice cream for three reasons. First, it is 100% as sweet as sugar (albeit for a slightly cool/minty after taste, which is no big deal to me). Second, it is the least “offensive” of the bunch (isomalt is the worst–you could start your own gas company if you use it a lot). And third, it appears to have the least insulin response of the bunch. Maltitol, although it provides a slightly better “mouth feel” is not as effective in this respect.

    • Hey CalvinCuban, want to come over to my place and make ice-cream? 🙂

    • “How come I never read anything about ice cream on this site? So much talk about enjoying the simple things and yet, nothing about ice cream (that I can remember, anyway). ”

      This reminds me of G.K. Chesterton’s comment that ‘the poets have been curiously silent on the subject of cheese’.

  18. Desert Storm Libertarian says

    How is the unpardonable sin mentioned in Matthew 12:31 manifested in an individual’s life?

    • By eating large quantities of ice cream.

      Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

      Seriously, the “unpardonable sin” mentioned in Matthew 12.31 (also, Mark 3.28-29 and Luke 12.10), aka, “blaspheming against the Holy Spirit” is equating Christ’s power to cast out demons as coming from Satan rather than the Holy Spirit. In effect, the Pharisees were insinuating that Christ was subservient to Satan and/or that the Holy Spirit and Satan are equals. Or put another way, calling the work of the Spirit the work of Satan is the ultimate act of rejection of the very One who alone can grant us repentance, and without repentance there is no genuine faith in the gospel message, no salvation, no eternity with God. This is a very difficult passage which causes many Christians a great deal of anxiety. Related passages include Hebrews 6.4-6, Hebrews 10.26 and 1 John 5:16.

      The “good news” is that anyone who has been convicted of sin by the Spirit (John 16.8) and now believes the in Christ cannot possibly have committed this “unpardonable sin.” We also have the promise in John 10.28-29 that, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

      So, for those of us who once repented and believed the gospel (Mark 1.15) and continue in the faith, our assurance of salvation is secure.

      • Desert Storm Libertarian says

        Thanks for an excellent explanation of that unpardonable sin situation!

      • Sadly, I’ve noticed that few if any who are caught up in the unpardonable sin type of thinking will rarely break out of it or listen to what it actually is. Deep inside, they just want to feel utterly guilty and hopeless. Seen it destroy people.

        • I find that pride cuts both ways–either makes us think more of ourselves or less of ourselves. Either way, it places the focus on the self and away from Christ. And self is the wrong place to focus on.

          “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2.20)

          “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1.21)

      • Just rambling here: your analysis may well be right, but doesn’t it make occasions to commit the unpardonable sin extremely rare? Perhaps that’s the point. But who today seriously attributes to Satan the Spirit’s work on the life of the Man Christ Jesus? Isn’t it more common to find denial of or doubt about the Spirit’s work altogether? Unbelief or doubt are pardonable, ultimately. But mistaking Satan for the work of God never is, even if one repents later?

        • If one repents and believes the gospel (Mark 1.15) then it means that the person never committed this sin, for those who do commit this sin will never be forgiven, meaning that they will never repent and believe the gospel, for such faith and repentance, both of which are the gifts of God’s grace, will not be given to them.

          So, at the expense of being simplistic, let me explain it this way. Those who repent and believe (as evidences by a life of faith and repentance) did not commit the unpardonable sin. Those who do not repent and believe and go through life without ever repenting and believing the gospel may or may not have committed this particular sin. Regardless, if they remain in their sins to the end (whatever the nature of their sins be) they take their sins with them into eternity. And that results in an eternity away from God.

  19. Is there a term for days when the Internet beats you down? Because it’s been one of those days. From that hashtag going around, to SGM and Tullian stuff, to more people telling stories about Driscoll, to the toxic 10th circle of hell known as Facebook…

    It’s been one of those days.

  20. Randy Thompson says

    We had two of the local black bears visit us today.
    The first bear was the smaller of the two, and rather cooperative.
    When I politely but firmly encouraged him to return to the woods, he (she) did.

    The other bear, who came a few minutes later, was huge.
    He also was cooperative, but with a different attitude.
    He chose to return to the woods, but I had the sense that
    he knew full well he could have me for lunch.

    It is disconcerting, to say the least, when you discover these huge, lumbering
    beasts checking out your yard for lunch options and knowing that you could be one of the options.

    • cermak_rd says

      I didn’t think Black bears ate people. Polar and Kodiaks will (Grizzlies will kill, I don’t know about eat). Of course, getting in the bear’s (any species of bear) is not a good idea!

  21. Robert F says

    Today I had one of those moments when I wondered if, upon death, I would be plunged straight back into an oblivion like the oblivion that I don’t remember from before I was born. These moments catch me in the pit of my stomach, they leave me with a lingering sadness that turns more or less quickly into numbness, and then they are forgotten.

    If that’s all there is before and after, the nothingness, I’ll never know, and in a real way there would be nothing to be afraid of, but I feel the solicitous breath of fear expanding in my spirit each time I have one of those moments anyway. I’ve made so many mistakes, left so much undone, made a bad go of it in so many ways; if all there is following this is the nothingness, then my entire life is an irretrievable loss, not just later, but right now.

    I think that’s why these moments breathe their fear into me every time: their claim is not just on the past, or the future, but the present, most of all the present. Because, if nothing is where I’m headed, then nothing is where I am right now, and nothingness lay like a dark, silent, all consuming void in everything I know, and feel, and do.

    Because, if you think about it, you can’t say that it is something that will only happen later; no, you have to recognize that it is happening in everything now, that it permeates the present with its inescapable and pervasive negation. And that frightens me in my very heart.

    All is grace, or all is nothing. There is nothing in between.

  22. Wow, Robert, those are very ponderous words you have written! Sometimes, when I start thinking like that, there is a part of me that would actually be OK with there being nothing after death. It makes each day feel special because we have that day to enjoy life. Then, I remember the disciples seeing Jesus after he died and I realize that there IS something beyond death. I pray that God teaches me how to relax in his presence and how to love the way Jesus did. I am so far from that at this moment, but I hope that with time and patience, God will work his “magic” in me.

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