October 20, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 1.1.11

Look at all of those ones. It must be the start of a new year. For those of you who liked 2010, just wait until you see what 2011 has in store for you. I have no idea what it is, and neither, truth be told, do you, which is why you’ll just have to wait. In the meantime, I suggest you relax, pull up a footstool, and enjoy the initial helping of Saturday Ramblings for the new year.

First things first, I say. Right after you have your daily dose of Ramblings, head out to your moving picture theater and watch one of the best movies I have seen in years: True Grit. The Coen brothers wrote their screenplay based on the Charles Portis novel, and they cast it perfectly. Matt Damon plays LaBoeuf, Jeff Bridges is Rooster Cogburn, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld is Mattie Ross. The movie starts with Proverbs 28:1, The wicked flee when no man pursueth. It ends with Iris Dement singing “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms.” And before—or after—you see the movie, check out Cathleen Falsini’s The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers.

Seems that on the surface, Americans are more religious than those in just about any other nation. On the surface. Yet for so many, that is as far as they let God into their lives. This interesting article in Slate goes into some of the reasons as they see them.

iMonk writer Adam Palmer emailed me and said, “I dare you to report on this in Saturday Ramblings.” Oh, don’t dare me to do something. And especially don’t double-dog dare me to do something. And what will Young Earth Creationists say about this? I double-dog dare Adam to explain all this to a YEC’er…

In the meantime, does anyone else see the irony in evidence for the oldest man—nearly twice as old as previously thought to exist—was found in a cave in Israel? Does the Lord have a sense of humor or what?

Two Christian leaders, Billy Graham and Pope Benedict XVI, made the Ten Most Admired Men in 2010 list. I have it on good authority that Chaplain Mike came in at number eleven. Well, we all admire you, Chap.

This is the time of year when we are overrun with Top Ten lists. Not had enough? Check out all of these from Time Magazine. Top buzzword of the year? Top apology? Top crime story? They are all here. Enjoy.

And Christianity Today ranks the Top Ten news stories of the year. I think it is sad that the number one story contains both an incredible outpouring of generosity and a scandal all at once.

Need more? All right. How about the Top Ten Monks. I would have thought St. Francis would come in at number one, with Thomas Merton at two and Brother Cadfael at three. But no, this is really a movie. And it is one I want to check out. Has anyone already seen this? Your thoughts about it?

Good news! Rick Warren has decided that this will be the Decade of Destiny, “the greatest decade yet.” (Greater even than the 60s? Get out…) Saddleback Church has added five new campuses as part of its 10-year growth campaign…I’m going to stop right here before I say something I will regret. Again.

Sunday school—a concept whose time has come and gone, or an important element of our spiritual growth? Sheldon Good has some very interesting ideas about something that many churches have abandoned as so 20th century.

Celebrities who celebrated birthdays this past week included Humphrey Bogart; Gary Sandy; Mao Tse-Tung; Phil Spector; Carlton Fisk; Roebuck ‘Pops’ Staples; Edgar Winter; Mary Tyler Moore; Jon Voight; and John Denver.

A tradition in America on New Year’s Day is to overdose on football. There may be some of our readers from other parts of the world, like Ireland, Germany, Australia or Nebraska who don’t know what football is. The best person in the world to help you understand the all-American game is none other than Andy Griffith. Grab yourself a couple of hot dogs, a big orange soda, and enjoy What It Was Was Football.


  1. I echo the call to see True Grit. Watch for Ed Corbin as “The Bear Man.” My friend John and I compared his performance in a “minor” role to that of Wilford Brimley as Assistant United States Attorney James J. Wells in Absence of Malice some 29 years ago.

    • You also should not miss “The King’s Speech”, a bit of history put in a tasteful and entertaining way. Colin Firth is amazing and Geoffery Rush is just as good!

    • Agree on True Grit, though I didn’t like it quite as much as I liked Tangled. (So sue me.)

      One odd note: I don’t know how much research the Coen Bros. did to make sure the actors who played real-life characters actually looked like them … but I’m a sixth cousin five times removed (or something) of Cole Younger, and the actor who played Younger near the end of the film (Don Pirl) was a dead ringer for a lot of the men on the Creek/Walker/Younger side of my family. Blew my mind.

  2. Jeff, I did see that documentary Top Ten Monks and enjoyed it very much. I have their CD, Chant. It’s excellent, if you like Gregorian chanting.

    Happy New Year to you all!

  3. Jesus’ “destiny”, as he set his face like flint toward Jerusalem, was the cross. Surely that’s what Rick Warren is talking about? Right?

  4. This is an interesting article. Although it will be next year before Christmas falls on a Sunday again, some mega-churches canceled Sunday services on the 26th.


  5. You’re joking about Nebraska, right? Those people take their football SERIOUSLY! They live, eat, breathe and die Cornhuskers fans. And then they come to surrounding states and try to convert US! Yep, Nebraskans know football. (I, on the other hand, haven’t even the foggiest idea of what a first down is.)

    Perhaps Rick Warren meant to say it was the Decade of Density?

    • The Decade of Dentistry?

      • flatrocker says

        or maybe…
        The Decade of Detesting?

        • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

          Nearly twenty years ago some evangelists were declaring the 1990s would be “the decade of harvest”. The stats on church attendance don’t seem to back that up these days … at least not in the United States. Nobody said that “harvest” had to be in the United States, though. 🙂

          Appropos of nothing I think that every generation ultimately decides that the greatest decade of any given era is the decade in which they were in their twenties. 😉 That would explain why baby boomers think the 1960s were actually the best decade ever.

    • “You’re joking about Nebraska, right? Those people take their football SERIOUSLY! They live, eat, breathe and die Cornhuskers fans. And then they come to surrounding states and try to convert US! Yep, Nebraskans know football.”

      As a Nebraskan (though sadly in exile), I can attest to this fact. God, family, and football- the pillars of the Heartland.

      And now, to convert you all. As it is said- “On the eight day, God created the Cornhuskers.” 😉

    • Actually, he IS joking about Nebraska … or perhaps taunting. Jeff is from Oklahoma, remember?

      • Our humble state sent three teams to bowl games this year. Let’s see, how many of those did we win? Oh yeah–THREE.

        And Nebraska?

        First we have to have a philosophical discussion: Is zero really a number?

        • Jeff, out of Christian charity, I will not continue our dispute concerning Nebraska 😉

        • And to make it worse. Zero in math was not a concept that entered European thinking until it was introduced by the “Muslim hordes” trying to take over. 🙂

          • What is with using zero to reference Nebraska, eh? We sent one of our best to the team the is the incarnation of zero- the Lions.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            “Hey, Abdul, I’ve invented Zero!”
            “Oh, nothing.”
            — “Why Man Creates”, a film that got screened heavily in my high school classes circa 1970

  6. Eddie Scizzard says

    True Grit= brilliant.

    Never a John Wayne fan, the role now belongs to The Dude.

    • I felt that Bridges did a good job but lacked a bit of personality as Cogburn. He was mostly a drunken sot who could shoot amazingly well. Whereas Wayne carried the original, Bridges just carried the story line along. Hailee Steinfeld is the REAL star of the film!

      • Between this and Tron: Legacy, Jeff Bridges seems to have a thing with rescuing women with damaged left arms. 🙂

        (Go see TRON: LEGACY in IMAX 3D. Amazing experience.)

      • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

        Since Mattie Ross is the actual central character in the story I don’t mind that Bridges took a more supporting role approach to the part of Rooster. Steinfeld is amazing in the film.

      • Eddie Scizzard says

        John Wayne has never impressed me as doing anything approaching acting. I have never believed any of his characters existed.

        Bridges brought this character to life for me. His offhand remarks about his son, you could hear the real regret, buried miles deep under a crust of denial, peeking through. Nothing Wayne did could touch that, imo.

        But yes, Steinfeld is the star.

  7. I was especially interested in the Slate article on American and Canadian responses to polls regarding church attendance. I’ve used George Barna’s data in that past, simply because his polls focused on issues of spirituality and church attendance here in the U.S.

    However, if 50% of those who say they’re going to church on a regular basis are lying, how many are also lying about the state of their spirituality? Even with Barna’s careful definition of who is “Born Again,” how many people are giving the “right” answer instead of the true one?

    No wonder I’ve recently been seeing a disconnect between Barna’s data and the realities I see around me. This is just another confirmation of how intertwined our faith and our nationalism have become, and why I found the 4th of July this year as the most idolatrous day of the Evangelical church calendar.

    • What if they’re not lying? With even evangelicals surrendering the meanings of “spirituality”, and “spiritual growth”, and “spiritual formation” to the individual, perhaps they are all right in their own minds. They’re sheep without shepherds, who have been lead to believe that “follow your bliss” (Joseph Campbell) is a spiritual directive. A polling question is worthless if it uses words to which the meaning is a matter of opinion. What is meant by “regular” church attendance”? An occassional wedding or funeral?

      For those being led by legalistuc churches, they may have to lie – that everything is fine, that life is getting better and better – because to tell the truth would be to admit defeat.

      I would be much more strict on the terms. For example, if someone goes to church and hears nothing but ten-principle legalism, pop-culture therapeutic rhetoric, or cultural war bantering, did he or she really attend “church” that Sunday? I think not. If all someone did was sing and clap along with the “I feel good” religious rocks songs, did they truly worship? Again, I think not. Based on this criteria, how many times have I truly been in “church” this past year? Scary to think about.

      • Good points – what we view as lies may, as Obi-Wan Kenobi once stated, be truth “from a certain perspective.

        The end result, though, is that polling data is essentially useless in accurately gauging the state of the church today.

        And yes, that last thought of yours is certainly scary. I know of a large, popular “church” locally that fits your criteria to a tee. In fact, after watching their live feed (I knew better than to actually attend) it’s the one I refer to when I speak of the 4th of July being the most idolatrous day on the Evangelical church calendar.

    • Randy Thompson says

      Sociologists of religion have questioned the church attendance statistics for years. While we’re at it, let’s also factor in the abysmal and astounding Biblical and theological illiteracy of Christian America (or maybe that should be “Christian” America). That, coupled with sketchy church attendance, suggests to me that the American church is about as solid as the French Third Republic in 1940.

  8. Happy New Year to everyone at the I-monastery!

    I am a little disappointed that you did not summarize the top 10 prophecies for 2011. The internet is reporting that the tribulation has started prior to 2011, will start in 2011 or some time thereafter and the end of the world will be in 2011 or later. The supercollider at CERN (a few miles from my house) is still being blamed for the end of the world, so I will report it to you all first. There are apparently 2 antichrists (Putin and Obama, but really, probably more). We will have earthquakes, international tensions and economic strife as well.

    Anyways, let’s enjoy the days we have left, especially with some great internetmonk blogs in 2011!!

  9. I thought True Grit was great, all acting excellent, followed the book well (had to read it in high school many moons ago). Could be wrong, but I believe all the sound track was compiled of hymn tunes, including some old American “primitive church” – type melodies.


    • Clearly, you went to a much cooler high school than I did. I had to read The Great Gatsby and The Old Man and the Sea, and would gladly have traded either one for True Grit.

  10. Decade of Destiny, huh? Thank you once again, Alliterative Acronym Man!

  11. Rick Warren is becoming more bizarre by the decade.

  12. I have not read any of Warren’s books, but I have heard about him from folks here and other places on the internet or in the news. But that article Jeff linked to said, “Warren takes no salary from the church and supports his family with 9 percent of the royalties from his books while giving away the other 91 percent. He revealed that last year his personal income from his books was $87,000.” At the very least, he sounds like a man who is generous with his income. I can’t say the same for myself.

  13. David Cornwell says

    Rick Warren now has his own private denomination. But he is following in the steps of other “independent” and community churches, so I guess there is no problem.

  14. Chap Mike coming in at #11…..how very Spinal Tappish of him; can we expect IMONK editors to show us some spontaneous combustion this next year……maybe followed by Stonehenge dancing dwarfs. Looking forward to all that and more this 2011.

    • “Stonehenge dancing dwarfs”
      I don’t know what this is, but it sounds hilarious.

      • You have to check out “This Is Spinal Tap.” It may be the funniest movie ever written. At least it’s the only one I’ve been to where I saw someone actually and very literally roll in the aisle. You’ll get the reference to the number 11, too.