October 22, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 1.29.11

Where did the week go? Seems like just yesterday it was Saturday. I guess they come most every week, huh? Around here we use Saturdays as a general tidying-up day. This week I’ve cleaning up my brains, the same ones that got battered around after a couple of essays I posted. Y’all are a tough crowd, you know that? Oh well … what say we ramble.

Looking forward to the, um, Really Big football game (copyright violation if I write the words that sound like Scooper Droll) in a week? Do you have your green/yellow or black/gold face paint ready? Or like many are you only going to watch for the commercials? One commercial you won’t see it the “Jesus Hates Obama” ad. How many of you were looking forward to seeing the Obama bobblehead drop into a fishbowl, with the Jesus bobblehead then seen smiling? Yeah, me either. I think I would have opted to make a chip run during that spot.

One show I did avoid this week was the Piers Morgan interview with Joel and Victoria Osteen. Osteen comes out and admits that there is such a thing as sin. Apparently it doesn’t cover Victoria’s Secret undergarments. Don’t ask, just watch.

Do people who text in church drive you mad? Good news. They may already be mad themselves. MIT professor Sherry Turkle says so in her book Alone Together. Turkle “appeared last week on Stephen Colbert’s late-night comedy show, The Colbert Report. When Turkle said she had been at funerals where people checked their iPhones, Colbert quipped: ‘We all say goodbye in our own way.'”

Milton Levine has died at the age of 97. Levine was the inventor of Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm. Did any of you have one? What do you remember about it?

How is your church doing? The property aspect of your church, that is. Seems that there is a surge in foreclosures among churches. I’m just asking: Could it be that God is freeing some congregations from the burden of carrying a mortgage so they can do crazy and wild things for him? Just asking.

I used to be a judge for a similar “Best Books” award given by a major organization. It was great: I got a box of 50 books to keep! Then I realized I had to read them. And most of them were really bad. So spend a little time reviewing what the editors of CT think are the best books of 2010. After all, they had to wade through some stinkers to get to these.

Skye Jethani reads dead people. He thinks we should read fewer books, not more, and that the best ones are the classics. I’m with him there. You do think he considers collections of Get Fuzzy cartoons as classics, right?

Birthdays this past week include Sam Cooke; Bill Bixby; Graham Kerr; Steve Perry; Linda Blair; Jerry Kramer; Oral Roberts; Neil Diamond; Warren Zevon; Alicia Keys; Paul Newman; Bob Uecker; Wayne Gretzky; Art Rooney (and now I have covered both the Packers and the Steelers); Mikail Baryshnikkov; Cris Collinsworth; Alan Alda; and Elijah Wood.

Many people consider this the best TV commercial of all time. If it featured a Cincinnati Bengal limping down the tunnel, it might have been more realistic. But he probably would have dropped the Coke bottle. Enjoy your Saturday.


  1. Go Steelers….

    • I guess I have to say go PACKERS!!!!!!!!!

      • And I’ll add – Go overblown halftime show with sanitized music-type performance!!!!

        • “sanitized music-type performance!!!!”

          Ed, were you hoping for some more “wardrobe malfunction” happenings? 😉

          • Don’t know about Ed, but I’ll be happy to see someone that I didn’t grow up with trying to convince themselves (and by extension, us) that they/we aren’t over the hill. 😉

      • Robin,

        It will be a fun game – we do have a lot of respect for the Packers this year – tough defense, killer offense…

  2. I’m a day late, but that’s typical, so here we go:

    Yesterday (the 28th) being the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, here is something in his honour (link via Mark Shea):


    And it would seem, according to Michael Flynn, that all the coolest molecular biologists are quoting St. Thomas:


    And to finish up – so, you lot are saying that there’s some kind of football match upcoming in America?


    • The real match was yesterday, Martha, and we missed you.

    • Give me St. Thomas on one side and St. John of the Cross on the other and they’d be covering the spiritual spectrum…

      Yes Martha, my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers are playing the Cheeseheads…

  3. Dan Allison says

    On reading books, I believe CS Lewis said much the same thing. We can learn so much more from Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Wesley, and the Puritans than we can ever learn from The Shack, Blue Like Jazz, Your Best Life Now, or The Prayer of Jabez. Even the great 20th century books were written by guys who’ve passed on — Lewis, Muggeridge, Schaeffer, Bonhoeffer.

    • Yeah, but plowing through those old Puritans. Wow. I’ve got John Owens on Hebrews and he devotes 2 volumes of the 7 volume set just to the introduction. I look at “Blue Like Jazz” and McLaren’s Dan & Neo trilogy more like brain candy than serious stuff. They are so light in theology it’s hard to even compare them to the old Divines. If I were to offer a Puritan equivalent of pop-theology cum biography, it would be Bunyan’s “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners” which is pretty lite fare as far as Puritans go, but way too heavy for today’s Lifeway store. I think if more people would read the old guys, they would be far less impressed with the new ones. On the other hand, I don’t know how many people have said they were thrilled by the depth and challenge of Miller, Warren, McLaren and others. What does that say about the state of Christianity today?

    • I think the state of affairs in book-land are not as gloomy as you seem to suggest.
      I offer for your consideration as worthwile contemporary authors: Dallas Willard and N.T. Wright. I myself enjoy Greg Boyds books too.


  4. I’m a huge fan of Obama and I thought the ad was funny. I mean, it’s not appropriate for general consumption during the Super Bowl, but it was funny. On the other hand, I’m not a big Joel Osteen fan, but I just didn’t see anything wrong with the video clips. I get all the destructiveness around the prosperity message, but seriously…he’s no more destructive than some of the red-faced pastors who shout invective through clenched teeth.

  5. No one’s mentioned him yet, so here we go: John Piper.

    You’re welcome.

  6. I’m always a bit skeptical when someone cautions us to read less. Surveys show average American reads something like about seven minutes a day. Should we try to cut it back to five? I know this isn’t the point, but I often think pastors worry too much that their congregants are books that are causing them to become heretics. The fact is that most of the people in churches would never even think about reading Christian books. Some people will be readers, and they will read what they want to read.

    I understand Skye’s point about reading more from dead people. I just don’t think most people need to be encouraged to read less.

    • If someone reads for only seven minutes a day, then I think it would be save to recommend that they read more. Of course, if their seven minutes is devoted to garbage, a mere five minutes of reading non-garbage would be preferable, I would think. 🙂

  7. Most Americans have never read a book older than ten years. That’s very myopic. I wonder if ebooks may change this? Whenever I search for an out-of-print title on Amazon, there is usually a Kindle version available for less than a dollar. They just need to invent a king-sized ebook for us old folks.

    • David Cornwell says

      Barnes & Noble was giving away classics in ebook format for a month or so. Last year my grandson had to read the Odyssey as part of an English lit class. He isn’t a big reader, but after reading it wanted the Illiad also. Way back when I was in high school we read a section of Pilgrim’s Progress. I got the book from the library and read the entire thing.

    • Near-sided, perhaps not myopic.

    • You can increase the font size on the Kindle for you “old people”…or for when I’m on the treadmill. Just have to advance the “page” more often 🙂

    • Well they do have the Kindle DX, which is a bigger screen, and you can increase the font size to pretty big. I have a Kindle, and I love it. To me it feels very much like reading a paperback book. I also love the fact there are great number of classic books available for free or for very cheap – like 99 cents or so.

    • Yeah I now get all my dead stuff guys on Kindle. But for Public Domain books most don’t have a table of contents which makes it difficult to cut through the superfluous stuff (like two volumes dedicated to an introduction to Hebrews). I recommend CCEL’s eBook store, they make table of contents for Kindle books.


  8. On topic–The classics are called just that for a reason…they continue to speak today. Most of what is printed today is just a lot of relevant wordiness. I’d rather read Dorothy L. Sayers or CS Lewis than McLaren or Warren because they speak to our human condition, not to the pop culture overlay. And don’t even get me started on the tripe that passes for “Christian” fiction.
    On a totally different topic…Where’s the pushcart guy in your banner???

    • He comes and goes, Kat. Keep an eye out for him.

    • I actually think McLaren gets far too bad of a rap. I would put his books in another category than Warren, Osteen, and the like. I’ve actually found his stuff quite challenging, and he actually references quite a few serious theologians in his books. I don’t agree with all of his conclusions, but I find him a good writer with quite a few good things to say.

    • Or Imitation of Christ… or Cloud of Unknowing…

  9. Randy Thompson says

    “Jesus hates Obama”? How does this differ from the “artist” who put a crucifix in urine some years ago? I’m sure there were people who thought that was clever and funny too.

  10. Love the old classics and authors–always scouting garage sales and estate sales and have found wonderful hidden gems over the years. Christmas Eve, after family had left and before service, our tradition is to open one
    gift…after that we were just sitting around talking and my son says “mom, when your dead, I want this and that book,” (classics, of course). And it continued on, my children arguing–in a fun way–which books they wanted when I am gone! I loved it! What more could I ask for than for them to WANT my books. From there, we spiraled in to a discussion on what is on our Top Five or Top Ten Books to read/recommend. Great way to spend Christmas
    and yes, what people read today…junk.
    Go Steelers…

  11. Here we go Steelers!

  12. I’ll bet the people who write here read more than 7 minutes a day.They’re always talking about books. Being 75 yrs. young, Iv’e never heard of some of these new evangelicals and doubt if I’ll ever read them. C.S. Lewis,J.I. Packer are more to my taste.I like the NKJv for its language, but the new american standard for it’s clarity. Yes you can teach an old dog new tricks.