October 25, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 10.1.11

October? It’s October already? Spring Training just ended, didn’t it? What happened to my beloved Reds? What? Really? Sigh…ok…welcome to the Cincinnati Reds-less baseball playoffs edition of Saturday Ramblings. Grab your mitt and get ready to ramble.

Oh my. Not only is it the baseball postseason, it is the wackiness known as presidential campaign time. And what goes better with a presidential campaign than the labeling of a candidate as the Antichrist?  Matthew Sutton of the New York Times opines as to why the Antichrist matters in politics in the first place.

And what is the opposite of the Antichrist in politics? Well, God-fearin’ Evangelicals, of course. But just what makes one an Evangelical in politics? Jim Wallis takes a stab at defining just what such an animal looks like.

Last week we talked about Rob Bell’s decision to step aside from pastoring the church he founded in Michigan in order to pursue “broader interests.” Now we know what at least one of those interests is. Bell has signed on to co-write and produce a TV show for ABC. Bell’s co-producer, Carlton Cuse, worked with the TV show Lost. Ok, then. I for one have no problem with Bell’s choice to leave his megachurch and move to Hollywood. Neither does this pastor. You?

I don’t think Bell’s show is going to involve ghosts, but according to this report, if it did, it might be more truth-based than we realize.

Archbishop Philip Hannan, last seen on the field with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in 2010, passed away this week at the age of 98. If his reported last words are accurate, I cannot think of any better. Food for the journey, indeed.

Oh joy. The ministerial use of Facebook. Sigh. Ok, fine. Enjoy yourself. I’ll stick to the old-fashioned form of communication: email.

Two churches in my home state of Ohio are using an even older form of communicating their variances in thoughts on a sticky subject: billboards. This is a good way to destroy Toledo.

So you can’t decide just how to redecorate your home? How about as a miniature Sistine Chapel? This British decorator did just that after being inspired by a book he bought at a “car boot sale.” Ok. I’m from Oklahoma. I know cowboy boots. But car boots?

Tomorrow is a being billed as a day for preachers to use their pulpits to preach about … politics. Talk about antichrist. I know I may be going out on a limb here, but is it too much to ask that we take a break from messages on politics and raising happy children and having our best lives now to perhaps preach the Gospel now and then?

Finally, a clear sign that Jesus is not from New York. Well, we all knew that, didn’t we.

Happy birthday wishes were wished upon Jim McKay; Jim Henson; Linda McCartney; William Faulkner; Shel Silverstein; Christopher Reeve; Will Smith; Marty Robbins; Jim Caviezel; William Conrad; Don Cornelius; Ed Sullivan; Moon Unit Zappa; Gene Autry; and Mark Farner.

It was very hard to pass on a video by Moon Unit Zappa, Ed Sullivan, Marty Robbins or Mark Farner. Well, ok, it wasn’t hard to pass on Mark Farner. But anytime we can combine Jim Henson’s Muppets and Shel Silverstein, we will take that and run with it all day long. Enjoy a trip to “Our House.”

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZ-EJNz2AoE’]



  1. Matt Purdum says

    What? No Piper stories this week? You let me down, Jeff.

  2. Glenn A Bolas says

    Where English comes from, a ‘car boot’ is what you would call a ‘trunk’.

    Which makes sense to me- I store things in my boots every day (and sometimes I put my feet in them too).

    • “Where English comes from, a ‘car boot’ is what you would call a ‘trunk’.”

      Which suggests that a “car boot sale” is someone selling goods out of the “boot,” or trunk of his car. The thought that occured to me was something like a yard sale on wheels.

      • Exactly correct. You gather lots of your junk together in your car, drive to a big field with other people and then you sell things from the rear storage portion of your car to members of the public.

  3. To quote Pigeon John, “waitwaitwaitwait, wait!” Maybe I missed the memo — what’s wrong with Mark Farner all of a sudden?

    • Nothing is wrong with Farner. I just don’t listen to much Grand Funk any more…

      • Matt Purdum says

        Last time I saw Mark perform live — maybe 8 or ten years ago — he launched into some bizarre rightwing rant abiout the Red Chinese, he went on for about 5 minutes and entirely lost everyone. BTW I loved GFR, still do.

  4. I would like to understand more about ghosts. Jesus seemed to affirm that they existed when he told his disciples after his resurrection that ghosts don’t have bodies like his which could eat food. So what are they? Are they residual energy from the body that died? Are they the “spirit” of the person who died and if so, what does it mean that some people can see those spirits?

    I wish Rob Bell well! I have a book of his waiting for me at the library.

    • Last year I did a ghost tour in Washington, D.C. I’m debating about doing another one this year.

      I’ve always thought of ghost stories as good entertainment. But my grandmother told me something and the rest of the family at dinner years ago. We were in a restuarant in Montana and someone this topic came up. I don’t know as I didn’t ask. And my gradnmother told us what happened to her brother when he died. He died in the middle of the night in Nevada and my grandmother woke up and saw him standing at the foot of her bed. He waved at her and told her goodbye. It puzzeled her and then she knew that he passed away. Shortly thereafter her phone rang and she knew what the news was going to be. For her it was a comforting story.

      I have no idea what to think of that stuff.

    • Isaac Rehberg (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

      According to some of the folks on EWTN, the Catholic Church believes that the souls in Purgatory can sometimes manifest as ghosts since they have not yet been to their final judgement (though their final destination will be Heaven). I don’t remember which show or from which EWTN personality I heard that, but I found it to be very interesting.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I’ve heard the same theory from other sources. Purgatory is supposed to be a time/place/state of taking care of unfinished business between death and entry into Deep Heaven, and appearing as a ghost might sometimes be a way of taking care of such unfinished business.

        However, to Fundagelicals ghosts are all DEEEEMONS!!!! I’ve heard that one, too.

  5. David Cornwell says

    “Two churches in my home state of Ohio are using an even older form of communicating their variances in thoughts on a sticky subject: billboards. This is a good way to destroy Toledo.”

    Personally I’m tired of churches, of whatever stripe, using billboards to stir up controversy. It’s a good way to destroy not only Toledo, but to damage the church and the real work of Christ we are called to do. How can pastors do the work they are called to do when they are constantly fighting political and publicity battles.

    Find a quiet church on a corner someplace, where the gospel is proclaimed, the sacraments offered, and the great hymns are sung. Add to this a pastor who cares for his people, will marry those in love and bury the dead.

    And spend the money feeding the hungry, not buying billboards.

    I’m afraid they are making a public mockery of the gospel.

    • Amen! Well said. If only the folks in Toledo would read your assessment ….

    • David Cornwell says

      A Pope would come in handy about now in Protestantism who would say to these churches “straighten up or I’m going to jerk a knot in your tail.”

      I’ve heard my dad use that phrase a few times.

      • Oh, don’t be so hasty on that, David. On the one hand, you’d have all those complaining that a Pope was stifling the work of the Spirit and trying to impose a dead hand of conformity, and on the other, you’d have all those complaining that he wasn’t excommunicating all those over there who are obviously in the wrong.

        Trust me on this 😉

    • You know what makes me boil. Whenever it comes to heresy and error it’s always the liberal churches who are accused of being in error. The conservative chruches never, I MEAN NOT ONCE!! make a mistake. That’s why I admire and respect Greg Boyd becuase he calls Piper out and says, “that’s not the case.” And he does it while John Piper has tried to have him thrown out of the denomination. How I wish there would be more Greg Boyds who could have taken on John MacArthur, Mark Driscoll, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. Someone that would refute and say, “John MacArthur…the Bible DOES NOT say that…”

      I can only dream…

      • Conservatives get their fair share of criticism around here. Unfortunately, they think their stuff doesn’t stink, so criticizing them just makes them feel persecuted, which just emboldens them. Satire always seemed to have more power than criticism. That may be the best way to deal with such “conservatives”. People seem to be more concerned about looking silly than being wrong.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          That may be the best way to deal with such “conservatives”. People seem to be more concerned about looking silly than being wrong.

          “The Devil, that proud spirit, cannot stand to be mocked.”
          — John Donne, as quoted by C.S.Lewis in Preface to Screwtape Letters

    • Ditto.

      And the same applies to those prtable lightup signs that every SBC around my part of the country thinks they need in order to arrange letters into words to say some inane stupid thing with Jesus syrup poured on top.

      Thankfully, those sign thingys don’t stand up well to strong, straight-line winds…


  6. Archbiship Hannon was the archibishop of New Orleans when I lived there in the 1970s, during my teenage years. Definitely one of the top civic leaders of his day, and not just in the “Big Easy”. Many of our neighbors who had survived Hurricane Betsy in 1965 especially thought fondly of him for his work in the wake of that disaster.

    Requiesce in pace, your Grace.

  7. Regarding that spiritual TV show, does anyone hear remember “The Book of Daniel”?


    2006 NBC show about an Episcopalian priest, touted as “edgy, challenging and courageous”. First broadcast on 6th January, slated to run for 13 episodes, dropped on 24th January. The Episcopal Church welcomed news of it because they thought it would get news about Episcopalianism out there and be a tool for conversion (if there are Episcopalians who are so uncouth as to invite conversion rather than conversation).

    See how well that worked?

    Meanwhile, I will suffer in sympathy with you over your Presidential campaign. We have our one finally underway, with seven candidates. We’ve had the controversy and farce already, and that’s before the real politicking gets under way. I have no idea who’s going to win, but there’s already one potentially scandalous – well, actually, two potentially if not actually scandalous – elements, and it will be interesting to see which gets aired or pressed by the media. I can’t say we’ve had any identifications of the Anti-Christ as yet, but we’ll see what happens when the campaign warms up a bit.

    The “Magnificent Seven”, as they’ve been dubbed:

    Martin McGuinness – Sinn Féin. One of the two potential scandalous elements, because of IRA (alleged) membership, which is going to lead to questions of were you a terrorist? did you know about bombings/shootings? did you know about ‘the disappeared’ (sixteen people believed or confirmed to have been abducted, killed and buried in unmarked graves by Republican paramilitaries during the Troubles in Northern Ireland on the rationale that they were informers or helping the Brits). Worked for the Northern Ireland peace process and was elected there as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Got on surprisingly well with Ian Paisley Senior in their ministerial roles, to the point where they were dubbed “The Chuckle Brothers” (after a pair of popular comedians) due to them always being photographed together with big smiles and even laughing. Will be grilled on his past, but I’m inclined to vote for him (a) because I’m an old-fashioned 32-county Republican but not by physical force in the modern era and (b) the symbolic importance; he’s a Northerner, and we like to go on about ‘the island of Ireland’ and all the rest of it, but this is where the rubber will really meet the road – if we vote for a Sinn Féin candidate, this is really emphasising our committment to the Peace Process – on both sides.

    Senator David Norris – Independent. The second of our potentially scandalous elements. Could be said to be our minority candidate, as he’s Protestant (Church of Ireland) and gay. That’s not why he’s scandalous, though, because he’s been out and proud for years by now. Served in our Upper House, the Senate (not the equivalent of your Senate, more like the English House of Lords in its powers) and this is his second time going. His early campaign was derailed – and here’s the scandal – by the revelation that he wrote ‘letters of clemency’ for a former lover. He wrote to the Israeli courts on behalf of his ex-partner, an Israeli man who had been convicted of statutory rape of a 15 year old youth. That fuss caused him to withdraw from the race, but now he’s back again and he managed to get enough nominations to be a candidated.

    I was half-inclined, in the first phase of his campaign, to vote for him because (1) there were no choice of candidates going at the time and (2) feck it, it would be funny to have a posh (oh yeah, he’s posh) Anglo-Irish gay Protestant as Uachtarán na h-Éireann representing us internationally – it would blow a few minds re: stereotypes and again, we like to talk about the ‘two traditions on this island’ and he certainly represents the other tradition.

    However, the whole intervening in the courts thing by writing letters on official stationery – particularly since our Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, lit into the Vatican and the Papal Nuncio about clerical abuse (remember the post I did on the seal of the confessional? That was triggered by Enda’s speech) and his other comments about pederasty have lost him any support I might have given. I think there’s a little bit of hypocrisy at work here as well; if a Catholic bishop had written a letter to a foreign court pleading for clemency for an Irish priest convicted of having sex with a 15 year old boy, and had also made comments that sexual intercourse in the context of a relationship between an adult and a minor wasn’t always a bad thing, there would be bloody murder and holy war. He’s been allowed say that his lawyers won’t let him comment or release the letters (er, remember our Taoiseach saying that it would be made law that you couldn’t hide behind privilege like that?) and that this is a witch-hunt and the people of Ireland have moved on from this, without any dissenting voices of note in the media. Hmmmm – so it only counts if you’re a Catholic clergyman, then?

    Gay Mitchell – Fine Gael. Oh, boy. Dull and dour and a Blueshirt to boot. Nobody thinks he has a chance (excpet himself). Me, I wouldn’t have voted for him if he was the only candidate going.

    Michael D Higgins – Labour Party. Third time he’s gone for this, as he’s been trying for his party’s nomination since 1997, and is 70 years old now. Before entering politics he worked as Statutory Lecturer in Political Science and Sociology at University College Galway (UCG) and Visiting Professor at the Southern Illinois University and has had a big influence on many students of his. Known as very arty, poetic, left-wing idealist type (even though the Labour Party has become a lot more pragmatic and moved to a more central political position, leading to accusations that it has abandoned its Socialist roots). Cultural interests all over, has perpetrated poetry himself, and done a lot of work for human rights from the leftist side. Wouldn’t be the worst President we’ve ever had, because the job here is largely ceremonial, and could even win it. I’m half-way inclined to vote for him myself, although the high-toned scholarly lecturing style he adopts is pretty annoying. God bless the man for this much, he does believe in the democratic process, as evinced by him helping another candidate (David Norris) to get on the ticket.

    Dana Rosemary Scallon – Independent. Best known still in this country for winning the Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland back in 1970 when she was only 19. Career as a singer of Christian music, went into politics. Elected as Member of the European Parliament from 1999-2004. Conservative Catholic, campaigned on family values and her opposition to abortion, contraception and divorce along with a Eurosceptic line on the EU. All of which means in post-Catholic Ireland, reeling from the clerical abuse scandals, and eager to be a modern secular state, she hasn’t a snowball in Hell’s chance of getting elected.

    Mary Davis – Independent. Basically running on her track record of involvement in the Special Olympics for 30 years and other charity/advocacy work. I know nothing about her.

    Sean Gallagher – Independent. Haven’t a clue about him likewise. Running on platform of he wants to deal with the most current issues – unemployment, emigration and Ireland’s lack of confidence.

    For the first time in the entire history of the Presidency, my party (Fianna Fáil) has no-one going, because after being in power so long and officiating over the economic meltdown, they were slaughtered in the last parliamentary elections and couldn’t get a cat to drink milk, let alone get a candidate elected.

  8. I really liked the article by Craig Grossee. That was good. It was very good.

  9. Isaac Rehberg (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

    I really enjoyed the Wallis article. Good stuff there. FWIW, Harper and Innes were interviewed on Steve Brown, Etc. yesterday afternoon for their book that Wallis mentions in his article. It was a good interview.

  10. Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

    While I don’t see my parish’s rector doing the politic thing tomorrow, I think I’d skip church this week if I was at a place where the pastor would. Of course, since I’m on vacation I won’t be there tomorrow anyway!

  11. Being “liberal or conservative” the other person is always wrong, we are better,smarter, more religeous than they. This gets very tiresome!

  12. Shel Silverstein’s birthday, and you didn’t post Johnny Cash singing “A Boy Named Sue”? Jeff, how could you let that slip????