November 26, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 10.12.13

RamblerTake a look at the date today. What number is missing? Eleven? Ah, but it’s college football Saturday. And how many men are there per side in football? That’s right—eleven. So can we say today is 10 (11) 12 13? Sure we can. Because we know just how important numbers are to being a Christian, right? Let’s see, seven is the perfect number, or is it three? Twelve means something, and 24 means something twice. And as Three (perfect number) Dog Night tells us, one is the loneliest number. Two can be as bad as one—it’s the loneliest number since the number one. Yeah. So get out your calculators, set your slide rules for “stun,” and let’s get ready to ramble.

Now here is a really big number: 1700. It has been 1700 years since the Edict of Milan, and many are still complaining about it. How did you celebrate this anniversary?

Here’s something that may interest only me. We are a host family for students attending University Language Institute here in Tulsa, a school where students from around the world can come and learn English. Or at least Oklahoma English, which often passes as the real thing. One student living with us right now is Mohammad, a young Muslim man from Saudi Arabia. As I drove him to school one day this week I told him I had an interview for another job. “I hope you do well,” he said. “And I’ll pray for you.” I have never had a Muslim offer to pray for me before. I thought it was really cool.

Bill O’Reilly has another book in his “Killing” series out: Killing Jesus. But Candida Moss thinks he has gotten some of his facts mixed up. I think I’ll stick to the gospel accounts, thank you.

And then there is the ninny from Fox News who—wrongly—reported that President Obama was going to pay out of his own pocket to keep the International Museum of Muslim Cultures open during the government shutdown. I know I am old-fashioned (or maybe just old), but I used to teach my broadcast journalism students to get their facts straight before opening their mouths.

Of course we all know that President Obama couldn’t be paying out of his own pocket just to keep some museum open. He’s too busy funding terrorists, which Michele Bachmann, that stalwart theologian, says proves we are in the end times.

Salon Magazine lays the blame for the government shutdown on those they say are running the Tea Party: Fundamentalist Christians. Your thoughts?

The Vatican commissioned a medal to celebrate Pope Francis’ first year in office. Oops. There was a word misspelled on the medal. The word is someone’s name. Or rather, Someone’s name. The Big Someone. And no, I don’t mean Pope Francis.

New York magazine has a great interview with Antonin Scalia. Read all the way through to get his thoughts on heaven, hell and the devil.

Seems not everyone wants to see the Holy Land. Well, Holy Land, Connecticut, that is. The former Christian “theme park” is more of a Holy Ghost town now. I know what you’re thinking. If only President Obama had paid out of his own pocket to keep this open instead of paying for Muslim museums and funding terrorists, right? Then all would be right in our country.

And on the left coast we have a new “reality” television show. (Reality TV is my second favorite oxymoron, right after United Methodists.) Preachers of L.A. is set to show off the lifestyles of the rich, famous and saved. Or some such thing. Sorry, I won’t be watching. I’m saving my couch time up for the next season of Downton Abbey. But if you want to watch Preachers of L.A. and report on it, feel free to do so.

Speaking of United Methodists, they are trying out a new idea. Online communion. Seriously. Look, I don’t make these things up. Discuss among yourselves the appropriateness of online communion. Start with the word “communion” and work from there.

Finally, let’s end with some space news. I took my son to see Gravity this week. One word: Wow. Two words: See it. Seventeen words:  If you go see it, pay the extra amount and see it in 3D at the IMAX. The Washington Post carried this “spiritual review” of the flick. All in all, I think it represents the film well. Also this week, astronomers announced the discovery of a new planet, one that is floating in space without a “host” star. We orbit our sun; this planet has no sun to orbit. I’m sure there is a theological connection to be made, but I’ll leave it up to you to make it. And we are sad to pass along the death of Scott Carpenter, one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts. Carpenter was 88.

Those, alive or dead, who celebrated birthdays this last week include Ray Kroc; Bil Keane; Barry Switzer; Steve Miller; Tony Dungy; Yo-Yo Ma; John Lennon; Jackson Browne; and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Yes, I love rock and roll. And yes, I could have chosen Steve Miller or John Lennon or Jackson Browne. But I want to show I have some culture. Enjoy.

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  1. In the interest of equal time, here’s an opposing view by a black medical doctor, courtesy of CBS News, Washington:

    • Care to link to a specific article or video so we know what you’re talking about? Your link is to the CBS page of ALL videos. Newest first.

  2. In no order:

    – The Preachers of LA is basically the PG, male version of “The Real Housewives,” right? Does that mean we’ll get a “Preachers of Minneapolis” variation in a few years with John Piper, Greg Boyd, Doug Pagitt, Marc Hammond, Tony Jones, and (now) Jay Bakker? Can they be forced to live in the same 3-bedroom one bath apartment for our amusement? Please?

    – I have plenty of issues with the Tea Party, but I’m convinced the reaction to it is the bigger, funnier story. 3 years ago the story was it was a sign that the religious right’s influence in the GOP was dying. 2 years ago it was dying. 1 year ago it was dead along with the religious right. Now it’s joined at the hip with the religious right and threatening to devour us all. I wish people would get their narratives straight.

    – That said, I got to where the Alternet/Salon writer complained about “Bible Thumpers” wanting to burn the country down and decided I didn’t take it too seriously. There’s an coherent argument against Ted Cruz’s tactics somewhere, but this piece is just hate and fear-mongering. If Glen Beck wrote this about Obama we’d laugh it out of the room.

    – I can’t imagine watching cable news for more than a few minutes. Fox is bad, MSNBC is a farce, and CNN seems more likely to talk about a Kardashian than Kabul.

    – Bil Keane, the Family Circus creator, was a unique guy. He seemed to take people joking about his creation with a healthy stride. For whatever reason he did a cross-over with Zippy the Pinhead and let the creator of Pearls Before Swine poke fun at him routinely. I know he wasn’t a big fan, but I have some bootleg “Dysfunctional Family Circus” comics on a hard drive somewhere…

    • Cedric Klein says

      What impressed me about Bil Keane was that the people behind Dysfunctional Family Circus were so taken by his niceness when he expressed his dislike for it that they stopped doing it.

    • “Tea Party”…hmm…It seems that most people’s view of that sub group of Republicans (and not even an organized group, at THAT) come from what they read in newspapers or watch on TV. Most have never attended a “Tea Party” meeting (try and find one! You’d have better luck finding Nemo!), never spoken to a “Tea Party” member (they have no official membership either), nor do they even know someone who claims to be a “Tea Party” member. So, where’s all the hate and misinformation coming from? That same media that you are excoriating!

      It appears that the media is the 21st century version of the Roman Colosseum and the gladiator games. Yeah, some Christians are still being devoured, but most people are more content to wildly cheer the show that seek anything meaningful, and there are a bost load of Christians sitting in those stands! “What IS truth?” INDEED!

      • Oh, I do know several people who are very involved in a Tea Party like organization (the 9/12 group) and do go to meetings. Talking to them is a lesson in paranoia and fear. The government is trying to put us all away! The media, the MEDIA, controls everything except Fox, which is absolutely the only news you can trust, and Obama for sure is a Muslim. I know people who bought gold nuggets to keep in a safe in their house because when everything falls apart, they will have bargaining power (gold has since lost much of its value). They may not call themselves Tea Party members, but they are out there.

        • Gold is a joke. Real wealth will be chocolate bars and cigarettes.

        • ” They may not call themselves Tea Party members, but they are out there.” You made my point! There’s ALWAYS wackddodles, but you can’t call them Tea Party people unless they claim to be, or your own preconceived ideas mark them as such. Just branding some “out there” people as such doesn’t necessarily make them such. It’s a handy catch-all name for whatever ails a person. I’m not saying they aren’t out there, just that few seem to have really met the animals. Seen Bigfoot lately? How about Elvis? And did man REALLY walk on the moon, or was that just a Hollywood deception?

          The big question is: Should Christians be party to the name calling accusations that goes on in politics?

      • Ditto what Suzanne said. And remember that it’s not election year, so there will be fewer tea party rallies. In my area the tea party meetings are held in an independent church nearby, the same one that held a “Second Amendment Sunday” last spring, when the pastor wore a loaded semi-automatic pistol on his belt during the service, pro gun displays were set up, and applications were available for gun permits. And no, they’re not a hate group. They really do preach a salvation message of Jesus and the kingdom when they’re not rallying for a cause.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          In my area the tea party meetings are held in an independent church nearby, the same one that held a “Second Amendment Sunday” last spring, when the pastor wore a loaded semi-automatic pistol on his belt during the service, pro gun displays were set up, and applications were available for gun permits.

          At the First Church of Zardoz.
          (“THE GUN IS GOOD!”)
          Why doesn’t this surprise me?

          • The sermon title today, brothers and sisters, is : “Oh Lord, Send Lawyers, Guns and Money!”

      • I am a conservative (no say it isn’t so…) and I don’t know anyone who is an official “Tea Party” member. Yes, there are a lot of people who agree with the ideals of smaller government, there are even a few who may have gone to a rally years ago, but as far as I know there are no formal meetings/websites/social networks.

        Now this may be because I am not an evangelical, and maybe there is some formal organization under those traditions, but not in my local influence….

        • This 9/12 group (a Glenn Beck creation) I mentioned does hold regular meetings. We also had some group set up a protest near us (I think Lyndon LaRouche connected) with pictures of the President sporting a Hitler mustache and signs of “Impeach Obama!”

          I used to consider myself a conservative but lately, not so much.

    • David Cornwell says

      – “I can’t imagine watching cable news for more than a few minutes. Fox is bad, MSNBC is a farce, and CNN seems more likely to talk about a Kardashian than Kabul.”

      For television news the most fair treatment and analysis is PBS. They attempt to balance out the “experts” and have good reports from foreign capitals. I know some conservatives hate them, because they figure these reporters must be liberal when they admit there is another side to the story. They are not perfect, but at least they try.

      There is a new news network– can’t mention the name around Christians without berzerkness. I have not watched their coverage, so have no opinion.

      • You mean Al-Jazeera America, I presume? I have not seen anything either.

        • I’ve been a fairly regular reader of Al-Jazeera English for several years now. Quite intelligent and sensible, and it covers things in a way that U.S. news outlets, subservient to advertisers, cant. Though AJ does have an anti-Israel bais (which I sort of share in some respects).

          Unfortunately, I read somewhere that now that AJ America is available, AJ is going to phase out the online site. Too bad.

          • I have AJ and BBC apps on my phone. But by far the most balanced news coverage I have found is on APM (NPR) during my morning drive to work. While various bloggers were lamenting how the “main stream media” was ignoring the persecution of Christians in Syria, APM had an entire half-hour segment on the show including interviews with people who live in Syria.

          • I like BBC and NPR too. But I have one friend who referred to NPR as “National Peoples’ Radio” and another who called it “National Pagan Radio”.

            On the other hand, another, more left-leaning friend, called it “National Petroleum Radio” based on the sponsorship.

        • David Cornwell says

          Yes, I watched some of their coverage online of various parts of the Egyptian crisis, and like the way they handled it. Also, I think they bring some balance to the problem of Israel. Not that they are balanced in their approach, perhaps, but in the overall reporting climate. Some of us are prone to letting Israel decide some of our most important foreign policy decisions.

      • Randy Thompson says

        i agree with you about cable news–all of them. One book title, “Why the News Makes You Dumb,” says it all. (By the way, it was published by Inter-Varsity Press, of all people.)

        If I do watch national TV news, which isn’t often, I watch PBS for the same reason. I also appreciate their balance and attempt to give both sides.

        I wonder why reporting can’t be more about the truth and less about nitwit, chattering-class posturing.

        The truth. . . how quaint.

      • Hmm, fair, that is, unless one of their own voice a fear, such as Juan Williams. One mistake of honesty and out the door he went.

  3. That was an interesting interview with Antonin Scalia. Thanks for pointing it out, Jeff.

    And the movie Gravity does sound great. Likely we won’t see it until it is on DVD.

    Have a good weekend, i-monkers!

  4. You forgot: two out of three ain’t bad.

  5. Christiane says

    Yo-Yo Ma !

    thank you

    • The Bible is not “Inerrant”, however, Yo Yo Ma is.

      • Is Yo Yo Ma the only cellist in the entire universe, or are all the other ones not good enough to be worth a mention in the media, just the way the Four Tenors were the only tenors good enough to be worth mentioning?

        I sometimes get a little irritated with the way the popular awareness gets attached to these classical music prodigies, and ignores the rest of hardworking cellists and other instrumentalists in the classical world.

        But hey….if you’ve heard the “best,” why bother with the rest, right?

        • Robert F – agreed. While I like Yo-Yo Ma, he’s been hyped pretty relentlessly.

          there are plenty more cellists worth listening to.

        • Cello? I prefer Apocalyptica.

        • Robert, Mr. Ma was never part of any major Symphony. He started out as a soloist for hire and shaped his career accordingly. He has always had a publicist and other “people” who have made sure his name and face were constantly in the spotlight. There’s nothing wrong with that, if that is the way you want to go.

          My favorite cellist has always been Lynn Harrell, but he is getting up there in age, 69 years old.

          • Christiane says

            Lynn Harrell’s Rachmaninoff . . . beautiful! Thank you, Oscar, for that link.

          • Speaking as a Conservatory drop-out, the trajectories of touring soloists and symphony players rarely intersect. They are two separate career paths. If you have the skill and personality for a solo career, you will go that way and give it your best shot. If you are more suited for rank and file, that’s the way you go. But you don’t typically find touring soloists getting their start in orchestras–they were on the solo path from a very young age.

          • Katharina – right you are on soloists vs. orchestral players.

            Oscar – all kinds of musicians have “people,” especially when they’re getting a *big* push from a massive entertainment conglomerate, as Ma has since his signing. The same thing happened with Wynton Marsalis (too much so, in fact).

            There are so many gifted musicians – working in all styles/genres – out there who will only ever be known by either a small hometown audience or by the handful of people they play with. That’s not a bad thing, but it is totally contrary to what publicists would have us believe!

        • Robert, try Maria Kliegel on the Naxos label. That whole label (known for affordability and comprehensive selection) features a large number of very good players no one has ever heard of. Almost always a safe bet for trying something new.

          If you prefer very old recordings, of course, Casals is the one to check out.

    • Here’s a snapshot about Yo Yo Ma: My wife and I went to the wedding of a friend a few years ago, here in Maine, and we got to the church early, so we sat in the pews listening to the two musicians, an organist and a cellist. The cellist turned out to be Yo Yo Ma because he was a family friend, and his son and daughter were usher and bridesmaid as well.

      What impressed me is that he did not steal the show musically, he simply played accompaniment during the service. Even when the bride’s friend played guitar and sang, Yo Yo played quietly in the background.

      At the reception later, my wife told him how much she liked one of the pieces, that she had played it at a wedding on the flute. So Yo Yo gave her a big kiss. Kinda made her day and I haven’t been able to top that.

      Later I emailed my girls, “Yo Yo Ma kissed yo’ mama.”

  6. Online Communion: if we start from the catholic perspective that the Holy Eucharist is the Real Presence of Christ, in what physical proximity must the celebrant be to the elements for the Real Presence to take place? Twenty inches, two yards, a hundred feet, etc.? And if it is necessary that the gathered community be present at the time of celebration, what does it mean for a community to be gathered? Must everyone be in a single room, must there be walls, are walls an impediment to gathering, etc.? And how do all these questions relate to the Communion of Saints, many of whom are deceased, though it must be assumed that they partake in the same Holy Eucharist we do, since we are all in it together? Or aren’t we?

    • I think the question is more the real physical nature of the elements, Robert. Without actual physical elements you have lost one of the essential aspects of the sacrament. Of course, to the non-denoms who are leading the way with this online stuff that means nothing. Just another day in Docetism.

      • Well, due to my wife’s immune system vulnerability, and concerns about her getting a possibly death dealing infection along with the elements at the communion rail, the pastor of the ELCA church where she serves as organist gave her the okay to bring her own bread, which she keeps at the organ during the communion liturgy and brings with her to the altar when we all receive together.

        Isn’t this a real Communion, ministering Christ’s Real presence to her? And how is this different in principle from online communion, provided suitable physical elements are used?

        • The church has always made allowances for extraordinary circumstances, Robert, and your minister’s “exemption” seems most gracious and Christlike to me. It’s still bread that she puts in her mouth and digests.

          • We are both grateful for his “gracious and Christlike” allowance. Holy Communion is very meaningful to my wife, probably more than it is to me. Growing up in a Christian and Missionary Alliance church, she pressured her parents into letting her be baptized at an early age precisely because she was aware of Jesus’ presence in the Lord’s Supper on the few occasions a year that the church celebrated it, and she needed to be baptized before being admitted to the Table.

      • Btw, I’m not interested in participating in online Communion, even if it’s possible; it would seem meaningless to me. But that’s because of the way I feel, not because I’m clear about the distinctions involved between actual and virtual that would mark the differences determining why one is Communion and the other isn’t.

        • I’m not a stickler for liturgical correctness, either, Robert. My main complaint about the online communion is that is docetic. The spiritual meaning cannot be separated from the physical elements or the face-to-face fellowship of flesh and blood human beings.

          • And unless one is in Antarctica, it points to some laziness and lack of commitment, either on the part of the communicant or the faithful or the clergy. Someone should be willing to come to you with the Eucharist if you are sick or weak or unable to get to church for whatever reason. Someone should be willing to plant churches where they are needed. Otherwise, you should be willing to haul your rear in and sit through a measly hour in the pew with your fellow human beings. This isn’t a side issue, this is part of the main point.

      • Final Anonymous says

        My former Methodist church had a problem with online communion, and anything called “communion” while away from the church, because it couldn’t be considered “communion” if the pastor hadn’t blessed it. A ministry leader with a group out of town on retreat was pushed to make the group wait and call a pastor at 5:00 am so the pastor could bless the elements over the phone. It was a Big Deal. True Story. Same church delayed launch of streaming their service on their website, lest viewers got too moved by the Spirit and decided to take their own communion at home when the congregation took theirs. Again, concern over the pastor blessing, and it not being “real” communion.

        I guess I always assume God is big enough to work that stuff out.

        • “I guess I always assume God is big enough to work that stuff out.”

          Exactly. And I don’t think that God making himself fully present, whether to someone sitting in front of a computer screen or kneeling at an altar rail or sitting in a silent Friends Meeting, is ever necessarily Docetism. In fact, it speaks to God’s ability to use any physical means he chooses, regardless of what we might think is appropriate or fitting, to make himself present, which is really his way of making us present to his omnipresence.

          • To me, it is docetic in the same way that saying I could have a virtual Sunday dinner with my family on the internet would be.

          • I do see your point; part of it has to do with the idea that, while Jesus Christ truly comes to us in the Sacrament and is truly present there, he is also truly present in the assembly of his people, which is also the Body of Christ.

            It is all rather paradoxical, which I guess it must be; I just worry that at times it may edge over into nonsensical, which I don’t think it should be.

            But I do see your point, that the physical eating and drinking and sharing in the meal is as essential to its sacramentality as the Words of Institution and the rest of the Communion Liturgy. Isn’t that in fact a very Lutheran way of understanding it, that the whole action of the Holy Communion is what is essential to its authenticity as Sacrament?

    • Well, the host can always be delivered, for a good enough reason (such is infirmity).

      But you are hoping to actually accomplish transsubstantiation in front of your computer. No–there can only be one cup, not the multiple ones that would be necessary for everybody to do it at home. If you want to know whether priestly voodoo can even reach that far (and over internet waves yet), I believe that Catholic dogma would allow the church to grant a dispensation if need be (as is already done for regions which can’t get the right communion elements for whatever reason).

      In fact, the church has the keys to heaven and hell. In theory the pope could just declare atheists to be saved, and presto, they’d be saved. But that way lies madness.

      Otherwise, there is probably a rule about the position and proximity of the priest in relation to the altar. An interesting thought experiment would be to imagine larger and larger churches (or smaller and smaller priests), and to ask at what point the host becomes too big / too far away for the magic to take effect.

      Meanwhile, Tibetan Buddhists have been discussing whether it is possible to receive tantric empowerments over the internet, or otherwise at a distance. Traditionally no, but those who attend the Dalai Lama’s events will usually find themselves sitting quite far away, and perhaps even watching/listening through some sort of radio transmission (perhaps in translation) or video feed. From there it’s a small step to on-demand downloads.

      • Since I’m not Roman Catholic, I’m not talking about transubstantiation; I chose the term Real Presence as representing what I consider to be the catholic, as opposed to Roman Catholic, understanding of the Sacrament.

        I’m pretty sure that in Roman Catholicism an altar relic of some sort is required to celebrate the Eucharist, but I don’t think that makes a difference to the question I’m asking. I’d be curious to know from some of our better informed RC brothers and sisters if the elements need to be in a certain proximity to the priest for transubstantiation to be effective.

        The priest doesn’t actually touch most of the elements during the liturgy. He obviously doesn’t literally touch any of the wine, except perhaps by mistake. He only touches a little of the bread before the Words of Institution. Most of the “touching” of the elements he may do is not literal touching, but is ritual and symbolic “touching” of the vessels they are contained in; it’s virtual touching, not different in kind from what would happen online.

        • littlemiss says

          re: Since I’m not Roman Catholic, I’m not talking about transubstantiation; I chose the term Real Presence as representing what I consider to be the catholic, as opposed to Roman Catholic, understanding of the Sacrament.

          I don’t understand the declaration to, while partaking, [we] proclaim Christ’s death until he comes again.
          how is that declaration true if the Life of Christ is represented in the body of Christ?

          Seems to me that if there is not a new song for the “we” then
          it’s pretty difficult for me.

      • In the Lutheran church where I receive Communion, besides the one cup, there is a holder with myriad glasses of grape juice that is included in the prayer of consecration at the Communion Liturgy; they are not literally part of the one cup, but they are figuratively part of it, or virtually part of it, which brings us right back to the idea of virtual Communion online.

      • But the Buddha nature permeates all things, Wexel, according to Mahayana Buddhist teaching; the Tibetans are just having their little bit of religious fun with their tantric empowerments and multicolored Hats, as any good Zennist could tell you.

  7. David Cornwell says

    Jeff has opened up the Methodist can of worms for me, and just after breakfast too! “United’ is a word that I wish denominations would leave off their titles, because most of the word is aspirational and organizational, and even those meanings can be turned upside down. The Methodist Church (before “United”) was just getting its act together after the Civil War when I was kid. It was a union of The Methodist Episcopal Church (North), Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the Methodist Protestant Church. This happened in 1939, when I was one year old.

    However my youngest childhood was in West Virginia, along the Ohio River. West Virginia had churches from both former denominations. The little church where we were members (back then) was Steele Memorial. It was one of the two Methodist Churches in town. It was of the South variety. This is the one my parents attended because they considered it the most “spiritual.” It’s order of worship was not as “formal” (another bad word). The Northern brand churches were “cold,” “formal,” and “not spiritual.” Most of these church buildings still had signs that designated the older names, and in their hearts this is still what they yearned for.

    Then later, somewhere in the 1960’s there was another “union.” This time it was with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, Methodist in doctrine, but somewhat ethnic German in historical background. I’m not sure this was ever a happy union.

    The idea of “online communion” is such __________ that it makes one want to _________ and wish for a ______ and a return to__________.

    • I think the name comes from “united” in Evangelical United Brethren and “methodist” in Methodist Church, thus United Methodist Church following the merger of the two bodies in the 1960’s. At one General Conference shortly after the merger, one motel sign read “Welcome Untied Methodists”.

      • You are correct. The “United” in United Methodist comes from the Evangelical United Brethren and the EUB has been complaining ever since.

    • My favorite church split example comes from a small town in Illinois where the local Presbyterian churche split in one of the pre-Civil War schisms. Years down the line, the Northern Presbyterian branches reunited, but the local churches didn’t. So there are now two PCUSA congregations not only in the same town but on the same street within (Google Maps tells me) 3/10ths of a mile of each other.

      And in no way on God’s green earth will they ever discuss combining the two congregations.


    • And in my town we (still?) have an AME church (African Methodist Episcopal), for black people. Of course, black people are *allowed* to attend any church in town, including the “regular” (white) United Methodist Church. But most go to the AME Church, which in my town is a historic building from at least the mid-1800s.

      Is this ad-hoc segregation in Methodism a phenomoenon that’s on its way our after 200 or so years, or is the AME Church in America growing? Maybe a Methodist here can tell me.

  8. Well, thanks for ruining my morning…
    1) Fox News lied? Say it ain’t so! The real shame here is that companies can make billions by feeding the paranoia and conspiracy theory zeitgeist.
    2) Speaking of which, fundamentalists running the Tea Party? Why does this article sound like a mirror image of the paranoia and conspiracy theory rhetoric that drives the very party they are excoriating?See now whither thy ambition, and thy perverse appetite for elicit knowledge, hath precipitated thee.
    3) As embarrassing as Preachers of LA might be, it does highlight some of the wretched excesses we see in churches. This should be a cause for mourning, not a TV show, however.
    4) If the physical elements of holy communion don’t mean anything, and if holy communion doesn’t actually do anything, than I will partake with a dunkin’ donuts cake donut (the kind with the dunking handle) and a cup of burr-ground french press Caribou, please.

    • David Cornwell says

      “4) If the physical elements of holy communion don’t mean anything, and if holy communion don’t mean anything, and if holy communion doesn’t actually do anything….’

      Exactly. And if the physicality is nonexistent, then why ever use it to start? Why not just hold out an empty hand? Christ rose from the dead, an actual dead body back from the grave, not just spirit, or ghost, or symbol. One could go on from here, but then a sermon would be preached. Empty symbol, floating spirituality, I do not understand it. “Virtual reality”?

    • #2: EXACTLY! The ones shouting the loudest against are cut from the same bolt of cloth.

    • Make mine a glazed crueler….extra large coffee with cream (no sweetener).

  9. I read the Scalia interview earlier in the week and LOVED it….especially his comments to the interviewer (paraphrased) about “are you so removed from everyday people that you are surprised people believe in the devil? Jesus believed in the devil..” Likewise the interviewer’s total dismissal and incredulity that a smart rational person could believe in heaven and hell!!

    I think it shows that not only are we split into factions in the US with different ANSWERS, we are not even asking the same QUESTIONS!!

    • David Cornwell says

      I’m no fan of Scalia, by a long shot, but I think some of the things he says are indicative of the failure of liberal democracy in our country. The Jeffersonian ideal is not working, and the alternatives are too hideous to consider.

    • And equally, Scalia is shocked that women swear. He doesn’t read newspapers that he considers too liberal. None of his friends have come out to him. He has taken part in the ghettoisation of American politics as much as anyone.

      • David Cornwell says

        ” None of his friends have come out to him.”

        I doubt he has any gay friends! Gay relatives would terrified to come out to him.

        • He says he has friends who he thinks are gay, but they have not come out to him. I think that says a HUGE amount about the man.

    • I don’t agree with Scalia on many things that he’s said from the bench, but I did get a kick out of the fun he was having at the New York magazine interviewer’s expense; the thick cultural dissonance between the two of them obviously unsettled the interviewer, but Scalia was having a grand time, and I have to admit it provided me with guilty pleasure.

  10. Salon blames the fundies? No way…. In other breaking news, the Pope prays to Mary, and Hugh Hefner has sex.

    The Tea Party is actually driven primarily by fundamentalist Christians whose penchant for magical thinking and belief that they’re being guided by divine forces makes it tough for them to see the real world as it is.

    Unlike Salon, the unseen seer and oracle of all truth.

    In other words, the Christian right has worked itself into a frenzy

    I had to grin while reading this. Has the Christian right ever NOT been in a frenzy? To “work itself into” one almost assumes there was a time when it wasn’t.

  11. People are more atomized now, and, for the most part, they like it that way. So online communion makes perfect sense from a pragmatic point of view. Especially given the prevalance of part time church members (folks who come once a month or every other week.) Having an online celebration could keep them in the fold for when they do come.

    Clearly, if you’re dealing with one of the substantiations (trans or cons) then common elements are a need, but that’s not all of Christianity.

  12. The mess in Washington was foreshadowed by the Romney 47% comments during the election, that it’s not his job to worry about those people. It is clear that Republicans in Congress share that sentiment. The 800,000 federal workers who went without paychecks are the “non-essentials”, i.e. the same moochers and entitlement junkies Romney complained about. We quickly found out this week how essential those workers truly were.

    The way Congressional Republicans went about this is also telling. Rather than following the protocol clearly laid out in the Constitution, of which they claim to be the sole defenders, and overturn legislation by means of a 2/3 majority vote, they shut down the government, which I can’t find in that beloved Constitution. The reason is that the actions which they claim bears the will of the people against Obamacare is in fact NOT the will of the people. They knew that, because again, 47% of those citizens are of no concern to them and are in fact entitlement junkies and enemies of true Americans.

    As many feared Republicans are resorting to desperation as they face the reality that they do not represent the majority of Americans. The question is how far will they go? This shutdown and debt ceiling limit battle reveals that they are willing to destroy the country in order to “save” it.

    So there you have it. America is being defended against the evil, selfish entitlement junkies by the super-PAC addicted “essential” Federally-funded employees called Congress.

    • Anonymously Yours says

      I don’t see in the Constitution the part where Congress is authorized to provide health care (whether it is Medicaid, Medicare, or Obamacare), Social Security, food stamps, student loans, mortgage guarantees, and so many other things we take for granted. But the Constitution does say Congress is supposed to provide us the Post Office. Look at how they messed that up by forcing it to be independent! (I also love it when strict constitutionalists want to privatize the Post Office.) Congress couldn’t act constitutionally if their country’s longevity depended on it.

    • The biggest problem is not the constitution, nor the Republicans. It is the raft of “rules” that both Houses have laid on themselves. Each “rule” was put in by one party while they were in the majority in order to limit the power of the other and, just as in our Byzantine tax code, it has become difficult function.

      Take, for instance , the 60% rule that the Senate operates under. They won’t even propose legislation unless they think they have a filibuster proof margin. Heaven forbid that there be actual deliberation and debate!

      Another example is the Senate. Rather than propose an alternate budget more to their own liking they have for the past 6 or 7 years refused to even TRY! They would rather be in the position of just saying “NO” without any discussion.

      And let’s not forget that the president is supposed to navigate between BOTH houses, twisting arms, granting favors, reasoning, et cetera. But today we have one that repeatedly says “I will NOT negotiate!”. I won’t even get into the “recess appointments” , Presidential orders and “agency czars”, all of which bypass the need to negotiate.

      Our government has strangled itself, and the people love to hate it so much that they continue to return the same people to Washington.

      As a Christian I have been grieved by the whole mess, and disturbed to see other believers becoming just as doctrinaire as the offenders in Washington.

    • It was foreshadowed earlier when they started referring to people who are not paid a high enough wage to have to pay income tax as “lucky duckies.” I have my share of problems with the democrats too, but the pure stupid hatred of the working classes and the poor coming from the right knocks the wind out of me.

  13. Did I miss a mention of one of the funniest things of the week?

    The Add a Word, Ruin a Christian Book meme on twitter:

    A couple of mine:

    The Screwtape, Useglue, Letters

    I Kissed Dating You Goodbye

    Thug Life Together

  14. The only difference between Ray Kroc and Pete Dionasopolis that really mattered: “Cheeseboguh, cheeseboguh, cheeseboguh…..No Pepsi, Coke!”

  15. Online this week, I saw an ELCA seminarian seriously contemplating “consecrating an English muffin” to partake in Eucharist along with those present in Chicago for the installation of the presiding bishop, which he was watching via webcast. I am but a skittish layperson, but I had to cringe mightily at that. The level of absurdity speaks to people who don’t really believe all this stuff, in its real physical sense that the Lutheran confessions and the Church Catholic proclaim it to be, at all.

    It’s creeping gnosticism, really. The physical form doesn’t matter to gnostics, just what you ~feel in your heart.~

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Now if he were consecrating a regular muffin, that’d be the First Church of Derpy Hooves instead of the ELCA.

      (Which actually makes more sense than the reality. “DERP!”)

      • Would you prefer cupcakes…?

        Hell, why doesn’t somebody just consecrate the whole world while they’re at it? Assuming they could get a dispensation on the communion elements, then the whole world would turn into the body and blood of Christ (essentially, of course, not accidentally), and pantheism would become true after all. The devil would have nowhere to hide, I tell ya. It’d be just like one of those vampire movies where they turn the sprinkler system into holy water.

        • And then God would be all in all; only it’s not called pantheism, but panentheism, and there’s good warrant for believing that this is the goal that God has for his creation: that he shall dwell in all of it as his habitation, and fill the heavens and earth with his presence and life. We look forward to this in the eschaton.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Would you prefer cupcakes…?

          As long as they’re not those specials FROM “Cupcakes”.

  16. I like the “spiritual review” of Gravity; I think that old film, Escape From New York, had many of the exact same implications. In addition, I’ve always thought that Snake Plissken was a symbol of Christ in that film; you know, a descent into hell to save the world from annihilation etc. Powerful stuff.

    Just kidding.

  17. I’ll be the Gravity curmudgeon – and reveal my warped sense of humour. My wife and I saw it in 3D at an IMax theatre last Thursday. I enjoyed it and thought the CGI visuals were very impressive (in 3D on a giant screen). My wife was not impressed – partly because 3D showings sometimes makes her queasy – and I doubt she’ll be recommending it to anyone. I would not pay to see it on a small screen at home; the story is too thin and the visual effects would lose most of their impact. I think I would also fall asleep half way through.

    Now for my warped sense of humour. By the time the splashdown occurred, I was half hoping that Bulllock would narrowly escape a shark attack and then crawl on shore to discover that she had landed in Afghanistan and the Taliban were waiting to take her hostage. I think it would have fit well with everything else that happened to her during the course of the movie. I enjoy Monty Python by the way.