December 1, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 10.16.10

Two things that don’t go together: gutters and pine trees. Sigh … Climb ladder—grab a handful of pine needles from gutter, drop into big bucket—climb down ladder—move ladder over three feet—lather, rinse, repeat. After an afternoon of fun like that, there’s nothing I want more than a comfortable chair, a glass of iced tea, the remote control, and Saturday Ramblings.

The good news story of the year has to be the successful rescue of the 33 Chilean miners from deep underground. Who among us wasn’t moved to cheers or tears or both when all of these men were brought out of their prison alive? For one miner, the battle was more than just about being stuck under the earth. “I was with God, and I was with the devil. They fought, and God won,” one of the miners said. This is a great, great story. All praise and honor and glory be to our God.

Adam Palmer spotted this piece on Roger Ebert’s blog. Very interesting reading. I am going to need to read this several times, but I wanted to include it here now as it relates to the story above. You read it and tell me what you think.

In what could possibly be a good news story, organizations who watch the persecuted Christians in other nations are optimistic that the pending change in leadership in North Korea might lead to more religious freedom in that nation. This is something that is very dear to my heart. I host two South Korean teenagers in my home, and they tell me stories of the severe persecution that our brothers and sisters endure for their faith in North Korea. We are told to remember those in chains as if we were in chains with them. Let’s be praying for those in North Korea that they may enjoy even a fraction of the freedom we take for granted.

I have moved in the world of books since the mid-70s. Books are very, very important to me. I don’t agree with many things that are written and published, but I have no tolerance for those who want to ban books. This past week was Banned Books Week, calling attention to those who would like to prevent certain books from being available to all. Seems to me a certain Austrian megalomaniac anti-Semetic nut-job who ruled Germany tried this. Please, let us as believers feel free to disagree with authors and their views, but never prevent their voices from being heard. When we do this, we are on the road to becoming another North Korea.

In Texas, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the words “under God” in the Texas Pledge of Allegiance are constitutional. While this is no doubt welcome news to Texans, it came as a bit of surprise to me. No, not the legal ruling. I expected that. But who knew Texas had its own pledge? (As I have observed before: You can always tell a Texan. You just can’t tell them much…)

When Jesus said, “You will always have the poor with you,” was he giving us an excuse to ignore their plight? David Beckmann would say a very loud No to that. He says that the poor and hungry in our nation are “uncomfortably close” in this compelling interview in Newsweek.

If this moves you at all, you will want to check out Cathleen Falsani’s review of the book Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25 Cents at a Time. The author quotes St. Vincent as saying, “Don’t make the poor ask for what God, their Father, wants them to have.  We should apologize if they have to ask for what they need.” Read that again. Now what are you going to do today to reach out to someone in need?

How does God feel about the poor? For that matter, how does God feel about anything? Does God have emotions? Read and comment, iMonks.

To yoga or not to yoga, that is the question. Al Mohler has his opinion, and of course he wants it to be your opinion as well. I am opposed to yoga for this simple reason: My body just can’t bend like that. And least not with bones in it. Do we have any yoga supporters among us today?

Birthdays were celebrated this past week, hopefully happily, by John Lennon; Sean Lennon; Jackson Browne; Mike Singletary; John Entwistle; Helen Hayes; Thelonius Monk; Brett Favre; Eleanor Roosevelt; Joan Cusack; Jerry Jones (owner of the Dallas Cowboys); Paul Simon; Robert Lamm (of Chicago); Sammy Hagar; Jerry Rice; e.e. cumming; John Wooden; Mario “The Godfather” Puzo; Barry McGuire; and Penny Marshall (quick: Was she Laverne or Shirley?)

Finally, a Big Butter Jesus update. In case you don’t remember, the 60-foot statue of Jesus rising up out of the water in front of Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio burned to the ground earlier this year. Why was it called Big Butter Jesus? Comedian singer Heywood Banks called it that in a song by the same name because he said it looked like one of those butter statues you see at state fairs. Well, Banks has added a new verse to the song to talk about the fire. Yes, he is strange looking. But he is funny. Warning: This is not for those who are easily offended. Another warning: Don’t be drinking anything while you listen to this. We are not responsible if you spit coffee all over your keyboard. Enjoy.


  1. Heywood Banks looks like what Mark Heard would look like if he’d lived. And Mark would’ve heartily approved of that song, I suspect.

    And remember: everything is avoidable except death and Texans.

  2. Just a thought... says

    There is a video online (which I won’t try to link to, mainly because I don’t know how) of Mark Driscoll saying that demons invented yoga. I understand trying to be aware and cautious about the nature of things we participate in but saying that you can’t do the yoga exercises without the mysticism, as Mohler does, or that it has demonic origins (speculative at best, ridiculous and ignorant at worst) as Mark does is throwing the baby right out with the bathwater.

  3. My mother – a devout Christian who lives her faith – also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. She’s been doing yoga for more than 40 years, because it helps keep her limber and puts off the day when she might be wheelchair-bound. She laughs at the suggestion that yoga can’t be separated from religion – God can and does redeem anything He wants! Mom finds the breathing and stretching helpful, and who are we to say it’s wrong?

  4. Regarding yoga and Mohler you really need to reread what he wrote. Because your glib objection is not what he has in his sights. As for Mark Driscoll, I do not trust him to have is facts straight so who knows what he was thinking.

  5. We are new transplants in Texas, coming down from the Northeast due to a job transfer. Our young daughter recently came home from school one and proudly recited the Pledge to Texas for us at dinner. We thought she was taking the Mickey out of us. It was a novel experience, to say the least. I mean, pledging fealty to New York? You’ve got to be kidding me. But we’ve lived overseas before, and understand the need to adapt to the foreign culture. As Paul intimates, be Greek to the Greeks.

    • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

      My family moved to Texas when I was 12, so that gives me JUST under 20 years of being Texan. Apparently, most of the Texas-specific part of little Texans’ education is pre-8th-grade because I managed to miss learning and reciting the Texas pledge as well as learning much of anything about Texas history.

      But when I was a student teacher for a 4th grade class about 7 years ago, one thing that struck me was that every morning those kids recited the Pledge of Allegiance (I had almost forgotten it by that point and had assumed it was banned). The next thing that struck me was that they also recited a pledge to Texas.

      It really is a different world here in the Lone Star State.

  6. I do physical yoga exercises every day to repair my muscles after 2.5 or 3 hours behind the steering wheel. (Hey, get that cross off my yard! Put down those matches!) They’re relaxing and often calm me enough to enable me to pray.

  7. Oh, and I really respect people like Roger Ebert who can define terms and use words honestly, regardless of whether they agree with what the words denote or not. I think I’d enjoy talking to him.

  8. Yoga is demonic; contemplation is new-agey. But listening for voices inside your head is perfectly normal.

  9. Regarding Ebert’s article, while he is obviously not writing from a theistic perspective, he appears to understand the reasoning behind “miracles” and much of the theology behind this. The logical problem, of course, is while a miracle is by definition “inexplicable by natural or scientific laws,” there is no reason to assume that God’s work in the world is only constrained to actions which are inexplicable by science, or which violate natural laws. God is also capable of working through the laws of nature which he designed, or through individual humans exercising their own will and free volition. While recognizing this perspective creates multiple problems for science, theology, and morality I think it is important nonetheless to see that God cannot be limited by an entirely rational worldview and can work however He chooses, and that such a stance does not necessarily entail a slide into fatalism. Thus it is entirely appropriate to praise God for the rescue of the miners, just as it would be appropriate to pray for the families of the miners if the outcome had been the reverse.

    • I thank and praise God for happy outcomes because of His authorship of Creation. Thinking of the miners’ rescue as miraculous is giddyness and entirely appropriate for us humans.

  10. I think Mohler, in typical Baptist fashion, summarizes his argument well when facing those who would object to his assertion in the following:

    “Mohler said many people have written him to say they’re simply doing exercises and forgoing yoga’s eastern mysticism and meditation.

    “”My response to that would be simple and straightforward: You’re just not doing yoga,” Mohler said.”

    We recognize that just because one attends church, is baptized, takes communion, and goes through various other motions, they are not necessarily a Christian. So why not just let them be “bad mystics” in going through the motions of yoga without really “doing” yoga? This is the beauty of his argument, first he defines the terms so they are exclusive of most practicing Christians, condemns the kind of yoga that is left, and then enjoys the attention of the outraged media for “misunderstanding” him. If only we could all argue so glibly, we would never lose.

    • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

      Yeah, that’s a good point. I’ve heard that there are various Hindu religious leaders who really don’t like the way Yoga’s become “secularized” in the US. They’d say the same thing as Mohler: if it doesn’t have the Hindu meditations, it’s not yoga.

  11. Josh in FW says

    Well Jeff, as a Texan (FW is Fort Worth) I would have to agree with your comment about not being able to tell us much. One reason Texans have the pledge is remind us that as great as we think we are, we are still under God. 🙂

  12. “Under God” was added to the pledge and “In God we trust” was added to our currency during the cold war. It was an interesting reaction to communism, simplifying it to an atheistic movement, rather than a tyrrannical, totalitarian crushing of the individual and freedom itself. I believe we are nation founded on theistic principles, but I don’t believe chanting slogans about God will keep us free. Countries like El Salvador were not communist when they slaughtered Christians like Romero. Given recent statements by Beck, that could be our future.

    • Some would tell you that the “Pledge of Allegiance” was, in large measure, a reaction to the huge influx of immigrants in the latter years of the 19th century and an effort at mass indoctrination. In typical American fashion, the Pledge’s first major application was as part of a retail promotion to sell American flags! (yeah, right …and next you’ll be telling me that Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was a Montgomery Wards promotion!!!)

      Original 1892 text: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” — borrowed from Wikipedia at:

      Can’t help but wonder if the great State of Texas feels similarly invaded and that native Texas bloodlines are in danger of pollution from them danged outlanders …or, worse yet, Okees!.

      Actually, until that massive influx of immigrants, a state Pledge of Allegiance would have been much more likely than a national one. It was rare even to see an American flag outside a public or government building. Things have changed since the early days of confederation. It seems we have now congealed. :>)

    • Adding “under God” to the pledge was a ruse to “smoke out the commies” but unwittingly it gave them a compliment. The effort assumed that Communists would be unable to recite the new, improved pledge, thus also assuming that—although they were atheists—they would be truthful and honorable atheists.

      • Where is Bedevere of Monty Python’s Holy Grail when you need him?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The effort assumed that Communists would be unable to recite the new, improved pledge…

          Never mind Monty Python’s Holy Grail, that’s straight out of Robert E Howard’s King Kull:


  13. Re: Ebert’s comments on the Chilean miners and belief in miracles –
    When the miners were rescued, they were all wearing T-shirts with “Gracias Senor” on the sleeve and Psalm 95:4 on the back:
    “…In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
    The peaks of the mountains are His also. ”

  14. Regarding yoga. God made our bodies, fearfully and wonderfully, as the Psalmist says. They are capable of moving in beautiful and creative ways, but I don’t believe for one minute that a position is demonic. Think about that – it’s really ludicrous. It is healthy to move them through the full range of motion. Yoga positions accomplish that, gently providing needed strengthening and stretching of muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. It’s as spiritual as one wants it to be. Most of the yoga classes I have attended concentrate on moving smoothly through each position while breathing properly. No voodoo.

    Mr. Mohler should go back to fighting the real Baptist demons such as drinking, dancing, card playing. (Tongue firmly planted.)

  15. I do yoga as part of P90X and I love it. I agree with the instructor Tony Horton that I feel better and can do more athletic stuff at age 48 than I could as a kid. Why? Because I do yoga. Granted, I only his one routine so my exposure is limited to all the other stuff about yoga that seems to get people upset.

  16. Laverne.

  17. I found Ebert’s quote from Einstein’s extended application from scripture:
    “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with the important matters.”

  18. I really enjoyed the Heywood Banks song. I was not offended at all. I think I’m going to make some popcorn this evening. And yes, you guessed it……….. I’ll put butter on it!

  19. Miracles,- “Why do I focus on Roman Catholic theology? It is the basis of all Christian theology” Then Jesus’ feeding the multitude w/ the loaves & fish or changing the water to wine, was His simply using, yet undiscovered, natural laws. Hmmm… So whether something is a miracle is defined by an officiant with an organized religious body. Wish they were there to make the calls on all of the “signs following” recorded in Acts. The parting of the Red Sea miracle, yes miracle, was quite likely due to natural processes and it was not Moses but God Himself, which is correct. Using that logic then, we have men deciding for everyone what God did or didn’t do. And if God did it, that seems to qualify as the Creator intervening in His creation which no matter what He does is not part of the physical natural order and I believe that qualifies as a miracle, be it a large or relatively small, global or local, public or private incident. As with Moses and the Red Sea, yes it was about what happened but it was more, much more about when it happened to the Israelites.

    Who’s theology did the apostles ascribe to before the RCC rose to prominence? Troubling…
    Or am I missing something?

    • It’s pretty clear that Ebert is referring to the “modern” Christianity – anything after 500 AD – not the original source of the Bible.

  20. Had about enough of the juvenile Texas jokes, Jeff. How about taking them to a comedy blog?

  21. I wasn’t a Baptist, but grew up with warnings about dancing,tobacco, alcohol and pool halls, but never heard anything against yoga. No wonder that I strayed from the “truth’

  22. Y’all are hating on Texas big time. Looks like the northeastern people are a little too cold right now!!!

  23. Don’t forget, Hate is a form of Envy!!

  24. anyone who has ever done the ‘centering prayer’ or any Christian meditation. (which Al Mohler is probably also against 😉 ) would know the benefit of stretching or “yoga” b4 meditating. You will get restless legs & your body will be telling you to move around. Yoga is a practical solution to this problem.
    I find it funny that a “reformed” guy like Al Mohler uses the “Not part of Christian Tradition – under Hindu tradition” argument. Why not make ‘Christian’ stretching excercises for meditating – instead of demonizing something that comes from the East. I thought Catholic’s not reformed used the ‘Tradition’ argument.

    as far as the Pledge I am under God & NOTHING ELSE – he knows it! – I don’t Pledge.

  25. FollowerOfHim says

    I’m not offended by yoga, which I don’t practice, but it has long seemed a sad commentary on modern Christianity that so many Christians feel the need to reach outside of the broad Christian tradition for something originating within Hinduism, however much it has obviously been decoupled from its philosophical moorings in Western practice.

    Anyway, the contemporary Christian group Casting Crowns has a line or two that Christian yogis can use:

    “Our faces down / Our hands are raised.” – from “If We’ve Ever Needed You.”


    • Well, if there was anything that Christians have developed which does the same sort of things as yoga, I’m sure Christians would use it, but so far the Christian tools for healthy living all seem to involve buffet tables.

      If you have some ideas on where a Christian can find a stretching and health training system that was developed by Christians, let us know! Until then, I guess we’re stuck with yoga.

      Or even worse! Karate, Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Judo, Aikido, or something like that that not only uses all sorts of horrible eastern mysticism, but also promotes violence!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Well, if there was anything that Christians have developed which does the same sort of things as yoga, I’m sure Christians would use it, but so far the Christian tools for healthy living all seem to involve buffet tables.

        The old Liturgical Churches have retained a mystical tradition similar to yoga and meditation, just not linked with exercise as in yoga. It gets to the point that in the two original Liturgical Churches, a lot of the common ways of flaking out are going overboard into the mystical angle — Mary Channelling (Catholic) and X-Treme-Uber-Monastic (Orthodox).

  26. As to Texas it was a country and a provision for joining the US was they could vote to leave if they wanted. Every now and then a Texas politician will bring this up and also threaten to hold their breath until they turns blue if they doesn’t get their way.

    I tend to agree with most of what Ebert says. The RCC promotion (and demotion) of people over miracles has always struck me as revering something we can not yet understand.

  27. The North Korea situation is a sad one. I watched the video of the huge military march recently. This is the one thing the North Korean leaders want us to see. The goose-step like whirl of thousands of like-clad soldiers almost made me sick. Most of the soldiers looked like they hadn’t eaten in a week.

    It is evil control on a massive scale. How many have died so that they could afford their nuclear weapons program?

    Second, I heard some where that South Korea now equals the U.S. in sending missionaries abroad. I don’t know if that’s true, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve heard of a missionary from another country who is now working in Los Angeles. We could learn more than a few things from those living with real persecution.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      North Korea. A RL technological Mordor, with a million Orcs with AK-47s and a God-King/wanna-be Dark Lord trying to forge his own nuclear Ring of Power.