January 17, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 10.19.13

RamblerWelcome to our Saturday breakfast gathering here at the iMonastery. Grab a cup of coffee, a muffin, a donut, a couple of biscotti, some bacon and eggs, toast, pancakes, waffles, Frosted Flakes, juice, and a bottle of Tums. Everyone comfy? Good. It’s time to ramble …

Our government is back to work. Are you happy? And what better way to end the long standoff than for the House of Representative’s stenographer to go off on a rant about God and Freemasons? Is this a great country or what?

Ed Stetzer has an interesting take on the rhetoric espoused during the government shutdown. Painting with an extremely broad brush, Stetzer says most church-goers are Republicans and most non-church-goers are Democrats. The floor is now open for you thoughts.

Research by the Barna Group shows that many who take their smartphones or tablets to church are using them to “fact check” the preacher’s words during the sermon. What? Now preachers have to be accurate? Next they will be required to not take scriptures out of context…

John MacArthur held his Strange Fire conference this week, hoping to once and for all stamp out the flames of the Charismatic movement. Tim Challies breaks down MacArthur’s opening address. But the fun came when Mark Driscoll showed up uninvited and tried to pass out copies of his new book. Now that is something I would have paid to see …

iMonk Rich passes on the story of a different kind of charismatic, whose dream just might lead to finding 1,000 pounds of gold. I wonder what MacArthur would think of that kind of fire?

Does God have a personality? Certainly that is a question examined by theologians and philosophers for centuries. You won’t guess who is weighing in on the topic now. No, you won’t guess. Go ahead and click on this link.

This is a great story. I really hope it will have a great ending.

This, too, is a great story. And for all that this sister did for so many, I am sure it does have a great ending.

A new law in Missouri makes it legal for public schools in that state to celebrate federal holidays any way they want. So what? you say. Think about it. What federal holiday falls between December 24 and December 26? A sneaky way to allow Silent Night to be sung by school choirs, or a way to outsmart all those atheists who are trying to wipe out Christmas?

Have you ever read the devotional Jesus Calling? It is selling like crazy. The author, Sarah Young, is as silent as the grave away from the printed page. What do you make of her style? Like or dislike?

iMonk Scott pointed us toward this story. Count me among those who think making a reality TV show out of trying to fix “ministries” … well, let’s just put it this way. There is no ministry involved here. It is TV, and it is for entertainment, and if you are fooled into thinking “what a great idea,” then you deserve this kind of stuff. My thoughts. Yours?

How are you doing with your Christmas shopping? Want a gift idea for that person on your list who has everything? How about buying JFK’s rosary? It’s for sale. Really.

And from our “Really, I Can’t Make This Stuff Up” department, the Christian Post (that bastion of authentic Christian journalism) quotes a story from The National Enquirer (somehow I trust them more than the Christian Post, and that scares me) to let us know that O.J. Simpson wants to be a televangelist when he gets out of prison. Oh my head …

Happy birthdays this last week went out to Kirk Cameron; Margaret Thatcher; Paul Simon; Robert Lamm; Jerry Rice; Dwight Eisenhower; e.e. cumming; John Wooden; Winnie the Pooh; Roger Moore; Cliff Richard; Justin Hayward; Barry McGuire; John Mayer; Rita Hayworth; George Wendt; Chuck Berry; George C. Scott; and Pam Dawber.

The nominees for this year’s class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. The Meters are among those being considered. Yes, they should be in the Hall, if even for just this one song. I want this song performed at my funeral, which could come any day now. Turn it up and enjoy.

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


  1. Let’s go!, Dodg– whoops, never mind.

  2. I read an outstanding post about fact-checking sermons on one of my favorite blogs, New Small Church. It’s called “Congregations Are Fact-Checking Our Preaching – Here Are 4 Ways to Take Advantage of It.” [http://t.co/FYWoKnplY3] I’m all for anything which makes us, and keeps us, honest.

  3. And to add to the feeling of disorientation, Mr. Adams’ comments on God are more cogent than almost anything I’ve read by professional theologians in the last few years.

    • Well, I don’t know, Wexel. When I read ” human personalities are nothing but weaknesses and defects that we romanticize,” I wonder if Adams has ever had a wife or friends. His view is even bleaker than Skinner’s — at least the mindless impulses of the behaviorists were presented as neutral, not defects. Adams apparently sees individuality, free will, a sense of humor, musical talent, insight, etc., as weaknesses. He probably doesn’t actually, but he SAYS he does. So no, I don’t find his statement cogent.

      • +1 Damaris. Adams’ comments are more misanthropic than atheistic. Since I believe, along with non-theist Albert Camus, that even in time of plague there are more things to admire in humanity (and indeed in creation) than to despise, I don’t take Adams’ comments seriously.

        • And of course, God being “surprised” is not a problem if you take seriously some of the perspectives and insights of open theism, which I do.

      • I think Adams is wrong about how humor works. If surprise was necessary for something to be humorous, then we wouldn’t laugh about jokes and experiences years after we first heard/had them, sometimes with a greater and deeper appreciation for their humor than when we first heard/had them.

        What seems necessary for something to be humorous is an incongruity between the usual, the preferred or the possible, and what actually has happened or is said, a kind of perception of imbalance/disproportion/unfitness (which, interestingly, is also at the core of the perception of tragedy, as classically defined); if that’s the case, then no one could possibly have a better sense of humor, through long exercise and memory, than God.

        • Robert F – thanks for this insight – amazing.

          Interesting how humor and tragedy pluck the same strings.

        • Meant to write “the usual, the preferred or the probable,” not “the possible.” Synapses continue to misfire.

          So it goes.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > When I read ” human personalities are nothing but weaknesses and defects that we
        > romanticize,” I wonder if Adams has ever had a wife or friends.


        My interest in his point of view faded pretty quickly. Given (a) I do not believe he believes in what he is saying then (b) why is he saying it? Is it shock value, or what? Shock-jock theology? I think we have already seen plenty of that.

        (a) this is much like David Hume’s point about not believing in a real tangible physical world with cause and effect? Just try it. You go back to believing in it by default, like a stone whirling into a gravity well. If you sincerely believe people are just utterly wretched – you will not be able to function in day to day life. You either end up in a padded room or just be claiming to believe that while inferring less and more generous motives for peoples actions.

  4. Tablets and smartphones are the new Bible in your lap. ?

    • James the Mad says

      My thinking exactly. I’ve been “fact-checking” pastors for years – just never called it that.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        +1 I’ve been doing the same thing. Something in a sermon makes me go “Hmmmmm, really… that sounds much to simple or tidy”. Or much worse – I’ve heard almost this exact story before, often from another pastor.

        The basic precepts of journalistic integrity should apply to clergy as well. You don’t get to real a fifth-hand account of something on the interwebz and repeat if from the pulpit in the second [or first!] person.

    • MelissatheRagamuffin says

      I remember years ago, some guest evangelist claimed that out in California “they” were implanting microchips into people’s hands, and instead of paying cash or check at the grocery they’d swipe their hands over the scanners….. I remember thinking, “He’s going straight to hell for telling whoppers like that in church.” Then there were the idiots who claimed Harry Potter is based on real witchcraft.

      I think that is the kind of stuff kids are fact checking because whatever else you might say about this younger generation – they have very low tolerance for bs.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I remember years ago, some guest evangelist claimed that out in California “they” were implanting microchips into people’s hands, and instead of paying cash or check at the grocery they’d swipe their hands over the scanners…..

        Update of the “IBM 3666 Point-of-Sale Scanner” Christian Urban Legend of the early 1980s, when POS scanners were just coming into use. Back then, the CUL said (from an unnamed leaked official source) that the IBM 3666 would be required by Federal Law starting in 1984 and would accept payment by scanning a barcode tattoo on the forehead or right hand, also mandated Federal Law starting in 1984. (“IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”)

        I never heard this one anywhere else than among Born-Agains. Usually the Left Behind Fever types, endemic in that heyday of Hal Lindsay and Christians For Nuclear War. Credibility added by the fact that 3600-series WAS IBM’s reserved model numbers for POS scanners at the time. (“IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”)

  5. I remember Eisenhower as president. Some here might remember him as commander of Allied forces…

  6. Thanks for the story about Sister Antonia Brenner. In our “Christian Celebrity” culture these silent servants are the ones I long to know about.

  7. 1. Is it just me, or does it bother anyone else that someone is lying in the controversy between John MacArthur’s camp and Mark Driscoll regarding the confiscation(?) of his books? Or is it just that we have become so tolerant of lying that it is regarded as commonplace in any of our leaders (religious or political) and do not find it reprehensible as the body of CHRIST?

    2. I bought a copy of and began reading ‘Jesus Calling’ after it was recommended highly by a number of my cohorts. I found it interesting at first, but it began to bother me that it was written as GOD talking to the reader…it could just be my own weirdness, but I couldn’t continue using it – something just felt wrong about it.

    • Regarding 2: New Age/alternative spirituality has something similar to this, a whole series of books called “Conversations with God.” The conceit of the series is that the author is reporting answers to questions that he posed to God in conversation; of course, this is just a narrative ploy used by the author to make readers take his ideas seriously. When I skimmed a couple of the books at an acquaintance’s request, I found nothing worth taking seriously, and some things that frankly seemed satanic. I will avoid the “Jesus Calling” books for fear of finding the same things, in sheep’s clothing.

    • This could be apropos of nothing, but the speaking as God thing takes me back to my experiences with AoG/Charismatics in college. During extended corporate prayer times I could almost count on it that someone would start making loud declarations “In the voice of God”. Always made me super uncomfortable, but I guess it’s a thing.

    • RE: Jesus Calling. As the author states herself this book was influenced by a book written by in the1930’s titled, “God Calling”. That book was considered scandalous amongst the Fundamentalist camp yet it continued to sell. I just read that Jesus Calling is now the best selling devotional since “My Utmost For His Highest”. I have it and do read it but, as has been stated, it makes me a bit uncomfortable also.

      If you are interested there is a short, easy to read “rebuttal” out by Robert Alan King simply titled, “A Christian Rebuttal to Sarah Young’s ‘Jesus Calling'”. I have it on my Kindle – $3.99 on Amazon.

  8. Good points in the Stutzer article. I had a conversation with a man a few years ago in which he mentioned how uncomfortable it was for him to attend his (Lutheran) church because he was an unabashed liberal Democrat and did not fit in. I’ve blocked several people from my Facebook feed, avowed good Christians all, for their constant and often sick anti-Obama rants. Since when did God become a white Republican? I must have missed that…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Not just a White Republican, but a Tea Party Birther and Objectivist Randbot.

    • Well, you know that White Jesus ™ ascended from heaven the day that the US Constitution was signed, Canonizing the Founding Fathers as his new prophets in the new Nation of God, right? This was somewhere after he said, “Blessed are the Free Markets, for there is the Kingdom of Dividends. Blessed are the Rich, for I like them Best.”
      It’s all right here in this painting:

      • Umi, McNaughton is Mormon, and that painting (and others like it) reflect a belief held by many Mormons re. the Constitution being divinely inspired.

        Beyond that, I think it’s a terrible painting, but the aesthetics aren’t the focus here…

        • I know that he is Mormon. It was a joke.

        • I don’t think Mormons are the only people who believe the US Constitution is divinely inspired. I hear similar sentiments frequently from non-Mormons in my area. Founders following God, America being blessed by God, if America doesn’t return to God’s principles, we are doomed, etc., etc

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I hear similar sentiments frequently from non-Mormons in my area.

            And a couple days ago, the whole country heard similar sentiments from that congressional stenographer who had a breakdown on a live mike in the House chambers…

          • Suzanne – that’s a relatively recent phenomenon among evangelicals, though. (At least, it hasn’t been a mainstream thing until relatively recently, what with David Barton and his ilk doing a wholesale rewrite of US history and passing it off as “truth.”)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          You do realize that painting is a classic Last Judgment composition?

          1) Christ in Majesty at the exact center of the composition.
          2) Above and behind Christ, the Hosts of Heaven, the “cloud of witnesses”.
          3) To the lower left in the foreground (Christ’s right hand) the Saved, Entering into the Kingdom Prepared for them since the Foundation of the World.
          4) To the lower right in the foreground (Christ’s left) the Damned, “BEGONE YE CURSED INTO EVERLASTING FIRE! JOIN THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS!”

        • I do have to add now that I hadn’t realized that they quite literally view the Constitution as inspired. That makes me uncomfortable, but has solidified my view of the LDS church as the Church of the United States. I try not to mock other religions much, but this one is just too much for me.

          I looked around his page again (the last time was a couple of years ago) and he’s been really busy with the Obama stuff! These remind me of Mad Magazine covers or something the Onion would produce, except for the dead serious part. He’s a very talented painter, though, I’ll give him that.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            That makes me uncomfortable, but has solidified my view of the LDS church as the Church of the United States.

            Well, the Mormons DID originate in Upstate New York (along with a lot of other offbeat religions of the time), moved first to Missouri, and finally settled down in Utah. They’re as American as you can get. Which was a real kicker in the 2012 elections; the last thing you could call Romney was “Un-American” because of his Mormon background. (Catholics often got tarred with the “Un-American” brush because “they worship a foreign Dictator in the Vatican”.) Maybe that’s why when Romney won the primaries (after all of God’s Anointed Next Presidents crashed and burned), suddenly Mormons were Real True Christians after all…

            These remind me of Mad Magazine covers or something the Onion would produce, except for the dead serious part.

            Umi, no matter how extreme you get for satire and humor, there’s going to be some True Believer twice as extreme and Dead Serious.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Checked the guy’s “Obama Stuff”. Like the one showing this huge crowd of Americans all in slave chains picking up money from the ground. Behind them at the center of focus for the composition, Obama gloats from a stage while being applauded by Kim Jong-Il, Vladimir Putin, and Osama bin Laden. (Has distinct racial vibe of Obama Derangement Syndrome, with “Obama” being a code word for “N****r in the White House”.) All in all, one very nasty political cartoon (a long if hardly noble tradition) done as a fine-art painting.

          • He has good technical facility, I’ll give him that, but overall, I think his work is pretty much on the Thomas Kinkade level, as far as aesthetics and overall effect.

            As for those Mormons who believe that the Constitution is a divinely-inspired document, well… Glenn Beck is one of them, and has said so on-air. To b fair, that view isn’t held by all Mormons, but clearly, McNaughton is a True Believer.

          • HUG – I think it’s much more than a “nasty political cartoon” – much worse, in fact. Even though the LDS establishment changed their beliefs re. black people being eternally damned back in the 70s (black men can now go through all of the Temple rites and degrees), there’s still a LOT of racism in the LDS and fundy LDS worlds….

      • As an aside, here’s a link to some of McNaughton’s paintings of Mormon temples.

        His political paintings have gotten a LOT scarier since the last time I checked his site…

        • These, and the Constitution painting, are scarier than Thomas Kinkade’s work. Also reinforces the notion that Mormon architecture is an oxymoron.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Numo, could you give a few examples of his scary political paintings?

          • HUG, go to the McNaughton link that Numo gave and click on “Patriotic”. There was one called “Obamanation”, for example.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Saw it. See my comment above. One very nasty political cartoon, a masterpiece of Obama Derangement Syndrome, done as a fine art piece.

            I mean, there’s legit stuff you could criticize Obama for. His Chicago Machine background, where politics is a real dirty business. His association with that radical preacher and other radical types in his past, like the stuff that came out of Berkeley in The SIxties. His fast-track political career where one office was nothing more than a stepping stone to running for the next higher office, too busy shaking the campaign trees to ever sit down and actually start making the jelly. The truly scary True Believer fanboys he attracted in his 2008 campaign, from the Obama Children’s Choir to The Obama Youth to the Beatlemania-style female groupies. The ethics of revival-meeting Messiah Politics in general, how easily they can get out of hand, and the danger of believing your own PR.

            Instead, we get Birthers and fingers pointed at the White House screaming “N*****! N*****! N*****!” Did I go crazy, or did everybody else? Did we jump Planck’s Wall into South Park or something?

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            >I mean, there’s legit stuff you could criticize Obama for. His Chicago Machine background
            > where politics is a real dirty business. His association with that radical preacher and
            >other radical types in his past,

            Bull! None of the above are anything legitimate to criticize him for. I will not limit my ‘association’ with “radicals” nor my association with any pastor or priests whose views are not mainstream or who gets overly emphatic on occasion. To do so – THAT is utterly and completely Unamerican. I will praise and complement the nut-job Libertarian my state has sent to congress for having the guts to call for de-funding the NSA’s illegal programs [because I agree with him on that, albeit probably next to nothing else]. You cannot be politically active for 24hrs without being “associated” with someone someone else will find unpalatable – – – this kind of rhetoric and ‘accountability’ is ridiculous and juvenile.

            Now there are lots of things to criticize President Obama for; lots IMO. But keep them to HIS statements, HIS policies, or at least HIS lack of action. And the same for measuring everyone else.

          • Adam – very much agreed! And the minster in question is hardly “radical”; such views were voiced from many pulpits by abolitionists, and were revived in many black churches in the 1970s.

            he’s following a well-trod path – it’s right-wingers who tried to make it seem as if he was a holdover from the more extreme militant movements/groups of the 70s.

      • We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of the U.S. Constitution, who proceeds from the Founding Fathers. With the Founding Fathers and the Second Amendment (and sometimes the Son,) he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through Ayn Rand.

      • Sorry. Most people who link to that Mcnaughton painting assume that he’s xtian, and use it as an illustration of contemporary evangelicalism. (He’s definitely got a lot in common with some contemporary evangeilcals!)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Mormonism came out of the same time, place, and cultural crucible as Revival Meeting Personal Salvation Evangelicalism. I would expect the two to have a lot in common.

          • Agreed. Mormonism is the red-headed stepchild of evangelicalism, which (imo) might be one of the reasons so many evangelicals/charismatics are horrified by it.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Mormonism is the red-headed stepchild of evangelicalism, which (imo) might be one of the reasons so many evangelicals/charismatics are horrified by it.

            Mormons: Southern Baptist Zombies?

          • HUG, all I know is that in my little brain, being able to support the origins of the Mormon “faith” requires the same suspension of all thought and judgment that being a Scientologist calls for. (And hoping this does not bring out the uber-atheists who want to tell us all how stupid Christianity is…..)

            Grifters with mystical glasses and truths written on Magic-Erase slates and sci-fi writers trying to see how far they can push a hoax are not weak excuses for a religion, they are non-existent rationales.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Certainly. Every time I hear that I just think “Duh!”. People do not go into places where they are not welcome.

      The Fundamentalist Tea Party made my previous Evangelical home into a foreign land; the church was occupied for political ends. There was a purge of the Evangelical church during the turn of the century, and 9/11 was perfect fodder for really cranking up the heat.

      The political divisions are mirrored by church divisions because some want them to be so mirrored.

  9. Funny. I just had a fleeting warm feeling for Mark Driscoll.

    • It’s a good thing none of these guys has access to torture racks or autos-da-fe, as they would have had in the bad old days.

      Now that’s progress.

    • CM, I think that’s just gas.

    • Strange sensation, isn’t it? I actually found myself posting this quote of his.

      “In more fundamental tribes, the Holy Spirit has two primary ministries: to write the Bible and convict us of sin. Basically, you are a nail, the Bible is a hammer, and the Holy Spirit’s job is to pound you. In charismatic tribes, the fruit of the Spirit is emphasized: the Holy Spirit is the one who causes our character to become more like Jesus’ as we pray and worship passionately.”

      I’m sure plenty are trying to remind John MacArthur the Trinity doesn’t consist of Father, Son, and Holy Bible. But since he doesn’t believe God talks to anyone anymore except through bible, of course it’ll fall on deaf ears and hard heart.

    • Mike, you need a dope slap.

    • Mike, I find it widly ironic that you’re backing Driscoll in this issue. I’d use the word “hypocritical” but I suspect you’d delete my post if I did that. So, I’ll stick with “ironic.”

      I can’t believe for one second that anyone on this site would support a clown like Driscoll, based on what I’ve read here over the years. But if he bashes one of the other stated enemies of the IM, then I guess he’s OK? So the enemy of my enemy is my friend? Even when both of them are your enemy? Seriously Mike, you’re better than that.

      I’m not a huge fan of MacArthur, but in this day in age, I will offer some respect to anyone who, you know, actually stands for something. Driscoll on the other hand is a media seeking, circus act. Of course, there’s great hypocrisy here on the part of Driscoll, as he and fellow clown James MacDonald kicked people out of ER2 who had paid for admission, on the grounds that they knew those folks weren’t there to drink the kool-aide. Then, this week, he whines about not being allowed to crash the party. Pot, meet kettle.

  10. Regarding a Reality TV show about fixing churches, I didn’t realize that families “flock” to “struggling churches.” If you’ve got families flocking to you, you can’t be struggling all that bad – at least, by their measurement (i.e. – size). Reading the rest of the article, I realized these guys aren’t doing anything different than many church consultants who market themselves on the internet or who present at conferences. They’re just putting it on display in a hyperactive environment with ridiculous time tables.

    Regarding Jesus Calling, we received a copy for our kids, but have only read out of it twice. I feel it is very dangerous for a person to put their words into God’s mouth. Considering personality, it is obviously a lot of the author’s personality in the writing. I have felt the same with The Message, finding Eugene Peterson’s interpretation on a passage to be influenced heavily by his personality or what he is trying to communicate. I can read it with the understanding that this is how Peterson understands that passage, but do not take it as God’s Word. Perhaps I could read Jesus Calling the same way, only it’s called Jesus Calling.

  11. I’ll opt for “London Calling.”

  12. Speaking of the shutdown, I heard that the Washington Redskins are going to drop the word *Washington* from their name because it is embarrassing.

  13. Just so we are clear, it isn’t a Rock and Roll hall of fame until KISS is included.

  14. Is it bad that I sorta think Driscoll and MacArthur deserve each other?

  15. Related to the MacArthur / Driscoll feud, Jeri Massi over at Blog on the Way re-posted her article Cessationism vs. Continuationism a few days ago. http://jeriwho.net/lillypad2/?p=5139

    She also announced today her new book, Bitter Root: Atheistic Practices Embedded in Christian Fundamentalism. It’s probably not for the faint of heart, if her book Schizophrenic Christianity is an indicator. http://jeriwho.net/lillypad2/?p=13403

    I may have mentioned here, once or several times, that her writing reminds me of Michael Spencer.

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Ed Stetzer has an interesting take on the rhetoric espoused during the government shutdown. Painting with an extremely broad brush, Stetzer says most church-goers are Republicans and most non-church-goers are Democrats. The floor is now open for you thoughts.

    Given the “Us or Them” tribal identities that have formed since The Sixties (and got boosted in the Eighties with the Moral Majority), I am NOT surprised.

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