June 6, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 10.27.12

Welcome to the annual edition of Saturday Ramblings where we eagerly await those little people all dressed up in strange costumes who come to our door wanting something from us. No, not the trick or treaters. I’m talking about political pollsters. Imagine their surprise when I tell them I’m voting straight party line this year, as long as I can find a box on the ballet for the Flat Earth Society. Seriously, I thought one of the rights we have in this nation is the secret ballot. So why do we have so many “reporters” who want to know who I’m voting for, or who I did vote for? Sigh … I guess I’ll just have to get used to it. So I’m here now to tell you who I’m using my vote on in the presidential race. I’m voting for … what? really? Oh, sorry, my choice will have to wait. It’s time to ramble!

Billy Graham has given his endorsement to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and it has caused him no end of trouble. The question many are asking is, Is Billy Graham really behind this, or is it more a move by his son, Franklin? Christianity Today asked three who know Graham well what they think. His grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, says there is no way anyone in the BGEA woud have come up with the ads, etc., if Graham had not agreed to it. Roland Martin says Graham’s Bible must be different from his.

Many argue against the idea that President Obama is a Christian at all. And if he is, then he is the wrong kind of Christian.

Of course Obama is not a Christian. A church in Leakey, Texas, has already resolved the matter, and has a sign to state what is obvious to them.

So, considering all of the above, is choosing not to vote for a presidential candidate a morally acceptable choice?

Moving on, Pope Benedict XVI canonized seven new saints this week, including the first American Indian saint.

The World Series began this week with San Francisco taking the first two games from the Detroit Tigers. Fortunes can changes quickly in baseball because of free agency, where a player can change teams, going to whoever pays him the most money. Free agency apparently is active in the academic world as well, as Wheaton College’s Alan Jacobs announced he will be leaving to teach at Baylor starting next August. There is no truth to the rumor that Chaplain Mike has been offered more money to write for Joan Chittister’s Benetvision web site.

iMonk First Lady Denise Spencer checks in with a story about hermit crab gangs run amuck. What is this world coming to? And don’t you think Hermit Crab Gangs would make a good name for a punk rock group?

There are times I want to throw up my hands and shout, “I quit!” Here is one of those times. Please tell me no church is buying this crap. Please. Sigh …

Happy birthdays were wished this last week to Bela Lugosi (just in time for Halloween!); Art Buchwald; Mickey Mantle; William “Father  Mulcahy” Christopher; Wanda Jackson; Tom Petty; Dizzy Gillespie; Elvin Bishop; Carrie Fisher; Timothy Leary; Leslie West; Johnny Carson; Michael Crichton; Dwight Yoakam; Weird Al Yankovic; Minnie Pearl; Bobby Knight; Natalie Merchant; and Felix the Cat.

You did know that Elvin Bishop did not sing on this song, right? He is the guitarist. He had one of the backing singers handle this for his album, Mickey Thomas who went on to be the lead singer for Jefferson Starship. In any case, how could you ever get tired of this? Enjoy.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYZjENsuD5k’]



  1. Good video selection!

  2. Romney doesn’t need to be a Christian but Obama does?

    • Hmmmm… I wonder what the difference is between Obama and Romney that makes people suspect that Obama is not a Christian, but Romney is..

      • Obama is from Chicago?

      • Romney’s hair…

      • Richard Hershberger says

        I expect you have race in mind, but in modern American politics party is amply sufficient. Republicans are presumed to be good God-fearing Christians by default, while Democrats are presumed to be at best suspect in this regard. We saw this four years ago. John McCain is a non-practicing cultural Episcopalian. This might seem surprising, as we think of Episcopalians as a bunch of Birkenstock-wearing hippies, but a generation or two back the Episcopal Church was known as the Republican Party at prayer. McCain comes out of this tradition. Were he actually interested in religion, I expect that he would have jumped ship decades ago to one of the various conservative Anglican splinter groups. In any case, being a non-practicing cultural Episcopalian doesn’t cut it in the modern Republican Party, so we were told that he thought he was probably actually Baptist, though the details about this were all very vague. I ask you this: do you know of any formerly Episcopal Baptist who is the least bit vague about how, when, and where the switch occurred, and who isn’t eager to tell you all about it? But McCain got a discreet pass on the subject, while the (supposedly liberal: hah!) media was all too happy to discuss questions about Obama’s religious background, which in the real world is fairly standard northern urban black Protestantism.

        This is nothing new. It goes back over three decades. Reagan was a divorcee who was a casual Presbyterian most of his life and whose (second) wife happily dabbled in astrology. He gets credit for being a good Christian. In the meantime, people find it strange and implausible that Jimmy Carter was a Christian before it was trendy, and has devoted his later life to helping the poor rather than working on his golf game. This just can’t be how a Democrat would act, can it? I have had conservatives assure me that it is all an act.

        The recent discovery that Mormons are just like Evangelical Protestants, at least for election purposes, is utterly unsurprising. It was inevitable once Romney got the nomination locked up. The more interesting question is whether this happy status will be revoked, should Romney lose. (Nate Silver, by the way, has the chances of this happening at about 3-1.)

        • Obama has read both Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich. I guess that makes me a bad Christian, too. If I need to be a Mormon to be a good Christian, I’ll proudly wear the badge of bad Christian. Nazi Germany had “bad” Christians, too; they were called the confessing church.

        • Good Christian equals voting Republican, regardless of what the party or candidate claims to support this week. This is alarming. It can’t be called state sponsored religion, but the effect is the same. Once religion becomes a wholly owned subsidiarity of a secular institution – be that government, political party, or labor union – religion’s prophetic voice is silenced.

        • People can be somewhat suspect about someone’s faith if they don’t like them politically. But it was NOT a mainstream idea that McCain was not a Christian. It was not even a mainstream idea that Bill Clinton was not a Christian. But somehow, it IS a mainstream idea that Obama is not a Christian.

          • Brianthedad says

            I think it is as simple as his name. That and the time he spent overseas in Indonesia during his childhood, regardless of his going to Catholic school there. It is indisputable that his name sounds unfamiliar and foreign (and yes, Muslim) to many American ears, especially in comparison to the other presidential names that were mentioned. Do some out there attach some eeeeeevil intentions to him that are unfair? Yes. But that doesn’t change the fact that if his name was Barclay Henderson O’Brien instead of Barack Hussein Obama, the conversation might be different.

          • I’m not sure that anyone named Barclay Henderson O’Brien could get elected president 😉

        • I thought Reagan himself “dabbled in astrology,” at least to the extent of occasionally patronizing an astrologer. But his religiosity was obviously just lip-service, he hardly bothered to disguise it. Most obviously, he never went to church–on the brilliant excuse that as president, he didn’t want to inconvenience other worshippers with all the security stuff! On the other hand, following the example of the story on Obama’s religion and the black church, maybe we should consider this kind of nominal Protestantism its own subculture, and respect it for what it is!

          Meanwhile, Carter was obviously a believer, and was considered a little weird for it by the mainstream press. (“Born again” and “lust in my heart” were mocked.) Fast forward to the Bush family, whose sons rather conveniently converted to evangelicalism and Catholicism. W. in particular swore not to let anybody ever out-“Bubba” him again (after losing an election in Texas) and, I surmise, chose his new religion accordingly! Thus his favorite political philosopher was Jesus Christ, etc.

      • Obama thinks that Jesus actually meant what He taught and commanded on the Gospels and Jesus actually expects each and every Christian to live by them.

        Romney thinks that what Jesus taught and commanded on the Gospels were just nice suggestions, but really weren’t meant to be taken seriously.

        At least that’s my opinion.

        • Sorry….perhaps you could give me an example of how Obama has manifested his Christian faith?

          I fail to see evidence in his support of ending the lives of children or of equating out-of-wedlock sexual activity with marriage.

          • Richard Hershberger says

            “Sorry….perhaps you could give me an example of how Obama has manifested his Christian faith?”

            Working for universal health care seems a non-subtle and non-obscure example. Beyond that, working to sustain the social safety net for the less wealthy, in stark comparison with the policies advocated by the right.

          • Richard Hershberger says

            Oh, and I somehow forgot the biggest example: working to minimize piles of dead bodies. This stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, who gets full credit for being a good Christian while actively working to pile up the bodies. McCain, we should recall, actively campaigned on making the piles even bigger.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Romney was TEH MORMON — CULT! CULT! CULT! until he became The Great White Hope. That’s what gets me.

      (Just as four years ago, Obama became The Great Black Hope against both the Bush and Clinton Royal Families.)

  3. The only things worse than political pollsters and ads are people who assume, without knowing me, that I share their political persuasion, and Christians who believe that one can’t be a Christian unless one votes the way they do. I’ll be very glad when the political season is over. And I don’t even live in a swing state.

    • > are people who assume, without knowing me, that I share their political persuasion

      +1. It is so awkward. Then I’m torn between do-I-point-out-that-I-disagree and get into all that (they’ll quite possibly get angry) or do I just shrug passively and let it go by. Is letting it go by if I really believe it is wrong the correct and honest response? Is the contention resulting from bringing it up fruitful? I frequently feel I made the wrong choice, either way, afterwards.

      But it has taught me to police myself very careful about speaking in a way that presumes the position of the other end of the conversation or paints them into a confrontation-or-submission corner. Presuming the other’s position more and more looks to me like a very American flaw; it it really noticeable that the ‘foreigners’ I deal with do not do this. Is it just part of our bully culture?

  4. My mother-in-law contacted us earlier in the week. She would describe herself as a fundamentalist Christian who moved to Greenville, SC so her children could attend Bob Jones Elementary, Jr High, Academy and University. She relayed that she had made up her mind on voting. Actually Charles Spurgeon had pushed her choice over the top. There is a quote circulating in her circle that references a time when a Catholic was running for an office in Chicago. In the quote Surgeon includes Mormons and atheists in his list of those for whom he could not vote – and he gives a reason. (I searched for the quote this morning and couldn’t find it.) She is standing by her beliefs over her intense dislike for Obama. She gets some respect.

    • Respect.

      There is so little consistency [from my point of view] from that corner of the Christoverse; that’s really nice to hear.

    • Being a consistent bigot is not a thing to admire.

    • If there were actually proof that Romney let, or often let, his Mormon beliefs affect his business or government decisions and actions in ways that it could be shown that he did what he did specifically because it was a “Mormon” position, and not for personal or pragmatic or moral or political reasons, I think one might have a concern about voting him into the office of the Presidency.

      But in the absence of such, to vote for the Obama she intensely dislikes simply because Romney is a Mormon is not a belief or action worthy of respect by anyone.

      • My problem with Romney is not his religion but his politics. I would beg the question whether mainstream Mormon convictions are compatible with his Randian socio-economic Darwinism. A recent PBS special on the Mormon church described the social programs offered to members by the church. It is actually quite embarassing for evangelicals. But you don’t see the blame-the-poor, get-a-job-when-there-are-no-jobs elitism of Randianism. So, the compounded problem is not just being forced to accept a Mormon as Christian but accepting a nominal Mormon with Randian convictions as Christian. That is the tipping point for me.

    • Seems strange that Spurgeon would be concerned about someone running for office in Chicago and did many people in England know that much about the Mormons?

      • I did find this: I assume it is the quote they are using: June 19, 1880, Spurgeon made this clear:

        I should not allow a Mormonite to be Judge in the Divorce Court, nor a Quaker to be Commissioner of Oaths, nor an atheist to be Chaplain to the House of Commons; and, for the same reason, I would not have a Roman Catholic, sworn to allegiance to the Pope, to be Viceroy of India. Mr. Gladstone said this himself when writing about the Vatican; but the way in which he eats his words, and puts on a new form so soon as he is in power, does not increase my esteem for him.[2]

        Maybe in the retelling, the locations changed. Who knows. The whole discussion is part of a larger email.

        The argument doesn’t hold water for me, but for my mother-in-law it would.

    • Brianthedad says

      Is this the quote?
      “I should not allow a Mormonite to be Judge in the Divorce Court, nor a Quaker to be Commissioner of Oaths, nor an atheist to be Chaplain to the House of Commons; and, for the same reason, I would not have a Roman Catholic, sworn to allegiance to the Pope, to be Viceroy of India. Mr. Gladstone said this himself when writing about the Vatican; but the way in which he eats his words, and puts on a new form so soon as he is in power, does not increase my esteem for him.” Spurgeon Autobiography 4:130-1.
      It was quoted in an article by Dr. Joel Mcdurmon in Americanvision.org. To summarize the article: No compromise. No voting for lesser evils.

      • I think the implication was that Mormons practice polygamy (or did in the 19th century), and are therefore unqualified to judge family law.

      • Any chance DL Moody might have quoted this from Spurgeon? That might explain the Chicago connection.

  5. Voting…sigh. No good choices but the season has been instructive. It’s proven again to show how some american christians or evangelical culture warriors will compromise almost anything for political expediency… I had this little facebook exchange recently with an evangelical cultural warrior and newly minted Romney “liker” It’s only one anecdote but I wonder if it’s indicative? (This is heavily paraphrased to reflect the implications I read from this exchange. Also here’s my facebook context – I don’t post overtly pro-Obama/democrat stuff on my wall – but I do post things sometimes that critique evangelicalism and its political culture war)

    Romney liker who has “liked” Romney on there facebook: Posts article “Conservatives Praise Billy Graham’s Call to Vote ‘Biblical Values’

    Me: Isn’t it ‘Book of Mormon’ values this time 🙂 (Difficult to do online but I did mean this little jab kiddingly/no malice intended)

    Romney liker: I’m greatly offended by your little snark there. It’s the lesser of two evils. The Obamas want late term abortions to happen.

    Another Romney liker: You are lockstep with the Democratic party line. Harry Reid is a Mormon too. Don’t be a hypocrite. Governments are allowed to wage war and kill murderers (I’m implying that drones are OK) Here’s more guilt trip. The democratic party that you’re lockstep with allows babies to be killed at birth. Think of the little girl you just had. Stop the denominationalism (I’m implying that Mormonism is just another denomination now) Clear your conscience about the sanctity of life and then think about the eternally meaningless (Mormon) speck in Romney’s eye after dealing with the (Democratic/Obama) beam in your own eye.

    Another Romney liker: Right on!

    First Romney liker: Here’s more guilt trip. I can’t imagine a christian voting for anybody who would allow and advocate (Michelle Obama does this) for babies being chopped up. I pray that God opens people’s eyes and draws them to Him. (I’m implying that God’s side includes only Romney….please please vote for Romney)

    I have no problem with them or anybody else voting Romney – but I do have a problem with turning it into a black and white, Satan vs God choice and with making one candidate the “Savior” All the candidates of all the parties are human and flawed and aren’t reflecting Jesus very well…

    My conclusion from all of this: Weep and wail and bring out the sackcloth people…too many american evangelicals are swallowing another big one…neither democratic, republican, green, libertarian party or candidate has the right solution to our deepest problems – only Jesus Christ does.

    • This week at a post office about an hour from where I live there were Romney supporters carrying large placards of Obama with a painted on Hitler mustache.

      There is an old meme from the Usenet [the online forums before the web] days that a thread [conversation] about something was over once someone played ‘the hitler card’ [saying that the other side was like Hitler].

      The card has been played. The conversation is over. Now it is just yelling.

      • When has a presidential campaign ever been about conversation anyway? It pretty always comes down to winning at all costs.

    • Alan Jacobs may find super-smart kids and committed faculty at Baylor. But Wheaton has the same, including many serious scholars doing relevant, articulate work. The problem is, few of their names appear on the “Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals” – because CT’s list is weighted down by self-help titles and popular eschatological thrillers. Small wonder, given a Christian publishing mentality that treats books as merchandise, not knowledge. On College Crunch’s list of the 20 Most Brilliant Christian Professors, only a very few teach at Christian institutions. There are a number of other reasons why, including the heavy teaching load and administrative obligations at a small college that restrict research and writing. Academic freedom also comes into play. Not usually so bad as the Southern Baptist official who warned theology professors they must teach whatever told to teach. (“And if we tell them to teach that pickles have souls, then they must teach that pickles have souls!”). But when Mark Noll left Wheaton, CT reported that he was offered an “expansive intellectual community” – “which Wheaton can’t”. The ultimate reason is the lingering anti-intellectual streak in evangelicalism, which affects the university as well. Christian colleges used to be a destination for gifted professors, but more and more they find a more challenging and rewarding home elsewhere.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Thing is (and as Roland Martin impled), Biblical Values(TM) has been narrowed down to basically a more genteel version of Fred Phelps.

      • Okay, that does it. Headless, I’m channeling God now: you have got to start your own blog. You’ll get about a zillion followers, very deservedly.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I have no problem with them or anybody else voting Romney – but I do have a problem with turning it into a black and white, Satan vs God choice and with making one candidate the “Savior”.

      We’re in an era of Messiah Politics, where everyone is looking for a Messiah on a White Horse to ride in and make everything perfect with a magical kiss. Barack Obama rode that wave to the White House in 2008, presenting himself as a Coming Messiah, a political Christ figure whose coming would end the Great Tribulation under Antichrist Dubya. And now “Romney is God’s Candidate” is returning the favor. At least Romney sounds more professional and less flaky than God’s Anointed Candidates (from St Santorum to Godly Gingrich) in the primary season.

    • I highly doubt that Randianism compatible with either biblical or Book-of-Mormon values.

  6. Apparently moral convictions for choosing who we vote for puts a greater value on “the lesser of two evils” over “wasting your vote”. There are other candidates as Andy notes. In fact, Whiteout Press lists 14 different presidential candidates, including Rosanne Barr (not representing the National-Anthem-Singing party thank goodness). If a candidate’s perceived religious position is such a big deal, then why not vote conscious over pragmatism?

    • I think the whole “wasting your vote” and “the lesser of two evils” memes are **BOGUS**.

      So many people I know [who also claim they aren’t really into politics] play that saw. Then try to push those same people to tell you some detail about a candidates position on something… and they rarely can. So they are just repeating [retweeting :)] a hip sentiment.

      I just want to say “grow up!” This is what life in a democratic republic means! Nobody gets exactly what they want. Hopefully everybody gets a little bit of something they want. That is how it works.

      It is complicated, messy, and full of compromise. It is sometimes uncomfortable. Sometimes one has to hold one’s nose. That is what it means to be an adult and a citizen. You take the information you have, you use the convictions you have, and you make the best decision you can.

      • +1

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        It is complicated, messy, and full of compromise. It is sometimes uncomfortable. Sometimes one has to hold one’s nose.

        Problem is, to an Idealist generation there is NO such thing as complexity. Only the ONE TRUE WAY.

        There is NO such thing as compromise. Only ABSOLUTE PURITY OF IDEOLOGY, just like the Communists.

        And when GAWD(TM) and BIBLICAL(TM) gets pulled in as (literally) Cosmic Justification, everything — EVERYTHING — gets ramped up to (literally) Cosmic Significance. “HERE AHURA-MAZDA, THERE AHRIMAN!!!”

        • “There is NO such thing as compromise.”

          Correct. Listen to the conservative talking heads: according to them, the only thing more godless and evil than a liberal is a moderate.

      • Brianthedad says

        Agreed. But that doesn’t fit into the black/white worldview (pun intended) many of us Christians have been brought up in and hounded about for years. The idea of two kingdoms helps nicely here. Maybe we are just voting for a president. Maybe he doesn’t have to believe (or profess to believe) everything we do. Maybe we don’t have to feel guilty voting for one or the other. I will vote my way, and be very convinced its the right vote, and scratch my head in wonder how others are even considering voting for the other guy, but won’t argue about it in the church fellowship hall. I mean, really, we’re not the college of cardinals voting for the next pope, right?

  7. I forgot one especially strange detail from my little facebook story. Here was another bewildering line from the romney liker (again paraphrased)

    Romney liker: If it is ‘Book of Mormon’ values, then at least it is not Koran values (I’m implying that the Obama choice is for Koranic values)


  8. Do you think the storm heading for the northeast area of the U.S. is God voting 🙂 Film at 11:00. Tomorrow is Reformation Sunday so whether at church or hunkered down here at home I will be singing my favorite hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”. Gee Jeff, you should have featured Martin Luther singing that on your Saturday video!

    • Of course, Martin Luther would probably have given both the Mormons and “progressive Christians” the same cold shoulder he gave the Jews when they didn’t convert to his version of the gospel. But he would never be inclined to vote anyway, because he of course knew that princes are appointed by God, not elected by the rabble.

  9. I don’t give a rat’s derriere if Obama or Romney are Christian or not.

    I want someone with American ideals (freedom), and who knows how to run things.

    If the current Christian President isn’t up to par, then maybe it’s time to dump him in favor of a non-Christian with a little more on the ball.

    • I must say, I like your very subtle way of saying that people who disagree with you are not really American. That’s lovely. Not in any way racist, bigoted or prejudiced.

      Well done.

      • Donald,
        Where do you find racism or bigotry in Steve’s comment?

        • When Steve articulated a position he didn’t like.

          • Thank you.

            When I dislike Obama’s worldview just like I disliked Carter’s, one is disagreement on policy, and the other is racism….even though I would vote for Condie Rice in a New Youk minute???

            It is a logical error……because SOME dislike the current president only due to his skin color does NOT equate to all who dislike him being due to his skin color……and this meme is tired and threadworn.

          • No. It was when he said that one of the candidates was not really American.

          • Marcus Johnson says

            He didn’t say that. He did say that he wanted someone with American values, but he never defined what they were, and never indicated that one of the candidates was not a “real” American.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      Wow, Donalbain, your powers of inference are so awesome that they can read behind vague statements and detect “bigotry.” Can you see lead in walls, too?

      Seriously, though, I agree with Steve Martin to some degree. For some reason, Americans tend to think that religion is a political right, instead of a method to tap into the transcendent unknowns about the human experience. Once we accept that it is the latter, then Christians, Muslims, Mormons, etc. will all be able to make decisions about candidates without the psychotic tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists that think that Obama wants to make Christian churches eat the flesh of aborted babies.

      However, I should point out that “freedom” is not an exclusively American ideal. Canada has freedom. So does England. And Brazil. And Australia. And the Czech Republic. The same could be said for scores of other countries. Once we start talking about “American ideals,” I get a chill up my spine, and that is not a good feeling.

      • Great Britain is NOT free. Why just last week they refused – refused, I tell you! – to allow a perfectly righteous multinational company from posting billboards featuring Natalie Portman with photoshopped lashes. What kind of bigoted country disallows photoshopped Natalie?!?!

  10. I am disappoint by the lack of Tom Petty video…
    I am not American but have had to listen to my American in-laws go on about the Obama government for the last 4 years. I struggle with the logic that says Obama, a man who proclaims to be Christian, must be an undercover Muslim because he doesn’t hold conservative values and thus is voted out of the “Kingdom”. Whereas Romney, a proclaiming Mormon, holds conservative values & is thus the Christian choice & as such is voted into the “Kingdom”.
    I never thought I would live to see the Church willingly become the vehicle for legitimizing Mormonism…

  11. I saw an actual gang of hermit crabs in a tidepool near Monterey last weekend. They don’t really tend to congregate together though – just crawl around individually doing their own thing.


  12. I’m curious — is anyone having a “Hell House” (or “Judgment House”) anywhere near them this year?

    The big reason I ask is that they seem to have fallen completely out of fashion in the past decade or so, at least here in the Twin Cities. In the last 90s I remember 2-3 around here, and even ended up at a party where a few organizers tried to get us to join them. I even checked a number of the megachurches I’d see as usual suspects — they’re all into “Fall Festivals” or “Hallelujah Harvests” or the like.

    I know they still exist, but maybe they just waned here in the Minnesota — or at least stopped advertising.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      You used to be able to tell it was October 1st because that’s when all the screaming about “Teh Devil’s Holiday” would start up. And all the “Just like Halloween, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” knockoffs would start being pushed.

      Not this year. Apparently the election has trumped the Culture War on Halloween. If the pattern hasn’t been too disrupted, we should start seeing full Culture War To Save Christmas mode right after the election results are in.

      Me? I’m going to hang out with the Bronies for Nightmare Night and dodge all the Halloween Culture War Hassle.

      • Sad to say, I even heard t hat same stuff from leaders in a Catholic Book study. But, by that time in the study, I was determined to keep my mouth shut. From the same man, we heard that it was a mortal sin to vote for Obama, and his view of God fits quite nicely with the New Calvinists

      • One of my wife’s students told her the other day that her family didn’t participate in Halloween because it is devil worship. My wife’s response: “I think it’s more like candy worship.”

        The culture war on Halloween is still out there, but the troops are scattered and sparse. It’s not nearly the force it used to be.

      • Michael Spencer had a great article on this subject.

    • Brianthedad says

      Here in Montgomery, one of the large baptist churches has picked it up again after an 8 yr hiatus. They are doing it in conjunction with a large group of other area churches. There’s ecumenism for you! You can find the full story and video (!) on the front page of montgomeryadvertiser dot com if you’re interested. Meanwhile, the Compassion Experience Tour by Compassion International at another local church is getting about two sentences of press deep in the bowels of the paper.

    • It’s a go in Charleston, SC. Sigh. Although “Trunk-or-treats” seem to be winning the what does a good Christian do on Halloween debate.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        Grrr. I love me some Hell Houses. Don’t have time to bring your neighbor to Jesus by demonstrating his love? A 30-minute spookfest of aborted baby photos and bad actors pretending to be in anguish, and he will run to the foot of the cross. For as it is said in Habbakuk: “The just shall live by abject terror.”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          CHAPLAIN MIKE: Somewhere in the Archives there is a posting by the original IMonk “Hell House: an Evangelism Eager to Leave”. Since Halloween is this coming Wednesday, I suggest you repost it as an IMonk Classic, along with his “Great Pumpkin Proposes a Toast” and any other Halloween-themed or Halloween-analysis postings.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        …and I visit Charleston often, too. So sad that I can’t get out there for Halloween.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Is Trunk-or-Treat “Just Like Trick-or-Treat, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” or “Gimme your candy or I’ll stuff you in this trunk!”?

        Whatever, it’s just another reason for Christians to hide from everyone else and avoid Contamination by Those Heathen. Again.

        • Brianthedad says

          We use it as an opportunity to interact with our neighbors. Much of our congregation is scattered over a large area. Hardly any live within a mile of our building. We put out fliers in the neighborhood, have bouncy houses, hotdogs and hamburgers, trunk decorating contests, and see several hundred of our neighbors and their kids. No pressure to visit or convert, just a nice alternative to the hellhouse our baptist friends are having next door. Now if I could just get everyone to start using the word Halloween instead of fall festival…

        • No, “Accept Jesus, or else…”

  13. I’m worn out on the no good choice rhetoric. We have 2 men running for President that are good family men and conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their ideology / world view while pragmatically appeasing the more ideological wing of their respective parties. If you are a political liberal, Obama is an excellent no brainer of a choice. If you are a pragmatic (non-Randian) political conservative then Romney is an excellent choice.

    The good news for the moderate majority of Americans is that neither candidate is nearly as ‘radical’ as his opponent suggests.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Because American politics always involves getting as X-TREME as possible during the Primaries (to woo the Party Faithful and True Believers who dominate the nomination process) then swing back to the center for the General Election (to appeal to as wide an array of voters as possible). It’s the pressures of the system.

  14. Randy Thompson says

    I am 62 years old and his is the first presidential election that strikes me as a lose-lose proposition.

    On one side, I would be voting for abortion on demand and the redefinition of what’s left of marriage on our culture. I would be voting for a future that feels a lot like Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”

    On the other side, I would be voting to rape the environment as well as the poor. I would also be voting to turn over our country to big business and even bigger finance. I would be voting against any kind of decent healthcare for normal people, not just those who can afford it. I would also be voting for people who have no respect for the truth when it comes to the climate and environment. I would also be voting, indirectly, for Ayn Rand, whose anti-Christ ideology is oddly palatable to many evangelicals.

    On the Democratic side, I feel like I’m voting for anomie. On the Republican side, I feel like I’m voting for idiots.

    I’m uncomfortable with the idea of not voting; I’m equally uncomfortable with voting.

    A good prayer this election season: “Your Kingdom come. . . “

    • > On one side, I would be voting for abortion on demand

      I think this is complete hyperbole; states have the right to regulate abortion to a degree. Numerous states have such laws which impose limits and require parental notification, etc… and they have been upheld in court. They’ve been upheld in court means that the president, whoever he or she is, can’t really do all that much. And the *supreme court* has previously ruled that outright making abortion illegal isn’t going to pass constitutional muster. So the most conservative candidate you could possibly elect can’t do that either. This is simply not really a ‘presidential matter’. Yes, he/she can influence, but it is not their “control”. And it is an issue that requires burning a lot of political capital on either end, neither side seems all that interested in using their fuel for that engine. IMO, the abortion issue is already decided [ the current status-quo is legally immovable ] and is now mostly just a political whipping post.

      > I would be voting for a future that feels a lot like Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”

      Really??? I’m sorry, but I just don’t see that.

      > On the other side…
      > I would also be voting to turn over our country to big business and even bigger finance.
      > I would be voting against any kind of decent healthcare for normal people,


      > I would also be voting, indirectly, for Ayn Rand, whose anti-Christ ideology

      Absolutely. +1 This scares the crap out of me. I JUST DO NOT UNDERSTAND AT ALL how someone can put these ideologies together. If someone can I have a hard time taking them seriously, intellectually. This is like the “Christian Buddhists” that were all over in the ’80s, it does not make sense – difference being that Ayn Rand was an open-minded [in the worst sense of the word] advocate of the acquisition of power and the putting down of the powerless. This issue alone *should* make the current race much more ideological than it is; but everyone on the opposing side seems not to want to touch the Rand issue. That is another thing I do not understand.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Ayn Rand is now the Fourth Person of the Trinity. How such a rabid anti-theist who founded and led a CULT of Utter Selfishness became the Fourth Person of the Trinity I’ll never know, but she did. If you’re not Objectivist, you can’t be a REAL Christian.

      Christ got thrown under the Christianese Culture War Bus long ago.

      • Randian seems like an odd doctrine to find any scrap of sanctity of human life; Randian defends the sanctity of ego.

    • Which presidential candidate has proposed laws for abortion on demand?

      • Marcus Johnson says

        I’m wondering that, too. Is Obama planning on setting up abortion tables in Wal-Mart (next to the blood pressure machines)?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Oh, just as a wild guess, “NOT THE MORMON! NOT THE MORMON! NOT THE MORMON!”

  15. Christiane says

    I’m voting for a voice for the people who have no voice of influence in our society . . . I’m voting against the one whose campaign promotes a picture of the working poor as ‘lazy’.

    Christian morality demands that we stand in solidarity with those in our society who are suffering WHEN THEY ARE UNDER ATTACK . . .

    and they are under attack by one of our political parties.

    For too long, some have hidden behind a ‘right to life’ agenda that is anything but. People need to crawl out from under that burden and realize who really cares about the lives of our people in this country, and no, I am not referring to ‘corporations’ as ‘people’.

  16. “When faced with the choice of two evils, my philosophy is to choose neither,” McKissic wrote in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in September. McKissic said he is considering a write-in vote for Jesus Christ instead.

    If McKissic actually said that, and seriously meant it (and based on past experiences, I don’t trust ANYTHING a reporter writes in a newspaper to be a factual recounting of what someone actually said), then – to quote Everett McGill – he’s dumber than a bag of hammers.

    • Also, here in TX where both of us live, the Libertarian and Green party candidates are also on the ballot, and the Constitution Party can be a write-in vote; not sure of the status of the Justice Party.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      After the 1968 elections, California passed a (literally unenforceable) law making it illegal to write in a fictitious name on a ballot. They say it was because the state’s electoral vote in 1968 almost went to Snoopy and/or Batman.

      And if you write in “Jesus Christ” under that election ordnance, you have just opened another Culture War bag of worms.

      • If only they had not split the vote…

        “Jesus Christ” would not be a fictitious name (unless the new breed of atheists knows something biblical scholars don’t). Of course could hardly be described as a naturally-born citizen, and there is some doubt as to whether he is alive.

        Now that I think of it, there are several hundred Americans named “Jesus Christ.” I wonder how the vote-counters are expected to tell the difference between an invalid write-in vote for the founder of Christianity, and a valid write-in vote for one of these lesser-known Jesii? Perhaps some evil lawyer will turn this into a court case…

    • > “When faced with the choice of two evils, my philosophy is to choose neither,”

      Ok, but then you will never make a choice. An election is always about choosing between groups of humans [hence evil, by definition]. Maybe just realize you are voting for people to serve a role. Consider their statement, the positions they take (and the positions taken by those around them), weight them using your convictions, and make a choice. Leave “evil” out of the equation, because that will always be with us.

      • Re: a choice of two evils:

        As Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

  17. I thought this was a Christian blog. But reading the above comments made me realize it’s actually a forum for Republican-bashing and celebrating Democratic talking-points. The self-righteousness of those who claim to speak for the poor and disenfranchised is a dangerous passion; a direct line can be traced from it to the Killing Fields and the Gulag Archipelago. And don’t tell me it can’t happen here; it’s already happened here: tens-of -millions of persons, otherwise known as fetuses, killed in less than five decades. And yes, I know that evangelicals have as many abortions proportionally as progressives or any other segment of American society. But the blood of the innocent cries out to God. This will be what I remember when I vote.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Must be mighty lonely being the Only True Christian on a blog full of COMMUNISTS, because that is what you just called all the rest of us.

      • It always makes me laugh to see Americans describe Obama as some sort of hyper left wing communist radical. To the rest of the western world, he is a mainstream, centre right politician. Indeed, I would never vote for the man as he is further to the right than I am on most issues.

    • Randy Thompson says

      “Celebrating Democratic talking-points”? I don’t think so.

      What you see, I think, is people who view right wing politics in much the same way as many (most?) evangelicals view Democrats. A lot of people have a hard time with a political position where righteousness is defined exclusively in terms of being anti-abortion while ignoring other significant issues which the Bible addresses at greater length and detail than abortion (and I say that as someone opposed to abortion).

      • The Bible is crystal clear when it comes to the topic of murder. Other issues are important, but few issues have the gravity of the killing of the innocent. Of course, if you don’t think abortion is murder, then vote for the economy!

        • Final Anonymous says

          Miguel, I almost don’t want to ask this, because I think the last time I posted I was disagreeing with you in particular… and I never feel I convey a respectful tone online as well as in person… I promise I am not picking on you! 🙂

          But the first thing that came into my mind when reading this was, didn’t God do / allow an awfully lot of killing in the Bible? Even of children and babies?

          I am no theologian (my usual apology on these boards), but even reading from the most positive perspective, I have never gotten the idea that God puts human life on earth as His highest priority.

          • God can do as He pleases, but humans do not have the right to take innocent lives. For me, this silent holcaust remains the bottom line.

          • Final Anonymous says

            Pattie, that’s fine, but that wasn’t my question. I’m really interested in the idea of God clearly and gravely warning against murder in the Bible, because that seems like the opposite of what I’ve read.

            And just to prove my motives are pure and I’m asking out of genuine (albeit a little tangential) curiosity, let’s take the abortion question right out of there (I truly wasn’t going that way with it).

          • Great question, and glad you asked! Here’s a few musings on potential answers to the proposed dilemma. You say God did a lot of killing in the Bible. I propose to you that He has done a ton more than that. I would say that God has taken the life of every person who has ever died. According to the Biblical narrative, death is not a natural part of life, but rather a consequence of sin and the fall. Seeing as how God himself IS the source and sustainer of life, the natural consequence of rejecting this is death. But death is also God’s judgement on sin. If God does not punish sin, he is not just. So seeing as how all humanity is under the curse of God, then when God “kills” somebody, what he has actually done is followed through on that individuals sentence in a manner that seems early to us. But on what basis does the creator of the universe owe certain duration of life to its creation? I believe Jesus said “it is appointed once for a man to die, and then face judgement.” God is ultimately free to decide who dies when and where, and thus when we take the liberty upon ourselves, we are essentially playing God, which is the epitome of what happened in the fall to begin with. But before we say that God doesn’t value human life, consider that not only did he create it and make laws to discourage murder, he also redeemed it through his own suffering. Jesus offered his own life to satisfy God’s justice and ensure that we could life forever.

        • The Bible is so clear on the issue that it commands an abortion if a man thinks his woman has been unfaithful.

          • ?!?

          • Numbers 5

          • Only if you read ancient documents like modern newspapers. Leviticus and similar are not instructions, but records of previous instruction given to a specific people group. But this straw man never gets old, does it?

          • So, it is clear, except when it says something you don’t like. Fair enough.

          • You would never treat any other classic works of literature like that. There’s form and genre to be considered. The Bible is not a list of instructions to be followed, even if fundamentalists want to treat it that way. You wouldn’t read in Homer the instructions of the king to his armies and then conclude that the author’s intent was for all peoples in all places at all times to make war against Troy. The OT societal laws are not given in the form of instruction to all readers, like the book of Proverbs might be understood. They are simply a historical record of the laws that God did give to the ancient Israelites. To read everything at face value as a flat, blanket imperative makes it impossible to make sense out of any work of literature, much less one that is thousands of years old from a comparatively primitive culture.

        • Final Anonymous says

          Thanks, Miguel, that is an interesting perspective, and makes much more logical sense than other answers I’ve heard to the question.

    • > The self-righteousness of those who claim to speak for the poor and disenfranchised is a
      > dangerous passion; a direct line can be traced from it to the Killing Fields and the Gulag Archipelago

      No, no such line exists.

      Do you realize the breadth and span of the people who “claim to speak for the poor and disenfranchised” includes? A good number of biblical figures are certainly included. And the likes of Bonhoeffer and Mother Theresa. And Jimmy Carter.

      Can you go from Jimmy Carter and Habitat for Humanity to the killing fields? I need that one explained to me.

    • Robert F: It’s a very Christian blog. And it’s not a forum for Republican-bashing or celebrating anything Democrat. It’s more like a forum for bashing the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of our own kind and our own selves, the evangelical Christians, or fundegelicals.

      If some of our inconsistencies involve getting in bed with a certain political party, itself with ungodly behavior, that should be pointed out. There are other forums for celebrating the Republican party and its Mormon candidate, such as Christian radio.

      You’ve mentioned the blood of millions of innocents, and somehow you’ve linked to that a concern for the poor (I don’t get how that’s possible). Romney has shifted his position quite ably on both of these (abortion and health care, each 180 degrees), and recently has become unclear on his stand against abortion. We need to know that before we vote. We also should know the anti-Christian economics and philosophies of the Republican ticket, ideas promoted by Ayn Rand.

      Don’t go calling us Stalinist totalitarian murderers for having a concern for the poor. Jesus has that very concern and it’s well documented in the Bible. Ayn Rand did not, also well documented, and it’s hard to tell from the shifting sands of the Republicans what they believe.

      • Ted…..caring for the poor doesn’t matter much unless they are at least….alive.

        • But, Pattie, why can’t we do both?

          (And usually someone will ask your question in reverse, something like, “Why do we insist that they be born if we’re going to let them die of hunger and disease? Or if we’re going to drop bombs on them?”)

          I applaud your concern for the unborn. I just don’t think both concerns should be mutually exclusive—yet during election year the campaigns try to divide us, try to get Christians fighting against Christians and to make us choose sides, winner-take-all. It’s an old trick of the devil.

      • I’m registered Independent; no flaming R or D here. But taking care of the most vulnerable and protecting life should be any candidate’s objection. Obama voted AGAINST the Infant Born Alive Protection Act. If a baby survives a botched abortion, there is no attempt to give the poor thing even basic care such as food and water, leaving the infant to a horrible death that he sanctions. These are the disenfranchised boys and girls – men and women – that he fails to protect. Where’s the outrage?

        I work in an inner city church. I see the folks in this neighborhood and get the calls daily for assistance. These calls have skyrocketed, so tell me how the last four years have helped them. Most people are not better off.

        Clint Eastwood was right … an empty chair.

      • Ted,
        I do not favor Social Darwinism or Randism. But abortion is Social Darwinism at its worst.

        • Final Anonymous says

          But elected politician are at best the least efficient and at worst the most totally ineffective way to reduce abortions.

          Candidates who claim to be pro-life and overturn Roe v. Wade and blah blah blah are just blowing smoke to collect on some of the billions of dollars that has been emotionally thrown at the problem over the past — are we past 40 years now? — since the ruling.

          Any politician worth his salt knows they can’t do a darned thing about legislatively. They aren’t going to find enough justices to make a legal case to overturn it. They won’t get the votes to legislate it. If by some miracle they did, it wouldn’t survive court challenges.

          And if some miracle happened and Roe v. Wade was overturned, the power would go back to the states to regulate it, and the environment wouldn’t be much different than it is now; some states would have restrictions, some would not.

          Pro-life politicians KNOW they are spouting baloney. It is all smoke and mirrors, appealing to the emotions of the masses, to get the money to run and possibly design ridiculous legislation that can garner a few votes over things that rarely ever happen anyway and don’t really change the current abortion realities whatsoever.

          The abortion rate in this country will NOT CHANGE based on who we elect in November. 42 years and at best we’ve barely made a dent in the problem. It’s NOT WORKING. If we want to change things, we need to put our resources toward finding REAL SOLUTIONS.

  18. U.S. military officers once had a strong cultural tradition of not voting. This was connected to military rules against political activity, formulated to underscore the principle of civilian control of the military.

  19. First, I am very sad ( as a mom) that the simple delight of dressing in a costume, going door to door with a parent and gathering candies has been vilified and twisted. Sigh…

    And, Mickey Mantle was one of the greatest!

  20. Matt Purdum says

    Since 1980,the “pro-life” party has grandstanded and exploited abortion, yet done nothing but take our votes. Republicans are huge hypocrites on this issue because their stand against families, higher wages and unions make it impossible for many working people to AFFORD families. Tell me you’re against abortion, then pursue economic policies that lead right to the clinic. What Republicans really need to do is just shut up about abortion. The GOP has not saved one single unborn life.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      During my time in-country in the pro-life movement (circa 1980s), I noticed that every group within the movement were tunnel-visioned on THEIR way being the Only True Way:
      * NRLC’s Only True Way was to Elect a REPUBLICAN President who WILL stack the Supreme Court to overturn Roe V Wade. If not, You’re NOT Really Pro-Life, You’re NOT Really a Christian.
      * Operation Rescue was “If YOU weren’t going to Jail with us, You’re Not REALLY PRO-LIFE, You’re NOT Really a Christian!!!!!!!!!”

      All of the above did not acknowledge anyone outside themselves as “REALLY Pro-Life”, to the point of publicly questioning your Salvation. And while they bickered and denounced, the abortions just kept going on and on and on.

      • Matt Purdum says

        Yep. Remember it all clearly. I’ve come to believe that jail can never ever be any part of a solution to abortion.

    • Matt, I’ve come to the same conclusion about abortion and politics. Here is an excerpt from something I wrote recently in a letter:

      I share your concern about abortion, but do not hold as much hope as you that a political solution is attainable. After nearly 40 years of the Roe vs. Wade decision, even a conservative court might well decide on status quo. Also, if Roe were overturned it would simply be given back to the states to decide, and the fight would move to a different arena. It is as much a states-rights issue as a moral one. I also do not believe that the Republicans truly want to overturn Roe, as that would remove their greatest trump card from the deck. Their stand against abortion is their one advantage over Democrats in the pursuit of votes from Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Catholics, and now Mormons. So I believe that they will continue to make noise and do nothing.

      • Alas, Ted, I do believe you’re correct. The GOP is not pro-life out of conviction, but for purely pragmatic political reasons, and even a conservative Supreme Court probably would support the precedent of Roe vs. Wade. “…make noise and do nothing.” Yes, indeed.

        But I cannot vote for a man who openly declares that it is permissible for a Dr. to kill a baby born alive after a botched late term abortion. I cannot vote for him even if he builds beautiful autobahns and initiates successful public works projects that employ millions and restores national pride and saves the environment and/or anything else.

        • Just to be clear, you do know that no such candidate for federal office has declared what you accuse the candidate of doing, right?

          • Technically, and merely technically, you are correct. No declaration was made that a physician should be allowed to terminate a newborn infants life. But the then State Senator of Illinois opposed (that is, voted against) in 2001, 2002 and 2003 the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which would have required physicians to provide medical care for infants who survived late-term abortion attempts, instead of leaving them alone in a closet to die. Having failed to kill the infant outright during the procedure, the physician should be allowed to practice the ancient Roman Paterfamilias right of abandoning the child to the elements, and this the candidate for federal office supports. How is that different from infanticide, Ben F?

  21. HUG,
    I learned as an undergrad that the excessive use of bold type, italicization, exclamatory punctuation and general stylistic histrionics is employed by those who are unable to make cogent arguments that stand on their own merit. It’s a form of literary bullying, which is what I would expect from either a Stalinist or a Fascist (though I called neither you nor anyone else either), but not from a Christian.

    • Robert F,

      I always interpret HUG’s use of punctuation and histrionics as satire against others who are unable to make cogent arguments. His literary style works for me like a good political cartoon, a dagger straight to the heart of the matter.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Unfortunately, a LOT of Christian Activists DO KEEP THEIR CAPS LOCK ON. I also remember the typography from tracts and Chick Tracts as well as the ALL junk mail that kept showing up for years after I bailed on them. (A story in itself; let’s say during the Bork nomination I got telemarketed by them. Extreme high-pressure telemarketing, claiming “God WILL Hold YOU Responsible” for all the aborted babies if Bork didn’t pass the Senate because I didn’t fork over the money.)

      It’s like those preacher-men who always preach in a CONSTANT HOLLER. I think the original IMonk said once that in the Kentucky mountains, the highest praise for a preacher was “He has NO book larnin’ and HE IS LOUD!”

  22. Sorry, Ted, but I see anger projected large on non-moving targets and in my reading, the anger redounds to HUG. Add to this the smug crudity of his ostensible “satire” and all I can picture is Sam Kinnison writing an installment for MAD Magazine with Jonathan Swift nowhere in sight.

    • Oh, no question HUG gets angry, but usually with good cause. It’s election season after all.

      But I’ll let him speak for himself. He posted at about the same time as you, above at 7:02 pm, and what he said demonstrates my point.

      I like satire. Sorry. And I loved Mad magazine as a kid.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Robert, you are obviously not a frequenter of this blog. HUG writes satire most of the time, pointed satire sure, but still satire. If you can’t take it, get out of the kitchen….