October 25, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 10.8.11

The Tulsa State Fair is underway, which means two things. No one has yet figured out that Tulsa is not a “state,” and you will breathe more secondhand cholesterol there than the rest of your life combined. Not exactly pining for a Krispy Kreme burger or a slab of fried butter this year, I passed on the fair. That left me more time to ramble through the news of this last week, and I am going to tell you once again: I cannot make this stuff up. So if you are done with your deep-fried Twinkie and pork parfait, let’s ramble.

In case you have been spending all of your time on the midway at the fair and not keeping up with the news, Steve Jobs passed away and Apple announced a “new” iPhone this week. We are very sorry for both, but have no comments to make beyond that. This is iMonk, after all, not the Kim Komando show.

Well, I don’t often find myself agreeing with Al Mohler, and I’m not sure I totally agree with him in this essay. But he makes some valid points about Joel Osteen. One thing is for certain: Osteen’s publisher needs to hire a media coach before he makes another TV appearance. Meanwhile, Joel Osteen says that he doesn’t preach “Gospel lite” and prosperity isn’t just about money. And … and … sigh …

On the other side of the world is a real pastor who, because he does preach the Gospel, is facing death by hanging. Yet even his own country says this may not be legal. iMonks, we must keep our brother in our prayers, remembering him as if we were in chains with him.

Your rambler does not get out to see a lot of movies. Oh, I’ll tell friends, “I am going to go see the latest Harry Potter in the theater for sure.” Then I’ll say, “I’m waiting for it to come to the dollar theater.” Then, “I’ve waiting this long, I can wait for it to come to RedBox.” Well, one movie I really do want to see in the theater is The Way, starring Martin Sheen. It gets a strong review here and here. Now, if it will only come to Tulsa before the rest of you get it in your RedBox …

Ah, those crazy Amish in Ohio. Fighting and feuding between various Amish clans has led to … hold on to your facial hair … men trying to cut off one another’s beards. I know, I know. It’s all fun-and-games until someone loses their whiskers.

And then there’s the big-name Baptist preacher from Dallas encouraging Christians not to vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon. “I think Mitt Romney’s a good, moral man, but those of us who are born again followers of Christ should prefer a competent Christian,” the pastor said. Oy … I could go so many places with this one, but I will just leave it to you. Have fun.

Really, I mean, who didn’t see this coming? And who ever wants to see it again? Honestly, have you ever heard of Buddha Ween?

Holy smoke! Why didn’t I come up with this idea? Because I have even a small amount of decency? Well, ok, if Keith Richards can (allegedly) snort the ashes of his father, why can’t yours or mine be fired off into the air using a shotgun? Does it surprise you that this, er, enterprise was started in Alabama?

Bringing us back around from whence we began, I leave you with this story about a new warning sign that was seen in Tulsa this week. Beware, indeed.

Happy birthday wishes go to my daughter, Leah; Walter Matthau; Bonnie “and Clyde” Parker; Jimmy Carter; Julie Andrews; Mahatma Gandi; Don McLean; Gordon “Sting” Sumner; Stevie Ray Vaughn; Charlton Heston; Dick Tracy; Anne Rice; Ray Kroc; Larry Fine (of the Three Stooges); Steve Miller; Vladamir Putin; and Yo-Yo Ma.

Today’s bonus video? Not even a question. Enjoy the greatest guitarist of them all.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGLZPvDcWWs&feature=fvst’]



  1. “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs.

    Tony Campolo wrote something similar to this in one of his books. Christians don’t like talking about death. It leads to even more masks and superficiality. Jesus has taken the sting of death away, which should give us even more courage in the valley of the shadow of death and courage to live. Instead, we spend our energies trying to look like we have everything under control, and that life is getting better and better. It just leads to mediocrity.

  2. Tim Becker says


    • And Al Davis, owner/head honcho of the Oakland Raiders — the report just came over the air. Praying for peace for any members of Raider Nation here at iMonk …

  3. I am one of the Zombies (new warning sign) wandering out on Rt. 44 after perusing that (who didn’t see this coming) Jesus Ween link. What the…..? Quite a mission statement.

  4. So that Jesus Ween thing, is that a joke? If not, then what is it?!

    • It looks like a topical pun on their name “JesusWin” because this is October and Hallowe’en is coming up. Halloween – JesusWin – JesusWeen! See what they did there?

      Trouble is, I can’t figure out what “JesusWin” does – are they a charity? They seem to be a publishing outfit as well?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Halloween – JesusWin – JesusWeen! See what they did there?

        AKA “See How Clever I Am?”

        Trouble is, I can’t figure out what “JesusWin” does – are they a charity? They seem to be a publishing outfit as well?

        They’re a… (cue reverb) MINISTRY…

  5. Wow, that is an interesting way to handle the ashes from one’s body, eh? (See Jeff’s link he has written as “this idea.”)

    • Anyone else think of George Carlin’s bit about how when he died, he didn’t want to be buried or cremated, he wanted to be blown up? “THERE HE GOES … I loved him!”

  6. flatrocker says

    Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Edwards, Barth and now we can add Osteen to that lofty list.

    What insights this man continues to put forth – astounding.

  7. Jeff, you are so correct: Joel Osteen doesn’t do well without a script.

    This CNN quote is worth the mulling: “Jesus used parables to speak in a compelling way that his contemporaries could understand,” Lee said. “Osteen is speaking the language of the people in the same way that Jesus did.”

    Not saying his stories lead to the same conclusions that Jesus’ did.

    • “This is why I speak to them in parables:
      ‘Though seeing, they do not see;
      though hearing, they do not hear or understand.'”
      – Matthew 13:3

      There is no way Jesus used parables to be relevant, contemporary, or hip. He wasn’t speaking in the lingo of the people. The disciples didn’t understand because Jesus spoke in parables; they understood despite the use of parables, because Jesus revealed their meaning to them:

      “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.” – Matthew 13:16.

      This contrast between Jesus and Osteen should be quite revealing: who were those in the old testament who spoke in the lingo of the people and told them exactly what they wanted to hear?

      • Jack Heron says

        Ever read any of the non-canonical gospels? Non-canonical Jesus takes parables to a whole new level of incomprehensibility.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Jeff, you are so correct: Joel Osteen doesn’t do well without a script.

      Actor minus Script equals Incoherence.

  8. I just saw GMA’s segment on the Mormonism is a cult comment. It raises several questions.

    Now I am fully aware that we like to tell ourselves that Religion should be seperate from our vote that as long as a man is competent and experienced….. yada yada yada, but….

    1. Is Mormonism a cult? It seems to fit the definition of one to me.

    2. Should Christians vote for people if they belong to a cult? If you say yes then should a Christian vote for someone who is a buddist, a neo-pagan, a Wiccan? Or is Mormonism an acceptable cult b/c it dresses itself up in Christian similar terms?

    3. Does falling for a cult (I know many people are raised in it so it is only natural to them) but does a person’s inability to see they are in a cult or “fall” for a cult’s falsehoods say anything about their general ability to make good jugdements?

    I’d like to hear some folks honest answers.

    p.s. and as a side note, I knew years back I was slipping as a baptist when I became Pat Buchanan’s precinct captain in my county (Pat is RC for anyone who lives on planet Mars). I felt a little guilty b/c my grandmother had told me that the first election she voted in was when her dad had paid her poll tax to go both against Kennedy b/c he was RC 🙂

    • Jack Heron says

      Austin, I’m slightly troubled by the association in your second point between cults and Buddhism, Neo-Paganism and Wicca. Religions holding different beliefs from our own do not necessarily correspond to cultic activity. Regardless of what opinions you or I might hold of those beliefs, there is no reason they cannot be honestly held without the trickery, deception or pressure we associate with cults.

      On the subject of cults and compromised judgement, I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as people in cults being foolish and those outside wiser. People often get sucked into cultic movements bit by bit. Furthermore, we all have things clouding our judgement, so I think we should consider each candidate on the virtues of their particular beliefs as they relate to the particular issues at stake. If a belief is harmful or dangerous, it is harmful or dangerous whether or not it came from a cult.

      • Jack,

        My question wasn’t so much as to whether Wiccans, buddist, etc were invloved in the same deception, trickery etc.. as cults are known for, but whether a Christian should have any qualms supporting some one whose world and spiritual view was opposite of their own. I’m not 100 percent sure of the answer, Martha below makes some good points to the opposite, but I think there is something to be said to the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats and that a Romney election could bring Mormonism into the main stream of accepted beliefs and even do more to cloud the issue.

        I mean we have seen here even that people have a hard time of making the simple assertion that Mormonism is outside of orthodoxy. If Mormonism does not fit the definition of a cult, I’m not sure what does.

    • I’m not sure if Mormonism fits the definition of a cult. I’ve always thought that a cult had less to do with weird beliefs and more to do with personality. As in, you have a group of people who are utterly enraptured with a single leader, who uses his charisma to almost completely control people and isolate them from pretty much everything outside of the group. And if you try to leave then they’ll try to kill you. (For your own good, to free you from the limits of your earthly body, or some justification like that.) Now, maybe you have individual congregations of Mormons that behave like a cult (although the same could be true of a lot of individual congregations of just about any denomination), but Mormonism itself just seems too big and too old to really fit the definition of a cult. (Eagle, your input? I know you’ve had less-than positive experiences with Mormonism.)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Someone told me this years ago:

        “Joseph Smith started a personality cult. Brigham Young turned it into a self-sustaining religious system.”

    • I would say it’s entirely possible to vote for a Buddhist, Neo-Pagan or Wiccan if you’re a Christian, if (a) you’re clear on what their policies are (b) you can agree with those policies.

      If John Smith is running for office on a platform of getting the drains on Beech Street fixed, then it doesn’t matter if he believes in God, twenty gods or no gods at all. Again, if John Smith is running for office on a platform of “If elected, I will get sacrificing a black goat at midnight at a crossroads into the public holiday calendar”, you can vote for or against him depending on your stance on the matter.

      If you’re afraid that voting for Mr. Romney means handing the country over into the hands of a sinister theocracy, hey, that’s our gig! Seeing as how there have been Catholics in power politically for quite a while now, and seeing as how the Pope hasn’t been installed in the White House quite yet, I’d concentrate more on the politics and less on the religion angle of any potential candidates.

      • Thank you Martha! I’ve long held that a politician’s religion shouldn’t matter unless that religion advocates burning all people of an ethnic group at the stake, or says that we don’t need drains because the great spirit in the sky will take the water off the streets…

        Christianity pretty much started out as a cult, but here we are how many years later. Mormonism has some strange stuff in its background and beliefs, but it is so mainstream now, I’d hardly call it a cult. I’m sure, like many religions, half the people who consider themselves Mormon don’t even know what they supposedly believe (ask the average Lutheran on the street if the Pope is really the Anti-Christ; most don’t know that one is still “on the books”). I, too, will concentrate more on the politics of the candidates after watching Jimmy Carter melt down in office all the while consulting with God on a daily basis!

        • Suzanne,

          I’m not a Lutheran, but their are many Christians, and not radicals, who would agree that the papacy (as it existed with all of its errors and issues in Luther’s time was indeed very “anti-Christ”).

          But i will agree with you on Jimmy Carter, a truly horrible president.


          • Austin, my Democrat wife was looking over my shoulder and I need to warn you that she voted for Jimmy not once, not twice, but THREE times (third time as a write-in, as she couldn’t bring herself to vote for Mondale).

          • Austin, I don’t mean the Pope WAS the Anti-Christ, I mean IS and I don’t mean AN Anti-Christ, I mean THE Anti-Christ, the big one, the big Kahuna. As in John Paul II–the Anti-Christ, Benedict, the same. I don’ t think most Lutherans know that they supposedly still believe that to this day.

    • Ok having been raised Mormon and served a Mormon mission (to France! lucky me) I think I can say a few things about Mormonism’s ‘cult’ status.

      1. The term cult has a pejorative status in the United States. I don’t assume that you used it in that way, but I can assure you that if you refer to a Mormon’s deeply held religious beliefs as a ‘cult’ tends to shutdown the conversation.

      2. I left Mormonism just fine. My parents were, and still are, upset about it, but their reactions have been no different from stories I have heard from others who have gown up in very religious households and since left.

      3. Anyway my main point is that the term ‘cult’ is a pejorative and even no longer being Mormon it still raised my heckles a bit.

      • Matt Purdum says

        For now I’m supporting Romney. I’m a Christian, not a Mormon, but Romney’s Mormonism is a lot less dangerous than the power-hungry, scapegoating, Christianized witchcraft of the NAR, C Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, and the other usual suspects.

      • Austin, I hadn’t seen Topher’s comment, but his point #1 is what I’m getting at. Labeling honest people as cult shuts down communication.

        Also, the term itself originally is innocent, and I think only recently got its present meaning. When I studied Old Testament, just about any religion was considered “cult’ including the “Yahweh” cult (as well as the “Baal cult”) and even later the “Christian cult” or the “Jesus cult”. Perfectly innocent term in that context.

        Further, in Spanish, the terms “culto” and “secto” are the reverse of English. “Culto” can refer to a religion or even a church service, while “secto” (sect) is what they use for the current English “cult”. So be aware of that. Words are powerful.

        • True that Ted, but there was an answer for your wife-….. Reagan:)

          • I just read that to her, and she gags in your general direction.

          • Ted, I like your wife’s taste in presidents. Austin, nobody insults the most underrated president and walks away unchallenged, but your views are far from surprising. Religious conservatives hate Carter because it kills them that the most Christlike president was actually a Democrat.

            And Buddhism a cult, really? It’s not even really a religion. Besides, if I had the choice to sit next to a Buddhist or a Christian, I’d choose the Buddhist every time, much greater chance of having a lovely conversation.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I just saw GMA’s segment on the Mormonism is a cult comment.

      We went through this in the 2008 primaries. A radio talk-show host who was a Romney supporter got interviewed at Christianity Today, making his case for Romney as the GOP nominee.

      All the blog-comment traffic on the article was denunciations of Mormonism as a CULT, with detailed denunciations and anathemas of Mormon theology. End result: No CHRISTIAN was to vote for such a Cultist (TM), even if his platform was fully in support of Traditonal Christian Family Values (TM).

      The following January, the Obamanation of Desolation was enthroned in the White House.

    • Austin, I like to reserve the term “cult” for the deceptive religions, the ones who coerce, mislead, hide their beliefs, etc, in order to get people into their fold. Among these are the Unification Church (Moonies) and the Way International.

      The Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are at least honest and open about what they believe, so I wouldn’t include them with the cults, even though I disagree. I think Mormonism is a separate religion (although it may have begun as something like a cult, perhaps like David Koresh’s Branch Davidian). The Jehovah’s Witnesses may be a separate religion, or maybe a Christian heresy, but not quite a cult.

      The cults usually revolve around a charismatic leader and, as Gamaliel advised (Acts 5), often fall apart when the leader dies. As HUG mentioned, this did not happen with the Mormons, perhaps because Brigham Young turned it into something that resembled a religion.

      Regardless of how to classify Mormons and JW, we need to be careful whom we label as cult. I think they would need to be really dangerous and deceptive to earn that.

      • I can agree with most of that Ted. Good words.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Austin, I like to reserve the term “cult” for the deceptive religions, the ones who coerce, mislead, hide their beliefs, etc, in order to get people into their fold. Among these are the Unification Church (Moonies) and the Way International.

        I have heard “cult” defined as “a religion without political power.” And as aberrant theology (the usual Christian Cult Watch definition) and abusive control-freak behavior towards (and against) its members. A lot of theologically-Evangelical Christian “churches/fellowships” suffer from the last as well; doubly-damaging because cult-watch groups that define “cult” completely by theology don’t notice the abusive behavior.

  9. “Jesus used parables to speak in a compelling way that his contemporaries could understand,”?!??? What the heck? If memory serves me correctly didn’t Jesus say in Joh 16:25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.”?

    The language of the people is speaking in parables? As for ME I’d rather get the plain talk! After all, THAT was the language that led me to salvation. Pusillanimous pieties get you a following 10 miles wide and one inch deep.

  10. It’s the last line of the Tulsa road sign report that really sells it. Can’t you just see some local news anchor reading that line aloud while trying desperately to keep a straight face?

  11. Hmmm… I rarely go to movies, unless it has the words “STAR” and “TREK” in the title, but I think I will have to go watch “The Way”.

    Peace, Brian

  12. Jesus’ parables are understood more fully and carry much more power when understood from the perspectives of a first century-Hebrew-agrarian-villager kind of society. Knowing the social and political tenor of the times (i.e., Roman occupation) also adds to their weight. The “scholarly” English translations of those parables that we read in our Bibles are colorless reflections of the originals and what we think we know about them is, essentially, what we have been taught by the Western Church over the past few hundred years. In brief, history is NOT bunk (most assuredly) …and you just had to be there.

    By contrast, if I peruse Mr. Osteen’s prevarications and pusillanimous posturings prudently, I perceive primarily puff and piffle … 🙂

    • Oh, I think 20th century agrarian villager societies get the point of the parables, too. If you’ve ever been up a mountain chasing hoggets around to round ’em up for the sheep-dip (which I haven’t, but my sister did with her best friend and her best friend’s brother a fair few years ago), you really do appreciate the parable of the Good Shepherd and the hired hand better 🙂

  13. Richard McNeeley says

    Everytime I here about Joel Osteen I think of the Styx song “The Grand Illusion”. How appropriate that John Curulewski celebrated his birthday this past week.

  14. At some point criticizing Joel Osteen seems like taking on the skinny nerdy kid in dodgeball – he just stands there grinning and asking for it.

  15. Wheres media coach in the Bible?! Your suppose to just talk, and let the Holy Ghost tell you what to say.

    Amish vs Amish–like Bumfights? O yeah

  16. Hallow Wicka oners Wicka (another name for wichcraft)

    Its a cult just like Mormonism, they both worshop the devle (Mormons say hes Jesus brother)

    Not just holidays but the weekdays (like Monday, Tusday, Wensday) There base on pagin gods and shoud be change to God Day, Jesus Day, ect.

    • So there’s Vern’s election platform – change the names of the weekdays from pagan to Christian.

      Well, if it was good enough for the French Revolution (first a ‘rational’ decimal “week” of ten days, named First, Second, etc. and then naming the days of the year after animals, tool, plants and minerals), why not?

      Anyone know if any preacher and/or politician has tried this one yet? Would make a great change from the same old, same old “Hallowe’en/Easter/Christmas are the Devil’s Festivals!” sermon series!

  17. I think we need to elect a Buddhist president. Then just watch to see how long evangelicals defend prayer in government events. We decry separation of church and state, but endorse separation of shrine, temple, or mosque and state.

  18. Right on ox. I’m oft amazed at the contortions american evangelicals put themselves through in order to be involved politically… Rather than the state choosing a particular religion to endorse as in the past, we live in a country where the church has chosen a state: Both end up leading ‘christians’ away from Jesus.

  19. Margaret Catherine says

    I love that the main suspect in the Amish hair-cutting crime spree is named ‘Mullet’. I’d be angry too.