December 1, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 11.13.10

Jingle, jangle—hear that ramble? It’s time for Saturday Ramblings.

Tales from the crypt? At Rome’s Catholic Church, the youth pastor has turned a crypt into a night club, complete with a live music stage and a bar. Gee, Martha—we might all become Catholics yet.

Or maybe we’ll just become Irish, like Bono. Just in case any pre-teens exist who don’t know who Bono is, a new book is out to explain that the superstar musician has “faith in God.” Sigh…

George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, was released this week. In it he confesses that his faith would not have been as strong if he had not quit drinking. He’d never make in in Ireland now, would he?

I doubt a book will ever be written about Sayed Mossa. But if it were, every pre-teen who desires to follow Christ should read it. Along with every adult.

Or you can read about Ingrid Betancourt’s six and a half year captivity in Columbia. Her humble faith is something we could all aspire to.

Is there a theology of productivity? Matt Perman believes there is. He is the senior director of strategy at Desiring God. Thus we have his viewpoints, and we have fulfilled our John Piper quota for the week all in one ramble.

In case you don’t have enough to scare you, the American Spectator fears a Mennonite Takeover. Well, they already own most of Christian fiction…

Happy birthdays this past week to Jonathan Harris (Dr. Smith on Lost In Space); Johnny “Secret Agent Man” Rivers; Christopher Knight (Peter on the Brady Bunch); The Pillsbury Doughboy; Jack Kilby (inventor of the pocket calculator); Mackenzie Phillips; Alger Hiss; Daniel Ortega; Al Michaels (Monday Night Football); Ann Hathaway; and Billy Graham, who celebrated his 92 birthday this week.

It is said that no one has spoken to more people than Billy Graham in all of history. And for good reason. He preaches straight forward Gospel. Enjoy some vintage preaching Billy Graham-style in today’s bonus video.


  1. Well, as long as it wasn’t this crypt. Bit crowded, but really not a party spot…

    • I’ve been in this place…..actual it is artistically done but beyond that….strange to our American eyes. Italians are use to seeing bones all mixed together. In small country town cemeteries corpses are dug up after so many years and they are thrown down into a common large grave that has a dome shaped type of top. I recall seeing one that had been broken and all the bones below were visible.

      One of the Friars at this Fransican cemetery explained that due to too many deaths and not enough burial space the Friars at the time became “creative”. So foreign to our American burial habits.

      • I’ve been there also. (Part of the awesomeness of Rome…that you can get lost looking for the metro, see a plain, completely unassuming church facade, stop in totally at random…and find the “bone church” that is the stuff of study-abroad legend.) The feel of the place is so totally different than what you expect just from hearing about it. Not morbid at all. Just…real. This is what is, this is what happens, this is what we need to bear in mind. “What you are, we were. What we are, you will be.”

        • I lived in Greece as a child and remember a day when my mother and I were exploring the countryside. We stopped at a rural church just as the caretaker was digging up the bones from the church yard. We stayed and watched while they gathered the bones and took them down to the crypt. Bright sunlight, the smell of thyme and dust, my mother explaining Greece’s shortage of space in matter-of-fact terms — I enjoyed the day then, and it’s always been a good memory.

  2. It’s not many bars that are going to have a large crucifix on the wall like I saw in the article as you click through the 7 photos that accompany the article!

    • I saw a nearly life-sized crucifix in a liquor store in Riobamba, Ecuador last winter. Jesus was hanging right over the cases of beer in the middle of the room.

      No comment on why this baptist on a mission trip was in a liquor store…

      • Ted, I’m sure it was for research purposes only, and possibly witnessing on your part as to the evils of the demon drink.


  3. “In case you don’t have enough to scare you, the American Spectator fears a Mennonite Takeover. ”

    you better join the revolution – or will make you eat shoo-fly pies & sing “Praise God for whom all blessings flow” – the long version.
    we have already revolutionized quilt making & furniture – America is next! come & join us Comrades!

    • LOL and stuff.

    • and, we will make Pennsylvania Dutch the new national language while we force everyone to beat their swords into plowshares!

    • *proclamatory tones* And one day, one sweet day, everybody in this nation will know what we mean when we says 606!

      (For the unitiated, this refers to the “long version” of “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” referenced above)

      In all actuality… I’m not sure whether I’m encouraged or disturbed by that article.

  4. A Sayed! As a descendent of the descendants of Muhammed, he would be abused all the more. Christ have mercy on the souls of those who persecute.

  5. There were quite a few headdesks in that night club article…

  6. Thanks for the link to Ingrid Betancourt’s interview. I was a little disappointed that some of her answers had been “edited for length.” I wanted to read more! I look forward to reading her book.

  7. Salsapinkkat says

    I admit, I am a U2 fan so am biased, but from what I’ve read of Bono he does seem to have a strong faith, albeit not one easily tied down to denominations- but I would say he tries to be Jesus- focussed rather than religious. He is shameless in using his public position & persona to fight for those weaker & struggling (eg in the third world) & asks some difficult questions of politicians…

    That’s not to say he hasn’t made his fair share of mistakes of the ‘rock ‘n roll’ type rather than our more suburban sins- so obviously he scores higher on the sin-scale- right? 😉 but then we’re not the ones judging are we?

    So… what’s with the sigh?

    • I sigh not because of Bono–I think he has done a lot of good, he seems to have–as you say–a Jesus-based relationship (or, as we say here, a Jesus-shaped spirituality), and he makes good music.

      I sigh because we have to “consumerize” his faith in a book to pre-teens. It is just so predictable…


      • VOLAlongTheWatchTower says

        Oh! Well, that’s different. We just watched the Vertigo Tour from Chicago 2005 per the 13 year old’s choosing last night, Viva Paul, Dave, Adam & Larry! I LOVE that there’s an unspoken ban on KLOVE of U2. Go Big Orange, too! That said, could you elaborate on the predictable part? Probably a stupid question, admittedly, but kickoffs in 30 minutes and I’m easily distracted!

        • True kick-off is not until 2:30 Central when the Buckeyes take on Penn State and the Sooners go up against Texas Tech.

          I say predictable because that is what publishers do to get easy sales. The book was a “throw-together” by an author who has never met Bono. She took quotes from other interviews to weave together the bio. Yes, I have done that too. Well, I didn’t write it, but I did agent it. And that is why I don’t want to be in that sort of publishing any longer.

          Name a celebrity who becomes a Christian, and watch as publishers rush to get a book out on him or her. But we as consumers are just as guilty. If we didn’t buy them, the publishers wouldn’t publish them…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Name a celebrity who becomes a Christian, and watch as publishers rush to get a book out on him or her.

            CELEBRITY Convert Syndrome. Getting paraded before Christians as “SEE! A CELEBRITY! AND HE’S ONE OF US!!!” nonstop before he has any chance to grow into the faith. Straight from the Altar Call to the speaking tours and ghost-written CELEBRITY autobiographies in all the Jesus Junk stores.

            Getting exploited just like before, except with a Christian (TM) coat of paint.

            Telling all the rest of us little people that only CELEBRITIES matter.

            And usually resulting in a nasty Burnout for the CELEBRITY Convert a few years down the road.

            (Remember the John & Kate Plus Eight autobiography/Testimony/Bible Study Guides? Christian Monist does.)

  8. A theology of productivity?:
    “So Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly’.”
    John 13:27b

  9. Happy Birthday also this week (November 11th) to Abigail Adams, soul mate and wife to John Adams. I have just been reading some of their correspondence during the Revolution. It’s stirring stuff, very wise and faith-filled. She was also an early and articulate champion of women’s rights …methinks a great lady undervalued for her contributions.

    • I recently read some interesting things about Abigail Adams, too, Jim. It is women like her that make me aware how much influence women throughout history have had that we really know so little about.

  10. As an Anabaptist, I have mixed feelings about becoming ‘popular’. There are good ideas to share, but the strength of this tradition is that you stay true to Christ without regard to persecution, power or popularity.

    The pacifism was already co-opted in the 1960s. The unpopular refusal to participate in wars became popular, but also became something very different than a stubborn adherence to Biblical teaching (or at least one understanding of Biblical teaching.)

    The anti-pacifist comments are the usual sort of thing and miss the point. There is the notion that we are not willing to die for our beliefs and that the belief only survives because others protect us. Also, there is the idea that everyone might become pacifist, but that everyone only includes Americans. Look, it won’t happen, but if everyone were a pacifist, there would be no one to attack us. Except aliens, I guess.

    So maybe pacifism is wrong, but can anyone really claim that there is no place in the church for peacemakers?

    • I’ve had the privilege of hanging out with several Mennonites this year at events that were primarily attractive to Hippies or anarchists. I was very impressed by their love for the people with whom they were placed and their quick wits when Jesus (not themselves) were blatantly ridiculed. Their defense was simple, yet one knew a line had been crossed. Hats of to the peacemakers.

    • can we live up to the sermon of the mount? NO – but that doesn’t make it wrong. we live our lives focused on Jesus teachings – with the understanding that we will fall short. But the work of Jesus on the cross forgives us of our short falls.
      check out Scot Mcknight’ s Jesus Creed – he is an Anabaptist & has a good Mennonite response to the ‘Mennonite takeover’ peace

  11. Well, ladies get those big polka dot headscarves now to go over your small organdy veiling. Single headcovering is for heathens. And get those dresses with the really big pockets for holy shoplifting.
    Seriously we all have a lot to learn from Anabaptists. I love them even though they have a pretty mixed reputation around here.

  12. Anabaptist doctrine is like the circle in the earlier post this week. It does not capture the paradoxes of faith or life in a fallen world, particularly the paradox of the alien works of God and the separation of kingdoms, or the fact that the the most spiritual person is still a saint and sinner. There is a need for government, for regulation, and at times, the need to wage war. Passivity does not bring about peace. Post WW-I passivism empowered the Third Reich through naive peace treaties and lack of military preparedness. On the surface, Anabaptists might endorse a separation of church and state, but in reality, they are promoting the opposite: a sort of utopian spiritualism which cripples civil rule and misrepresents the spiritual kingdom, which is the opposite of modern cultural warriors, who compromise the spiritual kingdom in an effort to build a physical kingdom on earth. Without the rule of government, individual freedom is impossible. We’re back to the same problems inherent in Libertarian/Tea Party Randian-esque antigovernmentalism. The only ones who are free in anarchy are tyrants and thugs. It is why the United States is a republic, rather than a pure democracy. It is strange that conservatives, who I think would believe in the total depravity of man, would support the need for strong, regulatory government, that liberals would be the ones who would be anti-government, inspired by the innate goodness and perfectability of man.

    • World War 1 created the weakened state, resources, & spirit that allowed Nazis,Communists,& Fascists to offer false hope to the masses. – without WW1 their would be no WW2 etc….

    • There is nothing passive about real pacifism. Your average anti-war activist you see on the street? Sure, but not true pacifism.

      I feel like there are few things in this country so poorly understood as pacifism.

  13. With regard to that story, parts of it made me sporfle:

    “Rev. Maurizio Mirilli, head of youth ministry in Rome’s Catholic Church”

    Yes, because in Rome, Italy, there is only one Catholic Church amongst all the Baptist, Presbyterian, Seventh-Day Adventist, Episcopalian, Plymouth Brethren, and non-denominational churches, so we can use the general rather than the specific in this instance 🙂

    They do clarify further down that Fr. Mirilli is Head of Youth Ministry for all the churches in Rome but it was just that particular way they put it that made me laugh. As for “having “a drink with a bishop,” you don’t need to go to GP2 to do that – nor indeed, only in Rome.

    Ah, it’s fair enough. A confessional in the crypt? As good as anywhere else. I’ve seen some shocked!horrified! reactions elsewhere in the Catholic blogosphere, but it’s not really a million miles removed from the “Theology on Tap” idea (even if I’m way too old for clubbing at this hour of my life).

    However, if drink, dancing, and women will entice you in, Jeff…. 😉

    Bono believes in God? Well, begob and begosh, I never knew that now! Would that explain things like singing “Gloria in te domine/Gloria exultate/Gloria…Gloria/Oh Lord, loosen my lips” in one of the U2 songs, I wonder?

    As regards drink and the Irish, I will only comment that Guinness is an example of early ecumenical outreach, seeing as how Arthur was Protestant and Ireland is 90%+ Roman Catholic.


    • What’s a sporfle?

      • Ah, that’s my hanging around on fandom and fanfiction sites showing.

        “Sporfle” refers to the kind of muffled chuckling that results when one is trying to be polite and not laugh in the person’s face at the absurd or amusing in an inappropriate fashion thing that person has said or written.

  14. Whoops – good job we’re celebrating the birth of the inventor of the pocket calculator. Got my figures wrong as usual.

    Looked up 2006 census results, and I see that the proportion of Roman Catholics in the Republic of Ireland is only 86% – the remaining 14% is made up of “Church of Ireland (including Protestant), Presbyterian, Methodist, Jewish, Other, No, and Not Stated”.

  15. Perhaps not a theology of productivity, but we should have a world view which captures why and how we work. Productivity quickly becomes the ends justifying the means, destroying lives, communities, environment, quality, and reputation in the name of profit and productivity. One discussion taking place at this week’s G20 meetings concerned how to promote economic growth without damaging the environment. Protestant Manicheanism promotes the subduing and exploitation of an evil, physical world and the enslavement and mistreatment of wicked people to advance the love of money, which is the root of all evil; this seems strange to me.

    Productivity can be misleading. Eliyahu M. Goldratt tells a story in his book, “The Goal” of a factory with modern, productive manufacturing equipment that can’t produce anything. The company focused on efficiency rather than throughput, so that raw materials were stuck in a morass of bottlenecks and final products were not getting shipped out the door.

  16. Is that Hathaway of “Princess Diaries” or Hatahawy aka Mrs. William Shakespeare?

  17. I heard a preacher over the weekend [international and prolific] state that latest stats show that 91% of Roman Catholics believe that one can be made right with God other than through Jesus Christ….

    In other words, despite of the dogma that the RCC has written down – a whopping 91% of its attendees are heretical universalists….


    • “Regrettably, Catholics in Iraq, parts of India, and numerous other regions did not respond to our survey.”

      • As one racists former politician famously said in my country…….

        “Please explain?”

        • I mean that they’re too busy suffering and sometimes dying for their faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ, to stop and answer any sort of survey – or whatever was used to arrive at that 91% figure – about whether they actually believe in Him.

          In other words – what “stats” was this preacher referring to? What was his evidence for the claim?

    • Any link to that survey and what questions were asked?

      More importantly, what language was it couched in? Often there needs to be translation from Evangelicalese to Catholic and back again, otherwise the two parties are talking past each other (e.g. “a personal relationship with Christ” is something that might be of paramount importance to that preacher but would not be the way a Catholic such as I would express myself, and therefore he might conclude that I am ignorant of Christ).

      Matthew, we needn’t be heretical univeralists. We could just be heretical works-righteousness folk. 🙂

      • “Matthew, we needn’t be heretical univeralists. We could just be heretical works-righteousness folk.”

        Cute, Martha!