December 5, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 11.20.10

It’s leaf-raking time here at the iMonastery. We are very organized as monks. Chaplain Mike is in charge of gathering all of the orange leaves, Damaris gets the yellows, Lisa the reds, and Adam the browns. Joe and Mike are supposed to pick up all of the twigs, but spend most of their time throwing acorns at the leaf-rakers. Me? Well, I have the most important job of all. I gather up the Saturday Ramblings.

We keep hearing how the U.S. dollar is sinking faster than the Dallas Cowboys. Now we read how the devalued dollar is hurting overseas missionaries. The donations they rely on for their monthly expenses just aren’t going as far these days. Many missionaries are finding it necessary to spend more time fundraising and less time doing the work they are called to do. Is there perhaps a better way to fund missions than what we are doing now?

Looking for a new career? Do you enjoy screaming, heads spinning 360 degrees, vile speech and projectile vomit? The Catholic Church has just the job for you. Seems there is a shortage of exorcists just now. Al Mohler, however, doesn’t see the need for exorcists. He obviously has never been around an Oakland Raiders fan.

The Church of England also has some openings, but these are for bishops to replace those who are converting to Catholicism. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says those who are leaving are parting on good terms and with his blessings. The Catholic Church is welcoming Anglicans who wish to convert with open arms. We truly are living in a new day.

Liesl Lawrence of Georgetown, Texas is this year’s senior division winner of the Bible Bee. Congratulations to Liesl, who takes home a nice trophy and a nicer check for one hundred grand. Now, be honest: Did you even know there was such a thing as a Bible Bee? Me either. Congrats to all the winners.

We have mentioned Jamie Tworkowski and his To Write Love On Her Arms mission here before, but if you don’t know much about Jamie or TWLOHA, you should check out this interview in Christianity Today.

This coming Friday is called Black Friday, as it is the busiest shopping day of the year, and the day many retailers “go into the black” in their accounting. People will be out dark and early Friday morning to save a buck on things they  don’t need anyway. One family in Florida is already camping out in front of a big-box electronics store to save money on things they really don’t need. No, seriously. They have already pitched a tent and will live there until the doors open Friday morning. I found this story right underneath another one with the headline, “1 in 5 Americans are mentally ill.” Uh, I think we found the one…

One thing I guess you should be shopping for if you are a woman is a hat. Seems wearing ladies’ hats to church is making a big comeback, at least within certain denominations. I’m not talking about baseball caps, either. I mean Kentucky Derby hats, the kind that could put someone’s eye out if you turn around too quickly.  N.T. Wright of England could use a hat—he is, well, shall we say “hair challenged” on top of his head. But he doesn’t seem to mind. He says, “At my age, the body only produces a certain amount of hormones. If you want to use yours growing hair on top of your head, be my guest.”

Planning to see the new Harry Potter film? Read this intriguing review for a very good perspective on the first installment of the last of the HP series.

Celebrity chefs, it seems, have turned their attentions and talents to making gourmet hamburgers. For me, finding a great burger is simple. You need to find a place that has an In-N-Out sign in front. Or, if you live in Tulsa, a Goldie’s sign. Either way, you have found burger heaven.

Do I have you hungry now? Good. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. In case you forgot, or just need a Thanksgiving survival guide, you can check on the “official” Thanksgiving 2010 web site. But what you will not find there is my recipe for cranberry-orange relish. It’s a secret.

Happy birthday this past week to Jimmy Kimmel; Aaron Copeland; Boutros Boutros-Ghali; McLean “Henry Blake” Stevenson; Prince Charles; Stephen “I Fooled Around And Fell In Love” Bishop; Yanni; Georgia O’Keefe; Ed Asner; Petula Clark; Sam Waterston; Burgess Meredith; Lisa Bonet; Gordon Lightfoot; Martin Scorsese; Dick Cavett; Ted Turner; Calvin Klein and Mickey Mouse.

Whew. That’s a lot of birthdays!

Did I mention it is almost Thanksgiving? We want you and yours to have a great day of feasting, family and football this coming Thursday. Remember, it’s ok to eat your dessert first. If anyone questions you, tell them it’s an iMonk tradition.

Enjoy today’s bonus video, Snoopy’s contribution to your Thanksgiving meal.


  1. Looking for a better way to fund missions? Well, I don’t suppose the Southern Baptists have something to teach us about that now, do they? Don’t reinvent the wheel. Just join an established denomination with the right priorities.

    Cranberry orange relish? Even I can make that. I’ll one up you. Throw in a pinch of lemon peel. That’s all the hint I’m gonna give.

  2. From the Christian Post:

    “With renewed attention on the rite of exorcism, one theologian has chosen to articulate the evangelical stance on the ritual that few practice today.”

    There is a single evangelical stance on this? Who knew?

  3. Is there a different way to fund missions? Not sure what the question implies, so I may be reading into this, but what is the cost to the American church if it *stops* donating towards the spread of the gospel cross-cultural and globally? Second, what is the cost to both the American and global church if the American church stops sending it’s own children and simply sends a check – or worse yet – sends nothing?

    These aren’t merely pragmatic or strategic issues, but issues of calling and spiritual health.

  4. “At my age, the body only produces a certain amount of hormones. If you want to use yours growing hair on top of your head, be my guest.” You gotta love N.T. Wright’s humor!

    • Beelzebub's Grandson says

      Be careful, or else she-bears will come and devour you.

      • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

        Heh, some friends were making that allusion last time I got a major haircut! But I’ve often said that my family’s official Bible verse should be Leviticus 13:40.

    • I have long suspected that with certain men the reason for hair thinning is somehow linked to the active use of the brain. In such cases thinning makes the man look all the more attractive.

      N. T. Wright proves my theory.

  5. Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

    That was a neat review of the Harry Potter movie. The 7th book is the one where Rawling’s faith is most explicit. One of the major repeated motifs is a quote from the Epistles, for cryin’ out loud.

  6. “But what you will not find there is my recipe for cranberry-orange relish. It’s a secret.”

    That’s OK. I have my mother’s secret recipe, but won’t make that either.

    It’s a funny thing. I’ll spend two days preparing the Thanksgiving feast. Wednesday I’ll bake pies. I’ll gather fresh herbs for the bird and dressing. Bake the cornbread for the dressing. I’ll pick fresh greens, beans and squash from the garden. The sweet potatoes are already harvested. If I wanted to make relish I’d only need to walk a few steps outside to pick some fresh oranges.

    But, darn it, Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without turning the can opener and letting that slab of jelled, can-shaped stuff slide into a dish.

    Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to all! Gratitude is for every day, but Thanksgiving gives us a reason for extra helpings, along with an abundance of good food and family.
    Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year.

  7. >> Many missionaries are finding it necessary to spend more time fundraising and less time doing the work they are called to do.

    Is there perhaps a better way to fund missions than what we are doing now? <<

    Yes. The better way is to employ devout Asian and African Christians who can live more cheaply, don't require years of acculturation before they become effective and will stay on the job year-round!

    • But Andy, aren’t Americans God’s chosen and anointed people, the only ones who can spread God’s good news?

      What? We’re not?


      • I think the US played an important role for many years. I think it was exceptional, and much good was done by God through America and Americans.

        But God declared Israel “Not my people” in Hosea, and I think the period of US exceptionalism is ended, too.

    • Andy Z,

      Painful but true!

      I (a European Christian) remember telling my Campus for Christ colleagues years ago that the Euro would hurt missions in Europe. I remember some ironic smiles…

    • “Is there perhaps a better way to fund missions than what we are doing now? <<

      Yes. The better way is to employ devout Asian and African Christians who can live more cheaply, don't require years of acculturation before they become effective and will stay on the job year-round!"

      You gotta love outsourcing 😉

  8. Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

    I find myself wondering what makes Al Mohler any sort of authority on how Roman Catholics deal with exorcisms. The current Catholic understanding seems far more reasonable than what I’ve seen in some circles of Evangelicalism, anyway. While many Evangelicals seem to want to cast Satan out of every stubbed to and cranky disposition, the current Catholic teaching on exorcism requires the highly-trained exorcist to go through many, many steps prior to performing an exorcism so as to insure that the person really is under demonic oppression, etc. rather than suffering from issues that should rather be treated by medical or psychological means. And every time I’ve heard Catholic clergy and theologians talk about this, they reassure people that if they keep themselves in good relationship with Christ, they’re not likely to open the doors to that kind of demonic influence.

    • was Al Mohler speaking ex officio?

    • Oh, Al Mohler is an expert on every subject. If you don’t believe me, just ask him.

      (Sorry, I’m just sick of the guy. I’ve heard him teach a couple of times and he’s okay, but it seems like whenever ANY issue in the Church comes up, he’s whipping in front of the nearest microphone with a big “NO” stamp. If fundamentalists want a pope, Al, they’ll elect one — and it’ll probably be J.I. Packer, not you.)

      • Some years ago, when John Paul II was elected, a friend of mine was in a rural store in Missouri. He overheard two ladies talking about the new pope. “Did you here there’s a new pope?” Yes, and he’s Catholic again! How come they never let the Baptists have a turn?”

        • “Hear.” I’ve been grading papers all week and it’s obviously rubbing off. And there should be quotation marks before Yes.

      • Ah, I’d be less inclined to blame Dr. Mohler. It’s often the case that the papers go to their favourite pundits for an opinion, particularly in religion (there’s a running joke over at the GetReligion blog, which discusses the media’s treatment of religion, about how every time there’s a Catholic-oriented news story, the one person sure to be quoted for a reaction is Fr. Thomas Reese – as if he’s the only priest in the whole of America that’s got a telephone and will return calls).

        It well may be that, as far as reporters are concerned, they go “We need a reaction from a Baptist on this. Who do we know? Oh, yeah, that Mohler guy!” If they had more names, you might get more opinions. Or not, it depends.

    • For all of you who have been waiting for a decent follow-up to “The Exorcist”, there will be a film out in 2011 called “The Rite”. Not “based” but rather “inspired” by “a true story” (the book called “The Rite” by Matt Baglio, a journalist who followed the story of an American priest training to be an exorcist in Rome).

      Of course, this being Hollywood, they had to ginger it up a bit as the basic story was too dull 😉

      So they made the priest a “seminarian with a crisis of faith” (quite contrary to the facts, as he was a fully-ordained priest with no crises when he went off to Rome). But the trailer looks fun, and comes complete with Ominous Latin Chanting (de rigeur for any horror film worth its salt)! Plus, it’s got Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris starring. So I imagine I’ll be sitting there rolling my eyes at the theology, but it looks enjoyable if taken with a sufficient quantity of salt (link courtesy of At the Turn of the Tide blog):

      • I just finished “The Rite”. For anyone, Catholic or not, who would like some basic information on the subject of Christian and, specifically, Catholic response to demonic activity, this is a very good book. Perhaps Dr Mohler should read it. It is not exciting or sensational, but is good and has an extensive bibliography. There are some interesting reviews on Amazon with opinions that deliverance should be complete and instantaneous. Apparently, that is not the case. Just like any healing, it usually takes a lot of work. Just like the rest of the Christian life.
        I agree that heads spinning and other drama is most visible with toddlers, or teenagers. Thanks, Martha

    • Salsapinkkat says

      See my reply below about the ‘smaller’ stuff you seem somewhat dismissive about- our church (in the middle of inner city London) has a lot of messed up people in it- that’s one of the things I love about it- the sort of place Jesus might want to hang out in! Some of these people have been so in the grip of various strongholds (addictions etc) that a ‘good relationship with Christ’ is initially a full on struggle with the other side. That’s NOT to say we are seeing demons around every corner -I was in a church like that once 🙁 It’s just that the leaders do occasionally have to deal with the big stuff. Once it’s dealt with, I completely agree with your last statement- but what makes you think that Satan- the father of lies- wouldn’t want to take every chance he can (especially in weakened individuals) to oppress us… Don’t forget CS Lewis’s comments on our attitude to Satan…

  9. Bad news: the “Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year” urban legend is just that — urban legend. Or maybe a PR stunt drummed up by retailers. Either way, the ACTUAL busiest shopping day of the year in the US is almost always the Saturday before Christmas (December 18 this year):

    Still, Black Friday is a great day to go to the mall, find a comfortable seat … and laugh at all the frenzied shoppers, since I bought all our Christmas presents online weeks ago! Good times!

    • My daughter who worked a Chick-fil-la at a major mall for 3 Black Fridays would disagree. But maybe it’s that malls tend to have their busiest days. What with them full of rural folks who can drive in with the extra days off.

  10. Al Mohler may be right that any Christian can get rid of demons by using the name of Jesus but even disciples that Jesus had empowered in the Gospel stories to go out and heal people had some problems heaing some folks. Jesus said some kinds of problems needed a great amount of prayer power to heal. If I encountered someone who seemed to be totally consumed/possessed by evil, I would want someone there who had seen this before and who felt more confident than I did. That’s just my take on it. And I, too, like it that the Catholic authorites check out whether someone just has physical or mental problems before they begin exorcisms. Although there is nothing wrong, of course, with praying for healing from physical and mental health problems as well.

    • Salsapinkkat says

      Our church has had some long term experience with demon oppression- a member from Cape Town says in Africa people are more aware of the supernatural, which has both positive & negative effects, but does mean that things are less hidden. Her experience in the UK is more ‘strongholds’ in christians- often when an unhealthy way of thinking has predominated in someones life. I’ve had personal experience of this: Fear of what people think of me, and a need to control. Both went on two single evenings over a couple of years- the first I can only describe as being God removing the power of the ‘stronghold’ (sorry for the jargon- but it does describe how it felt!) without even specific prayer (although people were praying for other stuff!). Since that night I have lost a fear of talking to people from different backgrounds/ colour to me – invaluable in an inner city church in London- I can’t tell you how powerful those fears are in such a church.
      The second time was after specific simple teaching about strongholds and friends praying. God brought back to me two specific childhood memories back and I felt made it clear that I had to let go & forgive the individuals. Since that night, my somewhat matriachal tendency to manipulate my long-suffering hubby has pretty much gone. I do feel that in both cases there is a weak residual temptation to take up those patterns of behaviour again- but no drive to do so!
      As well as this, I’ve heard our pastors talk of their experiences of ‘casting out demons’- can be pretty dramatic, but not commonplace, and respond to firm handling (sometimes need to be told to be quiet) and I completely agree that I wouldn’t feel keen to DIY!
      ps Our church is charismatic evangelical (New Frontiers) but a particularly grace-filled version with other IMers within!

  11. “Do you enjoy screaming, heads spinning 360 degrees, vile speech and projectile vomit?”

    Advertisement for a job opening in the local nursery school, Jeff? (Ladies, anyone who’s ever babysat toddlers knows what I’m talking about, correct?)


    • I already had my share of this, Martha. I taught in a public high school for nine years…

      • Ah, a situation where the use of the name of Jesus was often invoked, though not perhaps in quite the sense Dr. Mohler means 🙂

        (Worked as a school secretary myself, so I understand where you’re coming from).

  12. How to improve mission funding? Find a missionary over there. Discreetly ask how much they need in actual dollars and cents (or convertible currency). I say actual because some ministers will say “anything is appreciated” or, loosely translated, “more, more, more” so you never really know if their needs have been met. Then give them the money without them having to waste their time asking you. I’ve met overseas ministers who must have spent more money flying to America to raise support than they flew home with any pledged support.

    There’s also support fatigue. When times are good, we should give more because we have more. When times are bad, we should give more because the need is even greater in times like these.

    • George in AZ says

      But the issue is the declining — the ongoing decline — value of the dollar. If you ask the missionary “over there” — regardless of whether that missionary is a local or an American — about how much is needed, the answer you get today will be out of date in a month or so. It would be like asking the date — it’s gonna change as time goes on. Readers here hate economic principles, but those principles do apply, and currencies do not keep the same relative values when countries pursue different monetary and fiscal strategies as is occurring today.

      How to improve funding? Track the buying power of the dollar relative to the currency used by the missionary. Then adjust your support level by the change. Yes, it will cost you more. But you did ask the question, and if you seriously wanted an answer….

      • Does it work the other way? When the dollar strengthens, do I give less? 😉 I mean to say: if we find the missionaries and give them money without expecting them to come ask us, then we save the missionaries time. We can ask them how much money they need to make it for a particular period of time. Even with fluctuating exchange rates, most currencies stay stable for long periods of time. However, “inflation”, as many of us are learning, does not take into account increases in food and fuel and other routine expenses. Maybe local mission boards should put together a basket of goods as their own consumer price index (CPI) to better explain (to missionares and donors) what everyday living can cost on a mission field.

  13. Just a picky: It was *Elvin* Bishop, not *Stephen* Bishop, that was responsible for the song, “Fooled Around and Fell In Love”. *Stephen* Bishop was responsible for the song “On and On” and “It Might Be You” (used in the movie “Tootsie”.) I’m old enough to remember when both Elvin Bishop and Stephen Bishop were played on the radio! 🙂

    • Oh my goodness! You are so right. I should never put this together after listening to Pink Floyd all day…messes with my mind.

      Tina wins the Internet, Ray…

  14. 1) Who’s dog is that?

    2) You can watch the entire Charlie Brown special in high quality on Hulu. Following this feature is another special that places the Peanuts cast in a historical documentary of the first Thanksgiving.

  15. Dan Allison says

    I work right down the street from the store where the consumers are camped out — in fact, I work for the competition. No one camped in front of our store yet. What other schizophrenic culture devotes an entire day to thanking God for what we have….then the very next day we trample others to death to get what we don’t have.

  16. David Morris says

    Someone else pointed this out already, but the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong offerings in the SBC seem to work quite well. Our Church was given a target to hit. A result of this is that SBC missionaries don’t need to raise support. That said, for the price of supporting one US missionary, I can support a number of native missionaries through organisations like Advancing Native Missions.