December 2, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 12.11.10

It’s countdown Saturday. Countdown to Christmas? Well, no—but if you haven’t addressed your Christmas cards yet, I suggest you get started. College football countdown? C’mon. Other than the Army-Navy game, this is a bye week for college football. No. “Countdown Saturday.” Look at the date. December 11, 2010. 12-11-10. Well, at least it’s a Saturday. Are you ready to Ramble?

The long-awaited third installment in the Chronicles of Narnia movie series opened yesterday in theaters nationwide. Early reviews have been mixed at best, and reports say this could be the last of the series if the box office receipts don’t warrant a fourth movie. Liam Neeson, the voice of Aslan, says Aslan is not necessarily Jesus. He could be, according to Neeson, Muhammed or Buddha. Ok then. Douglas Gresham, C.S. Lewis’s stepson, serves as the “Narnia Police” to keep the scripts as faithful as possible to the books. For this film, he must have been out eating donuts. Look for my review this evening.

This week marked the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon. Many fans gathered in New York at a memorial in Central Park called Strawberry Fields. (And everyone who believes John said “cranberry sauce” at the end of that song, kindly stand on your heads.) One fan at the memorial said that Lennon was “the Jesus of music” who “came to save us.” If anyone needed saving, it was John from Yoko. On a serious note, John initiated a correspondance with Oral Roberts. Lennon wrote to the evangelist with two questions: “Is God real? And if he is, could he love someone like me?” The two wrote several letters back and forth. When John uttered his infamous “we’re more popular than Jesus” line, he was issuing an indictment against the church. In a later interview, he claimed that his goal with his music was to “turn the focus on the Beatles on to Christ’s message.”

Well, I didn’t see this coming. PETA is now calling on the Pope to advocate safe sex for dogs and cats. The animal-rights advocacy group is handing out leaflets that read, “Dogs & Cats Can’t Use Condoms. We Are in the Midst of an Unholy Animal Overpopulation Crisis. Spay or Neuter Today.” Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, said, “The pontiff has a lot on his plate and hasn’t got around to this issue yet, but he might, given that saving the lives of homeless dogs and cats is inarguably kind.” Oh, I’m sure he’ll get right on this. Sigh…By the way, PETA does not stand for People Eating Tasty Animals. But it should.

I wrote earlier this week about some books I like to read this time each year. Here are a few more suggestions. They sound reasonable and worth looking into if you are stumped for something to read.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer an illustration of Christ’s incarnation? Richard Mouw makes a compelling case here.

While homeschooling is still somewhat controversial in some circles in the United States, at least it’s not illegal like it is in Germany. Parents who homeschool risk loosing custody of their children in the Rhineland. Not all parents who homeschool do it for religious reasons, but the reasons are not considered by the police. Your thoughts?

Vandals chopped off the branches of the Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury, England this week. The tree was supposedly planted by Joseph of Arimethea 2,000 years ago. According to the legend, St. Joseph traveled to Glastonbury after Jesus’ death and resurrection, bringing with him the Holy Grail and a staff that had belonged to Jesus. He stuck the staff in ground and lay down to sleep. When he awoke, the staff had grown into a thorn tree. It has been a site for pilgrims for centuries. Needless to say, the residents of Glastonbury are none too happy to have their famous tree chopped down.

A survey shows that 40% of pastors believe President Obama is a Christian. There is no word as to the number of pastors the president believes to be Christians.

A new “reality” TV show debuted this week. “Hookers: Saved on the Strip” features former high-priced call girl Annie Lobert as she reaches out to prostitutes in Las Vegas, encouraging them to give up their trade and come live at the Destiny House. I represented Annie as her literary agent. She is in danger trying to get the women off the streets as the pimps don’t like having their money makers leave the business. Yet Annie is fearless in her faith. It was kind of awkward for me the first time I went to meet with Annie. I mean, how do you tell your boss you’re flying to Vegas for a 3 o’clock appointment with a hooker? (Answer: Very carefully.)

Birthdays this past week include Max “Jethro Bodine” Baer, Jr.; Dennis Wilson (the late drummer for the Beach Boys); Jeff Bridges and his brother Beau Bridges; Cassandra Wilson; Tyra Banks; Walt Disney; Jim “Loggins and” Messina; Israel “Ira” Gershwin; Dave Brubeck; Harry Chapin; Tom Waits; Larry Bird; Sammy Davis, Jr.; Kirk Douglas; Donny Osmond; Jakob Dylan; and Dame Judi “M” Dench.

Have you ever wondered how monks who have taken a vow of silence sing? After all, we are commanded to sing songs and hymns and spiritual songs. We are told to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Well, First Lady Denise Spencer alerted us to a group of monks who do sing–in a way. Enjoy Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus as performed by the Silent Monks.


  1. “. . . at least it’s not illegal like it is in Germany. Parents who homeschool risk loosing custody of their children in the Rhineland. Not all parents who homeschool do it for religious reasons, but the reasons are not considered by the police. Your thoughts?”

    Having experienced the world of homeschooling, I say it should be safe, legal, and (importantly) rare. I think we need more stringent homeschooling laws in the U.S.

    • >> I say it should be safe, legal, and (importantly) rare. <<

      Bing! Wanting to is the same as qualified to.

      • Grr. Make that Wanting to is NOT the same as qualified to.

        We did it with our kids up through elementary school. But Damaris is an extraordinary teacher.

    • Homeschooling is illegal in the Netherlands as well… what is more, no one here knows about it. To refuse to have children go to school (the dutch ‘learn duty”) is an uncivic offense and it means you are:
      1) an asocial person
      2) not part of dutch society
      3) abusing your children.
      Of course it could mean you lose custody over your children…. the idea!!!

      To me the whole concept of home schooling is typically american. It came into being under the circumstances of the Great Frontier and is culturally limited to the USA.

  2. I haven’t yet read any of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books. They are on my list to get to someday! Maybe then I will see the movies, but it sounds like this third movie is a dud, Jeff. Thanks for the warning!

    I wish Annie Lobert well and hope that nobody hurts her.

    Have a good weekend, Jeff, and everybody!

    • I’ve seen at least one good review. Anyway, I’ll make up my own mind. Plan to go this afternoon. Won’t bother with the 3D version.

      • Dan Allison says

        Wow, Joanie, the books are must-reads! As for Neeson and the film versions, the critics are technically correct — the filmslose most of the “spirit of Lewis.” My thinking, though, is that most people are never going to read the books anyway, and at least the films are exposing those people to the stories that they would otherwise miss entirely. Neeson must not know his Bible, because those of us who do see way too much Biblical imagery to mistake Aslan for anyone but Christ. In short — they aren’t perfect, but better that the movies exist than not exist.

  3. “The long-awaited third installment in the Chronicles of Narnia movie series…”

    How can you say this with a straight face? The first was a snoozer, and I skipped no. 2 but the reviews were mostly bad. I doubt there was much demand for a no. 3, but as long as they’ve got one, they might as well crank out one more where they kill off those annoying kids. Call it “Narnia: The Final Conflict” (a la Omen 3) or “Narniageddon.”

    • Personally I thought the kid that played Eustace got it exactly right.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      There already is a Narniageddon:
      Volume 7, The Last Battle.

      Of which, the REAL test of faithful adaptation is “Will they do Horse and His Boy and/or The Last Battle straight, or will they chicken out like they did with Neverending Story II?

  4. “The animal-rights advocacy group is handing out leaflets that read, “Dogs & Cats Can’t Use Condoms. We Are in the Midst of an Unholy Animal Overpopulation Crisis. Spay or Neuter Today.”

    Okay, it’s known that the Pope loves cats. But speaking off the top of my head, I really don’t believe my Church has a position on the sinfulness or otherwise of castrating animals. So PETA really, really, does not need to get the Pope to issue a ruling on this.

    Granted, this is just a bit of clever publicity piggybacking on the whole “Vatican approves condoms!!!” (er, no?) thing in the papers. It’s still ridiculous.

    If there are too many feral dogs and cats (as a hard-hearted person), I say have them collected off the streets and humanely put down. I like animals, but I have never understood the impulse to treat them as ersatz-humans. I read a reference to someone talking about their ‘grand-dogs’ (that is, the dogs owned by their children) and my first impulse was “What the hell is wrong with Americans????” even though it was more likely to be a humorous reference rather than actually meaning “These are my grand children since there aren’t any actual human babies in the familiy” (at least, I’m fervently hoping it was joking and not serious).

    As to people who refer to themselves as their dog’s ‘mom’ or ‘dad’, I have no words.

    And yes, I know I’ve just mortally offended all those of you who love your doggie-woggie snookums and he’s exactly like a person, yes he is!

    • My mother-in-law has always referred to our dogs as her “grand-pups” and it drives me kinda crazy. It is definitely a very American thing to do. She also calls our son “my baby” as if he was hers, but that’s a whole other issue (that drives me even more crazy than the dog one.)
      And I hate to say it, but the ones who say that their dogs are their babies until they have kids are totally serious. It puts a whole new perspective on calling them ‘part of the family’.

    • You can’t possibly claim that Americans have cornered the market on animal silliness! The British are famous for it. Poor Martha, sandwiched between two excessively sentimental nations.

      And condom use for animals? Anyone who’s ever studied any comparative anatomy will collapse in giggles at the thought of the party-balloon shapes the condoms would have to be. I mean, ducks?!! (Look it up.)

      There, Martha, I diverted any indignation from you by my extreme tastelessness.

      • Damaris, I grew up in the country. As you say, the thought of designing a condom for, say, a donkey stallion?

        *collapses in giggles* (Gentlemen, no insult, but this is why comments like ‘he’s hung like a stallion’ are complete hyperbole.)

        That’s probably part of my attitude problem. Animals were (1) future food (2) working animals (3) pets. Certainly not replacement family members. And I say that as someone whose first dog pretty much treated me and my siblings as her pups 🙂

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          As you say, the thought of designing a condom for, say, a donkey stallion?

          Already been done, in World War Two. British military (Royal Marine Commandos?)commissioned donkey-stallion-sized condoms as waterproof sheaths for spare Sten Gun barrels. One story was they were marked “Medium” — “So if any were captured, they could worry Herr Hitler that somebody else was planning a Master Race.”

    • Well, after we rescued a half-starved kitten that had been dumped. and nursed him back to health, we gave him to our son. I have been known to call him the grandkitten. Since our own cats are much older it sorta made since. If the pope asking people to spay and neuter would actually get them to do it, I’m all for it.

    • Let’s see … I feed, brush, bathe, exercise, socialize, train and play with my dog. I brush her teeth, comfort her when she’s hurt and make sure she gets to the vet when she’s not well. Yep, I’m her “mom.”

    • Agree that PETA is over the top. And I think some pet owners are too. However, there is a real component of sin in the mistreatment and neglect of animals inasmuch as they are God’s creation. I live in a county with huge problems in this regard. Our animal control agencies put down tens of thousands of cats and dogs each month because there are no mandatory spay and neuter laws or enforced licensing for breeding, and people are simply sinfully irresponsible.

      The care of God’s creation is a biblical task and, at least where I live, getting some decent regulations and education in place would truly be doing God’s work, imho.


    • I have adopted 4 dogs from pounds and shelters so far. If the Pope were to suggest spay/neuter it would actually be a kind gesture. There are a lot of abandoned animals out there. It is immensely irresponsible for people to let their pets run around loose in the first place and in the second place not to spay/neuter. Spaying a female dog (and yes, not the right technical term) before her first heat can just about eliminate the possibility of mammarian cancer (breast cancer in non-human animals).

      While I recognize my dogs are not people, I do care for them deeply. My oldest is 14 and approaching the end of her life. She takes cardiac medicine (which I administer) and we’ve recently had to get her a coat (it looks like a horse jacket, just smaller) because the winter chill affects her more now. She was rescued from an unfit home (malnourished) back in 97, and we adopted her a few months later.

      Spikey is my middle dog. She is 5 or so and we adopted the 90lb beastie at a shelter to which we had come to donate cans. She was found living on the mean streets and was not in good shape at all when they got her. She was at the shelter for 8 months because it can be difficult to place large dogs.

      Scampi is my youngest dog. She is 2 or 3. We adopted her a year ago. She had already been in the shelter for some time because people were freaked out by her disability (she has crooked femurs–the knee caps face the wrong way on her). She gets around OK (can run, jump on furniture and climb most stairs–good enough for a pet!) and is not pained by the condition.

      Alex, our pet emeritus (she has passed on) came to our family as a puppy and lived to be 13.

      One does get attached due to the long relationships we get with our pets.

    • Martha, if you were watching the news of the hurricane Katrina when it hit the US a couple years ago, you were probably appalled at the number of people refusing to leave their homes because there was no shelters that would take their pets. They were risking death to stay with their pets. I have to admit to being closer in sentiment to those folks than perhaps to your feelings about pets. But I also do understand your point of view.

      I haven’t had a pet since our cat died quite a few years ago after living with us 18 years. We loved him. Tom felt that when he was sick our cat understood that and the cat stayed closer to him and curled up with him more.

      There is a cat somewhere in the US that lives in a nursing home who somehow knows when a resident will be dead in a few hours. He will insist on going into the room and onto the bed of the resident. He is so accurate that the staff calls in the family when they see this happening.

      There is a story of a horse knocking down a man who was being physically abusive to the horse’s owner, a woman. There are things about animals that are beyond our understanding, no matter how smart we are.

  5. If Aslan could be Jesus, Mohamed, or Buddha, how is this different than the Christless Christianity presented in most mega churches any given Sunday? Christ is a stumbling block, and everyone – from Hollywood to Willow Creek – knows it. If you want to sell tickets or fill seat in your auditorium, don’t talk about Jesus or the gospel. Talk about being happy and being good. Create an antagonist and make the audience identify with a heroic protagonist who is morally on the winning side of “god”. Talk about happy endings, where every wish magically comes true. It’s all the “Magic Kingdom Mentality described by Chaplain Mike earlier this week.

    The Narnia movies were produced by Disney, which makes them a good example of the Disney-ification of Christianity. As Chaplain Mike stated, “But I know what Disney is and what they do—They take classic stories and make cartoons out of them.” Did anyone really think this would be any different? If box office success was the goal, then the Narnia orthodoxy should have backed off and let Disney work their magic unfettered. Either way, the media is the message, and that’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, we like it.

  6. Lots of interesting topics in today’s post. The story of the tree made me sad. It’s good for Christians to have something to connect them with their origins, whether or not the tree really is a miraculous staff. I grew up in a pretty conservative evangelical church, and all of the years of church history between 90 AD and 1850AD are unknown to us. I long so much to know where I come from as a Christian!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I grew up in a pretty conservative evangelical church, and all of the years of church history between 90 AD and 1850AD are unknown to us.

      As in “Nothing between the Holy History in the Bible and the founding of our particular One True Restored New Testament Church”? That’s the same idea of church history you get from the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses! With no solid historical trace, the Bible becomes nothing more than just another book of mythology from Once Upon a Time, unconnected to reality. They did a big disservice to you, Milton.

  7. Jesus the misfit who resists and battles the oppressive, mindless collective to save the day. First the Disney-ification of Christianity, now the Rand-ification of the Christmas story.

    What the article gets right is Tolkein’s idea of the eucatastrophic nature of fairy tales. We evangelicals take a pragmatic and utilitarian approach to story-telling; the story is just a thin envelope in which we deliver the four-spiritual-laws. We can’t grasp the sacramental potential of a story, unlike Hollywood, which in contrast understands the demonic potential of stories to terrify and disturb. But Hollywood still manages to tell stories of redemption seemingly accidentally – without intending to evangelize any particular dogma.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      We evangelicals take a pragmatic and utilitarian approach to story-telling; the story is just a thin envelope in which we deliver the four-spiritual-laws. We can’t grasp the sacramental potential of a story…

      And that is the difference between Story and Propaganda.

      “Effective Propaganda consists of Simplification and Repetition.”
      — Reichsminster Josef Goebbels

  8. The Beatles as a Christian Band?? hmm…..

    Put your God-phones on and listen to “The Long and Winding Road.”
    Surely this is a powerful psalm of lament. Who are the nouns and pronouns?

    Lennon is no modern day David, but this song puts him on that road.

    then again maybe he is…..

    • “Let it Be”? Mary’s fiat is among the most profound, deep “words of wisdom”.

      • I think “Let it be” is a profound prayer. The same as “Amen.” We say “yes” to God.

        “And when the night is cloudy
        There is still a light that shines on me
        Shine on until tomorrow, let it be”

    • Albert Camus, the famous French existentialist, was said to have become a Christian, but died in a car accident before he could make a public profession. Considering what happened to the sanctified super stars in the 70’s, dying before the Christian media machine grinds you up is probably a good thing. I have no doubt that Lennon was on the road, especially the more I struggle with traditional theism.

  9. Hey, it’s only a “bye week” in the dysfunctional and ridiculous “Bowl Championship” version of college football. There is real smash mouth football being played by college teams all over the country in real play offs to determine real champions!

  10. I have great sympathies for the homeschooling Christians I’ve met as there are compelling reasons for parents to undertake the education of their children. However, good intentions do not always guarantee good results.

    I find that at least a good portion of the homeschool crowd is affected by the “Mega-Evangelical” movement which comes across as almost sterile in its organization of knowledge, lacking humanity and depth (so heavenly mind that they are no earthly good). At the same time, state-run education has to be, by its secular nature, non-religious and non-sectarian and present all knowledge from a purely naturalist (or even atheist) perspective.

    I believe that in places like Germany, a secular, non-religious view of the world is considered standard and to educate children from any theistic perspective may actually be considered a type of brain-washing. While in undergrad college, I actually encountered this view from numerous professors and counselors.

    Hopefully sanity will prevail in the U.S. and the classical Christianity which is theistic, humanistic, and intellectual will be able to influence educational ideas among people.

  11. “(And everyone who believes John said “cranberry sauce” at the end of that song, kindly stand on your heads.)”

    I thought it was “I’m very bored.” That’s at least more believable.

    But “I buried Paul” really got us looking for clues, all over the Abbey Road and Sgt Pepper albums. Even Mad magazine got into it with something like,

    Ringo, Paul, George and John
    Played a trick and put us on.
    Dropped hints that Paul was dead as nails
    And rocketed their record sales.

  12. I thought the new Narnia was the best of the franchise so far. Since Hollywood seems to have zero interest in George MacDonald books, I suppose the little nods from Lewis is as much as we get.

    So this may not be a great movie, but you could do much worse for family entertainment.

    As for Neeson’s comment, if he wants to display his ignorance of the source material, that’s his problem.

  13. Unfortunate the tree was vandalized. I don’t understand the vandalizing of religious items, even though I don’t believe in most of them.

    My friend, Reverend Shawn, at Grace Episcopal near my home has reported that the lovely stained glass window by the baptistry was broken by a vandal. She informed folks by posting the following message on facebook:

    “Remembering we are to love all kinds of people. Even those who throw a brick through a stained glass window in the baptistry. We are the 3rd church that has been hit in two weeks.”

  14. Home schooling is not always about a religious view point, or anti-public schools, or getting a better education. We home schooled for 3 simple reasons: 1) we did not want our children in ANY school, private or public, during their junior high years (6-9,) 2) our daughter had some learning disabilities that home schooling allowed us to work around, and 3) we wanted to know their hearts. We home schooled our son 6-9 grade and our daughter, 3rd – 9th grade. Best thing for all of us. They are best friends to this day, and they are post-college and college.
    Are their home schooling nuts out there…oh yes, we know some of them. Back then and to this day, if any of us mention being home schooled, people were/are usually shocked…’cuz we don’t fit the typical home schooling family.
    Loved the silent monks….