January 17, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 3.10.11

Greetings and salutations, fellow iMonks. It has been a week. So much going on, it’s been difficult to keep from adding a Thursday Ramblings just to help out. We will shoulder through best as we can. So strap in and get ready to ramble.

You know, it’s always fun to go from not knowing a product exists to knowing my life is incomplete without one in a matter of three or four seconds. That was the case this week when I learned of a new speech-jamming gun. Seems two researchers in Japan have invented a devise that records one’s voice and plays it back in 0.2 seconds, thus discombobulating the brain and forcing a person into “vocal submission.” This article says it might be useful in a disruptive classroom or a noisy library. I’m thinking of church, when the preacher gets a little longwinded. What would you use this for?

As I write this Friday night, I’m already excited for March Madness, even though my ORU Golden Eagles and the Synonymous Rambler’s Tulsa Golden Hurricane have lost in their league tourneys and thus will most likely be relegated to the NIT (the Nobody Important Tournament) for the chance to say, “We’re number 69!” So as you get ready to watch Selection Sunday tomorrow night, you might try playing in the Lent Madness tournament. I can’t believe Evelyn Underhill is leading St. Nicholas, but that’s March for you.

Meanwhile, Pope John Paul II may get a berth in next year’s Lent Madness. Another miracle has been attributed to the late pontiff, and the road seems clear for him to reach sainthood very soon.

And ever-observant Martha O’Ireland shared this in a comment earlier this week, but in case you missed it, take this quiz to find out what Church Father you most resemble. (I came in as Tertullian.)

Harold Camping announced this week that he and his ministry are going out of the prediction business. Ghana pastor Yaw Saul probably wishes he had done so earlier. His inability to turn his walking stick into a snake caused him to be on the front end of a “hot chase,” which somehow does not sound fun.

A new study shows that atheists may outnumber Christians in England in the next 20 years. Get busy, Jack Heron!

Forget coffee kiosks or video game consoles to attract people to church. Give me a bowling alley. Really. I’m sure there is some spiritual application that can be made here, but I just like to bowl.

20,000 people turned up to hear Tim Tebow speak at a Las Vegas church this week. How many then went to the sports books to place a bet on whether Tebow or Peyton Manning will be the Broncos quarterback next season?

Oh that whacky Pat Roberson. When he’s not blaming tornadoes on victims because they didn’t pray enough, he is saying he thinks marijuana ought to be legalized. Just what we want from an elder spokesman. Anyone else think the cheese has slid all the way off of his cracker? (And that is the nicest way I can put it.)

We reported earlier on how the Green family—founders of Hobby Lobby and Mardel stores—purchased the campus of the defunct Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, put five million dollars into improvements, and now are looking for a Christian educational institution to give it to. Well, it seems the alumni of NMH don’t want the campus to go to Liberty as they feel it is a “homophobic and intellectually narrow institution.” Let’s not mince words. How do you really feel about Liberty?

The 884-year-old heart of St. Laurence O’Toole was stolen last weekend from the iron cage where it is kept in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. Martha, please explain why an almost nine centuries old heart was in a cage. I think Sting has a song about this …

Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz has been made into a movie, with its premiere this week at the Austin (Texas) SXSW festival. Miller says the film will appeal to Christians and secular audiences alike. Oh good. That leaves no one out. And when you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one. Are there any iMonks among us who will be going to SXSW this week? If so, give us a full report.

In other entertainment news involving Christianity and Texas, Kristin Chenoweth defends her character on the TV show GCB. Just what we need. More celebrity theology. And I’m glad Chenoweth feels comfortable only “chewing” the parts of Scripture she likes. Can anyone say “Thomas Jefferson”?

And finally, want a tip on how to win the lottery? Keep your tickets in your Bible. Worked for this 81-year-old Powerball winner.

A tip o’ the birthday cap this week to Knute Rockne; Chris Squire; Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini; Andy Gibb; Bob Wills; Lou Costello; Willie Stargell; David Gilmour; Rob Reiner; Willard Scott; Alan Hale, Jr.; Mickey Dolenz; Bobby Fisher; and Barbie.

We have a concert venue in downtown Tulsa, Cain’s Ballroom, that is known as the House That Bob Wills Built. Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys played there for a radio show every day at noon during the Depression years. Wills’ version of western swing led to  rock ‘n roll today. Wills is the grandfather of what is known as the Tulsa Sound. (Leon Russell and David Gates are two of the “fathers” of the Tulsa Sound.) With that brief sweeping history of Tulsa culture, enjoy this week’s bonus video.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–_AXFcm48o’]


  1. Joseph (the original) says


    no musical tribute to Yes & Chris Squire???

    Roundabout anybody???

    saw them in concert, oh sometime around ’72-’73. my memory not as good as it was back then…

    i remember it was Rick Wakeman’s bank of keyboards & synthesizers as well as his long hair & this shimmering robe he wore that impressed me the most. and of course the entire stage setup was incredible…

    anyway…those were the days of progressive rock that was simply ‘off the charts’…

    • Saw them in the round in the late 70’s – great stuff, but then so was old Genesis, King Crimson, gentle Giant etc…

      • Joseph (the original) says

        Emerson Lake & Palmer. Pink Floyd.

        had these LPs.

        listened to Jethro Tull. Moody Blues. Alan Parson’s Project. Supertramp. Styx.

        was an FM radio junkie. couldn’t afford too many albums, so i had to be choosy…

        never was a Zep fan though. did like some of their songs, but was not a groupie.

        music in the late 60’s thru early 70’s something i really appreciated. what an amazing evolution of sounds, creativity, expressiveness…

        yeah, those were the golden years to be sure…

      • Radagast – thankfully, we can re-live the prog rock highlights, and even watch younger generations take a run at them. For example, try a YouTube search on “genesis cinema show”.

    • And how about the laser show. That was hew and cutting edge.

    • And how about the laser show. That was new and cutting edge.

  2. Aidan Clevinger says

    Wait, I get the rest – but why shouldn’t marijuana be legalized?

    ^Half-joke, half-serious.

  3. Matt Purdum says

    Of course marijuana should be legal. (More legal, say, than dropping bombs on dark-skinned children halfway around the world.) I’ll say about Pat what they used to say about Jesse Helms: even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    • Legalizing pot is the 1st smart thing Pat said to at least 2 decades!

    • Back in my hippie-wannabee days I thought the same. After watching too many friends lose all motivation to pot (and its a lot more potent these days) I am not for legalization.

      • cermak_rd says

        I’m for legalizing locally grown pot. Because in my area, it’s far less potent than the imported stuff. Plus, yeah for IL farmers!

        Pot is non-addictive. It’s almost impossible to overdose on. It’s negative sides certainly seem less negative than alcohol, meth, narcotics or even many prescription pain killers.

        • Yes, and try to get a pothead to fight you…it won’t happen. A drunk on the other hand just needs a look across a room to fight you. It’s a sure route to peace on earth, light it up!

          Now, when I read the source of this idea I thought pigs must be flying over the skating rink in hell because I have just agreed with Pat Robertson.

          And yes, Liberty is homophobic. That is how I really feel.

    • I’m not for legalizing marijuana — I’m for ILLEGALIZING tobacco. It causes cancer, for crying out loud!

    • The worst thing that can happen to you for smoking pot is that you may be thrown into prison, raped, and discriminated against after that. Maybe in the future Christians will be treated like potheads–now put THAT in your pipe and smoke it!

  4. Speech jamming gun? Tooooooooo easy Jeff….

  5. Ah, good luck to the Golden Eagles and the Golden Hurricane playing in the NIT-WIT (Nobody Important Tournament…Who Is That?)

    P.S. I have no idea who they are!

  6. My brother went to Northfield Mount Herman for about a month in the sixties. He hated it and ran away in the middle of the night. For what it’s worth . . .

  7. I got St. Melito of Sardis! Never heard of him, but he sounds cool!

    You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.

  8. Jack Heron says

    I suspect that atheists already do outnumber Christians here – but an awful lot of people put ‘Christian’ down on their census form because that’s what you do. So a lot of the decline is probably people just deciding to actually tick ‘no religion’ for the first time.

    Perhaps we need two boxes in the religion section – one for actual beliefs and one for beliefs you feel a historical connection to even if you don’t hold them. There are a lot of people who don’t go to church but know exactly what church it is they are avoiding going to! After all, the whole point of having religion and ethnicity sections on the census is to get some idea of the cultural make-up of the country, so ‘Cultural Christians’ might still be worth recording.

    I was St Melito of Sardis.

    • Donalbain says

      Christian groups have a strange way of counting. When it comes to claiming that they have the support of the majority of the population and so X should be banned, then they count everyone who ever says they are a Christian. When it comes to people actually disagreeing with them on matters of faith, suddenly the number of (Real True) Christians gets much smaller!

      e.g: “90% of the country are Christians, so we should ban gay marriage as it offends the religion of the majority!” vs “What? You say a majority of Christians support gay marriage? Well, then they are not Real True Christians!”

      • This kind of problem is part of what led the Unitarians to break away from the New England Congregationalists–anyone who paid taxes was ipso facto considered part of the church, but a lot of them didn’t much like what the church was doing, so they voted to reform it.

  9. Post the link to that speech jamming gun, and sign me up for 3, or should I get the new ipad?

  10. I think the speech jamming gun is great for politicians…of every stripe.


    I used to argue with people about the deliterious effects of smoking pot but then…(what was I going to say?)…


    New Daily Devotional site for cross-centered Christians:


    Did I already mention that?

    What was I saying…

    • David Cornwell says

      “I think the speech jamming gun is great for politicians…of every stripe.”

      Good idea, but I can’t understand half of what they are saying already. The tongue run 60 seconds before the brains kick in.

      • I’m with you, David.

        I think we are better off not being able to understand them.

        Too bad they don’t have a ‘lie-jamming gun’…then they wouldn’t be able to get a word out of their mouths.

  11. “Seems two researchers in Japan have invented a devise that records one’s voice and plays it back in 0.2 seconds”

    On a serious note, this sounds like what happens in my head sometimes when processing vocal information. That is why I write blogs instead of talk.

  12. Jeff, I think Nirvana got there before Sting with “Heart Shaped Box” (which is the wooden heart-shaped box the relic was kept in). Still no news on its recovery, unfortunately.

    Here’s a headline you won’t see repeated often: “Fury over six-year jail term for garlic tax scam”. Apparently the powerful vampire lobby in the European Union are keeping the import tax rate on garlic at a phenomenal rate – up to 232%! Who knew the hidden dangers of Romania’s accession to the EU back in 2007?


  13. I actually have high hopes for the Blue Like Jazz movie. The trailer actually makes it look like it won’t suck. It’s produced and directed by Steve Taylor, and he actually helped Miller with the screenplay. It’s hard for me to imagine Taylor putting something out that would be bad.

    • Based on my previous experiences with the “Christian movie industry,” I’m cautious in my optimism. But the fact that the SXSW people are willing to show it is a good sign. And it is a great book.

  14. I posted a mini-review of the movie a few hours ago, Phil, but it’s still awaiting moderation …

  15. Perhaps my mini-review got caught in a moderation Mobius strip. Perhaps the moderator didn’t want my comments posted. (If the latter, just let me know if something I’ve said was inappropriate!) Nevertheless, at the risk of reposting …


    “Miller says the film will appeal to Christians and secular audiences alike. Oh good. That leaves no one out. And when you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.”

    Ah, don’t be so cynical, Jeff! Of course, Miller’s claim is an overstatement: Militant fundamentalists of both Christian and atheistic stripes — perfect bedfellows if I ever saw any — will hate this film. But I honestly don’t care about them.

    I went into an exclusive screening this week with this sole expectation: It’s going to suck. I loved the book. I love Steve Taylor. But “movies of faith,” even if they’re directed by Taylor (anyone remember The Second Chance?), tend to suck. Bad. This movie almost certainly does not. In fact, there were a number of times during the movie when I thought to myself, “They didn’t just do that!” When it comes to content, this film not only toes the line, it defiantly crosses it again and again. If you’re a judgmental type who looks down your nose at crass language or humor, you’ll find enough ammunition to ensure Miller and Taylor have reservations in your personal version of hell.

    When I asked Miller and Taylor why they made the conscious decision to break the mold of “Leave It to Beaver” Christian films, they responded that the message of the movie would have been lost had it been wrapped in a unrealistic depiction of life, i.e., one in which Christians don’t swear, don’t have gay friends, don’t encounter betrayal by their closest Christian friends and family, have never experimented with illegal substances, don’t ever doubt the faith in which they were raised, don’t vote Democratic, etc.

    I have to agree with Miller and Taylor. The Gospel didn’t break into this world directly from heaven with the look of a bronzed Jeffrey Hunter. It took a considerably messy and crass route through a filthy animal trough, nasty splinters, nocturnal emissions, scraped knees, hunger pains, and not an insignificant amount of blood, sweat, and tears. Without a worldly context in which to experience it, all the Gospel does is reinforce your own personal form of righteousness in which God votes in US presidential elections the way you do. (Everyone knows God doesn’t involve himself in any other country’s election process.)

    Blue Like Jazz is ballsy. It has serious cojones, with the definite potential to pave the way for better written, acted, and produced “films of faith.” I laughed my way through this film, came close to shedding a tear or two, and just plain enjoyed it. I will see this movie again in the theater. I will buy this movie when it comes out on VHS. I will buy the soundtrack. Heck, any movie that features Over the Rhine already has something going for it.

    The movie itself isn’t so much a risk for Miller and Taylor (they made themselves targets for the Christian Right long ago) as it is for a considerable portion of Evangelicalism. I foresee a great number of Christian attenders either keeping their profile looking straight ahead for fear of meeting the eyes of someone else from their church, or keeping their heads on a perpetual swivel before the lights go down in order to have “dirt” on fellow churchgoers for future back-pocket use.

    Go see the movie, iMonks. Let your hair down for two hours and enjoy yourselves. And don’t just invite your edgy, post-Evangelical friends to join you. Take someone with you who shops for their books and music exclusively at Lifeway. At the very least, an honest and engaging discussion has the potential to follow. Any step toward exiting the Evangelical cultural ghetto is a good one.

  16. “A new study shows that atheists may outnumber Christians in England in the next 20 years.”

    In regards, to the whole nonsense regarding weather and divine retribution, Hitchens addressed this in his introduction to “The Portable Atheist” five years ago. The collective tolerable nuttiness threshold needs to come down several knotches. Those walking away have a much lower threshold, and then we don’t understand why.

    • I don’t know if England has the Pat Robertson type of church leaders roaming about, but if they do, gee, are we surprised atheism is growing? Look around. Someone on a blog comment I was reading yesterday used the term Talibangelical. I loved it.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Christianity isn’t going downhill because others are attacking it; Christianity is slowly committing suicide.

      • England has been on a downhill slide as a Christian nation since that little nasty business with Henry and his fondness for divorce and fresh…umm…..”interests”.

        If you have the state to take care of you and football to occupy your weekends, where does God fit in at all???

        IMHO, many Americans are active, vocal atheists, but the British are awash in simple disregard and indifference concerning religion and the Almightly. It is an illustration that the opposite of love is not hate, it is APATHY!

        • Jack Heron says

          Be fair Pattie, we got very enthusiastic about Christianity in the 16th and 17th centuries. And then lots of people died and large parts of the country were ravaged by the people in the next county.

          You’re right about the apathy being largely more important than vocal atheism – but I don’t think it’s apathy about the Big Questions so much as scepticism of the ability of organised religion to answer them. Polls generally show people are interested and engaged in questions like ‘Is there a God?’ or ‘Where do we go after we die?’ but they’re not much inclined to trust the answers given from the pulpit.

      • “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Christianity isn’t going downhill because others are attacking it; Christianity is slowly committing suicide.” – Suzanne

        I think your on to something.

      • According to Hitchens, the Bishop of Carlisle declared in response to floods in northern England, “This is a strong and definite judgement, becausethe world has been arrogant in going its own way. We are reaping the consequences of our moral degradation”. I was surprised by this, because I too thought we American evangelicals had cornered the nut market.

  17. If teachers ever actually use this “speech-jamming gun” to silence children who try to talk, I can’t imagine anything more likely to create a generation of revolutionaries. Forget respecting your elders and wanting to be like them – if they are literally zapping you with a mind-screw gun, you’re going to fight back as soon as you get the chance. The whole thing sounds like a My Chemical Romance song.

    And I am St. Melito of Sardis. Now to look him up!

  18. Can’t believe I actually agree with Pat Robertson. I think it’s the first time. Yes, legalize marijuana, and tax it. It’s far, far less harmful than alcohol on the whole. Then regulate and tax other now illegal drugs and largely end the unwinnable “war on drugs.” But that’s an argument for another day.

    My wife is a high school science teacher and she and her colleagues are very interested in the speech jamming gun, for purely scientific reasons of course.

    • …the gov will control the potency and then you’ll still have a black market for the good stuff… cell phones are enough of a distraction, now I’ll have to worry about the driver who drops his joint while driving and goes looking for it…. and just think about the big surge in business at McDonald’s when these folks get the munchies (the food police won’t like this) … and all the phylosophical talk about the meaning of a chair in the whole scheme of life….

      • I’m with you on the legalisation, Radagast. Cigarettes are perfectly legal, but there’s still a healthy black market over here to smuggle in cheap cigarettes and sell them minus government duty. Same thing with underage drinking; over here, it’s legal at 18 but we regularly see (after the results of the State examinations are released every August) drunken 15 and 16 year olds who have been out ‘celebrating’ the results of their Junior Certificate.

        Also, my limited experience with whatever you want to call it (marijuana, cannabis, weed, etc.) is seeing the effects of it on the kids at our school and the early school leavers’ programme. Guess who are the ones blatant in their use of it (to the extent of lighting up outside the very building at break-time when they are supposed to be having their tuition in the second-chance education centre)? Guess who are the ones who go on to drop out of education at an early age, have a starring role in the court reports in the local newspapers every month, graduate to harder drugs and end up with prison sentences? (Naming no names, but one of the ones who were in the little group smoking on the doorstep and who were subsequently suspended ended up being sentenced in the local court for heroin use).

        And even if legalisation did away with 15 year olds being able to get their hands on a supply, there are other avenues. We had one girl, ex-pupil and early school leaver, who died as a result of inhaling solvents at the ripe old age of 16. Yeah, I’m not convinced that making it even easier than it already is to get your hand on intoxicants is a good idea and no, I don’t think it’s harmless recreational material.

      • Donalbain says

        Nothing in life is harmless. But the decision as to what harm we should put ourselves at risk of is for us, as adults to make.

        • Adults, yes. But let’s face it, if a small town in rural Ireland has kids smoking tobacco at 12 (yes, really; one little hard chaw just newly enrolled was doing this quite literally at the school gates), drinking by 15 and doing other adult activities, plus they can already get their hands on soft drugs –

          – you tell me how legalised marijuana is going to only be sold to 18 and over?

          • Donalbain says

            Did prohibition succeed in keeping alcohol out of the hands of children? No.
            But it did succeed in making the stuff that was available more dangerous for EVERYONE.

          • Donalbain,

            Only because alcohol had already been legal for a long time before and it was taken away did prohibition cause the issues it did. By legalizing you just expose a larger group to pot, and then the government will have to spend that much more to help those who are addicted. And then where do you draw the line? Do you legalize, one-by-one all other drugs? Do you give those in lower socio-economic classes even more ways to become dependent on the government?

            No, I think it introduces many more problems than it solves.

          • The evidence from Portugal suggests that decriminalisation is working pretty well there.

      • now I’ll have to worry about the driver who drops his joint while driving and goes looking for it

        And you think people don’t do the same thing with their cigarettes? And Day Runners? Lipstick? Cell Phones? McD Fries? Etc.

  19. hmm , GCB. i am getting really tired of celebrity theology. It all comes out from the pages of Joel osteen writings.

  20. The Tebow fanatics think the Broncos are bringing Manning to Denver to become Tebow’s thowing coach.

    • The rumor I’ve heard is that if Manning signs with Denver, Tebow will be traded to his hometown team (Jacksonville), which desperately needs something to boost attendance. That being said, I think it’s a bad move — Tebow’s biggest weakness is that he doesn’t read defenses well, and he’s only going to get better at that. Whereas Manning, with his neck problems, might be one hard legal hit away from quadraplegia. Never trade your future for a successful past.

  21. Robert’s comments regarding pot reveal how far the tea party has driven libertarianism into the psyche of evangelicalism. It is the new conservatism. Wait until they find out that libertarians don’t believe it’s the government’s job to legislate morality. I for one am torn. The only Republican to vote against the NDAA and HR347 -both which shred the Bill of Rights – was Ron Paul.

  22. Jeff it looks like the “No religion” so-called “Nones” comprise of 33% agnostics, 33% theists, and 10% atheists had the largest gain in terms of absolute numbers in america. It looks like Europe and America have embraced the “Nones” while other countries such as Latin America , Africa , and Vietnam have embraced Christianity.

    Matt 24:10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.
    2 Thes 2:3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it (the day of the Lord – God’s judgment upon the earth) will not come unless the apostasy (a falling away from the faith) comes first.

  23. A lent joke:

    An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry , walks into the pub
    and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows,
    but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.

    An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more.
    This happens yet again. The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times.

    Soon the entire town is whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.

    Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town.
    “I don’t mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers?”

    “Tis odd, isn’t it?” the man replies. “You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America ,
    and the other to Australia . We promised each other that we would always order
    an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond.”

    The bartender and the whole town were pleased with this answer,
    and soon the “Man Who Orders Three Beers” became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet,
    even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

    Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart.
    This continues for the rest of the evening. He orders only two beers.

    The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.

    The next day, the bartender says to the man, “Folks around here, me first of all,
    want to offer condolences to you for the death of one of your brothers. You know-the two beers and all.”

    The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, “You’ll be happy to hear that both my two brothers
    are alive and well. It’s just that I, me-self, have decided to give up drinking for Lent.”

  24. In reference to Pat Robertson…

    His statement promoting the legalization of pot is the only sane thing I’ve ever heard him say. Even an idiot like PR can get something right….


  25. A device that records and repeats is nothing new. I heard a story about a test given to people claiming deafness in order to avoid military duty. They would be asked to read some text and it would be played back with a delay. It was apparently impossible to do this without stuttering (unless they were deaf).

    I liked the trailer of Blue Like Jazz, so I hope the film comes Down Under soon.

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