January 26, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 3.2.13

RamblerGoodness gracious, iMonks. Do you know what today is? It’s the second day of March. March! As the saying goes, if March comes in like a, um, bear, it will go out like a hamster. Or something like that. March is the time of madness, when brackets are filled in and hair is pulled out. And we do have a bracket to complete, one with lasting significance. But we before we get to that, we first need to do a bit of rambling …

From the Tempest in a Teacup Department comes this breaking news: No one thanked God at this year’s Academy Awards. And after looking at a list of the winners, I’m not so sure God would have wanted to be thanked.  What? My all-time favorite movie? Harvey. Doesn’t get any better than that.

And then there was no one. No pope, that is. But we do have a “pope emeritus.” Benedict XVI stepped out of his red shoes, literally, on Thursday to become, as he said, a pilgrim. Yes, I know there are all kinds of rumors swirling, as rumors are wont to do, but I for one really liked Benedict as the pope. What does a retired pope do to fill his day? Well, seeing as we have not had a retired pope in, oh, forever, this is kind of new territory. Will he buy a trailer and pull it behind a big Buick, leaving his left turn signal on? Will he wear black dress socks with his sandals and Bermuda shorts? CNN has some insight on what he might do in his retirement.

If the Pope Emeritus does wear black dress socks, it won’t be with his red shoes. Those will be retired as well. Or maybe we’ll see them on eBay. By the way, the pope does not wear Prada. The devil may, but not the pope. He wears Peruvian. Really.

As we wait to see who is next to fill the Peruvian red shoes, you can do your part by adopting a cardinal. You know, I really wish I could make stuff like this up. (Oh, I got Jean-Claude Turcotte from Canada. Who did you get?)

In our final papal news of the week, it is time to get out your pencils and fill in your picks for the Sweet Sistine. Let’s see how many of your projected winners will advance to the Elite Eight. Do you go with the higher seeds or for the upsets?

Atheists, in a weird twist, are facing religious persecution. How should we, as Christians, react to this? Do we stand with those who have chosen not to believe in God and support them, or do we just wish them “good luck with that” and let them suffer persecution? Would you defend the right of a person to not believe in God, even if that person has given you a hard time about your belief in God? Is this not where Jesus would say, “It’s easy to love those who like you. But I say, love your enemies”?

Not sure even Jesus would be too excited about this news. Seems an Italian maker of jeans has trademarked the word “Jesus” when it comes to clothing. That’s right, the makers of Jesus Jeans don’t want anyone else to use the name Jesus to market clothing. So that does away with, among others, “Jesus Surfed” jeans, and “Jesus Couture” jeans. Pardon me, but I think I just threw up in my mouth.

Oops. Family Christian Center in northern Indiana was paying its senior pastors, Steve and Melodye Munsey, just fine. In fact, better than fine. It was able to buy a Mercedes and to be part owner of a private jet for the jet-setting couple. Seems, however, they neglected to pay the $98,000 a month mortgage on the church in a timely fashion. Like for several years. Now the church of 15,000 may face foreclosure. Oh, and yes, Steve Munsey has blamed the devil for all of this trouble. All who didn’t see that one coming, stand on your heads …

This week’s sign that the end is near: Nick Saben, football coach at Alabama, has offered a scholarship to a boy who is currently in eighth grade. This kid has a similar offer from Les Miles at LSU. No, we don’t place too much emphasis on college sports in this nation.

Roving Rambler Paul Hopkins found this week’s reason-Al-Gore-invented-the-internet at the Google Play Store. Heck yes I’m going to download this to my phone. Just as soon as I can figure out how to do that. (I’m a little behind the times in that area. But my VCR no longer blinks 12:00 all the time.)

Do much shopping at your local thrift store? Best be careful. Pat Robertson says those sweaters at Goodwill just might be possessed by demons. Yes, but on Wednesdays they’re half price. The sweaters that is, not the demons.

And finally, a man in northern Ohio (which we southern Buckeyes call “Canada”) found that a bird had unburdened itself on the windshield of his car. The result was the likeness of the face of Jesus. What kind of bird could this have been to be so scatalogically sanctified? It must have been … all together now … a cardinal.

Birthday wishes were wished this last week for Peter Fonda; Johnny Winter; Dakota Fanning; Abe Vigoda; Steve Jobs; Bob Schieffer; George Harrison; Jackie Gleason; Johnny Cash; David Sarnoff; Joanne Woodward; Glenn Miller; Roger Daltry; and Smokey the Bear.

Johnny Cash. No way I could limit myself to one song by The Man. Not even two. But I did stop at three. Enjoy.

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  1. Re: the Sweet Sistine—always go for the upset! There’s an old saying among Vatican watchers: “he who enters the Conclave as Pope leaves as Cardinal…”

  2. One of the best Ramblings ever!

  3. “Would you defend the right of a person to not believe in God, even if that person has given you a hard time about your belief in God?”

    “First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.”
    – Martin Niemöller

    Golden rule. Loving your neighbor and praying for those who persecute you. Offering a cup of water to the least. Who comes up with this stuff – some bleeding-hearted liberal?

    • Goofed a bit: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” – Matthew 5:44.

    • MelissatheRagamuffin says

      +1 – If an Atheist doesn’t have freedom to not believe then do I really have freedom to believe?

    • I’m thinking that Jesus kind of went a far piece to go to the defense of a bunch of folks that didn’t believe in him.

  4. Good choice with Johnny Cash, three generations of fans, four if I can get my daughter to listen!!

    I get a real kick out of the media advising the Church as to what kind of candidate should be chosen for the next pope. As if the current tropes mean anything to the largest Christian church in the world. BUT…if they DO succumb to the secular suggestions then they deserve the condemnation of all the evangelicals who currently call the Catholic Church part of Babylon the Great. It may not be popular to suggest that Christians all over the world pray for the next selection but if it means the advancement of the Kingdom of God throughout the world then I, an evangelical, wil enthusiastically pray for the cardinals in Rome. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…

    • Dan Crawford says

      I think Family Christian Center, Benny Hinn, TBN and a whole bunch of other “evangelists” and “senior pastors” and their churches might easily qualify as the Great Whore. They have certainly embraced and worshipped at the shrine of the Golden Calf.

    • Josh in FW says

      I’ll join you in that prayer.

    • Ah, Johnny Cash – better preaching in those songs than you’d hear in many’s the sermon. May the heavens be his bed!

      Oscar, we need all the prayers we can get. So yours will be gratefully accepted!

      Re: adopting a cardinal, I got Cardinal Dias of India. Now you know who won’t be the next Pope 😉

      As to what the Pope-Emeritus will be doing in his retirement, here is an extract from his last General Audience on Wednesday 27th February:

      “Here allow me to return once again to April 19, 2005. The gravity of the decision was precisely in the fact that from that moment on I was committed always and forever by the Lord. Always – he, who assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and totally to everyone, to the whole Church. His life is, so to speak, totally deprived of the private sphere. I have felt, and I feel even in this very moment, that one receives one’s life precisely when he offers it as a gift. I said before that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and are fond of him, that the Pope has truly brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world, and that he feels safe in the embrace of their communion, because he no longer belongs to himself, but he belongs to all and all are truly his own.

      The “always” is also a “forever” – there is no returning to private life. My decision to forgo the exercise of active ministry, does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences and so on. I do not abandon the cross, but remain in a new way near to the Crucified Lord. I no longer wield the power of the office for the government of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, within St. Peter’s bounds. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, shall be a great example in this for me. He showed us the way to a life which, active or passive, belongs wholly to the work of God.”

      Now that he has moved to Castel Gandolfo (temporarily, until the convent in the Vatican where he will live is renovated), he has put aside the red shoes for the brown pair he received in Mexico, he will continue to wear a white cassock but one without the shoulder-cape (the pellegrina), which is a sign of jurisdiction and authority, and so he is no longer entitled to it. According to reports, he has brought a little light reading with him to Castel Gandolfo – the Aesthetic Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar.

      But he has told us himself how he intends to go on, in his address to the crowd outside Castel Gandolfo on Wednesday night:

      “Thank you – thank you from my heart!

      Dear friends, I’m happy to be with you, that I can see the Creator’s beauty around us, and all the goodness you’ve given to me – thank you for your friendship and your affection!

      You know that this day of mine hasn’t been like those before. I’m no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic church – at least, at 8 o’clock I won’t be – now I’m just a pilgrim beginning the last part of his journey on earth.

      With all my heart, with all my love, with my prayer and all my strength – with everything in me – I’d like to work for the common good of the church and all humanity. I feel your kindness so much.

      Let us always move together toward the Lord for the good of the church and of the world. Thank you for bringing yourselves [here] – with all my heart, I give you my blessing….

      Thank you and goodnight!”

    • I love Johnny Cash’s “Wabash Cannonball”


      I also love Hurt which Jeff has posted…

  5. From a certain perspective, “Harvey” might be viewed as a blasphemous mockery of theism.

    Or even worse, as ripe for a 3D CGI reboot starring Mike Myers or Eddie Murphy.

  6. If you do an internet search for paddy power, you will find an online betting place on who will be the next Pope. So far, Peter Turkson of Ghana is the best bet at 5/2 odds. There are some “comedians” betting: Bono, Richard Dawkins and Father Dougal Maquire (Father Ted) are at the bottom of the betting list! WARNING: it’s illegal to bet on Popes in the USA.

  7. I think the Pope Emeritus should open an inn in Vermont.

    “What can you with a [Pope]
    Who stops being a [Pope]?
    Oh, what can you do with a [Pope] who retires?”

  8. Richard Hershberger says

    I confess to a morbid fascination with that Indiana megachurch story. My congregation is a quarter of a millennium old. When we make a major financial decision we instinctively think in terms of ten or fifty or a hundred years down the road (however imperfectly we apply this instinct). Reading about this megachurch, I think of a twenty-something athlete signed to a multi-million dollar contract, who is bankrupt three years after he retires. I don’t get the impression that these guys think in terms of six months down the road, much less of building a lasting institution. It is a totally different mindset, which I find quite foreign.

    It is also obvious that this church had no financial controls. I strongly suspect that the “meeting” described in the story (which appeared to actually be a lecture) was the first time the congregation as a whole was informed, in anything other than as “give money!” sort of way. I also find foreign the idea of giving significant sums to a church without having a pretty good idea where it is going to, and that it won’t mysteriously disappear.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Reading about this megachurch, I think of a twenty-something athlete signed to a multi-million dollar contract, who is bankrupt three years after he retires. I don’t get the impression that these guys think in terms of six months down the road, much less of building a lasting institution. It is a totally different mindset, which I find quite foreign.

      I wonder how much of that could be fallout from Left Behind Fever/Gospel According to Hal Lindsay memes turned Zeitgeist? Because when The World Ends Tomorrow (at the latest) and It’s All Gonna Burn, you’re not going to do much long-range planning or build lasting institutions.

  9. “Pat Robertson says those sweaters at Goodwill just might be possessed by demons.”

    And this reveals the wisdom and humility of the Pope’s retirement. Perhaps Pope Robertson will learn from his example.

    • Josh in FW says

      Another good prayer request.

    • Elizabeth says

      Actually, when I watched the clip, it seemed to me he was laughing at the idea rather than taking it seriously. His comment seemed more in line ‘if your mother thinks there are demons, let her rebuke them and move on if that makes her happy’

      I’m all for calling him on the junk he says from time to time, but this seems taken out of context.

      • I see your point, that yeah, sure, (chuckle, chuckle), do it if it makes you feel better…which sounds like something a liberal would be accused of saying, but we will wait for the upcoming post on that subject.

        From a pastoral role – especially a pentecostal pastor, who is allegedly all about victory and deliverance – then he should have assured her that there are no such things as demons of Good Will garments. I don’t think casting demons out of clothing makes this lady “happy”; rather, I think she is under religious bondage. Again, been there done that, and have the scars to prove it.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Not so much “done that” with me as been on the receiving end of it. Last time it happened was in Spring of 2010, when my sister-in-law claimed a recently-acquired piece of fantasy art on my wall had to be DEMON-possessed and the cause for a bout of Depression I was going through.

          (Actually, the picture WAS responsible for the depresso attack, but there was nothing supernatural about it. Some of the circumstances around my acquiring the pic paralleled some events in my past, triggering a flashback of my breakup with my only girlfriend at full emotional intensity. I wrote my way out of the depression over the next couple months; at least I got a 10,000-word novelette out of it.)

    • LOL Couldn’t have said it better! 😛

  10. Marcus Johnson says

    1. How pathetic is it that someone actually devotes time and effort to documenting the number of times God is specifically referenced in a single awards show? I had no idea our God was that superficial. That being said, I would love to have seen Quentin Tarantino thank God for inspiring him to write Django Unchained. His majesty was truly present in the scene when a runaway slave is torn apart by dogs.

    2. We really shouldn’t joke about the presence of demons in our sweaters, especially thrift store ones. They are there, and can be the source of demonic possession and pilling. For this reason, every time I go to the dry cleaners, I offer up a sweater to the person on shift, fall to my knees, and offer a little prayer.

    • Robert F says

      You can laugh about the thrift store demons all you want, but it’s a real problem. And it extends far beyond thrift stores, even to clothing manufacturers. There is a cabal of powerful occultists who have infiltrated the boards and management of some major clothing manufacturers and they are systematically cursing apparel with demon possession. I plead with all of you to exorcise all newly purchased garments when brought into your homes, and before wearing, especially undergarments (need I say more?).

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      1. How pathetic is it that someone actually devotes time and effort to documenting the number of times God is specifically referenced in a single awards show?

      It’s probably a corollary of the Christianese way of doing movie reviews — tally counts of each and every sin (real or imagined) committed or mentiones in the movie. As in “283 occurences of Sin X, 162 occurrences of Sin Y, 35 occurrences of Sin Z…”

  11. Robert F says

    Of course the persecution of atheists by these fanatical Islamist governments is wrong, and should be opposed by any reasonable means available. But the thing is, I don’t consider the atheists who are being persecuted to be my enemies, so it’s not very hard for me to love them. Rather, I consider the fanatical Islamic governments, and those who preside over them, to be my enemies, and probably the enemies of many of the Christians who live in the nations they rule; so the trick is for me is to love the people who preside over those systems of oppression, many of which are oppressing my brothers and sisters in Christ for reasons not to dissimilar from the reasons they are persecuting atheists and agnostics, even as I oppose them. Now acting in that kind of love is a lot harder, but it’s what Jesus would have me do.

    • Excellent point!

    • I certainly don’t view an atheist as my enemy; the way the question was raised, would I support even atheists who openly oppose my views, implies that they are not just atheists but also an enemy. The problem begins when we confuse those who hold us accountable as being opposed to us, and therefore also our enemy. Some atheists merely point out the logical inconsistencies in religious opinions; that’s not opposition. The misunderstanding of accountability as opposition is at the heart of much of which plagues evangelicalism right now, perhaps even at the heart of the problems at SGM discussed earlier in the week.

  12. Robert F says

    It could have been a dove, but that usually involves tongues of fire.

  13. I did the adopt a Cardinal, and received Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston

    • While praying for all the cardinals (maybe even those in spring training if I’m generous), I will also be praying for the deliberations of João Braz de Aviz, from Brazil.

      While I am a bit familiar with him, if any of you speak Portuguese, please advise on the pronunciation of his first name.

  14. “And finally, a man in northern Ohio (which we southern Buckeyes call “Canada”) found that a bird had unburdened itself on the windshield of his car. The result was the likeness of the face of Jesus. What kind of bird could this have been to be so scatalogically sanctified? It must have been … all together now … a cardinal.”


  15. If you watch the Pat Robertson video, it will become pretty clear that he was having a good laugh about some woman’s concerns about demons attaching themselves to sweaters. He says some pretty wacky things, but I think he’s being misrepresented on this one.

    • +1 …I’m no defender of Pat Robertson, but Thomas is right on this one. He was simply fending off a rather inane question.

    • Good laugh aside, he still said demons do attach themselves to inanimate objects, and to go ahead and rebuke any possible demons, just in case. That’s a good picture of my experience with Pentecostalism, which claims power and victory over the devil and demons but is paralyzed in fear of demons around every corner or every common cold. I think there is a middle ground, where one affirms the existence of the devil without leaving people under the crushing weight of such superstitious nonsense.

  16. I’ve got Ouellet, Scherer, Scola and Turkson going to the Final Four!

  17. Senior Pastor Steve Munsey received at least $519,514 in total compensation in 2011, the most recent year for which records were available, according to a return filed with the Internal Revenue Service by Refuge Productions Inc. His wife, Senior Pastor Melodye Munsey, made at least $201,607 in salary and benefits in 2011.

    I am totally in the wrong line of work….

  18. -i agree with thomas above: pat robertson got misrepresented
    -Jesus loved His enemies, even gave His life for them; how much more should we be like Him!
    -my son, a medieval studies master’s student, explained why the pope way back in the day resigned, and i wonder if this one didn’t retire for similar reasons–for there to be unity going forward; this will be interesting to watch
    -and how come Father Guido Sarducci (SNL) isn’t in the betting line-up?

  19. Adopted a cardinal. Mine came up Yadier Molina. What …South American, maybe?

  20. “The result was the likeness of the face of Jesus.”

    Are you sure that’s not the face of Davy Jones from “Pirates of the Caribbean”?

  21. Ok, read the comments on the bird dropping article. The comment from Finnish_Fox says it all!

  22. I gots me a Cardinal – Willem Jacobus Eijk of the Netherlands.

    Love Johnny Cash. Great choice.

    The Munseys should be run out on a rail ala’ “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Instead they’ll probably just pop up elsewhere else and start some new scam. Thieves and charlatans, all.

  23. Mayor McGuinness says

    Had the demons of “Star Wars” cast out of me by some sideburn sporting wooden sword-wielding elders of the pentecostal church my mom dragged me to in Prattville, AL back in ’81. Makes me wonder how instrumental that episode in my young teenage life was in my preference for Star Trek in my later years. Oh well, it’s Texas Independence Day so I’ll go encounter the real demons of Lone Star beer (in moderation) and Rocky Erikson and have a private chuckle over old Pat’s quasi-punt. Cheers!

    • Brianthedad says

      Pratt-Vegas! Very near my neck of the woods!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Had the demons of “Star Wars” cast out of me by some sideburn sporting wooden sword-wielding elders of the pentecostal church my mom dragged me to in Prattville, AL back in ’81.

      In SoCal, it would have been Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. When I was listening to Christianese AM radio in the late Seventies/early Eighties, “Pastor Chuck Smith(TM)” had an obsessive mad on about Star Wars. Every sermon, he’d work in some denunciation of Star Wars at the drop of a hat, and he usually dropped the hat himself.

      Makes me wonder how instrumental that episode in my young teenage life was in my preference for Star Trek in my later years.

      Probably a lot. I’ve been associated with various fandoms (from lit-SF to D&D to Comix to proto-Anime to Furry to Brony) for near 40 years, and that’s a common story you find in all of them.

  24. I got Cardinal Ivan Dias, drafted out of India. I think it’s his rookie card.

  25. Robert F says

    It’s good to have Jesus at the wheel; it could be impair visibiltiy to have him on the windshield.

  26. Robert F says

    Perhaps this bird is a student of Andres Serrano.

  27. The megachurch in Munster In is precisely why nobody listens to Christian leaders (and Christians in general for that matter) anymore when they whine and complain about the Government not keeping within their budget. Pot calling the kettle black.

    • cermak_rd says

      It’s not just Christianity. Most religious institutions are not as transparent as just about any other legitimate charity you’ll find. Is there something so awful if you put your budget online? If one is skittish about reporting salary info, one could always lump all the salaries together and call it personnel. Recently a Rabbi got major kudos for putting the budget of the Chabad house online so everyone could see it. It’s just not common for synagogues or churches (I don’t know about other religious institutions).

    • Josh in FW says

      I often forget how unusual it is for my church to have it written into the church constitution/bylaws that it is not allowed to borrow money. Sometimes it’s good to be weird.

      • Most churches I know are quite transparent about finances, but when they want to expand their Christian school, build on to the sanctuary, put in a new furnace, install A/C, or whatever, they vote to overspend. You know, the “If you build it, they will come” “we need to step out in faith” mentality. Often, they do raise the money for the special project, but then (shocking!!) discover people give to the special project and slow down on giving their normal amount for the day to day operations.

  28. Is anyone but me thinking of Jim and Tammy?

    In the flat congregation governed church I attended growing up the budget was printed up and passed out at least once a year and voted on by the entire congregation. Salaries and all. At the end of the day I think not doing this is a big failing of the Elder Led model. We were fairly large for our community and but I don’t think we ever made the paper. 🙂

    And now one of my favorite IM classics:

  29. The first 2 videos here by Johnny Cash are my all time favs. The first, though using a host of celebrities, recalls my friends who minister to the homeless. For a short time, I was blessed to be part of this ministry. While some think they are bringing Jesus to “those people”, the truth is that “those people” live with Jesus 24/7. Try spending the night in your sleeping bag, not knowing who is nearby to rip you off, and think just how close you might feel to Jesus. You depend on him for your very life.

    The second is a transformative rendition of Trent Reznor’s original, a performance that won an MTV award. I can hardly watch it without tears streaming down my face. The love of his wife, the love of Jesus, and the questioning of celebrity – it all comes jumping out in the most artistic way.

    Johnny Cash was no academic, but he was a kick-a– theologian. Rock on.

  30. MaryMargaret says

    I did the adopt a cardinal thingy..I have Cardinal Franc Rode of Slovenia. The best thing about papal elections is that we learn more about the Cardinals of the Church. May God bless my beloved Grandpapa Benedict. (am sticking with my personal translation of Pope Emeritus..Grandpapa)

    • I got Théodore-Adrien Sarr (Senegal).

      So if he wins, this means my prayer-fu was most effective, and therefore my theological opinions are more infallible than everybody else’s whose cardinals lost.

  31. I have adopted this Cardinal: Santos Abril y Castelló, from Spain!

  32. I got Severino Poletto of Italy — Turin, I think.

  33. Just a detail, I’m not a fan of Pat Robertson but I saw the report about him and the title is totally misleading. I listened to the little video and in reply to the question about demons and second hand clothing he says NO, therefore is no problem with buying second hand clothing, although he did say that demons can attach to physical objects. That conversation is then printed out underneath. The reporter has not just twisted his words but given him words when in fact he said the opposite. This is appalling reporting. I’m also appalled at the number of people who just went on the title, like I did at first, and don’t check the allegation.

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