January 21, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 3.30.13

RamblerIt is Holy Saturday, iMonks. It’s a day for quiet meditation, silence, solitude. It’s the day before The Day. And without The Day, we are eternally lost. Yet as you prepare for the joy of tomorrow, don’t let’s rush past the despair of today. Now that I have effectively driven all happiness from your day, shall we ramble?

I have always been a big admirer of St. Francis. I was introduced to him in the 70s through the Franco Zeffirelli film Brother Sun, Sister Moon. I have read books about him, most notably Nikos Kazantzakis’s Saint Francis. Perhaps I’m being premature, but I think we may be seeing yet another St. Francis in this new pope, who wisely—or prophetically?—took my spiritual hero’s name. St. Francis caused great uproar in the established Church of his day through simplicity, poverty, charity. We are seeing this now from Pope Francis.

He has decided, at least for the present, to forego the perks of his office, such as living in the well-appointed papal apartments, and will instead reside in a guesthouse. Imagine President Obama giving up the White House to live instead in a nearby Hampton Inn. (Well, ok, they do have really nice pillows …)

Then he held the Maundy Thursday mass in a prison for “young offenders,” washing the feet of a dozen prisoners. He also spoke on Thursday to more than 2,000 bishops and priests, saying they should be “shepherds who have the smell of their sheep.” Are you listening, Protestants and evangelicals?

Apparently one Catholic cardinal was listening. Timothy Dolan mixed in with sheep in his home state of New York this week.

Still, not everyone is as thrilled with Pope Francis as I and others are. This priest is very pleased so far, while others are upset that he won’t support their pet peeves. (Imagine being kind to a female convict. Just who does he think he is? Jesus?) Just remember, if you try to please everyone …

Well, I suppose I need to at least mention the fun debate before the Supreme Court this week. Not surprisingly, one lawmaker used a passage of Scripture to support her views of gay marriage. But it is surprising to some the direction she took it. You mean people on the other side might also know the Bible? Really?

It is not, as St. Paul Harvey would say, one world. We can buy and own and use and misuse Bibles in the United States all we want. But in several of the former Soviet states, Bibles and other religious literature are being gathered and burned. And house churches in China are coming under increased pressure from the Chinese government. Read both of these stories carefully. Do you see a connection? What size churches are being forced to close or submit to government regulation? Is it large or small gatherings? Which do you think these governments fear the most? Discuss.

Were any iMonks in Paris this week to hear the new bells of Notre Dame Cathedral? How do they sound? And wouldn’t the New Bells Of Notre Dame make for a great Christian worship team? (Oh great. I’ll bet we actually do see that now. Their first album will be hymns for Mass rearranged for electric guitar and two drum kits with samples of Gregorian chants …)

In this week’s scariest news, Liberty University wants to create “tens of thousands of Kirk Camerons.” Holy crap. Does that imply they have somehow perfected cloning and are going to inflict this culture with thousands upon thousands of Kirks? What are they doing in Falwellburg anyway?

Finally, what do you do with your Peeps? No, not your entourage. Your Peeps. The little chick-shaped marshmallow treats you will get in your Easter baskets tomorrow. You don’t eat them, do you? Apparently there are plenty of people who don’t—or, at least, they wait until they use them to create dioramas. Then maybe they eat them?

Happy birthday was sung this last week for Ric Ocasek; Moses Malone; Harry Houdini; Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle; Steve McQueen; Jack Ruby; Howard Cosell; Jim Lovell; Hoyt Axton; Aretha Franklin; Sarah Jessica Parker; Leonard Nimoy; Eric Idle; Bob Woodward; Diana Ross; Steven Tyler; Michael York; Dave Koz; Marlin Perkins; Sam Walton; and John Popper.

This week I thought I would share my favorite hymn with you, a hymn very appropriate for this weekend. Truly, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, God and man at table are sat down. Enjoy, and Happy Resurrection Day.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWlUs5E7NpA’]




  1. Matt Purdum says

    Anyone who wants to create more Kirk Camerons is incredibly tone deaf to the times we live in. Anyone who wants to create more Kirk Camerons understands nothing about film or acting. What we need are sons of Isaaschar, not more Kirk Cameron movies.

    • Matt Purdum says

      If they wanted to “create more” Johnny Cashes, John Grishams, Roma Downeys, Marilynne Robinsons, or Bonos, that would make so much more sense, Christian artists who actually connect with secular audiences successfully.

      • See what I mean about the crazeeeeness that happens here in Falwellville???

        I don’t think I ever mentioned that our parish and our pastor are the Catholic outreach to Liberty students….YES, there are CATHOLICS attending Liberty! Of course, there is no Neuman House or anything like that on campus, but we are only about four miless down the road.

        Liberty, Thomas Road Baptist, and the associated preK-12 school are the second largerst employer in town….so we are talking a seriously large 800 lb gorilla. They really do try terribly hard to be a force for good, but the crushing weight of the untenable theology and the precious need to be relevant to every trend that comes down the pike is hard to watch.

        And lets just say that the students behavior on and off campus is a bit of paradox…..a car speeding and weaving in and out of traffic while the occupants swap spit and toss beer cans out the window has a heigh probablilty of having a Liberty student sticker on it!!

  2. 10,000 Kirk Camerons? Makes me think of a movie quote…
    The best thing about being me… There are so many “me”s.

    I hope everyone has a blessed Easter tomorrow. (Even tone-deaf celebraties)

  3. flatrocker says

    Thank you so much for this week’s hymn choice. Everytime I hear it I can’t help but think what John is seeing in Revelation. Take out all the far-fetched and straining end times stuff and you are left with this song. Through Catholics eyes, this is the glory of Heaven intermingling with the offering of the Mass. Paraphrasing that great Peanutian philosopher “That’s what Revelation is all about Charlie Brown.” Thanks again.

  4. Well, now I’ll probably have nightmares featuring 10,000 “Kirk Camerons” wandering the streets of my neighborhood, in the style of “Night of the Living Dead” or “I Am Legend”…

  5. I’m no fan of Kirk Cameron’s “free-will” decision theology, or his simplistic “if you’ve stolen a paper clip what does that make you?” technique…BUT…

    I do admire that he wants to reach people for Christ and is actually doing something about it.

    Same goes for Billy Graham…the Pope…and you and I, on occasion.

    • Matt Purdum says

      “I do admire that he wants to reach people for Christ and is actually doing something about it.”

      Actually there are two ways to reach people for Christ: effectively and ineffectively. By insisting on YEC, Cameron makes himself ineffective. Rather than announcing to the world “how Christian they are,” Christian artists simply need to create great art, and people will listen. Dylan, Bono, Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton are all good examples. But simply “actually doing something about it” can be dangerously counter-productive in the hands of people like Cameron.

      • Just for the sake of argument, people like Dylan, Bono, Cash, etc. might have a message so vague or “secular-friendly” that a person’s need for Christ is left out, making it just as ineffecitve as how you view Cameron’s message. In other words, “effective” and “ineffective” are pretty subjective terms, based on a person’s belief system, and if Cameron has reached several people via his “ineffective” message, then it was effective.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      I see no justification for admiring his intent if his theology and ministry are inherently flawed and so ripe for ridicule. The whole “well, at least he meant well; let’s give him an A for effort” leaves me a little blah on the inside.

  6. Sounds like pope Francis has the pharisees in full throat over his Christ shaped faith. Did you read some of the responses to the article? Heaven help the pope who decides to act like Jesus while snubbing hundreds of years of tradition. I’ll be watching this guy with interest.

    • Most old-time fundamentalist Catholic-Church-is-the-whore-of-Babylon Baptists would have treated Pope Francis with more charity than the Rorate Caeli crowd. I mean, I definitely have more traditionalist instincts, and I love my smells, bells, and mozettas. But the Eucharist is still the Eucharist, regardless of whether it’s the Tridentine Mass or liturgical puppets. These people are itching for schism over foot-washing! But as I Corinthians says, “Now there remains faith, hope, and liturgy, these three; but the greatest of these is liturgy.” Oh wait.

    • MaryMargaret says

      In my opinion, both the rad-trads and the liberals are setting up a false dichotomy..Good Pope/Bad Pope. I love Pope Francis and think that he is doing a masterful job of teaching us with his actions. I also loved Pope Benedict XVI, now emeritus, and think that he did a masterful job of teaching us with his words and his writings. There is no good or bad pope in this case (oh, we’ve had bad popes..but not these two). Using Pope Francis as a stick to beat Benedict is ridiculous, and vice-versa.

      • Frankly, I just think that it is so refreshing to see a Christian leader who seems to live out humility. As Jeff has noted Evangelicals should take note. I suspect that much of the negative talk that has been going around is based on the concept that in Francis’ case he is living out his preaching. Much, much more powerful than any sermon,speech, lecture, or homily that he could say.

    • I read some but most of it was referring to institutions/committees I have never heard of. What I was particularly charmed by was the suggestion by one man that next year the Pope should wash the feet of animals. So women are on a par with animals? Lovely……!!

  7. Who is this Francis?

    I am continually impressed. From the Yahoo! News article on subject:

    “‘This is a symbol, it is a sign. Washing your feet means I am at your service,’ Francis told the group, aged 14 to 21, at the Casal del Marmo detention facility in Rome.

    “‘Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us,’ the pope said. ‘This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty. As a priest and bishop, I must be at your service.'”

    I love how his rationale for this plays neither to the concerns of purists or liberals:

    “The gesture, he said, came ‘from my heart. Things from the heart don’t have an explanation.'”

    • MaryMargaret says

      Yes! Sounds like Pope Francis is paraphrasing Pascal, “The heart has its reasons, whereof reason knows nothing.” (That may not be the best translation of the French, but I hope it is at least clear.)

  8. According to one of the comments on the Chinese house church post, the government does not allow churches to grow beyond a certain number of people, and the house churches are growing beyond that size, which is one of the rationales for the government’s crackdown. So, it seems the government is more threatened by large churches than smaller ones, otherwise it wouldn’t have a prohibition against large churches.

    • Few months ago we had a pastor from China speak at our church. The gov’t is helping to build churches, big churches! As long as the church doesn’t cross into political speech. A lot of ‘oh wows’ and ‘that is wonderful’ was going on, but I wondered if the government wasn’t using the church to pacify it’s people. Some good middle class prosperity gospel would do wonders to keep the people from questioning.

  9. Marcus Johnson says

    I remember seeing a picture of Kirk Cameron gleefully standing in front of a monument of the Ten Commandments, engraved in stone. Should we be depressed or humored by the fact that Cameron does not see the irony in a graven image that includes the engraving, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image”?

    Yes, let’s create tens of thousands of him…

  10. Pope Francis opting for more simplicity in papal lifestyle is a fine thing; he’s embodying and enacting Jesus’ love for those in need by a symbolic and substantial solidarity with the poor. He’s also setting an example that all Christians should take to heart and follow; if we merely admire his actions from afar, and do not at least in some small ways follow it, we are missing the boat. It’s not supposed to be merely a show for our approval. So, how many of us are actually going to follow his example, choosing to live more simply, foregoing some small luxury or pretty thing as an act of solidarity with those in need?

    I wonder.

  11. Jeff, who’s the group in the video? We want that song. 🙂

    • …this appears to be the arrangement by Travis Cottrell found on his “Beloved Disciple” album and is available at iTunes. Some creative soul has apparently matched th audio with photos of Yosemite.

  12. We don’t need 10,000 Kirk Camerons. After seeing this news, it reminded me that we need 10,000 Alice Coopers:

    “….Uncle Alice Presents, a Tales from the Crypt-like anthology that Alice narrates and appears in as a character, will catch on. I have to say, I’m glad that even though A.C. is a born-again Christian and could easily have disavowed his twisted theatrics, he’s still willing to indulge that dark sense of humor and not disown everything that made him.”


    • Mayor McGuinness says

      I’m thinking 10,000 Kirk Camerons featuring Natalie Merchant on vocals. But the 10,000 Alice Coopers got me thinking, “We’re all clones, all are one and one all.” Good call.

  13. I had forgotten about God and Man at Table, and didn’t realize until I did some further exploring online that most people today associate it with Travis Cottrell, worship leader for Beth Moore. But you got me thinking, Jeff, and I went digging through my record collection and discovered the earlier version that I had heard by Craig Smith. I posted it on our bookstore’s YouTube channel if anyone’s interested.

  14. Never have heard that song before. It was beautiful. Thank you for posting it.

  15. Beautiful hymn…. Don’t think I’ve heard this one before…. Thank you….

  16. Liberty University wants to create “tens of thousands of Kirk Camerons.”

    I asked in a recent post what is the difference between building a cathedral and building a creation museum. I think it was HUG who wisely responded that the creation museum was propaganda art.

    It think the same is true here. There was only one Picasso. There was only one Rembrandt. But every despotic ruler had propaganda “artists” by the thousands churning out posters, murals, and films. This isn’t about evangelism. It is about the cultural war, and propaganda is a tool of every war.

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