January 27, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 3.31.12

Saturday Ramblings is blah, blah, blah. You know the routine. Leftovers, etc. We have too much to cover today, so … shall we ramble?

By the time you are reading this, Pope Benedict XVI will be resting back at home after his trip to Mexico and Cuba. While in Cuba the Pope met with Fidel Castro. Castro had a pressing question to ask: Just what does a pope do?  Castro asked the Pope to send him a book he could use for “reflection.” Just how powerful is the grace of God? I think we will see in the coming days in Cuba.

What are the reasons Catholics in the United States leave the church? Here are seven of them.  Seems to me many of these could be said to be the reasons Protestants leave their churches as well.

The home of the “Brownsville Revival” starting in the 1990s in Pensacola, Florida is now going through some very hard times financially. Instead of 5,500 a night showing up for healing and miracle services, 800-1000 now come for two Sunday morning services. Honestly, this is a tough one. Just what were they to do when so many people were showing up for services? Would you have turned people away rather than building a bigger sanctuary?

John Piper and Tim Keller headed a panel in New York City Wednesday night discussing racism and the church. Piper is uniquely qualified to talk about matters, both as a pastor and as the adopted father of a black daughter. That wasn’t the biggest news of the week for Piper. The board of Bethlehem Baptist where Piper serves as pastor has agreed on a successor for Piper in the pulpit. Piper plans to step down as teaching pastor by June of 2014.

In other transitional news, Mark Driscoll is stepping down from leadership roles in both the Acts 29 network and the Gospel Coalition. “As for myself, I want to humbly serve Jesus and his men in Acts 29 by doing whatever is best for them,” said Driscoll. What one word out of that sentence are you iMonks going to latch onto the most?

Ho boy. Have fun sorting this one out. TBN and the Crouch family are being sued by other members of the Crouch family for spending excessive amounts of donations on lavish personal items. Well, if you call a $50 million dollar luxury jet and a $100,000 motor coach to transport Jan Crouch’s dogs around “excessive” or “lavish.” I suppose this will come down to what the definition of “is” is. You can read more of the details, if you can stomach them, here. And here. I think I’ll stick to Downton Abbey and Mr. Magoo, if you don’t mind.

A proposed road in Kentucky that would take visitors to Noah’s Ark is creating quite the controversy. Seems some think it crosses church/state boundaries. Ken Ham, no doubt, has ideas of the spiritual make-up of those who oppose improving this road. Meanwhile, a different kind of ham is stirring controversy in Houston. Does’t PETA stand for People Eating Tasty Animals? No?

Happy birthday wishes went out this last week to Harry Houdini; Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle; Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie and …); Steve McQueen; Howard Cosell; James Lovell; Tennessee Williams; Leonard Nimoy; Diana Ross; Bob Woodward; Sam Walton; Billy Carter; Eric Clapton, and Norah Jones.

Instead of featuring a bonus video from one of the birthday boys or girls on this week’s list, perhaps we can spend a moment remembering one who passed on this week, the incredible Earl Scruggs. Read this tribute to the bluegrass pioneer here while you watch him play. Enjoy. RIP, Earl.



  1. Piper and Driscoll stepping down from anything is a step in the right direction. With that type of personality, one has to believe there is a catch.

    • In Mark Driscoll’s case its CYA. After the Paul Petry documents came forward I think that helped. BTW… are we going to discuss that here? That was big news.

      • Oops I meant to say damage control. It’s a PR stunt as I see it.

      • It should be discussed, including how Piper and Mahaney refused to come to the aid of Petry – according to an article on the Wartburg Watch. Put them all in an octagon and let them break each others’ noses. I just want this sad chapter of American Evangelicalism to be over. What possible difference can there be between Driscoll and Todd Bentley? They both are violent and out of control. How can Driscoll dare to comment about out-of-control subordinates? Who in the heck does he answer to? Whoever that may be – if in fact he has any accountability whatsoever – needs to have the courage to show him the door. I guess his minions would just follow him and help start a new church, or ultimate fighting arena, whatever they want to call it.

        Calvinista: what a great term!

        • Is the term Calvinazi… pushing it?

          Mark Driscoll needs a Nathan like charachter to pop up. The sad thing is that since some of these guys are so narcisstic it’s going to be a down hill trajectory. They have to keep publishing books because they need to make money, and the publishing companies demand it. So they will have to find new material and they will stretch, stretch, and S-T-R-E-T-C-H the material more in writing it. Can you imagine in 2019 when new books are out and people say, “Man that Mark Driscoll book on marriage was really orthodox and Biblical…”

          • Biblical with a capital ‘B’. Because it had some Bible verses in it.

          • cermak_rd says

            I figured they’d go the Osteen route and just start repeating themselves.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Mark Driscoll needs a Nathan like charachter to pop up. The sad thing is that since some of these guys are so narcisstic it’s going to be a down hill trajectory.

            Because “a Nathan-like character” by definition WON’T be a Yes-Man. And Driscoll’s type of boss is the type who can ONLY tolerate Yes-Men around him. Baba Saddam was the same kind of boss — remember the run-up to the Iraq War, with Saddam’s yes-men pumping him up, all out-flattering each other?

    • One can only hope Driscoll isn’t stepping down so he can concentrate on writing more books.

      • I second this thought entirely. I hope that he’s stepping down so Grace gets some time to write, while he loks after the kids…..:)

        • If Jonna Petry’s story is to be believed (over on Wartburg Watch) I’d be very wary of anything Grace writes. It would be more of the same Driscoll drivel with her name slapped on it.

  2. “TBN and the Crouch family are being sued by other members of the Crouch family for spending excessive amounts of donations on lavish personal items.”

    From watching one of these televangelists recently, what they do with the money seems immaterial. Their schick is giving them money is a seed which will break free the blessings of God. Taking our money IS their ministry. Heck, we should pay them extra to take our money. If they didn’t, we would remain poor. Kind of a bizarre, superstitious customer service. Only in America, I guess.

    • Very similar to the irrationalism of lottery fever, except one actually has a chance of winning the lottery. People are willing to throw their money at something with no idea where it goes in order to grasp at hope. It is a near counterfeit of Christian charity, which gives recklessly without need of return. Christians give because we already have hope, not out of a desperate search for it.

    • Except that it’s not only in America, as I at one time would also have thought (and hoped): African Christianity in particular is rife with the prosperity gospel, though the meaning of “prosperity” tends to be relative to ambient economic conditions.

      • cermak_rd says

        Is it maybe because that’s what religion was actually designed to do? To protect or ensure prosperity? I mean, in Exodus, the people don’t follow Moses necessarily because he’s right (they clearly have doubts) but because they figure he’s got a plan that is better than staying in slavery. Once the promise of a homeland is thrown in, that clinches it for them. And then, the stories clearly go that when people are being good and praising the Almighty, then things are good for them and when they don’t, things go bad.

        And that can be seen in other religions as well. They frequently start as a means to keep weather disasters away and the herds and family safe.

  3. “Would you have turned people away rather than building a bigger sanctuary?”

    To be quite honest, were I stuck at Brownsville in the mid 90s, I would have been looking for the nearest Greek Orthdox Church (or Copt, or anything that doesn’t look American) and not looking back lest I turn into a pillar of fake gold dust.

    Seriously, once your pastor starts prophecying that God is going to take out people who criticize you – you start running, not walking to the nearest exit.

  4. Delicious faux-ham dinner for Easter Sunday? No, no, no, it’s lamb for Easter!

    I have a vegan family member and I can assure PETA that, as far as becoming a vegan goes, in my case it’s not just no, but heck no! (When it comes to not even eating honey because it’s an animal product, that’s a little too doctrinaire for my carnivorous taste buds).


    • Thank you! Lamb = Easter meal.

    • As a confirmed meatatarian I am offended by PETA’s lack of sensitivity.

    • Fear not! i have formed a new PETA! People.Eating.Tasty.Animals.

    • It’s lamb, not ham, in this household. But I had never eaten any of it until I got married. My father used to say, “I never liked eating lamb; I always thought it was like eating your little brother.”

      I have no idea where he got that. He never had a brother and neither have I, so it’s one family tradition I have cheerfully abandoned in favor of another.

      And speaking of vegetarianism, I could probably go that route without a whole lot of fuss, if it weren’t for my wife’s Albanian lamb recipe.

      Oh. Oh.

    • not even eating honey because it’s an animal product

      And the difference between eating honey and crops fertilized the “old fashioned way” is?????

      EVERYTHING we eat has some animal products in it if you think about it that way.

      Yes ,I know I’m preaching to the choir.

    • From a letter from PETA to Joel O.
      “I think you would agree that Jesus would be horrified by the cruelty that is inflicted on animals to satisfy people’s taste for meat, especially when so many healthful vegan options are there for the taking.”

      I wonder how they discovered this insight into the mind of Jesus?

      • This is the same Jesus that called FISHERMEN as disciples, performed a miracle of loading their nets with FISH after they had been out all night and caught nothing, and after His resurrection waited on the beach for them with a meal of bread and grilled FISH, not bread and chickpeas?

        I can agree that Jesus would not condone cruelty, but I don’t agree that He was a proto-vegan.

    • PETA???? Doesn’t that mean…”PEOPLE EATING TASTY ANIMALS????”

  5. Earl Scruggs is great! And Steve Martin is no slouch, either.

    Have a great weekend, fellow internetmonkers.

  6. …we lose Earl just at the very moment the world could use MORE bluegrass! Sure hope there’s room for a banjo in that heavenly choir.

  7. David Cornwell says

    “A proposed road in Kentucky that would take visitors to Noah’s Ark is creating quite the controversy. Seems some think it crosses church/state boundaries.”

    Maybe this is just the kind of opportunity God was thinking about when he dictated the bible word for word. Just believe and the profits will flow.

    • I don’t want to play devil’s advocate too much here, I’m not much of a fan of the Creation Museum and even less so of the Noah’s Ark that costs millions to replicate. But don’t local governments do this all of the time?

      If a part of the highway is well-traversed — be it on the way to a National Park, a popular store, A Capitol Building, or even a new Sonic (yes, that really happens in Minnesota), the government usually pays for improvements. A local suburb ended up paving a road out to a Hindu Temple for better access, and I don’t remember Barry Lynn et al making too much noise.

      But if the race is between the Creation Musuem and the 1st Amdendment FUD groups, I sort of wish for a tie for 3rd. Neither seem to be all that good at understanding the source material.

      • David Cornwell says

        ” Noah’s Ark that costs millions to replicate.”

        Where’d Noah get all that money to build it with? He have a building fund campaign? Or government subsidies? If he had a building fund campaign, I’ll bet all the people that got left behind after making a pledge were kinda tiffed.

        • Tokah Fang says

          I have a feeling that Noah both didn’t pay his insurance bill on that sucker and had a few less passengers in mind.

        • Obviously Noah had a fund-raiser for his Biblical theme-park and that’s where the donations came in, David 🙂

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          If he had a building fund campaign, I’ll bet all the people that got left behind after making a pledge were kinda tiffed.

          “Neighbor? How long can you tread water? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha…”
          — Bill Cosby, “Noah”

      • I thought Ham was broke.

        • Where did you hear that? He may be, but then again he has a pretty good gig traveling around speaking to groups about how to “save the youth through hard core AIG/YEC teaching.

        • Whoa! I thought the Ham you were referring to, Dumb Ox, was Noah’s son, and I was wondering how you knew he was broke . . . . I got it now.

    • I keep hoping the Creation Museum will meet with a fate similar to what happened to Big Butter Jesus a few years ago. Put us all out of the misery of having to hear about it and explain to people why we don’t want to visit.

      • Maybe we can all pray for a lightening strike!! 😀 I’ll join in!!! You know I was given a tract from AIG at the Reason Rally last Saturday.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Not surprised. “The Reason Rally” sounds like the type of event that would attract counter-demonstrators from Evangelicalism’s lunatic fringe. Though I’d expect Wretched Urgency counter-preaching more than YEC, and Jack Chick tracts more than AIG ones.

  8. That was weird: I think I just got moderated, but I didn’t receive the message, “your comment is pending moderation”.

  9. Brownsville Revival

    The AP news piece was uncharacteristicaly kind. There was no condescension, and no one seem to question where all the money went. There was also no talk about the role of prosperity theology in the church’s financial dealings.

    • It was nice to see the church acknowledge how the “revival” failed to positively impact the Pensacola community, and then actually try to fix that. Prosperity Gospel or not, you don’t see that many church’s willing to make that kind of confession AND repentance.

  10. Happy Saturday!

  11. Just started following the Driscoll and other Calivanista happenings on the Wartburg Watch. What a disaster the whole thing is. As for Driscoll’s statement about stepping down, I have a hard time believing the bit about him being humble, based on historical evidence, but the bit about serving the men is entirely consistent with his outlook, which devalues and marginalizes women. As I said, what a disaster, and very sad to boot. I”m convinced that they’ve done an incredible amount of damage to the cause of our Lord. I’m ready for it to be over. Time for some true servant leaders and true pastors.

    • I just read Jonna Petry’s article “My Story” about Mars Hill, over on The Wartburg Watch (March 20 page). But I can’t seem to get her blog Joyful Exiles to come in; must be a browser thing.

      Her article (long, but well-written and worth the time) reminds me of two things:

      1. A series of articles over at Christian Monist (linked here at imonk, to the right of this page) entitled “The Subtle Art of Spiritual Abuse”. First episode was June 28, 2011. The July 9 episode is eerily like Jonna’s story.
      2. George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm (why do I keep coming back to this? I hope there’s not a pattern emerging).

    • He humbly breaks people’s noses in the octagon. The poor timid fellow.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      He is Humble(TM) because his Ministry of Truth says “Big Brother Is Humble! Big Brother Is Humble! Big Brother Is Humble!” And his Thought Police are standing by, just like at Kim Jong-Il’s funeral.

  12. Regarding the Brownsville problem, maybe this is why revivals used to be held in tents? I am glad they are repurposing the other building as much as possible, but to be stuck with space you do not need and cannot pay for is certainly a problem. Aren’t there any forms of modular buildings that could be put up in that sort of situation and then dismantled and sold to someone else when no longer needed? If not, maybe we need some sort of giant Legos that one could use to add space or remove it as needed.

  13. Richard Hershberger says

    “Honestly, this is a tough one. Just what were they to do when so many people were showing up for services? Would you have turned people away rather than building a bigger sanctuary?”

    Yes. Seriously. Or run a longer slate of services, or rent space, or put up a tent. The course of events is wholly predictable: even inevitable. Pentecostal revivals are notoriously fleeting. Depending on your perspective, the Holy Spirit visits the place then expects us to carry on, or the mass psychological effects people seek are unstable and cannot be maintained indefinitely. (See “The Toronto Blessing” for another example, from the same period.)

    So what is the responsible course of action for a church that finds itself so gifted? Yes, it should accommodate as many people as possible. But “as possible” should not be taken to mean the church must destroy itself in the process, taking on unsustainable debt in the fantasy that this will continue forever.

    In the meantime, work to build a genuine Christian community. The point of a revival is to get people in the door. But if this is all you have to offer, they will go away once the revivalism dies down. So give them a reason to stay. One feature of Evangelicalism which is striking to this non-Evangelical is how little sense it has of stewardship. I belong to a congregation which is over a quarter of a millennium old. When we sit and discuss financial decisions, we all know that we aren’t just talking about this year or next year, but also about what we will be leaving our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and what we are doing with what our forefathers left us.

    We also have here a story of an itinerant preacher coming into town, then leaving a while later with the church in a shambles. Note the passing mention of the mystery of where the money went, and how no one wants to talk about it. This too is an old story.

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