December 5, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 5.12.12

Well, iMonks, we’ve made it through yet another week. We’ve been cooking and cleaning and praying the offices and visiting with visitors. What we haven’t done is talk about the following topics. And once we have done so, you may have a good view of why we haven’t. Shall we ramble?

Thanks to the versatile Adam Palmer for presenting last week’s Ramblings. Yours truly was visiting with former classmates and students in Ohio last week (how come they have all gotten old, but I haven’t?), so AP stepped up to bat for me. You can read about Adam and his family—including a deep-from-the-heart story of Adam’s struggles with pornography—here. Adam is one of my closest friends, and Michelle has the best singing voice I’ve ever heard. They’re embarking on their “Group Hug America” in a few weeks. If you want to house them on their trip, or you want them to minister to your church or home group, you can also reach them on this site.

iMonk writer Mike Bell let us know that a student in Mike’s homeland of Canada was sent home from school for wearing a shirt that proclaimed his Christian faith. This week, that school system said the student could wear the shirt to school after all. Why can’t we all just get along?

In news sure to thrill frequent commenter Eagle, Sovereign Grace Ministries announced they’re moving their headquarters from Gaithersburg, Maryland to Louisville, Kentucky. While SGM has no churches in Kentucky, C.J. Mahaney says he will plant one there. I wasn’t aware that there was a shortage of churches in Louisville …

Nothing like having your college graduation become a political battleground. That’s what commencement services this weekend at Liberty University are likely to resemble as Republican (presumptive) presidential candidate and Mormon Mitt Romney speaks to Liberty’s graduates. Spin doctors are wanting Romney to use this opportunity to shore up his standing with evangelicals.  School president Jerry Falwell, Jr. says it is the job of such speakers to “to inspire and challenge the graduates and showcase Liberty and its mission.” Southern Baptist leader Richard Land, taking time off from making racist comments, said he hopes Romney tells students he has “a similar world view, about how every child has a right, a God-given right, to have a mother and a father, and you can’t separate the financial malaise we are in from the moral malaise.” Ok then. Whatever happened to a drunken Winston Churchill giving his famous—and very short—“Never, ever, ever quit” speech?

Meanwhile, President Obama’s former pastor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, is one of the scheduled speakers at Brian McLaren’s CYNKC conference. He’ll be speaking about how to reach Christians who have drifted away from the institutional church. I suppose he could start with President Obama, who …

…in case you slept through the whole week, declared his support for gay marriages. Now, bare in mind that deciding on gay marriages is a states, not federal, battle (for now, at least), and Obama’s support is simply that—his support, not a legal proclamation. Be that as it may, it woke up the elephant in the sanctuary. Loads of people jumped in with their opinions this week, some worth reading and discussing (Rachel Held Evans, Skye Jethani, Kevin DeYoung), some worth ignoring all together (Ed Young, Jr.). [Warning: Young violates Chaplain Mike’s ban on the use of the word “biblical” not once, but twice; and each time uses it wrongly.]

Then there’s the Nebraska assistant football coach who may get fired for saying homosexuality is a sin. About the only thing that will save him now is a 12-0 season.

I like this Washington state pastor who wants to reclaim the word “gay” for its original meaning: Happy. Good idea.

Boxer Manny Pacquiao says studying the Bible is giving him a “shaper focus” in preparation for his next fight. His trainer told him that there’s a story of God boxing in the Bible, and Pacquiao bought it. Some people would say, “Hey, whatever gets him to read the Bible.” I say watch out for the kid’s left.

Eagle-eyed rambler JoanieD found this great video of iMonk favorite NT Wright playing Dylan. In a church. Oh my. I’d buy his album! Thanks Joanie!

Happy birthday greetings went out this week to Katherine Hepburn; Howard K. Smith; Lawrence “Yogi” Berra; Burt Bacharach; George Carlin; Steve Winwood; Mary Wells; Stevie Wonder; Brian Eno; Emmitt Smith; Henry Fonda; Pierce Brosnan; Dennis Hopper; Frank Capra; Perry Como; and Tina Fey.

I love great music. And it doesn’t get much greater than Stevie Wonder. Some of his songs would make a dead man dance. Here is one that if it doesn’t grab your heart you might need something to make you dance, dead man. Enjoy. (Sorry, AP, you’ll have to wait until next week for more 70s guitar music.)

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  1. Stephen Prothero has a thought-provoking article on the gay marriage kerfuffle. (Are we allowed to post links in comments?)

    I wonder if a good place to start would be requiring everyone who wants to have an opinion on this to have at least one friend who is gay.

    • I’ve heard this idea tossed about a bit this week, and I really don’t know if I like the way it’s going.

      There seems to be an attempt (on all sides) to make prerequsites in order to silence others on the subject, and I’m getting antsy about how the conversation is moving. On one hand, if you don’t have a “Biblical” view (and that “Biblical” view includes words like “inerrant” and “literal”) your opinion is invalid. On the other, if you do hold to a view considered “traditional,” your opinion is invaild if you’ve never befriended someone who considered themselves gay and Christian. (Another example: I don’t need to meet a pastor who sits in his bed on a roof for publicity and always talks about sex to think that he shouldn’t be taken seriously.)

      Rather, I would encourage people on all sides of this debate to seek out people with different opinions. It may change their mind — or codify what they already believe. But require? Sorry, I can’t do that.

      • “Require” is an overstatement. I’m just tired of the evangelical tendency to think in terms of categories instead of people. Too often there is no human quality to the discussion, it’s just “those people who are not like us are wrong.”

        • Chances we do all have at least one gay friend but we just don’t know it – which says a lot more about us than it does about them!

    • I’m sorry to say I’m sufficiently cynical that whenever I see a politician talking about how his views have “evolved”, I immediately think he’s calculating where he can best garner votes.

  2. “and you can’t separate the financial malaise we are in from the moral malaise.”

    Really? So, conservatives like Falwell, Jr. are prepared to equate Wall Street unethical business tactics and predatorial lending practices with other biblical sins? Does that mean that conservatives will expect government to regulate such practices like they expect government to regulate sexual morality? Yeah, right. It’s the business of government to snoop in everyone’s bedroom but not in Wall Street’s board rooms.

    • I would certainly hope so. The “greed is good” ideal has done a huge lot of damage, as has no-fault divorce. Blenderized families are hard on the kids–I can see it all around my neighborhood, and the mistrust is already costing us dearly. The job listings tell me about the damage unethical and crony business dealings do. So, maybe we need a little more regulation? More transparency in business and more focus on stability and children in family law?

    • sowarrior says

      “Does that mean that conservatives will expect government to regulate such practices like they expect government to regulate sexual morality?”

      Don’t hold your breath.

  3. 19 year old Michael Swinimer of Nova Scotia and his Jesus t-shirt suspension wasn’t really about the shirt.

    He went back to school, shirt and all, his dad stormed up, ranted to media and yanked him out. The up side was over 100 students at the small school participated in the open forum about respecting beliefs/communication arranged because of the attention Swinimer garnered.

    • personally i think it would’ve been better if Swinimer just said “yes Caesar” and wore a different shirt..but thats just me.

  4. Jethani’s article included what might be among the more insightful points I’ve read on the topic of late:

    “…I’ve spoken to a number of conservative legal scholars about the subject [same-sex marriage], and I’ve always heard the same thing: the church lost the legal battle over same-sex marriage decades ago. How, you ask? Because the church was silent when state after state passed no-fault divorce laws. These bills essentially removed the state from any interest in preserving or defining marriage. No-fault divorce laws defined marriage as an agreement between two individuals that may be entered or dissolved as the individuals desire without state interference or prejudice.”

    I’d add that another reason the issue is so difficult within many modern churches is that there is no real place for a sacred celibacy. At one extreme, it’s not enough for a homosexual Christian to simply remain celibate: quite often, he or she is urged to be “converted” to heterosexuality. This makes utterly no sense if celibacy were an actual goal – you’d simply be exchanging one set of urges for another. No, it must be that heterosexual marriage is the goal. At the same time, the other side agrees that sexual intimacy is important and belongs only within marriage; they just want to change the definition. Both sides can’t think of anything else to do but jump up and down on the marriage bed.

    That the EO and RCC haven’t had quite the internal furor on this issue as have others is, I suspect, at least partly due to there being established categories of celibacy to point gays to ( if mostly as inspiration rather than actual vocation.) “We’re not kidding — you can live a fulfilled life without marriage,” at least has centuries of actual practice to back up the assertion in these traditions.

    • Good points Trevis.

    • Yes Celibacy! I’ve actually never heard life long celibacy referenced in church before. Only temporary celibacy until your got to love salvation-by-marriage alone -_-

    • Good point about loosing the legal battle as a result of legislative change to no-fault divorce.

      I’m inclined to think that The State should not have the power to define, legitimate, regulate and disolve marriages. The RC tradition has maintained control of this as an exercise of Faith by distinguishing between civil and church. At this moment my wife is at Mass where she will observe the Host but be unable to partake because she and I have both been previously married. Annulments are required for both of us before she can be a 1st class RC.


    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      That the EO and RCC haven’t had quite the internal furor on this issue as have others is, I suspect, at least partly due to there being established categories of celibacy to point gays to ( if mostly as inspiration rather than actual vocation.) “We’re not kidding — you can live a fulfilled life without marriage,” at least has centuries of actual practice to back up the assertion in these traditions.

      Which is kind of hard to combine with the Evangelicals’ “Salvation by Marriage Alone”.

  5. Richard McNeeley says

    Happy Birthday Bob Seger, Don Rickles, Billy Joel, Tony Gwynn, Eric Burdon and George Carlin.

  6. Richard McNeeley says

    If Adam can put up with a Dodger fan for a few days and is traveling in North Central Arizona have him contact us.

  7. Wenatchee The Hatchet says

    Brian Eno AND Stevie Wonder have birthdays today? I’m going to have to listen to “Sky Saw” followed by “Contusion”.

  8. Wenatchee The Hatchet says

    Shameless self-promotion, years ago I wrote an essay about contrapuntal devices in Stevie Wonder songs years ago at my blog. It’s nice to see that Internet Monk is another place in blogdom where appreciating J. S. Bach and Stevie Wonder aren’t seen as ever having to be mutually exclusive. 🙂 Don’t forget to mention whenever Mahalia Jackson’s birthday comes up.

  9. I’m glad you enjoyed the video of N.T. Wright playing a Dylan song, Jeff. He is just full of surprises, isn’t he!

  10. Jeff, wIth both homosexuality and pornography featured prominently in this week’s ramblings, I suppose it was inevitable that you would make a Freudian typoand say “bare in mind” when what you meant (I hope) was bear in mind….

  11. We have a totally private “mother-in-law” apartment for Adam here in Falwellville (aka Lynchburg, VA)!

    Traffic is already backed up for seven miles around Liberty….and graduation is still an hour away….should be fun to see what happens.

  12. “School president Jerry Falwell, Jr. says it is the job of such speakers to ‘to inspire and challenge the graduates and showcase Liberty and its mission.'”

    What inspiration are they expecting Romney to deliver? (I asked this question over two weeks ago.) A call to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth? The problem here is not with Romney but with Liberty’s spiritual leadership or the lack thereof. At some point the parents of Liberty student who are paying exorbitant private school tuition need to ask if an indoctrination in moralistic-therapeutic deism is giving them their money’s worth. Heads should roll, but I’m not holding my breath. Most fundamental conservatives probably just want their kids to grow up Republican and straight and could care less if they ever embrace the gospel.

    • “Most fundamental conservatives probably just want their kids to grow up Republican and straight and could care less if they ever embrace the gospel.” Oh PLEASE! That’s like saying non-fundamentalist Democrats want their kids to grow up Democrat , gay and socially compassionate,

      I can’t say that I am without some political bias, but at least I realize that it is something that I have to be careful to NOT let color an argument.

  13. I’m growing tired of Evans’ consistent whining with no alternatives offered. You don’t make and promote laws in society based on what may make your really nice gay friend from college happy but rather on what is good for society. If you do not think the state has a vested interest in promoting solid family units then amendments like the one passed in NC wouldn’t make sense. I wonder if Evans thinks homosexuals would feel more welcome in the church if all the churches started supporting same sex marriage and if the church stopped insisting that homosexuality is in indeed sinful? Perhaps, but then all sinners would be happy if the church stopped mentioning sin. Then we could all sit around and pat ourselves on the back as to how inclusive and kind we are.

    No thank you. Actions like those taken in NC are needed because there is a concerted effort by a vocal and active pro-homosexual community that wants nothing more than to radically remake society and alter the definitions of words like marriage and family in order to satiate their own need for forced acceptance. That is the truth despite what anybody’s really nice and cool gay friend/cousin/former college roommate says.

    • Austin – First, as was pointed out in Travis’ quote from the Jethani article, the state gave up the right to adjudicate marital norms when it established no-fault divorce laws – to satisfy the *hetero*sexual community. The horse is long gone, so it’s way too late to shut the barn door now.

      Second, suppose we grant your assertion that GLBTs are actively working to change the culture. Even if that’s true, so what? What *is* the proper relation of the Christian and the Church to culture? From my reading of history, the Church was at it’s best when it focused on devotion to Christ and self-sacrificial service to the needy and outcast, not when it tried to “change the culture”. You would think that after the failures of the Puritan Commonwealth, Prohibition, and the current culture wars, we would get the message…

      • I tend to agree with Eeyore one ONE point. Marriage is, and has always been, a social contract in modern society, and, as such, also has the option of being dissolved as any other contract could be. So why is it that we get out panties in a bind when society wants to define who can enter that contract if it is a purely social construct?

        If Christians, and churches, don’t want to accept this in their fellowships then, fine, just as long as the state does not force them to accept these new contracts IN their fellowship. Last time I checked the constitution allows freedom of assembly, including who, exactly, can be a member of that assembly .

        On the other hand it is completely within Christians’ rights (at least in the USA, if not Canada) to petition their governments to resist the move to redefine the social contract as law. The battle is primarily political, but with religious implications. They, Christians, are not bound to accept anything the government does without vigorous debate and plebiscite.

        In the event that the redefinition of marriage in the social contract (government recognition) decides to allow male/male, female/female contracts then the Christian does not have to recognize that as a valid Christian marriage. The state may reserve the right to redefine how THEY do business, but it has NO right to force the Christian to change THEIR definition.

        Christians, therefor, have two choices in this: 1) remain passive with the argument that we are not of this world, or 2) vigorously defend THEIR idea of marriage in the public square.

        I’m in the latter camp…

        • Austin and Oscar….room in the car for an overweight Catholic woman? I refuse to accept the label of “homophobic” for believing that sexual relationships outside of heterosexual marriage are a sin. In fact, I feel BULLIED by those who toss out these labels so freely to all who dare disagree.

          I will respect the dignity and worth of every human being, and recognize that we are ALL sinners. But I disagree with Evans (and 85% of her commentors) that we need to affirm a disturbed lifestyle just because it hurts someone’s feelings.

          Christ pointed out TWO ways to go through life….married or celebate. For those who are celebate, I care not a fig about what SORT of sexual urges someone is abstaining FROM. Married or celibate……hey, talk to the Guy who made the rules, not me!

          • There are a lot of things that are sinful that we don’t pass laws on. Adultery is a good example. It’s clearly sinful and probably way more destructive in society than allowing gay people to get married will ever be. Maybe we should start passing amendments that make divorce and/or cheating on one’s spouse illegal?

          • I believe that was Paul who said the married or celibate part, wasn’t it?
            What I recall most from Jesus was when He said, (paraphrased), “If you don’t hear anything else I have said, remember these two things: Love the Lord God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself”. I believe if something like same sex commitments were as important as we make it here in the 21st century, He would have made a point of mentioning it Himself, and yet, not one word from the Man called Jesus was recorded on this subject.
            Who are we going to listen to, Paul or Jesus? They are preaching different messages.
            Sorry for the late post that no one will likely see, but I worked all weekend.

    • The pro-homosexual groups you mention are simply taking plays out of the religious rights playbook and using it against them.

      I don’t necessarily think states should be in the business of promoting any particular worldview over another. What they should be is ensuring that the rights of all its citizens are equally protected. That’s the problem with this type of politics. When it comes to one group of people trying to force its will on others, it will always end up in a tit for tat. Personally, I can’t say I’m pro-gay marriage. I think marriage as a Christian relationship is defined as one man and one woman. However, the state’s definition of marriage can be whatever it makes it. Why should we expect them to be in complete agreement?

      • “I don’t necessarily think states should be in the business of promoting any particular worldview over another. What they should be is ensuring that the rights of all its citizens are equally protected.”

        The problem is that the rights of citizens are of necessity grounded in some kind of worldview. Whether that be some Judeo-Christian moralistic hodge podge or Lockeian social contract. And since the state doesn’t just protect rights but also creates rights I don’t see how it can avoid relying on some underlying paradigm to do this – contested though it may be among it’s members.

    • Austin – you wrote, “I’m growing tired of Evans’ consistent whining with no alternatives offered.”

      It seems your mind is already set in stone on this “issue,” but I’d recommend her post today that discusses “How do we move forward.”

      • I appreciate her words about remembering that people who voted for the NC Marriage amendment are not instantly bigots and homophobes. This is getting very ugly very quick, and especially in the Christian blogosphere. It’s ironic to me that we spend so much time about worrying what the “unbeliever” will think, that we forget that our words are hurting believers as well who are genuinely concerned and voting after just as much praying as the other guy. I can’t be the only person who remembers the church attacks after Prop 8 in California.

        Unfortunately, so much of this is the problem: We hear about wanting to stop fighting, but we also want to get in the last word. And then “stop fighting!” turns into anger and resentment…and here we are again.

    • Austin, regarding Amendment One in NC: I’m from North Carolina. There was already a law on the books banning gay marriage. This amendment dissolved civil unions and partnerships. This wasn’t going to define marriage in NC, it was a bit of spite towards gay people in NC.

      • A law is easier to reverse (simply by passing another law) than is a constitutional amendment. So the majority in NC simply re-inforced its earlier opinion. It wasn’t spite, it was a firm conviction. There’s a difference.

        • A big reason here in NC for the amendment was to keep a single judge at some point in the future from saying “in his opinion” this law was wrong.

          A big one.

  14. Dumb Ox, I consider myself a conservative, not sure if I’m a fundamentalist, I vote Republican, and I’m straight . . . and I want my son to grow up and embrace the gospel. But I have no idea if he will ever have the capability to do that becaue he has autism.

    And I am so tired of the debate on gay marriage. I don’t believe in gay marriage, I believe homosexual behavior is a sin–I also think that we as the church have shown an appalling lack of compassion towards the gay community–and I am tired of being considered a bigot and a homophobe because of my beliefs about homosexuality. I am beginning to think that the only way the church will be able to be taken seriously in this day and age is to throw in the towel and say that homosexual behavior is a sin.

    Just the rantings of a tired, discouraged Christian woman.

    • Donalbain says

      The issue is not whether you think homosexual sex is a sin. That is your business and the business of whatever club or church you want to belong to. The issue is whether it should be a crime. Or whether people who do it should be denied basic human rights. Many people, for instance, think that worshiping Hindu gods is a sin. But the idea that it should be a crime, or that Hindus should be prevented from marrying would not occur to most people.

    • I’m sick of the topic, too. I’m sick of it being used to define the mission of the church. As Paul wrote in Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Certainly this issue can’t be reduced to Paul’s category of “eating and drinking”, but the point remains that our message is about new life in Christ. The church needs to be the society where people can find Jesus and that new life in the Spirit from the dead life in the flesh. How are we supposed to convince others that there is more to life than “sexual orientation” when it seems like that’s all we’ve got ourselves?

  15. Do I go to church tomorrow if my church is joining in the anti-gay rant from the pulpit?

    • If mine were, I would not.

      • Dumb ox’s question is rigged. A statement of belief in what Scripture plainly teaches is not a rant.

        • No it’s not rigged. It is the same as when someone takes Gen 1 and states you can’t be a Christian and believe the earth/universe if billions of years old.

          It’s one thing to stand up in the pulpit and say “I believe the following and here’s why…” It’s another to say if you don’t agree with me you aren’t a Christian or this group of people need to be jailed or whatever.

          And a rant isn’t always defined by what is said but by how it is said. I’ve walked away from many a rant when I agreed with the speaker, but felt their presentation was not helpful to the cause, whatever it was.

        • Definitely not a rigged question or begging the question. I seriously was looking for advice. If this Sunday is for pastors to blast homosexuals, do I sit this one out?

          I actually was checking out the schedule of the local Unitarian church recently, and they had the exact opposite service a few weeks ago – “sex Sunday” or something like that, where all sexual orientations would be affirmed. I’m sick of the whole nonsense from both extremes.

    • I would advise against going to that church at all.

      I get a little annoyed (not that you are doing this) when people try to code this as a Christian versus not Christian, plenty of Christians are fine with same sex marriages.

  16. Do you think maybe Ed Young will get up on the roof of his church and walk on a sheet of thin ice?

  17. Jeff,
    I sent some CDs I thought you and CM might have an interest in. Did they arrive? There was a check in there too. ‘>)

  18. Josh in FW says

    I came across this blog post by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick about the politics of same sex marriage.
    I think it is something the Imonk community would enjoy.
    some quotes:
    “What really struck me today was that several posters (who normally are not very interested in religious things) declared that anyone who voted in favor of the amendment was not a real Christian. It was kind of surreal to see some of these people making such religious statements when they never seemed to pay any particular attention to Christian doctrine before.”

    “There seems to be little room here for the idea that someone can disagree, that they can even support unfavored laws, and still love the other. I think there is a little bit of the childish “You hate me, Mom and Dad” attitude here, chafing against anyone who won’t sanction a given behavior, but I believe overall it’s something much deeper, something actually theological, a vision of human nature.”

    “We Americans are hardly ever more Calvinistic and puritanical than when we are at politics. I observe this not about any particular political ideology or party, but about them all.”

    “I do not believe that every sin should be illegal, and homosexual activity is one I do not think needs to be illegal. (And certainly one cannot criminalize feelings, either.) Yes, I do regard these things as symptomatic of a fallen humanity, but I don’t think that anyone’s salvation is furthered by criminalization.”

    I’m fine with some kind of legal instrument that protects the legal rights of a same sex domestic partner, but I don’t think it should be called marriage. Definitionally I consider the union of two same sex individuals to be too different to use the word marriage. Of course this kind of compromise, like most compromise, ticks off both sides.

    • Thanks for the referral, Josh. I posted one of the quotes in the IM Bulletin Board on the top right of the front page.

      • Josh in FW says

        Glad I could contribute. The particular priest who wrote that blog did a podcast on orthodoxy & heterodoxy which introduced me to the Orthodox Church. I didn’t fully grasp what he was trying to say about Calvinism in the blog post. I’ll have to read it again in a day or two and see if I understand his point better.

    • I read Damick’s post a day or two ago and found it very insightful. Recommended.


  19. Regarding the need to have at least one gay friend:

    I think that if you are going to deny somebody something she really, really wants and says she needs, you have to count the cost. It’s easy to say the cost is worth it if it’s not something you would ever want, or anyone you care about would want (as far as you know).

    Years ago a man who I supervised found out that he had AIDS. I was the first person he told. The way he told me was this: “I don’t know if you know or not that I’m gay.”

    I said, “Oh my God” because I knew what he was telling me. I’d known about his health struggles for some time. (His stupid doctor hadn’t tested him for HIV despite his textbook symptoms, probably because he didn’t think anyone he knew could be gay or have AIDS.)

    My friend continued: “I know some people think a gay person can’t be a Christian, but I am. I know Jesus, and if I have to die from this, I’ll be OK.”

    And it distressed me no end to think that he thought he had to tell me this; that we’d worked together and been friends for many years, and talked about our Christian walks even, and that he had feared to tell me this thing about himself because I might reject him and doubt his salvation.

    I think the very worst spiritual thing a person could ever, ever do is to get between somebody else and the Cross. I can’t really think of anything worse. The Church has a lot of ugliness and rejection to make up for. If we need to accept gay marriage to quit driving our gay brothers and sisters away, then IMO the sooner the better.