December 2, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 5.14.11

It’s that time of week again. Saturday has come around, just like usual. And I’ll bet they have Sunday scheduled for tomorrow. Well, before we move on to Monday, let us stroll through some leftovers from this past week. Or, as we like to say, let’s ramble.

There is an epidemic in Ghana. An epidemic of false pastors. Ghanaians flock to the churches led by these false pastors in search of answers for unemployment, bad marriages and childlessness. Instead, they end up paying “consulting fees” in order to hear what God has to say to them.

Meanwhile, in the United States…

I have a friend who once was in the Navy SEALS. I asked him a question once about what he had done in the SEALS. “If I tell you, Jeff, I’ll have to kill you.” And he wasn’t kidding. I decided I really didn’t  want to know what he did all that badly. For some reason, the pastor of a church in Nashville, Pennsylvania was not shy in talking about his exploits as a SEAL. And he didn’t threaten to kill anyone. Perhaps it was because he really wasn’t a SEAL. What would cause a pastor to fabricate such a story? Apparently he is not the only pastor to have claimed to be in the SEALS.

Meanwhile, Disney is not letting any grass grow under their feet when it comes to the Navy SEAL team that dispatched Osama bin Laden. They have trademarked “SEAL Team 6” so that you can buy hats and t-shirts and lunch boxes with “SEAL Team 6″ emblazoned on them. Only please…don’t.

I am not a fan of conferences. I have been to far more than my fair share of conferences and trade shows. (I’m not sure what to call Catalyst: a conference or a trade show for pastors. Most likely the latter.) But I would love to have been at Catalyst West to hear Dallas Willard talk about how we get the Gospel wrong. You can hear Willard’s comments here and here.

And here is the story that will garner the most comments this week. I will just give you the key words: Wheaton. Being gay. Not bad.  Have at it, iMonks.

Oh my. A TV show called “Good Christian B!&%$”? And based on a book written by a church-goer. This story does contain a dirty word, so proceed with caution. Don’t complain to me. I’m just the messenger.

Part of my ancient history includes a stint with the first commercial FM radio station to play contemporary Christian music. Before that, I worked at bookstores heading up the music departments. This was all in the 1970s when Christian rock music consisted of Johnny Cash, Chuck Girard and Evie. Radicals all. By the mid-80s, I no longer found Christian pop music appealing. So when this author calls the 90s the “golden age” of Christian music, well, I rolled my eyes several times. But this essay intrigues me. What intrigues me the most, perhaps, is the disclaimer at the end of this excerpt that tells us the book it comes from contains a few profanities. Why do we feel we must be protected from any and all bad words?

Has it been thirteen years already? Where is Moses when you need him? Oh…and how does this fit with Harold Camping’s prediction of the world’s end on May 21?

Billy Graham was admitted to the hospital this week with pneumonia. The 92 year old Graham is doing better as of this writing (Friday night), sitting up in bed for his meals and joking with the doctors and nurses. He was most appreciative of all those who have been praying for him. Let’s all continue in prayer for our dear brother.

Birthdays this week included Gary Cooper; Eva Peron; Johnny Unitas; Harry S. Truman; Don Rickles; Thomas Pynchon; Peter Benchley; Phillip Bailey; Richie Furay; Billy “Piano Man” Joel; Fred Astaire; Donovan Leitch; Dave Mason; Homer Simpson; Salvador Dali; Katherine Hepburn; Yogi Berra; Steve Winwood; and Mary Wells.

Fred Astaire defines dance. And here is his greatest dance routine of all time. This was done before the days of computer generated graphics or blue screens. Can you figure out how he does it? Enjoy.

[yframe url=’’]



  1. Jeff, I have a different angle on the golden age of CCM, as I wasn’t introduced to it until I was in college in the early ’90s. Over the years I tried to keep current on the scene and catch up on its history. Much of what I heard wasn’t much to brag about, honestly. Much of what I heard I thought was good enough to be at least worth something; of course there were artists, albums and songs I would consider classics of the genre.

    The golden age for me represented a time from the late 1970s (Keith Green) to the late 1990s (when Rich Mullins died). I’ll name a few artists (besides the two I’ve already mentioned) that, for me, defined this golden age:

    Amy Grant

    Michael W. Smith

    Petra (both the Greg X. Volz- and early John Schlitt-led lineups)

    DC Talk

    much of Vineyard praise and worship through the late 90s

    Michael Card


    Defining the golden age of CCM is a subjective task; everyone’s going to have their own take, different than anyone else’s. There’s a lot of CCM, especially from the 90s, I would say is forgettable. Quite a bit of it, however, should be remembered in some way, especially given NashVegas’s propensity to chase after the trends of the moment and not take time to properly record Christian music’s history for posterity.

    • I didn’t realize anyone else remembered Bride! They are still on my playlist. =)

      • Sorry to reply to this, but it brought back such memories.

        I went to Pioneer Girls as a wee lass. I must have been 12 or 13 when the teacher (a dear lady I attend church with to this day) naively gave us the homework assignment of bringing in a tape with our favorite contemporary christian song to share.

        The look of horror on my teacher’s face and befuddlement on the faces of my classmates as the the short drum tap turned into a heavy metal guitar riff was unforgettable. I’m quite sure they couldn’t make much of the lyrics until it hit the chorus: “Scaaarecrow….” and by the time we hit “Betrayed by a friend, hung out to dry” she demanded I turn it off.

        At the time, I thought it was the most shocking but theologically rooted of my favorite christian songs, and that is definetely why an impudent teenager me picked it. But knowing know just how much moralism and how little grace we christians often believe in, and remembering now what terrible pain and tempations to self destruction came my way soon after, maybe Doubt would have bee a better choice.

        “I have broken many promises, thrown cautions to the wind
        Rebelled in my youth but here you come again
        You are the message in the bottle, a light that never dims
        And though I let you down you’ll always be my friend
        Put my faith in fairy tales, believe what I was told
        I’ve watched the holy eat their own, suck the meat lick the bone
        There is only one voice my universal guide
        You’ve always been beside me even when I wanted to die
        I will never forget, I will have no regrets
        I don’t want to cheat anyone
        Don’t want to steal from anyone
        Don’t want to lie
        Don’t want to quit
        Don’t want to leave any doubt
        Step on anyone, hurt anyone, curse anyone
        Sometimes I itch and squirm to crawl out of my skin
        You put your arm around me like the air that I take in
        Won’t push no needle in my arm or bathe in gasoline
        Never swear in Jesus name or hide behind the pain”

      • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

        Had a couple Bride albums back-in-the-day also!

        The only Christian-label stuff still in my CD wallet (yes, I still do CDs) came from that era: Small Town Poets, one of the Petra albums with Greg X. Voltz, and some Jars of Clay.

        When I was in jr. high and high school, I started with Petra and Russ Taff (totally underrated) and moved on to some of the Christian hair-metal bands like Whitecross. Eventually I got into some of the harder sounds of Deliverance, Tourniquet, Mortal, and Die Happy. Truth be told, when I finally heard some of their contemporaries in the secular metal scene, I was underwhelmed. Tourniquet is still the best thrash metal ever (with crazily advanced vocabulary to boot). Then again, commercial metal has always mostly sucked, and that includes the “big four of thrash” (all of whom pale next to Tourniquet).

        I think Jars of Clay was a huge influence on my musical tastes, ‘cuz their first album was so unique (their latter stuff was much more mainstream). Also, at the end of my days listening to Christian music I really got into the OC Supertones. No one has ever done 3rd wave ska better, though that’s not saying much. These days I look on that stuff mostly as novelties.

        Of course, since then I’ve discovered the greats of classic rock, classic country, blues, etc. Some of the “Golden Age” Christian bands still hold a lot of nostalgia. And I can’t get enough of the guitar tones on Petra’s Not of This World or Jars of Clay’s live stage album. I really, really, really can’t stand 99% of the stuff on the current Christian market. Or the current secular market, for that matter.

        I think that makes me prematurely old.

        • Isaac, did you ever listen to Vengeance Rising? They were my favorite Christian thrash brand back in the day. I heard of Tourniquet, but never got around to checking them out….

          I was a huge Supertones fan in college and still love listening to them. My 5 yr old daughter loves their music too…

          Any King’s X fans out there? They weren’t officially CCM but wrote some great music.

          • Yup, I love King’s X — still one of the best concerts I’ve been to.

          • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

            My brother had one album of Vengeance Rising (Human Sacrifice, I think. They honestly weren’t my favorite. BUT, a four of their members became Die Happy, which WAS one of my favorites. The thing I liked about Die Happy was that their bassest was amazing, and their vocalist had a very 70’s sound about him. So it ended up being this weird mix between metal and bluesy classic rock. Unfortunately they only put out a couple of albums, and some group from Germany ended up with the band name.

            I don’t know if you ever heard, but VR’s original vocalist ended up becoming a satanist and then an atheist. I’ve been to his blog, and it’s really nasty crap. His current stuff is vehemently anti-Christian. I’m not talking that he’s renounced the faith and now is doing other stuff, but that he is actively and specifically hostile toward Christianity, defining his current projects as being against Christianity.

          • I’ll have to check out Die Happy! The VR tape I used to crank on my Walkman was “Once Dead”, if you ever want to check it out.

            I did hear about the VR lead singer and his blog from a friend of mine. I checked out his blog once and your description is quite accurate.

  2. Warnings of profanities aside, I’m kind of smiling at the comments. I grew up listening to Bride as well, plus some of the “harder” artists people are mentioning. I have no idea when the “golden age” was, but those mid-late 90s years seemed to be the final push to make it all work. After that worship music took over, and anything that couldn’t get sold as such didn’t get the attention. By then everything was pretty much a sub-label of giant music companies anyway.

    I guess I’ve always been a “listen to good music” person: it’s in CCM, it’s in classical, it’s in Asia (Aradhna! Seriously, go check then out!), it’s in giant stadiums and small coffee houses, and it’s on KLOVE or XPN.

    • Nice tip to XPN – best eclectic programming mix you’ll hear anywhere…if you happen to live where I do in south/south-central PA that is…along with WITF Harrisburg, (classical) they’ve been my savior from CCM mediocrity – faddishness.

  3. Resurrection Band’s “Lament” is an amazing album, one brief shining moment in the nineties.

  4. There’s nothin like sittin’ back with tunes of the World Action Singers

  5. I never listened to Christian music except for the brief time I was involved with a non-denominational charismatic group and the only album I remember from then is Johnny Cash’s “Gospel Road.” I kind of like that. I do have a couple CDs of Gregorian chanting, but only listened to them a couple times.

  6. I’ll be in Paris May 21st on business and if the world is going to come to an end, at least I can face it in a civilized manner over a buttered tartine and Café au lait.

  7. By the way, Jeff and Mike, I read the first chapter of Skye Jethani’s book With that you have linked on the bulletin board here. It sounds great! I wish I didn’t have to wait until August when it comes out to read it.

    • Thomas Nelson (his publisher) will want to wait until after the big Christian book trade show in July to release it. Generally, there aren’t a lot of Christian new releases between now and then. But I’m sure Skye is excited that you are excited!

      • Apparently “I was a Navy SEAL” is a great hook, whether you’re picking up women in bars or picking up visitors to your congregation.

      • Oops, sorry for the bad nesting above.
        BTW, isn’t Skye published by Thomas Nelson?

        • You’re right, Steve. Nelson is publishing With. Zondervan published Divine Commodity. I fixed my comment to reflect this. Good catch.

  8. Jonathan says

    I would guess Astaire’s routine is done with a rotating set.

  9. It bothers me that Willard spent 10 minutes talking about “the gospel” but only described the effects of the gospel. How we live with grace, as children of God, forgiven sinners, “heven now” etc, however true, is not the gospel. The gospel was an event, the cross and resurrection, entirely by Christ, for us. When we confuse the event with the effects we confuse the giver with the receiver, the savior with the saved.

  10. Boethius says

    I have listened to Christian music exclusively since the 70s. My favorites from back then until now are:
    Keith Greene, Michael Card, Don Francisco, Glad, 2nd Chapter of Acts, DC Talk, Lamb and my current favorite is: Jesus Culture.

    • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

      Grew up listening to my parents’ 2nd Chapter of Acts records. Had a few DC Talk CDs. Played a LOT of Lamb when I led worship for about a decade in a Messianic congregation. I don’t think Messianic music has ever been better than the Lamb and Israel’s Hope, and Lamb was certainly the best of ’em. I remember in my college dorm room working for HOURS to figure out the guitar solo for Shu-Vee. The dancers at the congregation freakin’ loved that.

  11. “Instead, they end up paying “consulting fees” in order to hear what God has to say to them.”
    Oh! You mean just like…

  12. “What would cause a pastor to fabricate such a story?”
    Ask Mike Warnke.

    • First thing I thought of too.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        If I remember Selling Satan (the Cornerstone expose) right, the authors concluded it was because Warnke wanted to be Somebody Important.

        (Funny thing is, the appendix of the book chronicles an interview with a certain Anton LaVey, of whom they come to a similar conclusion.)

    • The next question is, why do people fall for it over, and over, and over…

      “What… is a revival? Is it a church? Is it a religion? Or is it a circus sideshow complete with freaks, magic, and rabble-rousing? Why does a revival attract thousands? To see a miracle? To be saved from a lifetime of sin in five minutes? To be entertained, cured, cuddled, in quick, painless salvation?” – from the screenplay of Sinclair Lewis’ “Elmer Gantry”.

    • David Cornwell says

      Why do so many pastors identify in their imaginations with this machine of war? I haven’t heard of a single pastor fabricating a story about being in the Peace Corps. I don’t remember Jesus saying “happy are the war makers.” How would Jesus have finished that sentence anyway? “Happy are the war makers for theirs is…”

      • A very good point. In my opinion, the placement of the America flag on the podium, July 4th “hymns”, Memorial Day services, etc. seem more about the the war-and-conquest aspects of patriotism than anything else.

        • David Cornwell says

          A few years ago I became friends with a pastor from the Church of the Brethren. I learned a lot from him concerning the use of flags in the sanctuary. There is great danger in wrapping the Bible up in the flag.

          This reminds me of a letter to the editor back when the Tea Party was starting up. The person writing said she now carries around the Bible around in one hand and the Constitution in the other.

          • I think I saw her in a Jon MacNaughton painting

          • That was Jesus, but you just proved David’s point.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            How long before she’s carrying a copy of Atlas Shrugged instead of the Bible in that hand?

            In the Christian Activist scene (especially re the Tea Party movement) you’re seeing more and more syncretic merging of Christians and Objectivists.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The part of the article that sprang out at me was the SEAL roster admin saying about SEAL impostors “We get a lot of these guys, especially clergy.” What is it that causes a dispropotionate percentage of SEAL impostors to come from the clergy?

  13. This is such a deep blog! What can I say; you’ve hit the nail right on the head! You even added some videos to make it seem so much more real. You’ve got a great way of communicating with the reader, a great way of making me feel like what you have to say is just as important to me as it is to you. Keep it up!

  14. “I will just give you the key words: Wheaton. Being gay. Not bad.”

    So, would any gays actually want to come out of the closet and admit…well, you know…that they’re…evangelical?

    • dumb ox took a funny pill this morning and this girl likes to laugh! Especially when I don’t have too much to be laughing over. Thanks!

    • David Cornwell says

      Every evangelical college has an undercover group of gays ready to hand out toasters to new recruits. So…keep your eyes open.

    • Oh, Ken Ham, you were so incredibly right. Things went bad at Wheaton after they dug up Perry the Mastadon and put him on display. It all goes back to claiming the poor beast pre-dated 4000 BC.

    • “So, would any gays actually want to come out of the closet and admit…well, you know…that they’re…evangelical?”

      I know several. And they are quite open and out- about being gay and evangelical.

  15. “you can buy hats and t-shirts and lunch boxes with “SEAL Team 6″ emblazoned on them. Only please…don’t.”

    Yeah. Wait until Christian bookstores start selling the “SEAL +eam 7” caps, where the “T” will be replaced with a big, emblazoned cross. They’ll figure out some cutsie, christian-ese to fit the acronym.

    • David Cornwell says

      With a player embedded in the cross playing the Anthem and “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

    • But of course, in a tastefully-placed display on the shelf between the Jesus Action Figure (with glow-in-the-dark miracle hands) and Full Armor of God Playset (also girl’s version).

      • VolAlongTheWatchTower says

        “Disillusioned words like bullets bark
        As human gods aim for their marks
        Made everything from toy guns that sparks
        To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
        It’s easy to see without looking too far
        That not much
        Is really sacred.”
        –Dylan, 1964

    • Great, Dumb Ox. You just gave some Christian t-shirt designer this idea. So when I see someone wearing SEAL +eam 7 gear, I’ll be blaming you… 🙂

    • Jesus was the 7th SEAL Team member…


      it will become the newest Christianese urban legend. inspiring song soon to follow… 🙁

      • nope. no song…


        the 7th Seal in heaven when opened resulted in 30 minutes of silence (Rev 8:1)… 🙁

        • Joseph! You’re a genious! I never thought of tying it into the seven seals of the apocalypse. I can see the money rolling in now…oh, I mean all the poor lost souls being saved by merely gazing upon the t-shirt.

        • always wondered about that verse considering Heaven is a realm beyond time/space.

          • i think the concept of ‘timelessness’ in heaven intended to describe time without end more than just a perception of events progressing from moment to moment…

            all created beings/settings in heaven will exist in a divine construct to allow interaction with a truly timeless Deity. He provides a perception of time as the medium we “live & move & have our being.” when disembodied & existing in that new higher plane of Reality, it will still be experienced through a time familiar manner only without end. since all of creation began at a specific time, we will continue to inhabit a place where it continues. our memory of it may be a total recall of accumulated events without ever getting mixed up or oversaturated.

            meditating on the super Reality we will inhabit one day a worthy rumination. i find it fascinating. and we all will be in for some very BIG surprises once in His presence…

    • “They’ll figure out some cutsie, christian-ese to fit the acronym.”

      Salvation Eternally Assured, Lord

      Saved, Elect, Atoned (for), Liberated

      Sanctified, Evangelised, Anointed, Loosed (from the bonds of sin)

      Um – that’s about all I could come up with.

      • Supernatural Elite Angelic League

        • That’s perfect, Joseph! Those t-shirts will fly off the shelves!

          (Is it worrying that we can all think of schemes to fleece the faithful – that is, meet a deep cultural need to pay proper thanks to where it’s due?)


          • yes, definitely. i am looking forward to early retirement once all the royalties start rolling in… 😉

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Ever notice how easily the Christianese knockoffs come to mind?

            It’s because of RL experiences with previous Christianese knockoffs.

            Check the IMonk Archives for a post titled “Selling Jesus by the Pound” for more terrible examples and details.

    • There is a movie coming out soon entitled, “SEAL Team 7”. It might prevent these Christian trinkets from showing up

  16. Or a movie maybe? May 21 release date?

  17. VolAlongTheWatchTower says

    “We shouldn’t be asking so much whether the show’s title is offensive but rather whether it’s true.”
    Amen and amen.

  18. On the subject of good Christian music, “Shotgun Angel” by Daniel Amos is being re-issued soon.

    • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

      Oh, man… when I had a band in high school, that was one of the first songs we played. I think we totally butchered it lol

  19. Wayne B. says

    There are no grounds–other than personal religious opinion–for calling the Ghanaians “false” pastors. The fact is, anybody can hang out his shingle and call himself a “pastor.” No qualifications are necessary (in Protestantism as a whole–your denomination may differ), and no regulation is conceivable. You may disapprove of someone else’s teachings, or practices, but what difference does it make? Most churches feel the same way about one another anyway, even without the complication of incestuous rape.

  20. conanthepunctual says

    My two favorite “CCM” artists right now (and they have been for a long time) are both interrelated and no longer signed to a label at all (which I suspect may be why they keep getting better): The Choir and Lost Dogs.

    • Is The Choir still around? I loved their album “Circle Slide” as a teenager. I think I had a couple others, too, but Circle Slide really stands out. Best Christian love songs ever.

      • The Choir put out a new CD last year, as well as an “unplugged” type album of some of their better known songs.

        I saw Lost Dogs last week at a n outdoor summer concert series. Terry Taylor’s having some health issues, check the Daniel Amos site for info.

  21. Sorry…last week = last year.

  22. The Guy from Knoxville says

    Something from a Facebook friend who is in ministry:

    Jacoby Jarriel Yarbro
    just found out, Lifeway is the infallible resource organization of God.
    20 hours ago ·LikeUnlike ·

    Randall C. Maynard Jacoby – going with the idea of sarcasm……. I have very little use for Lifeway for anything anymore period! This could easily spark a nice little rant but I’ll let that ride.

    Jacoby Jarriel Yarbro I hope that you have picked up on my sarcasm. I, personally and professionally, don’t use Lifeway for any of my teachings.
    15 hours ago · LikeUnlike

    Randall C. Maynard I did – I won’t comment further on Lifeway……. at least not right now.
    14 hours ago · LikeUnlike

    Thought it was a bit on the funny side and good for a Saturday Ramblings post…… Lifeway….. well, there’s no way to describe it.

  23. @Jeff Dunn and sort of off topic: check this out, dude, sounds like something you would write….maybe you DID write it under a new pen name ….

    This looks interesting. Sects, Love, and Rock & Roll: My Life on Record (Experiences in Evangelicalism) by Joel Heng Hartse

    Read about this book in a short adaptation for Christianity Today.