December 5, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 5.26.12

Happy holiday weekend, iMonks! I always was amazed at those who could not keep their holidays straight. How could anyone confuse Memorial Day—the start of summer—with Labor Day—the end of summer? There are days of memories and days of laboring, and while often times they are one and the same, once you capitalize them, they belong on different days of the calendar. So, here is your heapin’ helpin’ of Labor Day ramblings!

And what do you do on a holiday but go to the movies? Having seen the Avengers already, now what? You could get ready for The Master, a new film that is “lightly” based on the story of L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. Or you can anticipate Anne Rice’s Christ The Lord being made into a movie. Or, best of all, Joel Osteen’s first foray into films, a movie about Mary the mother of Jesus staring an Israeli actress I’ve never heard of. I’m sure if Joel is in charge, this will be a whiz-bang flick.

The Vatican has released a guide telling bishops and priests how to determine if an apparition of Mary is the real thing. The rules list requirements for those claiming to have witnessed a “positive” apparition, some of which include “psychological equilibrium, honesty and rectitude of moral life […] sincerity [and] healthy devotion.” Well, I won’t be submitting any claims of seeing Mary anytime soon, will I?

John Piper’s successor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis has been approved by the church’s board of elders. Jason Meyer is the pastor-in-waiting to Piper. No timetable for a changing of the guard has been set. Is this a good and orderly way to change church leaders, or would it be better for Pastor A to preach his last message this week, and Pastor B begin next week?

Some other Baptists chose to leave in a different manner. More than two dozen professors and teachers at Shorter University in Georgia resigned after being told they would need to sign a “personal lifestyle statement” that forbids homosexuality, premarital sex, and public drinking. And what sayest thou, iMonks? Should Christian colleges require such a document from those who work there?

Well, it’s settled then. Jesus was crucified on Friday, April 3, 33 A.D.  How do we know this is the right date? Apparently geologists have been able to research earthquakes around that time period and have concluded the quake mentioned in Matthew’s gospel matches one that rattled Jerusalem on April 3. Glad we have that cleared up?

Of course, Christianity as we know it is all washed up. Some clever blokes in Iran are set to release the Gospel of Barnabas, an ancient manuscript that “proves” Jesus was never crucified at all—not on April 3 or any other day. Well, I’m convinced. And I think I hear Dan Brown’s pen scratching out a new book.

A couple in Israel are divorcing because of … cats. No, not the annoying Broadway musical. I mean real felines. 550 of them to be exact. The husband says the cats block his way to the bathroom, steal his food from his plate and leave him no room to sleep in his bed. His wife, given the choice between her husband and the cats, chose … sigh …

Before we get to celebs’ birthdays, let us lift a glass to the Book of Common Prayer, 350 years old this month. I have several, but I much prefer my hand-stitched leatherbound copy printed by Cambridge I bought in London a couple of years ago.

Other birthdays celebrated this week include those by Malcolm X; Pete Townshend; Archie Manning; Grace Jones; Jimmy Stewart; Joe Cocker; Cher; Leo Sayer; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Drew Carey; Miles Davis; and A.J. Foyt IV.

Pete Townshend of The Who is a great rock guitarist who has a bad habit of smashing his guitar at the end of a show. That’s a lot of good guitars going to landfills when there are hungry children all over the world who would like a guitar of their own. John Hiatt, songwriter extraordinaire, sings us a little ditty about rock stars who smash their guitars. This is sound theology, iMonks. Take it to heart. Enjoy.

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  1. I’ve always had a soft spot for Anne Rice. Even when she was just writing about vampires, there was a profoundly spiritual thread weaving its way through her work. I was impressed with her ‘Christ the Lord’ books. One would be justifiably sceptical of a novel that describes Christ’s early life in the first person (!). Indeed, there’s a kind of breathtaking brazen audacity in even trying something like that. And sure, you could pick away at and critique the portrayal of Christ in those books. But the attempt to honestly portray what the hypostatic union meant in concrete terms, and to do so in a well-realised and engaging way- I for one thought she pulled it off. Rice’s love/hate relationship with Christianity has, of course, been well publicised. Me, I kind of feel like she’ll end up rather like Oscar Wilde, who had a similar love/hate thing going on but finished up in a good place by the end.

    As for the proposed movie, though, I don’t think it can work. Part of the effectiveness of the books was being inside the head of and seeing everything through the eyes of a Jewish boy/young man who is also God. A movie can have voiceover narration and such which simulates a first person perspective, but its not the same. So colour me sceptical. On the other hand, I was sceptical about the books too, so…

    On the birthday front, MILES DAVIS!! Come on, this is the obvious choice for the music video, surely? Well, as long as we’re talking about smashing guitars, I recall that Cake had a song on this topic too.

    “How much did you pay for the chunk of his guitar,/ The one he ruthlessly smashed at the end of the show?/And how much will he pay for a brand new guitar/ One that he’ll ruthlessly smash at the end of another show?/ And how long will the workers keep building him new ones?/As long as their soda cans are red, white and blue ones.”

    • All join hands and sway back and forth now… “The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.”

    • Margaret Catherine says

      I hope you are right about Anne – she seems to have gone well and truly off the deep end, she has a hatred for the Church now that I don’t think existed prior to her conversion. I enjoyed her autobiography – an honest accounting by a woman who, no, couldn’t quite reconcile fully with Catholic teaching. But now it seems a case of “the last state worse than the first.”

      • Cedric Klein says

        I never got a chance to read her last autobio “Out of the Darkness”. Every FB post of hers lately seems to echo “And Right Back in Again…” BUT it is to be hoped & prayed for that by God’s Love “the next conversion shall be more glorious than the former”! Her disdain for the RCC over the pedophile coverup I can totally understand, even over the gay issue as it is personal for her, but her refusal to find any home in the Church at large- even in some so liberal in doctrine or practice that I personally could not attend- that I have no sympathy for.

    • I adore Anne Rice and her writing. She doesn’t approach any subject flippantly, but researches any and everything about the subjects, be it vampires or angels or Christ. I fell in love with Jesus all over again reading these books, and cannot wait for the third installment. I always have hesitations when people talk of making movies of my favorite books as I have found few who share my particular point of view while reading.
      I have also found Anne, the woman, to be very approachable and kind. I emailed her and she emailed back. It was a wonderful set of conversations I had with her regarding her books, and my disappointment in her when she appeared on the 700 Club. She is a classy woman with a wide open heart and mind. I will always support her work, and her right to wrestle with any subject in the public arena.

  2. Happy birthday yesterday to Bob Dylan!

  3. Handover from one minister to another – hmmmm – interesting question. I suppose it depends on the church and the reason why. If the minister is a control freak then it makes sense for them to ensure they have a major hand in choosing the successor thus ensuring the church stays on a particular trajectory. If the church is fragile, making sure a sound successor is in place for an easy handover means the church can continue to grow and mature without unnecessary disruption. Or it could be that the right person just happens to be available at the right time and it’s all one big happy occasion. I don’t know enough about Piper’s church to know why this was deemed the best way to do it.
    In my own denomination (UK Baptist) the norm is for the minister to leave before a successor is sought. This can be a really good opportunity for a church to reassess who they are and what sort of minister they should be looking for next. On the other hand, a gap of several months for a struggling church it can be a traumatic time – especially if they have had a number of different leaders over the past few years – a seamless handover can continue to aid their recovery.

    • Margaret Catherine says

      It’s a commonplace among Catholic pastors that a new pastor has to wait a year before changing anything. At all. Associate pastors moving up to full pastor probably have it easier – if that is this man’s role, it’s a better deal all around. He and the congregation have time to get to know each other, no surprises when he takes full charge.

  4. I wonder how many of those Shorter University profs resigned solely because the statement forbade the public consumption of alcohol? I know quite a few Baptists who would have no problem with the bit about sexual mores, but would chafe at Big Brother telling them they couldn’t have a glass of wine at a restaurant.

    • The thing about Shorter U causes me to ask, “Why? What is the motivation behind the ‘pledge’?”

      Is the Institution simply exercising self-protection?

      …when it (the Church)chose such institutional models, it chose entities that were seriously less than human — that were, for all the world, indistinguishable from angels. For institutions are precisely angelic. Corporations, kingships, courts, voluntary societies, and even families are not simply human beings doing x, y, or z; they are great, ethereal egos in their own right who are not only more important than the people under their patronage but who can also lead those who fall under their sway to do sometimes quite inhuman, not to mention un-Christian, things…

      All across the institutional board, the same angelic tyranny prevails. Children are disinherited by the angel of the Family, presidents are under judgment by the angel of the Presidency, romantic lovers who stray are condemned by the angel of Romance — and so on and on, into the dark night of angelic institutional perfection that makes mincemeat of flesh and blood. And nowhere is that night darker or more dangerous than in the institutional church. Nowhere is it more destructive of the people and purposes for which the institution supposedly exists. Our two-thousand-year love affair with excommunication — with the expulsion of sinners, heretics, and other troublemakers — has been a disaster for the Good News of free grace. I think the real reason why God saved the world by becoming human rather than sending some angel to do the job was that, as incarnate in our flesh, he could simply lay down his life for sinners, whereas any angel he might have sent, precisely because it couldn’t lay down its life for a soul, would never have shut up on the subject of sin.

      Robert Capon

    • Richard Hershberger says

      Well, the prohibition of drinking alcohol in public certainly makes it clear that the institution in question rejects Bible-based Christianity, so this strikes me as a pretty good reason to leave.

    • Hey. At least it is no longer a part of the Baptist Faith and Message Statement or some such and printed in the front of all the SBC hymnals.

  5. What happened to the check-box where I can prove I’m human??


  6. It is so good to know at last from those geologists that Christ was crucified on Friday, April 3, 33 A.D. because that means (a) his nativity took place at exactly the fullness time at the beginning of 1 A.D. and not some crazy date like 5 or 6 B.C. when a conjugation or whatever it was of planets in the sky was mistaken for the Star of Bethlehem and (b) our calendar, in spite of what Pope Gregory did to it, is not screwed up at all. I can’t wait for their next big announcement telling us that God said “Let there be light” on a Wednesday afternoon in 4004 B.C.

    • It was in the morning, not afternoon. 9:00 AM to be exact, on the 23rd of October. Was that a Wednesday?

      • In and around Eden, it was a TUESDAY!

        Can’t you guys get your facts straigth!

      • And 9:00 AM in what time zone?

        • That comes from the play Inherit the Wind. The defense attorney Drummond came back with the question, “Is that Eastern Standard Time? Or Rocky Mountain Time? It wasn’t Daylight Saving Time, was it, because the Lord didn’t make the sun until the fourth day.”

      • In Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet, Bishop Ushers calculated date is discussed along with the 13 billion years date accepted by cosmologists. Both are declared wrong, Usher’s is off by half an hour.

        (Highly recommend the book- a comedy about the Apocalypse)

  7. Pastor-in-waiting conflicts with modern notions of pastor authority. So, this pastor-in-waiting is supposed to submit to Piper with the promise that at some time in the future he may or may not be the person in authority.

    • petrushka1611 says

      And if he doesn’t submit, that means he’ll reap insubordination later.

    • Wow…John Piper really is a Pope with his own established fiefdom!! I wonder if this Neo-Calvinist transfer of power from one to another is going to be akin to the transfer of power in North Korea when Kim Il Sung arranged to transfer power to Kin Jong Il who arranged to transfer it to Kin Jong Un.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Including Beloved Leader Comrade Kim Jong-Un’s first official act being the bloodbath purge just coming to light?

  8. “Yesss…. Jeffff….” (he said, icily, and with one eyebrow raised in suspicion), “You DO know that it was Bob Dylan’s birthday yesterday. DON’T YOU??? Or is that supposed to go without saying???”

  9. Yes, yes. I admit I left off the greatest songwriter of all time. Purely stupidity on my part, brought about by stress and exhaustion.

    Happy birthday greetings go out to the bard, Robert Zimmerman, from all of us at the iMonastery.

    Your favorite Dylan tune is … ?

    • So many tunes, so little time.

      But for a start: Like a Rolling Stone, or Tangled up in Blue, or Love Minus Zero, or Idiot Wind, or anything, anything at all, from the Desire album.

    • Richard McNeeley says

      Best Dylan song title “Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody” and best song “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.”

    • “I shall be released.”

      Written by Dylan, originally popularized by The Band, and covered by everybody and their brother–it still stands as one of his greatest.

    • Joker Man, definitely.

    • “Ain’t Workin’ on Maggie’s Farm No Mo’, No Mo’ ” of course.


  10. Jeff, I do hope your above reference to “Labor Day ramblings” was in jest. If not, you should be aware that, due to the tenuous nature of our Minnesota summers, you may have inadvertently put the kibosh on all our hopes for buds, blossoms and brats on the grill …not to mention any harvest of “home-growed” tomatos and sweet corn in our summer that might have been. The Twins will be frozen in the cellar of the AL Central and all of our snowbirds will head south prematurely, thereby causing economic stagnation across these northern climes.

    …guess I’ll go turn up the thermostat.

  11. ” ‘Mary is portrayed as a brave, faithful young woman who readily embraces her divine destiny regardless of the sacrifices and hardships she must endure,’ Osteen said.”

    Hail, Mary, full of merit, the Lord should be so lucky to be with thee. Good grief! Isn’t this what protestants accuse Catholics of believing (which I know from study isn’t true)? This has nothing to do with grace. This is a description of a self-made woman, which is fine for a motivational speaker, but not a pastor who is charged with faithfully representing the mysteries of the faith.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      The impression I get of Osteen is that he is utterly uneducated in Christian doctrine or history, so he drifts around aimlessly. Prosperity Gospel? Sure? Why not? It sounds good and feels good! Mariolatry? She seems like such a nice girl…

      He is hardly alone. Years ago, when the movie The Last Temptation of Christ came out and was so controversial, I saw in interview of some fundamentalist pastor condemning it for showing Jesus as a man. He explained that this is contrary to the history of Christian doctrine. This is what you get when you have a church tradition that considers educated clergy optional, if not outright anathema.

  12. “More than two dozen professors and teachers at Shorter University in Georgia resigned after being told they would need to sign a “personal lifestyle statement” that forbids homosexuality, premarital sex, and public drinking. And what sayest thou, iMonks? Should Christian colleges require such a document from those who work there?”

    Wait, so premarital sex and public drinking are on the same moral level? ….

  13. Margaret Catherine says

    For movies – Ergh. I’d heard about the movie on Mary, it was getting billed as “a prequel to the Passion.” Somehow Joel Osteen’s name didn’t get in there. Much better summer viewing (after the Avengers) is ‘For Greater Glory’, a film on Mexico’s Cristero War due out June 1st.

    For music, and guitars, and the people who break them – the collection just is not complete without the ‘United Breaks Guitars’ trilogy, available in all its PR-disaster glory here: …never mess with country singers.

    • petrushka1611 says

      Margaret, you’ve made my night. Especially since I also came across the “Hitler Finds Out United Breaks Guitars” video.