October 26, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 5.29.10

Let’s see … yesterday was Friday, tomorrow is Sunday–even in Nebraska. That must mean it’s time for Saturday Ramblings, our effort to wipe the calendar clean of all the things we missed from this week. As St. Paul Harvey would say, Stand by for news!

Collin Hansen has a report on “Why Johnny Can’t Read The Bible” in Christianity Today. Hansen gives some reasons why biblical literacy is seemingly at an all-time low in our country and some programs aimed at reducing this. One of the more interesting, in my opinion, is that of a church in Birmingham, Alabama and their “secret church” approach to teaching the basics of the Bible. Check it out.

The small church movement might be gaining ground, but one proponent of small churches is concerned about a recent Zogby report. Brandon O’Brien voices his concerns at the Out Of Ur blog, and makes some very good observations in general about Christians and polls. How is it we so quickly ruin a good idea by turning it into a fad? How soon before we start seeing How To Turn Your Megachurch Into A Thriving Small Church books in the stores? Too soon, I’m afraid.

I really don’t know what to make of this at all. Sounds, well, scary and interesting at the same time. Anyone have insights into these organizations?

Could it be true? Is it possible that a pint of Guinness really is good for you? According to a recent study done in Wisconsin, a pint of the dark stout is as a good as a daily aspirin to reduce the chances of a heart attack. Really. As you are heading out to do your weekend errands, tell your spouse, “Honey, I’m ready to really start taking care of my heart” and come home with a six pack. You might also check out Genius of Guinness: The Enduring Legacy of an Irish Dynasty by Michele Guinness, which gives a history of the missionary side of Ireland’s famous family. And Stephen Mansfield’s The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World. And if they are still looking for research volunteers for further study, my email is Jeff@internetmonk.com.

Against my better judgment, I am going to mention that, yes, I know last Sunday was the final episode of Lost. And for those of you who want to construct a theology out of this rambling six-season long TV show, you can get some help here and here. Now, back to more important things…

Like singing nuns! The Decca record label is holding a contest to find the best group of singing sisters in the world. If you know of a convent with musically talented nuns, let them know the clock is ticking. Decca wants to release an album of traditional music by a group of sisters in time for the Pope’s visit to England in September. Count me among the first in line to buy this when it is released.

Ted Haggard is set to make a “surprise groundbreaking” announcement in Colorado Springs this coming Wednesday. Sigh…I can’t wait.

Happy Birthday this past week to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Joan Collins; Marvelous Marvin Hagler; Jewel; Gary Burghoff, better known as Radar on M*A*S*H; Roseanne Cash, daughter of Johnny; Alison Eastwood, daughter of Clint; Sir Ian McKellen, aka Gandalf; Lenny Kravitz; Bruce Cockburn; Gladys Knight; John Fogerty; and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

Finally, today’s funny moment is for all the counselors and psychologists in the house. Or for those who feel they need to visit a psychologist. Or for all of the psychologists who need counseling. Whomever. Enjoy.


  1. A pint of Guiness is good for you only if you drink it on tap. In Ireland. Preferably in Galway.
    Under any other circumstances, forget it.

    • I am looking for funding to test your hypothesis. I see this research project taking a while to complete. But I am up for the challenge.

      • To encourage you in this laudable endeavour, I link to a recitation of “A Pint of Plain Is Yer Only Man” by the Dubliners:


        A poem ostensibly authored by Jem Casey, the ‘Poet of the Pick’, a working class Dublin man, but really written by the Irish novelist and satirist from the 40s/50s, Flann O’Brien/Myles na gCopaleen/Brian O’Nolan.

  2. An an Irishwoman, I approve this message 🙂

    Traditionally, Guinness used to be considered a kind of health tonic, good for old people and pregnant women. The idea was that the yeast in the stout contained iron.

    Which also meant that after donating blood (over here, a voluntary act with no payment of any kind attached), that people were offered the choice of a pint., to help them replace the iron in the blood loss.

    Alas, this good old tradition is now defunct!


    • A worthy beverage. Irish mother’s milk is what it is commonly referred to around here.

  3. Kenny Johnson says

    In regards to ” “Why Johnny Can’t Read The Bible”

    It was a good article. The same issue also mentioned a new web project called Bible Mesh:

    Looks like it will be interesting.

  4. “Then, when every last cent of their money was spent,
    The Fix-It-Up Chappie packed up. And he went.
    And he laughed as he drove In his car up the beach,
    ‘They never will learn. No. You can’t Teach a Sneetch!’ ”
    – Dr. Seuss

    • The “Fix-It-Up Chappie”—I like it!

      • Yeah, the evangelical collapse will be a windfall for every chappie selling a church fix-it-up book. Really sad.

      • I personally belong to the First Church of “Stars Upon Thars”.

        • Not that I actually fix anything…

          • You’re right. I have never interpreted iMonk as selling a “this is the answer” sort of nonsense. I think it was truly Michael’s journey into the post-evangelical wilderness, but never did he suggest one type or form of church was the answer. I think those of you who have picked up the torch are doing a wonderful job in continuing that approach.

  5. I definitely wish to see more small churches. But a small church movement as some sort of fad? Heaven help us.

    I recently returned from spending time with friends in a tiny – really tiny – town. While visiting, I was fortunate enough to attend several services at their small-town Southern Baptist church. In addition, I am currently reading Eugene Peterson’s Practice Resurrection. So these thoughts are much on my mind.

    Many of the things that impressed me about this small-town church could almost be dismissed as merely an extension of an already close-knit community. But I think the opposite is closer to the truth.

    Take a Wednesday night prayer meeting. There is plenty I could say about the outstanding song leader, the excellent choice of hymns, the sound Bible study and even the delicious freshly baked biscuits served at the meal before the service. But I was struck most by the prayer portion of the service. Members of the congregation spoke freely, not only mentioning prayer requests but detailing needs in the community. The pastor would ask if anybody had been to see Mr. C. Someone responded that Mr. C was doing better and sure would be grateful for more company. Someone else mentioned another family going through a difficult time. He said, “We need to do better. We need to make more time for them.” There was no sense of hurry. Prayer mattered here, the community mattered. Prayer knitted this community together.

    None of the services I attended felt the slightest bit produced, like staged events. And yet I was astonished that such a small community seemed so gifted, not just the song leader and pastor, but the knowledgeable Sunday school teacher, the volunteers who thought they needed to be doing more.

    Could such a church exist in my suburb alongside the big, impersonal, overly produced, event-driven, celebrity obsessed franchises? Not if they were conceived as some fleeting fad. Not even if they were conceived in dislike of the mega churches.

    As mentioned I was struck by the talent and dedication at that small-town church. This was no fad. This could only develop over time because prayer, discipleship, study, and a willingness to encourage and teach really mattered.

    There used to be one small church not far from where I live. I am convinced it was started by a group of people dissatisfied with the near-by mega church of the same denomination. This church disbanded a while back. But a church centered on dissatisfaction is built on shifting sand. I visited it once and my impression was general dissatisfaction about everything.

    • Jeff Dunn says

      I just read in this morning’s paper about a new church plant–sponsored by a major denomination–here inTulsa. Another church in Tulsa? Why? Well, explained, the planting pastor (who moved here with nine other families from Pennsylvania to start this church), they want to attract those who are dissatisfied with church as a whole. Those who are burned out on church as usual.

      I am still trying to make sense of that explanation. What would you say to someone who proclaimed they were starting a coffee shop to attract those who no longer liked coffee? Or a bookstore for those who hate to read?

      • I live in a town of less than 20,000. I think there are a least a dozen and as many as 20 church plants here, small groups who say they exist for the same reason. This is the worst of Protestantism gone to seed.

        • i have been discussing with a select group of friends what it might look like to plant, whether in the suburbs (my context) or an urban area (the other primary contributor’s context) something like (but not exactly) an abbey after Celtic monastic communities that functioned within and served a community as a gathering place for the faithful and an outreach to the immediate community.

          But instead of being a church itself, it would serve as a resource to help local assemblies (small churches, house churches, even groups within large churches) as they worship and use their Spirit -given gifts to serve their faith community and their neighbors at large.

          What you and Jeff raise here is a very important point. For any of these small groups to function successfully, they must organize out of a sense of following Christ out of their theological conviction, and not out of dissatisfaction with others who are “doing it wrong.”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          One church plant for every 1000 population, not counting the number of established churches already in town. Even if some of those existing churches were self-secluded and dying of old age, that’s still an incredible number.

          1) Well, the theoretical end state of Protestantism is millions of One True Churches, each with only one member…

          2) Town of less that 20K? I wonder how many of these “church plants” are from big city types trying to put a Christianese face on an attempt to get out of the big city. “Escape to Mayberry/Pleasantville” with a Christian coat of paint.

  6. I am a men’s bible study at my church where we are working through the Lutheran Confessions. The men who wrote this document are both spiritual and intellectual “giants” compare to me and the men and my group. The documents refer to the Creeds, the Church fathers are symbols and to Holy Scripture. They are working through doctrine issues that we just take for granted today or chose to overlook. We have taked such a lazy attitude towards the faith and it is reflected in what we read, what we sing, how we worship and how we think.

    When I read St. Augustine or other Church fathers, my head spins. There is so much to learn from those who came before us in the last 2000 years.