January 18, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 6.12.10

What a wild and wacky week it’s been here at the iMonastery! You all have kicked up quite a bit of dust–which means we have some cleaning up to do. So if you will pardon me, I will get the broom and dustpan to sweep up the leftover Saturday Ramblings.

You may have heard that there is a sporting event starting this weekend in South Africa. Some kind of soccer thing. A small church in South Carolina wants to take part in this event. They have started an initiative to raise money that will then be given to various missions organizations who have plans in motion to reach out during the World Cup events. What a great idea–raise money here, give it to those already there to proclaim the Gospel. (And where can I buy a USA jersey cheap?)

A Canon in the Church of England has come out against those who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” He also takes to task those who say “you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” What old-fashioned ideas he has! Imagine, telling young people they are selfish for reducing spirituality to a “personality trait,” instead calling them to the tradition of community. He will never build himself a big ministry like that.

More than one million people took part in Brazil’s annual March For Jesus this week. It is held each year on the 60th day after Easter Sunday. And its purpose is…?

Eagle-eyed Saturday Ramblings roving reporter Adam Palmer passed along Wired Magazine’s report on how surfing the web is rewiring our brains–and not necessarily for the better. The New York Times ran a similar piece this week. And Rev. James Martin talks about how technology is changing the way we relate to God. Is technology inherently destructive, or is it just a collection of tools that we choose to use in constructive or destructive ways?

One way we know that technology is destructive is in the way it makes porn so much more accessible. XXXChurch.com has introduced an app for mobile devices that will help keep those who struggle with porn accountable. This sounds like a really good idea for those with porn issues.

Of course, we may not have to worry about all this high-tech gear for much longer. It seems the sun has been napping all this time, but now it is waking up and about to zap all of our cell phones, portable book readers, GPS navigators, and, who knows, maybe even those booming bass car radios that always end up right next to you at a red light. I say, “Go to it, sun!”

Alert iMonk reader Jimmy Giers of Alabama sent in a link to this site. This is wrong on so many levels I cannot even begin to discuss it here. Be assured this will be part of an essay I am working on for next week. In the meantime, laugh at this. It is the best way to drive the Enemy away.

Dana Key of the seminal Christian rock group DeGarmo and Key passed away this week. Do you remember when Christians made good and original music? Artists like DeGarmo and Key, the 77s, Daniel Amos, Mustard Seed Faith. Do you long for those days again like I do? There are too few like them today. We will miss Dana Key and his creativity.

We are blowing out birthday candles this week with Donald Duck, born in 1934; Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg; Bill Moyers; Jessica Tandy; Liam Neeson; Prince; Frank Lloyd Wright; Barbara Bush; Boz Skaggs; Les Paul; Natalie Portman; Dick Vitale; Johnny Depp; Frank Beard (the only member of ZZ Top without any facial hair); and Michael J. Fox. As a tribute to the Family Ties/Back To The Future/Spin City actor, here is a short film Fox created in the 1980s to answer the question, “Have you ever gone to a fight and a symphony orchestra broke out?”


  1. I’ve always taken “spiritual but not religious” to be not about what the individual thinks of themselves, but what they think of the “church institution”. As in, “I have no issue with G-d, but I don’t like His ground crew” type approaches. “If only all Christians were Christ-like.” Emergent church types seem to default to this as well, if in slightly more words. “The Christ of the bible is compelling, but I cannot reconcile my draw to Him and my resistance to His church”.

    I understand the kind of irked response this generates in most Christians, but I also feel that to call it “selfishness” is misrepresenting their thoughts. I’m all for a calm collected discussion about how to convince these “spiritual but not religious” types that there is a better option, but surely there is a better way to do so than reducing a complex thought process to pop psychology and writing it off.

    • You most definitely want to read Michael Spencer’s Mere Churchianity when it releases on Tuesday. This whole topic is addressed here in a compelling manner.

    • To be frank, I’ve never understood the “spiritual but not religious” bit. On the face of it, it sounds a bit like dissatisfaction with institutional religion, but when you dig down into it, most of the people who so label themselves either have no difference between a practical atheism or they cherry-pick elements that appeal to them from various religions (usually Eastern) and end up inventing their own little set of rituals and rites.

      There may (probably are) some people who do describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious” and have a coherent idea in their heads about what that means; there are probably a lot more who are genuinely confused but retain some fuzzy notion of some kind of God/dess; but as far as being “spiritual” goes, that covers everything from believing in fairies to neo-paganism.

      It does not correlate to being a monotheist.

    • My brother-in-law said this once; it sounded like a mannerism, like something you say ritually. “Howya doin’?” “Fine”. It didn’t suggest deep thought or any sort of commitment, but rather simple indifference.

    • flatrocker says

      This from “Spirituality without Spirits” by David Mills

      (The tuxedo reference was just to juicy to avoid)……..

      So we find Lady Gaga, the pornographic songstress, telling a reporter for The Times that she has a new spirituality just before taking her out for a night at a Berlin sex club. Asked by the reporter, “You were raised a Catholic — so when you say ‘God,’ do you mean the Catholic God, or a different, perhaps more spiritual sense of God?”, she responded, “More spiritual. . . . There’s really no religion that doesn’t hate or condemn a certain kind of people, and I totally believe in all love and forgiveness, and excluding no one.” [. . .]

      Even academics don’t see the problem. A few years ago a much-reported study of college students’ religious practice found that they become more “spiritual” as their observance of their childhood faith declined. The researchers defined “spiritual” as “growth in self-understanding, caring about others, becoming more of a global citizen and accepting others of different faiths.” They simply dressed up their favored attitudes by calling them “spiritual.” That kind of spirituality, detached from anything specifically religious, is just materialism in a tuxedo.

  2. cermak_rd says

    Frequently I find those who describe themselves as spiritual but not religious mean that they think it none of the business of the person asking the question.

  3. I dunno, Jeff…the March for Jesus in Brazil doesn’t bother me and the exercise video of getting in shape to Gospel music doesn’t bother me either. I’m not a big fan of lots of Gospel music myself, but hey, if that lady wants to make this video, power to her.

    • Stay tuned, Joanie. I will share my thoughts on this early in July…

    • Dan Allison says

      Joanie, I usually agree with you, but this workout video business is just wrong. Some will get the message that Christ doesn’t really love them unless they have a particular kind of body. Other will get the message that the gospel is simply something people exploit for money. I’m eagerly waiting to read Jeff’s take on it.

      • Dan said, “Some will get the message that Christ doesn’t really love them unless they have a particular kind of body.” Maybe, Dan. I would have to see the video to see if anything like that is promoted. I could use a lot more exercise myself! Not so that Jesus would love me better, but so that I would be healthier and more able to do things without getting exhausted. The weight has creeped up slowly over 15 years and doesn’t seem to want to go. I guess it would help if I ate less and exercised more, though! (Jeff or Chaplain Mike…there I go, probably getting us off-topic. Delete if you need to.)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “This workout video business” isn’t so much wrong as ho-hum mundane. A specific application of something you see everywhere in general:

        “Just like Workout Videos, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

        “All in all, it’s just
        Another brick in the Wall…”
        — Pink Floyd

    • I suppose the “March for Jesus” is the Evangelical equivalent of a June procession.

      Processions are bad because they’re Catholic and hence idolatrous, superstitious, man-made impositions binding burdens on the consciences of the faithful and additions to the pure Gospel.

      Marches for Jesus with floats and dancing and music are different, though 😉

      Ah, I shouldn’t be so snarky; it doesn’t offend me, and besides, Jeff also linked to a post by a JESUIT!!!! quoting ST. IGNATIUS LOYOLA!!!!! so the requisite quota of stealth-Catholicism was fulfilled this week 🙂

      • Always glad to oblige, my Irish sister…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I suppose the “March for Jesus” is the Evangelical equivalent of a June procession.

        Just like “Christian Harvest Festival” is the Evangelical equivalent of Halloween.
        And “Baby Dedication” is the Evangelical equivalent of Infant Baptism.
        And the Kentucky Creation Museum is the Evangelical equivalent of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
        And “GodTube” is the Evangelical equivalent of YouTube.
        And “Guitar Praise” is the Evangelical equivalent of Guitar Hero.
        And “Christian Chirp” is the Evangelical equivalent of Twitter.

  4. Hugh Hefner created a plague for American women by mass producing irresponsibility for men. For all the accomplishments of feminism, it still cannot handle the raw exploitation of men and women done by the adult entertainment industry.

    Technology. My soul both loveth and hateth thee. 😉 IMHO, computers have made artists, from musicians to filmmakers, lazy. For reference, search Youtube for The Phantom Menace review and Episode 2 review. Funny stuff, though a strong language warning.

    DeGarmo and Key. Boycott Hell. Love it.

  5. David Cornwell says

    In my opinion the whole “Christian” branding thing is wrong. Trying to make a profit out of Christ is a perversion of the gospel and is just another sign of the decadence of our culture.

  6. Would rather “judge” the Englishman by his own sermon than by how the press re-assembles his words, but do find myself agreeing with the quote that they do share if, indeed, I’m hearing it correctly and what it says is what he meant: “In the context of the biblical tradition, spirituality, instead, is a gift poured out by the Holy Spirit” seems to be to be pretty “spot on”…..

  7. Sorry to hear the news about Dana Key. One of my first Christian albums (cassette) was D&K “Straight On”, shortly after “This Time Through”. I still have both of them.

    Rough year. First Larry, then Tom Howard, then Dana. If there’s a rock and roll heaven…

  8. Happy birthday, Frank Beard. ZZTop can be forgiven everything for their sublime album DeGuello. The ultimate summer driving music.

  9. Happy birthday, Frank Beard. ZZTop’s sublime album DeGuello makes up for everything else they did. It’s the ultimate summer driving music.

  10. Aargh. I’ve got to stop using my husband’s computer. I thought I’d deleted that first comment. Anyway, he likes ZZTop, too.

  11. My March for Cthulhu drew very small crowds, by contrast. And the other guy was kind of scary.

    I’m planning a 5K For Vishnu in October, and hope to have better participation.

    • Jeff Dunn says

      Stop it! You made me spit coffee all over my keyboard!

      If a million people want to take a walk together and sing songs, that’s fine. I just don’t really see what this has to do with the Gospel. Did Jesus ever organize a parade through Jerusalem? (And, no, his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on his way to his crucifixion was not organized.)

      But I do like the Vishnu 5K idea. Count me in…for a t-shirt.

      • I’ve got no issues with the March for Jesus. If I were a Christian I might not do it, because I’m half Welsh and depressive, but the parading, associating, celebrating spirit seems genuinely pretty human to me. March on, say I, with the appropriate permits and enough warning that I can plan an alternate route.

        Curious phrasing though: “What does this have to do with the gospel?” I think I’m gonna blog on that after I take care of my lawn and invent thirty new tortures for the inventor of the string-trimmer.

        I gotta say, what doesn’t it have to do with it? (Okay, that made no grammatical sense….) You believe a thing. You love it. You celebrate. Do you _need_ more than that?

        If I can say this affectionately, sometimes I think this place is too temperamentally Lutheran: “This March for Jesus bsuiness is insufficiently cold and depressing to be good.”

        And Jeff, your t-shirt is in the mail: “5K FOR VISHNU 2010: LIFT HIGH THE LOTUS.”

        • Looking forward to your post, Otter. Interesting that I would be called too Lutheran. Never been a Lutheran in my life, but some of my friends are…

          And I wear a size mammoth petite…

    • Hey, my favourite member of the Trimurti! You can count on my support (though participation will be in spirit only)!

  12. NotQuiteRC says

    I doubt that I will be the only person digging deep into the music drawer to find a cassette (and hoping I have a player that still works).

  13. I heard a term someone used recently: CHINO- Christians In Name Only. Those are the hypocites Jesus warned us about. Makes me wonder if we shouldn’t call ourselves a Chino Nation instead of a Christian one? The US has over 5000 cults and is the cult capital of the world. How can we truly be a christian nation when so many of us have been or still belong to these groups who want to stifle our personal relationships with Christ?

    • Isabel, respectfully, nobody can stifle your relationship with your own self-consciousness, your two thousand year old sage-savior, or your breakfast cereal.

      If you are Juliet, you might have a relationship stifled. All that Montague-Capulet stuff.

      And it’s just possible (though not at all likely) that your relationship with your community of faith might be proscribed by law.

      Until then, I think the nation is as Christian as the size of the majority of voting Christians.

    • My worry when I see the term CHINO or other “INO” tossed around is that the talker is falling into the No True Scotsman fallacy. If someone truly accepts Jesus as their savior and lives in such a way that they believe is following the gospels, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt in this manner. While this does lead to the uncomfortable acceptance of such ghastly figures as the Westboro Baptist church as Christian, it does also allow me to count people like my coworker- he has accepted Jesus, prays regularly and for some reason attempts to follow the basic rules of Kasrut, even though, in my view, the legalistic following of dietary rules is totally unrelated to being Christian.

  14. Lovin’ the Michael J. Fox video – and when was the last time we saw Howie Mandel with hair? Retro!

  15. according to Wikipedia: The term “Christian” is also used adjectivally to describe anything associated with Christianity, or in a proverbial sense “all that is noble, and good, and Christ-like.”

    How can we be described as the above when our currency says “in God we Trust”. but in reality, it should say “IN CULTS WE TRUST. Saying we are a christian nation and going to church doesn’t make it so, just like parking in the garage doesn’t make me a car. We are a CHINO nation. The intention originally by our for fathers has been distorted and perverted by men and women behind pulpits. Our “chistians” are a result of pedophile priests and prosperity message con men. I know there are true Christians out there. but not enough to honestly call ourselves a Christian Nation until we humble ourselves of our deception and arrogance. The American Way has become the Way to deception.

  16. Could the Brazil march for Christ be the evangelical antidote for Mardi Gras?

  17. Ahhh… That earlier era of Christian rock. I’m only 25, but the 77’s are one of my favorite. Anybody remember their “ping pong over the abyss” album?

    • I have been listening to the 77s almost non-stop for the past couple of weeks. Adam Palmer reintroduced me to them. My favorites right now are Don’t, This Way and God Sends Quails. Great, great stuff…

  18. Well, the problem is that, by and large, the phrases and terms have no meaning outside the American church (and sometimes not even within it). Examples:

    –Walk up to a Hindu and tell them you’re a Christ-follower. What, praytell, are they going to translate that as? Oh. Right. “Christian.”

    –“Spiritual but not religious”: Really? Because good, unadulterated religion is to care for widows and orphans and to keep oneself unstained by the world. To be spiritual is to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. How, then, are the two in opposition?

    –“I don’t like organized Christianity.” Really? Welcome to the Society of Non-Conformists. Here is your green card. But I have my own thoughts on these–too long for here, hence a whole series on my own blog titled Observations of a Church Brat.

  19. How is “spiritual but not religious” much different from “mere churchianity: finding your way back to Jesus-shaped spirituality”?

    I haven’t bought/read the book, but “spiritual but not religious” and “mere churchianity” both seem to voice/imply critiques of the (or any) church/religious system.

  20. I’m confused about where the headline came from in that article about critiquing the ‘spiritual but not religious’ crowd. There wasn’t a word about selfishness in the quotes from the article.

    The biggest critique I found in the quotes was pretty inane, by my standards. It was that saying one is spiritual is making a statement about oneself. Well, saying one is religious is also making a statement about oneself, unless you assume that saying “I am religious” necessarily implies involvement with a congregation. I don’t think you can assume that. A do-it-yourself monk who reads through matins and vespers in his own room could truthfully say he was religious without contributing a thing to any religious community.

    And that’s the real issue, isn’t it. It’s whether these people — whatever they call themselves — are letting their relationship with god be turned into payout for some larger community, and if so, for which community?

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