January 25, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 6.5.10

My, what a fun week it’s been here at the iMonk ranch. We have been busy little beavers, and have left quite a mess around the place. So if you will indulge us for a bit, we will gather up all of the loose bits and toss them in the box we call Saturday Ramblings.

We are all poorer today without John Wooden. Wooden, known as the “Wizard of Westwood” for his great UCLA men’s basketball teams, died last night at the age of 99. He was not just a great basketball coach, he was a great man. There are too few of them already. Now there is one less.

Rick Warren told those who attend his Saddleback Church in Southern California that there is no room in his church for fake Christians. The Christian Post reports that “during his weekend sermon, Warren laid out a plan for Saddleback’s next Decade of Destiny in which he’s anticipating exponential growth. And the plan has no room for fake Christians, he indicated.” Perhaps he will make Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality required reading.

One book we know Warren won’t be passing out to his congregation any time soon is his own forthcoming volume, The Hope You Need: From The Lord’s Prayer. His publisher, Zondervan, announced this week that it has been indefinitely delayed. You will just have to read Purpose Driven Life again until this book is released.

In case you missed the announcement, Michael Spencer’s Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality is available now as an eBook. For those of you who prefer books printed on dead trees, er, paper, you only have a little more than a week to wait. It will be released as a paperback on June 15, and available at most all retail outlets. I received a box of them yesterday to give to those who are coming to the Day at the Reds, and let me tell you, it looks and feels great. Oh, and the words inside will change your life. Just sayin’…

Ted Haggard’s “surprise announcement” was anything but a surprise. He is planning to launch a new church sometime soon in Colorado Springs. How many sheep will be stolen from sheepfolds in that town? (And I can almost guarantee Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality will not be recommended reading for Haggard’s new congregation.)

Christian health insurance co-ops are not a new idea, but they are in the news again. Does anyone have any experience, good or bad, with these co-ops? On paper, they sound like a good idea. But do they work in real life? I have to admit that it sounds like an idea the first century church in Jerusalem might have embraced. Your thoughts?

I am an Apple man. I am typing Saturday Ramblings on my MacBook. As a matter of fact, I run an entire publishing company from the least expensive, least powerful MacBook available today. I have an iPad and and iPod touch. But I still find this story troubling. What responsibilities as followers of Jesus do we have toward those working in such conditions? And is the only voice we have to be found in how we spend our money?

Ready to go to Heaven? Just like when you go on a vacation and you buy a guidebook, perhaps you want to do a bit of reading so you know what to expect when you get there. Lisa Miller, the religion editor for Newsweek, is interviewed by Stephen Colbert about her new book, Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife. Entertaining and thought-provoking. Agree or disagree, you will laugh a bit.

My home state of Ohio has just passed a law making it illegal to create hybrid human-animals. It has yet to be seen how this will affect The Ohio State University football team. (I resisted making a Michael Jackson reference here, but just barely.)

Looks like they passed that law just in the nick of time. The world’s ugliest dog died this week. Miss Ellie was a 17-year-old Chinese crested hairless pooch who was most deserving of her title. Once again, I am doing my best to resist the Michael Jackson comments. But it is not easy…

A tip o’ the birthday cap this past week to Bob Hope; John F. Kennedy; Meredith MacRae (oh, surely remember her from Petticoat Junction, right? You don’t? Neither do I.); John Bonham (drummer for Led Zeppelin); John Paul Jones (bassist for the same); George Harrison; Norma Jean Baker (yes, that Norma Jean); Andy Griffith; Charles Eugene Boone–better known as Pat Boone; Charlie Watts (drummer for the Rolling Stones); and Clint Eastwood, who is still glaring and growling at the age of 80.

Today’s video chuckle is short, so watch it twice. And no, I am not making a political statement here. It’s Bob Hope, and it’s funny. So laugh!


  1. ahumanoid says

    Regarding Ted Haggard starting a new church I have a few thoughts. It seems like one of the primary focuses of his previous church (New Life) was advancing the cause of the religious right (I say this based on the interview with Haggard in Jesus Camp). In his previous church, gays and liberals were the enemies. I read an article regarding the new church Haggard is starting and in the article Haggard is quoted as saying that gays, democrats and all broken individuals are welcome. I wonder if his experience has lead him to a truly Jesus-shaped Christianity??

    One thing that does bother me is his claim that he was “healed” of all attractions to the same gender. This seems highly unlikely. I believe that if he truly came to an understanding of the grace that is at the center of Christianity he would not need to deny the existence of these attractions. But, who knows, maybe he was miraculously transformed into a heterosexual. . .

    • I would agree, that this may turn out to be a good thing, but he seems to be that type of person who needs the attention and to be in charge. You can open church doors to the broken and disenfranchised, but if you can’t get past yourself, what have you got to offer them? You have got to give them Jesus – the Jesus of the cross and the empty tomb – not the one portrayed in “Jesus Camp”. The name of the church, “Saint James”, is an interesting choice for someone who practically invented the mega-church shtick.

  2. Just like Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard apparently can’t keep away from making himself a “Christian” celebrity. Sure, God and the church can forgive those who fall as individuals, but the idea that these guys would vaunt themselves forward again as preachers and pastors to me is totally outrageous. Sadly, Haggard’s church likely will be well attended. I recall watching one of Swaggart’s first sermons after his return: something about “having a better message by not throwing spears” and then people in the packed audience nodding seriously and mouthing the words “Thank you, Jesus.” I couldn’t watch anymore.

    • I can understand someone having a drive to minister, perhaps even to teach or proclaim, but why in the world does this man have such an urge to be in charge. It sounds to me like he can’t or won’t minister unless it’s in the context of being “at the top”.

    • If it makes you feel better, I’ve heard that the packed audiences shown in Jimmy Swaggart’s services is the result of carefully arranged seating and camera angles- not that his following is anywhere near what it once was. Especially since his second lapse.

      On the other hand, what did I chance to see Jim Bakker doing the other day… selling time-shares! OY!

      “There’s a sucker born-again every minute.”~ P.T.L. Barnum.

  3. George Carlin had a funny bit about how fast we drive our cars, basically saying that we label everyone that drives slower than us as morons and those that drive faster than us as maniacs. I’ve found that our opinions about our consumerist pursuits and possessions follow a similar train of thought: Those that have / spend less than us are lazy and those who have more/bigger/new/fancier stuff than us are selfish, worldly and not as sensible as us. Me? I strike the perfect balance 🙂

  4. I get a kick out of Stephen Colbert! He actually let this author talk more than he lets lots of them talk. I watched him regularly for a couple months but then stopped. Watching him and Jon Stewart was taking up too much of my time. I think they both are very bright and funny though. (Don’t forget…I am a LIBERAL Christian!) 🙂

  5. My main concern about the Rick Warren statement about no fake Christians is… I just hope it doesn’t turn into another unhealthy theology of vocation in which all the “good” vocations in life are ministerial or religious ones and secular jobs are not important such that members of his congregation would be expected to be in attendance whenever the church doors are open, to the neglect of family time and needed rest. Are they supposed to be wretchedly urgent? (I’m not judging; I just hope this is not what the situation is or will be).

  6. Steve Newell says

    I love when Christians try to separate “Real Christians” from “Fake Christians”. On what basis does one use: works/deeds, life style, faith? In the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus tells us that we are not ones who know who is “real” and who is “fake”. Both “real” and “fake” need to hear Law and Gospel every Sunday.

    We need to remember that while we see only the “visible Church”, it is the “invisible Church” who is the true Church

    I know that while my faith makes me a “real” Christian, my sinfulness may make others think that I’m a “fake” Christian. All I can say is that I both Saint and Sinner at the same time.

    • Aren’t we all, Steve–aren’t we all…

    • Excellent points, particularly regarding the invisible church.

      I think Luther said we are simultaneous “real” and “fake”.

      Do we really want Rick Warren setting the definition of a “real” Christian? It sure sounds like warmed-over revivalistic holiness – a la Charles Finney and Phoebe Palmer.

  7. I know this is far from a spiritual comment but, you brought it up. Petticoat Junction, WOW!! I haven’t thought of that show in a long time…boy does that bring back memories. Good old fashion clean entertainment…even if sometimes darn stupid silly! Thanks, Jeff, for the memories you brought back to mind!!

  8. On the health costs sharing bit: I am good friends with two couples who are big fans of their plans through Samaritan Ministries. They both have children who seem to find themselves in typical kid medical situations (stitches, broken bones, severe flu that requires a night or two in the hospital–that sort of thing), and they both say they have never had any problems getting prompt payments for their situations. So the Christian co-ops might cut out the back-and-forth with insurance companies that some people face, and it seems like they might save money for families with children.

    After I lost my job (and, of course, health insurance) last year, I looked into the two major plans (Samaritan and Medi-Share), and I noticed that they don’t seem to be the most cost-effective option for single, childless, relatively healthy people who have the option of getting into a “secular” group plan. Every group plan I’ve been in has been less expensive and has covered more than Samaritan or Medi-Share seems to cover.

    Medi-Share, if I remember correctly, gives a $20 (or so) monthly discount to “healthy” contributors, but I wouldn’t have met those qualifications, because my BMI is below 17.5. I don’t have an eating disorder. I’m just a naturally thin gal in her mid-20s. I had a discount through my previous insurance company based on the results of a yearly wellness exam, despite being a skinny chick. :O)

    As I read it, neither plan covers any costs for preventative or “wellness” checkups (i.e. that visit I’m *supposed* to make each year to the gyno isn’t covered), even though most insurance companies are moving toward more coverage of those kinds of checkups.

    One of the plans (don’t remember which one) doesn’t cover any part of any individual claim under $300. Most of my medical expenses are preventative or under $300 individually. Actually, I can’t remember having an individual cost over $300 in my adult life until last year when I had to have an MRI.

    Most dental procedures aren’t included, so if I went on board with a Christian co-op, I’d definitely have to find dental coverage elsewhere, because the majority of my medical expenses for the past three years have been dental related.

    Obviously, health coverage is there in part to cover the unexpected, but based on the past four years of my life, the co-ops wouldn’t be much help in my case.

    I started a new job in April, but I don’t qualify for insurance in the group until October. I actually can’t afford insurance until about that time anyway (I have to move into a cheaper place), so I’m just flyin’ by the seat of my pants until then. :O) I’ll go back this fall and compare the company’s plan to a Christian co-op before making a decision, but I hope the company plan is better.

    Disclaimer: I’m definitely not a health insurance expert. :O)

  9. We just had, in our area, a great Catholic pharmacy (ardently pro-life, charitably-focused, basically a full-time non-profit lay medical ministry) close because they couldn’t get enough business.

    • cermak_rd says

      Yes, I remember reading about it. This business may not have had that great of a business plan though. Most pharmacies don’t make enough to survive just on the sales of drugs. It didn’t sell cosmetics, which is a big margin item in most pharmacies. Also, it didn’t sell the BCP, which while consistent with its plan to be a Catholic pharmacy, means that many women weren’t going to go there for their family’s drug needs because it couldn’t meet the whole family’s needs. Who wants to stop at two different pharmacies to get drugs when you can just stop at one to get everything.

      Also, they hadn’t worked it out with all the insurers so that was also a problem for them.

      I think the concept could work if a little more business planning were involved and it was located in an area with a high population of post-menopausal people.

  10. Heath Care / Health Insurnace

    The basic problem is that we mix the two term and have mentally merged them together. Amber’s post is an example of this. Way back in the day, more than 30 years ago, health insurance was just that. Insurance. The purpose of INSURANCE in general is to provide coverage for the out of the ordinary event. Not for routine care and maintenance. Look at your house. Insurance doesn’t pay to re-paint, clean the gutters, mow the yard, clear a plumbing clog, etc… It does pay to re-roof if wind blows your shingles off, ice rips the gutters off the roof, a plumbing back up flood the basement, etc…

    So lets move to heath. Routine visits paid by your insurance source, whatever it might be, is just a payment transfer system. This is “health care”. Expecting a plan to pay for this just means:
    1. You don’t have to plan or budget for “ordinary” expenses. (Like budgeting for re-painting your house.)
    2. Overall costs will rise as you involved a 3rd party in payment of everything. These folks have to eat also and expect to be paid for their time to process a payment. (There are some apparent cheaper plans but they are involved in payment shifting issues that take way more than a sentence to explain.)

    These Christian plans address this entire issue by excluding ordinary care and maintenance issues. I REALLY like this aspect as I’m a big fan of heath insurance as real insurance.

    But what they don’t deal with very well, as best I can tell, is how to deal with big costs. From the article:
    “For members of Medi-Share, that means a second bout with breast cancer will be deemed ineligible if it occurs within 15 years of the first.”
    Plus they exclude people who seem to be a high risk. But still, what do they do if someone needs a heart lung transplant? Do they really step up and pay out $500,000?

    This is the biggest issue I see when people start to talk about getting back to 1st century values. Back then heath care cost basically nothing. The community of care was basically helping out with food, bed side care, and helping with “the crops”. Now days, speaking from experience of having my appendix removed, 2 days in the hospital can easily run $10,000 or $20,000. Back in the 1st century you got better after a illness or you died. Today we have a system that jumps in spending money until you die or are fixed. And if the fix takes a while and lots of technology, it will cost SOMEONE a lot of pocket change. Both of my kids got to stay in the hospital a few days when born, one in neo-natal. Our neo-natal visit was cheap, under $50,000, but the ward was full of $250,000 or more babies. How many of these can these co-ops handle?

    I don’t have an easy answer. I just know that claiming solutions while ignoring elephants in the room is not a way forward.

  11. Suicides in China computer companies.

    I feel this is a case of being surprised at “gambling in Rick’s Cafe”

    The suicide rate in this factory is less than the rate in the US and in China as a whole. The absolute number is big mainly due to the size of the firm.

    As to the working conditions, yes they are “bad” relative to most work places in the US TODAY but are wonderful compared to the rural options there. There’s a huge migration occurring in China over the last 20 years from truly abject poverty in the rural areas to work in huge factories. And while condidtions in these factories need to be better, they are already an incredible step up from the rural choice. And they will get better. China’s government is all about domestic “peace”. And as they move to the modern world that means better wages and working conditions.

    But back to the original numbers. If you take a US population of 300,000 people, how many suicides per year does it take to make the national news?

    Also, this company makes computers for HP, Dell, etc… Why did the articles point to Apple?

    • Because Apple is now the largest (as far as capitalization goes) technical company in the world. The giant gets all the attention. Also, because Jobs gave a rather unfortunate response. If a dog bites a man, that is not news. But if a man bites a dog…

      • Yes, I know. It was a rhetorical question. Since HP, Dell, etc… sell more UNIT that Apple still.

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