September 30, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 6.9.12

Happy Saturday, iMonks! I hope this has been a happy week for you. Are you happy? I’m happy. The Oklahoma City Thunder are resting up for NBA finals, ready to bring the championship trophy to Oklahoma. Oklahoma? Yes, Oklahoma. The Synonymous Rambler is happy. SR has been at church camp all this week. As a counselor or as a participant? I ain’t saying. My younger daughter is happy. She’s only a couple of weeks away from becoming a first-time mama. Happiness abounds in the iMonastery. Shall we continue in our happy mood by wading into what we call Saturday Ramblings?

Adam Palmer is happily traveling across America, hugging all in sight. Last week he and his family stayed with Richard and Gail McNeeley in Arizona, and all had a happy time. Not sure where AP is this week, but he did check in to let us know that it is the 33rd anniversary of the Moral Majority. Do you think, as this author posits, that the mix of conservative politics with the church is the reason more and more are saying they have no religious affiliation these days?

Planning your funeral? How ’bout a virtual funeral, with all of your so-called friends posting comments about how great you were online while they stay at home in their jammies? Is technology getting to be a bit much? I have plans for when I go over the rainbow to see Dorothy and Toto. I want a kickin’ rock concert, loud and proud. I want a barbecue buffet set up. A lot of smoked meat, beans and cole slaw. Wash it all down with gallons of Diet Coke. Everyone is invited. In person, not online.

I am not a tweeter. (A twit, yes. But I don’t tweet.) But there are many who are. Guess who is re-tweeted the most? NBA stars? Nope. Hip Hop hipsters? Nope. Celebrities from Hollywood? No, but close. Celebrities from pulpits. Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Max Lucado and Andy Stanley are among those with active followers who repeat what they send out over Twitter. “Pastors tell me, Twitter is just made for the Bible.” Really. How is it I never saw that?

One church leader who may want to lay low for a bit—including tweets—is Creflo Dollar. Dollar was arrested early yesterday on charges of domestic violence. Story goes that he was upset with his fifteen year old daughter, and “disciplined” her by choking her, pushing her to the floor and beating her with his shoe. Perhaps some more gifts to police officers in Atlanta are in order.

New Zealand preacher “Bishop” Brian Tamaki wants his adherents to follow him as builds a City of God in South Aukland. Even if it means leaving their loved ones behind. Can anyone say “Jim Jones”?

LOUD SIGH … Can we just pause here a minute for a prayer?

Are you a Stephen King fan? Have you noticed the spiritual themes in his stories? A CNN writer has. Can a horror writer present the Gospel? (Well, ok, someone other than Russell Kirk.)

Sci-fi/futurist writer Ray Bradbury passed away this week. Guess what one word shaped his writing … and his life.

Before Rob Bell there was Edward Fudge. Fudge was challenged to “investigate Hell,” which he did. And his findings shook his Alabama town in the 1980s. Now a movie is on its way sharing the story of Fudge. Count me among the curious for this one.

Speaking of Rob Bell, Shane Hipps, who has been serving as “teaching pastor” at Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan since Bell left for Hollywood, is also leaving Mars Hill. His reason? The elders of Mars Hill want their “teaching pastor” in the pulpit 40 Sundays a year. Hipps is only willing to give 30. Ok, listen. I want a church where the pastor is just that—a pastor, a shepherd, not someone who stops by once in a while when time allows so he can toss off a message, most likely promoting his new book. I know, I’ve very old-fashioned, and that’s not what people want these days. And I know I’m just an old curmudgeon who needs to go soak his teeth and watch reruns of Lawrence Welk after a trip to the neighborhood Luby’s Cafeteria for some cottage cheese and tapioca pudding…

VERY LOUD SIGH … I’m not happy any more.

We might as well end this week’s Ramblings on a bummer note. It seems that Click and Clack are retiring from Car Talk. Ever since St. Paul Harvey died, the Magliozzi brothers have been one of the very few reasons to turn the radio on. Soon, they’ll be gone. All of my happiness is oozing out into the ether …

Birthdays—whether happy or not is unknown—were celebrated this last week by Johnny Weissmuller; Pete Conrad; Charlie Watts;  Dana Carvey; Tony Curtis; Boots Randolph; Ian Hunter; John Paul Jones (the bass player for Led Zeppelin, not the sailor); Suzi Quatro; Anderson Cooper; Dennis Weaver; Dr. Ruth Westheimer; Michelle Phillips; Tom Evans; Mark Wahlberg; Dean Martin; Prince; Frank Lloyd Wright; Chuck Negron; Boz Scaggs; and Scott Adams.

Tom Evans? Who in the wide world of sports is Tom Evans? Only the guitarist and singer for a band discovered by Paul McCartney and signed to the Beatles’ Apple record label. Originally known as The Iveys, they were renamed Badfinger and produced several hits. This song is among my favorites. This song makes me happy. So we’ve come full circle once again. No matter what. Enjoy.

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  1. Jeremiah says

    WHAT?! Badfinger instead of the Church Lady!? Shame on you sir, shame on you.

    • It was a tough call, I can tell you …

      • I know that song! Even though I didn’t know it was Badfinger – it’s one of those that must have been playing on the radio when I was young(er) 🙂

        Congratulations on the forthcoming happy event, Jeff!

        Now – eternal rest to Ray Bradbury, whose writing gave me so much pleasure over the years from childhood onwards. He also wrote what can truly be called “dark fantasy” (a relative of horror fiction) so it wasn’t a case of his joy resulting from life always being a bowl of cherries as far as he was concerned; there was a darkness, or he knew a darkness, and so his resolve that imagination and wonder were a real and rightful part of the world was honestly earned. He played in the dandelion summer, but he also travelled through the October Country.

        Stephen King and God – again, well, yeah. Anyone who has read his work knows that – even if he’s sometimes arguing with God or mad at God or saying that our human notions of God and the Devil are mistaken and that the cosmic forces out there are vastly different to what we think they are, he never went the H.P. Lovecraft route of materialist atheism; he does portray Good and Evil, and these are two different things, and the evil people who do evil things of free choice are very definitely in the wrong. He does tend towards the “Good is Not Nice” trope, though.

        I have no idea what a teaching pastor is meant to do, and after reading that article, I have no greater idea, but whatever it is, Shane Hipps doesn’t seem too keen on it (“He also plans to pursue more intentionally the creation of a leadership development company.” Mmmm-hmmm.)

        I could say a lot of snarky things about this, but I should bite my tongue. Just that if 40 Sundays a year is too hard, it’s a good job he’s not in a church where he’d have to do 52 weeks of the year plus holy days.

        And as an aside, there mustbe a market out there for an ambitious English graduate to advise writers of self-help books on their titles; “catchy” is one thing, “making no darn sense” is another. “Cats Don’t Bark”??? Er, <a href="yes they do, when they’re coughing, apparently.

        • To make sense of the above, try looking up “barking cat” on Youtube.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I have no greater idea, but whatever it is, Shane Hipps doesn’t seem too keen on it (“He also plans to pursue more intentionally the creation of a leadership development company.” Mmmm-hmmm.)


        • Jack Heron says

          Don’t forget the friendship – if you want a description of the spiritual value of true friendship, read Stephen King.

          I share your agnosticism on ‘teaching pastors’. A ‘teaching pastor’ would presumably be distinguished from a ‘non-teaching pastor’, which is to say ‘not a pastor’. Though if they can’t hack 52+ weeks Catholicism, perhaps they might like to know that the CoE gives vicars the option of getting someone else in the week after Christmas and Easter so that they can recover.

        • Joseph (the original) says

          best Bradbury story i enjoyed…

          Something Wicked This Way Comes

  2. The religious right…or the religious left. It’s basically the same stuff. A 3rd use of the law to make ourselves better.

    One uses a biblical set of laws, and one uses a social use of the law to ‘do something’.

    Anyway, it’s all law and it often takes a backseat to the gospel for the forgiveness of sins.

    • I fully agree that liberal churches can be as political as conservative ones — sometimes even more so. That said, I recall a story about a Christian who was telling a Jew that not all Christians in Europe during WWII were anti-Semites. The Jew responded, “Yes, that’s true. But it’s YOUR problem that some of your fellow Christians are using Christ’s name to promote anti-Semitism.” And the Jewish man was right. That’s a problem all of us Christians have to deal with, like it or not.

      Similar remarks apply here. As Putnum and Campell state in the Foreign Affairs article quoted in the link above: “In effect, Americans (especially young Americans) who might otherwise attend religious services are saying, ‘Well, if religion is just about conservative politics, then I’m outta here.'” Not, politics in general, mind you, but conservative politics in particular.

      This is a problem for American Evangelicalism, like it or not. However much liberal churches may be as political as conservative ones, it’s conservative political activism that is turning people off. It’s not fair, but it’s the reality on the ground.

  3. petrushka1611 says

    Why…..have I never heard Badfinger before?!!?!? I mean, other than the fact that rock n’ roll was preached against while I was growing up, and I don’t listen to any radio stations that play Badfinger, but….why have I never heard Badfinger before?!?!?!?! Instantly hooked. Thanks, Jeff! 😀

    • Sad story about the band. Their manager ended up stealing alot of money from them and 2 of the members ended up committing suicide. One of the members still tours using the name. George Harrison named the band and apparently it had nothing to do with the ‘evil finger’.

  4. Richard McNeeley says

    We loved having the Palmers at our home, what a great family.
    I have to agree with your thoughts on pastors but rather than watch Lawrence Welk let’s just listen to our 45’s or 8 tracks and eat moon pies.
    Badfinger was one of my favorite groups, thanks for the share.
    You must have misplaced birthday party invitations for Gary U.S. Bonds, Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.

    • WHAT!? Forgot the Beave? Time to turn in your Geezer/Boomer card for THAT oversight!

  5. Dan Crawford says

    Ray Bradbury – one of God’s blessings to us. May he rest in peace.

  6. Great article about Ray Bradbury. I love him!

    Wow, that is quite the quotation from Stephen King about “organized religion!”

    That sounds like an interesting film about Edward Fudge. I read about him in a book that was written about hell by Robin Parry called The Evangelical Universalist. He wrote under the name Gregory MacDonald. You can find his blog if you search on Robin Parry. It’s called “Theological Scribbles.”

    Click and Clack retiring….oh dear! I love those guys.

    I like the song by Badfinger, but I could not have told you their name. They sound very Beatle-like. In fact, I think I thought this WAS a Beatle song. Doh!

    • “They sound very Beatle-like.”

      Makes sense. They were discovered by and invited to the Apple record label by Paul McCartney, who also wrote “Come and Get it” for them.

      • Scott G. says

        Their first hit was released about the same time as the Beatle’s breakup, by which I was devastated. Badfinger was a comfort for that very reason –“They sound very Beatle-like”–they were kind of a Beatles-lite. “Baby Blue” still remains one of my all-time favorite rock songs.

    • Joseph (the original) says

      That sounds like an interesting film about Edward Fudge.

      i attended a Theology on Tap adult teaching 5-week series covering Bell’s book, Love Wins. even now at the very inclusive Presbyterian chuch i attend, there were people that started the class holding tightly to the concept of eternal conscious punishment. it was not to be ‘challenged’ & anything contrary simply heretical…


      those that could not accept a civil discussion about differing viewpoints simply quit attending. and i noticed how they had sought agreement from the teacher/pastor about their views by asking him the very first night if his view was the same as theirs…

      he artfully dodged the ‘backed-inot-a-corner’ attempt & encouraged them to read more of his viewpoints that he had written in a book of his, or his blog. i was impressed with the openness & avoidance of being doctrinal on the topic. i thoroughly enjoyed the class & would hope this type of approach repeated regularly…

  7. Badfinger is awesome. I too, thought that was a Beatle’s song.

    The song reminds me of …the gospel. No matter what we are, He will always be with us.

  8. I met Edward Fudge and his wife Sara, daughter Melanie Simpson (who also has published a book – about motherhood), and granddaughter at the CBE Houston Conference in April. My first words were, “Wow, I first heard about you decades ago, so I thought you were dead.” LOL. Melanie led the worship (great voice). The third and latest edition of his book is now on pre-pub status in Logos. He appears to have an affliction that causes shaking, but I didn’t ask him about it; rather, we just had some brief but enjoyable conversations. Here he is speaking with conference speaker and author J. R. Daniel Kirk

    I’ll have to tell the CBE Houston group about the movie. Thanks!

  9. Click and Clack expressed a lot of criticism over the whole Juan Williams fiasco in 2010, threatening to find a new carrier at that time. I wonder if this is partly still fall-out from that. They may have waited to walk out in protest until the next convenient contract renewal. I’m guessing there is no love lost with NPR. Too bad, if that is the case. I always listen to the show as I drive the dogs to the park Sunday afternoons.

  10. David Cornwell says

    ” I want a church where the pastor is just that—a pastor, a shepherd, not someone who stops by once in a while when time allows so he can toss off a message, most likely promoting his new book. ”

    Amen. Preaching or “teaching” only 30 Sunday’s a year? That does not sound much like the work of Jesus the Shepherd, the One searching for lost sheep, whose heart and body were broken by the search. Modern celebrity preachers seem to know so very little about the misery, suffering, sin, and sickness of their sheep.

    Another subject: Many times I listen to Click and Clack on the drive home from church on Sunday mornings. Now, guess I’ll have to talk to Marge instead! Actually I do that anyway.

    • “That does not sound much like the work of Jesus the Shepherd”

      That doesn’t sound much like work, period.

      • In a large church with multiple pastors, 30 Sundays per year might make sense. It also may help defeat the cult of personality, where people are drawn to church by the charismatic persona in the pulpit. In an average church, where at best a senior and associate pastor do everything, including preach, this makes no sense. A multi-staff church is a unimaginable luxury for churches in the sub-150 to 300 range. I don’t know how mega-churches can possibly survive in times of dwindling memberships and sagging donations, but it seems like it’s the small churches which will ultimately be squeezed out by the big-box religion model.

        • David Cornwell says

          “In a large church with multiple pastors, 30 Sundays per year might make sense.”

          I don’t have a problem with that as much as I do to the abandonment of real pastoral ministry, tending the sheep. They need to be with the people a lot of the time, one way or another, and not just preaching on some of the lame subjects many seem to attend to. I’m weary of preachers who do not know the people and think just their presence in the pulpit is all that’s needed.

          • A shepherd tending his flock versus a corporate farmer running a cattle feed lot. It seems that there is much more concern for the movement, the agenda, the mission, the cultural war, the “quest” (for those Dr. Who geeks out there), rather than about God or people. In business, the bottom-line is profits; in religion, the bottom line is “church growth” and cultural influence and relevance. In philosophic terms, “bottom-line” is ones “ultimate concern”. Any time an ultimate concern becomes anything but God, then that concern is an idol. What is tricky is that even what we call “God” – no matter how pious we try to be – is itself sometimes an idol, an object or a means to our ends rather than “Thou”. I think the ten commandments can be a canary in the mineshaft – alerting us when our focus is something less than loving God and loving others as “Thou” but manipulated objects through theft, coveteousness, adultury, murder, and idolatry to get what we want.

    • I’m sad for people who think their Pastor only “preaches” 30 Sundays a year.

      Maybe I go to an unusual church, but the pastors at my chrch do a whole lot more than “preach”. There are a lot of things mine do that the average person sitting in the pew does not see, or even think about.

      BTW: People are JUST NOW seeing the spiritual themes in Stephen Kings writings? What have they been reading?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        BTW: People are JUST NOW seeing the spiritual themes in Stephen Kings writings? What have they been reading?

        Left Behind, Turmoil in the Toybox, and Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth?

        I’ve been seeing spiritual themes in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and its fan-created derivative works, so go fig.

        • petrushka1611 says

          You triggered some serious flashbacks with Turmoil in the Toybox. 😛

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I’ve had some serious flashbacks about the Satanic Panic myself. I was the type of guy who could have gotten a secondary B.A. in Dungeons & Dragons around that time, so you can guess what happened.

            The funniest incident along those lines happened at a pro-life rally in the Eighties. I’d talked to the older German lady at the “Shield of Roses” booth, watched an Eastern-rite priest riding herd on his three young sons, listened to some politician on the PA rant about How We Have To Get Back To The Gold Standard, and did the mosey over to another booth where “Turmoil in the Toybox” was featured. Took one look at the denunciation of D&D in the book and told the guys pushing it that I had ten years in-country and it was total BS. Well, the Bibles came out and the high-pressure Witnessing and Spiritual Warfare spellcasting started…

            After managing to disengage, I came back to the Shield of Roses booth.

            “Did you haff an interesting discussion?”

            “More like a shouting match. Who taught them how to Witness, Josef Goebbels?”

            Older German lady falls off her seat laughing.

        • Wow…Turmoil in the Toybox? I think that got sold on Bob Larson’s show along with Saturday Morning Mind Control — which is worth it just for the cover picture.

          ..and I just looked. Same author.

          Otherwise, my tail’s a-twitching! My tail’s twitching! *waits for anvil*

    • I grew up in a denomination where we had a circuit of preachers. Our young men were encouraged to participate by giving devotionals in the “Breaking of Bread” service. The denomination had a number of things I disagreed with, but preaching and teaching ability amongst its members was not one of them. I really don’t like the idea of the pulpit being primarily reserved for one person and I think we need to look for more ways to promote biblical literacy among out people.

      I will just leave you with one thought. Why is it that my kids get to pick a topic at school, and get to make an extensive presentation about that topic, but don’t get that chance in the church?

      • David Cornwell says

        That’s a good point.

      • I am a pretty big fan of churches who share the pulpit time. This can help avoid a cult of personality or dependence on one particular speaker (Rick Warren is particularly good at this). I’m not a very big fan of circuit riders who are too busy being celebrities to pastor their own churches. I don’t think Hipps is insisting more lay people get pulpit experience, and I don’t think he’s too busy visiting shut-ins to write a sermon every week. Just a guess.

  11. I don’t understand the snarkiness surrounding Shane HIpps’ decision to go elsewhere. He was fulfilling a certain duty in the church, the elders decided they wanted to change his job description, and he decided that it wasn’t for him. How is there anything wrong with that? Should pastors simply take whatever they’re given unquestionably? No one in a secular job would have such an attitude. Being able to leave on your own terms is something most people value in a job.

    The thing about Mars Hill is they have separated the roles of teaching and pastoring for quite awhile now. It seems that perhaps they are trying to bring them back together again. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but I don’t think it says anything about the men who filled those roles. Personally, I appreciate Hipps’ preaching. He comes from the Mennonite tradition, and he offers a a perspective that’s pretty unique in Evangelicalism.

    • Tokah Fang says

      I don’t have a strong opinion about it either way or any more information than the article presents. But, just judging on the article, why couldn’t he just say then “I signed up for a part time job, I’m not interested in a more full time position” instead of some mumbly jumbo about discerning a call to a 40-week preaching schedule?

    • Phil M., most of us when asked to take on extra duties by our employers may argue that “That’s not in my job description” (if we think we can get away with anything besides “Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir”), not “God didn’t call me for that when He called me to this job” 🙂

  12. Tim Becker says

    Thank you for not posting a Prince vid. Chuck Negron would have been cool too.

    • Lots of good choices this week. Not so many next week. But I think I have one picked out … We’ll see if Richard and Oscar can figure who that might be in advance …

      • Richard McNeeley says

        I’m just hoping you go with Jon Lord rather than Boy George next week.

  13. Thanks, Jeff, for a terrific assortment of Ramblings, today …

    I am impressed once again at how so many really brilliant and creative people who, at the zenith of their careers, fame, fortune and following were either new-agers, atheists or agnostics but who ultimately came to focus on a Creator God (and some on Jesus) in their work. They began to zero in on –and sing or write of– the indisputable notion that His is the story we find ourselves in.

    I think of Paul Simon, Brian Wilson (almost has figure it out …witness his new album “That’s Why God Made The Radio”), and Ray Bradbury. I’ve never read Stephen King, but now may be more inclined to do so (I’m a Michener guy, at heart).

    Memories of Ray Bradbury … our Southern California high school invited Ray Bradbury to speak to my graduating class back in 1966. Afterward I heard that he needed a ride home and volunteered to take him. During the ride he confided to me that, despite all that technology and space stuff he wrote about, he was truly terrified by machines, and most especially by automobiles. Ironic? He absolutely refused to drive. I have no recollection whatsoever of his speech, but that ride home remains something special to me.

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