January 19, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 7.10.10

It’s been a rainy week here at the Oklahoma branch of the iRanch. Mushrooms are popping up on the lawn like, um, like mushrooms on a lawn after a week of rain. Time to get out the wood, nails, and hammer and start to work on the Ark. What? Directions? Men don’t use directions. Sure, we may have a few parts left over, but we just consider those extras. Kind of like this extra we post every week called Saturday Ramblings.

How big of a deal is skin art to you? Would your church allow someone with a tattoo serve in, say, children’s church? What if the person had more than one tat—what if he or she were covered in them? Reading the story of this young couple rejected by church after church for being covered in tats makes me wonder just what it is the church is looking for and what kind of image it wants to portray. Well, no, I actually already know the answer to that. Still, this article makes me sad, sick and angry. You?

It is estimated that more than a third of Africa’s population claims to be Christian. Good news? Well, depends on where you look. It seems that many African Christians have adopted health-and-prosperity theology or similar off-shoots. Is this American heresy that has crossed the ocean, or is it a natural evolution of Christianity in today’s global market–churches need to attract more congregants in order to fund bigger projects, and the way to attract at crowd is to promise them something for nothing? This article from the Economist is very troubling indeed.

Are you ok with your pastor or priest using “street language” (profanity) if it brings people to salvation? Frederick Loos, a Catholic priest, speaks the language of those strung out on drugs in order to get them to hear the Gospel. Acceptable to you? (On a side note, Adam Palmer and I ghosted a New York Times bestselling book for a former rock star who was high on meth the morning he went to church and gave his life to his Savior. We were good with that…)

Meanwhile, a Mexican drug cartel uses ideas found in John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul in recruiting and training drug runners. “Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, known in Mexico as “El Mas Loco” (The Craziest One), runs La Familia with rigid discipline and pseudo-evangelical spirit…For new recruits, the cartel turns to addicts in drug rehabilitation clinics, helping them overcome addiction before forcing them to join the group. Family values and religion are emphasized during the recruitment process, which includes daily group prayer sessions and mandatory readings.” Read more about this interesting use of Eldredge’s book here.

The world’s most beautiful bookstore? Where else would you find it except in a former church. At least that is where you find it if you are in the Netherlands. But do they offer Starbucks?

What is the best advice Warren Buffet ever received? Invest in plastics? Nope. Not even close. Read and watch here.

We sang Happy Birthday this past week to funny man Dave Barry; Tom Cruise; Eva Marie Saint; Robbie Robertson (guitarist for The Band); Huey Lewis; Nancy Reagan; Earle Hagen (who wrote the theme for The Andy Griffith Show–and it was him whistling it as well!); and Ringo. Yes, Ringo. He turned 70 this week, and is still hitting things with sticks on stage. Enjoy this fun ditty by Ringo. That’s Tom Petty on bass and Jeff Lynne (ELO) on guitar. But who is the other guitarist whose hair covers up his face? Any guesses? (No prizes offered or implied. But hey, it’s always fun to be right!)


  1. Never been a huge Ringo fan (except as Mr. Conductor on Thomas the Tank Engine). However, this song was redeemed by heavy use of cowbell. “I got a fever…”

  2. Anonymouse says

    Is the hairy guitarist Eric Clapton?

  3. Well, I can’t see his face, but his style says “Jow Walsh” fairly loud. Catchy tune.

  4. What does it say about me that:
    a) I would have no problem serving with or under a minister who had lots of tattoos,
    b) if I were single, I wouldn’t want to date a woman who had a tat?

    • That your personal tastes in what you find attractive do not interfere with how you relate to people as a Christian?

      • Alastair says

        I think thats a wonderful answer. I share the same feelings as Ray A. on women and tats (that I am attracted to tattoos) but thanks for sharing a nice balanced and harmonious thought. I appreciate it.

  5. Beelzebub's Grandson says

    Here’s a great “bad tattoo” website (some of which are definitely not work-safe, so caveat spectator)


    Some gang members have apparently taken to having sexual invitations tattooed on their upper lips–what becomes of them when they decide to go straight, one wonders. My personal favorite is the pattern-baldness sufferer who had a chimpanzee-face tattooed on his scalp, incorporating the tufts of hair that he had left. (He could stop conversations just by removing his hat and stooping slightly.) The most troubling are those which glorify rape (apparently some sort of internet meme, but still…).

    So if somebody’s tattoos (however extensive or poorly-considered) manage to avoid these lows, then consider the glass half-full. Otherwise…well, they’re probably used to explaining how they made some bad choices in their lives, and that’s not such a bad message for Sunday school.

  6. Re: is there a Starbucks in the bookstore in Maastricht?

    Who needs or wants it here in Europe, where we have charming bistros and cafes? We are fortunate to be spared the scourge of Starbucks on every street corner.

    • When my wife and I were in Vienna recently, where fine coffee is an institution, we were surprised to actually see a Starbuck’s. I wonder, is it mainly for American tourists? (we didn’t go in to find out!)

      • Good for you, JeffB!

        In my neck of the woods (northern Europe), I’ve not seen even one Starbuck’s. Very depressing that they have infiltrated Vienna!

        It’s so discouraging to see American tourists come here and want everything to be like “back home.” Makes me wonder why they bother to travel.

      • There are around 60 Starbucks stores in Vienna, if I remember right. There was a huge outcry over the decision to make them nonsmoking…not sure how that one turned out in the end, but the tourists would have been happy. 🙂

      • Starbucks in Vienna? What’s the point? I’ve never been there, but I’m assuming it’s as good–or better–than southern France, where you can sit down anywhere, any corner, and order a cup of coffee and they bring you the best espresso ever (oh, you can get a café americain, but that’s for people who would go to Starbucks…).

        Here in Maine, the Red Lobster restaurant chain pulled out years ago because they couldn’t compete with the natives. What’s wrong with the Viennese?

    • My wife and I ate at the McDonalds in Paris. That’s worse.

  7. Hi Jeff
    ” It is estimated that more than1/3 of Africa’s population claims to be Christian……It seems that many African Christians have adopted health-and -prosperity theology or one of its off-shoots.”

    I suspect that this is due to both factors that you mention. Originally, most Pentecostals were classical conservative evangelicals with an added emphasis on healing, gifts of the Spirit and a post conversion doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit evidenced by speaking in tongues but this was generally unrelated to prosperity theology (by and large).

    However, new thought metaphysics began to affect some Pentecostal thinkers and this influence has grown considerably over the past 30 or 40 years. New thought maintains that you can change your realty by positive thinking and positive feelings and then you will attrract (so called “law of attraction”) health, wealth and prosperity provided you think, health, wealth and prosperity. Negative thoughts attract bad things into your life. Proserity thinkers like Joel Osteen in the USA and Brian Housten (In Australia) are examples of Pentecostal thinkers affected by New Thought. This fits in well with the values of the capitalist system and its consumerism.

    However, it denies the example of Jesus who for our sakes became poor that we might be made rich in generosity, compassion and loving kindness towards the poor as were the extremely poor Macedonians who gave so willingly, generously and lavishly (2 Cor chs 8-9).

    The prosperity theologians ignore evil in the patterned social, economic and political structures and their impact on personal behaviour. While changing the direction of our thinking will by God’s grace change our lives, God has not promised that we will all be wealthy if we walk in the Spirit.


    • The Pentacostal thinking you describe, John Arthur, sounds like classic magical thinking. It makes sense it would be attractive not just to insatiable consumers but to people coming from a background of magic.

  8. This week’s ramblings are particularly amazing and interesting and sad Jeff!

    Thank you for bringing them to us.

  9. Isaac Rehberg (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

    Re: the rise of Christianity in Africa.

    Though slightly mentioned in the article, the Anglican Church is huge in Africa. In fact, the Global South is considered to be the bastion of conservative theology within the Anglican Community. The Anglican Churches of Uganda and Nigeria represent about 1/3 of Anglican faithful. The Global South as a whole supposedly has about 2/3 of all Anglican parishioners. In most of the speeches I’ve heard from Anglican leaders from that part of the world, they’re trying to keep the health/wealth gospel from spreading. But other reports I’ve read indicate that the health/wealth folks are growing faster than any other form of the faith.

    • Jonathan Blake says

      As a missionary-in-training (going to India most likely) I’m going to do my best to take the Gospel with no political or American attachments. I truly hope those Anglican bishops stated above can help curb this trend in health and wealth gospel in their part of the world but if the pentecostals there are anything like the ones I know here they probably regard Anglicans as out of touch ritualists. I have complete respect for anyone daring to live and share a Jesus-centered Christianity with the world because that is what I hope to do. That’s when Christianity is it’s most beautiful and not calling for the execution of gays and lesbians or making a few ‘pastors’ super rich and politically powerful. Our leaders shouldn’t seek to lord it over us or anyone else like ‘the Gentiles do’ but should be the servants of all like Christ Himself demonstrated.

    • “But other reports I’ve read indicate that the health/wealth folks are growing faster than any other form of the faith.”

      For the time being perhaps. That is, until folks discover that being a Christian isn’t a ticket to either health or wealth. At which point good theology has to replace bad (or no) theology or else the Gospel falls into disrepute.

      I suppose the desire to have health and wealth is not itself a bad thing but like many other human desires, seriously distorted by our condition. I commend the Anglicans of the Global South for taking a stand against this sort of distortion.

      • In Liberia some years ago there was a cult called the “Never Die” church. Because death was a result of sin, these church members vowed never to sin and expected never to die. Longevity in the 80s in Liberia was a pretty iffy proposition, so the number of sinless people can’t have been impressive. The Liberians who told me about this did so with rueful laughter. But the fear of death, according to some theologians, underlies all sin; a church growing out of a fear of death could never be sinless.

  10. Okay,

    I’ll be the buzz kill here in regards to tats. I’ll state the obvious concens and then let folks pile on me unmercifully as being legalistic, cold, cruel etc.

    I come from the generation that is obsessed with tats. Everyone has them. Most of my good friends or their wives have them. I get it. I’m counter culture and hip now b/c I don’t have one, but…

    When it comes to folks serving in leadership especially with youth you have to realize you are dealing with very impresionable folks. Would I consider a person with tatoos disqualified scripturally. No, but as a parent can I honestly say I wouldn’t want a person who was always coming in with more body art each week be it piercings or tats to have influence on my children. No. If that makes me sound hypocritical then I can live with that.

    The truth is, I know tatoos are right now considered sexy and cool, but I know several executives and foks in leadership in the secular world and even there they are seen as an impediment mostly to a persons upward mobility. Unless of course one is a wrestler.

    • I think maybe I get what you are saying, but would you say the same thing for a lady who is always changing her high dollar hair style (and color) ?? Would you say the same thing about a guy who spent 2 or more hrs at the gymn everyday ?? How about the guy who updated his wrist watch with a more expensive model every 3 months ? Again, not saying that I disagree with you, but do we apply whatever standard we have evenly, and across the board ?

      • I would say the same. Yes.

        About 10 years ago a local pastor was accused of peeping into the changing rooms at a tanning salon. He resigned his post over this.

        But my question was why was he at the salon getting working on his tan? That alone would tell ME that he wasn’t qualified to pastor a church.

    • Your kids already are being influenced by people loaded with tats. They are rock stars and NBA players. So you are going to discount a man or woman who wants to speak of Jesus because they got their skin colored, but it’s ok for Korn and King James to say what they want to your kids?

      Your kids will see through all that nonsense if you give them the chance. Let them decide that the love a person shares means more than the color(s) of their skin.

      • Jeff Dunn,

        I get the point. But you do not know my kids, and if you did you would know they are not being influenced by those folks you talk about b/c they are 5 and 3 repsectively, but I get your point.

        Good or bad we keep them pretty isolated right now, I make no apologies for that. We do have a neighbor next door who with his wife are nice to us, but very tatted up. My son asks about them in passing sometimes.

    • i get what you’re saying, i really do…but being that i am the young lady with all of the tattoos that he was speaking about, it’s also hurtful.
      for what it’s worth, i haven’t gotten new tattoos in years.
      what about our hearts? what about sound theology? there are plenty of people who *look* the part yet are doing horrible things in the name of the Lord.
      Lord help us if we start basing our worth on the outward appearance…

      • Mandie,

        I hear you, and I don’t disagree, but I would say a couple of thigns.

        We have gone to far in the other way. I know legalism is bad. I get it. I grew up indie fundie baptist, we didn’t even have “mixed bathing.” For those of you who don’t know that means swimming with the opposite sex. But we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

        I can hear Michael now responding about “new covenant” but there has to be some balance. We can’t just all point to the banker in the 1000 dollar suit who is scoundrel to justify dressing in ways that flout societal norms. We do have some responsibility as a Christian to not have a rebelious spirit.

      • mandie,

        i hear what you are saying but we do have some responsiblity as a Christian to meet societal norms where they do not conflict with scripture, and we can’t use the banker in a 1000 dollar suit who is a scoundrel and a deacon to justify anything we want to do.

        i get legalism, i grew up indie fundie baptist, so i’m not big on “commandments of men” but there has to be a balance

      • Mandie, I read your story and thank you for writing it. I hope that things work out for you and your family. My stepdaughter has, I think, 18 tattoos and wants more. Her teenaged girls think she will regret it as she gets older. (She is 41.) I don’t want any tattoos myself, but have no problem with others having them. It’s their skin…why would I care? I do have a nephew, however, who has a large tattoo on his chest that is kind of…pornographic?…and now that he has children, I am wondering if he regrets getting that tattoo. I guess if someone had some really bad words tattooed on their fingers (though I think there may be a law not to tattoo hands) church leaders may at least want people teaching children to cover those words with make-up. I think my stepdaughter uses make-up to cover her tattoos when she is in plays where they would not be appropriate to the character.

    • I find this situation kind of similar to how a number of Jewish Christians in Paul’s day said that Gentile Christians had to follow Jewish laws to follow Christ. And I think that the response that Paul made is very applicable:

      “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.” – Acts 15:19-20

      What Paul said was not simply that Gentiles had to be Jews period or that the Jews had to just put up with ritually unclean Gentiles. Rather, he had each side give a bit in order to avoid further conflict. The Gentiles would not have to be circumcised or become Jews, but they did give up the things that really offended the Pharisees. Both sides submitted to the other in order to avoid division in the Body. I think that the same can be done here. Mandie, I saw the picture of you in the article. Could you perhaps not wear the nose ring and earlobe loops (I never learned what to call those things)? And perhaps wear long sleeves at church? Obviously, there is no way to make the other side comply, but I think that it might help.

      • when i speak at a church that i know finds tattoos offensive, i certainly cover them up and take out my piercings. (the people who asked me to write the blog wanted a picture of me that highlighted my tattoos and piercings)
        i really try to be sensitive so as not to offend other Christians.

        • I see. Then it seems like you are doing the best that you can given the circumstances. I guess there just aren’t any easy solutions if the other party does not want to budge. I’ll be praying for you.

    • Austin,
      I hear where you’re coming from. However, I do think that there are two issues being addressed here. The first is simply whether someone with a tattoo/multiple tattoos should be disqualified from serving with a youth group or in some other position in church ministry. The other is whether people actively involved in the accumulation of tattoos/body piercings/etc. should be disqualified. The first answer (to me) is obvious; I go to a church on Wednesday evenings where my husband and I are in the minority because we don’t have at least one tattoo. No. A tattoo shouldn’t disqualify. The second question is more complicated, and that is the one that you are addressing in your comment. So my question now becomes, how would you feel about somebody who had tattoos but wasn’t getting any more/regretted getting them, etc.? (This, by the way, is not intended to reflect an opinion on my part that people who aren’t getting anymore tattoos are more okay) My second question is this: do we have any right do decide to exclude somebody from leadership based on their outward appearance when they are scripturally eligible?

      • brilliant,

        good points and i think you are understanding what i said, i think the answer is this, and it’s not simple

        i like mandie’s statement that she tries to adapt to make folks comfortable where she speaks, but i can tell you from experience that even that can lead to trouble b/c i have known folks who drifted to legalism who would not let a man preach in a shirt if it it wasn’t white, i know crazy, but those of you who have been indie baptist know i’m speaking the truth

        i’m not sure at what point a persons outward appearence disqualifes someone, i guess at the point where their appearance becomes so distracting that they can not be effective

        • Austin,

          My friend Joel is the son of missionaries. I don’t think he’s ever said a bad word, he’s runs an amazing ministry sponsored by Youth for Christ, and because he was so busy serving his saviour he got married a little late, 34, a virgin. If my son grew up to be like Joel, I would have no way to thank God for such an amazing blessing.
          I say all of this because Joel is completely covered in tatoos and he ‘s one of the best Christians I’ve ever known. You would want your kids to be influenced by Joel.

          Check out his minitry at http://www.catalysthiphop.com/

        • Austin,
          How far do we take this, though? “I guess at the point where their appearance becomes so distracting that they cannot be effective.” Does this apply only to people who have altered their appearance themselves? What about someone who was disfigured in an accident? Could their appearance not be distracting? Yet we would dream of telling them not to speak because of that. Also, who is to be the judge of this? At what point do the people listening and being distracted need to learn to see through the outward appearance into the heart?

  11. I’m really interested about the cussing priest. I know of no inhibition inherent within the law of God that forbids the use of certain words. Only God’s name is off limit for old covenant Jews. So in the name of contextualization, I’m not sure I could condemn that if it disciples are produced. However, I’m not exactly ready to write it into the liturgy just yet. There is a point where over-contextualization becomes a sin if, in the process of trying to reach a specific people group, you alienate the congregation you already have. Another example could be made with worship music: You can worship God with hard rock, and that can be an effective way to reach a younger generation. But if you church’s average ate is 70, then you will empty your building faster than you make new converts. Not smart, not appropriate, and not effective, imo.

    So if you’re going to speak the language of the street to reach the people on the street, then do it on the street. If your church is not an exact reflection of the street, it may not be helpful to bring it to the Lord’s day worship. Nor is it by any means necessary to alter your Sunday worship in that direction in order to reach people on the street.

    Overall, I’d say it’s not necessary. As with all pragmatism, we’ll never know if those same people could have been reached without that method, but we DO know that those same people can NEVER be reached without Jesus. Let’s keep the focus.

  12. So…T-shirt with Jesus, bad. Tattoo of Jesus, good.

  13. Cincygirl says

    In the OP, the question was asked: ” Would your church allow someone with at tattoo to serve in children’s church?”.

    Let me say this to Mandie, as the person who would run your background check, review your references, hear your testimony and spend an hour with you explaining our vision and policies for ministering to children and their families, your tattoos would in no way impact my opinion of your fit for our ministry. Love God? Love Kids? Pass our best efforts to protect kids from adults who would do them harm? Committed to your own relationship with the Lord? Have a teachable spirit? Reliable? Have considered our place your church home for at least 6 months? Welcome aboard hon, babies or 5th graders? 🙂

    Our “dress code” for volunteers simply states something to the effect of ” Remember you will be working with kids. You will be sitting on the floor, getting messy, playing and having fun..please dress appropriately.” Just a gentle reminder that what is fine for sitting in the pew is not always either “modest” or comfortable for crawling around on the floor with a baby or rocking all the motions to “Father Abraham” with 5 year olds.

    However, the point that I don’t hear being made in this discussion is this: Mandie and/or her husband were an applicate for a professional, paid position as opposed to volunteering to serve in their local church.

    As a paid member of the staff of my own church, I understand that certain “rules” might be different for me and I either accept and abide by those rules or I submit my resignation. While, imo, it would be “legalistic” for our Elder Board to decree that all women must wear dresses to church, it would be acceptable for my supervisor to decide that paid staff members must wear an ugly orange polo shirt, a name tag and have their hair in a ponytail each Sunday.

    I am not a “Pastor”. Pastors at my church are not permitted to be alone with a non-related member of the opposite sex. If this “rule” was ever extended to cover my position, I would most probably resign. However, this would be my choice to not agree to the terms of employment set forth by this organization. Now, on the other hand, if the Elders decree that no member or regular attender of ABC church shall ever be alone with an unrelated member of the opposite sex..for me and mine, that becomes a different issue all together.

    No one fights the moralistic, clean-cut ” be a good little boy or girl” approach to children’s ministry harder than I do. However, in this case, I see this as an employment issue not an issue of who is qualified to “serve” in the church.

    • Cincygirl (I take you come from the land of Skyline), you make a very good point, perhaps without meaning to. So many of our churches have adopted HR policies and principles from the business world. While those policies are not necessarily bad, what is bad is a place that exists for one reason alone–to exalt Jesus as the Son of God–is now run like a corporation, which exists for one reason alone–to exalt the owners/shareholders by making as much money as possible.

      Where is the church whose “rules” for employees are taken from Benedict’s Rule? Ok, outside of the Catholic church, where is that church today? Probably shopping for a good lawyer, unfortunately…

  14. Cincygirl says


    Actually, right in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower ;).

    First a couple of disclaimers:

    1) I fully appreciate the sweet irony of me, a paid church staff member, making the point I’m about to make. I hope I don’t come off as too much of a hypocrite but rather as someone who feels a calling to a particular role and struggles to reconcile that with some nagging concerns about how we “do church”.


    2) I fully understand that my employment, or lack there of, in no way impacts my family’s financial well-being. Mandie, I am asking God to be your provider and comforter, I pray that you and your family will be in the exact center of His will for your lives and that he will supply all your needs.

    Those points taken, let me say that I actually agree with you when you express dismay at the “corporate church” model. I started my journey with Jesus in a little UMC which had one Pastor and paid one sweet, little old lady to be his part time secretary. The rest of the “staff” consisted of members of the church who volunteered on Saturdays to cut the grass and clean the Sunday School rooms. Older women who taught Bible Studies, brought meals to new moms and visited the sick fulfilled the roles of “Women’s Ministry Director” and “Care Pastor”. When my husband and I moved to Warren County we joined another little UMC. My husband volunteered to be the chair of the Finance Committee and I served in the Children’s area. Our current church pays people ( including me) to do those things which we used to do for free.

    For today, I feel confident that I/we are where God has called us to be. I will not, at this point, review the entire journey but trust that you will simply accept my testimony of His faithfulness and leading in our lives.

    The point that I was trying to make in my first post was simply this: In the past 25 years we have moved from a model of Lay Leaders and congregational service to the large church staff model of doing ministry. While we can debate the merits/consequences of this ( and I see many, many negatives….there is that sweet irony), I am simply “pushing back” against what strikes me as a desire to have it both ways. “Shame on you for running the church like a corporation, how dare you adopt HR policies and principles from the business world….but pay all us a salary, with great benefits, for doing what our grandparents considered their acts of service to God and His church.”

    It is a tension, no doubt.

    Jeff, I hope you find a nice patch of Warren County grass to call your own. 🙂

    • Good stuff, CIncygirl. And if you read my recent post (Those Who Dance…) you will see I am looking at a possible return to my roots. My uncle tells me we are related to most everyone in Warren County! Not sure about that, but my cousin is the head of the county commissioners…that and two bucks gets me a small coffee at Starbucks…or maybe a double-dip cone at the Village Ice Cream shop?

  15. Living in a bastion of individualism – the Pacific Northwest im a little surprised at the discussion that tatoos has generated. But we cant forget that this is a cultural issue not about faith. At the same time im wondering what heavily tatted people are doing in such an entrenched conservative communty. They cant be unaware of the social impact they were making. Innocent intents may not be so innocent. Just saying! if you lived in amish country you do not sunbathe in a speedo and expect to fit in. Its also amusing to see so many «Enlightened» readers weigh in as if it was a spiritual vote-off. So come to Seattle we can always use good childrens workers. But dont expect to be embraced because of your tats. Its strictly cutural.

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