October 22, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 7.30.11

One million is a very large number. Well, maybe not when it comes to the government and its debt ceiling. But it is a huge number to us at the iMonastery. We have had one million iMonks visit the abbey since this time last year. One million. That’s not “hits,” that’s not “page views.” One million visitors. That is certainly cause for fireworks.

We have become the place for iMonkies to gather because of the tireless efforts of several people. First of all, Chaplain Mike. Do you know how much he is paid to be editorial director of InternetMonk? The same as the chances of the Cincinnati Bengals winning the Super Bowl this year: zero. Chaplain Mike has a full-time job as a hospice chaplain, a job that is time consuming and emotionally draining. He then spends countless hours writing challenging and thoughtful essays, then selects artwork and formats them before scheduling them to run. Oh, and he also coaches his grandson’s baseball team.

Then there are our writers: Lisa Dye. Damaris Zehner. Martha of Ireland. Adam Palmer. Joe Spann. They were all hand-picked to write for us. I have worked with hundreds of writers, but never with any greater than this incredible group. You may write your appreciation of them by name in your comments if you like. You do like, don’t you?

And we all want to thank iMonk First Lady Denise Spencer for letting us continue what she and her late husband began more than a decade ago. I have to think that Michael is very happy to see us surpass the one million visitors in a year mark. Denise reads most every essay and comment from her home in the hills of Kentucky (when the wind is blowing in the right direction and they can get the internet down there). We want her to write more often—and we’re sure you would love that as well.

And let’s not forget Joe “the Plumber” Stallard who keeps this site up and running, and running well enough to support the large number of visitors we get.

Finally, our sincerest thanks to each one of you. We count it a great privilege to research and write for you. If you are a silent monk (you don’t comment), we encourage you to share your thoughts with us. If you are a frequent commenter, know that there is a chance we are praying for you by name. (Sometimes the writers get into a bit of a tussle over who gets to pray for whom.)

One million. The statistics reset on August 10. What say we aim for two million starting August 11?

Ok. Are you ready to ramble?

God’s approval rating is at 52 percent, according to a recent poll. He scores well in creation and managing the animal kingdom, but not as well when it comes to us humans. I would question his handling of the weather. As I write this at 10 p.m. on Friday night, it is still close to 100 degrees here in Tulsa. I think I would rather have it be 52 degrees and give God a 100 percent approval rating.

I read where many undocumented Mexicans are leaving California for … Mexico. There are more and better-paying jobs available in Mexico than in California right now. I wonder how long it will be until Americans will become the undocumented ones crossing the border to make their lives better? How would Mexican Christians react to a flood of illegal Americans entering their country? Russell Moore says that immigration is a Gospel issue. I agree. You?

Honorary iMonk Rachel Held Evans shares her thoughts on Campus Crusade changing their name to Cru. Very good insights as always from Rachel.

The Israeli Chamber Orchestra playing a concert in Germany is not the big news. It’s the music they will be playing that is making news. This may warrant a further look down the road.

Chaplain Mike reported earlier this week on the passing of John Stott. Here is what others are saying about the life and legacy of the “evangelical pope.”

First he was voted out. Now he has been reinstated. You can read more about the continuing saga of Robert Schuller and the Crystal Cathedral. You put your left foot in, you take your left foot out …

Ok. The interesting thing is not that someone spotted an Apple employee playing with what may or may not have been an iPhone 5. The interesting thing is that this was reported in the Christian Post. So, has Apple officially become a religion? If so, they are a megachurch. I mean, they have more money than the United States government.

Happy celebrity birthday wishes go to Pee Wee Reese; Don Drysdale; Don Imus; Woody Harrelson; Alison Krauss; Amelia Earhart; Ruth Buzzi; Lynda “Wonder Woman” Carter; Walter Payton; Jean Shepherd; Sir Mick Jagger; Jerry Van Dyke; Peter Jennings; Geddy Lee; and Bugs Bunny.

You know, when I was a kid (back around the time electricity was invented), we used to get up on Saturday mornings and eat Chocolate Covered Sugar Bomb cereal while watching Looney Tunes. That was when cartoons were cartoons and cereal was cereal. Now we don’t have good cartoons any longer. But we do have Saturday Ramblings to present one of my favorite TV stars of all time. Oh that Bugs—he can really act. Enjoy!

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoKA2OLJ8hs&feature=related’]


  1. 1) “I think I would rather have it be 52 degrees and give God a 100 percent approval rating.” Wittiest comment I’ve read this week! Thanks Jeff!

    2) I think anything is a Gospel issue.

    3) If Apple has more money than the United States Government, I suggest B.O. contact S.J. so we can put this ceiling issue to rest already!

    4) I was a kid WAAAAAY after electricity was invented, but cartoons were cartoons and cereal was cereal in my day too. Captain Mouth Shredder was my favorite.

    5) I actually didn’t realize the fullness of Chaplain Mike’s life AND being “da man” here too. So, cheers CM!

    Have a splendorific weekend in the air conditioner!

    • Thanks, Rebekah. Well, at least baseball is over…

      • Does that mean the Giants can borrow Ramon Hernandez for a couple months? I’m sure they’d be willing to give the Reds Barry Zito and a used fungo bat for him …

        • The Reds are Jeff’s department. He has to approve any trades. Oh, and Ray, the Giants can have any Cubs player they want. In fact, take ’em all, OK?

          • Oh my, my condolances for your Cubs this year….any team that the Royals take in a three game series is auditioning for Bull Durham II. On a positive note, ALL you guys are doing a great job keeping up the IMONK neighborhood. This is a great place to think, pray, read, and worship.

        • Ray, I will throw in an extra player if you will please keep Zito!

          Oh, by the way: the Reds beat the Gents in 13 tonight…

  2. If, by “hand-picked”, you mean “kept annoying everyone by flooding the site with silly comments that were longer than the original post, until Jeff went ‘if you’re so smart, why don’t you try it?’ and my vanity was tickled”, then yes, I was lured away at a cost of untold riches to write for the iMonastery.

    (I’m just racking up the years in Purgatory, aren’t I?)


    • Actually, it was I who annoyed Martha endlessly with requests to write for us until she finally figured it was easier to do that than to keep hearing me beg.

      By the way, I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is decidedly NOT a hub for any airline. Before we can go anywhere by plane, we have to fly to Dallas first. When we die, it doesn’t matter if we go to heaven or hell–we go to Dallas first. Thus we just call Dallas Purgatory…

    • Hey, perhaps the I-monastery could sell indulgences for its next fundraising campaign … and to help Martha get out of Purgatory!

  3. “Overture, curtains, lights
    This is it, you’ll hit the heights
    And oh what heights we’ll hit
    On with the show this is it.”

    I grew up on the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner show, too. It was strange when certain cartoon violence scenes got censored later on.

    • i never laughed so hard as a kid as when watching those classic cartoons…

      my grandmother (VaVa in Portuguese) sat me right down in the middle of the big family table & turned on the TV to the cartoons just to hear me laugh while she worked in the adjoining kitchen…

      that Roadrunner was my fav. ah, those were the days/daze…


      • Dana Ames says

        Not only were there laughs aplenty, but the thing I remember most, even as a child, was the incredible intricacy of the sound tracks. There was also a whole lot of classical music quoted in them, which as I got older made me laugh even more as I “got” the references. Later I found those wonderful sound tracks sprang from the genius of Carl Stalling, who constructed and composed most of them. Like Bach, there was a point in his career when he had to have a new composition ready each week. Look him up on Wikipedia.


        • In the college level humanities class I teach, most students couldn’t recognize many great musical compositions, whether they were by Palestrina or Led Zeppelin. The few times I saw eyes light up with familiarity, the students confessed that they had heard that music on Loony Tunes. I say, and I’m sure Rossini would agree with me, good for Loony Tunes! That show was the only window to Western culture these poor people had.

      • I really enjoyed Yosemite Sam….


  4. Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bomb cereal!
    (While reading Calvin and Hobbes of course.)

  5. Wow Chaplain Mike! You’re a busy man. Big massive thanks & love for all you do.

    And big love going out to everyone else that makes iMonk possible.I’ve only been around about 6 months but you’ve all been a really positive element in what is a very strange time in my Christian life.Yes, even you Martha, with your increibly thoughtful & well researched posts on everything…

  6. A fun read, Jeff, as usual. I love your sense of humor. And I love Bugs Bunny, too.

    You said, “Sometimes the writers get into a bit of a tussle over who gets to pray for whom.” You all have my permission to pray for me! I will take all the prayers I can get. Thanking you in advance…

    Congratulations on the one million visitors! That’s amazing and impressive. It goes to show how wonderful the writing is on this site. Thank you to Chaplain Mike, Jeff, Martha, Lisa, Damaris, Mike Bell, Adam and Joe. I really appreciate you folks.

    And thanks to Joe Stallard for his technical work in keeping this site running on the internet.

  7. I wonder how much of a wake-up call the downfall of the Crystal Cathedral really is? Schuller seemed to be one of the early pioneers of the seeker-sensitive/therapeutic message and the megachurch format. This is primarily another case of a founder transition gone horribly wrong. But it uncovers the underlying weakness of the mega-church approach: incredibly large overhead heavily dependent on a large audience. It can’t be sustainable. We need to keep an eye on this. What may accelerate the evangelical collapse foreseen by Michael Spencer would be evangelicalism’s own version of “too big to fail”.

    I think we’ll see a resurgence in small churches. The satellite church movement seems to point in that direction. Church growth experts always urged churches to push beyond the 150 member barrier, after which explosive growth would be experienced. The significance of that number was overlooked: community becomes difficult to sustain too far above and too far below that number.

    Small, rural churches used to have their own version of networking: sharing pastors and/or parsonage cost, inviting other churches to meetings and services, and jointly sponsoring community events. I think the competitive nature of the church growth movement ended such networking and cooperation.

    In contrast with the big production, high-overhead worship show, small churches may be in the best position to rediscover the elegant simplicity of liturgy, word and sacrament. There is a deep sense of intimacy while gathered around the cup and bread. Small churches seem pressured into adopting megachurch style worship. Perhaps this will end, once it becomes apparent that even the megachurches can’t sustain that overhead long-term.

    • David Cornwell says

      The church growth movement introduced Capitalistic ideas to the church. Marketing to a certain clientele, building a brand, CEO type leadership, hype, and competition. People become customers and Sunday is the day of the big show. The pastors don’t know you or even want to know you. Does it win people new people to Christ? Maybe some, I really don’t know.

      I hope you are right about the resurgence in small churches. I could write a story about every small church I served. All of them are still there, meeting on Sunday, praying, and worshiping God. All except the first one, Penny’s Chapel in the hills near Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. It finally closed it doors this Spring. But in a way, from this church God brought about a blessing to the entire Church and which there isn’t room enough to discuss here.

      • Dana Ames says

        I remember when the church growth movement was about “God’s bride being big”, which meant a new pulse of evangelism and lots of new church plants, rather than the attractional mega-church with all its promotions. How things change.


      • One more Mike says

        “I could write a story about every small church I served…” David, please get on with it!!!!! I look forward to everything you post. You’re one of the sages helping the rest of us in the wilderness and we want to hear more from you. Don’t make me start a write-in campaign.

  8. textjunkie says

    +1 to all the writers here, hat’s off to Joe the webmaster extraordinaire, and much love to Chaplain Mike!! 🙂

  9. What, no mention of the NASCAR pastor’s prayer of thanks for his “smokin’ hot wife”?

  10. What is happening to the Crystal Cathedral sounds very similar to the iMonk story a few year ago about the abandoned Gary, Indiana City Methodist church: the culture and ethnic makeup of the surrounding community slowly changed, and the church did not. One can only be culturally-relevant for a moment. Transcending culture is the challenge, to be salt, light, and a refuge of grace regardless of the look or makeup of the surrounding community.

    • David Cornwell says

      The story of the Gary church is a sad case indeed. The skeleton hulk of this church still stands. What was once a beautiful, large building stands to a warning to the Church. And not just to mainline churches, but to all of us. Go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/cangeceiro/5608437127/ and you get the idea.

    • What is the story of the Indiana city church?

      Don’t take this the wrong way or personally…but really would it be a loss if many of these places closed? Consider the harm to many that evangelicals and Christianity inflict upon society. There are lots of walking wounded, spiritually crushed and broken people who were deeply injured by Christianity. Is it a loss if these places close? I don’t think so…I actually think it could be helpful.

      • David Cornwell says

        I don’t know the entire story. But I don’t think it was because of any particular evangelical bent. Gary changed dramatically and the church didn’t change along with it. Some Methodist churches lean in a more conservative direction, some more liberal. But changing demographics have meant the necessity of doing it differently. This is where the problem is. Downtown churches have been hit hardest. Now with some cities revitalizing the downtown area new opportunities are present. But older culturally conservative people don’t move very quickly toward change.

        Some churches have lost the gospel message also, and so are theologically and spiritually just like the pictures of that church.

  11. Dan Crawford says

    I found this sight (accidentally, I might add – but then there are no accidents in God’s world, are there?) several years before Michael went to meet the Lord he loved so passionately. It was then and continues to be one of the never-failing blessings in my life, I am grateful to Chaplain Mike, Jeff, Lisa Dye, Damaris Zehner, Martha of Ireland, Adam Palmer, Joe Spann and Denise for consistently being bright light in an political and religious environment when many who proclaim themselves Christian dim the light every time they speak or write. Internet Monk is the only “religious” website which never fails to nourish, challenge and deepen my faith. Thank you.

    • Dan don’t think like that or you’ll end up like me..an agnostic. It’s coincidence that you stumbled here. But that said…I’m glad you are here!! 🙂

    • Amen Dan, you took the words right out of my heart, though I arrived here about nine months before Michael went to be with our Lord. Nah, Eagle it isn’t a coincidence that we stumbled here ( ; My shattered faith is slowly mending and Internet Monk has been a huge factor in my humpty dumpty self being put back together again. I am full of gratitude!

  12. IM has blessed my life tremendously. It has become by only “must ready everyday” blog after cutting out another 10 or so over the last few years after realizing that almost all of them beat the same dead horse and contributed greatly to my myopic view of God and life.

    Thanks to everyone, from me and my wife on our honeymoon in Costa Rica! (Looks like I have a great week of posts to catch up with on the plane ride home!)

  13. Denise Spencer says

    Thank you, one and all, for keeping Internet Monk going. Yes, Michael would be proud–very proud. One correction, though. This was not started by Michael and me, but by Michael. It was 100% his dream and his work. And I’m so happy and grateful to see it live on.

  14. Internet monk is one of my regular reads. I enjoy the site though I don’t comment.

  15. Wow, one million visitors! Time to write a new series of posts: “7 Biblical Tips for Triumphant Christian Blogging.” If anyone questions your using the Bible that way, tell them that one million visitors is a sign of God’s blessing and that they shouldn’t question the Lord’s anointed. 😛

    Seriously though, that is pretty sweet. Thanks for all that you guys do.

    • amen! iMonk is leading its own rabble of pilgrims on an exodus thru the evangelical wasteland…

      and the throng just keeps on growing…

      thanx for all the unseen effort & heartfelt thought going into this oasis…


  16. I began visiting the IMonastery about a month after Michael passed away. I have literally not missed a post since. Can you believe that back then I thought I was the only one in the wilderness? Words can’t express what a huge blessing this site has been to me. To Chaplain Mike and Jeff, and everyone who keeps food on the table and the lights on here, thank you from the bottom, top and middle of my heart!

    Jeff, have you started begging David Cornwell to write yet??? 😉

    • There are a lot of good blogs. I can’t tell you how late into the night I spend reading them in my pursuit of answers. There are many broken and hurt people by evangelical Christianity. This site has been refreshing for me. I’m glad it exists and hope that it continues to move forward.

      • Funny thing about all the hurt and broken people is I continue to come face to face with those who wouldn’t understand hurt and broken if we hit them over the head with it. And this past week I did just that. Not a proud moment. And then the woman had the gall to call me the next day and encourage me to find a church. That she too had walked away from church and God for a time. Really? You’re words, actions and demeanor were the polar opposite from someone that walked a similar path. So, I come once again to the decision that I will never throw condemnation or condescending comments to anyone struggling through anything. Whether I walked a similar path or not. After all, we’re all dealing with, trying to resolve or shoving something.

        Thanks to you Eagle for your honest communication here, though you and I haven’t had the same broken path, I understand you. Plus, hearing some of the things you have said…..errr, reading and uuuhhh written, it motivates me to love deeper!


  17. First, I thank my God for all of you at imonk. I am one of the silent ones, even though I have commented a few times. Now that I have the names of all there at imonk I will pray for each one of you, for you all have so blessed me. I started following imonk a year or two before Michael’s home going. But where he is I know in my heart that there is a lot of singing, dancing, and praising goin on.Pray for me also, I am going through a rough patch,not sure if this is a trial or the enemy. Thank you all, Chaplin Mike and Rebekah Grace, you guys rock! Peace.

  18. 1 million visitors? Obviously this is where the party is! 😉
    Thank you all for contributing to iMonk. It is a wonderful place and as many have said, is a “daily must read”.

    Chaplain Mike- Thank you for everything you do. All of your essays are wonderful, thought provoking, and very pastoral. 🙂

    Martha or Ireland- I love everything you write. So much so that I have a habit of rereading your essays in my spare time. Your constant quotations of Dante and Chesterton and so many others; not to mention that wonderful fiery, dry sense of humor! I’m glad you gave into Jeff’s pestering…. I mean, the Lord’s call. 😀

    • I’m suddenly getting very worried, Tim – all this spiritual responsibility for leading (possibly) people astray? Me and St. Augustine will suddenly be getting very well acquainted, I think:

      From “Sermon 46: On Pastors”

      “For if I speak on my own authority, I will be a shepherd nourishing myself and not the sheep. However, if my words are the Lord’s, then he is nourishing you no matter who speaks.”

      • Martha-

        Fear not. If you make this good ole’ Lutheran boy into a Papist, I’ll make sure I give credit where credit is due. And by that, I mean to you of course. After all, “A worker deserves their wages”! 😉

    • “1 million visitors? Obviously this is where the party is!”

      And in the parable of the prodigal son, who didn’t want to come to the party?

  19. Josh in FW says

    Thank you Imonk writers and regular commenters. I am primarily just a reader because when there is a point I want to make it is usually made by one of the regular Imonk commentators in a much more articulate fashion than I would be able to type.

  20. In honor of 1,000,000 visitors can I propose a celebration in Alexandria or Georgetown? The fomer Brick Skeller has an awesome beer selection and that could be a way to celebrate and enjoy a good beer!!! 🙂

    • whoohoo! yeah. sounds like a great way to celebrate! i would be there in a heartbeat no doubt about it… 😀

  21. http://peterrollins.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/0220111.mp3

    A very good and enlightening talk by Peter Rollins which incorporates Wile E. Coyote.

    I’m somewhat concerned about Pastor Mike buring out. Another example of “Pyro Theology” perhaps? ;o)


  22. I meant; “…burNing our”.

  23. FollowerOfHim says

    Regarding the idea of Americans sneaking across the border to work in Mexico… it’s interesting that futurists like George Freidman (“The Next 100 Years”) do actually think that demographic changes in the US and Mexico will completely remake the relationship between the two countries over the coming decades. If I recall correctly, he thinks that in as little as ten years we’ll be begging Mexicans to come work in the US (as caregivers, especially), since there will be fewer young Mexicans due to declining birthrates there. He also foresees that Mexico by the late 21st century will be a global power in its own right. Like its wealthy (for a couple more days) neighbors to the north, it enjoys a two-ocean coastline far away from anyone who’d cause it big problems.

    I don’t know if Friedman is onto something or not, but his was an interesting analysis.

    • Cunnudda says

      1) The problem is making policy by anecdote. Open-borders folks tell you heart-rending tales of immigrants whom any of us would gladly help with the money in their pocket. I have personally treated (MD) a lot of illegals. The difficulty comes when you multiply the anecdote by 11 million. Is helping “the” sojourner the same as helping the 11 million sojourners? That’s where the financial burden comes in, not to mention impoverishment of people already here who must compete against illegal labor. Saying it’s a Gospel issue in no way makes it a simple issue.
      2) Just once before I die, I’d like to see “the Gospel” expect just as much from the immigrants. Like not participating in marches demanding your rights in foreign languages while carrying foreign flags. Like learning and using English. Like not booing US athletic teams and the US national anthem. Do we really expect absolutely nothing from the immigrants, and infinity from us?

      • Donalbain says

        Where does the gospel ever mention how people should behave in order for you to give them your charity and your kindness? It doesn’t. But you want the gospel to change to meet your political desires.

        • Hogwash. Most of these people are Christians. Are they not expected to act like MY brother, too? They receive my charity and kindness, and then spit in my face. Not pleasant, and always ignored.

    • Cunnudda says

      oops. Not really a reply.

  24. Breakfast cereal.

    Time they have changed. I grew up on Frosted Flakes and it’s kin also. And home made sweet tea in the fridge 24/7 when the weather was warm. The kind you make by boiling a gallon or so of water with a fist full or two of sugar.

    But we also got thrown out the door by 8 or 9 and were told to show back up for lunch, dinner, and bed time. And if you were late then one of your parents went out in the yard and yelled your name at the top of their lungs. I imagine such a sound today would elicit a few 911 calls.

    When I faced the cereal choice with my kids I did a very quick scan of the product on the shelves and came up with an arbitrary dividing line. My kids could pick out any cereal they wanted as long as it had less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. Both my kids learned to read food labels in the 2nd grade. And they still read them. And you’d be surprised at some of the cereals that fell on both sides of the line.

    • I was born in 1954. My favorite cereals were Cheerios, Grapenuts, Shredded Wheat, Life and then a little older, I started eating the sweeter ones like Lucky Charms. When I think of it now, I think, “ewww.”

  25. Imonk is an oasis in the midst of ‘the bible clearly teaches’ on the left, and the hollywoodization of the church on the right. you all let me know that i’m not crazy or going crazy, that i am still a Christian and a God fearing person. and, that there is a lot of people like me.
    thank you for your well spent efforts.