January 28, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 7.6.13

RamblerHi iMonks. Welcome to our week’s end, a time when we gather to spruce up the iMonastery after a busy week of … a busy week of … ok, well, maybe it wasn’t all that busy. But we did make a mess nonetheless, and now is the time to grab a broom and sweep up the place. We call the scraps Ramblings, and as it is Saturday, they are Saturday Ramblings. See how this works? Now that you are informed, are you ready to ramble?

How many hot dogs did you eat on Thursday? Now that you have finished consuming your tube steak, wanna know what goes in them? (The $2300 hot dog actually sounds pretty tasty …)

We are getting not one, but two new saints, and both are past popes. Pope John XXIII (that’s 23 for those of you who are Roman numerally-challenged) convened Vatican II, which I think counts as a miracle in itself. And Pope John Paul II made it cool to be a Catholic. Way to go, gentlemen.

The current pope, Francis, made his first trip as pope away from Rome a memorable one, traveling to the Italian island of Lampedusa, a destination for many African immigrants who travel perilously by boat to reach Europe. You know, I am thinking Pope Francis might just mean what he says about giving himself to the poor and disenfranchised.

Francis kept busy this week. When he wasn’t on the road, he was writing his first ever encyclical. He did, however, have help from Pope Emeritus Benedict. Well, hey, why not? We are going to ask Martha of Ireland to give us a complete report on the popes’ report in the coming weeks.

And when Francis wasn’t on the road or writing, he was cleaning house in the Vatican bank. Seems there was some hanky-panky going on to the tune of 26 million greenbacks. Do you get the idea it is not easy being pope?

Closer to home, the Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim has a new tenant: St. Callistus Catholic Church has moved into the glass edifice. Something I bet they will quickly learn: It takes a lot of Windex to keep the place shiny.

Kiddies in San Diego can continue to take yoga classes in school. A judge ruled that yoga as taught does not constitute a religion. Of course yoga is a religion. If I were to do yoga, there would be a lot of praying for all the pulled muscles I would suffer …

It was not a good week for Baptists. First, an associate pastor at First Baptist of Madisonville, Kentucky, lost his job because his wife, a newspaper columnist, wrote something unflattering about the Southern Baptists’ stance on the Boy Scouts. Never mind that what she wrote actually made sense.

And then … sigh … there was the Baptist preacher in Skiatook, Oklahoma—about an hour north of my humble abode—whose pulpit rant back in May went viral via the internet. Sad sad sad…

And yet! Intrepid iMonk Rambler Rick Presley sent along this story of how one of my fellow Tulsans dealt with an uninvited guest in his home. Lesson to be learned: Don’t mess with Tulsans who are on their way to work.

CJ Mahaney has backed out of the 2014 Together for the Gospel conference. Manning up, or admitting defeat? Discuss.

Douglas Engelbart died this week. Who is Douglas Engelbart? If you are reading this on a computer, you are doing so because of Douglas Engelbart.

Finally, it is wiffle ball season across America. If you are unfamiliar with the grand game of wiffle ball, then you need to read these rules. If you are very familiar with wiffle ball, you really have to read these rules. And if you are now depressed because of anything you read here this morning, reading about wiffle ball will make you happy once again.

There were those who were happy this week because it was their birthday, including Slim Pickens; Buddy Rich; Mike Tyson; Michael Phelps; Jamie Farr; Dan Aykroyd; Princess Diana; Liv Tyler; Dave Thomas; Jan Smithers; Tom Cruise; Mitch Miller; Neil Simon; Robbie Robertson; and the United States of America.

Eddie Shaughnessy was one of the greatest drummers of all time. Buddy Rich was even that much better. Here they are together on the Tonight Show from 1978. Incredible. Enjoy.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QXdi25469U’]



  1. On the question of CJ Mahaney “manning up, or admitting defeat”: maybe I’m too jaded by the years I spent in SGM, but I suspect there’s more to the story than we yet know. I doubt that he has either manned up or admitted defeat…

  2. I read the Stuff Fundies Like blog, so I saw the pulpit rant last week. Sad to say, I’ve been in churches and seen worse. But the fellow he addressed (Ryan Underwood, according to the Tulsa World) was entirely right: If you have an issue with a fellow Christian, you address it in private way before you shame him in front of the entire church—and now, the entire world—like that. “Tough love,” because it is impatient and unkind, is not authentic love. It’s anger disguised as love.

    • The very best thing Christians can do for the churches and the world is to sweep people like this out of our pulpits, which are filled with this type of imperious authoritarians.

      • The impression I got from the video was that it was all about him. Thinking it’s all about you should immediately disqualify you from ministry, especially the “professional” (i.e. monetarily compensated) ministry. I can’t see this sort of attitude being conducive to the whole “laying down your life for the sake of the sheep” thing, call me crazy. =D

        • Rick Ro. says

          I had the same impression, SRQTom. It was all about him and what HE wanted to say, even if he claims it was from the Lord. It’s too bad no one felt courageous enough to stand up in that service and challenge him. (Not like I would’ve had I been there….LOL.)

  3. RE: CeeJay – its all fun and games until the crap hits the…bottom line.

  4. Robert F says

    Well, the Pope set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the workings of the Vatican bank last week, but it was the Italian secular police who “cleaned house” by arresting one crook they had been investigating for some time and exerting the investigative pressure that resulted in the resignation of a couple of others who are also probably crooks. In fact, it’s a good bet that the Vatican would have done nothing if the secular authorities hadn’t been diligent in their investigation. It’s a shame that the sword of state has to be employed to bring the house of God into line, but wrongdoing invites the rightful attention of that sword.

    • And one of the crooks is an Italian secret service agent?

    • Oh, the Vatican bank is a mess and has been for years, going on decades; I’m very tempted to say something inflammatory, stereotypical and probably even racist about Italians, which would not be fair, but as you can see from the latest mess the idea of personal, local and family loyalties and debts over-ride any idea about sticking to institutional regulations.

      The idea is the Catholic Church has millions and billions in wealth, which is yes and no – a lot of it is historical and more than that, in the form of real estate and fixed property. How, for instance, would you sell off Michaelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel? Also, a lot of religious art was disposed of during the 18th century from churches all over Italy – a small village church which had a painting commissioned by the local boy done good back in the 16th century often sold it to visiting English connoisseurs doing the Grand Tour, and museums worldwide are full of parts of triptychs which were hacked apart and sold in pieces by canny dealers.

      here is a précis of this year’s budget, giving an idea of where the money comes from and what it generally goes on.

      Now, if I’m going to do a piece on the new encyclical, I will have to do my homework for the week and read it more closely than the first quick run-through! 🙂

  5. Robert F says

    Is hatha yoga (the kind of yoga I assume the kids are doing in school) a religious discipline? The purpose of hatha yoga as developed in India was to prepare the body for the spiritual exercises that would lead to moksha, liberation from the cycle of life and death. One of the purposes of hatha yoga, besides cultivation of the body, is to induce a state of mind that is the anteroom to various disciplines of meditation the purposes of which are specifically religious in nature. It is possible to stop in that anteroom and go no further, so technically the judge is probably correct in his ruling.

    But the system of hatha yoga was developed within a religious tradition for explicitly religious purposes by people who would have scoffed at the idea that it could be separated from the goal which it was designed to help practitioners move toward; in addition, I have never been in an adult hatha yoga class where the language and ideas surrounding the practice of the postures wasn’t thoroughly permeated with Hindu ideology and doctrine, even when that class was being taught by Christians. That’s why I stopped taking such classes some time ago. I think that these kids are probably being exposed by the instructors to religious themes along with the physical culture they are being practicing; I would be surprised if they weren’t. Of course, the judge would not necessarily see that in the course materials, so his ruling would not be a totally informed one.

    I’m not a fundegelical; I have a lot of respect for other religions, having practiced an Eastern religion myself for some years. But every spiritual vacuum is quickly filled; where Christian influence has been reduced, even for perfectly good legal reasons as in schools, other influences will replace it. That physical culture, an idol our own culture is obsessed with, should be the vehicle whereby those other influences fill that vacuum is not in the least bit surprising to me.

    • I think any religious component of yoga – which started, after all, as Hindu ascetic disciplines – is watered down in the West to a very vague ‘spiritual’ notion. Even if they use the original names for the positions and emphasise the importance of breathing, the teachers (unless they truly are devotees) have little or no idea what it is about.

      I can see a judge ruling that teaching kids to do stretching and bending exercises is not particularly religious, especially if they keep mantras and the like out of it. But on the opposite side, I’ve also seen a news story about Indian yogis being angry that yoga is divorced in the West from its religious roots and treated just as a form of exercise.

      • Robert F says

        Yes, the spiritual component is watered down in many places in the West; but it is still recognizably Eastern. In fact, the ideas of Hindu spirituality permeate our culture. And to repeat: I’ve been in more than a few adult yoga classes, some run by Christians, and the Hindu philosophy was always present in the classroom environment, most of the time in an admittedly watered down way.

        Cultural appropriation is of course partly the result of the imperial history of the West, and I can appreciate the yogis who don’t like it (though why yogis, who are supposed to be above all that, are angry amuses me); but there are yogis who think it’s wonderful and support it as a step in what they consider to be the right direction for what they consider the spiritually impoverished West to take. And appropriation cuts both ways: its routine for Hindus, and their New Age counterparts in the West, to appropriate Jesus into their religious system by claiming that he was an avatar like Krishna or Ramakrishna or any other in their vast pantheon of avatars.

        • It is interesting for me that the Booklords and the Archdukes of the Algorithm on the more Reformed side of the aisle tend to lump hesychasm and yoga together. One went so far as to say that hesychasm wsa nothing more than an exercise to produce a different level of consciousness.

          Well, duh.

    • Although I have read over the years that the spiritual aspect of yoga can be separated from the physical, I’m finding that idea to be dubious. I began a gentle yoga class at the local gym which is owned by Christians. The owners claim the staff members are mainly Christian, also. But in the class, positions that claim to “bring world peace” and “open the third eye of wisdom” are taught. The teacher is on an elevated platform surrounded by black candles in a the shape of a pentagram. Coincidence? Maybe. The red line for me was a song that was used often during the class. It was in Hindi and took me a while to get the words down, but I did, found the song on YouTube, and lo and behold, it is a “Devotion to Shiva.”

      Bottom line: yoga really should not be taught in public schools. There are myriad other ways for children to get exercise.

      • Robert F says

        Your experience is exactly what I’m referring to; Bella; it’s also been my experience and my wife’s.

      • What you’re talking about is a Western re-interpretation of hatha yoga with other elements thrown in.

        fwiw, I don’t practice yoga (never have) but am seeing similar kinds of weirdness with tai chi…

        • Robert F says

          Yes, it’s a reinterpretation, and a syncretistic one, but the philosophical underpinnings are invariably monist and pantheist, which means that the reinterpretation is harmonious with Eastern religious philosophy and practice and not Christian theology or spirituality.

          Both hatha yoga and tai chi are based in understandings of the body that assume certain spiritual truths, i.e., that the cause of suffering is illusion or that disease is the result of imbalance in the body’s spiritual energy meridians; there is some truth in each, that’s why they often have what’s viewed as positive results (that and the placebo effect), but the contextual truth for whatever is true in those understandings is that death and suffering are the result of sin, not illusion or energy imbalance.

          • With tai chi and related Chinese martial arts, I *do* think that many of the ideas are based in what really was a kouind of observational science of the time (starting centuries and centuries ago) and attempts to explain how the world works. Just because it might *not* work that way doesn’t invalidate the good effects of practice, as I’m sure you’d agree.

            In some senses, I think the reasoning behind much Chinese trad. medicine and the martial arts is akin to Western thought about the four humours (way back when). I don’t need to believe in the concept of chi in order to derive benefit from practice, nor do I need to be a Taoist or Buddhist (since there’s a syncretistic element to the ideas as well).

            Even something as basic as being in the horse stance and “sinking the chi” – seems (to me, at least) to be a description of letting the muscles of the lower back and pelvis relax, which does create a “sinking” sensation.

            I don’t think there’s any mumbo-jumbo or “magic” in any of this, though goodness knows, we Westerners certainly seem to *want* it to be there! I suspect that many Chinese people think we’re a bit daft.

            fwiw, the idea of chi seems to extend to everyday description of emotions (if someone is getting angry, a person might say that he has a lot of chi on/in his face), the weather (good weather = good chi), etc. for me, that kind of cultural context helps *a lot* with understanding that Chinese people have a different view of the whole concept than what’s often presented – and sold (perhaps most important in this discussion) – here in the West.

          • Oof – a kind of… (Bad typist!)

            As for that kinda crazy yoga class you described, that seems – to my mind – to be very typically American, in that we take things from other cultures *all the time* and decide that we can do whatever we want with them. (parenthetical note: am a musician, play several instruments from non-Western cultures, and see this *all the time* – especially with people who don’t care about the musical and cultural background and/or don’t want to invest the time and effort in learning the basics… which can take years, but add *so much* in terms of musical vocabulary, technique and more.)

          • Robert F says

            I understand and agree in part with what you’re saying, but I can’t agree with any denial that Eastern religious disciplines, which include some of their health practices, are rooted in monism and the idea that the world is ultimately one, which involves pantheism or non-dualism as it is sometimes called. The word “yoga” translated into English is yoke, and the Indian sources tell us that this means to “make one” in the sense of revealing the obscured identity of all things in Atman. And the theoretical underpinnings of the development of interest in the West in things Eastern clearly converge with monist and pantheistic philosophy, or the perennial philosophy, as it’s sometimes called, rather than anything remotely Christian.

            My own experience has been that where Eastern disciplines are practiced, very often there is the presence of Eastern philosophical ideas. That obviously doesn’t mean that this always is the case, but since, as Bella points out, there are other means to achieve the desired ends, I think it’s better to stick with those.

          • The thing is, if you want to learn Chinese, Japanese, Telugu, Hindi – whatever – you’re going to be dealing with the same concepts.

            Ditto for moving to anywhere in East or South Asia – it all comes with the territory. I don’t think one has to *agree with* these ideas in order to practice tai chi or other martial arts (don’t know enough about hatha yoga to be able to discuss), but even Chinese xtians have the overall concept of “chi” (as energy, breath, etc.) embedded in their language and culture.

            I was once at the place that you are – or seem to be – now, and it has been very freeing for me personally to be able to say “Yes, OK – it’s there but I don’t have to agree with it or do it if I feel uncomfortable.” I do realize that yoga classes like the one you described leave a person with basically no option other than choosing to walk out, which is what I would do… those candles and the pentagram would send me running! *if* the teacher was Indian and was involved in X kind of religious practice (a devotee of a specific deity, for example) and demanded that people conform to that set of beliefs in their own practice, well then, again, there’s a problem.

            But I don’t think that many Americans who sling terms around know what they’re talking about. 😉

            also, I am kinda confused: are you saying that pantheism and non-dualism are the same thing? If so, could you help me understand why you think that? Because I’m a bit lost; from where I’m sitting, they don’t mean the same thing (necessarily) at all.

          • also, I think maybe the kinds of things I’m referring to in Chinese (martial arts, etc.) thought and the kinds of things you’re referring to re. Indian ideas might not be the same thing – though likely similar.

            Here’s the deal: why is it that people from South/East Asian backgrounds find no difficulty in learning “Western” science and medicine, while people from West tend to back see medicine/science and any East/south Asian beliefs as diametrically opposed?

            it gets tricky, I’ll admit, but I think a lot of us Westerners are too closed-minded – and that a lot of people from E. and S. Asia are just flummoxed by Western iterations of supposed Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. etc. (Even scholarly groups – like the Daoist Studies people – deliberately chose to use the letter “D” in order to avoid any confusion between what they’re researching and what many Westerners misunderstand and promote as “Taoism.”)

          • Robert F says

            One can hold non-dualism without pantheism (Buddhism) but pantheism requires non-dualism, in my understanding and experience.

            In fact, science is not “Western,” though it has developed most quickly in the West; neither is logic “Western”; people look both ways when crossing the street in Benares as well as Athens, and always have, unless they were suicidal. That’s why Indians and other Asians can so easily adopt the methods of science and medicine developed in the West: they’ve been doing it in elementary ways already, and it’s part of the common universal experience of the human race.

            That there are convergences between scientific medicine and folk medicine is doubtless true in every culture; but there are also divergences. Scientifically discovered and developed antibiotics and hygenic practices have saved more human lives than folk medicine ever did, and partly they have done this by discrediting folk beliefs and practices.

            Btw, you’re conflating comments by me and Bella; she’s the one who had the pentagram experience.

          • Robert F – sorry re. conflating comments – they sometimes get mixed up in my mind.

            As far as Buddhism goes, there are so many different (and often quite divergent) ways of belief and practice, from what I can tell – Hinduism is *really* complex, in a way that pretty much boggles my mind (theistic, non-theistic, pantheistic, you name it).

            One thing that I was trying to get across is that I think we often rely on things we encounter in the media, or else 3d-hand (at best) in forming ideas of other cultures and religions. I mean, we can say the West is nominally xtian and Jewish, but what about all the “folk” religion out there, from the preoccupation with ghosts and vampires to superheroes? I realize the last might not sound religious, but if you had no context, and were to see comic book after comic book with people who’d been elevated to the status of minor deities, would you think – is this somehow connected to their religious beliefs or this is just a story?

            My contention is that we are actually a lot more “endarkened” than we think we are, in terms of what people really believe – it’s kind of in the air. (Example: I adopted a black rabbit 7 years ago. The folks at the rabbit rescue told me that black animals – of any kind – are almost always passed over for adoption, because…)

          • I am not certain that I’d classify either Chinese trad,. medicine – or the Ayurvedic system – as “folk” medicine – both actually seem more developed to me than what was current during the Middle Ages and Renaissance in the West. (Reliance on astrology, tasting urine, the theory of the four humors, etc.)

            At least the Chinese and some Indians came up with things that, to some extent, <still work, even though a lot of the things involved don’t fit into a Western (or modern) scientific paradigm. It seems to me that we are all quick – myself included to jettison “the old” in favor of “the new,” and risk losing valuable information in doing so. If everything got leveled and all we had were plants and minerals to work with, I guess we’d be trying the hard way to come up with the same things all over again, no?

          • Robert F says

            Perhaps you are correct; I know I misunderstand much, and suppose I will continue to do so. In defense of my own understandings, I will say that I was a practicing Buddhist for a number of years, under the tutelage of Japanese Zen roshis who were in the line of dharma transmission. I spent great amounts of time in zazen and I drank and read deeply from the sources. Admittedly, any Zen teacher who emigrates to and teaches in the US is probably a bit of an oddball from the perspective of the traditionalists. But the Buddha himself said that his teaching was an impermanent thing, that it was subject to the same law of perpetual change as everything else, not a stable reality; my experience with Zen was positive in some ways, but it seared me in others. There are spiritual dangers that I encountered in my Zen practice that I’m loathe to talk about and that I’d just as soon not hazard again. At this point, I stick with Jesus Christ as best I can and avoid things that are redolent of any other spirit.


          • Robert F – I hear you, and thank you for your patience with me. I can see why you wouldn’t want anything to do with East Asian religion and philosophy after the experiences that you had.

            You have a lot more under your belt than me, even though I might talk a good game. 🙂

  6. Steve Newell says

    The “Crystal Cathedral” becoming a Roman church must be making many of those who started the Reformed movement as part of the Reformation spinning in their graves.

    I wonder how many more “mega churches” will also collapse when their personality driven founder/pastor leaves? There mare many “churches” that are more a cult of personality and their entire church is based on off one person and that person may not be the Lord Jesus Christ.

    • Why should Calvin, Luther, Beza… care about what happens to the “Crystal Catehdral”…? It’s not like it was a Reformed, Bible-based church.

      • Robert F says

        Well, Robert Schuller was a Reformed minister, despite the fact that he sounded more like Leo Buscaglia, and the Crystal Cathedral was a congregation in the Reformed Church in America; perhaps the magisterial Reformers would mourn to see how far astray their reformation has gone in many places.

        • Hold the phone! Schuller was RCA? You’d of never known. I’d say Luther, however, is anything but rolling in his grave. The turning over of that facility to Roman Catholic use represents tremendous progress. Finally, Christ will be at the center of what goes on there.

          • Robert F says

            Yes, Schuller was RCA; and so was Norman Vincent Peale, with his New Thought disguised as the Power of Positive Thinking to remake the universe into Disney World and “When you wish upon a star…..your dreams come true….”

          • Yeah… with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Saints, the Pope as Vicar of Christ, The Roman Catholic Church as the only true Church on Earth and our works as source of salvation, Christ is really at the center…

      • The Crystal Cathedral will be in good hands. The same sort of ‘some of God and some of me’ “preaching” will still be going on there. Nothing new, at all. That co-op religion as is old as the hills.

        • Robert F says

          Two Lutherans post completely opposed viewpoints at exactly the same moment; the fallout from the Reformation in miniature. But I have to go with you, Miguel; when push comes to shove, my opinion is that the RC church is a true church containing significant error rather than a false church containing significant truth. You are as likely to hear Christ-centered preaching in a RC church as in many Protestant churches; and the Eucharist preaches its own sermons.

          • And I think Steve will have to concede to me on this: at the bare minimum, if the preaching is absolutely no better whatsoever (which I highly doubt, hard to go down from there), there is at least room for God to work now in the worship through the means of grace. Sacraments at all are a major redeeming grace. Or would you say the ministry of the Word is all that matters? Sounds kinda….. Southern Baptist… 😛

          • If I were stuck between the two, I’d rather eat the body and blood with the Pope than to receive nothing from the non-denoms/Baptists.

            But there is a better way.

          • I’d rather have Jesus. Having body and blood doesn’t give you Jesus anymore than a pound of hamburger gives you a cow. I know that sounds rude, but the unraveling of my interest in Lutheranism began with hearing real presence taught to confirmation kids (one of them being my daughter) as the presence of body and blood, rather than Jesus.

            I think Zwngli won his debate with Luther when he cornered him into admitting to the need for the omnipresence of Christ’s body to explain how the physical body of Christ can be present in every confessing church world-wide at the same time.

          • Robert F says

            It depends on what the body really is; do you think we have plumbed that question deeply enough to really understand it?

            Personally, I think that, just as his body could seemingly walk through closed doors after his resurrection, so can Jesus’ body be in more than one place at a time. It’s called multilocation.

          • ok….. So you can have the body and blood of Christ and still not have Christ? Oh, that’s right, Jesus is really just an ethereal disembodied spirit! Gnostic, any?

            I don’t understand how you “have” Jesus apart from his giving of himself to you. And I don’t understand how he gives himself apart from Word and Sacrament. I’m sure he could just magically trickle down his spiritual essence from heaven into our hearts. But the Christ of the Scriptures uses means.

            And how does a pound of hamburger not give you cow? Really lost me on that one. Sure a cow is many pounds, but if I’m eating a burger, that bovine is truly present in my mouth, not symbolically, not spiritually. Nobody wants the whole cow at once. Jesus is bigger than we can wrap our person around.

        • God, I thank you that I am not like other men. I’m not legalistic. I don’t have “some of God, some of me” preaching. I’m not on the spiritual ladder. My gospel is pure, unadulterated, and more gospelly than everyone else’s gospel.

          • ‘Some of God and some of me’ “preaching IS legalistic.

            It puts the sinner back at the center.

            Luther was right in calling the Anabaptists (the forerunners of non-denominational/Baptist Schuller-esk type religion) and the Catholics, “Two wolves tied at the tail”.

            But people love that stuff (as is evidenced in these supportive comments of it) and so it will remain.

            You are welcome to it.

          • By the way, we, or I don’t judge anyone (other Christians). Even non-Christians.

            But we in Christ have a perfect right, even a duty to ‘critique’ what others are doing and saying with respect to the faith.

            Otherwise, Paul would not have written all those epistles. he would have let Peter go right on making people into Jews first before they could become Christians. He wouldn’t have said ‘boo’ to the Galatians. And Luther would have kept his big mouth shut and watched the papacy continue to shakedown the flock in the name of salvation.

            We freely criticize our own (Lutherans) much more so when go off the rails, as well. Which they have done big time. To the point of making it difficult to even find the rails anymore.

          • By the way, we, or I don’t judge anyone (other Christians). Even non-Christians.

            Well then you must be a poor communicator, because judgmentalism and superiority is mostly what I read in your comments. Theological disagreement, thinking someone is wrong, is one thing. Happens here frequently. But there’s always something sneery in your comments. Even just above–what does “you are welcome to it” mean? Do you not see how that turns mere disagreement something ugly and superior?

          • Michael,

            Maybe you are right. I just may be a bit too sneery. For that I apologize.

            But this business about adding ourselves into the mix regarding salvation is quite a serious matter. I by no means equate myself with the great St. Paul, but he had some pretty sneery things to say about it, also. To the point of wishing that those doing the circumcising would “slip with the knife”. And that those engaged in such( adding onto the finished work of Christ) “sever themselves from Christ”.

            This is not a game.

          • Robert F says

            Luther was right in calling the Anabaptists wolves? It was Luther who supported the banishment and persecution of the Anabaptists, including execution, not vice versa; who was the wolf in that case?

          • The Anabaptists were ravaging the countryside. Killing priests and raping nuns and destroying churches.

            Luther wanted them stopped by any means.

            By “wolves”, Luther was speaking to their theology of adding onto the finished work of Christ.

            He was, and is right about folks who lead others away from Christ’s finished work and back into themselves.

          • Robert F says

            Most Anabaptists were doing no such thing; he recommended the persecution of all Anabaptists regardless of their behavior. Most were pacifists. Read history.

          • The so-called pacifists were leading people to hell.

            Luther was right about them then. And he is still right about them inasmuch as they deny the gospel of Christ in the sacraments and are leading people back into themselves.

            Like I said earlier. This is no game. It’s deadly serious with eternal consequences.

          • Robert F says

            Steve, you are a man born out of your time, the late Middle Ages.

          • Maybe you are right, Robert.

            But the urgency and importance of that pure gospel message is still relevant…today. And no less so than then, even if we want to make it so.

          • Steve… your understanding of anabaptist beliefs – then and today – seems, to my mind, very much off-base.

            I feel sick at the way Luther thought about the Peasants’ Revolt as well as his anti-semitism and animosity toward anabaptists. (Confession: I grew up in an area that has a very large population of anabaptists; their ancestors came here in part to get away from persecution in Europe…)

          • P.S.: I’m Lutheran, too – from an LCA (now ELCA) background.

        • Christiane says

          STEVE MARTIN,

          Would you agree that ‘Everything is grace’?

          • “Everything is grace”?

            No. I don’t agree with that. Everything is not grace. God is a God of wrath and judgment…as well as a God of grace.

            And for us, grace is unmerited favor. Not to be pinched out by a clerical class that has received it ALL and whose job it is is to give it to us as we merit it by jumping through the prescribed hoops of the Catholic Church.

    • I predict we shall indeed see a lot of Evangelical multiplexes implode over the coming few decades. And they shall be taken over by more ecclesiologically robust institutions. Denominations with bishops, centralized finances, and capital to move outside of local congregations. Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Islam will all benefit from the short sales of these places. Maybe the LDS as well. I just can’t see Lutherans getting their organizational act together well enough to get in on the bidding war, unfortunately.

      • David Cornwell says

        I think you are correct about the implosions. But I hope others do not buy into the whole mutiplex idea. They are expensive to operate, mantain, and program. Maybe Lutherans are better off staying out of those monstrosities. And some of the big denominations aren’t in excellent shape financially. Well, maybe the LDS, not sure about Islam, but neither of those preach Christ.

        Too often church life becomes all about the business and not about the Christ.

        • Yes, but for episcopal hierarchies, buying a used mega-church on a short sale is always cheaper than building a cathedral, wouldn’t you think? Allegedly, Islam has already been snapping up used parishes around the country. It’s not about buying big to for big’s sake: It’s buying used to save cash. That’s a pretty good deal, and I’d hate to build and find out later I could have saved a fortune and let someone else pay the architect.

          You don’t have to use it as a multi-plex, either. Catholic churches I see make good utilitarian and charitable use of their facility resources. So does my parish, albeit a bunch smaller.

      • I predict we shall indeed see a lot of Evangelical multiplexes implode over the coming few decades

        Miguel, do I hear echoes of Michael Spencer’s Coming Evangelical Collapse? 🙂

  7. Biddy Rich’s Big Band was a powerhouse in the 70’s. The Don Ellis band was stratospheric.

  8. Great video, Jeff …thanks! See? True musicianship and showmanship used to go together, didn’t they? 🙂

  9. Mini-rant: Drummers just don’t solo like that these days anymore. I know, some do. But too often kids are not learning the fundamentals and technique behind that kind of work. They’re to busy imitating rock stars. Jazz chops FTW!

  10. This is not a pure solo, but it is ‘stickless’ :


    The great, Preston Epps on the bongos!

  11. Robert F says

    Two new saints? This is one thing I can not accept: the assurance of the RC church that it possesses the wisdom to know who is a Saint (defined as someone exceeding in holiness and fit to be invoked in prayer) and who is not. The fact is, they don’t even possess the wisdom to positively know who is in heaven and who isn’t (with the exception of the Good Thief).

    And what about the Saints who have been shown to be historical fiction and were decommissioned by the RC church? Big mistakes.

  12. ‘The so-called (Anabaptist) pacifists were leading people to hell.’ Could you explain this? To the best of my knowledge the Mennonites were the only branch of the Reformation parties that never resorted to violence to advance their cause, so that’s something. Certainly I’ve heard stories of my own Mennonite ancestors who were hounded and killed by insisting on trying to follow Christ’s teachings, the sermon on the mount, so…leading people into hell….

    • Arguments over the Eucharist are fascinating to me. I understand where both sides are coming from, but to me, it soon becomes an exercise in missing the point. I think like any issue, the question can cloud the real question. Christ isn’t going to ask us, “what did you think was happening when you partook in the Eucharist?” He’s going to ask us, “who did you say I am?”

      • Sure.

      • Elizabeth says

        Thank you! The discussion up above has left a bit shell shocked so it was nice to hear some words of clarity.

      • Did Jesus not say, “If you do not eat my body and drink my blood then you have no life in you” ?

        “This IS my body. This IS my blood.”

        It’d pure gospel…the external Word…given to us so that we won’t have to go mucking around within ourselves looking for assurance.

        • Even in John 6, Jesus ties eating and drinking to believing, though. I actually do believe Christ is present in some unique way during the Eucharist, and that the Lord’s Supper is God’s gift to his people. But I don’t believe that the elements themselves are magical in some way.

          I guess it’s just seems ironic to me that if you’re going to insist on “faith alone”, that you’re going to add a belief in real presence to that.

          • Of course it’s not magic. We trust that He is in it. Giving to us what He has promised. He commanded that we do it…so He is in it.

          • It’s weird: We invented sola fide, but we can’t separate it from the sacraments. That’s probably because we believe faith has to come from somewhere, and we reject the idea that it is a work or substance emanating from ourselves. We believe God gives and nourishes faith in the sacraments, and we might go as far as to say that a person who refuses the Sacraments, at least Baptism anyways, does not have faith in Christ’s Words, and apart from regular strengthening of said faith in the supper, may commonly depart from the faith.

          • Robert F says

            You also don’t believe that faith is primarily a matter of intellectual assent to correct doctrine. Which doesn’t mean that you think it’s okay to hold wrong doctrine. But you believe that, just as a baptized infant can have faith before they have understanding, so can an adult have full faith before they have complete understanding or hold all the correct doctrines. You see faith as a gift given and sustained through the sacraments, which themselves arise from the Jesus’ word.

          • I love it when somebody tells me what I supposedly believe, and THEY GET IT RIGHT! 😀

          • Robert F says

            Well, Miguel, I’m glad I got it right, but sorry if it was presumptuous to state what you believe. I’ve read a lot of what you’ve posted in comments, and you’re quite detailed in saying what you believe, which is what confessional Lutheranism confesses, and I guess I wanted to see if you’d agree with what I understand to be your position.

            I’m also trying on, so to speak, Lutheran theology for myself. My understanding of my own faith is still something in process; I’m not completely settled. The amazing thing is, despite all the intellectual, emotional and volitional setbacks I’ve undergone in relationship to faith in Jesus Christ, it doesn’t go away; it, he, hangs in there, he doesn’t let me go. It would take a mighty effort on my part to sever myself from him, and effort I don’t think I could mount. My faith in Jesus Christ is in the soil of my being; it is indeed a very Lutheran mystery.

        • Robert F says

          Answer a question for me, please: when Jesus said those words, “This is my body….,” he was in fact still alive and had not gone to the cross; he was holding the bread and wine: was the Last Supper a Holy Communion or not? How could it be when he had not consummated his sacrifice on the cross yet?

          • Robert F says

            Excuse the poor punctuation.

          • He was holding up the bread…and the wine, Robert. He said to do it. eat and drink of it. His forgiveness would be in it, for us, by faith.

          • Robert F says

            I don’t understand your response, Steve. Was the Last Supper a Holy Communion? If yes, then how so, since Jesus had not gone to the cross yet?

            I have an idea of my own, but it seems a little heterodox. My thought is that perhaps Jesus’ whole life, not just the consummation on the cross, was his sacrifice, given for us for salvation. That would be why he could forgive people during his lifetime, before his crucifixion and death, and why he could celebrate Holy Communion at the Last Supper even though he had not yet gone to Golgotha. His whole life was cruciform and saving, not just the final act.

            Steve, please forgive the harshness of my words above; the late Middle Ages were no worse a time to be born than the post-modern twentieth century. I disagree with what Luther supported with regard to actions against peaceful Anabaptists (though you are correct about some Anabaptist at the beginning being radical and violent), Jews and others; but as long as you don’t support taking up the sword against contemporary Mennonites and Jews, my quarrel is not with you, and there is obviously no point in trying to quarrel with Luther about the issue.


          • Robert,

            The Last Supper was the instituting of Christ’s command to partake of Him in the Supper. In preparation for and in advance of his crucifixion.

          • Robert F says

            So when he said “This is my body” about the bread at the Last Supper he was not talking about the bread he held in his hands? Then the Zwinglians were correct: “is” meant meant “represents” at the Last Supper? But not thereafter?

            That doesn’t make sense.

      • Of course! The point is to do it, not to argue about it!

        • Funny thing is, though, those who don’t believe in it tend to omit its practice. On the brighter side, I’m seeing a renewal of interest in communion in Baptist-Evangelical churches. I’m meeting more and more people who say their church practices monthly.

          The last Baptist church I served went two years without celebrating it. Just saying.

          • They didn’t miss a thing. Because for them it would ONLY be a remembrance of something and ONLY a symbol. And must therefore fall back into their seriousness or their worthiness…or their …whatevers.

            If they did that every day, it would be a useless exercise. Worse than that, it would send them to the last place that they need to go for any assurance. Themselves.

      • > Arguments over the Eucharist are fascinating to me. I understand where both sides
        > are coming from, but to me, it soon becomes an exercise in missing the point

        Yep. But isn’t much reformation-business just a quest to avoid the point? Caring for the poor and outcast, looking out for one’s neighbor, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, speaking for the voiceless… that’s all hard and dirty work. Doing that will make powerful people not like you. It is loaded with uncomfortable moral ambiguities.

        Bickering over pointless technicalities of theology is pleasant, high-minded, can be done in a comfortable air-conditioned space, and doesn’t exclude you from walking in the halls of power, and cashing the checks of the powerful.

        Bitter debate over the true nature of the Eucharist is at least better than bitter debates over the nature of the Trinity. And least on a scale of opacity and irrelevance.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          While you’re parsing your theology letter-by-letter and anathemas are flying, pastors’ widows are still eating out of dumpsters.

      • I’m running into more and more people in the historic sacramental church bodies who seem to have adopted a sort of “big tent” sacramental spirituality. They believe it is right to join a church’s celebration so long as you have a belief in the “real presence,” a term shared by Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran believers. It’s almost as if, as long as you don’t believe it’s a mere symbol but that Christ is truly present in it, we’ll cut you a pass on the whole accidents vs. substance thing. Which was kind of Luther’s point, I believe.

  13. Steve Martin-what are you talking about? You said–Luther was right in calling the Anabaptists (the forerunners of non-denominational/Baptists Schuller-esk type religion) . . .

    The Anabaptists were forerunners of the Mennonites-The Baptists started in 1609 as English separatists who did not feel the Anglican church took the Reformation far enough and Schuller was Reformed Church in America, formerly the Dutch Reformed Church. So the Mennonites came out the Anabaptist wing of the Reformation, the Baptists came out of the English Reformation, and the RCA came out of the Continental Reformed wing of the Reformation. I might respectfully suggest you brush up a bit on church history before lumping everyone you want to condemn into one group and making these kinds of claims.

    • They ALL deny the sacrament as the pure gospel. They ALL look inward, ultimately, for the assurance of their salvation.

      • The word Anabaptist literally means “against baptism”. Against infant baptism, to be more precise.

        So many are lumped into that category. And they are all a bunch of gospel denying, inward looking, add-on to Christ with something that emanates from ‘me’, “Christians”.

        It’s an errant doctrine and dangerous to one’s salvation, no matter which branch of sacrament deniers they happen to belong to.

        “Gee whiz…he just can’t say that, can he?”

        I just did. Do you wanna hear it again?

        • Are you a member of WELS, by any chance?

        • Steve Martin — “Anabaptist” literally means one one who baptizes over again, not one who is against baptism. The Anabaptists have always taken baptism seriously, they just don’t accept infant baptism, hence the re-baptism.

          • Robert F says

            Although he is wrong about the etymology of the word “anabaptist,” I think when Steve says that the Anabaptists don’t take baptism seriously he means that they don’t believe in its sacramental efficacy to regenerate sinners; the fact that Anabaptists practice so-called re-baptism would be evidence to him of exactly this lack of seriousness about baptism.

          • The Anabaptists do NOT take Baptism seriously at all. Not the Baptism that is ion the New Testament.

            They take an ordinance seriously. Not the sacrament.

            We are straining at gnats here. They hate the idea that God is present and does anything in Holy Baptism.

  14. Rick Ro. says

    Re:drummers…I ran across this the other day. Fun to watch the drummer in the background. Enjoy.


  15. Whatever happened to that dog that used to greet us here? I hope that car didn’t run over him. I miss him. We could go for a walk when folks here profane the Saturday with their wrangling.

  16. David Cornwell says

    Without arguing the theology which brought them into being, I personally know many Mennonites, including my doctor, and her doctor father who are true servants of Christ serving Him in a simplicity of the Gospel that shames most of us.

    Luther was a great leader putting into motion a needed Reformation. But he isn’t perfect in the sense that he is beyond criticism, or that every word equals Gospel. He was an interpreter of the truth and did it to the best of his ability at the time. We, today have an obligation to the entire Church, regardless of it’s history, sins, mistakes, and errors. If we can’t see the good beyond our own churches, denominatons, or faith history, then we need help in doing so. Otherwise we just keep fighting the same old stale battles over and over.

    • Robert F says


    • Rick Ro. says

      Another “Amen.”

      I’ve been meditating upon this thought lately: It seems to me we all have our own view of who God is, and then there’s who God REALLY is. Individually, my view isn’t exactly “God as He really is,” and neither is my friend’s nor my pastor’s, etc. Likewise, my denomination’s view isn’t exactly “God as He really is,” nor is your denomination’s, nor is anyone’s denomination’s. And it’s only when we can all kinda meet and say, “You know what, I’m not exactly right,” that we’ll ever have any sort of unity.

    • I for one, don’t believe that Luther was perfect. He said some terrible things. But he also said some wonderful things and kept Christ at the center.

      That’s what we focus on. His badmouthing of the Anabaptists was spot on. They were gospel deniers and they still are. Preferring to rely on their own, inner seriousness and faith…instead of God and what He has done for us in the sacraments.

    • Steve Newell says

      Most “non-denominational” churches today have an Anabaptist and Arminian in their theology with rejects many aspects of the Reformation.

      A Lutheran church will accept the baptism by a church with such theology as a valid Christian baptism while most, if not all of these churches, would not accept a baptism at a Lutheran church as valid.

  17. How is Eagle these days? I don’t think I’ve seen him on here lately.

  18. “The Anabaptists were ravaging the countryside. Killing priests and raping nuns and destroying churches.”
    Present some citations, or apologize. Rejection of the sword was a prime tenet from day one….

    • +1 If you are going to make an accusation footnotes and bibliography are an absolute requirement.

    • Robert F says

      I guess you never heard of the Munster Rebellion; look it up on Wikipedia. Theocracy of the worst kind; murder and mayhem in the name of Jesus Christ. Steve is right about that episode; some of the Anabaptists were radical and violent fanatics.

      • Hi Robert F. I certainly DID hear of the Munster Rebellion. It was a terrible localized event. Steve Martin accused Anabaptists of rampaging across the continent….

        • Robert F says

          Steve’s statement may have been factually inaccurate, but so was yours when you stated that rejection of the sword was a prime tenet among all Anabaptists from the beginning. Munster may have been unique in its extent and severity, but I don’t think it was completely unique as an example of violence among a minority of Anabaptists of the time.

        • This from an article by Dr. Peter Hammond Frontline Fellowship (A Reformed baptist minister):

          What motivated this article was the persistent and unbalanced condemnation of the Reformers by those who claimed that Reformers, such Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, murdered peaceful, pacifist Anabaptists, etc.

          Therefore, the aim of this article was to point out that the Reformers themselves persecuted no one, and those Anabaptists who were dealt with by the secular authorities, were in many cases violent revolutionaries, guilty of sedition and abominable atrocities and abuses.

          Of course, I recognise that the majority of Anabaptists were not involved in the revolution in Munster. And of course, as the article points out, that Anabaptists have changed dramatically since that volatile time in the early 16 th century. That is why it so unfair to portray the Reformers as persecuting poor, innocent, pacifist Anabaptists, as the ones who seized Munster, for example, were anything but pacifist or peaceful. There was no intention to paint all Anabaptists with the same brush, nor to reject the courage and integrity of so many within the Anabaptist movement, but merely to defend the Reformers against a most unjust slander.

          It must also be noted that the Reformers in the 16 th century were fighting for their lives against the Holy Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church and The Inquisition. Obviously we would have preferred them to be a whole lot more tolerant and accommodating of the Anabaptist dissenters within their communities, in accordance with the freedom of religion and liberty of conscience which was championed, and ultimately established, through the Reformation. However, we do need to remind our readers of the geo-strategic realities, the overwhelming threat to the Protestants, for example in the fierce fight for the freedom of The Netherlands from Spain. The Spanish Inquisition literally condemned the entire nation of Holland, man, woman and child – 3 million people in all – to death as heretics! The Protestants in the 16 th century were literally fighting for their lives, and it is understandable that they would have looked at the violent revolutionaries who seized Munster as an internal threat that needed to be eradicated. Although it is unfortunate that they saw the pacifist Anabaptists who would not join them in fighting for survival from Catholic aggression, as also a threat.


          Of course they were not painting ALL anabaptists with the same brush. But the term anabaptists were used to describe the ones that were causing all the trouble and committing atrocities.

          • The Netherlands was by no means exclusively Protestant then, nor is it now. The Dutch people rebelled against Spanish domination of their country, and the leaders came from a coalition of Catholics and Protestants.

            So when the nation was condemned, so were all its Catholic citizens – an entirely political move.

          • Robert F says

            All I can say is thank God the Inquisition didn’t have nuclear weapons at its disposal!

          • Robert F – amen to that!

        • Thomas Muntzer (anabaptist) started the Peasants War, in which over 100,000 peasants died. The resulting famine and loss of peasant labor had dramatic influence on the economy. While they may not have “rampaged across the continent”, they did rampage across Germany, with only the upper rural Hessian region unscathed (David Mayes, Brill Academic: 2004).

          • Robert F says

            Some would argue that the greedy princes started the Peasants War, but your point is taken: not all Anabaptists were peaceful.

  19. If I remember rightly, Meno Simons led the Anabaptist away from the violence which they had habitually engaged in prior to his leadership. The Anabaptist beginnings weren’t pacifistic.

    • Context matters as well – these were not especially civil times. If we are going to label a people as “violent”, and exclude them from the bar, because there were acts of violence committed in their name…. then the podium will be empty and the auditorium very quiet. Nether Roman Catholics, nor Calvinists, no Lutherans will be admitted. Perhaps it is time, some several hundred years later, to just lay these grievances aside.

      There is no victim’s or perpetrator’s great great grandchild still walking the earth; no doubt the descendents of both victim’s and perpetrators have many times, completely unwittingly, been in each other’s beds [literally and figuratively]. Lets leave these things in the history books.

  20. “If you are reading this on a computer, you are doing so because of Douglas Engelbart.”

    See, that’s just the problem. I usually pick up a print copy of Internet Monk at the newsstand each morning.

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