January 15, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 8.10.13

RamblerHot enough for you, iMonks? I’m thinking football. Why football in August? Two reasons. It’s hot here in Tulsa, and football means cooler weather. Well, ok, not until halfway through the season, but still. The other reason? My Cincinnati Reds are in the fast lane cruising toward Sucksville, so it is about time for me to have my heart broken (once again) by the Cincinnati Bengals. Sigh … We will have more to say (well, sing) about football at the conclusion of our weekly stroll through the world of the weird, something we like to call Saturday Ramblings.

Not all denominations are shrinking. The Assemblies of God are actually growing. But they are not speaking in tongues as much as they once did. Do the two have anything to do with one another?

That bastion of Greek Orthodoxy, Salt Lake City, is going to have to do without for the time being. Seems the Orthodox church there was hurting for money, so they had to reduce the salaries of their three priests by 40%. That didn’t set well with Metropolitan Isaiah, their Denver-based leader, ordered them to no longer conduct services, including baptisms and weddings. WWJD? Discuss.

Here’s one service I wish I could have been at. Marilynne Robinson can preach as well as she can write. (You can read the whole sermon here.)

If you work for a school that is affiliated with a specific church, should you be forced to attend said church? This coach found out the hard way that he had to. Your thoughts?

Ok. I agree with what this article says about women dressing less than modestly for church. But don’t you have the feeling there are churches out there who are now saying, “Wow. We have just found another church-growth technique”? Bonus question: Are the less-than-beautiful welcome as members of a “worship team” in megachurches, or do you have to be young, pretty, thin and sexy?

I don’t go to many movies. Just too lazy, I think. I’d like to see RED 2, but will probably wait until it comes to RED BOX. But here is one movie you can count on me seeing as soon as it comes out.

Do you believe in angels? Could this mystery priest have been one?

Why did it take so long for someone to make a reality TV (oxymoron) out of snake handlers? Oh, and tell me you won’t be DVRing this.

This is just wrong. Very, very wrong. I mean, I like waffles. And I like chicken. And I would not be opposed to having them on the same plate. But not in this form. No No No.

If you attend a church and decide to steal a computer from the church, and do so in order to watch porn, here’s a tip: Don’t call to have a porn-blocker removed or you might get to spend time in government-subsidized housing. Just sayin’…

Finally, I will leave you with these words. Ken Ham. Dinosaurs. Noah’s Ark. Now, have fun.

Some people you may have heard of celebrated their birthdays this last week, including Tony Bennett; Martin Sheen; Martha Stewart; Tom Brady; Louis Armstrong; Leon Uris; Billy Bob Thornton; Jeff Gordon; Neil Armstrong; Loni Anderson; Andy Warhol; Stan Freberg; Dustin Hoffman; Robert Shaw; and Ken Norton.

Ok. This is good. This is funny and good. See if you can watch it and not have this song in your head today. Enjoy.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn5zytfm9No’]



  1. God bless her, but I didn’t care too much for Marilynne Robinson’s sermon.

    It was a law sermon. But law not used in the proper way, to expose us and kill us off to any notions that we have within us the perfect goodness and selflessness required for justification and salvation. Her sermon actually pours gasoline on the fire by telling us that we need to get busy. I mean Jesus was just a regular guy and he could do it. So what about you…slacker?

    Much better would have been to point out the fact that Jesus’ command to love so often falls on deaf and denying ears with us. That’s just the way we are. We shouldn’t be that way. But we are so often self-motivated. And even when we do “good”, our expectations that someone will notice it and think better of us, turn those righteous deeds into just another pile of “filthy rags”.

    But that He knows this about us. And that He loves us and forgives us, and makes us new again, each day, that we might be free. Free from having to do anything to make ourselves right with God. And now that we don’t have to do anything…what is it that we want to do?


    • After 3 years in a Christian cult (Children of God) and 20 in the Assemblies of God denomination, I have had my fill of “get busy” sermons and exhortations. At best all they accomplished was a temporary spurt of activity, but what they ALWAYS resulted in was weariness, disappointment and frustration.

      Sure, many are just sitting in the pews while not engaging their faith in any concrete manner, but isn’t it God who gifts us with a calling, and isn’t it the Holy Spirit who causes us to act on that calling?. To be naturally supernatural is what God’s empowerment manifests in us.

      ENOUGH of the guilt, already…

      • I hear ya, Oscar.

        We don’t need a boost into the saddle. We need a real Savior.

        • She’s not trying to tell us that we need to be good enough to save ourselves; she’s trying to tell us that as children of our saving God we have the ability to bear a family resemblance to him, to Jesus Christ. We are redeemed by Jesus; now there is a path we can walk down because he, in his human divinity and divine humanity, has blazed the trail, indeed has cleared the way.

          And it’s a liberation to learn that we don’t know what we want, but he does.

          The law, as a tool of the gospel may be about exposing and killing, but the gospel entire is about giving new life to live in obedience and hope. There’s nothing about guilt there.

          And if we don’t need to be given a boost into the saddle, neither do we need to be told that we should remain bawling infants in Christ rather than growing into maturity. After all, won’t we be continually growing in Christ, forever and ever, when we get to the other shore? Why wait until then?

          • The sermon left us with something that we should, ought, or must be doing. And that, my friend, is not the gospel…but the law.

            There is nothing wrong with Christian encouragement. But those other things need to happen, as well. Repentance and forgiveness…for not being able or willing to live up to the perfect standard, which is our Savior.

          • It left us with something we could do, something that Jesus told us to do: love one another. That this love is rooted in repentance and forgiveness is a given. That’s the starting point. That we should go on from this starting point to form our lives in a Christ shaped way seems to me what it means to be a disciple; it’s what the apostles did after Jesus death, resurrection and ascension. If they hadn’t, we would never have heard the gospel.

          • Correction: if God wanted us to hear the gospel, he would have made it happen even if the apostles had disobeyed. But they went into “all the earth” to preach the gospel, and according to legend were martyred for doing so, because he commanded them to do so and they obeyed, not because they didn’t have to “do anything to make themselves right with God” and now could do what they wanted.

            On a side note: Steve, the comments you post make me think of Count Zinzendorf when, in his disagreement with John Wesley over the issue of sanctification, he said “We reject self-denial. We trample upon it. We do, as believers, whatsoever we will, and nothing more. We laugh at all mortification. No purification precedes perfect love…”

          • OK, Robert.

            I hope then that you are doing enough…and with the correct motives.

          • Steve, I’m aware that I could never do enough to earn salvation; and my motives will never be pure even when I do post-baptismal good works. That’s not the point. I’m not trying to earn salvation. But l do want Christ to grow more and more in me even as I diminish, and the means he has appointed for that is the path of love. I depend on him to purify my motives along the way, and to hold me up in redemption since I can’t do that for myself.

          • Finally read this sermon and I don’t see law here, but the presence of Christ being pointed out to us.

            In many ways, her discussion of the two parables she cites reminds me of some good lines of thinking (and action) that have been present in Catholicism for a very long time.. seeing Christ in all those whom we encounter.


  2. Richard McNeeley says

    Red 2 needs to be seen on the big screen. John Malkovich really carries the movie.
    So the Reds are becoming a disappointment this season, it could be worse you could e a Cubs fan and be disappointed every season

    • I fell asleep during the first half hour of “RED 2”, partly because I couldn’t decipher the dialog and partly because there seemed to be a constant mish-mash of a pseudo-music soundtrack throughout the whole film, sometimes at the expense of the dialog.

      Most of the plot was predictable so the whole endevour was dependent on the stars to move it along and to keep interest alive, and THAT they DID. If you want to see this movie be sure it is because you want to see the actors involved and NOT because of the story line, which crisscrosses the globe in a world travelog style.

      And John Malkovich DID carry the movie. He was the best part.

  3. The “decline in tongues” in the Assemblies of God, to be more accurate, is a decline in the counted number of baptisms in the Holy Spirit.

    Pentecostals, like all orthodox Christians, believe we receive the Holy Spirit when we’re born again and become a Christian. But we believe at a later point, when the Spirit chooses to empower us for supernatural ministry, we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. And we believe the evidence of Spirit baptism is speaking in tongues. Other charismatic Christians disagree, and say all sorts of things could be evidence of Spirit baptism. But the AG sticks to the Pentecostal view.

    That’s the tongues the CT article is speaking of. Praying in tongues, worshiping in tongues, prophesying in tongues (with a subsequent English translation, of course) and other tongues-related ministry continue about the same as usual.

    As to why the number of Spirit baptisms is going down? In my experience it’s because not everyone who visits an AG church is Pentecostal. Like you suggest, the more mainstream the AG has become, the more all sorts of folks are willing to attend or even join an AG church. But they don’t share the AG’s theology.

    Like most Christians, they’re charismatic—they believe in present-day prophecy and miracles. But they don’t believe you have to speak in tongues when you’re Spirit-baptized. Or they hold to the non-charismatic view that the indwelling of the Spirit, and the baptism of the Spirit, are the same thing. So they think they’re Spirit-baptized already, and don’t seek that experience. Hence they’ve never experienced it. Nor tongues.

    • The Methodization of the AofG continues apace.

      It was always my experience that only about 10-15% of the people in any AofG church actively spoke in tongues anyway, and that there was some controversy about whether you could speak in tongues at will (as I appear to be able to do) or whether you could speak in tongues only when the our Lord the Spirit directly manifested.

      Has that been sorted out yet? Are the AofG clergy still required to speak in tongues?

      • Cedric Klein says

        As a long-time tongues-speaking (at will) AoG member who no longer holds to the Initial Evidence doctrine but doesn’t make a fuss about it, I’d be very surprised if AoG clergy didn’t have to be ‘Spirit-Baptized’ with the ‘Initial Evidence’ – now, do they have to practice an ongoing prayer language? I don’t know but I bet that one who didn’t would draw some questioning.

        • In MY 20 years on the AoG I was told that the ‘Initial Evidence’ was the ONLY evidence that you were Spirit Filled. No tongues, then no Spirit filled life. And, yes, I DID/DO speak in tongues, but it was at the behest of the Holy Spirit because no one prompted me OR explained it to me. It is the one SURE experience I can recall in my 40 year Christian life.

      • David Cornwell says


        Interesting word which I’ve seldom heard in use before today. Not certain which meaning of the word you intend, but have a feeling that AofG might protest however it is used. The Free Dictionary defines as follows: “To reduce to or organize according to a method; systematize. ”

        If so, then they are becoming like Methodists because everything the Methodist denominations do is organized from the top down and the bottom up. Being AofG’s I have a feeling this would inhibit the work of the Spirit.

        Or maybe it means the dilution of particular doctrine to in order to have more of a common or universal appeal. In this way it might resemble Methodists. Perhaps it means that AoG’s are attracting a wider range of people with a variation of doctrinal background. Then it sounds if “catholicization” might be a good word.

        Or it might refer to the schismatic tendencies that developed with the advent of Methodism. Since I don’t know what is going on in AoG churches, not sure this applies. However this could just as easily be found in other strains of American Protestantism that have no relationship with early Methodism. If this, however, is the meaning of the term, then almost all evangelicals have some Methodist DNA.

        It does apply because most of the Pentecostal denominations trace their beginnings back to the Holiness movements, themselves schismatic offshoots of Methodism. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if The Church of England had embraced Wesley. Would it have changed anything in America? Maybe not, because we are schismatic by nature.

      • One of the basic qualifications for AG ministers is they’ve experienced baptism in the Spirit, with tongues as evidence. (2011 bylaws, article 7, section 2b.) They just had another General Council, but it’s highly unlikely they changed this bylaw at all.

    • “As to why the number of Spirit baptisms is going down?”

      Michael wrote about this years ago, with the opinion that the 20th Century uptick of “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” theology in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles has fallen off recently in part because it’s not very good:


      (and and only Michael could, a rant on theology includes a reference to Bloom County’s Bill D Cat.)

      • Meh. That explanation doesn’t work for me—and not just ’cause I’m a biased Pentecostal. The idea that people gave up a theology because it’s unsound, has not worked one whit to lessen the numbers of Dispensationalists, of King James Only nutjobs, of Mormons, and so forth. If Pentecostalism is unsound thinking (and I don’t believe it is; I don’t agree with Michael’s interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12.13 at all) it wouldn’t matter. People switch churches and theologies for pragmatic reasons, not logical ones.

        The reason it’s decreased, as I said, is ’cause Pentecostal churches don’t require it, or make it a priority; so people don’t bother.

        Now, as to Michael’s experience. I too have encountered the tongues-worshiping sort of Pentecostal. They likewise make me tired. I don’t use their bad behavior as a pretext to dismantle their theology, although that’s a pretty common practice nowadays. I just figure it’s bad behavior, like anyone who ditches the fruit of the Spirit in favor of their thing, be it tongues, politics, Calvinism, prosperity gospel, the rediscovery of ancient ritual, Evangelicalism, post-Evangelicalism, et cetera, ad nauseam.

    • “Pentecostals, like all orthodox Christians, believe we receive the Holy Spirit when we’re born again and become a Christian. But we believe at a later point, when the Spirit chooses to empower us for supernatural ministry, we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. And we believe the evidence of Spirit baptism is speaking in tongues.”

      Regarding these words of K.W. Leslie, this has been my understanding as well. I attend an AOG church and ended up there partly as a result of my personal (unsolicited) experience with tongues. Where else does one go in such a case? I guess I can’t say I’m a dyed in the wool Pentecostal because I take issue with tongue speaking being required evidence of Spirit baptism as much as I take issue with some denominations forbidding it. In either of those cases, humans are laying down a law (and we are free) and also trying to control the Spirit (who is like the wind).

      Something I have never completely understood, but have theorized about is that there is tongue speaking which seems to be for purposes of top down (God to human) communication and there is praying in tongues which seems to be for the purpose of bottom up communication (human to God). The latter is my experience. Years ago I asked a pastor to lay hands on me and pray that God would use me in whatever way he wanted. That is when I began to pray in tongues and I have been very private about it. I don’t do it publicly. My AOG church really only has one or two people who have spoken out in tongues during a service on occasion. A newcomer would probably not even know the church is AOG. On one hand, that is a relief to me because I’m not very comfortable with a lot of demonstration, especially if it feels whipped up or obligatory. Honestly, most of the times I have witnessed Pentecostal “behaviors” I have felt uncomfortable and sensed some contrivance. A few times, it has seemed a true move of the Spirit.

      Since the time that my pastor prayed for God to use me and I began to pray in tongues, I have believed that prayer is God’s primary utilization of me… to be an observer of the people and circumstances he’s put in my life … and to bring their concerns to him. I don’t always pray in tongues, but there are times when human words are inadequate and a spiritual language is a better articulation. During those times, it seems that I am willfully refraining from expressing my personal sympathies for someone and yielding to the Spirit’s sympathy with the Father toward that person. It can be difficult to let go of what we naturally would like to ask for in prayer as God’s ways are sometimes/often unfathomable and painful. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26,27)

      Anyway, just some rambling thought ….

      • … thoughts, rambling thoughts.

      • Hi Lisa

        I speak in tongues, but I’m no longer “pentecostal” in my theology. Why? Because the Spirit, through Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth clearly says that in the body (not the church meeting) tongues, like the the teaching, apostleship and prophecy is not given to everyone.

        Further tongues as it was interpreted in meetings related messages from God to men, which contradicted 1 Co 14 which speakse of men talking to God!

      • Thanks Lisa, I would add that there are churches that a) require tongues as some sort of “proof” of the Spirit b) churches that are fine with tongues, but never publicly demonstrated it (Canadian Vineyard) c) churches that would be OK as long as it is interpreted (many evangelical denominations) and d) churches that don’t believe it is from God at all – mostly mainline denominations (Anglican, etc., who would say it is psychological).

        Also, tongues are also given to interpret language barriers. That is what happened to me. I was in a denomination that didn’t speak in tongues at all – although it was fine with it. We had a Korean exchange student at a prayer meeting. I had been out of town for months and just returned, so I didn’t know if the exchange student had any English, or even that he was an exchange student. While we were praying I just kept feeling like I could pray in tongues if I wanted. I tried to concentrate on praying and ignore that interruptive thought, but it wouldn’t go. Finally, I quietly whispered in tongues (thinking no one could hear me). The girl beside me was pentecostal and thought is was normal. Anyway, I kept whispering this one line over and over, but was too chicken to say it out loud (it was a N.A. baptist denomination with heavy Vineyard influences).

        Well, the host finally asked us if we could let Tony (the Korean exchange student) pray. He had left for a while because he wanted to pray, but felt like he couldn’t because he didn’t know enough English. We were happy to have him pray in Korean. He began to pray and it was the exact line I had been whispering over and over. So, the third form of tongues is just good ol’ human languages. It has never happened since, and I lived in South Asia for a year, exposed to numerous languages, but never was able to match the tongues with the language spoken again.

        I am with you, any demonstration of the spirit is fine with me – why should tongues be the only “sign” – esp. since that wasn’t a sign when the Holy Spirit filled me, just a later gift for a certain time and purpose. I also hate how the whole Holy Spirit experience can be twisted to be demonstrating that a leader can bring “power” to a conference. The Holy Spirit was freely given to all believers to allow them to demonstrate God’s power to the world, not to make them feel more spiritual, righteous or “prove” a leader “has what it takes” – it is a power to give away, not show off with.

  4. About appropriate dress in church. One issue is contained in this excellent woman’s statement: “You just can’t wear something like that on stage.” You can, in fact, wear pretty much anything on stage. My devout and modest daughter was a horse’s butt in “Cinderella” some years ago, for example. In church, however, other dress is appropriate. Our priest recently wrote a parish letter about establishing a “decolletage-free zone” in church. I’m all for it.

  5. Stanley Tucci – yes, I can see him playing Thomas Merton.

    I liked the story of the unknown priest/angel assisting/praying at this accident. And I am glad the girl is going to survive. Luckily she was driving a well-made vehicle. I watched the video on that page too.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      As expected, the story is starting to mutate into an Angelic Visitation; I saw the first signs of it in the most recent Yahoonews.

      • This kind of stuff goes over well with the secular readers; they’re far more interested in “angels” than they are in God, especially God in Jesus Christ.

        In fact, when it comes to interest in angels, our era has the Middle Ages and every other time period beat by a long shot; and that goes for most other kinds of belief in the supernatural.

        What they don’t take to so much is a religion with a cross as its fulcrum: make the angels powerful and “helping,” and people eat it up; make the angels silent, mournful and waiting companions beside those who suffer and die, as they so often must be in this world where death succeeds all life, and people generally have no taste for it.

        And that goes for the people in the churches as well as those who are never found in one.

        To borrow the form of a phrase coined in the political world, “It’s the Cross, stupid.”

  6. As for the Greeks, they are endlessly entertaining. This is least of their antics, believe me.

    I don’t know how they ran out of money. Maybe they scheduled their annual Greek Festival to compete with the Founders Days celebrations. Three priests is a lot for a single parish.

    • I know a little (just enough to be dangerous) about the Orthodox in SLC. The Greek Festival is usually in the fall, I think September. Unfortunately we always had other commitments that weekend when we lived not far from there so we were never able to attend.
      Trust me, no one schedules anything non LDS related that weekend in July. Heck, our LDS majority community in Wyoming celebrated Pioneer Days. Most of the gentiles went fishing instead, the creeks were less crowded.

  7. Marcus Johnson says

    I’m hoping Phillips has some legal grounds on which to sue. According to the article (and other sources), the requirement to attend East Memorial Baptist Church was never part of his contract. If EMCA was stupid enough to not make that part of the official written contract for his employment, they deserve to get taken to the cleaners.

    However, if EMCA can prove that it was part of his contract (and, judging by their verbal wordplay in responding, I dont’ think they could), Phillips would just be another cautionary tale to all employees of faith-based institutions everywhere to read your contract and take it seriously.

    • What a small world. A story like this makes national news and even a reference in the annals of I-Monk.

      My children attend the school and I know Philips, not personally but as a teacher/coach. But I can say that it appears to me that Phillips made every effort to make it work by attending both services. He couldn’t so when no agreement could be made he resigned. (Trust me the school has no vendetta to rid themselves of Phillips, another championship for our little school would be great) Even if it was an ‘unofficial official’ policy or actually in the contract, the point is he followed his conscience. He did resign according to the latest article here in the local paper.

      What would prompt a national sports writer and his editor to devote an article to this? Lots of ADs were replaced this past season at lots of schools, big and small, across the nation. But what gets attention is a story that can make someone look bad, particularly Christians. Why else would this story have bubbled to the top?

      The opening line of his story says it all. “..he went to the wrong church..” which is to really say ‘see what those Christians do, they eat their young.’ So they got lots of website hits and now they can continue to charge their advertisers what they want. Not everything we read on the interwebs is necessarily true or accurate, except that I’m a French model…Bon Jour. It’s about the money.

      Also, I’m assuming your encouragement for him to sue is in jest as that would violate the teaching of 1 Cor 6 concerning lawsuits between believers.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        My encouragement for him to sue is not in jest. 1 Corinthians 6 has been grossly misused to discourage Christians from preserving their legal rights via the court system. As a result of a literal interpretation, victims of child abuse have been discouraged from suing their abusers, and women in abusive marriages have been discouraged from suing their spouses for divorce.

        The beginning of that passage suggests that Paul is referencing the tendency of church members to drag one another into court over trivial matters; a breach of contract and unlawful termination of employment is far from a trivial matter. In addition, if the church collects one benefit (i.e., they are a tax-exempt institution), then they are closely entangled enough with secular institutions to warrant a trip to the courthouse. Using 1 Corinthians 6 cannot be a safety net to prevent a professed Christian, or a professed Christ-following institution, from litigation from a wronged fellow Christian.

        Of course, all this is moot if it was made clear to Phillips from the beginning that his employment was conditioned upon his membership and regular attendance at the church. If there was a contract, and he signed it, then 1 Corinthians 6 or no, there’s no point in going to court.

  8. My 12 year old daughter came home the with a back of chicken and waffle chips about a week ago. I tried them. I tasted chicken. And waffles. and Potato chips. Crazy.

    I can’t say I like them, but they certainly deliver as advertised.

  9. Does Ken Ham ever talk about Jesus?

    I love the story about the angle. It made my day.

  10. Richard Hershberger says

    “But don’t you have the feeling there are churches out there who are now saying, “Wow. We have just found another church-growth technique”?”

    The phenomenon is an unanticipated consequence of a church-growth technique: the “come as you are” dress code that replaced the old “Sunday go to meeting clothes” standard. If you market to people that they can dress any old which way, you hardly have standing to be surprised at how they come dressed.

    A similar thing happened with the decline of the business suit in favor of “business casual”. The “business” part was always in there, but early on there would always be some idiot who showed up for a client meeting wearing a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and flip flops. The danger was that management would look at this and conclude that the underlings couldn’t be trusted to dress themselves, and would reinstitute business suits. Fortunately, people seem to have figured out that “business casual” means (for men) a shirt with a collar, slacks, and decent shoes. So we are happy: we don’t have to wear uncomfortable suits and pay for dry cleaning them, but at the same time we don’t go into meetings dressed for the beach.

    I get the sense that churches haven’t yet worked their way through this process. This makes sense. Their motivation is different from businesses. A business isn’t worried that an employee won’t bother to show up for work if he finds getting dressed for work too onerous. Once the church abandons the ideal of dressing nicely for worship, there is no obvious guideline to follow or any counter to the race for the bottom.

    My humble (hah!) suggestion is that the church needs to resurrect the idea of “Sunday go to meeting clothes,” adapted for the 21st century. I’m not suggesting that the men need to dress like lawyers. Even lawyers don’t dress like lawyers, unless they are going into court that day. The suit is to the American lawyer what those little wigs are to English barristers. The ideal is to dress “nicely”. This will vary with the individual. If you work in an office, dress for church at least as well as you do for work. If you work on a road crew, wear the new pair of jeans, not the one with the holes in it. And so on.

    • Churches will never do this as long as they remain as mixed up about theology as they are. In their minds, your suggestions amount to a form of “legalism,” which essentially means, “Anything you exhort me to do that I don’t like.” In a sermon about worship I once suggested that the way we dress when coming into the presence of a King might say something about what we think about that King. You would have thought I was imposing circumcision.

      • CM,
        I think I get what you’re driving at. We do need to remember, however, that our King was nailed naked to a cross, and he carries the marks of that cross, and the nakedness he endured on it, in his resurrected body and life.

        I, for one, would choose not to come into the presence of an earthly king, if I could avoid it, partly because I do not own clothes that would be viewed as suitable for such an encounter, nor can I afford them, neither would I really know what would be suitable. I dare, however, to come into Jesus’ presence not just in church but everywhere else, too, knowing that I don’t possess either suitable physical or spiritual garments, nor do I know what these would be, but that he will provide me whatever I need.

        Apparel should never become an obstruction to full participation in church life, nor should wearing the “proper clothes” be an issue to judge others over; neither, however, should Christians glory in their own bodies or treat them as “visible signs of an invisible grace” that puts them above others as more blessed and loved of God.

        It will continue to be a thorny issu; I think it will help us to endure the situation if we always remember Jesus’ cross and nakedness.

        • + 1 (Robert F’s comment)

          Jesus is a different kind of king.

        • Great post, Robert F. There is no biblical warrant that I’m aware of for dressing up for church so why exhort a congregation to do so when there are so many other biblical imperatives (such as loving our neighbors) that we struggle with?

        • “Apparel should never become an obstruction to full participation in church life, nor should wearing the “proper clothes” be an issue to judge others over…”

          Completely agree.

          However, I just recently spoke to my son about getting his hair cut and wearing nice clothes to a job interview, not only to make a good impression but also to show his respect for the company interviewing him. My point in the sermon was not that we should lay down new laws or even expectations about proper apparel, but merely that each of us should check our attitudes about coming to worship, and that those attitudes sometimes show up in our dress. Too often, “casual” worship style leads to a casual approach to God.

          I like what you say about remembering Jesus’ nakedness. No one should be made to feel shame who comes to him.

          • David Cornwell says

            I completely agree. Our attitudes toward dress codes in the church should be that they should not exist (well, there is limits to everything of course). It’s our own dress code when going to church that matters. I know God looks at our hearts rather than the outer apparel. However my respect for the Creator of the Universe should bring out the best of me both in the inner person and in matters concerning my body.

      • The message is that women can do whatever they please, including dress, and if men react then it is THEIR problem and THEY have to just deal with it.

        In MY experience I have come to believe that women ARE more self aware than men, generally , but they are profoundly ignorant about men’s basic nature. Sure, they say, “men are always thinking about sex, so they should learn to suppress the urge.” But what, I ask, are WOMEN asked to suppress about THEIR basic nature? The answer is NOTHING!

        God made men to be as their nature impels and it is NOT evil for them to be that way. As the possessors of this nature we are also required to channel those energies, but women need to understand, and I mean to INTERNALLY understand, that the object of this male nature is WOMEN, and it is for procreation purposes, so THEY also have a stake in how they are viewed by men.

        You rarely hear this elucidated in today’s culture, so MY message is: “Don’t make ME out to be the bad guy if I view YOU as an object!”

        • “Don’t make ME out to be the bad guy if I view YOU as an object!”

          I’m having difficulty distinguishing this statement from: “It’s always the slut’s fault.”

          I’d like to think you were trying to say something else.

          • +1 (Dana’s comment)

          • Yes, you missed my point entirely. Nowhere in my post did I say that it is all the woman’s fault, nor did I use the term “slut”, YOU did! Apparently you have been overly influenced by the current zeitgeist. In today’s world men have become the defacto sexual villain. Not only did you miss my point, apparently you skipped the whole post.

            I, as a man, ADMIT what my NATURAL tendencies are, but women NEVER, NEVER, NEVER ask themselves how they are involved in the sexual dance that God has created. Man and woman were created for each other, and sexually complement each other. That is JUST the way it IS, and to act as if it were NOT and, in fact, to act in a way that adds tension to this relationship shows a profound misunderstanding of reality and an abrogation of the responsibility of being a human partner in this dance.

            For men, sexual attraction, our body’s reaction to stimulation, is akin to a woman’s tendency toward moodiness, restlessness or anxiety during the end of her cycle. Men are asked to accept, and even accommodate it as a fact of life because the woman has no control over her body’s reactions to the hormonal cycle. Most men do NOT welcome the stimulation because it comes on without warning and, even in a geezer like ME, at 62, it is not easy to suppress. Women need to understand this, PROFOUNDLY understand this, and try to be as helpful as men are asked to be with a woman’s issues.

            I’m sure someone will now nitpick this last paragraph, but first try a little introspection before lambasting me.

          • Actually, I agree with you, Oscar (although I am half your age). It is not about blames or names, it is about love. the loving thing for me as a man is to treat women with respect as persons, not sexual objects. And the loving thing for women is to accommodate my frailty as a man. I don’t like being weak, but its there. Thankfully, I am part of a church community that loves each other and respects each other, and this isn’t really a problem.

          • t said that I would like to think that you were saying something else. If something else is “women NEVER, NEVER, NEVER ask themselves how they are involved in the sexual dance” and that women profoundly misunderstand reality and abrogate their responsibility of being a human partner, then my hopes have been dashed.

            Thank you for your honesty.

          • I agree with you, Dr. Fundystan. Men should treat women with respect as persons, not sexual objects. I would reword the second part and say that women should treat men with respect as persons and not as things to be manipulated in order to feel validated.

        • Well, there is such a thing as emotional maturity. It’s so easy to just plain blame women (not necessarily saying that you *intended* to do that, but your comment comes off that way to me, at least).

          People can and will sexualize practically anything, including (per one survey I read re. young self-professed evangelical guys) pockets on womens’ shirts. The attitude of the people surveyed came off as “women would be better off wearing burqas,” and no, I’m not exaggerating.

          You know, women also have their own reactions to men… just saying’.

          • And I assume that you are a woman because you go to the “just blame women” card. If you re-read my post you will see that I hold men just as responsible. My whole point is that women today are denying ANY responsibility in men’s reactions to their presentation or image.

            “You know, women also have their own reactions to men… just saying’.” Yes, that may be true, but they are not so insistent that they impel action as does the man’s reactions. Just look at all of nature…it is usually the male of the species that initiates contact because of the biological drive to disseminate genetic material. A woman’s “reactions” just NOT the same, strong as they may be.

            Check out anything written by Allison Armstrong. Here’s the link to her website: http://www.understandmen.com/
            Also, you can find many of her talks on You Tube.

            Understanding each other is a two way street. Men are not knuckle dragging, sexual troglodytes.

          • Final Anonymous says

            “In today’s world, men have become the de facto sexual villain.”

            I’d guess an objective evaluation of the evidence would still show women as responsible for all the sexual evils in this world (ie, feminism is ruining the family, women just want to use abortion as birth control, etc.), with a tiny slice of the pie now advocating for men to drop the knuckle dragging and exercise some self-control and maturity.

            Women have been blamed literally to death for society’s sexual issues for centuries now. It’s always a little painful when the pendulum shifts. If it takes less than 1,000 years for that tiny pie slice to balance to the middle I’d think men would count themselves lucky.

          • Oh for crying out loud, Oscar! Of course women are responsible for themselves and their own behavior, just as men are.

            Biology isn’t destiny ; at least, not in my world. It’s not the *only* factor in all of this, and I hope you can acknowledge that. per the generalizations you make about us women… yawn. We’ve heard it all before (including the “drive to reproduce” it, which is very real – but women experience that too, just differently.)

            Also, what Final Anyonymous said!

          • My whole point is that women today are denying ANY responsibility in men’s reactions to their presentation or image.

            As well they should… I understand what you’re saying to an extent, but the problem is how far are you willing to take it? The problem is that women who are sexually assaulted or rape often feel horrible shame because of this line of reasoning. They have that little suspicion in the back of their mind – “if only I would have dressed differently, this wouldn’t have happened.” That’s the issue.

            Men can objectify women regardless of what their wearing. When Jesus addressed the issue of lust during the Sermon on the Mount, I think it’s pretty safe to say the standard way a woman was dressed back would have been not revealing at all. But yet that didn’t stop men from lusting after them. Lust is an issue of the heart. Yes, there are biological urges and things that happen, but even those don’t have to master us. A lot, if not most, of what we consider arousing or provocative is culturally conditioned, anyway.

            I personally think that a lot of our pathology surrounding sexuality has to do with some of the puritanical ways we approach sex in this country. Yes, I know media is more sex saturated than it was previously, but we still have a lot of weird hang-ups on what we will and won’t show. We can someone getting decapitated on network TV, but heaven forbid if a child sees a nipple. I don’t get that… So we’ve made sex out to be the ultimate forbidden fruit.

          • Why don’t we go back to the days when a woman would expose nothing more than an ankle in church?

            Oh, I forgot; men can’t control themselves, or their thoughts, when they see ankle, you know!

          • Hi Oscar

            First, I am a male. As a guy, I know that we live in a world where everything is sexualized. However, I believe that Jesus in the Sermon on The Mount made each of us responsible for our own thoughts and sins. I know that there are a few women who dress to be provocative. For the most part, as a male, I cannot tell that woman to change how she dresses. I can change my reaction to her. I am not that much younger than you, it is possible for us not to act as teenagers when it comes to dealing with attraction. We’ve both been around that block before. 🙂

            I did go to your link for Allison Armstrong. I’ve been married for 30 years. I don’t need to pay (nor have I ever paid) to understand my wife. My wife speaks the same English that I do. If I have a question to understand what she has said or done I turn to her and say…”Honey, what did you mean?” It’s really a no frills approach. She asks the same thing if she doesn’t understand what I’ve said or done. Cuts out the middle (wo)man and solves the problem. Not to mention that I save between $495 and $5,000. Hint: I used this stunning technique even before I married. It seems to turn women on when you actually talk with them and put down the book.

          • Phil M – I think victims of rape (both female and male) pretty much *always* feel shame – and, all too often, they are blamed for the rape, rather than the rapist.

            As for the Sermon on the Mount, I don’t think Jesus intended that bit about lusting for men only.

        • Josh in FW says


          I get what you’re saying and think that there are plenty of other silent reader that understand your point also. As for some of the reactions and misunderstanding or your point, I can’t really tell who is disagreeing and who just doesn’t understand the point you’re making, but it’s probably a little of both.

        • If you view any human being as an object, you ARE the bad guy.

    • I spent every Sunday of my lief before I left for college dressed up. I wouldn’t necessarily wear a suit, although sometimes I did. Even into college, I would wear something like khakis to church, but eventually it seemed that more and more people were wearing jeans to church. Growing up that would have been unacceptable, but things have definitely changed now. Even at the Orthodox church we went to, it wasn’t uncommon to see people in jeans.

      I’m not for dress codes for churches in general. Most churches have some sort of unspoken rule in some way, anyway. Also, every worship team or choir I’ve ever been involved with has had a pretty clear dress code for people involved. The problem is that even with dress codes there’s always an amount of subjective judgment involved. Also, I’ve seen people complain about things women were wearing, and their complaints were baseless. If a man is so lustful that some of these things bother him so much, I start to wonder if he can be trusted in public at all.

      Regarding “Sunday best”, I’ve found that there a lot of people who simply don’t own dress clothes any longer. Their jobs don’t require it, and they have no other need for it. So I don’t think the church needs to be adding more requirements for people to even walk through the doors of the building. Overall, it’s a battle that’s largely been fought already anyway. I don’t see the use of going over it again and again.

      • Amen!

        • “Oh, I forgot; men can’t control themselves, or their thoughts, when they see ankle, you know!” I know I sure can’t control my thoughts. I wish I could. It’s sad.

          • I’m a man. I’m not untouched by the same kinds of feelings you are (not ankles, though). But it’s my problem, not any woman’s, and a lot of it is culturally conditioned. We are taught from childhood, by a multitude of cultural conditioners, that lustful thinking makes us powerful and manly; by the time some of us realize that it does neither, we’ve been hooked into the addiction feedback loop that gives us a kind of frustrated sense of pleasure and power in just feeling desire. We’ve become addicted. We are responsible for owning our addiction and starting to work on it. Part of that work is most emphatically not laying any responsibility at the feet of women for our problem.

          • +1 for you, Robert F!

            so much of how we react to all kinds of things is about socialization and cultural expectations – biology is powerful, certainly, but it’s not the *only* thing at play here.

            As for men and ankles, well, just read some lit from back in the day when women wore long dresses… Thing is, though, that for most of Western history, a great many men strutted their stuff (lower bodies in tights and form-fitting hose and breeches and, err um, even codpieces. That look (the tight part, not the codpieces!) seems to have been revived with the advent of “skinny” jeans and very tightly-fitted clothing of all sorts, for the younger set. I long for the day when fabric that’s more generously cut and draped comes back into style, but that’s pretty much (for me) about aesthetics.

            the thing is, men have done lots and lots over the milennia [sp?] in the way of flaunting. it seems to me that crying foul on how *all* women dress is protesting just a *little* bit too much.

            or perhaps men and women alike should wear loose ankle-length robes. If we did move to that extreme, there would *still* be ways to sexualize the largely hidden bodies underneath the yards of fabric – it’s already happened.

            As the writer said, there is nothing new under the sun. (Though I’d guess he wasn’t thinking of Velcro… 😉 )

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            “Oh, I forgot; men can’t control themselves, or their thoughts, when they see ankle, you know!”

            Ayatollah Khomeini and Mullah Omar would agree.
            So would the Saudi religious police with their whips.

      • Richard Hershberger says

        “Regarding “Sunday best”, I’ve found that there a lot of people who simply don’t own dress clothes any longer.”

        This is why I couch it as dress “nicely”. What does “nicely” mean? It varies from individual to individual. Everyone has nicer clothes they wear when they want to give a good impression. Someone interviewing for a job on in road construction will, if he has any sense, wear nicer clothes than he will while working with hot asphalt. Dressing nicely shows respect. (This makes me wonder, what do church-growth church members wear to funerals?)

        “Overall, it’s a battle that’s largely been fought already anyway.”

        Not everywhere. Churches that never succumbed to the church growth movement often–though not always–have held to the old standard. I routinely wear a suit to church, except during the summer when I step it down to business casual. This is not universal in the congregation, but I am far from alone in this.

        • This makes me wonder, what do church-growth church members wear to funerals?

          I don’t know, but I’ve been to a few funerals recently, and I remarked to my wife that I was kind of surprised at the lack of dress clothes. The one was at a chapel run by the cremation society, so I wasn’t necessarily surprised to see people less dressed up there. But the other was at a beautiful old Catholic church. There were some people in suits, nicer dresses, etc., but overall, I’d say the crowd leaned more towards business casual or even completely casual. Some of the deceased’s family members were in jeans. Heck, some were in shorts. I just think that was how her family was, though. They’re kind of rough around the edges.

          I mean, I guess it’s one thing if someone shows up dressed like a stripper, but in all my years there’s only been a few times where I’ve seen something extremely revealing. At the church I used to attend, the pastor’s wife went over and said to a girl in a very low cut dress, “it’s a bit chilly in here this morning, honey, maybe you should borrow my shawl…” 🙂 I actually thought that was a very smart way to handle it. It didn’t shame the girl, and it didn’t draw a lot of attention to it. The only reason I knew it happened was that my wife was right there when it happened and told me about it later.

          • Christiane says

            the kindness of the pastor’s wife to the girl was a beautiful thing to read about . . . thank you for sharing that 🙂

          • Hmm.. I wonder what state you live in?

            Ten years ago I was at a spring wedding in D.C. where almost all the wedding guests wore navy blue or black. It gave the proceedings a funereal aspect.

            Then again, I was amazed (back in the late 80s) to hear Californians talking about – and thinking nothing of – weddings where the guests wore shorts; even – in one case – where the wedding party wore shorts. It was astounding, though I wonder if it would turn heads these days (in beachy places, at least).

          • Re. the story about the pastor’s wife, that was a great way to help that girl without making her feel shamed.

            The thing is, there’s a fashion industry, and it’s all about marketing and sales. Right now (and for the past several years), it’s been hawking women’s clothes (*young* womens’ clothes) that don’t do them any favors. These kids don’t know that the look has been recycled from the trashiest elements of the 70s and 80s, and they don’t necessarily realize how it makes them come off when they wear them.

            I suspect there’ll be a revolt against this (there invariably is in fashion/retailing), that fabrics will go back to being far less form-fitting and (I hope) used in more elegant ways.

            Until then, we all have to grit our teeth and somehow bear it….

            Parenthetical note: a *lot* of young-ish men seem to think nothing of going shirtless on hot days (and not on the beach, either). I’m not suggesting that this is something they should not do, but I do have to wonder how many of them actually stop to think how their shirtlessness affects the women they see? Do they think twice about how it might be difficult for those women? (In my opinion, likely not.)


          • I don’t know, numo, I think we’ve been seeing the same fashion cycle for women of short skirts/shorts, midriff/cleavage baring blouses and tighter and tighter slacks (slack?) since the seventies, with an occasional short-lived deviation (does anyone remember the maxiskirt?). And the reason for that is connected with your observation about men flaunting their sexuality with revealing clothing in former ages: the prerogative to flaunt your body, male or female, is an expression of power; when women were more restricted from doing so, it was in times when they had significantly less power.

            But now that women have been socially and politically empowered by recent cultural development in the West, and they have become unabashed in expressing the new found power in their own sexuality, I wouldn’t expect them to give up that prerogative anytime soon, especially as it has become connected with our celebration of youth and vitality over age and maturity. Of course the sexual power being expressed by exposing the body is the ephemeral power of the pagan primacy of mere animality, and as such is really a kind of weakness; but it is a weakness that merely human societies have gloried in from time immemorial.

            And if codpieces ever come back, don’t be surprised if it is women wearing them. The attraction of ostentatious sexual display is very strong.

          • numo,
            Regarding the shirtless young men: never mind the effect they have on women who see them, this old guy finds them shameless and intimidating!

          • Robert F – the 80s and 90s were not terribly focused on the kind of clothing that I personally associate with…w ell, “working girls.” The current look is recycling a lot of stuff that has very unsavory associations from decades past.

            fwiw, the 80s saw a trend toward below-the-knee skirts (rather voluminous at that). They were, imo, kinda nice. (At least, I enjoyed wearing them, and not because I’m a modesty maven – more because the cuts were good and I could wear a skirt without feeling self-conscious or worried about it riding up or…)

          • Robert F (again): historically, long dresses have been associated with low-cut bodices and a great deal more cleavage than most women wear today!

            Throughout the 19th and early-mid 20th c., the trend was to cover up the bust. (Evening wear was a major exception.)

            Fashion is nothing if not fickle; good style, otoh, never gets stale – and neither does good taste. It’s not easy to maintain either when market forces insist on constant and unrelenting change (which drives sales – it’s all about $$$).

            There are days I wish that it was OK to have some kind of uniform to wear – then I wouldn’t have to be bothered with this, that and the other. A Mao suit would be fine with me for winter!

          • I’m aware of the occasionally emerging fashion of decolletage in the West; it came and went, as far as I can tell, mostly in the upper classes and among the, as you call them, “working girls” as expressions of sexual power in different contexts but for similar reasons; the vast majority of women, however, in the poorer class would not have worn such fashions, or expressed such power, because they neither had it or wanted to be thought to have it, since that would make them targets. Being inconspicuous was the strategy for poor women to survive, particularly in the cities. Most would only have owned a single basic set of clothes, anyway, which they would have worn all the time.

        • Robert F – right you are. The only people who can afford to pay for fashionable clothing are people with money… which most did not have. (Goes for the men’s clothing as well.)

  11. Speaking in tongues and numbers of people…….”Do the two have anything to do with one another”.

    I was a high school teacher…..we had an explosion in our “Christian club”. I mean too many to fit in the average classroom. We moved to a large group instruction room. Kids sharing, crying, singing, large group laughter, writing poems read aloud…glorious. And so diverse for young people, who have a tendency to break into cliques and also tend to love their own “youth group” and push it. It lasted two months. Long story short, a kid from a miracle valley church down the road thought speaking in tongues should become part of the gatherings. The first to leave were actually the mainline and catholic church types, but it was over. We were back to closet size.

    • The kid forgot it was a Christian club, not a tongues-speaking club.

      I can give you another example at a school I went to, where the Pentecostal sort took over, and the size of the Christian club grew by leaps and bounds. I expect the difference was that the Pentecostals didn’t demand everyone speak in tongues like they did. They recognized “mere Christianity” needs to be the rule in any multi-denominational group: Agree on the creeds, and agree to disagree about everything else.

      But too many of us are too insistent on our own way—and that every other way is defective. That’s not grace, and if it doesn’t have grace, it’s not Christian.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        When I drifted through the fringe of Pentecostalism in the late Seventies, I noticed that the ONLY “gift of the Spirit” mentioned (or gone after) was Tongues, Tongues, Tongues, Tongues, and Tongues. As far as I know, I was the only one who went after Wisdom instead of Tongues Tongues Tongues. Because Wisdom is the command control over all the others.

        The only time I’ve heard glossalalia that worked was at the informal Mass at Azusa Newman Center in the early Eighties. It was a casual Mass held Thursday nights at the Newman Center. Around the time of the Consecration, the tongues would begin. A rhythm like waves breaking on a beach, rising and falling and rising and falling. The Newman Center chaplain celebrating the Mass (Marist order) would “freeze” when this happened, usually at Elevation of the Host, and hold position in silence for the two or three minutes while the glossalalia lasted. After those two-three minutes, the rhythm of the tonguing would gradually fade, still rising and falling, but lessening each time until it fell silent. At which point, the Chaplain would resume Mass from the point where he paused.

        • HUG – back in the early 70s, I was at numerous small Masses where that happened… it seems to have been a commonplace thing in the headier days of the charismatic renewal.

          Your description of the sound and effect is beautiful – takes me back a bit!

  12. Ok, while I rinse my eyeballs with boiling bleach after watching this week’s video selection, I want to wish a happy birthday today to Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson.

  13. “Dinosaurs are unlikely symbols of religious fundamentalism.”

    Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/dinosaurs-were-on-noahs-ark-says-creationist-ken-ham-101701/#fK0O3lECWFtU0fhc.99

    I beg to differ.

  14. I think the AoG issue with tongues is a symptom of what is plaguing all denoms: a marginalization of faith caused by the church growth/seeker-sensitive movement. Most all churches and their worship looks and sounds disturbingly similar – purpose-driven wet-slobbery kisses,

    • Also known as moralistic, therapeutic deism.

    • Well, non-denominational churches and the bigger denominations have adopted what amount to a certain Evangelical-style liturgy when it comes down to it. I think people like it for the same reason that others like more traditional liturgies. They like walking into a church and more or less knowing what to expect.

      • My preference has nothing to do with familiarity: I am still unfamiliar with some of the settings. Rather, I prefer it for the profound theology and scriptural saturation.

      • I agree. Having come out pentecostalism, I understand the exhaustion of anticipating what surprise was in store week-to-week. Rather than the surprise of manifestations of the Holy Spirit, it was bracing for what esoteric, bizarre teaching or behavior would show up next. And yet even in Pentecostalism, there was an element of liturgy: someone always seemed to break out in tongues followed by an interpretation spontaneously at the same point in the service each Sunday. Hmmm.

        But there is a difference between uniformity and unity. The cookie-cutter Hillsong worship service is an example of uniformity – big-box, mass produced, cookie-cutter commodity worship. What has been lost is the concept of common worship, where the rubrics of ancient worship allowed for stylistic or cultural differences, but there is still the sense of having all things in common. Central to that commonality was the communion table. As pietism and revivalism erased the those common elements, then all that was left was diversity, disorder, and disconnect.

  15. If the people in that video are dressed better than the people on the “stage” at your church, you’re doing it wrong.

  16. Our choir is in the back next to the organ – with albs over cassocks. No visual distractions in our nearly 200 year old church. No sir. But God help them if they miss a note.

  17. Christiane says

    thank you for the ‘mystery angel’ story . . . there are so very many examples of God’s love in this world and most are overlooked or not noticed at all as such, but there are moments and events that are so vivid that we cannot overlook the presence of God’s love in our midst . . . whether the priest was a real person or an angel . . . that is not the ‘miracle’ . . . the miracle is this:
    that for the injured Katie, when ” she asked if someone would pray with her”,
    and “a voice said, “I will.” ‘. . .

    people saw and heard this priest and watched him minister to Katie and they were also comforted by his advice to keep calm that everything would be as it should soon . . . many witnesses, no photograph . . . he ‘left the scene’ but no one knows where he went or who he was

    but he was there, and Katie’s failing life signs began to get stronger . . . that is what we KNOW happened

    does it matter what we do not understand in this story, where the convergence of an accident on an isolated highway, a girl with failing life signs asking for prayer, a priest appearing on scene to help . . . all this converging at a single point in eternity ? . . .

    ‘“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
    (St. Thomas Aquinas)

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