January 16, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 8.7.10

Welcome to the Back To School edition of our weekly attempt to clean up the mess we make preparing delicious essays for you here at Internet Monk. Are all of the school-aged kiddos in your home ready to get back to structured learning? Do you have all the required school supplies? Backpack. Pencils. Erasers. Paper. Straws (for blowing spitballs at the teacher). And an extra helping of Saturday Ramblings.

Do you want your college-bound son or daughter attending a school were religion is prominent, where the vast majority of the students are very sincere in their faith? Of course you do. In that case, you will want to check out the most religious university in the nation, at least according to the Princeton Review. The winner is…oh, come on. You know I’m going to make you hit the link. See if your school is on the “most” list or the “least” list. And you know there are no atheists in college football stadiums come fourth quarter…

Ah, how we love trends. Those who can identify trends are trendsetters themselves and can be ahead of the curve. They are pioneers, not settlers. And at the end of the day, they are the ones who can leverage all of their knowledge to build the church that will meet the felt needs of their community. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to wash my mouth out with soap. Business speak makes me ill. I’m not saying that these five trends affecting the future growth of the church are not somewhat valid, but are we really so reliant on trends to shape our churches as that? Is there something more foundational than shifting trends we could use to build on?

John Upton of Virginia has been elected as the new president of the 37 million-member strong Baptist World Alliance. I want to be among the first to congratulate John, but I have to be honest. This must be one of the best-kept secrets in Protestantism. I have never heard of the Baptist World Alliance. Still, 37 million people can’t be wrong, can they? I trust John Upton will be a very capable leader for them all.

Dan Kimball, a pastor in Northern California, would like to sit down with Anne Rice and recommend some churches that might change her view of Christianity. I think this is a very good idea, and Kimball (who has written books about people leaving the church) is just the right person to do this. But the most interesting thing I learned in this article is that Kimball “sports a blond pompadour.” I assume this is a hair style, and not another California exotic pet fad, right?

Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family laid off 110 workers last week, the third major layoff in recent years. Donations are down because of the economy, say representatives of the ministry. Is the time for an activist group like Focus past? Or is there still a need for a watchdog keeping an eye on government and social issues for the sake of the family? And–perhaps this is the bigger question–just what is “the family”?

“Clearly, the purpose of wealth is not security. The purpose of wealth is reckless generosity, the kind that sings of the lavish love of God, the kind that rekindles hope on dark days, the kind that reminds us that God is with us always.” When I read these opening lines in the blog post of Sister Joan Chittister, I wanted to stand and applaud. Here is someone who gets it, I thought. Read her post about money and see if you could say it any better. No–wait. Let me just save you the trouble and say you can’t. But read it anyway.

Happy Birthday this past week to Ted “Lurch” Cassidy; JK Rowling; Francis Scott Key; Jerry Garcia; Tempestt Bledsoe (Vanessa on The Cosby Show); Carroll “Archie Bunker” O’Connor; Evangeline Lilly (Kate on Lost); Jeff #24 Gordon; Neil Armstrong (one of my greatest heroes); and Andy Warhol.

In honor of the kiddies going back to school in the next few weeks (and in honor of Lurch’s birthday), let’s visit with one family who may, just may, take this whole homeschooling thing a bit too far…


  1. As the large Baby Boomer generation moves into their older years, they will resist any suggestion that they are senior adults, no matter how senior they may be.

    To which I shouted “Hell, yeah….” , flikked my Bic lighter and climbed up on the table…….

    ooops…. 🙂 it’s all Jeff’s fault, really

  2. Hey, everyone … how about that trend (embedded in all 5 trends) that people need God in whatever station of life they’re in, and wherever located? I live in Switzerland, and I can assure that’s the trend here as well! Let’s be trendy and share our faith, and, to quote another trendsetter, using words only when necessary!!

    Jeff, I really enjoy waking up Saturday mornings and enjoying your blog. I appreciated that you kept me current on the tragedy of Touchdown Jesus, as we were awestruck (no other word really) by that piece of art when we lived in Cincinnati. Keep up the great work.


  3. I wonder if Anne Rice has communicated with Anne Lamott or Sara Miles? Lamott attends a Presbyterian church and Miles an Episcopal church. They are both authors and I would say they have a “liberal” take on lots of issues, but they haven’t left the corporate worshiping body of Christians.

    That home-schooled family video was well-done. I know I wouldn’t agree with all their takes on things, but kudos for a cute video!

    I am Catholic and have some of the same concerns that Rice does, but perhaps I am less honest than she is because I still stay within that body of Christians. My feeling is that if the local priest passed out cards with 20 questions that we all had to answer about what we believe, he would find that his congregation is “all over the place.” If they started kicking out all the Catholics who don’t really believe 100% of what we are taught, there would be few people in the pews. They wouldn’t want that. It is a tough situation. I feel for Rice.

    • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

      I’ve thought the same thing. When I first read Anne Rice’s post I immediately thought she’d be at home with Sara Miles’ crew.

      I also wondered where she was getting her picture of Catholic Christianity. My guess: EWTN. I’ve never been to a Catholic service where the priest regularly gets hard-core on (conservative) social issues. American Catholics are just too middle-of-the-road and diverse for that. Plus, with attendance being only about 20% of membership, the priest can’t afford to do that sort of thing. While I, myself, am not Catholic, many of my family and friends are and I’ve been to a LOT of Catholic services and a variety of parishes in numerous different parts of the nation. Her experience just doesn’t seem to be typical of American Catholicism.

      • From Anne Rice’s L.A. Times interview:

        “I’ve also found that I can’t find a basis in Scripture for a lot of the positions that churches and denominations take today, and I can’t find any basis at all for an anointed, hierarchical priesthood.”

        The second part of this statement effectively excludes her from ALL Catholic churches (as well as Orthodox and Episcopal/Anglican churches), regardless of whether they’re conservative, reactionary, liberal or radical.

        And, FWIW, I TOTALLY agree with what Anne says here! 🙂

        • David Cornwell says

          I agree with her (Rice) on the first part of the statement to a large extent also. And the older I get the more I tend to agree with the second part. Hierarchical structure becomes a literal career path for many pastors. The higher up one is able to rise, through larger churches, to denominational power, the more power and pay and pride. I’ve witnessed it over and over. I could write a short essay on this subject, but it might end up sounding like a rant.

          I do however like to worship in some of those churches. And I appreciate the sense of liturgical tradition that they are preserving.

          • I guess what makes me go “meh” to the alleged lack of biblical basis to the traditional heiarchical three-fold ministry is that a) the terms deacon, presbyter, and episcopate are all found in scripture speaking in terms of actual offices/titles (though admittedly, there’s not much of a distinction between presbyter and episcopate in the text). Also, we know for a fact that by the second generation of Christians, the ministry was understood in the traditional way via the writings of folks who were directly taught by the Apostles themselves (e.g. St. Ireneus).

  4. I wouldn’t urge churches to focus on fads, but being aware of demographic trends is a bit different. Churches often fall over themselves to welcome young families with children as the future of the church, but the real future will be those seniors who will never think of themselves as seniors.

    It will be good if some churches recognize that as a group that needs a focused ministry. (Do churches really have senior ministries? I’ve only ever come across youth ministries.)

    The family orientation of millennials might help get them into church, since it matters to their parents. One very sad trend has been for a split between mostly young evangelical churches and mostly old mainline churches. I’d love to see the generations coming together for church again.

    • Our church has a few kinds of ministry to seniors in particular, ranging from a knitting/sewing/crafts fellowship setup to a group of handy or strong folk that go and take care of small house repairs, yardwork, etc and a group of people who cook meals for those who struggle with that.

  5. Josh in FW says

    Tim Hawkins rocks! Thanks for sharing some of his work Jeff.

  6. Yes, Dan Kimball has ridonkulus hair.

  7. Dan Kimball, a pastor in Northern California, would like to sit down with Anne Rice and recommend some churches that might change her view of Christianity. I think this is a very good idea, and Kimball (who has written books about people leaving the church) is just the right person to do this.

    I get the sense from her Facebook posts and NPR interview and LA Times interview that Anne wants a break from “issues & politics Christianity” and those churches and Christians whose strong beliefs either clash with what Anne believes a follower of Jesus is to believe and do, or take priority over simply following Jesus (not that following Jesus is simple). I think she is best off staying AWAY from churches for awhile, whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, and just focusing on the Christian friendships she has and wants to keep from people who cross the spectrum of belief and churches, and work on her novels and her personal discipleship. From what she’s said and written, I suspect she’s smarter than 90+% of the people who want to give her help/assistance in finding “the right church.” The Catholic Church may be a mess, but the Evangelical Church, whether fundy, neo-E, pomo, pre-mo, emergent, etc., is also FUBAR, as the wave of “how to fix the church and/or Christianity” books testifies.

    Just my 3 cents….

  8. Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

    I noticed Sister Joan is a Benedictine. Props to the OSB folk, says I! I’ve actually considered hitching my wagon to an Anglican OSB abbey.

    On the colleges bit, I REALLY like the picture they have for College of the Ozarks. I want to build a chapel like that for my church! And I think my university (Wayland Baptist University) and Hillsdale College have the same web designer. Or use the same template. Or maybe just have the same colors.

  9. NightGardener says

    Wow, did we really need buildingchurchleaders.com to tell us that people under 30 don’t feel like they need God, and people who are over 60 do? This is not ground-breaking informaiton, it is just the way it has always been.

  10. Kind of psyched that Baylor was on the top ten, til I found out who was #1. Gulp…

    • Josh in FW says

      I had a very similar reaction to Baylor (my alma mater, class of ’99) making the list.

      I always enjoyed The Rope’s description of Baylor as “Babylon on the Brazos”

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