January 26, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 9.17.11

As it does most weeks, Saturday has once more arrived here at the iMonastery. We work very hard all week long. So hard, in fact, that we need one day just to sweep up. The broom gathers stories we just didn’t have time to comment on throughout the rest of the week, and before we dump them in the dustbin, we like to run them by you. This collection of garbage is something we like to call Saturday Ramblings. So put on your apron, your boots, grab a broom, and get ready to ramble.

Speaking of garbage, Joel Osteen’s new book is out. It’s all about how you can choose to be happy each day. You know, I swear my Bible must be defective. I cannot find the passage Joel refers to about Jesus telling us how to have a good attitude even when the economy is down. Warning: This link includes an excerpt from Osteen’s book. Read at your own risk.

If you want to read something that will gladden your heart, read this short excerpt from Scot McKnight’s new book, The King Jesus Gospel. McKnight, a friend of InternetMonk, gets it. Really.

A committee within the Presbyterian Church (USA) is recommending that the denomination divest itself of any stock holdings in Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard because of these companies’ Israeli-Palestinian policies. Ok, well, perhaps that makes sense in some form or fashion. Now, is it just me, or is anyone else puzzled as to why a denomination owns stock at all?

And how did Monroe Beachy, a simple Amish farmer in northeastern Ohio, allegedly get away with bilking his Amish neighbors out of tens of millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme? Who knew the Amish in Sugarcreek, Ohio had tens of millions to begin with? Well, they do have Der Dutchman, an incredible Amish restaurant with pot roast that will be on the banquet table in Heaven. I suppose all those buffet dinners over the years have added up.

Six Amish men in Kentucky are spending time in jail rather than display a bright orange triangle sign on the back of their buggies. They say such things indicate the buggy driver is trusting in “worldly signs” rather than trusting in God. You know, I think they may have something there.

It seems Americans are tailoring their religion to meet their own personal, or felt, needs, at least according to George Barna. Two things Barna points out of interest in his latest book: More people are professing Jesus as their savior, and more people are dropping out of church. Thus, every man is becoming his own pastor. Crazy, isn’t it?

Outreach magazine has released its annual list of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the United States. Guess what happiness pastor once again has the largest church? Tell me—what is the use of such lists? Is there a good purpose to knowing who has the largest church? The fastest-growing church? I cannot think of one single good reason we need such lists. You?

Lillian Daniel is irritated by those who insist they are spiritual but not religious. Agree or disagree?

Happy birthday wishes go out this last week to Arnold Palmer, inventor of a drink mixing iced tea and lemonade; Charles Kuralt; Roger Maris; Joe Perry; Guy “Mr. Madonna” Ritchie; Jimmie “You Are My Sunshine” Davis; Paul “Bear” Braynt; Tom Landry; Mickey Hart; Leo Kottke; George Jones; Barry White; Ben Folds; Bill Monroe; Amy Winehouse; Agatha Christie; B.B. King; and Woody Woodpecker.

Lots of our birthday boys and girls would make for good bonus video material, but I found this little ditty that I thought would get your toes to tapping. Enjoy.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5X4N2exOsU’]


  1. Wow, Jeff. This truly is a grab back of “goodies.” Liked the finish with Cookie Monster.

    • Grab bag of cookies indeed…followed by the cookie monster!! Anyone want to start a discussion about the sexual orientation of the Cookie Monster and other Seaseme Street Charachters? Big Bird? Count Dracula? Bert and Ernie? 😀 Are they part of the gay agenda and a threat to the family? 😀

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Are they part of the gay agenda and a threat to the family? 😀

        Why stop at Ernie & Bert? Why not continue with Spongebob, Tinky Winky, and Rainbow Dash?

    • Cookie Monster and Tom Waits. Surprisingly good together 🙂

      Whoever made that video was a genuine genius. Never struck me before, but yeah – Tom Waits did sound like Cookie Monster would have!

    • Oh, man “grab back?” Glad someone knew what I was getting at…..

  2. Maybe a lot of people say they are “spiritual but not religious” because of denominations like my own PCUSA doing stuff like owning business stocks.

  3. Lillian Daniel is irritated by those who insist they are spiritual but not religious.

    Religious people usually are. 😉

  4. “Thus, every man is becoming his own pastor. Crazy, isn’t it?”

    Of course. Every man must be unaware that pastors are so passe. Instead, they should become their personal director of spiritual marketing.

  5. “Thus, every man is becoming his own pastor. Crazy, isn’t it?”

    It’s the Protestant doctrine of the “Priesthood of All Male Believers.”

  6. I read the “Spiritual But Not Religious” piece. It’s from a woman minister. Funny how indespensible these religious professionals think they are. To hear them talk, church is a place where people challenge one another to live better lives (like AA?), not a morgue where old people doze through sermons and organ music. She laughs at the cliche of finding God in sunsets, but isn’t church just as much of a cliche?

    • Frederick Buechner said:
      “Alcoholics Anonymous or AA is the name of a group of men and women who acknowledge that addiction to alcohol is ruining their lives. Their purpose in coming together is to give it up and help others do the same. They realize they can’t pull this off by themselves. They believe they need each other, and they believe they need God.”

      I’m assuming by your comment that being like an AA meeting would not be like Church. I think an AA meeting is a great example of what the Church should be. Sinners gathered together, confessing to God & to each other that they can’t get through this life on their own. Sharing their lives together.

      when that WOMEN MINISTER said:
      “Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn’t interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself. ”
      I thought she made a great point!

      • Philip Yancey has a chapter about this very topic in his newest book, “What Good Is God?” He talks about what Christians can leanr from AA, why some alcoholics find more grace and love there than the chruch. The title of the chapter by Yancey is, “Why I Wish I Were an Alcoholic…”

  7. Was it just me or do I get feeling that Osteen never met a camera he didn’t like? I only made it through page 1 and half the video.

    • “Every Day A Friday”? I am more of the disposition of Morrissey: Every Day Is Like Sunday

      There will never be too much cheerfulness as long as the British (and Irish) Summer exists 🙂

      • I get paid on the 15th and 30th of every month. On those days, I treat myself to Mexican for lunch, and pretend I don’t have to pay bills on the 16th and 31st (or the first, depending on whether the letter “u” is included in the month’s spelling).

        Since the 15th and 30th don’t always fall on Fridays, can I pretend that it’s always the 15th or 30th, instead of pretending it’s Friday? I actually get paid more on the 30th, so I suppose it would make more sense for me to just pretend it’s the 30th all the time. But then I would eat Mexican every day, and get depressed because I’m gaining weight. And my wife would get ticked at me for wasting all our money eating Mexican food, not to mention that I’m eating it without her.

        Glenn Beck is mad about something everyday, but he’s a Mormon, so I guess he’s ticked whether it’s Friday or whatever day it is. I would be, too, if my wife had to wear those happy pants…

      • Friday? Sunday? Abraham Joshua Heschel thought it was Saturday. He said the Sabbath is “a piece of the World to Come.”

        But, he wasn’t evangelical. Or Osteen. Or Catholic like Morissey (I assume he’s RC; I thought I saw him crossing himself in the video). Nice song, by the way.

  8. “Lillian Daniel is irritated by those who insist they are spiritual but not religious. Agree or disagree?”

    I for one am completely confused…or maybe not. According to Big Daddy Weave, “There is a place where religion finally dies…” So, religion equals legalism. Grace means possessing God. Mysteries solved. All longings fulfilled. All doubts and struggles are over. Glad that’s over. What else is on TV?

    The Lillian Daniel article is priceless. “You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating.” Sounds like American Evangelicalism to me. Quite boring. Those creating their designer religions and evangelicals with God in their back pockets just don’t seem that different.

    A lack of religion leads to craziness like Pat Robertson’s comments this week. God is infinitely near and infinitely far away…on business, according to Tom Waits. We never have Jesus in our pocket. We are always left with a haunting loneliness that the most fulfilling companionship can’t fill. If we could possess God, then He would cease being God. That to me is the significance of the Eucharist; because in that brief moment when our senses touch bread and wine, we briefly encounter Christ. But like manna, the moment passes. Then, God appears in the image in which our neighbor is cast – in the face of that widow, that orphan. This is religion to me.

    • Very well put, Oxman…

    • I think she shoots herself in the foot by her definition of terms. I try to seek spirituality and avoid ‘religion’, but that doesn’t mean I reject corporate worship or the accountability of my brothers and sisters in Christ or even the teaching of solid pastors. I suspect many of the people she encounters are not seeking after God, but ‘experiences on the beach’, but I wonder how many of them are those who Michael Spencer wrote Mere Churchianity for. I’d also love to know who started the conversation – her or them? Maybe she just doesn’t like they way they try to brush her off? Who knows.

    • However, those looking for God on the beach may not be self-centered designer spiritualists. As the saying goes, “not all who wander are lost”. Many can’t find God in ol’ time religion, because the wonder and mystery is gone.

    • David Cornwell says

      Don’t get me started on Pat Robertson. All of a sudden the person I chose “to love and to hold till death do we part” gets a horrible disease and because of my own happiness I choose to ditch her? Where’s my Pepto Bismol? Is this another part of “family values” I missed?

      • I think that is a great example of what damage can be done what someone assumes the role of ‘pastor’ when they have absolutely no personal connection or investment in the lives of those they advise.

      • David Cornwell says

        After reading what Robertson actually said, I may have misjudged him on this issue. He was having a discussion with about ethical and moral obligations in complex situations. Some of the quotations about what he said were out of context.

    • And speaking of Tom Waits, Dumb Ox, he also said, “Well, you say that it’s gospel, but I know it’s only a church.”

  9. ‘Lillian Daniel is irritated by those who insist they are spiritual but not religious’.

    I am irritated by both… equally. Yes, I know. I have a cynicism issue.

    • I completely agree. “spiritual but not religious” is a fashion show, and most people who are still saying that kind of thing got there too late.

      Cause when it boils down to it, there’s no difference.

      I’d like to be “human but not spiritual” myself.

  10. THANK YOU for having the courage to “take on” Joel Olstein. He and other ministers who have gotten on the pop-culture bandwagon of abundance theology create in people a cycle of pressure and guilt that is not supportive of authentic abundance which is an inner quality independent of our external life circumstances. I am challenged by this movement and have seen the suffering it causes in people first hand.

    And a comment on “spiritual but not religious.” I would invite someone to define what it means to be “religious.” I was raised Catholic and worked in the Catholic Church for 10+ years. While this is my cultural and religious “tribe”, there are certain teachings of the Catholic faith I can no longer support or embrace. I am also deeply challenged by the “sins” of the Church, most especially the priest sex abuse scandal that just goes on and on and one. I attend mass at the local convent instead of the local parish because I was made to not feel welcome at the local parish by a certain group of individuals and our priest. I pray daily, read scripture, try to live according to Jesus’ teachings, and serve God in all that I do. I no longer call myself religious because I cannot stand 100% behind my Church. I call myself spiritual because my relationship with God is far more vast than the Catholic Church is able to contain. Perhaps I am not understanding what it means to be “religious” according to the views of some of your readers. Thoughts?

    Lauri Lumby
    Authentic Freedom Ministries

    • Try this quote from James on for size and then decide if it is the definition of religion that is at fault or the very fact of being religious that is the problem.

      Jas 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

      If someone tells me they are spiritual but not religious I point to this scripture and then ask them if James had it wrong. More often than not it is the “spiritual” person’s definition of “religious” that is at fault. It is sort of like saying “I am a sentient being but NOT human, because humans cause so much suffering”.

      No, Laurie, you ARE religious, but in the truest sense of the word

    • I think I can understand why people distance themselves from the term “religious”. It can refer to devotion to so many things. A few weeks ago I caught myself saying, while walking with my wife past the flag-decorated houses of several neighbors, “I’m not religious enough to fly a flag.” And now this is starting to make more sense as I read about various communities all over the USA, including nearby Bar Harbor, receive a hunk of bent steel I-beam from the World Trade Center. It gets paraded around town, speeches made, people coming forward to touch it, etc., and say what it means to them and how they’ll never forget.

      Martha? Does this constitute a relic?

      I’m not religious enough for that.

      • Ted,

        I’d consider the I-beam from the World Trade Center to be a relic. I wouldn’t go to venerate it, but understand the impulse.

  11. david carlson says

    i never understood why all those Amish trust man instead of God by driving on all those roads paved by men. I mean, wouldn’t God just build them roads to where ever they want to go? right? I mean, they drive on roads built by goverments? Whats up with that?

  12. Seems to me like Monroe Beachy is a perfect example of being religious without being spiritual. You can have all the “outer trappings” of your religion, in this case plain dress, horse and buggy etc. without having the “new birth” that Jesus spoke of.

    “They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!”
    2 Timothy 3:5

  13. david carlson says

    I mean, i am waiting on my Mercedes Benz.

  14. These Amish have a point …….I’m disconnecting my brake lights! too flashy.

  15. Every Day Is Like Friday subtitled ” It is 5 o’clock somewhere”

  16. The Richmond Outreach Center? Who knew that preaching repentance and reaching out to the poor and downcast would result in the fastest growing church in America?

  17. I thought Lillian Daniel’s excellent point was almost completely undercut by her strident tone.

    • I think this hits the nail on the head. It’s hard to accept criticism from someone when they’re calling you shallow and vapid at the same time.

      She seems to neglect the fact that there are plenty of valid, or at least understandable, reasons people have walked away from churches – corrupt leadership, pain caused by other Christians, actual spiritual abuse, etc. If she is a pastor, her tone certainly isn’t very pastoral.

  18. “I challenge you to let every day be a Friday.” – Osteen.

    Didn’t people used to say, don’t buy a car built on a Friday?

    “I was built on a Friday and you can’t fix me
    You can’t fix me
    You can’t fix me
    I was built on a Friday and you can’t fix me
    Even so I’ve done okay” – Bruce Cockburn

  19. …and I pass along my best birthday wishes to Woody Woodpecker, visually created by Walter Lantz, and remembered for that trademark laugh …which was actually the voice of Mrs. Lantz. She was the voice of Woody, and I don’t think they used any special effects …she really sounded like that. It was hard to talk to her without smiling. 🙂

    • I loved that laugh. I could never reproduce it myself. And I heard that the concept of Woody Woodpecker came when Walter Lantz and his wife were on their honeymoon, and the cabin they were staying in was plagued by a pesky woodpecker which kept hammering on the roof day and night. And the thoughts of that woodpecker started an idea, and Woody Woodpecker was born. (hatched?)

  20. Whose work week ends on a Friday anymore? My work had yet another “black Friday” yesterday.
    Who said that happiness is the only emotion we should “choose”?

  21. David Cornwell says

    Maybe its part the Presbyterian Church (USA) Mission to Wall Street. Dressing, talking, and trading like they do is all part of it.

  22. 1. I’ve found that people who insist they are “spiritual but not religious” are pretty much neither. It’s just a clever thing to say at dinner parties for the Oprah/Chopra crowd.
    2. I’ve dropped out of church, too, because I don’t care about patriotic jingoism or middle-class respectability. In another urban area I might be able to find someone like Rob Bell or Peter Rollins, but there’s nothing like that around here except for a few “emergent” kids who can usually be found conducting political protests complete with self-righteous picket signs.
    3. My experience with PCUSA is that they’re very much into the money. Your results may differ, but the last time I was at a regional Presbytery meeting, I was truly afraid that God might destroy the building before the meeting ended. And we were NOT discussing homosexuality.

  23. I agree with camillofan: Ms. Daniels may have a good point, but her contempt for the “spiritual” people doesn’t make her own “religious” identity very attractive. It savors more of hurt feelings.

    My guess is that when people say “I’m spiritual but not religious” to a minister, they are probably feeling a bit attacked and inferior — just as people do when talking with someone who announces they are a vegetarian. So the “spiritual but not religious” people are sort of defending themselves from the implied reproach of not attending church. They’re saying, “Even if I don’t go to church, I’m a good person who respects God.”

    But the minister, in this case Ms. Daniels, may hear the statement “I’m spiritual but not religious” as “I don’t need you and your profession to be a good person,” and that can feel like rejection. Thus Ms. Daniels’ contempt — pre-emptive rejection.

    Wouldn’t it be good if both speakers could be a bit more open to actually “hearing” what the other person is saying, and responding accordingly: “Oh, you find God in the sunset and walks on the beach? I do too. Isn’t it wonderful?” “Yes, I love it. Now, what kind of church did you say you pastor?”

    But people are very quick to be hurt, and the truth is, church can hurt people badly. On the other hand, AA meetings, for one example, are full of those from the traditional Catholic and the fundamentalist churches who have heard nothing but abuse and condemnation from the pulpits, and have given up on church altogether, and opted for the more general spiritual path of AA. I guess I’d have to agree with something I’ve heard at many AA meetings: “Religion is for people who don’t want to go to hell. Spirituality is for people who have been there.”

    • +1

      It was abundently clear to me that her intent was not to win over the spiritual but not religious, but rather to congratulate the people who already reject that title and want to feel superior in their church attendence. Her caustic tone just served as another reminder to me of how very very little I miss church.

      However, I’m quite pleased with the PCUSA’s decision here. It’s a little weird to be owning stocks in the first place, but at least they’re trying to be more aware, and at least they’re not zionists 🙂

      • Pro-Tip. When you introduce yourself as a pastor or a minister and someone tells you that they are “Spiritual but not Religious”, they are telling you that they are unchurched, and not interested in changing that. They are doing this politely, trying to avoid telling you that they think your religion is a bunch of hooey, or getting sucked into a theological conversation.

    • John Stott, who just died a few weeks ago, opened his book Basic Christianity with the phrase, “Hostile to the church, friendly to Jesus Christ” in reference to the opinions of a lot of young people. I like that. It’s a start.

  24. I am religious. I get up in the morning on Sunday, recite creeds, read scripture, drink wine, eat bread, and do this with millions of other people — a few of which are in the same room as I. I look forward to special days on the calendar, spend time repenting, and do other practices and hold numerous beliefs in line with other people through the centuries.

    If you are “Spiritual, not religious,” I’d say give the religion part a chance. You’re missing so much. Yes, you’re losing some individualism, but you’re gaining a greater identity.

  25. Six Amish men in Kentucky are spending time in jail rather than display a bright orange triangle sign on the back of their buggies. They say such things indicate the buggy driver is trusting in “worldly signs” rather than trusting in God. You know, I think they may have something there.

    So it’s “too worldly” to put the loud orange signs on their buggies, but it’s not too worldly to drive their buggies on paved roads?


  26. You may not find that list necessarily useful, but it sure as heck satisfies my curiosity! Maybe its even bad for me to know that kind of info, but I still enjoy it.

  27. “those of you who think you are right are amusing to those of us who Know we are right” My religion is better than yourspiriyuality/ religion. Or judge not that you be not judged. Take your pick.

  28. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Two things Barna points out of interest in his latest book: More people are professing Jesus as their savior, and more people are dropping out of church. Thus, every man is becoming his own pastor. Crazy, isn’t it?

    Not crazy. It’s the Ultimate End State of Protestantism, the expected results of a Gospel of Personal Salvation and Only Personal Salvation: Millons of One True Churches, each with only one member, each alone amid all the heretics and apostates. Me & My Personal Savior and Nobody Else.

    Outreach magazine has released its annual list of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the United States. Guess what happiness pastor once again has the largest church?

    (blink blink blink)?

  29. Okay, so here are my thoughts on the Lillian Daniel article:

    While she might have the right idea, she expresses it in the wrong way. Frankly, the explanation isn’t even a good one. At least back in the day you had bishops and missionaries decrying the evils of the world they would explain to you why that was a bad thing. Her tone comes across as extremely self-righteous and holier-than-thou. I am also having trouble figuring out to whom this article was directed. Fellow Christians, wandering off the path to “do their own thing”, or to the general public? Or was this just a public lament about the state of things, which really came across more as annoying whining?

    Here is the thing: I am part of that generation of people who are “spiritual without being religious”, who “love Jesus but hate the Church”, etc etc. As such, I have quite a bit of experience with the issue; heck, many of my friends fit into the category. And you know what the crazy thing is? I actually do sympathize with them. Over the years the Church has certainly done its fair share of bad things. And even if we were to restrict our eye sight to only the past say, 50 years, there is still a lot of bad things we (the Church) have yet to answer for. My friends are tired of the blatant hypocrisy of so many “believers”. The list of woes could go on and on. And, as many others have already mentioned, the Church (or, rather, members of the Church) can quite easily hurt people, and deeply so.

    Here is my issue, however. My problem is that religion and spirituality are intrinsically linked. They shape and form each other; they balance each other out. To separate the two can be (and is, in many cases) dangerous. You have people wandering around doing whatever they feel like. Grabbing a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and calling it your own. That is fine in and of itself. However, what happens when you have no agent of restriction, nobody to guide you? Without the “religion” aspect, you are venturing into dangerous territory. And by “religion” here I am referring to the Body of Christ, the Church. I firmly believe that, for all our faults and failures, the Holy Spirit is still at work within the Church and uses Her. God will not abandon His people.

    So then one has the issue of persons attempting to commune with God, but outside of the Body of Christ. Is this possible? Sure- God can and does work through all situations, and not all who wander are lost. I recognize and acknowledge that in the end all is up to God’s judgement, and far be it from me to arbitrarily condemn another. However, I worry for them. When you’re trying to build a house from scratch with no real understanding of what you are doing, and without any help from those who have done the deed before, it can be an extremely dangerous undertaking. The same thing in trying to separate personal spiritual experience from corporate religious experience. I am afraid for those who do so, for the serpent is crafty and seeks to poison a soul without being noticed. If you have not the guidance of the wisdom and experience of the Church and that accountability to others and a shepherd, what then do you have? A road unmarked and dangerous, and one that you travel alone on. Not a good situation, methinks.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The same thing in trying to separate personal spiritual experience from corporate religious experience. I am afraid for those who do so, for the serpent is crafty and seeks to poison a soul without being noticed. If you have not the guidance of the wisdom and experience of the Church and that accountability to others and a shepherd, what then do you have?

      You’re sounding too much like Romish Popery (TM), Tim 🙂

      These Christians (TM) are going it alone with their Personal Savior (TM) and nobody else, remember.

      • I’m not even necessarily referring to Christians alone, HUG, though they certainly are kept in mind as well.. I am especially directing my comments at those who are “spiritual, but not religious”- as in, they are more-or-less cafeteria persons, borrowing this and that from a variety of religions and philosophies.

        And if being concerned for another person’s spiritual health makes me sound too much like Romish Popery (TM), I’m down with that 🙂

  30. Spiritual but not religious – realizing that God and such things exist, but not willing to do anything about it.

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