October 27, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 9.18.10

Ah, the leaves are starting to change colors. Fresh apples are in the stores. Jugs of apple cider, too. Football is in full swing. The temperatures are cooling in the evening to where you almost need a sweater. Fall is in the air. Ah-choo! (Excuse me.) And so is the pollen. So grab a Gala or Pink Lady apple, a mug of fresh-pressed cider, pull on your favorite team’s sweatshirt, get a box of tissues and enjoy this week’s Saturday Ramblings.

The big news this week was the release of Outreach Magazine’s annual lists of the 100 Largest Churches in America and the 100 Fastest Growing Churches in America. You have to buy the magazine to see the entire list, but this article gives a bit of insight into the overall of both lists. The fastest growing church is 12Stone Church in Georgia. The largest church? Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston retains that crown.

Meanwhile, Leadership Network has just released their annual salary report. If you are the pastor of a megachurch and your salary is not at least equal with the national average of $147,000, call a board meeting. (That would mean getting your wife, your brother-in-law and his wife, and your mom together for dinner. Catered by the church’s chef, of course.) It’s good to see that “church technology directors” are paid an average of $58,000. We don’t want those providing the entertainment value to feel undervalued themselves. (Sarcasm provided at no additional expense, courtesy yours truly.)

Calvin College cancelled an upcoming concert because of the name of band. The New Pornographers were scheduled to perform on October 15. But after weeks of discussion, the Student Activities Office at Calvin decided “the band’s name was impossible to explain to many.” The New Pornographers, ironically, do not support pornography. Band member Carl Newman said he came up with the name after watching a Japanese film called The Pornographers. Others have said it is a take off of Jimmy Swaggert’s assertion that rock and roll is the “new pornography.” Either way, Calvin College is missing out. Neko Case’s vocals alone are worth the price of admission.

John Piper is halfway through his leave of absence, and continues to work on his soul and his family. This fulfills our obligatory John Piper comment for the week.

I don’t know why this has taken so long. IHOP is suing IHOP. The International House of Pancakes restaurant chain wants Kansas City-based church International House of Prayer to stop using the IHOP acronym. Do the lawyers for the pancake place really think some people may get confused and go to the prayer place for breakfast instead? And will the prayer place serve those pancakes stuffed with strawberries and covered in whipped cream? Stay tuned to this one.

Physicist Stephen Hawking has the religious community in Great Britain all stirred up over his comments that because we have gravity, there is no need for a god to have been present at the creation of the universe. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams weighs in, as well as the head of the Catholic church in England and Wales, and a Muslim imam. And I don’t know who looks freakier in those pictures–Williams or Hawking. Both look scary to me.

Couldn’t swing the airfare to England to be part of the Pope’s visit to the UK? No problem. You can watch all of the events live from your computer. Or you can chat about his visit on Facebook. Follow his itinerary  or just read more about the man. Has the laptop become the new vehicle for spiritual pilgrimage?

Assistant Rambler Adam Palmer thought that this article on whether or not we need new moral standards would light up the comments. And I’m sure it will. Here is the author’s conclusion: “Science, freedom and the pursuit of personal profit — if we can learn to embrace these three ideas as ideals, an unlimited future awaits.” If you need more than that before you fire off your comments, you can read the whole thing here.

Happy birthday this week to our own iMonk himself, Michael Spencer; Jimmy “You Are My Sunshine” Davis; Paul “Bear” Bryant; Tom Landry; Mickey Hart (drummer for the Grateful Dead); Leo Kottke; Amy Madigan (the wife in the best baseball movie of all time, Field Of Dreams. No, don’t bother arguing that one. Just accept it and move on.); track and field star and American hero Jesse Owens; George Jones; Bill Monroe; Richard “Jaws” Kiel; Agatha Christie; Lauren Bacall; Peter “Columbo” Falk; Hank Williams Sr.; George Blanda; and Woody Woodpecker.

Ok. This video has been sent to me by a number of iMonks, so I hesitate to post it here as many of you may have already seen it. And if you haven’t, you will wish you hadn’t after you watch it. If you know of a worse Christian music video, please, keep it to yourself. And what is with the big guy behind the piano? He obviously wants nothing to do with this nonsense. He’s the only sensible one of the bunch.This whole thing is wrong on a cosmic level. Enjoy, if you can, Jesus Is A Friend Of Mine by Sonseed.


  1. Minor comment / quibble: In the rest of the world, cider means an alcoholic drink, ie what is called hard cider here on this continent. The cider you mentioned would just be unfiltered apple juice.

    I make my own (hard) cider, so it is a bit of a point with me (yes, I know I’m pedantic and all that…).

    I just bottled my cider last weekend, but you have to wait 4months + for the secondary (lactic) fermentation, which vastly improves the flavour. Luckily I still have of last year’s cider left….

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I make my own (hard) cider, so it is a bit of a point with me (yes, I know I’m pedantic and all that…).

      I just got earwormed when I read that —

  2. Ummm after that video I have to go do penance, gack!!! that’s moldy velveeta bad…

    And Jeff, a glass of cider (and I mean the kind with Alcohol), some friends and a little theology discussion is just about heaven at this point in my life.

    Not sure if I’ve lowered my standards or I’m just getting old…


  3. $147,000…please excuse me whle I go scream into a pillow. And then maybe vomit.

    • You might want to move the pillow.

    • and wear ear plugs for that song

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      $147,000… And I’m sure that doesn’t include televangelists like Benny Hinn.


  4. Buford Hollis says

    Maybe Coolidge could replace the New Pornographers with the Retarded Whores.

    Hawking seems to have been misunderstood. He’s just talking about Occam’s razor, and saying the idea of God is unnecessary, physics-wise (which is nothing surprising). The others apparently reacted as if he were saying that God cannot exist–a strange thing to say, given the term’s notorious vagueness. Anyway, I’d like to think that in some alternate universe, Archbishop Hawking has just issued some sort of encyclical demonstrating the existence of God by some ungodly exegetical means nobody else has quite managed to fathom. (Kaballah, perhaps.)

    I can’t see the video, unfortunately.

    • Buford Hollis says

      Oooo, I did manage to see the video. Wasn’t anybody afraid back then that this kind of music would turn their kids into homosexuals? And that clipped singing style…I keep trying. to. imagine. Jesus. talking. like. that.

      Okay, you like god-awful Jesus music? Here you go. Chris Young periodically runs for mayor of Providence, RI. And he sings. Sort of:


    • DreamingWings says

      A church lead by a Kaballah practicing Bishop Stephen Hawking? Such a concept practically demands a series of alternate history novels.

  5. In response to Outreach Magazine’s Anneul List of fastest growing/largest churches.

    List of Pastors that Use or Own Private Jets or Mansions
    – Benny Hinn
    – Frederick K.C. Price
    – Creflo Dollar
    – Jan and Paul Crouch
    – K.A. Paul
    – Joyce Meyer
    – Paula And Randy White
    – Mike Murdock
    – Kenny Copeland
    – Rod Parsley

    Name of Person who had no place to lay his head.

    – Jesus Christ (Matthew 8:20)

    Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Matthew 8:20.

    I believe nothing else needs to be said concerning this matter.

    • Steve Newell says

      What is sad is that there are thousands of pastors out there who remain faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel in churches as they server their sheep as the under shepherd and they struggle to provide for their churches and their families financially.

      Many of those listed above preach and teach a gospel what is alien to the historic Christian faith. They are theologians of glory not theologians of the cross to coin a Luther phrase.

      • First, I never claimed that the above list was a list of credible pastors. Second, I showed the extreme of pastors making huge amounts of money. While your last statement is true I am sure, should a pastor make hundreds of thousands a year? I know they can, but should they? (This was never meant to be a comment on the link provided on Sat Ramblings, just on what was posted on iMonk.

        Im sure they even tithe a considerable amount, but should a pastor, one who is called to minister to the poor make more than we will say the average yearly income in his city? If so do you believe he can really relate to those he ministers to.

        Matthew 19:16-26. Read this again and tell me if Jesus meant what He said? (While in context this was a directive given to one person, we shouldn’t think of ourselves as above what Jesus said here.)

        With all of that being said, I reply in a humble manner because I don’t know a whole lot, and hope to learn from your repost.

    • Theologians of Glory rather than Theologians of the Cross.

  6. Don’t forget happy b-day to Michael Spencer… (saw it on BHT).

  7. What confuses me in that video (well, one thing that confuses me) is that the lyrics state at one point that “He taught me how to praise my God and still play rock and roll” but they’re playing ska.


    I’m torn between “this has to be a leg-pull” (due to some of the creepy stalker lyrics – “He is like a Mountie and He always gets His man, and He’ll zap you anyway He can”? Then again, Francis Thompson got there first with the Hound of Heaven) and on the other hand, the possibility that this is entirely serious.

    More evidence why people called the 70s the Decade that Taste Forgot 🙂

    • Except that this was from the 80s, Martha. That was the Decade Music Forgot…

      • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

        The solo careers of Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springstein, and Prince suggest the 1980s were not quite that bad. Plus Toru Takemitsu’s soundtrack to Ran and Steve Reich’s works suggest that there was plenty going on if we look outside pop music.

      • Looked like 70s fashion to me, Jeff 🙂

        Still, you’re right. I should have remembered the Ska Revival happened in the 80s.

    • Please don’t insult ska, Martha.

      • Damaris, I accept the soft reproach.

        But this wasn’t a rock’n’roll song (okay, so it wasn’t ska either). Disjunction between the lyrics and the style too great not to notice – amongst other things.

        • Actually, Martha, any reproach was directed against the obscene perpetrators of the so-called song. Even referring to their outpouring as music is too specific and inclusive.

          My family and I went to the Fifteenth Annal Irish Fest in Indianapolis last night — now that was music. I raised my regrettable plastic cup of Guinness to you over in the Emerald Isle.

        • Martha, I’ll go with your guess that this is a leg-pull. I don’t know how they could get that many people to agree to do it otherwise.

          While we’re back on the topic of music (if this is music), I wanted to tell you that you may have made a Nick Cave fan out of me. I found him on youtube and he’s on my list of CDs to order. A lot like Leonard Cohen without ripping him off one bit.

          And Damaris, I think it was you who mentioned Stan Rogers. If you like Stan (from the parallel universed of Nova Scotia) you’ll like Gordon Bok here in Maine, on the correct side of the Bay of Fundy. Very similar, lots of songs of the sea. I couldn’t find anything of Gordon on youtube (a few imposters) but if you can find him singing Turning Toward the Morning it would be worth a search.

          As for Stan Rogers, I love this video of him and his pirate buddies at his kitchen table singing Barrett’s Privateers:

          • Hi Ted,
            As a Nova Scotian (who will argue the point of which is the right side of the Fundy) Barrett’s Privateers really should be the anthem of this province. At coffee houses where I did my undergrad you knew the night was over when this song was sung. Have you heard his “Mary Ellen Carter?” Another fine performance.

            Anyway, I have never commented here at iMonk though I have been reading the blog for quite some time now. I just couldn’t resist with a mention of my home province and one of our finest. Of course, I could give you a list of fine NS talent 😉 but thanks for the plug of this one.

          • If “Barrett’s Privateers” is the anthem for Nova Scotia — which I think it should be — then “The Mary Ellen Carter” should be the anthem for humankind.

            Ted and Bev, in the three years we’ve gone to Irish Fest, we’ve allowed ourselves one album purchase each time, of the best band. And every time the album we’ve bought has been Canadian. Not just Canadian, either, but Maritime or at least pretty far east. (Lean hard north, Ted!) Those guys are really good. This year we got VishTen — phenomenal stuff.

            Sorry, Jeff, but it’s Saturday and I’m rambling . . .

          • Ted, I will check out Gordon Bok. Thank you.

          • I get a lot of Stan Rogers from our local community radio station, now online at weru.org. They played a bit of Stan on the “Saturday Morning Coffeehouse” this morning.

            “The Mary Ellen Carter” always gets me going. I like to think of it as an Easter-type song:
            “Well, we talked of her all winter, some days around the clock,
            She’s worth a quarter-million, a-floatin’ at the dock.
            And with every jar that hit the bar it caused us to proclaim
            That the Mary Ellen Carter’d rise again!”

            As for Canadian music (well Joni Mitchell goes without saying…and Leonard Cohen…and K.D. Lang who is fantastic even though I don’t like country music), try the French-Canadian band Le Vent du Nord. Traditional folk, really lively, fiddle etc, great vocals even if you don’t understand French.

          • Damaris, I’m listening to some Vishten now online. Great stuff. I’m sure I’ve heard them before on WERU. You’d like Le Vent du Nord if you haven’t already discovered them.

          • I’ve heard some of Le Vent du Nord — I’ll check out more. How about Les Aieux? I only know the one song “Degeneration,” but its profundity and great harmonies choke me up every time.

          • “you may have made a Nick Cave fan out of me.”

            *does the Mr. Burns hand-steepling “Exxxxcellent!” bit*

            Another one converted to the Dark Side! 😉

            Hey, the man did a duet with Kylie Minogue that was an actual real song (not the Stock, Aitken and Waterman bubblegum pop fare she started out on). Now, that’s music!

  8. I’ve seen that video pop up here & on BHT several times and I really think it’s an intentional self-parody. The lyrics even call it “this silly song”. Has anyone seen anything else done by this group?

    That said, I’m not sure the host complimenting them at the end of the song realizes that it’s parody.

  9. http://www.ignatius-record-review.com/2009/06/interview-sonseed.html

    Well, apparent;ly NOT exactly parody but VERY dated- early 1980s,

    Btw, I know I saw either here or on BHT a parody of Nickelback’s “Rock Stars” about being a “Big Youth Pastor”. Anyone know where that might be?

  10. After that video, the rest of my day is looking really good! Thanks, Jeff.

    Calvin College? …any relation to the former President? :>)

  11. Neither Hawking nor M-Theory are a threat to faith. I think it is best to consider ourselves our own greatest threat.

    Einstein stated the following in an address to the Princeton Theological Seminary on May 19, 1939:

    “To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. But I am persuaded that such behavior on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests.”

    Rather than refuting the belief in God, my concern is that eleven dimensions will give us an infinite number of dark, shadowy refuges to hide spurious defenses for the existence of God.

    I think we really need to take to heart what Hawking is trying to say. He is stating that M-theory makes creation independent of God. My view of God is one where he is intimately involved in the creation of matter – rather than isolated from such an earthy, dirty process – as the gnostics would believe. But I also believe that we must be careful not to view cosmology in a superstitious way. This obviously is a walk along a razor’s edge next to deism. But Einstein is right: when we fall to the other extreme of superstition, all we do it empower those who would use religion as a tool of manipulation and control.

    • I should have said that it takes away the necessity of the existence of God from cosmology, rather than that cosmology is independent of God. We should not defend the existence of God as the only explanation for why things exist. Such a statement is more of an expression of a superstitious fear of the unknown rather than a believe in God. Promoting faith with “have to” arguments contradicts the very definition of faith and reduces God to an object.

  12. My friend’s daughter spent last summer doing missionary work at an orphanage in Africa, I think it was Uganda. He received an e-mail from her saying, “Dad, the kids here sleep on the dirt floor, could you ask your friends to send us some money to buy mattresses?” Not to mention that tens of millions of my fellow Americans work on their feet all day for a minimum wage at places like Walmart and Starbucks. And we wonder why so many are “turned off” to Christianity…

  13. Now that THAT tune is stuck in my head…

    I think I’ll go rake leaves and listen to the sounds of God’s earth as it prepares to rest here in the Midwest. I’ve even got some cider chilling for when I’m finished. Just brought some peach cider back from South Carolina. Yum.

  14. Please tell me that horrible music is a spoof of all the awful “gospel” stuff from the 70’s!

    • Oh, I wish I could Kat. I wish I could…

      • Are you serious, Jeff? I mean, honestly – it’s hysterical if it’s a spoof/satire, but it’s really sad if it’s for real. Are you sure?

        • Seems they were a group of friends from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic church in Brooklyn, NY. They formed around 1980 and lasted until 1983. They recorded one album, sold it for cost or gave it away. When they held concerts, they donated their portion of ticket sales to local charities. Seems they had good hearts if not a lot of musical talent.

          They are not bad people–just, um, different performers. So, yes, they were a real group.

          • Buford Hollis says

            It seems that thanks to their new popularity (from people making fun of them on the Dougsploitation blog), an LP is in the works. Oh yeah, and the lead singer seems perfectly serious about all this, and complains about the “haters” who make fun of them, presumably because those posters hate Christianity and/or the 1980’s.


            Wikipedia says the drummer died in 1993 from choking on a sandwich.

          • I have to say, nothing about that performance said “Catholic” to me (except maybe I should have been clued-in by the ripping-off adaptation of Francis Thompson’s “Hound of Heaven”).

            This is why Catholics shouldn’t do youth groups 🙂

            Ah, God love ’em. What’s that joke? “I suffered for my art, and now it’s your turn”?

  15. Hmmm?

    The national average of a pastor of a mega church is $147,000.

    Sounds like a nice respectable scam to me…

    Didn’t you ever wonder why there is NOT one person, in the Bible,
    with the “Title” and “Position” of “Pastor/Leader?” 😉

    If your life depended on it …

    Could you name one person, in the Bible, with the “Title” Pastor?

    Could you name one congregation, in the Bible, “Led” by a “Pastor?”

    Your “life in Christ” does depend on it.

    Jer 50:6
    My people have been lost sheep **Their Shepherds* have caused them to go astray…

    • Well put. In the defense of mega-church pastors, however, there are a LOT of easier ways to make more money then that. Working for the church can be nasty. Every pastor has scars to prove it, I don’t care what size the church is. Can you blame some for hiding behind huge numbers, large salaries, and comercial success? If you’re gonna get eaten alive, it beats obscurity and poverty any day of the week. You’re average doctor can make double that with half the headaches. Pastor’s have to balance so much these days it’s ridiculous. If one finds something that appears to work and keep his life low-stress, I’d probably try to work out a theology in defense of the system too.

      That’s not to say that their “success” is not without cost to many others, including their parishioners, unbelievers who don’t get to see a clear message, and “unsuccessful” ministers. But for pete’s sake, not all of these guys are hustlers. Some of them are honestly doing their legitimate best. I’m not saying we should feel sorry for their abundant lifestyles, but if we truly believe our own message then we ought to pity, not attack, those who gain the world and loose their soul.

  16. I wish these surveys would also post the medians. This would give a clearer picture of where things are at and help eliminate the skew that can occur when there are a few folks way different from the majority.

  17. Okay, I’m gonna get in trouble for this, but as our favorite German said, to go against conscience is neither right nor safe …

    … the best baseball movie of all time, Field Of Dreams. No, don’t bother arguing that one. Just accept it and move on.

    Can’t accept it — Field of Dreams was awful on so many levels. Bad plotting, bad dialogue, bad pacing, absolutely HORRID casting! James Earl Jones does every scene as if he was slapping a stamp on it. Amy Madigan’s Georgia-backwoods accent totally undermines her character’s Iowa background. Timothy Busfield may be the least believable villain of our generation. And Ray Liotta … as a baseball history buff, I was appalled to see a bats-right, throws-left articulate Jersey-born pretty boy playing Joe Jackson, the batted-left, threw-right, illiterate Carolina-born ex-millhand. Just a wrong choice across the board.

    Now, I’ll grant that the cinematography was quite good, and Costner was decent (though not as good as in his other two baseball films). And good for Ray that he got to have a catch with Dad in the end. But you’re better off reading W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe (on which the movie was allegedly based), which really is worth the time. And if you want to watch a QUALITY film about Shoeless Joe and the 1919 Black Sox, check out John Sayles’ Eight Men Out, with D.B. Sweeney nailing the Joe Jackson role as part of an incredible cast: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095082/.

    Sorry, but I feel strongly about this.

    • I guess you do, Ray. I agree that the book is a lot better than the movie. But I do love the movie. It is one where I am able to suspend disbelief and go with the mystical vision it presents. What is that vision? Oh, that would take too long…

      But your comments are right and solid. Can’t disagree with you at all. But in spite of this, i love the movie…

      (In second place as far as baseball movies go would be Bingo Long’s Traveling All Stars And Motor Kings.)


  18. That video became popular in Waco about two years ago. David Crowder*Band actually did it at their church one day for a laugh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyTtK5R6NqM

  19. “Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice” – A.W. Tozer, from “The Pursuit of God”.