January 26, 2021

Saturday Ramblings 9.24.11

I feel like a kid in a candy shop. This week’s cornucopia of stories is perhaps the best ever. I’m serious that I cannot make this stuff up. Alert iMonk readers sent me emails this week with many of these stories, and I am so thankful. We have unisex squid, cowboy monks, a money-saving web site called Jewpon, and Ted Haggard swapping wives with Gary Busey. To cap it off, our bonus video stars a moose and a squirrel. Are you ready? Then let’s ramble!

Mars Hill (in Grand Rapids, Michigan) pastor Rob Bell announced this week he is leaving his church to pursue “broader interests.” Bell, of course, took a lot of heat from readers (and those who couldn’t be bothered to read, but felt the freedom to comment anyway) about his perceived stance on hell in his latest book, Love Wins. Other pastors, including Francis Chan and N.T. Wright, have left their churches in the past few years for other pursuits. It will be interesting to see what God has next for Bell.

Busted in Alabama? Now you have a choice of going to jail or going to church. Isn’t that nice. I’m sure those who attend under a court mandate are coming with a hungry heart. Is it just me, or does this seem to equate church with punishment?

Two decades of study reveal that male squid will mate with any other squid who swims by, male or female. No, the researchers don’t think the squid are gay—just lonely. This begs the question: Will Fred Phelps and his “church” show up and protest every time someone orders calamari in a restaurant?

The Baylor Religion Survey was released this week with some interesting results. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, Christianity Today has a quick look at some of the highlights.

Groupon is one of those social media sites everyone tells me I need to join so I can save money on stuff I don’t need in the first place. Well, as so often happens, there are those who like to imitate an idea with a religious version of it, usually resulting in something that is totally laughable if not harmful. So read this with your giggle glasses on and don’t take it too seriously. Jewpon, indeed…

Ok, so this is not laughable. iMonk commenter Headless Unicorn Guy mentioned this recently. I thought he was kidding. I hoped he was kidding. He wasn’t kidding. These are real. Oh Lord, forgive us.

Southern Baptists are considering a name change for their denomination. They, like Rob Bell, want to reach broader interests than just those living south of I-70. So, what are some suggestions for the sixteen million member Baptist organization? Sticking with the Rob Bell connection, how ’bout “Universal Baptists”?

“A Roman Catholic monastery in North Dakota is putting its ranching operation out to pasture because it lacks monks with cowboy skills.” That’s the lead sentence to this NPR story, and it was enough to draw me in. I never knew there were cowboy monks. Do we have any cowboy/cowgirl iMonks among us? And is North Dakota a real state, or just a bad joke played on us by Canada?

Here is what you have been waiting for: Ted Haggard on Celebrity Wife Swap. So many loyal iMonks wrote to me with this story that I wonder if I really need to share it. Seems everyone already knows about this. Look, I cannot make stuff up this weird.  This is just funny as can be, and that’s all there is to it.

Birthday wishes go out this last week to Hank Williams, Sr.; Roddy McDowall; George Blanda; Anne Bancroft; Robert B. Parker; Greta Garbo; June Foray, the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel; Bud Greenspan; Robert Blake; Frankie Avalon; Kerry “On My Wayward Son” Livgren; William Golding; Brian Epstein; Adam West; Bill Medley; Cass Elliott; Mike Royko; Jay Ward (cartoonist of Rocky and Bullwinkle); Herbert George Wells; Leonard Cohen; Stephen King; Tommy Lasorda; Debby Boone; John Coltraine; and Bruce Springsteen.

You don’t know how hard it is to not feature Leonard Cohen in today’s bonus video. I love Leonard Cohen. But when both the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel and the cartoonist of the classic duo, Rocky and Bullwinkle, celebrate birthdays in the same week, well, we have to go with the following. Short of Looney Tunes, there just wasn’t a better cartoon when I was growing up. Enjoy.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSUKcTyUhjQ&feature=related’]


  1. I think after seeing the special item mentioned by HUG, I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep for a while.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      1) You think I could make up crap like that?

      2) I so wish I had Nightmare Moon on speed dial when I first encounted that. Whoever came up with that Cheezy Christianese knockoff deserves a midnight visit from The Night Mare.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Further developments:

        As of Tuesday morning, the link is gone. Dead-ends into their main page. I wonder why?

        And something from a private email about the appeal of the (non-Praise) Ponies. I think it’s from a BronyCon report:

        …it gave us an excuse to ditch all the poisonous, self-perpetuating cynicism and bile that we’d become used to throwing around at the world and each other, and to just appreciate something sweet and beautiful because it was objectively good enough that we didn’t have to feel weird about it if we didn’t choose to.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          P.P.S. The source of that quote is one Jayson Theissen (sp?), line director for “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, Seasons 1 & 2.

          So why do the Jesus Junk types feel they have to gild the lily by “Christianizing” something already not only sweet and beautiful but INNOCENT?

  2. Thou doubtest friend HUG? Oh, ye of little faith. 😉

  3. And that judge still has a job? Has he never heard of the US Constitution?

  4. Anyone else just feel really, reeeeeeeeally sorry for Mrs. Haggard? She does the matrimonial equivalent of Andy Dufresne crawling through the sewer pipe in The Shawshank Redemption to stay with her husband, and this is the thanks she gets?

    (Or am I assuming too much, or too little, about her motives? Maybe she’s as publicity-addicted as he is …)

    • Probably the latter – what a “testimony” – sickening IMO.

    • David Cornwell says

      I for one feel do sorry for her. But I also can’t help feeling sorry for him. He seems trapped, with his feet in several worlds at the same time, with each one pulling at his core. And he seems to be a person who absolutely must be in the limelight, regardless of how foolish it makes him look.

      And I can’t even imagine how she deals with all of this, or how she really feels.

      • I get the feeling that he can’t live without the public spotlight and attention that comes along with it. As a result he goes seeking out attention whereever he get it. I think he’s very much a product of evangelicalism, and I think he’s also been created to be as such by the members of New Life Church. It’s sad, sad, sad…

  5. Also in this week’s news: there may just possibly have been the discovery of the first faster-than-light speed particle. Link to abstract courtesy of Rolf Andreassen. Dumbed-down version in the press says:

    “The science world was left in shock when workers at the world’s largest physics lab announced they had recorded subatomic particles travelling faster than the speed of light

    If the findings are proven to be accurate, they would overturn one of the pillars of the Standard Model of physics, which explains the way the universe and everything within it works.

    Einstein’s theory of special relativity, proposed in 1905, states that nothing in the universe can travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum. But researchers at the CERN lab near Geneva claim they have recorded neutrinos, a type of tiny particle, travelling faster than the barrier of 186,282 miles (299,792 kilometers) per second.

    The results have so astounded researchers that American and Japanese scientists have been asked to verify the results before they are confirmed as a discovery.”

    Unless this is reproducible elsewhere, it’s either a highly embarrassing error or a weird one-off, but still – SF geeks everywhere (such as myself) are rejoicing with loud rejoice! 😀

  6. Praise Pony? What next? Bible-thumping Barbie? And you mean the makers of My Little Pony haven’t sued yet? To what depths will the makers of Jesus Junk descend to? And when will the temple be cleansed again? John 2:14-17

    • That Praise Pony looks exactly like a pony my girls had about 15 to 18 years ago. I don’t think it had a Bible verse, so maybe this has been ripped off twice.

      And the promo for the Praise Pony assumed that only girls would be interested. That’s not only a bit sexist, it’s really bad marketing. I mean, if HUG loves ponies, why wouldn’t everybody? 🙂

    • Trevis Litherland says


      This comment gives me an idea for a new invention with wider appeal: a battery-operated Bible-thumper. Just attach to the top of your-demographic-segment-here, megachurch-pastor-endorsed Bible, press the button, and voila! No more sore fingers!

      And maybe the Lutheran version could even thump up to 95 times or so — though that’s probably not really in the spirit of the Pope’s remarkable address.

    • conanthepunctual says

      I hope it’s just something in how their site is set up, but I tried to post a negative review about that product (as in, don’t support stealing) and it just didn’t show up. Maybe it goes through a review process before being posted but that makes me wonder if negative product ratings are sometimes omitted.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        They killed the link from their end Tuesday morning. I wonder if the attention from here (like your negative review) had something to do with it.

  7. There’s already a perfect set of toys out for the fire-and-brimstone types. Just go on YouTube and look up “Apocalypse Pony.” Punishin’ mankind for their sins, complete with sparkly Pestilence Pony and giggly fire-breathing War Pony. And, oh dear, DEATH PONY . . .

    • It reminds me of somebody’s idea of what hell is like. It’s being tied to a chair and forced to watch all the VeggieTales videos in existence. Without a break.

  8. I heard the story about Rob Bell on public radio yesterday. They mentioned Piper’s tweet “Farewell, Rob Bell” after Bell wrote Love Wins. It was fun to hear these guys mentioned on public radio. The only other place I have heard about them is here on internetmonk. I wish Rob Bell well. I LIKE his writings!

    I love Rocky and Bullwinkle. That is quite the “double dome” in the beginning of that video! 🙂

  9. Oh, you can go to youtube to watch parts 2, 3, 4 of that Rocky and Bullwinkle episode. You need to find out if Bullwinkle saves the day!

    • Joanie, where have you been?

      • Hi Ted. I have been busy trying to make a bit of extra money selling things on eBay. Take photos; write description; research cost others are selling them for; list the item; answer all the questions eBayers send me; rewrite parts of descriptions; send invoice to those who won auction; wait for payment; box things up; write out customs forms for those things going overseas; mail the items. I have to decide if it is worth it. And now I see PayPal says I may have to wait up to 21 days to request the money.

        I also have been reading quite a bit. I just finished a good autobiographical book called Twenty Chickens For A Saddle written by Robyn Scott about the years she and her family lived in Africa when she was growing up. I recently read a couple Madeleine L’Engle books and I have just started a book called Hunger Games which was recommended by some family members. I still work full-time and by the time I get to see what is happening on internetmonk, there is just so much to read I can’t keep up. So I do some fast skimming of comments. It’s always interesting to be here though!

        • Glad you’re OK. And I hope you can make a few bucks on eBay. It seemed like a drill the one time I tried to sell something, but I’ve bought quite a lot there and loved it.

          My wife and I read Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water this spring, as kind of an assignment while our pastor was away on a sabbatical studying art. We both liked it, and that’s almost a first because we normally don’t have the same tastes in books. But when pastor returned, he said he hadn’t read it when he ordered copies for the church, had read it later, didn’t like it, and would not have recommended it had he known. But, he was wrong. The book is a winner.

  10. david carlson says

    Bell is often over the edge, especially when he “claim to have little known rabbinic or first century cultural insights are usually taking minority positions that are risky or even rejected and advertising them as legitimate.” to quote Imonk.

    Having listened to some of his sermons, he could be really wacked. Defending him uncritically is not what Micheal was about. I read IM less these days because, and I say this as a M Spencer fan boy, you seem to have taken his blog places that he would not.

    • David, I was not defending him in the least here. Saturday Ramblings is me reporting, you deciding. Wait–that’s already taken, isn’t it?

      I personally do not care for his writing style. I have never heard him preach other than watching one or two of his Nooma videos, which I really didn’t care for either. If I lived in Grand Rapids, I wouldn’t attend his church.

      If we spent all of our time ripping those we disagree with, Michael would be none to happy with us. We want to, with a critical eye, build up, not simply tear down.

  11. “A feller who just went by looks like he was all lit up”

    “We must be next to the club car.”

    I needed some Saturday Morning cartoons today. Thank You! Would any kids today get the Allen Funt or Ding Dong School jokes? Ah well..

    And I’m willing to out HUG as a brony. Don’t worry, it’s quite a common condition at the moment. The new My Little Pony IS pretty funny these days, and it owes more than a little nod to Rocky and Bullwinkle and Looney Tunes. They even slipped in a booze joke or two like the aforementioned one.

  12. So is the report on squid sex supposed to prove that bisexuality is natural and part of the created order (But Mom it’s OK; SQUID do it!)? Not sure. One can interpret.

    This is old news, but shrimp sex is even more mind-bending. When hatched out, shrimp are male. But later in life they become female (thus explaining Chaz Bono? Or did that go the other way?). And so, a young male will mate with an older female, quite possibly a female that had been his own father (and where was his mother in all of this? Didn’t she have anything to say?).

    How would Sophocles have written this? Whom would Shrimp-Oedipus have killed, if his father had become his wife?

    Ah, heck, they’re just crustaceans. Arthropods, like cockroaches and mosquitoes. And squid are molluscs, like clams only naked. Best not to make too much of it.

    • My son became interested in nudibranchs (a bit like a sea slug) in second grade. They are hermaphroditic with their mail member on the side of their face. They form long circular chains for mating. Yeah. Explaining that one was real fun. Looked a bit like an etching a college friend made in his sexual experimentation phase in college.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      So is the report on squid sex supposed to prove that bisexuality is natural and part of the created order (But Mom it’s OK; SQUID do it!)? Not sure.

      Well, Dolphins and Bonobos WERE used to prove that. (Remember when Dolphins were supposed to be “Unfallen” and better than us hy00mans? Well, that belief in Dolphin Moral Superiority slopped over into Dolphin sexual behavior — usually by some guy trying to get into a same-sex somebody’s pants. Right up there with “Everybody’s Doing It, You’re Just Sexually Hung Up.”)

      I still don’t understand why “part-time homosexuality” was billed as having much more prestige than full-time.

  13. I hope the Southern Baptists know what they’re doing. Speaking of name changes—and Ted Haggard, come to think of it—this reminds me of when the PTL Club decided that the initials no longer meant “Praise The Lord” but also “People That Love” (poor grammar, but that went un-noticed with what happened later). With Jim Bakker’s scandal, PTL turned into “Pass The Loot” and “Pay The Lady”.

  14. Southern Baptist went down this road before, it got voted down. Many churches seem to be removing the name Baptist anyway. For SBC, I think it is too little, too late. The collapse continues.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And quick name changes like this to distance yourselves from your reputation don’t work. Everybody knows who you are, and all the baggage transfers to the new name. So you have to find yet another name change…

      And there’s a sinister precedent; how CheKa changed their name to OGPU who changed their name to NKVD who changed their name to KGB…

      • You are so right HUG….just because a chruch changes its name doesn’t mean it changes its theology. What is worse is that it can deceive and pull the wool over one’s eyes. One thinks they are getting involvedin a non-denom and instead they are getting invovled in a SBC instead. I wish fundagelicals believed in “truth in advertising…”

  15. ‘A majority of those who strongly believe in God’s plan also believe that “able-bodied people who are out of work shouldn’t receive unemployment checks.” As a belief in God’s plan grows weaker, so does agreement that those out of work should be helped by government. Three-quarters of those who do not believe in God’s plan believe that government should provide unemployment aid to those out of work.’

    God have mercy!! How many people have tried and tried to find jobs, are let go from their jobs, and having a hard time? Does this survey indicate that only atheists believe anyone should receive government help? I understand government can get too big and we can get too dependent on gov’t assistance, but it’s too easy to sit in our comfy, middle-class, nearly all-white churches, go home to our big houses in our expensive cars (eating out on the way home, of course), and say we deserve to be this way! Maybe the results are colored by the way the questions are worded. I surely hope so!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      ‘A majority of those who strongly believe in God’s plan also believe that “able-bodied people who are out of work shouldn’t receive unemployment checks.” As a belief in God’s plan grows weaker, so does agreement that those out of work should be helped by government. Three-quarters of those who do not believe in God’s plan believe that government should provide unemployment aid to those out of work.’

      i.e. Make the Sign of the Dollar along with John Galt…

      (Who is John Galt? Whoever he is, these days the guy’s got more Celebrity Impersonators than Elvis.)

  16. As one who has in-law family in North Dakota, I have had the chance to visit the Abbey at Richardton featured in the NPR story and more thoroughly in a recent Sunday New York Times piece. Those Monks have built and sustain one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen. I commend the works of the noted author Kathleen Norris to describe the great contribution these men provide to the Christian calling in western ND. The abbey ls located in a most beautiful setting that is certainly no joke. The fine men who serve there face great challenges to maintain their calling in a nation hostile to those called to give their all in the service of God. .

    • R. L. Holmen says

      I am a longtime resident of North Dakota. We are real people living in a real state. Why make fun of a state with great productivity and the lowest unemployment rate in the US? There are devout Christian believers in a variety of denominations. We are known for a strong work ethic combined with a generous servant spirit.

    • I grew up about 20 miles from Assumption Abbey. There’s a stark beauty to that area that I miss. I second Tom C’s recommendation of Kathleen Norris and would also suggest Larry Woiwode as an author whose writings provide cultural and spiritual insights into that region and it’s people.

      So at the very least North Dakota seems to exist as a state of mind. 😉

  17. Thank you for cartoon–I, too, miss the Saturday Morning cartoons. Rocky & Bullwinkle only gets funnier the older i get:) Thanks, JoanieD for letting me know where the rest are as I am quite techno-challenged on this stuff.

    “I feel like a kid in a candy shop”…really, I was thinking it was more like a shop of horrors….

    Why does everyone think a name change is going to make everything better? It’s like putting a band-aid on the protruding bone–the problem is still there, and will only continue to worsen:(

    If I didn’t know better, I would’ve bet those other ‘oupon’ sites were a parody…sigh.

    I’m looking forward to more on that research on those particles that are faster than the speed of light–love SF, love how God always something else up His proverbial sleeve!

    You’re right, Jeff, you can’t make this stuff up–appreciate these Saturday Ramblings!

  18. Great week for Sat. Ramblings. I was telling my husband about the squid. He spent a semester in college studying squid for his senior project. He said “ya, they would probably try to mate with a sock if it swam by”.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      You could say the same thing about some humans I’ve run across…

      • HUG….remember many rush into marriage instead so they can mate. They do this especially when they are young….becuase they need to keep up the high divorce rate!! 😉

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Thus my one-liner “Marriage is Christianese for Getting Laid.” (Which I believe actually has a theological definition as “Marriage of Continence” — a marriage entered into entirely to legalize the sex.)

  19. My wife does Groupon. Saves us a ton, and it never sold us anything we weren’t already looking to purchase.
    Speaking of my wife, I mentioned to her the SBC name change and she came up with a winner:

    Evangelical Baptist Convention. How on earth is that name not already taken? We already have EV Free churches, EV Lutherans, EV Presbyterians, and so many of those groups are “liberals.” This would be a good opportunity for the SBC to reclaim the word “evangelical” for the “inerrancy crowd.”

    If they so choose to drop “Baptist” from their name, whatever they replace it with will be ghetto and cliche in 20 years or so. Just own your theology. “Community” is code word for “Baptist”, and “non-denominational” means “we’re Baptist but don’t want to admit it.” We already have enough who hold Baptist theology think they’re not Baptist.

    • Evangelical Congregational Baptist Convention? I thought a historic part of the SBC, in particular, was in insisting on a congregational mode of governance.

      • Yes, but including “congregational” in the name may confuse them with another tradition, Congregationalism, which embraces local church autonomy and infant Baptism (John Edwards was from this gang). Plus, it would be redundant: Having “Baptist” in the name assumes congregational government, unless otherwise noted, as in the “Episcopal Baptist Church.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      My wife does Groupon. Saves us a ton, and it never sold us anything we weren’t already looking to purchase.

      But “Jewpon”… Man, that’s a groaner!

      If they so choose to drop “Baptist” from their name, whatever they replace it with will be ghetto and cliche in 20 years or so. Just own your theology. “Community” is code word for “Baptist”, and “non-denominational” means “we’re Baptist but don’t want to admit it.”

      30 years ago on the radio they used to say “Non-denominational means Fundamental Baptist with the labels scratched out.”

      Remember the Christian Booksellers Association, gatekeepers of Christian Literature for all those Jesus Junk stores? They started as the Baptist Booksellers’ Assocation and later dropped “Baptist” from their name.

  20. Every denomination should throw out the church growth and worship circus gimics and redoscover their roots. SB’s should dust off Spurgeon and share this rich heritage with the whole body of Christ. The same could be said for Lutherans and Wesleyans.

  21. So I checked out Jewpon. I had heard somewhere (perhaps the linked article) that they were offering a special on a set of volumes of Talmudic commentary, so thought, wow! A site for intellectual Judaica!!! Not so much. What I saw were offers for wine, food (babkas…hmmm, that might be worth another look), and…honest to goodness, a 5 part DVD of “Self-esteem for Success!” by some Rabbi. Wealth and Prosperity for Judaism? I guess that proves the concept can even jump religions. What’s next? Wealth and Prosperity Hinduism? Jainism? Atheism?

  22. I think saying “praise ponies” instead of “this” would have peaked more interest. Just a thought. I wish I could see all the people scanning the post again look for “this.”

    There are Southern Baptist missionaries all over the world. I once heard one comment on the irony of planting “Southern” Baptist churches in Canada. I think it’s relevant to note that Southern Baptists split from the American Baptists over the issue of slavery. SBC apologized years ago, denouncing all forms of slavery and recognizing the equality of all believers. Rather than a name change, I think we must ask why the Southern Baptists cannot reunite with other American Baptists. SBC leaders would never give up their organization (so of course I know why) but the consideration to change the name begs the question.

    • I’ve simplified the issue somewhat. Today’s Southern Baptists and American Baptists were once part of the Triennial Convention, formed in 1814 in Philadelphia. American Baptist Churches USA is headed quartered in Philadelphia to this day. There is no reason to go into this much detail, but before someone points out I’m wrong in my history, I know. Like I said, doesn’t matter. Reunification is never going to happen.

    • good idea

  23. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Two decades of study reveal that male squid will mate with any other squid who swims by, male or female. No, the researchers don’t think the squid are gay—just lonely. This begs the question: Will Fred Phelps and his “church” show up and protest every time someone orders calamari in a restaurant?

    At least it’s squids this time. Remember when it was Dolphins? And then when it was Bonobos?

  24. The Bible does not teach eternal punishment. God’s love & mercy endures forever. Does it really endure forever or only in this life? How can it be Good News if it doesn’t translate to the afterlife? He’s a better Father than we are, right? He will still judge but He won’t write people off forever.

    1 Timothy 4:10- This is? why we work hard? and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

    That’s like saying track is for everyone, especially those who like to run. Water is for everyone, especially those who are thirsty. Salvation is for everyone, especially those who believe.

    Titus 2:11- For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.

    1 Peter 4:5-6- But remember that they will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead. That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.

    I’m glad God is more gracious than most Christians.


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