October 27, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 9.4.10

“Why is it,” I was asked while in England, “that you call it ‘Labor Day,’ but it is a day off?”

I don’t know. If it makes you feel better, I’ll be working that day. So, why do you refer to Fridays as POETS day?

“Push Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday.”

I like it. I like it a lot.

So, fellow poets, are you ready to ramble? Because it’s Saturday!

Glenn Beck, the conservative talk show host, attracted a lot of attention after his recent rally in Washington, D.C. Was it because he made comments about President Obama’s theology? Not really. It was the wall of evangelical pastors who lined up behind Beck, linking arms in support of Beck’s call for America to return to God. This would have been just another “Let’s get back to the Christian nation America began as” kind of event if it weren’t for the fact that all of these pastors were supporting a Mormon. Beck is a practicing Mormon. Jim Wallis issued an open letter to Beck inviting him to a public discussion of his faith and the way he walks it out. And my friend Jim Garlow answered accusations that he was endorsing heresy. What bothers you more: the fact that Beck is a Mormon, or yet another rally wanting to return America to dubious religious roots?

The attack of the mutant Christians? No, not a new Sam Remi film, but the way Kenda Creasy Dean refers to the faith of many of today’s teenagers. According to this CNN article, “Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls ‘moralistic therapeutic deism.’ Translation: It’s a watered-down faith that portrays God as a ‘divine therapist’ whose chief goal is to boost people’s self-esteem.” But I like the term mutant Christian better than moralistic therapeutic deism. You?

Francis Chan walked away from his Southern California megachurch earlier this year so he could follow a leading from God. And this has not set well with other pastors of large churches (including Mark Driscoll and Josh Harris), who question Chan’s leaving. Chan said he is tired of comfortable Christianity. Sounds to me like he is seeking to follow the dangerous God. I am at a loss to explain why only a few hear this call, and even fewer respond. Maybe it is just me, but I think Chan should be applauded for his move, not questioned.

Are you a hipster? Is your church cooler-then-thou? Check out Brent McCracken’s history of hip in the church in this Christianity Today article, and stand by for a potential review of his book here at the iMonastery in the near future. Maybe. If we get around to it.

The Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky (just over the river from Cincinnati) is evolving. Get it? The Creation Museum is evolving. Ho boy. The headline in this article is really all you need to read. The museum is attracting more visitors than they thought they would. Good for them. I’d rather take in a Reds game myself. How ’bout them Reds?

Meanwhile, pastors and theologians in England are weighing in on Stephen Hawking’s claim that gravity alone would be enough to create something from nothing, and thus we don’t need God in the creation equation. I will tell you that I don’t have a real strong feeling one way or another on how God created everything, but I do stand firm that in the beginning, God created, not gravity. So I am glad the religious leaders in the UK are standing up to Hawking’s foolishness.

Birthday greetings this past week to cartoonist Jack Kirby; David Soul (quick: was he Starsky or Hutch?); Shania Twain; Ingrid Bergman; Elliot Gould; Ted Williams; Jack Swigert (Apollo 13 astronaut); Daniel Schorr; Frank Robinson; Van Morrison; Dr. Phil; Mary Jean “Lily” Tomlin; Barry Gibb; and Aimee Osbourne, daughter of Ozzy.

We have two videos for your viewing enjoyment today. The first features Ozzy’s other two children, not Aimee. She is kind of the “forgotten” Osbourne. But it is an excuse to run one of the funniest commercials I have ever seen. The next video is Van the Man with The Band from the greatest rock and roll concert movie ever, Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz. Van Morrison was notorious for his stage fright, especially earlier in his career. He didn’t want to make this appearance, but he went through with the rehearsal. Then when he was announced, he froze off stage. He wasn’t going to go on until his manager literally kicked him in the backside and shoved him on stage. At that point, Van Morrison went on to perform a show-stopping version of Caravan. Enjoy.


  1. “I will tell you that I don’t have a real strong feeling one way or another on how God created everything.”

    The Book of Genesis would be a good place to start. “And God said…” and so forth.

    • As I said, I stand firm on God being the creator of all things. I don’t stand firm on him doing in in six literal days, or any other theory of how he did it. Genesis does not answer those questions, and is not meant to answer those questions. Frankly, I don’t care how he did it. I’m just glad he did.

      • “Genesis does not answer those questions, and is not meant to answer those questions.”

        I disagree with you on these points as I do take the Genesis account literally. I supposed you guessed that from my comment. Frankly, I do care how He did it. I’m a curious critter and the subject interests me greatly.

        Have you ever heard of Robert Gentry’s work?

        • Chris, I recommend you go to the top of this page and take a look under Archives. Go to June 2010. Read the posts from Chaplain Mike and Michael Spencer about Genesis. This is where I pitch my tent as well. You are welcome here even if you disagree with us, but I just wanted you to know where I am coming from. Thanks for your comments and being part of the community!

  2. Glenn Beck is an opportunist. He is trying to step into the cultural war leadership vacuum left by Falwell and Kennedy. The fact that no one has a problem with this indicates that the Christless conversion of evangelicalism is practically complete, or reveals just how desperate they have become. A call to “return” to “God” means that Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists – anyone who cannot call on the name “God” – are not true Americans, perhaps are even enemies of the state. The fact that Mormons are polytheists is not a problem. They can attack Obama for allegedly not being a Christian without jeopardizing Romney’s next run for the White House. Erosion of the freedom of religion will only advance secularism – even if it temporarily favors those who believe in “God”.

    • Dear D.O.,

      I don’t have a feeling for Mr. Beck’s motives as I don’t watch him. I do know one thing; a lot of folks who are Christians like what Glenn Beck is doing. It certainly proves your point about the lack of leadership within the Church.

      • VolAlongTheWatchTower says

        “…a lot of folks who are Christians like what Glenn Beck is doing…”

        And that is SAD,SAD, SAD. 🙁

    • Dumb Ox says:

      “The fact that no one has a problem with this indicates that the Christless conversion of evangelicalism is practically complete, or reveals just how desperate they have become.”

      George Orwell says, on the final page of Animal Farm:

      “Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

      • “No one” and the “Twelve voices” quote are a bit over the top. I’ve read several articles from those inside evangelical circles who have problems with the way things have gone and are going. And I haven’t had to look hard for the articles.

        • I don’t think those quotes are over the top. I think they both serve as prophetic warnings. The hyperbolic “No one” could have been revised to “Hardly anyone” but that’s a small point.

          I will agree with you on a comment, above, however, when you say to Dumb Ox, “It certainly proves your point about the lack of leadership within the Church.”

          • Dear Ted,

            Would you explain how they are prophetic warnings?

          • If anyone tries to equate the Gospel with Americanism, for example, he sets up another gospel. Paul warned against this in Galatians1 (for starters), but idolatry is idolatry and is warned against throughout the Bible.

            Hijacking the Christian faith into the Culture Wars is a form of idolatry. Confusing the cross with the flag is idolatry. Extreme patriotism is probably the most acceptable form of idolatry among Christians in this country.

            I wish Dumb Ox hadn’t mentioned the Weimar Republic and the Nazis in a comment below. But, now that it’s out, I’ll say that his fear is my fear: Whenever I see the U.S. flag trotted out at a Christian rally to “take back” America from immigrants, gays and Muslims, all I can see is a black bent cross on a white and red flag.

            Your comment below doesn’t help, either: “I’m sure that many are standing behind Glenn Beck out of desperation. How can I fault a man who stands behind a man with alien beliefs because he thinks it might help save the Republic?” I know you don’t mean it in this manner, but if you would substitute “Adolf Hitler” in that sentence for “Glenn Beck ” you would understand my concern, because that is exactly what many people said about Hitler.

            And no, I’m NOT equating Glenn Beck with Hitler—nor am I accusing you of being a Nazi—I’m comparing today’s Americans with Germans of the 1930s.

            Dumb Ox mentioned “the Christless conversion of evangelicalism”. That’s prophetic. I don’t want to see us go down that road. Orwell’s pigs and men lost their distinction because the movement was hijacked by extremists. That’s prophetic. I don’t want to see us go down that road.

          • Dear Ted,

            I would never equate my faith with Americanism. In my mind, that takes your first three paragraphs off of the discussion’s “table.” In fact, why you made the comment at all puzzles me.

            You tell me to substitute Glenn Beck’s name with Adolph Hitler’s and then you don’t equate the two. This doesn’t help your point.

            I agree with the opinion that there are similarities between Germany of 1930 and America in 2010. The culture is rudderless. Sadly, most of the fault can be placed at the feet of those named “Christian.”

            I understand what you mean by prophetic now. I don’t want to go down that road either. The prophecy states, “And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.”

            I think that “most people’s” makes it clear that the group will include many types of “Christians.” Yes, there will be evangelicals in the loveless group…and others.

            Because of the prophecy, and my agreement with you on your country comparison, I think time is short.

          • Chris,

            Even though you would not equate your faith with Americanism, too many others do, conciously or not. My comments were based on the one by Dumb Ox; that’s why the discussion stayed on the table.

            Although I’m not equating Beck with Hitler, the statement you made about “standing behind [fill in the blank] out of desperation” and “stand[ing] behind a man with alien beliefs because he thinks it might help save the Republic” was in fact typical of Germans who naively voted Hitler into power. Let’s be careful out there.

          • Dear Ted,

            Since so many folks are concerned with this event, I decided to research it a bit. I found this article, written by a someone who happened to be there. He had visited the Holocaust Museum the previous day and notes:

            “In listening to Glenn Beck, in letting myself uncritically join the crowd’s freely offered adulation, would I find myself falling blindly into the hands of a demagogue like Hitler? Would I become a tool in a crowd of tools? In the museum, I saw how easily a sophisticated, educated and Christian nation like Germany could abandon their sanctity and conscience to the spell of the fiery orator. Not me, bub! I would not unplug my analytical abilities and give up my autonomy to anyone!”

            Like you, this man appears to be very cautious. I am also cautious. The article is well worth your time.

          • Chris, thanks for sharing that. Interesting. The author shared some of my concerns about the crowds following a charismatic leader, and went to the rally and saw for himself that it isn’t necessarily the case. I’m OK with that.

            I also read your blog post about the Honor Rally Controversy. Pretty reasonable. And thanks for the honorable mention in there, but I think dumb ox deserves some of the credit (blame?) too. 🙂

      • Just one example:

        “Conservative ministry Focus on the Family has removed from its website an article about the latest book (The Christmas Sweater) by former CNN host Glenn Beck in response to complaints over his Mormon ties. Even though the book has no mention of his faith, the campaign against him and his book is ongoing by Evangelicals.”

        This is taken from the Christian Post in an article published over a year ago.

        • I hope I didn’t give the idea that this is strictly an issue about Mormonism. It’s even more than Beck. It is far more pervasive than that. It’s about evangelicals being owned and cowed by very non-religious if not out-right anti-Christian forces for political agendas which have nothing to do with faith and culture. The more I read about the German Weimar republic, the more I become concerned. Catholics and protestants alike protested against liberal elements within the Weimar republic and became concerned over the rising communist forces posed to overthrow the weak government. Along came the National Socialists who promised to remove separations of church and state, infidel art, homosexuality, foreign controls, and reinstate “family values”. Christians bought into this rhetoric and were gradually poisoned and silenced by National Socialist the propoganda and agenda. Fear, anger, hate, and nostalgia were the driving forces.

          • Is it evangelicals that represent the National Socialists in your comparison?

            Do I understand you to identify the Weimar Republic with the status quo?

            My concern is with the status quo.

            There are probably those who have, as you state, political agendas which have nothing to do with faith and culture.

            Yet, there are those who are watching the culture fall apart and are – I’ll use a word you used in a different context – desperate.

            This is probably why some Christians stood behind Mr. Beck. I may have done differently, but I’m not going to make a judgment that any of those men, unless I know facts on an individual, were driven by “out-right anti-Christian forces.”

            I’m sure that many are standing behind Glenn Beck out of desperation. How can I fault a man who stands behind a man with alien beliefs because he thinks it might help save the Republic?

            Yes, that man may have forgotten, “If MY people…” I’ll admit that.

            I forget it at times, too.

            I think the thing that is most incorrect about your statement is that it seems to condemn all who call themselves evangelicals.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Is it evangelicals that represent the National Socialists in your comparison?

            Probably not, but Evangelicals have been known to go for someone charismatic who pushes the right buttons. (See most Televangelists for an example; or Tatted Todd and Angel Emma last year at Lakeland.) And during their rise to power (when they DID have to appeal to the voters), the NSDAP DID position themselves as the Guardian/Restorer of Traditional German Family Values against the homosexual decadence of Weimar Berlin.

            Not that Evangelicals are Nazis, but the Nazis DID woo their country/time’s version of Evangelicals with Culture War rhetoric. They saw a legitimate need of a large group of people, and exploited it for their own ends.

          • Hey HUg,

            I might catch an old Billy Graham message on T.V. once in a while but that about the extent of the preaching I see on the tube. Don’t have any idea who the two at Lakeland are that you referred to.

            Most of those who went to the “Explo” event, noted on this site, would probably have considered themselves to be Evangelicals at the time.

            I know that, since that event, Evangelicalism has strayed far from the simple message presented in Dallas.

            There are still folks who hold to the same, simple message. Some of them still may call themselves Evangelicals.

            It’s the reason I keep responding to posts like this one.

            Every time the word evangelical is used, it sounds like all of “them” are goose stepping in a nice line and in the wrong direction.

            Why pick on “evangelicals” so?

            The Nazis wooed EVERY religious group, or scared the daylights out of them. I saw a picture of a line of Catholic priests with their arms held high in “Heil Hitler” mode..

            I don’t think those priests would have been considered evangelicals. Maybe I’m wrong.

            You mentioned homosexuality. No Christian worth his “salt” would ever harm one.

            And there’s another thing…

            Hitler seems to be coming up a lot lately. Does someone know something I don’t?

          • Now I’m doing it.

            I should have written, “Much of evangelicalism has strayed…”

  3. Bruce G White says

    Jeff – Thanks for including the link to Jim Garlow’s statement. He certainly did not make a mindless or emotional decision to participate in the rally. I don’t agree with his conclusions, but he lays out his case with thought, with care, and in a respectful tone.

    • Did you notice the part where he basically reduces the differences between Mormons and Evangelicals as being minor enough to consider them saved?

    • As I say, Jim is a good friend of mine. He thinks carefully before speaking or committing himself. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t still take missteps once in a while. And I don’t agree with everything, or maybe even most things, he gets involved with. But he is still a very good brother in Christ and a very dear friend. Please pray for Jim and his wife Carol. She is in a major battle with a very nasty form of cancer.

  4. I read pastor Garlow’s defense of Glenn Beck. It may have been thoughtful, but it was woefully naive.
    Garlow admits to being wrong about 1-7% of his theology and then extends the same Grace to Beck. I don’t think ministers or Christians are graded on a scale of percentages. It is not percentage of error, it is the severity of error. Beck is not a Christian. He believes in a totally different God, who was supposedly once a man before he attained godhood. He believes the sin in the garden of Eden was necessary and good. He believes that God has sexual relations with the Mother God. Do I need to go any further. If Garlow believes any of these things or the scores of other heresies Mormons believe, he should be brought up on charges, even if he is 99% right on other things.

    MOD NOTE: Links will throw your comment into moderation. Avoid using them when possible.

    • If Mormons say that the sin in the Garden was good and necessary, then why does Glen Beck care what happens in the country or else where since that original sin is what causes the state of unbelief, anger, and hate within our nation and our world. That is really strange that Glen Beck is so worried… however, Glen Beck has surrounded himself with many men and women who are Christian and who knows what impact those have on the life of Glen Beck. I have really mixed feelings about all of this.

  5. WenatcheeTheHatchet says

    I don’t know anything about Chan but Driscoll at one point told Mars Hill members that the plan (some 8 or 9 years ago) was that Mars Hill would not have services bigger than 120 people because that gets too impersonal. The plan was to have church plants or break services out into smaller groups so there would still be a sense of community. Obviously in the last ten years Driscoll changed his mind about that. I think both very large and very small churches have the potential to work but perhaps Driscoll doesn’t get Chan’s decision because Chan still holds to what Driscoll held ten years ago. I don’t know, just throwing that out as a possibility. By Driscoll’s own preaching many of the churches Paul spent a lot of time investing in were, by our standards, unusually small.

    Oh, and woot to Jack Kirby’s birthday.

    Scripture gives us a few stories about godly men who nevertheless made bad decisions. Jehoshephat loved the Lord but made a number of disastrous decisions and appointed a terrible succesor. We probably can’t tell whether Chan falls into this category even if Driscoll and Harris might feel that way. For all we know Driscoll and Harris might have fallen into that respectively by embracing the megachurch and promoting alternatives to modern dating. God’s faithfulness to complete His work is going to prevail despite any mistakes any of these men make or don’t make.

  6. Since my Mets and Red Sox are not going to the playoffs this year, I’m pulling for the Reds in honor of the iMonk. Wish he could have been here to see this. Go Reds. I remember a comment in his book about showing in hell and something else if the Reds were in the playoffs. Too funny.

  7. Steve Newell says

    I am not familiar with Pastor Chan nor his church, but your post brings to mind a question I have about churches with “dynamic” pastors: What do parishioners to due when their pastor leaves? Do they stay with the church or do they follow the pastor?

    As a member of both Southern Baptist and Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod congregations, I have had pastors come and go but I always remained a member of the congregation.

    It appears to me that we live in age that many churches are like the Church in Corinth where people focused more on their “pastor” than on Christ.

  8. Melissa The Ragamuffin says

    Glenn Beck needs to shut his yap and realize that as soon as they get done with shredding the First Ammendment the Mormons will be amoung the first if not THE first “Christian” groups that they come after to outlaw.

  9. Jeff asks, “What bothers you more: the fact that Beck is a Mormon, or yet another rally wanting to return America to dubious religious roots?”

    Neither bothers me too much; rather, it’s that evangelicals are dripping off of Beck as if he were the next Billy Graham; and rallying around Beck’s call against “social justice” while at the same time rallying to his call into the culture wars, as if that were the gospel instead.

    For an excellent article about Beck and evangelicals, read this from Dr. Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I think Michael Spencer would be proud of this SBC response:

  10. I saw the Kenda Creasy Dean news story on CNN, too. I agree with her summary but not her solution. She believe youth need more “passion”. Perhaps she needs to come here and see Chap. Mike’s comments regarding pietism.

    Everyone seems in agreement that youth are likely to walk away from their faith (their parents’ faith?) once they leave the home. Ken Ham thinks they need a healthy dose of young-earth-creationism; Dean thinks they need more passion. It’s like watching an episode of “House”, where the patient comes in the hospital with a rare disease. The first medicines the doctors prescribe always seem to have an immediate positive affect, but moments later the patient is convulsing and flat-lining. In the same way, I think some of these proposed solutions to keep youth in the faith may improve the situation in the short term, but in the long term they make the situation even worse. As soon as kids begin to doubt young earth creationism, they will think that God no longer loves them and be even more likely to leave. As soon as kids leave the hyperbolic chamber of youth group “passion”, they will lose that Jesus feeling and think God has left them. I think the answer is in Luther’s small catechism – particularly in the table of duties, but it’s not very glamorous. The short-term results may not be exciting, but sometimes a medicine must be taken for a long time before the benefits finally appear. God’s grace works that way.

    • Having gone through the Lutheran confirmation process, I was one of the few who was paying attention. I want no accolades, I only think that people should know that most of the kids in confirmation hated it as far as I could tell. After they were confirmed, I never saw a large percentage of them again. I’m not saying that the content isn’t good. My experience is, however, that few of those classes had long term results.
      I think Ken Ham’s medicine is better than yours in this case.

      • Woa. I didn’t say confirmation was the answer. That’s a can of worms I have no interest in opening here. I meant that kids are not taught to integrate faith with vocation. They are not even taught that being a student IS a vocation – God’s calling for their life at that time. Faith becomes just youth group (or confirmation class) attendance. Choosing homework or sports over youth group is viewed as worldly. If kids are taught a dichotomy between faith and school or faith and life, of course eventually they will drop the first. That integration needs to be more than wearing Christian t-shirts to school or beating friends and teachers over the head with the bible.

        • “They are not even taught that being a student IS a vocation – God’s calling for their life at that time.”

          This evokes a random memory:

          Several years ago now, I visited Berea College in Kentucky as a prospective student & I met the evangelical group on campus. My strongest memory from that visit was being told by one of the young leaders, “We like to think of ourselves as Christians warriors pretending to be students.”

          Undercover special ops pretending to be students — but not Christian students … !

        • Dear D.O.,

          I did make a little leap there. You didn’t say confirmation. You said Luther’s Small Catechism. My brain equates the two as would most Lutherans who were brought up in that denomination.


          “That integration needs to be more than wearing Christian t-shirts to school or beating friends and teachers over the head with the bible.”

          I’m seeing a different trend. The Christian t-shirts have gone away and the teachers are beating our kids over the head with state sanctioned religion (evolutionary thought).

          • Science is not religion, and if my kid weren’t getting beat over the head with it I’d find a different school.

            I have friends who send their child to a Christian school, where they reject science and teach things like dinosaurs not existing. That’s close to child abuse, in my book, because they’re cripping her intellectually for life. It would not be the first time children have been misused in the of God and it won’t be the last.

          • I’m with Fish here. Whatever your opinion on Genesis, if your school were not teaching evolution in science class, your child would be done a great disservice. Evolution contains some very important scientific concepts — even if you reject it, everyone needs to understand it in order to understand the work being done in the field of biology.

            It’s not really fair to say anyone is being ‘smacked over the head’ simply for taught and tested on facts about an entire scientific field.

            If I believed the moon landing was staged, I’d still want my child to know what people believe about the event.

          • Dear Fish,

            Anything that has to be believed by faith I consider a religion. In my view, macro-evolution has so many holes in it; it must be taken by faith. Thus, my usage of the word “religion.”

            With this in mind, maybe you will understand why I believe “beat over the head” is appropriate. My child is being taught, in his public school, only the possibility that God doesn’t exist.

            Also, I think Christian schools need to teach both sides of the issue so that kids will be prepared to dialog with most of the world.

            How anyone, particularly a Christian school, can teach that dinosaurs didn’t exist is beyond me.

            I understand your “close to child abuse” statement. It does make me shudder, though. I’ve seen the results of child abuse.

            What will be the results of a continual one-sided public school teaching that God’s existence is not a possibility?

            As a former teacher, I always used to tell my students that they could ask me any question. They also knew that they would not always get an answer.

            It seems that we are limiting the questions of our public school students when we teach only one hypothesis.

            I taught in Christian schools. I taught the theory of evolution. I had to be honest with my students and tell them that I sided with those who believed in the creationist viewpoint.

            I disagree with the connection you make in your last sentence to this issue. I would agree with it in many other instances, however.

            Dear Danielle,

            I completely agree that students need to be aware of the tenets of evolution.

            You’ve probably already read my comment to Fish above as to why I think “beat over the head” is o.k. the way i used it.

    • I think many youth naturally walk away from the institutions of their childhood and of their parents. It is part of the maturation process. Trying to make that not happen, as with YEC, could just make it worse.

      It is why I never force my teen to go to church, because when she’s out from under my roof I don’t want her making it a point of freedom and/or rebellion.

      Actually I have the opposite problem. All her friends are in different church youth groups, and together they can find something going on with one of them just about any night. They have figured out that parents will not say ‘no’ to youth group stuff and they take full advantage. It’s like a rotating party hosted by Jesus. I’m having to say no simply because mom and dad are getting run ragged.

      • Amen to that answer. You have it right, I think. Most kids will naturally want to separate and find their own way on the topic of religion. With our 6 kids, we gave them some good foundation (Lutheran SS, confirmation, etc.) – and they all did the much the same thing; we expected it. I also expect, at some point in the future, that they will return, in their own way, to faith. It may not be what I want, or expect – but our jobs as parents was to make sure they’d have something to come back TO.

        • Those are excellent points. The fact that they do come back is evidence that the focus needs to be on the long term – training and equipping them, so that when it is time to own their faith or when the want to come back, they know the way. Pumping kids up with emotions or frivolous issues gives them no such foundation; if they walk away, they have nothing to guide them.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            And they’ve been pre-conditioned for the next guru who pumps them up with emotions or friviolous issues.

  11. Love the Ozzie/Osmonds/Florence Henderson Pepsi spot. Even though I prefer Coca-Cola.

  12. “What bothers you more: the fact that Beck is a Mormon, or yet another rally wanting to return America to dubious religious roots.”

    I’ll merely observe that there is something deeply ironic about the fact that the religious right keeps calling for a return to a “Christian America,” when the fact that they are doing so as a polyglot that virtually in itself proves how diverse the country is — and always was. Our real legacies relate to the fantastic difficulties and opportunities that diversity has given us.

    How odd, too, that Beck has conveniently forgotten that the great-grandparents of the evangelicals he’s embracing would have stamped out his religion during his people’s trying days in a previous century. And neither Beck nor the evangelicals surrounding him, even as they decry imagined attacks on their religious rights, are willing to defend (but actually to attack) a religious minority that actually is in danger of persecution – American muslims.

    • Not even that long ago. In the early twentieth century there were efforts to pass federal laws to criminalize various aspects of the Mormon church. Very perceptive of you to point this out.

    • Dear Danielle,

      Has Mr. Beck conveniently forgotten or has he understandably forgiven?

      I must admit that I don’t know, but how do you know?

      Your term “imagined attacks” is hard to swallow after the last 50 years.

      • > Has Mr. Beck conveniently forgotten or has he understandably forgiven?

        It doesn’t matter to my point – my point is that the notion that this is ‘Christian nation’ has led to some harsh attitudes toward religious minorities in the past. Now one of those minorities is looking past the fact and pushing the same concept, rather than remembering that it has a down side.

        I say the attacks are imagined, because their significance is vastly overestimated. All we have really witnessed is greater intellectual challenge to Christian faith, alongside some legal wrangling over the Constitutional boundaries of religious practice in public schools and the use of public lands and monies. In my opinion, this does not justify the kind of rhetoric that persists in some corners of the right about having rights removed, or music videos by Ray Boltz depicting his execution for being a Christian in a near-future American state. (Heh — I just dated myself!) There’s no present threat of real persecution — Christians make up the majority religion in the United States and face no barriers to employment or cultural acceptance or threat of bodily harm. The greatest “attacks” we suffer in the United States in 2010 involves getting laughed at and competing with the ACLU to see who can use the best scare tactics in fund-raising letters.

        • Dear Danielle,

          I’ve really enjoyed the conversation. I’ll make this my last post. Please have the final word if you choose.

          I really don’t understand what you are trying to say in the first paragraph of your last entry.

          On “imagined attacks,” I was thinking apples to your oranges. My bad (I have two teens). I think I now understand your view. And I think I would agree with you for the most part on the religious rights point.

          I am going to go outside of the discussion for a sentence or three and note the huge
          attack that I believe has happened in the last 50 years.

          It has happened within the Church. It has happened because of the Church. It has had huge ramifications on the culture.

          There are a few biggies, but the attack on Biblical truth within the church seems to me to be the main problem. Many “Christians” don’t even believe the basics anymore.

          The percentage of “Christians” who think there are moral absolutes has changed dramatically in the last 50 years.

          More than half (the polling number is a shock) of mainline protestants think that if a person is good he/she will go to heaven.

          Way more than half of “Christians” do not believe the devil is real.

          Over half of evangelicals believe that Jesus was a sinner when he walked the earth.

          All of this has happened (now back to the discussion) while the intellectual challenges to Christianity have decreased. I disagree with you on your statement about the increase of these challenges. I think there is more “reason” for someone to believe now more than ever before.

          About the video, I’ve seen it but I didn’t know the artist (now I’ve dated myself). There is something wrong about it, but I can’t put my finger on why I think this.

          Back outside the discussion again…your comment about Christians getting laughed at is perfect.

          After years of study, Dr. Dobson has stated that a huge amount of our effort is spent on shielding ourselves from the inner pain of inferiority.

          It is one of the reasons that I believe the U.S. is no longer a Christian nation. I must admit that I posted something on my own blog, sent to me by a friend, that says:

          “GOOD MORNING, WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA , a Christian nation of the free and the home of the brave.”

          The truth is, in today’s home of the “brave,” “Christians” are afraid to stand up for Biblical Truths. They are afraid someone might laugh at them. They are afraid of the cost.

          Yes, I agree that “Christians” make up the majority religion in America. Most are Christians because of convenience. Just laugh at us and see us turn into something else.

          May God have mercy.

          • I think people will stand up for what they believe in. Just because most Christians don’t believe in “Biblical truths” doesn’t mean a thing – hasn’t it always been so? Many are called, few are chosen, and all that? Laborers in the field, and what have you?

            It’s obvious that Americans, more often than not, will side with temporal powers and their respective advocates than divine ones – that’s not a brand new state of emergency, that’s Original Sin. It’s not going to be overthrown with a revolution or a revival or a tea party (least of all a tea party!), so why pretend that any of it is efficacious?

            Mormons are to Christians what the Bahai are to Muslims, not the same.

            The fact that we have Christians today being lead around in fear by a high-publicity Mormon basically shows us what they believe about Jesus. Beck’s prophetizng is just another example, long in history, of a people with a God seeking after a soothsayer.

          • Dear Patrick,

            Since we are still waiting for the greatest “government” (His name shall be called Wonderful), Biblical truth has never been perfectly observed in any land. The two verses you quote get an “Amen” from me.

            I think that at one time this nation could be considered a Christian nation. It once stood for Biblical truth at the highest levels. I think things have changed dramatically.

            One example is the 1844 U.S. Supreme Court case of Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, 43 U.S. 126, 132.

            The entire court agreed with this statement:

            “Christianity…is not to be maliciously and openly reviled and blasphemed against, to the annoyance of believers or the injury of the public…It is unnecessary for us, however to consider the establishment of a school or college, for the propagation of…Deism, or any other form of infidelity.

            “Such a case is not to be presumed to exist in a Christian country.

            “And we cannot overlook the blessings, which such men by their conduct, as well as their instructions,…must impart to their youthful pupils. Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as a divine revelation …its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained and its glorious principles of morality inculcated?

            “Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?”

            What was so “malicious” and blasphemous to the court then?

            A rich man wanted to start a school and exclude Bible teaching.

            The U.S. Supreme Court in 1844 stood up for Christian principles.

            Before the case reached the Supreme Court, it was heard in a court in Philadelphia. The lawyers representing the City of Philadelphia wrote:

            “The plan of education proposed is anti-Christian, and therefore repugnant to the law…The purest principles of morality are to be taught. Where are they found? Whoever searches for them must go to the source from which a Christian man derives his faith-the Bible….There is an obligation to teach what the Bible alone can teach…a pure system of morality…

            “….the Old and New Testament’s importance is recognized. In the Old it is said, ‘Thou shalt diligently teach them to thy children,’ and in the New, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not…’ No fault can be found with Girard for wishing a marble college to bear his name forever, but it is not valuable unless it has a fragrance of Christianity about it.”

            The lower courts also stood for the teaching of Biblical truths.

            Yes, the country still practiced slavery at the time that both of these statements were made.

            Is it possible that God raised up a man like Mr. Lincoln because of public acknowledgment of Biblical truth?

            Yes, your statement “hasn’t it always been so” is true. I think, in the case of the U.S., it hasn’t always been so much so.

            I agree with your first sentence, and that is the problem. Larger (in percentages) numbers of Americans will stand up for lies and sin today than ever before. That means something to me.


          • The US of A never was a Christian nation. Check out Michael Babcock’s “UnChristian America: Living with Faith in a Nation that Never was Under God”. Babcock is a Liberty University professor, not some raging liberal.

            I wish more Christians would understand this and stop all this handwringing about “taking America back” and get down to the real work of serving Jesus and loving their neighbor.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            More accurately (from a blog now lost to history), America has been and yet not been a Christian nation.

            It has been a Christian nation in the sense that through most of its history, the majority of its population identified themselves as Christian in some way. It has not been a Christian nation in the sense of being Officially Christian (TM). And this combination has overall been a good thing.

            Most Christians in America are Protestant, split over thousands of denominations, from the mainstreams to one-family house churches. No single denomination (not even us Romish Papists) has ever been able to dominate this mob. (Just look at the comment threads here at IMonk for an example — general consensus on the macro level and Cro-Magnon Anarchy on the details, with a lot of back-and-forth “Die, Heretic!”)

            Result: Though there has been a general Christian consensus (and Christian values predominating in the country’s civil religion), no single denomination has been able to dominate and make THEIR type of Christianity THE Christianity, defining for an Officially Christian Nation (TM) WHAT is Officially Christian and what is not.

        • or music videos by Ray Boltz depicting his execution for being a Christian in a near-future American state.

          I’m not sure what you’re referring to, perhaps some very old Ray Boltz videos, but these days he’d more likely be executed by some conservative Christians than by the American state. 🙂

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I find it funny that Glenn Beck is trying to ride the Tea Party movement.

      Especially when in the 2008 primaries, the Christian Nation types denounced the Republican hopeful whose platform most closely matched theirs purely for being Mormon. (Remember Milt Romney? Remember the reaction to the interview either with or about him in Christianity Today? The ones whose comment threads immediately became chapter-and-verse anti-Mormon apologetics?)

      Now, two years later, the same Christian Culture War types who turned their backs on Romney for being Mormon fall on their knees and cast their crowns before much less-coherent Mormon Glenn Beck. :”SAVE US! SAVE US! SAVE US!”

  13. Jeff Livingston says

    Isn’t “hipster” Christianity basically “Generation X” Christianity? Just as the Boomers reshaped worship services to more fully match their sensibilities, so are Gen Xers now doing.

    In ten or 15 years, we’ll see the Millennials doing the same.

    • More like Generation Y. Generation X (born roughly 1963-1979) are largely the ones the hipsters are rebelling against, I suspect.

      • Jeff Livingston says

        Ray, you may be right, although without looking it up my impression is that most hipster Christianity leaders–Rob Bell, Don Miller, Shane Claiborne just to mention three off the top of my head–are Gen Xers.

        Either way, my point holds: this is a pattern that’s not new.

        • there is no such thing as hipster Christianity. It was made up to sell books. That’s all.

          • Eh. As someone who’s part of Gen Y and has read Brett’s book, I will attest to there being some form of hipster Christianity. It’s just not labeled that way. And it comes in various forms.

  14. Chris Moellering says

    I lean heavily toward a literal account of Genesis. I used to not, but, honestly, some of Ken Ham’s arguments painted me into a theological corner….I’m not sure I agree that NOT have a literal 6-day view is the cause of all western decline as he likes to trumpet.

    The museum is worth a visit. I stopped by last year.

    Couldn’t care less about Glen Beck, or Ozzy.

    Beautiful day here today. Speaking of creation, I’m going kayaking soon!

  15. Charles Fines says

    Jeff, I wonder if you also read the interview in Christianity Today with Sarah Ruden, who wrote Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time. She approached Paul after translating many classical Greek and Latin writings and is quite familiar with the cultural setting of the first century.. I ordered the book as soon as I finished the article. Sounds like she thinks outside the box, a rare trait in my view. Don’t want to get ahead of myself before I actually read the book but it sounds like it might be worth a review if not a round table discussion.

    • Charles:

      It’s an interesting book. Since her area of speciality is the common, bawdy literature, Ruden picks up on things that I hadn’t seen referenced or explained this way elsewhere before. Her chapters are:

      Paul and Aristophenes – No, Really
      The End of Fun? Paul and Pleasure
      No Closet, No Monsters? Paul and Homosexuality
      An Apostolic Oinker? Paul and Women
      Just Following Orders? Paul and the State
      Nobody Here But Us Bondsmen: Paul and Slavery
      Love Just Is: Paul on the Foundation of the New Community

      As she notes, her epiphany came during a Bible study of Galatians when her knowledge of something Horace had written gave her insight into Paul’s condemnation of sorcery. The first century she depicts and describes is not for those with weak stomachs, and the book is at times vulgar, so caveat emptor (I know of one person who felt they had to stop reading it at times because of some of the content).

    • I read the book several months ago. It gave insight into the culture of that time.Not a good time for a woman or a nonelite to be alive. It gave me a better understanding of what early Christians had to go through.

  16. I love Van Morrison.

  17. And Jeff – to answer your British mates’ question, here’s an article on the beginnings of Labor Day:

  18. “It’s a watered-down faith that portrays God as a ‘divine therapist’ whose chief goal is to boost people’s self-esteem.”

    One problem with our “Christian” youth today is that most parents put self-esteem in front of most everything else in their day to day raising of kids. It’s a total crock but it has taken hold in the schools and many/most parents have bought into it. Dedicated Christians or not.

  19. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    “Why is it,” I was asked while in England, “that you call it ‘Labor Day,’ but it is a day off?”

    Another of the Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe…