September 25, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 9.7.13

RamblerInternetMonk is a labor of love by those who write, edit and maintain these pages. It is because of your generous gifts we can continue to keep the lights on in the iMonastery. I get an email each time someone donates thru PayPal (button to the right of these words), and I am always grateful and humbled whenever someone gives even five bucks. I just wanted to say Thank You to each one who has given recently, and Thank You to all who continue to give. That means more to us than you will ever know. Since July, 2010 when we began collecting the numbers of unique visitors to our site, we have been blessed to receive 3,998,945 iMonks. That means today we will cross the 4 million mark. Four. Million. Wow. What can I say but … let’s ramble.

The Big News this week has been the debate on military intervention in Syria. Fr. Ernesto wrote a great piece on this for us yesterday, and Daniel Jepsen also wrote a reasoned response on his blog. Religion News Service’s Jonathan Merritt offers three viewpoints on the Syrian situation. For a historical perspective, I recommend Scott Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East. This gives a good overview of how today’s Middle East came to be. For a history book, it is a real page-turner.

One U.S. lawmaker has a creative solution to the situation in Syria. Make sense to you? And Pope Francis is calling for today to be a day of fasting and prayer for Syria. That does make sense to me.

Meanwhile, supporters of the former Egyptian president are making life very difficult for Christians in one town in Egypt. Let’s include them in our prayers today, shall we?

Rosh Hashanah ended at sundown last night, just in case you missed it. The president of Iran tweeted a greeting to “all Jews” wishing them a happy New Year. Or maybe he didn’t. And even if he did, he may not have meant it. Ok …

Yoga is back in the news. The question before you is this: Should yoga be banned from public schools because it has religious qualities about it? Discuss.

Taking away yoga is one thing. Now there are those who question whether Christians should distance themselves from football because of its inherent violence. This person obviously is not from the south.

The winner of tonight’s game between the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Yellow Weasels of Michigan will hold the title of all-time winningest college football team. Now that I am on the road to becoming a Catholic, I guess I am under a holy obligation to root for Notre Dame, right? (Martha, can you weight in on this?) I would never root for Michigan anyway … it’s against my religion.

Four in ten of us now find we do most of our reading of Scripture on some digital device. Meanwhile, Skye Jethani takes a look at the use of smartphones in classrooms in a, um, er, creative way.

I don’t do Facebook and I don’t do Twitter, which probably means I’m missing out on life as we know it today. It certainly means I’m not managing my “personal brand” as this article sent to me by Adam Palmer points out. As he wrote to me, “Check out this piece from the New Yorker on ‘personal branding’ and tell me they aren’t describing the predicament of the modern evangelical church experience. How many people will go to church this Sunday as a means of ‘managing their brand’?” Your thoughts?

Former Crystal Cathedral pastor Robert Schuller has been diagnosed with cancer.

Seems a church in North Carolina needed greeters for its 9 a.m. service on Sundays. So the pastor sent out an email asking for volunteers. White volunteers only. The pastor is black. Mayhem ensued. Sigh …

My favorite author, the writer who changed my life more than any other, died on Thursday. Robert Capon wrote on the topic of grace and God’s forgiveness in scandalous ways. We will hear from Fr. Capon in tomorrow’s homily. Until then, here are some of his final tweets.

Birthdays were celebrated this week by Arthur Godfrey; Daniel Schorr; Buddy Hackett; James Coburn; Frank Robinson; Van Morrison; Lily Tomlin; Terry Bradshaw; Alan Ladd; Freddie King; Charlie Sheen; St. Paul Harvey; Bob Newhart; Dweezil Zappa; Roger Waters; and Jeff Foxworthy.

Yes, of course we will have a Van Morrison bonus video. I would be tarred and feathered if I didn’t post that. But first I want you to watch this incredible three minute video showing the exploits of some engineering students from Purdue. Enjoy … and enjoy.

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  1. Michael Snow says

    Would that American evangelical leaders would listen to one of the heroes of the faith: ” wish that Christian men would insist more and more on the unrighteousness of war, believing that Christianity means no sword, no cannon, no bloodshed, and that, if a nation is driven to fight in its own defence, Christianity stands by to weep and to intervene as soon as possible…”

    • And if we ARE going to fight, then there should at least be some discussion about which side to support.

      On one side, Christians. On the other, al-Qaeda. Just because Obama likes al-Qaeda better doesn’t mean we have to.

  2. petrushka1611 says

    There are few things more enjoyable than a Rube Goldberg machine. Thanks for posting that!

  3. When I first came across Jonathan Merritt’s article on Christian views of Syria, I assumed it’d consist of three really disparate views, which might help Christians make their own decisions on Syria. It really wasn’t, and won’t. Their three views I summarize thus:

    (1) It fits the parameters of a “just war,” but how pragmatic would it be to get involved?
    (2) We need to be nonviolent—and invent better nonviolent options. (Like what? Doesn’t say.)
    (3) We should wait till the UN fails, then step up to save the day.


    Now, the the three perspectives I tend to see from the Christians I know are these:

    (1) War is bad; stay out of it.
    (2) Obama is bad; stay out of it.
    (3) I don’t know anything about it, so I can’t say.

    Not that these folks are any help either. Their views are rooted in politics, not theology.

    • In a case like Syria, Egypt and any other country that is undergoing civil strike it is instructive to keep this proverb in mind: (Pro 26:17 NIrV) Don’t get mixed up in someone else’s fight as you are passing by. That’s like picking a dog up by its ears.

      All of the suggestions of talk, talk and more talk will NOT stop the violence. It didn’t work for WW I, WW II, Korea, Viet Nam (under the French AND the USA), the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, and on and on. Unfortunately, when it comes to humankind, the only sure way to bring cessation to violence is when one, or BOTH, sides are sated by blood. A war crimes tribunal SOUNDS good but that will only identify the worst of the worst and has no power to extract the perpetrators from the situation. And the U.N. is WORSE than feckless.

      In this case it is best to stay away unless one side ASKS for help. Unfortunately Assad has Russia, and the rebels are to factionalized to bring a coherent request. A bad business all the way around, and innocent people die…

      • ARRRRGH!! I said “and the rebels are to factionalized “. I MEANT to write “TOO factionalized! I HATE it when this word is omitted or misused.

    • I don’t know from ‘the war’ in Syria, but when I hear ‘poisoned gas’ and I see the pictures of little dead children, it gets easier to say ‘we can’t let this happen without doing something to the stockpiles of poisoned gas and chemical weapons’.

      Those babies weren’t just so-called ‘collateral damage’, they and their parents were civilian targets.

      I know, I know, a poisoned-gas cannister doesn’t kill, people do. (or something like that)

      I didn’t buy the nonsense from the NRA and I’m not buying the ‘hands-off’ nonsense this time either . . . get rid of the weapons that do this to little ones. If the monsters who used the poison don’t have any poison to use, that breaks the cycle . . . intervention? Heck, yeah!

      • Christiane, I am not sure that I am understanding your argument. The U.N. estimates that 98,000 Syrians (most of them civilian) have died in this civil war. Some have died from sarin gas. Most have died from shrapnel and exploding debris. But, somehow, the deaths from poison gas were worse – so atrocious that it justifies bombing Syria which will kill more people, including civies and – yes – children (in fact, Assad has been moving strategic battle units into civilian population regions on purpose)? You do realize that intervention means killing people, don’t you? And you do realize that thousands of children have been killed in the war by good old fashioned tank shells, right? And I am not trying to be condescending, but do you really think American bombs can rid Syria – let alone the world – of poison gas or other weapons of mass destruction? Russia is more than happy to resupply Syria once their stockpile of American-made sarin is depleted. Maybe I am missing something here, but I am having trouble thinking through your comment – it just doesn’t make sense.

        • Hi Dr. Fundystan,

          you are absolutely right, my comment makes no sense . . . that’s because I look at two response possibilities: do nothing or do something, and morally, the ‘something’ won out over the ‘nothing’ . . . for me, doing ‘nothing’ in response is worse than even a small intervention that would remove some of the poison weapons from Syria . . . not that I want a ‘token’ response, no (I’d rather have an effective one)
          . . . but doing nothing sends a huge message and it is not a good one for the future of our world and its children

          Good luck ‘making sense’ out of this, I couldn’t:

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            Please, please, please realize that …

            > do nothing or do something, and morally, the ‘something’ won out over the ‘nothing’

            …there is no such thing, never was and never will be, as “something”. One cannot do “something”. One can only do a-specific-thing. Will one randomly select a specific action in order to have dome “something”? The urge to do “something” is a doorway to folly; it should always be viewed with deep suspicion. Because it is the one thing one cannot do, but with possibly dire consequences.

            >or the future of our world and its children

            I do not understand the rage over death by chemical weapons being greater than the rage over deaths by gun or lack of medical care. Willful death is murder, regardless of the tool. And the “and its children”. Just throw “children” into the mix to amp up the angst. Why is it better or worse to kill a toddler, a schoolgirl, or a young mother, or an old crone?

            > Good luck ‘making sense’ out of this, I couldn’t:

            What is the question? I have no problem “making sense” of these images. They are perfectly reasonable. It is a war. Wars are won by each side murdering the people on the other side and destroying their resources until one side is either gone or capitulates. Elegant, simple, like most diabolical things. It is only a fevered reaction that blinds people to the sense of the ‘senseless’; but “making sense” is a job for the mind, not the heart. Weep ferociously, but think coolly, otherwise you will only lay the seed for yet more tears.

        • choosing to do nothing is ALSO one way of responding . . .

          I’m saying that the bodies of those little ones speak very loudly . . . you can ignore this and do nothing and hope it all ‘dies down’ THIS time . . . but if you know history, you realize that those who ‘turned away’ from the plight of the innocent were not safe themselves for long

          the case for ‘doing nothing’ has not been made in history . . .

          for me, the morality of this is that permitting those weapons to remain in the hands of those who ‘did this’ to those babies and children . . . that is something that goes beyond ‘rational’ also . . .

          if getting rid of those weapons is a possibility, and action is required, then I am for it

          if the weapons can be removed from that country without violence, then I am for it

          but the weapons must not be allowed to remain in the hands of the killers of those murdered children, no

          the weapons must go

  4. Anonymously Yours says

    “Personal branding” is nothing new. People have been doing it for as long as I have observed popular culture. It just has a new moniker slapped to it. It used to be called stuff like “dress for success.” And it used to be that you didn’t have to brand yourself too much to get a decent job. Read a typical article geared towards young people who are looking for a job: dress nice for the interview, tuck in your shirt, get a haircut, don’t chew gum, take a shower, etc. All of that is personal branding.

    • I agree with you Anonymously Yours. When I was growing up (I’m not as old as dirt, but I remember when it was new), we used to talk about “keeping up with the Joneses.” Personal branding is the same thing only different. That being said, I would suggest that in a professional context, branding has value as it helps identify what products and/or services one is offering. However, in a personal context, branding seems just the opposite. Instead of setting one apart from the crowd and emphasizing one’s individual distinctions, the advice in the column seemed to be about managing what clique one wanted to be associated with.

      And that’s the interesting part about being an American. We want to belong. That’s our first impulse. We want to find associations with whom we share commonalities. But then as soon as someone from outside the group says to us, “Oh, well of course you would say that. You’re a (fill in the blank),” our hackles go up and we say, “We’re not ALL like that. In fact, I (insert some distinguishing feature that sets us apart from the group).” I’ve always found this intriguing.

      The tension between the tendency to group individuals and the natural antipathy we feel about grouping people is captured in this xkcd cartoon:

      • I respectfully disagree. Tucking in your shirt or keeping up with the Joneses may sound like branding, but they support different ideas, albeit superficial ones. The problem with the branding of today is the application of market principles on people, in essence treating ourselves live products to be marketed, objectification at its finest. In my view, we’re on a slippery slope if we embrace personal branding.

        • The systematization of the kinds of practices mentioned is what makes “branding” different from what happened in previous eras; at some point, a large enough change in quantity results in a change in quality, and that’s what has happened: communication technology has enabled what were formally relatively innocuous kinds of practices to metastitize into dehumanizing and objectifying practices by universalizing and expanding them into the most private parts of our lives, as if we were always trying to sell ourselves all the time. It’s this totalization that makes what it different from wearing a tie to a job interview or driving a trophy car.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            And what about all the time eaten up on Pinterest/Facebook/Twitter marketing your brand 24/7?

            Because if you’re not marketing your brand 24/7/365 you’ll be rolled over by another brand who is.

  5. Jeff, it depends 🙂

    It is not a requirement of the Universal Church, but it may apply as a local condition. Have the American bishops given a decision on this? Anyway, if you have any Irish ancestry, then I would conditionally say you probably have to support Notre Dame 😉

    • We in the defunct Big East received a dispensation not to support Notre Dame ever since the defection of the Catholic 7. I think that might include even those of Irish ancestry. Since it was from our Big East based archbishop you’ll probably have to check with your local diocese.

    • Jeff: Being a graduate of U of Minn. and my years in the Big Ten, I’m going with Michigan. Sorry, bro

  6. Richard Hershberger says

    “How many people will go to church this Sunday as a means of ‘managing their brand’?'”

    Many. And so it has always been, since at least the time of Constantine.

    People go to church for a wide range of reasons: good, bad, and in between. At one end there are people who are called by the Holy Spirit to worship God in this community. At the other end are con artists looking for suckers to fleece. In between are people fulfilling cultural expectations, people hoping to make business contacts, and so on.

    What is different today is what church someone wishing to manage his brand now attends. A century ago a go-getter on the rise became Episcopalian. I have seen data about Philadelphia families with enough status to appear in the Social Register and the like. There was a long-term trend from the early 19th through the mid-20th centuries of established Quaker families gradually becoming Episcopalian. Similar trends occurred in other cities, from some starting point other than Quaker. The Episcopal church wasn’t necessarily the end point, depending on the region. In an area where all the right people were Presbyterians, the Presbyterian church attracted the self-brand managers. If all the right people were Lutheran, the Lutheran church got these people. And so on.

    With the rise of Evangelical Protestantism to prominence, and especially with the rise of the megachurch, it was an inevitable as night following day that the self-branders moved into whatever church was trendiest.

    One of the benefits of membership in a distinctly unfashionable, untrendy church the knowledge that no one goes there to manage his brand. I’m not saying every person there is there for the best possible reason, but the church holds no attraction for the far bad end of reasons people go there.

  7. I go along with the suggestions made in the linked Christianity Today article about appropriate ways for physical/hatha yoga to be practiced in schools; there should also be an option available to allow parents to opt out of their kids participating in school yoga if they so choose.

    But parents should familiarize themselves with the program the particular school is using when allowing their children to participate precisely because there is significant room for abuse and overstepping of religious boundaries here.

    • Why promote yoga at all? Why not have the kids just do regular American exercises, like jumping jacks? Or is that not “spiritual” enough for them…?

      Yoga is a lot like chiropractic. Just because a bunch of people believe in it and swear that it’s scientific, doesn’t make it legitimate.

      • Well, I don’t want to promote yoga.

        Many people, including many responsible experts, seem to think there are health and fitness benefits to yoga; in addition, yoga is physically gentler than many Western forms of physical conditioning and physical culture. Add to this that it is already being practiced in many schools, and attempts to totally eliminate it are perceived by many in the wider culture as hysterical overreaction on the part of Christians whom they already consider fanatical, and I end up thinking it’s unwise for Christians to try to pursue a bound-to-fail policy of zero tolerance when it comes to yoga in schools.

        Which doesn’t mean I want to promote it; it’s more like I think peaceful co-existence is the right path to pursue at this point.

  8. I think football is a sub-Christian sport, along with boxing, MMA/UFC and a number of others. It’s not just the violence; football connects brutal violence with the celebration of power and self-aggrandizement in ways that I consider just a few sandwiches short of a gladiator picnic.

    One thing for sure: children and young kids should not play football. The medical evidence for the dire cumulative results of repeated trauma to the head that football produces is overwhelming at this point; such traumas are especially damaging to young, growing bodies.

    But because there is such a pagan (sorry, my neo-pagan friends; when I say pagan I’m referring mostly to the types of practices associated with classical Rome, which have continued to be present in so-called Christian societies because they have never been truly Christian) adulation of football in this country, the evidence will be ignored; after all, the religion of football requires the sacrifice of our children for the greater good of empty spectacle.

    • Agree. I have something of an outsider’s perspective on this as I wasn’t raised in the United States and had no cultural ties to the game growing up. The question for me is not so much why the wider culture continues to engage in and promote the sport and its violence, but why the church has not stood apart from the culture on this issue. Even the CT article seems to have been prompted by the issue of concussions rather than by a Christian take on the sport. The only answer I see is that it is one of American Christianity’s, and particularly evangelicalism’s, large cultural blind spots. Too often American Christians are Americans first and Christians second. It’s a problem, and a sufficiently deeply rooted one that one who challenges an American position or tradition on the basis of a Christian worldview can sometimes risk considerable backlash.

    • My brother was at State Penn – er, Penn State, when the JoPa scandal broke. He told me plainly that football was a religion which the culture worshipped so fervently, they would cover up and then defend child predation.

  9. Actually, in contradiction to the linked Christianity article about football, to my knowledge gladiator combat continued for a long time after the Roman Empire became Christian, and spectacles involving humans fighting against animals and deadly chariot racing, as well as public executions in arenas, continued well beyond the time gladiator fights were prohibited. I seem to remember that one renowned bishop and father of the church (whose name I unfortunately can’t recall) said it was appropriate that those who rebelled against the Christian Emperor be ripped apart by bears in the arena, since they were actually rebelling against the rule of God.

    It’s not quite the way we think it was from all those old movies; the popular hagiography has it wrong on this subject.

  10. Along with prayer for Syria and the Egyptian Christians, it seems right to pray for Robert Schuller, however much we may disagree with his theology.

    • Cedric Klein says

      Thank you. When Mom & I have been in L.A. to visit my brother, CC has been our church- we’ve seen & heard the three Roberts & I’m pretty sad at what happened anyway. Hopefully, there will be a family reunion around Dad Schuller in his illness, too bad it could not have happened to save CC.

  11. Concerning the just war concern in the Jonathan Merritt article: America does not wage just war. Even on those occasions when our cause may have been just (say, WWII), we have waged war unjustly, which makes the wars we wage unjust.

    Targeted assassination, preemptive strikes, aerial bombing, nuclear deterrence (which is really terrorism) all fly in the face of the Augustinian theory of just war.

    Some may say that drone strokes are actually more precise and discriminating than the carpet bombing of WWII, but if you look at the numbers, you’ll see that drone strikes in fact kill a huge number of civilians; add to this the fact that they are often attacks launched against nations that have not even hinted they would attack us, and against which we have not declared war (an important element in just war theory), and the fact that they are used not because they cause less collateral damage but because they risk fewer American assets (lives and material resources), and the evidence against their being a legitimate component of a just war is damning (remember that in Augustinian just war theory reducing our own risk in the execution of warfare can be unjust if it involves lack of concern for the welfare of non-combatants and assassination).

    America does not wage just war.

    • Make that, drone strikes….

    • Robert, according to that criteria there never has been, nor will there EVER be, a thing called “just war”. Can you name one? When “the dogs of war” are released ALL manner of evil ensues, even when the rationale for the war are just. It is just an academic discussion that has no relevance to nations themselves, but has GREAT significance to Christians in deciding whether to support such attempts.

      Of course, when we judge past wars by our present sensibilities we are being unfair. We need to place ourselves in the mindset of those engaged in conflict, at the TIME of the conflict, and ask “Was any other tactic considered and, if so, why was it rejected?” But this is a whole DIFFERENT discussion…

      • Well, whether or not Christians should support a military effort in Syria is the question we are engaging, isn’t it? In former times, most of the population of a nation considering going to war would never even have had a discussion about it. It’s a move forward that we do have such discussions, however little effect they may seem to have on policy.

        Augustinian just war theory was not developed by our contemporaries with contemporary sensibilities, btw.

        And some confusion is caused when we engage in discussions where we use the word “we” to refer at one moment to Christians, and the next moment to refer to Americans; I’m as guilty of that as anybody, and I think it does muddy the waters terribly

        But I take your point; as far as I know, there has never been a just war according to just war theory. That’s because there has never been a truly Christian nation; nations are incapable of acting as ethically as individuals are capable of acting, as per Rheinhold Neihbur (sic). That’s one of the reasons that pacifism has continued to me to seem a legitimate option for Christians (no, I don’t think the New Testament requires pacifism, but it does preclude it either).

        • that is, but it does not preclude it either….

        • May I submit the English vs. the Danes in the ninth century as a contender for an historical example of a just war? The English, especially under Alfred and his father and brothers before him, fought fairly in defense of their land. They paid off the Danes when it was feasible, if it would buy them peace for a time and didn’t bankrupt the country. And when the English were finally winning, King Alfred offered the Danes generous terms of peace (gave them half of the country, in point of fact- me, I would have kept fighting till they were running back to Denmark), which they kept, and established laws to minimise prejudice against them during the ensuing peacetime.

          I’m not sure if it ticks off every criteria, but it’s the closest I can think of, and one of the few wars in which, if I were living at the time, I feel I could have actually fought in good conscience.

  12. Aaaach. Fr. Capon! I am upset to hear this indeed. I soooo harbored a fantasy of having dinner with him (I’ll cook, but I’ll let him give advice while I’m doing it) and polishing off at least a bottle each. All the while we talk and eat and eat and talk and know the presence of the LORD in the food and the wine and the talk of that scandalous, immoral, absurd grace through which the One True and Living God comes to be with us.

    On the other hand, I am joyful for him, knowing that Fr. Capon is enjoying better wine than any I could afford, and is probably cooking up a storm for the Feast of the Lamb. I will look forward to our meeting on the day when we can meet at the eternal table. Although I’m pretty sure I’ll have to elbow aside of bunch of you internetmonkers to find my place at the table.

    Fr. Capon’s writing is an instrument used by God to bring me to what I call my “third conversion.” He was brave enough to tell me about grace without pulling any punches, and through him Jesus broke my jaw and knocked me sensible. Peace to his memory and joy to our resurrection together.

  13. From what I understand about Augustinian just war theory, it is not opposed to making just war against an evil even when national interests are not involved; in fact, making war to serve the national interest is expressly against just war theory. But coming to the aid of innocent parties who are being transgressed against is within just war, even when one’s own welfare is not being threatened, provided the other criteria are met.

    Are the other criteria being met in the current Syria situation? Is there an identifiable side comprised mostly of innocents who are being transgressed against?

    Many questions.

    • But the most important question of all is this: is America capable of making just war, even where there is a just cause?

      I’m inclined to think not.

      • As per my post above: It is IMPOSSIBLE to make just war. Innocents will ALWAYS die because wars are NEVER fought on a dedicated site. It is ALWAYS about territory AND national interest.

        I’m not trying to pick on you, I’m just trying to make a point and, perhaps, encourage a discussion on the subject.

        • Oscar,

          I don’t really see any national interest at stake in America’s potential action in Syria. We will gain nothing from a military strike ourselves, and may very well incur more problems. And we certainly aren’t interested in territory — even in Iraq and Afghanistan we eventually just walked out.

          Sometimes war really isn’t about national interest or territory. But this isn’t because we’re so noble. It’s possible only because we can afford it, in the sense that (A) we’re a huge, rich country, and a few missiles won’t dent our wallet, and (B) even when we do commit troops to conflicts, military families are the only ones who carry the real burden (the rest of us get tax cuts, in solidarity with their sacrifice).

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            >It’s possible only because we can afford it,

            It is a very effective means for the powerful to redistribute wealth to themselves.

            > military families are the only ones who carry the real burden

            Which is *exactly as it should be*. We have an all volunteer military. They all chose to join. They all receive pay and benefits [such as health care and retirement pensions].

            One way in which one expresses dissent from our nations militarism is simply to not participate.

            I did not ask them to join, ask them to go, or ask them to sacrifice. Their sacrifice is not for me. I have no solidarity with their sacrifice.

        • Oscar, I have a question, and I mean no offense: when you type in all capitals, is it because you’re angry, you’re trying to emphasize a point, or both? I’m never quite sure.

  14. Joke courtesy of Julie over at Happy Catholic:

    A woman received a call that her daughter was sick. She stopped by the pharmacy to get medication, got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys inside.

    The woman found an old rusty coat hanger left on the ground. She looked at it and said “I don’t know how to use this.” She bowed her head and asked God to send her HELP.

    Within five minutes a beat up old motorcycle pulled up. A bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag was the rider. The man got off of his cycle and asked if he could help.

    She said: “Yes, my daughter is sick. I’ve locked my keys in my car. I must get home. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?”

    He said “Sure.” He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute the car was open. She hugged the man and through tears said “Thank You SO Much! You are a very nice man.”

    The man replied “Lady, I am NOT a nice man. I just got out of prison yesterday. I was in for car theft.”

    The woman hugged the man again sobbing, “Oh, thank you God! You even sent me a Professional!”

  15. Jeff, I hate to bust your bubble, but a lot of those 4 million unique visitors are likely same-old daily visitors who have the history window and cookies setting turned off (with Firefox, I got tired of having my usernames displayed (and sometimes passwords, if I flubbed and entered in the wrong box) to all who use my computers (and it’s not only family, it’s friends of the kids).

    It’s a pain because now when I want to comment on InternetMonk I have to re-enter name, email and web info each time. And from financial institutions I get emails reporting that a log-in to my account has been made from an “unknown device”.

    Maybe there are only 3 million unique viewers.

    • Or maybe there is just you, Ted, using a lot of different names …

      Stranger things have happened!

      However many there have been, we are humbled and grateful for each one …

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      >Jeff, I hate to bust your bubble, but a lot of those 4 million unique visitors are likely same-old…

      Never thought I’d get to post a professional opinion here! I’m a professional Network & System Administrator/Analyst.

      And yes, to the previous poster.

      Analytics numbers are (a) dubious and (b) actually really tedious to get any good information from. They measure the dreaded *something*, but rarely what the label next to the number would lead one to believe that is is obviously measuring.

      Still, it is a pretty robust numbers; no reason not to feel good about it.

      But nearly every time I visit this site [depending on what office I’m at] – I’m likely going to appear as a unique visitor, at least for a window of several hours.

      Aside: As more people wise up and start obfuscating their traffic these numbers will become less and less meaningful [not that that will prevent marketing people and even journalists from glibly spewing them]. I even know layman who are now surfing via an onion router like Tor; as our ‘intelligence industry’ grows more intrusive more and more people will likely, and hopefully, desire to flip them and their corporate stooges the bird.

  16. Van Morrison is so so good!

  17. What an odd coincidence that Fr. Capon’s passing happens just a few days after I finally ordered one of his books… R.I.P., Fr. Capon.

  18. Skye Jethani’s analogy is very awful. And, one of my daughters who teaches middle school says he’s ignorant.

  19. One reason Syria is a mess and will be for a long time.

    You know one big reason the police just hate domestic violence calls? Because way too many times the person getting the crap beat out of them will turn on the police when they break up the fight. Or both will. Apparently they would rather get beat up by their significant other than be “rescued” by strangers.

    If you look at “interventions” over the years this also seems to apply to large population groups. Just now I don’t see anyone in Syria who might wind up in charge of things at the end of most of the fighting who would be the least bit interested in working with the US.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Extreme tribalism, where blood feuds halt only because both parties find a common enemy.

      “Me against my brother;
      Me and my brother, united against my cousin;
      Me, my brother, and my cousin, united against The Other.”
      — Arab proverb

    • good analogy