June 2, 2020

Saturday Ramblings, August 8, 2015

Hello, friends, and welcome to the weekend. Ready to Ramble?

1913 Rambler Touring

1913 Rambler Touring

We’re going to start with the beauty of God, reflected in the things He creates. Kansas photographer David Lane spent four months photographing the Milky Way over Yellowstone Park, and the result is a stunning night-time rainbow. colorful-milky-way-photographs-yellowstone-park-1 colorful-milky-way-photographs-yellowstone-park-2 colorful-milky-way-photographs-yellowstone-park-3

Near the other end of the size spectrum, you also see the beauty of God in things so small that most of us never even notice. “My name is Joni Niemelä and I’m a fine art nature photographer from Finland. My works consist mostly of the nature around me and especially those little details which are often overseen. Although I have been doing macro photography for several years now my fascination for alien-like plants called Droseras also known as Sundews have grown more and more in the last couple of years.” My-photo-series-of-carnivorous-plant-called-Drosera__880 My-photo-series-of-carnivorous-plant-called-Drosera2__880 My-photo-series-of-carnivorous-plant-called-Drosera4__880 My-photo-series-of-carnivorous-plant-called-Drosera5__880 My-photo-series-of-carnivorous-plant-called-Drosera6__880 This puts me in mind to quote Elizabeth Barret Browning:

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s death sparked violent protests in the city, and police responded in a way that many felt escalated the violence. To commemorate the anniversary,  the Chosen for Change foundation founded by Brown’s family is planning what it calls a weekend of “positive and peaceful” events. The events, many organized by Brown’s father, include marches, concerts and a moment of silence at midday on Sunday on the street where Brown was killed. Pray for peace. Pray for justice.

I don’t know much about the Canadian religious scene. Perhaps some of our northern readers can weigh in on this. Apparently the largest denomination, the United Church, has been long known for its liberal leanings and inclusiveness. But one minister is testing the boundaries: The Rev. Gretta Vosper, spiritual leader of West Hill United Church in suburban Toronto, is an avowed atheist. Vosper has been upfront about this since 2001, but things came to a head earlier this year after she wrote an open letter objecting to a prayer a fellow minister had written following the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. Vosper said the prayer should have acknowledged that belief in God could trigger extremism [because, ya know, all the great massacres of the 20th century (the Cultural Revolution, the Stalinist purges, the Khmer Rouge) were led by Billy Bibles]. Rev. Vosper will face a church hearing to determine whether she is upholding her ordination vows, which included affirming a belief in “God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” One proposal on the table is to trade her to the Unitarians for cash and two seminary prospects.

The following video is definitely not safe for work [not for the usual reasons], but I have to give full credit to this church for their radical contextualization of the gospel in modern American culture:

Bernie Sanders is the only person running for president who would call himself a socialist. That, and the fact that he is Jewish, is why it surprised many people when he accepted an invitation to speak at Liberty University on September 14.  “It goes without saying that my views on many issues — women’s rights, gay rights, education and many other issues — are very different from the opinions of some in the Liberty University community [insert award for understatement of the year here]. I think it is important, however, to see if we can reach consensus regarding the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in our country, about the collapse of the middle class, about the high level of childhood poverty, about climate change and other issues.” Good for him, and good for Liberty.

The Republican candidates had their first debate on Thursday. In case you missed it, here is a four minute musical summary:

The main target of all the candidates was President Obama, and boy did they zing him again and again. No way that guy’s gonna get re-elected now!

And this was a typical exchange between Donald Trump and the moderators [can anyone from Fox be called a moderator? Shouldn’t it be a conservatator or something? But I digress].

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However that is not without its downsides, in particular when it comes to women. You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. Your twitter account–

DONALD TRUMP: Only Rosie O’Donnell.

KELLY: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell.

TRUMP: I’m sure it was.

KELLY: Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant that it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?

TRUMP: The big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either. This country is in big trouble.

You gotta love Trump’s strategy here. Totally ignore the point at hand and chase some cheap applause points. And I can see how well this would play if he were president:

Secretary of State: Mr. President, the Israelis are a offended that you called them “muslims with money” and have pulled out of the peace proposal.

Trump: The big problem with this country is those Mexican rapists taking our jobs.

Fed Chairman: Mr. President, the national deficit has risen 63 percent since you started your Trump Mars Resort.

Trump: The big problem this country has is that we gave women the vote.

SecDef: Mr. President, the Russians are incensed at your invasion of Ukraine and calling Putin, “my little bitch”. They have put their ICBMs on standby.

Trump: The big problem with this country is that we don’t have enough guns!

dt.common.streams.StreamServer

What you see above is something that, until this week, only a very few highly-placed Mormons have ever laid eyes on: the seeing stone by which Joseph Smith is alleged to have used to interpret the Book of Mormon. The LDS Church published photos of the a dark, egg-size polished rock on Tuesday. Smith said he was led to a set of buried gold plates, which recorded the history of ancient American civilizations and a visit to this continent by Jesus Christ. The Mormon prophet said he was able to “translate” the “reformed Egyptian” language, using his “seer stone.” David Whitmore, one of the “three witnesses” describes the process used:

[Smith] put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English.

Though some people were aware of this official version, other Mormons noted that this is definitely not the impression they received from their religious teachers. These latter Mormons are a little dismayed to discover that the same seerstone Joseph Smith used to hunt for treasure later became the means by which he received the book of Mormon. Professor Richard Bushman is one of those so troubled:

Why then does the picture of a brown, striated stone trouble us? I think because it crosses a boundary we had held on to between religion and superstition. We have known about the gold plates and the angel and the Urim and Thummim long enough to assimilate them into respectable religion. Those are the ways of God. On the other side of the boundary are witchcraft and spells and tarot cards. Those are silly superstitions that the benighted believe in. We want none of that.

The seerstone, sitting there like it had just been dug up, drags across the line into the realm of the superstitious. Do we really want to be part of a religion that dredges up objects and symbols from folk magic?

Nonetheless, Bushman somehow ends up here:

Seerstones don’t trouble me. I rather like them. They are part of Mormon materiality. They suggest there is a technology of revelation, somewhat resembling ipads, that assist us in getting divine intelligence. I don’t subscribe to Protestant stuffiness about proper ways for God to act and disreputable ones. I am willing to go along with the ways of God even if they are unconventional by enlightenment standards. download (22)

Agnes Fenton of Englewood, New Jersey, officially became a supercentenarian Saturday, meaning she turned 110 years old. She gave the credit to God, and some advice from a doctor 70 years ago which she followed religiously for these last seven decades. The advice: drink three Miller High Lifes and a shot of scotch each day.

Shouldn't they call it Miller Long Life?

Shouldn’t they call it Miller Long Life?

Wanna see a British professor launch 1,650 ping pong balls all over a shopping mall atrium from a liquid nitrogen cannon? Of course you do:

I didn’t think this was possible, but North Korea is moving further back in time. A half-hour back, to be exact. To create their own time-zone. State-run television announced on Friday that all clocks should be moved back by 30 minutes, in accordance with Pyongyang time.

Odd headline of the weekWoman in Chile learns she has carried fetus in her uterus for more than 60 years.

I saw this recently, but am confused on what it’s supposed to be: 10363525_10152161656031160_2178300921116859556_n

A policeman in Leeming Bar, England [why do the Brits have all the cool names] pulled over a motorist this week for driving with bald tires. Only after the car stopped did the policeman notice the strange passenger in the back seat:

Ewe have got to be kidding.

Ewe have got to be kidding…

The driver told the officer the sheep was just along for the ride to McDonald’s. The officer then cited the man for bald tires and bad taste in food.

The Weather Channel for some reason put out a video of a logger who claims to have found an image of the Virgin Mary in a tree he cut up:

Guess which religious group in the U. S. is the most racially diverse. C’mon, guess. I’m waiting…..Great; if you said Seventh Day Adventist, please email chaplain Mike, who will reward you with all 40 of Ellen G. White’s books [he’s a huge fan]. Here is the complete rundown. Comments? FT_15.07.23_religionDiversityIndex-1 (1)A geneticist who works for Answers in Genesis has produced a new documentary, claiming genetic science proves the existence of Adam and Eve. Dr. Georgia Purdom explains, “One of the most compelling genetic evidences for an original human couple created by God is mitochondrial DNA research done by creation geneticist, Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson. He clearly shows that the common human female ancestor of us all (biblical Eve) lived within the biblical timeframe of several thousand years ago.” Hmmm, “Dr”. Jeanson is also on staff at AIG.  Was this some sort of honorary doctorate from Hyles- Anderson College (the same school that gave an honorary doctorate to John R. Rice’s horse)? [Rambler googles]…crap, what??? He’s got a Ph.D. from Harvard in cell and developmental biology, and has published several papers. Well, this certainly goes against my narrative.

Now, I’ve haven’t seen the documentary, nor read Dr. Jeanson’s work. But isn’t it a little mindblowing that we know from other sources that genetic science leads to the conclusion that all humans alive now descended from one woman? And that all males now living descended from one man?  And that these two both lived at about the time when modern humans began to emerge? Of course, the best estimate the geneticists give on this is now between 100,000 to 150,000 thousand years ago, so I’m not sure how Jeanson places mitochondrial Eve “within the biblical timeframe of several thousand years ago.”

By the way, what does it say when AIG lists 13 researchers and speakers, many of whom have doctorates in science, but who do not have one doctorate in Bible, theology or religion in the entire mix?

This. I just can’t even with this: kermit

Oh well, they would have had weird looking kids anyway . . . wait . . . 

A Baylor University study, published in the journal Sociology of Religion, found that U.S. counties with nicer weather and prettier natural surroundings see lower rates of religious affiliation. The study authors suggest that, yes, people tend to use nature as a spiritual resource, making it a competitor with organized religious institutions.

Weekly “Tweaking Chaplain Mike” picture: 

download (2)

Have you ever been to a funeral where they did a “dove release”? You know, where the Pastor releases a white dove into the air, and the awed crowd watches it climb into the sky, symbolizing the freedom of the deceased on its way to heaven? Well, I wonder what the symbolism is here:

That’s it for this week. Let’s end with some music. Since I tweaked the Mormon professor above with the “putting lipstick on a pig” picture, I feel compelled to include some Mormon music here. You know, just to make amends. Kinda. I don’t know. Okay, I just like the music.

Comments

  1. “The Rev. Gretta Vosper, spiritual leader of West Hill United Church in suburban Toronto, is an avowed atheist.”

    “The atheist staring from his attic window is often nearer to God than the believer caught up in his own false image of God.” – Martin Buber.

    • Buber has a good insight.

      That doesn’t change the fact that it’s absurd for a publicly avowed atheist (we’re not talking about a believing minister struggling with deep personal doubts in this case, but a professing atheist) to be a minster and pastor of a Christian church. It would be fine for her to stare from as many attic windows as she likes, but she shouldn’t be staring out at a congregation from a pulpit. And the fact that there are many other absurdities afoot in Christianity, like Benny Hinn and his traveling snake-oil sideshow, does nothing to mitigate this particular absurdity.

      But it’s up to the Canadian denomination in question to make there own determination about her fitness to serve in the ministerial and pastoral role. I say that there’s a 50/50 chance that she’ll defeat the move to have her deposed.

      This isn’t even Death of God theology; it’s just old-fashioned atheism. She should find another career.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > She should find another career.

        Either way she can write book and do a book tour.

        • She already has written two books and speaks regularly at events all over North America.

          It’s a slow news week in Canada and her book sales must be down.

      • Secularism among American evangelicals is far more pervasive and far less acknowledged. That makes it much more dangerous. An atheist with a sense of wonder is far more beneficial than a minister preaching Ayn Rand or health-and-wealth. There is nothing inconsistent with an atheist with a big view of the universe and respect for life; there is nothing consistent about a Christian denigrating the poor, elevating the rich as a divinely entitled class, preaching fear mongering, and advocating violence against those who disagree with them. It is the proverbial frog in the pot of water on the stove: Christians keep thinking that everything is fine, because they keep hearing their leaders saying all the right buzz words, but the substance is becoming less and less representative of Jesus and the Gospel. It is like our past discussions about the past “God is Dead” fad of the sixties, but today, it is thing called “god” in the minds of American Evangelicals that is dead, and it is atheists who are prophetically pointing to something bigger. It should serve as a wake up call to evangelicals to return to their call to bring people to God and not to institutions, ideologies, or causes.

        • I can agree with everything you say here, and still insist that an avowed atheist does not belong behind the pulpit, or presiding at the communion table, of a Christian church, unless that church is one which continues to identify itself as Christian while not affirming the Incarnation of Christ in its statement of beliefs. If the Canadian UCC does not affirm the Incarnation as part of its identity, then I see no reason why she can’t keep her job, but I personally would not consider that church Christian; if it does affirm the Incarnation as part of its essential affirmation of the Christian faith, then she should find another job. The inappropriateness of what goes under the name of Christianity elsewhere has nothing to do with this.

          Btw, thinking about the atheist in the attic (why does Buber imagine him in an attic?) made me think of this song:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-btv-7GkVk0

          • Why does Buber imagine this atheist wasting away in an attic, looking longingly at the world outside his window? Don’t they let him out?

          • She thinks Jesus is a myth. As far as I know, the UCC officially believes in the incarnation. But even that could be debatable as they are so secularized in many ways.

        • And when I say that she doesn’t belong behind the pulpit, I don’t mean that atheists shouldn’t be invited to speak at Christian churches, just as Bernie Sanders was invited to speak at Liberty University (and I speak as one who believes that my values in many places overlap far more with Sanders than with Liberty). I mean, rather, that she should not preside behind a Christian pulpit, as one charged with preaching the gospel of Jesus’ incarnation, passion, resurrection and ascension, nor should she preside at the Lord’ table, as one charged with celebrating the sacrament of Holy Communion, the eating and drinking of which proclaims the Lord’s death until his coming again.

          • To reply to your previous post: Buber’s atheist is in the attic, because it is physically closer to the stars. That is, the atheist is a materialist, and is observing the material reality of the universe from his very limited perspective. And by being maybe one flight of stairs higher up, with no physical barrier between himself and the stars, the atheist at least achieves a little something; he sees what is available for him to see as well as he can manage. Climbing up to the attic to see the stars isn’t anywhere near as foolish as looking inside your own mind and thinking that you can see all of God.

          • Thank you, Maria, for answering my simple-minded question.

            But somebody really should tell him that he can get a much better view from atop the roof.

      • Agreed on both fronts!

        Though I can say this about the Canadian religious scene: The United Church is shrinking by the 1000s every year. Believe me she’s not the only avowed atheist being a pastor there, she’s just the one that they decided to crack down on. That’s what happens when you put Jesus on secularism: People end up staying at home, sleeping in, and watching the news instead.

    • Gretta Vosper is currently grabbing headlines in Canada, but I don’t believe her situation is entirely unique. Rev. Jon Suk is another example. In a November, 2014 interview in the United Church Observer, the pastor of Toronto’s Lawrence Park Community Church said,

      … I think it’s ridiculous to talk about having a personal relationship with Jesus…All religions of the world are hopeful that this life is not all there is, and so am I. I don’t believe in heaven as it is described mythically in scripture. I hope for some kind of spiritual consciousness after I die that is loving. I’m not afraid of death; it feels like whatever happens next will be good. Even if it’s only a forever sleep, it will be a good rest.

      A July article on Vosper in the Vancouver Sun states,

      One of the things the Vosper case strongly suggests is the United Church has become so freedom-fixated and inclusive — often boasting “We Welcome Everyone” — that it has lost its boundaries…There is a deep spiritual issue at play here if it’s true many closet atheists toil among the United Church’s more than 3,000 clergy…

      The article linked here on Ramblings says that Vosper will be held to account as to her faithfulness to her ordination vows, “which included affirming a belief in ‘God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.’” However, a visit to the denomination’s website (then add /beliefs/overview) contains references to the teachings of Jesus, but not his divinity; there is no mention of sin, no mention of salvation.

      In balance, it must be said that for every local UCC church headed by a Vosper or a Suk, there are indeed some evangelical United Church congregations. Overall however, this is a denomination that has clearly lost its way, but will no doubt hang on for another fifty years because of its vast real estate holdings and income from estates.

      • Okay, I revise my guess: she has a better than 50% chance of keeping her job.

      • “Sin” is a dirty word in the UCC. We’re not all sinners, we’re all… humans that happen to sin.

  2. Loved the dove release. I’ll bet it didn’t comfort the bereaved or strengthened anyone’s hope for a “hereafter”.

    And that music video was mind numbing.

    • Christiane says

      not all ministers kill doves though . . . I once tutored privately the daughter of a Baptist preacher at the family’s residence, and that spring, two doves made a nest in their mailbox up on the porch . . . . so the family allowed the dear birds priority (which was lovely) and the mail was given to the family in a basket beside the door . . . even the postman was enchanted by the ‘miracle’ . . . yes, I said ‘miracle’ . . . why not? . . . what are chances that doves would know who they can trust? I’m going to give credit for their choice to a higher power, you bet. 🙂

    • Drones are more reliable than pigeons. Just make sure the battery is charged up.

    • “This is what it sounds like
      when doves cry…”

  3. That 1913 Rambler really takes me back….

  4. Seems like I’ve heard the Mormon music before

    http://youtu.be/i7d0Lm_31BE

  5. iPads, right…..

  6. Odd… From my experience, I would have thought the PCA and PCUSA’s diversity numbers would have been reversed.

    Not that it would have made THAT much difference… :-/

    • I wonder what the iMonk monastery’s stats would look like. There’s Marcus Johnson and Calvin Cuban on the non anglo side, but other than that…?

      • Marcus Johnson says

        I would be interested in that as well, Oscar.

      • As an Italian, I’m definitely not on the “Anglo side”. I don’t think I’m Caucasian, either. You can call me white, and I suppose that would be correct, but many Sicilians would stretch that description.

        • Robert, you are free to check off “other” on government forms but you are still considered to be “Caucasian” for all intents and purposes.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            “other” is the box I always pick; I’ve known people who picked Asian, as Asia is closer to northern Finland than western Europe.

          • Oscar,
            The national social reality that my family stepped into when they came here a generation and a half ago makes me white/”Caucasian”, and when counting heads, mine cannot be used as evidence of diversity from the perspective of that social reality. In that sense, you’re right, Oscar. Even as newcomers, who sometimes experienced prejudice at the hands of the “Anglos” and others, my family quickly became beneficiaries of the white privilege that has shaped the reality of this nation, and that has made it easier for people like you and me by giving us easier access to resources that blacks and some other groups still don’t have.

          • Categorizing me, and many others, as “Caucasian” is a clumsy and historically inaccurate way for the government to acknowledge and keep track of the social reality of race in the nation. But since it has become the habitual bureaucratic nomenclature of the government, and since it does serve an important purpose, I suppose we’re going to have to live with it. We don’t, however, have to duplicate it in the non-government sphere when taking measures of the social reality that gave rise to it.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          Yep, I grew up with the same distinction. Light skin, blue-eyes – that does not make me “white”! “White” meant Western European. It is interesting how different groups view these things – race being an entirely sociological construct.

          • Yeah, weird sometimes. I’m Scottish/English on my Dad’s side, and Armenian on my mother’s. Armenians are white (although they are far from homogeneous, as you will find coloring from corsican to moor), but not “white”, and obviously not Anglo. My dad’s side is white and anglo, but accused by my mother of being “southern” because his family has an accent (they are from Ohio) – and “southerner” is a race, apparently, when you come from New England. Funny stuff!

        • Cubans are either of Spanish European descent–Celtic, Iberian, Basque, Saxon, depending on the region of origin–with a dash of Anglo, Arabic and Jewish genes thrown in for good measure. OR of African descent. OR of Chinese ancestry. OR all of the above. Not much by way of Native American ancestry as the Spaniards virtually wiped out the native population by way of disease and genocide.

          In other words, we’re all over the map!

          • I imagine we Sicilians (well, my father was from Reggio, Calabria, but that’s right across the channel from Sicily) aren’t too different from you in terms of descent, Calvin.

          • Sicilians are practically indistinguishable from Cubans in appearance–and in many cultural aspects. I think it’s the Moorish influence.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        I am not Anglo either. I have a little bit of (known) Anglo ancestry, but they come way down the list. English is not my mother tongue either – and genetically I have minor non-European ancestry too.

        • As someone of southern Italian/Sicilian descent I’m sure it’s far more likely that I have some African ancestry than that I have any Anglo. I’m pretty far from “Anglo”, unless the word is being used the way the Amish use “English”, to refer to anyone who speaks English as their primary language.

          • Lodged in some obscure cranny of memory is a scene from a gangster film in which someone (Dennis Hopper?) faced with the prospect of certain torture unto death at the hands of a (naturally) Sicilian heavy, tricks him into putting him out of his misery prematurely by bringing up the African ancestry of Sicilians in a quite politically incorrect manner.

      • Asian here. Chinese born in America specifically.

  7. Everyone expected the dove to fly of course, but I think it still works. He said “Be at rest” then laid the dove to rest.

  8. I suppose that Vegetarian Ham is as much of an oxymoron as Fat Free Half-and-Half.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > Fat Free Half-and-Half.

      Tried it. It makes a disgusting latte.

    • But it tastes like chicken? Why? That is what will keep me up tonight…. not only how vegetarian ham can taste like chicken but why anyone would want it to!

      • The label says it has “Chicken Flavour”, which might not mean the same thing as it tasting like chicken. Does that means it uses artificial chicken flavoring, along with other ingredients, in its attempt to taste like ham?

    • I get that the label is “crazy”, but there are Asian Buddhists that are vegetarian so you get vegetarian products like “mock duck”. I assume this is part of that class of food.

  9. Where is the argument, the controversy, the provocation, the anger and attack, who are you and what have you done with Daniel Jepsen? Isn’t “latter Mormons” a redundancy or something? And who knew that Paul Cardell was Mormon? Interesting. If the ELCA and the National Baptist Convention would merge, we might make it into the top five, show those awful Nones a thing or two. Terrific nature photos. Today’s Ramble might make Ramble of the Year in my book unless it keeps getting even better.

  10. David Cornwell says

    Thanks for the stunning, very beautiful photographs. To me there is no better testimony to the existence of God the Creator. Simple me.

  11. The last major shake-up we’ve had in American political parties was half a century ago – before the Democrats sided with the Civil Rights movement, the South was all “blue states” and the North was all “red states.” With the Republican party shifting right at the same time as society as a whole is moving to the left, and also fragmenting into several very different groups (economic conservatives, Tea Party, religious conservatives, etc.), I wonder if we’re about to see another big shift in the political landscape…

  12. being a simple person.. thanks for the ping pong balls,,, reminded me of ‘Mr. Moose”

  13. I fail to see how the Mormon’s response to magic stones is much different from the way mainstream conservative Christianity deals with their own problems. I mean, for crying out loud – you posted something about AiG. Talk about lipstick on a pig.

    • It’s a rather pretty stone, too, isn’t it?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yep, superstitious/occultic talismans, practices, and beliefs are alive an well. We just tend not to thing that our particular practices of those [prayer chains, …] are ‘weird’. Just other people’s are weird.

      • Christians worship a god who became a human, died and got better so that he could avoid punishing some of the people that he decided to punish in the first place.

        You guys seem just as weird as Mormons to me.

        • Christianity is a weird religion. But then, Talking Heads/David Byrnne make weird music, and I’ve always like that, too.

    • Joseph (the original) says

      …but how old is that ‘seer stone’ Joseph Smith supposedly used for treasure seeking and religious fiction writing???

      any geologists out there wager a guess at what type of rock it is? igneous? sedimentary? metamorphic? any further input?

      this might be important from a geologist’s viewpoint if such rock characteristic is unusual or rare. i’m curious, but that’s not an indicator of an interest in Mormonism’s claims or how they view such a relic/talisman/supernatural spell checker, etc…

      saude! 🙂

  14. In the “tweaking CM” category, last night I got to see Wilco at the Outside Lands festival in SF. They closed their set w/”Impossible Germany”. Wish you were her CM…

    We’re going back to the festival tonight. However, I’ve read that Olsteen is “preaching” tonight in AT&T Park. I think we’re making the right choice.

  15. Perhaps this will serve to entertain someone:

    On Monday I am beginning a new job, which involves working extensively with the historical records of the DOJ / FBI. For this reason, it is a tradition in this department for everyone to take on a nickname from someone in the mob.

    So, anyone got a favorite mobster?

    I have no answer to this question, but I am finding it perversely humorous.

    • How about “Matty the Horse” Ianniello? He was part of the Genovese crime family, and controlled much of the adult entertainment business in Times Square. I was once introduced to him at a family funeral. I had no idea who he was, and later on asked the person who made the introduction. I was told that he was a well known mob figure, and a really nice guy. I subsequently heard the mourners around me speaking of him in admiring tones; they were very impressed with the way he paid his respects to the deceased and family. I silently wondered if he was responsible for the deceased being deceased. Lol.

      You can look him up; Wikipedia has an article.

      • Recalling this encounter, which took place in the late 1970s, reminds me of a slightly older song, the title of which fits the occasion perfectly: The Punk and the Godfather:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHtVaSmK38s

        • I played this once the family went to bed last night – nice selection!

          You are on a roll this week with the music links. I also finally had a chance to listen to “Christ in Me Arise” and Browne, thanks to an all-nighter on a computer with a working speaker. Wonderful.

      • A really nice guy, access to food from all those fine New York establishments. Not too shabby!

        • I’ve heard Umberto’s Clam House is especially good; but you might want to wear a bulletproof vest, unlike poor Joey Gallo who left his at home that fateful night he decided to take his birthday celebration to Umberto’s.

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      OPAL “MACK TRUCK” LONG

      Here is some info on her and other female mobsters:

      http://mentalfloss.com/article/58626/10-female-gangsters-you-should-know-about

      • Fun article, Daniel. Thanks.

        Evelyn Frechette (another Dillinger gang figure) apparently followed her crime years with a tour, “Crime Doesn’t Pay.” Oh well, what else are you going to do when the fella dies and you are done serving time?

        Enterprising, that one.

    • Because of how it fits your name…

      Daniel “Danny the Lion” Leo

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Leo_(mobster)

      • Oh, and more on him….”also known as ‘Daniel Leonetti’ and ‘Daniel Leonardo’ (the Federal Bureau of Prisons has his name as ‘Danny Leo’).” So those two could work, also.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Not quite “Mob” per se, but Ada & Minna Everleigh, whose “Everleigh Club” was the fanciest and most expensive whorehouse in Chicago from 1900 to World War 1.

      While I was on the East Coast, I picked up a used book titled The Chicago Underworld (original edition title Gem of the Prairie) by Herbert Asbury, author of Gangs of New York. Woo. A true crime history of Chicago from the city’s founding through the Roaring Twenties, try to scare up a copy sometime. Unfortunately, not many of the gangsters were female. (Though one late 19th Century gang of black women specializing in armed robbery had some real weird and colorful ones.) The only ones corresponding to what we’d call The Mob are near the end of the book — the Black Hand extortionists of the late 19th up through WW1 and the history of the Chicago Outfit from WW1 through Prohibition, from Big Jim Colosimo through Johnny Torrio to Al Capone. Before that, Chi-town’s organized crime was mostly prostitution kingpins and the city government itself (with a LOT of overlap between the two).

      Asbury is also mentioned as writing true crime histories of San Francisco (The Barbary Coast) and New Orleans (The French Quarter). And I know of another true crime history of San Francisco called The Hatchet Men focusing on classic Chinese organized crime by the bay — the tongs of the 19th Century up through the earthquake.

  16. Christiane says

    Hi Danielle,
    a favorite mobster? oh boy, does that bring back memories . . . . we were living in deepest New Jersey and my daughter was going to a small Catholic prep school . . . she was very popular and knew everyone . . . one day she came home and told us that the step-father of one of her friends had been arrested and charged with mob activity and of course her friend was very upset . . . turns out he was one of the ‘captains’ of the mob family that ‘ran’ that sector of the state

    . . . I remember wondering that such people trusted the Church with their children’s education and could still make the money to pay the tuition in the worst possible ways
    . . . and I am still giving thanks that we never knew my daughter’s friend had those connections as the girls used to have ‘stay overs’ at each others homes . . . oh boy . . . memories . . . memories of New Jersey . . . and of how even a mobster could want something better for his daughter who apparently loved her step-father very much and from a small child had called him ‘Daddy’ . . . my daughter remained close to her friend in the time of her family’s trouble, and I was proud of this in my daughter’s character

  17. There are a lot of good apologetic arguments Christians can make if they’re disposed to to do that kind of thing but two of the very worst are Stalin and Genetics.

    The Stalin argument is basically “Hey we may be bad but at least we’re not as bad as the Communists.” Really? Really want to go that route?

    And anyone tempted to play the genetics card to support YEC please read the caveats in those links that were provided. This doesn’t mean what you think it means. Evolution is incontrovertible. Deal with it.

  18. The beautiful photos of the Milky Way made me think of this song:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWxJEIz7sSA

    • Awesome song. You have good tastes in music.

      It is interesting, like how Rick Ro and David alluded to above, how these wondrous sights are ones we have to search out to find. Like the creatures at the bottom of the deepest ocean. It also makes me think how the most beautiful times in nature seem to be the shortest. Like a sunrise or a sunset. Blooms in spring and autumn leaves in fall. They only last for a moment. This is an interesting thing and tells me something about our hidden God. I’m not sure what. But something.

      • The brevity of those times and events actually seems to deepen their beauty. Would they seem as beautiful if they were more common? Perhaps God in his generosity only allows them to happen occasionally so that we may know the beauty in them that he perceives continually.

        I sometimes think I missed my true calling–rock n’ roll radio disc jockey, left of the dial:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iGS8on6Cxw

        • “Perhaps God in his generosity only allows them to happen occasionally so that we may know the beauty in them that he perceives continually.”

          I think you’re on to something here.

        • I’d be remiss if I didn’t share a song after all the good ones you share:

          https://youtu.be/H22kHZ-erpg

          • I’ve heard this song before, on the local left-of-the-dial radio station, WXPN 88.8 FM, broadcast from the University of Pennsylvannia. I like this tune. Its pedigree includes Neil Young, and that’s always a plus in my book. Thank you.

      • Watch this film and tell me if this gets at what you’re thinking.

        https://www.shortoftheweek.com/2009/11/29/thats-magic/

        BTW…Robert F…Love you song selections. The Church was once a favorite of mine.

        • Wow that caught me off guard. What a beautiful and profound little movie. So much truth there.

          “Listen to your lives for the sound of him. Search even in the dark for the light and the love and the life because they are there also, and we are known each one by name.”

          – Frederick Buechner

  19. FYI…I’ve been showing people those macro and micro photos all weekend long. The reaction to the pics of the Milky Way over Yellowstone has been universal awe.

  20. On diversity.

    I was at a large group tonight (Sunday) that was a bit under 3000 in size. Lots of singing and talk. About 1/3 or more of the music was Gospel/God centered.

    It was a show of Prairie Home Companion. Intermission was GK walking through the crowd leading crowd singing. Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Are, to She was just 17. Great evening.

    One thing got my attention as I had read this Saturday’s ramble late yesterday. Of the just under 3000 people there I only saw 3 that were not “white”. Except for staff. Now I didn’t see everyone but it was lawn seating so we were walking around and through the crowd all night. I saw more folks who appeared to be of southeast Asian heritage than with brown or black skin color.

    Anyway it’s not just those from the R and conservative side of things who self segregate and pine for a simpler time that apparently didn’t include any one but white folks.