January 27, 2020

Saturday Ramblings, December 19, 2015

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

Hop in!

Then hop in!

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and a coalition of dozens of prominent social conservatives and Evangelicals are reportedly planning to endorse Sen. Ted Cruz. Their goal is to avoid a split in “the evangelical vote.” Mike Huckabee,  the former evangelical pastor, says he is disappointed by the news. Cruz also seems to be the front runner in Iowa, as people are looking for an alternative to the craziness of the Donald.

“So, Admiral Ackbar, what do you think of Cruz emerging as a more level-headed alternative to Trump?”

“So, Admiral Ackbar, what do you think of Cruz emerging as a more level-headed alternative to Trump?”

Larycia Hawkins got in some trouble this week. The political science professor  at Wheaton College publicly claimed that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God.”  Hawkins, an Episcopalian, also decided to wear a hijab, a traditional Muslim head-covering, in solidarity with Muslims during the Advent season. Wheaton announced on Tuesday that they had put Hawkins on administrative leave for her “same God” comments. In an official statement, college administrators expressed concern over the “theological implications” of her statements and promising a full review. Your thoughts?

A Saudi millionaire  has been found not guilty of rape after claiming he accidentally penetrated an 18 year old girl when he tripped and fell. The Saudi jury deliberated less than 30 minutes before delivering the innocent verdict.

Also in Saudi Arabia: A huge family dispute erupted after a man’s wife kissed a camel. The man’s mother accused her daughter-in-law of breaking religious and social traditions and pressured her son to divorce his wife. The wife insisted that the kiss was innocent and spontaneous.

I'm just irresistible

I’m just irresistible

For years, the sunken galleon has eluded treasure hunters, but it now appears the “holy grail” of shipwrecks has finally been found. The Spanish Galleon San Jose was attacked and sunk by a British warship in June 1708.  Packed with gold, silver, and gems collected in the South American colonies, it was en route to Spain to help finance the king during the War of the Spanish Succession. The ship’s treasures of bullion and coins has been estimated between $4-17 billion, which at the time was worth more than Spain’s annual national income from all sources. The shipwreck was found in Colombian waters. Columbia and Spain are disputing ownership of the treasure.

Geof Peabody of Placerville, California is offering free firearms training courses for pastors to help them deal with an apparent rise in violence. He has been teaching the course for years, but in recent weeks attention and demand for his course in church security has been on the rise. Peabody believes “church violence has been on the rise for decades” and that when it comes to armed security, “it’s time for ministers to get their head out of the sand.” Over 500 ministers have taken the class. Regarding theological justification for firearms in church, Peabody quotes Luke 22:36-38, where Jesus tells his disciples to sell their cloak and buy a sword.

6a00d834890c3553ef01b7c7378b60970b

Got five minutes to waste watching some Scot ride his bike all over the roof tops of Gran Canaria (in the Canary Islands)? Of course you do, you’re reading the Ramblings. Turn on full-screen and enjoy (unless you’re afraid of heights).

Choosing cremation is becoming more common every year in the United States. According to estimates by the funeral industry’s main trade group, 2015 is on track to be the year that cremation surpasses burial for the first time, as a long-standing trend continues. A key factor driving this: decreased religiosity.

Muslim Congressman Andre Carson (D-Ind.) told ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos that white supremacists represent a bigger threat than Islamic terrorists. “I think that most of our largest domestic threat comes from racial supremacist groups. I’ve worked in counterterrorism; I know this to be a fact,” he added. Agree?

I really cant decide how afraid we should be of these guys...

I just really can’t decide how afraid we should be of these guys…

Star Wars is racist? That’s the claim of MSNBC host Melissa Harris Perry. “The part where he was totally a black guy, whose name was basically James Earl Jones,” she said. “While he was black he was terrible and bad, awful and used to cut off white men’s hand, and didn’t actually claim his son. But as soon as he claims his son, goes over to the good, takes off his mask and he is white — yes, I have many feelings about that.” Yes, Melissa, and I have many feelings about your feelings, and my feelings about your feelings can better be seen than described:1257349458904902 star-wars-leia-facepalm-e1417413478283 star_wars_facepalm_sam_okd.0.0 download (3)

“Thanks to ISIS, we have to consider limits to free speech.” Slate tweeted this, along with a link to the piece penned by Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. Posner posits that “America faces unprecedented danger from the group’s online radicalization tactics,” and therefore “The novelty of this threat calls for new thinking about limits on freedom of speech.” Posner argues that it should be made a crime to access any websites that carry video, text or images posted by ISIS.

The law would provide graduated penalties. After the first violation, a person would receive a warning letter from the government; subsequent violations would result in fines or prison sentences. The idea would be to get out the word that looking at ISIS-related websites, like looking at websites that display child pornography, is strictly forbidden.

Graciously, Posner would make exceptions for those who have “press credentials” or those [like himself, shocker] who are engaged in “legitimate public commentary”.  And yes, the federal government would have the right to determine who does and who does not have “press credentials” and what constitutes a “legitimate public commentary”.

cropped-big-brother-is-watching-1984

What could possibly go wrong?

Looking to cozy up to the fireplace this week, but you have no fireplace? Well, now you have something better: A five-hour Darth Vader Yule Log. That’s right, just set your laptop or tablet wherever that fireplace should have been, and turn on this video (preferably while repeatedly singing, “Sith Lords roasting on an open fire”).

C.S. Lewis Was a Secret Government Agent. That was the headline this week at Christianity Today. The headline oversold the article by a good bit, but did relate a previously unreported story: that during world war 2, Lewis worked with MI6 to record radio broadcasts for Iceland (which was under British control during the war). It was a bridge-building exercise, intended to make the population more accepting of British occupation. download (4)

Speaking of Hitler, did you know that Mein Kampf is about to be republished in Germany for the first time since the war? The copyright runs out at the end of the year, and a group of historians is going to publish the book with a lot of annotations. Meanwhile, in the U.S., we have our own struggles: mein-coif

Pope Francis celebrated his 79th birthday on Thursday with a gift to the many devotees of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: The pontiff gave final clearance for her to become an official saint. According to a report in the newspaper of the Italian bishops conference, Francis signed a decree declaring that the inexplicable 2008 cure of a Brazilian man who was diagnosed with multiple brain tumors was due to the intercession of famous nun. Sources say the pope will probably canonize Mother Teresa next year on Sunday, Sept. 4, the day before the anniversary of her death, which is also her official feast day.

Stefonknee Wolscht is a six year old girl.  Stefonknee  Wolscht is also a 53 year old father of 7 children. Wait…what? “I can’t deny I was married. I can’t deny I have children. But I’ve moved forward now and I’ve gone back to being a child. I don’t want to be an adult right now and I just live my life like I couldn’t when I was in school.” This is not just talk. “Well, I have a mummy and a daddy. [An] adopted mummy and daddy who are totally comfortable with me being a little girl. And their children, and their grandchildren, are totally supportive.”

 "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Some have suggested Wolscht is the face of a new movement: trans-ageism.

Obama and his allies in Congress fully accept the idea that gender identity is a person’s self-perception of their gender whether or not it “aligns” with the sex they were “assigned at birth.” But they brazenly ignore a far more common source of inequality: total lack of equal protection for those whose self-perception of their age does not match up with the socially constructed date they were assigned at birth.

Think of the 12-year-old who self-identifies as 19, but is stuck in a middle-school classroom. Think also of the 58-year-old who knows she is 75 but is ineligible for Social Security, and must suffer loss of benefits in silence. Let’s have some compassion for the 22-year-old (not to mention the 72-year-old) who knows he is 18 but is nevertheless not permitted to become an Eagle Scout, or even a Boy Scout. And what about the 69-year-old teacher who is forced into retirement even though she knows she is but 49—and is thereby deprived of living an authentic life?

Just as transgender activists will tell you not to conflate gender with sex, so no one should conflate age with time. Trans-aged individuals are just as entitled to anti-discrimination protection as transgender individuals.

The writer was being satirical, of course. But does his satire make a valid point? Or, to put the question more broadly, if the criteria used to assign a person a new  gender is that person choosing to identify as being that gender, is it consistent to deny that criteria in areas of race and age? I’m not trying to be snarky right now. This is a legit question.

Oh, and it gets better . . .

Gary Matthews has a bone to pick with the world. He wants it to accept him as a dog.  The 48-year-old man self-identifies as a canine, wears a dog collar, eats dog food from a bowl — his favorite is Pedigree – and loves milk bones and dog cookies. But he has the most fun wearing his dog suit as he wanders around the streets of his hometown Pittsburgh, barking at cars and digging holes in the backyard. “When I go out, I get the feeling and I wave to people as a dog” Matthews said he has never been in trouble with the law and is not seeing a psychiatrist or taking any kind of medications for mental illness. Matthews tried to have his name changed to Boomer in 2010,  but was denied. But he will press on.  “Going public with being a dog isn’t just about the name change. That’s only the most recent thing that I’m focusing on, because really, being a dog is about everything — it’s the way that I live.”

Who let the dogs out?

Toto, whaddya doin?? Staaaahhhhp!

A new survey of Mega-churches came out recently, and it shows some surprising trends. Today’s megachurches have fewer seats but fill them more often. They take in more money, yet giving has declined. More than ever take Communion weekly, while fewer than ever partner with other churches.  But the biggest change? The decline in weekly churchgoing. In 2005, almost all (96%) of the people attending megachurches came every week, according to the researchers’ previous survey. By 2015, that figure dropped to 82 percent.

Some folks on twitter are having a good time. They are participating in ExplainAFilmPlotBadly. Here are some of the best. Got any

you would like to add in the comments?

12359976_10153778591084407_1148355945719735397_n

 

12366283_10153778590879407_2259853689443753985_n

 

12391830_10153778591034407_1672116662837808645_n

 

10mYPTJaZ

 

12321546_10153778590639407_5864831151409281181_n

 

9QeA148

 

3o7PTYmq

 

1lu5wPpI

 

1491545_10153778591024407_81866681972814163_o

 

12341033_10153778590469407_5256987331327585461_n

 

ssss

 

12390943_10153778590759407_9168955708598516381_n (1)

Well, that’s it for this week. Reviewing the post, I see there are almost as many Star Wars notes as religious notes this week. I would feel bad for that if it were not for the fact that Star Wars almost seems a religion for some people. In the latest census 176,632 people in England and Wales identify themselves as Jedi Knights, making it the most popular faith in the “Other Religions” category on the Census and the seventh most popular faith overall. And the Washington Post ran a long article this week entitled, How ‘Star Wars’ answers our biggest religious questions. And we could go onSo why not just end with a nice modern Christmas carol, R2D2, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, featuring a very young Jon Bon Jovi? [shoutout to imonk commentator Steve for this]. Merry Christmas!

Comments

  1. Nice job this week, Daniel. Good mix of the inane, insane, and the semi-serious.

  2. Loved the explainafilmplotbadly section.

    Good job Daniel.

  3. Richard Hershberger says

    The claim about Star Wars racism is an old joke. Here is the classic rendering:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L9io-b9Uew

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yea, I was surprised and disappointed this week with how many people failed to get the joke; which has a pretty long history. One friend – a likely trump supporter – was livid. Disappointing that our comedy sensor have been come that corroded.

  4. Richard Hershberger says

    The classic film plot synopsis is of The Wizard of Oz: “Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.” Personally I would add that after she kills that first person she loots the body, and then goes on a rampage to prevent the rightful heir from recovering the stolen goods.

  5. RE: Prof. Hawkins’ suspension – on purely technical grounds, the Wheaton administration is correct. While the Christian and Islamic depictions of God share some characteristics and sacred history (most importantly, that there is only one God, for starters), their fundamental definitions of God’s nature (trinitarian intimately linked to the Person of Christ vs absolute monist, transcendence and immanence in paradox vs strong transcendence, etc) is such that I at least have a difficult time equating them.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      To be honest, I find claims like Hawkins’ to be so ignorant and outlandish that I just don’t take them seriously. Such a claim is not rooted in history, theology, or anything objective at all – it is a wish. On the other hand, many religious studies are little more than wishful thinking, so I can’t judge her.

    • You can be right on principle and wrong in the application. Muslims worship the Abrahamic deity, but our religious commonalities stop with Ishmael. However, several things in this episode combine for Wheaton officials to share some condemnation. Dr. Hawkins was acting out truth against power in the tradition of black evangelicalism. Prophets generally break some eggs. I know the publicity focused on her upset many alumni and Wheaton saw itself forced to respond in kind. There were less harsh alternatives, and others in the administration who made similar gestures were not punished at all. Both the severity and timing of their action were most unfortunate, following on the heels of Jerry Falwell’s “the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim” chapel talk. In my mind, coming down with the hammer made my alma mater look as mean-spirited as our “sister” Christian college. It’s the sort of profile Wheaton has sought to disown since the fundamentalist days of President J. Oliver Buswell. What is most regrettable is the division it has caused, and on a campus that has dismissed for the holidays with no immediate way to reconcile some very public differences.

  6. 57% of megachurches have Communion at every worship service? This surprises me; if this is true, I consider it a very promising sign and a movement in the right direction. The ELCA church my wife serves as musician has Communion only once a month, and on Festival Sundays; this averages out to less than twice a month.

    But is this really true? Why is my perception so at odds with this statistic?

    • I wonder if they mean “Communion is available somewhere on the premises if you want to go snoop it out.” Some Methodist churches do this — relegating Communion to a side chapel on a weekly basis but incorporating it into the main services much less frequently.

    • Yes, something is definitely wrong with this statistic. It can’t be right, there may be a vocabulary mix up, or I question the whole survey.

    • The stats surprised me too. I think mega church, I think non-denominational evangelical. I didn’t think they really did communion at all, except on a rare occasion. Things that make you say “Huh.”

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

        I have been to two megas in the last five years (both for special occasions at the request of friends). In both cases, communion was served. Small sample size, but I was pretty surprised in both cases. I believe a lot of this comes from the influence of the “Reformed” baptist/evangelical crowd. However, there is a caveat – in both cases the words of institution were not said, and people partook on their own – a true “jesus and me” experience, instead of a corporate experience. So in some ways it wasn’t even really communion.

        • On the one or two occasions my wife and I have participated in Communion in a Mennonite church, this is the way it was. No Words of Institution, just an extemporaneous prayer said by the presiding minister over the elements before distribution to the seated congregation; we were, however, asked to wait to eat and drink in unison.

          As to partaking on their own, if that means the people partook while seated as they received the elements, I don’t see how that is much different from receiving individually in a continuous line proceeding to the altar, as is the custom in the Roman Catholic and other churches. After all, the Last Supper was partaken while seated at table.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            No, it was a little weirder than that, which is why I brought it up. The elements were passed out (which took quite some time, due to size), and everyone did their own thing. One guy was nibbling his wafer, which struck me as hilarious (yes, I got grape juice up my nose), so I started looking around, and there was a whole hodge-podge of various personal ritual going on. Not that there is anything wrong with that per se, but it seemed to fail in both dimensions of common communion understanding. If communion is a means of grace, the lack of words of institution makes it a fail; if it is just a symbol and ordinance, then the lack of corporate ritual makes it a fail. It just came across as really odd to me.

          • I’m recalling the Mennonite Communions that we participated in. This is the way it worked: the elements were passed out, then we were all led by the presiding minister, as he prayed, in a communal act of remembrance of Jesus’ Passion and sacrifice for us, and then we were directed to consume the elements in unison. That is a little different from what what you experienced.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            I think the thing that stood out was that if I didn’t know what communion was, I would have no idea what was going on. It was like snack time or something, with no more comment from the pulpit than “let’s pass out communion, all are welcome to join” or something to that effect.

  7. Steve Newell says

    To answer the question about does Muslims and Christians worship the same god, let me ask the same question that Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” If the answer is anything other than Jesus is the son of God, then you have your answer. One of the foundations of Christianity is that we worship a tribune God. This is heresy to the Muslim religion.

    It all comes down to you do you believe who Jesus is and what he had done.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      That is how you choose to define “same”; but theologians and historians have much more complicated definitions of same. My answer to this question is yes-and-no.

      • “yes and no” is not a sufficient answer. It is either yes OR no. I guess if you want to parse different aspects of the Godhead then you MAY give that answer, but you cannot break God down into separate pats without changing who He is. It is sort of like saying that chimpanzees are human because they share 96% of the same DNA.

        • Though we’re both Episcopalian, I have to ask myself whether I worship the same God as Dr. Hawkins if she worships the same God as Muslims. I worship Jesus Christ, and through him the Trinity; I don’t worship a generic theological abstraction that covers all kinds of theistic religion.

          On the one hand, there is not more than one God to worship, only different conceptions of God. Is there considerable overlap between Christian conceptions of God and Muslim ones? Yes, no doubt there is; let’s acknowledge and even celebrate this.

          On the other hand, the linchpin of most self-defined Christian belief and practice through the centuries and today is Jesus Christ, understood to be both human and God, and worthy of all the praise and worship due God. This means that the very heart of Christian orthodoxy and orthopraxy is different from the Islamic understanding and approach to God.

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

          I think Adam’s point is that theologians and historians do not think in binaries, the way you do. If God is defined by purely objective criteria, then Muslims and Christians may indeed worship the same God. One or the other might have a wrong understanding of God and worship him in totally inappropriate ways (which is the Muslim position, by the way), but that doesn’t change who God is or who is being worshipped. So if Hawkins is a true believer, her comment actually makes some kind of sense. However, if God is defined at least partly by our understanding and worship of him, then “no” or “yes-and-no” makes sense.
          That being said, from a historical and theological perspective Hawkins’ claim has virtually no meaning. The answer to that question is a non-sequitar to the issue of mutual cooperation.

          • She’s really talking about the degree of overlap between the Muslim and Christian conceptions of God; she believes there’s enough overlap to claim substantive identity between the two. I don’t. And I think she confuses things by claiming to worship the same God as Muslims, as if there were more than one God.

          • Robert, she believes that the 3 Abrahamic religions worship the One God. It is both simpler and more complex than you’re making it out to be. Cf. Pope Francis’ ststement, to which Hawkins referred.

            I am baffled by the misunderstandings about what dhe ssid, as well as by the reasons for those misunderstandings.

          • I’ve read the Koran, I’ve reviewed some of the hadith and the history of Islam, I’ve worked congenially with Muslim co-workers, sharing with them my own beliefs and listening to what they’ve had to say about theirs. Nothing I have read or heard of Islam includes things central to the Christian faith and its conception of God: that he became human, and that he lived and died, was crucified, at a certain time and in a certain place, and that his sufferings were central to the economy of redemption and to the character of the Divine. Any faith that does not include these facets in discussing the nature of God, in my opinion, has a conception of God fundamentally different from my own, and from that of Christianity.

          • To be clear: I understand Dr. Hawkin’s statement, and support her academic freedom to make such a statement, as well as her desire to stand with the Muslim community against would-be American persecutors. I can’t, however, agree with it, insofar as it removes the life of Jesus Christ from its central place in the identity of God. For me, the life and character of Jesus is not a tack on to a more generic definition of the identity of God, but is the defining, and redefining, center to any definition of God. I can’t say you worship the same God I do if you do not worship Jesus Christ, and I’m not sure you would want me to say you do if you object to defining God on the basis of the life and character of Jesus, and as Jesus Christ.

          • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

            “She’s really talking about the degree of overlap between the Muslim and Christian conceptions of God;” Really? How do you know that? I read the quote, and I don’t see where she said that.

          • Dr. F,
            You’re right; she didn’t. I’m projecting my own concerns, and “talking point”, as it were.

        • See, I don’t get all this. Even in my extreme fundamentalists churches, we were always taught that the Muslims are descended from Ishmael, who worshipped the God of Abraham. This is like, fundamental true history here.

          Do they worship Jesus? No, they don’t. Just like the Jews don’t. (and a lot of Christians don’t, Jesus is just the gatekeeper back to the Law)

          But they all, fundamentally, worship the same God of Abraham. They (all) just misunderstand who He is and what He’s done since Abraham.

          This isn’t controversial.

          This is pure anti-Muslim rhetoric and hatred.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2015/12/19/more-on-wheaton-aka-the-white-evangelical-faber/

          • But then, what do I know. I’m a “liberal”.

            Jesus, Jew, Muhammed…it’s true: all sons of Abraham.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf3yaIUmyQE

          • it’s funny how rabid people become when the COEXIST logo is brought out…

            peace is dead

          • I resent you labeling my opinion as anti-Islamic, and me a as a Muslim-hater. You’re just wrong and speaking from ignorance if you think that. But it’s a good way to shut down conversation: calling names is very effective for that.

          • Not you, Robert F, if it’s me you are responding to.

            But definitely what’s happening at Wheaton. And with Trump. and a lot of culture at large.

          • Fair enough, StuartB.

            Two tendencies I’ve noticed:

            Conservatives who want to shut down discussion label dissenters as traitors, or ignorant;

            liberals/progressives who want to shut down discussion label dissenters as haters, or ignorant.

            It’s very tiring.

          • I agree StuartB. I think she’s simply saying we all come from the same starting point of a supreme being and, thus, have some overlap. We all view it differently, but we all agree that there is a being or force that we call God. One God. Not gods like many other religions or just a universal consciousness as some believe. The devil’s in the details as they say, and how we structure our beliefs or process our knowledge of this being are where we part ways.

      • Steve Newell says

        It comes down to Jesus. Is he God as God the Son or not? It is a binary answer. If you reject Jesus as being part of the God Head, then you reject the God of Christianity.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > It comes down to Jesus

          No, it doesn’t. It may come down to that when defining Christianity – it most certainly does not come down to that when defining “God”, which has loads of historical [which includes the national and political] and theological hairs to split.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Well, at the very start, Islam was essentially viewed as a Christian heresy. That implies right God, wrong views.

      • Do we dare then add that the Mormons worship the same God as Christians?

        I mean, besides during election season?

        • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

          I hear that during the election cycle even Catholics are Christians…

        • How about John Piper? Mark Driscoll? Kenneth Copeland? There are untold examples of people to whose “god” I refuse to bow down.

    • So, would she have been suspended if she said she worshipped the same God as Jews do? I don’t imagine that for a second.

  8. I think that Christian institutions of education would do well to maintain and support a high level of academic freedom for teachers and students alike. It doesn’t seem like Wheaton has done that in this case, but I’m not too familiar with this particular case, so I withhold judgement.

    Regarding the question of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God: Most Christians throughout history, and today, worship the Trinity, and Jesus Christ as the Second Person of the Trinity. If you were to tell the average devout Muslim that they, like most Christians, worship Jesus Christ, what do you think their reaction might be?

    • Steve Newell says

      Academic freedom is an interesting concept. A Christian institution of education must balance out “academic freedom” with their doctrine. When an educator goes outside of doctrine of the school, what should the school do?

      If a private or public school had an educator who taught that only white land holding men should be given the right to vote, do they allow that teacher to continue under the argument of “academic freedom”?

      For Christian school, doctrine trumps “academic freedom” in my view.

    • Does that mean we don’t worship the same God as Jews? They don’t believe in the trinity either, nor do they accept that Jesus is the second person of that trinity.

      Now I do believe that if you look deeper into the attributes of God (character questions) there are differences between what Muslims worship and the God Christians worship. but we would probably also find differences with Jewish understanding of God’s attributes as well. Difficult questions, particularly in a time when most people (including many Christians) seem to define ‘god’ in their own way.

      • Of course, there is only one God to worship. Though the Christian conception of God may overlap in important and meaningful ways with both Muslim and Jewish conceptions, it is different in what has historically been the most important to Christian self-definition: We worship Jesus Christ, and he is at the center of our theology and our understanding of God’s nature and identity.

        If professor Hawkins is saying that the traditional Christian conception of who and God is overlaps with Muslim conceptions, I agree with her; if she is saying that they are the same in their central and most meaningful understanding of the nature and identity of God, I disagree with her, and so would many or most devout Muslims.

  9. Well played, Daniel.

  10. White supremacists are definitely a real threat; it would be wrong to ignore that fact. I don’t think our government has ignored it, and, as far as I know, supremacist groups are being monitored and investigated.

    But, so far, I see little evidence that such groups have been able to mount or inspire widespread acts of terrorism internationally; nor have they taken control of a region of our nation, or any other nation, which they claim to operate as a sovereign state. I don’t think they, at this time, pose the same threat as jihadis do. Of course, that could change.

  11. Trans-ageism is the answer to all my ‘issues’ (well, a lot of them anyway)! It has a name and soon will be as accepted as other ‘identities’! I certainly hope that it is possible to have ‘variable trans-ageism’ because I want social security AND to be 19 again (though according to my assigned-at-birth age I can’t have either). The only downside to this is that my body refuses to cooperate and constantly reminds me that my ‘assigned-at-birth’ age determines how well I can live out my self-perceived age (whatever it happens to be on any particular day). Saturday Ramblings is so liberating! I can finally be who I really am (at least as much as my body will let me). Thank you Chaplain Mike.

    • I love variable trans-ageism. I want senior citizen discounts AND to be 5 or 6 so that I can’t be held legally responsible for any egregious misbehavior. Not that I have imminent plans for any such behavior but it’s nice to know I have that immunity in the bag. Full benefits of Soc. Security and Medicare is acceptable as well. They can give that to me. Can you also be a dog or other domesticated animal if you have used your variable ageism? That may be overfilling the plate.

    • Sorry, thank you Daniel.

  12. I am still in shock over something that happened last week on the firearms issue. A co-worker asked me “Are you a Christian?” then proceeded on a long rant about how Christians should all carry guns and go around ready to shoot.

    A while back after asking the same question, a different person went on a rant about hating Hispanic immigrants.

    I refuse to answer that question anymore, it is always a prelude to a hate filled rant.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yep. I flee any conversations that begin with a version of that question; it will always be about who I should hate or fear. And in the data one discovers I am most likely to be killed by a distracted driver.

    • I had workplace safety training at my job yesterday. My company conducts such training for its employees every year. One of the things we were told is that people who behave the way your two co-workers did are themselves exhibiting signs of increased likelihood of committing acts of workplace violence; if you were made uncomfortable by what you experienced from them (as you said you were), you should consider telling your supervisor.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Certainly true, just doesn’t work so well in a place where most of management thinks in these same terms. Although we FINALLY got a policy about firearms in the workplace…. Sigh. West Michigan is a ‘fascinating ‘ place; lots of extremists who are convinced they are centrist.

        • Everybody thinks *their* views are reasonable.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            Didn’t say “reasonable”. Centrist is a term that can be defined pretty well. I, as a Socialist, am on the border line of exremeist [I advocate nationalizing health care, utilities, and the railroads]. But I am aware of my position on the spectrum. This differs from my neighbors and coworkers who would establish concentration camps, and permit summary execution – – – and define themselves as holding traditional American political positions, and claim they clearly represent the the majority of Americans. That is delusional. I suspect this is fueled by living in socioeconomic silos. In any case it makes discussion exhausting and rather pointless.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            People who believe their beliefs are Reasonable, are just fine. Then you can discuss why they think they are reasonable. People who believe their beliefs are obvious, and that an enormous silent majority stands[*1] behind them, are a different breed.

            [*1] There really is not an enormous silent majority behind anyone or any issue. It always splinters once you start to overlap issues.

  13. Julie Anne over at Spiritual Sounding board posted a good article about the Wheaton College / Professor Hawkins incident. Comments from theologian Miroslav Volf and from alumnus Billy Graham (from a 1997 interview on a similar topic) support Dr. Hawkins.
    http://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2015/12/17/wheaton-college-professor-larycia-hawkins-standing-in-religious-solidarity-with-muslims/

    My own opinion:
    1) Dr. Hawkins is not a professor of bible or theology. She is a professor of political studies.
    2) Wheaton College is not a church.
    3) There is a great danger of backlash against colleges when they “take a stand” on matters that don’t quite need a stand. I’m seeing this with my own alma mater Gordon College and President Lindsay’s statement on marriage; and with Liberty University President Falwell’s stand (rant?) for guns and against Muslims.

    Miroslav Volf said it pretty well in the SSB article above. Billy Graham went a step further and got away with what he said in 1997, but I think it’s only because he’s Billy Graham. What he said is something like the last chapter in C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle and if he weren’t Billy he could have been thrown out of the evangelical circus along with Larycia Hawkins.

    • “That’s what God is doing today, He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.” – Billy Graham to Robert Schuller in 1997.

  14. Randy Thompson says

    So, Cruz is an alternative to the craziness of Trump? What is our criteria for craziness here?

    It’s reassuring that the leadership of the Christian right is aligning themselves with the lesser craziness rather than the greater.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      I’m not sure Cruz is the lesser crazy. That’s like saying that an MMA fighter is the lesser crazy than the WWE wrestler because the MMA fighter fights for real.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        The pool of crazy is deep this time round. While Trump and Cruz and Huckabee are obviously nuts, Christie’s suggestion that all Russian planes that trespass over his American-declared no-fly zone across Syria be summarily shot down places well deep into crazy nutcase territory.

      • Andrew Zook says

        Cruz is as crazy… but he’s more “polite” and less open about it – ie more sneaky. Personally I don’t trust him – sure he comes across as nicer, more amiable… homespun. But he’s like many modern cultural-warrior christians in a dedicated belief that the end justifies the means… if in power, as he’s already shown clearly; he’ll do just about anything to get to something he ‘believes’ in. That makes him crazy and dangerous.

  15. Klasie Kraalogies says

    I am a bit dissapointed, but not surprised in the Mother Theresa sainthood. I know a lot of people want to breakmout in hives when you mention the name “Christopher Hitchens”, but he was essentially correct about her: She was a friend of poverty, not of the poor. That is why the millions that went to her did not go into poverty relief, hospitals, schools, motherhood education, clinics etc, but into convents built in HER name to train nuns to be around the dying to make sure they die good catholics. Frankly speaking, it is despicable. By their deeds ye shall know them.The stuff that went on in Calcutta -people dying of preventable diseases, reusing of needles etc, because they cared nor about peoples’ bodies but about their souls, yet made sure to gather millions as if they cared for their bodies – I have no words for this level of deception – not to speak of hanhing out with brutal dictators and calling them holy men. For all of this there is actual evidence and eyewitness testimony. A quick google seach will help.

    • Kalsie – very much agreed. Jeffrey Eugenides described his own experiences (all bad) in Calcutta in his novel The Marriage Plot. Includes refusal to administer medications that could have made people well, refusal of people in the order to get proper medical care for people at the mission, volunteers dumping buckets of cold water on dying people to “bathe” them, and more.

      Eugenides’ character leaves profoundly disillusioned; same as Eugenides himself.

    • Ironically, the Vatican asked Hitchens to be the devil’s advocate when proceedings were under way re. the eventual beatification of Mother Teresa. He took the gig.

      Looks to me like they didn’t take his book and investigative journalism on her lightly.

    • I don’t think Junipero Serra was such a great choice for canonization, either; but the Vatican was obviously of a very different opinion.

      • No, another bad choice for sure, but with Mother Teresa’s deal, there’s tons of documentation. Which makes it far more egregious in many ways. I just cannot stomach the way they abuse people in their “care,” let alone understand why people persist in viewing both her and her order as “holy” and somehow above reproach.

        Makes me wonder how many women have left, both prior to taking final vows, and after, too.

        • The evidence against Mother Teresa does make this one more egregious, but I have no doubt that, if it were possible to get beneath the hagiographical surface surrounding some of the historic canonized Saints, the evidence would be just as bad or worse. I don’t think this is at all unusual;

  16. Re: white supremacists, Congressman Carson is not necessarily referring to hate groups that fly the nazi flag and wear hoods. He’s talking about anybody that believes that white people are inherently better than any person of color. That’s what happened to Dylann Roof. He wasn’t part of a group, but believed in the ideology of white supremacy.

  17. Speaking of talking frogs:
    An old guy out fishing hears a frog on the shoreline calling out, “Kiss me, I’m a beautiful princess.” He rows over, puts the frog in the boat and keeps fishing. The frog keeps on with its plea but he seems to pay no attention. He takes the frog home and puts it on a table while he watches tv. The frog finally yells at him, “Why won’t you kiss me? I’m a beautiful princess!” He looks over at it and says, “Honey, at my age, I’m good with a talking frog.”

  18. Klasie Kraalogies says

    I have a comment in moderation, but I can’t figure out why? ( regarding mother Theresa).

  19. I should point out that the Saudi millionaire was found not guilty of rape in an English court not a Saudi court.

    BTW the ‘same god’ dispute seems to be a philosophical question about identity. For instance is the author of Measure for Measure the same as the author of Timon of Athens and the author of The Wisdom of the Ancients and is that person William Shakespeare? And if two people agree that Measure for Measure is the greatest play in English literature does that also mean they agree that the author is Shakespeare and that person also wrote Timon of Athens? Similarly both Muslims and Christians say they worship the God of Abraham and agree that he is omnipotent, etc. but disagree about other aspects of that God.

  20. I think there are some very basic questions each of us must ask ourselves with this topic.

    Do I personally know any Muslims?

    Do I feel safe around these Muslims?

    Do I feel I can trust these Muslims?

    Do I always feel distrustful around these Muslims?

    Do I always feel unsafe around these Muslims?

    Answering these questions, and not just with Muslims but with blacks, the police, homosexuals, any other group or affiliation or denomination or club that’s not the one I belong to, can say a lot about ourselves and our views.

    I grew up living in fear and distrust. That no matter what they said or did, they were lying to me, and at any moment they could be violent and harm me. Because fundamentally they were “different” and didn’t have the straight jacket of Christianity holding them back.

    Eventually, I learned that was a lie. And it’s changed my life for the better.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      +1 And we really should ask and answer those questions in order. If we don’t personally know Muslims, then maybe we shouldn’t take our fear and safety concerns so seriously.

      Also, Muslims constitute practically a quarter of the world’s population, so if we don’t know any, maybe it’s time to make a new friend.

      • yes to you both. I used to live in a ‘hood where there were Muslim immigrants from all over the world (though mainly N. and W. Africa and the Middle East), and they are very friendly people. Much friendlier, in fact, than most of us who were born here. I also worked as an ESL tutor for Arab Muslim women and girls, and got to know not only my students but their families in the process. I miss them very much. (I now live in an area where there is pretty much zero diversity, see… long story.)

    • On a lighter note, I have a friend who befriended some young men from Saudi Arabia while doing some contract work at a university. They were students and he said they were very friendly. As he got to know them they told him they have a game they play in airports as they travel – it’s called ‘Spot the Skinny American’.

  21. Very salty over Yes and The Cars once again being stiffed by the RRHOF. Nevertheless, congratulations to Cheap Trick, Steve Miller, Chicago, Deep Purple, and NWA.

    • I heard Steve Miller is goign to use the occasion to come clean about the rumor: no one has ever actually called him Maurice.

    • Chicago with Terry Kath = Awesome.
      Chicago after Kath’s death = Mega-rancid.

    • I was disappointed that yes did not get in the hall of fame this year. But one real problem with inducting yes would be which lineup would you put in the hall? There were so many lineup changes that would create controversy with the fans.

      Cheap trick, only popular for a very short timeframe, their success was more in Japan than in America.

  22. Freedom of religion does not mean we must all worship the same thing using different names. The assumption that every religious symbol (even within Christianity) is a representation of the same reality is fallacious as well as a back-door assault on religious freedom.

  23. Another news story.

    http://gawker.com/virginia-school-district-cancels-classes-after-teacher-1748639593

    So I guess learning about Islam in class is wrong. Copying their calligraphy is wrong. Acknowledging the commonality of idolatry being wrong is wrong.

    I guess Islam is just wrong.

    • Please, someone. Explain to me how this doesn’t at some point just boil down to hatred? We don’t like them. We don’t like them coming here. We don’t like what they believe. We don’t like how they act. We don’t like them unless they are just like us. So at what point does this become hatred?

      • I posted this at Pete Enns’ blog about Wheaton.

        “Wheaton’s reaction pales in comparison to the incident in Augusta County, VA where a whole school system was shut down because one mother objected to an assignment in a geography class. That incident, and the news coverage, and comments by the mother, make Wheaton’s response look reasonable, informed, and tolerant!”

        I think it boils down to ignorance (and that is the kindest term I can think of to describe it, or the mother in the video below), which can lead to hatred. I have been using a new saying lately (it might not be original but since I don’t remember if I heard it somewhere else, it might be 🙂 ): ‘I am not ashamed of Christ, but I am often ashamed of Christians.’ Here’s a good example!

        http://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/18/opinions/robbins-augusta-county-islam/index.html

      • That Other Jean says

        More fear than hatred, I think. Muslim families are pretty thin on the ground in rural Virginia, so there’s not much chance to get to know Muslims as people, rather than as the subjects of right-wing rants. But for the school board to close schools because a calligraphy lesson that translates “There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet” might indoctrinate students in Muslim beliefs showed more an abundance of stupidity than an abundance of caution, to my mind.

  24. Is tonight’s Democratic Party presidential debate over? Was it low-key, low-profile and un-watched enough to leave Hillary Clinton’s ascendancy completely unchallenged? Why even go through the charade of a national convention, when we already know what the all but prearranged outcome will be? Could the DP be any more transparent in its desire to protect its Anointed One above all else and others?

    One one side the devil, on the other the deep BLUE sea….

  25. I vote for ‘same God’, as Jews, Christians, and Muslims are all members of the Abrahamic faiths. There are other similarities and a whole lot of differences in how each describes that ‘one God’, but there is no doubt that they are all three in the category of the Abrahamic faiths.