August 4, 2020

Saturday Ramblings, January 10, 2015

Hello, imonks, and welcome to the weekend.  Let’s do some rambling!

56 was a good year

56 was a good year

NFL wisdom:  “It’s like you look at a girl who looks like you, and you find out it’s your cousin, so you can’t go on a date with her even though you’d like to, because she looks like you. But then you see her friend, and her friend’s really hot, and you’re like, ‘that’s not my cousin,’ so it’s good.” This from Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennet explaining his…ummm…mixed feelings for the Carolina Panthers.  He likes them, you see, but can’t really like them, cuz they’re … cousins. Attractive cousins.  REALLY attractive cousins. I’m still not sure who the hot friend is.

Potholes bad in your city this winter?

PAY-Li-Hung (1)

Still wanna complain?

Terror in Paris. First, a shout-out to First Things for publishing (before the Paris attacks) the most balanced and insightful article on the challenge of Islamic extremism that I have seen.  I encourage you to read the whole thing, but here is the synopsis:

  • Islam is not mono-lithic. There are five main schools of thought. Unlike in Christianity, the differences are not doctrinal, but reflect differences in jurisprudence, authority and tradition.
  • Wahhabism (the source of the jihadism and terrorism) is the most literalist and iconoclastic branch of Hanbalism, which itself is the most conservative of the five main schools.
  • While the jihadists can quote their interpretation of sharia law, they without question violate that law by taking jihad in their own hands and by how they implement jihad.
  • “In other words, while it is neither true nor fair to argue that Islam is the problem, there is no doubt that Islam has a problem.”
  • A battle for the soul of Islam is earnestly underway among Muslims worldwide. We need to do what we can to strengthen those versions of Islam opposed to the jihadists.

Tolerance or cowardice? That’s what many people wondered after the Associated Press refused to print the cartoon produced by those who died in Paris: “It’s been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images.” Yep.  That’s why (until bloggers pointed out the hypocrisy yesterday) you could buy a copy of Piss Christ on their website. Politico notes that many other news organizations refused to print the cartoons.  Commenters quickly noted that Politico was one of them. What do you think imonks? Is printing the cartoons striking a blow for free speech, or needless provocation?

I’m not saying it’s cold here in the midwest; I’m just saying there are parts of Mars that are warmer. Really.

Andrae Crouch, who penned songs like “My Tribute, [To God be the glory]”, “Soon and Very Soon,” “Jesus Is the Answer” and “Through It All” , passed away this week.  He was 72.

Hoping to witness? Wanna engage the culture?  Not sure how to get started?  Take a clue from this guy. Smooth as silk.

faccccI’m sure this was Mark Zuckerberg’s goal all along.  A Tennessee couple faced a dilemma after their in vitro fertilization was successful.  Perhaps too successful, actually: two sets of twins.  The dilemma?  What to do with six unused, frozen embryos?  The answer?  Facebook, of course.

From the YIKES department: Stephanie Lucas of San Diego just wanted to take a bathroom break at work.  But isn’t it annoying when the toilet seems clogged, and you have to “hold it in” while you search for a plunger, and then do your little hydraulic surgery on the porcelain throne? You know what would be more annoying? Realizing the blockage was caused by a snake.  A live snake.  A live, five-foot Colombian Boa. That starts heading toward you.  Wouldn’t that be awful?

You don't need to use the toilet anymore, do ya?

You don’t need to use the toilet anymore, do ya, Stephanie?

The Good News Club, a project of Child Evangelism Fellowship, is a voluntary, after-school club that is allowed to meet in public schools.  The Supremes have given their blessing, but only if the school involved is willing to be the venue for other groups.  Thus we now have the first atheist after-school program: the Better News Club.

Absurd Creature of the Week is an ongoing feature from Wired. The pick yesterday? A Tarsier, a tree-dweller that can rotate its head like an owl, speaks in ultrasound, and is the only primate to feed exclusively on meat. Oh, and it is believed to be the inspiration for Yoda.

Adorable, I am

Adorable, I am.

The Fermi Paradox is the contradiction between the high probability of extraterrestrial civilizations’ existence and the lack of contact with such civilizations.  Why should we expect to be contacted by alien life (or at least see its effects)? Well, just by sheer probability, based on the incredible number of stars.

  • There are There are between 1022 and 1024 total stars in the visible universe [which means that for every grain of sand on Earth, there are 10,000 stars out there].
  • How many of those are like the sun? The conservative estimate is 500 quintillion [500 billion billion].
  • How many with planets like ours? The conservative estimate is 100 billion billion [100 Earth-like planets for every grain of sand in the world].
  • If only 1 percent of those developed life, that would mean there were 10 quadrillion, or 10 million billion intelligent civilizations in the observable universe.
  • Even if we limit the calculations to our galaxy, we should expect that there are 1 billion Earth-like planets and 100,000 intelligent civilizations in our galaxy.

I point all this out because of the announcement this week that another 8 planets have been discovered in the goldilocks zone; that is, they are at just the right distance from a sun to make water (and life) possible.  Oh you didn’t hear about the announcement?  Perhaps because the discovery of new planets is so commonplace now.  The Kepler spacecraft alone has discovered over 4,000 in just five years of operation.  Still no E.T., however.

t7101881ed_1New England Brewing has apologized, but has not yanked its controversial beer brand: Ghandi-bot. The cans feature a robotic Ghandi [why???]  and the claim: “an ideal aid for self-purification and the seeking of truth and love.” Of course, brewers, like most of us, are not immune to making some dough from religious branding.  Guess which one of these beers and slogans I just made up: [The answer will be in the comments]

  • Rapture Red Hop Ale (Offers your taste buds redemption)
  • Polygamy Porter (Why have just one?)
  • Pentecostal Punch (There’s more than one way to be spirit-filled)
  • Repent Rye (Grants you full absolution)
  • He’Brew (The Chosen Beer)
  • 666, the Devil’s Pale Ale (The devil made me brew it)
  • You thought it was this one, didn't ya?

    You thought it was this one, didn’t ya?

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting (but sad) article on what to do with all the empty church buildings in Europe.  One solution: an indoor skate park.



It’s Bambo, not Bambi.  A Wisconsin hunter was attacked by the deer he wounded last weekend.  The wounded doe “leaped out and went after him” while he was amidst tracking her among “some thick brush” Sheriff’s Officer Jeff Bonack said.  The feisty deer then head-butted his leg and fled the scene. The article notes, “This is only the latest incident of deer revolting against their human oppressors. In the past two months, deer have busted into homes in New York and New Jersey, in one case wreaking havoc in a bathroom. And in 2013, a buck jumped through the window of a minivan and out the other, shattering glass over a terrified family.” Yep, the deer are definitely out of control. They’re even being a bad influence on the moose:

They're even a bad influence on the moose!

“We don’t have time to explain.  Get in!”

Tozer quote of the week:

“It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.”  

― A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God


  1. What do you think imonks? Is printing the cartoons striking a blow for free speech, or needless provocation?

    My vote would be NEITHER! After seeing a couple of them I would have to say that publishing them would be an exercize in poor taste. But after thinking about that for a few minutes, “poor taste” is the default setting for many publications.

    The witnessing video was hilarious! The guy just COULDN’T have been serious…could he?


  2. Patrick Kyle says

    Associated Press- Both hypocritical and cowardly. Though, freedom of speech is only safe if all parties involved agree on it. It is ultimately foolish to insult and humiliate a group that has no concept of unbridled freedom of speech, and which looks favorably upon using violence to avenge their honor. ( Not the way it should be, but the way it is.) Christians are easy targets for various media outlets because we aren’t going to shoot or bomb our critics. Kind of like the school bullies who only pick on the nerds, but steer clear of the football players.

    • Patrick Kyle says

      I see a lot of people urging outlets to run the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. They also published cartoons mocking Christ and the Church. Shall they run the one of the Holy Trinity in an incestuous homosexual embrace, or the pornographic ones of nuns and the popes too?

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    That’s what many people wondered after the Associated Press refused to print the cartoon produced by those who died in Paris: “It’s been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images.” Yep. That’s why (until bloggers pointed out the hypocrisy yesterday) you could buy a copy of Piss Christ on their website.

    If Christians went kill-crazy and racked up a body count every time we thought somebody MIGHT be dissing us, everybody’d be tiptoeing on eggs and sucking up to us, too. Fear Breeds Respect.

  4. Regarding the publication of provocative cartoons…

    To me the real question isn’t about free speech or needless provocation, it’s: Does intentionally provocative material warrant being killed over? And while one could argue that if someone publishes something they know will cause a fatwa to be called on them then they deserve what they get, it seems that then you’d have to admit that Jesus was intentionally provocative and thus deserving of what he got.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      Jesus is said to have attacked money-changers with a whip. If so, then he can hardly be called guiltless.

      The cartoon thing is an honest-to-God dilemma: exercise freedom of speech in certain ways, and innocent people die (not necessarily you). It is unfortunate that the world forces us to make such choices, but here we are. Fools rush in…

      • Can you tell me why Jesus was so passionate about clearing this part of the Temple? Was it because this particular part was for the Gentiles to come and worship God and the Hebrews of the day didn’t see why that mattered. It wasn’t because of the money changers as their business was in need it was because they were robbing God of the time he wanted to spend with people. So many of us never understand that when he says about being robbed it has nothing to do with money. The thing for me was it was very controlled on Jesus part. He sat and thought carefully as He fashioned the whip.

        Sadly my anger is never under such control yet. How bout yours?

        • Exactly, w! Those making a profit from God’s house deserved to be driven out. It reminds me of today’s modern televangelists living opulent lifestyles while the average contributor lives a much more humble existence.

          • Back in the day I took the tv guys with a grain of salt. Today I must say in all honesty that I don’t see any Christianity there. Am I being a judge in a bad way? I don’t know but I cannot find any way to consider Benny Hinn my brother. I see nothing Christian there at all, in fact quite the opposite – lying, stealing, self aggrandizement. It seems really destructive to me these days, not just mildly off track.

        • Daniel Jepsen says

          “Can you tell me why Jesus was so passionate about clearing this part of the Temple?”

          I intend to write a post about this someday, as after studying it with some really good commentaries, I think I mis-understood the story most of my life. It would have to be a long post, so I can’t prove my points here, but the main points would be:

          –The clearing of the temple and the cursing of the fig tree must be understood together.
          –Both had symbolic meanings and were chosen deliberately. Neither action was uncontrolled rage.
          –The barren fig tree represented the system of second-temple Judaism.
          –The problem of second-temple Judaism was its fixation on the temple and its sacrifices.
          –More specifically, the problem was an attitude of, “I can live however I want, and it’s all good because I offer the right sacrifices. And our people can live however we want, and it’s all good because we have the temple, God’s house, in our midst.”
          –This was especially the problem of the Sadducees and the Herodians (the temple elite).
          –Jesus drove out the animals (probably not the people) with a whip. He stopped people from buying the animals or converting funds for temple worship and sacrifices.
          –He did this not because he was mad at them for making money in the temple, or for skimming profits, but in order to temporarily stop the temple services and sacrifices in a symbolic warning of the permanent cessation of these things that God would do (which occurred in 70 AD).
          –In other words, this was an act that both symbolized God’s judgment on what the mindset of second-temple worship, and that prophesied that Jesus would bring its cessation, first in the plan of God, then in the matrix of history.

          • I think you need to factor in Jesus’ points in Matthew 23 as well. And his sadness/angst over “people who should know better” not knowing better.

          • BTW, Daniel…I can’t wait to read your post about this topic!

          • Faulty O-Ring says

            We need to distinguish between several orders of explanation:

            *a justification (“Yes, I shot the sheriff, but I had a really good reason, so that this ordinarily criminal was under the circumstances actually permissible.”)

            *an excuse (“Yes, I shot the sheriff, but I was drunk / temporarily insane / etc., and so should not be held responsible for committing the crime.”)

            *other grounds for leniency (“…but I didn’t shoot the deputy, no no no”)

            *highfallutin textual criticism (“No sheriff was actually shot, Marley invented the scenario to symbolize the repression of the black man by Babylon.”)

          • I really like this interpretation. Which probably means it’s very fringe, unpopular, and I should be really concerned for my soul by liking it.

          • My point being Daniel that this part of the temple was being occupied by those that left no room for the gentiles to come and spend time in worship. The chosen people had chosen not to exhibit the light to the rest of the world but keep it to themselves. They had pushed others out. It wasn’t that they were being so dishonest with the money as it is so popular a commentary. Here we see the heart of God again in wanting to spend time with people. Only we turned it into something else. The israelites of that day were providing a service that was necessary for the feast it was the place they were doing it that kept others from coming therefor robbing God.

            The tithe in Duet. 14 I think when applied correctly allows for widows and aliens ( Gentile visitors) to participate. Maybe you could do some research on this and present it in the way God would lead you as this would be of great interest to me.

            For’s shooting the sheriff……..well need I say more.

  5. The “colder than Mars” graph/article is pretty funny. Speaking of which, I’m reading a pretty good sci-fi book called “The Martian” by Andy Weir about a Mars mission gone awry, with an astronaut thought to be dead left behind on the planet. “Cold” is just one of the things he has to deal with. A fun, quick read.

    • That book was terrific, one of the best I read last year.

    • In the 60’s Robert Heinlein wrote a SciFi about a Mars mission gone awry and an infant was left and raised by Martians. The next mission 20 something years later brought the kid back to Earth. Stranger In a Strange Land.

      • I read it last year myself — a real classic.

        It’s always interesting to see in these older sci-fi books that strange mixture of a future we haven’t yet seen (actual human travel to Mars), societal changes that seemed shocking at the time but have been largely digested by now (sexual revolution, just beginning then), and entire professions that are essential to the story line but have long since disappeared (small cadre of beautiful young secretaries taking dictation at the drop of a hat for the author of a newspaper serial.)

        The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury is also a classic of course.

        • “Stranger in a Strange Land” and “The Martian Chronicles”…both fine pieces of work! “Headier” than “The Martian,” for sure, but “The Martian” is definitely a fun, exciting read.

        • Oh yeah! I had forgotten about Jubal Harshaw and his cadre of secretaries…

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          It’s always interesting to see in these older sci-fi books that strange mixture of a future we haven’t yet seen …, societal changes that seemed shocking at the time but have been largely digested by now …, and entire professions that are essential to the story line but have long since disappeared…

          Don’t forget interplanetary mail (as in physical letters in envelopes) and starships navigated through hyperspace by pencil-and-paper calculations and slide rules.

      • Faulty O-Ring says

        Fun book, but precious little science in it. Weir’s book, by contrast, is grounded (so to speak) in current science and technology–in fact, it is positively geeky about this.

        • Yes, FOR, Heinlein’s book was more social commentary/poke in the eye than “science”.

          For those who are old enough to remember 1970…The first Jefferson Starship arrangement called “Blows Against the Empire” was loosely based on Heinlein’s “future history” series. Heck of an album with just about everyone playing on it; Jerry Garcia on pedal steel and guitar, Graham Nash, David Crosby, and I can’t remember who else. It really caught the zeitgeist of the faded and tarnished Summer of Love.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Fun book, but precious little science in it. Weir’s book, by contrast, is grounded (so to speak) in current science and technology–in fact, it is positively geeky about this.

          That’s the difference between Soft & Hard SF.

    • “The Martian” is a GREAT read! MY only problem with it is how can so many bad things happen to one person, consecutively? I actually listened to it on MP3 while I was going about my job. Very entertaining, and a prime subject for a movie script…with editing, of course!

      • Already being turned into a movie, I hear. And I have no problem with the idea that so many bad things happen to the guy. He’s ALONE ON MARS for heaven’s sake! 😉

    • Oh great, another to add to the “to be read” pile… 🙂

      Oh, I read somewhere that the novel is being adapted into a movie so I best get to it soon.

  6. Regarding the Tozer quote…

    What’s wrong with refreshments? 😉

    • I know right, nice guy this Tozer. I’m sure I would want to hang out with him.
      I wonder when Jesus was rejoicing greatly if that might have bothered Him. Maybe his quotes are a testimony to his own problems.

      • I don’t think Tozer had a problem with rejoicing. I think he had a problem with the mindset that we have to do something to entertain people so that they will come into our church building.

        • I can’t imagine Jesus ever giving a child a candy cane. In the one can conclude part it is all testimony on his conclusions. I guess when the Pharisees saw Jesus eating and drinking they imagined he wasn’t doing anything about his father’s kingdom…..really. Definitely a problem and a testimony to where he was at.

          • W,
            I’m really not sure what you are trying to say in this comment. But as for Tozer, of course he wasn’t perfect, just like any of us. From what I have read about him, he probably was not the partying kind. I hope there is room in the kingdom for those kind of people as well. But he was hitting on a real problem in the evangelical church scene. But there is a difference between going to a party at someone’s house and thinking you always have to make church a party to get people to come. There is also a difference between giving a child a candy cane out of the generosity of your heart and using it as bait.

          • I was never saying Tozer should be perfect and if you can’t tell these type of quotes rub me like coarse sand paper. My father use to say if you must cut someone down to make a point or think that it makes you look better it only makes you look worse. It is easy to point out others fault ( like I just did, God help me) but to make the point without doing it is much harder. Tozer probably had this ability to make the point but I think he would rather be a prude because it would be a more perfect way to him. My feelings that anything that gets someone to think about their creator whether it be entry level or deeper is good and He can handle it from there. Some of us are only going to go so far it’s okay God still loves us….This grace thing and all.

    • It would seem that many of the early churches had regular refreshments. They called it the Lord’s Supper. It was a common meal–a “potluck” if you will–which served as a sign of their being a “body” and a “re-membering” of the Christ. The practice was very counter-cultural because of its inclusiveness.

      Tozer’s is a pre-statement of Bill Kinnon’s axiom; “What you win them with is what you win them to.”

    • “…they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.”

      The interesting thing is that we read the Tozer quote with our church culture of today in mind; rock bands, theater lights, projection screens, in house coffee shops, et al. Tozer has been dead since 1963. When he says “It is now commonplace” he was talking about evangelical churches 50 years ago.

  7. “Is printing the cartoons striking a blow for free speech, or needless provocation?”

    The former.

    We ought never let these SOB’s get away with what they are doing.

    “I’d rather die standing up, than live on my knees”. I don’t know who said it…but I am with them.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      I think it was either Malcolm X or Magneto.

      • Actually is was Stéphane Charbonnier, a lead editor of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo

        • Throughout history, and still today, many will say, “No, no, you have it wrong: It’s better to live on your feet, than die on you knees.” (As related in the film Catch22).

      • But by the same logic, if a paper printed a particularly nasty anti-Christian cartoon, and some lone-wolf loco fundie from out in the sticks shot the newspaper editor over it, then you’d demand that the anti-Christian cartoon be reprinted in the name of free speech? I somehow don’t see that happening with you any more than it would with me.

        We have to remember that freedom of speech is only about the GOVERNMENT not being able to censor us. What consequences our free speech produce is an entirely different matter,. Muslim extremists can’t take away our Constitutional rights (or those of the Fifth Republic, for that matter). What they can do is influence editorial decisions. So it’s a matter of editorial wisdom, courage, and taste as to whether such cartoons get published — it’s NOT an issue of freedom of speech or of the press.

  8. The Taco Bell guy…I want to punch him in the face. Total Depravity and all that I suppose.

    • an honest reaction 🙂

      the truth is that some of the fundamentalist-evangelical proselytizing going on IS obnoxious.
      Michael Spencer wrote about it so very well

  9. Faulty O-Ring says

    Pentecostal Punch is the fake one?

    But “Pale Ale” should really be a Mormon product. (I can’t tell you why outside of the Celestial Room.)

  10. The Taco Bell guy? If I was waiting on him and he told me how to announce his name, I would say something like “I will just call out ‘Number 18.’ That will be you…Number 18.” I don’t think it is cute what he did. I think it is arrogant.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      It’s like that ongoing Simpsons gag, where Bart phones Moe asking him to call the name of “Hugh Jass” or whatnot.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      If you are going to go that route, assign him the number 666.

  11. “The better news club?” Ain’t gonna last. But pretty funny never-the-less

  12. Re: The Tozer Quote

    I was a happy-enough evangelical at a church going that way before moving and taking the plunge into in orthodoxy. So I don’t want to take sides in that fight, but it did bring to mind a story of the cultural divide it brings.

    I have a friend that barely went to church as a kid, was thrown out in her teens, and grew up to become a pagan. She married a very good friend of mine, a guy who I was in Bible Club together with back in highschool who went on to leave christianity due to his beliefs changing.

    His dad is a very sincere and wonderful christian man, and it must have been so hard to see his son leave the faith. He didn’t always take things well, but over the years he mended ties with his son and was happy to welcome his new daughter into his life as he could.

    His church culture is exactly the kind of “attraction via entertainment” that Tozer had in mind, and he has always been a big part of their worship team. It isn’t a mega church, it is a small church in the same vein. He is definitely not bored with God, but he comes from the kind of place where guitars are a big part of worshipping.

    One day he comes to visit his kids in my state, only to discover that his pagan daughter-in-law has become a very active christian. This must have been amazingly good news to him, perhaps even given him hope for his son. To his surprise though, she is an orthodox christian and so am I now.

    She’s not the most intellectual person, and she doesn’t have the background in protestant christianity to understand his MANY questions, so she brought him over to my place. Even after we talked through some of the theological questions between our traditions, there was a purely cultural divide that he couldn’t get over in his mind.

    From his perspective, we’re young people. We should be at a guitar church, not enthusing about long acapella services in four part harmony. He can accept us as fellow christians, but he cannot fathom why, in his words, we are so happy in a church that is “so…. medieval.” My retired parents and their church make sense to him: loud, spontaneous, etc. Us 30ishes in a liturgical church, that makes no sense at all.

    You know what though – both my parents church and my own had Jesus-loving, enthusiastic young people. There isn’t a formula that magically attracts people my age. Neither type of us is “bored with God”, and if either of us is basing our faith on how the church feels to go to, God help us!

  13. Thanks for the FIrst Things link. I’ll give it a go but it sounds really good and a reflection of Karen Armstrongs thoughts in her book The Battle for God. I will also try to encourage friends & family to read, but will be surprised if many do because they seem to want to believe that Islam has a problem as opposed to it having a problem. Protestants in particular seem to forget that the Reformation led to a bloody mess for quite a few years (or never were told that part of the story as was conveniently skipped in my Lutheran school days). For us humans, hate seems to be the easiest default thinking and hate of all things Islamic seems to be where many Christians go. I guess that is what makes Jesus’ message of love so radical and so hard to follow.

    As to beer, I did see Messiah beer at a deli in New York a few years back!

    • I once encountered a male customer while working on my job who looked at me and said, “You’re a spiritual man, aren’t you?” When I answered yes he said “I could tell…” After speaking further with him he said that he was a relatively new convert to Islam, which means that he was a God seeking person. But further exploration into his journey also revealed that he was a member of The Nation of Islam…too bad!

      Many devout Muslims WANT to seek God, but the scriptures and teachers they follow lead them into a false view of who the Creator really IS! A good Muslim would be, and IS, an asset to the community, but there is a small minority who are a stain on that religion.

      If there approx. 1.6 Muslims in the world, and only 5 percent of them hold to the Wahhabi (the most problematic branch) belief system, that means that over 800 MILLION Muslims believe in violent jihad! That’s 5%! Even 1% yeilds 160 million! Now THAT is a PROBLEM! No other religion faces that issue, and there is NOTHING that non-Muslims can do about it.

      Mr. Hollande said in a speech yesterday that the attacks had nothing to do with Islam. He is blind! And willingly so. The attacks may not be about MAINSTREAM Islam, but it IS a part of the Ummah, and the Ummah MUST do something about it.

      I’m afraid that this problem will be years in the solving, but the general thought process of the radicals will ALWAYS be with us, just as we Christians have the Westboro Baptist church. Fortunately THEY do not propose violence.

    • i obviously need a proofreader. My post should have said that most of the people I know choose to believe that Islam IS the problem not has a problem.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      More simply: Nobody within 100 light years have reached the same level of civilization as us. 100 light years is an extremely tiny fraction of our galaxy, never mind the universe. ..

      • I agree. Only 66 years separated Kitty Hawk from the lunar landing; however, from there to a working warp drive (which is still in the realm of speculation) will likely take much longer. Eeyore’s right: the probability of a civilization achieving such a feat before self-destruction or being swallowed by a giant black hole for that matter is quite low. The probability of a species rising from goo to a level of self-actualization to even care about any of this is both infinitesimal and mind-boggling. I think that is some of the genius of the Genesis story: where did this self-awareness come from and why? What do we do with it – beyond forming tribes rallied around deities to defend our self-awareness from the threat of non-being imposed by other tribes? (I didn’t mean to meld this story with the terrorist event, but there you are: the amazing, bizarre, and disturbing reality of human existence.)

      • Richard Hershberger says

        You are assuming that all civilizations start at the same time. First off, our Sun is not a first or second generation star. The universe is about three times older than the Sun, and the stars that matter for subsequent star generation are rock stars: they shine bright, live fast, overdose and die young. Even for stars of the same age, there is no reason to expect the course of life on their planets to reach civilization at the same pace.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says

          Not really. They might start at any given time and progress at any given pace – the 100 year limit is tobdo with the fact that we have not received signals in a 100 years of signal receivng capability (that we know of), or have seen a reaction from our signals travelling into space – all at light speed.

          Simple logic. Also, we still have no prood that faster than light speed travel is possible, even theoretically. It might be sure, but that doesn’t mean it is. Thus the logic above.

          • It seems to me that faster than light speed travel is as likely as astral projection, and that would be not too likely; in fact, incredibly unlikely, and no less fantastical.

    • There’s the possibility that extraterrestrials are here, but we are unable to observe them (due the their mastery of technologies we can’t even conceive of) , though they are observing us.

      • Here’s a poem I wrote related to your point, Robert F. I hope you enjoy it.

        Alien Invasion
        Rick Rosenkranz (2008)

        Pardon me, I’m having an Area 51, X-Files paranoia moment,
        filled with an eerie feeling that space aliens have invaded Earth,
        worried about what they look like, suspicious of even the ordinary.

        What if they’re not bi-pedal, as movies usually portray them,
        with hideous faces, mouths filled with multiple rows of sharp teeth,
        but rather what if they’re deviously mundane,
        perhaps really lean and tall and blending in with nature, like trees,
        and able to snatch up unsuspecting folks as they walk through the woods.

        Invading trees shouldn’t scare me too much, though.
        I doubt they’d move very fast so they’d be easy to chop down
        and after we defeated them we could just chop them up,
        build houses out of them or use them for firewood in the winter.

        I find I’m also not too troubled by the thought that
        we’ve been invaded by a strange race of soda-pop creatures.
        Sure, an attack by carbonated beverages
        would make trips to vending machines perilous for a while,
        but hostile Coke cans don’t strike me as being big enough
        to be much more than troublesome, and after we crushed them
        we could just toss them into our recycling bins.

        But what are the odds that Earth’s been invaded
        by beings whose carcasses are eco-friendly?
        What if, instead, the aliens are big and huge, like grocery stores?
        Invading supermarkets would be insidious;
        People would go in looking for food, only to end up as food.

        I get the willies thinking how this would play out.
        Wife: Hey, Marv, what’s a Safeway doing in our backyard?
        Husband: I don’t know, Melba, but I’ll be right back. I’m out of beer.
        And Marv would never be seen again.

        Hey, can I ask a favor?
        The next time you’re at a grocery store
        could you pick me up a six-pack of Pepsi?

    • You need to subscribe to George Takei’s Facebook page, where he shares weird stories often greeted by someone posting the meme, “This is why aliens won’t talk to us”. There are ample reasons for extraterrestrials to leave us alone, like the oddball kid on the playground.

    • Probabilities are not evidence; they are only numbers. There is no evidence, and I don’t believe there ever will be. I feel like I’m taking a real risk writing this, because it goes against the grain of one strong strain of our modern can-do mentality, and the “quest for exploration,” which I think is over-idealized and might be a real mis-direction of our energies.

      What if…

      …we are the only sentient beings in the universe, because God in his love lavished all of that beauty and variety and splendor on US? …we view this not as being “alone” but as being the sign of the glory God wants for his human creatures? …he desires to work the renewal of all things at Christ’s return – even the entire cosmos – through US, as we are united to him through the the GodMan, our Lord Jesus Christ? I have no idea what this lattermost will entail, but I know it’s going to be beyond our wildest imaginations…

      For now, on a practical level, let’s work on making sure everyone on earth has clean water, nutritious food, and at least basic sanitation and health care. I guess that’s pretty idealistic, too – I think that’s a more important task than trying to find life on other planets.


      • I’m with you, Dana. Unless “They” show up on our doorstep, or send us a clearly worded postcard, for all intents and purposes, we are “alone”, even if they exist (which I have no reason to believe, aside from the probability calculations mentioned above, which I don’t even understand). But even if we had proof positive that “They” existed, the Incarnation is the ground of my faith, and Jesus Christ was uniquely incarnate as a human being. Even now, the divine humanity of Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father.

        • OldProphet says

          100% agree RF! Talk about ET’s is fun However, there aren’t any. Sorry to be so didactic, but ain’t none nowhere an I reckon you ain’t never gon see any of Dem. A fifth of aTennessee burbon sez so.

          • Some claim that after drinking a fifth of Tennessee bourbon, one is able to see the ETs plain as the hand in front of your face.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      2) Most/all races self-destruct before they get that far.

      Mantra of The Sixties through the end of the Cold War:
      “Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War,
      Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War,
      Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War,
      Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War,
      Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War…”

      One of the best online treatments of the Fermi Paradox:

  14. Klasie Kraalogies says

    As to the beer: I’ve had Polygamy Porter – not bad, but due to Utah’s insane liquor laws, a bit low in alcohol content.

    • I’ve had Polygamy Porter as well; I also own a set of the beer glasses. There are actually two slogans… the one about having more than one, and the other one: “Take Some Home to the Wives!”

  15. Klasie Kraalogies says

    As to people getting upset about the poor taste of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons – have you ever looked at the cartoons published by the opposing sides during the Reformation?? Pornographic, vile – and those are the mild ones.

    • Faulty O-Ring says

      It’s not primarily a matter of taste, it’s the fact that publishing such things predictably leads to the death of innocent people. Reformation-era religious violence was not caused primarily by the cartoons, and they certainly pose no danger today.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Cartoons today, tomorrow what? Do we let ourselves be dictated to be the deranged actions of some deluded scumbags?

        • Faulty O-Ring says

          Good question, with no easy answer. I guess you have to ask if this particular act (cartoons, Qur’an burning, whatever) is worth the sacrifice of innocent lives. (I stress innocent, because most of the victims have historically been third parties–i.e. neither the provocateur nor the avenger.)

  16. Daniel Jepsen says

    I should have mentioned that the cartoon about the Fermi Paradox is from Since their comics tend to be a little obscure or veiled in meaning, there is a website called, explainxkcd. Here is there exegesis of the cartoon I copied:

    By the way, someone really needs to start a website called

  17. The song “Jesus is Lord” by Andre Crouch was one of the first contemporary Christian songs I heard as a young teenage believer. The choirs of heaven are gettin’ down! But such a sad loss for us. Rest in peace.

    • Did you mean “Jesus Is The Answer”? (“…for the world today, above Him there’s no other, Jesus is the Way”) After almost 40 years it still rattles around in my brain.

      • Nope. “Jesus is Lord”, from his Grammy-award winning album “I’ll Be Thinking of You”. There’s a youtube video of Andre performing the song at the 1980 Grammy ceremony.

  18. An excellent book on the Fermi paradox is Where is Everybody? by Stephen Webb. He analyzes 50 possibilities to answer the question, “If the universe is filled with trillions of civilizations, why can’t we find evidence of at least one of them?” After all, one would think that at least one of them would have evolved millions of years before us, and have found a way to conquer interstellar travel, or filled the galaxy with radio signals, or something.

    The author’s own solution to the problem of “the great silence” is that we are alone. There are no Klingons (fortunately) or Wookies out there.

    After years of domination by SETI, an increasing number of astrobiologists are concluding that although the universe might teem with simple life—bacterial slime and such—the conditions that allow for the development of advanced life such as vertebrates are rare, and the conditions that allow for the development of intelligent life are extremely rare.

    • One problem with this is that to us (especially us in the Americas) years are a long time. In the time span of the universe a year or few is almost too short to measure.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The first thing I think of when I hear the “We Are Alone” explanation is “Giving the Ken Ham crowd ammunition.”

      (Though the ammunition is also easily chambered by Mother Gaia’s Anointed Activists, “One Small Spaceship Earth, KumByYa” sub-type.)

  19. Facebook is idiotic and a waste of time. Thanks for foisting this garbage on us, Zuckerberg! Hooray for the deer and moose! Not a hunting fanbiy. It’s kind of ironic, but when you try to kill something, why would you be offended when it tries to kill you? I reserve the right to arm bears! LOL

    • Hunting will only be a sport when prey have guns.

      • OldProphet says

        For real fun, lets have a nude run out into the wilds of Canada and see how long they last! Add, nude men.

      • Patrick Kyle says

        “Hunting will only be a sport when prey have guns.” says the person who has never tried it…

        I suppose Africa would be the exception where hunters die every year at the hooves and teeth of their prey.

    • Hunting is a legitimate way to convert inedible twigs and acorns into edible protein. People who object to hunting rarely object to hiring paid assassins to slaughter and butcher the stuff they eat themselves.

  20. I’d prefer a snake in the grass any day…

    • +1

      If I were to write a horror screen play it would most likely involve a giant man eating snake getting into people’s homes thru a network of toilets. My goodness.

      • I wondered just how long it took (will take) before anyone sits down there.

        • I would wager it didn’t take very long; there are brave, not to mention desperate, souls everywhere.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        When JAWS was The Big Thing, Saturday Night Live used a similar concept (Sewer Sharks) in a movie parody.

  21. There needs to be a warning on the witnessing video. Not one of those “trigger warnings” you hear about these days. But a warning that you might pull a muscle rolling your eyes at the video….

  22. “Now, all ya gotta do is sit back and let them witness for you. Pretty cool.”

    Man is that guy lazy! He can’t even do his own witnessing.

    • No, no, you can’t have an electric mantra wheel because then the blessings will go to the electric company and not to you. OBVIOUSLY.

  23. Robin Christopher says

    The Fermi Paradox is the contradiction between the high probability of extraterrestrial civilizations’ existence and the lack of contact with such civilizations. Why should we expect to be contacted by alien life (or at least see its effects)? Well, just by sheer probability, based on the incredible number of stars.”

    Let me say first, that whether there is “life” on other planets does not make a practical difference to my Christian faith. I just wanted to address the over simplification of the Fermi Paradox and its relative the Drake equation.
    Probability calculations based solely on the number of possible planets in the universe has been given a lot of attention since the 1950s by scientists and philosophers of science. The basic critique of almost all of these thinkers is that “life” as we understand it, places far more limitation on the numerator of probably calculations than does calculating planets in the Goldilocks zone.

    In his 2006 book Quarks, Chaos and Christianity, John Polkinghorne in the chapter “Is anyone there?” offers two critiques, one philosophic and one scientific. In astrophysics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is the philosophical consideration that observations of the physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious and sapient life that observes it. So when we use the term “life”, as in life on other planets, we mean life like ours as anything else is not open to us (see the cartoon in the blog). This means of course that we need to incorporate all the parameters of what life means to us into the probability equations. Polkinghorne suggests that consideration must not only be given the biological, but the physical and biochemical factors that give rise to the sapient beings we call humans. That is say, if you had your hands on the thousands of knobs of the universe, “you would have to set them very precisely even early on or you wouldn’t get anything that resembles what we have”. The probably of life arising has to be calculated in the probability equations and not just any life, but conscious and sapient life. Unlike, many think, these calculations can be done a rudimentary level. For instance, the odds of producing a carbon molecule from hydrogen, helium and silicon in a star must sequenced in time with consideration given to the unstable beryllium molecule. Introducing “life” into the probability equations in this fashion, may make one speculate on the possibility that “we” are indeed unique to this universe.

    • Interesting stuff. And even if we’re not unique, Jesus Christ was, and is, and his put us in unique relationship to God the Father.

  24. That Other Jean says

    Assuming that there is other intelligent life in the universe in a form that might take an interest in us, they have had only a very short time to become interested. We have had radio only since the 1920’s, atomic energy only since the 1940’s, and any sort of space flight only since the 1950’s. Considering that we have used our atomic bombs once in that time period and threatened to use them again more than once, it seems likely to me that whatever life forms are out there have cordoned off this section of the galaxy for a while, to see whether or not we blow up our home planet. If we prove that we’re not self-destructive idiots, maybe they’ll decide we’re worth talking to.

    • Brianthedad says

      I recall a twilight zone episode, one of the newer series in the 80s, that had aliens visiting us. They were very disappointed in humanity and how we had turned out. They has seeded the planet and left us to develop. They had done it all over the galaxy. They wanted change or were going to destroy us. They gave us 24 hours to “repent” back to the original intent. The world’s governments gathered and worked non-stop to hammer out a world peace treaty to satisfy the aliens. They returned and we proudly presented this grand achievement of peace to them. They then sentenced us to destruction since we didn’t meet their requirements. They had started life here to create a race of warriors. Our violent nature was a training ground for storm troopers for them. Typical twilight zone ironic twist.

  25. I applaud the return to a more light-hearted Saturday Ramblings. Well done.

    • Very much agreed.

      Daniel, excellent job this week! Thanks especially for the link to the First Things article, and for the links last week to stories on young Muslims helping others, as well as to the one on the protests in Germany.

  26. Thanks for the link to the First Things article on radical Islam. A very balanced and thought provoking read.

  27. Since Piss Christ was referenced, thought I’d mention that Richard Beck wrote a really powerful post on his blog (Experimental Theology) about it several weeks ago: “An Unlikely Advent Meditation: Piss Christ in Prison”. A good read.

  28. Of all the speculation on life out there, from my perspective That Other Jean comes closest but no cigar. What if there is a two sided obstruction set up between us and the ET’s? From the perspective of the ET’s, what if there is an enforceable ban against conscious contact except as allowed in special circumstances as decided by the governing body in these matters? And from our perspective, what if there is is a (weakening) ban on disclosure of these contacts by the Powers That Be pulling the strings from behind the stage?

    Woo-woo space. The reactions here are essentially American and the rest of the world is ahead of our curve in accepting that outside visitors are real and not necessarily malignant. Stay tuned.

    The piece on Piss Christ is worth Googling. There is an emotional reaction to a forcible amalgamation of those two words, but in thinking about it, Jesus surely pissed himself lying there in the manger, we all did, and worse. And even being dehydrated in the extreme, it is likely he pissed himself hanging by nails naked in a situation geared for maximum humiliation and pain, body and soul, if not during, perhaps at death. He shared this indignation with us, willingly.

    And yes, these Saturday sessions have much improved.

    • I’ve made peace with Piss Christ. The immersion of a crucifix in urine seems a fit expression for the evil that Jesus endured in the cross.

      Besides, it’s only possible to focus on the urine because we’ve lost touch with the fact that nothing could be more obscene and objectionable than crucifixion itself. Yet, we are strangely at ease with public display of religious art depicting the Crucifixion, provided it’s suitably pious and reverent. It’s a good thing if this particular piece of art serves to reminds us just how debased crucifixion actually is, by restoring a tiny bit of the shock and revulsion that properly belongs to that form of torture and execution. There is nothing pious or reverent about crucifixion.

      • Thank you for stating this, Robert F. I have often counseled offended Christians on the double standard that is offended at the photograph, but not at the crucifixion itself. They worship a savior who humbled himself to all manner of degradation for our sake and then get offended when someone subjects an icon representing the savior at his most degraded in a derogatory manner. The question, “Would Jesus himself be offended at this? Or is this what he came to subject himself to willingly?” often pierces the manufactured outrage.

  29. Christiane says

    just a thought about picture of the child skate-boarding inside the abandoned cathedral . . . if when I was a child, I played in such a magnificent building, I would have noticed my surroundings . . . the interesting thing about the old churches is that they were often built for those who were illiterate, so they told ‘The Story’ in stone and glass and wood carvings . . . maybe in a special way, these churches are still quietly at work 🙂

    • Good stained glass always strikes me, even in my Cro-Magnon state of art appreciation. I wish more churches took advantage of the arts to tell stories today.