August 13, 2020

Saturday Ramblings, January 3, 2015

53 Rambler Convert PC FRONTWelcome to the weekend, imonkers.  Actually, welcome to the New Year.  Just in case you weren’t feeling old enough, remind yourself that we are now as close to 2040 as we are to 1990. And by the way, since it’s 2015, aren’t we all supposed to start dressing like this now?

And by the way, WHERE'S MY HOVER-BOARD???

And by the way, WHERE’S MY HOVER-BOARD???

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?  Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham’s grandson) hopes you’ve already crashed and burned.  “In other words, underneath our New Year’s resolutions is the drive to save ourselves by generating our own value, significance, meaning, and security by what we do and by who we can become…[they are a] burdening attempt to fix ourselves and make ourselves more lovable.” Agree?

Newsweek (yes, it’s still around) decided to celebrate Christmas by publishing the most insulting and ignorant article I have seen put out by a mainstream publication.  If you are a Christian (at least a conservative one), this is your portrait: “They wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals. They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school…They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.” Yeaaaah.  And that is the opener.  It goes on for 34 pages, taking every angle to cast doubt on the scriptures and lambast the stupidity of anyone moronic enough to think they actually can be a guide for life.  The author, a journalist who writes mainly in the area of finance, seems to have no actual knowledge of the issues except what he read from Sprong and Ehrman.  I won’t link to the article, (you can find it easily enough) but I will point out the incredibly measured and patient analysis of the article by Dr. Michael J. Kruger here and here.

John White is disappointed.  The Catholic Church is not living up to its reputation: [insert sarcasm font] “It appears that the Catholic Church, widely recognized as the most uncompromising and dogmatic among the world’s major religions, is about to close out the year without executing a single person.” He continues: “As everyone knows, the Catholic Church is a religion of strict doctrine, ruling every aspect of each individual Catholic’s life from the Vatican with an iron fist, while at the same time relentlessly imposing its beliefs on the rest of society. Yet for some reason the Catholic Church has had an abysmal year at the chopping block, failing to kill a single one of its billion-plus members for failing to live in strict adherence to her teachings.  On top of that, the Vatican has put to death exactly zero people from other religions for refusing to convert to Catholicism.”

And Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is annoyed.  It seems some Ultra-Orthodox Jews have been causing disturbances on planes and delaying flights by refusing to sit next to women.  Rabbi Salkin feels this gives Jews a black eye.

And Ken Ham wants attention.  But you knew that one. Ken Ham is one of Christianity’s great bridge builders, of course.  That’s why his organization, Answers in Genesis, is sponsoring a billboard campaign “in impressive locations in generally liberal locations” around the country.   He calls this “engaging the culture”. The first ad ran in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  It displays a glowing cross, with the message, “Thank God for freedom.” And did I mentioned the message is prefaced with, “To all our intolerant liberal friends”. Here is the ad:

I wonder if we could arrange a little trade with Rabbi Salkin…

Well, it’s not a surprise, but the numbers are interesting.  Protestant choirs are going the way of Wednesday night prayer meetings. Among white conservative evangelicals, only 40 percent of worshippers say they hear a choir at services, down from 63 percent 14 years ago. For those who attend liberal or moderate Protestant congregations, there’s a similar slide to 50 percent, down from 78 percent in 1998. The holdouts are the Catholics (76 percent) and black Protestant churches (90 percent). Your thoughts: Good, bad, neutral?

Did you hear about the pastor who began questioning his faith, and as some sort of trial run decided to live without God for a year?  Yeah, neither did I.  Sounds like a publicity stunt.  Well, he has now come out as a real, full-blooded, honest-to-godless atheist. Shocker. The only part I found interesting was the rationale: “the intellectual and emotional energy it takes to figure out how God fits into everything is far greater than dealing with reality as it presents itself to us.” Oh my…So Christians have to figure out how God fits into everything? I’m in big trouble.

Headline of the week: Florida Pastor Shoots Employee in Gunfight.  It seems Pastor Terry Howell of Living Water Fellowship Church (oh, the irony) had been meeting with janitor Benjamin Parangan Tuesday. He wanted to fire Parangan. Parangan decided to do some firing of his own. He missed.  Pastor Howell pulled out his own handgun and…didn’t miss.  Wait, what??? BOTH the church janitor and the pastor are packing heat during their workday? Is this normal in Florida?  Does the secretary keep a sawed-off shottie under the desk?  Does the church bus have a gun rack?

Well, this is a sign of hope. More than 200 Muslim youths were among those who protected Christians from attacks in the Nigerian city of Kaduna over Christmas, a local church official has confirmed. Seems Boko Haran has attacked some churches nearby.

Germany CologneThe beautiful cathedral above is in Cologne, Germany. Monday night, it will go dark.  Voluntarily.  It is the church’s way of protesting a protest. It seems an anti-Muslim group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA), will be putting on a huge march in the city next Monday. “PEGIDA is made up of an astonishingly broad mix of people, ranging from those in the middle of society to racists and the extreme right-wing,” said Cathedral Dean Norbert Feldhoff. “By switching off the floodlighting we want to make those on the march stop and think. It is a challenge: consider who you are marching alongside.”

Tozer quote of the week:

There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets `things’ with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns `my’ and `mine’ look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution. 

― A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God



  1. Floridian here. I wish I could say I found the gun fight surprising, but…

  2. Ok, the only thing not validating the Newsweek article is the Tozer quote. Betty Bowers should sue them for plagiarism.

    • Pretty much.

    • I wish Christians could respond positively to such criticism rather than immediately going on the defense or pulling the persecution card. Would it be so bad to say, “yeah, Christianity is really screwed up right now. Let’s do something about it!”? Jesus gave us the keys to bind and loose, and we carrying them around for decoration. Let’s bind the morons and bad teaching ruining the church an loose the captives oppressed, abused, and rendered hopeless by this stupidity.

      • Totally agree!
        As a believing Christian, I agree with about 90% of the Newsweek article. I think Daniel still has Evangelical Martyr Syndrome. An Atheist wrote about Christianist hypocrisy, Good! I wish Christians would write where they agree with him & where they disagree. But Christians need to stop ignoring the unchristian-like behavior of our fellow fundys.

        • briank – yeah, I hear you.

        • I’m really not sure how responding to an article filled with shoddy scholarship and rank hypocrisy really requires having an evangelical martyr syndrome. Did Daniel mention persecution? If he did I failed to see it. The link he gave was to a leveled headed response, not the screed of a fundamentalist. Fundamentalism is a two way street, and some of the liberals who like to cast that accusation need to take a good look in the mirror.

        • A “believing Christian” – or even an unbelieving one, or an atheist, in fact – who agrees with 90% of the Newsweek article probably needs to expand their knowledge or education, Christian or otherwise, with some valid information about textual criticism and the history of Bible translation, as well as some other things the author misrepresented or unfairly exaggerated or lampooned.

      • petrushka1611 says

        I’m a little late to the party, but…

        Ox, you bring up an interesting point about the keys, and I wouldn’t mind hearing more about it from…er…somebody, or anybody, so much so that I might even remember to check back here for replies. 😛

        I have the vaguest idea of what the RCC teaches about the keys, and an even fainter idea about what the LCMS might teach. I.e., I’m aware that the latter has mentioned it on occasion, which is more than I can say for my IFBX upbringing, as long as I’m slinging acronyms right and left.

        In my life, I know of a lot of binding that has gone on, often by people who claimed they were loosing. Your comment is the first time I’ve even thought of that in relation to the keys.

      • People are really defending the Newsweek article? His revisionist characterization of church history (Constantine totally forced the NT canon and orthodoxy on everyone at Nicea!) is completely ridiculous. And of textual criticism and other things. Complaining about right-wing Christians is a relatively small portion of the article.

        It seems like some people here have so little patience for some forms of American evangelicalism (which I have no great love for either) that they’ll jump on board with absolutely anything that criticizes it, no matter how badly written it is.

  3. “Oh my…So Christians have to figure out how God fits into everything? I’m in big trouble.”

    Of course! If you can’t, then you deny the sovereignty of God! No pressure. You have until Thursday. If you tweet Piper, he might help you out.

    • “For example, if a stone falls from a roof on to someone’s head, and kills him, they will demonstrate by their new method, that the stone fell in order to kill the man; for, if it had not by God’s will fallen with that object, how could so many circumstances (and there are often many concurrent circumstances) have all happened together by chance? Perhaps you will answer that the event is due to the facts that the wind was blowing, and the man was walking that way. ‘But why,’ they will insist, ‘was the wind blowing, and why was the man at that very time walking that way?’ If you again answer, that the wind had then sprung up because the sea had begun to be agitated the day before, the weather being previously calm, and that the man had been invited by a friend, they will again insist: ‘But why was the sea agitated, and why was the man invited at that time?’ So they will pursue their questions from cause to cause, till at last you take refuge in the will of God–in other words, the sanctuary of ignorance.” – Baruch Spinoza, from “Ethics”.

  4. Ugh. Tough read this week.

    • Yes. Not so happy New Year, apparently.

    • Pooh. It’s great to have you back, Daniel.

      As far a new year’s resolutions, I like them. I don’t see them as an attempt to pretty myself up — although I can imagine the temptation — but more as I see every morning: the undeserved grace of a new beginning. I’ve been around long enough to know that I will fail, and even if I didn’t, I will grow old and die, but still I appreciate the cycles of reflection, rebirth, and resolution. It may be that other people are more “steady-state” types, but my nature leans more toward boom and bust, and I am ready for a new simplicity after the feasting, music, and prayer of Christmas.

      Happy New Year to you and yours, Daniel.

      • Daniel Jepsen says

        Thanks Damaris. You are always gracious. A happy New Year to you and your family as well!

        • Daniel, I really am glad you’re back, but I do hope for a bit more light reading, if that”s OK with you.

          • Daniel Jepsen says

            It’s fine with me, but I get a little confused over what people consider light reading. I’m not trying to be coy; I just don’t know what some people view as heavy or negative.

          • Since mine was the first post, allow me to clarify. I don’t mind hard hitting & controversial news in Saturday Ramblings at all. Not in the least. Some of the best, deepest, and most important conversations happen when we can’t avoid things that are difficult to deal with (at least in my experience). I don’t want sentimental fluff. Sometimes I just find things happening around the world to be so utterly depressing – that’s all. Not a comment about scaling anything back at all. Keep up the good work!!

          • Daniel Jepsen says

            Thanks, Mike.

          • Daniel, i hear you, because it *is* very hard to figure out.

            From my own personal perspective, well… i have Seasonal Affective Disorder, so the short days and lack of real sunlight at this time of year are tough (light therapy box notwithstanding), and – like lots of other folks – the holidays are difficult (for many reasons). I have no problem with your bringing up difficult issues, but i guess i was hoping for a bit more of an optimistic focus in this post. On this particular day, that is, which was an ice-storm day, with heavy, lowering clouds that made for a very early twilight.

            All of that is by the bye, since we all have different expectations and it is *hard* to write the Ramblings, given the mixed nature of tone and content that people have come to expect. Whimdy coupled with seriousness is tough, and my hat is off to you for trying.

            Btw, where *is* my hoverboard?!

      • “. . . the undeserved grace of a new beginning.”

        Hmm, sounds like a great idea for an essay, Damaris. [wink]

  5. “By switching off the floodlighting we want to make those on the march stop and think. It is a challenge: consider who you are marching alongside.”

    The same could be said about the civil rights marches, Christians, atheists, communists and anarchists. And on another level, just look at Christ’s disciples.

    I have mixed feelings about the EU demonstrations, but I CAN understand their fears. They are not having enough children to reproduce yet they are afraid that Islam is exerting a dangerous influence on their culture. Well, DUH! Any culture that fears for its survival will react the same way. Any culture that WANTS to flourish will migrate to areas where they can grow. Guess which one will win out. Just look at history for that answer.

    • Patrick Kyle says

      “I have mixed feelings about the EU demonstrations, but I CAN understand their fears. ”

      What is the difference between military invasion and mass immigration by a group that refuses to assimilate? In the long term, none whatsoever.

      • Patrick, I see it as something that has occurred all throughout human history, the mass migration of peoples. Rome in the 5th thru 8th centuries suffered the same fate. The Roman’s developed a sophisticated culture (which was only briefly pure Roman) that was able to elevate people from savagery while supplying basic needs and the barbarians, so-called, wanted it too, so…

        I think what these moderns are bristling about is their government’s passivity in the face of this population relocation. They are afraid and angry and powerless to do anything about it so they march in the streets, hoping someone will listen. In a sense it is all their fault, as I see it, because they wanted a government that would take care of them while they take their weeks long vacations and enjoy comprehensive health care and retirement at a ridiculously young age (compared to U.S. standards, that is). Once they got what they wanted they just became passive themselves and disengaged from those looking after them.

        Of course, this is just MY over simplified view of it…

      • “What is the difference between military invasion and mass immigration by a group that refuses to assimilate? In the long term, none whatsoever.”

        The US has had such mass immigrations several times now. Every time, someone thinks the new and unamerican foreigners will take over the country. There are programs, government-sponsored or private, to combat the menace.

        It appears that each wave of immigration has only served to make us whatever it is we are today. Mexican is the new Irish. Plenty of good WASPs thought very poorly or the Irish, the Italians, and others, but today everyone’s fine with Saint Patty’s day.

        The charge of “refusing to assimilate” relates more to collective anxiety, than it describes reality. Anyone who stays in a new country for a long time and births a new generation there will be begin the process of assimilation. It may not happen as quickly as you desire, or how you desire, but it will occur.

        The immigrants of the past did not assimilate in 5 seconds, either. They often kept speaking their languages for many years, they lived in sections of cities with fellow migrants from the same regions, they joined work gangs where all the members and the foreman spoke a common (non-English) language, and many of them – after working in the US for several years – returned home. Those who remained did assimilate over time. Often this occurs with the second generation, and not the first.

        • Thank you Danielle! Roman Catholics, too, were considered as outsiders as recently as 50-60 years ago. Churches were burned, Catholics denied employment, etc. Assimilation doesn’t happen overnight and is never complete, otherwise we wouldn’t have communities enjoying Germanfests, Irishfests, etc. But the past tends to look simple and satisfying as we look back. We remember the “good old days” but usually not the bad.

          • btw Danielle, it’s St. *PaDDy’s* Day. The English knew well that Patty is a gal and Paddy is a feckless Irishman…

            Damn Cromwell to the darkest corner of the worse imaginable corner of Hades.

        • The European situation has some distinctives, of course. But it looks to me like the same anxiety, about much the same problems. Perhaps one key difference is in the US upheaval and migration are so common as to be virtually the norm. Most of the US citizens posting here can tell family histories of migration, reinvention, migration, reinvention …

        • The immigrants of the past did not assimilate in 5 seconds, either. They often kept speaking their languages for many years,

          Sorry, not entirely true. The first generation, yes, but starting with the first born in the new country the native language begins to lose its hold. They still speak it in the home and amongst themselves, but in the wider society they spoke only English. Their concern was not so much keeping the “old ways” as it was fitting in with the only society that they knew.

          By the third generation the old languages were forgotten, accents were no longer discernible, and they were , in most cases, thoroughly integrated.

          Keep in mind, though, that these were people who, by and large, shared a similar religious and cultural history, unlike the Muslims moving to a post Christian Europe. In THAT case there is a very real concern of “The Other” because Islam shares little with the past religious influence of the area. How it “pans out” we will just have to wait and see.

          Muslims in the USA, and probably Canada and Australia, are not looked on in the same manner as they are in the E.U., as far as I can tell. But perhaps the second and third generations will follow the same pattern as immigrants almost everywhere else. We’ll see…

          • The real root of the angst is not even Islam per se. it is the fact that many of these Muslim immigrants are used to (1) a lack of separation between church and state, and (2) don’t believe in the democratic principles that shaped the modern West.

            Ironically, these same charges have been leveled at Christian fundamentalists.

          • We have had Muslim immigrants coming to this country for about 2 centuries, Oscar. So maybe you’re thinking of recent immigrants here, many of them refugees? A lot of those refugees were persecuted by Muslim extremists for holding to a middle-of-the-road kind of Islam (Shia or Sunni or Alevi or… – they all get hit by the extremists), and many are xtians.

            From my time in living in a large East Coast metro area, I have to say that I believe there is a great deal of prejudice against Muslims in general. Many evangelical churches have been involved in fearmongering, and people assume the worst. It saddens me.

          • Numo, you are correct about the prejudice in the USA but, again, how ill the second and third generations turn out? THAT is the key to the future. If the cultural Muslims continue to hold on to their ancestors’ culture then, yes, we will have a problem. But what we will probably see is a population that begins to assimilate more and more, and a larger general population that begins to “borrow” things from Muslim culture.

            A melting pot requires heat AND some scorching in order to combine different elements. IT is NEVER painless, and there will ALWAYS be a sense of loss by the absorbed. It has always been thus.

          • Richard Hershberger says

            “Sorry, not entirely true. The first generation, yes, but starting with the first born in the new country the native language begins to lose its hold.”

            And the evidence that this is no longer the case is what? The usual argument is to point at those darned Mexicans (many of whom are actually Hondurans or Guatemalans or Salvadorans etc., but why worry about such trivialities?) who persist in speaking Spanish. But in the real world, they follow the same pattern. Find a third-generation American of Hispanic ancestry, and chances are excellent he speaks little or no Spanish. If he does, he probably lives in a community with large numbers of recent immigrants. This is no different what a hundred years ago, except that back then it would have been Italian or Yiddish rather than Spanish. And people made the same complaints. Inasmuch as things look different, it is because Hispanic immigration is an ongoing phenomenon, while Italian and Eastern European Jewish immigration was long enough ago for the rough edges to be smoothed from our memories.

          • Oscar, the thing is, there is no single “Muslim culture.” There are Muslim/predominantly Musil countries pretty much everwher but thid hdmisphrre snd Western Europe. I had Egyptian, Sudanese, Saudi and Lebanese Muslim acquaintances and business associates, also knew folks from Iran, just in one small geographical area in the D.C. suburbs. All of those countries and cultures are quite different one from another… and to then look at how there are large Muslim communities from West Africa through Central Asia, South Adia and on into Indonesia, is just staggering in terms of cultural diversity and complexity.

            Also, it’s fact that many West African Muslims came to this country, the Caribbean and Latin America in chains. They were not here by choice, and since literacy was often punishable by death, their religion survived in fragmentary and syncretic forms.

            There’s much more diversity in the Muslim world (and in the history of Muslims in the New World) than US media will ever credit.

          • Richard – yep. Or they’re Colombian, Bolivian, Peruvian, etc. (I lived in a hood that had immigrants from a *huge* number of Central and S. Ametican countries back in the early 00s, and even in the rural area where i am now, there are many Hondurans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, some Mexicans and and handful of Puerto Ricans as well.)

        • Patrick Kyle says

          I would argue that the immigration in Europe and the US right now differ greatly from past waves of immigration.

          1. Europe. The Islamification of Europe is proceeding at a breathtaking pace. Most of these Muslims have no intention of assimilating, and to the contrary are working to subjugate the cultures of their host nations. Witness the take over of public school boards in England and their subsequent firing of administrators who were not accommodating enough to Muslim sensibilities. Also witness the numbers of neighborhoods in England and France that are ‘NO GO’ zones for non Muslims and even the police. Arguments are being made in the courts to allow Sharia Law to hold sway in these areas. The Germans are right to resist this.

          2. The US: Unlike past waves of immigration to the US, where the societal ‘safety net’ of social programs was not in place or in a very embryonic stage, this new wave of immigration is almost completely underwritten by our social welfare programs. Already struggling and poorly performing school districts must now deal with a flood of illegal immigrant children that are straining the system to the breaking point. Just take a look at the LA Unified District. Local, State and Federal governments are already running budget deficits, and the influx of hundreds of thousands or millions of illegals, many in need of social welfare programs will exponentially increase those deficits. Add to this the collusion of big business and the government in the ‘importing ‘of cheap immigrant labor into an already dire employment market. These are just a few of the reasons to oppose open borders and de facto amnesty.

          • Patrick, would you mind showing us some source material for the “takeover of public school boards in England,” the “‘NO GO’ zones for non Muslims and even the police,” or “arguments to allow Sharia Law to hold sway”?

            Anything about the LAUSD could help too… that’s a HUGE school district, with about as many students as the city of Cleveland has residents, and over a thousand schools. And it looks like all the recent US Academic Decathlon winners have been from there. Saying that there are some schools that are suffering doesn’t mean much until we know how pervasive any problems really are.

      • Yeah.. the last time there was a mass movement against an “oustider” religious group that refused to assimilate, that ended marvellously!

  6. OldProphet says

    They now can legally drive here in Cali. They aren’t supposed to be here, but they can drive here. No wonder the rest of the US thinks that Californians are stupid! Because we are. At least in the EU there is concern about the sovereignty of their own countries.

    • flatrocker says

      Who are “they”?

      • Let’s ask the indigenous American peoples who “they” are….

        • No culture survives when faced with a more technological invader, peaceful or aggressive. They were doomed the minute Europeans made a beach head on this continent. 500 years on the argument is pointless.

          • And what about when the more technologically sophisticated culture comes to depend on the less technologically sophisticated”invaders” for its survival? Perhaps your above example of Rome provides the answer. A kind of rough karma works itself out, in a not too gentle way.

            “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword” (even when it’s their own sword) applies to nations as well as individual. Reminding ourselves and others of this is not pointless if it, just possibly, helps prevent the same mistake from happening in the future, and if it supports an at least provisional movement toward justice for those who have been the historical victims of national ambitions.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says

            Ooh, this comment (and some of the preceding ones) just oozes Christian love.

          • Ooh, this comment (and some of the preceding ones) just oozes Christian love.

            Klasie, nothing in these posts has stated that this is what Christians are supposed to do or how they are to think. This is JUST THE WAY IT IS! The facts on the ground, so to speak.

          • The genocide of the Western hemisphere is totally unique in human history. Acting like that kind of thing just happens all the time is the worst kind of white-washing. It’s literally worse than “the holocaust?” why did anyone ever complain?

          • flatrocker says

            Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, and not to mention the myriad of sub-saharan “cleansings”?
            It is not a western thing and it is not unique.

            The “west is exclusively bad” meme is either quite naive or purposely pandering.
            Either way it is so tiring. We all drink from the same polluted well.

          • If you can’t tell the difference between three largely unrelated communist leaders and a 350 year campaign of genocide that destroyed so many nations and peoples that the numbers are literally unknown because no records of all of them persist. I can’t help you, but then again you don’t want to be helped, you want to talk about bad Chinese public policy, or something.

          • Richard Hershberger says

            “This is JUST THE WAY IT IS! The facts on the ground, so to speak.”

            I am endlessly fascinated by what issues conservative Christians are prepared to fight to their last breath, and what issues they shrug as ask “Wadda ya gonna do?”

          • A joke I read in a section of First American Humor within required reading for my elective in “Indians Today” back in 1975 (Not long after the last incident at Wounded Knee);

            What did the Indians say when they saw the Pilgrims coming ashore?

            A: There goes the neighborhood…

          • Many historians would dispute whether “genocide” is an accurate description. A very large proportion of the Indian deaths in the new world were due to diseases, which would have spread no matter how the westerners conducted themselves. Of course, there was still a lot of horrible evil done by Europeans and later Americans that we should own up to.

        • Shermon Alexie (the brilliant author, who is American Indian) likes to tell about the time that he was walking in Seattle and someone mistook him for being Latin American. They yelled at him “go back where he came from!” To which he replied: “OK, but you first!”

          • Klasie Kraalogies says

            That’s funny!

            Of course, if we fo back far enough, we will all have to go back to Eastern and Southern Africa. This always makes wonder how we come up with theae arbitrary lines of who belongs where etc etc. I guess it is whatever line protects my own ass the best…

          • Well in the instant case the people who “came up with the lines”, would of been the white people that came to the Western hemisphere, decided they owned everything, and enslaved/murdered everyone else. And then started saying nonsense about going back to Africa? I mean they did that too, when they conquered and destroyed almost all the civilizations on that continent as well.

          • Witten – Klasie is from Africa…

          • I apologize for assuming he was American or European.

          • Witten – no apology necessary; I was just pointing out that he is from Africa.

            As to his background, maybe he will say more. Could be an interesting discussion.

          • I recall that Klasie has mentioned being from South Africa. Afrikaans perhaps?

      • OldProphet says

        They are illegal immigrants, I.e. Individuals who have unlawfully entered into the physical boundaries of the US in defiance of the laws of said country. By breaking the federal law, they are classified as committing a criminal act.

        • Richard McNeeley says

          Immigration law is Civil not Criminal see Fong Yue Ting vs. United States for the appropriate case law.

        • Like you (I think, if I remember some of your past comments), OP, I’m a blue-collar worker; so we both belong to a class of Americans more directly affected by the influx of undocumented aliens to the US than perhaps many of the knowledge-class commenters here at iMonk. In a sense, we compete with them for our very jobs and livelihoods. We experience some of the economic downside to illegal immigration directly, or we know others who have.

          But I just cannot relate to your comment about people who “aren’t supposed to be here….” I consider myself to be nothing more than a resident alien, with undeserved special privileges, in these United States; spiritually, these undocumented aliens are my brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of God, which is my and their true home.

          I might add that, in my experience, many undocumented aliens come here already more “American” than those whose families have been here for many generations, if a strong work ethic is an important indicator of what it means to be an “American.”

          • Thanks for this, Robert. It’s very helpful to put comments into human context.

          • “But I just cannot relate to your comment about people who “aren’t supposed to be here….” I consider myself to be nothing more than a resident alien, with undeserved special privileges, in these United States; spiritually, these undocumented aliens are my brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of God, which is my and their true home.

            I might add that, in my experience, many undocumented aliens come here already more “American” than those whose families have been here for many generations, if a strong work ethic is an important indicator of what it means to be an “American.”

            Thank you Robert, this is a great perspective.

          • Thank you, Robert. I agree.

          • Robert – yes. An most all of the Latin American immigrants I’ve met have an *unbelievable* work ethic; somehow even the poorest still manage to send money to their families for education, housing and more.They are the epitome of hardworking Americans – most of us Anglos could never compete.

        • flatrocker says

          shewww, thanks for clearing that up.
          I thought for a minute you might have been talking about the elderly.

    • If you prefer to run the risk of driving on the road with uninsured and untested drivers, so be it.

      • OldProphet says

        Sorry Erp. That’s logical nonsense. They should not be driving at all. Answer this question; why should one group of people get rewarded by committing an illegal act? Break a law, get driving privileges so, if I rob a bank, not only do I go unpunished, I get a $5000 cash gift from the US govt? Same logic.

      • The immigrants have been driving without licenses for a long time. They may remain uninsured, but they will now be tested, at least.

        Hey Congress, can we please have some real immigration reform at last? And State Department, can we have policies that reward governments giving up corruption, so that our neighbors to the south have a fair chance of making a better life in the countries of their birth?

        And while you’re at it, can we make lobbying illegal again? Hmm, I thought not…


        • OldProphet says

          Just for the record, I live in SoCal, close to the Mexican border. A lot of my business is in competition with cheap and undocumented laborers It affects my business. It affects my taxes. So my standard of living is affected. 2 to 3 million extra people in one area means many things. Actually, my life and family are seriously influenced by this issue. Frankly, if you don’t live here, in my area, then your comments tend to be merely theoretical and not experiential A lot of my friends have simply given up and left for other states.

          • I understand some of what you are saying OP. Not to the same extent. I have a son in law who is an illegal almost got deported because of DUI’s. It took 6 thousand dollars to keep him here and had to be put up so he could stay which the government is keeping to insure he might follow thru with requirements. He has a little son whose name is Angel. Born 1 lb. 6 ounces. He lived and is doing pretty good. My daughter had insurance as he was in the hospital for basically two months.

            I have to compete with the labor here. I can do it because I am still able to. I am working for prices though that I worked for in the eighties. Still all in all I can compete because I will invest in the tools and equipment that I need to work faster and smarter. That and there are still many places that illegals can’t work because of background checks and such.

            My son in law although not a bad person still puts in risk that he will be deported because he won’t stop driving and drinking. I’m not suppose to know that though. Little Angel would be so hurt if his dad didn’t come home anymore.

            Oh did I say my heart breaks over these things OP. We need to find a way for real.

          • OP, I lived in the San Fernando Valley for 6 years, and my husband grew up nearby. I know what it’s like. Part of the problem is people like your competitors who continue to hire undocumented workers. I remember all the day laborers standing on corners near building supply stores.

            Part of the problem is the government corruption and wide stratification of society between the wealthy and everyone else that exists south of the border. Part of the problem is the confusion in our laws. I can’t blame people for wanting a chance at a better life. Your forbears came here from somewhere else, too.

            My grandfather came from Italy, fleeing the economic collapse in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, before WW I. Yes, he came legally, but he was unskilled and dug ditches and worked in copper mines. My mother made paper dolls and their clothes out of the Sears catalog. Her family still had a better standard of living than if grandpa would have stayed in the old country.

            As w says, we need to find a way for real.


          • My father was arrested for working in the US without a work permit. He was given the choice of going back across the border or enlisting in the Army. He enlisted. That was 1952. Korea. Didn’t get citizenship until 1964.

          • Patrick Kyle says


            I am in SoCal too and see this up close everyday.

  7. Vega Magnus says

    Moving all of the stuff from a fully furnished four bedroom house is hard work.

    • That Other Jean says

      The biggest work saver, if you have time, is to figure out what will be useful in the new place, then discard/donate/sell whatever you won’t be using, before you move. It’s still work, but not so much physical labor, especially on the other end of the move.

  8. Regarding what Tchividjian said in the linked Q&A: I’m ambivalent. On the one hand, I’m sympathetic to the focus on grace and God’s already existing love for us, apart from anything we do, and to the idea that trying to make God love us is a spiritual trap.

    Otoh, there is this that Bonhoeffer wrote in his The Cost of Discipleship: “The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ. Such a man knows that the call to discipleship is a gift of grace, and that the call is inseparable from the grace. But those who try to use this grace as a dispensation from following Christ are simply deceiving themselves.”

    I’m ambivalent, and always have been, on this subject. I hope I don’t have to make myself un-ambivalent to get it right.

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      I can share your ambivalence. I think what bothers Tchividjian the most is not the desire to change, but rather the motive for doing so normally found in resolutions, and also the subtle feeling of “I can do this on my own” that he perceives as underlying them.

      I did not make any “resolutions” this year, but I did make one goal: to turn off all screens after 10:00 p.m. I’m a night owl, and lately I find myself either watching TV or surfing the net instead of reading, listening to music or praying.

      • If the motive for making any kind of trying to change is to make ourselves lovable, acceptable or worthy, then it’s futile; if the motive for trying to change is to undertake the practice of living into the God-given grace of already being loved, accepted and valued, then it’s a worthwhile endeavor, whether it “succeeds” or “fails”.

        I’m not big on resolutions; never have been.

        Good to have you back, Daniel.

      • Daniel, if I followed your example, there would be no Internet Monk!

    • I say this as a Lutheran, but I guess it also betrays my “spiritual mongrel” status.

      IMO, the greatest contribution Luther and the Lutheran tradition has made to the world is its perspective that humans are constantly trying to justify themselves before God, often in the most subtle ways. The other side of the coin, of course, is the pure unmerited favor of God in Christ, who died for us while we were yet sinners.

      However, Tullian and those who rightly proclaim this teaching also have a tendency to see every single life situation through this lens, and I don’t think that holds up. When you read about how Jesus and the apostles dealt with people and shared the good news with them, they did not constantly beat this drum of self-justification/God’s justification. The human condition is infinitely more complex than that, as is God’s grace.

      One trick ponies eventually tire me out.

      • Thanks Mike. I really want to hear Tullian, because his corrective is helpful as far as it goes, but it does remain quite one-dimensional.

        I get justification. Justification is positional and static. I need help with sanctification, which is both positional/static AND fluid. This perspective probably labels me as a “doer” or a “Martha” to some, because I think growing in Christ-likeness (the dreaded “T” word: transformation) is partly my responsibility.

        • I think that it has traditionally been underestimated how hard it is to just sit, like Mary did, at Jesus’ feet; a reading of Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and the other Christian mystics is a good remedy for this mistake.

          • Agreed, totally. But the unfortunate side to this dichotomy is that Mary gets equated with a lax, irresponsible disposition. Their is a difference between getting out of the kitchen to sit at the feet of Jesus and getting out of the kitchen to sit on the couch.

            Silence is a discipline. The practice of disciplines helps us grow in Christ-likeness. Hence, I don’t buy Tullian’s general stance on resolutions/activities.

          • I agree with you about Tullian’s position. The practice of disciplines does not establish our relationship with God, but it does help develop it. All relationships depend on discipline to grow, and if a relationship is static, it’s also dead.

          • (Sean) Yes. Effort is a good thing, especially when used to develop disciplines. I think the line gets crossed when we begin to place hope in our efforts, rather than trusting in God’s grace to equip and empower us. It’s almost paradoxical, cause it feels like our work, but apart from grace nothing good is ever done. The other line that often gets crossed is when we begin to dogmatize our disciplines and require specific efforts from others. We should encourage and teach spiritual disciplines, but hold them with an open hand.

            Robert, a relationship build on discipline seems a bit like a chore. The most meaningful relationships in my life are driven by desire and enjoyment. When love draws people together, regulated consistency is no longer necessary. This doesn’t mean discipline is of no value, but I do not think our relationship to God is very analogous to our relationships with other people. We cannot relate to other humans with the kind of ritual we relate to God through, and we cannot converse with God in the kind of casual conversation we have with each other.

            Well, most of us can’t, anyways… 😛

          • Miguel, You don’t think that meaningful relationships require work, and the discipline that enables work? I’ve never had a meaningful relationship that didn’t require me to work at it. Notice, I didn’t say that relationships are established by discipline; but to be sustained beyond the short shelf life of what one merely desires and enjoys, relationships require discipline. Especially when illness and travails of various kinds show up.

            Of course our relationship with God is unique, but it’s nevertheless analogous to our other relationships, or they are analogous to it.

          • A certain brother came to Abbot Silvanus at Mount Sinai, and seeing the hermits at work he exclaimed: Why do you work for the bread that perisheth? Mary has chosen the best part, namely to sit at the feet of the Lord without working. Then the Abbot said to his disciple Zachary: Give the brother a book and let him read, and put him in an empty cell. At the ninth hour the brother who was reading began to look out to see if the Abbot was not going to call him to dinner, and sometime after the ninth hour he went himself to the Abbot and said: Did the brethren not eat today, Father? Oh yes, certainly, said the Abbot, the just had dinner. Well, said the brother, why did you not call me? You are a spiritual man, said the elder, you don’t need this food that perisheth. We have to work, but you have chosen the best part. You read all day, and can get along without food. Hearing this the brother said: Forgive me, Father. And the elder said: Martha is necessary to Mary, for it was because Martha worked that Mary was able to be praised.

            (Wisdom of the Desert, translation by Thomas Merton)

      • CM, I’m with you on those ponies. Luther did us all a huge favor 500 years ago when he kicked out the jams. No doubt someone else would have stepped up to the plate, but I think what the world might be like now if Luther had kissed the ring and John Calvin had started us off on the road to freedom Geneva style. Bad enough as it is.

        To my mind, this business of justification was a needed swing of the pendulum to counteract the opposite extreme which Rome was clutching. It worked, and the pendulum swung back to a more normal track. In my view Rome very early on in the counter-reformation got justification back in balance much better than the Protestant extremists who continued clutching the pendulum at their own end, some still doing so today while Spirit has moved on 500 years and counting.

        I will say this for Lutherans in my experience. At least in the ELCA I have never heard the drums of dogma beating loud enough to drown out the Light and Life and Love of our Lord. Sorry about that alliteration, and Steve Martin excepted, bless his heart. Luther served his task at the appointed time, and did it pretty well, considering what he was up against. People bemoan our splintering into countless denominations and divisions, and it is pretty embarrassing if you look at all the ego power behind it. Still and all, beats the alternative, at least for me. I’m not one for monolithic thought control and these Lutherans let me eat at their table.

        • I think monolithic though control can be a straw man. Many of the more narrow traditions actually tolerate quite a degree of diversity on numerous issues. There is the issue with theological specificity leading to an ideological subculture, but even the “broad tents” can get very narrow and restricting about some things.

  9. I too thought Newsweek was gone. The last print edition was published Dec. 31, 2012 as they switched entirely to an online format. Apparently new owners brought it back in 2014.

    The best response I’ve read is from Daniel B. Wallace. In a thoughtful and organized fashion he outlines why the article exhibits poor scholarship.

  10. “the intellectual and emotional energy it takes to figure out how God fits into everything is far greater than dealing with reality as it presents itself to us.” I understand where this man is coming from and think this myself often. I think we see it in declining church membership too. People are weary of trying to conform reality with what most of Christianity presents.
    I cringe everytime I hear someone say something was God’s will–the man who was successful in business because he realized it was God’s money he was using, the person who forgot his cup of coffee, left late and avoided an accident., etc. If God micromanages things, how can we get around the question of why Person A avoided the accident and Person B didn’t, or why Person A had a successful business and Person B’s failed? This is especially true if they are both “good” Christians.

    Honestly, I think American Christianity in particular is stuck in a very juvenile version of God, which many reject when they grow up and realize it doesn’t jive with the real world.

  11. One of the things that comes to mind is that God said I am a jealous God. Was he coveting our affections. I am not saying he doesn’t have a right to. Do I covet His affections. I am sorry Tozer doesn’t capture it. The pronouns my and mine are God. He decided to lay down His life and pick it up again. Everytime I hear someone say it isn’t about us it’s all about Him I have to wonder was he really this selfish that it was all what He desired. I am just saying we had no say in it. If I say He is my God don’t I declare my affections for Him. No to me the cross was about us. Us in the way that it was Him and I. It is there I am no longer alone.

    Answer me how I could not want to be selfish in this way that I would not want that for me. Yet in love not just me but for others. I have no right to say to them that God can’t do what He wants. Everything is His in other words from that point of view it would be mine. Why because He gave that to me on that cross. No love that is jealous looks out for itself as well as the well being of that affection without being divine and not selfish by making it have to be exactly what it wants. Which by the way I try to do to God all the time. Do I ask my love what it is He wants or what it is I want. When it is for my good I get that answer from someone so Good. Do I look out for His creation as well as I could knowing full well what He thinks about it and how much it means to Him. I fail all to often but still it doesn’t change His feeling for me as He overcomes my failings with love. My failings…..mine….love. I wish I could return such grace. Lord have mercy.

    I have to think that our enemy has wants and mirrors selfishness. There are very similar attributes to Good and Evil. Selfish is jealous but for God not to the point He would make it compulsory because it couldn’t be about love that way. Why wouldn’t he stack all the odds in His favor though in the ways he created it.

    To will and to act according to His good pleasure. Take out the good part and you’re stuck with evil. Still all in all it would be kind of selfish. Am I glad He didn’t make me just to stick me out there all alone. What do you think. I certainly am glad for His jealousness over me and to tell you the truth I am jealous for His affections too because He is my God. Not just mine though yours too. You guys will have to work that out.

    Sorry for the tangent this stuff has been sticking out to me and I’m rambling

    • w,

      you make perfect sense.

      For a long time I believed all the right doctrine, but I was not convinced in my bones that God is truly Good. Once I was (thanks to God’s use of some of Dallas Willard’s writings), I was much more ready to be open to embarking on the Great Journey I made seeking answers to some deep questions.

      In the Orthodox Church, nearly all our public prayers end with, “…for you are Good and the Lover of Mankind (in Greek, philanthropos), and to you we send up glory, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”


      • The quote part to the ending in prayer touches me deeply. I am learning and I am starting to ask harder questions. I only hope the answers will be able to fill the still empty spot I have. Although there are times I am running over. It is not all the time yet.

    • Thank you for that. I thought your first paragraph was brilliant.

  12. David Cornwell says

    Daniel Jepsen welcome back to the driver’s seat of the Rambler. Be careful about that clutch. It has a tricky throwout bearing. Kinda grabby.

    “Just in case you weren’t feeling old enough, remind yourself that we are now as close to 2040 as we are to 1990.”

    Hmm. I was born in 1938. In 2000 it felt like I was beginning that big countdown. And now we are 15 years in. A good thing for all of us to remember is that there is an ending, a conclusion somewhere along the line. Sometimes the ending comes as somewhat of a surprise, but it does come. Where do we fit into this grand narrative? The question we all face.

    The atheists are having a field day. Let them. The best, and really the only defense against them is our own lives. If we try to match them with argument and apologetic we most likely fail. We can capture our own place in today’s culture by how we act, treat others, raise our families (a difficult task), and worship God. We need to divorce ourselves from from the pervasive influences of fear, consumerism, and violence. None of these are easy tasks. The tensions will come at the fine line of separation from, or interaction with society.

    When we are asked, we need to be able to give an account of the hope that resides in us as we are reminded in 1 Peter 3:15: “but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” Most of the time we are not asked.

  13. On choirs, I think the phenomenon is the tail end of the “Bowling Alone” thing. Also, many older people who would sing in a choir are not amenable to going out at night for midweek rehearsal.

    On “the intellectual and emotional energy it takes to figure out how God fits into everything is far greater than dealing with reality as it presents itself to us.” – This to me is a clear statement of the often unstated assumption that there is a great gulf between God and the created world – the “two-storey universe.” That assumption came from somewhere; it bubbled up in western philosophy under the influence of the thought of Aristotle and Cicero about the nature of knowledge, and then in the line of reasoning that took final form in the Scholasticism that laid the groundwork for the Enlightenment. Of course, there is a difference in *kind* – God is uncreated and everything else is created. That makes the question of how we know God very germane.

    But… if God is “everywhere present” (as Orthodox pray every time we begin the monastic offices of prayer, or our own private prayer) then **there is no distance** – “if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there… nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord…” – and where Love is, there is also the Person Loving. I describe it as everything being “in” God – “fitting into him,” if you will.

    Aside from the impossibility of attempting to fully comprehend the incomprehensible Ineffable One, there’s really no need to separate God from “dealing with reality.” God is with us in whatever reality we happen to be. That is not only part of what it means to be “God,” but also a major part of what it means that God is With Us in the Person of Jesus Christ, and in the granting to Christians of the Holy Spirit.

    In scripture, following Jesus is described as a Way, not a concept. So much of our understanding of this is purely conceptual. No wonder well-meaning Christians are having such difficulties.


    • Christiane says

      I do hope that our American Episcopalians (Anglican) will keep the ‘choir’ tradition . . . Anglican choral music is consistently the finest in the world, in my opinion, and I’m Catholic . . .

      in my own faith community, I love plain ‘chant’ . . . Gregorian . . . nothing quite like it in the evangelical world, sadly

      But I do very much admire the Protestant singing tradition called ‘shape-note’ singing, and this I have heard, is becoming more popular among many singing groups world-wide. Here’s an example:

      • Wow, Christiane, thank you for that link. I had vaguely heard of shape-note singing but never heard it, had no idea what it was like. I’m not a good singer, suffer thru the hymns at church, but I could really get into this. Don’t think I would find it anywhere near me but I’m certainly going to explore this more.

      • We’re hoping to take our chamber choir to a Sacred Harp sing this spring, for the experience.

  14. I thought Saturdays at the Monastery were supposed to be fun?

    • I understand that tastes differ, but I’m having fun.

      Thanks, Dano.

      • OldProphet says

        It’s all fun! I live a hard life. I really don’t.take any of the stuff on any blog very seriously unles its something that’s personaly shared by someone here. Then its prayer to the max with me and my prayer team.

  15. Scott Fisher says

    I don’t think all New Year’s Resolutions are efforts at self-salvation. I find the turning of a New Year as a motivator for me to evaluate some areas of my life and set some goals. I think it kind of fits into the area of how we view areas of self-discipline in our lives. We must always depend on God’s grace and acceptance through Christ and we can’t earn His love or make Him love us any more than he does, but we can still set some goals.

  16. melissatheragamuffin says

    So no church on Wednesday night is a thing now? I was wondering about that since not even the AG church near us seems to have it, and who ever heard of an AG church without a mid week meeting?

    • “and who ever heard of an AG church without a mid week meeting?”

      That does sort of sound like one of the Four Horsemen of A-Town. I forget which color though.

  17. i’d say the decline in choirs correlates with the decline in music Ed & the rise of CCM. I go to a rural Church in the Midwest and I can tell you that most of the people here have never heard a really good choir so don’t even know what they are missing. The local high school is probably about the top for them and they have a lousy music program. Many listen to the local Christian music station and want the choir to sing that kind of music in 4 part harmony, which is tricky if the choir director can even find the choral rendition. Add in that in our area, good luck finding even a decent organist, much less any other musicians, especially when the pay is either extremely low or non-existent.

    • You are absolutely right about the decline of music ed and the rise of the whole “worship team” phenomenon. I played in one of those bands for many years, but *nothing* and I mean zip, zero,zilch) that was standard repertoire there came within several light years of the quality of music an choral singing at the Lutheran church where I grew up.

      People have no idea what they’re missing. I also find it interesting that a *lot* of local music teachers belong to the congregation I grew up in. The music holds its own, though they now have a young peoples’ “worship team,” which worried me. (Not because some kids want to play rock – I get that and am fine with it; it’s my fear that it will somehow undermine the rest of the music. But if that program is just *part of* the overall musical offerings there, then they’re doing it right.)

      • Even having sung in choirs as a child and high school student, I really didn’t appreciate a good choir until relatively recently. At my current parish, we’ve got a little choir of about 12-18 people, but they are boxing way above their weight class. I think a lot of that is due to our amazing choirmaster/organist and his lead soprano wife. Good leadership can make all the difference.

        At my previous parish, the original music director would put a choir together twice a year: Christmas/Lessons-and-Carols and Easter/Psalm Sundays. One year I sat in and sang with the basses for the spring choir. I gotta say, it is SO much more difficult to build a choir than a praise band! When the new music director came on board, he was excellent at the praise band thing, but just didn’t have the ‘academic’ musical skill to do choir. However, that was not a priority for those mailing the staffing position.

        I think if I were to try and build a choir from scratch today, and I didn’t have a great organist/choirmaster to lean on, I’d probably start with plainchant Psalms and Canticles and build to unison melody singing of hymns (like Luther did at the Reformation) and then to four-part chorale stuff from the hymnal.

  18. The primary issue about US immigration, of course, has to do with the status of those who are here illegally. I’m not surprised it’s a thorny issue that raises peoples’ blood pressure.

    However, what I do find perpetually surprising is that there seems to be no deeper, long-term perspective from conservatives on this issue. What I mean is this. It’s a given that free trade and free enterprise are supposed to be Good Things. If I want to do business with a person in, say, China, I should be able to do so with as little governmental hassle (tariffs, red tape, etc.) as possible. He can buy my goods or services, and I his. Everybody supposedly wins in Free Market World.

    However, if he actually wants to bring himself bodily to this country to work and live, well, then that’s another matter entirely! Yet isn’t this actually the world we all want to be moving towards — one in which we all can choose where we want to live and work and make our lives? I understand the practical realities that don’t let us just throw open all our borders today, but one would think there’d be at least an occasional acknowledgement of this ideal as the logical end-game of free enterprise.

    It’s curious that Europe seems to be ahead of us in this regard.

  19. Our choir is small…and so-so.

    But I hope we can keep it going.

  20. I look forward to reading Saturday Ramblings every week, and this week’s edition was superb.

    One possible correction — I don’t think Kurt Eichenwald, the article of the Newsweek diatribe considers himself to be an atheist. In the comments section of the second Michael J. Kruger article (the second “here” link), he describes himself as a red letter Christian. In other words, he blast Christians for picking and choosing what they want to believe from the Bible, and then labels himself as one who intentionally picks and chooses what he wants to believe from the Bible.

  21. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    And Now For Something Completely Different:

    I was on a road trip this past week, making a getaway in the shadow of Mount Whitney, and did a little channel-surfing on the hotel’s DirectTV hookup. Primarily checking for weather and snow conditions on my return route. And I discovered/encountered the following:

    1) Weather Channel is mostly Reality Shows. Had to go to the alternate Weather Network for actual information. And the hotel’s Internet hookup had consistently better and more detailed weather info.

    2) History Channel is going “History Written In Advance” with a series titled “Revelation: The End of Days”. Yes, it’s what you think it is from that title. Filmed with jerky hand-helds like a bad YouTube video; I could only watch for a couple minutes without feeling queasy. Best description is “Blair Witch Project meets Left Behind”, with a B plot of Vast Conspiracy.

    2.1) Being a veteran of an end-of-the-world cult, I’m very familiar with Darbyite Secret Rapture choreography as well as the Seventh Day Adventist and fringe-Catholic “Three Days of Darkness” scenarios. History Channel was using a variant of Darby with a few twists and unexpecteds, but still with remaining bad plot holes (No, the Director of FEMA is NOT in the line of succession for the Presidency, even if he IS The Antichrist). Unlike true Christian Apocalyptic, there was no break-the-fourth-wall Altar Call after each checklist event. Though it did suffer from the tropes intrinsic to the genre.

    2.2) And some of the History Channel commercials were even weirder. Did you know they’re tackling Noah’s Ark and The Great Flood? On “Ancient Aliens”. Ken Ham meets Eric Von Daniken….