January 27, 2021

Saturday Ramblings, May 3, 2014

Happy May, fellow imonkers. First, a quick baseball update (Chaplain Mike loves baseball updates): As of Friday, the Chicago Cubs have played 26 games (out of a 162 game schedule) and are only 9.5 games behind first place. If my math is correct (highly unlikely) this means that at this pace they will only be 59 games out of first place at season’s end. Is that a record? I think it should be a record. Please be a record.

There's always last century.  Very, very early last century.

There’s always last century. Very early last century.

It’s hard to argue with the statement that the holocaust was, “the most heinous crime in modern human history”.  But the source of the quote is surprising: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The National Day of Prayer was Thursday. The main event, held at the Capital in Washington, was billed as a non-partisan prayer gathering. James Dobson used the occasion to call Obama, “The Abortion President”.49311713

The principal thought it would be a good idea for students to say the pledge of allegiance in Arabic. Very inclusive, right? What could go wrong? Oh, maybe the “under Allah” part. Yeah, maybe that part could annoy a few parents. Possibly.

The new Godzilla movie comes out this month. It’s always a little risky rebooting a classic. And some Japanese are criticizing the movie for making Godzilla “too fat”. I think he’s just big-boned. In any case, if the movie does well (read: makes bank) expect more, many more to come. th (2)Updates on recent racists: ABC reported this week that Clive Bundy is a Mormon patriarch of a family with over 50 grandchildren. F. Glenn Miller Jr., the white supremacist who killed three people outside Jewish centers in Kansas a couple weeks ago, was caught in the mid-1980s in a car with a black male prostitute dressed as a woman, a former federal prosecutor said. And after Donald Sterling gets booted out of the NBA owner’s club for his hypocritical, plantation-like remarks about African Americans, Oprah Winfrey will try to buy the Clippers.  I would love to see the Clippers with an African-American owner, wouldn’t you?  STERLING2You know, after my initial glee over Sterling’s fate, a question began to haunt me:  Should people be punished for something said while being secretly recorded in their own home?  Granted, I can’t work up much sympathy for the man.  But is this a slippery slope? Would it be just if it happened to you?  Your thoughts?

Speaking of Oprah, her network will launch The Rob Bell Show later this year. Bell: “We want to talk about the things that matter most. We want to talk about our brokenness and our struggle. We want to be inspired. We want to hear stories. I want to take elements of this, what you’re experiencing here. I want to put it all in a blender, and throw in a little Lost, maybe some TED Talk and maybe some Letterman and do something that’s never been done before.” Click here to get tickets.

We may have to use this guy every week

We may have to use this guy every week

oprah-saint1And did you know that The Shack is being turned into a 30 million dollar movie? And apparently Oprah will play God?  Well, she is used to being worshipped. I personally loved The Shack. I thought it was the best portrayal of theological truth in a modern novel that I have read. But I’m not sure how well it will fare as a movie. Your thoughts?

J.D. Winteregg is a Tea Party candidate challenging John Boehner in the 8th District north of Cincinnati. He is also an adjunct professor at Cedarville University. At least until his latest video ad came out. The one that parodied a Cialis commercial. The one that warned that “electile dysfunction” could cause dis-coloration of skin (as it panned to an Obama image), and featured the line, “If you have a Boehner lasting longer than 23 years, seek immediate help”. Yeah, who knew that would get you fired from a conservative Baptist college?

“The [whale] skin is starting to lose its integrity and if someone were to walk along, say, the chin — that is full of all that gas — they could fall in the whale. The insides will be liquefied. Retrieving them would be very difficult. I have fallen through the side of a whale up to my chest. It’s not very nice.” This pleasant imagery is from Jack Lawson, a scientist affiliated with the Canadian fisheries department in an Atlantic article entitled, “A Brief History of Exploding Whales”. He was talking about the carcass of a Blue Whale (largest animal on earth) that beached itself near a town in Newfoundland this week. It has already swollen to twice its size as methane gas builds up inside, and locals are worried it will soon explode. You can check the progress here: HasTheWhaleExplodedYet.com.

Prom season is upon us, so don’t neglect to post this photo to the timeline of your high school friends: h0E77CB37

The cast of the upcoming Star Wars movie was announced this week. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher will reprise their original roles for Episode VII, set 30 years after Return of the Jedi. Peter Meyhew will return as Chewbacca’s while Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker return as robots C-3PO and R2-D2 respectively. Is this a good or bad thing? Picture6

Religious leaders urged Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hourthis week. The Senate did not listen. And more than 250 Evangelical leaders came to Washington to push for immigration reform.

England’s Prime Minister David Cameron took a lot of heat for saying people in Britain should be confident of its status as “a Christian country”. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams disagreed with the Cameron, saying England is now a “post-Christian” country and that the era of widespread worship was over.

Update on the Jesus’ Wife papyrus fragment: apparently it’s a fake after all. a0a6d899502d6313d9383d025eeeb6efcf48062b2e2b94922da446a0537b6b01

Global poverty is in decline. But no-one will believe it. In the past 30 years, the percentage of people in the world who live in extreme poverty has decreased by more than half. But 84% of Americans had no idea so much progress has been made. In fact, 67% thought poverty levels were rising. Despite this good news, more than two-thirds of US adults (68%) say they do not believe it’s possible to end extreme global poverty within the next 25 years.

Kenya is about 82% Christian, so it is somewhat surprising to see that it just made polygamy legal. And Brunei this week becomes the first East Asian country to introduce Sharia law; Malaysia and Indonesia may follow suit.   Theft and alcohol consumption will be punishable by whipping and amputations, and the death penalty, including by stoning, will be introduced for offences including adultery, sodomy and insulting the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad. Most of the laws will also apply to non-Muslims.

A remake of Ben Hur is in the works, with Roma Downey and her husband set to produce. And next year will see a 50 million dollar movie on David and Goliath, which, the producer promises, will be “biblically accurate in every way”.

Every way?

Every way?

Odd headline of the week: Spanish government to face court after police award given to the Virgin Mary. Spain’s interior minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, lauded the Virgin and her congregation for “maintaining a close collaboration with police, particularly during the acts celebrated in Holy Week, and for sharing police values such as dedication, caring, solidarity and sacrifice”. He intends to give the physical award to an icon of the Virgin Mary in Málaga. The Gold Medal of Police Merit is normally reserved for police who have died in terrorist attacks. Shockingly, secularist groups are not happy, and are bringing the case to court.

Sarah Palin spoke at the NRA convention Sunday in Indianapolis. Her speech was…let me see if I can put this gently….Her speech was intellectually vacuous, morally offensive, ethically challenged, divisive,  and made Archie Bunker sound like Abraham Lincoln. That’s about as gentle as I can make it, I’m afraid. “They [terrorism suspects] obviously have information on plots to carry out Jihad. Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” Andrew Sullivan comments: : “A Christian who can equate the sacrament of baptism with a barbaric form of torture is not a Christian, whatever self-righteous blather she emits. And a former vice-presidential candidate who talks of “baptizing” Muslim terror suspects through waterboarding is handing al Qaeda a propaganda coup on a platter.” Palin also went after Joe Biden’s advice to scare off attackers with a warning shot. Palin: “Just aim up in the air – that was his directive, his advice. Well, fine, Joe Squirt Gun, if your rapist is a bird.” And: “Do you know why those clownish little Kumbaya-humming,  fairytale-inhaling liberals want to be tough all of a sudden and control your guns? It’s ‘cuz guys like Al Franken and Harry Reid, they are not satisfied with just taking your money and your job, your truck and your property and your rights, your healthcare – they didn’t want to just stop at that.”

Finally, since I just referenced Archie Bunker, I thought we should end with Archie’s discussion about Christians versus Catholics:


  1. It appears Mel Brooks was correct about Methodists in “Blazing Saddles”.

    I’ve been seeing references in the papers lately to the Crystal Methodist, the (soon to be ex-) Reverend Paul Flowers, who obtained that soubriquet late last year and early this year for a variety of reasons:

    (1) He is a Methodist minister who also
    (2) Combined that with a job in politics and
    (3) Involvement with business, as Chairman of the Co-Op Bank which led to
    (4) Resignation over a financial scandal (including alleged government pressure to support failing institutions that then collapsed) followed by
    (5) Revelations about drug use – ketamine, crystal meth, cocaine and (supposedly) GBH but also
    (6) Allegations of “drug-fuelled orgies with rent boys”.

    The most sober account I’ve found online is this from the “Daily Telegraph” newspaper from January of this year, which gives the flavour of the affair:

    “The Rev Paul Flowers, the former chairman of the Co-op Bank, has resumed taking drugs and paying for rent boys, it is alleged.

    It comes after the Methodist minister was arrested in November in connection with allegations that he bought and used Class-A Drugs.

    He was filmed handing over £300 apparently for crystal meth and cocaine and is said to have boasted about taking ketamine.

    Now Rev Flowers has allegedly been recorded asking a rent boy to visit, promising in a taped telephone call heard by the Mail on Sunday: “I will have K [ketamine] but that’s all. You get what you want.”

    In the early hours of January 8, Rev Flowers allegedly received a phone call from a rent boy he had met once before – who cost £400-a-night – in which the minister suggests the escort comes to visit him in Bradford the following evening.

    …On Tuesday, Rev Flowers is due to answer police bail in Leeds over alleged conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

    The minister stepped down from his role as Co-op bank chairman in June and questions have since been asked about his competence in the role.

    It is believed that he was presented with a dossier of his “lavish” expenses claims before he resigned.

    Co-op bank is seeking to recover contractual payments made to Mr Flowers, and he has been told to hand back £31,000.”

    • Everything here would be no problem in evangelical America. It’s all been done and forgiven by the powers that be. Except for the rent boy thing, which would be his real downfall. Like Bernie Ebbers or Ken Lay, there would a ritual of contrition for financial misdealin, although no penance, and he’d be back on his feet in no time. But the rent-boy thing would make him persona non grata, because homosexuality is the one and only unforgiveable sin.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Ketamine… “Special K…”

      “Oh,that’s not cocaine, that’s Ketamine; it’s really decadent. What it does is it gives you a three-day NIGHTMARE!”
      — Gilbert Shelton, “Fabulous Furry Freak Bros: Mexican Odyssey”

      • I have never known whether to be impressed or depressed that I am a member of a species which said “Oh, an animal tranquiliser for large animals? I wonder – CAN I GET HIGH OFF THIS???”

        Humans – we’re either the galaxy’s toughest or stupidest sentients 🙂

        • In my past career as a swine producer I used ketamine as in immobilizer when doing necessary surgeries on sows. It is not a “tranquilizer”–the animal is quite awake but yet immobilized.

          Cannot even imagine people willingly wanting to use the stuff on themselves.

  2. When I read The Shack, I figured then that the part was written for Oprah.

  3. Seneca Griggs says

    “Sarah Palin spoke at the NRA convention Sunday in Indianapolis. Her speech was…let me see if I can put this gently….Her speech was intellectually vacuous, morally offensive, ethically challenged, divisive, and made Archie Bunker sound like Abraham Lincoln.”

    You must not listen/read what the politicians say, very often, if you think this is the worst. dryly

  4. JoanieD says

    I read The Shack and liked it. I like even better the various posts that the author, William Paul Young, has online. I see he has a new book out, Cross Roads, so I will have to check that out.

    I also love Rob Bell. I hope he does well with his TV show.

  5. Damaris says

    It’s eerie how much Archie Bunker sounds like some of the parents at the private Christian classical school where I used to teach. They didn’t want me mentioning evolution in science or Catholicism in European history. St. Augustine was all right, since he was really a Protestant, but otherwise it was wisest to go directly from St. Paul — oops, Paul — to Martin Luther with maybe a brief hello to John Wycliffe.

  6. Robert F says

    “Update on the Jesus’ Wife papyrus fragment: apparently it’s a fake after all.”

    There must be a widespread and continuing scholarly conspiracy to suppress the plurality of religious perspectives in the earliest strata of Christian history. It’s the only explanation.

  7. In fairness to Winteregg, whom I had not heard of before this morning, the reference to skin discoloration was undoubtedly a reference to the Speakers “tan” which is routinely mocked on both sides of the aisle. But given everything else regarding racism going on in the news, including POTUS in the shot was a profoundly stupid, stupid move. I guess one can’t be too careful with these sorts of things.

    Otherwise I thought the commercial was amusing for a political ad in a very lowbrow sort of way. But who could have guessed his employers would have no sense of humor about this sort of thing? 😉

    • Yes–it was definitely a reference to the Speaker’s “orange-ish hue”. The skin discoloration comment was overlaid on video of the president turning to look at Boehner.

      Beyond that, I’m pretty ambivalent about the Tea Party but I agree that the ad was humorous in a lowbrow-sort of way.

      • cermak_rd says

        I believe Obama once referred to himself and Boehner as both persons of color and then made reference to John’s unusual skin tone.

        I’ve always put it down to a combination of tanning beds and cigs. Heck the fact that the man is still alive is testament to his superior constitution.

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      Yeah, you are probably right. I missed that.

  8. Regarding Bell, I thought the description at the Creedal Christian was interesting: “Compared to…”the mystery of Incarnation, Cross, and Resurrection” and “the great drama of the Paschal Mystery,” Bell offers a “spirituality” that is at best a sad, bland, and boring substitute. And as Andrew Wilson writes on his blog, this interview “is probably a far better reductio ad absurdum of so-called ‘progressive’ Christianity than anything I could write myself.”

  9. I should not read these after just getting up. I thought for a moment that the clip said Oprah was giving a TV show to *Art* Bell. 😉

  10. Donald Sterling a hypocrite? Hardly! He never hid his feelings about race, and the only reason he donated to the NAACP was because it looked good since his employees were mostly African American. EVERYONE close to him knew what he was/is, and sports columnist, Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union reported that even a member of Sterling’s family said he was an ___hole!

    The REAL hypocrisy emanated from the NAACP which, even though they KNEW Donald’s views, and DESPITE the fact that a former coach of the Clippers sued him for racial discrimination (and lost) were STILL willing to take his money and award him with a “Man of the Year” award. Donald has ALWAYS been a racist jerk and never claimed otherwise. The NAACP, on the other hand, well,,,you can figure that out yourself.

    By the way, I’m glad that the NBA has decided to rid themselves of Sterling. I just wish that they would have been more circumspect BEFORE they took his money when he bought the franchise. Oops! There we go AGAIN…MONEY!

    • Robert F says

      “Donald Sterling a hypocrite? Hardly! He never hid his feelings about race…”

      Doesn’t dating a partly black woman, whom he did not want others to know was partly black, while holding his views make him a hypocrite, using this definition from Merriam-Webster: “a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs …”

      • Marcus Johnson says

        Well, I don’t think I would use the term “dating” to describe their relationship; it was more of a business transaction. And Sterling quite obviously has a tendency to treat women as disposable toys he can accessorize and discard at will, so I don’t see much of a problem here with Sterling’s track record. Racist misogynist sleaze? Absolutely. But he is consistent.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Perhaps because I have never really cared about “sports”, but I really do not understand the outrage over this. The guy is an ignorant mega-jerk… who owns a business. An NBA franchise is not a political NGO, it is not a church, it is a business. Rest assured that a great number of cruel racists misogynistic ___holes own businesses large and small. And they criticize their employees race, sex, politics, religion, and ethics with equal vehemence – and nobody cares [well, the employees might, but it won’t do them any good].

      I am white, tall, blond, and have blue eyes. I speak clear english with a midwest accent. The things I have heard business owners, managers, and various PTBs say – because they would just assume I, of course, being one of them, would agree – don’t seem much more scandalous than what Mr. Sterling said.

      • Robert F says

        Well, in this case, the employees happened to be the NBA players, and they were able to make themselves heard by threatening to strike if nothing substantial was done, so in this case something was done. Good. If only more employees in other contexts could make themselves heard when it comes to issues like this one.

        Btw, I have never really cared about spectator sports, either.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > If only more employees in other contexts could make themselves heard

          Agree, completely. But that only adds to the irritation about this whole thing – the majority of those outraged on behalf of their favorite players would look askance at mere-employees taking any similar action; they call them lazy, hypersensitive, and that they should just deal with life “’cause that’s how it is”, they should “be grateful they have a job”.

          The NBA, etc… is not so much even about sports – it is a soap-opera / tele-nouvella for men.

          • Robert F says

            I do see your point. Influence gains one access to….justice, shall we call it? We see this in the criminal courts, too, where moneys, which is influence, buys better legal representation, and so a larger share of “justice.” It is frustrating.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            And I get that, and accept it as an unavoidable fact. But when accusations of Hypocrisy get thrown around, and general Moral Outrage and bombastic moral assertions – when a preferred party is `wronged` – there is plenty of Hypocrisy being reflected back the other way. Because those outraged are just fine, and utterly un-outraged, when non-preffered partys are exploited and insulted. They even work, and vote, to keep those non-preferred groups from represented.

      • And there is apparently some concern that other NBA owners might not be “lilly white” in their racial views and sexual proclivities. If they look under every ownership rock, you have to wonder what they might find.

  11. flatrocker says

    Thanks alot Daniel.
    The Archie Bunker clip has lead me to surf about two more hours of “All in the Family” this morning.
    So I blame my lack of accomplishing anything today squarely in your court.
    (what a brilliant show, btw)

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      If it helps any, I had the same problem last night. I, too, had forgotten how well it was scripted and acted.

    • I thought the Pope rode around in the Pope-Mobil. My he uses the encyclical for exercise.

  12. Robert F says

    ” I personally loved The Shack. I thought it was the best portrayal of theological truth in a modern novel that I have read. But I’m not sure how well it will fare as a movie. Your thoughts?”

    I did not read The Shack in its entirety, because I was unable to get past the horribly poor literary style of the first few paragraphs, and the sample paragraphs from the rest of the book, that I did read.

    You can call me a literature snob, but when it comes to fiction (and The Shack is a work of fiction, rather than a book of popular theology), I subscribe to McLuhan’s dictum that “the medium is the message.” For me, that means that if the style of a work fiction is not beautiful and subtle and musical, then I have to believe that the fiction itself is not truthful, no matter how weighty or worthy the themes and subjects with which it deals.

    The shamelessly self-promoting request at the back of the edition that I saw asking readers to sign a petition supporting the effort to make the book into a movie sealed the deal: that novel shall forever remain closed to me.

    • Suzanne says

      I had the same experience when I read The Shack. It was so poorly written, I couldn’t really get excited for or against the theological ideas and I couldn’t pull any deep meaning from it. I felt like I was reading a middle-schooler’s self-published book. I won’t go see the movie, but then, I rarely see or read these types of “Christian” movies or books precisely because they are usually very poorly constructed. But the producers know that if you slap a Christian label on it, people will flock.

    • Agree 100%. I considered it insulting.

    • Rick Ro. says

      I was appalled at the crappy writing in The Shack. And as a writer just finishing the first draft of a sci-fi novel, I can only hope and pray my writing is better.

      Somehow I managed to slug through the book, and though I found the writing atrocious I did enjoy the theology wrapped inside the awful prose and ridiculous plot.

      • Rick Ro I’m with you and the others who can’t believe how bad William Young’s literary style is. But having got past that, it was a great story with a refreshing look at the Trinity. Absolutely the most poorly-written great novel that I’ve ever read.

        I wouldn’t want to see The Shack become a movie though, and I’m really not ready to see Oprah as “Papa.” And wouldn’t she have to gain weight (again)?

        There’s no question that the first draft of your novel is better, stylistically at least, than Young’s writing. That’s easy to see in your brief comment.

        • JoanieD says

          “But having got past that, it was a great story with a refreshing look at the Trinity.” Yes, I agree, Ted. I wasn’t impressed with the quality of the writing or even the plot, but I was intrigued by his portrayal of the Trinity. I prefer his online essays.

    • The one I read did not have the petition on it, but I generally found it to be a terrible bore. In fact, I do not believe I have read any fiction since! Maybe it was just over-hyped, but I found absolutely nothing revolutionary, enlightening, or freeing about the story. I couldn’t help but read between the lines to see the theology he was offering to hurting people. It wasn’t the answer I was looking for. If I remember correctly, it was more rooted in the sovereignty of God and the eschaton than in the passion. “God has a plan” and “everything will be alright in heaven” are not Christian answers to suffering. But perhaps I am forgetting a few conversations buried in the plot somewhere.

  13. Robert F says

    “Speaking of Oprah, her network will launch The Rob Bell Show later this year.”

    It’s amazing how frequently I feel confirmed in my decision not to watch any television. And here’s another reason why I should continue in that habit.

  14. It’s amazing how some people can use racial slurs (in public no less) and get away Scott clean. Jessie Jackson (“Hymietown”).

    I don’t like racists or racism. But let’s be equal opportunity destroyers of free speech.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      He’s the winning color now. With the Race Card and Rent-a-Riot in his pocket.

    • Hymietown is, what, four decades old now?

      Can you get some new material?

      • Three decades. 1984.

        It may never be over for some, though. In 1994, ten years out, I had a guy working for me who was Jewish, and a more liberal chap I rarely meet. I asked him if Jackson had lost many Jewish votes by that remark and he said, “No. ALL of them.”

  15. Robert F says

    “The National Day of Prayer was Thursday. The main event, held at the Capital in Washington, was billed as a non-partisan prayer gathering. ”

    “One for all, and all for one!!!”, shouted d’Artagnan.

  16. cermak_rd says

    That picture of the prom dancing. It, at first glance looks like something an evangelical might cook up, except, I’m pretty sure that pic of Jesus is from a Sacred Heart of Jesus image which I’m pretty sure is a uniquely Catholic image.

    • Dana Ames says

      It is indeed – but even some Catholics think that particular image belongs in the “Jesus Junk” catalog with the pencils and the Testamints.


      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Martha of Ireland has mentioned before how Catholics are no slouches in the kitsch department.

        • Robert F says

          Religious kitsch is another area where evangelicals are by no means originators, but pale, though energetic, brash and loud, imitators of what has gone before.

    • In my day (which is neither today nor yesterday) we were told “Leave room for the Holy Ghost” 🙂

  17. Dem dirty liberals wanna take mah truck? Dens fightin’ words!

    • Ichabod says

      Don’t forget the Truck-Nutz, which are disgusting but I don’t see a lot of sermons against..

      I can tell you one thing from living in New York State, now in Texas.You can’t text while driving in NYS. In Texas, not problem, except if if it kills a few people. New York passed a law requiring you to detach the ball hitch when not in use. I can see Texans go all Cliven Bundy if that happened here……

    • Those liberals turned my truck into a newt!

  18. “I thought it was the best portrayal of theological truth in a modern novel that I have read.”

    I initially founding imaginative, compelling and refreshingly disturbing. I think the author was true to Paul Tillich’s call to create new symbols when the old are demonized or lose their meaning. But when he puts in the mouth of God a cliche like Jesus would have died for you if you were the only person on earth, I put it down and never finished it. It never escaped the gravitational pull of theodicy.

    • cermak_rd says

      I’m curious what, theologically, you have against that cliche? Is it the for all vs. for many part (that the sacrifice isn’t for all of humanity but only some of humanity) or is it that the act of Sacrifice was also for those already dead? or for some other reason?

      • Robert F says

        I can tell you why I dislike that cliche: it sentimentally inflates and appeals to the wrong side of the redemption dynamic. It almost inevitably leads to the idea that I must be pretty darn wonderful if Jesus died for me, which, to my understanding, is not the gospel. The drama of redemption is about who Jesus is and what he has done, not who and how wonderful I am. In the drama of redemption, as Barth wrote, Jesus is the electing God and the elected sacrifice and object of redemption: if I’m caught up in redemption, it’s because Jesus was chosen and redeemed from the grave, and now I have somehow been incorporated into Jesus’ redeemed and risen life.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          For the same reason I have always refused to sing the hymn/song with the line “just as I am”. Because the song is erroneous. It is “in spite of what I am”. The flavor of we-are-the-holy-people-soldiers-of-god comes into Evangelicalism on-the-sly, it gets to you sideways through a myriad little ways. Slowly your belief and/or need that brought you in the door is changed into a faux-righteousness by a subtle [but denied] changing of the story.

          • Actually, I believe the original hymn was precisely about our lack of worth in coming to Jesus, but his call to us nonetheless.

          • Robert F says

            Yes, Miguel, I just read the lyric, and it is about how God receives us as sinners, then transforms us with his grace and love. The gist of it is that He accepts us as we are, but doesn’t leave us as we are.

      • First, it’s a false hypothetical. There is never just me. Only in an American wild, wild, west mentality is there an autonomous “me”. The soteriology laid out by the Apostle Paul in particularly I Corinthians and Ephesians is God saving a people, not individual persons.

        Second: yes, Jesus loves me, this I know – wet slobbery kisses and all. That may convey meaning to a past generation (including up to the past ten years) which grew up in a Christian Sunday School subculture; but it may not convey anything to those outside that culture. The problem with cliche’s is that they sound good long after they have stopped conveying meaning. Cliches probably fit well in a pragmatic culture of bumper stickers and ten second sound-bites, but they are not a media for conveying truth.

        Third (which is really my main point): why write a book that introduces this wild new, inventive symbol of God but then make him sound like an American evangelical? In the end, the book didn’t make me look at God any differently. For all the controversy surrounding the book, it just seems like a spoiled opportunity.

  19. I think the movie based on The Shack will be as successful as the movie based on Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  20. Robert F says

    There is a place for joking about sacred things and subjects. I’ve done, others do it, I’m okay with it.

    But when Palin uses the idea of Christian baptism, which is about making us dead to sin and alive to God, to joke about turning a human being into a thing from which information can be extracted (which is what torture is: the attempt to extract information from a living human being by turning them into an unresisting, volitionless thing), she has spoken in a completely demonic idiom, which is a form of blasphemy.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      The place for joking about such things is in one’s living room with one’s friends. That place is never at a public podium at a gathering of political activists. Even if meant purely in jest [doubtful ever from the mouth of a politico] it can only lead to somewhere ugly and indulge people’s hidden biases [and fire up the mentally ill]. If not wrong, it is certainly unwise – and leaders should lead with wisdom.

    • Christiane says

      imagine, we might have had Sarah Palin for a V.P. . . . . .
      just one heart-beat away from having Sarah’s finger on the nuclear button . . . .

      These days, I think Sarah Palin knows her ‘base’ and I think she gives them exactly what they want to hear . . . they give her big money to make those speeches . . . there is a lot of money to be made in Palin land

      it gets stranger and stranger in that far-right world and the publicly-heard rhetoric is, I’m afraid, just the tip of the iceberg . . .

      Would anyone care to guess at what point all the crazed far-right rhetoric converges ? And when? And how?


      • Sooner or later the Republicans themselves are going to say “enough” and ignore the loonies. It’s matter of survival for the party.

        I’m embarrassed for my mother, one of the last of the Eisenhower Republicans.

    • Sarah Palin on Fox and Friends, May 1:

      “I know the liberals hate it when you start mentioning the Bible,” she told the pair( Fox and Friends hosts Steve Doocy and Elisabeth Hasselbeck), “but the truth is Jesus fought for the death penalty until the day he died. He was a tireless advocate of being tough on crime and making sure the criminals can’t be out there raping and murdering people.

      “In ancient Jerusalem crime was rampant. The Romans and their pagan morality wouldn’t allow the proper punishment wrongdoers deserve. So Jesus lobbied for capital punishment in order to protect the Christians and the Jews from the Palestinians and other Muslims who were killing people left and right.

      “Unfortunately Jesus’ ideas were never implemented and the Roman Empire fell as result. But here in America we’ve always followed Jesus’ advice on the death penalty, and that’s why we have the lowest crime rate in the world.”

      God bless her.

      • Daniel Jepsen says


      • Robert F says

        You’re joking, right? Are you joking?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Probably not. Too over-the-top to be a joke. And Palin’s said some pretty dumb things on-the-record before.

          As far over-the-top as you can imagine as a joke, there’s going to be a True Believer out there who’s twice as over-the-top and Dead Serious.

          And claiming “God/Christ Agrees Completely With Me Except More So” isn’t that rare a thing in the Activist game. Just like “It Is Written(TM)”, The Ultimate Appeal to Ultimate Authority.

      • While hilarious, this is fake. It was posted at a satire news site.

        • In light of her recent comment, it’s no wonder it came across as so darned believable.

        • Robert F says

          Thank you, James. It was just too too to be real. I’m glad that my reflex for distinguishing reality from unreality is still operative, though it has been sorely tested in recent times.

        • Sorry. I really was fooled. I’ve got to be more careful, even about Ms. Palin.

    • I used to think Palin was silly and ignorant… now I’m beginning to think she’s tending toward the evil side of the spectrum…

  21. Josh in FW says

    I loved the line, “he’s turned more Protestants into Catholics than you have.”

  22. Dana Ames says

    ISTM Rob Bell is reacting against what he was brought up with, on the same plane; I understand this. I did the same, for a season. Non-denominational Evangelical churches are not known for conveying ”the mystery of Incarnation, Cross, and Resurrection” and “the great drama of the Paschal Mystery” in their worship and theology. He has uncoupled himself from the difficulties that lead E’s into the wilderness, but has not moved from that same level of engagement. It seems he is being honest with God in the place where he finds himself, and that is extremely important.

    I heard him live once, and he is a very engaging speaker. Unfortunately, the only thing about his talk that I remember is that he used a shopping cart to illustrate his point. I do agree with him, though, that “all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”


  23. Dana Ames says

    Well, reacting was probably not the clearest word to use. I meant to say that he seems to be staying on the same plane, laterally; not really having moved, except away from the way he used to “do church” as a pastor. As you said, Adam, progression from where he is from.

    Does Tauno mean something in Finnish?

    Did I tell you before that my childhood piano teacher was Finnish? Where I grew up, there was a little Finnish colony of immigrants who came to work in the lumber and fishing industries. My piano teacher spoke and read Finnish; when I showed up for piano lessons, she was usually reading some Finnish novel or another, to keep in practice. She was the organist at the local Lutheran church, and a very lovely and cultured woman. She was also a weaver – had a large loom filling one of the small extra bedrooms of her Victorian house.


    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > Does Tauno mean something in Finnish?

      I was always told [erroneously I believe] that “Tauno” was the Finnish equivalent of “Timothy”, but that does not stand up to analysis. The cannon equivalent of “Timothy” in Finnish is “Timo”. It seemed every male Finnish relative I had was named Tauno, Timo, or Toivo.

      The name was my father’s first name, and then my middle name. I got into the habit of always using my full name merely for disambiguation purposes – as there were, by happenstance, several “Adam Williams” in my professional circle.

      The ‘correct’ meaning of “peaceful, modest” certainly described him [my father] more than it does myself. 🙂

      > there was a little Finnish colony of immigrants who came to work in the lumber and fishing industries.

      And those were my forebears. I have even managed to find them in a couple of old journals and records. The name “Williams” replaced “Pulkkinen” as that was the name of the sponsor who paid for the immigrants passage [in order to employ them].

      > My piano teacher spoke and read Finnish;

      I could, to a degree, when I was young. Now besides a few phrases it is lost to me.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > I meant to say that he seems to be staying on the same plane, laterally; not really having moved,
      > except away from the way he used to “do church” as a pastor.

      Yea, that is probably an accurate description. He has dropped much of the Evangelical moral indignation, but I feel he remains a poster-child [1] of Tidy Suburban Inoffensive Christianity. And he provides a high Entertainment factor – lots of props, and he is a very engaging speaker.

      [1] He was nearly an Icon when I first encountered him – he was The Future Of Ministry, the golden child of the old guard. If they still feel that way or not – I have no idea.

      He was certainly a variable in steering me in the opposite direction from Entertainment Christianity w/props. There is simply no there there.

  24. Randy Thompson says

    You can never, ever have enough of Godzilla and exploding dead whales.
    Preferably, both at the same time.

  25. TAUNO

    GENDER: Masculine
    USAGE: Finnish

    Meaning & History;
    Means “peaceful, modest” in Karelian Finnish.

  26. Rick Ro. says

    To me, here’s the scary thing about the Donald Sterling debacle: I hesitate to say anything sympathetic about the man publicly – like suggesting what was done to him was perhaps an over-reaction or alluding to the hypocrisy of NBA players who rally to strike against Sterling because of his racism when I’m sure many of them are just as racist – for fear of being called a racist, also. Free speech seems to be defined narrower and narrower by the powers-that-be, and those who rally for tolerance seem to be becoming more intolerant. I’d like to coin a new term: The Intolerant Tolerant.

    • Hate to say it, Rick Ro, but I agree. As somebody said: he’s the past — the racist, clueless, bigoted stuff; and his girlfriend is the future — total invasion of your private life and private speech, recorded secretly and broadcast to the world.

      OTOH, I don’t really see a “free speech” issue. Nobody is going to arrest Mr. Sterling for his ranting; he can say any offensive thing he wants on any American street corner. It’s just that his colleagues/employers may decidse to get rid of him, the same as my boss would probably get rid of me if someone taped me in a vicious bigoted rant and uploaded it to the internet. I wouldn’t be good for business.

    • Josh in FW says


    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > Free speech seems to be defined narrower and narrower by the powers-that-be

      There is no “Free Speech” issue here; clearly nobody stopped anyone from saying anything. Free Speech is about the freedom to speak, it has nothing what-so-ever to do with protecting someone from the consequences of that speech.

      • Rick Ro. says

        I disagree. When I fear that what I say will be used by others to cast me as a hater or intolerant, Free Speech (aka the freedom to speak) has been tainted.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > I’d like to coin a new term: The Intolerant Tolerant.

      I completely agree with you on that part. But I’ve already used that term – so you can’t have it. 🙂 I’ve come to like the “exclusively inclusive” more, recently. Only those viewed as inclusive as the includer are included, as everyone else is being-exclusive.

      But I don’t know if this is new. The zeitgeist is always blowing this way and that concerning what perspectives The Over-Culture is interested in entertaining. Currently “Inclusivity” is just a very strongly trending meme.

      The right of Free Speech has always been a powerful means for self-destruction. It needs to be exercised judiciously, and strategically.

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