January 17, 2021

Sights along the Road…(3/25/12)

Baumhaus (Treehouse) Hotel, Germany

If we’re going to hit the road, we have to find a place to stay, right?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the same ol’ same ol’ when it comes to motels and hotels. So today as we review some of the good stuff I’ve been reading and thinking about on the Sunday drive we call “Sights along the Road,” I’m including pix of a few of the most unusual hotels in the world. This is just a small sampling, so I’m sure we’ll return to this again, but today we’ll show you a few intriguing places where a traveler can lay his or her head down for the night.

A person can stay in a treehouse, in the fuselage of a 727, in an ice palace that is re-constructed every winter, in a building that has such crazy angles and shapes it can only be called “Crazy,” inside a giant Beagle or Chinese god statue, or perhaps an inn made completely out of garbage collected from the beach will suit you.

Well, think about it. You’ve got a little while. Before it’s time to bed down for the night, we have some driving to do…

Rachel Held Evans had another good week of posts (IMO). First, she gave us 15 reasons she had left the (little “c”) church. She followed that up with 15 reasons she came back to the (big “C”) Church.

Then she tried to figure out the reasons why her publisher warned her Christian bookstores won’t carry her new book if it contains the word “vagina.”

So why is it that “testicles” and “penis” are okay but “vagina” is off limits? How is it that naming a part of the female anatomy falls into the same category as swearing? How can Christian bookstores carry the Bible—particularly Song of Songs—if they’ve got something against vaginas? Is it any wonder that people view Christians as sheltered and out-of-touch when a sentence like this is considered vulgar? And why, oh why, does the evangelical establishment seem so threatened by women?

Crazy House Hotel, Vietnam

Why indeed?

Why is this an issue, especially with all the triumphalistic chest-thumping lately in the Christian industrial complex about how courageous Mark and Grace Driscoll were to answer questions about various sexual practices with graphic detail in their book?

Oh sorry, I forgot. Mark is a man’s man, and the LEADER™ of a megachurch. He and his church are controversial. He swears for effect because he’s CUTTING EDGE™ and trying to reach hard core unbelievers. Driscoll is ANOINTED™. He’s MISSIONAL™ and he’s got satellite campuses and he goes on shows like The View and stands up for THE FAITH™ by saying that homosexuals need to REPENT™ and that sex is only for married heterosexuals and that wives should SUBMIT™ to their husband’s leadership in the bedroom and every other area of life.

Corona Save the Beach Hotel, Rome

Mark Driscoll is the Christian bookseller’s dream (read Skye Jethani’s recent articles). There’s not an ounce of thoughtfulness, nuance, or mystery about him. It’s either blackest black or whitest white, expressed in monosyllabic, in your face, turn or burn PREACHIN’™. He can say vagina or penis or oral sex or anal sex or any word or phrase he likes because he is a Reformission Rev in pagan freakin’ Seattle and he is REACHING THE LOST™.

But Rachel, well, she has a vagina and it would be shameful for her to talk about it or even use the word in public. She’s not a pastor or LEADER™ (God forbid!). Furthermore, she’s trying to rewrite WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS™ about a woman’s place. How do we know? Well, she believes in evolution for one thing. She doesn’t even go to church anymore!

Nevertheless, we Christian bookstores, the gatekeepers of all that is good and pure and FAMILY-FRIENDLY™ will let her sell her little book. But she must not include the word “vagina.” That would be offensive.

What a crock.

• • •

Hotel Costa Verde, Costa Rica

In a similar vein, Kathy Escobar points out Ten Ways Churches Jack People Up.

She says, “For all kinds of reasons, though, many church systems are really unhealthy.  often our basic insecurity as Christians is a flaw that crops up all over the place in the way we interact with the world.  Our blindedness to our own dysfunctions and the fear of counseling & recovery (for ourselves & within the church) makes us even more unsafe.  Sprinkle in power and a structure that has thrived with one charismatic leader on top, and it’s a recipe for disaster.”

There are several ways to respond to this. First, of course she is right. Churches are communities of people, and people are messed up. As Steve Brown reminds us in his most recent book, if pastors think their job is to keep people from messing up, they are going to have a long and unhappy career in church work. Second, I think Kathy points out that it is not so much our flaws, but our blindness to our flaws that causes us the most problems. Third, we can do some things structurally to limit the damage sinful people can do to each other and their neighbors. But for that to happen, Christians are going to have to wake up and realize that sins of power are more of a problem than they imagine. Fourth, the heart of the answer is always Jesus and the Gospel. Not just the words, but the reality. Unfortunately, many of us who use the words all the time don’t have a clue that we don’t have a clue what we’re talking about.

• • •

Tianzi Garden Hotel, China

I don’t want this to be all negative ranting, for heaven’s sake. Let’s talk about something life-affirming and hopeful.

How about a cure for baldness?

Studies show that male-pattern baldness affects 80% of men under age 70. That includes yours truly, who hates it that he can’t go watch a ballgame in the summer without wearing a hat for fear of turning the top of his head into something that resembles a plate of burnt, crispy bacon.

According to recent findings, bald men tend to have an abnormal amount of a protein called prostaglandin D2 on their scalps. This protein and its derivatives block hair growth.

Therefore, drugs that inhibit the action of prostaglandin D2 should delay male pattern baldness, according to George Cotsarelis, MD, chair and professor of dermatology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “This should work in all men who have male pattern baldness,” Cotsarelis says. The new findings are likely to apply to women, too, who have problems with hair loss.

Some companies are already developing such compounds for other uses, in one case for asthma. “It shouldn’t take too long,” Cotsarelis says. I hope so. Then I won’t have to keep ordering my hair growing cream from China, ala George Costanza.

Dog Park Bark Inn, Idaho, U.S.

Jerry: Elaine, have you ever gone out with a bald man?
Elaine: No.
Jerry: You know what that makes you? A baldist.

• • •

REMINDER: Don’t forget about the special event, “A Conversation on Unity in Christ’s Mission,” between John Armstrong and Francis Cardinal George, the archbishop of Chicago. Tomorrow, 7pm ET, from Wheaton College in Chicago.

You will be able to watch it live, streaming on the web, at John’s ministry site: ACT3 Online.

• • •

Speaking of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI arrived yesterday in Mexico and received an exuberant welcome in the city of Leon in the mostly Catholic state of Guanajuato.

His message focused on fighting the evil of drug trafficking, which has led to the violent deaths of 50,000 people in the past five years in Mexico.

“We must do whatever is possible to combat this destructive evil against humanity and our youth,” the Pope said, “It is the responsibility of the Church to educate consciences, to teach moral responsibility and to unmask the evil, to unmask this idolatry of money which enslaves man, to unmask the false promises, the lies, the fraud that is behind drugs.”

• • •

Finally, I would like to express my profound gratitude and joy for those who participated in our Open Forum for New Commenters this past week.

That was one of the most refreshing days I have had in a long time.

Ice Hotel, Sweden

Here are a few of my favorite comments from that forum:

“After that I tried several other denominations I settled on an ELCA Lutheran church. Actually, Chaplain Mike’s posts on the Lutheran denomination were helpful to me on deciding on a new church home.”

“I have no issues at all with the US-centricity of IM and in many ways it has nuanced my understanding of the US evangelical/post-evangelical culture wars which are almost always grossly misrepresented by the international media (even by the BBC!). As such, IM acts as a great ambassador for North American Christianity offering a unique forum for reflection, reason and hope.”

“What the heck is a post-evangelical wilderness?”

“I love the honestly, the reality, the openess, the fun, the occasional naughtiness, the music, the movies, the earthiness,the beverages, the acceptance, the wisdom and lack of judgement that permeates IM. Most of all I love the way it connects me with my creator without preaching at me, without SHOUTING at me without selling me anything. “

“Internet Monk has helped me to recognize that I am solidly in the wilderness and also helped to sustain me there. I am very thankful to you guys for your dedication and talent that keeps this conversation going. Jeff, you are hilarious. And it’s not everyday you meet someone as stable and gracious as Ch. Mike who can still write a “full-blown rant” when he needs to.”

“With my powerful rebuke (I learned how to do it powerfully by watching Rod Parsley after a night with too much brandy) out of the way and my “rebuking ministry” clearly established I wish to say that IM is a bit self-righteous amd immature on its bad days and enlightening and generally satisfying on its good days. I now remove my powerful rebuke lest someone faint from discouragement.”

• • •

There are a lot more comments that I loved. Thanks, everyone. On days when I feel down, I’m sure one thing I will do is go back and read through this open forum again. It was that encouraging.

Not that you regulars aren’t a constant encouragement! You most certainly are.

But having all the new folks join us on Wednesday was like opening the doors and windows in early spring. The air was fresh and sweet and invigorating.

We will do that again, I promise.


  1. Randy Thompson says

    Many people here would be a lot happier if they spent more time contemplating things like the Tianzi Garden Hotel instead of Mark Driscoll and company.

    I’ve always wanted to go to China. Now I have another compelling reason for doing so.

    (By the way: The Tianzi Garden Hotel is located in Langfang, China, in Hebei province.)

    A suggestion and request for next Sunday: Why not feature the 131 foot tall statue of Genghis Khan on his horse, located near Ulan Bator, Mongolia?

    Keep up the good work. (I like your articles, too.)

    • Langfang, Hebei, eh? Awesome. That’s just…..10 hours by train from here. Hmmm. I wonder if there’s anything else worth seeing in Langfang apart from the quirky hotel.

      Another thought: does it count as idolatry if you don’t bow down before the statue of the god but just stay in a room inside it? Conversely, if you were a member of that religion, would it count as some form of blasphemy or profanation if you stayed in a room inside it?

  2. “She’s not a pastor or LEADER™ (God forbid!).”

    That’s probably the heart of the issue. Women can teach if they are telling auditoriums full of other women to be quiet, submissive, endorphin delivery systems for their husbands. Call it an intellectual burka imposed upon evangelical women by self-centered, insecure, immature evangelical males (sure can’t call them “men”).

    • Perhaps evangelical men have a reason to control the dialogue and language regarding sexuality. They certainly wouldn’t want a women or (gasp!) a feminist telling women to be proud and in control of their own sexuality. How uppity would that be? (sarcasm!). I recently saw a book in a church bookstore denouncing evangelical feminism. I seem to recall Elizabeth Schaefer promoted a form of Christian femiinism. I’ll have to see if I can dig up that thirty year old issue of Cornerstone magazine where she was interviewed about that subject.

  3. Wow, those are all fun, great-looking hotels, Chaplain Mike. Works of art in which to sleep.

  4. Is that a staircase leading to the canine colon in the dog park hotel?

  5. Yes, really enjoyed the new commenters. Thanks for your comments today as well.

  6. One of the things I enjoyed most in the New Commenters post was learning how people first found this website.

    I found it in 2005 when I was asked to help lead a college-age ministry at my church. I googled “student ministry”, and iMonk was a top hit!, apparently from Michael’s work at Oneida.
    I was looking for some quick tips, but what I found instead was that both my students and myself had already grown disillusioned with the evangelical subculture, and Michael Spencer spoke truth and encouragement that God was doing beyond what we could hope or think to draw us to Him.

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