January 17, 2021

Sights along the Road… (3/4/12)

Gorilla Holding VW, Leicester, Vt

During our journey through this Lenten season, when we are focusing most of our attention on the theme of the “wilderness,” I am running “Sights along the Road” posts on Sunday afternoons so that I can share some of the other things I’ve been reading, watching, and thinking about lately. Plus, we’ll treat you to pictures of a few of the world’s great roadside attractions so you’ll have something to smile about as you look out the car window.

After all, what encourages contemplation and repentance more than a giant gorilla holding aloft a gold VW Beetle?

• • •

Of course, the other great question of the week is: Why in the name of all that is civil and decent would anyone, much less a follower of Jesus, ever, ever, ever listen to Rush Limbaugh? I’m in full agreement with this article in the Atlantic: even those with strong disagreements about the politics of the situation should unite in speaking out against his cruel bullying, which serves no good purpose whatsoever.

“It hardly matters whether you agree with Sandra Fluke, or if you think she is advocating on behalf of suboptimal policy, as I do. There is no excuse for Limbaugh’s behavior, and nothing redeeming in it. His words aren’t merely illogical. It isn’t just that he seems to misunderstand that birth-control pills cost the same whether someone has sex once per month or twice every single day. The problem isn’t just that he misrepresented the fullness of her testimony. Beyond all that, he has once again shown himself to be coarse, vulgar, bullying, callous, and needlessly cruel.”

UPDATE: Limbaugh has issued an apology.

• • •

Then again, Rush Limbaugh is a crass amateur. If you would like to experience what it’s like to be insulted by a true professional, go to this site, where you can get smacked down by one of the best of all time: Martin Luther — The Luther Insulter.

I may end up using this one: “You are dumber than Seriphian frogs and fishes.”

Or this one: “You are like mouse-dropping in the pepper.”

Take that!

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska

I enjoyed a stimulating conversation with Chris Smith over a delicious Mexican lunch the other day.

We last mentioned Chris during Super Bowl week, in this post about good works being done on the near eastside of Indianapolis in the shadow of the big game.

He attends Englewood Christian Church, a congregation that is living out their faith through practical acts of love done in the context of an ongoing conversation within the church and in the neighborhood.

I’d like to share a few links today, so that you can get to know Chris and his work better. You’ll be glad for it.

Chris’s book: The Virtue of Dialogue: Conversation as a Hopeful Practice of Church Communities, which tells the story of Englewood Christian Church and how they learned to talk together as a church and engage their neighbors in conversation, is available in Kindle format for $2.99.

One of Chris’s main ministries: Englewood Review of Books.

Chris’s site, Slow Church, where you can get free copies of a couple of Chris’s other ebooks on building community in the local church.

• • •

It’s time to announce the dates for a couple of conferences that we like here at Internet Monk.

First, the highly recommended Epic Fail Conference, which is coming up March 22-24, at the True Worship Experience, 374 East Willowood Dr., Mansfield, OH 44906. Cost: $89 (conference only). The focus of this conference is intentionally opposite of all the other glitzy, high-powered ones out there: “a conference that is led not by famous pastors who are household names, but by scandalously ordinary ministers and leaders who are faithfully attempting to join with God – even in the midst of glaring obscurity and anonymity…”

Here’s the promo video. Note how well it fits with our Lenten wilderness theme.


Second, the Mockingbird Conference, entitled, “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts: Honesty, Humility and the Grace of God.” This year’s main speaker will be Michael Horton, from the White Horse Inn. It will be held April 19, 2012 – April 21, at St George’s Church, New York City. Cost: $100 (before 3/20), other registration options available.

• • •

Finally, since this is a presidential election year, we’ll end with a presidential roadside attraction. Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson have their impressive monuments, and who can fail to be impressed by Mt. Rushmore? Well, here’s the presidential tribute I’m most fond of. It was built in honor of our 39th commander in chief, James Earl Carter, Jr.

Jimmy Carter Peanut Statue, Plains, Georgia


  1. The Carter statue looks JUST like him.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Makes sense it’d be in Plains, GA, his old hometown. “Local Boy Made Good” covers a LOT of territory.

  2. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Of course, the other great question of the week is: Why in the name of all that is civil and decent would anyone, much less a follower of Jesus, ever, ever, ever listen to Rush Limbaugh?

    I used to listen off-and-on to Rush Limbaugh doing “Conservatism as Theater” when he was starting out around 1990, under pressure from several Dittohead friends. Then I didn’t for around 20 years, until I caught some of his stuff on local morning radio, where the morning drive-time guys call him “The de facto head of the Republican Party.”

    Comparing that to what I remember from 20 years ago, Rush Limbaugh has seriously deteriorated over the years. Way back when he had a sense of humor — a rough satirical one, but definitely one. Now? Only the 24/7/365 Utter Seriousness of the True Believer; the Utter Seriousness of the Fundamentalist, whether that Fundamentalist is Christian, Communist, Muslim, or Objectivist. And the in-your-face attitude that he IS the GOP Kingmaker this election year, the Only One with the exclusive corner on Truth.

    I can only conclude that Rush Limbaugh has been listening to his own PR for so long that he now Believes Every Word of it. (And from the Classic IMonk posting “The Rush Limbaughization of Christianity”, so do a LOT of Christian Activists.)

    • People listen to Rush for the same reasons that they follow iMonk: they find comfort in collective fandom, and identity in their ideologies.

      • petrushka1611 says

        Or, maybe some of us just like thought-provoking, gospel-filled posts. And pictures of gorilla statues.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      I first became aware of Limbaugh in the early 1990s. I stumbled across him one day while scanning through stations in the car. I thought he did a brilliant parody of the kneejerk reactionary: Stephen Colbert, but many years earlier. Then I continued listening, and gradually to my horror concluded that he was serious, or at least was marketing himself that way.

    • I confess that I used to listen to Rush in the 90’s. I can’t anymore and havn’t runed him on in years. I still cna’t believe the updates he had. From the Pee Wee Herman update (to Michael Jackson’s Beat It) to the Gorbasm (to the Empire Strikes Back theme)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        You missed the abortion-related one, “Get Flushed by Rush” (with the sound effect of a vacuum cleaner in the b/g). Yeah, it was sick humor (Bart Simpson Syndrome), but it was still an attempt at humor.

        Now even that sick humor is gone. Now it’s only the Glory of Rush The Only Defender of TRUTH and the Utter Seriousness of The True Believer.

  3. The whole fiasco about the HHS mandate requiring churches to fund birth control and abortifacients shows why its dangerous for Christians to get involved in politics, even when necessary.

    My synod president, Pastor Harrison, went to Washington to attend a hearing to discuss why it violates the church’s teaching for the church’s self-insured plans (covering schools, nursing homes, hospitals, etc.) to be forced to pay for plan B and other drugs that destroy embryos by preventing implantation. One Democrat called him and the Catholic and Orthodox representatives liars and political pawns. One Republican tried to get him to say Obama lied about his health care plan. Democrats then complained because they weren’t permitted to add Sandra Fluke at the last minute, and advanced the story line that Republicans excluded women from the hearing and want to ban birth control (even though the second panel had women and conservative Lutherans don’t oppose birth control). Lost was the great testimony made by these religious leaders: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=527spTZiwBU

    Both the Democrats and Republicans tried to push their narratives. The left attacked these religious leaders, including in the Atlantic, and tried to make the issue about banning contraceptives. They put on this pro-choice advocate Fluke who made absurd claims about the cost of contraceptives. Rush and others on the right attacked this narrative, using crass and stupid arguments.

    So instead of talking about how Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Baptists, and others will be required at punishment of law to pay for what they believe to be abortifacients or shutter their charitable organizations, we are talking about whether Sandra Fluke is a slut for spending $3000 a year on birth control and morning after pills.

    Rush was clearly wrong, but the Atlantic and other media groups were equally wrong and deserving of our scorn for misrepresenting and attacking religious groups for wanting to provide charitable services without funding baby-killing. I’m more of a Melancthon than Luther when it comes to trying to get along and not throwing insults, but Luther’s principle in following Scripture and not men may be relevant again very soon. Conservative churches currently face a very real risk of having to choose civil disobedience.

  4. Clay Knick says

    I would be nice think that you might do these after Lent. Maybe twice a month if not each week. Just trying to think up more things for you to do, Mike.

  5. Not exactly a sight along the road, more of a “Why on earth would anyone do this???”

    Thieves have stolen the heart of St. Laurence O’Toole. Now, this wasn’t contained in a precious reliquary, so the reason can’t have been that they had to take the heart along with the container for the sake of gold and gems, and Christchurch Cathedral has been in the hands of the Church of Ireland since the Reformation, so if it’s an anti-Catholic/anti-Papist/anti-Romish superstition and vain idolatry of saints’ relics act of protest, it’s very late in the day to do such.

    Hey, Florian, where were you this weekend? 😉

    • Jack Heron says

      Yes, I heard about that. Do people often steal relics? And if it were an anti-Catholic, wouldn’t destroying it be enough? Or perhaps there are relic-collectors somewhere.

      • There was the theft of a relic of the True Cross from Holycross Abbey back in 2011, but that was more for the valuables (the gold cross that the relic was kept in) and it was recovered.

        A reliquary that housed a relic of St. Bridget was also stolen early this year, but again, that was because of the value of the reliquary – luckily, the relic had been taken out beforehand because the reliquary was being repaired.

        What’s odd about this theft is that the relic was in a wooden box, so it wasn’t stolen for the valuable container. As you say, if it was an anti-Catholic job, stealing from a Protestant church is the wrong way to go about it, and smashing it would make more sense as an act of protest. Now, unless the thieves are going to hold it to ransom, I don’t see the point (unless we’re talking about some kind of black magic ceremony, but that’s anticipating matters a step too far).

  6. Randy Thompson says

    Thank you for the statue of the giant gorilla holding the VW. I admired it often on trips to see our son when he was attending Middlebury College, which is just up the road a piece. As far as advertising goes, you can never go wrong with statutes of giant gorillas.

    As for Rush Limbaugh: I have tried to listen to him several times over the years, and I’ve never been able to listen more than five minutes without my intellectual gag reflex kicking in. If he has ever said anything worthwhile, it’s been lost in a rhetorical fog of arrogant, pompous demagoguery.

    The giant gorilla statue serves as a good metaphor for his role in contemporary America: He’s the giant gorilla holding up the Republican Party (with apologies to the Vermont statue).

    To be fair, some on the left can be just as viciously nasty. (Frank RIch, the former op-ed NY Times columnist comes to mind.) However, currently at least, the right wing seems to have a lock on “viciously nasty.”

  7. Those who are enmeshed in sin find the Bible insulting. But the fault does not lie with the Bible, rather with their own lies and corruption. Jesus Christ was ever a scandal to the heathen.

  8. David Cornwell says

    The following from the news:

    “(CBS News) Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul said an apology by conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh to Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke for calling her a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute’ was not sincere, and was made only because it best served Limbaugh.”

    I seriously doubt that Limbaugh has changed his mind about anything. Back when Bill Clinton was President I listened to Limbaugh occasionally and the more I listened, the better I liked Clinton. Listening to someone constantly spew venom gets old.

    • petrushka1611 says

      That’s exactly it – why do people need to listen to hours of venom every day? I never have gotten that.

  9. What Rush said was harsh. But if you listen to Rush he does this as satire. Sort of like saying that perhaps the Irish should eat their children type thing. I’m disappointed to see he apologized. I would have respected him more for not caving to financial pressure. That said, I stopped listening to Rush years ago when my politics ( a strange mix of Pat Buchanan and other things thrown in) became more conservative than Rush. (Yes it’s possible)

    That said, there are ways to very strongly disagree with others, but you have to remember Rush is an entertainer first and foremost. I personally admire a lot he says, but haven’t listened in a long time.

    Now as to the Carter Peanut. If you are ever in Georgia stop by Plains. It’s a great little town. Peanuts are still big there and they sell them all sorts of ways. My favorite is just raw, a real earthy taste. The museum there in town and the Carter homesite is a good visit. Carter’s House is there and you can see the secret service guard men on duty. He may have stopped now, but he was, last I heard, still teaching SS. When I was a baptist Carter was not my type of baptist, and he was a complete disaster as a president, but hey, we are still proud of him.

    In fact the whole area is great down there. Make a day trip out of it and tour Americus close by with Andersonville Prison and the National POW museum. The POW musuem is really a gem and it sits out in the middle of nothing in South Georgia. It is very moving.

    A little pride on my part, but GA is a great, a great state.

    p.s. also visit GA Veterans State Park at Lake Blackshear, a great lake and they have a great disc golf course

    • Austin, thanks for the GA recommendations. Hope to take you up on them someday.

      As for the whole tempest about Rush, my main concern is the state of political discourse in the U.S. Folks with opposite viewpoints have a very hard time talking to each other with any semblance of civility and respect, and I lay a big part of the blame on people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck on the right, and Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann on the left. I just don’t buy the claim that these folks are just “entertainers” — we’re way past that, and the need to find common ground for the common good too important in these days when such major issues face us.

      • Plus why is vitriol entertaining? Nastiness is bad politics and bad entertainment, too. I fault Rush in both areas.

      • David Cornwell says

        “my main concern is the state of political discourse in the U.S.”

        Olympia Snowe makes the same point as she attempts to explain her reasons for not running for re-election. Unless things change we will never make progress toward solving the pressing issues that need attending to. Republicans vowed to ruin the President when he came to office. If a Republican wins the Presidency, expect retaliation by Democrats. Where does the cycle end?

        When Eisenhower was elected to the Presidency, he worked with Democratic majorities in Congress most of his two terms. Other Presidents of both parties have been able to do so in the past, at least to an extent. There was a middle ground where people could meet. It’s called compromise. Pure ideology seldom solves problems. It breeds the kind of extremism we have today. It’s very sad for our country.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Republicans vowed to ruin the President when he came to office. If a Republican wins the Presidency, expect retaliation by Democrats. Where does the cycle end?

          With a coup, followed by a “cleansing”.

  10. Robin Cranford says

    Rush has said vile things forever although they may be satirical. Listen if you like but please don’t form a Christian world view around the musing of any of these talk radio guys left or right. I have listened to both sides and they neither get to the gospel because neither really believe we are DEAD in our trespasses. So, if you are a republican and you find Limbaugh humorous by all means listen but don’t do it because you are republican and Christian.

    • The problem I see is that in our media-saturated culture we’ve blurred the lines so much between news and entertainment that it is hard for folks to tell the difference without a great deal of effort. That can easily lead to the mob mentalities we witness today.

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