Saturday Ramblings 7.20.13

RamblerIt has been a busy week here at the iMonastery. Here is what has not happened. We have not, along with what once was a decent Midwest city, declared bankruptcy. We have not delivered the royal baby. We have not been spying on our fellow iMonks’ email or cell phone calls. And we have not led any round of the British Open. So what has kept us busy here this week? Well, there was a lot of birthday cake to be eaten on my behalf, and if you know anything about the eating habits of those here, that is enough to keep anyone busy. Now it’s time to grab brooms and sweep up the crumbs, crumbs we call Saturday Ramblings.

My oh my. How things can get misunderstood so quickly. Did the Vatican really say that Catholics can receive indulgences by following Pope Francis on Twitter during the World Youth Day? No, says fellow Jesuit James Martin.

World Youth Day is happening in Brazil. What isn’t happening in Brazil these days? The World Cup is. The Olympics are coming. Well, I guess one thing that isn’t happening in Brazil is the Catholic Church. Or at least that is the perception as the pope’s visit nears.

Did you know that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks in tongues? No? Neither did I. Here are some more interesting things to know about the head of the Anglicans.

Archaeologists think they have found King David’s palace. The size of the find shows “King David was an impressive man, as the Bible suggests, and not a small chieftain.” Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of, found the sunken engines that helped propel Apollo 11 into space. Guess which of these discoveries excites me more?

Darryl Strawberry, pastor. Let that sink in for a bit. Former Met (among other teams) Darryl Strawberry, pastor. He says he is having more fun being a pastor than he ever did on a baseball diamond. He obviously has never chaired a church committee meeting, has he?

How many different kinds of atheists are there? Two? Four? If you said six, you are right. Six? Yes, six.

Your Rambler tries not to get too grumpy, but when people write books using what they learn from monks in order to teach business principles, the grump just comes on and I can’t help it.

A woman in Norman, Oklahoma doesn’t want her driver’s license any more. Is she admitting she’s a lousy driver and is sparing those of us who never make mistakes behind the wheel? No. She is concerned that having her picture and name on a card that also has a bar code on it makes her complicit in the mark of beast. Of course, with Google planning to put chips in our brains, she may not be too far off the page.

Oops. Seems PayPal credited Chris Reynolds with a bit more money than he expected. Well, ok, a lot more. Ninety Two Quadrillion more than he expected. Ninety. Two. Quadrillion. Reynolds said if it had been real, he would have paid off the national debt. Isn’t that nice of him?

And finally, the Synonymous Rambler brings to our attention the plight of NBA player Baron Davis. Seems Davis was driving in the desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas recently when he was abducted by aliens. After being poked and prodded by said aliens, Davis found himself in the California town of Montebello, not knowing how he got there. He regained his senses by snacking on burgers and fries from In N Out. I cannot make this stuff up, you know …

Birthday boys and girls from this last week included Bob Crane; Jack Kemp; Patrick Stewart; Harrison Ford; Roger McGuinn; Cheech Marin; Woody Guthrie; Rosey Grier; Barry Sanders; Art Linkletter; Red Skelton; John Glenn; Brian May; and … me.

Well, since it was my birthday this week, and since I didn’t want to watch a Brian May solo, and since it is my blog … I present to you my favorite song by my favorite composer of all time. Enjoy.

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42 thoughts on “Saturday Ramblings 7.20.13

  1. I’m ignorant, but your facts are a little off. Indulgences sold by Tetzel, but the practice the way that Tetzel practiced it was not approved by the Pope. The Church agreed that there were grave abuses and that it needed to clarify how it taught about indulgences. At the the Council of Trent the Church agreed with the reformers that Indulgences must never include a financial transaction.

    Yes there were abuses, but they were not universal and they happened over a relatively short period of time.

    Your ignorant friend.


  2. In every time there will be those who trust in the finished work of Christ for sinners, alone…and those who feel that they must add something to that cross.

    I’m sure it will always be that way.


  3. 30 years ago or so I got a letter from Dinner’s Club telling me to pay up the $15K I owed NOW or ELSE.

    As I read this several times to make sure it was ME they wanted I realized the amount they wanted me to pay was the same as my ZIP code. So I waited a few days and sure enough I got another letter saying “Oops, never mind”.

    Emily Litella strikes again.


  4. A sack of White Castle burgers will make you forget all about Tommy’s, Pinks and the rest of Southern California’s culinary singularities.

    It will also make your date forget about you for a few days till the scent of onions fades. 🙂


  5. And so the Reformation Wars rage on, almost 400 years after the Treaty of Westphalia.


  6. Actually, during the time of Luther, Catholics believed that one could purchase an indulgence, authorized by the Pope, that would lessen the time that one, or one’s relatives had to spend in Purgatory. The funds collected from these indulgences helped build St. Peter’s Basilica.

    If you weren’t aware of those facts, then I guess you are ignorant.


  7. No one claims that the Pope has that power. Only God has that power. Purgatory is a process purification (the completion of conversion and metanoia) not punishment. Every soul there knows they are destined for heaven and they feel God’s love and closeness in a way we simply cannot. In the process there is repentance and sorrow there is, even moreso, the great joy of the presence of God

    Do you really think that Catholics are so ignorant that we believe the nonsense you think we believe? Maybe there’s some truth or at least rationality behind the ideas you reduced to absurdity.


  8. I think that it’s perfectly clear to at least some of us Protestants that indulgences have conditions attached to them; but we object to the whole idea that there is any efficacy involved in indulgences at all, no matter how many conditions are attached to them. We believe indulgences are not efficacious.

    Just as we don’t believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Queen of Brazil.


  9. I like what Luther said, “If the Pope does have the power to let people out of Purgatory, then why doesn’t he let them all out , out of sheer Christian charity?”


  10. Sorry, buddy: salvation is provided free of charge…..but the cheeseburgers in Paradise will cost you!!


  11. Seeing as how there is so much confusion over indulgences (and really, take any religion reporting with a grain of salt because journalists are not necessarily believers or understand the finer points of the stories they are reporting), the Vatican issued a clarification.

    You don’t get an indulgence simply by logging on and reading a tweet. The usual conditions (broadly speaking, free from attachement to sin, which means being in a state of grace, and reciting the prescribed prayers) apply. This is merely including the “new forms of social communication” the way radio and television broadcasts are included, and the important thing to note here is that it’s real time communication – you can’t, for instance, tape the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing from the television and replay it to get an indulgence repeatedly.

    “Vatican City, 9 July 2013 (VIS) – According to a decree made public today and signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Pope Francis will grant Indulgence to the faithful participating in celebrations for 28th World Youth Day, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 22 to 29 July on the theme “Go and make disciples of all nations”.

    The young people and the faithful who are adequately prepared will obtain the Plenary Indulgence, once a day and under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in accordance with the intentions of the Holy Father), applicable also to the souls of deceased faithful.

    The faithful who on account of a legitimate impediment cannot attend the aforementioned celebrations may obtain Plenary Indulgence under the usual spiritual, sacramental and prayer conditions, in a spirit of filial submission to the Roman Pontiff, by participation in the sacred functions on the days indicated, following the same rites and spiritual exercises as they occur via television or radio or, with due devotion, via the new means of social communication.

    Partial Indulgence will be conceded to all the faithful who, in any place and between the indicated days, with a contrite heart raise devout prayers to God, concluding with the official prayer of the World Youth Day and invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Brazil, with the title “Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Aparecida” as well as other patrons and intercessors of the same meeting, that they may encourage the young to reinforce their faith and lead a holy life.”

    So if you’re following the events on radio or television or Twitter as they happen and you are (for instance) praying in participation with the Mass being celebrated at the time, then under the conditions necessary, you can gain the indulgence for yourself or your loved ones or others, living and dead.


  12. I LOVE White Castle burgers…too!

    God has blessed us with an abundance of great hamburgers in this nation. He obviously has a soft spot in His heart for a great burgers.

    Can you imagine how great the chili cheese burgers will be in Heaven!? And they’ll be free! (hopefully)


  13. A sack of White Castle burgers will make you forget all about Tommy’s, Pinks and the rest of Southern California’s culinary singularities.


  14. My understanding of Purgatory is that there is no time or space involved. It is a process.

    There is no time, there is not specific place, there is no fire– only a spiritual process where I see himself as God sees me. I see myself clearly as his beloved child (never rejected by God) but who often freely rejected his grace. Purgatory is the the anguish of seeing how much God loves me and how much I have rejected him. Some people speculate that the process of Purgatory happens as a person is dying. It’s a mystery with a great deal of things we do not know. Purgatory is the completion of our ongoing walk conversion.

    When an indulgence speaks of 50 years, it does not refer to 50 years not spent in Purgatory. It means that my prayers, my pilgrimage, my spiritual discipline is the equivalent of 50 years of penance done here on earth. Penance is nothing more than recognizing, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, that I am a sinner and, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, taking on the mind and heart of Christ.

    Many people confuse folk Catholicism with what the Church teaches. Although Dante’s Purgatorio is a great poem and infused with faith, it is still a poem not dogma.


  15. There is a seventh category of atheist: religious non-theist, namely, Buddhist. Buddhists do not believe in the existence of a God, but they are religious and hold metaphysical views.


  16. It’s not specificity of knowledge but magnitude and prerogative of power that the RC Church claims in offering indulgences and setting the terms of penances for reconciliation: it believes that Jesus gave it the Power of the Keys to forgive or withhold forgiveness as it sees fit. No special knowledge is claimed; rather, the RC Church claims that it is simply exercising the absolute right and prerogative that it believes Jesus gave it according to Matthew 16:19. If the RC Church says it will take a million years to work off sin in Purgatory, or instead making a pilgrimage to a shrine in this life, then that is an institutional edict that God will honor because he gave the institutional church the Keys to make such decisions. No special, extra-biblical or occult knowledge is involved; only a claim which we Protestants find incredible and unacceptable.


  17. not sure how ‘official’ this is, but EWTN does provide this reference on ‘indulgences’:

    I have not studied it in depth, but at first glance, it does give some scriptural references and seems to be a bit more ‘readable’ than some of the theological explanations (and criticisms) out there

    my own thought is that, within the Body of Christ, we are connected . . . when one suffers, all suffer . . . so that unity which transcends death and ties us together (all who have ever been baptized into Christ) is something that matters in how we live and what we do as individuals in the way it impacts the Body of Christ

    if this cannot convey meaning concerning ‘indulgences’, at least it does explain how it is that Catholic people feel a great closeness to their dead and pray for them.
    Catholics also ask their dead saints to pray on their behalf, as though these saints ‘still lived’ (which in the Body of Christ, they do) . . . that ‘unity’? it’s source is the life ‘in Christ’ that all Christian people share and what happens to one, impacts the whole (we are given the ‘organic’ model for understanding)

    so, it all comes together ‘in Christ’ . . . not apart from Him at all . . . and that is what gives the many Catholic practices of prayer for all who have lived and died in Christ its meaning . . . our only unity is found ‘in Him’


  18. Ninety Two Quadrillion more than he expected. Ninety. Two. Quadrillion. Reynolds said if it had been real, he would have paid off the national debt. Isn’t that nice of him?

    Or it could have gotten him a burger in Zimbabwe.

    (Or Detroit if Detroit printed its own money; according to my informant who used to relay the hot political gossip, Detroit sounds like Zimbabwe with a US Zip Code.)

    Also, I’m encountering an anomaly reading this page. The home page says “17 comments”, but when I click into this page itself, it only shows (and counts) “1 comment”.


  19. There is some support for indulgences in the deuterocanonical books of the Bible. Tobit says that giving to the poor removes some sins (I’m too lazy to look up the exact quote just now).

    So, when we say indulgences aren’t scriptural, we are mistaken. If you have a Catholic edition of the Bible they are scriptural. I just think they are misused.


  20. I read the article by the Jesuit priest.. Even after his nuanced clarification I still marvel at the fact that Jesus’ atonement doesn’t free us from a semi eternal ( up to hundreds of thousands of years or more) temporal punishment in purgatory that we must ultimately atone for ourselves.

    I’ll spare the standard Protestant rant, but think about what indulgences claim to do and ask yourself what is the basis for these ideas, and how do we know these things are true?


  21. So, atheists could conceivably split into denominations and have their own ecumenical movement in 400 years.


  22. As a Protestant I very much appreciate and learn much from the Catholic voices here. When I hear indulgences, I find myself going all reformational and want to holler heresy, but as Robert F has noted above, the whole subject of indulgences is more nuanced than my 16th century understanding of the matter.


  23. I’m no End Times alarmist; my discomfort with Google chips in human brains is for altogether this-worldly concerns regarding how such technology could be used by a despotic government, or business. The only chips anybody is gonna get in my head are chocolate and potato chips.


  24. Don’t speak in tongues myself, but my counselor, one of the most reasonable, empathetic, prayerful and non-judgmental people I have ever known, does; it seems like he and Archbishop Welby have a lot in common.


  25. Not very often I hear a song get better with age. This song rocked way back when and Brian Wilson slammed it home again in this video.

    Almost makes me want to move back to SoCal……..almost. 🙂


  26. I have a St. Joseph’s children’s edition of the Bible given to me at the time of my first communion. In the introductory notes a partial indulgence is extended to all those who engage in a certain amount of daily Bible reading. Indulgences, whether partial or plenary, only apply to venial sins, not mortal sins; mortal sins can only be absolved in the Rite of Reconciliation (or the intention to avail oneself of the Rite, if death intervenes before one is able to actually get to Confession), but venial sins, which do not remove one from a state of grace and are not punishable by hell, can be absolved by partial or plenary indulgence, which includes works of many kinds on this side of death, or they can be worked off in purgatory after death.

    There is no question that the Vatican is offering an indulgence to some Christians, those who fit the defined criteria for those who qualify for the indulgence, for following him on Tweeter. That indulgences and purgatory are complicated subjects is very true, and they’re often misunderstood by the media and even Protestant clergy (I once heard a Lutheran minister say in a sermon that, according to Catholic theology, those in purgatory depend on the prayers of those on this side of death for whether they ultimately go to heaven or hell; that’s wrong because, according to RC theology, all those in purgatory ultimately arrive in heaven); there is, however, no question that an indulgence is being offered for reading papal Tweets, that much is clear.


  27. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sounds like an interesting man that I would like.

    I SO wish the Catholic Church would forget about indulgences. I find the whole idea embarrassing.


  28. A small but important correction. There is not a Brirtish Open. It is simply The Open. Others followed and hence the need to state where the tournament is played. But being the first there was no need to state its location..


  29. In N Out cures all ills. Except weighing too much from eating In N Out. That disease is hard to beat…


  30. Well, if you’re gonna have to endure the indignity of being abducted by aliens, I can think of no better consolation than to eat In n’ Out burgers and fries, washed down by a chocolate shake of course.


  31. When I was younger my buddies and I would often ‘get abducted’ by aliens…or demon rum…or something out there got us.

    We would also regain our senses at’ In N’ Out’…or ‘Tommy’s Burgers’…or ‘Fat Burger’, or ‘Pinks’. It seems that there is something within the molecules of a big ol’ cheeseburger or chili kraut dog and fries that counteracts the effects of being (plastered) abducted.


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