Welcome to Saturday Ramblings for August 6, 2016.
We’re going to upgrade from our standard Rambler today to show you a great pic of Elvis Presley’s 1957 BMW 507, now restored to its original glory (and perhaps beyond).
Top Gear has a great gallery showing the step-by-step restoration of the King’s ride, which he enjoyed while he was a G.I. in Germany. The car had originally been presented to the King of Belgium before it went to an auto show, where it won a beauty prize. It ended up at a dealer in Frankfurt, where the 23-year-old Elvis saw it and fell in love with it. The popular singer had it painted red because his adoring fans used to scrawl messages on its white surface. He eventually traded it in back in New York, and after a few other stops it ended up awaiting restoration in a shed in California. Its owner, Jack Castor, never found the time to get it done, so he eventually sold it back to BMW’s classic department and they brought it back to life.
Go to Top Gear’s gallery for more great photos of the restoration. Also, if you happen to be in Pebble Beach, California on August 18, you can see this great car up close and personal at Concours d’Elegance.
Today’s humor courtesy of @Church Curmudgeon.
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GOD AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES: In an article at RNS, Kimberly Winston quotes scholar Paul Cartledge, who wrote, “For the ancient Greeks, the sport of the Olympic Games was quite literally a religious exercise — a display of religious devotion and worship. ” However, the trend has been away from the Games’ religious roots.
Winston traces the religious history of the Games, first in ancient Greece, where they were held until the end of the fourth century, when a Christian, Emperor Theodosius I, banned all pagan celebrations. No Games were held for 1500 years, until another Christian revived them.
In the late 19th century, Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocrat educated by Jesuits, encountered the work of Thomas Arnold, a Church of England deacon who promoted “muscular Christianity” — the idea that the pairing of physical strength with religious piety creates well-rounded, moral and ethical men. In 1894, Coubertin formed the International Olympic Committee, and the Games were held again two years later in Athens.
Kimberly Winston goes on to write about how the Olympic Games have taken on a religious aura of their own, a “civic” religion complete with traditions, ceremonies, and core beliefs about sportsmanship. But some are suggesting that nationalism and commercialism threaten to utterly strip them of any sacred significance.
A WALK TO REMEMBER: Groups in the central Henan and Hunan provinces of China have been constructing vertigo-inducing glass skywalks in a bid to attract tourists. The BBC has published some awe-inducing pictures of the “Coiling Dragon” path in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
Here is another BBC article about the craze to build several of these glass bridges and walkways.
What do you say, iMonks? How about joining me for some faith-building exercises in eastern China?
“THE BLOOD OF CHRIST WASHED THE BLOOD OFF MY HANDS.” So says Robert “Bobby” Luisi Jr., aka Alonso Esposito, a a charismatic preacher, head of Alonso Esposito Ministries, who, it turns out, is a former mob boss from Boston. You can read his story HERE and HERE.
The Boston Globe recently identified him last week as a one-time Mafia crime boss who they thought might have information about the 1990 heist of $500 million of artwork, including three Rembrandts, from a Boston museum. He says now he couldn’t help them much, but at any rate it is his spiritual journey and the Bible that Esposito wants to talk about today.
He had a awakening of sorts after his father, Robert Luisi Sr., and his brother, Roman, were murdered in a Boston restaurant. He had visions of them after their deaths, warning him about God’s judgment. But he continued in a life of crime, relocating to Philadelphia where he became a capo (boss), eventually moving his cocaine operation back to Boston. Esposito has said he was involved in at least a half a dozen murders and at one point was clearing $40,000 a week trafficking cocaine.
The mobster was arrested in 1999 and spent nearly fourteen years in prison before he resurfaced in Memphis a changed man. Today, Esposito is a pastor and teacher of theological studies at Faith Keepers Ministries in Raleigh. He writes books and shares his teachings through videos and media on his website. He has written a book about creationism, and plans to write another to tell his story about the move from being a capo to being a Christian.
CURSIVE WRITING MAKING A COMEBACK. Since late last fall, our team has been documenting our work on paper while we await an upgrade to our computer program. One of the hard things about doing that is: I forgot how to write! I suspect that is true of many of us, having become so used to typing on keyboards. But handwriting is proving persistent. According to this piece at the Washington Post, twelve states now have cursive writing requirements in their state standards.
According to the article: “The cursive comeback is championed by a mix of educators, researchers, parents and politicians who lament the loss of linked-letter writing and cite studies that learning cursive engages the brain more deeply, improves fine motor dexterity and gives children a better idea of how words work in combination. And some also just like the way it looks.”
What do you think? How much do you use cursive handwriting? Do you think it should still be emphasized?
POPE FRANCIS IS AT IT AGAIN. A Vatican statement said, “Pope Francis expressed his intention to establish an official commission that could study the question of the diaconate of women, especially with regard to the first ages of the Church. After intense prayer and mature reflection, Pope Francis has decided to institute the Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women.”
This will be the third commission to study the historical role of women deacons since 1992. The first two commissions did not lead to any changes in church practice. Many women in the church hope that Pope Francis’s influence might move the church toward a different outcome this time.
One of the members of the commission, Phyllis Nagano, wrote an article in the Harvard Divinity Review called, “Ordain Catholic Women as Deacons,” in which she said:
Francis calls priesthood’s connection to power and authority problematic, writing that it “presents a great challenge . . . with regard to the possible role of women in decision-making in different areas of the Church’s life.” But if priesthood is the problem barring women from a “more incisive presence in the Church,” the diaconate is the solution.
In the first piece, Jana Reiss interviews Carol Lynn Pearson, author of The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy, who says that, even in the mainstream LDS organization, “polygamy is not an artifact in a museum.” The doctrine of eternal plural marriage teaches that, even though polygamy may not be practiced in this life, it will in the ages to come.
In a follow-up article, Jana Reiss explains the practice of “sealing” —
For Mormons, one of the major goals in life—something our children are taught from the time they enter the Sunday School at 3 years old—is to strive for a temple marriage, or sealing. To Mormons, a sealing is much more than a fancy ceremony in one of our pretty temples; it is a marriage “for time and all eternity” and does not end at death. The participants are considered married, or sealed, forever.
“What does this mean for modern Mormons? It means modern, living men are sealed to multiple living women. Full stop,” she writes. This can lead to some troublesome complications for women and children, especially when a divorce or death occurs.
YOU MIGHT THINK THIS WOULD BE UNNECESSARY. Don’t know about you, but I never had to have anyone tell me that swimming in a dumpster would not be a good idea.
However, the folks who planned the Cedar Street Block Party in Philadelphia rented a dumpster, filled it with water from a fire hydrant, made a pool, and put pictures of it on Instagram. So, Karen Guss, communications director for the Department of Licenses and Inspections in the city, had to issue a public service announcement:
“In view of the City’s commitment to public health, safety and basic common sense, we will not issue permits for block party dumpster pools. And while you would think this decision would not require an explanation, three days of press requests have proven otherwise. So, Philly, here’s why you shouldn’t swim in a receptacle most often used for waste:
” — First and foremost, this could reduce the amount of water available should a fire break out in that neighborhood. So if you would like to have water available should a fire break out in your home, don’t illegally tap a hydrant
” — There is also the potential loss of life by injury due to the hydrant water pushing a small child or even an adult into oncoming traffic.
” — Finally, remember that the pressure of the water coming out of the hydrant is so strong, and so powerful, that if opened too quickly or closed too quickly, it could deliver a jolt to the main of sufficient force that could break the main … and many blocks could lose water service until it is repaired.
“We are not screwing around, Philly. The Streets Department will not issue any future block party permits to the 2400 block of Cedar, and officials have contacted the dumpster rental company regarding its failures to obtain the proper closure permits and to take mandatory measures to protect the street during placement of the dumpster.
“In short, the City strongly recommends that residents opt for recreational options that are safer, more sanitary, and less likely to deplete the resources firefighters need in an emergency.”
CEASE FIRE IN CHICAGO. When a toddler was shot and paralyzed in one of the war zones that exist in some Chicago neighborhoods, Pastor Corey Brooks and New Beginnings Church decided ministering to grieving families wasn’t enough. Christianity Today tells the story of what happened next.
Brooks invited 100 gang members to meet with him personally, alone, for a talk. It took over a year to happen, but the pastor persisted. It was uncomfortable at first for all of these rivals to be in the same room, but eventually they quieted down and listened as Brooks addressed them.
I talked about the pain that everyone has experienced as a result of these shootings. A lot of the individuals there had been shot, and if they hadn’t, their relatives or very close friends had been shot. They know the pain really well, and its impact on family and friends.
Secondly, I talked about the great need for us to have a community where our children are free to go out and play. That impacts them because a lot of them have children who are very young.
The third thing I tried to communicate is that it’s very difficult for business to come in and hire when individuals are trying to control one area.
Read the entire interview and learn how Brooks and the church have gained the respect of their neighborhood and won the right to be heard. They continue to meet and the cease fire still holds.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
TODAY IN MUSIC: WXQR has provided a good list of music, complete with video performances, composed especially for the Olympic Games. Along with them, they give some history of how these songs come to be written and used in the Games.
We offer one of these today as our weekly listening selection. “The Olympic Hymn” debuted at the reconstituted 1896 Olympics and began the tradition of host countries commissioning composers to write a piece for the Games. In 1958, it was declared the official hymn of the Olympics by the IOC. At each Olympics now, it is played when the Olympic Flag is raised.
Olympic Hymn (1896)
Composer: Spyros Samaras, Words: Kostis Palamas
Immortal spirit of antiquity,
Father of the true, beautiful and good,
Descend, appear, shed over us thy light
Upon this ground and under this sky
Which has first witnessed thy unperishable fame.
Give life and animation to those noble games!
Throw wreaths of fadeless flowers to the victors
In the race and in strife!
Create in our breasts, hearts of steel!
Shine in a roseate hue and form a vast temple
To which all nations throng to adore thee,
Oh immortal spirit of antiquity.