Saturday Ramblings: November 19, 2016



Our Rambler of the Week award goes to Congressman John Lewis, who was awarded the National Book Award, honoring his graphic novel for young people, called March: Book Three. the final installment in his trilogy about his firsthand experiences in the Civil Rights Movement.

Lewis has been called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced.” He was born the son of sharecroppers on February 21, 1940, outside of Troy, Alabama.  He grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama.  As a young boy, he was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts.  In those pivotal moments, he made a decision to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement.

Hosea Williams, another notable Civil Rights leader, and John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965.  They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state.  The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday.”  News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


In a moment of satisfying justice, Lewis received his Book Award at the same library he and his family were prohibited from using when he was a child because it was limited to white members. Here’s what Lewis said at his award ceremony:

Thank you. This is unreal. This is unbelievable. Some of you know I grew up in rural Alabama very, very poor – very few books in our home. And I remember in 1956, when I was 16 years old, with some of my brothers and sisters and cousins, going down to the public library, trying to get a library card. And we were told that the library was for whites only and not for colors. And to come here, receive this award, this honor – it’s too much.

Here’s an interview with John Lewis on NPR.

John Lewis, our Rambler of the Week and true American hero.

• • •



The New York Times reports —

After spending several years rushing to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day, retailers have been hit with a dose of reality: It may not be worth it.

Office Depot, Mall of America and the electronics store HHGregg have all announced they will be closed on Thanksgiving. Other retailers like Sears will open fewer stores, and of the locations that do open, many will have shorter hours.

The companies give different reasons for the shift — employees should be able to spend time with family, for one — but the overriding message is clear: For some retailers, opening on Thanksgiving is too much of a headache.

“Those who have opened on Thanksgiving Day have come to recognize that you don’t need to open that early to drive the kind of sales you need,” said Wendy Liebmann, the chief executive of the consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail.

Here’s a list of 35 retailers that won’t be opening on the Thanksgiving holiday.


• • •


Is the Pope Catholic?

Is the gospel identical with the Protestant doctrine of salvation? Or is the gospel a message about God’s Son that Protestants and Catholics affirm together?

When it comes to music, what’s “Christian” enough?

Can science save the world?

Christianity: a “box” or a “path”?

Do elephants have souls?

How might Jonah have survived within the fish’s belly?

Did prophecy play a role in the 2016 election?

“What time did you say you wanted me to start drinking?”

• • •


86d-3294-10Cliff Barrows, who led songs for evangelist Billy Graham for six decades, died this past week at 93 years old.

Barrows led the mass choirs at Graham’s crusades, sang on occasion with Shea and was the weekly host/announcer for Graham’s “Hour of Decision” radio broadcast. Barrows was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1988 and into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Famein 1996.

“His uncanny ability to lead a Crusade choir of thousands of voices or an audience of a hundred thousand voices in a great hymn or Gospel chorus is absolutely unparalleled,” Graham wrote in his autobiography, “Just As I Am.”

Graham and Barrows met in 1945 at a Youth for Christ event when Graham’s regular songleader couldn’t make it. Barrows and his wife Billie were a young couple on their honeymoon at the time, but Billy Graham was so impressed after the event that he asked them to accompany him on a six-week tour to England the following fall.

Barrows joined YFC and enjoyed success not only as a singer and gospel trombonist but also as a gifted evangelist. However, realizing Graham’s prodigious gifts in that area, he decided to join his team as a musician and songleader.

It was Cliff Barrows who said, “The Christian faith is a singing faith, and a good way to express it and share it with others is in community singing.”


• • •


cigarette-smoking-is-at-the-lowest-rateHealth experts and officials that the legalization of recreational marijuana in California could have an unintended consequence. They fear that pot smoking just might renormalize cigarette smoking.

From the tobacco industry’s point of view, marijuana could serve as a “smoke inhalation trainer,” and thus become a gateway to tobacco use, says Robert K. Jackler, a professor at the Stanford School of Medicine who researches tobacco advertising. He says tobacco and marijuana are marketed in similar ways — as products to help people relax and ease their stress. “There is tremendous overlap potential,” he says.

Is it possible that marijuana could also become a replacement product for the tobacco industry, helping them become more profitable in the marketplace again?

According to the California Department of Public Health, the state’s adult smoking rate is the second-lowest in the country, at 11.6 percent. The smoking rate dropped by more than 50 percent between 1988 and 2014, cutting health care costs and reducing tobacco-related diseases.

Another ballot initiative passed by voters, however, should help continue to make smoking tobacco less palatable. Proposition 56 will add $2 per pack to the tax on cigarettes and increases taxes on electronic cigarettes that contain nicotine and other tobacco products.


• • •


When a fire suppression system in a general aviation hangar at the Mineta San José International Airport activated and a giant, giggly foam mass flooded a nearby street, Harrington knew just what he had to do.

As residents, television reporters and police watched, he jumped on his bicycle and headed directly into the abyss.

• • •


When a massive sinkhole swallowed a sizeable chunk of a Japanese city’s downtown last week, the mayor vowed to “do our utmost to restore important infrastructure.” He wasn’t kidding. Within a week, the street was better than new.

Road reopened after huge sinkhole in Fukuoka is filled with soil

The sinkhole appeared around 5 am on November 8, creating a hole about half the size of an Olympic swimming pool. By midmorning it had devoured about 8,700 square feet of road, signs and light poles, and was filling with water. The mess knocked out electricity, water and other services to 800 households and caused delays at a train station and the airport.

No one had time for that nonsense. That afternoon, workers were filling the hole just enough to allow crews to repair sewage pipes and buried utility lines. That done, they poured a mixture of soil, water, and cement into the hole—they use more than 7,100 cubic meters of the stuff in all– into the 65-foot-deep hole. Then they set to work repairing street lights, replacing signs, and repainting the street.

Exactly one week later on November 15, it looked like nothing ever happened.

Road reopened after huge sinkhole in Fukuoka is filled with soil

• • •


For a wonderful online exploration of the diverse nature of today’s American Thanksgiving menu, take a look at these photos, videos, and essays at the New York Times.

And may you and yours have a Thanksgiving holiday filled with grace and shalom.


143 thoughts on “Saturday Ramblings: November 19, 2016

  1. I don’t see any irony there at all. Some people like to exhibit. It’s part of the fun. They are NOT posting their real names, their addresses, their social security numbers, their bank routing numbers, etc. They are largely anonymous yet naked, by their choice. That choice would be ripped away from them by anyone who wants to make a buck via a lawsuit or hates them and wants to see them suffer.

    That is evil.


  2. And the biggest number-one fangirl of the War on Drugs I’ve come across was a “Fundy with Rosaries” Catholic.


  3. You DO know that “Reefer Madness” and similar “Important Message” movies of the time were done by Church People with big-$$$$$$$ from the woodpulp industry, don’t you?

    Just like anti-Vape is done by anti-smoking activists with big-$$$$$ from the tobacco industry.


  4. Re: the sidebar story about the “war on Advent”: Advent is fine with me, but there is no war against it occurring. It simply has become irrelevant and nonexistent to many people, in and out of churches. I’m unwilling to sign on for a crusade to regain lost ground, and would be unhappy with any pastor who made her fight to regain Advent into such a war in her congregation.


  5. Robert, seneca has spent years trolling other blogs. He’s been banned from msny. Better to not engage his provocations, imo.


  6. Otoh, one of the best popular albums is Ella Fitzgerald’s “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas.” Highly recommended!


  7. The thing about medical research is that there are so many different hybrid strains out there, it’s not funny. It can allow people to try different varieties and see what works best for them, especially if they’re legally allowed to have a small grow. Otherwise, trying out different strains is punishingly expensive.

    Agreed completely on the total irresponsibility of many of the big growers. They destroy the soil snd so much more. Sickening.


  8. Dana, not really. It’s more that buds were rare on the market. Mostly leaves and stems were sold. Today, bud are sold, and they have the highest concentrations of THC. Leaves, etc. have more CBD and other cannabinoids that offset the effects of THC to a greater or lesser degree. It’s such a chemically complex plant.


  9. Is the Pope Catholic enough? Well, a faction of conservative prelates in the Church are asking Pope Francis that question, and are refusing to accept ambiguous answers. If you don’t think there are powerful fundamentalists in the Catholic Church who want to “make the Church great again”, rethink as this story unfolds over the coming weeks.


  10. “breathy singers”: a cover device to mask a sub-par, weak voice that no one would ever listen to. I’ve heard plenty of that in CCM circles and it does NOT indicate spiritual deepness.

    Outside of Christianese, it indicates an attempt to get Erotic(TM).
    Either that or they think they’re doing a cover of “Santa Baby”.


  11. “Christmas at Ground Zero”…

    I remember a Christian(TM) Station years ago that played that on morning drive time as lead-in to a Scare ‘Em Into the Kingdom sermon by The Inevitable Global Thermonuclear War. (This was during the heyday of Hal Lindsay and Christians For Nuclear War.)


  12. “Santa Baby” has won contests as Worst Xmas Song of All Time.

    And your mention of it has started an earworm.


  13. New Jersey and Virginia will elect governors in 2017, so we’ll see what effect fake news has on those elections. Then again, we might also find out what effect the controversies surrounding their respective outgoing governors, Chris Christie and Terry McAuliffe, will have on the election of their successors.


  14. This website lists lewis’ net worth as $10,002. It’s probably where the number came from. Ballotpedia listed it as $72k for 2012. Their numbers come from data gathered by from publicly available and legally required reporting forms. There were a number of congressional members with negative net worth, some as low as $-12M and both republican and democrat.


  15. I hate “Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey”, and the Beach Boys song that includes the insipid refrain, “Christmas comes this time each year” (no kidding?)….


  16. I repeat my question: Is there a history of evidence, or substantiated allegations, of any illicit goings-on on the part of John Lewis? If not, why are you extracting this factoid from his vitals and reading it in a bad light, without evidence? Give me something else to go; my mind is open. So far all I can guess is that you have a political axe to grind, which is perhaps no more baseless an inference than your own allegations against Lewis.


  17. Actually he’s a congressman required by law to release basic financial information is he not? Other commentors might belief he doesn’t have a pot to piss in but, being Seneca the Cynic, I’m kinda doubting it.


  18. Oh they’d tell us; have a huge fund raiser for John Lewis. If he was basically bankrupt it would be big news.


  19. Worst Christmas Song(s) ever…IMHO…

    Last Christmas by Wham!


    Christmas Shoes by Newsong

    (you knew that last one was coming!)


  20. Testimonials may be adequate for religion (although many on this site seem to have sworn them off); but for medical science, not so much.


  21. senecag, May I ask: Do you have a reason to wrench this factoid from his life, and interpret it as certainly meaning that something illicit is involved? Do you have reason to believe Lewis has done other illicit things in the past? Does he have a track record of shadiness? Or do you just not like his politics?


  22. Like Vladimir Putin’s reputed twelve figure [in rubles] fortune, Rep. Lewis’ net worth is between him, his accountant, the IRS, and God.


  23. Uh, the purpose of tribal epistemology is not to uncover TRVTH, but to mark foreign cells.

    Not everything I say is a direct attack, Robert F

    It may help to think of me as a self-loathing Modern. I know nothing of farming, my last attempt at gardening left me in bed for three days with a bad back. I’m lost in the woods, and I would kill myself through any attempts at culinary mycology.


  24. I agree with every word you wrote there, and will add “Santa Baby” the list of “most hated Christmas songs.


  25. I had the great privilege of playing piano accompaniment for Bill Pearce in a concert at our church a number of years ago. He was an excellent musician and a very kind person. I have watched Cliff
    barrows for years and he impressed me with his ability to work with a massed choir and really have them sound musical. He will be missed.


  26. Like you, I have no idea. Do people never suffer tremendous and expensive losses that result in debts that reduce their net worth, though they have earned much wealth in a lifetime? How would we know such a thing?


  27. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer is on par with I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.

    And with Bob Dylan singing The Little Drummer Boy (Shoot me! Just shoot me now!!!).

    I’m a loyal Dylan fan, but just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done.


  28. Can’t mend a broken heart but can prevent a heart from breaking. Science has given us methods of preventing disease (vaccination, sanitation) and of curing that means many people are living who would have died, leaving behind broken hearted relatives and friends.

    Used well it helps; used wrongly it can kill and hurt in numbers we can’t imagine (though nature can also do that with tsunamis and earthquakes and volcanoes).


  29. –> “I wish someone would show me how to get out from between the dueling expert voices in the public square.”

    Don’t get between them. Or when you find yourself between them just point to the testimonials of those with extreme cancer pain who say that before marijuana use their pain was unbearable, but with it life is somewhat bearable.

    Evidence that demands a verdict: the testimonies of those who’ve lived it.


  30. –> “…we decided to look into and try medical marijuana (my wife is a doctor, and it was also recommended by one of the leading oncologists), and you would not believe its effectiveness. When the doctor came in and asked her how her pain was (after we went through the whole process of applying for it, filling out paperwork, etc. and finally got a hold of some a couple weeks later), she said ‘none.’ Same thing for her nausea.”

    I give more credence to testimonials such as this than to studies that may or may not support its effectiveness, and because I’ve heard many testimonials along these same lines (“without marijuana, my pain was unbearable”) I say, Good enough for me.


  31. Robert, you think John Lewis’ net worth is only $10,000? I’m truly curious what you think about his actual net worth.


  32. Yeah, it seems obvious to me that a. we get morphine and codiene the same place heroin comes from. But opium isn’t as strictly regulated by the federal government: medical research with it is allowed and medical research with marijuana isn’t allowed. silly. But b. marijuana has a lot of effects that are not really medically necessary, so why not do the research, figure out what chemicals in it are helpful for people, and use that to create precise medicine, instead of contributing to the substance abuse issues in our culture?


  33. Don’t know how it is in your neck of the woods, but in mine – prime cannabis growing territory – it is BIG BUSINESS, with the largest players NOT mom and pop growers on the little patch of land around their house, but out-of-country drug cartels that wreak toxic havoc on our public lands – trash, human waste, pesticides, gasoline for generators, dams diverting and blocking stream water affecting not only the vegetation but our entire salmon fisheries. You can’t take a hike in the backcountry without encountering armed guards with mean dogs. Will this change with legalization? Not likely. Prices may dip a little, but there is still a lot of profit to be made, and people wanting to skip paying the taxes.

    I personally don’t care if someone wants to grow a couple of plants for personal use. I think we need to do legitimate research to find correct dosages and best delivery medium for medical patients, because medicinal marijuana does help a lot of people. But the wholesale takeover of public land for gigantic pot grows has to be stopped, and our little rural sheriff’s department simply can’t keep up. It’s very depressing to be living in this otherwise spectacularly beautiful part of the country.



  34. Stuart I don’t disagree with your ultimate point – just noting the irony of posting a porno of yourself online and then being concerned about privacy.


  35. To do so, wouldn’t you have to hold a position outside tribal identity and belonging yourself? Otherwise, your findings would be the result of influence exerted on you by your own tribe, since you wouldn’t have any epistemological advantage over those you assess. Then it would just be a power game, a la Nietzsche.

    Do you occupy such an outside position, Mule? If not, your judgments are as tribally tainted as those you analyze; if you do, then you can only do so from the epistemological vantage point staked out by modernism, and there are others claiming to occupy the same ground making very different observations than yours.


  36. True story: most drug tests are incredibly poor. The equivalent of “in the last 30 days, you have consumed this”. Whereas a breathalyzer checks you in the moment.

    Imagine if you took a breathalyzer and it said you had consumed alcohol or been drunk at any point in the last 30 days?


  37. I wish someone would show me how to get out from between the dueling expert voices in the public square. After all, how am I, a non-expert, supposed to know which experts are wrong, and which right?


  38. Mule, my tolerance tank is running on fumes this morning so I did not do more than skim either Path Rather Than Box or the one on Prophecy 2016, but the latter contains ” . . . this next great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is going to be so outside the box of what we think, even as spiritual Christians, that we have to get outside our religious mindsets.” I concur and suspect the result will be way outside the outside of the author’s box. Buckle up!


  39. I voted for recreational pot legalization here in California, mainly because I find it profoundly unwise, costly and needlessly punitive to continue the failed drug wars against it and the high social cost of incarceration that come from criminalizing its use and possession. You won’t be able to buy pot for recreational use until sometime next year when retailers are licensed and such. And there are certain restrictions on use. There will probably be some bumps along the way as things are worked out, but I doubt they’ll be serious or cause large scale social harm. Colorado and Washington have already done this. I have family in both those states, and the sky hasn’t fallen there yet.

    The reality of any society is that it chooses which drugs to legalize. Alcohol is the main one in our society, and I doubt pot will match its social costs any time soon, probably never.


  40. Ok, since I have friends in both the cannabis industry as well as the adult entertainment industry, I need to speak up. Let’s talk about Prop 60 first. Let me give you a real life example that you can google if you aren’t triggered by porn. A husband and wife decide to shoot a video together in their bedroom and post it online for profit or just for fun. By the rules of Prop 60, ANYONE could then sue that couple, and by law be awarded their PERSONAL address, names, private information, everything. So now not only have you just told a married couple they are required by law to wear a condom in the privacy of their own home, but they are not entitled to any privacy at all.

    I take huge offense to this. People have a right to privacy. I have had friends who’ve had their personal identity, address, even billing information posted publicly because some lonely idiot behind a computer wants to play games and hate them. It’s called doxxing, I even wrote an article in a law enforcement magazine about it.

    Prop 60 was an evil, evil law that deserved to get struck down, and would only have benefited a select few anyways. It sounds good on paper but has so many loopholes that only evil would come from it.

    Read more, or just keep believing what you want because “porn is evil” or whatever…


  41. I just finished reading Sinclair Lewis’s “Elmer Gantry.” I recommend it highly. It is clear from those parts where Gantry is working the revival circuit that the musical portions were very different from modern “Christian music,” and more instrumentally varied. Modern Evangelical Protestant music derives its esthetic from 1960s and ’70s rock. This obviously has not always been the case.


  42. The obvious way to have a small net worth is to have debts. I own my house. I bought it about nine years ago. Want to discuss how this affects my net worth?


  43. BS. The medical case use is incredibly strong and growing stronger. And the lies about CBD are being challenged again and again.


  44. “His net worth , just as Al Sharpton’s, is masked and hidden.”

    And you know this how?

    “After 30 years in congress there is NO WAY that he is worth less than me after 40 years on the job!”

    Ah, yes: guilt by association.

    I have no insight into John Lewis’s finances. Welcome to the club.


  45. When one considers that recordings of, for example, Bach’s Magnificat or Handel’s Messiah do not qualify as “Christian music” it becomes immediately obvious that “Christian music” is a marketing category, at most loosely connected with Christianity. So when I read about stuff like whether Amy Grant’s latest counts as “Christian music” I regard this like any other genre boundary discussion. All genres have these discussions. Back in the day, they ere relevant because they told you were in the record store to look. They still are relevant because radio stations are organized around genre. But they aren’t important beyond that. If the “Christian music” declare Amy Grant’s new album to be outside the genre, that just means you buy it on Amazon rather than your local Christian tchotchke store.


  46. ““Christian” music? Does such a thing even exist?”

    the stuff on the ‘stages’ that some modern western churches have in the place of altars is more ‘entertainment’ to excite young people, but it is so lame and all in the end sounds the same ….. the old people want their hymns back

    but there was a time when the Church worshiped God with song ……. the earliest extant hymn not in sacred Scripture is the Phos Hilaron (the Gentle Light) ….. it is still prayed and sung in the Churches of Eastern Christianity:

    “O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory
    of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ!
    Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening,
    we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
    For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise.
    O Son of God and Giver of Life,
    therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.”

    This ancient hymn used to be sung at sunset and a candle was lit inside of the place where it was believed that Our Lord arose from the dead; then the candle was carried out and used to light other candles which were carried throughout the city to light the evening lamps of the faithful


  47. This! I refer to them as “coffee house”. Those who believe they can sing but can only get free gigs at coffee shops; or transit stops during the holidays.


  48. +1. This is so true. Even men are doing it now. And this vocal ‘device’ where the singer ‘bites’ off the ends of the words? Not sure of the name of the method, but so many female vocalists are doing it now. It’s annoying. Give me some full throated Miranda lambert singing! That’s a voice. Adele? Meh. Beautiful pipes. Sucky, depressing lyrics with plodding tempos.


  49. Damaris, I remember well, in my early adult years, when “gospel trombonist” was a real thing. Bill Pearce, whom I’ve mentioned on this site before, was the gospel trombonist par excellence, and his late night program on Moody Radio, Nightsounds, was truly a gem.

    In the singing group Gail and I traveled in during college, one of our friends played the trombone and always had at least one prominent solo during our concerts. The church audiences loved it.


  50. On the other hand, the medical use evidence is week because we have spent the past half century putting up obstacles to researching the topic.

    In any case, the medical benefits aren’t the real issue. They are largely a smoke screen (as it were). The real issue is prohibition, and the harm to society thereof.


  51. I am grateful for this group also. We are a diverse group and we are here and Michael Spencer started all that possibility and Chaplain MIKE continues making this possible. I am thankful for this blog, yes. Happy holiday to all who sojourn here.


  52. His net worth , just as Al Sharpton’s, is masked and hidden. After 30 years in congress there is NO WAY that he is worth less than me after 40 years on the job!


  53. “breathy singers”: a cover device to mask a sub-par, weak voice that no one would ever listen to. I’ve heard plenty of that in CCM circles and it does NOT indicate spiritual deepness.


  54. Click to access Legal_Pot_Leaves_Product_Liability_Attys_Dazed_Confused.pdf

    Hopefully you can access the link. Most likely the chief restraint on marijuana sales would be the possibility of class action lawsuits for health issues. This is not the first story I read on the issue, nor the best, but it is the one I could find on short notice. Tort attorneys have already taken notice and have already begun to collect evidence that would demonstrate that growers and dispensaries were aware of probable health risks. All that remains is the emergence of a viable target that can pay, pay, pay.


  55. RE; Congressman John Lewis

    He’s been in Congress 30 years. If you google his net worth, latest info from 2014 – net worth $10,000?
    There’s something screwy about this. I have a 4 year old SCION that’s probably worth $10,000.

    Does he not have a home? Does he not have any savings? I think, nowadays, the average worth of a congress critter is one million dollars.

    John Lewis after 30 years is worth less than $10,000?

    Any Georgians out there in I-monk land that can shed any light?


  56. Don’t have time to read all this this AM. But want to say 2 things:

    First, our daughter is a store manager for JCrew, and they NEVER are open on thanksgiving (or any holiday), and willingly pay the malls’ fines to not open up at midnight. They strongly believe in family time.

    Second, I live in Cali…the crazy state. Crazy laws, crazy drivers, crazy taxes, crazy people…ok,ok, I guess that makes me crazy, too, eh?! My point is, I don’t, and never have cared if people choose to smoke. Now, it’s mj…and that’s ok?! Seriously? As pointed out above..there’s no standards…how do they regulate DUI, etc.? We have to drive on the streets with all this craziness already.!

    Again, smoke it if you want, just don’t drive, roc…like when I drink..I don’t drive. My 2 kids, and son in law smoke pipes…I love the smell of it, esp when outside on the beach. It’s not an addiction, it’s a way of relaxation.

    Thanks for song commendations…will check those out later.


  57. The THC component of marijuana is what gives you the high, but the CBD part doesn’t, and is why it’s largely coveted for application in a medical context. The distributors can modify the makeup of the dosage (how much CBD vs THC) to fit the specific needs of the patient. Anyways, I don’t know about all the research, but my mother in law had metastatic breast cancer and was hospitalized for the better portion of a year. For many months she was on all sorts of conventional pain as well as nausea medication, but she was still constantly miserable (pain/nausea between 7/8 on the scale nearly all the time). However, we decided to look into and try medical marijuana (my wife is a doctor, and it was also recommended by one of the leading oncologists), and you would not believe its effectiveness. When the doctor came in and asked her how her pain was (after we went through the whole process of applying for it, filling out paperwork, etc. and finally got a hold of some a couple weeks later), she said “none.” Same thing for her nausea. We hadn’t heard her feel that way for months. She said she felt a little weird the first time she tried it, but her overall comfort level was night and day different with what it was before. And just as important, it didn’t have many of the unpleasant side effects that the other traditional drugs tended to have. And since her condition was incurable, we’d rather her be a little out of it anyways if it made her comfortable vs. being fully with it mentally but beyond miserable.


  58. I agree! Thankful for this group & the things I’ve learned here. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Eat the pie. Always eat the pie.


  59. Some of the comments on the Amy Grant article are really nasty.

    I’ve never been a big Amy Grant fan but mostly just because I don’t listen to much pop music and I don’t think she’s that great of a singer (Adele? Now there is a voice!) But this article points to one of the reasons I don’t listen to CCM. It’s 95% marketing and branding with a good song thrown in on occasion. Listening to the right music and reading the right books has become the mark of being a true Christian. I get “the look” at church gatherings when I don’t know the latest Chris Tomlin song or don’t want to spend my hard earned cash to go to a Hillsong concert. I feel like an outsider in my own church when we practice a new choir piece and amid discussions about how the choral piece differs from the song on the radio, my small voice says that I’ve never heard the song before. I don’t want to exercise while some tinny tenor is crooning about his love for Jesus or have my teeth cleaned while a breathy singer declares her desire to spend the night with God. But as a card carrying Christian, I am supposed to want to envelop myself with Christian(TM) music, movies, and books.

    So to Amy Grant, I say, “You go girl! Keep doing what you’re doing and go your own path.”


  60. Science is a human project and endeavor. As such, we may use it to help ourselves, or to hurt. Can our use of it “save the world”? I guess it depends on what your definition of the world save is, but I’m inclined to say it can’t and won’t. Even if we use it with the best intentions and for the best purposes, and eliminate negative unintended consequences, it can’t mend one broken heart, or reconcile bitter enemies, or give us a reason to endure when things start going bad, or help us to love when love becomes painful and difficult. To ask if science can “save the world” is to ask if humanity can save itself; I continue to believe that it can’t.


  61. I worked with a woman years ago who wouldn’t touch a cigarette with a ten foot pole but she and her boyfriend would smoke pot frequently. This was back in the mid 70s when smoking was everywhere and you could buy cigarettes out of vending machines at restaurants. It was a different world back then.


  62. Is there a device similar to a breathalyzer that police can use to measure marijuana intoxication of drivers they pull over? If not, I expect that getting the goods on pot-intoxicated drivers is going to be much harder than for drunken drivers. Both legal, but one much harder for police to detect in the bloodstream than the other. I’d expect that pot-intoxicated driving will increase.


  63. And yet . . .and yet, Adam, there was this delightful phrase: “gospel trombonist.”

    Life trumps theater of the absurd every time.


  64. +1 The medical use argument is week, and the risks – which have been documented – are consistently brushed aside. When one tries to refer to Department of Health reservation about weeds linkage to cognitive decline and anxiety you get a vanilla those-documents-are-written-by-the-man dismissals. Shortly one realizes this is not a substantive debate.


  65. The difference is that the tribal instinct toward shared artificial reality empowered more distributed human population groups to thrive. Today, we have a higher population density and legal constructs that affect millions, rather than a single tribe. Given this evolution, it is most certainly a bug, not a feature.


  66. From what I understand, claims of the effectiveness of marijuana for medical use haven’t received much research. As a result, legalization for medical use is based on a paucity of information that wouldn’t pass scientific muster for the authorization of any other proposed drug.


  67. One of the worst things about anything is the way its proponents ignore the facts in favor of dogma.

    Welcome to life among the humans. Feature, not bug, and it cuts both ways.


  68. The link posted about Christianity as a Path rather than a Box may be the single most helpful piece of information I have seen on this board since Michael passed.

    No disrespect intended to any of Michael’s successors, but Mr. Ongley really seems to get it, like Michael did. I get the feeling he’d know what to do with an unapologetic fascist-by-temperament that wouldn’t include condemnation and re-education.


  69. A few years ago the progressive, advocate for legalization, Arianna Huffington expressed this concern: “So let us not make the mistake — the same one that climate-change denialists have been making — of ignoring the science that we are afraid will weaken our position. Indeed, as we move toward legalization, let’s put the science front and center. One of the worst things about the drug war is the way its proponents ignore the facts in favor of dogma. Let’s not make the same mistake as we move toward legalization… the public’s understandable eagerness to end the drug war has outpaced awareness of potential problems to come.”


  70. “””Art, real art, is a question not an answer.”””

    I am far more cynical.

    – Art: a construct in a medium that conveys a message which one finds compelling.
    – Propaganda: a construct in a medium that conveys a message to which one is hostile.
    – Ornament: a construct in a medium that conveys either no discernible message or a message so pedestrian it solicits only indifference.

    I see a title like “Tennessee Christmas” and immediately think “ornament”. Like a painting of a basket of fruit hanging in a motel room – it is better than an empty wall – you aren’t going to think about it.


  71. “””Christmas at Ground Zero – Weird Al Yankovic”””

    Love it!

    “””Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer – Elmo & Patsy”””

    No, please no. Back when I lived in the sticks that song seemed to play on loop on every singe radio station [remember radio stations! :)] from Thanksgiving to Christmas. It may be amusing once; after a couple of hundred times its inanity grinds against the mind.


  72. “””at a Youth for Christ event … Barrows and his wife Billie were a young couple on their honeymoon”””

    Did anyone else read that and immediately know they would not have wanted to hang out with Mr. Barrows?


  73. Darn it Oscar – we agree – AGAIN! 🙂

    On the other hand I finally come down on the side of “Ok, just make it legal already” as I am so tired of hearing about it, and having to endure unfounded/unsupported “scientific” statements. The pro-pot people are relentless. Once it is legal maybe we will have cleared the issue off the table and, maybe, perhaps, we can talk about health care costs, education reform, infrastructure, mobility, housing… pick a **real** issue. That is what is most maddening – – – if SMOKING POT is someone’s hot button political issue – – – I am sorry, but that is stupid and hopelessly self-involved; they need to take a break from the weed and read a book or two.


  74. …an agent for diminished mental processes

    There are times that sounds less like a description and more like an advertisement.


  75. Which is why pipes and cigars are the civilized way to partake of the halfling’s leaf – the nicotine dosage is much reduced if you don’t inhale it.

    I’ve heard it said that a regular-sized cigar or a bowl of pipe tobacco is the equivalent of a generous glass of wine or a shot of whiskey, while a cigarette is like chugging half a flask of MD20/20.


  76. Some favorite Christmas songs from artists outside the CCM bubble

    Morning Christmas – The Beach Boys [Dennis Wilson]
    Sister Winter – Sufjan Stevens
    First Snow in Brooklyn – Jethro Tull
    O, Holy Night – Jon Anderson
    Zion’s Daughter – Boney M
    Dunning & Johnson – A Raven In The Snow
    We Bring You Joy – Luke Campbell and H-Town
    Frankenstein vs Santa – Neal Morse and the Prog World Orchestra
    Wassail – Big Big Train
    Hard Candy Christmas – Dolly Parton
    Christmas Lights – Coldplay
    Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) – Death Cab For Cutie
    Fairytale of New York – The Pogues


  77. While I was in grad school in CA, somebody shot at me with a pellet gun once; I sincerely believe it was because I was sitting out in my carport, smoking a (tobacco) pipe.


  78. Smoking is a dumb way to ingest mj. Vaping is likely safer, but tinctures and edibles (be carefil eith the latter) can be both better for pain relief and easier on the system, overall.

    I don’t think inhaling smoke is a good thing.


  79. On California voting for recreational pot use: There are more restrictions on tobacco and more longitudinal studies on the effects of tobacco smoke than there are on long term pot smoking. Yet Californians have put MORE restrictions on tobacco and approved pot smoke DESPITE the lack of studies on its effect on health. Pretty short sighted, if you ask me.

    It stands to reason that if tobacco smoke causes cancer, heart disease and emphysema then pot smoke may be just as destructive as well as an agent for diminished mental processes.

    But, hey, this is California where now you can legally smoke your pot and watch condom-less porn actors perform(Proposition 60) all at the same time! Ain’t democracy grand?



    The 2017 wall calendar published by St Tikhon’s Seminary Press is available now. Each month has a photo of one of the icons from St Catherine’s monastery. Thought you might be interested – $5.99 plus shipping (shouldn’t be much to you in the same state, I believe) from stspress dot com.



  81. Here in CA, militant anti-smoking became a Fundamentalist Religion long ago. Two of the highlights I’ve experienced were:

    A sexual predator copping a Moral Superiority attitude because he was anti-smoking.

    Anti-smoking activists teaming up with big Tobacco companies to shut down vape shops.


  82. Did you check the comment thread down that link?

    I have never heard such thick Christianese than in some of those comments. Especially in the ones THAT WERE ALL CAPS.


  83. RE: marijuana… I have probably ranted about this before, but I’m astounded at the hostility toward tobacco smoking while marijuana is now getting more and more of a legal free pass. I am totally unconvinced marijuana is less dangerous than tobacco, and why do we need yet another legal intoxicant anyways?

    But mostly, I’m pissed because there are fewer and fewer places where I can enjoy my fine cigars. :-/


  84. “Christian” music? Does such a thing even exist? Art, real art, is a question not an answer. If you start out thinking you have all the answers then all you are capable of producing is propaganda. Why are we so terrified of admitting we don’t have all the answers? Because we don’t you know.


  85. Okay, I will take a question of the week.

    Can Science Save the World?

    In a way, it can. But you have to look at it this way. The world is broken, fallen . . . not normal and healthy. I believe that God commissioned humans to be the gardeners and redeemers of this broken world. The full Gospel is to bring redemption to individuals, families, communities, nations, humanity, the planet,and the universe.

    Science is not a satanic illusion to pull us away from God. True science is the act of humans looking at reality, learning from that reality, seeing the problems of that reality and using the minds that God has given us to figure out solutions to those problems. It is our mission, with God’s help to bring this redemption through our efforts (science) and our prayers. In the end, God will restore this world to its intended state.

    Science and reason are not faith’s nemesis but its comrade. However, reason is not an infallible Aristotlean reason, but Biblical, good but broken reason.


  86. Last Thanksgiving I worked from midnight to noon at a retail store. Not something I want to do again, really.

    Thank you, Chaplain Mike, for your work here, for the sanity and sense in your postings, and for getting me re-interested in baseball after a lapse of about 50 years. (In 1960, I was a freshman in a dorm in Pittsburgh, a block away from the stadium where Bill Mazeroski hit one over the fence in the top of the ninth to win the World Series for Pittsburgh, 10-9 against the Yankees. The shout that went up rocked our dorm building.)

    Happy Thanksgiving to all you Imonkers. Just a few more years of discussions and we’ll have this “mystery of the universe” thing figured out.


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