THE INTERNET MONK SATURDAY BRUNCH
”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”
It’s March. It’s Lent. Some of you, the observant among us, are hungry. Come on, sneak in and have a little brunch today!
Of course, during Lent we could move the Brunch to Sundays, because even in this penitential season, Sundays are days of feasting and celebrating the resurrection. But that would mess up the whole IM schedule, so we’ll just have to remember our freedom in Christ as we chow down on some of the entrees on the table today.
Of course, if you order it here, this guy may have something to say about that…
LENTEN QUOTE OF THE WEEK…
For I believe the crisis in the U.S. church has almost nothing to do with being liberal or conservative; it has everything to do with giving up on the faith and discipline of our Christian baptism and settling for a common, generic U.S. identity that is part patriotism, part consumerism, part violence, and part affluence.
Here are some articles and resources regarding Lenten observances:
- Lent around the world
- More Lent around the world
- Lenten food traditions around the world
- Mark Roberts on how Lent can make a difference in your relationship with God (free download)
- Plough magazine’s book of Lenten readings (purchase or download free)
- 40 simple Lenten activities to do with kids
- Online tools to help you observe Lent
- A social media Lent observance to which you can contribute
LENT-STYLE PERFORMANCE ART?
Abraham Poincheval is a performance artist whose work is a bit reminiscent of the Desert Fathers and other practitioners of ascetic exercises.
A photo essay at NPR shows and tells about Poincheval:
- Living inside a rock (his most recent exhibit)
- Living inside a bear carcass
- Living in the ground beneath a rock
- Emulating St. Simeon the Stylite by sitting alone for days atop a platform 60 feet above ground
The story also reports on his next unusual exercise:
For his next project, Poincheval will be returning later this month to the Palais de Tokyo, where he will begin a work he simply calls Oeuf (or Egg, in English). Beginning March 29, he will be sitting atop a dozen hen’s eggs for approximately three to four weeks until they (hopefully) hatch, only taking one half-hour break each day.
Reportedly, his ultimate dream is to take to the skies. Poincheval has said that he wants to “walk on the clouds.” He has been working on it for five years, but according to the artist, “it is not quite there yet.”
Later this year, Redeemer Presbyterian will no longer be a multisite megachurch in Manhattan, and Tim Keller will no longer be its senior pastor.
Keller, 66, announced at all eight Sunday services today that he will be stepping down from the pulpit. The move corresponds with a decades-long plan to transition the single Presbyterian Church in America congregation—which has grown to 5,000 members since it began 28 years ago—into three particular churches.
His last day as senior pastor will be July 1.
This move does not mean retirement for Manhattan’s most popular evangelical pastor and apologist; instead, Keller will work full-time teaching in a partner program with Reformed Theological Seminary and working with Redeemer’s City to City church planting network.
“Kathy and I are not going anywhere. New York is our home, and you are our people. We’re not leaving New York or the fellowship of Redeemer,” he assured the church Sunday. “I’m becoming a teacher-trainer …. There’s going to have to be a dramatic increase in church leaders in this city if we’re going to start all these churches.”
Redeemer posted a transcript and video of the announcement on its site on Monday.
IT’S NOT JUST THE “LIBERAL” CHURCHES…
From the LCMS News & Information page: “In 1971, the LCMS [Lutheran Church Missouri Synod] had a membership of 2,772,648. By 2010, that number was about 2,270,921, a drop of about 500,000 people. Since their peak in the late 1950s, child baptisms are down 70 percent and adult converts are down 47 percent.”
The December issue of the Journal of Lutheran Mission featured two independent studies about the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the demographics behind its declining membership. In same issue, President Matthew Harrison responded with six points concerning those reports:
- This demographic decline is not only an LCMS problem.
- The retention of baptized and confirmed youth is a key area on which to focus.
- The [Synod’s] persistent, long-term decline manifests itself both in a massive decrease in child baptisms … and a smaller but still significant decrease in adult converts.
- The number of child baptisms and adult converts have decreased together in a remarkably similar pattern.
- Thus, there is no wedge that can be driven between openness to life (family size) and sharing life (evangelism).
- These reports don’t only share difficult data; they also point out what the Synod does well and what strengths we can build on. … The key here is to build a strong Lutheran self-identity among the membership.
One thing Harrison was reacting to is the suggestion by some that the primary answer to reverse the denomination’s decline is for LCMS Lutherans to have more babies. Instead, he is setting forth six ““important foci that must be taken seriously and acted upon by our pastors, laity, congregations, districts and the Synod.” They are:
- Evangelism and outreach
- Re-invigorating congregations
- Healthy workers
- Intentional outreach to immigrant populations
- Church planting
- Resolution of internal issues that cause conflict
I’m just not sure. Perhaps, for both “liberals” and “conservatives,” the denominational ship has sailed. Especially for denominations that for generations, even centuries, depended upon (1) children growing up in the church and then remaining in the community to serve the next generation of the church, (2) transfer growth from others in the denomination who moved into the community. I think it likely that, for the foreseeable future, these kinds of denominational church will keep limping along, leaking members, losing aspects of their identities. The world has changed.
What think you?
Maybe the answer is for churches to get a little tougher. When the Church Lady isn’t enough, perhaps you need to call someone with a badge.
Down in Birmingham, Alabama, Briarwood Presbyterian Church has proposed a law allowing it to have its own police department.
Now, to be fair, they may need one. According to attorney Eric Johnston, who drafted the bill for the Alabama House Public Safety Committee, “We’ve got over 30,000 events a year that take place at Briarwood — going on all day, all night, at the school, at the church, at the seminary,” Johnston said. “We have to hire policemen all the time. It would be so much easier to have someone on staff.”
Briarwood Presbyterian Church Administrator Matt Moore released a statement on behalf of the church saying that Code 16-22-1 of Alabama law provides for the employment of one or more persons to act as police officers at colleges and other private educational institutions. “The church seeks to mirror that provision,” it says.
After obtaining legislative permission, the personnel employed by the church will meet all requirements and be certified by the Alabama Peace Officer Training Commission, the statement said.
“The sole purpose of this proposed legislation is to provide a safe environment for the church, its members, students and guests.”
According to this fascinating story at Yahoo Sports, the story of the RV Bandit is “a tale that spans decades, involving dozens of crime scenes at countless racetracks, hundreds of victims, one Hollywood star and one thorough ass-kicking. It’s a tale of a million-dollar heist, one wallet at a time.”
Sometime in the late 1980s, a traveling salesman by the name of Steven Garry Sanders began going to different racetracks each month and stealing wallets out of RVs. The piece explains how he did it.
Sanders’ routine was brilliant in its simplicity: First, visit a track during preliminaries or lower-level events, where security was lighter. Second, act like you belong; act like anywhere you are, that’s where you ought to be. Third, watch the crowd, and when race teams start moving toward the starting line for the beginning of the race, swoop in behind them and sneak into their RVs. Fourth, take advantage of systemic weaknesses for maximum profit.
RVs “are always unlocked, because you’ve got 25 or 30 guys going in and out all the time,” said Det. Scott Frantz of the Daytona Beach Police Department. “Firesuits don’t have pockets, so guys would leave their wallets, their Rolexes right there in the motorhome. [Sanders] would never grab anything like a laptop, nothing that he couldn’t fit into his pocket.”
Go to Yahoo Sports and read the remarkable account about how the authorities eventually caught the RV bandit and found the meticulous journal he kept, which enabled them to determine he had stolen over a million dollars, a little at a time.
VOTE FOR 2016’s BEST NAT GEO PHOTOS…
Now through March, you can vote for the Reader’s Choice winner of the 14th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest. Categories include: The American Experience, Natural World, Travel, Sustainable Travel, People, Altered Images, and Mobile.
Here are a few of the finalists. These are just a sampling of a truly amazing gallery of shots from the past year. Go and vote today!
- Do pets distract the Christian life? (Seriously? Who thinks like this?)
HEADLINE OF THE WEEK…
Neil Young can rock hard. There were signs of this when most of us knew him as a folksy singer-songwriter. After all, “Cinnamon Girl” was pretty heavy, and even on “After the Gold Rush” he screamed out about the “Southern Man.” 1975’s “Zuma” had more examples of the eruption to come, but it wasn’t until the end of the 1970s that Neil Young unleashed the full force of his rock-n-roll fury on the music world.
1979’s album Rust Never Sleeps is perhaps the best representation of the two major aspects of Neil Young’s musical personality.
Side one is acoustic folkie Neil, strumming out Americana melodies and themes with passionate intimacy. It ends with “Sail Away,” one of Young’s most romantic and exquisite tunes, graced with the harmonies of Nicolette Larson.
Side two is pure hard rock, as well as an homage to punk, an ear-splitting onslaught, a wall of amplified guitar frenzy mixed with Young’s characteristic melodic sensibilities. Side one opens with a stripped down “My, My, Hey, Hey (Out of the Blue)” and side two ends with the same song cranked out with earth-quaking drums and apocalyptic rage.
This is the Neil Young who would return at the end of the next decade with similar ferocity as the “Godfather of Grunge,” lighting the way for bands like Pearl Jam in the 1990’s. This is the Neil Young who offered what may be the greatest musical performance in Saturday Night Live history with his no holds barred, manic rendition of “Keep On Rockin’ in the Free World.”
So, if the Neil Young you know is the gentle songwriter who sang “Heart of Gold,” and “Old Man,” produced albums like “After the Gold Rush” and “Harvest,” and performed on stage in his jeans and flannel shirt with his acoustic guitar, harmonica, and piano, then you don’t know Neil Young. The cat can thrash, and some of his best work is heard with the volume spiked on speakers the size of your garage door.
My favorite song from Rust Never Sleeps is “Powderfinger,” the first-person account of a young man who is out of his depth trying to defend the family homestead from river raiders. Like many pioneer stories, it speaks to something deep in the American spirit: the spirit of rugged individualism, the hopefulness of youth, and the threat of violence (gun violence in particular) in which we have always lived and died.
Look out, Mama, there’s a white boat comin’ up the river
With a big red beacon and a flag and a man on the rail
I think you’d better call John,
‘Cause it don’t look like they’re here to deliver the mail
And it’s less than a mile away
I hope they didn’t come to stay
It’s got numbers on the side and a gun and it’s makin’ big waves.
Daddy’s gone, my brother’s out hunting in the mountains
Big John’s been drinking since the river took Emmy-Lou
So the powers that be left me here to do the thinkin’
And I just turned twenty-two
I was wonderin’ what to do
And the closer they got, the more those feelings grew.
Daddy’s rifle in my hand felt reassurin’
He told me, Red means run, son, numbers add up to nothin’
But when the first shot hit the docks I saw it comin’
Raised my rifle to my eye,
Never stopped to wonder why.
Then I saw black, and my face splashed in the sky.
Shelter me from the powder and the finger
Cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger
Think of me as one you’d never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love, I know I’ll miss her.