The Internet Monk Saturday Brunch: 3/25/17


”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.”

Welcome to our Saturday brunch. We’re in Lent, so each week we’re highlighting some of the foods people partake of during these days. Creativity with regards to food and food preparation is, of course, traditional during this season because Lent is known as a time of fasting, and over the centuries folks have developed ingenious ways to enjoy less, or different kinds of food in Lent.

A great example is the Lenten emphasis on FISH.

Here’s a good article that gives some background: Lust, Lies, and Empire: The Fishy Tale Behind Eating Fish on Friday.

It sounds like the plot of a Dan Brown thriller: A powerful medieval pope makes a secret pact to prop up the fishing industry that ultimately alters global economics. The result: Millions of Catholics around the world end up eating fish on Fridays as part of a religious observance.

This “realpolitik” explanation of why Catholics eat fish on Friday has circulated for so long, many people grew up believing it as fact. Some, myself included, even learned it in Catholic school. It’s a humdinger of a tale — the kind conspiracy theorists can really sink their teeth into. But is it true?

“Many people have searched the Vatican archives on this, but they have found nothing,” says Brian Fagan, a professor emeritus of archaeology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, whose book, Fish On Friday, explores the impact of this practice on Western culture.

The real economic story behind fish on Fridays turns out to be much better.

Let’s start with a quick lesson in theology: According to Christian teaching, Jesus died on a Friday, and his death redeemed a sinful world. People have written of fasting on Friday to commemorate this sacrifice as early as the first century.

Technically, it’s the flesh of warmblooded animals that’s off limits — an animal “that, in a sense, sacrificed its life for us, if you will,” explains Michael Foley, an associate professor at Baylor University and author of Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday?

Fish are coldblooded, so they’re considered fair game. “If you were inclined to eat a reptile on Friday,” Foley tells The Salt, “you could do that, too.”

Alas, Christendom never really developed a hankering for snake. But fish — well, they’d been associated with sacred holidays even in pre-Christian times. And as the number of meatless days piled up on the medieval Christian calendar — not just Fridays but Wednesdays and Saturdays, Advent and Lent, and other holy days — the hunger for fish grew. Indeed, fish fasting days became central to the growth of the global fishing industry. But not because of a pope and his secret pact.

Oh, there’s a lot more too. Go to the article and find out about herring and cod, and Henry VIII and fish as “popish flesh,” as well as Vatican II and MacDonald’s Filet-O-Fish.

A Few Lenten Fish Recipes:


The World Happiness Report was recently released, measuring the “subjective well being” of the people in a given country. Here is a chart with a few of the happiest and least happiest places on earth:

According to the BBC, the report…

…mainly relies on asking a simple, subjective question of more than 1,000 people every year in more than 150 countries.

“Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top,” the question asks.

“The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”

But the report also tries to understand why some countries might be happier than others, looking at statistics in such factors as economic strength, social support, life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity, and perceived corruption.

The United States came in 14th place. Happiness levels in the U.S. have been falling, and an entire chapter of the report is devoted to asking why. In the end, they conclude, “America’s crisis is, in short, a social crisis, not an economic crisis.” They cite such factors as “rising inequality, corruption, isolation, and distrust.”

I said several times during the election that if Donald Trump were elected president, I would move to Norway. Well, I didn’t do it, but maybe there’s still time.


RNS has been reporting on the kerfuffle at Princeton University with regard to Tim Keller.

First, David Gibson reported:

Keller will receive the 2017 Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness at the venerable mainline Protestant seminary in New Jersey on April 6 and will also deliver a lecture on evangelization and “church planting.”

As the seminary said in announcing the award, Keller “is widely known as an innovative theologian and church leader, well-published author, and catalyst for urban mission in major cities around the world.”

But Keller is also a leader in the Presbyterian Church in America, or PCA, which is the more conservative wing of U.S. Presbyterianism and does not permit the ordination of women or LGBTQ people.

That has prompted criticism from those who believe that a seminary such as Princeton, and one associated with the more liberal Presbyterian Church (USA), or PCUSA, should not be honoring Keller at all.

Maybe this is one of the reasons the U.S. is not a very happy place these days.

Can we please find it possible to honor someone for actual achievements and learn to respect and appreciate the good in his/her life and work without expecting that person to line up perfectly with all our cultural and political standards, even our “biblical” standards?

Can’t we listen to a reasonable argument anymore, like that offered by seminary president Craig Barnes? He weighed in “that ‘censorship’ was antithetical to the seminary’s mission and identity;” it is, Barnes wrote, “a core conviction of our seminary to be a serious academic institution that will sometimes bring controversial speakers to campus because we refuse to exclude voices within the church. Diversity of theological thought and practice has long been a hallmark of our school,” he wrote, noting that speakers from other wings of Protestantism as well as from the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches have spoken there.


In a follow-up article, Gibson wrote, “Faced with mounting criticism for its decision to give a major award to the Rev. Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and one of the country’s best-known conservative Christian thinkers, Princeton Theological Seminary has reversed course and said Keller will not receive the honor.” And President Barnes, who had so eloquently defended the choice earlier, slunk away from his commitment, saying the school did not want to give the impression of “endorsing” Keller’s views. Ridiculous.

As Jonathan Merritt, a progressive himself, opined in a piece directed toward his peers, “If Christians like Tim Keller are unworthy of honor and deserve to be marginalized, American Christianity is in serious trouble.”

Let me say it without reservation: American Christianity is in serious trouble. On all sides.


Several alert readers notified me of this article in Salon about “The rise of ‘network’ Christianity,” which, apparently, is a new name for a movement that has been variously described over the years as Christian nationalist, reconstructionist, dominionist, theocratic, part of the New Apostolic Reformation, and advocating the “Seven Mountains” approach to gaining power and control over American culture.

Brad Christensen and Richard Flory have written a book about what they now call the “Independent Network Charismatic” movement, or INC. They write:

INC Christianity is the fastest-growing Christian group in America and possibly around the world. Over the 40 years from 1970 to 2010, the number of regular attenders of Protestant churches as a whole shrunk by an average of .05 percent per year, while independent neo-charismatic congregations (a category in which INC groups reside) grew by an average of 3.24 percent per year.

Its impact, however, is much greater than can be measured in church attendance. This is because INC Christianity is not centrally concerned with building congregations, but spreading beliefs and practices.

The influence of INC Christianity can be seen in the millions of hits on many of their web-based media sites, large turnouts at stadium rallies and conferences, and millions of dollars in media sales. In our interviews with leaders, we found that Bethel, an INC ministry based in Redding, California, for example, in 2013 had an income of US$8.4 million in media sales (music, books, DVDs, web-based content) and $7 million in tuition to their Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.

According to the director of media services at the Kansas City-based International House of Prayer (IHOP), their website receives over 25 million hits every year from all over the world…

The authors note that “[m]ost INC Christian groups we studied seek to bring heaven or God’s intended perfect society to Earth by placing “kingdom-minded people” in powerful positions at the top of all sectors of society,” following the “seven mountains” approach.

One sympathetic website writes breathlessly about how the election of President Trump is the breakthrough to revival and reformation of the U.S. that they have been waiting and praying for:

With a Kingdom-friendly administration, led by many Kingdom-minded department heads, such as in education, energy, state department, etc., God is going to use these people to bring changes in attitudes and belief systems. Along with a powerful move of God’s Holy Spirit bringing another Great Awakening, we will see God’s involvement in every sphere of society in ways we’ve never seen in our life-times. There will actually be a significant reversal of the moral values decline we have seen for many decades.

This will lead to scientists abandoning their “faith in the theory of evolution,” the number of abortions will be greatly reduced or eliminated, there will be a great “wave of acceptance” of Christianity by the Jewish people, morals and family life will be restored, “clean and biblical movies” and TV will become popular. Furthermore, “Left-wing media will decrease and truth-seeking media will increase,” and “People will be so excited about miracles taking place in huge religious rallies that they will have to talk about it to keep viewers tuned in.”

These are just a few of the “blessings” INC Christianity is looking forward to in days to come.

Sigh. And again I say, American Christianity is in serious trouble.


Picked up tickets for one of the items on my bucket list the other day. In June, we’ll be heading over to Cincinnati to hear Paul Simon in concert.

I’m sure we’ll hear this song from my youth. Its message may be just as relevant today.

194 thoughts on “The Internet Monk Saturday Brunch: 3/25/17

  1. I don’t think mystics or anyone else should be given a blank check to make inconsistent, mystifying statements…

    At which point you have “The Sphinx” from Miracle Men, a farm-team superhero whose only superpower is Being Mysterious.


  2. Though I would probably add the word “Righteous”.
    “…until all that is left is the Righteous Moral Fury.”

    And you’d rather get between an alky and his bottle than a Puritan and his Righteousness.


  3. Afrikaans — described in Harry Turtledove’s Guns of the South as “Dutch spelled as if the Devil was speaking it.”


  4. That was then. Now, Jesus is just “alt” right.

    And they follow and marvel, saying “Who is like unto The Trump? Who can stand before Him?”


  5. Got hold of the guy from Anderson.

    When asked, he described the Redding area as home to a lot of SCARY WEIRD churches with only passing resemblance to anything he’d heard about Christianity. (At least one of them being the local Mega.) Described them as “a pack of rabid dogs hungering for prey; if they ran out of prey they’d turn on each other in a heartbeat”. And that this wasn’t the usual California granola-bowl religious strangeness because “granola just doesn’t have this incredible level of VICIOUSNESS”. (From his description, sounded like Scientology at its worst.)

    And that a lot of them seemed to be heavily into Spiritual Warfare, witch-sniffing for Secret Satanist Cults they claimed were overrunning the area. “They desperately needed there to be Satanist Cults everywhere to prove to themselves that They Were Right.”

    He also related a secondhand story from his (estranged) sister about an AWANA meeting with one of these MenaGAWD as guest speaker — “Two solid hours of Hellfire and Damnation. Including denouncing skirts — not short skirts, just skirts — as Satanic with a rant about “HELL-o-vision” as Satanic because ‘it gives people the Wrong Ideas’.”

    This may or may not be related, but many times in the past he described overripe Yuppies fleeing the Big Bad City (San Fran), settling in Redding, and bringing all the problems they fled from right along with them. Seas of Yuppie-pink McMansions swallowing up the countryside like Little Irvine, bringing Homeowners’ Associations and San Francisco granola-bowl Attitudes (and exotic hard drugs), driving up prices (but not income) to Bay Area/Silicon Valley levels, and generally sounding like Kyle’s Mom’s segment of the aria “Mountain Town” from the beginning of the South Park movie.


  6. “So who is God? No one can finally say. That is not within human competence. All we can ever say is how we believe we have experienced God, doing our best to dispel our human delusions. Let me try to do just that. I experience God as the source of life calling me to live fully and thus to respect life in every form as embodying the holy.”

    — Bishop John Shelby Spong


  7. “For God Himself is above all apprehensions and ideas and sensations, however spiritual, that can ever be experienced by the spirit of man in this life.”

    When I read that I see the word “above” which suggest to me that God does not stand *outside* of our apprehensions and ideas and sensations, but rather is greater than and more than sic.


  8. Ted Koppel to Sean Hannity: “You Have Attracted People Who Are Determined That Ideology Is More Important Than Facts”.

    Represented within those people is a large percentage of religious conservatives, who somehow believe their ideologue world view is superior to that of liberals.

    In the past, the only way to sell an ideology devoid of the truth is the element of force. A constitutional framework built upon the liberty and reason of the enlightenment doesn’t stand a chance in a post-modern world.


  9. I have two friends from Redding; one lived there for several years, the other came from there (actually Anderson, a nearby village south on Route 99).

    My informant from Anderson told me Redding was locally famous for “some really weird Megachurch CULTS”, and this was from a guy who told me about the Rajneeshies running a bus ministry snagging local homeless for their Oregon compound and cult-watch hysteria in grade school about local refugees from the Manson Family hiding out in the area. I will ask him about the Redding Megachurch Cults when I talk to him later today.


  10. Both Bernie and The Trump had one thing in common: They spoke direct and plain. (As then-Veep Joe Biden to a lesser extent.)

    In a campaign environment where every word out of candidates’ mouths was scripted by spinmeisters and run through focus groups before being obviously read word-for-word off the teleprompter, anyone speaking blunt and direct would stand out and attract a following.

    I don’t think The Bern would have been the Dems’ best choice; Ol’ “Slow Joe” Biden would have been better (as well as the Veep customarily putting in a bid), but nothing could be permitted to stand in the way of the Clinton Machine in the primaries. Queen Cersei was Entitled to the Iron Throne, and none could be allowed to stand in Her way, so each party ended up with the candidate most likely to lose to the other.


  11. Muslim anti-semitism got a major boost during WW2, when the Germans attempted to woo Arabs and North Africans as irregular allies against the British (who ruled a lot of the Islamic world after the Post-WW1 Ottoman Empire Fire Sale). Lots of Muslim bigwigs got schmoozed in Berlin, most prominent the Mufti of Jerusalem. The original name of the Baath Party (which originated during this time and of which Assad of Syria is the last survivor) was Baath Arab NATIONAL SOCIALIST Party, and as the Arab wing of the NSDAP, incorporated the German Fascists’ influence on The Jewish Problem.


  12. I’ve heard of Elijah List from other blogs. Always reminded me of Masters of Mighty Magick(TM) though more into Divination Magick/Prophecy Channelling than usual for Spiritual Warrior cults.


  13. It too closely resembles 2nd Temple Judaism in the time of Jesus and the Apostles. We know how that ended.

    “AWE KAESAR! WIWA ROMA!” at the point of Pilum et Gladius over the burning ruins?


  14. NO! They are protected species.. They roost in the Town park and spread dropping so children cannot play there. We have a beautiful park!! Or once did. To whom do we complain that the Town is polluted and our local income destroyed??? Local and State Govt wash their hands of the problem.

    I keep checking my spam filters for the HOT INVESTMENT TIPS!!!!! which should be turning to Health Insurance Mega-companies as the latest Money WIll Come in In Buckets/ Invest Now Or Lose Out Forever/ Don’t Be Left Behind!!!!! HOT HOT HOT INVESTMENT TIPS!!!!! I remember an upsurge of them when Obamacare went in and insurance companies celebrated by doubling/tripling their premiums. Ditto with the pharmaceutical megas like the one who jacked epipens to $800+ each..

    And in my state, if I were a Bureaucrat-for-Life for State Govt, I’d be retired now on a 100+% pension, unlimited COLAs, and effectively FREE medical care for Life. “What do you mean, the system’s broken? The System Works Just Fine!”


  15. NO! They are protected species.. They roost in the Town park and spread dropping so children cannot play there. We have a beautiful park!! Or once did. To whom do we complain that the Town is polluted and our local income destroyed??? Local and State Govt wash their hands of the problem.

    Like Sea Lions taking over marinas on the California coast, they are Protected Species and KNOW it.

    But it’s doublepluswarmfeelies for the Enlightened/Anointed Save the Plaaaaaaaanet Activists and Bureaucrats-for-Life and that’s what’s really important. (And Our Enlightened Betters still wonder how Trump got elected…)

    In the rural Southwest, the usual response to Protected Species is called “Shoot. Shovel. Shut Up.”


  16. And through the practice of Zen the later Merton also came to see that realizing the divine is not difficult but easy — or, to employ paradox myself, its difficulty is the result of how easy it is. This was leading him to the understanding that while the cross is a theological reality in life, the cross is not always the controlling metaphor for how spiritual life develops; or to employ paradox yet again, sometimes the cross is the realization that there is no cross, and that one’s confrontation with oneself and the divine is no big deal after all. Drop the angst, drop the terrifying darkness, and just look!


  17. Tom, I have no problem with paradox (which is not the same contradiction), nor with fingers pointing at the moon. I do have a problem with the tendency that mystics and their admirers often have of insisting that the divine is inexpressible, and then expressing something about the divine, often at book length. I think that it gives the wrong impression of just how much we not-especially-mystical human beings can truly know and say about God in our ordinary lives and words, while empowering the special class of mystics and their admirers to say whatever they are inclined to, as long as they of course preface their utterances with a disclaimer about the divine being inexpressible. The later Merton was moving away from the habit of making too much of such disclaimers, as the result of learning through his practice of Zen that the ordinary world and ordinary life and ordinary language were not different from the deepest mystical states, and could in fact express the divine, the mystery, as well as silence and pointing. Samsara is Nirvana.


  18. It would not be out of the picture for Merton to “contradict” himself. He embraced paradox, then in the next paragraph would make a definitive assertion. TM was NOT a systematic theologian.

    Merton’s most known book on contemplation essentially tells us that if we’re striving for and expecting a “God experience” we will produce one–just don’t call that “God”. However, the True fruit of the seeds of contemplation will bring the contemplative to a threshold of abject, terrifying darkness that is both infinite emptiness (of the False Self) and infinite fullness of Love that is not our Self.

    Anyway, anything and everything we say of “God” is like “a finger pointing to the moon.”


  19. I’m sure there’s some of that going on Robert. However, in my time in one of the Mainlines it isn’t unusual to be challenged (not harangued as was normal in my left-behind Fundamentalism) over moral and social issues.


  20. OK, were ‘yu all been’??

    I have been up since the fruit bats heralded the dawn returning from the orchards
    Their dawn chorus is so loud and we know our orchardists have been raided overnight. Bang goes our local commercial activities.

    OK. They are a protected species. We say they destroy or grapes, apricots. apples. etc.

    NO! They are protected species.. They roost in the Town park and spread dropping so children cannot play there. We have a beautiful park!! Or once did. To whom do we complain that the Town is polluted and our local income destroyed??? Local and State Govt wash their hands of the problem.

    Beats me.

    On a lighter note, my Church today produced a calendar of events between now and Easter Day.
    Some these are in conjunction with the local Roman Catholics on Palm Sunday, a shared lunch will be held with the Parishes providing food. Knowing “Country Hospitality” no one shall go away hungry.
    Thanks be to God for this conjunction of faiths gathered in prayer, reverence and praise to our Lord Jesus preparation of Holy Week.

    Thank God for more communication between denominations.

    Shall I say enjoy Lent? Depends on your interpretation of ‘Enjoy’

    Blessing to all. It is a Holy Season.


  21. Previous co-worker of mine contacted Yahoo in its VERY early days. Said, “hey what you are doing is great, why don’t you create a Yahoo Canada.” They got back to him and said, we are too busy to do that right now, but if you would like to do it for us, we will give you 2% of the company.” He said, “I would love to, but I need a steady income right now, I am going to have to say no.”

    Worst mistake he ever made.


  22. “In Christ there is no east or west,
    in him no south or north,
    but one great fellowship of love
    throughout the whole wide earth.”
    – John Oxenham

    That was then. Now, Jesus is just “alt” right.


  23. No, the Christian accusation of deicide against the Jews morphed previously existing local anti-Judaisms (which was like many forms of ethnic animosity that existed between many different peoples; the Israelites themselves practiced a form of it against the peoples they expelled from Palestine) into religious antisemitism, which has its roots in a metaphysical animosity, turning antisemitism almost into a religious duty. The modern forms of anti-Jewish antisemitism all derive from that metaphysically justified and perpetuated hatred, even the non-Christian ones, and would not have been possible with it.


  24. Carrie, I wasn’t aware of Rachel’s response. Frankly, I just got to a point where I was tired of someone like Tim Keller being politicized, when he himself goes to great lengths not to do that with most issues. I have several significant differences with Keller on various matters, but I respect him as a person and a pastor.

    I just wish once I would hear someone say, no matter who it is or what side they’re taking, “You know, this person has some views that I don’t agree with, and I think some of them may be very hurtful, but this is a good person, a person who has done good things, and I appreciate him/her for that.”


  25. Funny, I always thought it all started with the serpent. Or maybe it was the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites or the Jebusites. Maybe we should throw in the Egyptians and the Romans just for good measure. It would appear the Christians are rather late comers in this game.


  26. Jesus Christ, and Christ alone, is the center, the cornerstone, the plumbline. If you’re foundation isn’t on him, good luck.


  27. –> “The church can’t see it is a pawn controlled by dog whistles and shiny, distracting objects.”

    Bright, shiny objects: certainly not what Jesus came adorned with, nor what he came to proclaim. In fact, he tends to speak out against religion that’s focused on bright, shiny objects.

    (Having said that, I do view him as a bright, shiny object…at least for my soul.)


  28. I’m afraid it also migrated into quite a bit of anti-Jewish antisemitism among Muslims. But it all starts with the Christians, from the earliest centuries of Christianity.


  29. >> If you are standing in a library, and yet clueless, it’s a choice.

    Words even more relevant in this age of the internet. But then I’m just a post-modernistic pawn controlled by dog whistles and shiny, distracting objects.


  30. Ditto.

    A caveat however…the majority of the people in the higher rankings are NOT very concerned about “Religion”. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a rough time enticing people to their particular form of slavery.


  31. It is a thing about life – failure to be courageous and speak truth always makes it harder to be courageous tomorrow. Many sects have accumulated a massive courage deficit over decades; which I doubt they have the mojo to lift themselves out of.

    Kudos to Mr. Moore and others for trying. I admire them for sticking with these failed institutions; it is more than I could stomach.


  32. > This ultimately is why Protestantism is dead.

    Perhaps, but this lets long-standing institutions populated by well educated people off the hook a bit too easily, IMO.

    My own explanation is more centered on cowardice than cluelessness. If you are standing in a library, and yet clueless, it’s a choice.


  33. I fail to see the difference between moral relativism and alternate facts from a post-modernistic perspective. In either case, ones perception or feelings hold final authority. Both liberals and conservatives have a problem with ultimate truth in a post-modernistic world. The powerful hold ultimate control over morals and facts to manipulate the weak to their own benefit and agenda. The church can’t see it is a pawn controlled by dog whistles and shiny, distracting objects. This ultimately is why Protestantism is dead.


  34. Anti-Jewish anti-semitism may have migrated into anti-Muslim anti-semitism, at least for now. Hating Muslims is more acceptable than hating Jews, at least to ‘Muricans and other white folks.

    Sorry! It’s Saturday and we’re supposed to be having brunch! But I’m following a thread.


  35. Oh I know. But for myself, I know that I wished he does, but I found myself unable to believe that he does, due to Reality.


  36. Because Christianity. Duh. They asked for Jesus to be killed, and something about curses on children. For as long as people read the NT, anti-Semitism will return like a #^$€# boomerang. And you will have to defeat it every time. Brcause it doesn’t stay in the Christian periphery (used to be center, but I digress). It migrates. And old farts ill keep on talking about it.


  37. Heather,

    I am an LGBT female, and though I respect Mr. Keller’s right to his opinion, and to voice it, views such as his are hurtful to many, both women and LGBT. I don’t speak for all, it’s true, but just as you know some LGBT who haven’t been hurt by Mr. Keller, I know there are many who feel they have been.

    My issue is mainly that CM touted Jonathan Merritt’s POV on this issue, but gave no “airtime” to, say, Rachel Held Evans’ insightful (and respectful!) rebuttal to Jonathan on Twitter. Why? If CM is going to be aggravated that Mr. Keller isn’t being given a voice (which isn’t true), then he shouldn’t neglect to give others affected by this issue their say.


  38. I can agree with a lot of this. But I’m a person who does so much better in the colder climates, so my earlier comment was likely heavily affected by personal prejudice. 🙂

    About the political scene these days: my heart hurts every time I get a letter from Mutual of Oma8a (my back-up insurance for my Medicare) …… I dread the ‘increases’ of costs which have come non-stop and have tripled since I originally contracted with them. I guess it’s happening to a LOT of older people and being done by a LOT of ‘private’ insurance companies ……..

    recipe for misery: retirement, fixed-income, increasing medical costs (lately, ‘skyrocketing’ medical costs) ….. and I’m one of the lucky ones, as is my family …….. what on Earth is happening to my countrymen and women who are not as fortunate????

    I agree with much of what you have written, yes. I’m living it.


  39. It happened to a lot of big Assemblies of God churches in Central Florida. Some of the megachurches started going in some really ozoney directions about 1990 or so.


  40. You gotta have a center to have a margin. I seem to remember a rather gloomy poem about the center not holding.

    It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.


  41. > , I’d like to point out that my mother tongue isn’t English…

    Braggart! 🙂

    I wish I had paid much more attention to the Finnish spoke in my home.


  42. Anti-Semitism has always seemed to me to be a good argument for the existence of the God of Abraham. Even atheists seem to enjoy Jew-baiting.

    Otherwise, why this people? Why?


  43. Yes, I agree, and I actually was thinking of you as I wrote these comments, Klasie. Though I’m skeptical of many claims about the experience of God, because of my own experience I ultimately come down on the other side of the theism/atheism alternative than you. It’s of course possible that I’m on the wrong side, and that I’m incorrect, having fallen prey to believing that for which I wish, as per Demosthenes saying. On the other hand, it’s also possible to wish that God doesn’t exist, sometimes because one can’t imagine God without seeing an ogre.


  44. > “God is beyond expression,” and then go on immediately to express something about God.


    Mystics make great quotes – but read in any quantity you generally end up with a family-sized word salad.


  45. In my case the experience was very much either self-generated, or “reclassified ” to help my own internal narrative.

    Nothing is so easy as to deceive oneself; for what we wish, we readily believe – Demosthenes


  46. But Merton’s statement is not clear and consistent. Perhaps it would be clear in context; or perhaps Merton shares the tendency of many mystics who say, “God is beyond expression,” and then go on immediately to express something about God. I don’t think mystics or anyone else should be given a blank check to make inconsistent, mystifying statements; they confuse us, and make us think we are incapable of experiencing, knowing and expressing things that we are not incapable of. As I know you realize, Dana, the potentiality of human being is enormous, and we are in fact capable of wonders, most especially knowing and understanding God as he comes to us in Jesus Christ; that is why we are capable of such creativity, and destruction.

    But I’m actually not sure what it means to say that “God himself is beyond our experience”. I suppose if it’s meant in the same sense it would have if said about any other person, or the world, or even ourselves, I can recognize the truth of it. But it also requires a knowledge of God going beyond what we know, which itself must be born of experience. Nothing we can truly say or know about God can be beyond our experience, or we would have no way of saying or knowing it. Even knowledge of the limits of our experience are the result of positive experience.


  47. Years ago, I once saw the musicians from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra out on strike with picket signs reading “Don’t stop the violins!”


  48. Lived in Redding CA for a few years. At that time, Bethel was just a run-of-the mill Assemblies church with lots of good people and a couple of outstanding musicians. They were friendly with other churches and did positive things with them. Seems like they have turned into another very insular entity. Too bad.



  49. Orthodox abstain from fish, too, during Lent, except on Annunciation Day. We can have as much shrimp, crab or lobster (or snails, I suppose) as we want. These foods were definitely not seen as delicacies in the East; the idea was that if you really want to eat them, go ahead…



  50. When my husband was still working as a park ranger, he had to kill a rattlesnake that was living too close to a human campsite. He brought it home and skinned it – and our elementary – aged kids watched without squeamishness. We heard that barbecuing after marinating in Teriyanki sauce was the best way to eat it, so that’s what we did. Left a few pieces without the sauce to compare – the Teriyaki was definitely better. And yes, it tasted like dark meat chicken. The only problem was eating around the large vertebrae.



  51. No, Merton is not saying logic will get you to God. He is simply saying that God himself is beyond our experience – not that we can’t experience God. There’s a difference – what Mule was pointing out re Palamism – which actually is an argument **for** a true experience of God (which St Gregory’s opponents denied).

    Of course we can have positive, true experience and knowledge of God. Sometimes that comes without an emotional “lift” and sometimes with. The emotions and intellect are certainly included – and I have found that in my deepest experiences of God, neither the emotions nor the intellect are leading, but rather are affected by, and following in the wake of, what is happening on an even deeper level within. At those times, I have difficulty putting the experience into words, at least for a while until after it has “percolated” a bit. For some people, this can take years; for some, like Thomas Aquinas, it is impossible. Everyone’s different.

    Interestingly, an Orthodox monk who is also an addiction counselor once said in an interview that the emotions are often the most honest component in a situation where our intellect tries to cover up unpleasant things. Emotions and are not bad or wrong – they’re simply part of us. They also, in addition to every other part of us, need re-ordering by the Holy Spirit as we go through life with Jesus. The wisdom that has come down to us from people, like Merton, who have spent a lot of time in prayer, paying attention to God’s actions in their own lives, is that it’s not usually the best thing for us if *either* the intellect or the emotions are “in the lead”, especially when it comes to a very deep encounter with God.



  52. > He isn’t being censored.


    > like Mr. Keller are the least marginalized people in the world today

    What?!?! You mean english speaking middle class white christian males aren’t marginalized? Who knew!!!

    Speaking as one of the above – – – nope, not marginalized. I have unfettered access to every institution of power in society. What that does not entitle me to is protection from being disliked – plenty of people dislike me.

    My message to every english speaking middle class white christian male who feels marginalized: GROW THE @^$&*@ UP!


  53. I’m a woman (straight, I’m afraid), but I gotta say Mr. Keller hasn’t hurt me a bit. In fact, I never heard of him till today. And I strongly suspect that if I asked my gay friends how they felt about this kerfluffle, their (non)- response would be the same. “Huh? Who?”

    At the same time, Carrie, if *you* or anyone else feels hurt, I would definitely respect your right to say so. But to speak for everyone that’s female and LGBT — that seems overdone.


  54. I agree, Heather. Either God can and has been experienced and known, or we are all muttering nonsense when we speak about God. In the latter case, the atheists and agnostics would be right when they say God-talk is meaningless.


  55. I completely agree, Robert. Is Merton saying logic will get you to God? We all know that’s not true. Study of the Bible and the Church Fathers will often convince *me* that there were a lot of weird ideas floating around back then (as there are now). It’s almost like studying alchemy: Some of the best minds of Europe spent their whole intellectual lives on studying alchemy, but so what?

    I said that study of the Bible and the Church fathers is *almost* like alchemy. The difference is, as Robert says, that the basic premise of God exists. God can be and is experienced. The basic premise of alchemy, not so much.


  56. Something I observed about political crazies long ago: Hard right, Hard left, Alt-right, Alt-left, THEY ALL HATE JEWS.


  57. I come from a family where alcoholism has a strong foothold. Both of my grandfathers were alcoholics, as were several of my uncles and great-uncles. A few of my cousins have also battled the bottle. That history is one reason I’ve always been careful around alcohol. I would occasionally have a drink (typically wine – I never developed the taste for beer or liquor), but didn’t do it very often. These days I don’t drink at all because I’m now on several medications for which use of alcohol is contraindicated.

    I have no problem if someone else chooses to drink. As long as they can enjoy alcohol in moderation, that’s fine with me. And I detest it when the church is legalistic about alcohol. But I’ve also been too up close and personal to some of the destruction that misuse of alcohol can render upon a family, and that’s why I’ve made my choice. And that’s why I could appreciate Sarah Bessey’s blog post.


  58. Please forgive me if I think a white man not being given an award is a piss-poor example of “marginalization.” Tim Keller is still being allowed to speak. He isn’t being censored. He just isn’t getting an award. Men like Mr. Keller are the least marginalized people in the world today, and offering him up as a sacrificial lamb for that attitude is hurtful to people who have suffered true marginalization, like the LGBT people and women that Keller himself have marginalized.


  59. I’m not quite sure. You can read leaders from “INC” places championing Trump from early on, including Bethel and the fever swap known as Elijah List* had people claiming that God told them Trump was going to be president early on. You can find leaders in this INC/NAR stuff claiming Trump was God’s “Trumpet” a good year ago when more mainstream people like Rubio and even Cruz were in the mix.

    I’m 99% sure “These People” just wanted power. Cruz would have done, but he’s not an internationally known businessman with money and decades in the spotlight. In this world having a powerful man in your circle is far more important than having a refugee or lower class person.

    And I say this a lot, but if your church or local radio station (or phone for that matter) is playing Bethel or Jesus Culture, they’re supporting this nonsense. Like it was said, American Christianity is in serious trouble.

    * Seriously, go read Elijah List for a good overview of this stuff — they post prophecies and the like that are totally bonkers. That 7 Mountains stuff is not just a recommendation for them, they fully believe it.


  60. Modern “progressives” are nothing like their liberal grandparents. They are just the same moralistic fundamentalists as their parents, but the pendulum has swung to the other side.

    1) As Mule described them on a previous thread, “Puritanism seven-times distilled down to eliminate any hint of God, until all that is left is the Moral Fury.”

    2) Communism begets Objectivism. Total opposites on the surface, Identical underneath.


  61. 3) The Alt-Right has no love for Christianity. It’s too Jewish. They tend more towards paganism. Orthodoxy gained a hearing for a brief moment when our anti-Semitic history became more widely known, but it was quickly dropped when some real Orthodox hierarchs set them straight about it.

    “Too Jewish…”
    “Tend more towards paganism…”
    “Orthodoxy gained a hearing when its anti-Semitic history became known…”

    Remind anyone of another Mass Movement?
    Like Germany’s in the 1930s?
    Not only devoured itself but took most of Europe with it?


  62. Spot on with the 2nd temple judaism analogy and I would throw in post-Christ Zealotry (false messiahs promising national Judaic restoration) too…


  63. Wasn’t Ted Cruz God’s Anointed Choice for President(TM) while Trump was sweeping the primaries?

    (At least he lasted longer than any of God’s Anointed Choices of the Week during 2012’s “Not the Mormon!” primaries…)


  64. Wow, that’s a first. I don’t think anyone on the internet has ever said they accepted a point I was making, or perhaps anywhere else either, for that matter.


  65. Never mind the Disgusting/Gross Soda Challenge…

    Such microbrew novelty sodas like Ranch Dressing, Martian Poop, Bacon & Maple Syrup, Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Corn, Coffee, Green Apple Jalapeno, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Grass, Buffalo Wings, Marshmallow, Barf…


  66. Correction to my last sentence: If we cannot have true experience and knowledge of God, then all utterances about God, including those of all the mystics and Merton, are groundless.


  67. Just to note that Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary are separate institutions. The photo in this article is the University Chapel, not the seminary chapel.


  68. But that’s what we do here, Mule, we blab.

    So, to continue blabbing: I’m perfectly willing to grant your distinction between Energies and Essence; it makes no material difference to what I’m saying. Either we can have true experience and knowledge of God (even at second-hand by way of his energies, or what someone else says to us about God), and speak truthfully about it, or we cannot have such experience and knowledge, and so cannot speak truthfully about it. In which case all utterances about God, including those of all the mystics and Merton, are groundless.


  69. The very truthfulness of Merton’s statement, quite apart from the question of God’s condescension, depends on the ability to have true experience and knowledge of God that can be truthfully communicated. Otherwise, Merton doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and neither can we. As it stands, I think Merton’s statement contradicts itself.


  70. But even if so (and I tend to agree), they are still true experiences that can be spoken of truthfully, and truthfully known in thought and emotions.


  71. I think it’s very clear that either we can have positive and true experience and knowledge of God, and speak about it in ways that are true; or we cannot have any positive and true experience and knowledge of God, in which case what Merton is saying is unfounded in experience and knowledge, and as such meaningless, as is all God-talk.

    Whereof one cannot speak thereof one must remain silent — Wittgenstein


  72. I definitely share your concerns about students being afraid to argue or to ask questions. The real work to be done there, though, happens slowly and not very loudly. It happens over time, with lots of reading, writing, and thinking. Professors have to guard that territory and make sure students have the time and space to learn, rather than getting pulled into the pace of the urgent issues of the day. Thinking and learning should be at the center of university life, but as we all know, those things get squeezed out by all the business and activity of running a housing and entertainment complex for sports fans.

    I can assure you, though, that lots of faculty and students are still plodding along, doing our best far from the shouting.

    And again, watching students get excited about their geology research or their poem cycle or whatever it is that maybe you and I wouldn’t find thrilling but they do — that’s always going to make you feel a little more hopeful about the world.


  73. 1) I agree about Trump. If anything, we should have a fine bumbling, dysfunctional, paralyzed Federal government for the next four years. That in itself may not be a bad thing. I see progressives finally discovering the joys of federalism and states rights. That’s kind of neat-o, and only Trump could have done it. If Trump offers anything to Evangelicals, it’ll be a respite from the unrelenting Clinton/Blair/Bush globalist/universalist enterprise [which seems to be strangely popular around here], and a chance to clean their stables before the Empire Strikes Back.

    2) Being the fastest growing segment of American Christianity is like being promoted to first mate of the Titanic after the iceberg was bumped, or finally making Regional Manager of Sears, Roebuck after 20 years with the company.

    3) The Alt-Right has no love for Christianity. It’s too Jewish. They tend more towards paganism. Orthodoxy gained a hearing for a brief moment when our anti-Semitic history became more widely known, but it was quickly dropped when some real Orthodox hierarchs set them straight about it. The Alt-Right is devouring itself anyway.

    There are some interesting Catholic Jacobite types out there who openly push monarchy, patriarchy, and establishment of a national Church, but they have about 12 nano-Warhols of cultural clout.


  74. > Boring and sad, really. Not to mention intellectually fragile.

    This I agree with.

    How many people attend places like Princeton? As a percentage of the population? Meh, it is hard to care.

    And why does Princeton bother with awards for ***Theologians*** anyway? That seems terribly anachronistic.

    The whole Keller incident is dumb stacked on top of dumb. If the students were not wealthy there would be no reason for anyone to care.


  75. In the sixties and seventies, students on a number of occasions occupied the administrative offices of universities to force the universities to agree to make certain political concessions, and succeeded in some cases in achieving their objectives. Was that normal?


  76. It is also notable that these speaker-protests are primarily on prestige campuses AND focus around the most extreme presenters.

    Among the Intelligentsia – Right, Left, or otherwise – does *ANYONE* take the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos seriously? BTW, the answer is an emphatic “NO”. He is a disgusting hate monger.

    Let’s be mature enough to distinguish between Diversity-Of-Opinion and Shock-Jocks. There is a lot of the former, and there is no reason to care about the later – they are not interested in conversation.

    Credible voices on The-Right get LOTS of stage time. I’ve been to talks/presentations by Bork, D’Sousa, the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, Bruce Frohnen, Robert P. George, Herb Meyer….. And all of those at a *PUBLIC* University.

    Any notion of suppression of diversity is indeed clearly falsifiable.

    Tip for not being excluded from the conversation: do not be a aggressive jerk. If you are an aggressive jerk and people lock you out – you don’t get to cry “Free Speech!”.


  77. If “God Himself is above all apprehensions and ideas and sensations, however spiritual, that can ever be experienced by the spirit of man in this life..”, how can we know anything about God? How would we even come up with the idea or belief that God exists, if all our thoughts and feelings cannot be depended on to give us either experience or knowledge of him? How would Merton have come by the knowledge to make this very statement?


  78. Society is always judged by its outliers, and such is the case with the climate on college campuses. Sure, you are correct, MOST, overwhelmingly most, students are there to learn, but what the institution ALLOWS is a good indicator of who is actually running things. Hence, we hear of the closing of though and ideas among the most vocal students.


  79. I came of age in the late 60’s and attended college in the 60’s and early 70’s. At that time “counter-culture” was all the rage and anything “establishment” was attended by “drones and accounting majors”. Saul Alinsky and Angela Davis, along with Eldrige Cleaver were who we wanted to hear from. Sure, there were plenty of “boring” subjects and speakers, but there was little, if ANY, shouting down and disinviting as we see today.

    It USED to be that students agitated for more “cutting-edge” thinking, but today “cutting-edge” is replaced with something quite different.

    “Education”, so-called, is now a commodity and the consumers demand that they be served with what they expect. Hence, when a fairly mainline libertarian, such as Charles Murray, is scheduled to speak at some small and inconsequential college there are demonstrations, shout downs and actual violence. Are you trying to tell me that THIS is NORMAL?


  80. I like Jonathan Merritt, and feel like he often “speaks truth to power” in a prophetic way. But I think his response to the Princeton/Tim Keller train wreck is part of the problem – it is founded upon some odd premises around the place of the Christian faith in society and culture. I think the Princeton cowardice has almost nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with broader social trends where liberalism is nearly dead. Modern “progressives” are nothing like their liberal grandparents. They are just the same moralistic fundamentalists as their parents, but the pendulum has swung to the other side. Boring and sad, really. Not to mention intellectually fragile. Good luck fighting tyranny.

    But there is a good reason that Jonathan sort of automatically assumed “Christianity contra mundum”. It is a premise shared with “Network Christianity” and in my mind, rather than being a fundamentalist aberration, is actually a core element of historic Christianity. Christianity has historically been a statement about how the world works, and if objectively true, I can think of no good reason to call the dominionists wrong. Even as refined and erudite scholars as N.T. Wright have pointed out that Christianity is necessarily political. Really, I can’t imagine a situation where historic Christianity ever really “works” in modern, Western democratic institutions. It is oil and water.

    And that’s how you end up with a major institution acting like a raging fundamentalist. Fosdick is doubtless bouncing off the rev limiter.


  81. If you want to be cheered up considerably, I urge you to go to an actual campus and see what students are doing. I work with students who are mostly pretty interested in what they are studying, and their conversation is mainly about how to study for Gen Chem, or how they’re learning about different countries’ school systems in that Education class, or the project they’re doing on the economic relationship between Mexico and China or the effects of native plants on soil quality. They are curious about a lot of things! And most of them are vaguely aware that there are ideological debates about these topics, but in the most ordinary college class, you learn that most of the easy answers floating around out there are not so easy after all. Anyway, you don’t get any points on the exam for explaining everything as the result of a vast conspiracy or decline of morals.

    Real students are a lively and interesting bunch. Their ideology is fairly beer-centric, but otherwise, I avoid putting them all in one category, as they always surprise me.


  82. Dude, it has nothing to do with climate…which is why Australia and New Zealand are on the list. It has everything to do with form of governance. Those at the top of the list have the most power by citizens to direct their own future. Those on the bottom have the least. And that is also why America is dropping.


  83. Intellectual curiosity on ANY college campus is dead! I think you comments would be more persuasive if you could dial it back a bit. This assertion is clearly falsifiable. Maybe something more like, “I’ve noticed a concerning increase in intolerance toward opposing viewpoints on college campuses.”

    To which I would reply, “Well, did we really expect anything else with our commodified, consumerist ‘higher’ learning model?”


  84. Yep. And at 18 – 25 most people are not yet seasoned enough to use intellectual curiosity responsibility; I certainly wasn’t.

    The University events I attend, interestingly, have few of “college age” in attendance. Most either are not interested or are bussing tables for $$$. Professors typically have to offer class credit to get students to attend diverse/political/civic events.


  85. I doubt they conducted the interviews in the winter… Snow puts a damper on everything. Give me the beach with the rustle of palm tree in the wind.


  86. Yes, but it’s the same for any progressive pastor of a largely conservative mainline congregation who keeps her political views to herself most of the time because she doesn’t want to piss-off the aging deep pockets that prefer not to be challenged by socially conscious criticism coming from the pulpit.


  87. Meaning, if I didn’t believe my emotions aren’t the true barometer of my standing with God, I’d be in total despair.


  88. I didn’t see Samaritan’s Purse on the list of evangelical organizations. Maybe Franklin didn’t get the memo.


  89. Give them time. Once they’ve had time to assimilate/be assimilated by the Alt-Right, it should become blatant enough. :-/


  90. Before Mt. Rushmore, the artist sculptor Borglum started a similar project at Stone Mountain in Georgia. If you’re not familiar with it, Stone Mountain is a granite dome featuring Confederate Civil War heroes. That project endured the same funding shortages, labor disputes and artistic differences that Rushmore later would. Borglum was eventually fired and everything he had done was blasted off the mountain. Other artists were hired to start over from scratch and of course Borglum eventually achieved immortal fame for his work at Rushmore.


  91. American Christianity in the past 50 years or more has been pretty much about power and seeing how to ride King Jesus to power. Even if it wins the battle, it loses the war. It’s already pretty much lost the millennials. It’s sad. I am becoming more & more reluctant to tell people that I am a Christian because of all the bad connotations associated with that.


  92. FEEL God?…

    “We must remember that our experience of union with God, our feeling of His presence, is altogether accidental and secondary. It is only a side effect of His actual presence in our souls, and gives no sure indication of that presence in any case. For God Himself is above all apprehensions and ideas and sensations, however spiritual, that can ever be experienced by the spirit of man in this life.”

    Thomas Merton

    (No Man Is An Island, chapt. 12)


  93. Now that I am in my 40s I ‘cannot’ drink soda anymore. It makes me feel Bleh.

    But if you enjoy a Coca Cola – bottoms up.


  94. That’s why you should only drink pure grain alcohol and rainwater. To preserve your precious bodily fluids. 😉


  95. Yeah, I should have appended my comment below to yours. 😉 Addicts are going to addict, it’s just a question of what.


  96. She also might have felt better because she stopped consuming large amounts of very sugary beverages [wine]. There is more to the equation than alcohol.


  97. “Has our culture become too alcohol-centric? Should we do anything about it?”

    Another old, old story. A person comes to a personal decision about an activity which Scripture neither 100% condoms nor 100% condones, and they then extrapolate their choice as the best choice for all society.

    Do people abuse alcohol? Yes. But the alcohol is not the root problem for many of them, I suspect. Thankfully I think we learned our lesson the first time WRT Prohibition…


  98. When I was in college (late 80s early 90s) 99% of us were there to get a degree to get a better job. Intellectual curiosity, unless it was an inborn trait, was the LAST thing on our minds.


  99. Also, they will of course do their best to ride any coattails Trump might have, but Ted Cruz is who they wanted. Bad as Trump is and is going to be, we dodged a bullet. Trump combines personal incompetence with a personality that prevents him from surrounding himself with competent people. Thus while he is a horrid person, he lacks the skill set to fully implement his horridness. Ted Cruz is even more horrid: a true believer in horridness. Also, he is personally very smart. President Cruz would have been far more damaging to the nation than President Trump is capable of.


  100. >> Has our culture become too alcohol-centric?
    >No. And I live in beer city USA.
    >If you choose not to drink, that is cool. I have friends that do not drink for various reasons; nobody bothers them >about it. One way in which society has **improved**! [gasp!]

    This. The Sarah Bessey piece is a prolix way of saying that some people for whatever reason have addictive tendencies, and they would do well to abstain. This is wrapped up in a bunch of unBiblical Christianist language, in a wishy-washy having it both ways sort of way. In the real world, lots of people drink, and lots of people don’t drink. Most of the people who drink do so in moderation and have no problem. Most of them also have no problem with socializing with people who don’t drink, so long as the non-drinkers aren’t preachy about it. If you stop drinking and find you have no social life, you might have been hanging with the wrong crowd, but then again you might be insufferable.


  101. INC is just a thinly disguised political movement hell-bent on money and power. It will fail and be brought to ruin someday like all such movements. But I’m glad someone’s trying to bring awareness about it. It does need to be discerned by followers of Jesus, who will then run away and as far from it as possible. But at the same those followers of Jesus will need to reach out, in love, to its adherents and try to win them back from the brink. I personally know this is no easy task… A sibling of mine is last-hairs deep in this movement and it isn’t pretty… They are angry at everyone unlike them; they are hungering for violence; they love power over; they believe the most fantastical lies imaginable; they want iron-fisted imperialism; they are theocratic fascist nationalists through and through.

    Yet they are regular church goers and deeply religious – they can speak eloquently of Jesus and God and praying and worshiping and loving and following the Bible and God… At the moment they can easily blend in with general american protestant evangelicalism. I think the time is coming soon when that is no longer possible… When that happens will the fence-riders or other evangelicals have the strength and discernment to run away from this movement’s promises of ill-gotten glory?


  102. “Today happiness is like a crime—never admit it. Don’t say ‘I’m happy’ otherwise you will hear condemnation all around.” – Albert Camus.


  103. Sigh. And again I say, American Christianity is in serious trouble.


    I don’t think that in the long run INC “Christianity” will have anything like the effects it’s adherents are counting on. I am praying for a Great Disillusionment. If their “revival” occurs–and I don’t think it will–it will be a continuing disaster. The entire perspective is based on off-base assumptions about God. It too closely resembles 2nd Temple Judaism in the time of Jesus and the Apostles. We know how that ended.


  104. “If you were inclined to eat a reptile on Friday,” Foley tells The Salt, “you could do that, too.”
    Yup. Turtle soup was a big special offered by local cafes during Lent where I grew up.


  105. I think it’s a mistake to idealize universities of the past. Academic freedom is an ideal that never has been realized; it’s fine to keep it as an ideal, but wrong to romanticize it as a pristine past from which the present has fallen. Power and politics of one kind or another have always had more influence in academic life than we like to acknowledge. We like to hang onto our mythology about past Golden Ages; we find it comforting.


  106. My only quibble with the assertion of “It used to be that education exposed the student to differing points of view” is if this was ever true. Now different voices are the loudest.

    There is still plenty of diversity and debate at normal Universities; I often go to their lectures. But people don’t go to the prestige universities [Berkeley, Princeton, Harvard, ….], for that purpose – and I doubt they often ever did. The prestige universities have been ideological epicenters from the drop. The purpose of attending a prestige university is ***networking*** with other prestiges – as that has enormous economic payoffs – the whole who you know vs. what you know thing. You can find no shortage of people who thought they were attending a prestige for the education and were subsequently disappointed; journals love to carry such articles – as they still seem scandalous to those who haven’t been paying attention.


  107. > Why are many evangelical leaders challenging President Trump’s proposed budget?

    Because it is insane. I do not like Evangelicalism, but most of then are not insane… if you can get them to talk about specifics rather than grand sweeping ideological generalized nonsense.

    > Has our culture become too alcohol-centric?

    No. And I live in beer city USA.

    If you choose not to drink, that is cool. I have friends that do not drink for various reasons; nobody bothers them about it. One way in which society has **improved**! [gasp!]

    > Is “moral relativism” dead?

    It was never actually a thing; just a boogey man for “conservatives”. Have they finally grown bored of it? Boogey men have a shelf life.

    > Why is Russell Moore apologizing?

    Because the church denomination he is in is [of course] a **political** institution! [gasp!]. And Mr. Moore understands how political institutions work – and has the intellectual where-with-all to acknowledge he is [of course] in one.

    This is an important skill in civic and professional life: someone is upset, provide a vague but earnest sounding apology, move on. You probably did *something* wrong somewhere along the line. I wish I had acknowledged the effectiveness of this earlier in life.

    > Why does Mt. Rushmore exist?

    To provide a reason to go to South Dakota?

    Good article, but this was an economic stimulus project, pretty cut-n-dry. As such projects go – success! It is still drawing people to spend their money.

    > Can anything be done to effectively address the military’s porn culture?

    Yet another reason to reduce the size of the military!


  108. happier countries? cooler climates, yes
    but those northern latitudes also have long winters with not so much natural light in winter, when can lead to a bit of depression

    still, a snug little wood-burning cabin in the far north with simple living in the beautiful nature: peace, quiet, spectacular night skies, cold outdoors/cozy indoors . . . . . . if you are comfortable living in this style, you might be way ahead of them what has a lot more materially, but no time to enjoy it, running the rat-race, the phony ‘holier-than -thou church ‘family’, and the creepy social existence where there is so MUCH phoniness it drags you down, down, down

    I’ll take the northern forest cabin anyday, thank you very much 🙂 off-grid? all the better

    solitude = happiness (but only if there are a few reindeer that come round from time to time)


  109. Intellectual curiosity on ANY college campus is dead! It is all about orthodoxy and the crime of giving offense. It doesn’t matter whose ox is being gored, truth is the product of who can yell the loudest.

    It used to be that education exposed the student to differing points of view, but what has it become? Do we now bow to student demands to short circuit dialog for the sake of “safety”?


  110. Several alert readers notified me of this article in Salon about “The rise of ‘network’ Christianity,” which, apparently, is a new name for a movement that has been variously described over the years as Christian nationalist, reconstructionist, dominionist, theocratic, part of the New Apostolic Reformation, and advocating the “Seven Mountains” approach to gaining power and control over American culture.

    Republic of Gilead.


  111. Several alert readers notified me of this article in Salon about “The rise of ‘network’ Christianity,” which, apparently, is a new name for a movement that has been variously described over the years as Christian nationalist, reconstructionist, dominionist, theocratic, part of the New Apostolic Reformation, and advocating the “Seven Mountains” approach to gaining power and control over American culture.

    You mean the future Commanders of the Holy Republic of Gilead?


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