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.”
WELCOME TO AUGUST 2017
Welcome to the dog days. It’s August. These days, ’round our part of the country that means “back to school” now that most districts have gone to a full year-round or modified calendar. But August will never mean that to me. This was the month to endure before going back to school. We were done playing organized baseball. It was too dang hot to play football. We were starting to get tired of hanging around the pool. And mom kept locking us out of the house!
Well, here is a list of a few of the special days that have been designated for this August. Maybe at Brunch today we can talk about some of the fun things we’d like to do in August 2017. If we were properly celebrating today, for example, we’d all have hangovers (it is the day after National Beer Day, after all), work like dogs in our underwear, and then gather around the campfire and eat mustard. Sounds like fun!
1 National Mountain Climbing Day
1 National Raspberry Cream Pie Day
2 National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
3 Grab Some Nuts Day
3 National Watermelon Day
4 International Beer Day (First Friday)
5 Campfire Day (First Saturday)
5 International Hangover Day (First Saturday)
5 National Mustard Day — (first Saturday)
5 National Underwear Day
5 Work Like a Dog Day
6 Wiggle Your Toes Day
8 Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day
9 Book Lover’s Day
10 Lazy Day
10 National S’mores Day
12 Middle Child’s Day
13 Left Hander’s Day
14 National Creamsicle Day
16 National Tell a Joke Day
18 Bad Poetry Day
19 National Potato Day
20 National Radio Day
20 World Mosquito Day
21 National Spumoni Day
25 Kiss and Make Up Day
28 Race Your Mouse Day
30 Frankenstein Day
30 Toasted Marshmallow Day
31 National Eat Outside Day
31 National Trail Mix Day
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It sounds like it might be the most important job in the universe, or at least in our solar system. Are you up for being the Defender of Our Planet™? Well, NASA has a spot open for Planetary Protection Officer. You must be able to fight off any nasty aliens that threaten us, as well as protect the planet from being contaminated by extraterrestrial materials brought back to earth on space missions.
You must, of course, be able to work in harmony with all other countries that have space programs, so that they won’t endanger us all.
Here the essential details. Hurry, you only have until Aug. 14. APPLY TODAY AT USAJOBS.GOV!
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WELL DONE, JOEL HUNTER
One megachurch pastor that has earned my deep respect is Joel Hunter, pastor at Northland Community Church in Orlando. Now, he’s stepping down to pursue other types of ministry outside the four walls of the church. Here is part of his announcement:
“You’ve often heard me express a desire to serve at Northland for the rest of my life. So you may be asking, ‘What changed?’
I believe God will continue using Northland in wonderful ways, but He is calling me to focus my life on a new season of ministry outside the four walls of the church.
When I knelt at the altar to give my whole life to Jesus, I was a part of the Civil Rights movement. My focus on Jesus was not only for personal salvation after this life but also for compassion towards the marginalized in this life. My call to follow Jesus and serve the vulnerable is stronger than ever.
Jesus often taught in different synagogues but the bulk of his teaching and work was outside established religious settings. Following his way, I will seek to include the unincluded in the Kingdom.
There’s a fine article in Christianity Today that notes how he has been involved in public as well as parish ministry for many years now. In days to come, this will be his main focus.
“There is great potential for the church to be part of the solution to the problems in our culture and the problems in our world,” he told CT in a 2008 interview, “if we can build coalitions that help enhance the common good that also enhances the Christian social agenda.”
That’s a commitment I can get behind wholeheartedly.
Joel Hunter has contributed to Internet Monk over the years. Here are examples:
Read: “Can I Have My Bible Back?” (A guest post on IM written by Joel Hunter)
Here is another post, featuring a BioLogos video with Pastor Hunter: Joel Hunter on Difficult Subjects in the Church
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WE DON’T WANT YOUR STUFF!
Guess what, my fellow baby boomers. Our kids don’t want our crap.
Samantha Bronker in the Christian Science Monitor tells us:
As baby boomers begin to downsize, they are discovering their grown children do not want their stuff. In fact, they recoil in something close to horror at the thought of trying to find room for collections of Hummels and Thomas Kinkade paintings.
…While every generation has its turn with an attachment for antiques or nostalgia for outdated technology, today’s tech-heavy culture shows few signs of trading in its sleek, modern designs for dark furniture or knick-knacks from bygone eras. And many younger families see trips, vacations, and photos as the repository of family memories – not shelves full of mementoes.
As we are preparing to try and sell our (big) house, we are in the process of going through our stuff now. My parents were ruthless in getting rid of their things, my wife’s parents were not. We’re somewhere in the middle, but golly do we have a load to think about, because the author’s right — for the most part, our kids don’t want it, don’t need it, and think a lot of it is outdated and worthless.
So, we’re going to have to be creative and find good uses for some of it. How many of you have gone through this or are dealing with this situation now?
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MYSTERY RADIO STATIONS
In Lent 2015, I wrote a piece about the band Wilco’s groundbreaking album from 2001, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The story about the album’s title fascinated me.
Shortly after World War I, mysterious shortwave radio stations began cropping up on long-dormant frequency bands across the globe. These stations, dubbed “Numbers Stations,” are thought to have been created for espionage purposes. Allegedly, government agencies would broadcast encrypted messages to undercover spies, who would then decode the messages using a one-time pad, or cipher key.
“Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” was one of the encrypted messages these stations sent out, and the band included actual samples from the radio broadcasts on the record.
In the middle of a Russian swampland, not far from the city of St Petersburg, is a rectangular iron gate. Beyond its rusted bars is a collection of radio towers, abandoned buildings and power lines bordered by a dry-stone wall. This sinister location is the focus of a mystery which stretches back to the height of the Cold War.
It is thought to be the headquarters of a radio station, “MDZhB”, that no-one has ever claimed to run. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it’s been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues.
Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as “dinghy” or “farming specialist”. And that’s it. Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz.
It’s so enigmatic, it’s as if it was designed with conspiracy theorists in mind. Today the station has an online following numbering in the tens of thousands, who know it affectionately as “the Buzzer”. It joins two similar mystery stations, “the Pip” and the “Squeaky Wheel”. As their fans readily admit themselves, they have absolutely no idea what they are listening to.
There are many theories (and conspiracy theories to boot) about these stations. The article notes one of the most prevalent: “One such idea is that it’s acting as a “Dead Hand” signal; in the event Russia is hit by a nuclear attack, the drone will stop and automatically trigger a retaliation. No questions asked, just total nuclear obliteration on both sides.”
Go read this fascinating article which traces the history of these stations and how they might be being used to instruct networks of spies all around the world.
I love this kind of stuff! And, of course, one reason for that is that it gives me the opportunity to play some Springsteen…
• • •
DID YOU KNOW?…
…marauding monkeys have been terrorizing children and senior citizens on an island in Java?
(And, BTW: “Marauding Monkeys” would be a great name for a rock band)
AND, DID YOU KNOW…
…you can run into an Accident in Maryland, enjoy Intercourse in Pennsylvania, do Nothing in Arizona, stop for a Pee Pee in Ohio, find Protection in Kansas, try Toast in North Carolina, go to War in West Virginia, or go to Hell in Michigan? These are just a few of the weird place names you can find in states across the U.S..
AND, DID YOU KNOW…
…in Georgia, it is illegal to keep an ice cream cone in your back pocket on Sundays? In Minnesota, it is illegal to cross state lines with a duck atop one’s head? In Ohio, it is illegal to get a fish drunk? In Washington, the harassing of Bigfoot, Sasquatch, or other undiscovered subspecies is a felony punishable by fine or imprisonment? These are a few of the crazy laws that the folks at Olivet Nazarene University discovered and put together on a poster.
• • •
FIGHTING OVER A LADY
Who would have thought one of the big stories this week would be a fight over the Statue of Liberty?
Well, actually the fight was over the poem by Emma Lazarus that graces the statue. White House spokesperson Stephen Miller and CNN’s Jim Acosta got into a heated exchange about immigration and what set it all up was the meaning of the Statue of Liberty and whether Lazarus’s poem has anything to do with the actual symbolism of the monument.
“What the president is proposing here does not sound like it’s in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration,” the network reporter said to Miller. “The Statue of Liberty says, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’”
The implication of Acosta’s description was that the statue is an invitation to immigrants.
Not so, Miller retorted:
“I don’t want to get off into a whole thing about history here, but the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty and lighting the world. It’s a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you’re referring to, that was added later, is not actually a part of the original Statue of Liberty.”
An article in the Washington Post uncovers the fact (new to me) that there is a debate raging in some circles about this.
Miller was correct in saying that the poem was added later, and I think Acosta was right in saying that, ever after, Americans and immigrants in particular have identified the Statue of Liberty not only as holding up a beacon of freedom to the world, but that this beacon is an invitation to come and share in that freedom.
But some on the right want to be “originalists” when it comes to what Lady Liberty is saying. And some of the more extreme object to the fact that acceptance of the poem amounts to kowtowing to a Jewish Communist named Emma Lazarus. As Rush Limbaugh said in a broadcast earlier this year, “The Statue of Liberty had absolutely nothing to do with immigration,” Limbaugh said on a January 31 broadcast. “So why do people think that it does? Well, there was a socialist poet.”
So there you have it. The conversation in this country has become so polarized we can’t even agree on the significance of one of our most basic and beloved symbols.
• • •
TODAY’S MUSIC — WHAT ELSE FOR AUGUST?!
The Mrs. and I are heading out to Symphony on the Prairie here in Indy tonight to enjoy a picnic while listening to the Beach Boys’ quintessential summer songs. Nothing says summer like their sun-drenched surfin’ sounds. So, on this first Saturday in August, we’ll leave you with a taste too. Have a great Saturday!