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.”
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I SEE A NEW GENRE OF HORROR FLICKS!
I can see the marquee now: “Chainsaw Nun!”
NPR reports that Sister Margaret Ann was spotted at work by an off-duty officer of the Miami-Dade Police Department as she went out with her chainsaw to help clear away debris from Hurricane Irma.
Sister Margaret Ann is the principal of Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School, southwest of downtown Miami, which wrote on its Facebook page early Wednesday, “We are so blessed to have her and the Carmelite Sisters at our school. We are proud of the example they show for our students and other members of the community every day.”
Yeah, but there are a lot of grown-up Catholic boys who are having trouble sleeping, now that they’ve seen this story.
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DAVID GUSHEE ENDS HIS RNS COLUMN
David Gushee became infamous among evangelicals for his outspoken support of LGBTQ+ folks and their issues. Now he has decided to bow out of writing about the culture wars for Religious News Service.
I have spilled considerable virtual ink in these (and other) pages writing about American evangelicalism. My 25-year identification with this community has ended, for reasons I have made clear in these posts and in the memoir.
My critics would say that I left evangelicalism behind through my own heterodoxy (on one issue, but one is enough). I would say that white evangelicalism in America has largely retreated back into its whiteness, its social conservatism, and the Calvinist-tinged fundamentalism out of which (neo-) evangelicalism was carved at mid-century.
But again, there are only so many ways to relitigate this issue, and only so much value in doing so. I pray that thoughtful younger evangelical leaders can find a better way forward, and that something creative and compelling can emerge in the post-evangelical landscape.
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THE END OF CASSINI
Writing of NASA’s Cassini mission, NPR reports:
Its 13-year mission to explore the strange world of Saturn went on nearly a decade longer than planned. It completed 293 orbits of the planet, snapped 400,000 photos, collected 600 gigabytes of data, discovered at least seven new moons, descended into the famed rings and sent its Huygenslander to a successful 2005 touchdown on the surface of yet another moon, Titan.
This week, that mission ended, when mission control sent the signal that put the craft into a suicidal swan dive, by which it plummeted into Saturn’s atmosphere and burned up in a blaze of glory.
Over the years, we have been treated to some spectacular images from Cassini. The New York Times has captured 100 of them, and here are a few:
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GOOD NEWS FOR U.S. CHURCHES?
Christianity Today reports that, although more than 30,000 churches in the U.S. closed their doors last year, the number of churches has increased by almost 50,000 since 1998, thanks in large part to new non-denominational churches.
According to a recent paper published by sociologist Simon Brauer in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, the number of religious congregations in the United States has increased by almost 50,000 since 1998. A key reason: growth in nondenominational churches.
Using the National Congregations Study (NCS) conducted in 2006 and 2012, he estimates the number of congregations in the US increased from 336,000 in 1998 to a peak of 414,000 in 2006, but then leveled off at 384,000 in 2012.
…Brauer notes that population growth is also likely boosting the number of congregations. America grew by 27 million people between 2000 and 2010, while a separate US Census Bureau report estimated that 14 to 16 million immigrants entered America.
Brauer’s study corroborates an earlier finding from a team of sociologists led by Shawna Anderson at Duke University, who estimated the average annual death rate of congregations between 1998 and 2005 to be only 1 percent, among the lowest of any type of organization.
So, while much noise has been made of the rise of the religiously unaffiliated (“nones”), their rise has not correlated with an equal rate of congregations closing.
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WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR HS PLAYS & MUSICALS?
Any of you ever in a high school play or musical? In my junior year, I was recruited to play Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. It was your humble chaplain’s one and only moment in the spotlight on stage.
NPR has a database of the most popular high school plays and musicals in the U.S. that they developed in 2015 and updated this year. Here are some of the results:
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It’s a photo that I wish didn’t exist but now that it does I want everyone to see it. What started as an opportunity to photograph a cute little sea horse turned into one of frustration and sadness as the incoming tide brought with it countless pieces of trash and sewage. This sea horse drifts long with the trash day in and day out as it rides the currents that flow along the Indonesian archipelago. This photo serves as an allegory for the current and future state of our oceans. What sort of future are we creating? How can your actions shape our planet? . thanks to @eyosexpeditions for getting me there and to @nhm_wpy and @sea_legacy for getting this photo in front of as many eyes as possible. Go to @sea_legacy to see how you can make a difference. . #plastic #seahorse #wpy53 #wildlifephotography #conservation @nhm_wpy @noaadebris
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REVISITING THE VIET NAM WAR
The defining event of my generation’s lifetime has been the Viet Nam War. This weekend PBS will air the first episode of the new Ken Burns series on the subject.
In anticipation, the New York Times just ran a piece on 20 “must-read” books about that conflict. Have you read any of them?
- The Quiet American, by Graham Greene
- The Sorrow of War, by Bao Ninh
- The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
- The Best and the Brightest, by David Halberstam
- Bloods: An Oral History of the Viet Nam War by Black Veterans, by Wallace Terry
- Born on the Fourth of July, by Ron Kovic
- A Bright Shining Lie, by Neil Sheehan
- Dereliction of Duty, by H.R. McMaster
- Dispatches, by Michael Herr
- Embers of War, by Frederik Logevall
- Ending the Viet Nam War, by Henry Kissinger
- Father, Soldier, Son, by Nathaniel Tripp
- Fire in the Lake, by Frances Fitzgerald
- Hue: 1968, by Mark Bowden
- In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, by Robert S. McNamara
- Reporting Viet Nam, by the Library of America
- A Rumor of War, by Philip Caputo
- Viet Nam: A History, by Stanley Karnow
- We Were Soldiers Once … And Young, by Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway
- When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, by Le Ly Hayslip
Here is the trailer for Ken Burns series. I will definitely be watching.
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THIS WEEK IN MUSIC…
On September 17, 1931, RCA Victor unveiled a new invention — the 33 1/3 rpm long-playing or “LP” record, at the Savoy Plaza Hotel in New York. However, the company badly overpriced the record players on which to play these LPs. Because of this the new format remained dormant for years until Columbia revived it in 1948.
The first LP I owned was The Best of the Kingston Trio. I remember early Disney records like Pinocchio, that included booklets with pictures from the movie. My first movie musical record was The Music Man. I soon loved The Dave Clark Five and The Monkees and bought some of their albums. It took me a bit longer to really latch on to The Beatles, but The White Album and Sgt. Pepper came out when I was coming of age, and I was blown away.
I loved double albums. And I reveled in the magnificent artwork of those album covers — the Beatles crossing Abbey Road, the Hindenberg on Zeppelin I, the crazy psychedelia on so many of them.
This new age of digital sound and downloads is fantastic, but there was something wonderfully tactile and satisfying about playing an album. I know vinyl has been coming back these days and that’s great, but it’s still more of a rarity now, very expensive, and not nearly as representative of the cultural moments I recall back in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s.
I got my son a record player last Christmas, along with some great standard jazz records. I’d love to have my own stereo set-up again someday. Hisses and scratches and all.