The Saturday Monks Brunch: December 9, 2017

Welcome to the refectory, iMonks! Time for another edition of our Saturday Brunch. We are in the Advent season and just marked St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6. But beware! There are many imposters out there —

RUN! He doesn’t know the difference between homoousios and homoiousios! He’s NOT St. Nick!

• • •


Andrew Perriman reports that the Pope has a problem with the traditional wording of the Lord’s Prayer.

The Catholic Church is unhappy with the line “lead us not into temptation” (mē eisenenkēs hēmas eis peirasmon) in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:13; Lk. 11:4). The problem is that it appears to attribute responsibility for a person falling into temptation to God. Pope Francis has said: “It’s not a good translation…. I am the one who falls. It’s not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. A father doesn’t do that, a father helps you to get up immediately.” If anyone leads us into temptation, he suggests, it is Satan. So an alternative translation is being considered, something along the lines of “Do not let us enter into temptation”.

I’m with Andrew on this one, however. I think the Pope (like most Christians I’ve ever met) misreads this line and fails to understand it in the context of Jewish eschatology. I’ll let him explain:

What Jesus has in view is not general moral failure (the modern theological assumption) but the “testing” of the faith of his followers by persecution. The word peirasmos in this context refers to an “evil” or painful situation that tests the validity of a person’s faith.

The Lord’s prayer is not a piece of routine liturgical supplication. It is an urgent missional prayer, best illustrated by the parable of the widow who prayed for justice against her adversary. Jesus concludes: “ And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk. 18:7–8).

The petition not to be led into a time of testing has a very specific eschatological purpose—to keep suffering to a minimum. When it came, as it inevitably would, testing was the work of the devil, aided and abetted by sinful desires. But even then it had a positive value: it proved the genuineness of their faith, and if they passed the test, they would gain the crown of life, which is a reference to martyrdom and vindication at the parousia.

For years, I’ve prayed a version of the LP that says, “And lead us not into the time of trial, but deliver us from the Evil One.” I think that captures it. In the case of the disciples, it was the troubles surrounding the Fall of Jerusalem and the devastation of the Jewish nation. In our case, we look forward to similar times of trouble throughout the “last days,” which by my reading will increase at the end of the age.

The entire Lord’s Prayer looks forward. Even as we pray for daily bread and forgiveness, we anticipate that living in this world will be hard, and we ask God to spare us from the troubles to come.

• • •


Drew Broach reports at NOLA:

Meat Loaf, the Wagnerian pop-rock singer who hit the charts in 1977 with the “Bat Out of Hell” album, must have wondered, “Who am I? Why am I here?,” this week when four successive U.S. senators at a Banking Committee meeting quoted Jim Steinman-penned lyrics that he made famous. It made for some light moments in the otherwise heavy discussion of the proposed Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act.

Referring to the title of the bill, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said: “As Meat Loaf used to sing, ‘Two out of three ain’t bad.’ But this bill doesn’t even meet the Meat Loaf minimum.”

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., chimed in: “Meat Loaf also said, ‘There ain’t no coupe de ville in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.’ In other words, we live in a real world.”

“In that same song,” added Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., “he said, ‘Baby we can talk all night, but that ain’t getting us nowhere.’ So I’m looking forward to processing the amendments.”

Not to miss an opportunity, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., objected: “Meat Loaf also said, ‘Life is a lemon, and I want my money back.’ So on behalf of all the consumers who [got] the short end of the stick from Wells Fargo and Equifax, I want to have a bill to make sure they get their money back.”

Yessiree folks, Congress has descended to the level of Meatloaf. Well, at least they cited an appropriate song for these days, and here it is in all its over-the-top glory:

• • •

AND THEN THERE’S THIS POOR GUY (with the great ‘stache)…

NPR reports that Richard Klose from Laurel, Mont., got a surprise phone call this week. He had been elected to the city council, even though he didn’t run.

It wasn’t a scam. Nobody else ran for the position, either, but some people wrote in his name. In fact, Mr. Close got three write-in votes out of the 52 votes cast, more than anyone else. So, he’s on the city council.

He told the Billings Gazette that since he’s retired, he may as well give back to the community. I guess that’s what you get for being the popular guy in a small town.

And hey, with a mustache like that, he might as well be sheriff too, right?

• • •


WASHINGTON (RNS) — The largest Catholic church in North America is now complete.

After 100 years of construction, thousands of worshippers Friday (Dec. 8) witnessed the blessing of 24 tons of Venetian glass that embellish the dome of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate ConceptionCalled the “Trinity Dome,” the glass mosaic is the final architectural element of the church, a shrine to Mary which sits next to the Catholic University of America and is visited by nearly 1 million people a year.

A 10-minute procession of cardinals, bishops, and priests preceded the two-hour ceremony and Mass to mark the dedication of the dome. Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl who celebrated the Mass called the basilica a “modern-day masterpiece.” Faith, he said, was the reason why so many people, for so many years, sacrificed to finish the church.

Here are a few pictures of the church. Check out THIS SITE where you can see 50 photographs of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. You can also go the Basilica site and take virtual tours.

• • •


Diana Butler Bass hit the nail on the head with her tweet this week: “Of all the possible theological dog-whistles to his evangelical base, this is the biggest. Trump is reminding them that he is carrying out God’s will to these Last Days.” She was speaking, of course, about the President’s announcement that the U.S. will now recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Julie Ingersoll at RNS explains the theological component in this decision and why many evangelicals are cheering it.

For many of President Trump’s evangelical supporters this is a key step in the progression of events leading to the second coming of Jesus. There’s an interesting story as to how that came to be.

The nation of Israel and the role of the city of Jerusalem are central in the “end-times” theology – a form of what is known as “premillennialism” – embraced by many American conservative Protestants. ​

While this theology is often thought of as a “literal” reading of the Bible, it’s actually a reasonably new interpretation that dates to the nineteenth century and relates to the work of Bible teacher, John Nelson Darby.

According to Darby for this to happen the Jewish people must have control of Jerusalem and build a third Jewish temple on the site where the first and second temples – destroyed centuries ago by the Babylonians and Romans – once were. In Darby’s view this was a necessary precursor to the Rapture, when believers would be “taken up” by Christ to escape the worst of the seven-year-period of suffering and turmoil on earth: The Great Tribulation. This is to be followed by the cosmic battle between good and evil called Armageddon at which Satan will be defeated and Christ will establish his earthly Kingdom. All of this became eminently more possible when the modern state of Israel was established in the 1940s.

Ingersoll goes on to trace the popular dissemination of this teaching through fundamentalist and evangelical groups that began in the 1960s and 70s, particularly with the release of Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth. It became even more a part of Christian and conservative culture through Jenkins and LaHaye’s Left Behind series. We’ve explored this often here at Internet Monk. HERE is one example.

But just know that we are not simply talking politics when our country makes a decision like this. There are many “prophets” who have the ears of those in power and who are spreading this stuff. Bad theology can have real world consequences, and things could get pretty scary. Might be time to break out the “save us from the time of trial” version of the Lord’s Prayer.

We are already beginning to see some of the fallout.

• • •


I just discovered a marvelous album of piano, chamber ensemble, and choral music by Ola Gjeilo, a U.S. based Norwegian musician, called Winter Songs. Here is one of the instrumental pieces, a meditation called “Home.” A blessed Advent week to all of you.

82 thoughts on “The Saturday Monks Brunch: December 9, 2017

  1. Darby came up with it (like Calvin, he had God All Figured Out); Scofield just popularized it to where it hit critical mass and Lindsay took it mainstream to where it became The One True Way.


  2. wasn’t there some footnote in a Scofield Bible Study Guide that was used as ‘proof’ that fundamentalists eschatology was ‘biblical’???

    my understanding is that the whole end-times thing is built up on a house of cards and the original culprit was Scofield


  3. Yes. I’m sure this will prompt a new book by John Hagee – ‘Jerusalem Countdown: A Prelude to War’. Oh wait, he already wrote that, just before his failed prophecies in ‘Four Blood Moons’ and the ones before that in ‘Financial Armageddon’ after the 2008 recession, but after the classic ‘From Daniel to Doomsday’ in great anticipation of Y2K. This move does, after all, fulfill the principle of ’50s’ outlined in Lev. 25 (according to Hagee). Balfour Declaration in 1917, Israel takes Jerusalem in 1967, recognized as capital by US in 2017. What could be clearer? It is, to quote Hagee, ‘Biblical Timing of Absolute Precision’.

    I sure wish I had a theology with that much precision. 🙂


  4. …and before that a large number of British as well. Ever wonder why one of their bigger football clubs was called Newell’s Old Boys?


  5. I find the questions about temptation interesting. It immediately made me think of:

    Mark 1:12-13

    12 Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13 And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him. – NASB


  6. Quite a few Italians and Germans in Argentina and Brazil. Lots of pre- and post WWII migration there.


  7. However the rest of what you say may be, ordering the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem as negotiation leverage on Israel to accept an American peace proposal at a later date = dead bodies in the streets of Palestine today.


  8. P.S. Anyone heard of this?

    I’m trying to track down is an anecdote, most likely from a comment thread, about running into a Christian last Election Day who claimed he voted for Trump specifically because Trump WOULD start a nuclear war, fulfilling End Time Prophecy. Anyone heard ot this


  9. And the fanservice flattery laid on with a gunnite sprayer is common to both.
    As is the use of both as Inerrant SCRIPTURE(TM) by their True Believers.

    Thing is, Atlas Shrugged started with a legitimate premise: What happens when the Free Rider Syndrome hits critical mass? And ended up as Inerrant Infallible SCRIPTURE(TM). (Hmmmm…. just like a lot of the Cheezy Christianese fiction snarked over at Heathen Critique.)

    Including T-shirts (such as this one):


  10. . On June 5, 2017 by a vote of 90-0 the Senate reaffirmed the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, my question Is why? , that is all. Another question I have relates to most or many on this site believe that Trump won the election because of his personal Christian values?, of course not. Christian conservatives just like any other voting bloc (Hispanic, Black, Disabled, Veterans, Students, NRA etc.) voted for Trump because of his stand on the issues, now if he appealed to the Christian bloc with emphasis on their concerns is that new or abhorrent? . Reading the comments today one would think the very secular Trump was elected to establish a theocracy. Did the evangelicals win Mi, Wi and Pa for Trump or other issues. Repeal of the Johnson Amendment and tax money used for UN funding of abortion were important to many Christians but not the driving force. Other than strong support for Israel the capital move was not a major issue. I think that that the “average” Trump voter voted on these issues in importance 1- Stopping illegal immigration , build the wall and all the issues associated with it Number 2- Rebuilding the national infrastructure and all that entails. Number 3- Stopping TPP and NAFTA redo, stopping our terrible one way trade deals that are destroying the middle and lower middle class in America 4- Strong national defense and getting us out of the nation building terrible GW Bush foreign policy blunders . Taxes were not one of the main issues of the average guy and of course the Republican establishment is using Trump to get their agenda done then dump him if they can. So the election of Trump was strictly a evangelical religious vote mostly to move us close to the end times? That is the take away other than Clinton was too liberal in many areas, a poor campaigner with a lot of baggage and no real zeal any where for her platform that was what? Appreciate the response. Thanks


  11. never did get the meaning of the word ‘liberals’ except that it may have applied to those who didn’t hate the right people enough . . . . and, if you wanted to ‘belong’, you had to hate with the holy hatred they call ‘truth in love’ . . . . a terrible mixture of finger-pointing, stone-throwing, and name-calling by the ‘in-group’

    Like no one calls the Westboro people ‘liberals’, do they? I rest my case.


  12. It’s called monetizing the Eschaton. Lots of End-Time scenario books and other resources still to be sold!


  13. I suspect most of his base hasn’t thought it through that much. The worse alternative is that to the base, they’re not people – they’re Boogeymen. Just like orcs in D&D. Except, we D&D players know it isn’t real.


  14. John, as I understand it, the US has tried to walk a fine line for a long time re: Jerusalem because it is the core emotional issue in the conflict. So we pass resolutions to appease Israel and then don’t act on them to stay engaged with the Palestinians. Pres. Trump, who apparently doesn’t have a diplomatic bone in his body, simply and unilaterally decided to say we’re not going to do that anymore. Of course, he also said nothing to encourage the Palestinians that they have any future with part of Jerusalem as their capital. It remains to be seen, however, whether we’ll actually move our embassy or not.


  15. well, ‘Bergoglio’ is an Italian surname. But the pope comes from Argentina and is an American. (Yes, people from North and South American continents are also called ‘Americans’).


  16. I figured Trump was playing to his base. But why do so many people have to die just so DT can maintain a high percentage of evangelical/fundamentalist approval?

    And why now? At the Christmas Season, a time for peace, does DT have to do this? I mean, if you wanted to create any more upset in the Middle East, it would have been hard to come up with a substitute.


  17. Indeed, the new basilica looks beautiful. But when did Jesus (or is that Gabriel? or maybe some other member of the Trinity?) become a blond?


  18. The SBC Takeover was every bit a witch trial imo in the attempt to cleanse the SBC of “liberals.” I often wonder how many peoples lives were destroyed?


  19. Senecagriggs did not the 1995 Jerusalem Act passed overwhelmingly in Congress require the embassey move? Where were all the concern about the evangelical lobby to hasten the end of the world then? What changed except new President? Easy fix Congress repeal Act. Trump will give waiver like Clinton Obama Bush but maybe negoation ploy. Why would Jerusalem not be capital? Thanks for your reply


  20. If churches and museums are your idea of a good time (they are mine!) you could spend a month without leaving the District of Columbia.


  21. Nice building. Has anyone checked the foundations lately? Rumor is a rot has set in.


    The most interesting thing about the Pope’s declaration is not his lack of Greek or poor understanding of NT eschatology (what’s new?) but that he actually seems to believe in Satan!


  22. From the long-ago Archives of Internet Monk:


    Christian pessimism and Muslim extremism are a marriage made in hell. I have no reason to believe the evangelicals in the Bush administration buy this line of cheering while the world slides into the pit, but…

    …the Court Evangelicals flattering the ears of The Trump show every sign that they DO.

    “Who is like unto The Trump? Who can stand against Him?”
    — paraphrase of Revelation 13:4


  23. Repost of a comment of mine from a previous IMonk thread on the subject. At the time, I was following Slacktivist’s scene-by-scene snark of Left Behind AND Daylight Atheism’s similar scene-by-scene snark of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Thesis and Antithesis colliding to form the following Synthesis/Epiphany:

    Left Behind and Atlas Shrugged are the same story, just pitched to different audience with different fanservice. Atlas Shrugged is Left Behind for Brights; Left Behind is Atlas Shrugged for Born-Agains. To wit:

    1) Initial Situation — Persecution of the Righteous (i.e. Those Just Like You, Dear Reader)

    The Righteous (Those Just Like You, Dear Reader, whether Producers or Born-Agains) are outnumbered and oppressed by the Unrighteous (whether Moochers or Heathens). Even though the Righteous are those which actually make things go. (Producing all the stuff the Moochers mooch or being the Remnant whose existence holds off God’s Wrath.) And the Unrighteous are just parasites on the Righteous’s Righteousness while oppressing the Righteous (Just like they do to You, Dear Reader).

    2) Escape Fantasy (Rapture)

    A Messiah figure (Christ or John Galt) spirits away the Righteous (Those Just Like You, Dear Reader) to a hidden safe Paradist (Heaven or Galt’s Gulch) where they can wait out the coming Armageddon in safety and comfort.

    3) Revenge Fantasy (Armageddon)

    Without the Righteous (Those Just Like You, Dear Reader), the world and everything in it melts down into destruction. Whether there are no more Producers for the Moochers to leech from (what happens to Parasites when there are no Hosts left?), or now that the Righteous (Those Just Like You, Dear Reader) are Raptured away there’s nothing stopping God from opening a can of whoop-ass on the Unrighteous who are Left Behind. While the Righteous watch from their safe refuge (As You Will, Dear Reader).

    4) End Situation — Exaltation of the Righteous

    Once the Unrighteous have been taken down never to rise again, the Messiah figure returns from his hidden refuge taking the Righteous (Those Just Like You, Dear Reader) to inherit the world which should have been theirs in the first place. And Everything is Perfect. FOREVER. Fade to black.


  24. Yes, it is…go there almost every time we’re in dc visiting my son (who went to CUA for his MA), because it is spectacular and they do an amazing Christmas performance every year, and is televised.


  25. …after 500 years protestants still think they understand eschatology better than the Pope.

    They don’t think, they KNOW.
    They’ve Got The Direct Line to GOD! History Written In Advance!
    Just ask Hal Lindsay’s & Left Behind’s fanboys.


  26. And as one of the captions from a previous IMonk Saturday Brunch put it:

    “In eight hours it will all be poop.”


  27. Well, they don’t plan on being around when the Trib goes down.

    Just watching it all from their Reserved Catered Box Seats in Heaven.

    “The arrival of the Antichrist, the perishing of mankind and the destruction of the world” as a spectator sport, nothing more. And they’re holding season tickets (part of the Altar Call Fire Insurance policy package).

    “When the Rapture comes, I hope I’m in a skyscraper so I won’t have as far to go.”
    — End-Times Gushing overheard by Eagle on 9/11/2001


  28. It’s a strange interpretation of one phrase in 2 Peter (3:16) – ‘waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,’ They think it is ‘hastening’.

    Martha of Ireland (remember her?) called it “Imminentizing the Eschaton”.

    A more informal name of which is JUMP-START ARMAGEDDON.


  29. Until it gets blown up to clear real estate for the Third Temple.


  30. That basilica is impressive, but after La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, it looks so… Conventional.


  31. Meanwhile the majority of the Legislature wants to make sure Wells Fargo and Equifax get **their** money back.

    Some of which will get cycled into Campaign Donations(TM), AKA the Legislature’s Cut.


  32. “Of all the possible theological dog-whistles to his evangelical base, this is the biggest. Trump is reminding them that he is carrying out God’s will to these Last Days.”

    i.e. Jump-Start Armageddon.

    “When the Rapture comes, I hope I’m in a skyscraper so I won’t have as far to go.”
    — End-Times Gushing overheard by Eagle on 9/11/2001

    Ingersoll goes on to trace the popular dissemination of this teaching through fundamentalist and evangelical groups that began in the 1960s and 70s, particularly with the release of Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth.

    And in Late Great Planet Earth, “carrying out God’s will to these Last Days” included Global Thermonuclear War. IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!

    Remember REVEREND Jeffers laying on the flattery on how God Hath Anointed Donald Trump to Lead Us Against North Korea?

    Yes, I’m a survivor of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay (with a side order of Jack Chick). I remember the “Bible Studies” with no SCRIPTURE(TM) in sight except Late Great Planet Earth. The Demon Locusts of Revelation plainly being helicopter gunships packing chemical-weapon “stings” and flown by long-haired bearded hippies. What Slacktivist called “Turbo-Jesus” returning to cast us all into Eternal Hell unless we walk the aisle at the Altar Call. (“If you can’t love ’em into The Kingdom, SCARE ‘EM INTO THE KINGDOM!” After 40 years, the damage is still there.


  33. The Basilica means there is yet one more thing to visit on my east-coast tour… I am going to need a month off for that trip.


  34. All Evangelical leaders are Warlocks – they want to build temples to summon the gods – indistinguishable from sorcery. Perhaps we need some Witch Trials?


  35. “””on behalf of all the consumers who [got] the short end of the stick from Wells Fargo and Equifax, I want to have a bill to make sure they get their money back.”””

    Meanwhile the majority of the Legislature wants to make sure Wells Fargo and Equifax get **their** money back.


  36. It’s a strange interpretation of one phrase in 2 Peter (3:16) – ‘waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,’ They think it is ‘hastening’. As the president announced this I wondered how many people will die so he can score some points with evangelicals (with their bad eschatology – or as the Brits say ‘that quaint American belief’).


  37. Yep.

    “””There are many “prophets” who have the ears of those in power and who are spreading this stuff. “””

    Chilling. Prohpets == Frauds. This makes me want to elect athiests; just to avoid the “spiritual gifts” hand waves.


  38. To be fair, some Popes weren’t so good at understanding eschatology themselves. This one just happens to be better at it.


  39. A lot of it is also the outworking of evangelicalism latching on to Islam as The New Bogeyman, after Communism and Paneuropeanism failed to produce the promised Antichrist.


  40. I’d be willing to bet there are some academic Catholic scholars who agree with us. 😉

    And yes, the DC basilica is pretty spectacular. There are also over a dozen smaller thematic shrines in the basement level. It’s well worth a visit.


  41. Luther would be proud (or not), after 500 years protestants still think they understand eschatology better than the Pope.


  42. I still listen to Meatloaf on youtube.

    I understand Bill Clinton and George W. [ while campaigning for the Presidency ] promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. Neither followed thru of course.

    Then 6 months ago: ” In curious first, Russia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital”

    Finally, the Palestinian/Israel divide is the most PERMANENT wound in the history of geo-political issues. Outside of God’s intervention, it’s not fixable.


  43. So. “Christian” premillennialist fundamentalists are deliberately, actively and expressly trying to prompt the arrival of the Antichrist, the perishing of mankind and the destruction of the world. Just think about that for a second.


  44. Out here on the west coast, if you wait until Saturday brunch time to read the Saturday Brunch, you’re about 100+ comments too late.


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