The Saturday Monks Brunch: March 24, 2018


It’s Spring! Well, sort of. Here’s what our friend Randy Thompson had hanging around his place in New Hampshire as spring began this year. Follow the link to check out more beautiful pictures from the woods and mountains. Thankfully, the big nor’easter that they were anticipating didn’t materialize, but it’s safe to say that they’ll be enjoying a robust ski business in New England for some time to come.

Here in central Indiana, we’re expecting 4-8 inches of snow today. And this will be our second punch in a week. That was exactly how spring greeted us when it arrived the other day. Here’s a shot from my backyard in late afternoon on the first day of spring.

Welcome to this most unpredictable of seasons. Today we’ll do our best to give you something interesting to think and talk about while we all wait for warmer and greener days to come.


At more than 800 sites around the United States and the world, students will be marching today for stronger gun laws. Here’s a map of the U.S. sites:

Here is the movement’s mission statement:

Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.

March For Our Lives is created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns. March For Our Lives believes the time is now.

On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington, DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority. The collective voices of the March For Our Lives movement will be heard.

School safety is not a political issue. There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing, and growing. The mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues. No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.

Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Change is coming. And it starts now, inspired by and led by the kids who are our hope for the future. Their young voices will be heard.

Stand with us on March 24. Refuse to allow one more needless death.



Reddit has an entire “Shower Thoughts” subreddit dedicated to “the miniature epiphanies you have that highlight the oddities within the familiar.” Here are a few recent ones:

If the Earth was flat, why haven’t the cats pushed everything off by now?

Teenagers drink alcohol to feel like older adults. Adults drink alcohol to feel like teenagers again.

A candle is a pet fire.

It’s water under the bridge because you are over it.

Cavemen, from birth to death, never had to know what it felt like to hold a pee in for an uncomfortable amount of time.

At age 30, you’ve spent a month having birthdays

Good Morning is a greeting but Good Night is a farewell even if you see a person for the first time at night.

Soy sauce is just normal sauce introducing itself in Spanish.

To stop a piece of paper from folding you put it in a folder.

It would be nice if before going to bed, life asked us if we want to save progress.



“I feel as if we have neglected our duty as stewards of creation and should have done more for this species.” So said Rev. Charles Odira, a Roman Catholic conservationist priest from Kenya, speaking about the death of 45-year-old rhino named Sudan who was euthanized March 19 after suffering an infection and serious complications due to his advanced age.

Two northern white rhinos now remain: Najin, Sudan’s daughter, and Fatu, his granddaughter. Both of them live at the same conservancy where Sudan lived and died. In 1960 there were about 2,000 northern white rhinos, but since then, war, loss of habitat, and poaching of rhino horns decimated the population.

Conservationists hope to save the northern white rhino from extinction by extracting Najin and Fatu’s eggs; fertilizing them in vitro with banked sperm; and then implanting the embryos in surrogate southern white rhino females.


Two big developments in the evangelical megachurch world this week regarding the growing movement to include church communities in the #METOO movement against sexual harassment and abuse.

First, Andy Savage, teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN, who has been in the news since it came to light that he abused a student in his youth ministry earlier in his career, resigned. He stepped down after a leave of absence and lengthy investigation by Scott Fredricks, a Fort Worth lawyer whose specialties include assisting churches with child-abuse investigations.

Perhaps Savage and the church are starting to get it. In a letter to the church, the pastor said, “Your passionate opinions on this important matter have truly helped me to gain perspective that I simply could not have achieved on my own. I have come to understand Jules’ vantage point better, and to appreciate the courage it took for her to speak up.” And the church leadership admitted “that it was defensive rather than empathetic in its initial reaction to Ms. Jules Woodson’s communication concerning the abuse she experienced.”

While Jules cried out for justice, I carelessly turned the topic to my own story of moral change, as if getting my own life in order should help to make up for what she went through and continues to go through.

Meanwhile, in what could be an even more far-reaching bombshell in evangelicalism, the Chicago Tribune reports on an investigation regarding inappropriate behavior by Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church. Christianity Today has also reported on the story.

What makes the accusations against Hybels most troubling is that a number of them involve or have been alleged by some of his closest friends and colleagues at Willow, including Nancy Beach, Leanne Mellado, Vonda Dyer, and John and Nancy Ortberg.

For his part, Hybels adamantly denies any wrongdoing whatsoever: “This has been a calculated and continual attack on our elders and on me for four long years. It’s time that gets identified. I want to speak to all the people around the country that have been misled … for the past four years and tell them in my voice, in as strong a voice as you’ll allow me to tell it, that the charges against me are false. There still to this day is not evidence of misconduct on my part.”



Why is Toys R Us going away?

What group is  more than twice as likely to blame a person’s poverty on lack of effort?

 Is stoning the shooter the answer?

 Why did Russian Protestants vote for Putin?

Where are your favorite news organizations on the Media Bias Chart?


Wonderful songwriting and performance by Amanda Shires and her husband, Jason Isbell.

109 thoughts on “The Saturday Monks Brunch: March 24, 2018

  1. Re: the Russian Protestant support of Putin:

    How similar is it to the American Evangelical support of Trump?
    Is the same dynamic at work?
    “Make Russia Great Again”?

    Main difference is Russia already has a State Religion, the Russian Orthodox Church (who have a history of sucking up to power, becoming extensions of the Tsar/State in exchange for the perks of being the One State Religion).


  2. Yeah these visions of Islam taking over by breeding are typical Right Wing fantasies.

    Helped along by the Loud Crazies and clannish tribalism among the Muslims.

    Such as the Euro-Mullah who went “We conquer the lands of the Franks! Our wombs shall be our weapons!” in an Islamic version of Quiverfull for the Culture War.


  3. Depends on culture.
    I remember hearing of revenge blood feuds in Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures that lasted for generations; entire generations raised from birth for Revenge against the Other.


  4. Pre-emptive NUCLEAR strikes?

    Just today I ran across a couple people convinced (by evidence of current trends) that Trump Tower DC is going to get us into a nuclear war (probably with North Korea) while Christians cheer “AAAAAAA-MENNNN!!!” in Praise and Adoration. (In the words of the original Internet Monk, “Cheering while the world slides into the Pit.”)

    The only (non-nuclear flash) light at the end of the tunnel is (in the words of morning drive-time) “Sure, Bolton’s going to advise Trump to strike and war. But since when does Trump listen to anyone?”


  5. As Aussies we are unable to grasp fully the hold this issue has in America.

    You can say the same thing about the “immigration issue” with Americans outside of Southern California, Arizona, or New Mexico — outsiders has NO idea how high the feelings run on that subject in this “Del Norte” border region,

    “Del Norte” comes from an online article I recently read which breaks up the USA and Canada into several cultural regions; in this case, the Mexican border area in the Southwest US where Mexican/Spanish Colonial culture is a major influence.

    California is especially hard hit, as we’re the nexus of THREE different cultural influences which do NOT get along:
    * Del Norte (south of Bakersfield, extending along Mexican border to Texas), summarized above. Border Culture transition zone between Anglos and Mexicans; one of the longstanding quirks is that “race” is primarily defined by primary language and accompanying background culture.
    * The Left Coast (coastal area starting around Monterey and extending north to Seattle), locally centered on San Francisco; major cultural influence transplanted “New England”, completely secularized but retaining the NE Puritan Righteousness and Moral Fury for The Cause. (And perfectly willing to force it down the throats of the ignorant unwashed masses — “WE Know What’s Best For You!”)
    * The Far West (entire rest of the state) — major influence the classic “Wild West” Westward Expansion frontier/cowboy culture of Rugged Individualism, very independent, self-sufficient (including self-defense by firearm), extremely distrustful of ANY outside authority.

    Put these three together and you have the explosive mixture of California Politics & Attitudes.


  6. John Bolton is a nut case. He will fit right in at the W.H.
    We WILL ‘then be entertained’. Unless he succeeds in starting some wars (“pre-emptive strikes” ?)

    Things are getting stranger and stranger. It’s unreal. (Maybe I’ll wake up soon?)


  7. Hi Susan,

    The children who survived the recent massacre point out that the safety of school children is not a political issue. They are marching and demonstrating because their dead friends no longer have a voice . . . . and these survivors don’t want this to happen to anyone again.

    I’m proud of these young people. Very proud.
    They are making a difference. Soon, they will vote . . . . THEN we can call their efforts ‘political’, yes.


  8. Susan, as a relative newcomer to this site you need to understand the “traditions” of this sight with a little more grace. I don’t know how you expect our American friends to ignore the “guns and politics” issue, particularly this weekend. As Aussies we are unable to grasp fully the hold this issue has in America. This is not a “religious” site as such, but a site where Christians of varying understandings can come and have a conversation. You call yourself “high church Anglican” which has it’s traditions. Not all Christians even look at this week as “Holy Week”, so get down off your high horse please. My only problem with this site is when they start going on about those weird American sports -:)


  9. Hi Susan,

    The children who survived the recent massacre point out that the safety of school children is not a political issue. They are marching and demonstrating because their dead friends no longer have a voice . . . . and these survivors don’t want this to happen to anyone again.

    I’m proud of these young people. Very proud.
    They are making a difference. Soon, they will vote . . . . THEN we can call their efforts ‘political’, yes.


  10. It’s the evangelical moralistic schtick.

    Of which the first two Commandments seem to be “Me, NOT Thee” and “Don’t Get Caught”.

    The former Zero-Sum One-Upmanship and the latter a throwback to Honor/Shame tribal Culture:
    “If no one knows of my Sin, I Am Not Shamed”. (Which can escalate to “And Dead Men Tell No Tales”, which explains a lot of problems throughout history.)


  11. Yep, the Ortbergs and others. That’s what convinced me too. I hate that this is happening because I’ve always liked Bill Hybels, but it looks like ego-itis got to him too. I attend a large non-denom where this occurred with our founding pastor. I’d love to shake these people and ask them what part of “do not commit adultery” do they not understand.

    I love the cat punch card and the media chart, although I would have moved Mother Jones down a bit.


  12. The Proper Code Phrase is “SEMI-AUTOMATIC ASSAULT-TYPE WEAPONS(TM)”.
    Any other term is THOUGHTCRIME.


  13. I do know the only time I was formally in the NRA, all they did was send me “GIMME MORE MONEY OR IT”S THE END OF THE WORLD!!!!!” junk mail. Not much different from the “SEND MONEY OR GAWD WILL HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE (Chapter-and-Verse from Ezekiel)!!!!!” Christianese junk mail I was getting at the same time. I got out within the year; one thing I have to give them credit for, the junk mail from them stopped not long after.


  14. And if that locked gun container is portable, anyone who wants to steal your guns (which have pretty good black market value) not only has an unarmed target, but a convenient carry container for the high-value loot.


  15. Like the photo of those Christian Leaders (Megapastors? Court Prophets?) laying on hands and pouring the oil on Trump’s head?

    (Aside: Trump strikes me as a man who’s VERY full of himself. Is adding Divine Right to such an ego really that hot an idea?)

    Though when the 2016 cycle began, Ted Cruz did Trump one better. Ted Cruz’s FATHER (a pastor?) actually poured the oil on his son’s head, laid on the hands, and Prophesied over the future King of America.


  16. While I was away,

    You all couldn’t resist politics and guns, Just for one Saturday, let alone this coming week?
    One Saturday Brunch in 52 I asked. Do the Math.
    Chaplain Mike, some traditions precede this site.

    Susan. – feeling disgruntled.


  17. I loved the red rectangle.

    Can’t believe they missed World Nuts, I mean World News, Daily. It would go right above


  18. Good to hear from you! I’m glad things are going well. Congratulations on your college degree, job, and your own house. I remember those good feelings. As the man said to Jesus (Mark 9;34), “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief”.


  19. I was a little surprised (but not disappointed) to see Fox News located on the edge of the red rectangle on the chart: “Nonsense damaging to public discourse.”


  20. I wonder what the attention span for revenge fantasies is? Perhaps by the time someone’s filled out a 20 page form, waited two months for a background check and gone on a gun safety course (or whatever) they can’t remember why they thought getting a gun was a good idea in the first place?


  21. Interesting song. Thanks for sharing it. Gildenlow’s album and the story behind it reminds me a lot of David Bowie’s last album “Blackstar.” A difficult album to listen to, very challenging like this one sounds like. I’m glad I own it, I’m glad he made it, but I don’t pop it in a whole lot.


  22. I failed Rhetoric. If it had been a subject, I’m sure I wouldn’t have done too well in Irony, either.


  23. Just to be clear: the song is not about JFK’s assassination; the video is using JFK assassination iconography, among other things, to underscore the song’s much wider themes, themes that are as relevant today as they were in the 1980s, or 1st century Palestine.


  24. > Call me a post-post-evangelical

    Welcome to the club.

    > I don’t really need the specifics

    Ditto. I’ve forgotten why those specifics were so important. These days I chalk it up to the fever of youth; and probably that I didn’t have the 1,001 problems of day-to-day adult life to keep me busy.


  25. I will make one political observation this week: CNN and the rest of the “liberal” MSM may dominate television and the internet, but none of them has anywhere near the influence on and in the White House that FOX News does, and John Bolton is about to increase that influence exponentially.


  26. I’m glad things are working well for you. It also sounds like you are exactly where you need and want to be in relationship to Christian faith, and it’s a place that makes sense. I totally get being post-post-evangelical, and post-Christian institution. I really have no interest in discussing the current state of evangelicalism, although in my case that’s because I’m not post-evangelical, since I was never an evangelical. But I still struggle with religious manias that were inculcated in me by my dysfunctional Roman Catholic upbringing, and being here helps me to deal with some of the things that have remained unsettled from that part of my life. Emulating Jesus to the best of one’s abilities and hoping for the best seems like a good way to go; I may end up there myself at some point, we’ll see/


  27. The leadership reacted too quickly and strongly in our case, in retrospect. Plus they never clued the congregation in on details regarding the decision, leading to a spirit of distrust, confusion, and unhealed pain which lasted for years and ultimately ended in me having to leave the church because of financial constraints. They seemed to have a knee-jerk sense of disgust and betrayal that they couldn’t get over. Within 9 months after I arrived all but one of the elders had left the church. It had become too uncomfortable.


  28. And that’s a key difference. Someone has allowed many to conflate 2A with NRA. No. I will say that most of the gun owners I know, liberals or conservatives, civilians or police or military…most of them, almost all of them, despise the NRA with a passion. Curtailing the NRA is not the same as attacking the 2A.


  29. Yes. Everyone always says this . . . yet everyone continues to watch, and continues to talk like they should be taken seriously. It is baffling.


  30. Seeing as there is a Music of the Week part of this post, I’d like to add a recommendation of my own. This is the closing song and title track from Pain of Salvation’s latest album, In the Passing Light of Day.

    The album itself is based on singer/composer Daniel Gildenlow’s 2014 hospitalization with flesh-eating bacteria that almost killed him. In short, the album as a whole begins with his diagnosis and reaction, the middle is a series of reflections on parts of his life, and the end revolves around the conclusion of his illness and him coming to terms with death. It is a very challenging listen and there is a lot more depth and interesting themes to it than my brief summation. This song in particular is about Gildenlow on what seems to be his death bed talking to his wife and reflecting on their relationship. It is a pretty gut-wrenching song, but is so well-written and performed that I would recommend anyone listen to it. It’s fifteen minutes long, but I think it is time well-spent.


  31. J.B., I didn’t question the validity of anyone’s Christianity on the basis of their cultural formation; you attributed thoughts to me that I did not have. How do I know how Christian someone’s formation has to be to qualify them as Christian? I depend on the mercy and grace of God for myself, and everyone else. What happens among Russian Christians is certainly a mirror, even if somewhat dim, for what happens among American Christians, including myself; I was looking in that mirror when I wrote my comment this morning, and seeing my own inadequacy in the reflection from a far off place that I will never visit. I too underwrite Caesar, and have all my adult life, in these United States.


  32. Loud, angry and wacky gets attention. Attention means higher ratings. Higher ratings means more ad revenue. Rinse, lather, repeat.


  33. Or one doesn’t need to “keep guns out of the hands” in order to make them less dangerous. Why? Who knows. Human society and sociology is riven through with persistent correlations that are at best not obvious or at worst seem straight-up magical. Maybe humans are not rational.


  34. Yes. There is a difference between “he said, she said” vs. “he said, she said, and she said, and she said, and she said ….”

    Lots of people lose their jobs due to the accumulated weight of their baggage.


  35. Graduated from college, got a job, and bought a house. Things are going great for me aside from the occasional and, quite frankly, unimportant case of boredom, but that boredom is kind of why I’m here again though. In short, I’ve been on a big nostalgia kick since the start of the year that has led to a lot of reflecting on various interests and events from my past (Probably bordering on navel gazing at times) and that led me back here. I’ll admit that my interest in religious matters has waned a great deal since I quit visiting here in mid-2015-ish because I simply moved on to other things, but what led to me moving on to other things was me determining at the time that there wasn’t much left in the religious blogosphere that really provided much value to me. I got tired of the same old HAWT TAEKS on the same old topics over on Patheos, but probably more significantly, I have pretty much moved on from everything from my conservative evangelical past and that in a way includes the idea of post-evangelicalism too.

    At the time, it seemed like post-evangelicalism involved a lot more analysis and observation of evangelicalism itself than I felt was needed because, as I said, I have moved on. I don’t care to compare and contrast evangelical beliefs with other ideas or dwell on the issues of evangelicalism because it has no importance to me anymore. Call me a post-post-evangelical, I guess. Actually, at this point, I don’t really know what to call myself. I don’t know if you can say that I have faith per se so much as I have hope. I do not possess any degree of certainty at all that God exists, but I feel that life isn’t worth living if He doesn’t so I continue to hope that He does. I guess that requires at least a bit of what might be normally termed as faith. Maybe call it some sort of Christian agnosticism or something. I don’t know. All I really have much confidence in is that if there is indeed a benevolent creator, everything will work out in the end better than we are able to anticipate as severely limited mortals. As such, I don’t really have fear or doubt, but I also don’t have much in the way of specifics, but I think in my own personal case, I don’t really need the specifics; especially when the specifics themselves are pretty much impossible to verify. I’ll just try to emulate Jesus to the best of my abilities and hope for the best.


  36. What I like and appreciate about the current response to the latest school shooting is how grassroots it is. It’s people and corporations saying, “You know what… we’re not going to take on the Second Amendment, we’re just going to do what we think is best for society and begin restricting what we sell and/or finance.” So let’s the NRA blather on about gun rights, and we’ll just do the right thing. The NRA will soon find itself on an island, with very few people paying attention. I’m really liking it.


  37. –> “I am not a kill joy however… Act as such.”

    I know it is not your intent to sound like a Pharisee, but…


  38. There’s a good opinion piece in the Washington Post about what can be done. Can’t provide a link (and I don’t know that IM allows links) but this could be googled:

    This is how we save
    lives from gun violence

    Those who oppose reforms say nothing can be done. That’s demonstrably wrong.
    By Robert Gebelhoff March 23, 2018


  39. Beyond defending oneself that could go a long way in helping out with police have to make a split second decision that sometimes turns out to be the wrong one.


  40. Maybe we should just call them semi-manual.

    or maybe just manually-enhanced. On second thought…probably not.


  41. There’s far too much logic in this post 😉

    On a side note, throughout all these gun debates, something that I always wonder is: considering how technologically advanced we are, how long will it be before we come up with a viable, non-lethal alternative for a weapon in defending oneself? This would nearly render the entire gun debate moot. Granted, things like stun-guns are probably more prone to misuse than an old-fashioned gun, but still…there’s gotta be something we can come up with that would effectively disable a person but not kill them.


  42. Because that number is small and declining. Calculate it per capita and taking an aspirin every day to retard heart disease is a better investment.


  43. I doubt if Hybel has done anything for which he will be convicted in a court of law. So it’s rather disingenuous to insist on strict legal standards. If it were an instance of “he said, she said” then that would be one thing. Look at his growing list of accusers. I can see why he would lie. Why would all of them?


  44. The article linked said total gun sales were unaffected, but gun homicides were halved, which suggests permits etc do keep guns out of the hands of a small minority of people disproportionately responsible for the homicides.


  45. “(by banning high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic weapons, for example),”


    You do realize that you can own a 22 rifle that is a “semi-automatic.”

    Any gun that fires a bullet every time you pull the trigger is a “semi-automatic.”

    I don’t want to outlaw 22’s. I don’t want to outlaw handguns –

    “Semi-automatic” is one of those scare words.


  46. Jon, the Supreme Court ruled in ‘District of Columbia vs Heller’ that an outright ban on private ownership of firearms is unconstitutional. Quite rightly since however you interpret the second amendment it does obviously protect the rights of some class of persons to possess firearms. However in his majority opinion, Justice Scalia (that raging liberal) wrote that the government has the right to regulate such ownership and indeed has a compelling obligation to do so. This took away one of the most effective (I won’t say strongest) arguments that the NRA had in its arsenal (pardon the awful pun), that any attempt to regulate gun ownership was a de facto attempt to ban such ownership. Justice Scalia said that the “slippery slope” does not exist.

    Sooo…how about waiting periods? Background checks? Child proof locks? No buying weapons in a state in which you do not reside? There are plenty of practical suggestions. All it takes is political will.


  47. Considering the number of people who are robbed and assaulted during the year, were do you get this zero probability from?


  48. Yeah these visions of Islam taking over by breeding are typical Right Wing fantasies. It might be useful to remember these refugees are not invading. They’re escaping!


  49. > ..main purposes of gun ownership, which is self-defense..

    There is an operationally zero probability that there is anything or anyone you will need to defend yourself from, so . . . . shrug.

    If someone feels the need to have firearms to defend themselves a rational discussion is – by the initial frame of the conversation – pointless. But, whatever. Add some paperwork and let them have it; that is how we very effectively control all kinds of potentially dangerous things people feel the need to use, own, or do. Regardless of if that need is substantive.


  50. The impression I get is that Willow Creek is less moralistic than the average smaller evangelical congregation, and probably more corporatist in it its orientation. I read the whole mind-numbing Tribune article, and all of the incidents involving Hybels and women other than his wife had plausible deniability on Hybel’s part.

    The situation concerning Mrs Dyer got the most attention. If the Tribune wanted to drum up sympathy for Mrs. Dyer, they should have used a photo with her showing more vulnerability, not one showing her with a tight, smug, alpha-woman-spurned grimace, but then, that’s probably my own misogyny coming out.

    As far as vague emotional bonding, I’ve been guilty with that with friends’ wives and the counsel I got was worth the static, but we weren’t in positions of leadership.

    All male-female relationships exist in a complex web of mostly unconscious desires and expectations. Something will be lost if we have to conduct them in the unsympathetic and definitely unromantic glare of public scrutiny, but maybe it is necessary at this juncture to do so. Because of ‘power differentials’, male desire has hitherto been the focus so far. When female desire gets its day in the sun, I can guarantee you the view will be no less repugnant.


  51. CM,
    Do you think your church was wrong to fire the pastor over that incident, or that evangelical churches historically have been wrong to fire pastors who engage in similar actions.


  52. > But if the picture is mostly accurate,

    It is emphatically not.

    I have more than once had the experience of being approached by a “journalist”, camera person in tow, and if you aren’t unhappy or angry they walk away mid-sentence. They shop the crowds for some angry person.

    I’ve even experience this when the local news was doing a story about work on the freeway which is on the south side of the neighborhood – how banal can you get? – . . . the “journalist” kept moving until he found the old lady angry that the machines made noise at night. Most people were: “everyone wants them to maintain stuff, and working on things made out of cement involves noise, what’s the question again?”

    This likely gets amplified by the resulting affect of not-angry-and-unhinged people learning to avoid “journalists”; why waste time with them?

    American “News” is a dumpster fire stoked by bottom feeders.


  53. Just a couple of push back points that I often hear concerning this idea: If getting a permit isn’t too onerous, then why is requiring I.D. for voting too onerous? (I know it is a different issue, but it will be brought up).
    Secondly, how would permits stop a kid from taking their permitted parent’s gun to school and shooting people?


  54. If it is required that guns be locked up, that hampers one of the main purposes of gun ownership, which is self-defense. If someone has just kicked in your door, you may not have time to go unlock a safe.


  55. I’m sure it is possible for marches and protests to be good, but so many of them lately have had elements that seem, at least to me, counter productive; blocking traffic, wearing vulgar hats on your heads, shouting down the other side instead of engaging in the “dialogue” people claim to so often want. Now I will admit that I don’t live in the areas where large protests are likely to occur, so what I get is what I see on the news and it may be a totally wrong picture. But if the picture is mostly accurate, then someone needs to get these march organizers and figure out a more winning approach to protesting.


  56. Mule, having been in evangelical churches for decades, if even one of the incidents regarding Hybels had become common knowledge, he would have faced severe consequences. I became pastor of a church because the previous pastor had shared one kiss and some vague emotional bonding with a woman other than his wife, and had been unceremoniously dumped and denounced as immoral. It’s the evangelical moralistic schtick.


  57. It is a pretty well studied, almost a given at his point: requiring permits has a negligible impact on people doing anything [assuming the process is not onerous]. If people want to do something they will get the permit.

    How many people do not drive because they do not bother to renew their drivers license? How many people do not own a vehicle because of auto registration requirements? And one very rarely hears an argument that this healthy dose of bureaucracy does not make the system safer.

    Perhaps even just having a process – which s-l-o-w-s things down – makes systems safer, almost without it mattering what the process it.


  58. Agree, 110%. Any improvements regarding real world problems involves turning many dials a little bit; which is not the kind of conversations our media is engineered to facilitate – or even report on.


  59. > Someone recently wrote that marches and protests were good in that they are
    > signs of faith and hope that things can change; that we can turn this around

    Agree; protests|marches are a sign of civic health.

    I constantly hear people who don’t ever attend them talk about them as unreasonable, etc… I encourage people – likely to no effect – to attend them. Because these protest|marches are generally full of people who know each other, are having a good time, and border on festivals.

    > I think this stands in stark contrast to those who react to these tragedies by buying more guns



  60. When you’re dealing with a public health issue, there’s seldom a single solution that would completely eliminate the issue. For example, reducing car accident fatalities has involved a mixture of technological solutions (airbags, anti-lock brakes, etc.), legal solutions (seat belt laws, drunk driving laws), etc. People still die in car crashes, but at half the rate of 50 years ago.

    The same is true of school shootings. In a country where guns are such a core part of people’s identities, we’ll probably never be able to eliminate mass shootings. But we can make them less lethal (by banning high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic weapons, for example), make it harder for kids to get access to guns (not selling guns to teenagers, requiring guns to be locked up), and avoid selling guns to people who are considered a danger to themselves or others (background checks, etc.).

    The US has ten times more school shootings than any other developed nation. Most of those nations have not completely eliminated mass shootings, but they’ve found ways to make them much less prevalent.


  61. Someone recently wrote that marches and protests were good in that they are signs of faith and hope that things can change; that we can turn this around. I think this stands in stark contrast to those who react to these tragedies by buying more guns (the government is going to take them away soon! I gotta buy more to get a leg up on the bad guys!)


  62. Christians push back against the societal consensus all the time, Robert. They just that the majority of them don’t push in the direction you want them to.


  63. It seems there have been a great deal of marches and protests the last few years. In general I’m not a fan, as they seem to be big on noise and short on solutions, or even a reasonable dialogue. So, to open a can of worms here, just what legislative changes regarding guns could be made which result in these school shootings not happening? And are there other, non-gun control proposals which could actually make schools safer?


  64. > I read recently that Islam will be the majority religion in Italy in the next 40 to 50 years by default

    Italy is ~3% Muslim, and ~70-75% Roman Catholic. Whoever was the author of that study – he needs a professional to subscribe medication.


  65. They have to be putin me on. They have a lot of natural gas in Russia so Putin is what they do and need.

    Look at the march of history , Europe has lost or given up their Christian heritage and culture and the good old USA is not far behind. As they say so often Christians are on the “wrong” side of history now for sure. Of course our views and decisions are influenced by the culture and country we live. I read recently that Islam will be the majority religion in Italy in the next 40 to 50 years by default and the work of the Muslim missionaries. Are not most of the EO churches identified and attached with the language, country or culture they come from?

    There is a one time election that we each make to accept who is “king: of our life, no matter who wins the popular vote.

    Robert F. , I agree with you as for sure the evangelicals do , hence you are born again and not what you are.
    Do we discount the Russian Christians sincerity and beliefs because the support Pooting? Can you be a communist in China and a Christian. I will ask Cornelius when I see him.

    Without media bias if you asked most Americans what April 1, Sunday next week meant to them , they would respond with the secular world vision or be as devout, sincere and reverent as Susan D. in her thoughtful post. The Herods was Herod the Great and Herod the Builder to the Jews in their time. We do have to live and carry forth in this world. When Israel was looking for a King to save them , they were surely thinking as a nation not as individuals , Christians know and accept the King, it is personal.


  66. Interestingly, the two cases described in the #ChurchToo section depict the two extremes of the #MeToo movement. In the first, a powerful and privileged perpetrator finally got what was coming to him, with the full force of the legal system working to “assist his repentance and moral evaluation”. The case against Hybels appears to be based on “feels” and interpretations of the intentions behind the actions of an outgoing, gregarious man. Unless someone has a tape or a written note, or can persuade someone else to testify under oath, then I’m afraid this one is going nowhere.

    All talk about ‘believing the victim’ is fine if you just want to think poorly about Hybels within the confines of your own cranium, but if you don’t want sexual Stalinism in our courts, you need either a confession or evidence.


  67. I take it as less of a critique of Christianity – or even religion in general. There has been no shortage of studies of religious|biblical literacy in America . . . if you have even a basic question about Scripture you are better off asking a random person on the sidewalk than asking an Evangelical [the group who claims to take Scripture most seriously].

    Maybe it is how economics and higher-education work [or don’t] in America?

    Those who can do – those who can’t do teach – those who can’t even teach go into ministry.


  68. I wish I knew the answers, Andrew. What bothers me most is the fear that, since Christians for the most part aren’t much different from others in this important area, is Christianity a real thing, or just a figment of the Christian’s imagination? I mean, if Christianity doesn’t make us different, how do we know it’s real? How do we know the Good News isn’t fake news, if it leaves us unchanged?


  69. “No! You must choose for us a king, that we may be like all the other nations!”

    The more things change…


  70. Robert, what do think inspired or helps that handful to do what they do? I think some of my Anabaptist ancestors were willing… but am I? Will my children be able to be Christians who aren’t swept up by the national/cultural tides that course through our churches/communities? I think of these often in relation to our current cultural/political situation.


  71. Re: the Russian Protestant support of Putin: It bothers me that Christians today and down through the ages have been so supportive of demagogues, dictators, and tyrants of one kind or another. But, on the one hand, they haven’t usually had many good alternative choices; and, on the other, they’ve always really been more formed by their national/cultural heritage than by their Christianity, as sociology would have us expect. There have never been many Christians oriented toward the kingdom of God (which is a political realm), and willing to bear eschatological witness to that orientation; just a handful in every generation.


  72. That’s a hard question to answer. Been better, been worse, likely will be both again.

    What about yourself?


  73. Been a very long time since I last posted here; probably close to three full years. How has everyone been?


  74. Tonight, where I live, we are anticipating the Palm Sunday Procession tomorrow, us waving palms circling the Church proceeded by a trumpeter playing “All Glory, Laud and Honour to thee Redeemer King”.
    So I offer, not asking for your forgiveness, if I think that the events ahead of us the Holy Week take precedence over the Trivia of Saturday Brunch.
    I am not a kill joy however there is one week in the Church Year when our thoughts need to be focused on the coming retelling of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.
    Politics, Guns, Petty Tyrants, threats of war, buying chocolate eggs need to take second place to our considerations as to the sacrifice offered by our Lord.
    The disciples didn’t know what was ahead for our Lord but we in retrospect do know the betrayal, trial, crucifixion and Resurrection.
    He foretells our Resurrection.
    I ask for reverence as we enter this Holy Space in Time again.
    We are Resurrection People. Act as such.


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