The Saturday Monks Brunch: April 14, 2018


Last Monday out my window…

I hate to talk about the weather all the time, but this has been a doozy of a spring. Yesterday and today, it finally felt like we’d turned a corner here in central Indiana, with temperatures up in the 70s. However, by Monday they’re calling for snow flurries again — and here we are, just past the midpoint of April.

I’m as confused as this guy…

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• • •


From the Washington Post: Prominent pastor Bill Hybels announced Tuesday he is stepping down from his Chicago-area megachurch Willow Creek, just weeks after the Chicago Tribune published allegations of misconduct from several women….

…Hybels has denied all the allegations and said on Tuesday again that the church’s investigations found no evidence of misconduct. However, he told his congregation he felt attacked and wished he had responded differently. “I apologize to you, my church, for a response that was defensive instead of one that invited conversation and learning,” he said.”

Here is Nancy Ortberg’s perspective on Hybels and the flawed process of investigation.

This opinion piece from Vox quotes Boz Tchividjian, founder of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) about the dangers inherent in the American system of church, especially megachurches:

When a lead pastor is so closely identified with his church, Tchividjian said, whether in a small country church or a large megachurch, it creates a risky power imbalance between pastor and parishioner.

“In many communities … a pastor is one of God’s representatives of authority in the church,” Tchividjian said. “And it’s very difficult for anybody in those settings and report and disclose this behavior because what you’re doing is you’re actually indicting God’s representative. And oftentimes … that particular community doesn’t look too kindly on that.”

But Tchividjian expressed hope that the current cultural moment might provide avenues for parishioners to hold their spiritual authorities accountable.

“As Christians, we have to get back to the realization … that the church doesn’t belong to a pastor, a person, or even a congregation,” he said. “If we truly believe that, we should embrace transparency and truth.”

• • •


From Garrison Keillor and Minnesota Public Radio have reached an agreement reopening public access to thousands of past shows of A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac.

“MPR wants fans of A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac to have free access to the thousands of wonderful performers and artists, musicians and poets whose work is included in those archives, and we want your fans to have free access to the decades of terrific material you created,” MPR President Jon McTaggart wrote in a letter to Keillor on April 5.  A full copy of the letter is available at

“What the agreement means is that I won’t sue MPR for damages and they will allow A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac archives to be available to the public again,” commented Keillor.  “And it means that we move on to more interesting things, namely writing stories and creating a podcast. Compared to sitting in mediation, writing is one of life’s great pleasures.”

Within the next 15 days, MPR will restore public access to the thousands of past A Prairie Home Companion shows and broadcasts of The Writer’s Almanac.   The public can access these shows by way of a link at   After three years, Keillor and his production company expect to relocate the archives to another platform. MPR also agreed to reopening The Writer’s Almanac Facebook page and to provide Keillor monies owed him under prior contracts.

MPR blocked access to the archives in November after learning of allegations by a woman who had been a freelance writer with Keillor’s production company. Keillor said that MPR’s reaction to the allegations was disproportionate. The settlement agreement doesn’t provide for any payments to the woman or her colleague, a former producer of the Chris Thile show, who claimed he was let go because of his knowledge of the woman’s allegations against Keillor.

• • •


From Will Leitch at If you take a step back from it, there really isn’t anything more ridiculous than a baseball brawl. Look at it like an alien might look at it. One human wearing a red uniform that some might confuse for pajamas takes a small round object and throws it at another human who’s carrying a wooden stick and wearing a blue uniform. The one in the blue uniform thinks the round object was too close to hitting him, or maybe even it did hit him, so he throws down the wooden stick and sprints toward the man in the red uniform, yelling and gesticulating wildly.

The two men then, oddly, do not proceed to fight, as much as they go through the motions of pretending to desperately want to fight, in what must look to the alien like a particularly awkward mating ritual. There’s a grab here and a push there, as well as a healthy smattering of scowls. Then a bunch of other men wearing the same uniform, none of whom were involved in the initial dispute, come running toward them from out of nowhere, also less interested in fighting than they are looking like they’d be willing to fight, as long as you give them a second to catch their breath — it’s a long run in from the bullpen.

Watching this, one imagines one alien turning to the other: “It will be very easy to conquer this planet.”

• • •


• • •


Can a Beatles tour convert a non-believer to the Fab 4?

Can a Canadian hotel ever forgive a guest whose room was destroyed by seagulls?

Why is “the boy who came back from heaven” suing his publisher?

Have you given any thought to the absurdity of camping?

Why…why…in the name of all that’s holy would you write such a thing before the funerals have even begun?

• • •


Our good friends Frank Lee and Allie Burbrink (who did a house concert in our home a year ago) have released their first studio album, and I commend it to you iMonks.

It’s called Roll On, Clouds, and it’s filled with the lively, old-timey mountain music and blues that Frank and Allie love and do so well.

Oh yes, and an extra piece of joy to me:

Frank and Allie announced their engagement when they visited Indiana recently, and asked your intrepid chaplain to perform the ceremony! Looking forward to one hootenanny of a wedding this fall!

Here’s a 2016 performance of “Can’t Nobody Hide,” a song that’s on the new album:

106 thoughts on “The Saturday Monks Brunch: April 14, 2018

    — Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, Game of Thrones


  2. Why would you write such a thing before the funerals have even begun? Why would you write it ever?

    When all you have is a Theological/Soteriological Hammer…


  3. LIVING tells me so.

    But it’s not Really REAL unless it’s In The BIBLE!

    “I Have a Verse!”


  4. I listened to his show when I needed a Weirdness fix.
    (To this day, my term for Weird phone calls or blog comments is “Sounds like Art Bell at 3 Ayem”.

    As time went on (and especially after he handed over the show to another host), it became less Weirdness and more All Conspiracy, All The Time.


  5. “For he is a pissed-off god, who hates mankind.”

    “Except for his Predestined Speshul Pets (like MEEEEEEEEEEE!)”


  6. As for Challis, he has consistently demonstrated a lack of compassion and a lack of good communication skills, and yes, I do think that his being a hyper neo-Calvinivst is part of the problem with his harshness.

    The Calvinist version of “Over-Saved”.


  7. Recreational camping: This all ties in with rising urbanization. If you spend your days in a field staring at the back end of a mule, the idea of camping for fun is kind of ridiculous. If you spend your days sitting in an office, it is a different matter.

    There’s a historic hotel in the Owens Valley whose off-season rates are not much more than a budget motel. When the all-hands panic party at work gets too much for me, I take a few days there literally doing nothing (and partaking of all the tourist-trade eateries in the town). When I start feeling stir-crazy about “nothing to do”, it’s time to drive the 200+ miles of desert back home.


  8. Why would you write such a thing before the funerals have even begun? Why would you write it ever? Because you’ve decided that this world doesn’t count except as a recruitment center for heaven, and life of young and old is meaningless unless it’s recruited.

    Welcome to the Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.

    Where there are no living people, only Souls(TM), and your recruiting sales record determines your rank and position in Fluffy Cloud Heaven.

    Anything and everything else?
    “It’s All Gonna Burn.”


  9. I thought the same thing.
    Somehow the name “Malarkey” seems appropriate.

    And when I read the headline, I also thought it was about the Burpo kid.
    (What is it with these family names?)


  10. While all the Christians chorus “AAAAAAAA-MENNNNNNN!”
    And consult their End Time Prophecy books.


  11. Precisely. Tents, stars, and campfires are the best reasons in the world to go camping. If you want to camp in a metal box with all your electronics, stay home.


  12. Burro wrote:
    “Empires do senseless things because their organs cease to be governed by their central nervous system.”

    Which is why I pray that sanity will prevail in the halls of power.
    It is not a good idea to mess with Mother Russia.
    It has never ended well for the Nations who’ve tried.
    The King of Sweden, Napoleon’s Grand Armee, and The Wehrmacht, all learned the hard way.


  13. > “except in the safe venue of this blog.”

    But Susan, I’m not so sure this blog is about being safe. There is an old adage that a ship is safe in the harbor. But that’s not what a ship is made for. It was made to cast out to sea. This blog helps us to cast out. As foreboding as that may seem at times, remember this is what we are made for. At its best, this site, in all it’s challenges to my close mindedness and shallow conclusions, is preparing me to leave the harbor. There is no better tribute.

    Or said another way…“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”


  14. Chaplain Mike,
    I am almost sorry I introduced the Syrian problem at the beginning of our comments today.

    As I say, almost sorry,

    Where else can the IMonk commentators express their disgust at the Syrian situation except in the safe venue of this blog.
    (Be careful what you do or do not wish for, the current commentators are always awake.somewhere in our World.)

    Peace is our song.


  15. Ric, I guess I have to describe myself as a conservative, born again, basic John 3.16 Christian. Most of the churches I have attended would have handled the terrible tragedy of the hockey team this way if they felt the need to address it, which they did not unless they wanted to go for an emotional response at the expense of those suffering.

    Lets pray for the victims and families of those involved in this terrible accident and tragedy. We , even as believers do not understand the workings of God but we know he is merciful and loving . We can only pray for loving comfort to the families and loved ones of those taken . No one is promised tomorrow in this kingdom but we can trust and obey knowing God is merciful and we cannot fathom the workings of God. God Bless all those who are in need of comfort at this time.

    No need to include this tragedy in a sermon when there is a whole book to describe the love and plan of God for salvation. I am no learned man of the Bible but just not a good example of Christian love in that message.

    Plus, there is an commercial for hotels on TV, They have Captain Obvious that states , you guessed it the obvious, which is what this guy is doing . If you cannot say something nice or in this case comforting, say nothing at all. I was not aware of Tim Challies before this , but that was probably a blessing. If he is simply caring and concerned for people who have made no decision on salvation, there is simply a better way, especially for a pastor , who is to lead people to Christ, not scare them. .


  16. As a Parks and Rec fan, I can’t help but think of the camping episode, especially Tom and all the gear he hauled out to the woods.


  17. Thanks again. We are reaching a crisis with an aging infrastructure and an aging workforce. One is retiring, perhaps to go camping, but the other is buried and getting older and creakier. Our engineering department is doing a yeomans job replacing and rehabbing the system, but the bill for years of out-of-sight, out-of-mind management is coming due. And at a time when those retiring workers are not being replaced. Younger people are not as interested in the trades, especially if that trade involves hot summers, cold winters, and shovels and jack hammers. But hey, we pay pretty well, and we have good benefits. Not too many places where a kid out of high school can make the kind of living we do, plus have top notch health insurance and a defined benefit retirement plan. Anyhoo, that’s been my goal the last several years, being a water industry evangelist and recruiting fresh faces, while keeping the water clean and inside the pipes.


  18. And rejecting the belief that a good God would hold anyone in a state of everlasting, eternal conscious torment/torture. No to hell, no to the monstrous conception of God.


  19. Robert F.

    He’s was/is all things conspiracy/UFOs/black helicopters/paranoia. He hosted a late night radio show about all this stuff.

    In all seriousness, I saw his picture and learned of his passing on drudgereport (yeah, I know…)…in his photo he doesn’t look happy or at peace. So if he indeed passed away, RIP is very appropriate.


  20. I didn’t read Tim Challies as harsh or unfeeling….simply caring and concerned for people who may think they have all the time in the world to decide whether they spend eternity with God or without God.


  21. I don’t know about luxury and leisure, Robert. I grew up in a rural Georgia cotton mill village and we went camping all the time. I do find it bizarre that people would lug all their electronics with them. Perhaps we were lucky and that was our privilege. Silence and the stars. And I’ve never tasted better scrambled eggs than were cooked over an open camp fire on a chilly morning. To this day when I smell wood smoke or leaves burning I get an instant flashback.


  22. Mark Zuckerberg’s face is so smooth and shiny; when I look at him images of the Pod People from the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers leap into my mind.


  23. “Why would you write such a thing before the funerals have even begun? Why would you write it ever?”

    Because if you believe what this fellow believes, what millions of Christian believe, what I was taught, that you are condemned by your sin nature to well deserved eternal torment unless you repent and accept Jesus as your personal savior, then not writing and saying these things is immoral and a betrayal of your religion. A betrayal for which you will be held accountable by a just and mighty God.

    So if I may ask, what is it that we are rejecting here? Tactlessness? Or something else? How many of us truly believe these accident victims were deserving of eternal torment? That they didn’t do anything wrong except commit the crime of being born and living past the age of accountability (the baby “loophole”)?


  24. –> “There are sheep and there are wolves, the Bible tells me so.”

    LIVING tells me so.

    Being bit in the butt tells ME so.


  25. This is the funniest part of the story –

    “Clarification: Since the product recall, many mistook the story being recanted as belonging to the book Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo (Thomas Nelson) since both are about kids. Bookstore sales staff continually need to emphatically set the record straight.”

    Ok folks this here is the REAL fake visit to Heaven! You can keep buying this one!


  26. That’s why I didn’t bother to post my usual correction. I looked at it and realized, it fit. 😉

    Someday I must tell the tale of my misadventures in Reformed theology discussion groups. It was a harrowing journey, that was…


  27. I’m sure you meant to say ‘idea-centric’ but ‘idea-ventric’ is perfect. And the misanthropy of Calvinism has been most closey described, not in the least by Calvinists themselves.

    “For he is a pissed-off god, who hates mankind.”


  28. CM, My apologies. It was not my intention to sidetrack the conversation into a focus on Syria. I will think more carefully before replying to comments. Again, apologies


  29. sometimes it is easy to confuse the ‘wolves’ and the ‘sheep’ . . . . it gets a bit strange . . . I offer this example:

    like this ‘sweet innocent child’ coming to imonk. (It took Stbndct to confront her which I think was good for her in that he did at least try to reason with her)

    “Daisy says:
    April 2, 2018 at 2:14 pm
    @ Rick Ro and Klasie Kraalogies:

    Seneca Griggs has been banned from several blogs, ones similar to Internet Monk. Please see my post below for more information.

    I think Griggs is posting here because the usual crowd of commentators he wants to rile up, argue with, etc, are on the blogs on which he’s been banned already, and they sometimes post to this one, so he comes here now.

    Stbndct says:
    April 2, 2018 at 5:33 pm
    Daisy, You do not have to shame and ridicule someone publicly because you do not care for them. Do you think you are more entitled to your opinion than he is ? It must be nice to live so high in the clouds.”

    Is the person targeting Seneca
    a Wolf? or a Sheep? or just maybe someone who is hurting and lashing out at others?

    My problem is with those who encourage a vulnerable person to shame and ridicule others in a horrible game of “LET’S YOU AND HIM GO FIGHT’. This kind of manipulation of someone who is sunk very deep into negativity seems so cruel to me, and yet it is done openly by some who then stand back while the vulnerable does their bidding.

    I’m glad that Stbndct was able to respond to this hurting person in a manner that was positive and thoughtful. And I glad that people with differing opinions are allowed to share them in Imonk’s ‘great hall’. And if they are ‘shamed and ridiculed’ that very likely someone will confront the attacker with their behavior and try to reason with the attacker to encourage them to reconsider and to come to the table with another ‘way’ of communicating that is less of the dark put-down negativity and more of the ‘let’s both put some light on this issue if we are able’.

    Imonk is a treasure in the blogging world. It doesn’t silence folks. It offers something ‘better than that’.


  30. Hey Guys, years ago my brother had a nice RV, out West somewhere they would not allow him to stay at the RV park because his hose was too short , I told him he should be a little more specific when he retold the story when he got home. It was the water hose or sewer hook hose up so he claims.


  31. I have another ecclesiastical anthropomorphism–goats. The bible tells me so, too. They’re those who think they’re sheep but have different DNA, even though they look and act somewhat like the sheep.

    Have we missed any other church critters?


  32. Hyper Calvinism is a good epistemological fit for certain idea-ventric misanthropic personality types. To put it mildly.


  33. The entity known colloquially as “Art Bell” may or may not have translated to his/it’s planet or parallel dimension of origin.

    Or he may have just spoofed his death for ratings. We’ll probably never know. 😉


  34. Last week, I passed an RV campground advertising “plenty of hook-ups.” My immature brain immediately thought, “Good heavens, what is going on over there?”


  35. Re: Challies – My prayer is for the young people who are considering Jesus, encounter Tim Challies blog and others like it , and say “if Christianity is about being anti-women, anti-gay, anti-science, and anti-grace then maybe I don’t want any part of it.”

    When I asked the late Michael Spencer why he didn’t have more evangelical voices on Internet Monk, his response was: “I don’t want to become another”.


  36. Judy, I am so, so sorry. We here grieve with you and the communities.

    As for Challis, he has consistently demonstrated a lack of compassion and a lack of good communication skills, and yes, I do think that his being a hyper neo-Calvinivst is part of the problem with his harshness.


  37. That could be, but having worked in HR before, I tend to think that there are details that haven’t come out. MPR got ahead of the story and got rid of him before things became more ugly. That said, I can enjoy Prairie without thinking of Keillor’s actions since he’s basically playing a fictitious character and not himself. Now, if he raped someone or was like Harvey Weinstein, then that would be a different story.


  38. Adam T.W. Again, I you are the voice in my head. My wife’s idea of roughing it is Holiday Inn and I am not joking. I so agree with your comments and observations. Lot of work in getting back to nature unless you really get back to nature, lot of work to travel pulling a home. I live in Fla. , see many 100k plus RV’s and think someone could crash into your extendable living room and then they squeeze into a space next to a guy in a 300 dollar converted school bus. To each his own and they is why life is so good.

    Like your comments plus now I know where the voices are coming from, thanks.


  39. There are two ways to obliterate any chance one has at a civic career in the United States:
    (1) question the military
    (2) question the local the Zoning Ordinances [which is 97.44% an obfuscated delineation race and class]

    Either one will result in death threats. No exaggeration.

    I have ZERO chance of ever holding elected office. 🙂


  40. > Big corporations, in bed with American politicians?

    Both that, yes, very much that – and an addictive cultural narrative. There is a reason sooooo many people watch shows like NCIS without, frankly, laughing out-loud at the absurdity. Military adventurism is as American as Apple Pie – and the Apple iPhone; to question American Militarism is to touch the third-rail.


  41. > If I were in this persons church I would leave if I heard that sermon

    My exit was accelerated by just such a sermon.


  42. > However to each his own.

    True. I am not “judging”, if they can afford it, and that is their thing – great. I meant exactly what I said: I don’t get it, and I’ve asked, gotten the answer about “getting away”, and that doesn’t help me get it.

    It is similar to good friends I have, people I love, who are “cottage people” [I have reached the bottom tier of upper-middle class]. Cottage people complain about the commute, about having to winterize the cottage, about cottage neighbors, about taking a couple weekends to get the cottage ready for summer [put the dock in, etc…]. Then they need new tires for the boat trailer. To me that all sounds like Work – and it seems to create a commitment that they must justify with X weekends at-the-cottage.

    Me, I get up most Saturdays, look at the weather and the transit schedule/map and think “where do I want to go? maybe nowhere”. My front porch is a very nice place, and for the cost of a boat and trailer one can have a decade of very nice bourbon.

    To each their own.


  43. “Never, ever trust anyone who is too religious. Or moralistic. Just as patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, moralism is the last refuge of the pervert.”

    Vladika Lazar Puhalo


  44. Adam T.W. Great thoughts in your posts and true response from BrianTG, We take for granted all the wonderful services electric power, clean water , sewers and when I turn on the tap or turn on the lights it is there and if it is not , I am shocked. Spoiled, I certainly am , like 5 week hot milk.

    Also great observations about “camping”, when I pass the RV and camping spots in the national and state parks your observation rings true. They have just changed the location of a mobile home park. However to each his own. At one point in my life I considered a sit down toilet and a shower so I would not smell like a humid earth worm a goal to get to. Little things mean a lot but when you do not have them these “little” things are major.


  45. If Challies has a following , the people who follow him should reconsider. His sermon or statement or what ever it was so insensitive , so untimely and so, the only word I can think of is un Christian. Talk about being tone death, talk about not knowing the Jesus of the Gospels. If I were in this persons church I would leave if I heard that sermon and I am not offended too easily.

    There is such a thing as the right time and place. Thank God , this guy does not do what Chaplin Mike does, can you imagine?


  46. Six of the young hockey players who died where from communities that surround the area in which I live. When you come from the prairies of western Canada, hockey and highways distance driving is in our DNA. This tragedy has reached into the very core of who we are as Canadians and has left us all gutted.

    There is a deep correlation between the Tim Challies statement and the story of the “Boy who went to Heaven”. We so want absolutes in our religious beliefs and the results are devastating in every way. My family suddenly lost a nephew 8 years ago and his parents clung to every story about heaven they could find passing the books around to any one who would take them as it was the only hope they were given. To this day they seem to have not grieved or really come to terms with his death.

    As the funerals take place for these 16 persons (11 players between the ages of 16 – 21, the Athletic therapist. the bus driver, coach, statistician and play by play announcer) we are hearing stories of courage, and joy and lives well lived in service to God, family, friends and community. We wear jersey’s in their honor, place hockey sticks on our front porch and tie green and gold ribbons to our tress and lampposts in order to show support for the team and families who have lost so much.


  47. You guys are my hero. And I hear praise upon you every chance I get.

    Those from the septic and water industry deserve something like the VA for your service to our nation. Even railroad workers get such extra legal representation – you guys and gals get nothing.


  48. I think we are close to the same thoughts. Publicly and at conferences in the 1990s, they said they wanted to take lessons learned in the corporate world and apply to church administration (as opposed to congregational model). In reality, it was never implemented. These churches became benevolent (or not so benevolent) dictatorships.


  49. John, I’m going to repeat this from the last comment thread when Trump became the focus, because it came at the end and few read it. It’s the last I will say about POTUS today, and I wish this post hadn’t been hijacked to talk about Syria, etc., when it was intentionally avoided in the post today.

    Here it is, as simple as I can make it.

    One does not elect “positions.”

    One elects people who say they hold certain positions.

    Even if I agree with the positions, if I don’t have confidence that the person is competent, I cannot support him/her.

    Hence, I have never been able to support DT. I do not believe he is competent to do the job.


  50. Those of us in the municipal water industry appreciate your thanks and your prayers. It’s a dirty job, and my guys are pretty dedicated, but when we do our jobs well, no one notices, or should. It’s only when something goes wrong that anyone pays attention. That’s the curse of operating buried infrastructure…


  51. But, President Trump tweeted “Mission Accomplished”. Snark alert. No one else could solve this crisis, but President Trump did. He is unbelievable.


  52. As most here are pronouncedly anti Trump and believe that the majority of his voters especially the dreaded evangelicals voted for him for reasons other than his position on the issues , I will tie this in.

    1. Syria and Middle East, Trump advocated and stated in no uncertain terms how stupid the US involvement was in the Middle East wars. Trump was totally against any involvement in the Syrian civil was , period. That is one of the core issues Trump won. If he lets the establishment bring him to the Graham/McCain policy on the Mid East, he will lose his base on this issue. If he did not strike Syria, he was in Putin pocket, if he did he is distracting, it is a no win for Trump except stick to your stated policy that got you elected.

    2. TPP and NAFTA Another core issue that the base of Trump voters voted and support. America trade policies and globalist agenda of the last 30 years are killing America economy and social structure. If Trump is using TPP without China or pulls off an inside straight , then maybe it will work. If Trump back downs on his stated position on fixing our foreign trade policies , again he will lose a lot of his base. The establishment wants TPP and the current system, their job is to neutralize Trump and get rid of him ASAP, so far they are on track.

    3. Building Wall and immigration, again if Trump does not produce on this issue, the base will leave hm. Establishment is winning right now on this issue as they are the real power not the American voters.

    I interject this as many times , many here label the average Trump voters as blindly following Trump like a personality cult. Trump won on the issues. If he lets the neo cons and establishment push him into Syria intervention and the other above issues his voters will leave him.

    Another issue Trump let the base down on was signing the Omnibus spending bill. Again another win for the establishment Dems and Reps. The only one who can make the base leave Trump is Trump if he does not do what he said he would do.


  53. Empires do senseless things because their organs cease to be governed by their central nervous system. I am certain that the invasion of Iraq will be noted as our Sicilian expedition if there are any Thucydideses in the 33rd Century


  54. Before complaining about Challies, my prayers go up for the young people and their families and neighbours who were caught up in this painful tragedy. Comfort seems remote, but endurance is probably the virtue they most need at this time. Lord, grant them endurance and long-suffering.

    Re: Challies, who said this: I know many people who are in the age-range of those players, people who are in their teens or twenties. Many of them have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, but have not yet responded in repentance and faith. They haven’t outright rejected the gospel—they just haven’t decided yet whether or not they believe it.

    Am I the only one alive who thinks that an unhealthy obsession in religious matters in otherwise healthy young people is somewhat inappropriate? Young people should be testing their boundaries, exercising their abilities, finding out about themselves, expanding into the world. The idea that a nineteen year old hockey player must be John Owen or Saint Francis strikes me the same way as a seventy year old obsessed with sex (which I closely resemble, but wish I didn’t).

    If the wider church had been more rationally governed when I became obsessed with religion and the Bible in my early twenties, I probably would have been counseled to put in a stint in a monastery praying for my peers rather than ‘recruiting’ them and attempting to reproduce my pathologies in them.

    Young people are hemorrhaging out of the wider Church. I don’t know if it is worse in evangelical Protestantism than it is in Orthodoxy but latitudinarianism, hewing a conservative line on ‘pelvic matters’, and outmarriage is shellacking American Orthodoxy, such as it is. If I were the parent of a young hockey player full of vim and vinegar, as young hockey players are wont to be, I would be satisfied with a conscious allegiance to the Church and a respect for its clergy and institutions.

    The hockey team had a chaplain. I don’t think Challies took note of that. My high school basketball team didn’t have a chaplain, although the Christian Reformed parallel school system’s basketball team did. Finn will understand.


  55. Recreational camping: This all ties in with rising urbanization. If you spend your days in a field staring at the back end of a mule, the idea of camping for fun is kind of ridiculous. If you spend your days sitting in an office, it is a different matter.

    We see responses to urbanization from the mid-19th century onward. There was a lot of concern about young men in sedentary occupations becoming weak. This combined with concerns about the temptations of city life. Those young men might spend their idle hours in pool halls, or much worse. One response was the rise of “muscular Christianity.” The old Puritan ideal of a Christian was much like the Rule of St. Benedict. He was to spend his time working and praying. With muscular Christianity, sports and exercise were added to the mix. These would invigorate the young Christian so that he could better proclaim the Gospel. This is when we see the rise of the YMCA and preachers like Billy Sunday.

    Camping is a similar response, going in a different direction. The rise of recreational camping is tied to the rise of the Boy Scouts in the early 20th century. Fathers who had grown up on the farm were worried about their town-raised sons lacking the masculine skills and traits that had come naturally on the farm. Hence the idea of packing them off into tents out in the woods. The modern backpacking phenomenon is more of a post-WWII thing. Look at backpackers in the 1960s and they were using army surplus gear, of which there was an abundance.

    It is ridiculous? I suppose it is. Lots of recreational activities are, when viewed with a skeptical eye.


  56. The right and the left agree. I guess I must reconsider, though I have to assume that someone is benefiting from our presence in places around the world. Big corporations, in bed with American politicians?


  57. Not just oil, but other national self-interests, or perceived self-interests. We did not “rescue” Kuwait out of goodness of heart. As far as oil interests, what we got from both Iraq wars was a pretty stable international oil market, and keeping the price of crude oil and gas extremely low. We also sold a lot of weapons to warring parties, making lots of money for U.S. arms manufacturers, which benefited the U.S. economy

    The unintended consequence was the long-term destabilization of Iraq, Syria and other countries in the region, and the creation of ISIS as central to that destabilization. Let’s also remember that it’s mostly other countries that have suffered from the creation of ISIS, not the U.S. Blowback.

    BTW. Trump’s renewed interest in that the TPP, which he formerly called the raping of America, is indicative of why the U.S. cannot help but get involved in other country’s affairs, if it wants to maintain its affluence. We want to stay rich, and ultimately will do anything we have to for that objective, adjusting course when we miscalculate, as we are bound to. American is very acquisitive, and likes to dress that up as having a big heart.


  58. “”” I wish you were right and the USA actions were only motivated by self interest, we would be better off as a nation.”””


    We are not there for oil. The United States is currently a net exporter of oil. We do not need these nations

    These are ideological and propaganda campaigns – with little defensive or productive value. Which means we are there forever and will continue to burn billions of dollars indefinitely. These campaigns are now such fixtures of American foreign policy that outside of pop-up headlines they are assumed, and receive little substantive commentary . . . why bother?


  59. Robert F. If we are in the Middle East just for oil, than we are doing a terrible job of it. We rescued Kuwait from Iraq in 1991, literally saved their oil production and wealth and go nothing for it. We did not take the recent action in Syria for oil. The USA does not support Israel for oil. we are not in S. Korea for the oil .

    I wish you were right and the USA actions were only motivated by self interest, we would be better off as a nation.


  60. The US shows up only when it has vested interests, or mistakenly thinks it does. People of the world know that we do nothing as a nation that isn’t motivated by self-interest, even if it means bombing everything back to the Stone Age. We are in the Middle East because of oil, and our adversaries (like Russia [with the help of its ally Iran] are there for the same reason.


  61. Eeyore, I agree with you to the fullest, not only no good solutions but it seems no solutions until the people in the Middle East want or demand a solution. The USA should stay out of any involvement unless there is a demonstrated and viable threat to the security of the USA. President G. Bush made the worst foreign policy decision in US history with his incompetent handling of the Middle East wars. We just gave ISIS air cover .

    I do not care who rules Syria if the people of Syria do not care or cannot live together. To Christiane point, is the civilized world only USA, England and France? Why do the civilized nations in the region not respond immediately and powerfully to enforce regional peace and stability ? One nation that cannot “win” in the Middle East and that is the USA.

    The USA is like the policeman on COPS. When they show up because they were called to stop the drunken domestic fight between family members, friends and neighbors they become the problem and in harms way. The next day the family bail out the one arrested and it starts again next weekend. Whatca Doing Do?


  62. We haven’t been getting the weather that Illinois has experienced, but up until the past couple of days it has felt more like early March than the second week of April here in NE TN.


  63. Interesting – I think we use terms to mean exactly different things.

    I see these mega-churches and other religious organizations making fools of themselves and I see a desperate LACK of “corporate governance”. Corporate Governance involves ethical and conflict-of-interest policies, corporate governance involves third-party audits of not just the books but of POLICIES, corporate governance is is about ensuring there are NOT people with a hand on every lever and a finger in every pie. Corporate Governance brings a focus on institutional resiliency – which must include a strong focus on succession regarding key individuals and positions.

    What the churches need, both large and small, is a whole lot MORE Corporate Governance. The operation of these churches much more closely resembles that of a classic Political Machine than anything related to Corporate Governance. These churches are more Tammany Hall than Whirlpool or Ford Motor Company.


  64. Why a “minister’ would say something like this is beyond me. To say it is cruel does even begin to describe the hurts his words will do. Shame on him!!


  65. One of the issues in the Hybels controversy is that he was one of the main pioneers of the movement to take a corporate governance model to a church. When I followed him in the heyday of the 1990s, I found that even more important than his style of church. Now, I realize that corporate governance model is part of what led to how this issue was inappropriately handled.


  66. And nothing any of them can do will stop us from bombing the shit out of them or their enemies, as we did in Mosul and Raqqa, when we consider it to be in our national interest, and regardless of the level of collateral damage, including dead children. And the hate continues to spread, no insignificant part of it the result of our violence; Isis/Isil is just one of the mushrooms that grew out of the loam of violence we spread around the Middle East, and there will be more.


  67. There are no good solutions to these problems. Had the rebels won, the Alawites (Asad’s ethnic group) would be the ones being massacred now. All our military might won’t stop groups that hate each other from trying to kill each other.


  68. Only people who live beyond a certain threshold of luxury and leisure can think of camping as a recreational activity; such a phenomenon could only become widespread in modernity, and will continue only for as long as moderns remain affluent.


  69. Why would you write such a thing before the funerals have even begun? Why would you write it ever? Because you’ve decided that this world doesn’t count except as a recruitment center for heaven, and life of young and old is meaningless unless it’s recruited. In the cause of this belief many disgusting things have been done, and will continue to be done.


  70. The structure of all religions and religious institutions seems to make this imbalance perennial. It seems to be a feature, not a bug.


  71. “When a lead pastor is so closely identified with his church, Tchividjian said, whether in a small country church or a large megachurch, it creates a risky power imbalance between pastor and parishioner.”

    What’s new pussycat?

    Nothing is new. There are sheep and there are wolves, the Bible tells me so.


  72. And make no mistake: this strike will not prevent Assad from continuing his brutal, barrel-bombing war, or from using chemical weapons in the future if he chooses. With Russian backing, he has already won the civil war; not the US or anyone else will stop him from finalizing his victory.


  73. It would be good if the civilized world could respond in a way that didn’t produce more dead children, but it always does, whether by blockades or bombs.


  74. > Have you given any thought to the absurdity of camping?

    Yes, indeed. I “camp”, as in sleep on the ground, when that is what is required for visiting places which require that. But “camping” as an activity in and of itself – I do *NOT* get it, at all. People drive hours to sit around in what is – actually – a hybrid of a parking lot and a mobile home park. Yeah.

    The whole notion of “getting away” is something I do not understand. Stress, anxiety, etc… are NOT properties of a Place; they are in the Individual, their mind, and they will travel right along with them.

    > ….say a prayer of thanks for modern plumbing…

    I have lived with wells, pumps, septic tanks, and an electrical “cooperative” – and that is plenty primitive for me. Thank God for municipal water systems and “the grid”; beautiful things. I pray thanks for them regularly.


  75. > Why is “the boy who came back from heaven” suing his publisher?

    Because: “””…But Alex did not die …”””

    The last name of the author is even “Malarkey”. You cannot make this stuff up, or well, he did, but . . . This may be the most morally disgusting category of literature.


  76. those poor children . . . it’s too much for the civilized world not to respond to try to stop Assad once and for all


  77. Yes, Yes, Garrison Keillor come back . . . . . I miss those jokes about the Lake Woebegone Norwegian batchelor farmers . . . . jokes in which the laughter begins as soon as Keillor says ‘Norwegian batchelor farmers’ . . . .

    And Keillor’s reflection on religion? Well, take a look at this observation:

    “Remarkably, Keillor isn’t Lutheran and never has been. He grew up in the Plymouth Brethren, a sect so stern it even denies itself the luxury of clergymen, and as an adult he became something of an Episcopalian. But Anoka, Minn., the Wobegon-like town where he was born in 1942, was deeply Lutheran. No one escaped that influence. When asked whether someone was a Lutheran, Keillor remarked: “Of course she’s a Lutheran. Everyone here is. Even the Catholics.”


  78. ‘When the leaves come falling down.’
    I have sung along with this song today, thanks Robert for introducing it to us.
    While the leaves are torn today from my trees today, red, yellow and brown, I for myself have spent the morning praying.
    My prayers amount to nothing. Nations down the ages have prayed for Peace.
    Many wars have been prayed for war to stop or continue.
    Every demi-god, dictator, ruler, king, politician, all the way down to local government chooses to impose their rule over the ‘little people’. We see the deaths and injuries or women and children in Syria and we gasp at the horror.
    It was ever thus. Oligarchs always choose the weakest persons on their way to peruse their power and glory.
    This week is no different.
    Continue to pray.
    Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.



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