The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: August 18, 2018

Hay Bales in Golden Hour (Ohio 2016)

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: August 18, 2018

Rest in Peace to the Queen of Soul…

From “The Church of Aretha Franklin” by Michael Eric Dyson at the New York Times:

Just the mention of Aretha Franklin’s name conjured transcendent sonic fury. She came to it honestly. Her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, was one of the most storied preachers of his day. His rhetorical genius made its way onto dozens of recordings that were treasured possessions in many black homes.

…He was a master of the chanted sermon, where words are put under pressure of music and speech bursts into song. The young Aretha learned from her father and turned into a gospel wunderkind.

…When it came time for her to switch from sacred to secular, to head for the soul music charts after she had brilliantly charted the path of the soul in gospel music, she confronted brutal blowback from some black believers.

They thought that she had betrayed her first love and her true calling. But they were wrong. After experimenting with numerous genres, from blues to jazz, Aretha Franklin found a bigger canvas on which to sketch her artistic vision, which drew both from ancient soul passions and progressive moral possibilities. Thus, she transformed Otis Redding’s punchy “Respect” into a timeless anthem for racial pride and a cry of feminist recognition. Her church got larger, her congregation composed of millions of people in search of a soulful vision of spiritual direction beyond sanctuary doors.

When she returned to the world of gospel in 1972, and again 15 years later, her embrace of the phrases and emotion of the sanctuary put at ease those who may have feared that she had somehow lost it, or that God had somehow forsaken her. Her father let the world know, in spirited remarks on her 1972 album, “Amazing Grace,” that his daughter “never really left the church.” And clearly it had never left her.

During her remarkable career, Ms. Franklin made sure to incorporate her concern for social justice and redemptive politics as she performed at civil rights fund-raisers for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s and to benefit the efforts of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. She offered to post bond for the jailed revolutionary Angela Davis in the early ’70s, going against the wishes of her father. In her statement at the time she said: “I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace.”

…The Baptist church that we both sprang from eventually took great delight in her reign as the most dominant force in American music. The preacher in me believed that hers was the best way to tell our story to a world that might never darken the doors of a church but was sorely in need of a dose of the Spirit.

A few words about Aretha Franklin:

It Happened Everywhere…

The story of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church by predatory priests accelerated exponentially this week with a mind-boggling report from Pennsylvania.

“There have been other reports about child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. But not on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.” So begins the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s grand jury investigation into clergy abuse, released to the public on Tuesday afternoon. The 900-page report, which investigated all but one of the state’s dioceses, identifies over 1,000 victims of child sexual abuse and over 300 predatory priests.

The report explains why abuse flourished for so long. “While each church district had its idiosyncrasies, the pattern was pretty much the same. The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid ‘scandal.’ That is not our word, but theirs; it appears over and over again in the documents we recovered,” the report asserts. Church officials kept complaints in a “secret archive,” to which only the bishop kept the key. The report also states that diocesan files repeatedly relied on euphemisms to describe clergy abuse; the files refer to rape as “inappropriate contact,” for example. Predatory priests were referred to treatment, and in the rare instance the church removed a priest from his parish, his congregants never learned the real reason for his departure.

As Megan McArdle writes in the Washington Post, “The report reads like one of those lurid anti-Catholic novels that flourished in 19th-century America. Only this story was authored by the church hierarchy itself — a hierarchy that has thus far evaded full accountability.”

She continues:

If Jesus were here today, would He not be running through American cathedrals, knocking over tables as He did with the money changers in the Temple? “According to scripture,” He said in the Gospel of Matthew, “my house will be called a house of prayer; but you are turning it into a bandits’ den.” The words are a fitting indictment of the men who are accused of committing a moral theft of unimaginable wickedness — in their thoughts and in their words, in what they did and in what they failed to do.

The innocence of children was stolen, as was the church’s sanctity and the faith of congregants, many of whom are today asking how they can possibly continue to believe that this is the one true church that Christ founded through Peter. They do not expect the church to be perfect; even St. Peter, after all, denied Christ three times. But they do expect to find the reflection of Christ there.

According to news reports, the church hierarchy in Pennsylvania and beyond has already denied Christ’s gospel three times: once when it sheltered predators in silence; once when it failed to remove everyone who was involved in covering up any crime; and again when two of the six dioceses involved tried to shut down the grand jury investigation that produced the report. Now they face the same choice Peter did.

They can offer the full record of faithlessness in abject penitence, witnessing for repentance and redemption even at risk of martyrdom. Or they can deny Him a fourth time by minimizing the past and protecting those who helped maintain that grisly silence. Which is to say, they can choose to be a millstone around the neck of the faithful — or the rock on which the church can be rebuilt.

Another Moral Line with Children Has Been Crossed…

From The Washington Post:

Deliberately taking a small child’s life is unlawful everywhere in the world, even when the child is terminally ill and asks a doctor to end his or her suffering once and for all.

There is an exception to this rule: Belgium. In 2014, that country amended its law on euthanasia, already one of the most permissive in the world, authorizing doctors to terminate the life of a child, at any age, who makes the request.

For a year after the law passed, no one acted on it. Now, however, euthanasia for children in Belgium is no longer just a theoretical possibility.

Between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2017, Belgian physicians gave lethal injections to three children under 18, according to a July 17 report from the commission that regulates euthanasia in Belgium.

The oldest of the three was 17; in that respect, Belgium was not unique, since the Netherlands permits euthanasia for children over 12.

Belgian doctors, however, also ended the lives of a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old. These were the first under-12 cases anywhere…

The Post calls this the result of a “libertarian technocracy” in Belgium, that limits the ability of laws or oversight commissions to oversee such matters, instead trusting medical experts to make the right decisions. Last year, a woman with dementia and unable to make a decision in the matter was euthanized at her family’s request. This led to a petition, signed by 360 Belgian doctors, to tighten controls on euthanasia for psychiatric patients.

Now there is precedent for allowing children to make this decision.

From Fox News:

A Tennessee megachurch is facing backlash after pastors used live animals on stage to illustrate a sermon on Sunday.

The Cornerstone Nashville church used a cougar, lion, mountain lion, a ram and miniature ponies in the sermon that focused on going back to school.

In the sermon, senior Pastor Galen Davis compared a lion and mountain lion to each other and used them to demonstrate the differences between fear and faith. The mountain lion, Davis explained, isn’t considered to be a big cat because it cannot roar; instead, he said, it screams.

“We have to move from being a people of fear to a people of faith,” he told churchgoers. “That when the scream of fear comes in our life, we know it’s not the real lion … We know that it’s not what God has for us.”

PETA has criticized the church for using the animals. One PETA representative said the organization “is encouraging Cornerstone Nashville to serve the meek by pledging never to exploit vulnerable animals ever again.”

If you ask me, the real criticism should be reserved for the totally lame sermon.

And hey, I love baseball as much or more than anyone else, but preaching in an untucked baseball jersey? Is this a thing now? Dude, you just look silly.

Finally, yes, of course, using the animals is over the top and ludicrous.

The evangelical circus is alive and well. With animals.

While we’re on the subject…

Speaking of people who just don’t get it, time to revisit our old friend, Dr. John MacArthur. One of my friends once said of Johnnie Mac, “He ain’t neutral about nothin’.” Well, he ain’t neutral about “social justice,” that’s clear.

Evangelicalism’s newfound obsession with the notion of “social justice” is a significant shift—and I’m convinced it’s a shift that is moving many people (including some key evangelical leaders) off message, and onto a trajectory that many other movements and denominations have taken before, always with spiritually disastrous results.

Over the years, I’ve fought a number of polemical battles against ideas that threaten the gospel. This recent (and surprisingly sudden) detour in quest of “social justice” is, I believe, the most subtle and dangerous threat so far.

The good doctor once again betrays his historical ignorance of anything outside of what he considers to be the “pure stream” of orthodox faith. If he didn’t have his head stuck in the separatist sand he’s bogged down in, he would recognize that, in many ways, evangelical faith has often been at the forefront of social movements, protests, and efforts to bring justice for the marginalized and to promote societal change, especially in the wake of the 2nd Great Awakening here in the U.S. Perhaps it is because MacArthur and other neo-Calvinists consider anything coming out of the 2nd Great Awakening to be tainted by a kind of evangelical faith they don’t deem genuine.

Whether he wants to admit it or not, the abolition movement, campaigns for women’s rights, workers rights, and assistance for the poor have deep roots in an evangelical understanding of the gospel. On one side or the other, evangelicals have been leaders in the “culture wars” in this and other countries. For MacArthur to say this is a “newfound obsession” is simply absurd. For him to claim that it is “the most subtle and dangerous threat so far” is one of the silliest statements I’ve ever heard.

Of course, we here at Internet Monk have been loudly critical of “culture war Christianity,” but that’s because in our generation, we think the approach of those who make that their priority (particularly the Christian Right) has led them to embrace strategies, attitudes, and behaviors that are contrary to the way of Jesus — specifically seeking positions of power to impose their beliefs on others.

That’s not MacArthur’s beef. He has an issue with “social justice” itself, and to me that reveals he has a gospel that is too small. In my view, he simply does not understand the trajectory set by the New Testament and its emphasis on a good news that is actually meant to change the world, not just relieve the guilt of individual consciences.

I would agree that there are social justice advocates who cross lines and make the same mistakes those on the more conservative ends of the culture war do. That, again, is not what MacArthur is saying. He is painting with a broad brush here that ignores not only the reality of church history but also the message of a large portion of the Bible. See the prophets for more information.

Finally, I have to brag on this…

Last Sunday night, I was working on the blog and listening to the Cubs play the Washington Nationals. In the top of the ninth inning, the Nats scored a couple of insurance runs to make the game 3-0. The Cubs had been so bad at the plate all night, I shut the audio stream off and kept working. A little while later I brought up the MLB Gameday page, which is a visual reenactment of the pitches and a running feed of each play as it happens.

David Bote, a reserve who has been filling in for the Cubs’ best player, Kris Bryant, was pinch-hitting in the bottom of the 9th. The Cubs had loaded the bases, there were two outs, and it was a 2-2 count on Bote. Next thing I knew, the feed announced that the young player had hit a game-winning, walk-off grand slam home run. And he did it on Sunday Night Baseball, before a national TV audience.

This is one of the rarest of feats in baseball, the heroic thing every young player dreams of doing in the backyard. Here is that dramatic final at bat:


120 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: August 18, 2018

  1. He consigned pretty much the entire Roman Catholic church to hell a couple years ago (long before the current molestation scandal), and he routinely shows contempt disguised as dogma for anyone outside of his narrow theological world.

    So what else is new?
    These days, that’s part of the package of being Born-Again.


  2. Do you remember Romney in 2012?
    As soon as “The Mormon” clinched the nomination (after a lively primary season of one God’s Anointed Next POTUS of the Week after another crashing and burning), Christian Leaders(TM) pronounced the Mormons as NOT a CULT but Real True Christians. I don’t know how long that lasted after Election Day.


  3. MacArthur almost always paints with a broad brush. He dismissed almost all charismatics during the “strange fire” dustup he created. He consigned pretty much the entire Roman Catholic church to hell a couple years ago (long before the current molestation scandal), and he routinely shows contempt disguised as dogma for anyone outside of his narrow theological world.

    He doesn’t tackle the culture war issues directly, and seems to take some pride in being above the fray. So he tries to put it in theological terms. But in reality he fosters just as much (maybe even more) fear of and contempt for anyone who is different.


  4. I read an in-depth story in the editorial/opinion section of my local paper today about the pedophilia ring that existed in the PA RCC dioceses, and I’m flabbergasted and horrified. It was an extensive conspiracy across parishes,dioceses, and decades, worked out with cold deliberation and intention, and with full participation of the upper hierarchy (in fact, it wouldn’t have been possible without their participation), an evil involving a moral depravity on par with the Nazi concentration camps. Sweet Jesus have mercy on the victims of the wolves who pretended to be shepherds. OMG. It is hard to believe that this isn’t just the tip of the iceberg, and that many more dioceses around the country and world weren’t involved.


  5. Beautiful.

    > “Cantankerousness is worse than heterodoxy.”

    Oh yeah. And we have the modern Troll, described in 1922. 😦


  6. “””You are conflating original sin with total depravity…..
    This latter has some resemblance to “total depravity” but is absolutely not the same. “””

    And to me this is Theological Hair Splitting, and the connection between Original Sin and Total Depravity is a downhill slope. OS will be TD whenever rhetorically convenient, and distinct whenever it is desirable for it to be distinct.

    In the end, it adds nothing useful to understanding; and is another idea that must always be followed with “what I really mean is….”

    Ponder this allot. I see no advantage to “morally indeterminate”, which means precisely what is says, without all of Augustine’s baggage [and that is a whole lot of baggage].


  7. True, HUG and Ted! I spend several months attending a church in Minneapolis, MN, with a head pastor I guarantee everyone here has heard of, and the way-too-in-depth expository preaching was well in play.

    I think I was kind of hoping for more of a balanced approached. But who knows what that is. Heck, I’m not even sure. Yeah, I don’t mind practical applications, but I don’t want a circus (literal or figurative), nor do I want to feel like I just got out of my Atmospheric Fluid Dynamics class!


  8. Carrying on the august tradition of the Washington Senators… “First in War, First in Peace, Last in the American League”.


  9. I disagreed with Obama a whole lot, but if he could come back today, I’d help him pack, carry boxes, and drive the moving van.


  10. Like they’re co-opting the words “Church of Jesus Christ” for their own particular use. Are they trying to blend in more as regular Christians? I forget who said this, but the Mormons use the same terminology as Christians, but with different definitions.


  11. For those of you commenting on Aretha Franklin, Australian farmers, and baseball, the following is NOT for you. This is for folks opining on the Catholic Church, Trump, evangelicalism, theology, social justice, etc.:
    Most of you seem to think very highly of yourselves when, in truth, you don’t know diddly squat. The good news –
    Jesus loves you anyway!


  12. The far-right’s ‘bundle-ing’ of anti-abortion rhetoric together with all the other hate-mongering.

    It’s like they sell the package that way:

    you on the surface vote ‘anti-abortion’
    and you get our complete hate package with it for FREE!!!!

    I guess it makes some who call themselves ‘christian’ think that it is ‘OKAY’ to support a racist and misogynist as long as they get a Supreme Court Justice who will set back the clock to the times of back-alley blood baths by butchers (them women deserves to be butchered anyway!!)

    Not sure I buy the far-right message on its surface anymore, nope. It’s getting TOO TRANSPARENT under Trump. These ‘conservative christians’ are losing their ‘cover’. It’s actually embarassing to watch them reveal ‘who they really are’ in public. Yikes!


  13. And end up being topical sermons after all. The excessive months of preaching, and all that Greek, are used as bullying tactics in pounding the topical point home. In the disguise of exposition.


  14. Of course it’s unacceptable. Unfortunately, some people don’t want to see that. The Republicans in the state should have put someone more credible up for the seat. The general populace is being scr*wed these days.



  15. @Heather Angus — Getting abusers away from kids is of utmost importance. Recognizing how an institution comes to the place where such widespread abuse happens is important in the effort to prevent such things from happening. It’s not just the pedophiles that are sick, it’s the institutions themselves, insofar as they cultivate and provide a culture of protection for pedophiles, or other kinds of abusers, as a matter of course.


  16. Robert F said,

    @j.b. — Don’t think the same problem doesn’t exist in evangelicalism. … Evangelicalism shares important aspects of this bad leadership model, involving charismatic pastors and clergy who are treated like gurus and prophets, and who the laity often give unquestioning obedience

    Robert, Jeri Massi covers this over at Blog on the Way and in her books. She has documented abuses in Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches. Her book Schizophrenic Christianity is a good place to start.


  17. Heather, the Horton in question is the one in the GHW Bush vs Mike Dukakis campaign, where Bush chastised Dukakis for having released a prisoner in Massachusetts who later murdered someone. This turned into a race card because Willie Horton was black, so it may have backfired on Bush.

    I agree with you that there’s no way to know which came first—the desire to abuse children, or finding themselves in an opportunistic situation and dealing with that badly. And you’re right that it may be a moot point. Having committed a crime against children, we need to get these people away from children, and away from society for a long while. Even if it’s one of my best friends.


  18. John Barry, I’m with you on the Willie Sutton illustration. I’ve used that myself. The pedophiles go where the children are, and the pedophiles are not all Roman Catholic.

    In my area in recent years the headlines have included two pastors—one Congregational and one Congregational/Anglican, who was also a Boy Scout leader. Another case was a male kindergarten teacher. He belonged to a Nazarene church and is an old friend of mine. All of these men were or had been married, and two of them had children.

    It’s hard to be sure if the orientation, which in these cases became perversions, grooming efforts and abuses, led them to their choice of careers or, if during their professions, they found themselves in temptations that they could not break free of.

    If they discovered their weakness mid-career, that should have led them to find other professions where children’s lives wouldn’t be at risk. For example, when an alcoholic discovers and admits his weakness, he doesn’t seek employment as a bartender. So it’s easy to assume that they cultivated their desires and, like Willie Sutton with the money, they chose deliberately to go to where the children were.

    Long story short, it’s not a Catholic thing. That was merely an effective cover, for a while.


  19. What were pro-life people to do with their vote?

    Not throw in with a Hitler apologist and conspiracy theorist who sees a Jewish cabal behind every perceived bad turn of events in history. That is unacceptable.


  20. I live in metropolitan Washington, DC and it’s not surprising David Bote’s grand slam was viewed much differently here. Several sports commentators wondered aloud if the Nats could recover from that loss. So far, not so good. The Nats went 1-3 against St. Louis before beating Miami last night. They’re currently one game above .500 and seven games out of first place in the NL East.


  21. You are conflating original sin with total depravity. Augustine’s notion of “original sin” was that we inherit Adam’s guilt for his crime against God, and stand condemned regardless of our own sins. The other notion is that due to Adam unleashing sin into the world we inherit a tendency towards sin which we cannot escape from unaided.
    This latter has some resemblance to “total depravity” but is absolutely not the same. It does not say we are wholly sinful, or there is nothing good in us, or we are unable vto do anything good, but only that we cannot be perfectly free from the taint of sin in what we do without God’s aid. That is, we can and do attempt to do goid , and achieve great things, but with our own unaided effort our human tendency to f*** things up will inevitably eventually reassert itself. I would say we know this as a matter of experience.
    An analogy: the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a beautiful building with a lot of good in it, and a great achievement, but with a foundational flaw from which it needs saving if all that good is not to collapse and fall and be destroyed.


  22. The Missouri Democratic party chair shut out the many pro-life Democrats – slammed the door in their faces. What were pro-life people to do with their vote? As long as the Democratic Party will not amend their platform to allow for the inclusion of pro-life people in the Party, this is going to be the fallout. I don’t vote on this issue only, but if the Democratic Party would allow a big tent regarding this issue, I would change my registration from Decline to State Party to Democratic.



  23. And that’s why there’s no recurring problems with Catholic and Protestant clergy abusing their power. Oh, wait…


  24. It “works well” – if you’re in the US suburbs, and you’re not in a broken marriage, and you aren’t working for an exploitive employer, and you’re not a minority. Beyond that, life isn’t so risky. Oh, and then there’s all the wars, human trafficking, exploitation, environmental pillage, and ethnic/religious/tribal strife. And oh yes, that pattern is fully established in *all ov human history*.

    So no, I’m not convinced we’re ok. Sorry.


  25. Heather, thanks for the correction but due to the good comments of Robert F. I realized that I in a rare lapse made a mistake.

    I appreciate your good information about all the Willies and all the Willies except the baseball player do give me the willies. I least I did not get confused and cite Willie Wonka as he went were the candy was

    Of course I still get confused and will probably read Sutton Hears A Who to my granddaughter next time they visit.


  26. Hello Susan out there in Australia!

    we forget you are in winter and when you mention ‘snow’ we recall it with envy in this summer heat here in northeastern North America.

    Sad about the animals who are suffering in the drought. So I’m praying for rain for their sakes also.
    Stay strong, Susan.


  27. I can’t post this sermon from Harry Emerson Fosdick in 1922 enough. It is one of the greatest sermons ever.

    I choose modernism, each and every single time.

    Nevertheless, it is true that just now the Fundamentalists are giving us one of the worst exhibitions of bitter intolerance that the churches of this country have ever seen. As one watches them and listens to them he remembers the remark of General Armstrong of Hampton Institute, “Cantankerousness is worse than heterodoxy.” There are many opinions in the field of modern controversy concerning which I am not sure whether they are right or wrong, but there is one thing I am sure of: courtesy and kindliness and tolerance and humility and fairness are right. Opinions may be mistaken; love never is.


  28. Augustine was using a broken translation and was blinded by his own biases. A 4th century monk allegedly created a doctrine greater than anything in the canon. Plus, humanism is a distinctly Christian doctrine, and Original Sin goes against it.

    I’m not going to claim Augustine was a heretic (nor was Pelagius). He’s a product of his time. But he’s wrong and in error, and we’re under no obligation to acknowledge his ideas as truth.


  29. And “the anti-abortion issue” wasn’t even on the radar of American Evangelicals (Too ROMISH? NO POPERY!) until around the Seventies, when it became Salvation Level Dogma Ex Cathedra overnight.

    Eagle theorizes it was(at least partially) misdirection cover for another issue, possibly the end of Jim Crow and desegregation of the South (Christian schools popping up all over the place around then).


  30. Hey, he thinks Hitler was right, but then nobody’s perfect, just as long as he’s antiabortion, the Religious Right can overlook any other sins — that’s the fallout of the Christian Culture War mentality in the nutshell.



  31. More like there was a Perfect Storm brewing, and Trump was the right man in the right place at the right time to ride it to the Top. Said Perfect Storm being a lot of brewing resentment reaching critical mass.


  32. I remember the panic in 2008 when Obama won the election. (Remember Focus on the Family’s “Warning Letter from an American Christian of the Future”?)

    He turned out to be a fairly average President; a lot of the weird hype about him turned out to be unofficial from Obama Fanboys — lunatic-fringe fanatics attracted to his charismatic campaign persona.

    It seems that Obama Derangement Syndrome is a conjoined twin with the opposite polarity of Trump Derangement Syndrome. (Same for Clinton Derangement Syndrome.) If you’re fanatically pro one, you’re fanatically rabid anti the other.

    Thing is, we’re in one of the longest runs of Messiah Politics in American history, dating back to before Y2K — each sitting president PROVEN to be an Antichrist Figure by a challenger/successor taking the mantle of The Second Coming of Christ. I wonder if this is a secularized version of Late Great Planet Earth/Left Behind theology crossing over to mainstream American political culture.


  33. Showed up at the start of Coast to Coast AM last night. Guest host Ian Punnet (an Episcopal Deacon?) thought this to be very silly and said from now on this meant he’d have to refer to them as “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints-ers” and said that henceforth he could only be addressed as [twenty-word full formal title of an American Episcopal Church deacon].


  34. Robert F. Thank you for making me think, which is hard for me , and catching my error. I was going by memory, my reference was Willie Sutton , the famous bank robber who when asked why he robbed banks replied “that is where the money is”. Foolishly going by memory I mixed him up with Willie Horton who was the subject of G.H. Bush ads during campaign.

    The reference using Willie Horton makes no sense whereas the Willie Sutton reference is just great, in my mind. From 23 years old til 25 I went to bartender school and was a part time bartender partly because it was good easy work while going to college but mostly it was to meet the female bartenders and the waitress and a bonus the female customers on business trips, who were already drinking. I went to where the “money” was and it was great. Case in point the terrible coaches and Dr. who preyed on the young gym girls. If you go fishing go where the fish are.

    Again my apologizes for not realizing I cannot depend on my memory alone anymore. Sometimes I even forget great actors from the golden age of TV like Jay Gold heels who of course portrayed Toronto on the Lonely Ranger.

    Thanks for the info.


  35. Keep Up Appearances — Must Stay Respectable.

    “Not out of any Heavenly virtue, but a Hellish Respectability.”
    — G.K.Chesterton, one of the Father Brown mysteries


  36. Truly Reformed churches are infamous for taking ‘expository preaching’ in the opposite direction, like spending month after month of Sundays exegeting(?) ONE VERSE.


  37. FWIW, in about 85% of families where a sexually abused child tells his non-abusive parent about the abuse, he/she is not only disbelieved but shamed and punished. (I’ll look up the references for anyone who wants me to.)

    Same in the RCC, I suppose; up until, what?, 20 or 30 years ago, priests were considered by the Church and the laity as basically god-on-earth.


  38. The old everyone does it argument is not what the reporting was about.

    The time I best remember hearing “Everybody’s Doing It!” was a same-sex sexual predator in Furry Fandom trying to groom his way into my pants. (It didn’t work.)

    Now , the reporting calls it child sexual abuse which it certainly is but it is specific abuse involving yung boys in 95 percent of the acts. Why? Strangely, it seems to me , that most of the Protestant child and sexual abuse is heterosexual , most with young teen girls. I think this goes to cultures of the institution.

    “Culture of the institution” as in “Romanist Faggery(TM)”?

    When it comes to same-sex molesting, an important factor is whether the target profile is pre-pubescent (pedophilia) or post-pubescent (ehebephilia).
    * Same-sex pedophiles normally self-identify and sexually arouse as straight. It’s theorized that the target’s lack of masculine secondary sexual characteristics (i.e. feminine characteristics such as high-pitched voice, smooth soft skin, lack of body/facial hair, small/undescended male genitalia) is what attracts them — a pre-pubescent boy seems more female than male, so it isn’t really homosexual.
    * Same-sex ehebephiles normally self-identify and arouse as gay or bi. Since ehebephile’s target profile is post-pubescent teens (young but with masculine secondary characteristics), it’s probably just a same-sex version of “going after jail bait”.


  39. jb,

    Willie Sutton, not Willie Horton (and WS didn’t even say it):

    “A famous apocryphal story is that Sutton was asked by reporter Mitch Ohnstad why he robbed banks. According to Ohnstad, he replied, “Because that’s where the money is”.

    Willie Horton was/is either a famous baseball player (which I doubt you were thinking of) or a notorious murderer whose deadly weekend furlough became a big part of the G.H.W bush vs. Michael Dukakis presidential campaign.

    On the subject of the RCC, I agree with Robert. But there’s really no way of knowing which came first — the lifelong desire to abuse children, or the opportunistic desire to do so. And is that point important anyhow?


  40. The really messed up thing about evangelicalism is that both are true: it has been at the forefront of dramatic social justice movements, and it has embraced, even created, systems of oppression that still in fact our society today. However, I think Chaplain Mike is talking about our capacity as an evangelical faith tradition to be better than what we have been, and MacArthur’s unwillingness to embrace that part of who we can be if we tried.


  41. Remember “The Coming Evangelical Collapse”?
    Well, This Is It (and the splash is wide).


  42. I lived in Chicago for 9 years with Harry calling first for the Sox and then the Cubbies. My wife is from the UK and lasst evening mwe watched Will Ferrell doing Harry Caray. I thought it was hilarious. She had no clue. And she’s put off by Budweiser. Apart from that, we’re happy together!


  43. Are you saying that Original Sin should be a foundational, essential, nonnegotiable doctrine of Christianity?

    Well, on the other side of the Tiber, Young Earth Creationism, GawdHatesFags, and Trump-is-LORD are “foundational, essential, nonnegotiable doctrines of Christianity”.


  44. It’s good to hear from you, Susan. I’ve been thinking and praying about NSW this week.

    Was enough hay shipped to save most of the cattle? I’m glad your neighbors helped!


  45. Did anyone notice this week that the Latter Day Saigs do not want to be called “Mormon” anymore? Not even acronyms like LDS are officially sanctioned. They would prefer “Church of Jesus Christ”, at the least. What’s in a name, anyway…


  46. > The direct dispute was modernism versus fundamentalism

    Sometimes the Direct Dispute, however, is not the dispute at all; its cover.

    The fight and splitting of the northern kingdoms has undeniable fiduciary ties to actors pushing class and racial politics.

    > Theology matters!

    I am doubtful.


  47. I’m not saying Catholic teaching and practice bear sole responsibility for this. I see it as a perennial danger that arises out of the power imbalance that is always set up between religious professionals, who carry tremendous authority and clout in their worlds, and the laity. In Catholicism it has a particular shape because of the nature of the priesthood, but it is also present in any cult-like religious arrangement where religious professionals are imbued by their subculture with special charismatic aura and authority. It happens in Protestantism, for certain; we’ve seen it play out in the news as mega-churches are embroiled in scandal after scandal. It’s too easy and convenient to write off the whole issue to the presence of a minority of “pervs”, as you call them, but following that lead is not going to solve the problem.


  48. Re: the abuses of children by priests in Pennsylvania

    ” Church officials kept complaints in a “secret archive,” to which only the bishop kept the key. ”

    these ‘officials’ need to go to prison also . . . they actively conspired to keep information from those who needed it, and they also are RESPONSIBLE for the suffering of children

    I think Catholics LOVE their Church, but hate the abuses of some who have had a chance to stop the nightmare and consciously chose to shield predators and to diminish the horror of their crimes against children by using euphemisms like ‘inappropriate physical contact’ . . .

    the Catholic people also demand accountability for these priests and ‘officials’ whose crimes have injured so many innocents; and the Catholic people also are demanding that victims be compensated for their suffering in so far as is possible, as their scars will remain with them throughout this life . . . . counseling and psychiatric care is expensive and the Church must help to pay for this care, as is right and just.

    There are no excuses for what has happened. Only a time of bringing the guilty to justice and a time of trying to help victims financially and pastorally. We weep with those who weep.


  49. And, likely, nothing unique to Clerics regarding this issue.

    Churches are Organizations, full stop, with no magical qualifiers.


  50. My case is simple: the modern world works astonishingly well, incredibly complex systems dependent on almost innumerable agents trundle along

    Crime is not rampant, its actually notably low. Gross poverty world-wide is falling.

    This is all very difficult to reconcile with a “Human’s are essentially Evil”. So one needs to CREATE new concepts like Common Grace and what not.

    Simple solution: Human beings are morally indeterminate, perhaps even unstable. Now I do not need to create anything to reconcile the narrative to observable reality.


  51. I think you’re completely missing the bus on this matter, j.b.

    Your repeated mentioning of Willie Horton is very trollish.


  52. Hello Robert F,

    I’m beginning to think that ‘the anti-abortion issue’ IS the ‘excuse’ being used by some ‘christians’ to support all the other ‘hate mongering’ going on as the far right has tied all that into one bundle.

    I never thought about that before but the coming of Trump has revealed a little more about such ‘christians’ than they wanted to out, I imagine.

    Talk about a revelation!


  53. Robert F. I disagree, I believe the homosexual child molesters were that way before they became a priest. The lifestyle and teachings of the Catholic did not “activate” their inner self to act upon their desires. They went to where the money was like Willie Horton. I believe it was a major subculture starting in the seminary and as the perverts rose thought the ranks they covered for themselves and the other pervs. Need to rooted out without reservation and all possible legal and church actions taken to punish and stop the spread of this terrible situation. Rome probably has a lot of pervs covering up the action. Just my opinion based on common sense and no one is more common than me.


  54. Nice brunch selection. Readers may want to check out Warren Throckmorton or Wartburg Watch blogs for current information on John M. and his Master’s University if you have not already done so.


  55. Chaplain Mike:

    Your “pure stream” link to your 2013 post–a critique of MacArthur’s use of the concept that turned into an exposition on Lloyd-Jones’ writing on the work of the Holy Spirit–was a VERY rewarding rabbit trail! A belated, retroactive thanks for that 5-year-old article!

    That Cubs grand slam was amazing; and rest in peace, Aretha Franklin!


  56. One thing people forget, or don’t know, is that, although most people sexually victimized by adults as children do not become sexual predators of children themselves as adults, almost all pedophiles were themselves sexually abused by adults as children. Their criminally acting out on other victims what they experienced themselves can’t be adequately dealt with by just calling them perverts. In the case of many priests who commit pedophilia after entering the priesthood, I wouldn’t be surprised if very few acted out their repressed tendencies, perhaps tendencies they themselves were not aware of, before undertaking their vocation, and perhaps many would never have acted them out if they hadn’t become priests. In other words, they would not have fit the definition of the word pervert in their own minds, or the minds of others, when they were going through their vocational discernment process before becoming priests.


  57. Yes, and what ever happened to good old expository preaching? Not talking about fire-and-brimstone preaching so common here in the South (mainly from IFB churches), but actually preaching from the Word? I am personally bored with all these Gospel-lite “talks” and “application-only” sermons. And you are right, I think they are more common in the mega-churches. It my church did that (rent out some animals), I would ask for my offering money back.


  58. Thank you Allen, well said.

    I’m in Nashvegas too! Oh, and my former mega-church had a head minister who was fooling around and left, and now it looks like the elders (male, of course) fibbed and did know about it.


  59. I had the exact same thought as Stephen. Today, we have the freedom to truly hold the Catholic Church accountable, more so than in the past. This is a severe blow to the church’s credibility. Protestants have their own sex scandals, some say more than the Catholics, but there is no one overall Protestant organization like there is for Catholics, so Protestants don’t all bear the blame as much as Catholics do. Anyway, I do believe we’re going to see a severe decline in the church.


  60. In a Missouri primary the Republican Party voters elected, as candidate for the MO State House, Steve West, conspiracy-mongering, antisemitic, anti-Moslem radio talk show host who has said “Hitler was right”, and they elected him by a large margin (20%?). He also had the support of Missouri Right to Life, because he’s antiabortion. Hey, he thinks Hitler was right, but then nobody’s perfect, just as long as he’s antiabortion, the Religious Right can overlook any other sins — that’s the fallout of the Christian Culture War mentality in the nutshell.


  61. I think sexual violations of one person against another, for instance rape, are always fundamentally the result of an abuse of power, j.b.. I acknowledge that the exercise of power by one person over another often can and does have a sexual dimension, and therein is the confusion. But I don’t think the Catholic Church draws active pedophiles to the priesthood; I believe it’s more likely that life as a priest in the Catholic church creates conditions and situations in which pedophile tendencies may be exacerbated, or even generated in men who never had them before, just as homoerotic rape occurs in prison among inmates who outside prison never engage in homosexuality. In both situations, isolation, a group of vulnerable potential victims, and tremendous power imbalances, along with authorities who are apathetic to what is happening in their institutions and only want to keep things quiet, provide situations in which horrific activities formerly unthinkable become real, habitual and widespread.


  62. As someone who lives in the same part of the South as Nashville, sermon topics like that are the norm at all the mega-mega churches.


  63. One opinion piece I read this week (I don’t remember the link) got me thinking about the problems when a male dominated power organization tries to avoid ‘scandal’. I saw it recently in a workplace, when a male dominated hierarchy tried to cover up ethical violations. I saw it years ago when a male dominated elder team in a church tried to avoid scandal when the pastor had a power dominated relationship with a female. Even at Willowcreek, where he actively involved women at staff levels, the main hierarchy covering for him was male.

    One reason I am very loyal to my current job is that I have a women manager at high levels of management that has the freedom to speak her mind. Even though she is the only woman at her level, they encourage her to speak up and embrace her strengths. That kind of mentality is what is takes to avoid the ‘conflict/scandal avoidance’ that happens in male dominated organizations.


  64. The measure of a great musician is partly how they perform under ideal conditions, but also their ability to perform when things are less than perfect. ABC ended last night’s newscast with a story I had not remembered hearing before about Aretha filling in for Pavarotti at the last minute at the 1998 Grammy Awards, as Sting described it, “literally on a moment’s notice.” This is the Director’s perspective and you’ll need to look elsewhere for the actual video, but make sure it’s the Grammy show. Definitely worth your time.


  65. Zoo sermon: Even apart from the lameness, which is certainly true, how much did this spectacle cost? Is this the best way the church could come up with to use that money? (If anyone brings up oil for Jesus’s feet and hair I will puke.) Were I, through some bizarre inexplicable set of circumstances, somehow involved with this church, I would conclude that my charitable giving was better directed elsewhere.


  66. Robert F. When out of my way to state the obvious in my comments , that all , big and powerful institutions have a situation where power can be abused by terrible people. The problem in Pa. is just the latest reported that concerns the Catholic Church. The old everyone does it argument is not what the reporting was about. T

    I do not agree that it is just an abuse of power, which of course it s but it is centered around homosexual pedophile abuse , mostly of young boys. It is almost always young boys that are the target of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Seems a lot of homosexual perverts go into the priesthood. Seems like there is a “network” , that has to start in the seminary. Now , the reporting calls it child sexual abuse which it certainly is but it is specific abuse involving yung boys in 95 percent of the acts. Why? Strangely, it seems to me , that most of the Protestant child and sexual abuse is heterosexual , most with young teen girls. I think this goes to cultures of the institution.

    In my lifetime it seems in the Catholic Church does have a specific, sexual evil problem and that is that leaders within the church are allowed to prey on young , mostly boys and it has been condoned, covered up and treated as business as usual.

    Yes , all religions have this problem but none to the extent that the Catholic Church seems to have and it appears to be institutionalized to with a large powerful, in bedded sub culture protecting the perverts.

    It seems those in the leadership positions are never held accountable for their actions or their allowing the abuse to not only not be reported but allowed to continue.

    The Pope and the Catholic leadership need to clear the decks and make this issue number one. Again my hunch is when you get into Central and South America, Africa and Asia the numbers on sex abuse will be very large, it is just been covered up better due to the culture and societies involved. In these countries the Church is still very powerful and respected and authority rarely challenged.

    The undermining t of the moral teachings and good work done by the Catholic Church is not a good thing for the world.

    Personally if I were Pope, I would make every one in authority take a lie detector test and make a signed oath that they are not a pervert. It is that serious. The pervs have been protected too lonog.


  67. 19th versus 20th century. In the 19th century when you talk about “Evangelicals” you mean not only the Baptists, but what later came to be called the “mainline” churches. This includes in particular the Methodists, who were foundationally Evangelical. The split occurred in the early 20th century. The direct dispute was modernism versus fundamentalism. This dispute was mostly in the North. Modernism didn’t have enough of a foothold in the South to engender any dispute. the Northern fundamentalists mostly lost the fight, on the institutional level, though not on the grassroots level. Essentially the modernist side got reclassified as Not Evangelical. This is why the Southern Baptists Convention, which has been around since the 1840s, is classified as solidly Evangelical, while pretty much all the Northern church bodies of similar age are not.

    So when we talk about 19th century Evangelicalism, it is entirely sensible to talk about Evangelical efforts to improve society and social justice. Abolitionism came straight out of Evangelicalism. When we talk about 20th century Evangelicalism, most of this stuff drops off. The notable exceptions are the bits that involve bossing other people around, because that is always fun: Prohibitionism, Sabbatarianism, etc.

    See also: Post- versus Premillenarianism. Theology matters!


  68. No, a short distance from Pelagius to Arminius is misunderstanding, a long distance is Arminian.


  69. Trump sure is the epitome of lots of evil IMO and the most of the “evangelicals’ just go along with him. I think this world has seen this before and it had disastrous results.


  70. That Cub’s walk-off victory Grand Slam reminds me of my Minnesota Vikings walk-off playoff victory against the New Orleans Saints last NFL season! Great job Cubs!!!!


  71. Trump, as emblem and epitome of Culture War triumphant, which is a theological as much as sociological phenomena, is what I think could account for the change in MacArthur’s tune that Eeyore describes. Of course, I could be wrong, just like you.


  72. Good points. In any event, the excommunication and condemnation of Pelagius (and a host of others) should never have happened, and should now be lifted. But I’d still rather learn from the Eastern Orthodox with regard to the lack of necessity for Original Sin than from Pelagius.


  73. I think the archipelagoes would have formed anyways – precisely *because* of our inborn tendency to squabble. 😉


  74. Robert, Eeyore asked what had changed with MacArthur and your answer was Trump. He would be exactly the same even if Trump was not elected. You can’t lay every evil at the feet of Trump. Next you will be telling me that the problem in the Catholic Church was due to Trump.


  75. A.W. Richard Sipe died August 8, 2018. He did rigorous study of hierarchical abuse in churches. He wrote, ” Sooner or later it will become obvious that there is a systematic connection to sexual activity by, among and between clerics in position of control and power and the abuse of others”.


  76. >he vast majority of human behavior,

    Is most certainly not brutality and violence, or else there would not be nearly 7 billion of us, the majority of us living in very close proximity to the rest of us.

    The fallacy of Original Sin (Total Depravity) is easily verifiable.

    Leaving Original Sin is not to say we are “basically good”; the problem with this debate is that it is a False Choice. It do **NOT** need to pick either of these alternatives.


  77. “…the innumerable islands and archipelagos of Baptist sects” exist because of the Reformer’s Medievalism informed by Augustinianism. The “T” of TULIP would not exist except for Roman Augustine “winning the argument” with Celtic Pelagius. Not that Pelagius was totally in the right that humans are intrinsically good and can make themselves acceptable to God by good works, but Augustine took the argument too far by saying that because Adam sinned every other human being, each of his descendants, is counted as a sinner.


  78. “as long as you are supporting policies that would protect them, you are doing all the social justice you need to”

    Gnats strained, camels swallowed.


  79. I do allow for doubts. 🙂 But can you allow for my POV – that the vast majority of human behavior, past and present, the baseline cruelty, conflict, and selfishness, *demands* an explanation that resides in the very root of human nature? Call it “original sin”, “depravity”, “inherent selfishness” – whatever. It’s there and must be accounted for, both theoretically and practically. There is just too much bad behavior to say we are basically good.


  80. The election of Trump, who received many of the votes of people who sit in his pews, as well as his associates. He is too weak, as is his theology, to stand up against the surging, succeeding Culture Warriors, who have little interest in helping most of the neediest, for instance, refugees (they of course set all the rest aside by saying that the neediest are fetuses susceptible to abortion, and that as long as you are supporting policies that would protect them, you are doing all the social justice you need to).


  81. Are you saying that Original Sin should be a foundational, essential, nonnegotiable doctrine of Christianity? Or are you willing to allow that those who don’t believe in it, or have doubts, like me, may be just as Christian as those who do?


  82. @j.b. — Don’t think the same problem doesn’t exist in evangelicalism. The national character of Roman Catholic churches, and the international character of the Roman Catholic Church, provided a widespread national and international framework for the hierarchical secret culture of protection for predatory, abusive priests; it was transmitted from place to place like an institutional virus. But the basic problems is one of involving a bad model of leadership, in which priests and the priesthood are elevated to a dangerous status of persons and an office never to be questioned, always to be obeyed, having almost a magical religious social charisma for the laity. Evangelicalism shares important aspects of this bad leadership model, involving charismatic pastors and clergy who are treated like gurus and prophets, and who the laity often give unquestioning obedience; the fact that evangelical churches are not as institutionally networked nationally and internationally as the RCC has perhaps been a factor preventing the same exact level and kind of predatory behavior from existing among them in the aggregate, but we are watching as many independent evangelical churches collapse under the weight of abusive, dysfunctional leadership practices. The mistake is to think that, because the problem in the RCC takes the form of pedophilia, it is primarily a specific sexual evil; but really, it is an evil of the abuse of power, which may take different sexual and nonsexual forms in other contexts, such as evangelicalism.


  83. And we also don’t have to abandon original sin – which is historically and psychologically verifiable – to correct Augustine’s worst decisions.


  84. “(MacArthur) simply does not understand the trajectory set by the New Testament and its emphasis on a good news that is actually meant to change the world, not just relieve the guilt of individual consciences.”

    But the thing is, he *does* – or at least, he said he did. Way back in the Lordship Salvation controversy, MacArthur loudly insisted that true faith would manifest itself, and that good works would be a major component of that outworking. But now, apparently, when some folks insist that the biblical injunctions to care for the poor and oppressed should be taken seriously, MacArthur goes AWOL. So the question that leaps to my mind is, what has changed?


  85. Oh, yes, I agree with you there. But we don’t need to reclaim Pelagius to jettison Original Sin; the Eastern Orthodox didn’t need him to avoid it.


  86. I agree. The distance from Pelagius to Arminius is short, perhaps theologically nonexistent; what follows is the widespread Arminianism that has given birth to the innumerable islands and archipelagos of Baptist sects and independent evangelical churches and megachurches that have contributed so much to the pervasiveness of Culture War here in the U.S.


  87. Its becoming clearer and clearer that evangelicalism never fully escaped its Southern fundamentalist roots.


  88. I will agree that Augustine needs some reconsideration, but Pelagius? Oh, that’s a bridge too far…


  89. After that mind-boggling performance, there is but one direction for the Nats to go…

    Towards Cleveland.


  90. Roman Catholicism has experienced terrible times before. This present terrible situation will hopefully provide impetus for needed dramatic changes in culture and structure. Augustine needs to be finally laid to rest while Pelagius receives a fairer consideration.


  91. for Pellicano Solitudinis

    Just as a sideline to your comment,
    thank you to Tasmania and Western Australia for the very generous delivery of hay to drought starved cattle ad sheep in New South Wales.

    The hay bales at the top of today’s subject would make many a farmer green with envy. Paddocks are just dust and dams dry.

    Light snow and hail today, more forecast for tomorrow. No descent rain in sight. Snow does not yield much moisture.
    Pray for real rain for us please.
    Enjoy your Saturday all.



  92. “in many ways, evangelical faith has often been at the forefront of social movements, protests, and efforts to bring justice for the marginalized and to promote societal change”

    But in many ways it hasn’t… when you have so-say Christian schools who will let kids in with collar-length hair but not collar-length dreads, and evangelicalism is identifiably racist…



  93. I think a lot of people don’t *want* to notice things. It is easier for some people to believe that their child is lying, or bad/difficult/stupid, than it is to believe that the authorities have got it wrong, or might even actively be doing wrong. I think it might have something to do with the need to have someone higher up in charge of everything, because the alternative is too scary.

    On a somewhat related denote, I have just begun watching “Broken”, a BBC television series about a Catholic priest in a disadvantaged parish in the North of England. He himself was abused by a priest as a child, and it seems that his mother didn’t believe him or blamed him in some way. Yet he has been ordained as a priest himself, and does what seems to be a good job of it, as well as being a good son to his dying mother. I’m interested in seeing where it goes.


  94. The failure of leadership in the Catholic Church , this time in Pa. is again so obvious that it seems to me that it is systemic and go to the very top. The revelations of the terrible events the past years show a pattern not of just lack of action only but an acceptance of child sex abuse that seems to show that it was accepted and condoned.

    How else could this happen. I can only imagine how many , un reported cases that have happened in 2nd and 3rd world countries that the local priest is the ultimate authority figure. The Pope should forget about redoing the teachings on capital punishment and worry about what is going to kill the church he is the head of.

    Also where are the parents and family of the abused children. I never let my children go alone to any event where they could be preyed upon until they were of an age to know what a pervert was. Even my wife thought I was paranoid and too protective. No , in my mind I was and am worldly. I will take a chance with my own well being but not a child.

    My view then and now was where would a child molester want to work, with children. Boy Scouts, sport coaches, religious leaders and even parents of friends who wanted children over often were suspect to me. Granted 80 percent of the above are just the wonderful, generous and giving people that we think they are but the 20 percent were out look for prey. Remember Willie Horton explanation on why he robbed banks.
    I do ask myself, based on my experience , where were the parents, the family of the abuse victims? With the massive number of boys involved surely many of the parents knew. This does not any way absolve the church of any responsibility but really, no one called the police or noticed anything? I could tell when my sons had a bad experience or even a bad ball game by their behavior..

    There are some offenses where the punishment should be severe , quick and no second chances to ever be in a position to abuse another child. There is a very low rate of “curing” sex abusers.

    I feel so sorry for my good , loyal and trusting Catholic friends who are so wonderful in their faith , who have been betrayed by the leadership of their church. They are victims also of this acceptance, cover up and criminality that the church leadership has only tolerated but accepted as a norm.

    And of course this happens in any organized organization but the Catholic Church seems to have an inherent , inbred problem that still is not being faced. The fish rots from the head down. Again any church were the faithful trust in will have abuse and must guarded against and not tolerated.

    This is just sad for the world. Another nail in the coffin of organized religion .


  95. It gives me no pleasure to say it but the Roman Catholic Church may be beyond redemption. What other organization could survive such revelations of premeditated systemic institutional abuse and corruption? Does it deserve to survive? At this point I don’t see how anyone could support such an organization in good faith. Too many people are in denial. It’s not just a few bad apples. Safeguards are not in place. When Francis became Pope he did his job which was to change the conversation but no amount of happy talk can hide the ugliness.


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