Saturday Brunch, September 22, 2018

Hello, friends, and welcome to the weekend? I’m filling in for good Chaplain Mike today. Ready for some brunch?

As usual, we’ve got some silly stuff, some serious stuff, some pop culture stuff. Skip what you want (it’s Brunch!), but let’s start with some lighter fare.

“At this time, we do not have information on the health implications or effects of ‘sedating’ lobsters with marijuana.” Not a sentence you read every week. It was uttered by  Emily Spencer, a spokeswoman for the Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Spencer was responding to the practice of Charlotte Gill, the owner of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, who has lately been getting lobsters high before they are dumped in a pot of boiling water. Ms. Gill says the weed takes the lobster’s stress and fear away. But the state is warning her to slow her roll. Ms. Spencer says serving lobster high would make them “adulterated and therefore illegal”. No word on how they get the lobsters to hold the joint with their claw.

Photo illustration of a lobster smoking a joint.
“Dude, it’s, like, easier than it looks”

Speaking of weed, Coca-Cola might be working on a drink that’s infused with marijuana. They promise they’re still going to put your name on the side of the can (cause it’s the only way you’ll remember it). Apparently the marketing department is already working on some graphics:

Christians in the U.S. and Europe are very different animals. While, on paper, The U.S. and Western Europe have similar religious attributes, in practice the divergence could scarcely be larger. Most people on both sides of the Atlantic say they are Christian, for example. At the same time, substantial shares in the U.S. and Europe say they are religiously unaffiliated: Roughly a quarter of the American adult population identify as “nones” (23%), similar to the shares in Germany (24%), the United Kingdom (23%) and other Western European countries. But when you look at what people actually do, the difference is startling:Compared with U.S. adults, relatively few Western European Christians and religiously unaffiliated people are religiously observantIn fact, by several measures of religious commitment, religiously unaffiliated people in the U.S. are as religious as – or in some cases even more religious than – Christians in Western European countries. For example, while 20% of U.S. “nones” pray daily, only 6% of Christians in the UK do so. And religiously unaffiliated Americans are about twice as likely as German Christians to believe in God with absolute certainty (27% vs. 12%).

Scientists have announced plans to build a genetic Noah’s Ark which will contain genetic information from 66,000 species, beating the previous record held by the sheets at Motel 6.

This is very interesting (and very under-reported): A study released this month showed that the more often a Trump voter attended church, the less white-identitarian they appeared, the more they expressed favorable views of racial minorities, and the less they agreed with populist arguments on trade and immigration. The survey was conducted by the Cato Institute’s Emily Ekins for the Voter Study Group, who analyzed the views of Trump voters based on their frequency of church attendance — from “never” to “weekly” or more often. Here are the key findings, and then some graphs they published:

  • Donald Trump voters who attend church regularly are more likely than nonreligious Trump voters to have warm feelings toward racial and religious minorities, be more supportive of immigration and trade, and be more concerned about poverty.
  • Statistical tests indicate that Trump voters who attend church regularly are significantly more likely than nonreligious Trump voters to have favorable attitudes toward black people, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, Muslims, and immigrants, even while holding other demographic factors, such as education, constant.
  • Statistical tests find no significant difference in effects between Protestant and Catholic church attendance among Trump voters.
  • Religious Trump voters have higher levels of social capital: They are far more likely to volunteer, to be satisfied with their family relationships and neighborhood, and to believe the world is just and that people can be trusted.

Other findings:

  • Trump voters who frequently attend religious services have a much more positive view of immigration than those who do not attend church.
  • Opposition to capital punishment rises with church attendance. Very frequent churchgoing Trump voters are about two and a half times as likely as secular Trump voters to oppose the death penalty.
  • Religious Trump voters are more concerned about poverty than are nonreligious Trump voters. Trump voters who attend church at least once a week are nearly twice as likely as secular Trump voters to say that poverty is a “very important” issue to them (42 percent vs. 23 percent).
  • Religious Trump voters are more likely than nonreligious Trump voters to do volunteer work. For instance, while 61 percent of very frequent churchgoers among Trump voters volunteered at least once in the past 12 months, only 20 percent of secular Trump voters did.

How, then, exactly, did Trump get elected? Two factors seem to be in play. First, many of the church goers did not base their vote on the beliefs they held on these issues. Second, most of Trump’s supporters are simply not frequent church attenders. From the same survey of Trump voters:

Only about a third of Trump’s 2016 voters are in church on a typical Sunday, and 60 percent attend church less than twice a year.

Looking at the data, the researchers speculate that private institutions like churches “may serve an important function in reducing polarization and racial tensions and helping people find common ground.” But that influence is waning as society secularizes.

Nancy Crampton-Brophy is the author of How to Murder your Husband. She was arrested last week. For murdering her husband.

Tired of your job and bored with America? There’s an English bookstore in Florence for sale. It’s located “on the ground floor of a beautiful, historic, well-maintained building in the very center of Florence—literally in the shadow of the Duomo.” Sounds delightful.

By the way, the bookstore, Paperback Exchange, is so iconic that it was featured in Dan Brown’s recent blockbuster, Inferno. Last year my daughter and I took a trip to Rome and Florence (her college graduation present), and I wanted an easy read for the plane ride. I picked up Inferno, as it is mostly set in Florence and I thought it would give me insight into some of its secrets. Mistake. Big Mistake. It was, without doubt, the absolute worst book I have ever read in my 56 years. The poor character development was matched by the ridiculous plot and vile message (yes, it was very much a book with an agenda).  I do believe an average High School Junior could have written a better book (especially with an editor). Which makes me wonder: How on earth do novels like this not only get published but become best-sellers?

Related question: What is the worst novel you have ever read?

Photo: The best photo from the 2017 total eclipse (and the story behind it)

Yuck: A recent poll shows when asked what their favorite Mexican restaurant is, Americans overwhelmingly said Taco Bell.  By the way, two things happened right after this announcement. First, Mexico offered to pay for the wall after all. Second,  Pepto-Bism0l stock jumped fourfold.

Have you heard of Mark Taylor? He’s the self-appointed firefighter prophet who claims God told him, way back in 2011, that Trump would win the White House. One problem: he said this about “this next election”, that is, in 2012. Whatever, Mark’s apparently still gets inside info about hidden truths and future events. Some of them, I’m sure, will fascinate and enlighten you:

Last week, Taylor declared that the late Sen. John McCain had not died of brain cancer but had actually been executed by a military tribunal. Oh. Also, McCain was the head of ISIS. Who knew? Taylor further claimed that the “deep state” opposes Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court because they know that he will support President Trump’s use of military tribunals against the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

We both know that John McCain was executed under military tribunals. Which is another reason why Judge Kavanaugh, they’re screaming so loud. They’re trying to disguise it that it’s abortion that they’re worried about; that’s not what they’re worried about. They want a solid 5-4 vote for military tribunals … It’s the military tribunals [they’re worried about] because they know it’s going to cost them lives and they’re going to be executed.

When you watched John McCain’s funeral and you saw the entire cabal right there in one spot. These people weren’t smiling. [Hey, Mark: it was a funeral] They knew John McCain was a prophetic marker in time that we have moved from judgment to justice is now being served. Period. And they know it and they know that if they don’t do something to stop this, they’re next. John McCain was the number three guy—you’ve got Barack Obama being number one, Hillary Clinton being number two, and John McCain being number three. So if they can take down the head of ISIS, John McCain, the number three guy out of all of this, they know they’re next. That’s why they’re scared to death, that’s why they’re screaming.

Now why do I bring all this up? Because, you, dear reader, can actually watch a movie in a couple weeks about this fascinating prophet. The Trump Prophecy will come out October 2. Here’s the kicker: the movie glorifying this false-prophet is produced in part by…wait for it…Liberty University.

Image result for the trump prophecy

Republican leaders in suburban Houston have apologized for an advertisement likening the Hindu deity Ganesha to the GOP’s elephant symbol amid a congressional race featuring an Indian-American Democrat. The ad was published last week in a newspaper popular with area Indian-Americans. It wished Hindus a happy Ganesh Chaturthi, or festival celebrating the elephant-headed Ganesha’s birth, asking, “Would you worship a donkey or an elephant?” The Hindu American Foundation was kinder than I might have been: “While we appreciate the Fort Bend County GOP’s attempt to reach out to Hindus on an important Hindu festival, its ad — equating Hindus’ veneration of the Lord Ganesha with choosing a political party based on its animal symbol — is problematic and offensive.”

Hillsong Church is now leaving its denomination to form itself as its own global denomination.

A small town in Missouri recently launched a newspaper called The Examiner. Seems a legit name for a newspaper, no? But Mayor Luge Hardman thinks the name stinks. “I’m sorry, but the innuendo of that title puts my city up for public ridicule, and I will not be a part of it,” Hardman said. Wait, what’s the problem? Well, the village is called — I promise this is real — Uranus. So the newspaper that they launched is The Uranus Examiner. Mayor Luge feels this will make the area the butt of jokes, and create a stain on Uranus: “I think that the Pulaski County Examiner, for example, would have been a real hit.” Well, I can’t imagine any of us mature adults making fun of this. Not when the town is rightfully proud of so many other things:

Image result for The Uranus Examiner

What has happened to ecumenism? Michael Root gives his take in First Things:

Fifty years ago, ecumenism could make grown men cry. Now it is mundane.

Many reasons can be given for the dampening of the ecumenical excitement of two generations ago. The mainstream Protestantism that had been a driving force of the ecumenical movement has declined precipitously in recent decades. Traditional church-dividing issues—infant baptism, the presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist—can seem arcane not just to the laity, but even to a church leadership that is far less theologically attuned than it was in the recent past. Church unity can seem irrelevant to church life, and ecumenical texts are often written by committees—a recipe for boring prose.

The whole essay is a very interesting long read. You can find it here.

While touring hurricane damage in North Carolina this week, President Trump said, “This is a tough hurricane. One of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water.” I really shouldn’t have to tell you by now that I did not make that quote up.

Grace Cathedral, an Episcopal church  in San Francisco, recently garnered headlines for holding a Beyoncé-mass. Last week, as part of the multiday Global Climate Action Summit they held a worship service featuring individuals portraying giant tree people. Which is fine, I guess. But I wouldn’t be able to get past waiting for them to storm Isengard.

Image result for grace cathedral tree people
Still looking for the Ent-wives

Well, that’s it for this week.  Let’s conclude with some pictures of people practicing faith around the world (photos courtesy of Religion News Service).

An idol of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha is wrapped in a red cloth as it is transported on a vehicle for the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Ahmadabad, India, on Sept. 13, 2018. The 10-day-long festival celebrating the birth of Ganesha began Sept. 13. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki
Ultra-orthodox Jewish men pray ahead of their new year, Rosh Hashanah, at the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site in Jerusalem’s Old City, on Sept. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
People take pictures of the annual Virgin of Charity procession in Havana on Sept. 8, 2018. Cuba’s patron saint is also recognized as a powerful deity in the African-influenced religion of Santeria, which refers to her as “Ochun.” (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
Shiite Muslim women on their way to attend a Muharram procession in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Sept. 13, 2018. Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, is a period of mourning in remembrance of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
A woman kisses an icon as Orthodox Christian pilgrims pause in a children’s playground in Bucharest, Romania, on Sept. 13, 2018. Romanian Orthodox worshippers marched through the Romanian capital on the eve of the Feast of the Cross, a celebration of the cross used to crucify Jesus. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
The Rev. Steven Reece, left, an ordained Southern Baptist minister who lives near Atlanta, cleans an old Jewish cemetery with other volunteers in Rohatyn, the site of a Jewish Heritage project, close to Lviv, Ukraine, on Aug. 29, 2018. For years now, Reece has been cleaning Jewish cemeteries and erecting memorial plaques at mass grave sites in Poland, and more recently Ukraine. (AP Photo/Yevheniy Kravs)
Indian Muslims shout slogans during a protest against the Chinese government, in Mumbai, India, on Sept. 14, 2018. Nearly 150 Indian Muslims held a street protest in India’s financial capital, demanding that China stop detaining thousands of minority Uighur Muslims in detention and political indoctrination centers in the Xinjiang region. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, right, and other members of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church pray before a meeting in Moscow on Sept. 14, 2018. The meeting of the Russian Orthodox Church’s top hierarchs mulled a response to a decision by Orthodox Christianity’s leading body to send two envoys to Ukraine. (Sergey Vlasov/Russian Orthodox Church Press Service via AP)
Devotees transport an idol of elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha to a place of worship for the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Hyderabad, India, on Sept. 13, 2018. The 10-day long Ganesh festival began Thursday and ends with the immersion of Ganesha idols in water bodies on the final day. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)
Official seal notices are placed on the backdoor entrance of the Zion church after it was shut down by authorities in Beijing on Sept. 11, 2018. China is rolling out new rules on religious activity on the internet amid an ongoing crackdown on churches, mosques and other institutions by the officially atheist Communist Party. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

160 thoughts on “Saturday Brunch, September 22, 2018

  1. Has anyone heard of the interpretation of Revelation where the Beast represents a corrupt political system and the False Prophet a corrupt religious system?

    remember which one is always the boss and which is always the flunky?


  2. it is clear to me that the “intellectual” wing of the White identitarian movement is rooted in Euro-pagan religiosity

    “Euro-pagan religiosity” as in “channeling Heinrich Himmler”?


  3. Another corollary of a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.

    “Pull up the ladder — I’M ABOARD!”


  4. It assumes the End Times mythology but describes it from the point of view of the have-nots.

    Sounds like it could be interesting.
    A different POV can change the entire tone and impact of a story.


  5. Is “White Identarian Nationalism” the latest term for White Supremacy and Master Race Ideology?


  6. BTW he’s a regular church goer, very pious and zealous in fact.

    That just means he’ll be Praising the LOOOOORD as he pours the Zyklon B crystals into the packed showers.


  7. Worst book I ever read?

    666 by Salem Kirban, the “Eye of Argon” of Christian Apocalyptic.

    And in the Evangelical Bubble it was a best-seller, History Written In Advance.

    I can’t find an online copy of the accompanying Cantata, but here’s its footprint on the Web:


  8. That’s why before I knew it had a name, I called it “Anti-Semitic Zionism”.

    To them, Israel is nothing more than a major piece on the End Time Prophecy Gameboard. Once The Jews have served their purpose setting up and triggering Armageddon, Christ will destroy them in revenge upon His return.


  9. After a generation or two of such a Christian Nation(TM), the name “Jesus Christ” will have acquired the same baggage as the name “Adolf Hitler”.


  10. Republican leaders in suburban Houston have apologized for an advertisement likening the Hindu deity Ganesha to the GOP’s elephant symbol amid a congressional race featuring an Indian-American Democrat. The ad was published last week in a newspaper popular with area Indian-Americans. It wished Hindus a happy Ganesh Chaturthi, or festival celebrating the elephant-headed Ganesha’s birth, asking, “Would you worship a donkey or an elephant?”

    Now THAT’s clueless.
    But cluelessness can be funny.
    (I wonder if they ran the ad past their usual Focus Groups…)


  11. And then they act bemused when outsiders mock or dislike them…

    “All who live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer PERSECUTION…”
    “Blessed are Ye who are PERSECUTED for Righteousness’ Sake…”

    (Incidentally, over at Wondering Eagle the regular troll who claimed American Evangelicals are suffering Persecution also said (his exact words) “I give Donald Trump Praise and Adoration”.


  12. But I do find it interesting that you guys no longer consider so many Republicans and Republican institutions conservative. The way you treat and purge your former allies reminds me of an ideological, bloodless Night of the Long Knives.

    That’s what you get on the Strauss-Howe Cycle just before everything breaks down into a Crisis Era.

    Idealist Generation dominant, all-or-nothing Perfect Ideology whose Utter Righteousness justifies anything, and there cannot be Two One True Ways.


  13. Grace Cathedral, an Episcopal church in San Francisco, recently garnered headlines for holding a Beyoncé-mass.

    Thus topping the Catholics and their Clown Masses of the immediate Post-Vatican II Silly Season..


  14. Mexico seemed to have inherited the WORST elements of Spanish Colonial culture, Gachupines, Jefes, y Peones, well lubricated by La Mordida. Then Lopez de Santa Anna almost immediately established the archetype of the Banana Republic El Presidente and Revolucion after Revolucion after Revolucion. As my Bay Area writing contact Jordan179 put it, “Mexico’s history is one long Tragedy”.


  15. I understand, but to me it’s interesting and instructive how quickly and readily the Trumpians have turned on their former allies, however those allies are labeled.

    1) What do Predators Eat when there’s No More Prey?
    2) There Can Be Only One Court Favorite. And One One True Way.
    3) Where have we seen this pattern before?


  16. But Wait, There’s More!

    Now why do I bring all this up? Because, you, dear reader, can actually watch a movie in a couple weeks about this fascinating prophet. The Trump Prophecy will come out October 2. Here’s the kicker: the movie glorifying this false-prophet is produced in part by…wait for it…Liberty University.

    It Trump is LORD (as so many Evangelicals believe), this “fascinating prophet” cannot be a False Prophet. Q.E.D.

    And “Fascinating Prophet” won’t even get a night in the Lincoln Bedroom for such flattery of the King. Guess Who at Liberty U will take all the credit and reap the reward. Rank Hath Its Privileges.


  17. I remember when Da Vinci Code had its 15 minutes of fame, right around Easter of that year.

    Especially in Italy, Tour Guides covering some of the locations/artifacts mentioned HATED Da Vinci Code. They’d be doing their spiel about a location or building or artifact, and some guy on the tour would always pipe up “NO! YOU’RE WRONG! DEAD WRONG!”, pull out his copy of Da Vinci Code, and start quoting it Chapter and Verse.

    I’m surprised there weren’t resulting homicides.
    Roman Tour Guides HATED Da Vinci Code…


  18. Jerry also writes like Bad Fanfic, complete with the constant “See How Clever I Am?” asides.
    But he’s a CELEBRITY Christian just like Kirk Cameron, so he has to be the Greatest Author of All Time. As IMonk put in in “Selling Jesus by the Pound”, now that you’re saved you can’t read the real thing, so here’s the Christianese knockoff. Certified Safe Space.

    Here’s Heathen Critique’s coverage of another of his works, Soon (first novel of a trilogy, all set in the Mandatory Near Future Persecution Dystopia):

    The tragedy is, he started with a valid premise — retelling the story of the Book of Acts & St Paul in a contemporary-to-near-futue setting to show them afresh (much like Lewis did with Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe).
    Except Jerry falls completely flat on his face with this one. Couldn’t-be-more obvious-parallelism, total tin ear for Bad Allegorical character names, no area knowledge of anything outside of Chi-town, and “See How Clever I Am? Get It?” every couple pages.

    The only thing I can liken it to is that other Inerrant SCRIPTURE that reads like Bad Fanfic: Atlas Shrugged, which began with another legit premise: “What happens when the Free Rider Syndrome hits Critical Mass?”


  19. * The Illuminati sent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma To Texas And Florida To Punish Trump Voters
    * Obama Will Be Imprisoned For Treason And Three Supreme Court Justices Will Be Indicted
    * Literal Demons Are Manifesting Against Trump As He Works To Arrest The Deep State For ‘Eating Kids’
    * “Sleeper” agents under deep state “mind control” will “start targeting blonde women [for attacks] because they think they’re Trump supporters.”
    * Freemasons And Illuminati Are Using A Special Frequency To Change DNA And Make People Hate Trump
    * Trump Will Unleash A Wave Of Arrests Of Satanic Pedophiles In February, 2018
    * Thousands Of ‘Elite Pedophiles’ Have Secretly Been Arrested As Part Of Trump’s Crackdown On Satanic Child Sacrifice Cults

    The Crazy is Strong in This One…

    Note all the specifically-Christianese push buttons and Pavlovian dog whistles in the above:
    “Literal DEMONS” manifiesting to thwart God’s Anointed (PROOF of Anointing).
    “Satanic Child Sacrifice Cults”, i.e. Covens of WITCHES after Our Christian Children, just as in The Satanic Panic.
    “SATANIC Pedophiles” — see above.
    “Special Frequency to Change DNA and make People Hate Trump” like Deros shining their Telaug Mind Control Rays up from inside the Hollow Earth.
    “The Illuminati sent Hurricanes to Punish Trump Voters (i.e. The Righteous/just like You, Dear Reader)” echoing HAARP Weather Control Conspiracy Theory.

    Problem is, Christians (including the CELEBRITY Court Evangelical who runs Liberty U) will swallow it competely as SCRIPTURE(TM). Any reality check is SATANIC DECEPTION, LIES, FAKE NEWS, etc. directly opposing FAITH.

    P.S. The “Deep State,. i.e the “Secret Vast Conspiracy raging against The LORD and His Anointed”. Why do I keep thinking that 80-100 years ago instead of “Deep State” it would have been “The Jews(TM)” instead?


  20. I propose a new game show: What did Trump just lie about, and who believes him anyway? The prize would be a new president.


  21. The Other Jean, Odd that you mention Lolita when Moby Dick has been discussed by a few. Both are about obsession and how it is fatal. That being said back in the 60’s I think of Sue Lyons who played Lolita in the movie and how it was a major issue but my friends went to see it because Sue Lyons was super hot and we were teenage boys. For the early 60’s this was very wild. So much for my intellectual powers but I also watched the movie Moby Dick and of course we all did the Moby Dick jokes.

    Lolita was the better movie because of the great acting of Sue Lyons who made heart shaped sun glasses sexy and I think she was only 16 at the time. Sue Lyons got my vote for Academy Award for playing a super hot 16 year old in such a convincing manner and I voted with my brain but my write in vote did not count. She was robbed.


  22. You folks want to read a really good End Times novel? Look for Brian Caldwell’s WE ALL FALL DOWN.

    It assumes the End Times mythology but describes it from the point of view of the have-nots. None of the sadomasochistic Hal Lindsey know nothing triumphalism. Gritty and disturbing.


  23. –> “I was actually quite moved by the Shack, though that is likely more about where I was spiritually than about its writing.”

    I need to cry “Mea culpa” re: my “Shack” criticism.

    I did actually ENJOY the themes of The Shack, especially the theology/spirituality of it. What I could NOT stand was the horrible writing! The book would’ve been 100 times better if someone had edited the heck out it, especially some of his lousy prose, sentence structure, and bizarre past/present tense changes.

    –> “Are you an editor? I’ve got a book that needs help.”

    No. I actually hired an editor for my sci-fi books (hopefully to be published ~Christmas!).


  24. Cormac McCarthy is certainly an acquired taste; or maybe it’s better said that either his stunning prose and elegance will overcome the absolutely depressing nature of his books, or it won’t.

    I’ve re-read the three I mentioned above. I still marvel at their plot construction, crispness of scenes, and the vivid gorgeousness of his writing. But I go elsewhere for “feel-good”…LOL.


  25. Evangelicals support Israel…

    Well they support Israel’s place in the Big Plan. Very few of them have any idea what’s actually going on over there. Of course it could be said many of them have no idea what’s actually happening over here.


  26. He seems to be fascinated by water:

    “This [Puerto Rico] is an island, surrounded by water. Big water, ocean water.”

    “[Hurricane Florence] is one of the wettist we’ve ever seen, from the standpoint of water.”


  27. Robert F /Eeyore, So would Texas , CA, N.M. and the SW territory that the USA bought from Mexico after the Mexican War be better off if they had remained part of Mexico? The USA did not create the culture of Central and South America, Spain did as well there early empire builders that came not to make a new country but to exploit. So Spain and England set the culture and society in the early Americas except for the militaristic Dutch. who like Trump knew the value of a wall.

    Mexico, Central and South America are what they are because of their culture, society, values and all the intangibles that make up a country. However, we will soon join them in second and third world status as we march toward a nation that has lost its common sense and lives in a bubble that is going to burst soon even with the leadership of the eloquent and scholarly President Trump who does know record wetness proving again his understanding of all things including wetness. I propose a new game show, What Did Trump; Just Say and What does it Mean. Prize would be MAGA hat.


  28. I liked The Shack too, but as I was reading it I described it to a friend as “the best worst book I have ever read.” I’m with Rick Ro, that it needed a serious editing overhall, and with Daniel J that it was spiritually interesting, if not moving.

    And I’m with Suzanne about The DaVinci Code. I remember it starting out pretty well, then it got boring and banal. And the “facts” listed at the beginning of the book have caused a lot of confusion with the public’s perception of church history.


  29. Do Lewis and Tolkien count as contemporary? Check the publication dates. I suppose if you are comparing it with John Bunyan… For that matter, while Tolkien’s fiction clearly is informed by his faith, it is not “religious fiction” as the term is generally used.


  30. I found my father’s copy of _Lolita_ on a bookshelf, and started reading it when I was about 12. He saw what I was reading, and asked, “Do you understand that?” I said “Yes.” and he never mentioned it again. I sort of wish that he had, so we could have discussed it a bit, but I don’t suppose that’s the sort of book you can analyze with your father.


  31. I’ve gotten much enjoyment reading the books assigned to my teens as they work their ways through high school. Some were books I rolled my eyes at and slogged through when I was in school. Others are new tome. My HS English teacher had just come off a masters in lit where she’d written her thesis on Kafka. So I read some, wrote some papers on some of his stuff to suck up. I don’t think I’ll be re-reading any of that, but at the time, I was very intrigued at the influence of childhood experiences on the adult. ‘The child is the father of the man’ and all that. So for me, the book choices were about 50/50.


  32. Mexico is rich in resources, rich in people and Central America with Mexico could have been as successful as our good neighbor Canada. Why is Mexico the place where people leave?

    Because the U.S. spent decades creating havoc in Central America, destabilizing one country after the next, overthrowing governments and funding right wing insurgencies to safeguard U.S. business and political interests, and Mexico was effected negatively by its destabilized neighbors in a big way and for the foreseeable future.


  33. I love Moby Dick. Though I’m not sure why.

    For one thing, Melville has real skill at dry humor, and it comes across in Moby Dick throughout the book. He’s as funny as Vonnegut.


  34. Hi Rick. I was actually quite moved by the Shack, though that is likely more about where I was spiritually than about its writing.

    Are you an editor? I’ve got a book that needs help.


  35. Robert F., Eeyore Robert we can blame the speechwriters who mistakenly attribute the “America is great ” quote to De Tocqueville. It is not in his writings and has become part of the lore of the paid speech writer. Not that it is not a good point and it does sound like the Frenchman. His writings provide a good look at America at that period of time and he made many an astute point. John Barry is doing good because America is great, I will paraphrase.

    Eeyore, I believe America became great because of her geographic location, her foundations set by those from western Europe, her moral foundations, capitalism, meritocracy, the founding set by the founding Fathers with our republican form of government and the faith in America of the various , diverse groups of people who believed, sought, worked and achieved the American dream. It did not just happen

    South America, Mexico, Central America have basically and perhaps more of the same natural resources as the good old USA where John Barry lives and loves it. How about this, what if Texas was still a part of Mexico and the terrible Steven Austin, Sam Houston and the rebels failed in their quest. Would what is now Texas USA be as doing as well or would the people try to get into the good old USA and live with John Barry. Mexico is rich in resources, rich in people and Central America with Mexico could have been as successful as our good neighbor Canada. Why is Mexico the place where people leave? Why does America have 22 million illegal aliens?

    Now the French say America is great because Trump is making America great again, if I translated it right. Most of my experience with French is fries.


  36. I love Moby Dick. Though I’m not sure why.

    I started Mann’s The Magic Mountain about five times now, and I just can’t get past the first 50 pages.


  37. I never read them. Even though I know Jerry Jenkins and he (or his publisher) sent me a copy of the first one.

    Jerry is a good guy, and wrote some excellent biographies. But most contemporary religious fiction leaves me cold (exceptions being Lewis, Tolkien, and a couple others).


  38. I wonder if the ‘Crichton’ name opened the door for Michael Crichton to publishers . . . . he is not related to the author ROBERT Crichton who wrote one of my own favorite novels: ‘The Camerons’ which was part biographical to do with Crichton’s Scottish ancestors.

    I’m far more a fan of Robert of the name Crichton, than of Michael. Without doubt.


  39. I couldn’t even get past the first two paragraphs of Dan Brown’s book about NSA. It was painfully obvious that he has ZERO knowledge of even the basic geography and traffic patterns of the DC Metro area, and on top of his other known tendencies made it clear that the book was going to be a tidal wave of bull manure. 😛


  40. I’m reading Mann’s Joseph and His Brothers. LOOOONG, but wonderful!

    As for McCarthy, I’d suggest starting with The Crossing.

    I read Moby Dick in school, totally under duress from a high school Eng. Lit. teacher. Did not enjoy it. But I do like his musical descendant, Moby.


  41. In its pace, perhaps, but not in its style. I cannot read Dickens – I’ve tried and failed many times (not because if the length). Dickens does make for excellent television, though.

    Another saggy great beast of a book that I have recently enjoyed was Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries. It was a bit of a struggle in book form, but the audiobook is glorious.


  42. It’s not a book I could ever read again, not because it isn’t ‘well-written’, but it broke my heart:
    Styron’s ‘Sophie’s Choice’

    it haunts me, this story, so sad it is


  43. McCarthy writes some of the most beautifully depressing and haunting scenes you’ll ever read. “The Road,” case in point. Vividly beautiful descriptions of post-apocalyptic devastation, and absolutely depressing. “No Country for Old Men”…gorgeous prose and crisply written, but gosh, so depressing. And “All the Pretty Horses”: another depressing tale told with vivid imagery.


  44. While we are on the subject of worst novels ever read. How about your first adult novel you remember reading. Mine was “Hotel” by Arthur Hailey, quickly followed by “Airport”. I was probably eleven or twelve. Thanks, Mom.


  45. the sad thing is that for many fundamentalist-evangelicals, there is no longer ANY difference between their politics and their faith . . . . and what frightens the rest of us is that we fear for them, knowing they have made a deal with the devil and there will be fall-out to come from this that they may not have anticipated . . . . I think it’s already started . . . . the devil WILL have his due

    on another note: I wonder if Jewish people who align themselves with the Christian extreme far right have any idea what they are doing? I fear for them also, in that one reason Trump is so embraced by that group is that he is much beloved by white supremists who harbor all manner of prejudices against Jewish people . . . . . strange bedfellows? or just a temporary alignment for political advantage? will history repeat itself even while we remember and respond to Charlottesville?


  46. Not delved into McCarthy but I did read Mann’s Death in Venice. It was not at all what I expected but it sure stuck with me.Great literature.


  47. The worst novel I ever didn’t read was LEFT BEHIND. I got about four pages in and did the toss across the room. The worst thing about the DAVINCI CODE wasn’t the writing It was all the historical howlers that people believe now because they read them in a bestseller. I know a guy at my work who is absolutely convinced Jesus was elected God at the Council of Nicaea. If anyone hasn’t seen it the movie is even worse than the book.


  48. maybe ‘ecumenism’ is not so much necessary now because many evangelicals have so much more familiarity with Anglicanism and Catholicism through the work of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien? Of course, evangelicals (especially the ones with fundamentalist backgrounds) may not realize that Lewis was trying to get people to ‘sneak past those watchful dragons’ that kept folks from a deeper understanding of Christianity. As for Tolkien, my goodness, his LOTR series is in his own words ” “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.”

    Those two Brits did something that all the ecumenical gatherings and meetings were not able to do. And for those evangelical/fundamentalists who embraced the stories of Narnia and the LOTR series, Anglicanism and Catholicism are no longer so unfamiliar, having provided a depth of understanding of basic beliefs at a level that defies the old ‘ecumenical’ efforts to match.

    In Lewis’ words:

    “I thought I saw how stories of this kind could steal past a certain inhibition which paralysed much of my own religion in childhood. Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or about the sufferings of Christ? I thought the chief reason was that one was told one ought to. An obligation to feel can freeze feelings. And reverence itself did harm. The whole subject was associated with lowered voices; almost as if it were something medical. But supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday school associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could.” (C.S. Lewis)


  49. ” If Trump adopted a convincing evangelical Christian demeanor, like Pence’s, my coworker would be all the way in on the evil policy”…. many friends and family and church people I rub shoulders with would fit this to the T… and reiterating my comment earlier – they have NO idea what that looks like to the outside world; they are blissfully, willfully ignorant of what that kind of stance, wrapped in religiosity, feels to the nones, other religions, etc. And then they act bemused when outsiders mock or dislike them…


  50. This is where he himself would run afoul of the identitarian ethnonationalists, if they actually assumed power and control.


  51. He’s very pre-mil, dispensationalist, pro-Israel to the extreme, CUFI agenda, etc. In fact I think he’d probably like to see the Palestinians completely annihilated first, before he got to you/us… but any order would probably do.


  52. After I posted my bit, I thought of what I missed and it was your part… “communities decline simply because the world changes…”


  53. “Favorite Mexican restaurant is Taco Bell” – well, I think there are 2 reasons for that: 1) TB is the *only* Mexican restaurant in a lot of places; 2) where there are other Mexican eateries, TB sometimes wins out because it’s fast and cheap. Great thing about living in California – we do not lack good Mexican food for a good price. The best ones are family-owned, with mom or pop at the grill.

    “Potted” lobsters: give me a break. Lots of folks would say it’s a waste of good bud. The critters are dead about 1 second after they hit the boiling water; whatever angst they experience is very short-lived…

    “No religious affiliation” in the US doesn’t mean people don’t believe; they just don’t want to identify with a particular religious group. And the data on churchgoers voting for DT just adds to the proof that a lot of people were voting against Clinton.

    Ecumenism: Yes, people realized that they can get along without committees. I think when it started, the hope was not only for understanding and getting along, but also for ways to unite, the way ELCA and TEC have done on the official organizational level with the ability to exchange clergy. A lot of Christians – in this country anyway – aren’t keen on that kind of union, either because their denomination is constitutionally allergic to it, or they are becoming Nones or Dones and just don’t care.

    I enjoyed the photos of peoples’ religious celebrations. There are lots of indications that conspiracy theorists are very frightened people. I tend to just write them off, but I also feel sorry for them, especially looking back on my own gullibilities.

    I don’t think any of the typical newspaper titles will be able to be used in that town without inducing snickering…



  54. re:Bad Books.

    Other than The Shack (mentioned in a comment above somewhere), how about ANY James Michener! Has anyone actually tried slogging their way through any of his tomes?


  55. -The Shack

    Yep, that’s at the top of my list. All I could think of as I read it was, “Who edited this thing??” If he’d given me one month with his draft I could’ve fixed a lot of the writing that was broken.


  56. While I enjoyed it, I remember thinking that it could have been 300 pages shorter if certain characters – who were often physically near each other – had simply talked…


  57. We can blame de Tocqueville for the unfortunate formulation that gave us the wrong idea: “America is great because she is good.” Wrong, wrong, wrong!


  58. It was, without doubt, the absolute worst book I have ever read in my 56 years. The poor character development was matched by the ridiculous plot and vile message (yes, it was very much a book with an agenda). I do believe an average High School Junior could have written a better book (especially with an editor). Which makes me wonder: How on earth do novels like this not only get published but become best-sellers?

    Worse than a Left Behind novel? This description fits those as well…


  59. THIS. So many people here believe that America became rich because of capitalism and meritocracy. In actuality, we became rich because we were self-sufficient in fossil fuels for over a century, won two world wars with no infrastructure damage to ourselves while our enemies and allies battered themselves into near-oblivion, and were lucky enough to outlast our remaining superpower competitor. That was a unique convergence of economic and political circumstances that was never going to last forever.


  60. +1,000

    There is no one to blame, except perhaps leaders who did not lead. Leaders need to be always leading their communities on the path of adaptation. But America has become rigid and resistant to changw.


  61. No disrespect taken. One thing leads to the next.

    It is also true that the development of religion can be tied, at least in some cases, to early use of hallucinogens…. 🙂


  62. I’m curious, Andrew: what is his view of the Jewish people, and of modern Israel? Is he a classic antisemite, or does he filter his antisemitism through the lens of dispensational apocalypticism, which makes it look like American evangelicals are friendly Jews and Israel?


  63. And some times, communities decline simply because the world changes. Economies change, suddenly we don’t need so many people in rural areas because horse-drawn plows are replaced by tractors, or big draglines replace wheelbarrows on coal mines, or natural gas replaces coal, or most young people leave for the cities…

    It is natural to want to blame a “them”. Very often there is no “them”.


  64. In other words, “Christian” ISIS/Taliban. Or a rehash of SS ideology, with different enemies. Or certain Bolsheviks. Or….

    As my bother would say (translated from the Afrikaans)

    “Same cabbage, just a different sauce”.


  65. I have a family member who I assume would be quite taken with this Mark Taylor. (he may be already… Liberty U is very highly regarded: has child enrolled as well) He (family member) has stated on fb that he’d like to see all the liberals rounded up and put in concentration camps and he was serious. BTW he’s a regular church goer, very pious and zealous in fact. He’d love martial law and probably killing too although I do believe he’d vouch for sparing me and my family… but the rest of you progressive imonkers he doesn’t know… He’d shout hallelujah and praise God! if you’d be rotting in prison or dying in the streets.


  66. After all, it’s not your churchgoing habits that ultimately count, but your “personal relationship” to Jesus, a big part of which is your voting the “right way.”


  67. The survey definitely seems to show people (the church attenders) who say one thing or say they believe something but feel quite ok with doing something that facilitates the opposite. I would guess my church at having about 40-50% of these. My christian work place would, I suspect be even higher… They really do think it’s quite fine to talk and live one way in their individual/personal lives but then on a more “community/national” level they clearly support something entirely different… (And yes, the same charge could maybe be leveled at HC voters too)
    I find it hard to fathom sometimes, especially the ease at which it is done… with not one iota of concern about the broader optics of it… That I find confounding – nobody I know seems to have any idea how this looks to the world outside their bubble nor do they seem to care.


  68. “It also means that conservatives are more likely to identify as “evangelical Christian,” even if they never go to church, just because that’s seen as a mark of conservatism.”
    Truth. One has to vote conservative to be considered a Christian in many circles (I have been told this far too often) so one has to wonder, which is more important; the politics or the faith. I’d say for many, it’s the politics.


  69. And that reminds me of the podcast (little known, forget name) wherein they were interviewing christian trump voters… the one young man from Appalachia/Rust Belt was in tears as he described his feelings of being marginalized by the “elites” of the big cities, DC and the coasts. He felt so “put down” because he just wanted to love Jesus, guns and his small town/rural values: And he rightly wept at the degradation of his small town and community, but like so many others in this tribe, his anger is so misdirected….
    I’m fairly confident that not one gay, immigrant/refugee, DC Democrat, Hillary, black man, university prof, euro-snob, or any other right-wing boogeyman had very little to nothing to do with the decline of his community. No, it’s his community’s rich white guys who say they love Jesus; it’s his community’s christian businessness men’s association… they’re the ones who shipped the jobs away, they’re the ones cutting taxes to enrich themselves while chipping away at public goods… they’re the ones ginning up outrage at those targets out there so nobody scrutinizes them… and on and on it goes. IMO it’s the greatest task of the center – left neverTrump coalition – somehow connect with these people and show them the truth of who is really oppressing them…who has really ripped them off and done real damage to them.


  70. What bugs me is that if it were a real “girl power” book, Katniss should’ve just chosen to be single rather than feel like she had to choose between one of two deeply unhealthy relationships. That would’ve been much more satisfying than her going with the man who she “needs” in order to be a whole person.


  71. Hah! Moby Dick is one of the few novels I’ve been rereading in rotation for decades. I don’t read new novels anymore, just MD and a hand full of others.


  72. You are correct;. Lousy book, whinny characters, hopelessly contrived plot. Yet mildly entertaining.

    That it was someone read as a “girl power” book baffled me. Katniss was a whiner who got used by others throughout the book and never took agency over her circumstances.


  73. That’s why Pence is WAY more dangerous than Trump. I shudder to think of Trumpism wrapped in Pence’s Jesus.


  74. I wonder if it’s also waning because people are becoming less committed to a denominational identity, and are more likely to “church shop” among multiple denominations. That in turn means that many churches have increasing theological diversity on issues that used to divide denominations (like baptism or free will or the nature of communion) or increasingly vague positions on those issues. In many cases there’s no functional difference between similar denominations except that they each have a separate hierarchy of regional and denominational leaders.


  75. There is a sticking point, though, between White identiarian nationalism and evangelical nationalism: The place of the Jewish community, and Israel. Evangelicals support Israel and with qualification the American Jewish community; White identitarians view both as the enemy to be expelled or destroyed.


  76. I read Moby Dick years ago. Years and years. It was a hard read, but I enjoyed it mostly except the lengthy section on all the different types of whales. Incredibly dull, but I soldiered on thinking there might be something important to the story there. Nope. Just whale information.

    I agree that some of the book choices for young adults is counterproductive. My daughter had to read Kate Chopin’s The Awakening her freshman year of high school (I think. Maybe Sophomore). I had never read it so I delved in. It’s a fine book but the entire time I was reading it, I couldn’t escape the thought that this would not connect at all with kids of this age group. At all.


  77. This might ruffle some feathers, but… _The Hunger Games_ was a mildly entertaining book (although nowhere near deserving of how popular it got) but both the sequels were just a predictable re-skin of the *exact* same plot, so reading them felt like a waste of time.


  78. There have been several books and studies published recently that argue that for many people in the US, political liberalism or conservatism has become their primary identity, and their religious identity and moral values are subordinated to that. In other words, when conservative values and Christian values clash, conservative Christians often choose conservatism over Christianity. That’s why, for example, we see some Christians making religious arguments in support of white supremacy, racism, child separation, etc. or defending abusive men rather than believing their victims. It also means that conservatives are more likely to identify as “evangelical Christian,” even if they never go to church, just because that’s seen as a mark of conservatism.

    I wish Christians as a whole could begin to say more loudly that Christian values do not align perfectly with liberal *or* conservative values, and that therefore faithful Christian discipleship requires us to chart a course in between the two instead of buying into one agenda or the other whole-hog.


  79. I read the book Hillbilly Elegy a year or so ago and one thing that stuck with me was the people Vance described that he grew up with, his hillbilly people, would talk frequently about their love of Jesus and complain about those who did not believe, but he admits that most of them rarely darken the doors of any church and were quite ignorant of church teaching. I think this is pretty common.
    I would add that most of the conservative Christians I encounter would have no idea what you are talking about Robert and would not believe it, which is why they are so easily used. When the secular world is framed as virulently anti-Christian, especially among rural white people who have almost no contact with anyone of another race or religion, it’s easy to get even nominal Christians on your side by stoking the fear of something they have no knowledge of and no contact with.


  80. I understand, but to me it’s interesting and instructive how quickly and readily the Trumpians have turned on their former allies, however those allies are labeled. And how rapidly the turn can occur! For instance, Jeff Sessions goes from being the first among supporters and an honored member of the Trumpian vanguard and inner court, to being in the doghouse, someone who is little more than a dupe of The Deep State (TM), because of perceived lack of loyalty to one man. We are seeing the cult of personality played out on a national and grand scale in this country in a way we haven’t in a long time, if ever. Perceived disloyalty to the leader is reckoned as disloyalty to the cause; the leader is the cause. Beware, Trump supporters — unless you capitulate to every whim of the leader, you will be thrown under the bus next.

    But you’re right: the White supremacist militant right is a minority, but a unified and solid constituency that remains rock solid as everything around it shifts in the political landscape. These are scary times.


  81. I read Brown’s DaVinci Code years ago and was amazed at how bad it was. I had most of it figured out about half way through and, although I realize it’s fiction, his “factual” references were completely bogus.

    I thought The Bridges of Madison County equally awful. I am only wondering how books this poorly written get published, but why do so many people read them??

    Also on my list of gawd-awful best seller books is:
    The Book Thief
    The Shack

    Both so poorly written I had trouble finishing them.


  82. The way most English lit is taught in JH/HS is counterproductive to the extreme – and I expect most teachers know it.

    Speaking for myself, I would have gotten a LOT more out of Lit if they had paralleled it with contemporary philosophy, so we would have known what the HELL the writers were actually trying to say.


  83. And this is where the shades of difference among the degrees of church-going amongst his supporters ties in. Church mostly seems to have taught them/us to cover our nationalism and ethnocentrism with a veneer of politeness, at best. The implications of Christ’s teachings about social and economic justice have long been ignored at best, castigated as “liberalism” at worst. And for every hour they spend at church, they spend 10 listening to talk radio, Fox News, etc. Trump is just the symptom.


  84. In defense of the John, and many others, there really is no way to define much of what has happened in the Republican party from [and including] Reagan on-wards as “Conservative”; not using any political-philosophy definition of the word.

    It is that they draw the break line so very recently that seems somewhat disingenuous.

    At this point, in America, I see neither an Intellectual Left or an Intellectual Conservative constituency holding substantial territory on the board.

    There is a White Supremacist Militant Right vs. an incoherent mish-mash of Nice[*1] Progressives”

    [*1] and by “Nice” I am being quite derogatory – they want America to be a Nicer Place, but you know, don’t really un-end anything, keep the 1950s image of the American Middle Class but somehow, you know, for more people. And no f—— clue how to build out such a thing (because it is mathematically impossible). Most of my Progressive friends – very good people – do remind my of my former Southern Baptist preacher friend’s favorite line about alter calls: “Everyone wants a life changing experience, so long as nothing changes.”


  85. Madame Bovary by Flaubert. Thank God for cliff notes and an English teacher who liked me so much she never imagined I’d stoop to using them to write a paper. I see her on Facebook from time to time. I wonder if I should confess I let her down. She was great teacher. Or maybe she knew and didn’t care.


  86. In case you didn’t notice, John, my comment was not really about the CATO Institutes findings, except insofar as they touched on the intersection of White identitarian and Christian evangelical support of Trump.

    But I do find it interesting that you guys no longer consider so many Republicans and Republican institutions conservative. The way you treat and purge your former allies reminds me of an ideological, bloodless Night of the Long Knives.


  87. “Evangelicals and Trump: I have been seeing a lot of efforts over the past two weeks…”

    Edit: I meant to write “the past two years” but my fingers and my forebrain got disconnected.


  88. > the CATO Institute talking point that the Trump voters did not vote their beliefs, what
    > did they vote, their unbelief?

    This. It is rather absurd.

    > She did make a major point , most Trump voters are not really into church attendance.

    It is notable that these attendance vs. non-attendance proportions are not that far off from the general population regardless of political affiliation. Overall, to me, it indicates more about cultural sentiment – something of extremely little value – than it does about anything else. If sentiment mapped more evenly to behavior we’d have a very different world.


  89. Ever pondered how mobile phones and text messaging summarily voids ***VAST*** swaths of plot area and related tropes?

    There is a whole lot of drama which pivots entirely on poor or missed communication – and a fair amount of current TV drama still pivots on characters not saying obvious things at obvious times which would deescalate a situation. Even if you didn’t say it . . when it occurred to you five minutes later YOU COULD JUST TEXT THEM!


  90. Agree. My Pentecostal coworker, of whom I’m actually quite fond in many ways, doesn’t like Trump’s style, too vulgar and demeaning, but he loves much of what Trump has done. If Trump adopted a convincing evangelical Christian demeanor, like Pence’s, my coworker would be all the way in on the evil policy, and be able to feel good about the way it’s delivered too. For that reason, I’m happy that Trump is a lout and makes my coworker hold his nose in response to the demeaning, nasty, vulgar, cruel public proclamations, mostly delivered by tweet and in campaign rallies. He’s your dog, you let him out of the house, now you have to smell his shit along with the rest of us.


  91. Robert F. The CATO Institute is funded and the intellectual arm of the Koch brothers who promote the interest and well being of the Koch brothers. It is about as useful as Move On when it comes to objective analysis.

    Emily Ekins analysis that Trump voters that went to church were basically more involved and socially, politically more socially aware and personally, I stress the word personally, more accepting, kind or concerned as individuals than the non church goers is not exactly a “news flash”. Also in her keen observations about Trump voters is her keen insight were the following;

    #1 Most Trump voters including the church goers did not like H. Clinton. I believe another brilliant political guru Homer.Simpson would say D’oh., stop the presses.

    2. Trump voters supported the Muslim ban that is now a non issue is not a major revelation unless you were comatose during the 2016 election. In other words the Trump voter put aside their religious beliefs to vote for what they felt was in the interest of the country. That is exactly what the CATO Institute advocates in issues like abortion. In other words the Trump voters can separate their faith teaching and beliefs from politics and what they belief is good for the nation. .

    3. While church going Trump supporters may personally have more empathy and desire to personally to help personally the illegal aliens they believed in the core issue of upholding the law. In other words the church goers were more compassionate than the totally secular Trump voter.

    4. The Trump voters that were unchurched felt their economic status was declining. Again to quote the famous philosopher Homer, D’oh. Of course this was in his later works after season 10.

    So Ekins came up with the CATO Institute talking point that the Trump voters did not vote their beliefs, what did they vote, their unbelief?

    She did make a major point , most Trump voters are not really into church attendance. Also her mention that other religions voted for Trump in the majority, not just the dreaded evangelicals. Trump got about the same level of Catholic vote as Romney and McCain.

    Basically the CATO guys are part of the establishment and other than tax issues part of the Koch Never Trump establishment group


  92. Oh, yes. I’ve never made it through. That is on the list of books “I just don’t get”. There must be something, it’s a big Classic, but man, I just don’t get it.


  93. “The Cloister and the Hearth” is at the top of my list: billed as a classic, it’s a Victorian-era sobfest in Medieval clothing. Although I read it when I was twelve and more tolerant of both pseudo-Medievalism and sentiment, I was only able to plow through about 800 pages of men falling on each other’s necks in tears and main characters just missing each other by seconds before I threw the book down in disgust.


  94. The worst book I have ever tried to read? _Moby Dick_. I have tried four times, and have yet to succeed. The only parts I can get through are the long digressions about whales.


  95. And again with no disrespect to the atheists, it’s thought provoking to consider philosophy and science being the offspring of religious beliefs and practices. As soon as ancient religious belief began pondering the “why” and “how”, the first philosophers and scientists were born. How much of who we are – including our modern atheism – is owed to religious practice is a great question.


  96. Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound is in the local news lately. It’s only 3 miles from where I live.

    I had nothing to do with that.


  97. > If church-going Evangelicals are against Trumpism,

    They are certainly NOT against Trumpism. They just have the cultured decency to feel sorta kinda bad about supporting him – – – and they want to be congratulated for that.

    > that most distaste with Trumpism is essentially aesthetic

    Yep. The would prefer he deal with the brown people more discretely; maybe put some flowers in the cages like a good Christian jailer would.


  98. > You can’t stir the pot and then complain about the odor.

    Pffft… people do that all the time time.

    And anything by Gore Vidal: not the worst, but “ponderous” and “bloated” certainly apply.


  99. Evangelicals and Trump: I have been seeing a lot of efforts over the past two weeks by some Evangelicals to distance Evangelicalism from Trumpism. There are several problems with this effort. One is that Evangelicals have a long history of happily claiming the broadest group of people possible when the theme of the day is “Evangelicals Rule!” It is only when something particularly appalling comes along that we suddenly discover that those people over there are not true Scotsmen. Second are the prominent and utterly mainstream Evangelical leaders and institutions that are very prominently enthusiastic about Trumpism: Liberty U., Franklin Graham, etc. If church-going Evangelicals are against Trumpism, where is the push-back against these people and institutions?

    Frankly, I get the strong impression that most distaste with Trumpism is essentially aesthetic: Not any objection to the substance, but with the vulgarity. This does not cut it. When someone tells me they support Trump, I see someone who supports a man who looks at Nazis and sees good people. This is not some sort of rhetorical hand-wave. He quite literally and explicitly told us this about himself. The Trump supporter in front of me may regard this aspect of Trump as unfortunate, but is willing to accept it. I am not.


  100. I read less than some and more than others, but the book that sticks out in my memory as not having been worth the time it took was Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckenridge.

    Daniel at 9/22 7:17 am: You first. You can’t stir the pot and then complain about the odor.


  101. I can just imagine the kinds of nefarious meanings they would read into the number 12 in the 12 steps.

    Yeah, we’ll have to go with the spouses.


  102. “””Trump voters who frequently attend religious services have a much more positive view of…”””

    The best explanation I have heard of this was: Church attendance facilitates greater cognitive dissonance. Their pastors have taught them how to be hateful and ignorant more politely.


  103. Giant tree people: there is something about Episcopal cathedrals such that they run off the rails in ways you don’t see in regular parishes. The time I visited St. John the Divine in New York left such a bad taste in my mouth that I followed it up with an unplanned visit to St. Patrick’s. Both are lovely buildings, but only one felt like a place of worship.


  104. There was also a book by Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear”. OMG, that was terrible writing, stupid ideas, and absurd characters.


  105. But an important part of being a conspiracy theorist is you cannot recognize you are one, so the “Hello, my name is ____, and I am a ____” is not going to work. If they count recognize them as conspiracy theories…

    Good name though.

    Maybe as a support group for spouses of conspiracy theorists. I know a couple of such exhausted spouses.


  106. There is no longer much point to Ecumenism once everyone realizes they can get along with one another quite naturally if they simply ignore the kind of people who pick fights.


  107. I’d say one of the worst novel’s I’ve ever read was Dan Brown’s first book: The Davinci Code.

    That that book was so popular was disturbing; and likely an omen for much of what happened next in the real world.

    That guy is a terrible writer.

    I used to be a “soldier reader” – one I started I book I would soldier on to the end regardless. The Davinci Code was an important part of learning to just give up on a book; crap is crap.


  108. Thank you for the photos and captions of human beings being religious. If you want to find characteristics that have differentiated us from other animals, one would be our development of elaborate religious beliefs and practices, likely from the moment humanity evolved into existence. I don’t mean to disrespect you atheists in saying this, since I would add philosophy and scientific investigation of the world as two other such characteristics.


  109. Wasn’t actually thinking of talking/trashing Trump, but just an observation. BTW, I love your humor and collection of articles/items!


  110. I loved Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. The BBC miniseries was pretty good too. I generally loathe faux-Austen, but this worked for me. The Pratchettian footnotes were good, and the whole book was satisfying in a way that few other books have been since I first read The Lord of the Rings. I do think there is an element of long drawn out scholarly joke about the whole thing, but I enjoy it.


  111. So it appears that the unofficial “no Trump talk” rule for the Brunch is waived?

    Heck, when I read those links from Right Wing Watch, I thought I was reading headlines from

    What is scarier is that people actually buy into this stuff, including well-educated and intelligent people. I guess some people’s minds are just bored with reality.


  112. “What is the worst novel you have ever read?” The worst supposedly-good novel I read – or more accurately, TRIED to read – is *Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell*. After slogging through 90ish pages of overwrought language covering over the glacially slow plot, I gave up.

    My wife is convinced that book is a massive prank played on the reading public by the publishing community.


  113. Trump has a true gift for laughable redundancy. It’s almost like he has a comedian, or a team of them, writing material for him.


  114. Ecumenism is waning because the mainline Protestant churches that once drove and directed it no longer believe in their own cultural relevance or importance, as they once did, and are at this point merely fighting to survive their own demise by attrition.


  115. Re: some of the findings of Cato Institutes survey of Trump religious versus non-religious supporters/voters: I’ve been monitoring this online, and it is clear to me that the “intellectual” wing of the White identitarian movement is rooted in Euro-pagan religiosity, wherever it is not nonreligious/secular. Specifically, there is much talk among them of reviving the ancient pagan classical religions, and reclaiming the pre-Christian spiritual heritage of the various ancient European cultures. In connection with this, although they make some effort to express solidarity with extremist conservative Christians who share some of their political perspectives, they view the spread of Christianity as part of a globalist/Jewish plot to undermine nationalist identities worldwide, and they see it as the result of the dominance of Jewish values and power-brokering. Their view of Christianity is ultimately rooted in their antisemitism, and their antipathy to the self-sacrificial model of Jesus exalted in the New Testament and Christian tradition, which they see as the culmination of Jewish exaltation of slave values and slave religion. They are recapitulating the position of Hitler/the Nazis with regard to the Church: they want to use Chrisitans as much as they can now to achieve their goals, and so they engage in some sweet-talk, but ultimately they want to overthrow Christianity because of its Jewishness. Conservative Christians beware.


  116. Which makes me wonder: How on earth do novels like this not only get published but become best-sellers?

    CELEBRITY Author Name Recognition and little else.


  117. “At this time, we do not have information on the health implications or effects of ‘sedating’ lobsters with marijuana.”

    Morning drive-time radio referred to this as “Baked then Boiled”.


  118. ah, ecumenism – the immediate response has to be to turn to Father Jack Hackett…

    But seriously – one perspective on this was offered to me by a French Catholic priest. My parents were and are Church of England but worshipped with the local Catholics, and got to a point where they were treated as honorary Catholics, and any family were welcomed to join in Mass. When we asked why (this was in the JP2 years when official policy from Rome was hardline anti) the answer was – we don’t have the time to pick arguments with other Christians, our argument is with the 89% of people who never darken our doors…


  119. “This is a tough hurricane. One of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water.”

    I’ve been reading a lot of Terry Pratchett lately and for a minute there I thought I still was.


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