The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: October 20, 2018

Sun-Splashed Leaves (2015)

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: October 20, 2018

We’re at or near peak foliage season in many parts of the country this weekend. We’ve even had a little snow in the air here in Illinois and Indiana, though our colors seem to be lagging behind. We have had several really frosty mornings, however, and we’re about to wrap up the yard and gardens pretty soon so that we can get ready to hunker down in front of the fireplace for a few months.

Which means it’s World Series time. My wife’s Boston Red Sox will be there this year, and at this moment when I’m writing, it looks like the Brewers and Dodgers will be playing a game 7 for the NL championship later today to decide the Red Sox’s opponent. Here is one of the key plays that helped the Red Sox win the AL top spot:

Which, of course, requires and leads naturally to this…


Autumn Gallery

KATSUTA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 19: Visitors walk through a field of red Kochias (summer cypress) at Hitachi Seaside Park on October 19, 2018 in Katsuta, Japan. For just a brief period between early to mid October each year, the Kochias on Miharashi Hills in Hitachi Seaside Park turn from green to vivid red drawing tourists from around Japan and further afield who pose for photographs against the sea of crimson. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images) (The Atlantic)


A man stands on a boat as autumn foliage is reflected off Loch Faskally, in Perthshire, Scotland, Britain, October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne (The Atlantic)


Autumn colours are seen on foliage at Oetscher Nature Park near Wienerbruck, Austria October 14, 2018. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner  (The Atlantic)


A boy plays in a bounce house at a pumpkin patch in Seal Beach, California (CNN)


Stoat Leap. By Robert (A Day in the Life of a Wildlife Artist blog)


From Forest Haven, NH (Randy Thompson)


Eugene Peterson enters hospice care:

Sad news in the Christian world this week, and especially here at Internet Monk, where we have long appreciated the ministry of Eugene Peterson. The pastor’s pastor went into hospice care this week and the end of his “long obedience in the same direction” in this life is drawing near.

From Christianity Today:

This past Tuesday, Peterson was hospitalized after “a sudden and dramatic turn in his health caused by an infection,” wrote his son on Friday to friends and family (with the encouragement that they share the news). “He is now being treated for pneumonia and is responding well to the IV antibiotics. He is eating again, and went for a very short walk this afternoon. He is much improved as of today.”

Eric Peterson continued:Elizabeth and I joined Jan and Leif in his room this afternoon for a meeting with his health care team of three doctors. They confirmed for us that the two main medical issues he is facing—heart failure and dementia—are advanced and progressing. Based on their recommendation, he will come under the care of hospice and his medical care will be primarily palliative. As of now it looks like it will be 1-3 more days before he returns home, depending on when all the support systems are in place.


Sears declares bankruptcy:

As a kid born in Chicago, Sears has been a sacred name in retail throughout my lifetime. This past week Sears announced that it was declaring bankruptcy. As NBC News reports:

Back in the day, their slogan said it all: “Sears, where America shops.”

But on the day that Sears Holdings declared bankruptcy, Jon White, who worked at the retail giant’s stores in and around Atlanta for nearly four decades, made a sad confession on Monday: “There was a saying that ‘if Sears didn’t have it, we didn’t need it.’ But we don’t shop at Sears anymore, except if it’s a major purchase like an appliance.”

This article describes how Sears was “the Amazon of its day.”

And I have seen a number of different articles like this one, and this one, which have observed that Sears played an important and little appreciated role in helping our nation move toward racial equality.

This week we heard our local Sears would be one of the stores that is closing. Sigh…


If you have no other reason to fight climate change…

NPR reports on one of the more alarming stories of the week:

The price of beer could rise sharply this century, and it has nothing to do with trends in craft brewing. Instead, a new study says beer prices could double, on average, because of the price of malted barley, a key ingredient in the world’s favorite alcoholic drink.

By projecting heat and drought trends over the coming decades, a team of researchers in China, the U.K. and the U.S. found that barley production could be sharply affected by the shifting climate. And that means some parts of the world would very likely be forced to pay much more for a beer.

In Ireland, a leading beer-consuming nation, prices could triple, the study says. Other countries would most likely drink less beer, as their farmers are expected to export more barley to countries that would struggle to grow enough barley under hotter, drier conditions.

The researchers acknowledge that the price of beer is “not the most concerning impact of future climate change.” But in the study published Monday in the journal Nature Plants, the scientists say they wanted to use beer as an example to show the deep and wide-ranging effects of increasingly extreme weather.

Who says this is not “the most concerning impact” of climate change? As a Lutheran, I am nearly beside myself with worry. As is Homer…

However, there may be ways to stave off this disastrous outcome — see this article, also at NPR.


In other environmental news, welcome to the sixth mass extinction:

Science Alert also tried to scare the bejesus out of us this week:

Humans will cause so many mammal species to go extinct in the next 50 years that the planet’s evolutionary diversity won’t recover for 3 to 5 million years, a team of researchers has found.

The Earth may be entering its sixth mass extinction: an era in which the planet’s environments change so much that most animal and plant species die out.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature predicts that 99.9 percent of critically endangered species and 67 percent of endangered species will be lost within the next 100 years.

The five other times a mass extinction has occurred over the past 450 million years, natural disasters were to blame. But now, human activity is killing mammal species.

In a study published Monday in the journal PNAS, scientists from Aarhus University in Denmark calculated how fast extinctions are happening, and how long it would take for evolution to bring Earth back to the level of biodiversity it currently has.

The scientists concluded that in a best-case scenario, nature will need 3-5 million years to get back to the level of biodiversity we have on Earth today. Returning to the state Earth’s animal kingdom was in before modern humans evolved would take 5-7 million years.

Evolution can’t keep up

Evolution is the planet’s defence mechanism against the loss of biodiversity. As habitats and climates change, species that can’t survive die, and new species slowly emerge.

But it takes a long time for new species to fill the gaps – and that process is far slower than the rate at which humans are causing mammals to go extinct.


Some people feel this is a long time coming:

Here is a report from RNS about a splinter Roman Catholic church in Kenya:

At the Renewed Universal Catholic Church in Nyeri, in central Kenya, celebratory ululations filled the air last spring after Bishop Peter Njogu ordained three new priests.

Like Njogu, a former Roman Catholic priest and the founder of the Renewed Church, all three of the new priests are married.

“I’m happy because I have been ordained as a priest in this church,” said Philip Muiga, 52, a former Roman Catholic priest. “With the experience I have, I will be able to perform my duties as a priest and also as a father.”

Muiga and others are among more than 20 priests, including several ordained in July, who have renounced their vows of celibacy, proposed to women and joined the Renewed Universal Catholic Church since late 2017.

Njogu, who launched the new church from his Mweiga Catholic parish in Nyeri Archdiocese in 2012, said many Roman Catholic priests are already abandoning celibacy. His new church, he said, was simply acknowledging reality.

“We want priests to get married so that they can live a pure life without pretense,” said Njogu, a 55-year-old father of three. “Many priests and bishops have secret families which they have abandoned because they fear losing the privileges that come with priesthood, such as a good house and vehicles. Some priests even prey on children and abandon them.”

Njogu’s journey toward schism began in 2002, when Pope John Paul II excommunicated him for his relationship with his longtime companion, Berith Karimi. Soon afterward, the priest and Karimi married. Former Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who had also been excommunicated for marrying a woman, then ordained Njogu as a bishop, paving the way for the establishment of a new church.


Questions of the Week…

Is the neighborhood the key?

Have miracles ceased?

Was there a “fall,” or did Augustine really screw everything up?

Why do we fail the grieving?


67 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: October 20, 2018

  1. Hmmm. I might have to check that out. I got from my father a pair of Craftsman Robo Grip pliers that are to-die for. I’d love to get other sizes.


  2. The market also changed with people wanting to buy fashionable clothes at a store that sold fashionable goods instead of washing machines and screwdrivers.


  3. Well, I did read the article that J.B. provided the link for. Hence my criticism of its statement that the peak of abuses happened in a certain time period, when no data exists for earlier periods of time to compare it with.


  4. Robert, It would seem to me that you are criticizing someone before having even read the report. You have lots of negative things to say before even looking at the report. Responsible criticism is when you have at least engaged what the author is saying instead of dismissing out of hand based on your ideology.


  5. IMO most Evangelicals do not have the necessary hermeneutical tools needed to “engage Paul”. Their theories of Inerrancy, Infallibility, and the “harmony of the Scriptures” preclude any meaningful ability to engage with Paul. And, translational bias and tradition doesn’t help…


  6. Robert, just type in John Jay Catholic Church abuse study. You will find in in it’s entirety. It was ordered by the Bishops of the Catholic Church. Also I don’t see what you don’t like about the man except he may not be progressive enough for you. Whenever you read another opinion you just assume he is wrong because he does not fit your narrative.


  7. In huge swaths of Evangelical Protestantism, Paul’s words are considered to be the very words of the Lord Jesus himself.

    If not Superseding and Overriding “the very words of the Lord Jesus himself”.

    (In a way, they treat Paul as a Mohammed, a final prophet superseding Jesus.)

    I’m just curious as to how engagement would work for those still in that culture.

    “The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs! We Won’t Be Taken In! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!”?


  8. Many, many, [functionally] celibate people have entirely normal lives; with jobs, friends, participation, etc… It is likely that nearly half the population is functionally celibate.

    Don’t forget the Evangelical Cultural Trope of Universal SALVATION BY MARRIAGE ALONE.

    “If you’re Not doing somebody, YOU’RE A NOBODY.”
    Just the Christianese version includes a ring and vows.

    Beware Thou of the (Single) Mutant.


  9. On that, having read up on this, the gender of children pedophiles abuse is apparently unrelated to their sexual orientation, in that a man attracted to adult women rather than men may still prey on boys rather than girls.

    As I understand it, there are studies that same-sex pedophiles self-identify as Straight. Pre-pubescent boys do not have the secondary sexual characteristics of post-pubescent males — facial and body hair, low-pitched voice, rough skin, obvious male genitalia. Their smooth skin, high-pitched voice, lack of facial hair, and inconspicuous genitalia are FEMALE characteristics, and that’s apparently one of the things pedos key on.

    However, same sex ehebephiles (going after post-pubescent but legally-underage “jail bait”) DO identify as gay. Post-pubescent males have ADULT male sexual characteristics.


  10. First of all, the calls for “Reforming” the RCC always go round and round about the same Trinity of “Reforms”:
    1) Married Priests.
    2) Priestesses.
    3) Gay Marriage.
    I remember that from 30 years ago. Same Old, Same Old.


  11. Engage Paul how?
    In huge swaths of Evangelical Protestantism, Paul’s words are considered to be the very words of the Lord Jesus himself.
    I left that world many years ago and haven’t looked back.
    I’m just curious as to how engagement would work for those still in that culture.


  12. Aside from doubting that looking objective and being objective are always the same thing, I would ask what sort of data exists for the time periods before the data in this critical analysis was collected. To say that the abuses peaked in the period following the effects of the sexual revolution on the Roman Catholic Church and its clergy we need to have reliable studies and data from before that period; do we? Were these things even seriously studied before the second half of the twentieth century? In the absence of such studies and data it is erroneous to speak about such abuses peaking in the 1960s and 70s as a result of the sexual revolution’s effect; one does not know.


  13. Can you provide me with a link, or a proper title of the 2011 study that Donohoe criticizes, and the institution that conducted it? I don’t believe you provide either in your comment, so I’m in the dark.


  14. I think I agree with everything you say. I want to make one observation: the definition of what constitutes deviant sexual behavior with regard to sex with minors, including what constitutes a minor, has changed dramatically in the last hundred to one hundred-fifty years. Not too long ago, it was not considered unusual or a bad thing for a 20 something man to marry a 15 or 16 year old girl, and families even arranged such marriages. I think that much of what passed for acceptable sexual behavior with regard to adult/minors in the past is rightly considered deviant today, and we underestimate the degree of social pathology in much of what was considered “normal” in the past.


  15. Dononhue is not exactly someone without an extreme ideological bias of his own, Stbndct. I don’t trust him to interpret data fairly, or objectively.


  16. It makes me sad to hear about Eugene Peterson. His books have really spoken to me. In 2010 (a short eight years ago) I had the privilege of attending a three-day seminar he led at Asbury Seminary in Orlando. It was a major event in my life and I greatly treasure the memory. May he and his family know God’s strength, peace, love, and grace.


  17. Headless U Guy, I like your summary of the Sears decline. Right on point. As usual the guys go on to other CEO spots or on boards and the good loyal Sears guy gets reduce benefits if any.


  18. Sears generally contracted out their repairs to local servicers. They treated people well and did good work because their customers would see them in the grocery store; i.e. word of mouth reputation counted, even in the days before Yelp reviews.



  19. “You mean, America has only one shopping mall?”
    “My friend, America IS one giant shopping mall. There is nothing outside. Only parking.”

    — from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, more or less.


  20. On that, having read up on this, the gender of children pedophiles abuse is apparently unrelated to their sexual orientation, in that a man attracted to adult women rather than men may still prey on boys rather than girls. (This may seem counterintuitive, but it is apparently the case.) That the majority of victims were male does not necessarily tell you anything about the sexual orientation of the perpetrators.
    Also, apparently, the typical pedophile will abuse relatively few victims, and tends to prey on their own family or close family members. The public perception of a pedophile repeatedly seducing and preying on large numbers of victims is not true of most pedophiles, but is true of a particular kind of offender who offends against multiple non-family members, and this kind and will generally specifically target boys. It seems to me that it is this kind of offender who is likely to be found in a celibate priesthood may part explain the unusual gender balance.


  21. The decline of Sears helped to do in GE’s appliance line, which for the most part has been sold to competitors. As an intern in grad school, I worked for the training team at a 2000+ employee GE plant that made stoves (properly called ranges), and the vast majority were sold to Sears under its Hot Point and Kenmore lines (exact same stove with different labels). The yearly Sears quality inspection was a huge event with potlucks, poster competitions, etc. The Sears SNAQ quality award was a big deal. But, as Sears went down, production went down to the point that the plant was sold to arch-rival Whirlpool. Good times, though.


  22. Guys, I am not disagreeing or arguing with you , pedophiles are found in every sexual orientation. However the point, for what it is worth is that the majority of cases reported in the Catholic Church scandal and covered up were sex acts with underage boys. Pedophiles who were homosexual gained a place of toleration and then cover up. I am assume that Priest like evangelical preachers and men from all faiths have affairs with women but it is not as common , reported or tolerated as the homosexual activity with minors. All the watch dog sites sited above show that most of the evangelical activity is hetrosexual and usually with young women but not boys, not that it changes the severity of the action. If it is consenting people of consenting age that is one thing but to prey on young people who trust you is beyond evil. Like political coverups the original act is absolutely inexcusable but the cover up is beyond the pale, in all religious organizations . The Catholic Church just as any major organization must root out this subculture and let the chips fall where they may. This stance by the current Pope does not bode well for eliminating the problem and regaining trust in the institution.


  23. A different perspective for William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and considered a foremost authority on clerical sexual abuse, published a Critical Analysis of the 2011 study in which he wrote that “what seriously mars the report is its ideological reluctance to deal forthrightly with the role of homosexuality.” Shocked at the report’s conclusion that “sexually active homosexual priests were not more likely to abuse minors,” he says its clinical data stand in stark opposition to that finding. Eighty-one percent of the victims researched were male, mostly post-pubescent, and the report stated, “The majority of priests who were given residential treatment following an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor also reported sexual behavior with adult partners,” most of whom were male as well. The report named is the John Jay report commissioned by the church


  24. There is lots of room for traditionally Conservative approaches – I try to get [sane] Conservatives to show up for that level stuff; frustratingly they don’t.


  25. “Apparently true sapience carries with it the potential for sin; the Imago Dei, expressed in whatever form, is always vulnerable. And if the potential for a Fall is there, someone, somewhere, sometime is going to try it.”
    — interlude in an SF novel draft I’ve been collaborating on


  26. In the argument for married priests the idea that Celibacy yields Pedophilia is obscene and absurd. It is difficult to intellectually respect those who make that leap.

    Then all these Born-Again Bible-Believing Evangelicals whose clergy HAS to be Married should never ever ever have problems with pedophilia, ehebephilia, or clergy sex scandals in general.


    Don’t you agree, Wartburg Watch? Spiritual Sounding Board? Stop Baptist Predators? Wondering Eagle? SGM Survivors? Thou Art The Man?


  27. Sears was an institution, dating back to the 19th Century, outlasting its contemporaries Woolworths, Kresge (now K-Mart), and “Monkey Wards”. Here’s how I understand its fall:

    Started in the Eighties and Nineties, when Fresh New Management looked to The Future and the Future was Stock Market Arbitrage. (Paging Gordon Gecko… Paging Gordon Gecko…) So the Young M.B.A’s ditched Sears’ mail-order empire (their original business core) as too Old-Fashioned and went instead into The Bright Future of Wall Street Wheel-and-Deal.

    And since they’d dismantled their mail-order business for Wall Street the Role-Playing Game, they were totally helpless when E-Commerce took off in the late Nineties. If they’d kept their Old-Fashioned mail-order empire, THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN PRE-POSITIONED TO BE THE KING OF INTERNET RETAILING — ALL THEY WOULD HAVE NEEDED TO ADD WAS AN ONLINE ORDER/PAYMENT SYSTEM! THEY WOULD HAVE HAD ALL THE DISTRIBUTION AND WAREHOUSING AND INVENTORY ALREADY THERE! IT COULD HAVE BEEN SEARS INSTEAD OF AMAZON!

    And the saga of Stupid Management continued. Around ten years ago the CEO’s strategy was to Increase Ideological Purity. Mandatory SCRIPTURE Study for all management, and the SCRIPTURE to be Studied and Rewordgitated was Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Well, he can now take his golden parachute away from his DEAD company while reciting “A Equals A! Who is John Galt! A Equals A! Who is John Galt! …”


  28. > culture of secrecy

    Is a problem in the Catholic church which goes beyond issues of sexuality; sadly.


  29. > So you don’t think that a community that has a policy of celibacy can create situations
    > somewhat analogous to prison life,

    No, which is probably where we diverge.

    I believe the Catholic church specifically, very clearly, has a serious problem with corruption of power [authoritarian structures], lack of transparency, and social isolation.

    I believe our Modern Western Culture has a problem with social isolation – mostly around withered constructs of social capital – and a fetish with extremism [rather than sidelining extremists we center them].

    Multiple Bad#1 by Bad#2 and you’ve got a hot mess. Opening up the possibility of priests to get married is nibbling at the edges of this mess.

    Many, many, [functionally] celibate people have entirely normal lives; with jobs, friends, participation, etc… It is likely that nearly half the population is functionally celibate.

    Issues with deviant sexual behavior are to be found where there are power dynamic problems. Social isolation also feeds into deviant behavior – marriage, or even family, do not necessarily help with Social isolation.


  30. Pedophiles commit pedophilia; homosexuality is not the cause, much as the conservative factions in the Roman Catholic Church would like you to believe that. This has been going on forever, long before the liberalization of parts of the Roman Catholic Church and its theology, and the admission of men with openly homosexual orientation to the priesthood, much as those same factions would like you to think otherwise.


  31. Agreed, Barry. Sears in Canada went bankrupt 2 years ago, so I have been watching this story. The rot came from the top.


  32. Robert F. Based on what I have read in the news unless it is fake the majority of the homosexual activity that has been covered up and then reported is with young boys under 18. This is a subculture of homosexuality that seems to have found a niche in the seminaries and priesthood. I am sure there are some hetro child molesters also but the majority of the priest appear to be homosexual pedophiles. Just like the majority of evangelical sexual misconduct is with teen girls and young women primarily but there is the occasional homosexual activity but mostly hetro. All of these people abused the trust and faith of the people who could not imagine the terrible actions of these supposed men doing God’s work. To sum up , they molested children, makes it no worse or understandable that they were homosexuals who preyed on children using their position. No child molester deserves a second chance to harm another child, they should never have contact with children and have severe penalty for their actions.


  33. And in which they have more opportunity to commit crimes of pedophilia they might not otherwise undertake due to lack of opportunity, especially when the culture looks the other way, and its leader participate by coverup as well as personally and directly.


  34. As a group, homosexuals are no more prone to pedophilia than people with other sexual orientations. Period.


  35. It’s not that celibacy automatically causes pedophilia, the point is that because the celibacy policy is so widely disregarded it creates a culture of secrecy in which the pedophiles are able to thrive.


  36. In PA, a priest sexually preyed on five girls of a single family, one as young as 18 months old. I think it’s wrong to blame homosexuality for pedophilia. If that’s the takeaway you’re getting, it’s the wrong takeaway.


  37. This. I find the Fall narrative to be unhelpful, and not really offering much explanation; we are culturally familiar with it, so it has the illusion of potency.


  38. It’s too easy to make Augustine the fall guy and absolve Paul of all the blame. The seeds are there in Paul and we still have to engage him.


  39. So many bad stories about Sears. No customer service. No keeping up with the times, fashion, etc. stores were always just off in cleanliness.
    My sis in law worked there her whole career-defended it to the hilt, But no, sorry, they just couldn’t keep up.
    We only bought certain appliances there: refrigerators and washer/dryers.
    That’s it.
    But on the flip side…when we called for repair service on anything, they were great!
    Go figure.

    As to the Seal Beach pic….yup, since we don’t get the colors the rest of the country gets…we have bounce houses. Sad.

    At least my street has a few trees that actually turn….but it’s so dang hot out here…no changing colors yet.
    Thank goodness we were just on the east coast and had a taste of fall!


  40. It seems to me that there was an acceptance and then a cover up of homosexual activity within the Catholic Church at very high levels. It is obvious , at least to me , most of the homosexual activity was directed at young boys. If the priest were just practicing homosexuals with other consenting adults, while it might be an issue within the church it would not be the terrible wound the dishonorable, vow breaking , violators of trust of the good faithful Catholic lay people have inflicted upon the church. It appears that many of the priest and above were pedophiles who took advantage of their trusted position. It appears to be a sizeable sub culture within the priest hood.

    It is sad because the world needs a good , strong, vibrant and trusted Catholic Church and this has greatly hurt the message of the church. The stronghold of conservative Catholic doctrine appears to be Africa , but what do I know, I still shop at Sears, am waiting for my new catalogue


  41. So you don’t think that a community that has a policy of celibacy can create situations somewhat analogous to prison life, in which conditions arise that result in the practice of transgressive sexual behaviors, many of them violent crimes committed by the stronger against the weaker, the bigger against the smaller, and the physically more mature against the underdeveloped, that would not normally occur outside the confines of the prison walls? I concede that this would only be with regard to pedophilia committed by adults against older children, that is adolescents and teenagers, rather than against younger children, but isn’t that what most of the pedophilia committed by Roman Catholic priests is? Something like the man-boy sexuality practiced by aristocratic men in ancient Greece and Rome, which we rightly define as pedophilia?

    I hope that by putting forward this idea I haven’t lost your intellectual respect, nor that I lost it at any earlier point.


  42. Yes, the David Brooks article is thought provoking. The comparisons between Los Angeles and Compton are amazing. I have become convinced that poverty, by itself, is not the major contributor to crime. It is the breakdown of social structures at the community level.

    I realize I need to qualify that. In the traditional evangelical circles, that phrase ‘social structures’ has a meaning to mean the nuclear family going to church. That is a very new phenomena. We need social structures at the community level.

    Yes, David Brooks and this old grouchy former evangelical conservative is admitting Hillary was right, it takes a village.


  43. I used to always wonder as more of a fundamentalist-Christian why, if sin did not supposedly enter the universe until the fall, and things were perfect, and Adam/Eve had a direct relationship with God…then what’s to prevent the same thing from happening again?!? It can’t be that we will have the same relationship with God as we did in our “original” state, since clearly that was flawed. I suppose once we fully taste of God, we will be transformed in such a way that we will no longer even “desire” to sin (while maintaining free will)?


  44. I link it a fall, but not of humans. I believe that the world was created by God and entrusted to his angelic beings as its governors and rulers; the fall occurred when some of them (not all) at the beginning of time rebelled against the creator, and when they fell they dragged the creation and all its other creatures down with them, including the subsequently developed human race. Human beings came into existence in an already fallen creation, with an already existing proneness toward evil in its process and being, inaugurated and presided over by rebellious spiritual beings. But human beings were developed and meant by God to guide creation back toward its original good intention; in Jesus Christ, God has proleptically fulfilled his original goals for both creation and humanity. Of course the persistence of the existence of evil even after the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus has still to be addressed, but to the degree that that can be done, it doesn’t require Original Sin as a postulate.

    Something along those lines. Of course, I could be completely wrong. But I could be right, and it conforms with much Biblical language, and the language of Jesus about evil and the place that malicious, intelligent, non-human spiritual beings play in it. None of this excuses us as human beings for our part in evil, but it makes us part of a larger whole rather than the center of things; except insofar as we are in Christ, who is human and the center of all things.


  45. “””“Many priests and bishops have secret families which they have abandoned because they fear losing the privileges that come with priesthood, such as a good house and vehicles. Some priests even prey on children and abandon them.””””

    In the argument for married priests the idea that Celibacy yields Pedophilia is obscene and absurd. It is difficult to intellectually respect those who make that leap.

    Hidden families, affairs, mistresses, etc… perhaps. Deviance? No, that’s a different stripe; if that relates to anything I would attach that more to a corruption of power, lack of transparency, and social isolation. Will marriage address those issues? No.


  46. “””The demise of Sears has many components but at the core it is a tale of complacent and bad management/leadership”””

    Yep. Do not let me hide behind the Amazonification narrative, because brick-n-mortar retail is still growing strong.

    These guys leveraged a company to the hilt, ignoring the universally recognized retail metric of revenue-per-square foot. Not just Sears, but many of the big-box stores grossly over extended themselves; and people have been shouting at them from the sidelines for Y-E-A-R-S; and they’ve been like “no, no, no, we got this, we are following development of new markets”. But the first markets were cities [which have people], than the inner ring suburbs of the early Boomers [which have people + generous government subsidies], then the outer suburbs [which have far fewer people and lots of institutional debt], and then the exurbs [which have relatively few people and even more institutional debt]. And the stores got bigger relative to the adjacent population. It was straight-up bad math.

    From one study: “The US has 23.5 square feet of retail space per person, compared with 16.4 square feet in Canada and 11.1 square feet in Australia, the next two countries with the most retail space per capita” America went on an unsustainable big-box binge, partly due to our financial markets, and partly due to our tax structure. It is better to tax Land Value than Site Value – Land Value tax creates the incentive, because the Land itself is expensive to build the Most Highest Best use you can – and you do not get taxed on what you build! – vs. Site Value where the Land is considered cheap and you want to build the cheapest thing you can and still extract a market value. And isn’t the mantra of real-estate and retail “Location, Location, Location”; we should tax the Location accordingly, and let business people and entrepreneurs do what they do rather then trying to tax them down to doing crap.


  47. > Is the neighborhood the key?

    Wow! Even David Brooks is coming around to a rational picture of social issues? Despite all the bad news we are making progress. I kinda want to print this article and mail it to every pastor in the city.

    “””the importance of “social infrastructure,” physical places like libraries where people can gather. What do libraries have to do with deaths in a heat wave? It turns out quite a lot.”””


    “””The fact is that human behavior happens in contagious, networked ways. Suicide, obesity and decreasing social mobility spread as contagions.”””


    “””For example, do people feel it’s normal to knock on a neighbor’s door and visit, or would that be considered a dangerous invasion of privacy? “””

    Spend time door-to-door canvasing in various parts of a city. The manner/tone by which people respond to a stranger at their door, relative to the built form, is a strong one. Humans are highly adaptive, which is one of our species’ super-powers, but it also means we can be maladaptive when placed in dehumanizing spaces.


  48. “the pervasiveness of the human tendency toward evil that Augustine was trying to link to a cause, and that is now called Original Sin, is a real thing, not something he made up or imagined.”

    Very well, we agree on that much. But if there was not a Fall, where did it come from?


  49. Yes, Augustine got things wrong. His reading of Paul regarding Adam was deficient, and in ways theologically and morally disastrous. We as a Church should move ahead without using Augustine as our guiding star (unfortunately many, or most, of us will continue to use him that way, no matter how much the few of us protest), as was so often done in the past by both the Roman Catholic and various Protestant churches. Augustine got it wrong.

    But let’s understand that what Augustine got wrong was the cause of a real phenomenon that he observed in his own life and his observation of other people, and that he was trying to give a theological account for: the pervasive existence of a tendency toward evil acts, toward violence, lying, selfishness, indifference to the goodness of God and the welfare of others, not just on the part of a few, but many. That tendency still exists today, and is easily observable. And for all of its avoidance of idolization of bad Augustinian theology regarding Original Sin, the Eastern Orthodox lands and peoples have not shown themselves to be morally superior, or any less likely to act in evil ways, than the lands and peoples of the Western Church; that’s because the pervasiveness of the human tendency toward evil that Augustine was trying to link to a cause, and that is now called Original Sin, is a real thing, not something he made up or imagined.

    So, yes, Augustine was wrong in postulating Original Sin, and in his reading of Paul that resulted in that theological position. We need to try to go forward without his guidance as to the causation of the evil we experience and do, so we need a different theology regarding its origin. But a better theology is not enough, as the failure of the Eastern Orthodox, despite their better theology on this subject, to behave in a way morally superior to Western Christians exhibits (and although I agree that on this point Eastern Orthodox theology is superior to the West, I’m not sure its theology if fully adequate on this or many other points — I think new theological ground has to be cleared as we move forward if we want better results and understanding). The Church and individual Christians must actually walk as disciples in the self-sacrificial way of Christ; there is and never has been any substitute.


  50. We’ll see if Sears survives for the long haul. It depends on whether they fundamentally change. My parents bought me a Sears clock radio as a birthday present many years ago. It died within the warranty period but the store wouldn’t exchange it until my father went to the manger’s office. That kind of customer service leaves lasting impressions; I’ve rarely shopped at Sears as an adult.

    Kmart is also affected. One of the two Kmart stores nearest my house was in the previous round of closings, along with a Sears store in a mall about 15 miles to the west. The other Kmart store near my house was listed in this week’s notice of closings. I feel bad for those losing their jobs but those stores were not competitive in terms of price, quality of merchandise or store appearance.


  51. The demise of Sears has many components but at the core it is a tale of complacent and bad management/leadership. Sears, especially in the South was the prime shopping place. Though the years Sears had the #1 position and level of trust in appliances Kenmore, batteries Die Hard, tires/auto department, paint , tools Craftsman and just about any home need. In home service was provided and trusted. Sears executives and managers betrayed the trust and took the money and ran.

    Bad , no stupid management coupled with complacent non proactive decisions plus a series of corrupt bad image and betrayal of its customers killed Sears. They sold outdated Die Hard batteries, they did not honor foolish “lifetime” service on shocks and car services, the quality of their products diminished without a reduction in price and so many bad decisions over the years that the closing was inevitable. Bad management coupled with of course greed killed a giant . The “leaders” of Sears lived off the fat of the company and did not plan and execute for a viable future but took the short term , traditional approach and killed the goose laying the egg.

    Well, life goes on and things change but for people my age this is a sea level change that has been in the making the past decade as Sears faltered.

    Bad decisions, not aware of what made you successful, living off past achievements, changing your corporate culture, not caring about the welfare of your people, violating public trust, failure to heed warning signs, not valuing your company, the list goes on and on. To me it is a metaphor , a warning perhaps of what is happening to our nation in many ways. There is a tipping point where blunders cannot be overcome.

    Goodbye Sears RIP.


  52. When I was a kid, there were two unmistakable markers for the arrival of the holiday season – the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade, and the arrival of the Sears Christmas catalog in the mail.


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