Saturday Brunch, September 28, 2019

Hello, friends, and welcome to the weekend. Hungry for some brunch?

As you likely know, Chaplain Mike is hobnobbing across Europe for a few weeks (i believe he is skinny-dipping in Lake Geneva today) and I volunteered to oversee the monastery for him. He promised that tomorrow he will post a few pics (hopefully not of the skinny-dipping). In the mean time, thanks for putting up with my writing this week.

By the way, here is a picture of my writing buddies this afternoon.

Image may contain: people sitting, table and indoor

Have you heard of The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity? It’s a new ecumenical project, seeking to build “a culture of mutual respect and dialogue across all backgrounds, beliefs, and nationalities.” In February Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar,  Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, signed theDocument on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.

One of the first projects the Higher Committee will help guide is the Abrahamic Family House, to be located on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. A reflection of the Document on Human Fraternity, a church, mosque, and synagogue will share a collective space for the first time, serving as a community for inter-religious dialogue and exchange, and nurturing the values of peaceful co-existence and acceptance among different beliefs, nationalities and cultures.

The design of the Abrahamic Family House, by the award-winning and globally-renowned architect, Sir David Adjaye OBE, was unveiled at the New York event. Here is what it will look like:

A Renaissance masterpiece is discovered in a kitchen in France. It was directly above a hotplate. Christ Mocked, by the 13th-century artist Cimabue, who taught Giotto, is estimated to be worth €4m-€6m (£3.5m-£5.3m). The work had for years gone unnoticed in the house of a woman in her 90s near the northern French town of Compiègne. It had been hanging between her open-plan kitchen and her living room, arousing little interest from the family, who assumed it was a standard religious icon. Although it was placed directly above a hotplate for cooking food, the picture was in good condition.

Christ Mocked

Has the word “evangelical” lost its meaning? Alan Jacobs argues it has in a review of Thomas Kidd’s new book, Who Is an Evangelical? The History of a Movement in Crisis.

While traversing frigid Arctic waters, a Russian Navy vessel met its match — a mighty mother walrus defending her calves. Battered by the tusked mammal’s attacks, the tugboat Altai sank into the sea, according to the Russian news outlet The Barents Observer. Luckily, the boat’s crew of Navy service members and researchers made it safely ashore on a smaller vessel.


Do we need semicolons? Yes, says Joseph Epstein. Do we need a whole book about semicolons? Apparently. Epstein reviews Cecelia Watson’s book Semicolon:

The short-story writer , Donald Barthel medescribed the semicolon as ‘ugly, ugly as a tick on a dog’s body.’ In the standard definition a semicolon is a stop of greater emphasis and duration than that of a comma but less than that of a period. A bit vague, hazy, this, is it not? “Do not use semicolons” was Kurt Vonnegut’s position on the matter. ‘They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.’

Are UFOs real? In 2017, footage from Navy planes showing “unexplained aerial phenomena” were leaked online. Last week, the Navy confirmed that the footage was real and unedited. But no one seems to care: “If, like me, you claim unofficial membership in the League of Enthusiastic Americans with Slightly Overactive Imaginations, the past few weeks have brought both exciting and weird news. Here’s the exciting: The United States Navy has basically admitted that UFOs are real. Here’s the weird: Very few people seem to care.”

I’m sure KLM meant well. But two of the passengers in this scenario better hope for a smooth ride…

Megatrump supporter pastor Robert Jeffress displays his exegetical chops: “God said he created the environment to serve us, not for us to serve the environment. This Greta Thunberg, the 16 year-old, she was warning today about the mass extinction of humanity. Somebody needs to read poor Greta Genesis chapter 9 and tell her the next time she worries about global warming, just look at a rainbow; that’s God’s promise that the polar ice caps aren’t going to melt and flood the world again.”

If I ever become an atheist it’s because of pastors like this.

Or “prophets” like Mark Taylor.  “God’s been showing me something,” Taylor said this week, claiming that an elevator in the Washington Monument getting stuck and an instance in which Pope Francis was trapped in an elevator earlier this month were both “prophetic signs.”

“We all know the Washington Monument is a phallic symbol to Baal built by the Freemasons,” he said. “We all know the Vatican is demonic.”

“What does an elevator actually mean? An elevator means a change in the anointing. Now this is a huge sign, guys, a huge prophetic sign that the Washington Monument—which represents Freemasonry, Illuminati, all these things that we are battling against right now—it stopped. It’s a change in the direction of that so-called power.”

“Now, let’s go back to the Vatican. The Pope’s on there. It stops. It’s losing power. It stopped because of a loss of power, guys. This is huge! This is a huge prophetic sign that says the Pope has lost power and so his so-called anointing from the dark side has now changed. This is a huge sign for everyone.”

Do you remember a study that came out in 2015, which showed that people who grew up in religious households were less generous than those who grew up in non-religious ones. The paper got a lot of attention, being covered by over 80 media outlets. Turns out it was wrong: “Another scholar, Azim Shariff, a leading expert on religion and pro-social behavior, was surprised by the results, as his own research and meta-analysis (combining evidence across studies from many authors) indicated that religious participation, in most settings, increased generosity. Shariff requested the data to try to understand more clearly what might explain the discrepancy.” The culprit? A coding error.

Though I’m sure that all 80 of those media outlets will report the mistake…

Why are we fascinated by twins? Helena de Bres, a twin herself, speculates:

In placing pressure on our usual understanding of where one self stops and another starts, such stories raise an interesting philosophical question. What determines how many people exist right now? We tend to assume a one-to-one relationship between persons and bodies. But approaching the question that way might result in under or overcounting, as the case of twins suggests. One possibility is that two (or more) people might share a single body. Conjoined twins are a real-life instance. In myth, we have Hercules, who intermittently took his mortal twin brother’s place after Iphicles’ death, sometimes appearing as a human, other times as a god. Another possibility is that a single person might be distributed across two (or more) bodies.

The fascination comes from another, opposite source as well. We may tell ourselves that proper human relationships retain a healthy degree of differentiation and separation. But many of us are also, despite ourselves, drawn to the contrary fantasy of the ideal relationship as a kind of merger: one soul, as Aristotle put it, spread over two bodies. We generally reserve this ideal for sexual relationships—“Nelly,” Cathy wails, “I am Heathcliff!”—yet surely part of what captivates us about twins is that they seem to embody it too. Arguably, they embody it more purely. Maybe one reason soul-mate twins have to die in literature is that they make singletons morbidly envious.

This seems like a good enough excuse to throw some funny twin pictures your way:


Related image

Best of Twins Memes (16 Images)

The three hardest things to say:
1. I’m sorry
2. I need help
3. Worcestershire Sauce

A transgender man from Kent who gave birth with the help of fertility treatment cannot be registered as his child’s father, the most senior family judge in England and Wales has ruled. Freddy McConnell, 32, who has lived as a man for several years but retained his female reproductive system and gave birth in 2018, went to court after a registrar insisted he was recorded as the baby’s mother on the birth certificate despite holding a gender recognition certificate that made it clear the law considered him male.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the high court’s family division, ruled on Wednesday that motherhood was about being pregnant and giving birth regardless of whether the person who does so was considered a man or a woman in law.

“Being a ‘mother’ or a ‘father’ with respect to the conception, pregnancy and birth of a child is not necessarily gender specific,”

“There is a material difference between a person’s gender and their status as a parent. Being a ‘mother’, whilst hitherto always associated with being female, is the status afforded to a person who undergoes the physical and biological process of carrying a pregnancy and giving birth.

“It is now medically and legally possible for an individual, whose gender is recognised in law as male, to become pregnant and give birth to their child. Whilst that person’s gender is ‘male’, their parental status, which derives from their biological role in giving birth, is that of ‘mother’.”

Conservative theologian David Bentley Hart recently published, That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation. It makes the case for universalism. Douglas Farrow reviews it in First Things. It is a long article, and very informative. Well worth the time to read. I just want to bring out one relevant question for our discussion:

Hart harrows “hell” with panache. And do not fault him for falling carelessly into that “error about mercy” that Augustine rejects, an error “based on human sentiment” (­Augustine’s words) that sets mercy against justice. Hart is indeed sentimental, viscerally sentimental, in embracing what Augustine rejects and rejecting what Augustine embraces, but there is nothing careless about it. He thinks it right and just to do so.

On the other hand, he does not address the vital question as to whether, and how far, fallen creatures can trust their visceral feelings and instincts to guide them.

Fair question. What are your thoughts?

So, this is a real thing…

Yes, that’s right, friends. Now you can enjoy the savory aroma of highly processed and gelatonized pork scraps mixed with pumpkin and cloves! Hormel even released an assortment of recipes for the Pumpkin Spice Spam. The recipes include a Pumpkin Spice Spam grilled cheese, Pumpkin Spice Spam waffles, and Pumpkin Spice Spam fall vegetable hash. 

Well, that’s it for this Saturday. Let’s end with some photos of the week, courtesy of the Atlantic.


ANTALYA, TURKEY – SEPTEMBER 22: Scuba divers explore a model tank from 1960 after it submerged 20 meters underwater off the coast of the Mediterranean seaside resort of Kas in Turkey’s Antalya province, to serve diving tourism, on September 22, 2019. (Photo by Huseyin Yildiz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Aerial photo taken on Sept. 15, 2019 shows eco-aged geese and blooming golden trees in sihong county, east China’s jiangsu province.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Costfoto / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Costfoto / Barcroft Media / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
University students take part in a protest outside the governor’s office in Padang, West Sumatra province, Indonesia, September 24, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Iggoy el Fitra/ via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT. – RC11B64A4BE0
Participants dressed in traditional attire pose for pictures during rehearsals for Garba, a folk dance, in preparations for the upcoming Navratri, a festival during which devotees worship the Hindu goddess Durga, in Ahmedabad, India, September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RC134467DD00
A polka-dotted zebra foal stand close to its mother at the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya on September 19, 2019. – Antony Tira, a Maasai guide who first spotted the foal, named him Tira. Tira has a condition called pseudomelanism, a rare genetic mutation in which animals display some sort of abnormality in their stripe pattern. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
A newly-hatched baby sea turtle makes its way into the Mediterranean Sea for the first time, as part of the Israeli Sea Turtle Rescue Center’s conservation programme, at a beach near Mikhmoret north of Tel Aviv, Israel September 9, 2019. Picture taken September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen – RC1A40F65BB0
HANGZHOU, CHINA – SEPTEMBER 22: Tourists, sitting in a chili-covered pool, participate in a chili pepper eating contest at Song Dynasty Town (Songcheng) on September 22, 2019 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China. (Photo by Lian Guoqing/VCG via Getty Images)
Kids from Tembe indigenous tribe, who are facing a conflict with illegal loggers on their land, play at Gurupi River in Teko-haw indigenous village near Paragominas, Para state, Brazil September 10, 2019. Picture taken September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes – RC18452EC5A0
BEAUMONT, TX – SEPTEMBER 20: An armadillo swims toward a boat as it struggles in the flooded waters on highway 124 on September 20, 2019 in Beaumont, Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott has declared much of Southeast Texas disaster areas after heavy rain and flooding from the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda dumped more than two feet of water across some areas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Birds sit in their cages during the annual bird-singing competition in Thailand’s southern province of Narathiwat on September 22, 2019. – Over 1,800 birds from Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore took part in the contest. (Photo by Madaree TOHLALA / AFP) (Photo credit should read MADAREE TOHLALA/AFP/Getty Images)
A CZ-3B carrier rocket blasts off at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Xichang in southwest China’s Sichuan province early Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, to send the 47th and 48th Beidou navigation satellites into the orbit. (Photo credit should read ZHANG WENJUN / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
A frog is pictured on the leaf of a lotus after the rain at a pond in Lalitpur, Nepal September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar – RC158F995760

192 thoughts on “Saturday Brunch, September 28, 2019

  1. Then Seneca and Stryker can polish each others’ haloes, the Righteous Remnant of the only two who have not bent the knee to Baal.


  2. My question precisely. At least his comments, & the ‘replies’ like this one, reinforce why leaving evangelicalism was the right thing to do, & how easy it is to use ‘Biblical’ words & yet harbour completely alien attitudes in your heart.

    As though one line in one poem, basically expressing surprise that ‘the Native’ was more noble than the White Man in this one incidence, absolves the overall ferociously embedded systemic racism Kipling was part of. It is another example of how a white guy only has to do a millionth of what is necessary to be forgiven the whole.


  3. Re “Gods of the Copybook Headings” itself:

    Kipling is poetically restating this observation of his contemporary Chestertont:

    “Nine out of ten new ideas are really old mistakes. But to a generation who were not around the last time these old mistakes were made, they seem like Fresh New Ideas.”
    — G.K.Chesterton

    Summarized in this sequence of three axioms:

    And if you’re the type who has to Have a Verse:

    “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
    — Proverbs 16:18

    Another Kipling poem, “Natural Theology”, gives a different take on that Verse:


  4. And surviving Puritan journals (there’s a lot of them) were all consumed with navel-gazing sin-sniffing to the exclusion of anything else.


  5. This is Left Coast Hipster Central, remember.
    Capital of angsting over First World Problems.
    And anyway, San Francisco & San Jose beat them to it by a couple years.


  6. There’s a LOT of them out there in “Filksinging”, the novelty song tradition of SF fandom.

    Filker Leslie Fish brought out at least two cassette albums of Kipling set to music (a YouTube search on “leslie fish kipling” should bring some up), and “Engineer’s Hymn” (the Star Trek version of “McAndrews Hymn”) was a regular. The latter really should be recorded full-length in the engine room of that Liberty Ship at San Pedro when it’s underway, with the engines in the background..
    “The Crank-throws give the double-bass; the feed-pump sobs an’ heaves:
    An’ now the main eccentrics start their quarrel on the sheaves.
    Her time, her own appointed time, the rocking link-head bides,
    Till – hear that note?-the rod’s return whings glimmerin’ through the guides.
    They’re all awa! True beat, full power, the clangin’ chorus goes
    Clear to the tunnel where they sit, my purrin’ dynamoes.”

    I also remember during the Eighties singing Kipling’s entire “Picts’ Song” (a song of guerilla warfare) to a cosplay group of the then-miniseries “V”.


  7. As someone who has read Kipling extensively (and the man influenced a LOT of Golden Age SF and enriched English with lots of new terms and idioms), I will let George Orwell speak for me:

    This is his essay on Kipling that prefaces one of my collections of Kipling poetry. Orwell was NOT a Kipling fan by any stretch of the imagination.


  8. I wonder if and when Climate Change gets worse and worse, whether the people around then will remember THE CHRISTIANS(TM) cheered on the whole process?


  9. This is called “A Mutual Admiration Society” sealed behind its own Event Horizon, and Christian Leaders are not the only ones to do so.


  10. Seneca, I don’t know why you hang out here. It’s a mad house of SJW crazy and a huge dose of ‘Has God really said…’, rejecting or explaining away the words of Jesus, (Today’s discussion of Universalism is the latest example) They will not hear you. They know better than you, they know better than giants of the faith from the past, they even know better and are more morally pure in their own eyes than the writers of the Scriptures. They sit in judgement of God’s Words and actions and find them lacking when compared to today’ ‘woke’ mentality. Meanwhile their faith wanes and they have less and less use for the Church or Christians that hold to the Faith once handed down. Their faith consists of wishes, platitudes and delusions of their own hearts. Their Bible is a scrapbook remnant of the Scriptures with all the parts they don’t like cut out and discarded. I drive by here about once a year in the vain hope that some vestige of what Michael Spencer built is left for those of us that once found a home in this place. It is desolate. Every Saturday Brunch comment thread is another mindless progressive screed. Do yourself a favor and shake the dust off your feet and invest your time somewhere profitable. I am grieved that it has come to this and realize that my periodic lurkings are in vain. Best of luck to you brother.


  11. Because Universal Mercy means those Others I Don’t Like DON’T Get in the neck from God!

    If I can’t be Holier than those SINNERS, Who Do I Got to Be Holier Than?


  12. Portland Bans Urinals to Respect ‘Shared Value.
    [ Subheading; mental health down the toilet in Portland.]


  13. IOW, “I can’t be racist, I have black friends!”

    Praising one member of the set while condemning the set as a whole IS racism. Sorry to pop your bubble.


  14. From the alleged “racist’ Rudyard Kipling, “You’re a better man than I Gunga Din.”

    a poem (1892) by Rudyard Kipling. It is written in the language of an ordinary British soldier praising a Hindu who carries water for the British Army in India and dies taking water to a wounded soldier during a battle. Many people know the last line of the poem: “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”

    So Racist Rudyard Kipling writes poem extolling a brown Hindu.

    Quite the racist indeed – dryly


  15. –> “Universalism is not ‘heresy’ as long as it is something to HOPE for.”

    That’s maybe the best statement on the matter I have ever read. I mean, who here isn’t hopeful that their loved ones who “don’t know Christ” will be with them in the next life?

    I guess for that, and some other reasons I won’t go into, is why I have made the drift to hopeful universalist.


  16. This was written in 1919, immediately after WW1 in which Kipling IIRC lost his son. The Tsar in Russia had just been overthrown and it either had, or was about to, go communist (I’m a bit shaky on the timeline). The League of Nations was being set up, disarmament was all the rage and the monarchic empires of Europe were breaking up into nation-state republics. The war had also set off substantial political and social change in the UK, overthrowing a lot of the rigid 19th Century hierarchies that had previously kept things “ordered”, and at that time the “progressive” position was the liberation of markets and unfettering of free market capitalism that is the “conservative” position today. (Part of the poem’s incoherence, I think, is an attempt to bracket the rise of communism and the rise of free market capitalism as part of the same phenomenon, which probably made more sense in 1919). Kipling is basically seeing all this radical change and saying “it will all end in tears”.
    To be fair to Kipling, it did actually end in tears in 1939, and his criticism of the naivety of disarmament, the voodoo economics of unchecked capitalism which led to the great depression and the assumption at the end of WW1 of perpetual peace and prosperity because this time everyone had got things exactly right was largely justified. What he gets wrong is that it was his own “King and Country” nationalism he thinks of as “common sense” and the solution to all ills which had in fact caused the war that killed his son, and a reversion to which (in Germany’s case without the “king” bit) when things went wrong which would start the next one.


  17. Capon summarizes his broad view of salvation as follows:

    . “I am and I am not a universalist. I am one if you are talking about what God in Christ has done to save the world. The Lamb of God has not taken away the sins of some — of only the good, or the cooperative, or the select few who can manage to get their act together and die as perfect peaches. He has taken away the sins of the world — of every last being in it — and he has dropped them down the black hole of Jesus’ death. On the cross, he has shut up forever on the subject of guilt: “There is therefore now no condemnation. . . .” All human beings, at all times and places, are home free whether they know it or not, feel it or not, believe it or not.

    “But I am not a universalist if you are talking about what people may do about accepting that happy-go-lucky gift of God’s grace. I take with utter seriousness everything that Jesus had to say about hell, including the eternal torment that such a foolish non-acceptance of his already-given acceptance must entail. All theologians who hold Scripture to be the Word of God must inevitably include in their work a tractate on hell. But I will not — because Jesus did not — locate hell outside the realm of grace. Grace is forever sovereign, even in Jesus’ parables of judgment. No one is ever kicked out at the end of those parables who wasn’t included in at the beginning.”


  18. “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” is a poem published by Rudyard Kipling in 1919, which, editor Andrew Rutherford said, contained “age-old, unfashionable wisdom” that Kipling saw as having been forgotten by society and replaced by “habits of wishful thinking.”

    AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
    I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
    Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
    We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
    That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
    But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
    So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
    We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
    Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
    But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
    That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
    With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
    They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
    They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
    So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
    When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
    They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
    But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”
    On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
    (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
    Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”
    In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”
    Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
    And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
    That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
    As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!


  19. I used to visit Wisconsin and M Street area for lunch and shopping . . . my husband and I used to go to the Cellar Door for shows sometimes

    is all that still there? haven’t been in that area for a very long time!


  20. what about those human beings born with the primitive evidence of mammary glands on their chests?

    I once knew a guy who was born with FIVE nipples — two regular ones in the usual place and three vestigial (two on one side, one on the other) marching down in the usual two mammalian rows on both sides of the center line.

    not pushing any specific teaching, here, only finding some reasons why it is that males still exhibit on their chests signs of how mankind once formed over the eons, from a single being . . .

    Check out the Stephen Jay Gould essay “Male Nipples and Clitoral Ripples” in the essay collection Bully for Brontosaurus which goes into the biology of i:.

    “Males and females are not separate entities, shaped independently by natural selection. Both sexes are variants upon a single ground plan, elaborated in later embryology. Male mammals have nipples because females need them and the embryonic pathway to their development builds precursors in all mammalian fetuses, enlarging the breasts later in females but leaving them small (and without evident function) in males.”


  21. you don’t hear that word ‘renewal’ in evangelical circles much . . . . or the word ‘mercy’

    there are just some things that resonate with people from specific faith communities, and I think for those who have the words ‘renewal’ and ‘mercy’ for prominently in their vocabularies, that there may be more cause for HOPE in a universalist outcome . . . .

    not that it cancels out free will, no, but that in some way known only to God, healing comes to people rather than punishment . . . the kind of healing that mends that part of us for which acting out badly took the place of having no words to express the pain


  22. i.e. The Ultimate Alpha Male.
    Just ask Deep Throat Driscoll, both Douggies (WIlson and Esquire), Jerry Falwell Jr (and his oversized junk), etc.


  23. And the discussion makes me remember that “classic ” Estus Pirkle’s “Burning Hell” (accompanied by the incredibly kitschy “Beliver’s Heaven” and the disturbing “Footmen”).

    Ah, yes. The three Classics filmed for Pirkle by Ron Ormond, “Master of Christian Grindhouse”, “The Ed Wood of Christploitation flicks.”

    Do you remember the singing midgets in “Believer’s Heaven”?
    My writing partner does.
    He still wants to get me for sending him the YouTube link to that flick.
    It was the Singing Midgets… God’s Heavenly Singing Midgets were what did it.


  24. Jeffress the Flatterer is just echoing what the State of Florida said in an internal memo some years ago about why there is no such thing as climate change because — BIBLE!


  25. People have a tendency to be incredibly nasty.

    Anonymity will do that to some people.

    It’s called “Net Drunk Syndrome”.

    Safe behind anonymity plus out of fist range and you go off your meds and onto bath salts.

    “Instant A-hole; just add Broadband.”


  26. Dana,

    As a Catholic I’ve had some great talks with Greek Orthodox priests, discussions about original guilt as he termed it, purgation/illumination/union, and purgatory vs toll booths. I have also heard that EO view of hell is different and that some EO say the soul is not immortal if the person turns away from God.

    I also had some discussions with a Serbian Orthodox priest but found that was not as fruitful.

    Loved your explanation on the above.


  27. That’s been my general theory on Revelation, too. John should have laid off the ‘shrooms (Yes, I know it’s a complaint about Roman rule, but complaints like that could get you killed, so it’s in code–I like my theory better).


  28. Spam sushi–a Hawaiian specialty, so far as I know–is actually pretty good.
    Pumpkin Spice flavored Spam is an abomination unto Nuggin.


  29. Universalism feels like a response to bad theology developed centuries after Jesus and the apostles walked the earth.

    Can’t convince me hell is real anymore when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt they didn’t believe in it.

    And all the bs just floats away…


  30. Exactly!

    Apparently people like Seneca are heavily invested in what is in other people’s pants, and what they do in the sack. Make of that what you will…


  31. Spam is only good when fried as far as I’m concerned. The thought of pumpkin spice flavored Spam does nothing to help my appetite.


  32. No clue. I just copied the caption from the Atlantic. Could it be something related to ‘ethical’ foie gras?


  33. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that perhaps if we didn’t have such hidebound associations of gender and behavior (if you have a wanker you must be a tough breadwinning leader, if you have a womb you must be a submissive mother) that a lot of these problems would be greatly reduced.


  34. “It’s not about reproduction; it’s not about one’s sex life. It’s about lying to people”

    What business of ours is it what plumbing someone has unless we’re friends or intimates?


  35. The two transgender people that I know, both male-to-female, one over 50, and one over 70, would agree with you, Ted. Both insist that they knew from early childhood that they were the “wrong” gender. Both did what was expected of them and had “male” careers, got married to women, and had children–but when their spouses were no longer in the picture–one died, and the other divorced–they had counseling, lived as their preferred gender for a year, then transitioned, having the surgery done. Both say that they should have been female all along.


  36. It’s not about reproduction; it’s not about one’s sex life.

    It’s about lying to people [ yes, though you were born with a uterus and vagina you too can be a man.]

    I think I mentioned previously spending a few years working psych wards. One of my daily patients was an early transgender who had actually undergone the surgery.

    The reasons they were in the psych ward was due to suicide attempts after the surgery. The surgery/transgender thing was a tragic mistake.

    I learned in the psych ward; when someone says; “I’m Jesus!” I looked them in the eye and very kindly said, “No you’re not. ”

    So this isn’t about sex or procreation; this is about attempting to encourage people in the way of sanity – life is a lot less stressful that way. Will people do whatever they want to do? Yep. Should I lie to them and tell them, yeah I think you can be a guy even though you were born a female. Nope. That would be a lie.

    [ Dana had a very insightful post – I think she’s basically nicer than I am. Perhaps partially attributable to a gender difference – smile. ]


  37. For the first time today, the filter seems to have caught my comment. Would whoever is minding the store please fish it out and post it? Thanks.


  38. EEEEE. That freaked me out the first time I read it, and every time since. No wonder so many Puritans were anxious, angst-ridden wrecks. Jonathan Edwards had a remarkably vivid, twisted imagination. It’s not as though he could scare his listeners into heaven–they were either among the elect or not, and had no choice in the matter.


  39. People have a tendency to be incredibly nasty.

    Anonymity will do that to some people. Being reasonably sure that nobody will track you down brings out the very worst mentality in a lot internet users, The more people who disagree with a post, the worse it gets, until you can have a really nasty mob attacking someone.


  40. Universalism is not ‘heresy’ as long as it is something to HOPE for. We cannot say it exists for certain, but we can hope that ‘salvation’ is for all of Creation, including us poor human types who dwell in the shadows of temples and pray ‘Have mercy on me, a sinner’

    The Orthodox have another term for it. And Catholics even thought to come up with the idea of a ‘nursury’ for unbaptized babies in heaven because Catholicism is so heavily into the MERCY of God; whereas, if those outside the mainstream of Christianity aka the fundamentalist-evangelicals were to accept ‘universalism’ they would have to give up all that fear-mongering about ‘going to hell unless you convert of OUR way’ . . .

    all I know is that ALL dogs go to heaven,
    or if they don’t, I want to be where the pups are and for me, that would be a good place to spend eternity 🙂
    I’m a canine universalist, so to speak

    anything else, I leave to the mercy of the God Who was kind enough to give us the animals


  41. He does affirm it though. Family and marriage makes up a big part of life, so yeah, it is a big deal. Just like fair dealings in business and justice at court is a big deal. But you keep bringing up gender roles. Gender roles and trying to change your actual gender are not the same thing. And one doesn’t have to be a Christian to be concerned about it.


  42. and for goodness sake, don’t buy it then and put it in Thanksgiving baskets for the poor!!!!! Please!
    anything but spam!


  43. my father used to salvage indoor Daddy-long-legs spiders and put them outside . . . . . he understood a lot about nature 🙂


  44. + 1000

    today, such a variety of the cool, the crazy, and the profane, and also the wonderful and joyful, it fits the week’s strange goings-on perfectly! . . . good job, Daniel Jepsen!!!!!


  45. Senecagriggs,
    what about those human beings born with the primitive evidence of mammary glands on their chests?

    you know, the Genesis story makes a lot of sense, in that God took a ‘rib’ from the man to form the woman; because in evolution, single-celled life reproduced asexually (without sex), and EVENTUALLY life forms where the living being hosts BOTH ‘male’ and ‘female’ organs and self-reproduces . . . as time went on (eons), came living beings with differentiated sex organs who were able (as ‘species) to mate and reproduce ‘their own kind’

    so mankind began as a single-life form (Adam) in the Book of Genesis
    and even in what science knows of ‘evolution’, this was also true of the first living cell

    not pushing any specific teaching, here, only finding some reasons why it is that males still exhibit on their chests signs of how mankind once formed over the eons, from a single being . . . 🙂


  46. True. But Christ also never indicated that family and gender were bad or evil. The whole upshot of the first part of Matt 19 in textual and cultural context is that his followers are to either be married to a person of the other sex for life, or be celibate. This teaching, and that so many Christians actually followed it, was completely baffling in the Greco-Roman culture of that day. Sex – both genderedness and the conjugal act – had Meaning for early Christians. Don’t forget also that Christ is the first Fully Human Being; he did not have to have sexual intercourse, so the sex act doesn’t have to be the be-all and end-all of life. Those who don’t or can’t engage in it are still human beings; having that experience doesn’t make a person somehow “completely human”.

    Again, as I’ve said before, the early Christians did not try to impose their way on the people around them, and I don’t think we should either. But in light of Jesus’ teaching and that of his followers up until the last 50 years or so, in this matter Christ-followers should stand apart from a culture that has so lost Meaning that Sex has in fact become the be-all and end-all of life.

    I think this is a good article:

    Thank you for engaging the ideas, Eeyore – very much appreciated.



  47. I don’t know which to answer first, to be fair – I’m both a knitter & a Senior Professional who has run LGBTQ+ support groups for 11-19 year olds. Youngest trans individual my team has worked with so far was 10 when we met them, but had been wearing their identified-with clothing & using their chosen name from the age of 7.

    I may be the only person here who actually knows young people at every point of that spectrum, & has talked to & supported dozens of individuals over the years.


  48. If this is a serious question, Sen, I’ll explain.

    When Christ returns and all are resurrected in the body, we will see him as he is – as God, who is Goodness and Love, and also at the same time the fully Human Being we are each of us meant to be. We will also know as we are known, which means we will see how what we have done (*not just believed* – Matt 25 & James 2) and our motivations for our actions have been unloving and inhuman. In EO anthropology (esp the teaching of St Maximos, but also others), our basic orientation is toward good; Orthodoxy does not teach total depravity, or that the image of God is erased in any way because of the fall. The reason we do evil because our comprehension is darkened and we are confused in our slavery to the fear of death, and we think some kind of benefit/good will come of it. But when Christ returns, there will be no more confusion; all about us will be revealed. In that revelation, seeing where we have missed the mark of self-giving love will be torment for us, the source of which torment is our own innards, not anything God imposes on us. It’s just like now when we’re confronted with an unpleasant truth about ourselves – we want to hide, and sometimes we can, but there will be no hiding, from God or from ourselves. Therefore, nobody “gets away Scot free”.

    Those who believe in the restoration of all things (note the context of those “all things” places in the NT) believe that that torment will eventually end – that is is not “eternal” but rather “of an age” (which is the very much stronger meaning of the Greek word aionion) – and therefore temporary. It will be that ***every*** knee will bow to God, that all will turn to him and love him because we will all see his love and goodness without any more confusion and blindness. It will probably take a long time for the mass murderers, or the intensity of it could be such that it happen in what seems like an instant; there are different opinions about that.

    In addition, Orthodoxy has a different understanding of what “heaven”/Paradise is – which is that it is not a place, but a state of being of our experiencing the fullness of the Kingdom of God (where we are now already, because Christ is already on the throne since the Ascension, but are unable to see and experience in its fullness yet) including the renewed earth – indeed, the entire cosmos.



  49. Preach!

    It is a hand-wave in order to claim Jesus, and not think about the things he talked about and demonstrated.


  50. A wonderful series of pictures, Daniel.

    Does anyone know what “eco-aged” geese are, as seen in the pic with the blooming golden trees? Even the Eye of Google doesn’t seem to know.


  51. A man didn’t give birth. A woman pretending to be a man gave birth.

    Jon, you might want to replace “pretending to be” with “identifying as.” More accurate, and less inflammatory.

    A transvestite might “pretend to be” a woman, but a transgender, no. We are going nowhere with that description.


  52. Certainly we can talk about Meaning – but when I try to think about Meaning, it’s going to have to be Christ-shaped Meaning. And His example was one of service to God and our fellow humans. Family and gender were secondary concerns – and in some cases, could even be an impediment.


  53. Yes. Therefore, not captive to Augustine’s theology, which in important ways departed significantly from the Eastern Christian interpreters of Scripture. Hart respects Augustine, and Orthodox value Augustine’s devotional writings. However, **dogmatically** in EO what happens after the judgment is an open question, which people are allowed to discuss.



  54. No, it’s not. And I’ve written a lot about how gender essentialism and forcing people into roles is just wrong.

    At the same time, biological sex means something. Yes, a very small percentage of people are intersex. That’s a difficult problem, absolutely. And: the vast majority have either XX or XY chromosomes in every cell, and that will never, ever change – no matter what hormones or a surgical knife may do to a body (particularly bodies of teenagers, many of whom are simply following the current “fashion” and are not getting help to actually work through whatever real difficulties they have that make them think they are trans, and whose brains aren’t yet fully developed and are not be able to think ahead into the future regarding the serious long term consequences of those drugs and surgeries).

    Within the current confusion, are we not forcing people to take up gender roles – more pressure toward Certainty? In addition, there are serious feminists who see much of the impetus of the transgender movement as ultimately ending up erasing the female, just as much as patriarchy is thought to do. In our culture, that which is Male is still the norm, no matter how much rainbow paraphrenalia is waved about.

    But no, few people stop to consider these things. One of the big problems we have in our age is denying that things have Meaning aside from, or beyond, what we determine that meaning to be inside our own heads. We don’t talk about Meaning anymore – all we value and talk about is technology and economics, and, of course, politics.



  55. You can keep on saying what you are saying, doesn’t make it true. Although your apparent aversion to textbooks does explain a lot…


  56. Haha

    There is this quote from Good Omens, where Aziraphale, the angel with the Antique Bookshop considers his collection:

    “…. and in a climate-controlled cabinet in one corner was the original scroll in the shaky handwriting of St. John the Divine of Patmos, whose “Revelation” had been the all-time best seller. Aziraphale had found him a nice chap, if a bit too fond of odd mushrooms.”


  57. Christianity – at least when you look at Jesus’ teachings – does not put family and marriage at the center, let alone reproduction. So seriously… Why all the fuss about genitals and gender roles?


  58. “It requires a lot of intellectual gymnastics and deep-cuts of old Theology from a time when people had no idea how biology worked.”

    I think they’ve always understood biology Adam.


    No text book required if a world population of 9 billion suggest anything.


  59. I agree, and agree with Hart and Ian Lovejoy: “Unless universalism is true it is inaccurate to describe God as good.” No *good* entity could torture a being for eternity.

    Rabbi Kushner, after the death of his son from that premature-aging disorder, wrote that there are three statements about God and suffering, but you can only pick two of them:

    1. God is all-powerful.
    2. God is all-good.
    3. Evil and suffering exist.


  60. Well, then there’s Rev. 14:

    9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a great voice, If any man [d]worshippeth the beast and his image, and receiveth a mark on his forehead, or upon his hand, 10 he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is [e]prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 and the smoke of their torment goeth up [f]for ever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, they that [g]worship the beast and his image, and whoso receiveth the mark of his name.

    Not to be *too* blasphemous, but I interpret this as John of Patmos having a really bad day.


  61. > when did reproductive capacity become the be-all-end-all of
    > Christian ethics to begin with?

    With the invention of birth control.

    Catholics are obsessed with reproduction, as are many Reformed, as are whatever the descriptor is for people who write at Mere Orthodoxy.

    It requires a lot of intellectual gymnastics and deep-cuts of old Theology from a time when people had no idea how biology worked.


  62. This goes back to this weeks (??) earlier post on “Congealing”, and what I mean by feeling that I am “Dissipating”.

    There’s just so many things where there isn’t any reason for anyone, maybe even me, to care what I believe concerning ____.


  63. I put it in the “above my pay grade” category and move on.
    It is entirely not relevant what I believe the disposal/destination/disposition of anyone’s soul is.


  64. That’s why some folks (Abbie Hoffman, Ginsberg, et al) exorcised the Pentagon back in the late 60’s…


  65. First, we need to separate the biological (plumbing) and the social (gender roles). The fact is, neither are as binary or unchanging as conservatives would like to think. And since when did reproductive capacity become the be-all-end-all of Christian ethics to begin with?


  66. Attack him all you want, but Seneca is right on this. I have sympathy for the people who struggle with this, but at the end of the day it is simply a denial of reality, a mental issue. A man didn’t give birth. A woman pretending to be a man gave birth. And no amount of surgery can truly change your gender. Denying this reality is not a harmless endeavor. The fact that children are now being encouraged in this, when there is no way they are old enough to make such a life altering decision, and are being given drugs that do lasting damage to their bodies, is particularly disturbing.


  67. DBH has just as many detractors among the Eastern Brethren, if not more. Regardless, his EO street cred is voluminous.

    If no one likes your take, you might be on to something.


  68. I think that one thing that is different is that previously “evangelical” was used theologically. That is, it primarily denoted persons who believed certain religious beliefs (though the nature of those beliefs changed somewhat). Now it seems to be used more as a sociological or even political label.


  69. > They haven’t had the radical demands of Jesus’ teachings preached to them

    I meant the “Leaders”, these scholars, the book writers, the “intellectuals” of the movement, the university professors…. They keep on talking like they are oblivious that they have been talking to THEMSELVES for 20 – 30 years, that their “movement”, their “people”, long ago tuned them out. There seems to be no reckoning with that; quibbling at this point about the word “Evangelicalism”??? Maybe it is no wonder 8% of their own people care what they have to say.


  70. Here’s my working theory; if you were born with a uterus and a vagina you can never actually be a man – no matter your feelings about the matter.


  71. Even Darth Vader was redeemed.

    I agree with Jurgen Moltmann – I may not be a universalist (per se), but I wonder if God may be.


  72. I don’t believe in eternal/everlasting, conscious torment, but with regard to universalism, I’m agnostic, or perhaps a hopeful universalist — hoping that it is in fact the case. Scripture is not clear on the matter, and to say I am certain would seem to me to suggest that I have plumbed the depths of understanding the mysteries of human and divine freedom, but I haven’t.


  73. I didn’t grow up in a Protestant cult, but in the Roman Catholic Church. There is plenty of bad hell-focused stuff there, or at least there was when I was a kid, to have made if something I’ll need to struggle with my whole life. If you want to get an idea, just read the passages dealing with it from Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in chapter three, Father Arnall’s hell-themed sermon. Just as bad as Jonathan Edward’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Sermon”, even if not as long.


  74. We didn’t have a TV growing up, as NY dad was against it. Suffice to say, I saw only a very few movies etc. So not being used to it, this sort of thing was highly traumatic for me as a kid.


  75. Furthermore, while gender (ie personal identity) sometimes doesn’t align with what is generally expected biologically, it is fine to classify someone and of being one gender in their personality/sexual identity, but of a different sex, biologically.

    Again, I find the obsession some have with what is obviously difficult for a very, very tiny minority of people, strangely weird, if not somewhat pathological, not to say unkind.


  76. She is trying to help people, and she is using language that invites and includes everyone to receive that help; and than there is a howling mob that wants to stop her. Why are fastening your attention on the part of the account that is not germane? Because you don’t understand or accept an idea, people shouldn’t be offered or receive the help they need?


  77. Seneca, it is called transitioning, not instantaneous flipping, so it is obvious that this will happen. What is so difficult to understand?


  78. I suppose you’re right, and I should probably have worded my comment differently. “Sentient” isn’t specific enough.


  79. I’d bet on “not care”. They haven’t had the radical demands of Jesus’ teachings preached to them by their pastors, and every other media outlet they trust is telling them what they want to hear (insert ear ticking verse here), so why should they listen to the concerns of some professor at some seminary they’ve probably never heard of?


  80. > this word has been a moving target all along

    THIS! 1,000 times THIS! These guys – – – SCHOLARS – – – talking about a term in Sacred terms, or if their cherished meaning matters – – – these guys are SCHOLARS, they KNOW that is not how language (aka: words) works. Just stop.

    What I would really like to hear, and still haven’t, is these guys – Alan Jacobs is a smart literate guy – really deeply engage that THEY ARE NOT leaders of a movement, they are not the revered scholars. The people left them, and they left them decades ago, and somehow they didn’t see it. I go back to the Barna study: “””Only 8 percent of adults say they are interested in hearing pastors’ views on issues such as same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, abortion, guns, tax policy, climate change, drug policy or religious freedom, according to the Barna Group’s State of Pastors study, released Thursday (Jan. 26, 2016)”””. HOW DID THAT NOT ROCK THE PILLARS OF THESE INSTITUTIONS? Do they not care, unable to understand, what?


  81. Even with the Hitlers there comes a time when I wonder what’s the point of eternal torment. Even if he were to suffer a million years for every life he was responsible for destroying, that still wouldn’t last an eternity. Eternity really is a mind blowing concept (for me anyway) when you stop to think about it.


  82. Yep. Damnation is a pretty dumb solution to anything.

    Also – not in Scripture. Hell is, like so many Theological Hills To Die On, a rather stretched pastiche of snippets.


  83. > we come up with complicated, oh so sophisticated constructs such as
    > “prevenient grace” or whatever to turn what look suspiciously like works
    > into not-works

    This! Oh, goodness I’ve had to listen to so much of that theological bilge water.

    > The question for today is “What should I do now?”



  84. Indeed. When it comes to online mobs, dismal behaviour is spread across the spectrum. The climatologist I quoted yesterday, Katherine Hayhoe, receives torrents of this. Most eye-popping abysmal stuff. The very kind and lovely British comedian, Cariad Lloyd, who runs a charity organisation to provide poor women and girls with menstrual products, was hounded of Twitter by a mad mob comprised of Mysogenists and TERF’s, because she used the term blenders so as not to excluded non-binary folks who menstruate. It was horrific. People have a tendency to be incredibly nasty.


  85. The delight many take in eternal punishment is ghoulish, and says more about them as individuals than anything else. I grew up in such an environment. And the discussion makes me remember that “classic ” Estus Pirkle’s “Burning Hell” (accompanied by the incredibly kitschy “Beliver’s Heaven” and the disturbing “Footmen”).

    The pastors back in the day that loved to preach this – well, in my particular story quite a few of them turned out to have a serious sadistic streak (administering corporal punishment till the victim faints, for one), and lately the entire denomination is collapsing because of theft, fraud and a whole litany of unbelievable practices. Aggressive, controlling, pulpit pounding men and women who love to preach about the horrors of hell are almost always that way because of strong strains of narcissism, sociopathy or even psychopathy. And sooner or later, the slip shows.


  86. The Hitlers are used to justify the existence of ECT, but then it is imagined as being the fate of most of the rest of humanity.


  87. How do ‘eternal conscious tormenters’ deal with a 13 year old girl in Outer Mongolia who dies of pneumonia without ever hearing about Jesus?


  88. “A question I often ask my students (and others) is this: What if it were revealed to you in a way you could not doubt or deny that universalism (of either type) is true? What would be your response?

    Most often I have heard one of two responses (or I have heard both from the same person). “I would be disappointed because some people deserve eternal torment in hell and I don’t believe it would be just for them to ever escape hell and go to heaven” and “I would be disappointed because I give up so much earthly pleasure in order to go to escape hell and go to heaven when I die.”

    My common response to the first answer is that, according to the Bible and traditional Christianity, nobody deserves heaven and everyone deserves hell and it is only by God’s amazing grace that anyone goes to heaven. To think that someone deserves hell more than you do is an implicit misunderstanding of the depravity of humanity and of the nature of grace.

    My common response to the second answer is that this reduces Christianity to drudgery and completely ignores the Bible’s promise of joy and peace in knowing Jesus Christ now, in this life. It is evidence (to me) that the person saying it has not really experienced communion with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. This person (who says such) needs to come to Jesus; maybe he or she has never really been born again.”


  89. “God said he created the environment to serve us, not for us to serve the environment.”

    Genesis 2:15 – The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to *work it and take care of it.*



  90. Not to mention that none of us asked to be born in the first place. Bringing a sentient creature into existence with the goal of destroying it… if a human did that, it would be evil.


  91. I don’t use the word universalism anymore, but I became convinced that scripture and tradition teaches unity of all creation through death, burial, resurrection of Christ. How that plays out, I do not know.


  92. And if the Russians were ever to nuke it, the binding wards would be dissolved and Cthulhu would be loosed upon the world. The ultimate MAD contingency… 😛


  93. Hart almost had me convinced about hell, and then I saw the pumpkin spiced spam. Seriously though, eternal conscious torment is the one doctrine of what is considered traditional Christianity that I have real problems with. Beyond the cruelty of it (remember that it is not just the Hitlers of the world that will go there, but also your ordinary neighbor down the street who never killed anyone, abused anyone, or stole from anyone), I also can’t see the point of it. What is the point of keeping someone alive for eternity only to keep them in torment? Keeping them alive so that one day that will turn and be redeemed, that I can see. Keeping them alive only to torture them I can’t understand.


  94. If the story is accurate, it is a sad commentary on the mob mentality that can take hold of social media, and have devastating effect beyond cyberspace. Neither liberals or conservatives are immune to this danger.


  95. And how do non-universalists deal with the fact that among the people that Paddock murdered, there were doubtless many nonbelievers, atheists, non-Christians, etc.? Did they end up in hell along with Paddock, or is hell only for a few of the worst cases? Non-universalists usually understand salvation to be relatively rare, and damnation to be very common, imagining hell populated not just by the Hitlers and Paddocks, but many, many more far less spectacular sinners. How do non-universalists deal with that?


  96. How do universalists deal with the Stephen Paddocks of the world. 58 killed, 400 others shot.

    Or if you’re a liberal – Donald Trump?


  97. “We all know the Washington Monument is a phallic symbol to Baal built by the Freemasons…”

    How come nobody sent me the memo? This changes everything. I suppose that also means that the Pentagon is a giant satanic pentagram/magic circle, no doubt built by the Globalist Deep State.


  98. “Evangelical”: this word has been a moving target all along. Four hundred years ago it meant “Lutheran,” as contrasted with “Reformed.” Then it was co-opted by a different movement. It has changed its character many times since then. A backwoods preacher in 1820s America bore little resemblance to John Wesley or George Whitefield. But for the really big change, consider the split within American evangelicalism with the rise of fundamentalism. The fundamentalists won that fight, in the sense that the non-fundamentalists got reclassified as “mainline.” This is why it seems weird today to think of Methodists–the most whitebread of the mainline churches–as evangelical. Next consider the rise of Pentecostalism. This was originally something separate, but somewhere in the mid-20th century it got reclassified as evangelical. I suspect that Billy Graham had a lot to do with this. While he came from a classic fundamentalist background, he lacked the usual fundamentalist dogmatism. He made “evangelical” into a big-tent term.

    The upshot is that I am comfortable with the idea that the meaning of “evangelical” has changed in recent years. Why recent years be any different from more distant years?


  99. If you’re eating Spam for Thanksgiving, you really don’t have a lot for which to be thankful.


  100. On the other hand, he does not address the vital question as to whether, and how far, fallen creatures can trust their visceral feelings and instincts to guide them.

    Just as true for those who interpret scripture to allow for an eternal, everlasting conscious torment hell. If the universalist cannot completely trust their feelings and instincts to guide them in correct scriptural interpretation on this issue, neither can those who are not universalist.


  101. Semicolons: the linked piece starts off poorly, with the writer apparently thinking that punctuation includes capitalization. He later reveals that he thinks splitting an infinitive is a grammatical error, and that he doesn’t understand how English adverbs work. In short, he is a foolish person. Then I looked and saw that this was the National Review. Excellent! It gives this leftie the opportunity–always to be cherished–to feel smug.


  102. Universalism: My take, coming at the issue as a Protestant, is that Protestant theology has an inherent problem. We all agree that salvation is not achieved by works. But we are really uncomfortable with the implications of this. Our legalistic instincts rebel. So we come up with complicated, oh so sophisticated constructs such as “prevenient grace” or whatever to turn what look suspiciously like works into not-works. If we take the rejection of works seriously, there are two paths. One is to go all-in Calvinist and declare that you are either damned or saved (and in all likelihood the first) regardless of anything you do or don’t do. The elect were predestined, and there is nothing we can do about it. Or we can go universalist. Our salvation is not dependent on ourselves, and God is good.

    What do I believe? I am assured that universalism is a grave heresy… (smiles serenely). But seriously, take this off the table and Christianity changes, I believe for the better. It is no longer about “What must I do to be saved?” Asked and answered, nearly two thousand years ago. The question for today is “What should I do now?”


  103. Happy to see your cat photos. I have a cat with a puffy tail running around like a crazy person right now. Hard to type.


  104. Re: The Walrus and the Tugboat

    According to the link you gave, the tugboat was in no danger (have you seen the size of those things?) It was a landing craft, probably inflatable, that fell victim to the walrus


  105. Disclaimer: I like Hart as a theologian and I am a universalist, so I am biased, but I think the Farrow’s review is a deliberate distortion.
    The first clue is his use of the classic tactic of pretending Hart has to ignore or deny the judgement passages in the Bible, when Farrow knows perfectly well that universalism doesn’t – it just assets punishment is finite and will end, and that the point made about the judgement passages being metaphors is that they describe judgement in lots of different contradictary ways so they can’t all be literal descriptions of exactly what judgement is like, not that there is no judgment.
    The second clue is that he disses Hart for using Hart’s own translation of the NT in quotes (well why wouldn’t he?) and hints that somehow passages that in every translation for ever that say “all’ that Hart refers to really don’t and somehow Hart is distorting the Bible.
    He then pretends (and I mean pretends) that Hart ignores the Bible by Farrow referring vaguely to sections of the Bible in which judgement is referred to without also specifically stating that reconciliation comes afterwards (although in fact two if the sections he refers to – John’s apocalypse and 2 Peter – it actually does) and suggests Hart is pretending these don’t exist because he doesn’t refer to them.
    In relation to the question asked, it is disingenuous. Hart’s point (at least from other articles and extracts of his I have seen – I’ve not read the book yet) is that Christians use the word “good” to describe God, and that if eternal conscious torment is true, that is not an accurate description of God. It’s not about whether our visceral instincts are correct. Contrary to our visceral instincts to be appalled by it, hell could be eternal, but, if this is the case, to use the word “good” to describe God would be to use the word “good” in a way that bore no resemblance to its normal meaning, and the word “evil” would be a much closer fit to the thing we are describing.
    Hart does not seek to prove universalism is true by relying on gut feeling, but rather to demonstrate that unless universalism is true it is inaccurate to describe God as good.


  106. Good morning Prior Daniel,

    Worcestershire Sauce is easy to pronounce. It’s pronounced “Lea and Perrins” (the original and best, accept no substitutes etc)


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