The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: September 19, 2020

400 years ago: On September 16, 1620, the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, England, bound for the New World with 102 passengers. The ship was headed for Virginia, where the colonists—half religious dissenters and half entrepreneurs—had been authorized to settle by the British crown. However, stormy weather and navigational errors forced the Mayflower off course, and on November 21 the “Pilgrims” reached Massachusetts, where they founded the first permanent European settlement in New England in late December.

Some of us can relate…


From NPR:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the demure firebrand who in her 80s became a legal, cultural and feminist icon, died Friday. The Supreme Court announced her death, saying the cause was complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas.

The court, in a statement, said Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., surrounded by family. She was 87.

“Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her, a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Architect of the legal fight for women’s rights in the 1970s, Ginsburg subsequently served 27 years on the nation’s highest court, becoming its most prominent member. Her death will inevitably set in motion what promises to be a nasty and tumultuous political battle over who will succeed her, and it thrusts the Supreme Court vacancy into the spotlight of the presidential campaign.

Just days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

According to CNN:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on Friday that whomever President Donald Trump nominates to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will get a vote on the Senate floor, signaling a historic fight in Congress over one of the most polarizing issues in American politics.

“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement Friday evening that sets GOP lawmakers on a collision path with Democrats, though the exact timing of such a fight was not immediately clear.

GOP aides are skeptical that there is enough time to confirm a nominee before November 3, given that Supreme Court nominees typically take two to three months to process, according to a review of recent confirmation proceedings.

But that process could be sped up if McConnell, who controls the majority of the chamber, has the votes to confirm a replacement, and there is enough time to confirm someone in a lame-duck session of Congress after the November elections.
That calculation is further complicated if Republicans lose control of the Senate and the White House after the election — and whether enough GOP senators would break ranks and oppose any nominee by a President who had just lost his election and a GOP Senate that just lost its majority.

Senate Republicans, who hold the majority in the upper chamber, only need 51 votes to confirm a new justice once one is formally nominated. Currently, there are 53 GOP senators — meaning they can only lose three Republicans. In the event of a 50-50 split, Vice President Mike Pence could cast a tie-breaking vote.

Evacuation report from Michael Newnham (The Phoenix Preacher)…

What I saw as I was evacuating…six blocks from my house. Photo from KDRV.

SEPT 16, 2020. It strikes you as some sort of cosmic error that will surely be fixed before there is significant damage to what has always been.

We had to leave quickly…the angry clouds of black smoke looked as if they would soon overtake us and the sound of propane tanks exploding made it sound like war.

We fled north… I needed to get my mom and her cat to shelter…a friends house would be safe.

Except it wasn’t.

A wall of fire on the mountain was descending on that home…we had to go elsewhere.

My aunts house was safe, I left them there.

I would stay with my godson and his family…they were far enough away from the fires.

They evacuated that night.

I stayed at their home…an old man can only run so far for so long.

They are home now, as am I…I’m waiting until we have potable water to bring mom home.

Last night was the first night I slept without the scanner app playing on my phone .

The roads into Phoenix proper are blockaded down the street from my house…those who live (or lived) in that area are allowed to walk in briefly and walk out with whatever possessions they can carry.

At times it looks like those videos you see of refugees fleeing some Third World country… last night I saw a mom walking out hauling a garbage bag containing what remains of her world with her little boy trailing behind pulling a red wagon with a giant scorched teddy bear riding in it.

The streets are lined with cars all over the county as if folks were attending a giant wedding at someones house or a huge yard sale…in reality they are sleeping in their cars, often with their pets.

The initial estimate was that 600 homes burned…now that number is 2400.

They didn’t count the mobile homes at first…a subtle way of saying that folks who live in trailer parks don’t really count.

Jesus wept, then Jesus got busy.

I left my house with my meds and an oil stock…a small cylinder of oil used to anoint people for prayer.

I ran out of oil the first day…I was refueled by a retired Catholic priest.

We are caring for each other, protecting each other, supporting each other.

The Spirit hovers over the chaos restoring life one person, one moment, at a time.

Society has been reordered here…firefighters, law enforcement, and first responders are heroes again.

The Gospel is not a doctrine right now… it’s a spoken prayer, a shift as a volunteer, an unmasked hug, a can of cat or dog food, an ice chest full of water and Red Bull for those standing watch.

It’s people “paying forward” seven deep at the coffee stand and restaurant owners picking up tickets for newly homeless customers.

It’s people having visions of what will be rebuilt even before we know what has been lost.

It’s buckets of sunflowers placed on the on the road that is the only entrance to the town to remind us that the light will shine again.

Truly, it will….it is right behind the smoke.

It always is.

Update from Jeff Dunn:

Jeff’s wife Kathy is home after her hospitalization with Covid-19. Jeff says both she and he are going to try and get some much needed rest. Jeff also says, “Thank you for your prayers, support, and encouragement. We could not have made it without you!

“I will show you these Stooges…”

The wit of Abraham Lincoln…

President Lincoln used stories to make military and political points with simple economy. When, at the height of the American Civil War, Brigadier-General John Pope telegraphed Washington that he had captured 4,500 enemy troops, was marching on the Confederates, and would soon have the rebels in his power, the cabinet asked the president for his opinion. “That reminds me,” he replied, of an “old woman in Sangamon Co who was ill.”

The doctor, he went on, came and prescribed some medicine for her constipation. Returning the next morning, he found her “fresh & well, getting breakfast”. Asked if the medicine had worked, she confirmed that it had. “How many [bowel] movements?” he inquired. “142,” she replied. “Madame, I am serious,” the physician replied. “I know you are joking. How many?” “142.” “Madame, I must know,” he insisted. “You couldn’t have had 142.” “I tell you 142,” she said, “140 of them wind.”

Lincoln closed the discussion by adding simply: “I am afraid Pope’s captures are [most] of them wind.”

Viva la English language…

That gesture looks so familiar…

Before they both got demoted to the minors at Weehawken, and history was made…

Venus has gas…

…which may prove the presence of life!

From NPR:

Scientists say they’ve detected a gas in the clouds of Venus that, on Earth, is produced by microbial life.

The researchers have racked their brains trying to understand why this toxic gas, phosphine, is there in such quantities, but they can’t think of any geologic or chemical explanation.

The mystery raises the astonishing possibility that Venus, the planet that comes closest to Earth as it whizzes around the sun, might have some kind of life flourishing more than 30 miles up in its yellow, hazy clouds.

Definitely on the cargo list for the next Venus mission

Nothing could live on what passes for land on Venus; its smooth volcanic plains are a scorching hellscape hot enough to melt lead, where the temperatures exceed 800 degrees Fahrenheit. High in the clouds, however, the pressures and temperatures and acidity levels would be less intense — though still vile.

The clouds are far more acidic than any environments where microbes make their home on Earth. And instead of water, the clouds on Venus contain droplets of concentrated sulfuric acid; the atmosphere is so bereft of water that it’s many times drier than the driest desert on Earth.

All in all, it seems like an unlikely place for life. Nonetheless, the new report in the journal Nature Astronomy has astrobiologists and planetary scientists talking. Two different telescopes, at two different times, looked at Venus and saw the chemical signature that is unique to phosphine. If this gas is really there, Venus has either got some kind of geologic or chemical activity going on that no one understands, or alien life might be living right next door.

I’m hoping it’s a comedy in the end…

In my hour of darkness…

On this day in 1973, 26-year-old pioneering country-rock singer Gram Parsons died of a drug overdose in a California motel room. In honor of a drunken pact Parsons had made with his road manager, two friends stashed his body in a borrowed hearse and drove it into the middle of the Joshua Tree National Park, where they doused it with gasoline and set it on fire.

In the early 1970s, Parsons recruited an unknown female singer named Emmylou Harris, who joined him on his first solo album and a tour in 1973. She recorded more songs with him on Grievous Angel, which was released in 1974 after he died. Here’s a poignant song from that album, which features not only Harris, but also Linda Ronstadt.

Another young man safely, strummed his silver stringed guitar
And He played to people everywhere some say he was a star
But he was just a country boy, his simple songs confess
And the music he had in him so very few possess

In my hour of darkness, in my time of need
Oh Lord, grant me vision oh, Lord grant me speed

98 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: September 19, 2020

  1. However, it’s reasonable to conclude the church is currently under judgment. That should come as no surprise, 1 Peter 4:17 reminds us that judgment begins with the household of God.

    Wartburg Watch had a regular commenter with the handle “Mr Jesperson” who a couple months ago went down that rabbit hole. Became fixated on COVID-19 being God’s Wrath to “chastize” the church for its/our Sins. Claimed Private Revelation (including a guided tour of Hell) from dreams and visions. Ended up making it THE Litmus Test of Salvation. Couldn’t change his mind and wouldn’t change the subject. He disappeared from TWW shortly after that; don’t know whether he shook the dust off his feet and turned us all over to Satan or got put on permanent moderation.


  2. It is hard for me not to see this as God’s judgment on America.

    Beware of going down that road.
    It can CONSUME you.

    From experience with this sort of claim, God destroys nations for One Sin and Only One Sin: HOMOSEXUALITY.
    (Or more generically, “Whatever YOU Do that I DON’T”.)


  3. when the hypocrisy gets TOO MUCH even for the hypocrites to handle, they will vomit forth trumpism in great relief and run like he!!

    No, they will Double Down AND SCREAM LOUDER!


  4. Thanks. The firefighters are all being asked to extend their service for another 2 weeks; there are no “extra” crews available to rotate in to take their place. They have to take their 2 days of R&R in fire camp – hard to rest in the smoke, with generators running all the time (one may be next to your tent). They will still be very tired. God help them, they’re the best.



  5. I’m not a Millennial, but his is really good:

    A slice of German whole rye bread with a good Swiss cheese melted on it, topped with mashed avocado. OMG.



  6. I don’t have faith in the Democrats. I’m casting my vote in November to build a wall against Trump and his quickly accelerating authoritarian movement. I’ll worry about the Democrats after the election, if Biden wins. All things in their time.


  7. Remove the seed from half an avocado. With a sharp knife, without breaking the skin, slice the flesh of the avocado into squares. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice.Carefully turn the sliced avocado inside out, break off the cubes, and enjoy. Definitely not green and gooey.


  8. I love the taste of both avocado and guac. What’s not to like, unless the guac is running a little too hot? If I were millennial, I’d be in on the avocado toast food fad; as it is, I’ll take my avocado straight up.


  9. At heart they are royalist, but without a king. That’s why they’ve rolled over so readily for Trump, who considers himself king. Of course, they would love someone more refined, but you get what you pay for.


  10. Hey! Avocado is good for you!

    “…and it’s tasty, too!” (Lucy in the Vitameatavegimin commercial…)



  11. Agreed. I find myself so much more irenic since I gave up most News talk radio. I catch the top of the hour news if I’m in the truck. I check the headlines online each morning after reading the lectionary for the day. If there’s something of interest, I dig a little deeper. Some in my family are concerned I’m sticking my head in the sand and consigning the USA to burn to the ground. Meh. I went to a cross country meet today. I watched my son run through mud and water and finish dead last, never giving up or breaking stride. I listened to my grandkids shout and play. My only foray into angst and pearl clutching is the Saturday Brunch and comments. I’m glad I found Jon’s comment today.


  12. That would be hilarious. It might be the only thing Trump could do that would cause the religious right to break away from him.


  13. In other fire news, my husband told me that all the fire personnel are being asked to extend their service past the 2-week limit, to 4 weeks. They will have their two R&R days, but in fire camp. There simply are no crews to rotate in to relieve them; everyone in California who is trained has already been working on a fire somewhere in the state. The core of the crew on the fire where my husband is working is from the South (?Carolinas I think). That fire is the largest in the state’s history and is burning through the northeastern part of my county (3rd largest county in California, so far away from me, and a very sparsely populated area) and containment date is estimated for the middle of November. So please pray that they all can keep their wits and not make mistakes. We have lost 5 firefighters in California in the past month.

    On a lighter note, sometimes fire crews get to work internationally. Years ago my husband was working in another state with a crew from Australia (hi Susan!). The cooks/caterers have to provide meals with high calorie counts to fuel the people working on the actual fire line. One day everyone got an avocado in their lunch bag for their “fresh fruit” portion. One of the Australians said, (think very broad Australian accent here) “I guess our brother from California (meaning my husband) is going to have to show us how to eat this thing.” And Larry did…



  14. I saw the trailer. I was surprised to see they were multiracial, something I usually take as a sign of health in a congregation. I guess I should have been better informed by Waco and Jonestown.


  15. Indeed. I hope that her influence outlasts Trump’s,. I’d like to think that people who work for the good of our fellow citizens leave a more lasting impression than those who work for disruption and chaos and personal gain.


  16. I first heard of Gam Parsons’ guerilla cremation in one of my “Weird California” books cataloging Paranormal, Urban Legend, and general “Mojave Mystery” weirdness.

    Joshua Tree Natl Park is a “weirdness magnet” in SoCal, kinda like Mount Shasta in North Cal. It seems to attract the fringy stuff.
    * Lots of stories of UFOs, Cryptids, some Skinwalkers…
    * Giant Rock where the Van Tasselite saucer cult held its conventions…
    * The Integratron, also by the Van Tasselites (search Wikipedia for it sometime)…
    * Urban legends of three-eyed aliens shopping in local stores and phantom RVs vanishing on desert roads….
    * Urban legends of Cults doing their thing in the desert…
    * Yucca Man (the local Bigfoot)…
    Something about the desert lends itself to such stories.


  17. America deserves God’s judgment, and perhaps we are being judged right now. Then again, maybe not. However, it’s reasonable to conclude the church is currently under judgment. That should come as no surprise, 1 Peter 4:17 reminds us that judgment begins with the household of God. My conclusion has nothing to do with partisan politics and everything to do with one church scandal after another making the news. The latest examples are the most recent revelations concerning Jerry Falwell, Jr. and the late Ravi Zacharias. Kyrie eleison.


  18. I don’t suppose the censors would have permitted a photo of Lucy passed out cold on the floor, would they?


  19. Now the Trump Organization (formerly the GOP) can rush through a LOYAL replacement in time for the expected chaos of the November election, making a Five-to-Four.
    And the Christians will rejoice.


  20. “Remember that two wrongs never make a right, but three do.”
    — National Lampoon, “Deteriorata”


  21. In Elizabethan English, double and triple negatives were a stronger from of negative, repeated for emphasis.


  22. Conservatives have always had an ambivalent relationship with democracy and civil rights. Conservatism is by nature hierarchical, and hierarchy is basically opposed to democracy and civil rights.


  23. Is McConnel being a hypocrite? Yes. Would the Democrats do the same thing in his position? Absolutely. It would be nice if it was different, but it’s not.


  24. you would be surprised how many in the far right do not like ‘democracy’,
    which really surprised me when I found out . . . . whoah !


  25. Good mix of things from the funny to the sublime.

    But today I keep coming back to the loss of RBG and the crass and shameless hypocrisy of McConnell, Trump et. al.

    I’m sad. And I have a sense of foreboding about what is to come on this front and a number of others. But mostly I mourn the ongoing loss of all the virtues and ethical standards and common human empathy and compassion that could have taken us through these times with so much less harm.


  26. “But the level of news that we get, especially the bad news, I think has become unhelpful.”

    I think part of the reason for that is that we ignored the prior bad news for far too long. Unfortunately, the level of bad news now is not only deserved, but will not abate from ignoring it, and it’s only going to get worse. We live in a time when we will have bad news, and we must all learn to take it and work from it.


  27. Chaplain Mike, thanks for the updates regarding Jeff Dunn’s wife and Michael Newnham.

    Boomers lost too many talented musicians to drugs and alcohol, Gram Parsons being just one of them. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s drug-related death. This coming Friday will mark 40 years since Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham’s alcohol-related death, leading to the band’s breakup.


  28. An exposé on the cult I grew up in has dropped in South Africa. It is behind a paywall, but here is a trailer:

    I referred to them in my original series 3.5 years ago here on how I became an atheist.


  29. How she continued to work as a Supreme Court Justice through her illness in the last few years rises to the level of the heroic. She was one of the truly great Americans.


  30. For decades the first section of the newspaper I turned to was the Opinion/Editorial section, from which I regularly came away pissed off. It was a bad practice, but it pales in comparison to what happens online. Neither Christ, nor the Buddha, would approve.


  31. It’s the way the early Christian community spread in the Roman Empire. See Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity. In times when things are bad in a big way, the small things — kindness, patience, helping the need at hand, making peace over long personal grievances —- matter all the more.


  32. But notice Michael I didn’t say to ignore it altogether. We need to know some of it. For instance, we need to know that people are going through those fires on the west coast so we can help them. I can do something, even if it is only give some money and pray. But the level of news that we get, especially the bad news, I think has become unhelpful. It can also make things seem worse than they are, creating more fear and anger in people than is actually justified, and distracting us from the needs of our literal neighbor. What better way to start to change than in your own home and community?


  33. That’s what I think I’m seeing. I hope, if everybody votes, that such power can be brought to an end.


  34. Have you heard the joke about the person who was learning English and thought that “fish” was spelled “ghoti”? The “gh” sound from “enough,” the “o” from “women,” and the “ti” from “motion”: that spells “fish.”


  35. I find myself thinking that knowing about something, and then commenting or arguing about it online, is doing something about it. That tendency has existed in me for decades, but the internet has made if much more. People used to just yell at the TV when they felt enraged by the news, and then have some time to calm down afterwards; now they immediately start yelling at each other online.


  36. Well, if Jon is saying it’s better to spend more time and effort positively impacting where we actually live and what we can, rather than obsessing about things we read and see on media that we have relatively little control over, I think he has a point. Knowing how bad things are doesn’t make any difference if I’m not following through and doing something about them, to the degree that I can. If I’m spending a lot of time and emotional resources feeding a state of rage with information about events and happenings that I’m not doing something about, or can’t do much about, it does no good, and may make things worse.


  37. The problem is that “people paying attention to the news” is the only way things change for the better. Ignoring bad things and hoping they’ll go away is a child’s strategy.

    Our society is basically the equivalent of a person who regularly gets drunk and does terrible, hurtful things. Plenty of people like that say to themselves, “I don’t want to think about what I did, because thinking about things like that takes me to a dark place.” But if you can’t even face your own brokenness, you can’t start to change.


  38. Yeah, it’s a vicious cycle: the more you sacrifice your morals, faith, and reputation in order to gain political power, the more you need to hold onto that power because it’s the only thing you’ve got left. Folks like McConnell have debased themselves so completely that self-deception becomes a survival strategy.


  39. “a good many things that cause me to become angry or to worry would otherwise leave me untouched.”

    What about those they do touch?

    Are we or are we not our siblings’ keepers?


  40. It struck me this week that if I didn’t constantly read news updates how little my life would be affected by so many things the people who put out the news seem to think is worth reporting. Now I’m not saying my life would be totally unaffected by the events of the world at large, I’m not that naive. But a good many things that cause me to become angry or to worry would otherwise leave me untouched. I think the same is probably true for many people, and perhaps the mood of our society would be better if we paid less attention (not totally ignoring, just less attention) to the news, at least on a national and worldwide scale, and focused more on our own communities and what is right in front of us. Maybe that is wishful thinking, but I’m starting to think that wishful thinking is healthier than the dread pessimism that is caused by the constant reporting of tragedy and opinion pieces telling me why I should be outraged.


  41. It is hard for me not to see this as God’s judgment on America. My Neo-orthodox and existentialist self are “fighting in the captain’s tower…” I need to hear Karl Barth preach before I take my morning coffee, but his voice is still.


  42. > give off the oxygen we breathe

    A huge portion of the oxygen we breath comes from algae – which is a huge portion of the earth’s total biomass – but ‘fear’ not, we are doing everything we can to poison the oceans as well; the dead zones get larger every year. Maybe someday the oceans will be completely skimmed over with tire dust – which may make for some beautiful sunsets.


  43. No, I do not believe hypocrisy works that way.

    Example#1: Evangelicalism.

    At a certain point hypocrisy is like matter in a collapsing nova; you get either a dwarf, a neutron star, or a black hole. The effective difference being how many billions of years it will take to dissipate.


  44. when the hypocrisy gets TOO MUCH even for the hypocrites to handle, they will vomit forth trumpism in great relief and run like he!!

    we are close to that point, aren’t we???


  45. There won’t be a Lucy photo for October. By October it wouldn’t be something the censors of that era would have allowed on broadcast TV.


  46. Perhaps the burning of America’s West – along with many other places in the world – is Venusian terraforming? They are preparing our planet for invasion, or more accurately, they are doing nothing while we terraform it for them; they understand the concept of out-sourcing.

    Venusian stand-up comedian: How do you get an Earthling to terraform their own planet for you?
    Venusian stand-up comedian sips his beer.
    Venusian audience roars with laughter.


  47. The political division is now only going to get worse.

    Coronavirus is only going to get worse.

    Climate change is only going to get worse.

    We’ve been praying for God to have mercy on our country. It’s apparent that prayer is not going to be answered. And the kicker is, it’s no use complaining, because we brought all this upon ourselves.

    What’s the point anymore?


  48. I can’t come up with anything but a John Prine lyric for these times. But then, John Prine is as good as it gets:

    A bitter wind blows through the country
    A hard rain falls on the sea
    If terror comes without a warning
    There must be something we don’t see
    What fire begets this fire?
    Like torches thrown into the straw
    If no one asks, then no one answers
    That’s how every empire falls.


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