Saturdays at IM: A Retrospective (part 1)

The Saturday IM Monks Brunch: September 26, 2020
Saturdays at IM — A Retrospective (part 1)

Saturday Ramblings

When Jeff and I began overseeing the Internet Monk blog in 2010, we toyed around with a number of possibilities to keep it interesting and meaningful after Michael Spencer’s death. Jeff came up with the idea of following the example of some other blogs, such as Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed, and devote Saturdays to presenting a digest of timely snippets that would be fun and thought-provoking — with our own unique IM twist, of course. He called it “Saturday Ramblings”. And so, on Saturday, April 17, 2010, we presented our first new Saturday post.

Jeff is a prodigiously talented writer, and we were all delighted to read his crisp, concise snippets that made us laugh, pointed us to a great, big, interesting world of human pathos and tomfoolery, and challenged us to think about our place in that world.

Here’s how Jeff introduced it…

Saturday Ramblings will be a regular feature here at Internet Monk, our attempt to clean the kitchen at the end of each week. Saturdays are a good day to clean up around the house and yard, putting away the stuff we dragged out throughout the week. We’ll try to present items of note that may not have a deserved a whole post, or that we didn’t have time to get to, or were just too darn busy to write about. Grab a second (or tenth) cup of coffee, put your feet up for a few minutes, and enjoy some Saturday Ramblings.

On that first Saturday, Jeff talked about the death of philosopher Anthony Flew, a new album by Jennifer Knapp that accompanied her coming out as gay, some discoveries about the hallucinogenic drug psilocybin, John Piper’s sabbatical, site news about changes at IM and a teaser about publishing opportunities. He ended with this quote from Eugene O’Neill: “Man is born broken. He spends his life mending. God’s grace is glue.”

For three and a half years, Jeff was our guide as we rambled together on Saturdays. In those posts, he marked each week’s birthdays, deaths, and special anniversary dates, introduced an Internet Monk outing to see the Cincinnati Reds play, kept us up to date on new music from some of his favorite artists, gave us his unique insights into the publishing industry, made observations about the ongoing craziness within the evangelical circus and in other branches of the faith, trumpeted the delights of In-N-Out Burgers, and gave us such gems as…

Did I mention it was a slow news week? Thankfully we have 38 year old Roberto Sol Cabrera Zavaleta who was arrested in the Mexico City airport smuggling 18 monkeys into the country. In his clothes. Yep, Roberto had a dozen and a half little titi monkeys stuffed under his clothes. Authorities noticed he looked “markedly nervous.” Uh, you think? And don’t you think Smuggling Monkeys would make a great name for a rock band?


Well, we really know how to attract a crowd here at the iMonastery. All we have to do is list our five favorite anything and the commenters flock like hillbillies to a flea dip. My five favorite movies? (Harvey; Close Encounters Of The Third Kind; Joe Vs. The Volcano; Endless Summer; The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain.) Favorite hamburger joints? (1. In ‘N Out  2. Who cares? It’s not In ‘N Out.) Favorite episode of Gilligan’s Island? (I like the one where the castaways almost get off the island, but then Gilligan does something stupid and they stay stuck. What? Oh.) This week was a musical week as we told you our favorite albums, and we loved hearing about the music you like to listen to. We may try to put together an iMonk concert tour for next summer. In the meantime, put in your earbuds and crank up this week’s Saturday Ramblings.

and also…

Let’s start this week off with some good news. The United States now has an official site where Mary has said to have appeared. A Belgian immigrant, Adele Brise, is said to have seen Mary three times at this spot in 1859. Now, hundreds flock to the site each day to visit and to pray. Where is the blessed place? Just outside of Champion, Wisconsin. Let’s see, the Green Bay Packers and the Wisconsin Badgers are both undefeated, and the Milwaukee Brewers made the playoffs this year. I think I’m beginning to see why …

and he always kept us up to speed on happenings in wacky places like “Ham-land”…

Oh boy. Answers In Genesis’s special project division is edging closer to bringing a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark into being. And in Kentucky, of all places. Well, the location is close to the Ohio River, which has been known to spill its banks from time to time. AIG is hoping your bank will overflow into their coffers to help us all realize how incomplete our lives are right now without a Noah’s Ark theme park to travel to.

Jeff was very serious (wink) about Saturday’s posts…

First of all, the stories and comments shared here are all very serious. We don’t joke at the iMonastery; we don’t even allow ourselves to smile except on Opening Day for Major League baseball. Next, when I end a rambling with the word “discuss,” I expect you all to discuss what I just said. Drop everything else and discuss what you just read. It’s an order. And we are watching you. Finally, assembling Ramblings each week is back-breaking work. I spend at least 23 hours out of every day searching high and low for stories for you. I expect you to read every single one of them at least twice, watch the bonus video five times before midnight, and send handwritten birthday cards to everyone on our celebrity birthday list. Don’t disappoint me.

Each week, Jeff found something to pass on that was so transcendent, so riveting, so wonder-provoking, that he just had to share it…

People in Michigan really need something to do with their time. A woman in that state up north recreated Leonardo’s The Last Supper completely from lint pulled from her dryer. Oh, I only wish I were making this up.

Jeff continued his weekly digest until January 4, 2014, when he announced…

Finally, this will be my last Saturday Ramblings column. I have shared with you how that I have struggled with depression. I’ve decided that I need to marshal my energy to fight this best as I can this year. So I am stepping down as publisher of Internet Monk as of today. I have had a great time visiting with you for the last four years. I remain humbled beyond belief that Michael and Denise Spencer counted me worthy of carrying on the tradition they started with this site. But to be honest, each of the writers we now have—Chaplain Mike, Lisa Dye, Martha of Ireland, Mike Bell, Damaris Zehner, and Adam Palmer, are all much better than I. I want you to encourage them and continue to share great comments with one another. If you don’t, well, don’t make me turn this Rambler around.

Jeff always ended his Saturday Ramblings with a video, usually a music video, including this one from his favorite group of all time…

Jeff, thanks, and we miss you here around the iMonastery.

Note from CM: Jeff let me know this week that his doctor has recommended hospice care for him. To qualify for hospice, a person must have a terminal diagnosis that, if it proceeds according to its normal course, will likely take a person’s life within six months. Please keep him, Kathy, and the family in your prayers.

Saturday Ramblings 2.0…

After losing our Saturday mentor and muse, I began the Saturday duties with my good friend and the able Pastor Dan — Daniel Jepsen — and Saturday Ramblings 2.0 was born.

Hello, iMonk friends. This is Chaplain Mike and I have asked my good friend Daniel Jepsen to lead us in our weekly clean-up of the monastery. Dan used to be the youth pastor in the church where I served, so I am fully persuaded in his ability to both make and clean up messes. Now he’s senior pastor there. Thus, I know he’s in shape because over at the church he’s been setting up tables, clearing jams from the copier, shoveling snow off the sidewalk, and doing dishes after coffee hour, i.e. the things I used to do. Just the training we require for this shindig we call Saturday Ramblings.

Over to you, Dan…

More about Dan’s Saturday Ramblings 2.0 next week.

23 thoughts on “Saturdays at IM: A Retrospective (part 1)

  1. I’m so sorry about Jeff’s prognosis.

    ALS is a truly awful disease.

    My prayers are with him and those he loves.


  2. As Robert said, it’s an unknown quantity.

    And i think all living things want to keep on living. That is kind of burned into the parts of our brains that regulate things like the autonomic nervous system.

    But really, it’s like Shakespeare said –

    the undiscovered country, from whose bourne no traveler returns…

    It scares me, too. The idea of life as we know it ceasing to exist? That gives me the shivers, no matter my beliefs. And i do believe in the promise of “many mansions,” but… I’m only human. The glimpses into the afterlife Christ gives us are tiny, no more than hints at what lies beyond our mortal existence. I doubt it can be otherwise, since we have no real frame of reference.


  3. True. I was simply pointing out that that is what the NT claims. The veracity of the claims is a separate issue.


  4. A woman in that state up north recreated Leonardo’s The Last Supper completely from lint pulled from her dryer. Oh, I only wish I were making this up.

    And that was NINE YEARS AGO, so she didn’t even have the mitigating circumstance of COVID Cabin Fever.


  5. And for me also. I will only add a hearty thank you for giving of yourself and bringing us both light and lightness of heart. May our God give you great peace.


  6. We as Christians hope. We don’t have ironclad certainty, and we may be mistaken. It’s the human epistemological condition, and being Christian does not exempt us from that.


  7. It is possible that at death we cease to exist forever, a fearful prospect for those who have loved life, and for whom life is everything, and even more fearful for those who have not loved life much and regret not having been able to.


  8. Whatever theological positions we may have worked toward believing and even practicing, what happens at and after death is still uncertain, even more uncertain than life is. We are not God, we just don’t know anything about it for a certainty.


  9. I’m sad to hear the news about Jeff and will pray for him and his family.

    I enjoy the Rambler photos and missed those over the last few years. One of my uncles, who sadly passed away back in March, owned a Rambler when I was young and the Rambler photos bring back some memories.


  10. I was hoping to meet Jeff a bunch of years ago when he was planning to take a cruise on one of the sailing schooners out of Rockland, Maine. They often anchor at night where I live, and we’ve been able to have friends up for dessert before they need to get back aboard. But alas, something came up.

    Jeff’s writing style is quite memorable, perhaps something like Garrison Keillor’s storytelling, usually coming back to a point with a twist.

    To this day I can’t clean the lint trap out of the dryer without thinking of the Last Supper. Well, thanks for that, Jeff.

    But I still can’t figure out how that Rambler in the illustration at the top could steer without scraping the tires.


  11. I will never forget you Jeff. My only regret was our missed meeting in Tulsa while you were working at Target.

    Some people have a “come to Jesus” moment, but I had instead a moment when I came to an intense appreciation of Robert Capon–thanks to Jeff challenging us to read Between Noon and Three. That hasn’t been a small thing, Jeff my brother.

    Tom Christian

    . . . In all likelihood, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were reared either as Pharisees or under the influence of Pharisaic teaching – as was Jesus himself perhaps. In any case, when Martha responds to Jesus in the very next verse (John 11:24), she sound as if she is repeating a lesson learned in Pharisee Sunday School: “Oh yes,” she says, “I know that. I know he will rise again at the last day.” (The notion of a general resurrection at some future date was standard Pharisaic teaching. Not all Jews of the time ascribed to it: the Sadducees, notably, denied the idea outright – see, for example, Mark 12:18-28. At any rate, it is clear from Martha’s reply that she for one has bought the idea lock, stock, and barrel.)

    What Jesus says next to her, though, goes far beyond anything she of the Pharisees had in mind. “No!” he says to her in effect; “your brother will not rise at the last day, he will rise now, because I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” But then he asks her, “Do you believe this?” As I said, he is challenging her to trust in him rather than to rely on her own credence of theological propositions. And Martha comes through: “Yes, Lord,” she says, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.”

    F.D. Maurice once said that this exchange between Jesus and Martha depressed him. How sad it is, he observed, that after two thousand years, the church has gotten most Christians only to the point to which the Pharisees got Martha: resurrection in the future, resurrection a week from some Tuesday. Only a handful have ever gotten past that point and made the leap of faith that Jesus got Martha to make: the leap to resurrection now – to resurrection as the fundamental mystery of creation finally manifest in his own flesh. And yet that mystery is all over the pages of the New Testament. Not only is it in such epistles as Ephesians and Colossians (see Eph. 2:5-6, for example, or Colossians 3:1-4). It is also perfectly plain in the Gospels: Jesus never meets a corpse that doesn’t sit up right on the spot. Consider. There is the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-17); there is Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:41-56); and there is Lazarus himself. They all rise not because Jesus does a number on them, not because he puts some magical resurrection machinery into gear, but simply because he has that effect on the dead. They rise because he himself is the Resurrection even before he himself rises – because, in other words, he is the grand sacrament, the real presence, of the mystery of a kingdom in which everybody rises.

    From The Parables of Judgment, Robert Farrar Capon, 1993


  12. To Jeff Dunn…. Any words I offer might seem insufficient and perhaps shallow, so I will periodically offer groanings to the Lord God and Jesus Christ on your behalf.


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