Open Mic

Saturday the Last — Open Mic

This is our final Saturday post on Internet Monk, and I thought we should give this one to the community of commenters that has made IM so rich over the years.

So, the mic is open. Let us hear what Internet Monk has meant to you over the years. That’s the sole subject for today.

As for my contribution, I’ll let Bruce Cockburn put it into words and music for me.

207 thoughts on “Open Mic

  1. Not sure I have anything extra to add that everything that has already been said here, or that I’ve said previously.

    I can’t count the number of times I have excitedly shared links to posts here with friends or family. Living in Europe, it is kind of strange to find that only now are topics arising that were being broached here more than a decade ago, it’s slightly surreal.

    I also appreciate all the people who have contributed in comments. The haiku exchanges. The vulnerability and doubts.

    Not sure where I – or we – will wander to next. This was/is a very special and unique ‘community’. It would have been nice to meet some of you for real.

    I guess we’ll all just have to head for the iMonk booth when we get to heaven.

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  2. Thank you, Chaplain Mike, for the incredible amount of work you have done all these years in writing and managing this forum for Christian reflection. This blog has been a regular, usually daily stop in my internet wandering. I found the blog when a friend told me of the writings of the great Michael Spencer, about four years before his passing, a loss I feel to this day.

    As a long time lurker who rarely commented, I will miss this site more than I can say. I will especially miss the writing of Chaplain Mike, particularly on grief, Mike the Geologist, Daniel Jepsen’s Saturday compilations and the observations of a host of commentators including Dana and Rick Ro. I will particularly miss Robert F, who has touched me thru his poetry and his witness to faith in the face of anxiety, loss, self-doubt, and loneliness. I resonate with some of his theological reflections, and am grateful for his writing, despite our political differences.

    Grace and peace to Chaplain Mike and to all who have written and commented here. Blessings and a heartfelt thanks. You will be missed.

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  3. I came across Internet Monk in 2005, when I threw myself into volunteering for a young adult ministry, and started searching for ideas. Apparently Michael Spencer’s work as a teacher at a Kentucky pushed this up in Google’s algorithm. Though it wasn’t what I was searching for, it was definitely what I needed. Michael wrote with force, wit, and honesty, and it was refreshing to my soul. It was a bummer that he was getting flamed by the “Pyromaniacs”, though that seems tame compared to social media these days.

    I appreciated Chaplain Mike keeping the site going all these years. I especially valued his posts on end of life care, and I bought several of CM’s books for friends who were dealing with elderly parents and hospice.

    In the last 10 years, the site changed along with the interests of its contributors and readers. To be honest, some of the criticism of the evangelical movement reminded me of the teenager who is embarrassed and mortified by everything their parents do, and wishing they were born into a different family. I certainly think there are a lot of fair targets for critique there, but that aspect got tiresome for me, and over time I found myself visiting less often.
    Still there have been many great insights and content, and I appreciate the incredible amount of labor that went into keeping it going. I guess everything has a season, and I thank you all for the blessing this has been.

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  4. I let this post stand because it shows the kind of environment Michael and the other authors posted in. The vast majority of our commenters have been honest, truthful, and good-hearted participants in conversation. But we had to be on guard regularly for trolls and others who chimed in just to be hateful or disruptive.

    Don’t take this troll seriously. Just remember that this cyberworld is a mixed bag that requires constant vigilance to promote truth and goodwill.

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  5. Andrew,
    We’re in Chester County between Avondale and the Delaware Line. I can imagine what it’s like in Lancaster County – but I love visiting. If you (or anyone) are interested in staying in touch, send me a note through my website, walnutrunmusic.com. I am open to helping keep folks in touch if anyone so desires.

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  6. I somehow found this blog back in 2006.

    In other comment threads, at other times, I’ve said how much the folks here have meant to me over the years. In 2006, i was in full detox mode, but now…. I’m in a different place, thanks in no small part to so many of you.

    It’s hard to contemplate the loss of contact and the dissolution of the community here. Many of us, i suspect, have come here in great need, and eventually we (i hope) began to be here for others who were/are in great need.

    I wish we could have a big party or picnic when the pandemic subsides. I would like to meet you folks, which is a rare thing for online groups.

    This is admittedly a strange time for me, having just lost my mom and having no more obligation to care for her in whatever way i could. It’s freeing, yet very sad. Am still not sure what my plans will be for the coming years.

    It feels strange that you folks won’t be here anymore.

    OK, not able to think much about that ATM.

    I will miss all of you.

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  7. Thank you Daniel Jepsen and CM for Saturday laughs. I wondered here off the street and it’s been a lifeline. Hardly comment but loved reading the comments. Thank you all.

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  8. Ooohhh how clever of you!

    In actual fact, people like CM have real lives and can decide for themselves what they spend their time on. The fa t that you want to run around pissing on another’s grave makes you a really sad little shit. And yes, I am more than comfortable saying that. I am the local atheist and these are my friends you are bleating about. Piss off to the the dump from whence you came.

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  9. Which parent was more difficult for you?
    Both at different times. Up until high school my father was much too impatient. After college we were best of friends. My mother is still alive. She isn’t a person I want to be around.

    Where’d you fit in high school?
    Musicians, artsy-fartsy types.

    Who broke your heart

    My first girlfriend at age ~13.

    How did you end up divorced? [ if you did ]

    I fell head over heels in love with a Canadian from Ottawa. My then wife didn’t appreciate it. ;o)

    The death you never got over

    Lawson, a mentor/friend who was about 12 yrs older than I.

    Your dream that didn’t survive

    To be a superlative cellist.

    Your addiction [ besides the obvious ]

    I don’t understand what the obvious is…
    I’m addicted to my gal from Ottawa.

    Your lifetime fear

    Being decrepit. Done bankruptcy–it’s a nuance, but no big deal.

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  10. Eeyore, no, MS would not have been silent the past 4 yrs. I would have been thrilled to read his thoughts. And, I suspect an awful lot of our comments would have been MSmoderated ;o)

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  11. “I didn’t like it so I tried to ruin it.”

    You should run for president bro. That ticket gets a lot of support these days.

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  12. When I returned to my faith in 2014, I somehow found my way to this site. It helped me tremendously in deconstructing what I believe and gave me new perspectives. Thank you CM and all who contributed and posted your thoughts. It definitely has made a difference in my faith. Peace to all.

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  13. I began my online “friendship” with Michael Spencer. We shared a common heritage when I was staff manager of a conservative baptist university and Michael was teacher of a like minded religious fundamental secondary school.

    We traded observations, intuitions, insights, and hard earned wisdom, by private e-mail, from time to time. Like many others I too felt loss at this passing from this life.

    Yet, as much as I value all those nuggets of wisdom, from Internet Monk and all its authors and readers, I sense that Chaplain Mike is making a timely decision closing active discussion on this site.

    A friend, neighbor and personal trainer, whom I greatly respect, summed it best.

    “The enemies of existence, whatever form they had assumed, are quietly recognized as the teachers of the greatest lesson of the warrior’s life. Peace gradually replaces the need for further testing. The sword is replaced with the poet’s brush, and the fighter evolves into the philosopher. Such an advancement of the heart is the true and ultimate reward of the warrior’s quest for enlightenment.”

    May the peace of Christ be the legacy Mike Spencer, Chaplain Mike, and all others, on this site.

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  14. I encountered Internet Monk when Michael Spencer was writing, at a time when I was experiencing increased doubt about Christianity and moving away from some evangelical beliefs. Although my background didn’t have the strong politicization or circus-like quality of some, I eventually felt like I couldn’t stay. This site has been a source of encouragement (and some laughs on Saturdays) for me for years, and I’ll miss it. Thank you to everyone that has written here, and God bless you in all that you do.

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  15. I’m your troll. I’ve posted under a number of names, but “Eckhart Trolle” was probably the funniest. (Either that or Goatse McGoatface.) Sometimes I posted genuine comments, sometimes I was just “stirring stuff up.”

    I discovered the site back when Spencer’s “Coming Evangelical Collapse” article got published in the Christian Science Monitor. His thesis came as a pleasant thought, although I remained unconvinced. Anyway, his article led me to his blog, which as I recall carried a somewhat longer version of the article. Spencer’s basic agenda seemed to involve a reformation of US evangelicalism, or failing that, waiting for some new, more authentic form of it to arise in “the evangelical wilderness.”

    I disapproved. To me, the version of Christianity pushed by Spencer was hardly much of an improvement over the forms he was criticizing, whether in terms of social issues (such as gays) or biblical interpretation (he attracted the sort of person who preferred N.T. Wright or Ben Witherington over John Meier or Raymond Brown). Maybe he was like Gorbachev, trying to save Communism while it was collapsing all around him. From a certain point of view, moderates are part of the problem–they give evil social systems a chance to adapt and avoid destruction.

    I got the idea that what Spencer, and most of his commenters, were aiming for would look a lot like one of the mainline Protestant denominations (hence the talk of reclaiming liturgy), or perhaps some sort of “ancient future” blend (encouraged, I suppose, by the presence of Catholic and Orthodox posters). While the overall message remained somewhat amorphous, Spencer curated it very carefully. He had nothing but contempt for the Ethiopian church, for instance, or for Swedenborgianism. Whole swathes of Christianity got ignored (Quakers, UUs), or commandeered into the “ancient future” project (Catholics and non-Ethiopian Orthodox).

    And while some forms of skepticism were encouraged (e.g. against YEC or pre-millennialism), others were not even voiced, and even the former tended to be received with undue reverence. This was dishonesty, I felt, little different from the types of dishonesty practiced by your average mega-church. (Realizing that it must be strange to hear a troll invoking honesty!) It is much as though refugees from the Flat Earth movement, realizing the dishonesty of some of their leaders, had decided to think things over, but without really re-examining any of their most basic assumptions. Perhaps they missed the community aspect.

    Spencer, I felt, did not deserve any kind of following, nor did he deserve to be remembered and promoted after his death, e.g. by publishing posthumous books adapted from his sermons (and marketed through traditional “Christian” outlets). So I trolled, hoping to frustrate your projects in some small way. Also, the Saturday blogposts were funny.

    And now you are disappearing. Oh, I realize you have a Facebook page somewhere, and that some of you are working on Spencer’s Markan commentary, but the blog will apparently be gone soon. So…victory?

    Vade in pacem.

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  16. I failed to mention/forgot Klasie Kraalogies wonderful contribution of articles. Well written, insightful, and encouraging.

    I’m sure I’ve forgotten others. Please forgive.

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  17. And now, IMonk is going quiet. I am well aware of how much work and effort a popular and quality blog can take, and I do not begrudge CM for wanting to move on to something new, to get some rest. But I will deeply miss this one fixed guiding light in the gloom of the Christian wilderness of this nation.

    Ditto.

    And, my wife thinks much the same as yours!

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  18. “That process of unlearning would probably be clear if anyone would be crazed enough to go over all my comments here over the past five years ;-P .”

    I observed. You and I may have changed at about the same rate. I may have begin reading here somewhat before you and at the time I was a definitive 5-pt Calvinista. Ain’t going back ta dat. I’ve always had the feeling that you were younger than I, and that indicated by the vigor of your comments.

    Anglican/Episcopal has been a part of my learning curve and I really do appreciate the Episcopal church.

    Dang, I hope something develops where the relationships we have here may continue.

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  19. I learned about IM through TGC late 2010 and have been a daily reader since then. IM has provided a safe place to expand my worldview and faith. A big thanks to the various contributors who wrote and all the commentators, the discussions increased my learning and opened my thinking to perspectives. I will forever be grateful and plan to re-visit to reread various subjects. I will miss IM and all the wonderful folks who have enriched my life.
    Grace, peace and smiles to all.

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  20. I’m only going to say that any love-fest between Biden and Pelosi and prog religionist could not in anyone’s imagination be worse than the cock-up of Trump and his fascisti.

    Sweet dreams Sen.

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  21. “How imaginary critters like her had been a part of that imagination as far back as I could remember -classic Poul Anderson and Andre Norton “aliens” with fur and tails, mythical critters like herself, a noble young white lion, a one-shot skunkette glamor-actress, two-legged talking beasts of every species.”

    Ah, someone who remembers Poul Anderson and who can write a decent, long, complex sentence.

    I need to buy you a beer, Ken.

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  22. Yes Christiane, you are right. However, IMO, the call to recall must come from within their own ranks–I doubt they’ll listen to those they consider “outsiders.”

    Ditto to how HUG said it.

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  23. Susan, I will miss you — and Robert’s haikus.

    “I will miss you all more than you can tell.”

    So, I think you’ll appreciate this song from St. Jerry; https://youtu.be/naub344xEBE?t=10

    Fare you well my honey
    Fare you well my only true one
    All the birds that were singing
    Have flown except you alone

    Goin to leave this Broke-down Palace
    On my hands and my knees I will roll roll roll
    Make myself a bed by the waterside
    In my time – in my time – I will roll roll roll

    In a bed, in a bed
    By the waterside I will lay my head
    Listen to the river sing sweet songs
    To rock my soul

    River gonna take me
    Sing me sweet and sleepy
    Sing me sweet and sleepy
    All the way back home
    It’s a far gone lullaby
    Sung many years ago
    Mama, Mama, many worlds I’ve come
    Since I first left home

    Goin home, goin home
    By the waterside I will rest my bones
    Listen to the river sing sweet songs
    To rock my soul

    Goin to plant a weeping willow
    On the banks green edge it will grow grow grow
    Sing a lullaby beside the water
    Lovers come and go – the river roll roll roll

    Fare you well, fare you well
    I love you more than words can tell
    Listen to the river sing sweet songs
    To rock my soul

    (Songwriters: Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia)

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  24. Chris, I’ve always valued what you had to say.

    Are you, like me, an ex-cofC’er, or am I mistaking you for someone else? We should figure out a way to stay in contact. Hell, for that matter, I wish WE ALL COULD STAY IN CONTACT.

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  25. Yesterday morning I opened the site expecting to enjoy a blow-out Brunch, but instead was the Open Mic–which is ok and a fitting time for us to give appreciation to Michael Spencer, Mike Mercer, Mike Bell, Mike McH, (long line of Mikes there), Jeff Dunn, Daniel Jepsen, Damaris Zehner, Rob Grayson—and at least several other article contributors whom I don’t remember. Thank you to all.

    I also understand that Daniel Jepsen has been a significant helper in keeping this site functional–thank you brother.

    Thank you Mike Mercer for keeping the vision alive these past 10 years. I know it has been a labor of love, yet I’m sure it has cost you in many ways untold.

    I was brought to this site by a younger friend who was into the New Monasticism several years before MS’s death. He would be surprised to know how well I “stuck.” At the time we were hosting a house church than usually had 15-20 who regularly gathered and kept in close contact with each other. Some of us had more than once been “let down” by the Religious Business Clubs, and, in my families instance our wonderful RBC congregation had been “dissolved” upon the advice of an “apostle” who had been invited in to confer with the elders. (I need to write a small book on our negative experiences with church from 1998-2004.)

    I likely listened to all of Michael’s Coffee Cup Apologetics–and are likely downloaded on my 3rd old laptop.

    Michael was a reasoned voice in the midst of all the insanity that regular American Christendom was.

    I have loved the virtual meetings with so many of you. I will miss our regular comment shows ;o) Yous and I have changed a lot over the past 15 years or so; I see it in you and I feel it in me. Thank you for allowing me to grow in your presence.

    Tom Christian
    Kingsport, TN

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  26. I found this place c. 2006 and have been a regular reader since then. I’m not a Christian in the accepted sense, but I have found like minds here, thought-provoking and sometimes deeply moving posts and good debate. I would like to thank all the writers and contributors over the years and of course the regular commenters who now feel like a virtual family even though I rarely take part in the debates myself. A special mention, of course, to Michael Spencer and to Chaplain Mike; I don’t really have the words to convey how much I’ve learned from each. Blessings to everyone as we all go forward from here.

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  27. Thank you to everyone who contributes to this site. I discovered internet monk in the early 2000s and was blessed by hearing someone asking some of the same questions about evangelical Christianity that I was having. I don’t think it is an understatement to say that Michael’s writings saved my faith at the time. Thank you so much everyone who has written here. This site going away will leave a huge hole for me.

    I know there is just one week left so it is probably too late to make requests, but CM (or any commenters) could you please share some of your experiences experiencing God? I am not in a good place and am very worried about my family and its future. I need to hear of people encountering the supernatural. I want to know that such things occur and I am not just making Pascal’s wager when I try to continue in faith.

    Anyways, thank you again for keeping this place running for so long after Michael’s death. May God bless you all and protect you in the year to come.

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  28. +1.

    As one of the fringe followers, seeing what goes on in the world of American Churchianity has been eye-opening to a man on a small island in the English Channel!

    Wherever the road leads next, may you find something even better than the IM Saturday Brunch.

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  29. My mother was manic depressive. And in total denial. And the best Christian on the planet. You take it from there.

    In high school and much of life I never fitted in or fit in for social situations.

    That’s enough.

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  30. CM. When you convert this to an archive can you please put the year up in the header for posts? It can be hard to figure out the meaning of some posts without knowing the year it was written.

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  31. This week I was watching a streaming movie that premiered in 2006, I was shocked by how dated it looked. Actors were using land lines for phone calls.

    You should watch some cop/private eye shows from the 60s/70s. Whoa. Rockford Files can be fun. Most plots would just not work anymore. “I’ll be at the pay phone in front of the Hotel Flooty at 3pm. Call me with what you’ve found.”

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  32. I don’t remember exactly how I found this site, but it was back around 2006 or 2007 I think. I had finished an MA in theology a few years before but didn’t work in ministry. We were going to a church with a grace-filled pastor who welcomed all as we all were, and we liked it. But one Sunday he suddenly announced he was leaving. It was all couched in the proper “God’s leading” language, but it was sudden. Long short, the church was taken over by a couple assistant pastors who turned out to be hard line calvinists. I never learned exactly what happened, but I’m almost sure our pastor was forced out somehow. We left soon after and that started our wandering. Went to a small independent church plant for a year or so, but eventually that got too weird so we left. Been in the wilderness ever since.

    This site has helped keep me grounded. Michael was a voice of sanity in an increasingly crazy world of evangelicalism. I will always be grateful for Michael and all who have given of themselves on this site. It has enriched and encouraged me in dark times and places. Thank you, and may God bless and keep all of you.

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  33. I’ve been following this blog for much of the last 15 years and have been an occasional commenter. I don’t have much to add from to already been eloquently stated by others, so I’d just like to also thank everyone who has contributed and made this nourishing and refreshing digital oasis possible. This has been helpful in both the spiritual deconstruction and reconstruction process; such an encouragement.

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  34. Which parent was more difficult for you? My father, who of course was the longer-lived parent.
    Where’d you fit in high school? I didn’t. I seem to fit in a lot better as we approach the 45-year class reunion.
    Who broke your heart? Want a list?
    How did you end up divorced? N/A; I’ve never been married.
    The death you never got over? Probably my mother’s death when I was fresh out of college.
    Your dream that didn’t survive: When I was a kid, I wanted to be a meteorologist when I grew up.
    Your addiction [ besides the obvious ]: I own too many radios.
    Your lifetime fear: That I will die before I’ve accomplished what God put me on the earth to do.

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  35. Arghh! Should have been , “But I did want to say…” No negative intended!

    Is it too late to implement an edit button?

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  36. I have had opportunity to say much, so I will limit my comments now.

    But I did not want to say that this site, Michael Spencer and Chaplain Mike in particular, along with all you commenters as well, have saved my faith. And for that I will be eternally grateful.

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  37. I’m starting to wonder if this was actually a Spectacular Suicide, flipping two middle fingers to everybody in the process.

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  38. I have lurked here for 15 years after following a link from another site. This is the place where I found the words for what was making me uncomfortable in the evangelical church I was attending at the time. For me, this blog became almost church-and what I wish church could be.

    You have all provided a wonderful space where different views, poetry, music and education all mixed with humor and caring. I never commented but rather just soaked it all these years. But I have thought of and prayed for all of you. A few of you live or have lived right down the block from me and I will miss all of your interactions, posts snd comments.

    As an EMT in northern NJ I have been overwhelmed with loss this year, having lost colleagues and friends to Covid, and most recently my mom to pneumonia and the impending shutdown of this blog will be the last loss in 2020 (I hope). Life goes on but know that you all had a profound effect on someone you never knew. I thank you and will always be grateful for you and the place this site has been.

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  39. I’ve found is that they simply don’t want to hear anything that contradicts their beliefs. And worse, they will attack relentlessly anyone who tries to recall them to the truth.
    “THE DWARFS ARE FOR THE DWARFS! WE WON’T BE TAKEN IN!”

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  40. I understand Sagan could be a real jerk in-person, but he could WRITE. He was probably the type who communicated best in writing.

    As for Gould, I have a near-complete collection of his essays — Panda’s Thumb, Bully for Brontosaurus, Eight Little Piggies, Flamingo’s Smile, Ever Since Darwin, you name it.

    Both Sagan and Gould were masters of what the French call vulgurization, explaining complex scientific/technical subjects in an easily-understood manner.

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  41. I agree this is what should happen, but I’m not sure it can. The problem I’ve found is that they simply don’t want to hear anything that contradicts their beliefs. And worse, they will attack relentlessly anyone who tries to recall them to the truth. I have tried to do so, and seen others try, and to date I haven’t seen anyone succeed.
    I pray for the outcome you have outlined, but at this point that’s about all I can do.

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  42. That’s true.

    Let’s try this…I think it’s in moderation somewhere in the unknown…

    Typical conspiracist:

    DO THE RESEARCH. The bomb that went off in Nashville was intentional because there were voting machines in the building nearby and “they” knew about it, so “they” did it to destroy the evidence that Trump won…DO THE RESEARCH…DO THE RESEARCH…DO THE RESEARCH…BLAH BLAH BLAH…

    BTW..that conspiracy theory came up today on a certain charismatic new website. Funny that when they say “do the research” they want you to only read their approved sources.

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  43. Hi Christiane.
    No, I don’t blog elsewhere.
    I have felt very safe here at IMonk.
    I can only ask if you blog elsewhere where I might ‘feel safe’?
    Susan

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  44. I’m glad you were spared, Sean. I think you were in seminary when you showed up here. Also glad that Mark Driscoll flamed out, and that you smelled the rats in that movement long ago. And congratulations on becoming senior pastor. God bless you and your ministry.

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  45. I don’t know when anymore, but it was during a time when the church I was attending wasn’t making any sense to me. The claim of different than all the other churches in the area but all I noticed was the same people who had left there traditional Calvinist church to attend a hip self-help church. I couldn’t muster the “get up at three to pray for an hour then bible study for an hour then just read the bible so the word washes over you for an hour then get the family up for the daily devotional” routine that was being touted as ‘good christian’. When I expressed doubts it was made clear that I needed to pray more and try harder.
    Then I read a comment here by someone in a similar church who decided not to attend one Sunday: “All day I was wondering what blessing I had missed by not attending church today.” that was it!! Deposit a quarter in God and perform a little better, you will be rewarded! I finally understood what had bothered me about all the churches I had attended from my time as a child.

    So, IM made it okay for me to relax in my faith. I’m not a bible reader, don’t study theology and am awkward at praying. It’s okay for me to have my faith, and relax and not try to perform for somebody.

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  46. Suzanne, if you haven’t already checked it out, you might enjoy Dr. Olson’s Patheos channel, which is found on the blogroll to the right. I find it to covers many similar themes as iMonk.. It’s not a discussion board, but the commenting quality is very high, due to Dr. Olson’s strict moderation.

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  47. Two speculations
    1. Apparently the FBI had received tips ahead of time about the person of interest. It is possible that some of those tips or related tips included info on a possible aerial attack
    2. Too many unauthorized flights (or drones) over the area in question and they are concerned that some are less than well-meaning

    I am going to miss IM

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  48. Rick for Christmas I bought myself an impact screwdriver. I could have used it in the past but like you, I am NO handyman. So even as I bought it I was reminding myself there is a possiblity that I will never use it in this lifetime. I bequeathed it to my son who’s less handy than me.

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  49. Seneca I hope this is what you wanted.

    Which parent was more difficult for you?

    My father and I stared at each other across a great gulf of mutual incomprehension. He couldn’t understand why his values weren’t enough for me and I was too stupid to figure a way to communicate. We loved each other helplessly. After my Mom died we were finally able to carve out a space we could share in our mutual grief.
    .
    Where’d you fit in high school?

    I was a ghost, touching all, by all untouched. I knew football players, cheerleaders, band members, drama club art types, kids from every class and station but was not a part of any group.

    Who broke your heart

    As history is divided BC and AD for me there is ‘Before Cindy’ and ‘After Cindy’. I forgave her although she committed no crime. Being who she was there was no other Troy for her to burn. Pain is the great teacher.

    How did you end up divorced? [ if you did ]

    I lived with a woman (not Cindy) for four years and we parted amicably.

    The death you never got over

    My brother. Our parents were in their eighties when they passed. They had their shot. But he was a year and a half younger than me.

    Your dream that didn’t survive

    I could be the finest tool shed maker that’s ever been. But I wanted to build the Taj Mahal and so no tool shed will ever be good enough for me.

    Your addiction [ besides the obvious ]

    I collect maps of places I’ve never been.

    Your lifetime fear

    Dying without ever having really lived.

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  50. Having not read much of the other comments yet, I’ll just try to answer the post’s question a bit. IM for me, has been the safe space while I continue to wander through the evangelical wilderness. Some of you complain about the negativity or bashing of evangelicalism here… you may have some point, but when you’re in something akin to my situation, where almost Everyone in your life; family, church, work etc believes american evangelical christianity is just about the best type in the world… is pretty much the apple of God’s eye and has little to self-examine or critique, or conversely, everybody else outside american evangelical christianity are the real backsliders, apostate, etc… Considering all of that, then IM is a safe space to vent a little… in most spaces I inhabit, especially church, I could never openly criticize all the corrupt assumptions, things taken for granted, cultural habits the way we can here. I’d be deemed an anti-Christian heretic if I questioned the circus, the “worship”, the “common sense” interpretation that’s never been examined…
    There are other things I’ve appreciated and thankfully the internet and the post-evangelical world/wilderness is as wide as ever (and growing) that I’ve found other similar spaces, but none are quite like this.
    So blessings to everyone and I’ll keep my eyes open for other places on the inter-webs where we might meet again,
    Andrew Zook of Lanc Co. PA

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  51. Hey, speaking of books. I ordered both but haven’t gotten them. Away on vacation but hope they are there when I get home.

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  52. I don’t recall when I came across this site but I will miss it. It was a time when I was noticing more and more churches adopting the consumer/ business model, striving for the latest and greatest innovations in the worship experience, things like iPad & other consumer good giveaways to lure people in, and the political atmosphere changed to Republicans as the only true Christians. I saw great danger in this and when I stumbled upon Michael Spencer’s writings, I realized I wasn’t alone in my thinking. A breath of fresh air for me!
    I haven’t commented a lot the past few years although I do check in. My spiritual path has veered more and more away from the church as I see too many fellow Christians salivating after a politician who embodies immorality and too many balking at wearing something as simple as a face mask to help keep their fellow citizens safe. This shows me where their hearts really are and I am old enough I don’t want to participate in the charade. When large percentage of the Christian church in America embraced Trump, I knew it was a death knell for the Americanized version of Christianity. It will take years, but as Michael Spencer predicted, it will eventually collapse.

    I feel like I know so many of you and it’s weird to think that I will never know how your journeys progress or how they end. It’s the downside of blog commenting, of having that connection with people you don’t really know. My life has been so greatly enriched by your comments, Robert’s haiku, and the respectful dialogue here. I am ever grateful for the blog writers who kept this wonderful forum up and running after Spencer died. You served his memory well.

    I don’t know where I will go for a bit of religious sanity. I listen to the podcast “Straight White American Jesus” which cover some of the same themes as here, but it’s not the same a reading and pondering. I will again recommend Anne Bokma’s book My Year of Living Spiritually which I discovered here. Really, truly, God bless you all on your journeys from here on out. It’s been an honor to be part of your lives.

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  53. HUG, I’m sure you’re just as sublimely unique in meatspace as you are in cyberspace. Be well, and live long.

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  54. I first encountered Michael Spencer online when he joined a listserv I was also a member of, back in the mid-late 90s. He didn’t stay too long (I have) but somehow I found this blog. I loved his heart for Jesus and his willingness to say the hard things about Christians and church. I learned a lot. I also enjoyed exploring the links in the sidebar and found some good reading there as well. I appreciate Chaplain Mike’s hard work maintaining this the last 10 years as well as the rest of the team. (CM, I’m related to some folks who now attend East Dover Baptist Church). CM, I really appreciated that you shared your experiences ministering through Hospice, as I have had to walk that road with loved ones several times. I will miss lurking in the discussions here. Godspeed to all of you as we seek that Jesus-shaped spirituality that Michael Spencer outlined for us.

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  55. Unfortunately, there are some issues that cannot be simply patched together by a “but we are all Christians” appeal. If one person’s conception of Christianity allows them to shut their eyes to evils done to defenseless people, how much credence can Christians who do take the call to “defend the least of these” seriously give to those who deny it? In one of his oft-neglected verses, Paul said that “there must be divisions among you so that those whom God favors can be revealed”.

    IMonk himself was not above making such calls during his life, and everything I have read about him and what I remember about him leads me to believe that he too would not have been silent these last four years.

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  56. My Dad was a truly decent man. Sadly in our 50 years of shared life, neither of us grasped the other. On the other hand, I could make my Mom laugh. They were married 63 years until death took my Dad.

    In high school, I was a relatively quiet kids, read a lot of novels to escape the boredom of the classroom and desired to be a jock but mostly polished my basketball shorts on the hard wooden bench. One day in practice I tried to throw a behind-the-back pass. The coach whistled the practice to a stop and barked, “Griggs, do you have a tent to go with that circus?”

    My first serious girlfriend broke my heart. We were unofficially engaged until she sent me a letter that I had been traded for a guy with a house and a legitimate job. Who knew?

    Not divorced but the first 25 years were pretty brutal. We were truly incompatible but we didn’t believe in divorce.

    My youngest sister died quite recently. That has broken my heart. I have sobbed over her death to cancer.

    The dream that didn’t survive? Jerry West II

    Addictions? too many to list but the revenge addiction runs deep

    Always fearful I would be unprepared for whatever grief is to come.

    [ I have found fascinating what some of you have written about yourselves. Thanks you ]

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  57. “I Approve Without Reserve” is the latest Litmus Test of your Salvation.

    “I saw the murderers and the victims also,
    And with a bleeding heart and failing nerve,
    Saw how the murderers singled out their victims
    and shouted ‘I approve – without reserve!’

    I see them coming, see the butchers marching,
    Would like to call out ‘Stop!’, but since, meanwhile,
    I know their agents are behind me watching;
    I hear my own voice calling at them ‘Heil!’ ”
    — Bertholt Brecht, 1934
    https://wordcount-richmonde.blogspot.com/2011/10/ballad-on-approving-of-world.html

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  58. I found iMonk a few years before Michael Spencer reposed. I’m pretty sure it was the result of an Internet search for monastic communities. The Northumbria Community was my personal lifesaver during most of my wilderness years, but I was trying to find a more local expression of Christianity where I “fit” and could perhaps become an oblate or other kind of associate member. This community became a large part of what I was looking for, even though it wasn’t the kind of “monastic community” for which I was initially searching.

    Michael was one of those who said out loud many things I was thinking and asked many questions I had asked. I was so enthusiastic about finding his writing; I know he was a bit put off/exasperated when I was describing my journey into Orthodoxy, but he was always kind. I miss his insight and his heart for Jesus.

    Chaplain Mike and the other co-authors have done a great job, keeping so well to Michael’s standard. I, too, want to thank all the commenters. It’s been such a rich and life-giving discussion, and I can truly say I will miss all of you. So many above have written beautifully about the good the contributors to this site have wrought in our lives. Even when veering off into argumentation at times, Jesus-shaped spiritually has not been entirely out of view… You all have been a real blessing to me, and I pray for awareness of God’s goodness and loving presence in your lives; Jesus is always with you, no matter where you are.

    Much love-
    Dana

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  59. *Which parent was more difficult for you?* – I have to think, nowadays, that a lot of the trouble I had with my parents was caused not by them, but by me.

    *Where’d you fit in high school?* – Well, there was the gaming club. Other than that, teenage wasteland…

    *Who broke your heart* – Had a couple of bad crushes growing up, but again, I was in no position at those times to actually have a mature relationship – so no harm, no foul. Out of fairness to them, I will not name names.

    *How did you end up divorced? [ if you did ]* – I’m not, don’t plan on being so. One advantage of having waited so long to get married.

    *The death you never got over* – I missed being at my grandfather’s bedside by 5. Damn. Minutes. I should have left sooner…

    *Your dream that didn’t survive* – being a professional theologian. But again, nowadays its obvious that I dodged a bullet because that one didn’t work out.

    *Your addiction [ besides the obvious ]* – D&D, but that probably WAS obvious. 😉

    *Your lifetime fear* – God looking down at me in the Last Judgment and saying, “I’m sorry, who are you?”

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  60. This was one by a “Carol Balizet” back in the Seventies (my time in-country). This Balizet was actually a decent writer; her End Times novel “Seven Last Years” was actually pretty well-written and plugged most of the holes you find in Christian Apocalytpic.Unfortunately, she stopped writing fiction and went full-honk into some sort of “Christian Childbirth”, founding a “Christian Childbirth” cult that racked up some fatalities. She should have stuck to fiction writing.

    The one you read was probably by Frank Peretti in the Eighties, who established the “Spiritual Warfare Thriller” genre on the Jesus Junk circuit. Like <i.Soon and Atlas Shrugged, he started with a decent premise — like a type of Chinese theater where the Immortals are on an upper stage, mortals on a lower, and what happens on one influences the other though the mortals cannot see it. Unfortunately (in the words of someone I met at 1995 WorldCon who actually knew Peretti, “He’s the type of writer who needs a strong editor to do his best and he didn’t have one until much later in his career.” And his Spiritual Warfare novels were at the beginning of his career, showing the full range of Christianese Writer bad habit shticks.

    The one early-period Peretti scene I remember (when I skimmed his first or second Spiritual Warfare Thriller to see what all the buzz was about) was one where Satan’s Demons and their Possessed bodies were meeting in a smoke-free room to plot how to destroy Christianity in the town. Demons riding and controlling their mounts like Voudoun Loa riding their “horses”. My word-for-word reaction was “THAT’s Madelyn Murry O’Hare, THAT’s Carl Sagan, THAT’s Anton LaVey, THAT’s Stephen Jay Gould, THAT’s Shirley MacLaine, THAT’s Isaac Bonewitz…” It was that obvious.

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  61. My wish would be for CM or TGBTC to compile a list of the commenters’ emails which would be released to anyone who had previously commented here (not just anybody asking for it) upon permission granted from those on the list – if that makes sense. I hereby grant permission for The Powers That Be to release my email address to any of you who want it.

    Dana

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  62. This is the Seneca I wish had appeared more often on these pages. I always knew you were there.

    Big hug to you.

    Dana

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  63. If I had not met and worked with Michael Spencer in person I may have never stumbled across Internet Monk on the internet. His influence on my writing, preaching and teaching is surely evident. There were a lot of long sad goodbyes when he passed in 2010 and I have never been as involved here since that time. The state of blogging has changed over the last 10 years and social media sites have just about killed the long-form blog post. I have questioned whether or not to continue in this format and have decided that if nothing else it’s good for me.

    If I understand correctly, the Internet Monk website archive will continue at least for some period of time. The blogroll is listed on the side, there are probably millions of comments linked to our blogs and websites. There is no reason some of us couldn’t keep in touch.

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  64. Do please record your haiku on paper, Robert. I am convinced you could publish, but even if you don’t, they are worth saving.

    Dana

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  65. Here I found a community of folks who care about some of the same things that I do, and that my family and friends mostly don’t.

    The people that were here before us
    They live inside your tears
    And I’m afraid of forgetting
    And I don’t know where I’ve just been

    So please, remember me

    –Swans (Michael Gira)

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  66. Folks, apparently the FAA has issued a no-fly zone corridor over the site of the Nashvillle Christmas Day bombing. They are warning that unauthorized air traffic over or near that corridor may be shot down if deemed a “threat.” Internet and power have been out over an extensive region due to the explosion. What in the hell is going on?

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  67. Against my better judgment, I’ll play:

    Which parent was more difficult for you? Both at different times.
    Where’d you fit in high school? Nerdy outcast
    Who broke your heart? Everyone
    How did you end up divorced? Realizing that I married an irredeemable sociopath that will never stop the abuse.
    The death you never got over: Many saddened me. But death comes.tomus all, we must get over that.
    Your dream that didn’t survive: Being an academic
    Your addiction: Self-doubt
    Your lifetime fear: Bankruptcy

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  68. And I’ll answer as well…

    Which parent was more difficult for you? (I had very good parents. Neither was difficult.)
    Where’d you fit in high school? (Only with the few nerds… D&D types, initial “computer” types, wargame nerds.)
    Who broke your heart? (My wife, during our initial “dating” period/breakup.)
    How did you end up divorced? [ if you did ] (Strange question. Doesn’t apply.)
    The death you never got over. (When my dad dies, that’ll be a tough one.)
    Your dream that didn’t survive. (I finally published my books, so that one survived!)
    Your addiction [ besides the obvious ] (Hmm… I wouldn’t tell of my addictions to ANYONE, because I know how “word gets around.” That said, two people have heard of them: my wife and a very trusted friend.)
    Your lifetime fear. (I am a man who has absolutely ZERO handyman skills. I’m afraid that makes me appear quite un-manly at times.)

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  69. Kind comment, Robert F. Your haiku will be missed, as well your comments.

    Please, create a book of your haiku!!!

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  70. In order, I’ll answer your own questions in a way I think you might, sencagriggs:

    Your “Alpha Male” father.
    Jock.
    Your children.
    Irreconcilable differences.
    Your dad’s
    I won’t attempt that one. You answer.
    Reading bad theology.
    Being or appearing weak.

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  71. Christiane, I will always fondly remember your generous heart for the downtrodden. Take care of yourself.

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  72. I’d love to spend two hours of my life hearing each of your stories. I’d have questions but only you have the answers
    *.
    Which parent was more difficult for you?
    Where’d you fit in high school?
    Who broke your heart
    How did you end up divorced? [ if you did ]
    The death you never got over
    Your dream that didn’t survive
    Your addiction [ besides the obvious ]
    Your lifetime fear

    I would sit in rapt silence because I’ve always been fascinated about people’s stories.

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  73. I haven’t been here very long myself, not even getting to know anyone barely. And now time to say goodbye. Why do I always find the good things when it is almost too late?

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  74. Eeyore, you’ll always be Eeyore to me! Thanks for all the insightful comments over the last years, and thanks for fighting the good fight. I’ll be sure to check out more of Rev. William Barker; thanks for the link.

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  75. As far as how I found this blog…I have no idea or recollection how I got here….I suppose you could say I just wandered in off the street.

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  76. If any of my haiku are worth preserving, I’ll leave it to God to do so, Christiane. I’m finding that preservation and letting go are very similar, which is a lesson that Zen was always trying to teach me. I’m just beginning to learn it. “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Form is not different from emptiness; emptiness is not different from form…” — The Heart Sutra

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  77. I can’t believe I discovered this blog mere days before it’s final posts. I will be searching through your archives for much time to come. Thank you all for leaving your wisdom and reflections for us.

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  78. This week I was watching a streaming movie that premiered in 2006, I was shocked by how dated it looked. Actors were using land lines for phone calls. Clothes were still so much more formal compared to modern leggings and yoga pants. I realized how much things have changed since I started my wilderness journey about that time.

    At this point, I hate even commenting on the evangelical world. It has changed so much as have I. I think of it like a dating couple who went separate ways 20 years ago, each on their own path. For brief moments, I romanticize about that time in my life, briefly forgetting why we broke up, but I quickly remember the pain. If we were to meet up again, could we restart where we left? At this point, no, we both have gone down separate paths never to meet again.

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  79. I’ll be “ok.” I’m used to things not working out, and things ending. It’s been the pattern of my life. I’ll move on, as I have in the past. I personally have more concern for those who are used to things lasting, or expect them to last. This will be a hard blow. And I’m also concerned for CM, whom I suspect is taking this harder than some might imagine (of course, as always, I could easily be wrong about that!).

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  80. To attempt to cover in a few paragraphs all the ways that iMonk has been meaningful to me over the past dozen years or so would be an exercise in futility. But futility has never stopped me before.

    Quite probably I’d come across “The Coming Evangelical Collapse” somewhere and found my way to Michael’s blog, but I no longer recall because, like many others, I quickly realized Michael was no mere provocateur. There was substance here on a daily basis. Upon iMonk’s passing, I admired the way that CM took up the baton, but to be honest didn’t expect the site to remain at the level it had been. How quickly I was proved wrong. I have no idea how CM and the rest of the team have managed to do it for the past ten years, but they have indeed maintained an inviting home in the wilderness for so many this past decade or more. May they enter into a much-deserved season of rest.

    Often I’ve enjoyed the comments so much I’ve found myself not paying enough attention to the actual article, even getting the author’s name wrong once or twice – [visualize facepalm emoticon here because I don’t do actual emoticons on principle]. Burro and Eeyore (we lack only Balaam), Dana, Robert F, Adam the Finn, Michael Bell, Klassie, Seneca, Rick Ro., Richard H., Ted, HUG, Mike the Geologist, Susan D. and our other antipodal friends – how many millions of words of theirs have I read over the years? How often I’ve been gently encouraged and, once or twice, scolded in precisely the way I needed to be.

    And who can forget Oscar, Martha of Ireland (“Ooooooh, now I get it: when you all say ‘worship leader’ you just mean the guy up front leading the singing”), Miguel the Lutheran musician and model of conservative dialogue, and other erstwhile commenters?

    I myself was raised in the AG in Indiana, with my dad becoming a pastor in the late 1980s when I was finishing high school. I spent an undergrad year in Ireland in the early 90s, where I started to realize how parochial much of American evangelicalism was. A few years later, as I’d begun to hunger and thirst after liturgical righteousness, I found myself in the EO down here in Atlanta. Burro and I probably even know some of the same people. All of which is to say that it’s actually been a very long time since I was really part of the American evangelical scene. Politically, even 25 years ago, I wondered why a good little then-conservative boy like me was supposed to have some sort of visceral hatred of Bill Clinton rather than just promote an alternative agenda on its merits. I was out of step before being out of step would get your head bitten off.

    Subsequent life events (marriage, etc.) brought me back a little closer to that world, however. At various points in the past 20 years, I’ve found myself in big Methodist churches and little Anglican ones – up until about six or so years ago. At no point from my youth up – and this I am ever at pains to emphasize – did I ever experience anything except warmth and support from those ministers, priests, and others church folk wherever I was. I have no personal horror stories of the likes of iMonkers HUG or Eagle. For that I’m eternally grateful.

    Yet, while I wasn’t thinking of it in those terms at the time, I too was in some sort of wilderness these past years.

    Yes, occasionally I’d drop by an EO church for a service. I’m a smells-and-bells guy to my toenails, but I felt I was doing little other than indulging in some sort of nostalgia for an earlier, and exceptionally wonderful, period as new convert. Those days had been, without qualification, the happiest days of my life. Judge me as you will, but what I learned in those days (and how much have I forgotten???) is that the ideal of integrating one’s intellectual, aesthetic, cultural, and spiritual journeys is surely what we must be about in this life. Damaris Z. would no doubt approve this message.

    When the Trump bomb dropped in 2016 I wasn’t totally surprised, of course. And I wasn’t in the middle of evangelicalism at the time anyway. But I still feel like I’ve spent the last four years as a strangely literate Pavlovian dog, reading the same news article over and over and over explaining why White American evangelicals are behaving as they are. At the end of all such “research” I know nothing more than when I started. It is what it is. I’m not sure there was ever much to actually learn.

    Yet I don’t like leaving things at that either: dismissiveness and contempt are the problem of the age, not the solution, after all. I try to appreciate the number 81, not as an infamous percentage, but simply as a perfect square. But I keep failing.

    Over time, I gradually became avowedly secular. Sure, I like to think I’m more Bart Campolo or Alain de Botton than Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. And the howling void that is “secular community” leads me to appreciate better than ever all of the social life hacks that religion has hit on over the millennia.

    I also have this nagging feeling that Trumpian evangelicalism is making atheism….too easy. Like many iMonkers, I’d long since come to terms with evolution (30 years ago or more), and the Creationist controversies always amused me. More recently, conservative religious intransigence regarding climate change science seemed a bit more germane: it’s our future we’re talking about after all,. But nothing prepared me for the specter of putatively pro-life people actively campaigning against basic public health measures, ones that have held death totals in places like Taiwan to single digits and in Senegal to under 400, while we’ve had dozens die of Covid since you’ve begun reading these comments. Irrationality kills.

    Yes, white evangelicals have made atheism too easy. And that worries me, since I have no reason to believe that a loss of faith automatically makes people into rational, caring humanists, however much I wish it were so. So I hope I’m being clear-eyed about all this. The Burkean conservative in me is always concerned when things change too quickly. Stuff breaks. And this site has helped remind me of all the ways thoughtful Christians and “Christian-adjacent” people are dealing with these trends. I always come away better informed and encouraged.

    We’re all feeling these trials in different ways, of course, but I have to concur with Dana’s ever-gracious commenting of a few days ago that it probably is wise that CM and others will be retiring the blog. It does seem to be the season for doing so.

    I have one lingering worry. About a year ago, in a fit of uncommon prescience, I decided to drop FB from my life. My sanity is, I think, intact as a result. But here’s the funny thing: immediately upon nuking my account, I noticed that I didn’t miss it one iota. Nada. At all.

    So will I actually miss iMonk? I dearly hope so.

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  81. I will miss your haiku. And I feel more badly for you than I do myself as I can guess how much you will miss this. All the best Roberre.

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  82. IM has been a consistent source of sanity, thoughtfulness, honesty, and challenge. I will miss all of your voices (and will continue to wonder what on earth you are like in real life!).
    I stumbled upon IM thanks to the Christian Science Monitor, which posted Michael’s post on the coming evangelical collapse. I remember that it struck me as true and insightful, and I clicked over to the Monk and continue to do so ever since.

    I will miss you all, and wish God’s blessing on you all. (I’m a retired minister, and so can officially do things like this!)

    I leave with this quote from St. Julian of Norwich, which has been nourishing me for much of the past year or two through the nightmare of American socio-political life:

    “And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

    Amen!

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  83. Thanks to IM and it’s faithful, generous and gifted contributors. It’s been a place of learning, affirmation, challenge, empathy and humour.

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  84. –> “So, the mic is open. Let us hear what Internet Monk has meant to you over the years. That’s the sole subject for today.”

    Oh, man o man… I so much want to comment on how much of an a-hole our voted-out President is…

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  85. I discovered this site back in the Michael Spencer days when a friend said, “You might like this site, Rick. It has a refreshing take on Christianity.”

    I had just gone through a spiritual desert journey of 5-7 years, and while my journey wasn’t triggered by “bad Christianity,” I marveled that my journey THROUGH IT and OUT OF IT had not been helped by the church. In other words, why wasn’t my involvement in my church and Sunday worship HELPING ME find refreshing waters or even an oasis?!?! (I distinctly remember many a Sunday singing worship songs that meant nothing to me, mouthing words that I wasn’t sure made sense for someone going through the desert, wondering why everyone seemed so “on fire” for the Lord.)

    Anyway, when I came here I wasn’t necessarily “damaged,” but I had gone through a journey that helped me relate to those who WERE damaged and to those folks who were coming here during their wilderness journey to escape “bad Christianity.” I felt an instant connection to many of you here, many of you struggling with your faith and more specifically “bad religion.”

    And I’m a better person for having come here: for having read Michael Spencer’s stuff, for having read Jeff Dunn’s stuff, Chaplain Mike’s, Mike the Geo’s, Mike Bell, Daniel Jepsen, Miguel, Eagle, HUG, Mule, Seneca, Christiane, ChrisS, Robert F, Eeyore, anonymous, Dan from Georgia, Tom, Richard H, Klasie, Susan from Australia, Stephen… oh, I’m probably leaving many folks out.

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  86. Like many who have already posted, I’ve followed this blog for the last 15 years or so. It was the only place I found that actually articulated what I was seeing, feeling and experiencing in the church. I was not alone! I’ve commented rarely but have learned much and felt a real connection with those who have contributed to the blog and will miss sharing my morning coffee with you. Being a Canadian, watching the circus of the last years, you gave me hope that our neighbors to the south had not completely lost their minds. Mike Bell, I always enjoyed a perspective that was just a little closer to home.
    This has been a year of loss for so many and the future is unknown,I wish and pray for a Happy New Year to all, may the light that shines through each of you bring life to your corner of the world.

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  87. Please don’t tell me you approve of the way the POTUS has handled his loss and the way he’s “going out.”

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  88. When “loyal” folks can’t even support him, you know there’s NOTHING.

    And thank heavens that some of his “loyal” folks know that there are things that win out over loyalty, like TRUTH.

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  89. I’m not entirely sure how I discovered Internet Monk. It may have been at a now-defunct Christian forum when someone brought up Michael Spencer’s writings, or it might have been through Dan Edelen’s Cerulean Sanctum blog, now dormant but with the archives remaining online. Either way, I’ve learned a lot over the years even with my off-and-on participation. I find it interesting that Michael Spencer’s prediction of an evangelical collapse has proven to be more accurate than a number of predictions by so-called “prophets” in recent years.

    The one regret I have about this site is that discussions in recent years too often descended into partisan politics. Not that I don’t have strong views which I’ve occasionally expressed here; I would have rather than we had focused more on what can unite us as Christians with many questions regarding the institutional evangelical church.

    Thanks to Chaplain Mike, all the various contributors, and my fellow commenters for sharing your thoughts and wisdom over the years. I also want to thank the late Michael Spencer for teaching us that it’s OK to ask questions and rock the boat, even if far too many evangelical pastors and leaders insist we submit to them and obey without question. Godspeed!

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  90. Never underestimate the smug arrogance of God’s Special Pets.
    The Dwarf if for The Dwarf, and Won’t Be Taken In.

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  91. And he has thirty more days to scorch that earth while the Christians chorus “AAAAAAAAA-MENNNNN!!! MAGA!!!!!”

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  92. But they will ONLY accept Affirmation of their Trumpism.
    Anything else is Fake News.
    Everything else if The Enemy.
    The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs, and Won’t Be Taken In.
    And Trump is their LORD and God, who will exalt them to His Right Hand.

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  93. “They will call upon The Strong Man, and The Strong Man will come.”
    — Demonic entitiy villain brag in a Seventies spiritual-warfare novel

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  94. In the mid and late 00’s, I was steeped in the teaching of the new calvinists. Mark Driscoll was a personal hero. They were giving attention to young men in urban settings, which included me. I loved Jesus, but was highly insecure and looking for an in-group.

    As much as I loved running in that circle, I slowly began to sense the bad fruit. The authoritarianism, the control, the weirdness around dating, marriage, submission, and everything around sexuality. The people in my circles were imitating the crassness, vulgarity, and bullying of the calvinist celebrities. I knew it wasn’t for me.

    Michael Spencer was revolutionary in helping me unpack the (valid) reasons I was drawn to that movement, and also helped me to see the dangers. I read him from college, into the workforce, and into seminary. I was changing.

    Then Chaplain Mike took up the mantle, and was writing about and highlighting from others ideas around inerrancy and hermeneutics (particularly issues in the OT). It was incredibly congruent with what I was unpacking in seminary.

    All in all, this blog has been formative in helping find and abide in “Jesus-shaped spirituality.” More specifically for me, it’s aided me in a “Jesus shaped reading of Scripture.”

    I’ve deconstructed and reconstructed with this blog. I’ve debated my ongoing involvement with evangelicalism with this blog. I’ve walked closer to Jesus because of this blog. I’ve had to make amends to those I’ve hurt with misplaced zeal after conviction from this blog.I’ve sat with the grieving and officiated many funerals with the words of this blog (CM especially) in mind.

    Last month I was installed as a senior pastor for the very first time. Jesus-shaped spirituality is my intention for public ministry, vocationally, for the rest of my life… in large part to this blog.

    Thank you.

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  95. I like the first version best, but they are both good.

    Robert, your poetry is developing into something that needs to be preserved and recorded. Someday you need to publish the best of it so it is not lost to this world.

    Our poets give ‘words’ to that which for which there are no words; and we cannot do without that gift if people in the future want to find out about the humanity of their ancestors. In those preserved poems, people record that we lived and had emotions and visions of beauty and we suffered and we cared, that we ‘were human’. That’s important.

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  96. Been following the site for the last 12 years or so… It’s been a journey – thanks for the labor of love! Saturdays won’t be the same….

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  97. I am a sporadic reader and commenter, but this is one of the very few places I sense a feeling of fellowship and family despite differences. I will miss this site.

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  98. Well said. I don’t fault some of my friensd for their votes in regards to public policy, but when a friend of mine in another state expressed hope that the Supreme Court could “help out Trump”, I had to set my foot down and remind my friend, in a kind but frank manner, that it wasn’t going to happen because of that pesky detail called evidence. And when my friends come down on the same side with those who propagate falsehoods, racism, etc, then I HAVE to say something.

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  99. This site is irreplaceable for many of us. We have become a community who share with each other and pray for one another and that is not something that ‘ends’. It is to become a ‘loss’ to bear. But we are grateful for how this last ten years Chaplain Mike and those who helped him have kept Michael Spencer’s work going. And for that gift we are thankful indeed.

    I take with me the gifts and worries and thoughts of many of the people in this community, and I am a changed person for the better. That is something I know. That is something I am grateful for. A blessing.

    God Bless and keep you all close. In the Body of Christ, the closer you are to Him, the closer you will be to one another. It has always been that way.

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  100. Same, although I first encountered IMonk via – of all things – a Google search on Lutheran Study Bible reviews back in 2009 or so. This is the only web site I’ve come to where I read the comments. Even when I disagree, I always come away with a new perspective and a more informed position. Lots of people I wish I could have met in person here. Peace to you all!

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  101. I have this strong feeling that the whole Church must reach out to the white evangelical community, not to affirm trumpism, no;
    but to recall to them WHO THEY ARE in the Body of Christ, and that they are needed and are not to be thrown away as some kind of trumpian cult to which many of them now aspire.

    I think it is the place of the whole Church to stand up and tell them that their witness to Christ is needed, and that their present witness to Donald Trump has come at the cost of harming their witness to Christ, and this indeed has wounded the whole Church.

    I think the Church MUST try to save these folks from going into that dark world of conspiracy theories and Qanon where the trumps are worshipped as ‘talented’ and ‘pro-evangelical’. And I think the Church must challenged the idea that evangelicals pulled this ‘trade off’ of their integrity as Christian people in a transaction that supported trumpism in all of its evil in exchange for ‘judges’ on SCOTUS. . . . .

    The whole Church must try because white evangelicals are a PART of the Body of Christ, and when they suffer (and they are suffering), we all suffer. HOW the whole Church is to do this, I do not know, but I know it is something that must happen. I don’t expect a lot of folks to understand my point of view, but maybe in time, there will be change and healing? I can hope.

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  102. It’s amazing how many of us seem to have traveled similar paths on our journey. We are, as they say, ‘fellow traveler’. And I feel the same sense of loss as well. iMonk (and the community) has been a guide on this journey that will no longer be there for us. Godspeed Eyeore, and the rest of our wandering tribes.

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  103. This site has been a big part of my growth the last 20 years or so, just like I miss Michael I will miss this place. I feel more alone heading into this coming year, unsure about where life will take all of us as the world’s problems continue. God keep us

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  104. One thing seems certain to me : whatever becomes of their current leader, whether he is able to regroup and push himself into the presidency again or not, the cult will continue. It will look for a leader that will meet its fanatical needs and demands, and someone will eventually come along to fill that void.

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  105. I started reading iMonk in 2005. I was both a new pastor and a new blogger, and Michael’s writing style resonated with me immediately. I’m a mainliner with a little experience in evangelical circles, so reading him was more listening in on a conversation, although we had some common complaints and concerns. I also have to credit Michael with introducing me to Thomas Merton, who has been a spiritual giant in my own life ever since.

    I confess I haven’t been as regular a reader since his death, but I’ve been glad for this space regardless. Michael has had an enduring influence on my journey as a Christian and as a writer, and I’ll always be grateful for his life and voice.

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  106. To this day, Micheal’s series on “The Evangelical Liturgy” has been my favorite set of his writing.

    As one raised in the SBC and now LCMS, I have come to love ten historic Christina liturgy. Sadly, too many American Christians don’t know what they are missing since they have a very anti-Catholic view of the history Christian liturgy.

    I copied the text to a Word document so that I can go back and read it in the future.

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  107. I started reading I monk in the early 2000’s. Michael met a lot to me.personally, as I had the privilege to converse with him over the phone during one of the really tough times in my then-marriage (it still took a few years to extract myself from it, but the support along the way helped me survive).

    Imonk has been a great place – and I had the privilege of contributing 11 posts. I found that writing these helped me develop my own thinking. I am one of those that have to express my ideas to get them straight! Especially in this capacity Imonl has been a great influence on me.

    And lastly, though the debate has been very vigorous and sharp at times (Hello Mule!), Imonk has been a decent and safe sparring place. As well as a community of people that deeply care, even considering our often very deep differences- after all, I became the local atheist here! 🙂

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  108. BTW, my wife *loves* the movie today’s picture comes from. Give you three guesses why. ;-). But do yourself a favor – skip the sequel. It’s nowhere near as entertaining as the original.

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  109. “Some things will never change/ They stand there looking backwards/ Half unconscious from the pain/ They may be rearranged/ But in the backwater swirling there is something/ That will never change…”

    — “Backwater”, the Meat Puppets

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  110. They will go somewhere worse. General Flynn or Sidney Powell, someone like that. And Eric Metaxas, the craziest of the crazy evangelicals, will lead them. They will spend decades in the desert and wastes of Conspiracy, their fellow travelers the tribesof QAnon.

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  111. It’s hard to believe that you have been here for so long, and apparently learned nothing from anything or anyone here. I can only imagine the amount of effort required to be that stubborn.

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  112. I started reading Internet Monk in 2005. I was in grad school, far from home, with no friends or family remotely nearby, and no dating prospects – apart from schoolwork I had a lot of time on my hands to brood. I was already disillusioned with the YRR/Neo-Calvinist crowd, but still would have defined myself as a strong Calvinist and (reluctant) evangelical, if only because I couldn’t imagine any other tradition being more “true”. Michael’s posts were really hitting their stride that year, and I ate them all up eagerly. Even in places where we disagreed (and those places shrank over the years), he was thoughtful and truthful in a holistic way – not just in a doctrinal way, which was all I was used to and all I used to think necessary. The interactions (read “war and slander”) between Michael and his Reformed critics that year really brought home the words of Paul – “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

    A lot of those self-proclaimed “Reformers” – and by extension, myself – were proving to be a whole lot of nothing.

    After grad school finished, I went home – and IMonk followed me. I found myself drifting further and further away from the Anglican faction church I was a part of – despite their stated goal of being different and “more faithful” than the mainline Episcopalians, it was still a small encapsulation of all the other white upper class evangelical churches I had attended my entire adult life. I still couldn’t put my finger on the precise problem, but I was learning and watching – and IMonk was there, continuing to give voice to my concerns and observations.

    I got married and left my old church right about the time that IMonk was taken from us. It was quite a blow, but I (and I’m sure the rest of us) was grateful CM picked right up where IMonk left off. And the voice of Michael was also picked up and echoed by the many other regular posters here, as well as many of the commentors.

    It seems funny that it took me so long to actually start commenting myself – I think it was about 2014-15. I was by that time well and truly out of the evangelical mainstream, worshipping at a tiny church that was very egalitarian (anyone could, and did, preach and serve communion) and unlearning almost everything that I had been taught my entire Christian life to be unchangeable certainties. That process of unlearning would probably be clear if anyone would be crazed enough to go over all my comments here over the past five years ;-P .

    2016… That was the final breaking point. That so many evangelicals (and other Christians for that matter) could seriously support a huckster – a “reality TV”/tabloid star with no experience or qualifications for a serious job, a man who peddled the worst sort of racist innuendo, a liar and a swindler – was completely incomprehensible to me. I knew I was “different” from the greater majority of American Christians – now I knew how vast that gulf was. And throughout the last four years, that gulf has widened. Even if the evangelical church hasn’t collapsed numerically and structurally, as Michael had predicted before his death, it has completely collapsed spiritually – and that is worse.

    Through all that, IMonk has continued to be a lifeline, especially after our little church was forced to close it’s metaphorical doors several years ago – there were just too few of us to support what little infrastructure we had, and we were just too weird for just about sny other Christians in our area. In one sense, the pandemic has been a blessing, in that we have been able to watch a variety of churches and pastors online that we never could have seen or known about beforehand. I’m sure some of you will NOT be surprised that my wife and I are very drawn to the Rev. William Barker’s preaching… https://youtu.be/gXqHIF3ku-E

    And now, IMonk is going quiet. I am well aware of how much work and effort a popular and quality blog can take, and I do not begrudge CM for wanting to move on to something new, to get some rest. But I will deeply miss this one fixed guiding light in the gloom of the Christian wilderness of this nation.

    And I will miss the chance to spout my opinions, too, although my wife thinks it will do me good to cut back on fighting wrongness on the internet.

    As in almost everything else, she’s probably right. 😉

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  113. They can’t break it any worse than the guy they’re replacing. If he’d been given four more years, there would be nothing left but scorched earth.

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  114. Goodbyes are hard. They are deaths. The end of iMonk is a hard death. I stumbled on this blog around ten years ago, after Michael Spencer’s death. The time I’ve spent here has changed me in many positive ways; I’ve learned many things, and I’ve become acquainted with a tremendously intelligent, articulate, informed, caring community of posters and commenters, the like of which I may not find again. And iMonk has been an place where my lifelong loneliness has found significant relief. Fare thee well, to CM and his crew of steady posters; to the comment community who are too many to enumerate; and to the likely even larger community of those who rarely or never commented. I shall miss you all.

    plains and mountains,
    all wrapped in snow —
    there is nothing else

    — Joso

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  115. I guess I’ll miss the coming love-fest between Biden/Pelosi and the progressive religionists. This time, the Democrats are really going to fix it – smile

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  116. I will miss this so much. I have never commented, but I have learned so much reading this blog. I must let you know that coming here has played a huge role in my spiritual journey. God continue to bless as y’all move forward. Thank you so much for your commitment to this legacy.

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  117. I am deeply thankful for Michael Spencer and all the iMonks. They have been an indispensable light on my journey through the post-evangelical wilderness. Your work continues to be a helpful resource.
    I pray for God’s favor in your days ahead.

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  118. IMonk for me has been a peak behind the curtain. I started reading it as a non-Evangelical trying to understand the Evangelical world. I hit the sweet spot of an insider’s view with a bit of detachment. I have learned a lot over the years.

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  119. To continue the Saturday traditions of showing the hypocrisy and craziness of the political Christhinat right with Pat

    A few days ago, he starred to distance himself from Trump

    But as a good Trumpian Christian, he continues to push Trump’s lies: “”He had the biggest crowd on Inauguration Day,” But then again, do you expect Pat and his like to be honest about Trump and his lies?

    He stated the truth of Trumpian Christianity: “You know, people kept pointing to them, but because they loved him so much and he was so strong for the evangelicals — the evangelicals were with him all the way — but there was something about him that was good, that God placed him in that office for the time,”

    There is a cult like nature to Trumpism.

    My quesiotn to discussion: Where do you think that right wing Christians will go with Trump no longer POTUS?

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  120. To continue the Saturday traditions of showing the hypocrisy and craziness of the political Christhinat right with Pat

    A few days ago, he starred to distance himself from Trump

    But as a good Trumpian Christian, he continues to push Trump’s lies: “”He had the biggest crowd on Inauguration Day,” But then again, do you expect Pat and his like to be honest about Trump and his lies?

    He stated the truth of Trumpian Christianity: “You know, people kept pointing to them, but because they loved him so much and he was so strong for the evangelicals — the evangelicals were with him all the way — but there was something about him that was good, that God placed him in that office for the time,”

    There is a cult like following to Trump.

    Let’s see if other “Christian Leaders” do the same as Pat.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/pat-robertson-distances-himself-trump-its-time-to-move-on-2020-12

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  121. My first encounter with Michael Spencer when I was ‘minding’ John’s office in the 1950’s.
    During this time I was reading Boar’s Head Tavern and I transferred over to Imonk when Michael Spencer started his blog of IMonk.
    I feel I could qualify as the longest reader of Michael Spencer’s blogs.
    During this time I did a University course in Theology.
    Michael Spencer and subsequent contributors to IMonk have shown how little I was taught.
    My horizons have broadened thanks to those IMonkers who have more study than I was opened to.
    I thank all of those of the people who have posted a topic and everyone of us commentators and who have broadened my outlook and knowledge and have shown me new pathways and opinions which I have absorbed and still hold dear,
    IMonk has been a learning experience, which has been a learning experience for which I will be ever grateful.
    Although I do not know you good folk, I feel I have had a window into your lives, its ups and downs.
    You have been good enough to share your personal thoughts and emotions. This has been a privilege to us readers.

    To Pellicano I extend my sincere gratitude for her love and entering into my life and I into hers.
    She is a wonderful person and should be recognised as special in our community,

    Other IMonkers have entered into my life and I into theirs. We have all shared a sacred privilege.
    So many I can remember and those I forget unfortunately.
    I give thanks for Chaplain Mike, Robert, who showed me Haiku construction, Christianne , Music and close compassion, Senecgriggs, RichRo, Burro, Dana, Tom aka Volkmar, Tom Caldwell, Klasie, Eeyore, HUG, Daniel Jepsen, Michel the Geologist, Damaris, and so many, many more. Please don’t think I have forgotten you, The only one missing I haven’t heard from in ages is Chris Fines. He helped me through a difficult patch. May he be blessed too.
    May we all be blessed in these difficult times and come out the victors in 2021,
    I know I have forgotten so many of our band of IMonkers. Please fill in the blanks and excuse my memory loss. I will miss you all more than you can tell. From Australia.
    Goodbye and may your journey through life be as peaceful as possible,
    May God Bless us all, may his Peace be in our hearts this day and for ever more,
    Amen
    Susan

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  122. I will take this opportunity to say my goodbye even though I know we have a few days left. This seems most convenient. I’m not exactly sure when I found Imonk but it was roughly 15 years ago. I took a year off at one point. I felt it was an obsession and the cantankerous battles were beating me down. When I came back there were still battles but I was not as invested in winning. Then everything became considerably more peaceful for me. I will miss everyone here like a group of friends I have traveled a long journey with. My life has been aided abundantly by our fellowship. I’m different for having taken part in this forum. Until this year, when I got onto Twitter, this has been the sole internet forum I have even looked at, let alone engaged in. I have been helped and honed, as iron sharpens iron. I have been made to question my assumptions and consider any number of different ways to see. Thank you to Mike (and the other Mikes) and all the writers (fabuloso – Spanish for fabulous) and all the participants who are equally responsible for the beauty and texture of this thing, this place, this home. We will miss each other and life will feel diminished for awhile. Go with our beautiful Lord!

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  123. Twenty five years ago (give or take) I tripped over this site while looking for a web site run by a landscape architect in Florida.

    It’s been a great 25 years.

    Best wishes for the next phases of your life.

    Like

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