Thursday, 9/26/13

    1. “I always knew the questions in advance.”
    2. Extreme Investing
    3. Liverpool Football Attractions
    4. Inward focus at the Sunday Morning Show
    5. The Coca-Cola Explosion
    6. God ≠ Man in a Louder Voice
    7. Melt-down Forecast
    8. [Crickets Chirping]


BUtB3xzCQAEYmOx(Via Twitter) Got that? “I always knew the questions in advance.”

Any questions about who’s obsessed and whether Pope Francis has some OCD legacy of John Paul II and Benedict XVI to bury?


Monday news:

Today’s a big, exciting day for anybody who has found it simply too difficult, to date, to throw their money away on idiotic gambles. Are you bored with Las Vegas? Have you become disillusioned with lottery tickets? Do micro caps leave you lukewarm? Does the very idea of a 3X ETF fill you with nothing but ennui? Well in that case today you must rejoice, because the ban on general solicitation has beenabolished, and the web is now being overrun with companies like Crowdfunder and RockThePost andCircleUp which offer a whole new world of opportunity when it comes to separating fools from their money. You can even lose your money ethically, now, if that’s your particular bag. The highest-profile such platform is probably AngelList: as of today, founders like Paul Carr (alongside, according to Dan Primack, over 1,000 others) are out there tweeting at the world in an attempt to drum up new investors.

(The Idiocy of Crowds) Translation here.

This isn’t even one more way for the 1% to lighten the wallets of the 99%. The capitalists will be starry-eyed dreamers with half-baked ideas that will make restauranteuring and general contracting look like paradigms of business longevity. Only they’ll be doing it with someone else’s money.


Melinda Selmys is stretching me again:

I’ve struggled for a long time with the notion of “sexual orientation.” In some ways, the Courage party line, that there are no homosexuals, just heterosexuals with same-sex attraction, is true. Ontologically, theologically, it would seem to be a justifiable statement. The problem is, no one really talks ontologically in daily life. We say “I’m depressed,” not “I am a human being who is experiencing depression,” or “I’m a Liverpool fan” not “I am a person with Liverpool Football Attractions (LFA).”

As usual, that’s just a teaser for a lot of insight.

Spiritual Friendship is one of the blogs that made the cut as I was recently cutting subscriptions to less incisive blogs.


Sunday is a Eucharistic Banquet, not an outreach program, which could certainly rile any good evangelical’s feathers.

“Why the inward focus?” they might ask, “What about all of those lost souls?”

To that I would say there are six and a half days for evangelism.  Why is it wrong to spend a couple of hours each Sunday praising our Savior and praying for the salvation of the world?

May the peace and love that overflows from a life transformed in Christ be all of the witnessing that is necessary for us.  Not that there isn’t room for discussion or even a friendly, light debate, but in the end, I find a life transformed and beautified to be much more compelling than a slick sermon or a well-rehearsed argument.

(The Sunday Morning Show)

I would respond “What in the world do you mean ‘inward focus’?! Were you listening to a single word? How often did you hear ‘I’ or ‘me’ or even ‘we’? Now: How often do you get saccharine, inward-looking sentimentality at your Church?”


Today’s population panic goes on as if the Earth’s temperate grasslands are straining under the weight of supporting voracious humans rather than voracious Big Ag. “We’ve run out of farmland,” shriek op-eds and talking heads. “We’re already at the limit. The population is booming, but every last hectare of prime arable land is already taken!”

Taken by what? According to the National Corn Growers Association, 30% of US corn ends up as fuel ethanol, while 5% is grown as corn syrup for junk food sweeteners and fizzy pop. Ain’t it grand that we’d sooner say there are too many human beings in the world than too much Coca-Cola, Honey Nut Cheerios or Special K?

Food security and ecological sustainability are impossible without democratic control of land. Only through land nationalisation can we introduce the connected landscapes, smart cities and wildlife corridors that will let ecosystems bend, not break. As with homelessness a century ago, the problem facing a population of 7 billion is not too many people crowding too small a piece of land, but too few people owning too much world.

(Robert Newman, There is no population explosion on this planet, emphasis added)


The implosion of the Crystal Cathedral can be explained in many ways—dysfunctional family dynamics, financial hard times, lack of wise leadership, and a changing religious climate. Moreover, today’s digital generation has no time for a whole “hour” of power from anyone—two minutes on YouTube is enough! But long before the Crystal Cathedral filed for bankruptcy, another kind of insolvency was at work eating away at the soul of the enterprise. And here the critics are right.

Building on the self-actualization theories of Abraham Maslow, Schuller rode the crest of the human potential movement in the fifties and sixties. The deepest dilemma faced by men and women, Schuller thought, was the unsatisfied quest for human glory, the desire for self-esteem. In this schema, Jesus is the ideal ego-tripper, Self-esteem Incarnate. As Schuller once said to Phil Donahue, “Jesus had an ego. He said, ‘I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.’ Wow, what an ego trip he was on!” Schuller was also fond of saying that Jesus never called anyone a sinner. But red-letter words like “evil ones,” “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” “serpents,” “children of the devil,” and “adulterous and sinful generation” are not exactly compliments.

Schuller’s campaign to “positivize” the offending terminology of the Bible led not only to the dumbing down of the faith but also to its gutting out. It resulted in the de-sacrilization of salvation, which was a popular move in an increasingly secularized culture. In the sunny clime of suburban Southern California, it was a perfect fit—at least for a while. His bromides were cute. Instead of Jesus’s beatitudes, Schuller gave us “be happy attitudes.” Nevermind all that stuff about mourning and martyrdom, the hungry and the poor. Schuller also taught us that “tough times never last but tough people do,” deftly ignoring the fact that tough times can indeed last for a very long time, and that tough people crack and break just like anyone else. Schuller never learned what Karl Barth said about the liberal theology of his day, namely, that one cannot get God by saying man in a louder voice. He never understood what Richard John Neuhaus knew and put so well: “Something has gone dreadfully wrong with the world, and with us in the world.” At the end of the day, we are not only sick, we are lost; what we need is not a mere therapist, but a Savior.

(From Crystal to Christ)


I withheld judgment until now, but I now predict (and I’m willing to bet a very small amount if the odds are right) that Senator Ted Cruz, the Junior Senator from Ted Cruz and Chairman of the Ted Cruz Fan Club, will straightaway let his ego get so out of control that he’ll end up with the proverbial dead girl or live boy. Er, make that caught with a dead girl or live boy.


The worst attack on Pakistani Christians in history didn’t make the front page of the New York Times. The Washington Post buried the story on page A7 of Monday’s paper. On the front page of the BBC web site, a small headline “Pakistan church blast kills dozens” was below stories on Angela Merkel and the Emmys. By the next day, the story was nowhere to be found.

(MZ Hemingway, Can We Finally Start Talking About The Global Persecution Of Christians?, H/T Rod Dreher) This is depressing stuff. It’s tempting to block out:

  1. How much ignorant B.S. our politicians mouth not only about the religion they supposedly profess, but about Islam as well.
  2. How the ignorant B.S. can be that “True Islam” is homogeneously wonderful with or utterly lethal and suicidal.
  3. How pervasive persecution of Christians has become.
  4. How much the slaughter of, say, Pakistani Christians is vicarious: they’d really like to kill American Christians instead, since the assumption is that we’re all supportive of the Western evils pious Muslims and terrorist opportunists both decry.

Still, I tend to fall back on “if there’s no solution, there’s no problem.” Terrorism is an evil, not a problem, no?

"If there's no solution, there's no problem."
“If there’s no solution, there’s no problem.”

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.