Raïssa thing. She was cute:
Of course this analogy isn't exactly right - because the sort of blogger who does one of the posts in question always predicates his thought on the fact that he fails, and he is a hypocrite, and yada yada. Shouldn't we all know that game by now? -- I mean, uh, yeah, to be the perfect, meet, and right religious blogger you have to point at your faults in the very predictable and obligatory fashion. To be perfectly humble you have to claim your sins, while inferring that they aren't anywhere near the same category of bad as the media sins of the guy or type of guy who you can't stand and are about to criticize (you can't assert this much, but only infer it, as an assertion here would break the rules). It's all part of the program.
Why is it that religious Americans (in most camps) keep going for those practiced token phrases of self-deprecation-as-humility as if they mean anything anymore? Certain religious milieus, such as one where an astounding number of people close emails with "the chief of sinners" or "a sinner" and similar phrases, seem to buy into this game a lot more than others. Perhaps it is that Americans who get into religion are the most gullible people on earth. It seems they sometimes actually believe that a person who publicly calls himself a sinner or a spiritual failure in a direct fashion actually intends to convey something about himself that is honest. And what is worse, they assume the integrity of the intent here on the part of said blogger, but don't think him hopelessly lost in deluded megalomania in the event that really is his intent. This phenomenon is truly remarkable. I've got some swamp land in Syosset to sell you people. We religious Americans may be the stupidist people in human history.
Maybe the song above would be more analogous if the lyrics were - "O Lord, it's hard to be humble, when you're as close to perfect repentance as one can be but still shy enough of the mark to have the desired street cred and also have people identify with your stated deviations enough to view you as having insight into their lives all the while expressing a gentle warmheartedness you not so subtly contrast with the type of people whose anti-humility you describe so as to, ahem, help others less wise than you." Not as catchy as the original lyric though, come to think of it.
7. Memphis finally made it on to the greatest religion blog of all time:
I personally don't see what the big deal is. There are plenty of places in Memphis other than the ECUSA cathedral where women both wear boas like that one and collect money from an audience. OK, yeah, that's the best I could do. Sorry.
I agree with the organist/choirmaster who comments on the thread in defense of his Canon Pastor; Memphis is a funky city. That is what most concerns me here - because this pictured example seems pretty tame by both Memphis and Bad Vestments standards. My longstanding fear is that the wanna-be bourgeoisie in this city would succeed in gentrifying it and make it boring. If this is the best bad vestment Memphians can come up with my fears are all the more confirmed.
8. I'm not sure that you can be three things at once - an American, a person who is "serious" about God, and someone who really isn't all that interested in baseball. I like college football, I really like 6-man and 8-man high school football, I like high school and college wrestling (as in Dan Gable, not Jesse Ventura), I like boxing (straight up good old fashioned boxing and not this brazilian do whatever you want in the fight crap or anything like that), I like soccer if my nephew is playing or if it's the Welsh national team. I like many winter olympics sports, particularly the biathlon. I even like softball, not to play it, but to watch it -- this came about after the time my friend Tommy and I were making fun of softball in front of his sister who went on to a scholarship in softball at Miami of Ohio. She was a pitcher. She forced us out to the ball field near the water reservoir and threatened to beat us up if we didn't swing. My hands still hurt from when I finally made contact with a ball. She could pitch. Hard.
But I've never been able to get into baseball. My family all knows that this is due to the fact that my mother (she claims accidentally) ran over my t-ball stand when I was 5, which ended my enthusiasm for the sport. Anyway, I've resigned myself to the idea that because I am not a real baseball fan I am thus obviously incapable of being "serious" about God. I do hate the Cubs though, but only for class warfare reasons. My boss dragged me to some Cubs games on a trip to Chicago once, and the el driver quite enthusiastically espoused his White Sox loyalties over the PA as a large group of folks who looked like they might otherwise be going to a Southern Baptist youth camp got off the el. Solidarity brother!
I do like to go to Redbirds games here in Memphis, but pretty much entirely for relatively cheap drink, friends, and food. Maybe I glance out to the field for a total of 20 minutes during a 2 1/2 hour trip to the park. Memphis style BBQ nachos don't grow on trees folks, sometimes you have to go to a crowded place to get them.
9. Mary, this consecrated virgin I used to work with at the bookstore, makes rosaries out of seeds that come from a Kentucky coffeetree in her yard in South St. Paul. This is one she made for me years ago:
Each seed is maybe 2/3" of an inch wide or so. This one went to some old dodger whose fingers didn't work well enough for a small rosary. So Mary is making me a Franciscan Crown rosary out of the same bead material as the above one. I've always wanted a Franciscan Crown rosary because I believe it is the one kind of rosary that need not be blessed to work and blessings are a huge hassle.
The last rosary I had blessed the kids destroyed. The bishop who blessed that rosary was the bishop of the best town in which to drink beer in the whole state of WI at the time, but now he is Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Hope that doesn't turn out to be an omen. My kids thought it would make a cool necklace but once the fight over it ensued it turned out to be more of a leash and just as I was about to restore order and end sacrilege it turned into beads flying all over the living room some of which we still find on our once a year vacuum trips into the nether regions. Perhaps the Cardinal casts a forgiving eye towards incompetence though.
10. I got this whilst on a mission trip to Mexico in 1994:
During this trip a group of us were walking up a mountain and just to the right of us on the path there was this large concrete aqueduct or irrigation tube of some sort that seemed to take water from somewhere above us on the mountain downward, with smaller pipes coming off the big concrete tube at a field every so often.
The aqueduct was 4 or 5 feet in diameter and above ground and every so often there were holes in the top. Anyway, someone in our group decided that the tube would make the ultimate waterslide, so, long story short, the group of 7 or 8 of us went in.
Jeremy was the first one to go in, thank God. I was second. It turned out that the inside was extremely slimy and the part above water (the water came up to fill the tube about half way) was thick with daddy long leggers. Really thick. It was also pitch black once you moved a few yards from one of the openings in the top. We slid quite quickly and via yelling at each other finally figured out and instructed each other in the proper technique needed to slow our speed to the point of maintaining some control. It was disgusting and and freezing and scary in the tube and as soon as we could moderately control our speed the next focus was on getting out.
We were at this point in a line where each of us was right behind the person in front of us. We could maintain this position because Jeremy had been a star linebacker in high school and could squat over 500 lbs. His strength meant he could use his legs to maintain a slow speed even with the rest of us bumping into the person(s) in front of us which resulted in a hell of a lot of pressure on Jeremy.
So Jeremy had to do two very difficult things - he had to control the speed of the group with his legs by pressing with a great deal of force at an awkward angle against the slimy concrete walls of the tube and he had to reach up and grab as we passed under an opening, which amounted to maybe a 2 foot diameter hole in the ceiling of the concrete tube. The first time Jeremy tried to reach up and grab the edge of the hole the train of people behind him collectively slammed into him, he lost his grip, and we kept moving down the mountain. This happened again and again. I remember yelling to him at one point "what the hell happens to us if you can't hold on!!" I'm not always up to speed on the best motivational techniques. Anyway, at one point after 4 or 5 failed attempts Jeremy lunged toward the opening with a peculiar fierceness, timing his grab perfectly. We all slammed into him again. He roared and then cried out in pain as one arm bore God knows how much weight against it, but we all stopped. I then climbed up Jeremy to get a grip at the top, and Jeremy then basically pinned me to the top of the concrete, thus holding everybody else in place, and positioned himself so the his legs were hanging into the hole far enough down that no one would slip past him. He reached down one by one and pulled as out. Flung might be a better verb there - he flung us out with his adrenaline in full gear.
We all laid on the side of the mountain next to that hole after we were all out. We were silent for perhaps a minute, and then the hysterical laughter that comes with a narrow escape.
A farmer had seen us come out and came running up the mountain yelling at us. It turns out that there were usually grates in the tubes but in order to clean out debris every once in a while they pull the grates out to clean out the junk that gets in there. The grates were not located where the holes were, but in a few locations where they extended the seam between two sections of tubing. Had those grates been in that day, we would have had to go uphill backwards in the slime to get out - almost certainly an impossible prospect. The farmer impressed upon us that we were the epitome of stupid.
Jeremy was an epileptic. He had been offered a full ride to play football at a real college but turned it down to go to missions school. He was an epileptic and it was a big deal that an epileptic was such a standout high school football player in a serious football state like PA where he was from - he showed me some of the newspaper articles that had been written about him once.
He later got engaged to a beautiful Arab girl he met in the Evangelical missions world, but while they were engaged one night Jeremy died in his sleep of some sort of undiagnosed heart condition. Once, in the summer of 1996, when his parents and siblings were at the cabin they rented at a lake in interior Maine each year I spent a day with all of them fishing (I was living in Maine that year). Jeremy had a brother and two sisters. Within a few years of that day both Jeremy and his brother were dead - they both died within a year of each other, his brother in a car accident. As I recall I think his father died not too long after that. I hope the women in that family have somehow managed.
When I think of Jeremy I usually think of dorm room antics or that day fishing in Maine. For some reason I don't usually think of him saving my life in Mexico unless I am thinking about Mexico. But digging this old cross out I thought of him pulling me out of darkness in Mexico.
Jeremy's family owned a small family business which supplied flowers to florists. Maybe I'll have the kids "accidentally" pull some of the neighbor's flowers and I'll set a few near this cross. Requiescat in pace old friend.
...lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy...