For some reason, the topic of mega-churches has been getting a lot of attention around my house. I point out to my children what Marcus Grodi says, “The theology is a mile wide and an inch deep.” Yeah, yeah, I know: It’s better for the people to get some churching rather than none at all.
But is it? The way I see it, there are three alternatives: “Real” church, pseudo-church, and no-church. If humans have a higher calling (yearning), they will desire the transcendent, which is what they find in church. They might deny the yearning for awhile, but eventually, many of them will surrender. If you offer them a pseudo-church alternative, aren’t you reducing the chance that they’ll eventually succumb to the transcendental yearning and go to a real church, thereby possibly doing more harm than good? It’s at least worth thinking about.
And what exactly is the mega-church experience? Lots of music, acting, hype, and other things that appeal at the emotional level. The worship service reminds me of those high-tech movies with great special effects and a lame plot line: all the effort goes into the CGI instead of the script, just like, in a porno, all the effort goes into the sex instead of the plot. You might call the mega-church approach “spiritual porn.”
Well, my sons and I are slowly getting into the online gardening market. We started our first Facebook ad “campaign” last night. I thought the product was pretty cool, so I thought it was worth spending some of our advertising budget on it. Bamboo Sunglasses. I guess they’re the hot thing right now. If you order, please be aware that you will not receive them before Christmas.
The first of my kids arrives home today. Jack got an early exam schedule, so he’s getting here almost a full week ahead of the other kids. He’s supposed to be working on the online gardening store, but he had a rough semester, so I’ve given him a pass. But now it’s time for him to step up. He’s going to tackle the Instagram part of the marketing effort.
I gotta read more Bionic Mosquito. For quite some time, he’s been analyzing the Middle Ages, starting with the (correct) premise that it was a highly libertarian yet complex society (other societies have been more libertarian, but if it’s, say, Bedouin, it doesn’t offer much for study). His most recent essay looks at property and contracts. If you scroll through the “Best of the Bionic Mosquito” at Lew Rockwell, you can find other essays about the Middle Ages.
Probably worth reading: “Positivity, stubbornness and a conscientious work ethic could be key to living a longer life, a new study has found.” Link.
It’s National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. Don your ugliest for the bars and Christmas parties tonight.
Many thanks for your Amazon patronage this year. I don’t blog for the money (shirtless male modeling does that for me), but the minor reward is nice. I heard on a podcast earlier this year that it’s far more rewarding for a person to make, say, $100 in a side hustle than it is to make $1,000 at his regular job. I’ve never made $100 in a lump sum from blogging, but the few dollars here and there are more rewarding than my regular paycheck for sure. I tip my glass to those of you who support TDE with your Amazon purchases.
If you go overboard with the organic fermented drinks this season, check out these ten best organic hangover cures. I’ve tried none of them, which is highly surprising: I go organic and I often have hangovers. Among the ones I might try: asparagus, toast, and bananas.
1 cup cream (light or heavy)
14 oz. condensed milk
1 2/3 cup Irish whiskey (Jameson’s)
1 tsp. instant coffee
2 T Hershey chocolate syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
Pour all ingredients into blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. Will keep in refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Feast Day of St. John of the Cross. I’m inclined to think this little man may have been the most beautiful of saints. Horribly abused by fellow monks who resisted his reforms but never stopped loving. I’m dedicating 2018 to reading his works (2017 was dedicated to his friend, Teresa of Avila, but alas, I didn’t get too far in my efforts). If you want a great approach that utilizes John and Theresa, Thomas Dubay’s Fire Within is great. So great, in fact, I might pull it off the shelf and start re-reading it in 2018, even though I try to read primary sources when focusing on a particular saint.
Is Facebook destroying society? One former FB exec says, “Yes!” ““[There’s] no civil discourse, no cooperation; [only] misinformation, mistruth.” I’ve been saying that for years. Facebook creates illusions. I could give dozens of examples, but one suffices: A rule of thumb has emerged in my circle of acquaintances: If a spouse professes his/her love for the other spouse on Facebook, or talks about how wonderful their family life is, a divorce is on the horizon. Not always, of course, but it’s startling how often it seems to occur. It’s sad, of course, and I’m not condemning the people who are no doubt struggling in their personal lives, but it doesn’t change the fact that FB almost seems “programmed” to allow its users to create illusion.
Arby’s is currently testing a new sandwich called “The Arbynator” that features roast beef, curly fries, and both cheese and honey sauces. They named it after the Terminator because it’s the only sandwich that will make you want to go back in time and stop yourself from eating it.
But here’s the problem: Hot chick goes to the holiday party; flirts with Lewis; Lewis starts thinking, “I got it goin’ on.” Lewis asks her out. She can’t just say, “No, I’m getting paid to flirt with you,” so she plays along, gives Lewis her phone number, and then gradually lets him down over the next week or two. By the time January 2nd rolls around, Lewis figures out that he didn’t have it goin’ on after all, gets depressed, and, being in the midst of the post-holiday letdown already, kills himself. Good thing there’s pretty good weather out there compared to, say, Kansas in January. That might keep the suicide rate under a million (the suicide rate will be directly correlated to the attractiveness of the models hired to attend the parties).
Vegan Update: I promised readers an update regarding my vegan exploits, so here’s update number one. Stop reading now if you’re cool. It’s going fairly well. I intentionally fell of the vegan wagon for Thanksgiving and paid a terrible price. I was doubled-over Wednesday night after a salami sandwich for lunch and a big hamburger with fries for dinner (the ton of vodka probably didn’t help). I then had Thanksgiving turkey on Thursday and pizza on Friday. The bloating and stomach pains literally took nearly a week to subside, and the accompanying weight gain took about two weeks to come off. My conclusion from this: Your stomach will acclimate to a vegan diet, which is good, but it makes cheating risky. Meat for me has now become like alcohol: Indulge in it if you want, but you might pay a severe price the next day. Other than that, I am enjoying the vegan diet. The meat abstention scarcely bothers me. It sucks when eating out and on special occasions, but otherwise, I don’t miss meat. The animal byproducts part, however, is hard and, truth be told, I’m not doing it well. If I had to guess, I’ve reduced my animal byproduct intake by at least 50%, probably closer to 75%, but I’m not close to eliminating it. I continue to explore options and ways to increase that percentage.
Well, this was a disconcerting headline: Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? As an agricultural proprietor (I just came up with that title; I kinda like it), am I at risk? Probably not. I’m not dealing with the thing that apparently drives the suicides: the stress of dealing with both market forces and weather. I’ve noted to Marie many times, “I have to check myself and make sure I don’t get stressed when things start to go bad for one of my small crops due to weather or plant disease . . . things I have little control over. I can’t imagine how I’d react if my entire livelihood and the financial well-being of my family depended on such things.”
BTW: I would bet $1,000 that the huge government ag programs are botching up the pricing mechanism, creating far more long-term problems than they’re solving, and that’s greatly contributing to the suicide rate. But I know very little about the economics of agriculture, so this is pure conjecture from premises on my part.
If I were a full-time farmer, I’d definitely develop a side hustle, kinda like how I’ve developed farming as a side hustle for my law practice. For me, agricultural proprietorship is half hobby, half side hustle. It’s enjoyable, but only because I don’t have much riding on it. It’s kinda like an elaborate fantasy football league with moderately-high stakes.
I wonder if this is why so many farmers’ wives work. I work with a lot of farmers, and I’m not sure I’ve ever met any with stay-at-home wives. All their wives work, at least part-time, even those farmers with a net worth in the millions of dollars, and most of them work at some job away from the farm. Maybe the wife is the side hustle.
I wanted to comment more on that Harvard communism link that I posted yesterday, but I try minimize Sunday blogging (six days a week with my ego is enough). I am stunned at socialism’s comeback among college kids today. The evil is baked into its ideology; the evil manifested itself immediately; the evil never left it. Each of these three are addressed immediately below.
Re: The baked-in evil. It comes from three sources:
(1) Socialism immanentizes the eschaton: seeks to bring paradise to earth. Religion’s higher purpose has a serious defect in its DNA: it’s self-righteous . . . and often ruthless or cruel . . . in its pursuit of that higher purpose. Religion, however, is more concerned about the after-life. Heavenly concerns trump earthly ones. In a proper religion, all earthly endeavour must be informed by the heavenly, with the result that religious people try to excercise the proper virtues: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, fruitfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity (just to name twelve of them . . . smile). If the transcendent pull–the Ultimate “Check” on Ambition–is eliminated, all that’s left is the self-righteousness . . . and ruthlessness and cruelty. Because here’s the thing: If you eliminate, or deny, the transcendent pull, it’s there nonetheless, so some other “religion” will replace it in your life. That’s what happens with socialists. They deny God or any transcendent pull, but they nonetheless continue to experience it, so they replace it with their political schemes . . . and are self-righteous about it . . . and often ruthless or cruel.
“Roughly 100 million people died at the hands of the ideology my parents escaped,” she writes. “They cannot tell their story. We owe it to them to recognize that this ideology is not a fad, and their deaths are not a joke.” https://t.co/CHNgURwKsG
Christmas gift idea: The Diamond Hoe. This is an amazing gardening tool. When I bought it two years ago, it wasn’t even available on Amazon. Strongly and enthusiastically recommended if you like to wipe out weeds efficiently and without stooping.
I’m reviving a measure of my Jack Kerouac studies (he’s the focus of my January Theology on Tap lecture). I’m partway through his defining biography, Memory Babe. I saw this quote at the Daily Kerouac Twitter feed. “Wake up, cease the tendency to unkindness towards others, unkindness is the murderer of the life of wisdom.” I wasn’t shocked by it, but a little surprised. Kerouac had pockets of deep wisdom in an often tattered cloak of existence.
I’m not sure I would elevate silence to the level of a “right,” but Dalrymple preaches to my choir in this piece. Introduction: “One of the most denied of all human rights is that to silence. . . the right not to be assaulted everywhere by extraneous and unnecessary noise.” Amen. I hate noise. It’s a rapist. Unlike the ugly sight that you can avoid by shifting your eyes down, noise can’t be avoided. By making it, you are infiltrating the next person’s space. Consequently, every decent person makes as little of it as possible. Or, more accurately, the decent person makes as little unnecessary or inappropriate noise as possible.
My top ten list of detestable noise:
10. Gratuitous honks from fire trucks.
9. The neighbor’s music (the advent of ubiquitous headphone use has taken a huge bite out of this problem, thankfully).
8. Chain saws.
7. Dogs barking.
6. That damn cat pounding around! (applies only when I’m hungover)
5. The lawn mower (would rank higher, but it’s kinda necessary in our culture of lawns).
4. Cars with bad mufflers.
2. The leaf blower.
1. The cell phone talker.
I have long maintained that there is an inverse correlation between intelligence and noisiness. The less intelligent the person, the louder s/he is. It’s no coincidence that the drunk is often loud. I run across exceptions to this inverse correlation, but overall, I think it holds.
Christmas Gift Idea. We bought this to point customers to our produce stand and to list product/prices at the farmers market. Giant dry erase boards come in many sizes and prices. We bought this one after a fair amount of online research and are very happy with it. It cleans nicely and is sturdy.
Catholic Men's Quarterly, a one-of-a-kind general interest men's magazine written by Catholic men for Catholic men. Makes a great Father's Day gift.
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