Things I Think

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62 Responses

  1. Captain Kevin says:

    Good things, Michael. A lot to ponder.

    Re: #10 – What I find abhorrent is when someone preaches the good news, then follows it with, “but…” and proceeds to lay down the law.

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks, CK!

  3. Saved by grace, grown by grace. All of it motivated by love.

  4. Michael says:


  5. Corby says:

    #7. People eat up stuff like that. The memes from that great theologian TobyMac are equally frustrating because of how joyfully they are shared and consumed. Nobody wants depth; they want height. The difference is height is thrilling but you have to come down sometime. Depth is substantial and enduring, but it takes more work. There is no help for the Christians who doesn’t want to work.

  6. Michael says:

    Well said, Corby!

  7. Em says:

    #5 – tend to agree and sometimes i wonder if the whole Church, all of us, is really praying for those in authority to bless and not curse us?
    Don’t place all the blame on Trump and wash your hands of the whole thing, this isn’t a one man job… IMHO

  8. Michael says:

    My fear and loathing of Trump increases by the day…but he’s a symptom, not the problem. I started Woodward’s book on him and then started looking for my grampas fallout shelter plans…

  9. Michael says:

    Our daily liturgy demands we pray for him…it’s good for my sanctification…

  10. Duane Arnold says:

    #7 Extremely mediocre theology and very bad writing… not sure which is worse.

  11. Em says:

    My Trump comment wasn’t directed at you, Michael… But it did sound that way, didn’t it? I apologize for that

    Take it for what it’s worth – a Heney Penney chicken cluck, but right now we have Russian bombers, i undrrstand, in Venezuela, treacherous China all over this hemisphere and claiming control of South Pacific shipping lanes, Iran supposedly equipped with long range (can reach U.S) nuclear missiles, No. Korea nuclear armed and apparently controlled behind the scenes by warlords…. And who knows what running around under the seas…. Hate and strength are not synomous, but….
    I’d like to think our Lord has been given the go ahead to saddle up that white horse he’s returning on… ?

  12. Jean says:

    #5, Of all the tumults in this country of late, the resignations (or removals) of Kelly and Mattis IMO arguably are existential threats to our country. To have a breach in trust and/or respect in the military chain of command is very dangerous in light of the national security threats around the world. If this breach runs to our allies and alliances, then there’s a double danger.

  13. Em says:

    Kelly and Mattis in the White House made me feel safer but we truly don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes in that political steambath, Wash. D.C. … Let alone across the Atlantic and up the Mediterranean to the Near East……

    Maybe, we should spend more time focused on the sham Christianity building now… A great platform for a dangerous, false christ…. dunno… ?

  14. Jean says:

    I have children and perhaps grandchildren one day. I am an American citizen entrusted with a vote. Therefore, I will focus attention on my country’s welfare. I don’t focus any time on the false religions, errors and/or scandals that others worship in, other than what I read about here. I got myself out of the one I was in, by the mercy of God.

  15. Em says:

    Trouble is, Jean, that, excluding the nutty ones, there is a building, insidious form of our faith that looks for the good in people and sees Jesus as the ultimate teacher, not as God incarnate, the necessary, blood sacrifice for redemption and life… Michael’s site here is actually addressing the serpent’s logic more than is realized, or so it seems to me
    Better worded, perhaps, is the need to a build solid, informed faith – one that recognizes a corrupted, false imitation by its smell… we may have differing expressions, but the core must be solid….
    Or so it seems to me… I didn’t mean to say that we need to learn false religions… ?

    Gotta go fir now… Gid keeo

  16. Xenia says:

    insidious form of our faith that looks for the good in people <<<

    Well sign me up.

    You can believe in the essentials of Christianity and still look for the good in people and look to Christ as a great teacher.

  17. Em says:

    Yes, Xenia, good points and should be a given… ?
    However, when you slide into the declaration that all we need to do to please God, if there is one, is to find that spark of the divine, the good, residing in all of us? … Well, then, you have slid into a blind, ego centered, smug maybe, self sufficiency … and that makes the evil one very pleased… God? Not so much

  18. Michael says:

    One of the places where my theology is changing…and I don’t have it all worked out…is that because God put on human flesh and lived and died on our behalf…all three phases were necessary…I am now free, even commanded to look for the good in people rather than write off the race as utterly depraved.

    It is a radical change in perspective from where i came from…

  19. BrianD says:

    “I have a sick feeling that something has unraveled in this country at a primal level. ”

    Well said.

    Maybe we’ll be given the chance to help fix it….or we won’t.

  20. Michael says:

    Thanks, BD…let’s hope there’s a fix to be had…

  21. bob1 says:

    insidious form of our faith that looks for the good in people

    What Xenia said.

    Sign me up, too!

  22. Jean says:

    Maybe I’m sheltered, but what tradition “write[s] off the race as utterly depraved”?

  23. Michael says:


    That was wee bit of exaggeration.
    The Reformed doctrine of total depravity says that all of our being is tainted…which is true to a degree, but then they never stop referring to themselves as worms.

    We should have a high view of sin…but a higher view of the love of Christ.

  24. Jean says:

    Would wretched man work for you? 🙂

  25. Duane Arnold says:


    Well said….

  26. Em says:

    In my flesh dwells no good thing… When i referred to justification before God by being “good”- good deeds – i stated it very poorly from the comments that it seems to have generated – sorry
    I do rejoice that all here state that they look for good in their fellow man … ? … That is a good trait as long as we know it doesn’t punch our ticket to Paradise in the hereafter, but it will make those who ‘d know more about the faith feel safe to hang out around us and that, too, is a good thing… A very good thing

  27. Babylon's Dread says:

    Unraveling at a primal level, sadly yes. I spoke to a friend this week and said that I have such an ominous feeling in my gut violence at a catastrophic level among us. No, I do not think our gun violence is the issue, but that it is rather like the lava flows which precede a volcanic eruption. Being wrong on this one is preferred.

    I never want to be either pessimistic about the future or naive about human capacity to slow the matter considerably. Still, we are receiving a kingdom.

  28. Nathan Priddis says:

    @ Michael.
    Used in the same sentence?

    Careful. That could get you burnt at the stake.
    That’s way worse then saying Jesus, when he drank wine, drank wine, and not fermented grape juice.

  29. Em says:

    Pastor Dread’s reference to a volcano reminded me of waiting for St. Helens to erupt. I finally drove down to see for myself what was going on. There was a HUGE bulge on the northwest flank – parked off the highway with the binoculars trained on it, you could see active rockfall – it looked ominously alive and i wondered why there wasn’t more of a fuss being made over what even a lay person could see was building
    Now i wonder why all the bluster and hatred being expressed so openly doesn’t cause more concern in the public at large… Perhaps it will, perhaps in time to turn ? I pray so…

  30. Michael says:


    I have the same gut feeling.
    Trump has simply exposed what lay latent in many…a simmering rage against change,both real and perceived.
    He is their proxy in the fight.
    If you read any of the biographers and inside reports he is also an incompetent narcissist who puts us all in danger…he will be replaced one way or another.
    Then the volcano will explode.
    These are perilous times…

  31. Michael says:


    I know I’m a sinner…and there are always voices to assure me how bad a one I am.
    There have been far fewer voices speaking to me of the love of God…

  32. Xenia says:

    People compare Trump with Hitler, and there are some valid points of comparison for sure. But Hitler was a very intelligent man with a definite, well thought out ideology. All wicked, of course, but backed by more than the childish, petulant narcissism of Trump who, if he was ever very bright to begin with (doubtful) has now lapsed into senility. Trump has no ideology other than self-glorification. Hitler had a plan that went beyond personal gratification and he was able to carry it out for many years until it all collapsed.

    However, many of Trump’s followers foolishly believe he *is* intelligent and *does* possess some kind of ideology (MAGA?). They have been deceived but still hang on. Why? Some are too proud to admit they have made a terrible mistake. Some others relish the opportunity to express the rottenness that they used to feel they had to keep hidden. Some hate any kind of authority and relish the chaos. Many imagine they are being oppressed by the Liberals and see Trump as their savior. Their Savior, some seem to think.

    My hope for 2019 is that Trump realizes being President isn’t as much fun as he thought it was going to be and resigns, and the sooner the better. I can’t stand Pence either but at least he’s not senile and seems to have a pseudo-Christian philosophy of life that isn’t completely whackadoodle.

  33. Xenia says:

    A possible scenario, with an echo from the Nixon era: Trump makes a deal with Pence. He’ll resign and let Pence be President if Pence will pardon Trump from all the many crimes that are daily being brought to light.

    Not a perfect solution but maybe the best we’ll get.

  34. Em says:

    Social structure is an interesting dynamic outside the norms and standards of our God, but sonehow, still part of His plan… I’ve reached the age of compulsive reflection…. ?
    I grew up in an interesting town… the social divide was the wash, a huge concrete lined ditch designed for flood control.North were the doctors, lawyers, judges and sundry corporate execs. South of the wash was blue collar for the most part. My grammar school was located on the divide and was composed of roughly half from each side.
    It was a different time. Those from the north got the tough, disciplinarian teachers. Those south got the nice ladies. No male grammar school teachers – it was the 1940s.
    All this to say, the nice kids, the ones who were up front, tolerant, courteous and fun to be with, for the most part lived north. The little brats, the bullies and the snots came from homes to the south… It was a different time.
    I’d guess that we all grew up to be more pragmatic: don’t mess in my business, but with better social facades … Maybe. But it did give me a higher opinion of the “movers and doers” than some have today… It was a different time…
    Me? I grew up on the south side. ?

  35. Em says:

    Post script to my 10:07
    Starting to read Jean’s post reminds me that those south were the self righteous “religious” also ?

  36. Dan from Georgia says:

    Just a thought on Trump and social media…many people and news outlets are aghast at Trump’s tweets. This I find puzzling because Trump is just mimicking how many other people act on twitter…like total rat’s behinds.

  37. terry says:

    Xenia’s comment at 8:51 is as arrogant as it can be, something not usually expected of her. To dismiss large groups of people in this manner is very un-christ like. Sad to see.

  38. Em says:

    Terry, if i posted my view of Chuck Schumer, it would look similarly arrogant … ?

  39. Jerod says:

    “So perhaps instead of secularization it makes sense to talk about the fragmentation and personalization of Christianity — to describe America as a nation of Christian heretics, if you will, in which traditional churches have been supplanted by self-help gurus and spiritual-political entrepreneurs. These figures cobble together pieces of the old orthodoxies, take out the inconvenient bits and pitch them to mass audiences that want part of the old-time religion but nothing too unsettling or challenging or ascetic. The result is a nation where Protestant awakenings have given way to post-Protestant wokeness, where Reinhold Niebuhr and Fulton Sheen have ceded pulpits to Joel Osteen and Oprah Winfrey, where the prosperity gospel and Christian nationalism rule the right and a social gospel denuded of theological content rules the left.”
    Ross Douthat
    That’s not even the best quote.

  40. Reuben says:

    It seems you might have seen my post in response to a Christian saying Mary is made out to be a “Me Too” figure in the Bible.

    I don’t care what culture of span of history someone like “Mary” lived in, the facts are grand in this argument. Your scholars agree she was likely 12. 12. Tell me she understood anything other than men regularly took her friends of the same age, and shortly thereafter her friends became pregnant. Most of these girls did not know the men well at all, these were deals that usually had little to nothing to do with them. They were property, living in an extremely patriarchal societal structure. Cows likely valued about the same as a 12 year old girl, even in her historical time period.

    On to more relevances to this argument, she was likely uneducated, illiterate, segregated from the opposite sex, and developed in upbringing to exist for the purpose of being a wife. The likelihood of her and her friends being raped at an even younger age is more probable than not, which placed a higher price on virginity as an asset in deals concerning the trades for wives, literally analogous to buying a new car over a used car.

    The way in which “Mary” was raised, her response to a man or a god at that juncture in her life would be, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” It is quite literally a pavlovian response, a Manchurian candidate type programmed code.

    All that to say, she did not understand consent, or her value as a human, or that she even had a choice.

    Assuming the story has any truth to it at all, she was raped, and Joseph aimed to put her away quietly as a result. He only did this so she would not be stoned to death.

    Where “Christian History” and actual history collide is in almost every single aspect of the story of “Mary”. I went back on this very topic and read upwards of 12 different historical perspectives of this sequence of events from “theologians” and all of them skirt the issues of the way she was raised, and her age as a factor.

    So the verse you reference is not of any value to me when it is seen in light of reality. I did not miss it once in countless readings of the scriptures over the span of my Christian life.

  41. Em says:

    Reuben, aren’t you confusing the middle east in general with the historic Jew?
    If you think Mary was raped and the Jesus story is a fable ..?… Well are you ever in for a surprise. ?

    She may have been promised to Joseph at age 12, but it is reasonable to conclude that she was a couple years older when she was impregnated – she rode a donkey cross country and experienced a successful chikdbirth, so physically she was ready to bear children and doubtful she did so at age thirteen – maybe, but doubtful
    There is nothing remotely similar between the terms insemination and rape BTW… to apply the terms manchurian candidate and pavlovian would indicate that she was mentally deficient or that you and your sources do not understand normal, healthy girls … IMNSHO ?

  42. Jerod says:

    Prolly 14 or 15. In context, when life expectancy was mid 40’s, teenage marriage to established men who could provide the Bride-Price (if indeed Jewish society was not literate) was to be expected. But it’s not Aisha, by any stretch.
    If Jews were so illiterate, why did Mohammed call them “The People of the Book”?

    As to literacy, here:

    Prior, it was apparently a requirement to be literate enough to read scripture to worship in the temple.

    Jewish literacy was pretty widespread due to Torah law and to the Greek and Roman influences.

    So Mary was probably not illiterate, being in
    Roman occupied territory and from the line of Nathan, a Levite. So would understand the marriage contract and what broke it.

    And even if only orally taught, she certainly would’ve known the difference between consent and rape from the infamous stories of rape and stories of consent such as Song of Solomon.

    I suppose it’s your arrogance as an enlightened post-Christian that let’s you assume the state of mind of a person from a few scant passages proof texted by a whopping 12 authors. But it’s not accurate. Especially to judge a person you’ve never observed as classically conditioned.

    There’s much more information about you here on Ph.P than Mary. I should characterize you as operationally conditioned to exhibit attention seeking behavior here on the Ph.P site, then?
    This might suggest your faithless life is not all its cracked up to be? I hope.

  43. Muff Potter says:

    @ Xenia:

    Sign me up too.

    1)I’d rather look for human kindness and the good in people than through religious dogma lenses any day.

    2)This is why our founders included articles of Impeachment in the Constitution.

    They were meant to also encompass the executive branch and to ensure that it is not above the law.

    Had Nixon not done the right thing and resigned, he would have been charged with obstruction of justice and removed.

    Nixon was rational, Trump is not.

  44. Ike says:

    xenia said
    However, many of Trump’s followers foolishly believe he *is* intelligent and *does* possess some kind of ideology (MAGA?). They have been deceived but still hang on. Why? Some are too proud to admit they have made a terrible mistake. Some others relish the opportunity to express the rottenness that they used to feel they had to keep hidden. Some hate any kind of authority and relish the chaos. Many imagine they are being oppressed by the Liberals and see Trump as their savior. Their Savior, some seem to think.

    What was our alternative to Trump Xenia? The most openly corrupt politician Hilary?
    As a christian Trump supposedly supported much more of our biblical beliefs.
    Maybe not in actions but in his words.

    How would Hilary made a better president for America? ‘
    I don’t wear a MAGA hat and no I don’t care for his extra marital affairs. I agree with Michael more immigrants need more vetting to let the good ones in.

    My red line may be archaic but if you support abortion publicly and planned parenthood I don’t vote for you.

  45. Xenia says:


    What was our alternative to Trump?<<<

    This was the question you Republicans should have asked yourselves during the primary, when there were several good candidates that I would have gladly voted for. Instead, you foolishly nominated Trump and then told the rest of us that we had no choice.

  46. Xenia says:

    Here’s something I often think about. How bad does a Republican candidate have to be so that some folks won’t vote for him? If all he has to say is “I am against abortion,” can he be the most depraved person possible and some would still vote for him against the Democrat? I am serious. How bad must a candidate be before some will say “This man is too wicked. I can’t support him.”

  47. Em says:

    Trump’s presidency is most likely over, not because of his lack of virtue, rather because Pelosi is a master politician out of the LBJ mold and is now in a primo obstructionist position…
    Is this a good thing? My view is that those folk all function in an atmosphere far from where i live, i.e., no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Maybe, but they had about 6 mos to move them out into Syria or Russia before Bush Jr. implemented his declaration to go in… Who knows for sure? I don’t. I do know someone in a position to know who says that that is what happened in order to avoid a confrontation with Russia… dunno….
    Today, i don’t know if Trump is smart. I do know that if i’m not praying for a successful outcome of his tenure, i am not an obedient Christian….

  48. Xenia says:

    if i’m not praying for a successful outcome of his tenure<<<<

    The best outcome would be Trump's resignation, ASAP. Then we'd have Pence, who I don't like as a person, but he is sane and much higher up on the decency scale than Trump. I think Pence would listen to his advisers, etc. Pence doesn't post bizarre Tweets all the day long, so he has some self control. He's not senile. He'd be a better president than Trump and if he were in office I would probably calm down. I wouldn't really like him, but I could tolerate him. He's not a morally depraved person. I could stand Pence.

    Frankly, I think most of his Christian supporters would be relieved.

  49. Xenia says:

    Come to think of it, why don’t most of Trump’s Christian supporters wish Trump would resign so they could have Pence, who has the same policy points but is less embarrassing? Maybe this is a secret wish of many…

    Em and Ike…. wouldn’t you really rather have Pence?

  50. Em says:

    Xenia, a successful outcome means for the good of the nation and, hopefully, for the Church also. ?
    Rather have Pence? For a next door neighbor, yes

  51. Em says:

    Correction to my 4:35 of yesterday…
    My nurse daughter tells me that Mary’s egg was fertilized by the Holy Spirit. “Inseminate” is the wrong term…. ?

  52. Ike says:

    What are the virtues of the Democrats Xenia?
    I didn’t choose Trump, I would have prefered Ben Carson.
    When you vote you are voting for the lesser of the two evils.

  53. bob1 says:

    Trump’s presidency is most likely over, not because of his lack of virtue, rather because Pelosi is a master politician out of the LBJ mold and is now in a primo obstructionist position…

    What a pile of baloney.

    Trump’s lack of virtue feeds into the many scandals that he and his Admin. are in the middle of. Virtuewise, he’s the worst president in many generations, if not more. Virtue counts. And a President who’s lied over 5,000 times (documented) shouldn’t be our commander in chief.

    It kills me that all the righties I know can’t bother with even a millisecond of introspection as to how they could’ve voted for this clod. Instead. it’s the “Democrats are evil” bromide.


  54. Em says:

    Bob1, didn’t say all Democrats are evil, myself , but I do think Pelosi is a power mad, devious woman and any progress or facade of progress for the nation now will have Democrat and Pelosi labels all over them – so? So pray that God turns their hearts and minds to bless and not curse us… Just as i think we should be doing now where Trump is concerned
    Didn’t comment on Trump’s virtue or lack of same either… ?

  55. bob1 says:

    Pelosi isn’t even necessary to bring Trump down.

    He’s done, is doing, and will bring himself down by his unlawful actions and disrespect for the rule of law, among other things. Who would vote for a candidate who goes with just his gut, as opposed to regular presidents who have advisors, think, and study? It’s like having an 8th grader in the Oval Office.

  56. Jean says:

    As usual, Xenia hits the nail on the head:

    “Come to think of it, why don’t most of Trump’s Christian supporters wish Trump would resign so they could have Pence”

    I would hazard a guess, but I think I’m 0-2 at the plate this weekend.

  57. Duane Arnold says:


    I’m in Indiana. We had Pence. No desire for a second round…

  58. Em says:

    My one comment to all here, no matter your hopes – virtue, like beauty, may be in the eyes of the beholder… HOWEVER ? …
    politics is not the arena in which one will find much in the way of virtue… lots of situation ethics, sausage and lots of – ahem – baloney ?

  59. Reuben says:

    Hi Jerod, I don’t recall you from the olden days, so you have me at a disadvantage with your familiarity with my past here.

    I don’t take kindly to Catholic Apologetics, but you are reading straight from the playbook regarding the “Mary”. I don’t know if you understand what level of historical revisionism Catholics are guilty of, but again, I don’t take kindly to them. Outside of that, so what if she were 14, and expected to be dead by 40? Does it change the fact that she was raised for marriage? That she was likely adept at reciting scripture because it was demanded of her god that she commit it to memory? All in all, any attempt to justify her situation as rational is silly.

  60. Reuben says:

    Looking at “Mary” from an actual historical context, it is a shame what her roll in society was, how she was treated, how she was raised, and when she was expected to produce offspring. Imagine trying to make those principles apply today?

    This further demonstrates to me that Christians, as I was, will justify anything in the name of god, but when the rubber meets the road, that is all you can use. It boils down to this faith thing, blaming god because apparently he knew what he was doing, and that includes impregnating a child. There is no other justification but faith. I think you will find that your scriptures quite literally demand that measure of scrutiny from you. If it ain’t in scripture…

    Rationality be damned.

  61. Michael says:


    This one is so far beyond the pale that I actually find it offensive.
    It won’t be discussed here further.

  62. Babylon's Dread says:

    Word inflation spawned online has devalued communication dramatically.

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