Open Thread, Monday 1 September 2014

Aurora Borealis from spce. From here:

Aurora Borealis from spce. From here:

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Open Thread, Saturday 30 August 2014

Milky Way over Yellowstone  Image Credit & Copyright: Dave Lane. Taken from

Milky Way over Yellowstone
Image Credit & Copyright: Dave Lane. Taken from

I wasn’t kidding about that Milky Way thing, y’all. Seriously, pics like this have been giving me the goosebumps, lately. Go to the link in the caption for more information, and check out some of their other, amazing images.

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Open Thread, Friday 29 August 2014

20 Oct 2007 Pic of the Day from

20 Oct 2007 Pic of the Day from

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On Tom Sawyer, Pirates, Blogging and Church Picnics

tom-sawyerhuck-finn-and-joe-harper“Who goes there?”

“Tom Sawyer, the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main. Name your names.”

“Huck Finn the Red-Handed, and Joe Harper the Terror of the Seas.” Tom had furnished these titles, from his favorite literature.

“’Tis well. Give the countersign.”

Two hoarse whispers delivered the same awful word simultaneously to the brooding night: “BLOOD!” (Tom Sawyer).

From Anthony Esolen: We could learn a lot from Tom Sawyer, that masterly inspirer of his fellows in truancy and mischief. Boys … invent timurgies, dramas of honor. Note that Tom’s entry into the life of the pirate entailed an impressive change of name: Tom the ordinary became the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main. Mark Twain (and, interestingly enough, that too was a jaunty nautical pseudonym) wants us to smile at Tom’s foolery, but he also admires it, feels at one with the boyish aspirations of his hero, and instructs us to despise Tom’s safe, sluggish, goody-goody brother Sid, who never gets into trouble and therefore is of no interest whatsoever.

Errol-FlynnFor boys are those strange creatures who fail at the simplistic and the frivolous, and succeed at the seemingly impossible. Set the bar low, and many of them will fail to come up to it; set it high, and many of them, often the very same, will clear it. They who cannot pass a tedious geometry test can take apart and reassemble a motorcycle. Tom, asked to name Jesus’ first two disciples, blurts out “David and Goliath!” No surprise that those are the names he should think of. For this same lad fairly lives in the adventures of his reading, and turns to them when he renames himself and his friends, now Avenger and Red-Handed and Terror. Sons of Thunder, he might have added, or the Rock.

To embrace the danger means to encourage fortitude and all its related virtues: high-spiritedness, daring, steadfastness, and magnanimity.  … There is no sensed danger at a picnic…

From Joan of Argghh!:  Ladies, you married a Pirate, I guarantee it. Not that fey, foppish Johnny Depp kind, either. Errol Flynn derring-do is what he’s all about; sails and water and freedom. Be sure to remember that when the hustle of obligations and things get up around his soul. Men are the true romantics. And they never, ever out-live it.  Never doubt it.


For better or worse, we’re in soul searching mode here on the blog, so I’d like to address one of the other founder’s assertions here, even though it was stated privately. I think it’s a good thing to discuss.

Between the newspaper front page of the guy who kicked someone so hard… and [the video] with language warning I can see GFC’s complaint. When we started out we agreed to maintain a level of civility appropriate for us to have no qualms about other family members (including kids) and friends viewing it. We’ve strayed from that ideal. I’m no innocent here. It’s not easy to transition from the locker room (Weasel Zippers) to the church picnic (4GFC). We have to decide which one we want to be known as.

I agree with part of this, but not the part about how we’ve ‘strayed.’  We wanted this blog to be family friendly rather than a “locker room.” But we’ve never been able to agree on what that means, exactly, just as different people have different views about what a church picnic ‘should’ look like.  Lord knows there are plenty of disastrous church picnics.

I don’t know what happens at other people’s church picnics, but at mine, there are little boys running around saying ‘inappropriate’ things, like joking about being kicked in the balls.  Also, there are occasionally groups of men, huddled up, out aways, talking about work, using ‘inappropriate’ language. They give warning (non-verbally) by moving off by themselves where the women and children can’t hear them before they talk about the good stuff. The women do the same thing, BTW, but it’s not always so obvious. They’re more subtle.

So, what do you think happens when little Sally runs up to Mom and squeals on Dad? “Mom, guess what bad word I heard Dad use with those men over there!”

“Sally! You stop listening to those men. Your hair might catch on fire!”

“Well, aren’t you going to stop them?”

“They’re just being men, honey. Pay them no mind.”

Mom knows that attempting to stop her husband from being a man around other men is a very unwise thing to do. If she fails to figure this out at some point, her attempts to suppress what is natural and good in her husband could very well kill her marriage. But more than that, it’s the wrong thing to do. And almost every grizzled old mother knows that trying to beat the mischief completely out of young boys is a futile, pointless and destructive path.

You see where I’m going with this? That post about the dude who kicked a terrorist in the balls belongs on this blog just like the little boys joking about such things belong at a church picnic. The profane video Zophiel posted a few days ago – with a warning – belongs on our blog occasionally, just like those people at church picnics whispering about real life off in a corner belong at those gatherings.  To surgically remove them would be to make the gatherings less real.  Some people might approve of such an ideal and sterile gathering.  But ideal to whom?  Ideal to little old ladies who don’t want their tea disturbed or their trays of cucumber sandwiches overturned by rough play?  Certainly not to God, whose Son has been known to get rough and flip tables at Temple every now and then.

I do not think that this blog should be like a church picnic, but even if I could tolerate such a thing, I can’t see anyone EVER tolerating a little old lady running around the grounds policing all the little boys and eavesdropping on conversations to make sure nothing ‘inappropriate’ gets said.  Perhaps she would watch out for groups of men gathered together off in the grass who look like they might be discussing something unsavory.  Then her first move would be to march over to those men and tell them that their rough talk doesn’t belong at a family event.  It doesn’t matter to her that she is exactly the kind of person that they were explicitly guarding their conversation from.  It doesn’t matter to her that she couldn’t hear their words until after she’d violated their boundaries.  It doesn’t matter that they had thoughtfully isolated themselves from the children.  She would say that she was ‘obliged’ to monitor such things and might even say that she has to “answer to her Maker” if she fails to do so.  Crazy, I know.  But some people have weird ideas about what they are obliged to do to keep the Just God from condemning them to Hell.  That seems to me to demonstrate a severe lack of faith, but what do I know?  The Parable of the Talents comes to mind.

Such things can kill a church community, and it often does.  Such things break up families.  It can certainly kill a blog.  How many such picnics would you attend before you head, screaming, for the exits?  I think that most people can tolerate less than half of one.  I suspect that’s why most people don’t go to church.  I was just building fence with a neighbor who told me that just last week.  He said he would go to church, but he couldn’t tolerate the people.  It’s not Christ’s message that’s keeping people away, it’s us.  We are the problem.  Now that sounds, to me, like something that should make us tremble before our Maker.

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Open Thread, Wednesday 27 August 2014

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