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Showing posts from July, 2015

What Love Looks Like

By John Shores ~ M y father was a Baptist pastor, later became a Wesleyan pastor and eventually became an Orthodox priest. Anyone familiar with these sects of Christianity will tell you that this is an extraordinary life journey. Dad and I used to fight a lot about our differing worldviews back when I was a Christian. After all, I had been conceived, born, marinated, and slowly roasted in the Protestant faith . And I was angry about a lot of things from my youth. So, it was natural that I would strike out at Dad when I was old enough to do so at a distance. He was very patient with me, and for that I will always be grateful. I reached a point in my life where I had started to read up on and embrace Orthodox ideas. Dad had already made the transition. The bishop at our church used to teach a message that "God is Not Mad at You." At first, this pissed me off to no end. I mean, honestly! Who could believe such malarkey? But as time passed and I allowed this thought t

The Problem of Interpolations in the Bible

By Ben Love ~ H ere’s a word you might not have heard before:  Interpolation . What does it mean? An interpolation is a spurious addition to a written work, added by someone other than the original author. The Bible is replete with interpolations, a clear sign of tampering by persons other than those who originally wrote the texts in question. Below is a list of New Testament verses considered by most historians (even Christian ones) to be interpolations: Matthew  6:13 Matthew 16:2-3, 18-19 Matthew 25:13 Matthew 27:35 Matthew 28:19 Mark  7:16 Mark  9:31 Mark  10:21 , 34 Mark  15:28 Mark 16:9-20 Luke  2:14 Luke 9:55-56 Luke 11:2, 4 Luke 22:43-44 Luke  23:34 Luke 24:12 John  1:18 John  7:53-8:11 Acts  8:37 1 Corinthians 14:33b-35 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 1 John 5:7-8 What are we to make of this? In light of these interpolations, the thinking man must deduce that there are only three opti

What Planned Parenthood Smears, Christian Weddings and Middle School Jokes Have in Common

Medical procedures and research are yucky. Good healthcare means getting over it. I f religious conservatives have their way, reproductive healthcare will be dictated by the same psychology that drives middle school jokes about genitals, dead babies and poop—our instinctive squeamish reaction to things that are disgusting and shocking, especially if they relate to sex. Good thing public health advocates and medical providers have a higher set of priorities. Each year in America, 650 women die from pregnancy , many leaving behind motherless children. Thousands more survive and thrive only because of “yucky” medical procedures like cesarean sections, hysterectomies, transfusions, and abortions . Given the latest deceptive smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, it appears that religious conservatives would rather some of those women died. Blood, Guts, and the ‘Yuck Factor’ Most of us have little stomach for tasks, however important, that require cutting people open, removing

A Conundrum

By John Shores ~ A coworker recently sent out an email containing the following: To those who do not know, my husband is a new pastor and “we” have recently been appointed by the Methodist organization to a church in a small town in Nicholson Georgia, outside of Athens in Jackson County.  Being new to  the area where the church is located we  noticed immediately a few things; first the size of the town is small and secondly the need is great because the church is located in an impoverished farm community. When families are not doing well economically the children suffer first. With that in mind the church has started an outreach ministry called “Beyond the walls”.  Our first community service act is partnering with the local elementary school in providing much needed supplies to grades K-5th.   This emailed bothered be on many levels. Conflicted By nature, I am a giver. Hearing about families in distress holds a strong appeal to me. After all, we've needed help in the pa

Same-Sex Marriage, Religion, and Childhood Abuse

By Carl S ~ S everal scientific studies have linked severe adult depression to childhood trauma . One of them, the Dunedin cohort study, which continues to follow more than 1000 people born in 1973, finds that those who were abused or neglected as children tended to have higher levels of physical inflammatory responses on the brain than those who had had a stress-free childhood. (The inflammatory response has been implicated in a number of disorders, from depression to schizophrenia to Alzheimer’s disease .) For those of us only too familiar with the mind-body, psychological selves we are, the connections between physical and mental abuse and depression are obvious. We do not interpret our depressions as being of the devil or as punishment for doubting God, nor as a consequence of our "sinful" nature. Our depressions aren't further depressing in having to carry that weight, also. But what about those raised in fundamentalist religious households, where physical abu

The Truth about Truth

By Ben Love ~ T hree years ago, if you had asked me what truth was, I would have said this: “Truth is a person.” I would have, of course, been referring to Jesus Christ. That is the “person” that I and all the other Christians would have maintained was the personification of truth. I am no longer a Christian, however, and my views on truth have shifted. The interesting thing is that when I  was  a Christian and answering in this fashion, my answer was based only on that which I had been taught. It was a patented answer. A parrot’s answer. But did I ever really know what I was talking about? Had I ever really ascertained for myself that this answer was correct? The answer was based on biblical teaching, specifically that of John 14:6 , where Jesus Christ makes his famously exclusive claim: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I took this claim at face value, as do millions of Christians everywhere, and assumed that since it was

Belief and Unbelief: Deconversion story of a fundamentalist preacher in training

By Grayson Engleman ~ T his is about my struggle with faith and doubt. This struggle is common to humanity. Part of faith is testing it, and keeping what passes the test. Put another way, doubt and faith go together like two ends of a see-saw or two ends of a balance scale. One has to find the balance between not doubting so much that they hold onto nothing; and not believing so much that they will refuse correction. This is my goal. When going on in a particular philosophical or religious track means sticking your fingers in your ears, you become a dishonest person. While it is normal to want to harmonize things to your beliefs and it feels terrible when they fail to so harmonize, truth is truth regardless. It doesn't care whether it harmonizes with what you believe or whether it hurts that you deny it. It just is. I have found myself at an impasse where it is impossible to be honest with myself while also believing the way I used to believe. There are several reasons for th