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Showing posts from December, 2014

“Comfortable Myths” And Why Christianity Isn’t One

Benjamin Corey

The other day I wrote a post called Why I Couldn’t Be An Atheist Even If I Wanted To, where I wrote about some personal reflections and emotions that I experience when I consider the vastness and complexity of the universe. It wasn’t so much a post about atheism as it was a post about what I feel– I’ve worked hard to build as many bridges with atheists as possible, so I definitely wasn’t looking to pick a fight when I wrote it. All in all, the response from my atheist friends was kind and thoughtful, as usual. However, also as usual, there are a few who make unhelpful comments– probably because they didn’t read this post before commenting.
At this point in my life, comments don’t bother me that much. Heck, I’ve got the religious right putting out books warning parents to keep their kids away from my friends and I, so a stray comment usually doesn’t bother me that much.
Except, one stayed with me and I’ve been pondering it for days. The commenter was dismissive, calling m…

What Kind of a Thing is the Bible? 6 Theses

Posted on December 26, 2014December 26, 2014 by Gavin Sometimes it’s helpful to state the obvious—to step back and remind ourselves of the forest so that we don’t get lost in all the trees. Within academia, hyper-specialization and the tyranny of the pedantic often obscure the obvious; within our everyday life, routine and the tyranny of the mundane often veil the obvious. So we need continual reminders of the obvious—not only in our relationships and everyday life, and also in our theology and spiritual life.

Here I list 6 evangelical theses about the Bible in the spirit of “naming the obvious,” with an implication for each one for how we read and/or preach the Bible. My hope is these might be helpful for those of us choosing and starting in on some kind of Bible reading plan for 2015. What kind of a thing are we planning to read? What is the forest we are about to enter?

1) The Bible is shaped as a story

I say “shaped as” because obviously not everything in the Bible is a story; rath…

The Gospel According to Terry

Eugene McCarraherFall 2014

Culture and the Death of God
by Terry Eagleton
Yale University Press, 2014, 248 pp.
God has been through a very rough patch over the last 500 years. Once the Creator and Ruler of the universe, He fell into a long and precipitous decline with the advent of modernity. Dethroned as Ruler in the North Atlantic by religious tolerance and democracy, the Almighty watched helplessly as science refuted His claim to be the Creator. Historians, archeologists, and literary scholars broke the spell of His holy books, impugning their inerrancy and exposing them as riven by myths, errors, and contradictions. Add popular education, material prosperity, and longevity extended by better diet and medicine, and God’s hold on the moral and metaphysical imagination grew ever more attenuated. Secular intellectuals have been of two minds about the Heavenly Father’s demise. Hoping that the last king would be strangled with the entrails of the last priest, Diderot mused that God had …

John Webster on Reading Scripture Well

To this negative, there corresponds positive attentiveness to the text. The vivification of the reader’s reason involves the Spirit’s gift of a measure of singularity or purity in which Scripture is not one of number [sic] of possible objects of attention, even the most important in a panoply, but the one word which is to absorb us into itself. Reading Scripture well involves submitting to the process of purification which is the readerly counterpart to the sufficiency of Scripture. We can, says Kierkegaard, be ‘deceived by too much knowledge’. One of the diseases of which the reader must be healed is that of instability, lack of exclusive concentration; and part of the reader’s sanctification is ordered simplification of desire so that reading can really take place. ‘Let us always hang on our Lord’s lips’, counsels Calvin, and neither add to His wisdom nor mix up with it anything of our own, lest like leaven it corrupt the whole mass and make even the very salt which is within us to …

The Gift of Confession

James K.A. Smith — The Harvard Ichthus

In the 1980s, North American evangelicalism experienced an almost revolutionary innovation: what later came to be known as the “megachurch.” What defined this new dialect of evangelical Christianity wasn’t really size but strategy. The philosophy of ministry and evangelism behind the megachurch movement was often described as “seeker-sensitive.” Sunday gatherings would be less focused on building up those who are already Christians; instead, gatherings would focus on being hospitable to “seekers,” those who were not yet Christians but were curious enough to consider attending an “event” that was accessible, welcoming, entertaining, and informative.

But in order for the church to be that sort of place, it was going to have to feel less, well, churchy. If it was going to be “sensitive” to seekers, the church would have to remove those aspects of its practice and tradition that were alleged to be obstacles to the “unchurched.” If the church w…

No confession, and no creed

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December 26, 2014
Lessons & Carols at St. James Church on Madison Avenue. Sadly, I was not here on Christmas Eve. I WAS a visitor this year at the midnight service on Christmas Eve in a venerable, colonial-era parish here in our fair Diocese of New York.
The distinguishing feature of the service, other than beautiful music, was its utter theological barrenness. There was, apart from what the layman could take for himself from the lessons (and, of course, the theology-heavy Christmas hymns), not a thing by way of instruction in “this thing which is come to pass.” Eucharistic Prayer D most certainly did not contribute any theological content, and the sermon was dead on arrival.
But the first sign that something was amiss came at the end of the Old and New Testament lessons, where, omitting the customary (and very fine) The word of the Lord, the bulletin instead enjoined the congregation to Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.
As we have already dispatched this particular …

The Virtue of Redeeming Vice

DEC. 26, 2014

Roger Cohen
I’ve resisted writing about Berlin’s Hotel Savoy because I don’t want to ruin it, but I figure that if it’s resisted modernizing conformity this long it can probably withstand anything. Let me just say how wonderful it is to walk into the fug of cigar smoke in the hotel lobby. Proust’s madeleine has nothing on that time-canceling waft of tobacco.
Out of the mists of time, emerging through the inhaled smoke, looms another age of laissez-faire before anyone ever dreamed of saying “Stay safe” — most awful of salutations — and anyone discovered special dietary requirements; a time when kids roamed free and did not even know what a helmet was.
The Savoy is not a great hotel, but it’s a pleasurable place to be because it has not succumbed to the scented air, the technological ostentation and the simpering obsequiousness by which luxury accommodation seems to be measured these days. It has taps and regular light switches rather than electronic command consoles designe…

‘It’s Gonna Be a Bloodbath’: Expert Reveals the Economic Defects Under the Government’s Numbers

Dec. 27, 2014 8:30am Zach Noble

On Tuesday the Commerce Department released a fantastic estimate: In the third quarter of 2014, U.S. GDP grew at a rate of 5 percent, the fastest it’s grown since 2003. But things might not be all they’re cracked up to be. “Overall the economy is quite weak,” Peter Schiff, CEO and chief global strategist at Euro Pacific Capital Inc., told TheBlaze this week. The fact that the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates near zero, where they’ve been since the onset of the recession in 2007-08, speaks volumes about what the nation’s financial leadership really thinks about the economy’s strength, Schiff said. “If this economy really is so strong, why haven’t they raised rates?” Schiff questioned. “Why do they have to be patient? What are they afraid of?” He said that the third quarter GDP figures, “however the stats are doctored up,” belie the true fragility of the U.S. economy — and its dependence on the Federal Reserve’s largesse. Quantitative easing has artificia…

Religion Without God

DEC. 24, 2014 

T. M. Luhrmannhttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/25/opinion/religion-without-god.html?action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&module=MostEmailed&version=Full&region=Marginalia&src=me&pgtype=article
THIS Christmas our family will go to church. The service is held in a beautiful old church in the charming town of Walpole, N.H., just over the border from Vermont. The Lord’s Prayer hangs on the wall behind the sanctuary. A lectern rises above the nave to let the pastor look down on his flock. The pews and the side stalls have the stern, pure lineaments suited to the Colonial congregation that once came to church to face God. Except that this church is Unitarian. Unitarianism emerged in early modern Europe from those who rejected a Trinitarian theology in preference for the doctrine that God was one. By the 19th century, however, the Unitarian church had become a place for intellectuals who were skeptical of belief claims but who wanted to hang on to faith in…

20 Things That Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

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http://elitedaily.com/life/motivation/20-things-that-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/ 477kShares <img width="600" height="337" src="http://cdn29.elitedaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/house_of_cards2.jpg" class="attachment-wide-full in-post-feat-img large-12 wp-post-image" alt="house_of_cards2" /> <a href="http://adserver.adtechus.com/adlink|3.0|5391.1|3173911|0|3055|ADTECH;loc=300;key=key1+key2+key3+key4;alias=" target="_blank"><img src="http://adserver.adtechus.com/adserv|3.0|5391.1|3173911|0|3055|ADTECH;loc=300;key=key1+key2+key3+key4;alias=" border="0" width="0" height="0"></a> I often write about the things I believe we all should be doing, trying or experimenting with in order to maximize our success and happiness. However, it’s not always the things we do that make the biggest differe…

What Would Jesus Do Today?

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/faith-matters/2014/12/19/what-does-jesus-have-to-do-with-massive-buildings-and-leadership-conferences

What do massive buildings and leadership conferences have to do with the church? Not much.
By Brant Hansen Dec. 19, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. EST + More 

Americans still believe in Jesus. Not everyone, of course, but most. In fact, the numbers shock people who thought we’d left all that silly Christmas story stuff behind: Two-thirds of Americans say they believe the whole thing. The shepherds, the manger, the virgin birth, the magi, all of it.
But you wouldn’t know that from our traditional media, or even Internet culture. And it’s worth saying, too, that what we really believe is not what we tell a pollster; it’s what we do. We can check all the high-minded or religious boxes, but our actions (like what we do with our money) can give us away.
But Americans remain incorrigibly religious. As a guest speaker, I shared data like this with a group of teenagers at …

No, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Didn’t Try To Kill Adolph Hitler

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December 19, 2014 by 1 Commenthttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/no-dietrich-bonhoeffer-didnt-try-to-kill-adolph-hitler/ It seems quite often when I discuss the theology of Christian Nonviolence, some folks are quick to drop the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer for many has become a “trump card” in discussions on nonviolence when one wants to give an example of someone who used violence to confront evil, as he has the reputation of being an attempted assassin of Adolph Hitler. Unfortunately, Bonhoeffer is a poor example of the desired point as there is no evidence that was actively involved in planning or attempting to assassinate Hitler– a basic fact accepted by the academy but seemingly missing from common internet discussions on Bonhoeffer. To address this issue on the blog, I decided to sit down with Dr. Joseph McGarry, a Bonhoeffer scholar, and ask him to briefly explain in simple terms why thinking of Bonhoeffer as an assassin is prob…