Conservative James Wigderson gives free space to a critic with just about the response length the anonymous message merits. The message ends with "You don’t think ANY other newspaper would publish your tripe." I dunno. You just can't please some critics. I kind of like the tripe Wigderson writes.
Dwight Eisenhower was once asked what he did, before he was Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, as an aide to General Arthur MacArthur. His answer was a terse, "Studied Drama." Tim McGaha at Tim's Thoughtful Spot reviews a high point for MacArthur, as MacArthur's skill, a great deal of luck, and the beneficence of a generous divinity led to a critical Pacific victory.
Can a religious faith, depending on such a long, long chain, survive if even one link against science weakens?
The troubling ambiguity of the shooting leads to frustration. The plain truth is we can't prove what the plain truth is.
Why is the most fundamental question about these small municipal police departments in St. Louis County not being asked?
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The friendly radio evangelist had been brought to visit by the local pastor. I liked him, for all his unusual beliefs. Creationism was his big thing. He had come to preach truth to a heathen.
I posed one of the traditional questions. If God had created all that he had created 6000 years ago, how would we explain fossils that were dated millions of years old. How about light from stars billions of light years away?
He had an answer. God had created his creation with the appearance of age. That was my introduction to what is known as the Omphalos hypothesis, named for a novel written in the MID-1800s. It has a certain chicken-and-egg logic to it. If God created the egg, it would appear to have come from a chicken. If God created a chicken, it would appear to have come from an egg. Both would have the appearance of age.
My visitor's faith was very strong. Unbending, really.
I suggested that, if God had gone through that much trouble to give his universe the Appearance of Age, it seemed to me a bit unsporting for us not to surrender to his will and believe in all those contrived eons.
My new friend's unbending faith was strong enough for him to find my observation completely nonthreatening. In fact, he laughed appreciatively. It was hard not to like him.
Not all creationists accept the Omphalos hypothesis. I don't much blame them. The big gaping hole in it is that it can support pretty much any theory of limited existence. God created the universe last Tuesday. He did it with the Appearance of Age, including memories, pseudo-history, relationships, and a fictitious past. Why not?
My friend's faith was strong and unbending, but his logic could support pretty much anything. So it pretty much supported nothing.
A few years ago, I happened upon an argument about all those light years of distance in observable stars. Andy Schlafly, the creator, as it were, of Conservapedia, considers Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and pretty much all science that flows from light traveling at a constant speed, as "heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world."
Like my friend from decades ago, Mr. Schlafly's faith is unbending and rigid. His faith is so rigid and unyielding on so many points, it makes me wonder what is at its core. His insistence that accepted science must be wrong, wrong, wrong, suggests to me that a faith that rigid is more than a little brittle.
Like most Christians, my own faith has its own vulnerability. It is historically based, at least in part. Christ died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. If I became convinced that Jesus died running from Gethsemane with a Roman spear in his back, I would be devastated.
I use that internal image to gain some empathy. If the slightest crack were allowed into any of the many crevices of the rock whose cleft shields so many of my brethren, the entire edifice might weaken and collapse.
I was reminded of the dangers of the single weak link in an unnecessarily long chain as I listened to small segments of the famous Creation vs Science debate a few months ago between Kenneth Ham the creationist and Bill Nye the science guy. Ken Ham was asked this:
Hypothetically, if evidence existed that caused you to have to admit that the Earth was older than 10,000 years and creation did not occur over six days, would you still believe in God, and the historical Jesus of Nazareth, and that Jesus was the son of God?
Mr. Ham began his answer this way:
Well, I've been emphasizing all night, you cannot ever prove, using the scientific method in the present, you can't prove the age of the Earth. So you can never prove it’s old. There is no hypothetical. Because you can't do that.
He continued for a minute or two, repeating variations of his theme. He doesn't have to test his faith, even hypothetically, because the universe isn't billions of years old. It just isn't. It can't, can't, can't be.
Although it is impossible to judge the inner core, the hidden strength, of Mr. Ham's faith, I can see the Appearance of Weakness in his writhing efforts to escape such a seemingly harmless question.
Einstein's theory must be wrong or else everything we believe will be at risk. The speed of light must vary over time or faith will die. A universe that is older than 6 millennia threatens God himself. We struggle within our souls against theocide.
A faith that shouts its unbending strength, its intractable rigidity, its brittle inflexibility, almost compels us to complete the circle. We have to wonder about the delicate fragility that fights so hard to avoid the slightest touch of factual contradiction.
Why will faith fear a touch, except that, like a fragment of ancient parchment, a touch will make it crumble?
In response to John Myste's Conservative Revolutionaries Not Always Revolting
I think you will conclude that the liberal gets his knowledge from utilitarianism in some way and the conservative gets his from .... ?
- John Myste, June 24, 2014
I do not conclude that the liberal gets his "knowledge" from utilitarianism, nor that there is any one philosophy or set of desires from which liberals or conservatives draw. There are utilitarian conservatives, whom I tend to like despite our disagreements as long as they are reasonable ("kill the gays to save the species" wouldn't cut it), and more deontological liberals, whom I accept as allies because their positions are similar to my own but am inclined to dislike because their reasoning is silly to me.
Whatever the true origins of the values of conservatives whom I find revolting, they tend to call upon religion, tradition, and negative emotion (disgust, vengefulness, etc.) in expressing and defending their positions.
Such arguments tend to disregard the importance of establishing a reason for which those of us who do not agree ought to act, e.g. if religion/tradition says so, it must be done; or if I feel disgust toward something, it must be bad.
I prefer arguments based on harm and fairness (as Haidt found liberals generally do) not just because I have little concern for purity, loyalty, and authority, but because those two values have a wider appeal among humans and are thus more effective in arguments. There is moreover less dispute over (or at least less reason to dispute) what constitutes harm compared to what constitutes purity.
I posit that this is because the disgust is triggered by moral certainty.
That can't be all it is, otherwise we would feel disgust over anything that we are certain is wrong. There is instead a clear difference to me in how the revolting conservative in question perceives homosexuality and how he perceives adultery, even when he is certain that both are wrong.
Funny, overall I generally have more respect for Republicans more often. I get most of the Republican main arguments. I see their foundations. I usually don’t see them as heartless...
Libertarian passion for the treatment of the poor and anyone who is less capable than they is all too often utterly revolting to me.
- John Myste
Bear in mind that I am comparing a particular set of conservatives to libertarians as a whole. I'll take a Heathen Republican over a libertarian any day.
I understand your preference. Politically speaking, it is my own, as I would rather have conservatives in office than libertarians, who would dismantle everything. That is why I called them dangerous. I also agree that the argument that you presented is insincere.
But if I had to listen to or be friends with someone from one of the two groups, I'd rather have someone who accepts other people but is apathetic toward the poor (which isn't necessarily the case; many of them do believe that the poor would be better off under their system, with or without charity) because of his "freedom-oriented" philosophy than someone who wants to help the poor but is irrationally hostile toward other groups of people over qualities like sexual preference because of his religion or personal tastes. I can live with heartlessness or misguided economic theory, but not with the rest.
Of course, if today's conservatives continue to adopt libertarian language and economic positions, the choice will become even easier.
Ryan's contributions are often provocative, always thoughtful, continuously appreciated.
In response to comments by John Myste about Republican Revolution in Virginia
The underlying motivations for the “revolting” philosophies we find in conservatives as a body are not hate, not a desire to discriminate and not racism or xenophobia, as you called it. They are love of God, morality as they see it, and commitment to positive ideals, such as we all should strive to do our part and a subset should not be required to fill in for those who refuse...
- John Myste, June 17, 2014
I said very little about motivations. My focus was on the revolting ways in which they
think and feel about certain groups of people and express those thoughts and feelings and
- claim moral superiority by virtue of a religion that they practice as they see fit and use as justification for laws that affect people from other or no religions.
The second concern cannot be justified; it is hypocritical and abusive. The first concern can only be justified by the nature of the groups that they resent, but those groups do not deserve the resentment.
Understanding conservative motivations, whether they are what you listed or otherwise, leads to understanding conservatives, but not to justifying their behavior. They don't have to think that homosexuals or women or black people are inferior beings to do the things that I find revolting.
When people start from different points in believe, they come to different conclusions. Even when those conclusions are contradictory, that does not make them hypocrites.
- John Myste, June 17, 2014
If this is directed at my comment about hypocrisy, let me clarify with an example:
If some behavior X must be illegal because it is wrong according to the Bible, then all behaviors that are wrong according to the Bible must be illegal. And yet, while there is much political talk over the horrors of gay marriage, there is little to none on the matters of divorce, marriage between non-Christians, marriage between Christians and non-Christians, totally secular marriages, and adultery.
Plenty of conservative Christians have a problem with at least some of these for the same purported reason that they oppose gay marriage, but virtually all political energy (and hatred) is focused on gay marriage alone.
To bring this back to your point about motivations, there is more going on here than love of God, morality as they see it, and positive ideals. Something else motivates them to focus on one issue over another, when the two issues are otherwise equally important from a Biblical, social, or economic perspective.
In this case, gay marriage gets so much attention primarily (I believe) because conservatives regard homosexuality (and even homosexuals) with such disgust and associate that with a "moral sense." There are other reasons, such as their perception of the "homosexual lifestyle," but these tend to be equally flimsy as justifications for legislation against homosexuals.
You can say this, without knowing it, and then saying it is pointless.
- John Myste
I didn't follow this line.
I know lots of conservatives personally. I like most of them. I think you would too.
I get along with them as well as I do with non-conservatives unless I hear about "the gays" and their agenda or morally bankrupt atheists or our black welfare queen epidemic or filthy "A-rabs" or our "Kenyan Muslim usurper" or any number of other ridiculous and insulting talking points.
If I am not forced to interact with such people, I make a point to not do so again. If I am, I try my best to avoid all religious and political discussion.
Ryan is a frequent contributor of thoughtful posts and an even more frequent contributor of insightful comments. We are always grateful for his thoughts and insights.
From The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A coalition of clergy members filed a novel federal lawsuit Monday against North Carolina's constitutional ban on gay marriage, saying it violates their religious freedom.
The clergy members said that they'd like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations, but that they can't because of the "unjust law." Their attorney, Jake Sussman, says it's the only case to bring the First Amendment religious freedom claims among the more than 60 marriage equality cases pending in the nation's state and federal courts.
- More -
The Lord is a warrior and in Revelation 19 is says when he comes back, he's coming back as what? A warrior. A might warrior leading a mighty army, riding a white horse with a blood-stained white robe ... I believe that blood on that robe is the blood of his enemies 'cause he's coming back as a warrior carrying a sword.
And I believe now - I've checked this out - I believe that sword he'll be carrying when he comes back is an AR-15.
- Jerry Boykin, Family Research Council, November, 2013
And if at this point you think I’m judging you and crying about it, let me go on and say you really aren't a Christian or, more charitably, you are too ignorant of your faith to have standing in these cases.
- Erick Erickson, February 9, 2014,
on Christians who tolerate homosexuality
I share with most Christians, I suspect, a certain reticence. There is an aversion to speaking as a spiritual authority. At the house of worship I attend, we join our pastor in the same weekly prayer. He expresses the hope that the sins and contradictions in his life will not keep us from hearing God's word. My imagination tells me that many of us in the congregation are inwardly repeating that acknowledgement.
Occasionally the intolerance with which popular media intertwines faith pretty much compels us, in spite of our flaws, to speak out. While Mr. Erickson may draw a circle to exclude folks like me from true Christianity, I try to draw a larger circle that keeps him in. He remains my brother in Christ.
That said, there are times when family becomes a source of embarrassment. The real damage comes as those who want and need something more in spiritual life turn away from faith when it is represented as bigotry. Intolerance is attractive only to those who share profound prejudice.
Erickson is passionate about righteousness, and so he presents his case with a fervor that clouds the reasoning behind it.
But essentially, he reacts to those of us who have disagreed with an absurd mindset. There really are believers who hold that the Old Testament is against homosexuality and therefore God hates homosexuals. You see such believers in the news, carrying placards of hate.
When someone brings up Leviticus, it strikes me as fair to quote prohibitions from the same source against the eating of shellfish. Other books detail the punishment to be meted out to children who are disrespectful to parents (that would be public execution), the prohibition against short people or those with poor eyesight from approaching the altar in worship, and the caution that we must provide for a money-back guarantee when we sell our daughters into slavery.
Reductio ad absurdum: if you can throw scripture at me to "prove" what I see as tragically silly, I should be allowed to throw scripture at you to show what we both see as absurd.
Erickson points out that Leviticus was the old law. Jesus provided for a New Covenant that replaced the old law. So we are unfair when we bring up Leviticus, lobsters, execution, and slavery. That was the old law. The new law, says Erickson, provides the same condemnation against gays. He points mostly to the writings of the Apostle Paul.
There are those who see Paul as less authoritative than Jesus, but Erickson is scornful of that view. Jesus himself defined marriage as between a man and a woman when he quoted Old Testament law to support a new view that women have rights, even in a marriage. At least that's Brother Erick's strained interpretation.
As I read it, the unifying theme in the teachings of Jesus is that Old Testament law does not exist on its own. It flows from a more primal directive, that we should love God and each other. It is only from that premise that other laws should be seen and followed.
This is not explicit. It is a reasonable observation, especially in the definition Jesus gives about love for God and for all God's children: "On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." It is on this basis that Jesus lays claim to fulfilling the law. It is by following the underlying first principle of love that the purpose of the law is met.
Paul is more explicit. In addition to his emphasis of love over law, Paul does give examples of how law can only flow from love in order to be valid. Homosexuality is sometimes given as one of those examples. But it is often described as an affliction flowing from some sort of idolatry: the substitution of something else for God and God's love.
Paul does something else as well. He considers himself not to be the authority on which folks like Erick Erickson should base their beliefs. He seeks to explain his vision of Jesus, but includes in his explanations such phrases as "I speak as a fool" or "I speak as a man." Once he expands this to "What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting." He is saying that he does his best to show what Jesus means, but that he cannot, in good conscience, speak other than his own opinion.
When Erickson denigrates those who do not see Paul as the final authority of sexual ethics, Paul must join us as subject to Erickson's harsh judgment.
All things considered, that Paul does not consider himself as the final authority is a good thing. One advantage to a long life in these times is that a few of my days on earth overlapped with those of the last of the slaves of Abraham Lincoln's time. I remember reading of one elderly woman who forbade any mention of Paul in her house. He had encouraged a runaway slave to return to a slave owner, one of those times that Paul did speak as a man.
The writings of Paul that brother Erick selects are often very near to passages he overlooks. For example, in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, that letter, as Erick points out, in which Paul mentions homosexuality, he also tells us that all things are lawful but not all things are helpful.
From healing on the Sabbath to overturning tables in the temple, Jesus found his antagonists in literalists. As he walked among us, his greatest anger seemed reserved for the substitution of law for love.
Those ancient literalists find their spiritual followers in today's literalists. Brother Erick's mistake, as I see it, is in a basic view of the New Covenant. Rather than follow those Old Testament laws as a substitute for the law of God's love, our brother in Christ forcefully advocates what he sees as New Testament laws as a new substitute for the law of love.
So one barrier to God's love is to be replaced by another.
That's not how I read it.
In Response to Burr Deming's Fox News Blues, Wall Street Journal, Money Votes, Hillary
For accuracy, I go to the various revised standards. But, as pure poetry, I can't get beyond reading and listening to renditions of the King James version.
- Burr Deming, February 15, 2014
“For accuracy, I go to the various revised standards.”
The Bible Project is producing an actual translation of the Bible, without trying to add personal interpretation as part of it. I don't think this has been done before (so far as I know). I am not sure if personal opinions will be included. The head of this project, assuming he is still doing it, is a Christian Scholar of the highest order. I just discovered his existence a few months ago, but he thinks a lot like me about Christian theology, and Pauline Christianity specifically. He is like me, only with more credentials, knowledge and intelligence.
I used to study Hebrew, and I became intimately familiar with the other parts of Genesis in Hebrew. Not that this is a scholarly source or anything of the nature, but I just found a translation of the early passages of Genesis, ones I can recite in Hebrew from memory. They are close to exact, and I like that. I was astonished to read an exact translation!
Note: Elohim is the early Hebrew word for God. I believe that the translators chose not to translate that, but merely to use it, because of the controversy around what it “literally” means. It has come to be familiar on its own merits as a proper name, and to translate it would have been akin to “translation interpolation,” which is the very problem the project seeks to solve.
However, Elohim is a word, not just a proper name in our understanding, so I think it’s fair, if only parenthetically, to introduce it. Keep this in mind: English translations of the Genesis say that that God made man in “our” image, for example. The idea of the early concept of Jewish polytheism did survive prior translations.
“Elohim” is the proper name of the “Gods” as a unit, who created the heavens and the earth. Adding “im” to the end of a Hebrew word, makes it plural. The author of Genesis 1 was polytheistic. (note that I am not implying or suggesting that the author of most of genesis was anything other than monotheistic).
Transparent English Bible (TEB) Genesis Chapter 1:1
At the first of ELOHIM creating the skies and the land [I would have said “in a beginning, he created, God, the skies and the land”] — 2 and the land was desolation and emptiness; and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the spirit of ELOHIM was hovering over the face of the waters 3 and ELOHIM said, “Let there be light”; and it was light. 4 And ELOHIM saw the light, that it was good; and ELOHIM separated between the light and between the darkness. 5 And ELOHIM called to the light “day,” and to the darkness he called “night.” And it was evening and it was morning — day one.
I anxiously await the entire translation.
Noted religious skeptic John Myste has frequently advanced discussions at Fair And UNbalanced with additional insight and research. We are always grateful for his generosity.
Oh NOooo! This is bad. The Heathen Republican, who curtailed his thoughtful conservative contributions to internet writing, will be deleting the website. We all have 30 days to find and copy favorite posts. Better get digging.
Another week, another killing in a movie theatre. This time the victim is a guy in Florida texting his little girl during previews, before the movie itself. The perpetrator says existing stand your ground law entitled him to use deadly force. Meanwhile, expand those very laws.
PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, reports a different angle of the recent massive West Virginia chemical spill. Seems the company will dodge financial accountability for the damage by filing for a limited bankruptcy. As Mitt Romney and the Supreme Court reminds us, the company is a person.
James Wigderson considers character over party in endorsing one of three candidates for City Attorney of Waukesha, WI. A partisan Democrat is rejected because he signed an anti-Governor Walker petition. The Republican is rejected for helping destroy evidence on behalf of a Republican ally of the same Governor.
- Vincent at A wayfarer’s notes sees life as moments. He sees lost moments as a source of human tragedy. He sees slavery as stolen time, and so stolen life. He celebrates freedom.
|So it was then and so it is now.|
|Our spiritual wilderness, cold and barren,|
|where sojourners still seek a hopeful star.|
|Our spiritual home where we,|
|as shepherds, stand guard,|
|as we unknowingly wait...|
|In so many forgotten corners of the world,|
|a small infant born in poverty,|
|without a home, without a place.|
|The still, faint hope for the future of the world.|
|Harshness carries in the air, the fields lie barren,|
|the trees themselves are bare|
|as they reach out toward a frozen sky.|
|But we have been given hope,|
|and the sure knowledge that the world will turn.|
|And we herald the spring.|
|How can we keep from telling the world,|
|Jesus is in our lives once more?|
|When even the rocks would cry out,|
|for all to hear, tidings of cheer.|
|Listen to what whispers in our hearts.|
|Listen to the suffering. Listen to the hope.|
|A single hope for a hopeless world.|
|A ray of light in the deepest dark.|
|A window to our inner soul.|
|An infant so small.|
|A promise so great.|
|Christ is born today.|
9:00 AM, December 15, 2013
St. Mark's United Methodist Church
314 Graham Rd
Florissant, MO 63031
|In a distant corner of a brutal empire,|
|in an occupied land of hopeless oppression,|
|a small baby is about to be born, unnoticed|
|by the same world he will change forever.|
|In a forgotten part of the human heart,|
|in every soul tormented by bitterness,|
|a tiny ray of light begins to shine,|
|a whisper of hope that can transform a life.|
|More than a child has come into our world.|
Found on Line:
More Than A Child
9:00 AM, December 1, 2013
St. Mark's United Methodist Church
314 Graham Rd
Florissant, MO 63031
|We look around and see a world crying for light.|
|We pray that Jesus will come soon,|
|that God's mercy will flow as a mighty river,|
|that love will overrun hatred,|
|that the worth of every child of God will be seen.|
|We need a miracle in our world.|
|We look within.|
|We pray that Jesus will come into our hearts,|
|that God's holy spirit will speak to us,|
|that God's perfect love will speak through us,|
|that we might fulfill our part in God's plan.|
|We need a miracle in our lives.|
|We prepare our lives, our hearts, our world.|
|We are the shepherds in the field.|
|We are the travelers in the desert.|
|We see the beginnings of a light in our sky.|
|We pray that we are ready for a star in the night.|
|The miracle of a child is upon us.|
Found on Line:
Children, Go Where I Send Thee
Johnny Cash, June Carter, and guests.
Christmas Special, 1977
9:00 AM, November 24, 2013
St. Mark's United Methodist Church
314 Graham Rd
Florissant, MO 63031
|We are tempted by what divides us.|
|We hear that we are valued|
|because of who we are,|
|or what we do, or what we have.|
|We are told that we are blessed,|
|and that those living in desperation|
|are unworthy of blessing.|
|But we listen to an inner voice of spirit,|
|whispering to us that we are loved for no reason|
|but that we are the creation of a loving God.|
|We express our gratitude in worship,|
|and we pray that the voice that speaks to us|
|might speak through us, in action and in words.|
|The fire within us has a glow|
|that can help light the world|
|with a new expression of an ancient message.|
|That God’s gentle acceptance surrounds you,|
|that you were worth dying for|
|long before you were born.|
|In a world of pain and anger,|
|God's work must be our work as well.|
Found on Line:
For the Fruit of All Creation
Brother Alphonsus Mary
Little Brothers of Carmel