Atheists' ad campaign will target the Bible

The Christmas season will mark a newly-aggressive campaign by an atheist organization to present the moral failings of the Bible:

The American Humanist Association, both atheists and agnostics who think it is possible to lead a moral and ethical life without believing in a deity, rolls out its biggest ad campaign Friday night, a $200,000 splash with a TV spot during “Dateline,” followed by Metro and bus ads that will brighten the morning commute Monday.

The group’s ad campaign this year is aggressive and shrill. The ads pit particularly violent or archaic passages from religious texts against more inclusive, mellow and peaceful writings of secular humanists. They target the Koran as well as the Bible.

The Bible: “The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.” God, Hosea 13:16 (New International Version).

Humanism: “I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own – a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty.” Albert Einstein, column for the New York Times, Nov. 9, 1930.

via Christmas wars come early.

I suspect this tact might actually prove effective in turning people against the Bible.  How should this be answered?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Acroamaticus

    They’re breaking one of the first rules of Biblical interpretation – taking texts out of context. But as for a response, it’s not that hard to counter with the failings of humanism. The question is, do you want to play tit for tat? I’d suggest not. Better to answer evil with good, and respond with the good works of Christian humanists.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Acroamaticus

    They’re breaking one of the first rules of Biblical interpretation – taking texts out of context. But as for a response, it’s not that hard to counter with the failings of humanism. The question is, do you want to play tit for tat? I’d suggest not. Better to answer evil with good, and respond with the good works of Christian humanists.

  • Pete

    As with everything, it comes down to law and gospel. Einstein understood a lot of theoretical physics that the rest of us don’t but he obviously didn’t understand that God might be justifiably wrathful – law. The flip side (emphasized at Christmas, more so on Good Friday) is that the “people of Samaria” must no longer bear their guilt – it’s been borne for them by God’s Son. Gospel.

  • Pete

    As with everything, it comes down to law and gospel. Einstein understood a lot of theoretical physics that the rest of us don’t but he obviously didn’t understand that God might be justifiably wrathful – law. The flip side (emphasized at Christmas, more so on Good Friday) is that the “people of Samaria” must no longer bear their guilt – it’s been borne for them by God’s Son. Gospel.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    Most of the “Consider Humanism” ads I’ve seen are incredibly easy to answer. A few are a bit more difficult, but nonetheless are answerable. In the one highlighted here (about the people of Samaria), I wrote elsewhere: “The people of Samaria (the northern ten tribes of Israel) had adopted a religious system (Baal worship) that included ritual prostitution (probably involuntary for many of the prostitutes), human sacrifice, mutilation, and incest. The humanists seem to think that God was being rather harsh in sending judgment on all of this, but most of us can discern that something is horribly wrong in a religious system that encourages ritual sacrifice of children.”

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    Most of the “Consider Humanism” ads I’ve seen are incredibly easy to answer. A few are a bit more difficult, but nonetheless are answerable. In the one highlighted here (about the people of Samaria), I wrote elsewhere: “The people of Samaria (the northern ten tribes of Israel) had adopted a religious system (Baal worship) that included ritual prostitution (probably involuntary for many of the prostitutes), human sacrifice, mutilation, and incest. The humanists seem to think that God was being rather harsh in sending judgment on all of this, but most of us can discern that something is horribly wrong in a religious system that encourages ritual sacrifice of children.”

  • Tom Hering

    “… their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.”

    Hypocrites. They defend their right to do the same thing every day – three thousand times a day in the U.S. alone.

  • Tom Hering

    “… their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.”

    Hypocrites. They defend their right to do the same thing every day – three thousand times a day in the U.S. alone.

  • reg

    Not tit for tat since this attack if of the devil, but in the manner the Bible suggests:

    2 Corinthians 10:3-5
    3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive

    2 Corinthians 6
    4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

    Ephesians 6
    10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

    1 Peter 3
    15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

  • reg

    Not tit for tat since this attack if of the devil, but in the manner the Bible suggests:

    2 Corinthians 10:3-5
    3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive

    2 Corinthians 6
    4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

    Ephesians 6
    10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

    1 Peter 3
    15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

  • Stephen

    Good one Tom! I’ll have to think of good delivery if I come across it.

    Let them flounder around in their self-deciet. I say generally we ought to ignore this. If the subject comes up, admit that there are difficult things in the Bible, and then claim some good things too and offer to share them. See what happens. If they stick around – fantastic! If not, well then, they were not really interested in what the Bible does or doesn’t “say” in the first place. No matter. Dust those sandals off.

  • Stephen

    Good one Tom! I’ll have to think of good delivery if I come across it.

    Let them flounder around in their self-deciet. I say generally we ought to ignore this. If the subject comes up, admit that there are difficult things in the Bible, and then claim some good things too and offer to share them. See what happens. If they stick around – fantastic! If not, well then, they were not really interested in what the Bible does or doesn’t “say” in the first place. No matter. Dust those sandals off.

  • Reg Schofield

    I must say it gets tiresome to see the same old arguments or insults thrown our way as if these things haven’t been very well defended in the past. I used the same foolish attacks when I went through my Atheist years , as a young man. I have found the best way is to use scripture and logic to counter their arguments, explain law and gospel , always pointing them to the all sufficient Savior. Be honest ,be courageous and be loving as you deal with them . God will be glorified regardless if they storm off hurling insults or if they want to talk further. Then wish them a Merry Christmas.

  • Reg Schofield

    I must say it gets tiresome to see the same old arguments or insults thrown our way as if these things haven’t been very well defended in the past. I used the same foolish attacks when I went through my Atheist years , as a young man. I have found the best way is to use scripture and logic to counter their arguments, explain law and gospel , always pointing them to the all sufficient Savior. Be honest ,be courageous and be loving as you deal with them . God will be glorified regardless if they storm off hurling insults or if they want to talk further. Then wish them a Merry Christmas.

  • Dave

    Knowing that no answer will be satisfy an atheist, I would explain how I understand things like this:
    - I look at the Bible as a complete story of creation, fall, redemption and I look at the tough passages in that light. God judges sin. Mankind’s fall has a lot of bad consequences.
    - Any atheist explanation of history ends up being a meaningless and/or deterministic existence. (And full of its own contradictions.)

  • Dave

    Knowing that no answer will be satisfy an atheist, I would explain how I understand things like this:
    - I look at the Bible as a complete story of creation, fall, redemption and I look at the tough passages in that light. God judges sin. Mankind’s fall has a lot of bad consequences.
    - Any atheist explanation of history ends up being a meaningless and/or deterministic existence. (And full of its own contradictions.)

  • Larry

    Two ways:
    The first playing on their field.
    (1) Most “atheist” are what Nichtze called “Englishmen”, that is completely inconsistent atheist and really not Atheist for they cannot take to conclusion the basis of their philosophy. Thus, being an atheist one says, “there is no God…all is basically cold physical process that will march on unto the end of the universe (inflating or deflating) crushing under foot all that we know a “living” with it. We came from nothing and are going to nothing, all is in the end sheer and pure mechanism. Therefore, from where does all this glorious concern over moral and ethics come into play in this middle “time” between the poles of infinity and what defines “moral or ethical” in such a pure mechanical epistemology? Why should one man worry over killing another man and taking his possession any more that than a strike of lightening burning up a tree or one atom destroying another atom? Why should even the atheist argue his/her point since all is mechanistic in the beginning, end and basis? Does sodium argue with chloride that they should become salt? Thus, why do two flesh bags of a mélange of chemicals (a.k.a. humans) argue one way or the other over what is truth. Since all is mechanistic: one bag of flesh chemicals is simply so due to its precise and particular qualities and quantities of chemicals and reactions thereof as is another bag of flesh chemicals and the external expression of “what they believe” is merely an observable expression of the chemical reaction and physics involved and the thus concept of argumentation toward ANY philosophy or religion is mere and utter fiction, and only an expression of the chemical reaction within the reactor being observed – just like watching the color of an indicator change as the pH is altered in a liquid. So playing on “their field” the argument of “morals and ethics” is utter folly and sophistry.

    (2) The second on true Christianities field. The basis of TRUE Christianity is not morals and ethics, but rather the forgiveness of sin (not just bad things but inward turning unto even good things for the self). Thus one cannot understand the passage they quote AT ALL unless one understands that all of Scripture proclaims not morals and ethics, but of God bleeding and dying for us such is His fierce love for that which is utterly unlovable by any ethical standard existing or imaginable. The reason people go to hell, ultimately, is not for their sins, but that they refuse the forgiveness of their sins (the true bondage of the will) whereby their options are gone and thus are left with only their sins that receive the judgment.

    Einstein’s quote is not far from the truth of Christianity when he says, “I cannot imagine a God WHO REWARDS AND PUNISHES the objects of his creation, WHOSE PURPOSES ARE MODELED AFTER OUR OWN – a God, in short, who is BUT A REFLECTION OF HUMAN frailty.” (emphasis added).

    The theology of the Cross agrees with this though not as Einstein perhaps meant it. God does not reward or punish the objects of His creation on the basis of a model of our own fallen religion, the theology of glory. That religion and faith which is driven out of fear of punishment or hope of reward is false religion and false Christianity in whatever form it takes. He, God, rather forgives the sins of man in the face of the fact that they are sins whose reward is death. Thus, all of Scripture says “for Christ’s sake and Christ says, ‘I forgive you’, your sin is my sin and my righteousness is yours.” If one refuses this then one is left with the very scheme Einstein says he cannot imagine and THAT is ultimately hell. Thus, the atheist scheme of living a moral and ethical life without the Scriptures is in fact a picture of hell. It is the forgiveness of sins that all deny, whether atheist (crypto religious) or religious non-christian or religious with a “Christian tag” (openly religious).

  • Larry

    Two ways:
    The first playing on their field.
    (1) Most “atheist” are what Nichtze called “Englishmen”, that is completely inconsistent atheist and really not Atheist for they cannot take to conclusion the basis of their philosophy. Thus, being an atheist one says, “there is no God…all is basically cold physical process that will march on unto the end of the universe (inflating or deflating) crushing under foot all that we know a “living” with it. We came from nothing and are going to nothing, all is in the end sheer and pure mechanism. Therefore, from where does all this glorious concern over moral and ethics come into play in this middle “time” between the poles of infinity and what defines “moral or ethical” in such a pure mechanical epistemology? Why should one man worry over killing another man and taking his possession any more that than a strike of lightening burning up a tree or one atom destroying another atom? Why should even the atheist argue his/her point since all is mechanistic in the beginning, end and basis? Does sodium argue with chloride that they should become salt? Thus, why do two flesh bags of a mélange of chemicals (a.k.a. humans) argue one way or the other over what is truth. Since all is mechanistic: one bag of flesh chemicals is simply so due to its precise and particular qualities and quantities of chemicals and reactions thereof as is another bag of flesh chemicals and the external expression of “what they believe” is merely an observable expression of the chemical reaction and physics involved and the thus concept of argumentation toward ANY philosophy or religion is mere and utter fiction, and only an expression of the chemical reaction within the reactor being observed – just like watching the color of an indicator change as the pH is altered in a liquid. So playing on “their field” the argument of “morals and ethics” is utter folly and sophistry.

    (2) The second on true Christianities field. The basis of TRUE Christianity is not morals and ethics, but rather the forgiveness of sin (not just bad things but inward turning unto even good things for the self). Thus one cannot understand the passage they quote AT ALL unless one understands that all of Scripture proclaims not morals and ethics, but of God bleeding and dying for us such is His fierce love for that which is utterly unlovable by any ethical standard existing or imaginable. The reason people go to hell, ultimately, is not for their sins, but that they refuse the forgiveness of their sins (the true bondage of the will) whereby their options are gone and thus are left with only their sins that receive the judgment.

    Einstein’s quote is not far from the truth of Christianity when he says, “I cannot imagine a God WHO REWARDS AND PUNISHES the objects of his creation, WHOSE PURPOSES ARE MODELED AFTER OUR OWN – a God, in short, who is BUT A REFLECTION OF HUMAN frailty.” (emphasis added).

    The theology of the Cross agrees with this though not as Einstein perhaps meant it. God does not reward or punish the objects of His creation on the basis of a model of our own fallen religion, the theology of glory. That religion and faith which is driven out of fear of punishment or hope of reward is false religion and false Christianity in whatever form it takes. He, God, rather forgives the sins of man in the face of the fact that they are sins whose reward is death. Thus, all of Scripture says “for Christ’s sake and Christ says, ‘I forgive you’, your sin is my sin and my righteousness is yours.” If one refuses this then one is left with the very scheme Einstein says he cannot imagine and THAT is ultimately hell. Thus, the atheist scheme of living a moral and ethical life without the Scriptures is in fact a picture of hell. It is the forgiveness of sins that all deny, whether atheist (crypto religious) or religious non-christian or religious with a “Christian tag” (openly religious).

  • Caleb

    How about an ad campaign centered around the exploits of some of the atheist regimes of the last 100 years?

    Stalin? Mao? Hundreds of millions slaughtered?

    As always, it’s extremely stupid and dangerous to take these things out of context…

  • Caleb

    How about an ad campaign centered around the exploits of some of the atheist regimes of the last 100 years?

    Stalin? Mao? Hundreds of millions slaughtered?

    As always, it’s extremely stupid and dangerous to take these things out of context…

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    This is the so-called new atheism. Shrill, aggressive, and very little content. And there is no small amount of criticism from within their camp.

    But Tom is right, as is Reg (btw, that is a nice pun in Afrikaans, but nobody here will understand – pity).

    I’m tempted though to quite some Soviet/Maoist leaders and stats – that would be tit for tat.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    This is the so-called new atheism. Shrill, aggressive, and very little content. And there is no small amount of criticism from within their camp.

    But Tom is right, as is Reg (btw, that is a nice pun in Afrikaans, but nobody here will understand – pity).

    I’m tempted though to quite some Soviet/Maoist leaders and stats – that would be tit for tat.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Caleb – same thought, same time.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Caleb – same thought, same time.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I like what Tom said, and I have the hope that God will, in His goodness, demonstrate to people that when someone is using vicious personal attacks, what they can say can be safely ignored.

    And besides, ya wanna talk barbarism, I’ll take your Amalekites and raise you with Stalin, Lenin, and Mao. I really don’t think atheists REALLY want to play this game, as the 20th Century clearly illustrates what can happen when you put atheists in charge.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I like what Tom said, and I have the hope that God will, in His goodness, demonstrate to people that when someone is using vicious personal attacks, what they can say can be safely ignored.

    And besides, ya wanna talk barbarism, I’ll take your Amalekites and raise you with Stalin, Lenin, and Mao. I really don’t think atheists REALLY want to play this game, as the 20th Century clearly illustrates what can happen when you put atheists in charge.

  • J

    I think we can simply mock the 2 Tenants of Atheism:
    1) There is no god
    2) I hate him!

    Who in their right mind spends their life dedicated to disproving unicorns, gnomes, fairies, etc…all the while trying to make people stop believing in them?

    Think of it this way:
    1) There are no unicorns
    2) I hate unicorns!

  • J

    I think we can simply mock the 2 Tenants of Atheism:
    1) There is no god
    2) I hate him!

    Who in their right mind spends their life dedicated to disproving unicorns, gnomes, fairies, etc…all the while trying to make people stop believing in them?

    Think of it this way:
    1) There are no unicorns
    2) I hate unicorns!

  • J

    *Tenets

  • J

    *Tenets

  • The Jones

    How should this be answered?

    With a knowing smile and a calm confidence in the mercy, grace, kindness, and patience of God in the Bible. That includes even the Old Testament, too, the book of Hosea being a prime example, ironically. Whenever people (that would be us in this case) see their own work getting quoted at them and then get worked up with witty retorts and put-downs in the same vein, it makes them look unsure of themselves and defensive.

    Don’t be discouraged by the Bible bashing brought on by an atheist preacher preaching to an atheist choir. Just be on the lookout to explain to any genuine skeptic or disheartened believer the knowing smile you have on your face when looking at one of those ads.

  • The Jones

    How should this be answered?

    With a knowing smile and a calm confidence in the mercy, grace, kindness, and patience of God in the Bible. That includes even the Old Testament, too, the book of Hosea being a prime example, ironically. Whenever people (that would be us in this case) see their own work getting quoted at them and then get worked up with witty retorts and put-downs in the same vein, it makes them look unsure of themselves and defensive.

    Don’t be discouraged by the Bible bashing brought on by an atheist preacher preaching to an atheist choir. Just be on the lookout to explain to any genuine skeptic or disheartened believer the knowing smile you have on your face when looking at one of those ads.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I am not sure we should get worked up by the work of fools (ps 14:1). Allow them to make fools of themselves as we continue to work and proclaim mercy.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I am not sure we should get worked up by the work of fools (ps 14:1). Allow them to make fools of themselves as we continue to work and proclaim mercy.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    To quote Charles Spurgeon, “Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith. . . . Germany was made unbelieving by her preachers, and England is following in her tracks.” I worry a whole lot more about bad theology in the church than militant atheism outside of it.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    To quote Charles Spurgeon, “Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith. . . . Germany was made unbelieving by her preachers, and England is following in her tracks.” I worry a whole lot more about bad theology in the church than militant atheism outside of it.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Tenets of atheism, Tenants of atheism. Mock ‘em both.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Tenets of atheism, Tenants of atheism. Mock ‘em both.

  • Dust

    Bring back Christendom….these kinds of disparaging comments should be illegal! We would in no way allow similarly disparaging remarks to be made about a particular race or gender or sexual identity, why should it be any different for something so precious and sacred to so many? Honestly, if this country respects religion, any religion, enough to protect it in the constitution, then this form of harassment should be treated the same way as other forms directed to other groups. Very sad :(

  • Dust

    Bring back Christendom….these kinds of disparaging comments should be illegal! We would in no way allow similarly disparaging remarks to be made about a particular race or gender or sexual identity, why should it be any different for something so precious and sacred to so many? Honestly, if this country respects religion, any religion, enough to protect it in the constitution, then this form of harassment should be treated the same way as other forms directed to other groups. Very sad :(

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    J. Dean,
    Great quote!
    Though it strikes me today that there is a bigger problem, in that the church tries to mimick the world too much all together, not only is the preaching vacuous, but often the worship service itself serves to say “nothing special going on here, just more earthly emotional manipulation.” and people don’t stay around that for long.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    J. Dean,
    Great quote!
    Though it strikes me today that there is a bigger problem, in that the church tries to mimick the world too much all together, not only is the preaching vacuous, but often the worship service itself serves to say “nothing special going on here, just more earthly emotional manipulation.” and people don’t stay around that for long.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I must say it gets tiresome to see the same old arguments or insults thrown our way as if these things haven’t been very well defended in the past.”

    They haven’t been thrown at the kids before. The target of all of this is the youth, not the 40, 30, or even 20 year olds that have read and studied the Bible. The atheists have the advantage because so few fathers do their job at home and teach their children. The schools don’t teach the Bible either. Youth are easily swayed.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I must say it gets tiresome to see the same old arguments or insults thrown our way as if these things haven’t been very well defended in the past.”

    They haven’t been thrown at the kids before. The target of all of this is the youth, not the 40, 30, or even 20 year olds that have read and studied the Bible. The atheists have the advantage because so few fathers do their job at home and teach their children. The schools don’t teach the Bible either. Youth are easily swayed.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Will the atheists be attacking the Koran at Eid?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Will the atheists be attacking the Koran at Eid?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Who in their right mind spends their life dedicated to disproving unicorns, gnomes, fairies, etc…all the while trying to make people stop believing in them?”

    Plenty of folks, including the apostle, Paul, speaking against false gods. Nothing wrong with refuting the evil of worshiping false gods and demons.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2272098/pagenum/all/#p1

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Who in their right mind spends their life dedicated to disproving unicorns, gnomes, fairies, etc…all the while trying to make people stop believing in them?”

    Plenty of folks, including the apostle, Paul, speaking against false gods. Nothing wrong with refuting the evil of worshiping false gods and demons.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2272098/pagenum/all/#p1

  • Louis

    sg – J’s point was not myth as religion, but just myth as myth.

  • Louis

    sg – J’s point was not myth as religion, but just myth as myth.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Exile

    Yes, it is possible to live a “moral life” outside a religious system. The Bible isn’t a morality lesson.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Exile

    Yes, it is possible to live a “moral life” outside a religious system. The Bible isn’t a morality lesson.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Man, where to begin?

    The fact that a columnist in the “liberal MSM” labeled the atheists’ ads as “shrill”? Or how about this passage:

    I think of the woman with the big lunch bag and even bigger Bible who was sitting next to me on the Orange Line the other day, surely finding the strength to slog through another grueling day in the well-worn pages of that book. How would she react to seeing the humanists’ take-down of her faith?

    All that before the columnist ends up mocking atheists for lacking culture. Oh, liberal MSM! You mock Christianity at every turn he said sarcastically for those who would not get it!

    How about the fact that (as the article mentions) the response by some Christians to this ridiculous escalation of the culture war is — and I wish I were making this up — to publish a list of “Naughty” and “Nice” retailers based on which ones mention “Christmas” in their marketing and which only mention “holidays”? I mean, really? They’re openly co-opting the Santa Claus story in order to complain about stores that have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas? Have they no irony meters? I don’t know why anyone would think judging people as “naughty” or “nice” based on their actions is very Christian, or why such petty whining would be attractive to anyone — do you need Best Buy to cajole you with appeals to your religion in order to shop there? Isn’t shopping there this time of year kind of a distraction from the true meaning of Christmas, anyhow? Isn’t the Liberty Counsel promoting materialism more than Christianity here?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Man, where to begin?

    The fact that a columnist in the “liberal MSM” labeled the atheists’ ads as “shrill”? Or how about this passage:

    I think of the woman with the big lunch bag and even bigger Bible who was sitting next to me on the Orange Line the other day, surely finding the strength to slog through another grueling day in the well-worn pages of that book. How would she react to seeing the humanists’ take-down of her faith?

    All that before the columnist ends up mocking atheists for lacking culture. Oh, liberal MSM! You mock Christianity at every turn he said sarcastically for those who would not get it!

    How about the fact that (as the article mentions) the response by some Christians to this ridiculous escalation of the culture war is — and I wish I were making this up — to publish a list of “Naughty” and “Nice” retailers based on which ones mention “Christmas” in their marketing and which only mention “holidays”? I mean, really? They’re openly co-opting the Santa Claus story in order to complain about stores that have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas? Have they no irony meters? I don’t know why anyone would think judging people as “naughty” or “nice” based on their actions is very Christian, or why such petty whining would be attractive to anyone — do you need Best Buy to cajole you with appeals to your religion in order to shop there? Isn’t shopping there this time of year kind of a distraction from the true meaning of Christmas, anyhow? Isn’t the Liberty Counsel promoting materialism more than Christianity here?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    You know, I really wish I didn’t get up relatively late on the West Coast. It’s hard to find a point that hasn’t been made.

    For instance, as Sarah just noted (@27), the “atheists and agnostics who think it is possible to lead a moral and ethical life without believing in a deity” are correct. Too many Christians can’t or won’t concede this point in arguing with (note: not actually talking to) atheists, because the Christians themselves miscontrue what Christianity is. They think it’s about being a good person (fine, a good person as God enables you, or in response to God’s love something like that), and they feel they must — somehow — ultimately be better than atheists, or else why would they, the Christian, get into heaven?

    I say, suck the wind out of their argument. Concede that, not only can non-Christians be moral and ethical, they might even be more moral and ethical than you. And then admit you’re a sinner. A terrible sinner. Do everything you can to get them to understand that you are not saved because you are good, moral, whatever. Don’t be afraid to follow Paul’s example in admitting what a terrible, unloving person you are, fully deserving of any and all judgment from a holy God.

    And, if I may say so, do not play tu quoque with them — but, but, but, abortion! Stalin! Because that only plays into their idealogy of good works. It attempts to put the atheist on the defensive by hinting that he (or his kind — and we Christians know how much we love guilt-by-association arguments) might be worse than you (and your kind). But is that what makes us Christians? That we’re not Stalin? That we haven’t had an abortion (but what if we have)?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    You know, I really wish I didn’t get up relatively late on the West Coast. It’s hard to find a point that hasn’t been made.

    For instance, as Sarah just noted (@27), the “atheists and agnostics who think it is possible to lead a moral and ethical life without believing in a deity” are correct. Too many Christians can’t or won’t concede this point in arguing with (note: not actually talking to) atheists, because the Christians themselves miscontrue what Christianity is. They think it’s about being a good person (fine, a good person as God enables you, or in response to God’s love something like that), and they feel they must — somehow — ultimately be better than atheists, or else why would they, the Christian, get into heaven?

    I say, suck the wind out of their argument. Concede that, not only can non-Christians be moral and ethical, they might even be more moral and ethical than you. And then admit you’re a sinner. A terrible sinner. Do everything you can to get them to understand that you are not saved because you are good, moral, whatever. Don’t be afraid to follow Paul’s example in admitting what a terrible, unloving person you are, fully deserving of any and all judgment from a holy God.

    And, if I may say so, do not play tu quoque with them — but, but, but, abortion! Stalin! Because that only plays into their idealogy of good works. It attempts to put the atheist on the defensive by hinting that he (or his kind — and we Christians know how much we love guilt-by-association arguments) might be worse than you (and your kind). But is that what makes us Christians? That we’re not Stalin? That we haven’t had an abortion (but what if we have)?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Todd @ 29

    Thanks for saying what I wanted to say and doing it alot better!

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Todd @ 29

    Thanks for saying what I wanted to say and doing it alot better!

  • Louis

    Todd – I concede, yours is the best response yet.

  • Louis

    Todd – I concede, yours is the best response yet.

  • Stephen

    Amen Todd. (Sound of large hammer hitting nail on head – ears ringing).

  • Stephen

    Amen Todd. (Sound of large hammer hitting nail on head – ears ringing).

  • Dave

    tODD has a nice response to the issues of morals and ethics, but the message on the bus doesn’t really mention that does it? I took it more as an attack on God’s judgment and roll in history. Or are ethics the underlying message?

  • Dave

    tODD has a nice response to the issues of morals and ethics, but the message on the bus doesn’t really mention that does it? I took it more as an attack on God’s judgment and roll in history. Or are ethics the underlying message?

  • Porcell

    The best argument against atheism is the tens of millions of people slaughtered in the twentieth-century by atheistic Communists and Nazis.

    Logically, if one argues that a moral order fixed by God doesn’t exist, then anything can be believed. Nietzsche, who came to doubt the existence of God, understood that the only corrective order in the world would have to be established by a superman [ubermensch].

    While atheists and skeptics may live moral lives, they have no solid basis for doing so and in many ways are living off Judeo-Christian capital.

    As a practical matter, it’s a mistake to respond to the inane, though amusing, ad campaign of the American “Humanist” outfit, as it gives them the attention they crave. Best to ignore them.

  • Porcell

    The best argument against atheism is the tens of millions of people slaughtered in the twentieth-century by atheistic Communists and Nazis.

    Logically, if one argues that a moral order fixed by God doesn’t exist, then anything can be believed. Nietzsche, who came to doubt the existence of God, understood that the only corrective order in the world would have to be established by a superman [ubermensch].

    While atheists and skeptics may live moral lives, they have no solid basis for doing so and in many ways are living off Judeo-Christian capital.

    As a practical matter, it’s a mistake to respond to the inane, though amusing, ad campaign of the American “Humanist” outfit, as it gives them the attention they crave. Best to ignore them.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    The ad campaign only goes as deep as they (religious) must be evil because we (atheists – a misnomer btw) cherry picked some quotes from religious texts. It is nothing more than an attempt to get publicity, which is why I think we are better served to ignore them, do not confront the fool lest he thinks he is wise.

    Instead, of honoring this with outrage, I say actions speak louder than words. tODD has a good point, but I would add that we should be imitators of Paul as he is an imitator of Christ and act and speak in mercy. Remember the old saying actions speak louder words.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    The ad campaign only goes as deep as they (religious) must be evil because we (atheists – a misnomer btw) cherry picked some quotes from religious texts. It is nothing more than an attempt to get publicity, which is why I think we are better served to ignore them, do not confront the fool lest he thinks he is wise.

    Instead, of honoring this with outrage, I say actions speak louder than words. tODD has a good point, but I would add that we should be imitators of Paul as he is an imitator of Christ and act and speak in mercy. Remember the old saying actions speak louder words.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I agree with tODD, again.

    Anyway, Gallup finds that the religious do fare better than the nonreligious on average.

    Wellbeing

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I agree with tODD, again.

    Anyway, Gallup finds that the religious do fare better than the nonreligious on average.

    Wellbeing

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Bror @22,
    Thank you. Spurgeon was right on. And you’re absolutely right about the shift to Vaudeville that’s taking place in a lot of churches (mine included in some ways, unfortunately :( )

    tODD@29,
    You’re correct, and it’s because we forget the doctrines of total depravity and the gospel itself. It’s easy for people to compare good works with other people-on that basis alone, it is indeed possible to have a moral atheist. But when we look at God’s perspective on our feeble attempts at righteousness, we fall terribly short. When we realize, too, that the payment for our sin is not good works but death, that puts a dagger (to use a Wayne Laramie, Green Bay Packers broadcaster, phrase) in our efforts.

    Read Romans chapter 1. The basic problem with an atheist is that they do not want to believe in God. If you want to have fun with an atheist some time, ask them how they would feel if they found irrefutable proof that God existed. More often than not, you’ll get a negative reaction.

    But as far as atheism’s attack on the church, again, it’s not a worry of mine. Better to concentrate on right doctrine within the church than bad doctrine outside of it.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Bror @22,
    Thank you. Spurgeon was right on. And you’re absolutely right about the shift to Vaudeville that’s taking place in a lot of churches (mine included in some ways, unfortunately :( )

    tODD@29,
    You’re correct, and it’s because we forget the doctrines of total depravity and the gospel itself. It’s easy for people to compare good works with other people-on that basis alone, it is indeed possible to have a moral atheist. But when we look at God’s perspective on our feeble attempts at righteousness, we fall terribly short. When we realize, too, that the payment for our sin is not good works but death, that puts a dagger (to use a Wayne Laramie, Green Bay Packers broadcaster, phrase) in our efforts.

    Read Romans chapter 1. The basic problem with an atheist is that they do not want to believe in God. If you want to have fun with an atheist some time, ask them how they would feel if they found irrefutable proof that God existed. More often than not, you’ll get a negative reaction.

    But as far as atheism’s attack on the church, again, it’s not a worry of mine. Better to concentrate on right doctrine within the church than bad doctrine outside of it.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 29 — Yes, we on the west coast often find the discussion has been had without us, and then we often madly converse late in the evening, while those in the east snore contentedly away. Sheesh, 36 posts before I even read the thread!

    Tom @ 4 — great point, though tODD is right. We can’t use it in counter-argument. J @ 14 — good point as well. Isn’t it funny how those who claim to be content in their godlessness spend their entire lives railing against the rest of us for our belief! Why, pray tell, do they care so much?

    Even though tODD @ 29 complained that all the good points were taken, he managed, as usual, to come up with one :-) . To his point, I would add that these atheists are playing with fire by quoting Scripture, whatever lack of context they supply. They know not what they do, nor the power of the Holy Spirit to draw souls, however incidentally drawn into even a small fragment of the Word, to the Gospel.

    I’m not sure we have anything to fear because of this campaign. It seems like opportunity to me.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 29 — Yes, we on the west coast often find the discussion has been had without us, and then we often madly converse late in the evening, while those in the east snore contentedly away. Sheesh, 36 posts before I even read the thread!

    Tom @ 4 — great point, though tODD is right. We can’t use it in counter-argument. J @ 14 — good point as well. Isn’t it funny how those who claim to be content in their godlessness spend their entire lives railing against the rest of us for our belief! Why, pray tell, do they care so much?

    Even though tODD @ 29 complained that all the good points were taken, he managed, as usual, to come up with one :-) . To his point, I would add that these atheists are playing with fire by quoting Scripture, whatever lack of context they supply. They know not what they do, nor the power of the Holy Spirit to draw souls, however incidentally drawn into even a small fragment of the Word, to the Gospel.

    I’m not sure we have anything to fear because of this campaign. It seems like opportunity to me.

  • Tom Hering

    “I took it more as an attack on God’s judgment and role in history.” – Dave @ 33.

    As did I. Even more, as an attack on the nature of God.

    “God is not love – Einstein is love. And why, this Christmas, should anyone worship the Christ Child as the Son of God – if He’s the Son of Hosea’s God?

    So, not only is it fair to deal with the specific issues the atheists raise, it’s also right to deal with the atheists themselves by starting with the Law (“You hypocrites”).

    That is, if we want to reach them with the Gospel.

  • Tom Hering

    “I took it more as an attack on God’s judgment and role in history.” – Dave @ 33.

    As did I. Even more, as an attack on the nature of God.

    “God is not love – Einstein is love. And why, this Christmas, should anyone worship the Christ Child as the Son of God – if He’s the Son of Hosea’s God?

    So, not only is it fair to deal with the specific issues the atheists raise, it’s also right to deal with the atheists themselves by starting with the Law (“You hypocrites”).

    That is, if we want to reach them with the Gospel.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dave (@33), you’re right, I was replying more to the underlying arguments of secular humanism (which certainly underlie their ad as well), as well as some of the rebuttals from Christians in this thread.

    I do think that not a few humanists would be taken aback by a Christian’s admission of his own moral failings, especially if the Christian were to concede that the atheist might be — or is! — more moral.

    But, to apply it to the ad in question (which, best I can tell looks like this), well, there are basically two points to the ad.

    I think Larry responded well (@9) to the Einstein quote — as he noted, we can agree with it for the most part, though not as Einstein intended. We, too, reject a God who thinks just like we do, who thinks Christians are “good” and non-Christians are “bad”, and who rewards people for doing “good” and punishes those who don’t — that is not Christianity, as it quite literally has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.

    As for the quote from Hosea, sure, we can complain it’s taken out of context, though I doubt that’ll buy us a lot of wiggle room in your discussion. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of scary, awful-sounding stuff in the Bible. Mainly the Old Testament, but then there’s the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, too.

    And here’s why I think we shouldn’t just ignore this ad campaign: because a whoooole lot of Christians don’t understand these passages, either. No wonder the atheists don’t understand it, if many of us can’t even explain it to them! You’ll hear Christians talking about “Oh, well, that’s the God of the Old Testament”(?!), or perhaps suggesting that, you know, “They were supposed to be good back then, according to the Law, but now we have Jesus”(?!) or even attempting to work in cultural relativism and hoping that explains why God seemed so angry back then but so loving now.

    I think we find such “angry God” passages confusing because we fail to truly understand both our total depravity (as J. Dean noted @37) as well as God’s holiness. Hosea depicts, as it were, sinners in the hands of an angry God. But why is God angry? Is it because the people of Samaria did some shockingly bad things? I’m sorry Kevin (@3), but I think your response makes it seem like they were especially evil. But then what do we say about Ananias and Sapphira? One tiny lie — in the middle of giving a lot of money to the church, no less! — and he’s struck down as if he had committed incest, abortion, prostitution, polygamy, and even voted for a Democrat! If Ananias deserved death for a tiny, single lie that, most of us would argue, wasn’t all that bad, because he was doing good, right, then who among us doesn’t deserve God’s wrath, doesn’t deserve to be dashed to the ground and ripped open?

    If it weren’t for faith in Jesus, we would have to conclude that we all deserve such a fate, because how else should a holy God respond to sin? It all comes down to faith, not merit.

    But yes, as DLi2C says (@35), let’s make these points not merely to win some debate, but out of love and mercy. Heck, if you find yourself in such an argument, ask the atheist if you can discuss it over a coffee, your treat. And then let him know that God doesn’t think any more highly of you because you bought the guy a coffee. But, God willing, the atheist might think better of you.

    And then you can heap the hot coffee on his head! (Just kidding; don’t do that.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dave (@33), you’re right, I was replying more to the underlying arguments of secular humanism (which certainly underlie their ad as well), as well as some of the rebuttals from Christians in this thread.

    I do think that not a few humanists would be taken aback by a Christian’s admission of his own moral failings, especially if the Christian were to concede that the atheist might be — or is! — more moral.

    But, to apply it to the ad in question (which, best I can tell looks like this), well, there are basically two points to the ad.

    I think Larry responded well (@9) to the Einstein quote — as he noted, we can agree with it for the most part, though not as Einstein intended. We, too, reject a God who thinks just like we do, who thinks Christians are “good” and non-Christians are “bad”, and who rewards people for doing “good” and punishes those who don’t — that is not Christianity, as it quite literally has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.

    As for the quote from Hosea, sure, we can complain it’s taken out of context, though I doubt that’ll buy us a lot of wiggle room in your discussion. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of scary, awful-sounding stuff in the Bible. Mainly the Old Testament, but then there’s the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, too.

    And here’s why I think we shouldn’t just ignore this ad campaign: because a whoooole lot of Christians don’t understand these passages, either. No wonder the atheists don’t understand it, if many of us can’t even explain it to them! You’ll hear Christians talking about “Oh, well, that’s the God of the Old Testament”(?!), or perhaps suggesting that, you know, “They were supposed to be good back then, according to the Law, but now we have Jesus”(?!) or even attempting to work in cultural relativism and hoping that explains why God seemed so angry back then but so loving now.

    I think we find such “angry God” passages confusing because we fail to truly understand both our total depravity (as J. Dean noted @37) as well as God’s holiness. Hosea depicts, as it were, sinners in the hands of an angry God. But why is God angry? Is it because the people of Samaria did some shockingly bad things? I’m sorry Kevin (@3), but I think your response makes it seem like they were especially evil. But then what do we say about Ananias and Sapphira? One tiny lie — in the middle of giving a lot of money to the church, no less! — and he’s struck down as if he had committed incest, abortion, prostitution, polygamy, and even voted for a Democrat! If Ananias deserved death for a tiny, single lie that, most of us would argue, wasn’t all that bad, because he was doing good, right, then who among us doesn’t deserve God’s wrath, doesn’t deserve to be dashed to the ground and ripped open?

    If it weren’t for faith in Jesus, we would have to conclude that we all deserve such a fate, because how else should a holy God respond to sin? It all comes down to faith, not merit.

    But yes, as DLi2C says (@35), let’s make these points not merely to win some debate, but out of love and mercy. Heck, if you find yourself in such an argument, ask the atheist if you can discuss it over a coffee, your treat. And then let him know that God doesn’t think any more highly of you because you bought the guy a coffee. But, God willing, the atheist might think better of you.

    And then you can heap the hot coffee on his head! (Just kidding; don’t do that.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t always get an opportunity to tell DonS I agree with him, so I’ll take it now, especially after he was so nice to me (@38).

    I think the humanists here are ultimately suckers for starting a discussion about religion and faith. We Christians should relish this opportunity! Heck, we Christians should probably have been out there starting more conversations ourselves in the first place, but God’s will will be done, even if the God-haters themselves begin the discussion!

    So why would we try to shut down a conversation we ostensibly want to start? I’m kind of jealous there doesn’t seem to be an ad buy in my market:

    The ads will be featured in major newspapers such as USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Seattle Times, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Village Voice, the Durham Herald Sun, the Arizona Republic and the Independent Triangle, and magazines such as the Progressive and Reason. The ads will also appear on buses and phone booths across Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, inside the Washington DC metro and bus system, on billboards in Moscow, Idaho and Philadelphia, PA, as well websites such as the Friendly Atheist. Consider Humanism TV commercials will appear nationwide on NBC’s Dateline, and stations such as MSNBC, CNBC and Bloomberg Business Television.

    But if there is one in yours, it’s a great way to start a conversation, no? “Hey, whaddya think of that bus ad, huh?”

    And a side note. In addition to the questionable design of the ad itself (they kind of buried their point in small print, and there are way too many words to be read on the side of a moving bus), I had to laugh at the ad’s other, not-so-subtle points. First of all, note that the Bible quote has a black background, while the Einstein quote a white one. But, you know, a Christian ad would have done the same thing, in reverse, right?

    But <a href="http://www.considerhumanism.org/about.php"look at how they phrase it: “What some believe” vs. “What humanists think”. “Believe” vs. “Think”. Blind faith vs. logical reason. “We’re using our brains, they are not.” You get the idea.

    Also, since when can any humanist speak for another, as if to say “We all think this”? Kiiiiinda sounds like a religion, if you can do that. Look, they already have prophets!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t always get an opportunity to tell DonS I agree with him, so I’ll take it now, especially after he was so nice to me (@38).

    I think the humanists here are ultimately suckers for starting a discussion about religion and faith. We Christians should relish this opportunity! Heck, we Christians should probably have been out there starting more conversations ourselves in the first place, but God’s will will be done, even if the God-haters themselves begin the discussion!

    So why would we try to shut down a conversation we ostensibly want to start? I’m kind of jealous there doesn’t seem to be an ad buy in my market:

    The ads will be featured in major newspapers such as USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Seattle Times, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Village Voice, the Durham Herald Sun, the Arizona Republic and the Independent Triangle, and magazines such as the Progressive and Reason. The ads will also appear on buses and phone booths across Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, inside the Washington DC metro and bus system, on billboards in Moscow, Idaho and Philadelphia, PA, as well websites such as the Friendly Atheist. Consider Humanism TV commercials will appear nationwide on NBC’s Dateline, and stations such as MSNBC, CNBC and Bloomberg Business Television.

    But if there is one in yours, it’s a great way to start a conversation, no? “Hey, whaddya think of that bus ad, huh?”

    And a side note. In addition to the questionable design of the ad itself (they kind of buried their point in small print, and there are way too many words to be read on the side of a moving bus), I had to laugh at the ad’s other, not-so-subtle points. First of all, note that the Bible quote has a black background, while the Einstein quote a white one. But, you know, a Christian ad would have done the same thing, in reverse, right?

    But <a href="http://www.considerhumanism.org/about.php"look at how they phrase it: “What some believe” vs. “What humanists think”. “Believe” vs. “Think”. Blind faith vs. logical reason. “We’re using our brains, they are not.” You get the idea.

    Also, since when can any humanist speak for another, as if to say “We all think this”? Kiiiiinda sounds like a religion, if you can do that. Look, they already have prophets!

  • Porcell

    Todd: …And then admit you’re a sinner. A terrible sinner.

    Of course, all orthodox Christians admit their sinful tendency, though, as the Lutheran theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, wrote in The Nature and Destiny of Man, while men are equally sinful, they are quite unequal in their guilt. The atheists, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were monstrously guilty, compared to even the worst of Christians, especially in the twentieth-century. Your view suggesting that Christians are morally equivalent or worse to the atheists is badly mistaken. Sure, some Christians are less moral than some atheists, though on balance Christianity is a far more salutary and true belief than atheism.

    Again, logically, if one argues that a moral order fixed by God doesn’t exist, then anything can be believed. Christians and Jews have every right to severely criticize the views of skeptics and atheists. Indeed skeptics and atheists are living off the capital of the Judeo-Christian religion.

  • Porcell

    Todd: …And then admit you’re a sinner. A terrible sinner.

    Of course, all orthodox Christians admit their sinful tendency, though, as the Lutheran theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, wrote in The Nature and Destiny of Man, while men are equally sinful, they are quite unequal in their guilt. The atheists, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were monstrously guilty, compared to even the worst of Christians, especially in the twentieth-century. Your view suggesting that Christians are morally equivalent or worse to the atheists is badly mistaken. Sure, some Christians are less moral than some atheists, though on balance Christianity is a far more salutary and true belief than atheism.

    Again, logically, if one argues that a moral order fixed by God doesn’t exist, then anything can be believed. Christians and Jews have every right to severely criticize the views of skeptics and atheists. Indeed skeptics and atheists are living off the capital of the Judeo-Christian religion.

  • trotk

    Peter, the argument about who is better or worse is misguided and silly. That isn’t the point of the gospel and it isn’t the point of the Great Commission.

    As soon as our message degenerates into “we are more moral,” we have missed the entire point of the Gospel, which is what we are supposed to be preaching.

  • trotk

    Peter, the argument about who is better or worse is misguided and silly. That isn’t the point of the gospel and it isn’t the point of the Great Commission.

    As soon as our message degenerates into “we are more moral,” we have missed the entire point of the Gospel, which is what we are supposed to be preaching.

  • Porcell

    Trotk, at 43, Actually, the Gospel at many points, say with Cain and Abel, or with John and Herod Antipas, makes clear the inequality of guilt.

    If you wish to explore this topic in depth, I should suggest that you read Chapter Eight of Niebuhr’s The Nature and Destiny including the section entitled “The Equality of Sin and the Inequality of Guilt.

  • Porcell

    Trotk, at 43, Actually, the Gospel at many points, say with Cain and Abel, or with John and Herod Antipas, makes clear the inequality of guilt.

    If you wish to explore this topic in depth, I should suggest that you read Chapter Eight of Niebuhr’s The Nature and Destiny including the section entitled “The Equality of Sin and the Inequality of Guilt.

  • Porcell

    Excuse me, the reference was to Niebuhr’s Volume I of the The Nature and Destiny of Man

  • Porcell

    Excuse me, the reference was to Niebuhr’s Volume I of the The Nature and Destiny of Man

  • Porcell

    Trotk. Another point would be from the Sermon on the Mount where Christ remarks: Let your light shine before men , that they may see your good works….

    The truth is that in the real world we judge both men and ideas by their fruits. In history the good works of Christians by far are more exemplary than those of skeptics and atheists.

  • Porcell

    Trotk. Another point would be from the Sermon on the Mount where Christ remarks: Let your light shine before men , that they may see your good works….

    The truth is that in the real world we judge both men and ideas by their fruits. In history the good works of Christians by far are more exemplary than those of skeptics and atheists.

  • Larry

    Todd @29 and FWS shortly following are right. Every single time I or a good Christian brother of mine have spoken to an atheist and/or agnostic once you deflate the “Christianity is morality/ethics” issue it shocks them. Every single time without exception the look on their face tells it all, silence, nothing but crickets and frogs, deer in the head lights. I always tell them, “atheism is not really the end of religion, its simply the continuation of it, Christ is the end of religion”. That wrecks their whole argument. Even the most liberal among them that I know personally, when they really hear me say, Christianity is not about rules and laws, its about forgiveness of sin no “ifs”, IMMEDIATELY, I mean IMMEDIATELY this heretofore very morally liberal person suddenly (1) denies, “Well I can’t believe THAT. Followed quickly by (2) asserting some “law” or “ethic” or “morality”. Most of the time they will say something to the effect, also, of, “I’ve never heard that before about Christianity”. Which I reply, “I’m not surprised”.

    Suddenly we discover that the real “law” and real religion, is not just the right but includes the left, is not just formal religion like Islam or false Christianity but includes atheism and agnosticism and that the real non-religion is Christ and Him crucified.

  • Larry

    Todd @29 and FWS shortly following are right. Every single time I or a good Christian brother of mine have spoken to an atheist and/or agnostic once you deflate the “Christianity is morality/ethics” issue it shocks them. Every single time without exception the look on their face tells it all, silence, nothing but crickets and frogs, deer in the head lights. I always tell them, “atheism is not really the end of religion, its simply the continuation of it, Christ is the end of religion”. That wrecks their whole argument. Even the most liberal among them that I know personally, when they really hear me say, Christianity is not about rules and laws, its about forgiveness of sin no “ifs”, IMMEDIATELY, I mean IMMEDIATELY this heretofore very morally liberal person suddenly (1) denies, “Well I can’t believe THAT. Followed quickly by (2) asserting some “law” or “ethic” or “morality”. Most of the time they will say something to the effect, also, of, “I’ve never heard that before about Christianity”. Which I reply, “I’m not surprised”.

    Suddenly we discover that the real “law” and real religion, is not just the right but includes the left, is not just formal religion like Islam or false Christianity but includes atheism and agnosticism and that the real non-religion is Christ and Him crucified.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@42) replied, “Of course, all orthodox Christians admit their sinful tendency …” hmm. I wasn’t talking about sinful “tendencies”. I said, as you quoted me, “Admit you’re a sinner. A terrible sinner.” I’m not sure what you mean by adding the word “tendency” there.

    And I know you like that Niebuhr quote, because you’ve brought it up several times, but you rarely explain what it means. Is there a reason you can’t explain your premise from Scripture itself?

    James certainly seems to disagree with you: “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Therefore, you, Mother Theresa, Pope Benedict, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and I are all equally guilty! Your complaint that my “view suggesting that Christians are morally equivalent or worse to the atheists is badly mistaken” needs to be taken up with James, not me.

    Or Paul, for that matter, as he says the same thing:

    What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” … But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

    If you or Niebuhr disagree with Scripture on this point, then I recommend that you take that up with Scripture. Christianity is not about our morality, Peter.

    Of course, I’m also not sure what you mean when you say that “the Gospel at many points, say with Cain and Abel, or with John and Herod Antipas, makes clear the inequality of guilt.” Care to explain that one further?

    Also, I feel the need to point that there is no such thing as “the Judeo-Christian religion”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@42) replied, “Of course, all orthodox Christians admit their sinful tendency …” hmm. I wasn’t talking about sinful “tendencies”. I said, as you quoted me, “Admit you’re a sinner. A terrible sinner.” I’m not sure what you mean by adding the word “tendency” there.

    And I know you like that Niebuhr quote, because you’ve brought it up several times, but you rarely explain what it means. Is there a reason you can’t explain your premise from Scripture itself?

    James certainly seems to disagree with you: “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Therefore, you, Mother Theresa, Pope Benedict, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and I are all equally guilty! Your complaint that my “view suggesting that Christians are morally equivalent or worse to the atheists is badly mistaken” needs to be taken up with James, not me.

    Or Paul, for that matter, as he says the same thing:

    What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” … But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

    If you or Niebuhr disagree with Scripture on this point, then I recommend that you take that up with Scripture. Christianity is not about our morality, Peter.

    Of course, I’m also not sure what you mean when you say that “the Gospel at many points, say with Cain and Abel, or with John and Herod Antipas, makes clear the inequality of guilt.” Care to explain that one further?

    Also, I feel the need to point that there is no such thing as “the Judeo-Christian religion”.

  • Stephen

    My ears are still ringing tODD.

    So I scratched the surface and oh yeah . . . Einstein left his faithful wife and married his cousin, didn’t he?

    My mom always said that being a Christian doesn’t make you better than others, it just makes you better off.

    I love my mom.

  • Stephen

    My ears are still ringing tODD.

    So I scratched the surface and oh yeah . . . Einstein left his faithful wife and married his cousin, didn’t he?

    My mom always said that being a Christian doesn’t make you better than others, it just makes you better off.

    I love my mom.

  • Dave

    >My mom always said that being a Christian doesn’t make you better than others, it just makes you better off.<

    Unless you live in Malaysia, Africa, Iran, one of the "Stans", India, etc.

  • Dave

    >My mom always said that being a Christian doesn’t make you better than others, it just makes you better off.<

    Unless you live in Malaysia, Africa, Iran, one of the "Stans", India, etc.

  • Stephen

    C’mon Dave, work with me – law and gospel and, law and gospel.

  • Stephen

    C’mon Dave, work with me – law and gospel and, law and gospel.

  • Tom Hering

    “Unless you live in Malaysia, Africa, Iran, one of the “Stans”, India, etc.”

    On the other hand, if you don’t live in Hell for all eternity. ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    “Unless you live in Malaysia, Africa, Iran, one of the “Stans”, India, etc.”

    On the other hand, if you don’t live in Hell for all eternity. ;-)

  • Stephen

    Now you’re catchin’ on.

  • Stephen

    Now you’re catchin’ on.

  • Dave

    >On the other hand, if you don’t live in Hell for all eternity. <

    You are right. I had in mind the prosperity preaching type of "better off" as a Christian. I've heard people sell Christianity based on obtaining a better life.

  • Dave

    >On the other hand, if you don’t live in Hell for all eternity. <

    You are right. I had in mind the prosperity preaching type of "better off" as a Christian. I've heard people sell Christianity based on obtaining a better life.

  • Stephen

    And there’s the whole “peace that passes all understanding thing” too.

  • Stephen

    And there’s the whole “peace that passes all understanding thing” too.

  • Stephen

    Dave, I’m so glad your back! I thought we’d lost you. That was close!

  • Stephen

    Dave, I’m so glad your back! I thought we’d lost you. That was close!

  • Porcell

    Todd, Paul was not averse to making hard judgments on the iniquity of men, including Romans 1:26-27: For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence [sic] of their error which was meet.

    In this case Paul was condemning lust outside the relation of marriage between a man and a woman.

    As to your absurd remark that there is no such thing as “the Judeo-Christian religion” ,, then why does the Christian Bible include the Old Testament; also, why did Christ remark that He came not to abrogate the Law and not to demean a jot or tittle of it.

  • Porcell

    Todd, Paul was not averse to making hard judgments on the iniquity of men, including Romans 1:26-27: For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence [sic] of their error which was meet.

    In this case Paul was condemning lust outside the relation of marriage between a man and a woman.

    As to your absurd remark that there is no such thing as “the Judeo-Christian religion” ,, then why does the Christian Bible include the Old Testament; also, why did Christ remark that He came not to abrogate the Law and not to demean a jot or tittle of it.

  • Stephen

    Uh oh, here we go. Where’s my cigarettes, I’m stepping outside for a second while the boys hash this out?

    Oh yeah, I don’t smoke because I’m a Christian. Crap! Oops . . . can I say that?

    Porcell, don’t make me come over there. Breathe, tODD, Breathe.

  • Stephen

    Uh oh, here we go. Where’s my cigarettes, I’m stepping outside for a second while the boys hash this out?

    Oh yeah, I don’t smoke because I’m a Christian. Crap! Oops . . . can I say that?

    Porcell, don’t make me come over there. Breathe, tODD, Breathe.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@42ff), I’m loathe to admit that I’ve actually tried to find an online copy of Chapter Eight from The Nature and Destiny of Man, because the last time you told me I should read something and I did, you didn’t want to talk about it any more after I noted that it didn’t say what you said it did.

    But I couldn’t find a complete copy, anyhow. Amazon.com only lets me read pages 220-224 of that chapter. Which is enough for me to get a flavor of what he’s talking about.

    By the way, I couldn’t find anywhere in that book where Niebuhr actually says what you consistently credit to him (albeit sans quotation marks), that “while men are equally sinful, they are quite unequal in their guilt”. That appears to be your own formulation.

    It’s pretty clear that he’s not using “guilt” in the typical way the word is used. As Niebuhr says:

    Guilt is distinguished from sin in that it represents the objective and historical consequences of sin, for which the sinner must be held responsible. … Guilt is the objective consequence of sin, the actual corruption of the plan of creation and providence in the historical world.

    In the first sentence, it sounds like he’s merely referring to the temporal effects of sin, but ultimately, the distinction he appears to be making is that people commit different sins differently: “Men who are equally sinners in the sight of God need not be equally guilty of a specific act of wrong-doing in which they are involved.” This appears to be the crux of your argument, but it’s entirely beside the point in the discussion we’ve been having.

    To wit, I am less “guilty” than Stalin of committing genocide. Sure. Fine. I doubt that I am — or that you are — less guilty than him when it comes to hating (i.e. failing to fully love) our neighbors, which is at the root of genocide. And I am certain that you, Stalin, the Pope, I, et al. are equally guilty of failing to love God (which leads to a failure to love our neighbor).

    The fact that I have not committed a particular sin (though, as I have shown, that is itself a facile way to look at things, as all sins stem from sinning against what Jesus said was the “greatest commandment”) is of no merit in my standing with God — and, I would further add, in my standing with my fellow man. How can I, knowing full well my own depravity and its many manifestations, scoff at Stalin for all his bad actions? It’s the equivalent of a man laughing at a woman has shot herself. “Ha!” he says, “You fool! You shot yourself in your left foot and you’re bleeding!” “Yes,” says the woman, “but you have also shot yourself and are bleeding.” “But,” snaps the man, “I shot myself in the right foot!” and he hobbles off to find a place where people will appreciate his superiority.

    Oh, and speaking of superiority, I think this Niebuhr quote is interesting:

    The Christian doctrine of the sinfulness of all men is thus a constant challenge to re-examine superficial moral judgments, particularly those which self-righteously give the moral advantage to the one who makes the judgment. There is no moral situation in which the Pauline word does not apply: “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Romans 2:1).

    Hate to do it to you again, Peter, but I think Niebuhr disagrees with what you claim he’s saying (cf. “Your view suggesting that Christians are morally equivalent or worse to the atheists is badly mistaken.”)

    Also, I have no idea why you keep calling Niebuhr a “Lutheran theologian”. He appears to be a Calvinist, if anything.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@42ff), I’m loathe to admit that I’ve actually tried to find an online copy of Chapter Eight from The Nature and Destiny of Man, because the last time you told me I should read something and I did, you didn’t want to talk about it any more after I noted that it didn’t say what you said it did.

    But I couldn’t find a complete copy, anyhow. Amazon.com only lets me read pages 220-224 of that chapter. Which is enough for me to get a flavor of what he’s talking about.

    By the way, I couldn’t find anywhere in that book where Niebuhr actually says what you consistently credit to him (albeit sans quotation marks), that “while men are equally sinful, they are quite unequal in their guilt”. That appears to be your own formulation.

    It’s pretty clear that he’s not using “guilt” in the typical way the word is used. As Niebuhr says:

    Guilt is distinguished from sin in that it represents the objective and historical consequences of sin, for which the sinner must be held responsible. … Guilt is the objective consequence of sin, the actual corruption of the plan of creation and providence in the historical world.

    In the first sentence, it sounds like he’s merely referring to the temporal effects of sin, but ultimately, the distinction he appears to be making is that people commit different sins differently: “Men who are equally sinners in the sight of God need not be equally guilty of a specific act of wrong-doing in which they are involved.” This appears to be the crux of your argument, but it’s entirely beside the point in the discussion we’ve been having.

    To wit, I am less “guilty” than Stalin of committing genocide. Sure. Fine. I doubt that I am — or that you are — less guilty than him when it comes to hating (i.e. failing to fully love) our neighbors, which is at the root of genocide. And I am certain that you, Stalin, the Pope, I, et al. are equally guilty of failing to love God (which leads to a failure to love our neighbor).

    The fact that I have not committed a particular sin (though, as I have shown, that is itself a facile way to look at things, as all sins stem from sinning against what Jesus said was the “greatest commandment”) is of no merit in my standing with God — and, I would further add, in my standing with my fellow man. How can I, knowing full well my own depravity and its many manifestations, scoff at Stalin for all his bad actions? It’s the equivalent of a man laughing at a woman has shot herself. “Ha!” he says, “You fool! You shot yourself in your left foot and you’re bleeding!” “Yes,” says the woman, “but you have also shot yourself and are bleeding.” “But,” snaps the man, “I shot myself in the right foot!” and he hobbles off to find a place where people will appreciate his superiority.

    Oh, and speaking of superiority, I think this Niebuhr quote is interesting:

    The Christian doctrine of the sinfulness of all men is thus a constant challenge to re-examine superficial moral judgments, particularly those which self-righteously give the moral advantage to the one who makes the judgment. There is no moral situation in which the Pauline word does not apply: “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Romans 2:1).

    Hate to do it to you again, Peter, but I think Niebuhr disagrees with what you claim he’s saying (cf. “Your view suggesting that Christians are morally equivalent or worse to the atheists is badly mistaken.”)

    Also, I have no idea why you keep calling Niebuhr a “Lutheran theologian”. He appears to be a Calvinist, if anything.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@57), you replied, “Paul was not averse to making hard judgments on the iniquity of men,” but I’m not sure why. That agrees with my earlier point (@48). But his “hard judgments” apply to everyone: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, and “there is no one who does good, not even one”.

    As for “the Judeo-Christian religion”, it’s quite simple, at one level: there is no one who belongs to such a religion. There are no “Judeo-Christian” churches. No one, when asked, says, “I’m a Judeo-Christian”. There are Jews, and there are Christians. Christians believe in Jesus as the Christ (Greek New Testament word) or the Messiah (Hebrew Old Testament word) from their sins — the Christ/Messiah spoken of throughout the Old Testament (starting at Genesis 3, and that’s why the Christian Bible contains all those books), and fulfilled, (obviously) in Jesus. Jews, on the other hand, reject Jesus as the Messiah. They deny that the Law and the Prophets testify about him. Jews preach “a gospel other than the one [Paul] preached”, which, as Paul notes, “is really no gospel at all”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Porcell (@57), you replied, “Paul was not averse to making hard judgments on the iniquity of men,” but I’m not sure why. That agrees with my earlier point (@48). But his “hard judgments” apply to everyone: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, and “there is no one who does good, not even one”.

    As for “the Judeo-Christian religion”, it’s quite simple, at one level: there is no one who belongs to such a religion. There are no “Judeo-Christian” churches. No one, when asked, says, “I’m a Judeo-Christian”. There are Jews, and there are Christians. Christians believe in Jesus as the Christ (Greek New Testament word) or the Messiah (Hebrew Old Testament word) from their sins — the Christ/Messiah spoken of throughout the Old Testament (starting at Genesis 3, and that’s why the Christian Bible contains all those books), and fulfilled, (obviously) in Jesus. Jews, on the other hand, reject Jesus as the Messiah. They deny that the Law and the Prophets testify about him. Jews preach “a gospel other than the one [Paul] preached”, which, as Paul notes, “is really no gospel at all”.

  • Porcell

    Todd, at 48: And I know you like that Niebuhr quote, because you’ve brought it up several times, but you rarely explain what it means. Is there a reason you can’t explain your premise from Scripture itself?

    Given the complexity and subtlety of Niebuhr’s thought, it’s dubious to cite any one paragraph, though I will venture part of one in answer to your question:

    The mistake of Catholic moral casuistry to derive relative moral judgments too simply from the presuppositions of its natural law and the opposite tendency of orthodox Protestantism to efface all distinctions in the light of religious conviction of the undifferentiated sinfulness of men persuade us to walk warily in relating Biblical truth that all men are sinners to the other truth that is nevertheless ascertainable inequality of guilt among men in the actualities of history. Guilt is distinguished from sin in that it represents the objective and historical consequences of sin, for which the sinner must be held responsible. Vol. I, Chap. 8-1, Nature and Destiny of Man, pgs. 221-222

    As to proof from Scripture, again, think of the inequality of guilt of Cain and Abel in the O.T and John the Baptist and Herod Antipas in the N.T.

  • Porcell

    Todd, at 48: And I know you like that Niebuhr quote, because you’ve brought it up several times, but you rarely explain what it means. Is there a reason you can’t explain your premise from Scripture itself?

    Given the complexity and subtlety of Niebuhr’s thought, it’s dubious to cite any one paragraph, though I will venture part of one in answer to your question:

    The mistake of Catholic moral casuistry to derive relative moral judgments too simply from the presuppositions of its natural law and the opposite tendency of orthodox Protestantism to efface all distinctions in the light of religious conviction of the undifferentiated sinfulness of men persuade us to walk warily in relating Biblical truth that all men are sinners to the other truth that is nevertheless ascertainable inequality of guilt among men in the actualities of history. Guilt is distinguished from sin in that it represents the objective and historical consequences of sin, for which the sinner must be held responsible. Vol. I, Chap. 8-1, Nature and Destiny of Man, pgs. 221-222

    As to proof from Scripture, again, think of the inequality of guilt of Cain and Abel in the O.T and John the Baptist and Herod Antipas in the N.T.

  • Stephen

    Ouch! Porcell?

    Well, Porcell did get the “Neibuhr was a Lutheran” part right tODD He was German immigrant who spent most of his years in NY teaching at Union. He also wrote the Serenity Prayer that AA cribbed. It has a much longer version. I like it, and keep it in my desk.

    Neibuhr is interesting. He went from a pretty much pacifist commie to a sort of hawkish, pro-Roosevelt, just war theologian. His ethics turned more contextual, and the reason he may sound like a Calvinist is that he really worked to make Christianity fuse with the cause of democratic values. He never lost his progressive ideals. For his books, next time check the public library.

  • Stephen

    Ouch! Porcell?

    Well, Porcell did get the “Neibuhr was a Lutheran” part right tODD He was German immigrant who spent most of his years in NY teaching at Union. He also wrote the Serenity Prayer that AA cribbed. It has a much longer version. I like it, and keep it in my desk.

    Neibuhr is interesting. He went from a pretty much pacifist commie to a sort of hawkish, pro-Roosevelt, just war theologian. His ethics turned more contextual, and the reason he may sound like a Calvinist is that he really worked to make Christianity fuse with the cause of democratic values. He never lost his progressive ideals. For his books, next time check the public library.

  • Porcell

    Todd, at 60, you’re playing with words. The Bible on which the Christian religion stands is based on both the Old and New Testaments, unless one is a gnostic wing nut Marcionite.

  • Porcell

    Todd, at 60, you’re playing with words. The Bible on which the Christian religion stands is based on both the Old and New Testaments, unless one is a gnostic wing nut Marcionite.

  • trotk

    Peter (@61), the passage you quoted is about the “objective and historical consequences of sin”, which, in light of the other sections from the chapter thus quoted seem to be a different thing than the eternal consequences of sin. Thus, our guilt is equal before God, and yet the consequences and guilt in this world are unequal, because sins bear different guilt here in history.

    But as interesting as this discussion is, you missed the point.

    To respond to the atheists assertion that Christians (or the Christian God) are wicked and humanists are excellent moralists with counter claims is to miss the entire point of the Gospel, and thus to miss the entire point of what we should be preaching to the nations.

    When the new atheist accuses Christians of being wicked, we should say,”Of course we are. That’s half the point. The other half is that Christ became wickedness to redeem us from ourselves, our sin, and the devil.”

    The Great Commission (and thus the message of our preaching to the world) is about telling this story, and this story alone, and not winning a culture war, proving that we are holy, proving that we are moral, etc.

  • trotk

    Peter (@61), the passage you quoted is about the “objective and historical consequences of sin”, which, in light of the other sections from the chapter thus quoted seem to be a different thing than the eternal consequences of sin. Thus, our guilt is equal before God, and yet the consequences and guilt in this world are unequal, because sins bear different guilt here in history.

    But as interesting as this discussion is, you missed the point.

    To respond to the atheists assertion that Christians (or the Christian God) are wicked and humanists are excellent moralists with counter claims is to miss the entire point of the Gospel, and thus to miss the entire point of what we should be preaching to the nations.

    When the new atheist accuses Christians of being wicked, we should say,”Of course we are. That’s half the point. The other half is that Christ became wickedness to redeem us from ourselves, our sin, and the devil.”

    The Great Commission (and thus the message of our preaching to the world) is about telling this story, and this story alone, and not winning a culture war, proving that we are holy, proving that we are moral, etc.

  • Porcell

    Todd: By the way, I couldn’t find anywhere in that book where Niebuhr actually says what you consistently credit to him (albeit sans quotation marks), that “while men are equally sinful, they are quite unequal in their guilt”. That appears to be your own formulation.

    Todd, in the Contents of Niebuhr’s book, Chapter Eight, Man As Sinner, is divided into two sections: The Equality of Sin and the Inequality of Guilt and Sin as Sensuality. In the chapter he gives many examples of the distinction between sin and guilt. When he wrote the book in 1939, he quite understood the distinction between Churchill/Roosevelt and Hitler.

  • Porcell

    Todd: By the way, I couldn’t find anywhere in that book where Niebuhr actually says what you consistently credit to him (albeit sans quotation marks), that “while men are equally sinful, they are quite unequal in their guilt”. That appears to be your own formulation.

    Todd, in the Contents of Niebuhr’s book, Chapter Eight, Man As Sinner, is divided into two sections: The Equality of Sin and the Inequality of Guilt and Sin as Sensuality. In the chapter he gives many examples of the distinction between sin and guilt. When he wrote the book in 1939, he quite understood the distinction between Churchill/Roosevelt and Hitler.

  • Stephen

    “Guilt is distinguished from sin in that it represents the objective and historical consequences of sin, for which the sinner must be held responsible.”

    If I may, what Neibuhr says here is a law/gospel distinction Porcell, and kind of a weird one actually. I think Neibuhr might be messing up it up, which is exactly the critique others have leveled. tODD’s point stands I’d say. We are not held responsible for our sin because of Christ and Christ alone. That is the Gospel. The “historic consequences of our guilt” are an earthly matter altogether. Those are judged by human standards like Nuremburg, the Hague and the Supreme Court (first use of the law). He should have said “for which the guilty are held responsible in this world” or something to that effect.

    Christians are judged by those same laws, AND by the law expressed most fully in the ten commandments that convicts them, in light of the Gospel, of their inability to love God and neighbor for which they turn to the forgiveness in Christ through faith (second use of the law).

    From there, life is all law, the law of love and mortification, over and over, all for the neighbor, mercy, service, and sacrifice of self for the other. You know something about that having been a Marine (I read your post – great thread). I admire that greatly. That is a lesson in the life of the law I would imagine, the law of service to others because of something greater that has been done for you. As Lutherans we live this same way, sacramentally, in our baptism, in that forgiveness which we hear again and again in the words of confession and absolution that is given for us freely. That’s the third use of the law, and not one jot or tittle is removed from that law because of Christ alone.

    Maybe that is what Neibuhr was trying to say, but that isn’t what he said. That’s what tODD said.

  • Stephen

    “Guilt is distinguished from sin in that it represents the objective and historical consequences of sin, for which the sinner must be held responsible.”

    If I may, what Neibuhr says here is a law/gospel distinction Porcell, and kind of a weird one actually. I think Neibuhr might be messing up it up, which is exactly the critique others have leveled. tODD’s point stands I’d say. We are not held responsible for our sin because of Christ and Christ alone. That is the Gospel. The “historic consequences of our guilt” are an earthly matter altogether. Those are judged by human standards like Nuremburg, the Hague and the Supreme Court (first use of the law). He should have said “for which the guilty are held responsible in this world” or something to that effect.

    Christians are judged by those same laws, AND by the law expressed most fully in the ten commandments that convicts them, in light of the Gospel, of their inability to love God and neighbor for which they turn to the forgiveness in Christ through faith (second use of the law).

    From there, life is all law, the law of love and mortification, over and over, all for the neighbor, mercy, service, and sacrifice of self for the other. You know something about that having been a Marine (I read your post – great thread). I admire that greatly. That is a lesson in the life of the law I would imagine, the law of service to others because of something greater that has been done for you. As Lutherans we live this same way, sacramentally, in our baptism, in that forgiveness which we hear again and again in the words of confession and absolution that is given for us freely. That’s the third use of the law, and not one jot or tittle is removed from that law because of Christ alone.

    Maybe that is what Neibuhr was trying to say, but that isn’t what he said. That’s what tODD said.

  • Tom Hering

    The Bible is one book, revealed to man in parts over time. However, Jesus isn’t missing from the Old Testament portions, the way He’s missing from Judaism after the prophets. And for most people, the term “Judeo-Christian” includes post-prophetic Judaism. Hence, the wisdom in avoiding the term.

  • Tom Hering

    The Bible is one book, revealed to man in parts over time. However, Jesus isn’t missing from the Old Testament portions, the way He’s missing from Judaism after the prophets. And for most people, the term “Judeo-Christian” includes post-prophetic Judaism. Hence, the wisdom in avoiding the term.

  • Porcell

    Stephen, of course Niebuhr is talking about the distinction between sin and guilt in the world. That’s where we and the skeptics and atheists live. Niebuhr fully understood the distinction between law and gospel, though he knew enough to judge between, say, Churchill/Roosevelt and Hitler/Stalin, as we know from the Bible between Cain/Abel along with John the Baptist/Herod Antipas. Niebuhr was known as a Christian realist, much like the Biblical realists.

    In terms of this thread it is clear to most sensible folk that the monstrous guilt of the atheists, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were rather distinct from the sins of those of Roosevelt and Churchill, however spiritually sinful all of them certainly were.

    Todd is talking airily of spiritual sin and guilt, while ignoring hard realities on the ground.

  • Porcell

    Stephen, of course Niebuhr is talking about the distinction between sin and guilt in the world. That’s where we and the skeptics and atheists live. Niebuhr fully understood the distinction between law and gospel, though he knew enough to judge between, say, Churchill/Roosevelt and Hitler/Stalin, as we know from the Bible between Cain/Abel along with John the Baptist/Herod Antipas. Niebuhr was known as a Christian realist, much like the Biblical realists.

    In terms of this thread it is clear to most sensible folk that the monstrous guilt of the atheists, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were rather distinct from the sins of those of Roosevelt and Churchill, however spiritually sinful all of them certainly were.

    Todd is talking airily of spiritual sin and guilt, while ignoring hard realities on the ground.

  • trotk

    Peter, you are missing the point. Reread tODD’s post at 29. You ought not argue with the atheist about who is more moral. In contrast to your post at 34, the best argument against atheists is not what some atheists have done, because some atheists haven’t committed atrocities, and some Christians have. A tit for tat won’t work, and it isn’t what God has told us to do.

    When you examine the evidence, humans (atheists, Christians, and the rest) are awful. Some sins bring greater earthly consequences, but we all deserve death. I know that you know this, but think about it. We all deserve (according to both our natures and our deeds) capital punishment. The gallows. The guillotine. The electric chair.
    And beyond that, we deserve spiritual death.
    To argue with the atheists that they are more wicked or that we are more moral is to abandon the Gospel.

  • trotk

    Peter, you are missing the point. Reread tODD’s post at 29. You ought not argue with the atheist about who is more moral. In contrast to your post at 34, the best argument against atheists is not what some atheists have done, because some atheists haven’t committed atrocities, and some Christians have. A tit for tat won’t work, and it isn’t what God has told us to do.

    When you examine the evidence, humans (atheists, Christians, and the rest) are awful. Some sins bring greater earthly consequences, but we all deserve death. I know that you know this, but think about it. We all deserve (according to both our natures and our deeds) capital punishment. The gallows. The guillotine. The electric chair.
    And beyond that, we deserve spiritual death.
    To argue with the atheists that they are more wicked or that we are more moral is to abandon the Gospel.

  • Tom Hering

    trotk @ 69, Ah, but it’s the argument of the militant atheists – at least by implication – that they are less wicked than the religious. Because they are more intellectually honest, if nothing else. Therefore, the Law first, then the Gospel.

  • Tom Hering

    trotk @ 69, Ah, but it’s the argument of the militant atheists – at least by implication – that they are less wicked than the religious. Because they are more intellectually honest, if nothing else. Therefore, the Law first, then the Gospel.

  • Porcell

    Stephen, you, like Todd, are missing the point regarding unequal degrees of guilt related to equality of sin. That’s something that most sensible people on the ground understand, though about which biblical ideologues are rather foggy. It’s, also, why sinful, sensible parents are not averse to disciplining sinful, naughty children;

  • Porcell

    Stephen, you, like Todd, are missing the point regarding unequal degrees of guilt related to equality of sin. That’s something that most sensible people on the ground understand, though about which biblical ideologues are rather foggy. It’s, also, why sinful, sensible parents are not averse to disciplining sinful, naughty children;

  • trotk

    I agree Tom. Law first. But let the Law speak for itself. Don’t claim that Christians have fulfilled it, because only Christ has. And make it clear that Christians are Christians not because they have fulfilled the Law, but because they are forgiven.

    A frustration lies in the fact that the new-atheists (in particular) reject the notion of sin. Chesterton saw this coming in the beginning of Orthodoxy. They believe that it is criminal to preach the Law to our children. How they deny their own nature and experience on a daily basis, I don’t know.

  • trotk

    I agree Tom. Law first. But let the Law speak for itself. Don’t claim that Christians have fulfilled it, because only Christ has. And make it clear that Christians are Christians not because they have fulfilled the Law, but because they are forgiven.

    A frustration lies in the fact that the new-atheists (in particular) reject the notion of sin. Chesterton saw this coming in the beginning of Orthodoxy. They believe that it is criminal to preach the Law to our children. How they deny their own nature and experience on a daily basis, I don’t know.

  • trotk

    Peter, you seem to be ignoring me. Do reread post #29.

  • trotk

    Peter, you seem to be ignoring me. Do reread post #29.

  • Porcell

    Trotk, I’ve read #29 carefully and disagree with Todd’s basic proposition that because all we Christians are sinful, we have no moral ground to criticize atheists.

  • Porcell

    Trotk, I’ve read #29 carefully and disagree with Todd’s basic proposition that because all we Christians are sinful, we have no moral ground to criticize atheists.

  • trotk

    But do you see that it isn’t the point when it comes to arguing with them?

    And do you see that many of them are just as moral as us?

    And do you see that many Christians are less moral than some of them?

  • trotk

    But do you see that it isn’t the point when it comes to arguing with them?

    And do you see that many of them are just as moral as us?

    And do you see that many Christians are less moral than some of them?

  • Tom Hering

    trotk @ 72, I agree too. :-) Thanks for the clarification.

    tODD and Porcell, could you guys hold off for a while? I need to run to the store for more crackers, and an aerosol squirt can of processed cheese product. Then I’ll be ready for more entertainment. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    trotk @ 72, I agree too. :-) Thanks for the clarification.

    tODD and Porcell, could you guys hold off for a while? I need to run to the store for more crackers, and an aerosol squirt can of processed cheese product. Then I’ll be ready for more entertainment. :-)

  • trotk

    Tom, I don’t agree with your choice of cheese. I guess on this point we can be relativists. I would go for a good asiago, if I were you.

  • trotk

    Tom, I don’t agree with your choice of cheese. I guess on this point we can be relativists. I would go for a good asiago, if I were you.

  • Porcell

    Trotk, in the real world we sinful ones one make discriminating judgments about whom to argue with or fight. That’s why we may properly criticize atheists and Bush, when dealing with a recalcitrant Saddam Hussein, could rightly go to war.

  • Porcell

    Trotk, in the real world we sinful ones one make discriminating judgments about whom to argue with or fight. That’s why we may properly criticize atheists and Bush, when dealing with a recalcitrant Saddam Hussein, could rightly go to war.

  • Tom Hering

    “I would go for a good asiago, if I were you.”

    Does it have a bendy plastic tip that I can press to do a line, man?

  • Tom Hering

    “I would go for a good asiago, if I were you.”

    Does it have a bendy plastic tip that I can press to do a line, man?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Peter, Todd , Stephen, Trotk, Dave , Don S, Larry….

    Great discussion. Polite. thoughtful. and everyone seems to be listening and responding thoughtfully and not just trying to score points in an argument.

    I am learning lots. Thank you especially for your contribution here Peter. I understand you to be saying, and what you understand Neibuhr says, is that , here on earth, the practice of that righteousness that God demands of each and every one of us is not equal. Some do this better.

    We Lutherans teach this in our Confessions. The Confessions say that all those things you learned as a Marine about Virtue that are about self-sacrifice are, as Aristotle says are a habit acquired by the hard work and self discipline of practice. This looks exactly like what an athlete, or musician or anyone in any of the “disciplines” has to do. It is precisely why they are called “The Disciplines”. Morality and Virtue is acquired, here on earth, in exactly the same way. This is why the Lutheran Confessions confess that “Nothing can be added to the Ethical System of Aristotle.

    But a Lutheran must then quickly add something to this: Virtue, aka self-sacrifice, self-discipline, self-control is still not the righteousness that God demands. And God does demand that thing called Virtue. And it is clear and obvious and self-evident that not all do this equally. Peter, the Lutheran Confessions fully agree with you on this point.

    Lutherans, and St Paul call Virtue “Mortification” . Mortification is Latinate interestingly, for “the-process-of-making-dead”. It is good to ponder the significance of this. God demands our death. Mortification is something the Holy Spirit does to all men.

    The Confessions say that the entire purpose of Virtue/Mortification on earth is to make us love one another. The idea is that for sinful man, true love for others, or even self-love cannot exist unless he is literally killing himself to do it. Budhists and New Age men like Eckart Tolle understand this and express it by saying the ego must die.

    So, here on earth, Godly righteousness that is not merely a pharisaical “righteousness” that is Virtue/Mortification alone MUST be a virtue/mortification whose sole aim is the production of love for others.

    For St Paul then and Lutherans, virtue may be it´s own reward, and it certainly is necessary and good, but it can also be something to condemn in the strongest terms as Our Lord did when it is not something that results in evidential love for one´s proximate.

    So God demands Virtue + Love. Virtue alone, according to Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions is a form of moral mastur***ion. On earth, the righeousness God demands requires a minimum of two persons to happen! And the demand of God is that we love one another even as Christ loved us. Nothing less. This means we must be passionate in our love. We must do this for our enemies. We must forgive 70 x 7 this means. It is not enough to be virtuous then Peter. We must be about making others smile, feel loved, have their toes curl in delight because of what we do for them, act in such a way as to deliberately aim to give them tears of joy because of our effect on their lives.

    This is what God demands of us on earth. Nothing less. Would you agree with this dear Peter? I know that I don´t come close to doing this. I know I have not even come close to even trying to make you feel this from our exchanges here to date, and I really hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me for that even though I do not deserve your forgiveness and I know that.

    So now I come to Todds points. Because the Lutheran Confessions are squarely, and I do mean squarely behind what he is saying. He is saying that precisely because you and me and Todd and all the rest here fall so very far short of what God demands on earth, it is rather pointless to argue even whether stalin was worse than me or todd or whoever.

    Further, even if we could be truly loving as we should be, the only thing that can be certain to calm our troubled conscience when we err is not anything we can do. It is alone the comfort of knowing that Christ hung dead on the Holy Cross between noon and 3 on a very good Friday and our failure to love passionately is now utterly erased from the mind of God. Isn´t that a comfort even for a man who truly is a shining example of service and virtue that I sincerely know you to be?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Peter, Todd , Stephen, Trotk, Dave , Don S, Larry….

    Great discussion. Polite. thoughtful. and everyone seems to be listening and responding thoughtfully and not just trying to score points in an argument.

    I am learning lots. Thank you especially for your contribution here Peter. I understand you to be saying, and what you understand Neibuhr says, is that , here on earth, the practice of that righteousness that God demands of each and every one of us is not equal. Some do this better.

    We Lutherans teach this in our Confessions. The Confessions say that all those things you learned as a Marine about Virtue that are about self-sacrifice are, as Aristotle says are a habit acquired by the hard work and self discipline of practice. This looks exactly like what an athlete, or musician or anyone in any of the “disciplines” has to do. It is precisely why they are called “The Disciplines”. Morality and Virtue is acquired, here on earth, in exactly the same way. This is why the Lutheran Confessions confess that “Nothing can be added to the Ethical System of Aristotle.

    But a Lutheran must then quickly add something to this: Virtue, aka self-sacrifice, self-discipline, self-control is still not the righteousness that God demands. And God does demand that thing called Virtue. And it is clear and obvious and self-evident that not all do this equally. Peter, the Lutheran Confessions fully agree with you on this point.

    Lutherans, and St Paul call Virtue “Mortification” . Mortification is Latinate interestingly, for “the-process-of-making-dead”. It is good to ponder the significance of this. God demands our death. Mortification is something the Holy Spirit does to all men.

    The Confessions say that the entire purpose of Virtue/Mortification on earth is to make us love one another. The idea is that for sinful man, true love for others, or even self-love cannot exist unless he is literally killing himself to do it. Budhists and New Age men like Eckart Tolle understand this and express it by saying the ego must die.

    So, here on earth, Godly righteousness that is not merely a pharisaical “righteousness” that is Virtue/Mortification alone MUST be a virtue/mortification whose sole aim is the production of love for others.

    For St Paul then and Lutherans, virtue may be it´s own reward, and it certainly is necessary and good, but it can also be something to condemn in the strongest terms as Our Lord did when it is not something that results in evidential love for one´s proximate.

    So God demands Virtue + Love. Virtue alone, according to Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions is a form of moral mastur***ion. On earth, the righeousness God demands requires a minimum of two persons to happen! And the demand of God is that we love one another even as Christ loved us. Nothing less. This means we must be passionate in our love. We must do this for our enemies. We must forgive 70 x 7 this means. It is not enough to be virtuous then Peter. We must be about making others smile, feel loved, have their toes curl in delight because of what we do for them, act in such a way as to deliberately aim to give them tears of joy because of our effect on their lives.

    This is what God demands of us on earth. Nothing less. Would you agree with this dear Peter? I know that I don´t come close to doing this. I know I have not even come close to even trying to make you feel this from our exchanges here to date, and I really hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me for that even though I do not deserve your forgiveness and I know that.

    So now I come to Todds points. Because the Lutheran Confessions are squarely, and I do mean squarely behind what he is saying. He is saying that precisely because you and me and Todd and all the rest here fall so very far short of what God demands on earth, it is rather pointless to argue even whether stalin was worse than me or todd or whoever.

    Further, even if we could be truly loving as we should be, the only thing that can be certain to calm our troubled conscience when we err is not anything we can do. It is alone the comfort of knowing that Christ hung dead on the Holy Cross between noon and 3 on a very good Friday and our failure to love passionately is now utterly erased from the mind of God. Isn´t that a comfort even for a man who truly is a shining example of service and virtue that I sincerely know you to be?

  • Tom Hering

    “Peter, Todd , Stephen, Trotk, Dave , Don S, Larry….”
    :-( No coffee for you, Frank. Signed, Tom. ;-(

  • Tom Hering

    “Peter, Todd , Stephen, Trotk, Dave , Don S, Larry….”
    :-( No coffee for you, Frank. Signed, Tom. ;-(

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom @ 79

    dang. I miss squirty cheese here in brasil.

    But…. I bought popcorn from a street vendor here yesterday and he put chunks of cheese it with the popcorn. they were really good too. had a very high-fat-bad-for-you smoky-too-much-salt-to-be-good-for-you feel. PURE gospel metaphor in a chunky format. It tasted like provalone but don´t hold me to that. I am gonna sure as heck find out , and I will report back to you Tom ok.

    and that coffee you promised…..

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom @ 79

    dang. I miss squirty cheese here in brasil.

    But…. I bought popcorn from a street vendor here yesterday and he put chunks of cheese it with the popcorn. they were really good too. had a very high-fat-bad-for-you smoky-too-much-salt-to-be-good-for-you feel. PURE gospel metaphor in a chunky format. It tasted like provalone but don´t hold me to that. I am gonna sure as heck find out , and I will report back to you Tom ok.

    and that coffee you promised…..

  • trotk

    Tom, sadly there is no bendy plastic tip. You must use a knife.

  • trotk

    Tom, sadly there is no bendy plastic tip. You must use a knife.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Tom @ 81

    I just forgot to add your name. dang. FORGIVE me. It is precisely because I need to drink some coffee that I forgot I might add.

    I hope that did not sound too overtly manipulative.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Tom @ 81

    I just forgot to add your name. dang. FORGIVE me. It is precisely because I need to drink some coffee that I forgot I might add.

    I hope that did not sound too overtly manipulative.

  • trotk

    Peter, I don’t disagree with your statement at 78 (at least as a general principle). But when speaking to the atheist, comparing morality is a distraction from the gospel, and as an argumentation tactic, gets nowhere. Do you agree?

  • trotk

    Peter, I don’t disagree with your statement at 78 (at least as a general principle). But when speaking to the atheist, comparing morality is a distraction from the gospel, and as an argumentation tactic, gets nowhere. Do you agree?

  • Tom Hering

    “PURE gospel metaphor in a chunky format.”

    This might be for you. As far as I’m concerned, Lauden is the new Luther, setting us free from Pope Pollan’s oppressive system of gastronomic merits.

    Let’s nail a menu of 95 fast food items to somebody’s door.

  • Tom Hering

    “PURE gospel metaphor in a chunky format.”

    This might be for you. As far as I’m concerned, Lauden is the new Luther, setting us free from Pope Pollan’s oppressive system of gastronomic merits.

    Let’s nail a menu of 95 fast food items to somebody’s door.

  • Porcell

    Frank, at 80: This [love] is what God demands of us on earth. Nothing less. Would you agree with this dear Peter?

    Thank you for this very thoughtful and balanced comment. I agree that any judgment or actions we take must be carried out, to the extent that is humanly possible, with a loving and forgiving heart.

    That is why so many people are puzzled when, for example, Lincoln after a civil war that cost about 500,000 lives, could say with malice toward none and charity for all.

    It’s, also, why Bush, though often vilified by his critics, tried to be respectful and forgiving towards them, though he used every inch of his legal power to accomplish his view of the national interest, including the defeat of Saddam and the insurgency.

    The point being that with saddened and loving hearts, we sometimes have to quarrel and even fight to the death.

  • Porcell

    Frank, at 80: This [love] is what God demands of us on earth. Nothing less. Would you agree with this dear Peter?

    Thank you for this very thoughtful and balanced comment. I agree that any judgment or actions we take must be carried out, to the extent that is humanly possible, with a loving and forgiving heart.

    That is why so many people are puzzled when, for example, Lincoln after a civil war that cost about 500,000 lives, could say with malice toward none and charity for all.

    It’s, also, why Bush, though often vilified by his critics, tried to be respectful and forgiving towards them, though he used every inch of his legal power to accomplish his view of the national interest, including the defeat of Saddam and the insurgency.

    The point being that with saddened and loving hearts, we sometimes have to quarrel and even fight to the death.

  • Porcell

    Trotk, at #85, I don’t agree. Living mostly in Massachusetts, I deal rather frequently with righteous atheists and don’t hesitate, if they start an argument, to point out the extreme immorality of Hitler, Stalin, et al, compared to the ordinary sinfulness of Christians, including the pharisaical and pious ones.

    The last thing I would accept is a moral equivalency of atheist and Christian views, though I understand that some few atheists are more moral than some Christians.

    As mentioned earlier, logically when belief in a moral order in the cosmos is given up for nihilistic atheism, anything can then be believed or done. That’s why Nietzsche, when he came to disbelieve in God, opted for a superman. It’s no accident that many Nazis revered Nietzsche including their superman fuehrer.

  • Porcell

    Trotk, at #85, I don’t agree. Living mostly in Massachusetts, I deal rather frequently with righteous atheists and don’t hesitate, if they start an argument, to point out the extreme immorality of Hitler, Stalin, et al, compared to the ordinary sinfulness of Christians, including the pharisaical and pious ones.

    The last thing I would accept is a moral equivalency of atheist and Christian views, though I understand that some few atheists are more moral than some Christians.

    As mentioned earlier, logically when belief in a moral order in the cosmos is given up for nihilistic atheism, anything can then be believed or done. That’s why Nietzsche, when he came to disbelieve in God, opted for a superman. It’s no accident that many Nazis revered Nietzsche including their superman fuehrer.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom @ 86

    Great article. It reminded me that my mom was a horrible cook. why? she had a very very limited budget . And she worked as well. No time. Yet she canned her own vegetables etc.

    Hard to make frozen fish sticks look creative.

    whole foods is expensive and it not something ordinary (read: poor) folk can indulge in.

    At the same time…. I am learning that learning how to cook makes food alot more interesting, and every saturday there is a farmers market right on my street, so I can just walk out the front door of my apt building into a bustling street market, and there are still lots of fruits and vegitables here that I have not eaten or learned how to cook yet. It will be fun.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom @ 86

    Great article. It reminded me that my mom was a horrible cook. why? she had a very very limited budget . And she worked as well. No time. Yet she canned her own vegetables etc.

    Hard to make frozen fish sticks look creative.

    whole foods is expensive and it not something ordinary (read: poor) folk can indulge in.

    At the same time…. I am learning that learning how to cook makes food alot more interesting, and every saturday there is a farmers market right on my street, so I can just walk out the front door of my apt building into a bustling street market, and there are still lots of fruits and vegitables here that I have not eaten or learned how to cook yet. It will be fun.

  • trotk

    Peter, I also wouldn’t accept “a moral equivalency of atheist and Christian views”, because they aren’t equivalent. I know Nietzsche (I teach him), and I accept that he was one of the few atheists who recognized the terrible place the denial of God would take the ethicist or philosopher of morality. But that doesn’t have to have any bearing necessarily on the average atheist now. They can just as easily invent or choose a morality of being kind to everyone, which many of them do.
    Besides, many Christians have used Christianity to justify evil. Many atheists have used their invented view to justify evil. The clever atheist will have an answer for every name you bring up, or be able to respond to your charge of “Hitler was an atheist and evil!” with “Hitler actually justified most of his deeds with a bastardized Christianity, which is hardly atheism.”

    But none of this is my point.

    My point is that these arguments are a distraction from the Gospel.

    Maybe that is fine at times, because you can’t spend all your time with an atheist friend discussing the Gospel.

    But the fundamental issue with atheism isn’t the morality of the people who hold it. It is the denial of the Triune God. This, in the long run, is the only thing that matters.

    The best arguments against it depend entirely on why the person you are talking to became or is an atheist.

  • trotk

    Peter, I also wouldn’t accept “a moral equivalency of atheist and Christian views”, because they aren’t equivalent. I know Nietzsche (I teach him), and I accept that he was one of the few atheists who recognized the terrible place the denial of God would take the ethicist or philosopher of morality. But that doesn’t have to have any bearing necessarily on the average atheist now. They can just as easily invent or choose a morality of being kind to everyone, which many of them do.
    Besides, many Christians have used Christianity to justify evil. Many atheists have used their invented view to justify evil. The clever atheist will have an answer for every name you bring up, or be able to respond to your charge of “Hitler was an atheist and evil!” with “Hitler actually justified most of his deeds with a bastardized Christianity, which is hardly atheism.”

    But none of this is my point.

    My point is that these arguments are a distraction from the Gospel.

    Maybe that is fine at times, because you can’t spend all your time with an atheist friend discussing the Gospel.

    But the fundamental issue with atheism isn’t the morality of the people who hold it. It is the denial of the Triune God. This, in the long run, is the only thing that matters.

    The best arguments against it depend entirely on why the person you are talking to became or is an atheist.

  • trotk

    Actually, these arguments are far more than a distraction from the gospel. They (as tODD pointed out), create the impression in the atheists’ mind that the primary purpose of Christianity is morality, which is heretical. They also tend to propagate the understanding of Christianity that Christians are Christians because they are good. This is also heretical.

  • trotk

    Actually, these arguments are far more than a distraction from the gospel. They (as tODD pointed out), create the impression in the atheists’ mind that the primary purpose of Christianity is morality, which is heretical. They also tend to propagate the understanding of Christianity that Christians are Christians because they are good. This is also heretical.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Porcell @ 88

    “As mentioned earlier, logically when belief in a moral order in the cosmos is given up for nihilistic atheism, anything can then be believed or done. ”

    This is true and not true at the same time Peter.

    The Law does us. We only think we do it. Whether we believe in God or not, or imagine that we can erase those letters that spell L.A.W. or S.I.N., they still are there.

    The Lutheran Confessions repeat like a broken record: “The Law always accuses.”

    I am not missing your point , which is that when men stop believing in a god of some sort, that this certainly results in dehumanization. That is probably true. The 20th century history seems to confirm that observation in spades.

    It is also true that a belief in a god can result in the exact same dehumanization. Even, or maybe especially even , if we narrow “belief/god” to be a “Judeo/christian” thing.

    Exhibit A: the Pharisees, who felt that the point of earthly righteousness is obedience to the Deity. The smell of burning flesh. Man sacrificed to Sacred Obedience. Man made for Sabbath and keeping rules. The confusing thing is that his all is truly virtue. Jesus says so! Jesus never denied that the Pharisees were truly and really, and even a model of true Virtue.

    My proof: Jesus said that righeousness must exceed that of the Pharisees to please God. The reaction of his listeners was shock and awe: “Who can possibly meet such a high standard?!” they asked incredulously. He said that the pharisees sit in Moses seat (ie they have legitimate moral authority), and urged people to follow their instructions even if their actions were often incongruent.

    Now if we make pharisee=hypocrite as we usually do, then Jesus saying all that means exactly nothing at all. Of couse we should not be hypocrites. Duh. That is not Jesus point at all.

    But then Jesus breaks the sabbath and so makes his point. He says that morality (here represented by the sabbath laws) is intended by God, entirely, to serve man and thus please man, and therefore, man is not made with the purpose of pleasing God by being moral.

    Huh? Say what? We side here with the pharisees don´t we? God doesn´t demand that we be moral? Of course he does. And we would be right to think so. But then what is “morality” in God´s eyes becomes the question. So Jesus clarifies:

    Jesus then clarifies what it is that God really wants of us: “I would have you [pharisees] go and find out what it means when God says ‘I would have you do mercy and rather than sacrifice’.

    and what is mercy? It is undeserved love.

    And we all know what love feels like don´t we? It curls our toes and warms our heart and brings tears to our eyes. We live for it. The moments we feel it are the moments we remember. The rest is rather dull filler.

    And as for that “undeserved” part. Wow. Love on stearoids….

    Jesus says this is the entire point of morality, to eagerly and passionately serve up generous helpings of this love to others. Especially our enemies (those who give us generous helpings of hate).

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Porcell @ 88

    “As mentioned earlier, logically when belief in a moral order in the cosmos is given up for nihilistic atheism, anything can then be believed or done. ”

    This is true and not true at the same time Peter.

    The Law does us. We only think we do it. Whether we believe in God or not, or imagine that we can erase those letters that spell L.A.W. or S.I.N., they still are there.

    The Lutheran Confessions repeat like a broken record: “The Law always accuses.”

    I am not missing your point , which is that when men stop believing in a god of some sort, that this certainly results in dehumanization. That is probably true. The 20th century history seems to confirm that observation in spades.

    It is also true that a belief in a god can result in the exact same dehumanization. Even, or maybe especially even , if we narrow “belief/god” to be a “Judeo/christian” thing.

    Exhibit A: the Pharisees, who felt that the point of earthly righteousness is obedience to the Deity. The smell of burning flesh. Man sacrificed to Sacred Obedience. Man made for Sabbath and keeping rules. The confusing thing is that his all is truly virtue. Jesus says so! Jesus never denied that the Pharisees were truly and really, and even a model of true Virtue.

    My proof: Jesus said that righeousness must exceed that of the Pharisees to please God. The reaction of his listeners was shock and awe: “Who can possibly meet such a high standard?!” they asked incredulously. He said that the pharisees sit in Moses seat (ie they have legitimate moral authority), and urged people to follow their instructions even if their actions were often incongruent.

    Now if we make pharisee=hypocrite as we usually do, then Jesus saying all that means exactly nothing at all. Of couse we should not be hypocrites. Duh. That is not Jesus point at all.

    But then Jesus breaks the sabbath and so makes his point. He says that morality (here represented by the sabbath laws) is intended by God, entirely, to serve man and thus please man, and therefore, man is not made with the purpose of pleasing God by being moral.

    Huh? Say what? We side here with the pharisees don´t we? God doesn´t demand that we be moral? Of course he does. And we would be right to think so. But then what is “morality” in God´s eyes becomes the question. So Jesus clarifies:

    Jesus then clarifies what it is that God really wants of us: “I would have you [pharisees] go and find out what it means when God says ‘I would have you do mercy and rather than sacrifice’.

    and what is mercy? It is undeserved love.

    And we all know what love feels like don´t we? It curls our toes and warms our heart and brings tears to our eyes. We live for it. The moments we feel it are the moments we remember. The rest is rather dull filler.

    And as for that “undeserved” part. Wow. Love on stearoids….

    Jesus says this is the entire point of morality, to eagerly and passionately serve up generous helpings of this love to others. Especially our enemies (those who give us generous helpings of hate).

  • trotk

    frank, the connection of those three statements intrigues me. I have always simply understood Jesus’ statement in the Sermon on the Mount about our righteousness exceeding the Pharisees’ to simply be a statement of the cold, sterile Law – a Law so high it condemns us all. You are turning it into a command to have mercy, or a command to love.

    I appreciate your enlarging my understanding, and am grateful for the fact that Jesus starts this sermon with promises to spiritual paupers.

  • trotk

    frank, the connection of those three statements intrigues me. I have always simply understood Jesus’ statement in the Sermon on the Mount about our righteousness exceeding the Pharisees’ to simply be a statement of the cold, sterile Law – a Law so high it condemns us all. You are turning it into a command to have mercy, or a command to love.

    I appreciate your enlarging my understanding, and am grateful for the fact that Jesus starts this sermon with promises to spiritual paupers.

  • Stephen

    I leave you guys alone and this happens. Man, oh man . . . hey, any cheese left?

    And what you don’t understand is . . .

  • Stephen

    I leave you guys alone and this happens. Man, oh man . . . hey, any cheese left?

    And what you don’t understand is . . .

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    trotk @ 93

    Love is the fulfillment of the Law. We think we use the Law. We talk about a 1st, 2nd and 3rd use. Who´s on first? Instead: the Law uses us to make us love one another. We know this Law as our conscience.

    The Law always accuses us by the way.

    We think of love for neighbor as ” just” a by product of love for God. If it brings some pleasure to our neighbor, why isn´t that a pleasant by product of our obedience to God?! Aren´t we special?

    No.

    The production of passionate and over-the-top unmerited love for others, as agape, eros, philos, etc, etc, is the aim and raison d´etre and point and purpose and the why God “uses” the law on our Old Adam.

    And love is not some con-descend-ing pity or charity for those beneath us morally. It is what we do, that makes us look like the servant who humbles himself to be beneath others, who are evidentially and obviously, beneath us morally.

    Whew. Did that make sense? It does in the Incarnate Jesus. Jesus placed himself beneath us. Muslims would not dare call their God “humble”. We Christians are commanded to do so. Muslims get to walk round with red foreheads from bowing down 6 times a day. Their God is great!

    Ours is humble.

    The Holy Spirit uses the Law to use us (!) up… to kill us, or spend us, or dissipate us in the form love delivered to others.

    Fulfilling the Law is not love. The Pharisees truly did this as an exercise of faith in god. Jesus rebuked them. Loving others is the fulfilling of the Law.

    Love on earth is something that must be seen and not believed. Peter is right here! We know love when we see it. It is a matter of deeds and not creeds. It requires works and not faith. St James “Tell me your faith and I will show you my works!”

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    trotk @ 93

    Love is the fulfillment of the Law. We think we use the Law. We talk about a 1st, 2nd and 3rd use. Who´s on first? Instead: the Law uses us to make us love one another. We know this Law as our conscience.

    The Law always accuses us by the way.

    We think of love for neighbor as ” just” a by product of love for God. If it brings some pleasure to our neighbor, why isn´t that a pleasant by product of our obedience to God?! Aren´t we special?

    No.

    The production of passionate and over-the-top unmerited love for others, as agape, eros, philos, etc, etc, is the aim and raison d´etre and point and purpose and the why God “uses” the law on our Old Adam.

    And love is not some con-descend-ing pity or charity for those beneath us morally. It is what we do, that makes us look like the servant who humbles himself to be beneath others, who are evidentially and obviously, beneath us morally.

    Whew. Did that make sense? It does in the Incarnate Jesus. Jesus placed himself beneath us. Muslims would not dare call their God “humble”. We Christians are commanded to do so. Muslims get to walk round with red foreheads from bowing down 6 times a day. Their God is great!

    Ours is humble.

    The Holy Spirit uses the Law to use us (!) up… to kill us, or spend us, or dissipate us in the form love delivered to others.

    Fulfilling the Law is not love. The Pharisees truly did this as an exercise of faith in god. Jesus rebuked them. Loving others is the fulfilling of the Law.

    Love on earth is something that must be seen and not believed. Peter is right here! We know love when we see it. It is a matter of deeds and not creeds. It requires works and not faith. St James “Tell me your faith and I will show you my works!”

  • Stephen

    And as for Neibuhr, he thought original sin was ontological, part of our nature – big mistake. Just read about this in Article II of the Confessions (get on that everyone). This is one of the mistakes corrected by the Lutherans. Original sin is rather not part of our nature but a corruption, an accident. To say it is ontological, well that messes with Christology for one thing, and that is a big theological boo boo. It is the difference between a good creation marred by Adam’s sin, and sinless good, thoroughly human Jesus born to redeem us (he must be fully human or he cannot redeem what he does not assume) and an utterly bad creation, undone in every way. We would essentially be baptizing sin itself.

    So I was thinking about it as I drove home, and I’ll see if I can bring it around to this discussion. It occurred to me that if sin were a problem of being then the corrective would have to be, at least in part, morality. In other words, if our very being as such is sin itself, then there is no real, actual, true undoing of it. There can only be the ministrations of religion (a little soothing grace) and morality as corrective for a thoroughly “bad seed.” This makes way for all kinds of Christian social and moral theory, i.e. Niebuhr’s project, Yoder, Catholicism. Neuhaus seems to have believed the same thing about original sin, which may have made it easier to make to leap across the river, suiting his political aims as well.

    So morality takes its place in the religious imagination as a panacea for the ills of the world, and in this case, specifically Christian morality. The Bible becomes a textbook for doing sociology in a brave new world of democratic freedoms hedged by either neo-puritanism, abeyance to some kind of business class theocracy, or maybe, let’s see, even liberal social justice.

    Nah, I’m full of crap.

  • Stephen

    And as for Neibuhr, he thought original sin was ontological, part of our nature – big mistake. Just read about this in Article II of the Confessions (get on that everyone). This is one of the mistakes corrected by the Lutherans. Original sin is rather not part of our nature but a corruption, an accident. To say it is ontological, well that messes with Christology for one thing, and that is a big theological boo boo. It is the difference between a good creation marred by Adam’s sin, and sinless good, thoroughly human Jesus born to redeem us (he must be fully human or he cannot redeem what he does not assume) and an utterly bad creation, undone in every way. We would essentially be baptizing sin itself.

    So I was thinking about it as I drove home, and I’ll see if I can bring it around to this discussion. It occurred to me that if sin were a problem of being then the corrective would have to be, at least in part, morality. In other words, if our very being as such is sin itself, then there is no real, actual, true undoing of it. There can only be the ministrations of religion (a little soothing grace) and morality as corrective for a thoroughly “bad seed.” This makes way for all kinds of Christian social and moral theory, i.e. Niebuhr’s project, Yoder, Catholicism. Neuhaus seems to have believed the same thing about original sin, which may have made it easier to make to leap across the river, suiting his political aims as well.

    So morality takes its place in the religious imagination as a panacea for the ills of the world, and in this case, specifically Christian morality. The Bible becomes a textbook for doing sociology in a brave new world of democratic freedoms hedged by either neo-puritanism, abeyance to some kind of business class theocracy, or maybe, let’s see, even liberal social justice.

    Nah, I’m full of crap.

  • Stephen

    I should have said “mostly morality” or “only morality” because if we are so thoroughly and completely bad we would need an external force upon us constantly. We would require the absolute tyranny of religion, in which case Islam would probably work better. The whole Jesus thing just wouldn’t work and we really would be lost. How could a sinless one ever be born to us? Jesus would be a ghost drifting beyond us and never touching us. Christianity would be some kind of bizarre Gnosticism.

  • Stephen

    I should have said “mostly morality” or “only morality” because if we are so thoroughly and completely bad we would need an external force upon us constantly. We would require the absolute tyranny of religion, in which case Islam would probably work better. The whole Jesus thing just wouldn’t work and we really would be lost. How could a sinless one ever be born to us? Jesus would be a ghost drifting beyond us and never touching us. Christianity would be some kind of bizarre Gnosticism.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Stephen @ 96

    Interesting.

    But then the Formula basically says “Ah but WHAT an accident !” Original sin IS an accident and not of the essense of being human , but for all intents and purposes, it is an accident that fully appears to be of the very essence of being human!

    So how would I plug that into what you are saying here?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Stephen @ 96

    Interesting.

    But then the Formula basically says “Ah but WHAT an accident !” Original sin IS an accident and not of the essense of being human , but for all intents and purposes, it is an accident that fully appears to be of the very essence of being human!

    So how would I plug that into what you are saying here?

  • trotk

    I understand, Frank. Your original statement didn’t strike me wrong or as something I didn’t understand. Simply, it was yet another example of how you see from a very beautiful and focused prism.

    A wonderful example of that is what I was taught a few years ago:

    Jesus tells a parable about a treasure in a field. A man finds it, sells what he has, and purchases the field.

    Everyone I have ever known understands this to be us giving up all for Christ. And then one day, I happened to hear my parents talking about it,and they saw (through the beautiful focused prism of the Gospel) Christ giving up everything for what he deemed a treasure: us, hidden amongst dirt and weeds in the middle of this field.

    I love this: seeing everything through law and gospel, seeing everything in light of God’s grace, understanding the Law through love. These are like magnifying glasses that clarify and explain what we misinterpret according to what we want to be true (that we could somehow achieve or earn God’s favor or be righteousness without sacrifice ourselves).

    Even in the Sermon on the Mount, in the beatitudes,we hear, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” and think that we are to be pure (which is certainly true in a sense).

    But pure is katharos, which is not pure, but purified. The promise is not to the pure, but those who have been cleansed. This word (in Classical literature) almost always refers to a murderer who has been ritually cleansed! That is us, the murderers who have been cleansed.

    Thanks for continually reminding me to see the Bible through the prisms that I know academically.

  • trotk

    I understand, Frank. Your original statement didn’t strike me wrong or as something I didn’t understand. Simply, it was yet another example of how you see from a very beautiful and focused prism.

    A wonderful example of that is what I was taught a few years ago:

    Jesus tells a parable about a treasure in a field. A man finds it, sells what he has, and purchases the field.

    Everyone I have ever known understands this to be us giving up all for Christ. And then one day, I happened to hear my parents talking about it,and they saw (through the beautiful focused prism of the Gospel) Christ giving up everything for what he deemed a treasure: us, hidden amongst dirt and weeds in the middle of this field.

    I love this: seeing everything through law and gospel, seeing everything in light of God’s grace, understanding the Law through love. These are like magnifying glasses that clarify and explain what we misinterpret according to what we want to be true (that we could somehow achieve or earn God’s favor or be righteousness without sacrifice ourselves).

    Even in the Sermon on the Mount, in the beatitudes,we hear, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” and think that we are to be pure (which is certainly true in a sense).

    But pure is katharos, which is not pure, but purified. The promise is not to the pure, but those who have been cleansed. This word (in Classical literature) almost always refers to a murderer who has been ritually cleansed! That is us, the murderers who have been cleansed.

    Thanks for continually reminding me to see the Bible through the prisms that I know academically.

  • trotk

    99 is in response to 95

  • trotk

    99 is in response to 95

  • trotk

    But Stephen, isn’t our nature, now that it is corrupted, well, corrupted? In other words, it is different.

    The original is still there. But it is not the same. Like iron, after it is exposed to salt water. And so, ontologically, it is iron, but ontologically, it is also rust.

    I don’t understand how you jump to this:
    “if sin were a problem of being then the corrective would have to be, at least in part, morality”

    I would instead say, if sin were a problem of being (and I believe it is), then the corrective is to be remade (a new creation in Christ, a new birth).

    It seems like morality would be the corrective if sin were a problem of behavior.

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding you.

  • trotk

    But Stephen, isn’t our nature, now that it is corrupted, well, corrupted? In other words, it is different.

    The original is still there. But it is not the same. Like iron, after it is exposed to salt water. And so, ontologically, it is iron, but ontologically, it is also rust.

    I don’t understand how you jump to this:
    “if sin were a problem of being then the corrective would have to be, at least in part, morality”

    I would instead say, if sin were a problem of being (and I believe it is), then the corrective is to be remade (a new creation in Christ, a new birth).

    It seems like morality would be the corrective if sin were a problem of behavior.

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding you.

  • trotk

    I understand your struggle with the Christology, but conception being by the Holy Spirit (at least this is my understanding) enables Christ to be fully man and yet not the product of man, and therefore the spotless, ontologically pure, incarnate God, who is man in man’s original nature or essence.

  • trotk

    I understand your struggle with the Christology, but conception being by the Holy Spirit (at least this is my understanding) enables Christ to be fully man and yet not the product of man, and therefore the spotless, ontologically pure, incarnate God, who is man in man’s original nature or essence.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    trotk @ 99

    Indeed! all of chapter 13 is wonderfully about this same thing. heavenly kingdom, so here all about invisible faith and hope. Alone, as opposed to ALL that we have and or seems apparent to us.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    trotk @ 99

    Indeed! all of chapter 13 is wonderfully about this same thing. heavenly kingdom, so here all about invisible faith and hope. Alone, as opposed to ALL that we have and or seems apparent to us.

  • Grace

    fws,

    When cooking, don’t forget mint leaves and basil and very good balsamic vinegar, or white vinegar – you can grow your own mint and basil in containers since you live in an apartment, if you have a patio or maybe a kitchen window.

  • Grace

    fws,

    When cooking, don’t forget mint leaves and basil and very good balsamic vinegar, or white vinegar – you can grow your own mint and basil in containers since you live in an apartment, if you have a patio or maybe a kitchen window.

  • Stephen

    I think what I understand the Confessions to be saying is that to say that original sin is ontological means that were ARE original sin. That means Jesus cannot be born as human being. Maybe that makes sense somehow.

    The only way I can think of the corruption being undone at the moment is with baptismal imagery of being washed clean or restored (re-newed). Maybe we could think of it as the difference between old and new Adam as still that Adam (that Frank, that trotk, that Stephen) but totally cleansed. Born Again.

    Can’t say I have it all figured out, but if you read the Confessions, they go to some lengths to correct this mistake against Flacius, and there is a reason for it. For one thing, they want to agree with scripture that God created everything and said “it is good” and for another they want to agree with Augustine and the Council of Chalcedon about Christology. I’m saying that it may have implications further for our ideas about ecclesiology perhaps or at least what we think of as Christian morality.

    Cut me some slack though, I just thunk it up.

  • Stephen

    I think what I understand the Confessions to be saying is that to say that original sin is ontological means that were ARE original sin. That means Jesus cannot be born as human being. Maybe that makes sense somehow.

    The only way I can think of the corruption being undone at the moment is with baptismal imagery of being washed clean or restored (re-newed). Maybe we could think of it as the difference between old and new Adam as still that Adam (that Frank, that trotk, that Stephen) but totally cleansed. Born Again.

    Can’t say I have it all figured out, but if you read the Confessions, they go to some lengths to correct this mistake against Flacius, and there is a reason for it. For one thing, they want to agree with scripture that God created everything and said “it is good” and for another they want to agree with Augustine and the Council of Chalcedon about Christology. I’m saying that it may have implications further for our ideas about ecclesiology perhaps or at least what we think of as Christian morality.

    Cut me some slack though, I just thunk it up.

  • Stephen

    That should read “we ARE original sin” as in there is nothing about our being as such that is not of its nature itself that isn’t sin. Thus, Jesus could not become it and thus remain without sin.

    And so, if this were the case for us, the ONLY option is a moral system imposed from outside of us by force in order for there to be . . . order. It might be made appealing to our sinfulness so that we do as it requires. It might actually look and seem beautiful, but it would be tyranny all the same, and we would be enslaved. The only liberation would be annihilation.

  • Stephen

    That should read “we ARE original sin” as in there is nothing about our being as such that is not of its nature itself that isn’t sin. Thus, Jesus could not become it and thus remain without sin.

    And so, if this were the case for us, the ONLY option is a moral system imposed from outside of us by force in order for there to be . . . order. It might be made appealing to our sinfulness so that we do as it requires. It might actually look and seem beautiful, but it would be tyranny all the same, and we would be enslaved. The only liberation would be annihilation.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    grace @ 104

    what do you use mint to season, besides lamb?

    I can buy most spices very fresh sold by a vendor right outside my door. but I don´t always know the portuguese name for the spice and I am used to getting spices at the supermarket chopped up and dried, so I wouldn´t always know what to look for.

    For the vegetables we have here that dont exist in the states I often ask an older woman next to me how to prepare the vegetable. Sometimes I admit I do this just to watch a face light up for being asked. It´s fun. And sometimes I get two or three women arguing over what is the best way. Ha! “NO! DON´T listen to her! It is better to do it my way!” It´s fun to go to the farmer´s market.

    I love to cook, and this is an adventure. And I love to have others over for dinner. Expecially traveling visitors from out of Brasil. To share food prepared by hand is to share love.

    Love is the secret ingredient I add to everything I prepare.

    When I used to distribute meals to persons with cancer and aids, someone always made a heart on the box and wrote “love”. On every box. And I was priviledged to deliver them .

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    grace @ 104

    what do you use mint to season, besides lamb?

    I can buy most spices very fresh sold by a vendor right outside my door. but I don´t always know the portuguese name for the spice and I am used to getting spices at the supermarket chopped up and dried, so I wouldn´t always know what to look for.

    For the vegetables we have here that dont exist in the states I often ask an older woman next to me how to prepare the vegetable. Sometimes I admit I do this just to watch a face light up for being asked. It´s fun. And sometimes I get two or three women arguing over what is the best way. Ha! “NO! DON´T listen to her! It is better to do it my way!” It´s fun to go to the farmer´s market.

    I love to cook, and this is an adventure. And I love to have others over for dinner. Expecially traveling visitors from out of Brasil. To share food prepared by hand is to share love.

    Love is the secret ingredient I add to everything I prepare.

    When I used to distribute meals to persons with cancer and aids, someone always made a heart on the box and wrote “love”. On every box. And I was priviledged to deliver them .

  • Stephen

    Trotk @ 102

    For the Christology part – Jesus is the New Adam, the sinless, uncorrupted Adam in his full human nature. When we say that he is fully human and fully divine we mean that ontologically he is both. We cannot say he is more of one than the other, or that one overrides the other or makes up for the other. Easy does it. Hypostatic union and all that. Don’t go all “docetic” on me now. Referring to my last post, you can see how Christology falls apart if we accept an ontological version of original sin.

    Whew! I need some herbal tea and some Kenny G.

  • Stephen

    Trotk @ 102

    For the Christology part – Jesus is the New Adam, the sinless, uncorrupted Adam in his full human nature. When we say that he is fully human and fully divine we mean that ontologically he is both. We cannot say he is more of one than the other, or that one overrides the other or makes up for the other. Easy does it. Hypostatic union and all that. Don’t go all “docetic” on me now. Referring to my last post, you can see how Christology falls apart if we accept an ontological version of original sin.

    Whew! I need some herbal tea and some Kenny G.

  • Stephen

    Grace,

    You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Brazilian Churrascuria (barbeque). Take your husband for his birthday to Fago de Chao. There’s probably one in California. It is a real man place – meat forever! My wife was a missionary kid in Brazil so I know of what I speak. Tell her Frank!

  • Stephen

    Grace,

    You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Brazilian Churrascuria (barbeque). Take your husband for his birthday to Fago de Chao. There’s probably one in California. It is a real man place – meat forever! My wife was a missionary kid in Brazil so I know of what I speak. Tell her Frank!

  • trotk

    Stephen -

    I will second the food recommendation. I got to spend time in Brazil in 1996 with some missionary friends, and everything I ate (especially the meat!) was wonderful.

    As to the nature of Christ, if you heard me saying that Christ was more God than man or the reverse, I must have written without clarity. Fully God, and fully Man.

    I guess my point was that being conceived by the Holy Spirit eliminates the worry about Christ’s nature somehow being affected by the nature of man being ontologically sinful. I may have misunderstood your original post.

    I reread the second article, and I don’t see the point you were making as a necessary understanding. Perhaps I need guidance. I am, after all, an Anglican.

  • trotk

    Stephen -

    I will second the food recommendation. I got to spend time in Brazil in 1996 with some missionary friends, and everything I ate (especially the meat!) was wonderful.

    As to the nature of Christ, if you heard me saying that Christ was more God than man or the reverse, I must have written without clarity. Fully God, and fully Man.

    I guess my point was that being conceived by the Holy Spirit eliminates the worry about Christ’s nature somehow being affected by the nature of man being ontologically sinful. I may have misunderstood your original post.

    I reread the second article, and I don’t see the point you were making as a necessary understanding. Perhaps I need guidance. I am, after all, an Anglican.

  • Stephen

    Yeah, I’m sort of trying to wrap my imagination around it. The emphatic nature of what the Lutherans did in the entire argument start to finish – from the Confession through the Epitome to the Solid Declaration in the Book of Concord really got me thinking about this ontological thing. And then when Neibuhr’s name came up, I remembered what something I heard Stanley Hauerwas say in an interview about Neuhaus and Neibuhr’s politics and their view of original sin. I think there is something in that. If there is a necessary distinction between the creature and sin as the Lutheran Confession insist rather than the creature AS sin, then I think it has implications all the way through.

    Here’s a way to think about it – If we accept that sin is ontological, a question of created being, and Christ is the one who “takes away the sin of the world,” then how could he do that without taking away the world itself? Instead, we are left with the imposition of moral systems.

  • Stephen

    Yeah, I’m sort of trying to wrap my imagination around it. The emphatic nature of what the Lutherans did in the entire argument start to finish – from the Confession through the Epitome to the Solid Declaration in the Book of Concord really got me thinking about this ontological thing. And then when Neibuhr’s name came up, I remembered what something I heard Stanley Hauerwas say in an interview about Neuhaus and Neibuhr’s politics and their view of original sin. I think there is something in that. If there is a necessary distinction between the creature and sin as the Lutheran Confession insist rather than the creature AS sin, then I think it has implications all the way through.

    Here’s a way to think about it – If we accept that sin is ontological, a question of created being, and Christ is the one who “takes away the sin of the world,” then how could he do that without taking away the world itself? Instead, we are left with the imposition of moral systems.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Stephen @ 111

    But then the only way remedy to cure a human of his original sin is to literally KILL him. It is that embedded as an accident.

    The error is to imagine that there is a cure for sin that stops short of death or worse to imagine that there is life giving remedy. And since all there is in life is sin and law….that would mean that reason has to suggest a remedy for life that would be sin and law. Only that would make sense to reason.

    the sin part is the fact that the only places we have the power to place our faith or trust in is anything but the ONE place where it needs to be placed. And the law part looks like the rule of law as found in any courtroom and in natural law theories. Law. More. Law. Justice must be both blind and holding a scale. The parables make no sense at all against this.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Stephen @ 111

    But then the only way remedy to cure a human of his original sin is to literally KILL him. It is that embedded as an accident.

    The error is to imagine that there is a cure for sin that stops short of death or worse to imagine that there is life giving remedy. And since all there is in life is sin and law….that would mean that reason has to suggest a remedy for life that would be sin and law. Only that would make sense to reason.

    the sin part is the fact that the only places we have the power to place our faith or trust in is anything but the ONE place where it needs to be placed. And the law part looks like the rule of law as found in any courtroom and in natural law theories. Law. More. Law. Justice must be both blind and holding a scale. The parables make no sense at all against this.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Trotk @ 110

    You anglicans…. yeah . you guys need lots of guidance. That is why we Lutherans keep ripping off all your liturgical efforts…

    Thanks for “evening prayer” I like vespers , but evening prayer is cool.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Trotk @ 110

    You anglicans…. yeah . you guys need lots of guidance. That is why we Lutherans keep ripping off all your liturgical efforts…

    Thanks for “evening prayer” I like vespers , but evening prayer is cool.

  • Stephen

    In other words, if we want to keep the world we have, which is the only one we know, we can only do that through morality, society, systems, etc. There can be no real/actual redemption of sin. God cannot do it, at least not way that we claim Christ has done so, because we would have to give up the sinless lamb to the ontological reality of “sin being.” God would have to destroy the world and start over, or he would have to impose tyranny, no matter how pleasant or agreeable – tyranny of morality nonetheless.

    And this tyranny is exactly what atheists think religion is. We want to tell them it is liberation and peace that passes all understanding. tODD and Frank and you and me (in a weak way) and many others have tried to say this is the wrong approach. And this is why – because we play into their hands, asking them to trade tyrannies. My tyranny is better than yours.

  • Stephen

    In other words, if we want to keep the world we have, which is the only one we know, we can only do that through morality, society, systems, etc. There can be no real/actual redemption of sin. God cannot do it, at least not way that we claim Christ has done so, because we would have to give up the sinless lamb to the ontological reality of “sin being.” God would have to destroy the world and start over, or he would have to impose tyranny, no matter how pleasant or agreeable – tyranny of morality nonetheless.

    And this tyranny is exactly what atheists think religion is. We want to tell them it is liberation and peace that passes all understanding. tODD and Frank and you and me (in a weak way) and many others have tried to say this is the wrong approach. And this is why – because we play into their hands, asking them to trade tyrannies. My tyranny is better than yours.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Stephen @ 114

    Well now. God does impose a certain tyranny on all of us. The worse tyranny of all. Death. Our Old adam is still completely subject to the law and all of its deathly threats and will die. and now you got me after that. The Holy Spirit uses the law to kill old adam so that love gets forced out of him. and that love will die with the world as well….

    What you say sounds right at the same time. connect the dots for me…

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Stephen @ 114

    Well now. God does impose a certain tyranny on all of us. The worse tyranny of all. Death. Our Old adam is still completely subject to the law and all of its deathly threats and will die. and now you got me after that. The Holy Spirit uses the law to kill old adam so that love gets forced out of him. and that love will die with the world as well….

    What you say sounds right at the same time. connect the dots for me…

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    stephen @ 114

    ” There can be no real/actual redemption of sin. God cannot do it, at least not way that we claim Christ has done so, because we would have to give up the sinless lamb to the ontological reality of “sin being.” God would have to destroy the world and start over, or he would have to impose tyranny, no matter how pleasant or agreeable – tyranny of morality nonetheless.”

    try this…

    ” There can be no real/actual redemption of sin. God cannot do it, at least not way that we claim Christ has done so, because we would have to give up the sinless lamb to the ontological reality of “sin being.”

    So what would have to happen if God showed up on earth? We would need to kill him to maintain our sacrificial system of morality. It is all we know after all.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    stephen @ 114

    ” There can be no real/actual redemption of sin. God cannot do it, at least not way that we claim Christ has done so, because we would have to give up the sinless lamb to the ontological reality of “sin being.” God would have to destroy the world and start over, or he would have to impose tyranny, no matter how pleasant or agreeable – tyranny of morality nonetheless.”

    try this…

    ” There can be no real/actual redemption of sin. God cannot do it, at least not way that we claim Christ has done so, because we would have to give up the sinless lamb to the ontological reality of “sin being.”

    So what would have to happen if God showed up on earth? We would need to kill him to maintain our sacrificial system of morality. It is all we know after all.

  • Grace

    fws – 107

    “what do you use mint to season, besides lamb?”

    Chopping it up finely, then adding white vinegar and sugar – one can use it on potatoes or rice, instead of butter or serving it plain – using it on salmon is delicious, or grilled chicken. When making up the souce, remember to make more than less, you can refregerate enough for a week or two. It is a great sub for butter.

    “When I used to distribute meals to persons with cancer and aids, someone always made a heart on the box and wrote “love”. On every box. And I was priviledged to deliver them .”

    fws, that is lovely – I will remember that. :)

  • Grace

    fws – 107

    “what do you use mint to season, besides lamb?”

    Chopping it up finely, then adding white vinegar and sugar – one can use it on potatoes or rice, instead of butter or serving it plain – using it on salmon is delicious, or grilled chicken. When making up the souce, remember to make more than less, you can refregerate enough for a week or two. It is a great sub for butter.

    “When I used to distribute meals to persons with cancer and aids, someone always made a heart on the box and wrote “love”. On every box. And I was priviledged to deliver them .”

    fws, that is lovely – I will remember that. :)

  • Grace

    My post 117

    that was a charming group of misspelled words :lol:

  • Grace

    My post 117

    that was a charming group of misspelled words :lol:

  • Grace

    Stephen – 109

    “You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Brazilian Churrascuria (barbeque). Take your husband for his birthday to Fago de Chao.”

    I just asked my husband, he has been there on business, – he reports it is fab – sooooooo that is where we will be going in the next week or so…… THANKS!

  • Grace

    Stephen – 109

    “You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Brazilian Churrascuria (barbeque). Take your husband for his birthday to Fago de Chao.”

    I just asked my husband, he has been there on business, – he reports it is fab – sooooooo that is where we will be going in the next week or so…… THANKS!

  • Stephen

    Frank, yer killing me!

    God loves his creation. He loves us. What does that mean? Anything like any of those ways you describe. Killing? The fact that we die to sin and are raised to life with Christ, does that also mean that God intends on killing us? That is a bit like saying that because Christ gave himself for us he was on some kind of suicide mission (okay, cover your ears).

    This death that we die is an invitation to life. Yes, we resist. Yes, it is fully counter-intuitive and requires the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now it really is getting weird.

    I think it is wrong to think of death as complete annihilation for those in Christ. But that is what it would have to be either way if we were ontologically sin beings. We would have to be utterly disappeared. The situation for our being would irremediable.

    Now all the sudden I’m thinking about transubstantiation. If we were ontologically sin, then it would make sense to develop this theologically – a theology that posits a kind of “magical” or “mystical” metaphysical transforming of substances.

    I believe the scriptures tell us that we will be returned to our bodies, clothed in heavenly righteousness, and we will know each other at the Resurrection as Jesus was known by his wounds. This idea of transubstantiated being doesn’t fly with me. It is too ethereal and other worldly – docetic. Christ was raised into this world and it was this world he came to save, redeem, and bring into the fullness of his glory. The New Jerusalem comes down. St. Paul says we will be changed. Jesus ate fish, then walked through a door. He showed his wounds and exposed his divinity. He talked and walked for miles, then sat down, broke bread and vanished. Same but different. Like the elements of the sacrament.

  • Stephen

    Frank, yer killing me!

    God loves his creation. He loves us. What does that mean? Anything like any of those ways you describe. Killing? The fact that we die to sin and are raised to life with Christ, does that also mean that God intends on killing us? That is a bit like saying that because Christ gave himself for us he was on some kind of suicide mission (okay, cover your ears).

    This death that we die is an invitation to life. Yes, we resist. Yes, it is fully counter-intuitive and requires the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now it really is getting weird.

    I think it is wrong to think of death as complete annihilation for those in Christ. But that is what it would have to be either way if we were ontologically sin beings. We would have to be utterly disappeared. The situation for our being would irremediable.

    Now all the sudden I’m thinking about transubstantiation. If we were ontologically sin, then it would make sense to develop this theologically – a theology that posits a kind of “magical” or “mystical” metaphysical transforming of substances.

    I believe the scriptures tell us that we will be returned to our bodies, clothed in heavenly righteousness, and we will know each other at the Resurrection as Jesus was known by his wounds. This idea of transubstantiated being doesn’t fly with me. It is too ethereal and other worldly – docetic. Christ was raised into this world and it was this world he came to save, redeem, and bring into the fullness of his glory. The New Jerusalem comes down. St. Paul says we will be changed. Jesus ate fish, then walked through a door. He showed his wounds and exposed his divinity. He talked and walked for miles, then sat down, broke bread and vanished. Same but different. Like the elements of the sacrament.

  • Stephen

    “So what would have to happen if God showed up on earth? We would need to kill him to maintain our sacrificial system of morality. It is all we know after all.”

    And what I’m saying is that he wouldn’t show up the way that he did in Jesus Christ if we accept the idea that we are ontologically sin beings. This is why the Lutherans made this distinctions, because it messes up Christology. Christ could only appear as ghost. We couldn’t kill him. There is no way in for God and no way out for us, except annihilation.

    You understand I am taking this stuff way out to edges here Frank. I’m trying to critique the implications of a false doctrine as it might play out in regards to our desire to impose a moral system. I think this ontological sin thing would be helpful in building a social theology. If Christ can’t get in there to do much of anything, then it is up to us to fix things (whoever is strong, smart, rich, powerful, most moral, whatever).

  • Stephen

    “So what would have to happen if God showed up on earth? We would need to kill him to maintain our sacrificial system of morality. It is all we know after all.”

    And what I’m saying is that he wouldn’t show up the way that he did in Jesus Christ if we accept the idea that we are ontologically sin beings. This is why the Lutherans made this distinctions, because it messes up Christology. Christ could only appear as ghost. We couldn’t kill him. There is no way in for God and no way out for us, except annihilation.

    You understand I am taking this stuff way out to edges here Frank. I’m trying to critique the implications of a false doctrine as it might play out in regards to our desire to impose a moral system. I think this ontological sin thing would be helpful in building a social theology. If Christ can’t get in there to do much of anything, then it is up to us to fix things (whoever is strong, smart, rich, powerful, most moral, whatever).

  • Stephen

    G’night everybody!

  • Stephen

    G’night everybody!

  • Grace

    Goodnight Stephen :)

  • Grace

    Goodnight Stephen :)

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 109: Our firm is going here http://www.agorachurrascaria.com/ for our Christmas luncheon this year. Outstanding Brazilian barbeque, and a lot of fun as well!

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 109: Our firm is going here http://www.agorachurrascaria.com/ for our Christmas luncheon this year. Outstanding Brazilian barbeque, and a lot of fun as well!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m sorry, everyone, but when I hear the word “ontological”, my brain gets kind of sleepy.

    Plus, now I can’t stop thinking about churrascurias and Grace’s mint suggestions (@117) — given her recipe’s lack of any measurements, Grace appears to be an old-school cook. I respect that. Anyhow, it’s almost midnight on the West Coast, and I am hungry again.

    A friend of mine has traveled to Brazil several times — a college friend of his/ours lives there — and he had a Brazilian-ish barbecue this summer, with churrasco-style beef-on-skewers. But my favorite items he served were these gluten-free tapioca-cheese balls that, from what I can tell from Googling, are called pão de queijo (that would be “cheese bread”, but it looks cooler with the tilde). I’m no Celiac, nor am I in any way a vegetarian, but man, I could have eaten my fill of just those little treats.

    Here in Oregon, the mint — well, spearmint at least, though I wish it were peppermint — grows, um, vigorously. We have a volunteer plant that appears to have started in our neighbor’s yard (though they’re not intentionally growing it, either) and takes up several square feet of our backyard. In an attempt to do something, anything, to cut it back, I made several cups of mint simple syrup — two parts sugar to one part water, plus an awful lot of chopped mint leaves; boil, stir, refrigerate. Pretty much only useful for making mint juleps in our house, one of which I just had, even if it isn’t summer. And still, you’d have no idea that we’d chopped off several cups’ worth of mint leaves from our plant. I guess we’ll wait for the cold to kill it back, at this point.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m sorry, everyone, but when I hear the word “ontological”, my brain gets kind of sleepy.

    Plus, now I can’t stop thinking about churrascurias and Grace’s mint suggestions (@117) — given her recipe’s lack of any measurements, Grace appears to be an old-school cook. I respect that. Anyhow, it’s almost midnight on the West Coast, and I am hungry again.

    A friend of mine has traveled to Brazil several times — a college friend of his/ours lives there — and he had a Brazilian-ish barbecue this summer, with churrasco-style beef-on-skewers. But my favorite items he served were these gluten-free tapioca-cheese balls that, from what I can tell from Googling, are called pão de queijo (that would be “cheese bread”, but it looks cooler with the tilde). I’m no Celiac, nor am I in any way a vegetarian, but man, I could have eaten my fill of just those little treats.

    Here in Oregon, the mint — well, spearmint at least, though I wish it were peppermint — grows, um, vigorously. We have a volunteer plant that appears to have started in our neighbor’s yard (though they’re not intentionally growing it, either) and takes up several square feet of our backyard. In an attempt to do something, anything, to cut it back, I made several cups of mint simple syrup — two parts sugar to one part water, plus an awful lot of chopped mint leaves; boil, stir, refrigerate. Pretty much only useful for making mint juleps in our house, one of which I just had, even if it isn’t summer. And still, you’d have no idea that we’d chopped off several cups’ worth of mint leaves from our plant. I guess we’ll wait for the cold to kill it back, at this point.

  • Grace

    Bror -

    I probably am an “old school cook” – my mother taught us how to cook, and it was a sprig of that, a sprinkle of something else, and a dash to make the zest.

    I had to smile when I read your post, ….. those in the restaurant business in the wine country concot their creations daily, using just this method. Since some of my dearest family are in the business and wine, it comes as a treat to read your post. ;)

    We don’t cook our mint EVER – it is chopped very fine, white vinegar and sugar to taste – then left to sit a few hours in the frig. You can buy it too in the market – but I would rather have my mothers. There was nothing like her lamb and mint sauce. :)

  • Grace

    Bror -

    I probably am an “old school cook” – my mother taught us how to cook, and it was a sprig of that, a sprinkle of something else, and a dash to make the zest.

    I had to smile when I read your post, ….. those in the restaurant business in the wine country concot their creations daily, using just this method. Since some of my dearest family are in the business and wine, it comes as a treat to read your post. ;)

    We don’t cook our mint EVER – it is chopped very fine, white vinegar and sugar to taste – then left to sit a few hours in the frig. You can buy it too in the market – but I would rather have my mothers. There was nothing like her lamb and mint sauce. :)

  • Stephen

    Good morning.

    Well, if you ever need a wine suggestion you can ask me. I was in the wine business for a few years. I’m a foodie of sorts myself. And I promise I won’t get all ontological on you, except to say that a wine is its own ecosystem, and so in that sense, it really is a question of being.

    For Thanksgiving, go with Alsace.

  • Stephen

    Good morning.

    Well, if you ever need a wine suggestion you can ask me. I was in the wine business for a few years. I’m a foodie of sorts myself. And I promise I won’t get all ontological on you, except to say that a wine is its own ecosystem, and so in that sense, it really is a question of being.

    For Thanksgiving, go with Alsace.

  • Joanne

    Lovely blog fellows. It’s been a pleasure to read through the whole thing, and enlightening.

    About the original atheist Bible quote. I was instantly tempted to say, “You think that quote is bad? Have you read any Ezekiel? Jeremiah? Your quote is nothing, it’s fluff. Don’t you people remember the FLOOD? Until you people can come up with some really bone-crunching Bible quotes, I just can’t take you seriously. The God you’re not believing in is too small.

    There was an Anglican hymn sung at a chapel service in the Monty Python movie, “The meaning of life,” that was quite good at petitioning God not to do terrible things to us. Oh Lord, please don’t burn us …

  • Joanne

    Lovely blog fellows. It’s been a pleasure to read through the whole thing, and enlightening.

    About the original atheist Bible quote. I was instantly tempted to say, “You think that quote is bad? Have you read any Ezekiel? Jeremiah? Your quote is nothing, it’s fluff. Don’t you people remember the FLOOD? Until you people can come up with some really bone-crunching Bible quotes, I just can’t take you seriously. The God you’re not believing in is too small.

    There was an Anglican hymn sung at a chapel service in the Monty Python movie, “The meaning of life,” that was quite good at petitioning God not to do terrible things to us. Oh Lord, please don’t burn us …

  • Dust

    to Stephen above…..fine wine advice, thanks! Just curious, what Alsace varietal? Make mine Gewurz, at least with Turkey….or nothing at all :)

    For my two cents worth, a big, fruity Beaujolais pairs very well with roasted Turkey and all the trimmings……cheers!

  • Dust

    to Stephen above…..fine wine advice, thanks! Just curious, what Alsace varietal? Make mine Gewurz, at least with Turkey….or nothing at all :)

    For my two cents worth, a big, fruity Beaujolais pairs very well with roasted Turkey and all the trimmings……cheers!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Joanne (@128), “The God you’re not believing in is too small.” That’s funny. I also found the Meaning of Life video you referred to. Funny as well.

    Grace (@126), I have to assume you were replying to me, not “Bror”. Anyhow, have you ever read any truly old recipes? I don’t have any links handy, but they’re pretty incomprehensible to modern cooks like me, for whom cooking is almost like following a high-school chemistry lab, with everything measured precisely, and a general lack of understanding as to what it’s all doing. They basically assume you know what to do with the ingredients, as well as all the sub-steps implied by a very few directions. And yeah, the only time I’ve ever cooked mint was for the simple syrup. We also do a refreshing “Mediterranean-style” pasta with tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, and freshly chopped mint leaves.

    Stephen, much as we’ve agreed in the past, I can’t agree with your direction (@127), “For Thanksgiving, go with all-sauce.” I mean, I love gravy too, but you can’t just stick a straw in the gravy boat. You need to pour it on something. ;)

    No, really, what does “Alsace” mean to you? I’m ignorant — though I like to think that I can be ignorant because we make so many wonderful varieties of wine right here that I don’t need to know what the French (and/or Germans) are up to. Perhaps an Alsatian wine would go well with a nice quiche Lorraine, though?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Joanne (@128), “The God you’re not believing in is too small.” That’s funny. I also found the Meaning of Life video you referred to. Funny as well.

    Grace (@126), I have to assume you were replying to me, not “Bror”. Anyhow, have you ever read any truly old recipes? I don’t have any links handy, but they’re pretty incomprehensible to modern cooks like me, for whom cooking is almost like following a high-school chemistry lab, with everything measured precisely, and a general lack of understanding as to what it’s all doing. They basically assume you know what to do with the ingredients, as well as all the sub-steps implied by a very few directions. And yeah, the only time I’ve ever cooked mint was for the simple syrup. We also do a refreshing “Mediterranean-style” pasta with tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, and freshly chopped mint leaves.

    Stephen, much as we’ve agreed in the past, I can’t agree with your direction (@127), “For Thanksgiving, go with all-sauce.” I mean, I love gravy too, but you can’t just stick a straw in the gravy boat. You need to pour it on something. ;)

    No, really, what does “Alsace” mean to you? I’m ignorant — though I like to think that I can be ignorant because we make so many wonderful varieties of wine right here that I don’t need to know what the French (and/or Germans) are up to. Perhaps an Alsatian wine would go well with a nice quiche Lorraine, though?

  • Matthew Surburg

    I wonder, do they play those ads in the waiting room at Charles Darwin Memorial Hospital? Oh, wait, never mind…

  • Matthew Surburg

    I wonder, do they play those ads in the waiting room at Charles Darwin Memorial Hospital? Oh, wait, never mind…

  • Stephen

    Todd @ 130

    Oregon does have some nice Pinot Gris, and Dust is on to something with Gewurtz. Beujolais . . .well, I’m not sure. If you must get Nouveau, spend some money on a smaller producer and get better one than the mass produced stuff. As for Alsace, it is an alpine wine and has this nice mineral thing going on that, if you get a good small producer, is hard to beat as a food wine for the variety you have at Thanksgiving. You can get all those varietals and some blends. I especially like the two already mentioned, but don’t rule out dry Reisling either. My opinion on many (most?) domestics is that they are too showy and not great food wines. Not always the case, but the French are all about pairing the wines with food.

    And if you go white, the colder the more racy (acidic) and dry they will seem, so don’t get them too cold. Fridge cold is too cold. If you have to go read, Pinot Noir would be my choice. Now Oregon does have some choices there, but that is tough wine to choose. Fruity is okay for Thanskgiving, but stay away from too much oak. Stick with minerality and softness.

    That’s it. Get to know your friendly neighborhood wine steward.

  • Stephen

    Todd @ 130

    Oregon does have some nice Pinot Gris, and Dust is on to something with Gewurtz. Beujolais . . .well, I’m not sure. If you must get Nouveau, spend some money on a smaller producer and get better one than the mass produced stuff. As for Alsace, it is an alpine wine and has this nice mineral thing going on that, if you get a good small producer, is hard to beat as a food wine for the variety you have at Thanksgiving. You can get all those varietals and some blends. I especially like the two already mentioned, but don’t rule out dry Reisling either. My opinion on many (most?) domestics is that they are too showy and not great food wines. Not always the case, but the French are all about pairing the wines with food.

    And if you go white, the colder the more racy (acidic) and dry they will seem, so don’t get them too cold. Fridge cold is too cold. If you have to go read, Pinot Noir would be my choice. Now Oregon does have some choices there, but that is tough wine to choose. Fruity is okay for Thanskgiving, but stay away from too much oak. Stick with minerality and softness.

    That’s it. Get to know your friendly neighborhood wine steward.

  • Dust

    Stephen thanks so much for more great info! As per Alsace, try Marcel Deiss, the “reformer” of that region. But of course, Trimbach, Zind, Weinbach all very tasty too….hmm, these don’t sound French :)

    The Wine Spectator has free access to it’s database of something like 250,000 wines, just this week (normally costs about $75 per year):

    http://www.winespectator.com

    Check it out!

    As for tODD in the PDX area, Wholefoods, Zupans, and QFC are good sources for Alsace at great prices, especially now and their wine stewards are truthful and helpful.

    We live in the Pacific Northwest and enjoy so much great wine from Walla Walla, Yakima, Columbia River Gorge, Red Mountain AVA etc. in WA state….Merlots, Cabernets, Syrahs, Chardonnay, and now Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Malbec, OMG! There are over 600 (or something like that) wineries here, up from about 2 dozen in the 80′s and early 90′s…thanks to the Microsoft and Boeing millionaires am sure!

    We also are close enough to frequent the Red Hills of Dundee in the Willamette Valley, or the Umqua River Valley or the Rogue River Valley (also home of Rogue River Cheese, the best blue in the world!) and enjoy lots and lots of Oregon Pinots and they get better and better every year. Guess that’s the benefit of competition….the number of Oregon wineries is about 500 or so, up from just a few dozen 25 years ago, or less.

    Pinots go very well with turkey, one of the best combos! How much you want to spend? Price and quality do not always correlate, but if you have the cash, Domaine Serene (except cuvee) is always, always great, as well as Domaine Drouhin Oregon Laurene, Archery Summit (not cuvee) and many, many more…look them up at Wine Speculator, it’s fun and free!

    We do buy lots of Oregon Pinot, but for the most part from small producers who you normally don’t see on the shelf, but the wines are often as good or better than ones costing twice as much, really! We are so blessed to have all these available right in our own backyard! We used to live in the San Francisco Bay area and this is better than Napa….in its own way, of course!

    Stephen, you should try Beaujolais with turkey, another one of the perfect pairings! Nouveau can be awesome if it’s good, but not so if it’s not so good, obviously. If you care to give one a try it, this is a good year as the 2009 Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages is being talked about as one of the best ever….and at about $20/bottle a real steal of a deal! Try it, you’ll like it….or my name isn’t Dust :)

    Wow, all this typing has made me thirsty…..is it 5 o clock anywhere?

  • Dust

    Stephen thanks so much for more great info! As per Alsace, try Marcel Deiss, the “reformer” of that region. But of course, Trimbach, Zind, Weinbach all very tasty too….hmm, these don’t sound French :)

    The Wine Spectator has free access to it’s database of something like 250,000 wines, just this week (normally costs about $75 per year):

    http://www.winespectator.com

    Check it out!

    As for tODD in the PDX area, Wholefoods, Zupans, and QFC are good sources for Alsace at great prices, especially now and their wine stewards are truthful and helpful.

    We live in the Pacific Northwest and enjoy so much great wine from Walla Walla, Yakima, Columbia River Gorge, Red Mountain AVA etc. in WA state….Merlots, Cabernets, Syrahs, Chardonnay, and now Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Malbec, OMG! There are over 600 (or something like that) wineries here, up from about 2 dozen in the 80′s and early 90′s…thanks to the Microsoft and Boeing millionaires am sure!

    We also are close enough to frequent the Red Hills of Dundee in the Willamette Valley, or the Umqua River Valley or the Rogue River Valley (also home of Rogue River Cheese, the best blue in the world!) and enjoy lots and lots of Oregon Pinots and they get better and better every year. Guess that’s the benefit of competition….the number of Oregon wineries is about 500 or so, up from just a few dozen 25 years ago, or less.

    Pinots go very well with turkey, one of the best combos! How much you want to spend? Price and quality do not always correlate, but if you have the cash, Domaine Serene (except cuvee) is always, always great, as well as Domaine Drouhin Oregon Laurene, Archery Summit (not cuvee) and many, many more…look them up at Wine Speculator, it’s fun and free!

    We do buy lots of Oregon Pinot, but for the most part from small producers who you normally don’t see on the shelf, but the wines are often as good or better than ones costing twice as much, really! We are so blessed to have all these available right in our own backyard! We used to live in the San Francisco Bay area and this is better than Napa….in its own way, of course!

    Stephen, you should try Beaujolais with turkey, another one of the perfect pairings! Nouveau can be awesome if it’s good, but not so if it’s not so good, obviously. If you care to give one a try it, this is a good year as the 2009 Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages is being talked about as one of the best ever….and at about $20/bottle a real steal of a deal! Try it, you’ll like it….or my name isn’t Dust :)

    Wow, all this typing has made me thirsty…..is it 5 o clock anywhere?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dust (@133)! :) This is a heretofore completely un-hinted-at side of you!

    And if you know about Zupan’s … that makes me wonder how close you live to me. Maybe you only visit PDX from time to time, but there are no Zupan’s outside of Portland, so … hmm. Are you going to reveal how close we live to each other? Because if it’s close enough, we really should get together for a drink of one sort or another.

    Our family shops at New Seasons, which to my mind is what Whole Foods wishes it were. Not the cheapest, but very good produce, and very knowledgeable people.

    I don’t talk to the wine stewards too much, as our budget generally obligates me to shop from the endcap, where I just read their notes and look for something under $12. Which, on average, probably puts us in the fair-to-middling range. And pretty much prices us out of pinot noir — at least the local stuff.

    But there are a lot of nice blends out there from fairly reputable winemakers. We try to pick up anything we see from Andrew Rich, or one of his assorted labels, as we always enjoy those.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dust (@133)! :) This is a heretofore completely un-hinted-at side of you!

    And if you know about Zupan’s … that makes me wonder how close you live to me. Maybe you only visit PDX from time to time, but there are no Zupan’s outside of Portland, so … hmm. Are you going to reveal how close we live to each other? Because if it’s close enough, we really should get together for a drink of one sort or another.

    Our family shops at New Seasons, which to my mind is what Whole Foods wishes it were. Not the cheapest, but very good produce, and very knowledgeable people.

    I don’t talk to the wine stewards too much, as our budget generally obligates me to shop from the endcap, where I just read their notes and look for something under $12. Which, on average, probably puts us in the fair-to-middling range. And pretty much prices us out of pinot noir — at least the local stuff.

    But there are a lot of nice blends out there from fairly reputable winemakers. We try to pick up anything we see from Andrew Rich, or one of his assorted labels, as we always enjoy those.

  • Stephen

    Holy Vinis Vinifera Dust!!! Ease up . . .

    I’m gonna have to one up ya on the Beaujolais though. Get a Morgon appellation, Cote du Py, and feel the love. And if you really like Pinot Noir, then go find some Burgundy to compare, something like a Fixin for about $50 (and I’m not sayin’ that just ’cause I’m a Texan). But careful, it’s the danger zone. For wine advice, I like Robert Parker better – no ads, no conflict of interest. He’s a savant, freak.

    But Holy Moly, you are kickin’ it with the wine! I’ve been out of it for about four years. I used to be a wine buyer and a steward. Man, it is beautiful up there where you are. Sonoma Coast blew me away when I visited. There’s lots of good microbrew up there too. you are knockin’ me out.

    Well, none for me at Thanksgiving. We must keep it low key for the Baptists in the family. I’ll live vicariously through you. I expect a full report.

    The reason Alsatians sound German is because they kind of are. It is a very Germanic part of France along the border. It’s like that in the Sudtirol too in Northern Italy – all Germans. I met a wine maker from there and his name was Rolf and he had wavy blonde hair, but he was an Italian citizen. that’s another area for very cool, unusual wines with lots of minerality.

  • Stephen

    Holy Vinis Vinifera Dust!!! Ease up . . .

    I’m gonna have to one up ya on the Beaujolais though. Get a Morgon appellation, Cote du Py, and feel the love. And if you really like Pinot Noir, then go find some Burgundy to compare, something like a Fixin for about $50 (and I’m not sayin’ that just ’cause I’m a Texan). But careful, it’s the danger zone. For wine advice, I like Robert Parker better – no ads, no conflict of interest. He’s a savant, freak.

    But Holy Moly, you are kickin’ it with the wine! I’ve been out of it for about four years. I used to be a wine buyer and a steward. Man, it is beautiful up there where you are. Sonoma Coast blew me away when I visited. There’s lots of good microbrew up there too. you are knockin’ me out.

    Well, none for me at Thanksgiving. We must keep it low key for the Baptists in the family. I’ll live vicariously through you. I expect a full report.

    The reason Alsatians sound German is because they kind of are. It is a very Germanic part of France along the border. It’s like that in the Sudtirol too in Northern Italy – all Germans. I met a wine maker from there and his name was Rolf and he had wavy blonde hair, but he was an Italian citizen. that’s another area for very cool, unusual wines with lots of minerality.

  • Stephen

    Todd,

    Go up a notch or two in price once in a while. Try some Italian wines from Tuscany or even Umbria, Sicily (Nero D’Avola) or just about anywhere for food wines. There’s also lots of good Spanish stuff like Rioja and stuff from Navarre (look for Grenache for fruity). There’s also my personal favorite – Cotes du Rhone for inexpensive food wine. Maybe you know all that. But sometimes the difference between $12 and $18 can be more significant than $18 to $25-$30 or even $50. It depends, but you might be surprised. It’s an adventure, or it can be.

  • Stephen

    Todd,

    Go up a notch or two in price once in a while. Try some Italian wines from Tuscany or even Umbria, Sicily (Nero D’Avola) or just about anywhere for food wines. There’s also lots of good Spanish stuff like Rioja and stuff from Navarre (look for Grenache for fruity). There’s also my personal favorite – Cotes du Rhone for inexpensive food wine. Maybe you know all that. But sometimes the difference between $12 and $18 can be more significant than $18 to $25-$30 or even $50. It depends, but you might be surprised. It’s an adventure, or it can be.

  • kerner

    tODD:

    you cannot control mint by cutting it back. it spreads by sending roots underground that then send up new plants. you have to put some kind of barrier into the ground at least 6 in. deep to keep it from spreading.

  • kerner

    tODD:

    you cannot control mint by cutting it back. it spreads by sending roots underground that then send up new plants. you have to put some kind of barrier into the ground at least 6 in. deep to keep it from spreading.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    How did I miss this conversation??

    Stephen – Hurrah! I LOVE Nero d’ Avola. But, although I’m a latecomer, let me recommend a brilliant desert wine – Vin de Constance. It is exquisite, naturally sweet, but rather read the rest here: http://www.kleinconstantia.com/vindeconstance.htm

    Suffice to say that Jane Austen wrote about it in Sense and Sensibility, and both Charles Dickens and Napoleon are known to have enjoyed it.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    How did I miss this conversation??

    Stephen – Hurrah! I LOVE Nero d’ Avola. But, although I’m a latecomer, let me recommend a brilliant desert wine – Vin de Constance. It is exquisite, naturally sweet, but rather read the rest here: http://www.kleinconstantia.com/vindeconstance.htm

    Suffice to say that Jane Austen wrote about it in Sense and Sensibility, and both Charles Dickens and Napoleon are known to have enjoyed it.

  • Grace

    I leave for an appointment, then out to dinner and come home, only to find the whole lot of you having a wine tasting party.

    Yes Dust, it is past 5 PM somewhere – :lol:

    Hey Stephen, are you still suggesting the wine from last night?

  • Grace

    I leave for an appointment, then out to dinner and come home, only to find the whole lot of you having a wine tasting party.

    Yes Dust, it is past 5 PM somewhere – :lol:

    Hey Stephen, are you still suggesting the wine from last night?

  • Grace

    tODD – 130 “They basically assume you know what to do with the ingredients, as well as all the sub-steps implied by a very few directions. And yeah, the only time I’ve ever cooked mint was for the simple syrup. We also do a refreshing “Mediterranean-style” pasta with tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, and freshly chopped mint leaves.”

    I don’t know everything, my mother knew it all, and thats the truth. She didn’t measure much of anything, maybe sugar and flour, but the rest was something she just felt – I do pretty well, but nothing like her expertise in the kitchen. She even baked bread every other day. Being a ministers wife, loving to cook and her love of the LORD was never lost on all the guests we had in our home. Almost every Sunday night she invited a group over.

    I’m interested in your “Mediterranean-style” pasta – how do you make it? I love pasta, and so does my husband.

  • Grace

    tODD – 130 “They basically assume you know what to do with the ingredients, as well as all the sub-steps implied by a very few directions. And yeah, the only time I’ve ever cooked mint was for the simple syrup. We also do a refreshing “Mediterranean-style” pasta with tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, and freshly chopped mint leaves.”

    I don’t know everything, my mother knew it all, and thats the truth. She didn’t measure much of anything, maybe sugar and flour, but the rest was something she just felt – I do pretty well, but nothing like her expertise in the kitchen. She even baked bread every other day. Being a ministers wife, loving to cook and her love of the LORD was never lost on all the guests we had in our home. Almost every Sunday night she invited a group over.

    I’m interested in your “Mediterranean-style” pasta – how do you make it? I love pasta, and so does my husband.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Grace – your Mediterranean pasta sounds good. I generaaly like to add argulua (or as i’m more used to call it, rocket), especially wild rocket (the one with the smaller leaves). The peppery taste is much more intense, and goes well with your other ingredients.

    But since we are talking recipes, I should mention the Chanterelle Risotto I made earlier this year – we get chanterelles directly from mushroom picker up north – the SK chanterelles are much smaller than the coastal variety, with more intese flavour, and less water content, which means they don’t shrink so much. We pay the picker $8/lb – and they are fresh. Apparently, by thime it reaches Whole Foods there in the States, the exact same mushrooms costs $40/lb, or so we’ve been told.

    The other item is fiddleheads – fried in butter, with a bit of cream added, on pasta – just brilliant. You guys get fiddleheads down there?

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Grace – your Mediterranean pasta sounds good. I generaaly like to add argulua (or as i’m more used to call it, rocket), especially wild rocket (the one with the smaller leaves). The peppery taste is much more intense, and goes well with your other ingredients.

    But since we are talking recipes, I should mention the Chanterelle Risotto I made earlier this year – we get chanterelles directly from mushroom picker up north – the SK chanterelles are much smaller than the coastal variety, with more intese flavour, and less water content, which means they don’t shrink so much. We pay the picker $8/lb – and they are fresh. Apparently, by thime it reaches Whole Foods there in the States, the exact same mushrooms costs $40/lb, or so we’ve been told.

    The other item is fiddleheads – fried in butter, with a bit of cream added, on pasta – just brilliant. You guys get fiddleheads down there?

  • Grace

    Louis – my husband has a vague idea, but I haven’t heard of it before – what are “fiddleheads” – I feel rather dumb right now -

    Do you live in the states or abroad?

  • Grace

    Louis – my husband has a vague idea, but I haven’t heard of it before – what are “fiddleheads” – I feel rather dumb right now -

    Do you live in the states or abroad?

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Canada – Saskatchewan.

    Fiddleheads are the young, curled-up fronds of certain forest ferns, and taste a bit like asparagus. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddlehead_fern

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Canada – Saskatchewan.

    Fiddleheads are the young, curled-up fronds of certain forest ferns, and taste a bit like asparagus. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddlehead_fern

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    We paid $9/lb, directly from the picker.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    We paid $9/lb, directly from the picker.

  • Grace

    Thanks Louis -

    My husband googled it, and then reminded me of the lovely three tree ferns we have in our atrium – um…… no one is going to clip them off – I will see if they can be purchased at Whole Foods..

    We both love “asparagus” -

  • Grace

    Thanks Louis -

    My husband googled it, and then reminded me of the lovely three tree ferns we have in our atrium – um…… no one is going to clip them off – I will see if they can be purchased at Whole Foods..

    We both love “asparagus” -

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@136), I appreciate your recommendations, though, for various reasons, I try to buy locally-made products as much as possible (one of these reasons is that it’s actually possible to do this in an area as agriculturally rich as the PacNW).

    It sometimes drives me crazy that the economics of this decision often work against me, such that I can get a bottle of wine that has traveled thousands of miles for much cheaper than a similar quality bottle of wine that was made an hour’s drive from my house. Oh well.

    We do splurge occasionally, usually on a local pinot noir, but we also enjoy many of the styles you mentioned.

    Honestly, I kind of don’t want to become a wine aficionado, as that will mean nothing good for my wallet. I enjoy enjoying (relatively) cheap wines (though even I draw the line at “Three-Buck Chuck”, for you fans of Trader Joe’s — sorry). I’m already a beer snob, anyhow, though thankfully the most you’re likely to spend on a really expensive (large), top-notch, limited-edition bottle of beer is $10 (though I happen to think Oregon makes some of the best microbrews, and for something like $7-8 per six-pack). In the wine world, I believe the top bottle costs somewhere around $4 gajillion. So, you know. Pick your poison.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@136), I appreciate your recommendations, though, for various reasons, I try to buy locally-made products as much as possible (one of these reasons is that it’s actually possible to do this in an area as agriculturally rich as the PacNW).

    It sometimes drives me crazy that the economics of this decision often work against me, such that I can get a bottle of wine that has traveled thousands of miles for much cheaper than a similar quality bottle of wine that was made an hour’s drive from my house. Oh well.

    We do splurge occasionally, usually on a local pinot noir, but we also enjoy many of the styles you mentioned.

    Honestly, I kind of don’t want to become a wine aficionado, as that will mean nothing good for my wallet. I enjoy enjoying (relatively) cheap wines (though even I draw the line at “Three-Buck Chuck”, for you fans of Trader Joe’s — sorry). I’m already a beer snob, anyhow, though thankfully the most you’re likely to spend on a really expensive (large), top-notch, limited-edition bottle of beer is $10 (though I happen to think Oregon makes some of the best microbrews, and for something like $7-8 per six-pack). In the wine world, I believe the top bottle costs somewhere around $4 gajillion. So, you know. Pick your poison.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@137), yes, I was being sloppy when I referred to “cutting back” mint. I’ve pulled enough mint roots (stolons, technically) out to know better — to no apparent decrease, I should add. Still, you couldn’t even tell by looking at the plant that I’d hacked off several packed cups’ worth of leaves. Oh well. There are worse plants to have an overabundance of.

    Anyhow, Grace (@140), I had kind of figured you for a teetotaller. I guess I was wrong?

    Anyhow, I pretty much already gave you the recipe (pasta dishes are like that), but, for completeness’ sake: 1 lb. pasta, 1.5 lbs. diced cored/seeded tomatoes, 0.25 cup olive oil, 1 Tbsp. (or, you know, more) minced mint leaves, 0.5 cup chopped kalamata olives, 6 oz. crumbled feta cheese. But I find the measurements on recipes like that largely superfluous, and end up adding whatever I want more of or need to get rid of.

    Louis (@141), we love “rocket”, too, though we tend to just use it in salads for a peppery note. On a side note, when I went to Italy way back when, we noticed they frequently put greens on their pizzas. I wanted to know what they were, but I wasn’t familiar with the Italian word on the menu, “rucola”. Then we went to one restaurant with a bilingual menu, and to my surprise, I was told that “rucola” was Italian for … “rocket”? This did nothing to aid my comprehension: “That can’t be right”. But, of course, it was. Except most people I know call it “arugula”, as you know.

    I think we get fiddleheads in the farmer’s market around here, though I don’t remember if I’ve tried them. My favorite unusual items — which also tastes something like asparagus — are garlic scapes, aka garlic whistles. Not surprisingly, they also taste like garlic. Good grilled or roasted, or wherever you’d use asparagus. They only make a quick appearance, though, so you have to be watching for them.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@137), yes, I was being sloppy when I referred to “cutting back” mint. I’ve pulled enough mint roots (stolons, technically) out to know better — to no apparent decrease, I should add. Still, you couldn’t even tell by looking at the plant that I’d hacked off several packed cups’ worth of leaves. Oh well. There are worse plants to have an overabundance of.

    Anyhow, Grace (@140), I had kind of figured you for a teetotaller. I guess I was wrong?

    Anyhow, I pretty much already gave you the recipe (pasta dishes are like that), but, for completeness’ sake: 1 lb. pasta, 1.5 lbs. diced cored/seeded tomatoes, 0.25 cup olive oil, 1 Tbsp. (or, you know, more) minced mint leaves, 0.5 cup chopped kalamata olives, 6 oz. crumbled feta cheese. But I find the measurements on recipes like that largely superfluous, and end up adding whatever I want more of or need to get rid of.

    Louis (@141), we love “rocket”, too, though we tend to just use it in salads for a peppery note. On a side note, when I went to Italy way back when, we noticed they frequently put greens on their pizzas. I wanted to know what they were, but I wasn’t familiar with the Italian word on the menu, “rucola”. Then we went to one restaurant with a bilingual menu, and to my surprise, I was told that “rucola” was Italian for … “rocket”? This did nothing to aid my comprehension: “That can’t be right”. But, of course, it was. Except most people I know call it “arugula”, as you know.

    I think we get fiddleheads in the farmer’s market around here, though I don’t remember if I’ve tried them. My favorite unusual items — which also tastes something like asparagus — are garlic scapes, aka garlic whistles. Not surprisingly, they also taste like garlic. Good grilled or roasted, or wherever you’d use asparagus. They only make a quick appearance, though, so you have to be watching for them.

  • DonS

    Hey! When did Two-buck Chuck become Three-buck Chuck? I missed that. Or is it a new “up-scale” version?

  • DonS

    Hey! When did Two-buck Chuck become Three-buck Chuck? I missed that. Or is it a new “up-scale” version?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Or is it a new ‘up-scale’ version?” (@148). No, you’re thinking of Up-Chuck. (Ha!) No, it’s always been Three-Buck Chuck here in Portland. I was scandalized when I read a story about the phenomenon in our paper (back when I read the paper and drank Charles Shaw wines) and found out that Californians got it for 33% off our price. There’s probably a subsidy somewhere in your budget … ;)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Or is it a new ‘up-scale’ version?” (@148). No, you’re thinking of Up-Chuck. (Ha!) No, it’s always been Three-Buck Chuck here in Portland. I was scandalized when I read a story about the phenomenon in our paper (back when I read the paper and drank Charles Shaw wines) and found out that Californians got it for 33% off our price. There’s probably a subsidy somewhere in your budget … ;)

  • Amy Surburg

    Well, the discussion moved on before I knew about this post, but I would like to say that at least in my case, something positive has come from those ads. I had a friend post a link to them on facebook. It led to a week long email discussion of his atheist beliefs and my beliefs as a Christian. I took much the same approach that Todd suggested in his first post (though I hadn’t read the suggestion yet) and it led to a meaningful discussion. I tried arguing tit for tat in some lines, but that ultimately just made both of us angry. My friend sees Christians as insincere because he sees the sin in the world and the imperfections, but thinks that we consider ourselves morally superior to other people. It took a lot of explaining to make him understand that we are all depraved and that we don’t earn eternal life by what we do. I think these ads are partly a reflection of many people’s impressions of modern Christianity and it’s too heavy emphasis on works righteousness. That is part of the reason the atheists lump us together with the Muslims. We are all one in their eyes. That, to me, shows a failure of Christendom to distinguish itself from the rest.
    I say that the discussion was positive because he has at least seen the other side without the bias of the atheist rhetoric. I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to do his work and bring him around. The other positive effect it had was on me. I was forced to take a hard look at my faith and the arguments for it and boil them down to their essence in order to help someone totally unfamiliar with it understand.

  • Amy Surburg

    Well, the discussion moved on before I knew about this post, but I would like to say that at least in my case, something positive has come from those ads. I had a friend post a link to them on facebook. It led to a week long email discussion of his atheist beliefs and my beliefs as a Christian. I took much the same approach that Todd suggested in his first post (though I hadn’t read the suggestion yet) and it led to a meaningful discussion. I tried arguing tit for tat in some lines, but that ultimately just made both of us angry. My friend sees Christians as insincere because he sees the sin in the world and the imperfections, but thinks that we consider ourselves morally superior to other people. It took a lot of explaining to make him understand that we are all depraved and that we don’t earn eternal life by what we do. I think these ads are partly a reflection of many people’s impressions of modern Christianity and it’s too heavy emphasis on works righteousness. That is part of the reason the atheists lump us together with the Muslims. We are all one in their eyes. That, to me, shows a failure of Christendom to distinguish itself from the rest.
    I say that the discussion was positive because he has at least seen the other side without the bias of the atheist rhetoric. I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to do his work and bring him around. The other positive effect it had was on me. I was forced to take a hard look at my faith and the arguments for it and boil them down to their essence in order to help someone totally unfamiliar with it understand.

  • Stephen

    Todd @ 146

    I would probably do the same thing if I could (buy local – especially if I lived in France . . .Ha!). You are in a great spot for that, and there is lots of stuff I’m sure that I have never had out there and it changes all the time. But then I’m not completely opposed to a global market. Give and take, blah, blah.

    I can’t help being a bit of a snob about it. I tasted over 1000 wines a year when I was in the business and I got to the point where I just can’t tolerate a lot of things because I know of so many better things. I’m still that way and I just would rather not drink at all when I know I’m not going to like it (well, not completely true. I do sort of adopt St. Paul’s maxim about being a good guest). But there are great things out there that are not expensive, and I like to help others find them. IF you look at imports, especially French, check the back and look for anything from Kermit Lynch Imports. It’s bound to be good.

    Cheers!

  • Stephen

    Todd @ 146

    I would probably do the same thing if I could (buy local – especially if I lived in France . . .Ha!). You are in a great spot for that, and there is lots of stuff I’m sure that I have never had out there and it changes all the time. But then I’m not completely opposed to a global market. Give and take, blah, blah.

    I can’t help being a bit of a snob about it. I tasted over 1000 wines a year when I was in the business and I got to the point where I just can’t tolerate a lot of things because I know of so many better things. I’m still that way and I just would rather not drink at all when I know I’m not going to like it (well, not completely true. I do sort of adopt St. Paul’s maxim about being a good guest). But there are great things out there that are not expensive, and I like to help others find them. IF you look at imports, especially French, check the back and look for anything from Kermit Lynch Imports. It’s bound to be good.

    Cheers!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Amy (@150), well done! That’s great!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Amy (@150), well done! That’s great!

  • DonS

    tODD @ 149: LOL @ “up-chuck” ! I guess I’m going to have to try some of that $2 stuff before it goes up. I’m sure it’s subsidized, because nothing is ever a deal here in CA.

    Amy @ 150: You may have come to the discussion late, but I’m glad you did. That’s a great story and a good reminder.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 149: LOL @ “up-chuck” ! I guess I’m going to have to try some of that $2 stuff before it goes up. I’m sure it’s subsidized, because nothing is ever a deal here in CA.

    Amy @ 150: You may have come to the discussion late, but I’m glad you did. That’s a great story and a good reminder.

  • Stephen

    Amy @ 150

    Sorry I jumped in there earlier.

    What you are talking about when this sort of thing comes up is what we need to do as Christians – rather than get all flustered and defensive, we need to step back and, like it or not, see it as an opportunity for repentance. How often do we resist repentance when it is THE way to draw near to our Lord? We think the best defense is to outsmart people (that’s what I turn to) when what we have at our disposal is first and foremost the Gospel itself, just waiting for us. What you describe is about humbling ourselves, not so much in the sight of an atheist, though we do need to do that certainly, but most importantly in the sight of our God.

    The bald truth is that anything else but the Gospel just won’t do. We may “win” some tit for tat argument, and have someone walk away belittled, but then what have we accomplished? There goes one more person alienated from the Holy Gospel because instead of raising up Christ alone we decided to raise up our own intelligence or wit or appeals to our superior moral character. When we do that, we have engaged in – I hate to say it but I’m afraid it is true – idolatry. And then guess what? We will find ourselves back needing to repent all over again. Better to start there in the first place.

  • Stephen

    Amy @ 150

    Sorry I jumped in there earlier.

    What you are talking about when this sort of thing comes up is what we need to do as Christians – rather than get all flustered and defensive, we need to step back and, like it or not, see it as an opportunity for repentance. How often do we resist repentance when it is THE way to draw near to our Lord? We think the best defense is to outsmart people (that’s what I turn to) when what we have at our disposal is first and foremost the Gospel itself, just waiting for us. What you describe is about humbling ourselves, not so much in the sight of an atheist, though we do need to do that certainly, but most importantly in the sight of our God.

    The bald truth is that anything else but the Gospel just won’t do. We may “win” some tit for tat argument, and have someone walk away belittled, but then what have we accomplished? There goes one more person alienated from the Holy Gospel because instead of raising up Christ alone we decided to raise up our own intelligence or wit or appeals to our superior moral character. When we do that, we have engaged in – I hate to say it but I’m afraid it is true – idolatry. And then guess what? We will find ourselves back needing to repent all over again. Better to start there in the first place.

  • Grace

    tODD – 147

    “Anyhow, Grace (@140), I had kind of figured you for a teetotaller. I guess I was wrong?”

    I have been tasting wine since I was 22. Being part of the wine country, was great fun and enjoyment. California wine makers have some of the best wine in the world. That might not set real well with others, but after tasting so many years, I believe they win the prize.

    Spring is the lovely time of year in northern CA, meaning Resurrection Sunday. As you drive, you pass by the immense green hills with sheep and their little ones. It’s a sight to behold, the vineyards and wine makers, wineries, brisk weather, it is just the most wonderful time of the year.

    Todd, why did you ever think I didn’t drink wine?

  • Grace

    tODD – 147

    “Anyhow, Grace (@140), I had kind of figured you for a teetotaller. I guess I was wrong?”

    I have been tasting wine since I was 22. Being part of the wine country, was great fun and enjoyment. California wine makers have some of the best wine in the world. That might not set real well with others, but after tasting so many years, I believe they win the prize.

    Spring is the lovely time of year in northern CA, meaning Resurrection Sunday. As you drive, you pass by the immense green hills with sheep and their little ones. It’s a sight to behold, the vineyards and wine makers, wineries, brisk weather, it is just the most wonderful time of the year.

    Todd, why did you ever think I didn’t drink wine?

  • Stephen

    Grace, Todd, Dust, and DonS

    (Before Reading: Wine Snob Alert!)

    You are right Grace about the immense beauty out there. My grandmother lives in San Francisco and I lived in Mariposa for a while. In my defense, I didn’t mean to bash California, Oregon or Washington. We’ve been trying to make wine out here in Texas without too much success. There are certainly small producers out there doing spectacular wines. But then there is also the tourism element and the desire to compete economically with the “wine lake” that is Europe. So I think that pushes a certain style, the oaky Chardonnays and Cabs being a good example.

    Here’s my take, if anyone cares to hear it (and I hope I don’t lose a friend Grace). Domestics “tend” to “go for the show” and by that I mean the American palate, which likes that. We were raised on Kool-Aid and Soda Pop. It took me a while to get past my own fascination with Australian Shiraz. I have an enormous sweet tooth. This “showy” thing I accuse domestics of is not always the case, and you find smaller producers that are making more subtle wines, especially some of the Pinto Noir and white wines. Santa Barbara County is a good example I think.

    In Europe, the viticulture is everywhere and for each region the cuisine and the wine have been worked out together over generations into a symbiotic relationship. But there are cases where younger wine makers are changing this, such as Nebbiolo that doesn’t take 20 years to age in the Piedmont. In general though, the vines are older, they are less pampered, the traditions are stable, and the wines are less stylized. They have more subtlety and more of that illusive “terrior” because of this, and they seem to pair with food better. But, having said all that, there is even more mass production and the influence of the “negociant.” It’s all about finding smaller producers.

    Don’t hate me Grace. When we visited Sonoma a couple years ago I was ready to move there. There’s a winemaker in Napa named Anthony Bell of Bell Vineyards. He’s the man. Kind of quiet and unassuming, but he makes beautiful juice.

    Can you guys tell I love wine? But another secret – I don’t drink much because of headaches. It’s another reason I savor the good stuff.

  • Stephen

    Grace, Todd, Dust, and DonS

    (Before Reading: Wine Snob Alert!)

    You are right Grace about the immense beauty out there. My grandmother lives in San Francisco and I lived in Mariposa for a while. In my defense, I didn’t mean to bash California, Oregon or Washington. We’ve been trying to make wine out here in Texas without too much success. There are certainly small producers out there doing spectacular wines. But then there is also the tourism element and the desire to compete economically with the “wine lake” that is Europe. So I think that pushes a certain style, the oaky Chardonnays and Cabs being a good example.

    Here’s my take, if anyone cares to hear it (and I hope I don’t lose a friend Grace). Domestics “tend” to “go for the show” and by that I mean the American palate, which likes that. We were raised on Kool-Aid and Soda Pop. It took me a while to get past my own fascination with Australian Shiraz. I have an enormous sweet tooth. This “showy” thing I accuse domestics of is not always the case, and you find smaller producers that are making more subtle wines, especially some of the Pinto Noir and white wines. Santa Barbara County is a good example I think.

    In Europe, the viticulture is everywhere and for each region the cuisine and the wine have been worked out together over generations into a symbiotic relationship. But there are cases where younger wine makers are changing this, such as Nebbiolo that doesn’t take 20 years to age in the Piedmont. In general though, the vines are older, they are less pampered, the traditions are stable, and the wines are less stylized. They have more subtlety and more of that illusive “terrior” because of this, and they seem to pair with food better. But, having said all that, there is even more mass production and the influence of the “negociant.” It’s all about finding smaller producers.

    Don’t hate me Grace. When we visited Sonoma a couple years ago I was ready to move there. There’s a winemaker in Napa named Anthony Bell of Bell Vineyards. He’s the man. Kind of quiet and unassuming, but he makes beautiful juice.

    Can you guys tell I love wine? But another secret – I don’t drink much because of headaches. It’s another reason I savor the good stuff.

  • Grace

    Stephen

    You haven’t lost a friend. I have relatives in Sonoma.

    Many of my great aunts and uncles lived in the San Francisco area – my husband and I were married in San Francisco. Your remarks of places, and wine bring many happy memories of living in the north.

    Have you ever stayed at Vintners Inn, or dined in their restaurant? It is located in Santa Rosa. The hotel overlooks the vineyards, the rooms have fireplaces, it is a treat.

    I had no idea you were in the wine business. I bet we have a few friends in common.

    I agree about Santa Barbara.

    Small world Stephen -

  • Grace

    Stephen

    You haven’t lost a friend. I have relatives in Sonoma.

    Many of my great aunts and uncles lived in the San Francisco area – my husband and I were married in San Francisco. Your remarks of places, and wine bring many happy memories of living in the north.

    Have you ever stayed at Vintners Inn, or dined in their restaurant? It is located in Santa Rosa. The hotel overlooks the vineyards, the rooms have fireplaces, it is a treat.

    I had no idea you were in the wine business. I bet we have a few friends in common.

    I agree about Santa Barbara.

    Small world Stephen -

  • Grace

    Dust – “For my two cents worth, a big, fruity Beaujolais pairs very well with roasted Turkey and all the trimmings……cheers!”

    That does it – I feel like making an early turkey, or at least the breast and my stuffing – I’m so hungrey right now I could eat my coffee cup.

    We are putting one of our Christmas trees today, maybe another – might as well make a real mess and cook up a storm. My husband is ready to unload the garage, with endless boxes of treasured decorations. And YES, we have artificial trees, some very tall, and one that is outstanding,…. they all look real, but the one with light flocking is the winner, people are surprised when we tell them it isn’t. We do Christmas trees before Thanksgiving every year, it makes for a much less hectic time.

    P.S. – we love real trees, but hate the fire danger – I hate the allergy’s that go with real trees – it’s ok elsewhere, but living with them 24/7 for days isn’t fun.

  • Grace

    Dust – “For my two cents worth, a big, fruity Beaujolais pairs very well with roasted Turkey and all the trimmings……cheers!”

    That does it – I feel like making an early turkey, or at least the breast and my stuffing – I’m so hungrey right now I could eat my coffee cup.

    We are putting one of our Christmas trees today, maybe another – might as well make a real mess and cook up a storm. My husband is ready to unload the garage, with endless boxes of treasured decorations. And YES, we have artificial trees, some very tall, and one that is outstanding,…. they all look real, but the one with light flocking is the winner, people are surprised when we tell them it isn’t. We do Christmas trees before Thanksgiving every year, it makes for a much less hectic time.

    P.S. – we love real trees, but hate the fire danger – I hate the allergy’s that go with real trees – it’s ok elsewhere, but living with them 24/7 for days isn’t fun.

  • Stephen

    I’m going to Grace’s house for the holidays! Sounds like she’s got lots of room. I’ll bring wine!

    I’ve never stayed in Sonoma. When we were there about two years ago we stayed near my grandmother who had just gotten out of the hospital. She actually lives in Pacifica. My wife and I managed to take car trips up into the wine country. It was in the fall when all the leaves on the vines were golden – pretty magnificent.

    I can recommend an amazing restaurant in SF in Pacific Heights-ish area called A-16 after the highway that goes through the south of Italy. It’s deep southern Italian, unlike anything Italian I’d ever had, even in Italy (not Tuscan at all) and the wine list is the coolest.
    They’ve got fireplace too.

    I bet you make some awesome cookies around the holidays Grace. My mom makes rosettes. Do you know what those are?

  • Stephen

    I’m going to Grace’s house for the holidays! Sounds like she’s got lots of room. I’ll bring wine!

    I’ve never stayed in Sonoma. When we were there about two years ago we stayed near my grandmother who had just gotten out of the hospital. She actually lives in Pacifica. My wife and I managed to take car trips up into the wine country. It was in the fall when all the leaves on the vines were golden – pretty magnificent.

    I can recommend an amazing restaurant in SF in Pacific Heights-ish area called A-16 after the highway that goes through the south of Italy. It’s deep southern Italian, unlike anything Italian I’d ever had, even in Italy (not Tuscan at all) and the wine list is the coolest.
    They’ve got fireplace too.

    I bet you make some awesome cookies around the holidays Grace. My mom makes rosettes. Do you know what those are?

  • Grace

    Stephen – 159

    I’m going to Grace’s house for the holidays! Sounds like she’s got lots of room. I’ll bring wine!

    Stephen, right now —– one tree is standing tall, totally decorated. My husband is watching yet another football game, and I am tasting my wine, reporting back to you. LOL it’s a fun night. You and your family sound like people we would love to meet. I still think we have friends in common.

    My husband and I will try out your recommendation for “A-16″ when we drive up north. Sounds great, I love Italian food and so does my husband.

    Stephen, I don’t know that I’ve tasted “rosettes” – but my mother most likely had. I lost my mom eight years ago, she knew how to bake everything, probably like your mom.

    OK, I have to admit I don’t bake. I used to love to bake cakes when I was a teen, but drove my mother crazy. About two or three times a week I would announce I was baking,…. at first mom was thrilled, but then there were the white cakes that I added food coloring, that meant blue, lavender, or light green – … add to that frosting either chocolate, (which mother approved) or all three colors mentioned previously. One night I announced I was making a cake – my mother said PLEASE don’t make another the cake or frosting a strange color,…. LOL it was the way she said it, poor mom had enough.

    Stephen I love to make sauces for different cuts of meat, salmon, Chilean sea bass, mahi mahi and lamb. There is a restaurant where we live that offers Chilean sea bass, it is the best I have ever tasted.

    Stephen, have you ever tasted Cakebread wine? – it is outstanding. Check out the link and let me know if you ever tasted the wine or visted.

    http://www.luxist.com/2010/07/01/cakebread-cellars-wins-the-readers-choice-award-for-best-domest/

  • Grace

    Stephen – 159

    I’m going to Grace’s house for the holidays! Sounds like she’s got lots of room. I’ll bring wine!

    Stephen, right now —– one tree is standing tall, totally decorated. My husband is watching yet another football game, and I am tasting my wine, reporting back to you. LOL it’s a fun night. You and your family sound like people we would love to meet. I still think we have friends in common.

    My husband and I will try out your recommendation for “A-16″ when we drive up north. Sounds great, I love Italian food and so does my husband.

    Stephen, I don’t know that I’ve tasted “rosettes” – but my mother most likely had. I lost my mom eight years ago, she knew how to bake everything, probably like your mom.

    OK, I have to admit I don’t bake. I used to love to bake cakes when I was a teen, but drove my mother crazy. About two or three times a week I would announce I was baking,…. at first mom was thrilled, but then there were the white cakes that I added food coloring, that meant blue, lavender, or light green – … add to that frosting either chocolate, (which mother approved) or all three colors mentioned previously. One night I announced I was making a cake – my mother said PLEASE don’t make another the cake or frosting a strange color,…. LOL it was the way she said it, poor mom had enough.

    Stephen I love to make sauces for different cuts of meat, salmon, Chilean sea bass, mahi mahi and lamb. There is a restaurant where we live that offers Chilean sea bass, it is the best I have ever tasted.

    Stephen, have you ever tasted Cakebread wine? – it is outstanding. Check out the link and let me know if you ever tasted the wine or visted.

    http://www.luxist.com/2010/07/01/cakebread-cellars-wins-the-readers-choice-award-for-best-domest/

  • Stephen

    I’ve had Cakebread at a wine tasting once (maybe twice, can’t remember). It was always high on the customer request list. We couldn’t carry it very often because the distributors held it for restaurants and I worked in a wine shop. That’s been about four years now since I did that. I remember getting to try the Benchland Cab I believe it was (don’t recall the vintage) and thinking it was quite impressive. It was at a California tasting that time, so after a while with so many big Cabs in the room it gets kind of crazy. Even when you spit, when you taste a lot of the same style it becomes sort of overwhelming. The Chardonnay was the one everyone wanted. I’m almost sure I’ve had it but that is not my style so much. Of course, it was the one customers had had at a restaurant and so it was the one we had the hardest time getting in. Argh! I always had a prepared speech about it. I think I tried the Sauv Blanc too – big style, lush. I like Sauv Blancs that sting with lots of minerality usually, but it depends.

    I started out like a good German with a taste for strong beer. That’s what got me in the business to support my other habit (I’m an artist). My real delight eventually became bubbles. I became a bit of a Champagne nut. But it is now so out of my price range I rarely get to have it anymore. I still have a little vintage French stuff tucked away and it keeps forever. Now there is an area where Cali is making some good stuff like Domaine Carneros for instance! But like I said, I don’t touch it much anymore because of frequent headaches. I’ll probably have some over the holidays. Can’t wait to savor, savor, savor. Sometimes I can be satisfied just smelling it.

    Now as for rosettes, they are German/Scandinavian cookies made by dipping an iron shaped like a star in batter and then frying it. Then they are sprinkled with sugar. They have the consistency of light pie crust and they sort of crumble when you bite into them. My mom still has the rosette irons my grandmother gave her. I have to beg her to make them because it is pretty labor intensive.

    Sorry to hear about your mom. This will be my mom’s first Christmas without my dad. He went to be with our Lord this past summer. I’ve been missing him a lot, especially now that I’m a parent. He was sick fora long time. But I’ll tell you one thing – those Texas Rangers beat the Yankees, and I’m guessing it’s because my dad was pestering God about it (ha!).

  • Stephen

    I’ve had Cakebread at a wine tasting once (maybe twice, can’t remember). It was always high on the customer request list. We couldn’t carry it very often because the distributors held it for restaurants and I worked in a wine shop. That’s been about four years now since I did that. I remember getting to try the Benchland Cab I believe it was (don’t recall the vintage) and thinking it was quite impressive. It was at a California tasting that time, so after a while with so many big Cabs in the room it gets kind of crazy. Even when you spit, when you taste a lot of the same style it becomes sort of overwhelming. The Chardonnay was the one everyone wanted. I’m almost sure I’ve had it but that is not my style so much. Of course, it was the one customers had had at a restaurant and so it was the one we had the hardest time getting in. Argh! I always had a prepared speech about it. I think I tried the Sauv Blanc too – big style, lush. I like Sauv Blancs that sting with lots of minerality usually, but it depends.

    I started out like a good German with a taste for strong beer. That’s what got me in the business to support my other habit (I’m an artist). My real delight eventually became bubbles. I became a bit of a Champagne nut. But it is now so out of my price range I rarely get to have it anymore. I still have a little vintage French stuff tucked away and it keeps forever. Now there is an area where Cali is making some good stuff like Domaine Carneros for instance! But like I said, I don’t touch it much anymore because of frequent headaches. I’ll probably have some over the holidays. Can’t wait to savor, savor, savor. Sometimes I can be satisfied just smelling it.

    Now as for rosettes, they are German/Scandinavian cookies made by dipping an iron shaped like a star in batter and then frying it. Then they are sprinkled with sugar. They have the consistency of light pie crust and they sort of crumble when you bite into them. My mom still has the rosette irons my grandmother gave her. I have to beg her to make them because it is pretty labor intensive.

    Sorry to hear about your mom. This will be my mom’s first Christmas without my dad. He went to be with our Lord this past summer. I’ve been missing him a lot, especially now that I’m a parent. He was sick fora long time. But I’ll tell you one thing – those Texas Rangers beat the Yankees, and I’m guessing it’s because my dad was pestering God about it (ha!).

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Grace

    My. I am jealous. Good wine is really really expensive in brasil and not easy to come by. Alot of folks here favor somn that tastes like ripple or night train. Stephen would be doing ALOT of spitting!

    Brasilian restaurants in LA. There is “fogo do chão” REALLY expensive and I am not sure it is really worth all that. They are a national chain. there is one on restaurant row on la cienega in BH. Then there is “Picanha” over in burbank in the business area just south of their Mall. It is good but I think still too expensive. There is a brasilian restaurant in west hollywood called… hmmm.I forget. They adapted their menu too much to american tastes, but there are a few things on the menu that are …ok… and then there used to be a GEM of a restaurant on santa monica blvd in west hollywood. again I forget the name. And why is it sooooo good? Some fairly wealthy guy met a gorgeous (and I do mean gorgeous) brasilian girl from salvador here in brasil and married her. Then!…. she persuaded him to bring up her mom, who is a faaaaabulous cook to cook in the restaurant, and her brothers as waiters and….. that brasilian girl got to have her cinderella moment, AND her family….

    when mom is not there… not so good. and… the wife is there as decoration. she does nothing else… and the brothers too… the rich american guy does most of the waitering and he is not so good at it…

    but the food is like nothing you have ever ever tasted…. just don´t ask what the ingredients are (like you could do that since no one speaks english…) There is this wonderful chicken smothered in sauce that is toecurlingly amazing… it is made with chicken blood…

    I am sorry that I am not more help. When I come to LA I am hungry for a) mexican food b) american breakfast menus c) thai food d)soul food. e) a good bacon cheeseburger. f) DOUGHNUTS!!!!! none of that is available here…

    oh and some really good wine too…..

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Grace

    My. I am jealous. Good wine is really really expensive in brasil and not easy to come by. Alot of folks here favor somn that tastes like ripple or night train. Stephen would be doing ALOT of spitting!

    Brasilian restaurants in LA. There is “fogo do chão” REALLY expensive and I am not sure it is really worth all that. They are a national chain. there is one on restaurant row on la cienega in BH. Then there is “Picanha” over in burbank in the business area just south of their Mall. It is good but I think still too expensive. There is a brasilian restaurant in west hollywood called… hmmm.I forget. They adapted their menu too much to american tastes, but there are a few things on the menu that are …ok… and then there used to be a GEM of a restaurant on santa monica blvd in west hollywood. again I forget the name. And why is it sooooo good? Some fairly wealthy guy met a gorgeous (and I do mean gorgeous) brasilian girl from salvador here in brasil and married her. Then!…. she persuaded him to bring up her mom, who is a faaaaabulous cook to cook in the restaurant, and her brothers as waiters and….. that brasilian girl got to have her cinderella moment, AND her family….

    when mom is not there… not so good. and… the wife is there as decoration. she does nothing else… and the brothers too… the rich american guy does most of the waitering and he is not so good at it…

    but the food is like nothing you have ever ever tasted…. just don´t ask what the ingredients are (like you could do that since no one speaks english…) There is this wonderful chicken smothered in sauce that is toecurlingly amazing… it is made with chicken blood…

    I am sorry that I am not more help. When I come to LA I am hungry for a) mexican food b) american breakfast menus c) thai food d)soul food. e) a good bacon cheeseburger. f) DOUGHNUTS!!!!! none of that is available here…

    oh and some really good wine too…..

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    grace,

    the brasilian restaurant that I forgot the name of is “bossa nova”. that other one that is the cuisine from the state of Bahia with the rich american owner/gorgious wife combo I still dont remember the name of .

    I am having a senior moment here….

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    grace,

    the brasilian restaurant that I forgot the name of is “bossa nova”. that other one that is the cuisine from the state of Bahia with the rich american owner/gorgious wife combo I still dont remember the name of .

    I am having a senior moment here….

  • Stephen

    “Tall and tan and young and lovely the girl from Ipanema goes walking,
    and when she passes each guy she passes goes “aaaahhhh”"

    That’s the Bossa Nova I like! Long Live Tom Jobim!

  • Stephen

    “Tall and tan and young and lovely the girl from Ipanema goes walking,
    and when she passes each guy she passes goes “aaaahhhh”"

    That’s the Bossa Nova I like! Long Live Tom Jobim!

  • Grace

    Stephen – 161

    I am so sorry to hear about your dad. It is very hard to lose a parent. When my father passed away (before mom) I thought my heart would break. I have remembered you and your mother in prayer, and will continue to pray for comfort.

    I love Sauv Blancs, that is my fav. :)

  • Grace

    Stephen – 161

    I am so sorry to hear about your dad. It is very hard to lose a parent. When my father passed away (before mom) I thought my heart would break. I have remembered you and your mother in prayer, and will continue to pray for comfort.

    I love Sauv Blancs, that is my fav. :)

  • Grace

    fws – 162

    “DOUGHNUTS!!!!!”

    LOL – and all in CAPS -

    We are going to a Brazilian restaurant very soon.

  • Grace

    fws – 162

    “DOUGHNUTS!!!!!”

    LOL – and all in CAPS -

    We are going to a Brazilian restaurant very soon.

  • Grace

    fws

    The Bossa Nova I have heard of- thanks for the tip.

  • Grace

    fws

    The Bossa Nova I have heard of- thanks for the tip.

  • Stephen

    Grace you are very kind. Thank you. Steve

  • Stephen

    Grace you are very kind. Thank you. Steve

  • Grace

    Steve – - 168

    I have thought so often of my mom and dad – this week being Thanksgiving is a precious time, when mom and I cooked together, laughed and my dad just looked on with joy at his dear wife and daughter laughing in the kitchen – and believe me we laughed.

    One silly story;

    Mom and I were busy making the dressing for the turkey. Well, I had a broken nail early in the week and had glued on a FAKE, all polished, LOL.

    Mom and I stuffed the turkey,…… and then I looked down and . no nail . I was frantic, “where is that fake nail”…. we un-stuffed the turkey, looked through everything – ……. NO FAKE NAIL….. we restuffed the turkey. After we took the turkey out we checked all the stuffing, no fake nail. Mom and I couldn’t believe it, we always kept everything spotless and not this. To this day (mom is with the LORD) I have no idea where that fake pink nail went, but mom and I were thankful, dad never laid eyes on it, …. he would not have been mad, most likely laughed, but we would have been embarrassed.

  • Grace

    Steve – - 168

    I have thought so often of my mom and dad – this week being Thanksgiving is a precious time, when mom and I cooked together, laughed and my dad just looked on with joy at his dear wife and daughter laughing in the kitchen – and believe me we laughed.

    One silly story;

    Mom and I were busy making the dressing for the turkey. Well, I had a broken nail early in the week and had glued on a FAKE, all polished, LOL.

    Mom and I stuffed the turkey,…… and then I looked down and . no nail . I was frantic, “where is that fake nail”…. we un-stuffed the turkey, looked through everything – ……. NO FAKE NAIL….. we restuffed the turkey. After we took the turkey out we checked all the stuffing, no fake nail. Mom and I couldn’t believe it, we always kept everything spotless and not this. To this day (mom is with the LORD) I have no idea where that fake pink nail went, but mom and I were thankful, dad never laid eyes on it, …. he would not have been mad, most likely laughed, but we would have been embarrassed.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom hering, this is for you if you are still reading here…

    Coffee= All Law. All the time….dang!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/dining/24coffee.html?_r=1&src=dayp

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom hering, this is for you if you are still reading here…

    Coffee= All Law. All the time….dang!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/dining/24coffee.html?_r=1&src=dayp