Religion has its beliefs, but it also has a social dimension, with governance, organization, finance, and member involvement.  A new religion has been proposed, called 0xΩ (not sure how to pronounce that), with uses technology to allow a crowd to work out their practices and their beliefs, all of which can be instantly updatable.  If there ever comes a time when consensus is impossible, the technology will split up the group so that each can go in its own way. This… Read more

Fellow Patheos blogger Tom Hobson, a Presbyterian pastor with a doctorate from Concordia Seminary, has written some posts at Biblical Words and World about ancient heresies and how they are showing up today.  (See this and this.)  I was struck by his account of the Marcionites, who reject the “Old Testament God” in favor of a deity who never displays wrath or judgment. From Tom Hobson, Back to the Second Century:  Echoes of Modern Heresy: One second century heresy that seems more prevalent… Read more

Brian Truitt of USA Today complains that there isn’t any sex in the Star Wars universe and calls on the filmmakers to rectify that situation!  But there is sex in Star Wars.  The whole storyline of the entire saga turns on sex. In his article Sex in ‘Star Wars’: Here’s why it’s about time, Truitt appreciates the innuendos in the latest installment about young Hans Solo, but says that’s not enough.  He makes a joke about how the movie franchise is the Last American… Read more

In the ancient world, people read out loud, even when they were by themselves.  Thus, Stephen could overhear the Ethiopian eunuch reading The Book of Isaiah as he drove by in his chariot.  Not only that, as new research shows, people also read out loud to each other. In his book Communal Reading in the Time of Jesus: A Window into Early Christian Reading Practices, Brian J. Wright shows that people were reading to each other all the time–at home, in… Read more

Human beings seem to have a need for rituals at some level.  Religions are traditionally the source of those rituals.  So what do you do if you don’t have a religion?  A new online venture is rushing into that void, offering to create rituals for secularists. Religious rituals mark and heighten the significance of certain milestone events in life:  coming of age (confirmation), getting married (weddings), the birth of a baby (baptism), death (funerals).  In addition, churches provide rituals for… Read more

Carl Trueman, in the course of his post If Only Francis Were Luther that we blogged about yesterday made an intriguing point about how there are many different ways of classifying Christians: There are many ways of dividing up the various traditions that claim the name “Christian.” One is the classic Roman Catholic–Protestant divide over the issue of authority. A more subtle distinction is between those who regard Christianity as fundamentally dogmatic and those who regard it as essentially pragmatic. In… Read more

The fertility rate in the United States has taken a nose-dive, dropping to 1.76 births per woman, below the replacement rate.  The decline is across the board:  among single women and married women; younger women and older women; and the rate for racial minorities has declined the most of all.  And yet, studies show that most of these women want more children. From Lyman Stone of the Institute for Family Studies,  Baby Bust:  Fertility is Declining the Most among Minority… Read more

A number of observers are comparing Pope Francis to Martin Luther.  Both are reformers of the Church!  Catholic conservatives who resent how the Pope is seemingly trying to change the church’s teachings on marriage, homosexuality, and various traditional practices are making this comparison and treating it as a bad thing.  Liberals and ecumenists are treating it as a good thing.  (See, for example, this.) But Carl Trueman sees a different comparison.  From If Only Francis Were Luther, in First Things: With… Read more

Love in the Ruins (1972) is a dark, comic, disturbing, and yet profoundly Christian novel by the late Catholic author Walker Percy. “It’s all there in that one book,” said William F. Buckley, “what’s happening to us and why.” Baylor theology professor Ralph C. Wood discusses the novel and how it addresses our present times in his article for American Conservative entitled  Walker Percy’s Funny and Frightening Prophecy. In the course of his review, Wood sums up in two paragraphs the root of… Read more

Memorial Day should include memories.  The holiday was established specifically to remember those who died defending their country.  In some parts of the country, that observance has broadened to include also remembering other family members and friends who have died.  The custom is to visit the cemeteries where they were buried, putting flowers on their graves. This year, now that my wife and I live in our ancestral homeland of Oklahoma, we took that custom seriously.  In the weeks leading up… Read more

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