How should we understand the three “Abrahamic” religions?

NIHAL ASKS:Why aren't the three Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) one main religion?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:Nihal posted his query while preparing a 9th grade school report, and unfortunately this response comes too late to help. On the specific question of"why" these three faiths exist the way they are the best a mere journalist can say is "God only knows." However the interrelationships, overlaps, and differences among these great religions are certainly worth … [Read More...]

Is Islam a “religion of peace”?

DAVID ASKS:Where is the Muslim peace movement? Put another way, if Islam is a peace-loving religion where are the Muslim voices for peace?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:"Islam is a religion that preaches peace," U.S. President Barack Obama told CBS last September, and likewise President George W. Bush's mosque speech after 9-11 said "Islam is peace." Yet there's continual violence committed in the name of Islam. Analysts are abuzz over a major article in The Atlantic by Graeme Wood, who … [Read More...]

Should religious fasting be kept secret?

HAEVEN ASKS:I'm beginning to fast and was wondering if I should hide it from people because of the verse that says to. I don't know if I can tell people without the intent to show off.THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:We're heading into Lent 2015, the annual season when Christians are most likely to undertake fasting, which is part of most religious traditions though now somewhat neglected in the West. For Christians, such times of abstinence from food are a spiritual discipline intended to … [Read More...]

How did the Romney era affect his Mormon church?

KEN ASKS:What has been the impact on Mormons of the burst of intense attention they received during the Romney presidential bids?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This was posted before Mitt Romney took himself out of the Republicans' crowded 2016 steeplechase. But this is a good moment to analyze the era when his presidential ambitions brought new attention to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed "Mormon" or "LDS"). Not that he's disappearing. Romney remains a player … [Read More...]

Circumcision: When, How, Who, What, Why?

JOHN ASKS:When did circumcision start and how was God involved? How did its use evolve to today's practice?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:In the Jewish faith, ritual circumcision of males (bris) to remove the foreskin of the penis has been a requirement ever since God designated it as a "sign of the covenant" with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-14). So God has been "involved" for some 4,000 years now.Anthropologists tell us that circumcision was practiced long before Abraham, across the globe … [Read More...]

Why doesn’t the Bible mention dinosaurs?

TOM SAYS: I am confused when the Bible talks about God creating the world in 7 days but there is no evidence of humans living with dinosaurs.THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This problem arises if "creationism" controls Bible interpretation. That term has come to identify those Protestants whose strictly literal reading of the Bible's Book of Genesis requires a "young earth." That is, if God created the cosmos and all species 10,000 years ago at most, then humanity and dinosaurs must have lived … [Read More...]

How can this searcher find “the right church”?

KEVIN ASKS:I have been struggling for some time now searching for the right church for myself and family. . . . Please help me sort my understanding of truth and find a place to congregate and worship. I feel as though I have been absent too long.THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This request characterizes the church-shopping by many would-be returnees and is worth some attention. Kevin says family members share his ideas as discussed below. The Religion Guy e-mailed for further information … [Read More...]

What is Buddhism’s appeal for Americans?

DANIEL ASKS:What aspects attract the many religious Americans that convert to Buddhism?THE RELIGION GUY RESPONDS:Before discussing what "attracts" let's consider how "many" Americans have adopted this venerable faith. The over-all U.S. context is a deep divide between native-born converts (presumably Daniel's interest) and Asian immigrants, also American Buddhists but not new "converts." Richard Hughes Seager of Hamilton College calls this split "the most prominent feature of … [Read More...]

Was Christian Communion celebrated on the moon?

DAVID ASKS:Do you know if it's true Christian Communion was celebrated during the first moon landing?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:Yes. And that Apollo 11 Communion followed a related event on Christmas Eve of 1968 during Apollo 8's first manned flight to the moon. The earlier flight didn't attempt a lunar landing but the astronauts transmitted a breathtaking live telecast of moon photographs while in orbit.Then William Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman took turns reading the … [Read More...]

Bible puzzler: Why did God spurn Cain’s offering?

JANE ASKS:Why did God spurn Cain's offering?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:Some weeks ago our blog treated the classic Bible question of where Cain, Adam and Eve's first son, found his wife. In response, The Guy received this about another Cain puzzler from the Book of Genesis, chapter 4.Here's the story from  "Genesis: Translation and Commentary" (Norton, 1996), a euphonious (look it up) rendition by Robert Alter. Cain was "a tiller of the soil" who "brought from the fruit of the soil … [Read More...]

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