‘The Bible is really clear about usury’

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The problem is not that the Bible is lacking in clarity. The problem, rather, tends to be a surfeit of clarity. If you turn to the Bible looking for an unambiguous, definitive and categorical statement on almost any given point, you’ll be sure to find one. That would solve your problem … until you realize that you can find more than one, and that they’re not all the same. [Read more...]

Jesus is not like Joseph. God is not like Pharaoh.

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John Hagee’s weird little “prophetic overlay” about Joseph and Jesus thus highlights the way his “Bible prophecy” scheme turns the book of Revelation on its head. It portrays God as Pharaoh. It portrays Jesus as Joseph — saving the world by enslaving it by force. [Read more...]

No time to wallow in the mire

Bishop Alma Bridwell White Supremacist.

This started out as a series of bland jokes about the idea of my parents listening to The Doors, then, via a short trip down memory lane, it took an odd turn into religious history and a consideration of white supremacist theology. Not sure exactly how that happened. [Read more...]

Southern Baptist leaders call for war … or something

An open letter signed by the 17 most recent leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention calls for the U.S. to begin some kind of military intervention against ISIS. None of these 17 Southern Baptist leaders apparently bothered to check to see if maybe the U.S. was already doing that — maybe since last summer, maybe? [Read more...]

When fantasy role-playing replaces faith (cont’d.)

A typical Unitarian church service.

Sustaining the kind of fantasy Linda Wall invites her readers to indulge in takes an enormous amount of imagination. It requires the collaborative effort of a community of fantasists who agree to cooperate by reinforcing one another’s fantasies. And it requires a willingness to reinterpret every mundane detail of the world around you into something fraught with all the drama of the pageant you’re creating in your head. [Read more...]

When fantasy role-playing replaces faith

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The culture warrior faith of the religious right is sometimes criticized for being overly negative. That’s a misconception. All the things it seems obsessively negative about are really of no consequence to them. Their message is actually overwhelmingly positive. It is a steady stream of hyperbolic, unwavering, unquestioning praise and celebration. All of it directed toward themselves and their own pious righteousness. [Read more...]

Who was more Catholic: St. Francis or Torquemada?

Slouching

This framework grants an advantage to one kind of religion over the other. One strain is rewarded with the presumption of authenticity. The other is punished with the presumption of a lack of conviction. That grants the former greater influence within the religious tradition, and greater influence in the larger society. I’d prefer we didn’t do that. [Read more...]

The framework of fundamentalist propaganda distorts how we view every religion

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I think of this as a Yeatsian framework because it privileges the supposedly “more authentic” forms of religion due to their passionate intensity, while disregarding the supposedly “less authentic” due to their imagined lack of all conviction. And because it admires the passionate intensity of what I consider the worst aspects of religion while dismissing what I consider the best of religion as nothing more than that lack of conviction. [Read more...]


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