A million sad stories on the side of the road


How to have a more authentic, abundant faith in the redeeming power of bombs and hand grenades. Plus: A bombshell DEET-free mosquito repellant; Jordan Anderson’s epic mic-drop; a Calvinist limerick; and the strange-but-true career of a 19th-century ex-Mormon professional Indian. [Read more...]

My sweet embraceable you


“As Blanche rattled off song titles, LaVey doodled away on two or three of his keyboards at once: ‘Somebody Loves Me,’ ‘Embraceable You,’ even ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’ … He finished his medley with a great flourish and looked up. ‘Gershwin was a good Satanist,’ he said.” [Read more...]

Proximity, affinity, and mutuality


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” the epistle says. But anywhere and everywhere are beyond my finite ability to comprehend, to act or to pay attention. Fortunately, the letter continues, and the following sentences point toward something that can help us to move beyond the prejudices of our affinities or the paralysis of our finitude. [Read more...]

Going back in time to kill Verlensky as an infant


The recent wave of discussion about whether or not to go back in time to kill baby Hitler really doesn’t have anything to do with the contingencies and mechanics of time travel. It has to do with the contingencies and mechanics of killing — of violence. Could we fix everything if we just made sure to kill the right people? [Read more...]

Sunday WTF?

“If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the young woman’s father, and she shall become his wife. Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives.” [Read more...]

‘Bring in the candles’

Portrait of Abraham Davenport by Ralph Earl, 1788.

According to a ridiculously incoherent Internet rumor, an alignment of the planets will cast the entire earth into darkness for 15 days, starting tomorrow. That’s not going to happen, but it reminds us of a time when something like it really did happen — New England’s Dark Day, on May 19, 1780. The sun failed, the sky grew dark at noon, and no one had any idea why. [Read more...]

Paris and Beirut and …

After calamity, we seem to wish that someone, somewhere, would say something else, something more. We want to hear someone explain this, explain how to correct it somehow, how to prevent it from ever happening again (or, less nobly, how to prevent it from ever happening to us). And there can be a pressure, or a temptation, to try to be the person who says all of that. Our desperate need to hear something that will make sense of it all can lead us to try to say something that might appear to make sense of it all. [Read more...]

Lectionary line (11.14)

Here are my predictions for the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary you’ll be hearing preached on in sermons this Sunday, ranked from least- to most-likely. [Read more...]

Just before it all blows to pieces

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To tea-party Republicans in Maine, Episcopalians are dangerous “anti-Christian bigots.” Plus: An inspiring conversion narrative from Libby Anne; Scarlett Johansson reads the Bible; Mansonite white terrorists; and the red-cup guy battles imaginary Satanists while real Satanists take “GetReligion” to school. [Read more...]

Al Mohler’s pompous piety can’t make chicken soup out of the chicken-poop argument invented to justify slavery

LEFT: Abysmally, utterly, perversely and completely wrong on the most important biblical and theological question of his day. RIGHT: Still repeating the same argument. Still wrong.

Al Mohler is not saying anything Southern Baptists haven’t said for 170 years. He is only taking their argument and altering a handful of words in five paragraphs to apply it to a new subject. By restoring his op-ed to something more like the original ca.-1845 template Mohler is copying from and re-applying we can see not just how and why Mohler’s argument is wrong. We can see how and why Mohler himself has to know that it has been wrong all along. [Read more...]