That time when five women sued God and won

Everybody is familiar with the story of Noah in the Bible, but many people don’t seem to realize that the Bible actually gives us two Noahs — two different stories about two very different people named Noah. That’s odd, in part, because the story of the other Noah appears three times. And because it’s a way better story. [Read more…]

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‘Bring in the candles’

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…]

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The various endings of the Gospel of Mark (part 1)

Mark’s Gospel seems like a rough first draft, like the work of someone racing to get everything down on paper as quickly as possible. That’s reflected in the book’s abrupt ending, where it just sort of stops, mid-story. That ending was so frustrating for some later Christians that they felt compelled to give the book a proper conclusion, and now it has more endings that Peter Jackson’s “Return of the King.” [Read more…]

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She leaves her fingerprints everywhere

Some good news from Lancaster County — or, if you’re Republican candidate Ben Carson, evidence of insidious “political correctness” in Amish country. Plus: A nickname for the ages; farewell to Rick Perry; Cardinal Burke and Homeland Security; Countee Cullen; and how a theologian gets more interesting when he stops needing to satisfy people who can never be satisfied. [Read more…]

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Liberation and apocalypse in a country song

The piped-in music at the Big Box has been playing country music this week, leading to the following reflection on two distinct visions of liberation in the work of popular theologian Martina McBride. And, because I’ve read too many InterVarsity Press books over the years, I have included a list of questions for further discussion. [Read more…]

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New Horizons

We live in a world of boundaries that seem as inconceivably vast as the distances of the solar system. We have rules and roles and they stunt our imaginations, turning us into small people with small thoughts about a small God. Pentecost blows away those rules and roles and boundaries. [Read more…]

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It’s Heresy Sunday — don’t fall for the trap

The doctrine of the Trinity is a mystery. Or, more specifically, it’s an attempt at articulating mystery. You’re expected to affirm it, but anything you try to say beyond that can and will be used against you to convict you of heresy. It’s a trap, an efficient machine for the manufacture of “heresies” — with “heresy” there being defined as a failure to define the infinite in the way that orthodoxy supposes it has somehow managed to do. [Read more…]

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First contact and ‘the great disillusionment’

We humans from earth have been looking up at the stars and thinking about the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial life for a very long time. The best of this speculation — whether in stories or in more scholarly non-fiction — builds on this long tradition. Thus when Carl Sagan had Ellie Arroway and her father say, “If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space,” he was borrowing from the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1541-1601) who argued, in Burton’s paraphrase, “that he will never believe those great and huge bodies were made to no other use than this that we perceive, to illuminate the earth, a point insensible in respect of the whole.” [Read more…]

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