Sex and theology

One of the massive and ongoing projects in Christian theology is the filtering out of all the Neo-Platonism we've been ingesting ever since St. Augustine spiked the punch bowl with that stuff. Intrepid blogger Dianna Anderson tackles a smaller, but similar project -- trying to explain to American evangelicals that C.S. Lewis' pervasive Platonism isn't from the Bible. (As Lewis' own character, Prof. Digory Kirke, put it: "It's all in Plato, all in Plato: bless me, what do they teach them at … [Read more...]

Religious right pretends that Obama has a ‘God-talk’ problem

So here's a common urban legend on the religious right, stated here by Phyllis Schlafly: Every time [President Obama] recites the Declaration of Independence, he omits the word "Creator." Now we all know what's in the Declaration and it's very strange, you can't blame it on a slip of the tongue or blame it on the teleprompter because he does it all the time. It's terrible that the president keeps misquoting the Declaration. And it's especially terrible that the word he keeps leaving out -- … [Read more...]

Re: The ToJo God-blogging challenge

Tony Jones taps his foot impatiently, muttering that much of the response to his challenge, thus far, has been "throat-clearing" and "prolegomena." And he grumbles that "poetry is something of a cop-out." That's a fair cop w/r/t the two posts I've written subsequent to his challenge and explicitly in response to them. But it also ignores the odd and misleading aspect of this challenge in the first place -- the assumption that those of us lumped in here as "progressive theo-bloggers" have not … [Read more...]

God, Part 2: The problem with pronouns


(This is the second piece of my response to Tony Jones' "Challenge to Progressive Theo-bloggers." The first piece is here.) Whenever possible, I try to avoid gendered pronouns for God. Admittedly, this can sometimes make for clumsy syntax, but that clumsiness is a feature, not a bug. Because the main point of this exercise is to force myself to be conscious of that word, "God," and not to use it casually and thereby to risk forgetting or confusing or failing to account for the fact that … [Read more...]

God, Part 1

Tony Jones has a challenge and an invitation for "all progressive theo-bloggers." Write something substantive about God. Not about Jesus, not about the Bible, but about God. I expect to fail this challenge. And I intend to fail it in several parts. For the first part, here, I'm bringing in a ringer: Wislawa Szymborska (as beautifully translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh). This does not at all do what Tony asks, but it exemplifies at least two of the several ways I am unable … [Read more...]

Two more thoughts on ‘Miracles’

A couple more stray thoughts in response to reading Tim Stafford's Miracles for the Patheos Book Club. 1. The miraculous selection of Matthias Since interest in the miraculous seems bound up with concern for evidence of direct divine intervention, I wonder why Acts 1:12-26 is usually not included as part of the discussion of biblical miracles. This is the story of Matthias' selection as a disciple following the unpleasant departure of Judas. Here's the key part: So they proposed two, … [Read more...]

‘Making the text say things that it never meant’

One of my pet-peeve misconceptions is the notion that an illiterately literal reading of Genesis 1-11 is somehow an expression of "conservative" theology. It isn't. Of course this "literal" belief in the six-day creation of a young earth isn't liberal theology either. It's just bad theology. Not orthodox, not conservative or liberal, just wrong -- just a weirdly misleading way to read this text. Bad theology and wrong theology shouldn't be blithely equated with conservative theology. … [Read more...]

Golden Rule jokes and porpoise costumes

James McGrath and Hemant Mehta both point us to this cartoon, from Zach Weiner's wonderful Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. I'll bite. I'm a big fan of SMBC comics, but I think this one gets a bit muddled. I don't think fellow in this cartoon poses any real problem for the Golden Rule. Yeah, OK, if you insist on a lawyerly reading of one particular formulation of it, then there's a potential problem here. But that problem comes from a (funny) misreading and misapplication of the rule, … [Read more...]