Astrology Is Malarkey

When it comes to astrology, I’m with Fred: it’s hooey. When it comes to Patheos’s commitment to pluralism, and thus to an Astrology Channel, I’m also with Fred:

“The proposed mechanism is all out of proportion with the described effects,” vorjack says of astrology. And I agree.

The impetus for that post was the introduction of Patheos’ new Astrology channel.

I’m not a fan of astrology. I do not believe in it — do not believe it is true or helpful. As such I regard it with suspicion as a vehicle for hucksters.

But then I’m a Christian — an American evangelical Christian. So I’m not in any position to dismiss a belief system just because it may have been exploited by disingenuous hucksters over the years.

Plus I admire Patheos’ commitment to genuine, robust religious and spiritual pluralism. And that means celebrating such pluralism in the particular as well as in the abstract. More voices and more perspectives is a Good Thing, even when that means, by definition, more voices and more perspectives with which I disagree.

Read the rest at Slacktivist: Your fate is not written in the stars.

The Problem with Web Ads

I know that some of you are complaining about the pop-ups. When I came to Patheos, I negotiated no pop-ups on my blog, so they’re working on turning them off. You’ll still see them on other Patheos pages (even if you have a pop-up blocker, it seems).

There’s another problem with ads: they sometimes do not represent my views. I’m guessing you already know this, but I want to make it clear. Here, for example, is one ad that was on my blog this week:

“Liberal Melisa Franzen Is Out Of Touch” it proclaims. It’s paid for by a PAC, and is in a rotation of ads served up by Google on my blog. That is, this ad was not sold directly to Patheos; it’s in a slot of rotating Google ads.

Here’s the thing: I’m voting for Melisa Franzen. She is not out of touch with Minnesota values (whatever the hell those are). Franzen is a centrist, business-friendly Democrat who is running for State Senate against a right-wing Republican. She’s just the kind of person I want representing me.

So please, when you see political ads on my side bar, or ads for the LDS Church (cough, cough), please be discerning.

Was Mitt Romney a “Pastor”?

Last night, in the final question of the town hall-style debate, the candidates were asked how they’ve been misunderstood as men, and how they’d like to correct that misperception. In his response, Mitt Romney said that he’d served as a “pastor” of a church:

My — my passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God. And I believe we’re all children of the same God. I believe we have a responsibility to care for one another. I — I served as a missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. I’ve sat across the table from people who were out of work and worked with them to try and find new work or to help them through tough times. [transcript]

I hadn’t heard of a Mormon man being called a “pastor” before, so I tweeted my misgivings. It seemed to me that Romney was attempting the normalize one of the oddities of Mormon church life — that there are no pastor, just bishops. An interesting and illuminating round of tweets with Mormons and ex-Mormons ensued (click on the images to be taken to the actual tweets):

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Mormonism No Longer a Cult, according to Billy Graham

Billy Graham met with Mitt Romney last week. According to the press secretaries of each, Graham told Romney he’d do “all I can” to help get Romney elected. It seems that one of those things is to remove the long-standing statements about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints being a cult from the BGEA website:

A Billy Graham Evangelistic Association article labeling Mormonism a cult has been removed from the group’s website following the 93-year-old televangelist’s meeting with the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney last week.

Graham pledged to do “all I can” to help Romney get elected during the meeting

The Citizen-Times at 4:56 p.m. on Thursday captured the article, which said cults are “Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists, and others.”

Graham met with Romney at his Montreat home just hours before. The article is not on the association’s Website today. [Mormonism ‘cult’ claim vanishes from Graham site | The Asheville Citizen-Times |]

Some, like Steve Knight, have questioned whether Billy is being played like a puppet by son and heir, Franklin, in these, his last days. According to Steve,

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