What Gives God the Right To Be God? That He Makes Us Happy?

What gives God the right to be God? That he makes us happy? And if he doesn’t? Did someone higher upstairs or those of us downstairs give God the green light to be God, or did God take it upon him or herself to be crowned the Almighty? Beyond these questions, does God’s official status grant total access to do with the world and us whatever he, she or it pleases? Does God have permission to smash babies’ heads against… Read more

What Gives You the Right to Be a Christian? Better Yet, Who Gives You the Right?

What are you willing to die for? That tells you what you really believe. John Henry Newman wrote in “Secular Knowledge Not a Principle of Action,” The heart is commonly reached, not through the reason, but through the imagination, by means of direct impressions, by the testimony of facts and events, by history, by description. Persons influence us, voices melt us, looks subdue us, deeds inflame us. Many a man will live and die upon a dogma: no man will… Read more

“If you see a Buddha on the road, kill him.” What about Jesus?

“If you see a Buddha on the road, kill him.” What about Jesus? I got into a conversation on this topic the other morning over breakfast with a Buddhist friend. The exchange has lingered on to this day, and no doubt, will last a lifetime of discussions with my friend. Before proceeding, it is important to try and place the quotation in context. I found a reflection on this quotation online. According to one interpreter, Dyung Le, The context of this… Read more

Does God Wear a Toupee? Thoughts on Political Candidates and Divine Despots

The Republican Party is coming to terms with the near inevitable after Donald Trump’s landmark victory in Indiana last night: “Donald Trump is its presumptive presidential nominee.” So claims a CNN article titled “GOP wakes up to Trump victory—and plenty of questions.” Some of the questions are rather hairy. Like the top of Trump’s head, one might wonder which of his varying claims are more like a toupee, and which are for real. For the debate on Trump’s hair, refer… Read more

We Have Never Talked with Mere Mortals. So, Let’s Elevate the Conversation.

In his essay “The Weight of Glory” in the book by the same title, C. S. Lewis claims that you and I “have never talked to a mere mortal.” [C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: HarperCollins, originally published in 1946), page 46.] Many of the essays in the volume were sermons Lewis delivered during WWII. During times of war, we see the best and worst in one another. People’s true colors are often manifest during times of… Read more

Did Jesus Come to Save Blue-Green Bacteria?

Renowned paleontologist and devout Roman Catholic Prof. Peter Dodson from the University of Pennsylvania spoke to a small group of Christians on dinosaurs and paleontology last Saturday evening at a museum in the Portland area. Earlier in the day, he spoke on faith and scientific method at the conference “Church and Science: Partners for the Common Good.” Prof. Dodson made many insightful remarks at each talk. One of the most penetrating reflections to me went something like this: “If scientists… Read more

Urban Planning: What Are the Unintended Consequences?

Gentrification benefits “urban pioneers,” but what about those who are native urbanites? Yes, clean streets, cafes, shops, art studios, and shorter commutes to work in the city are very nice to contemporary Lewis and Clark pioneers. However, for all the fresh faces and new wealth, we lose out all too often on the cultural riches of the displaced, vibrant traditional communities. Such cultural loss is an unintended consequence. Many who are forced to abandon their long-standing communities and migrate from… Read more

Mental Illness Is Not a Sin. So Why the Shame?

Mental illness is not a sin. So why the shame? According to Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT, “Shame conflates feeling ‘bad’ with being ‘bad.’” “You feel bad, therefore you are bad” (See the article, “When You Feel Shame About Your Mental Illness” by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. at PsychCentral). Shame causes us to isolate ourselves from others. It does not help that in our culture, we often associate mental illness with weakness and character flaws. There is also the fear that sometimes those… Read more

Messiahs & Monsters: Which Do We Project?

Like messiahs, monsters bridge divides, including those between disciplines. As David Skal claims, “Since it is in the nature of monsters to bridge divides, it should be no wonder that they offer an (un)natural tool for cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural studies, which almost, by definition, require some crucial encounter with some kind of Other.”[1] People often live with clear boundaries, like vampires that are neither living nor dead, but undead. Messiah figures supernaturally rather than unnaturally bridge divides, like Jesus as… Read more

What Gives You the Right to Be a Christian?

The story is told of a logician/mathematician at a university where Karl Barth once taught, demanding that the Swiss theologian answer the following question, “What gives you the right to teach at this university?” Barth responded, “The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”[1] Some might scoff at Barth’s answer. Some might be surprised. After all, the answer comes across as, well, so unscientific. But is it? I supposed it all depends on how Barth—or others making a similar claim—understood… Read more

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