7 Quick Takes (2/11/11)


Yesterday, I posted about why I have a big problem with atheist activist P.Z. Myers.  A lot of my commenters have turned out to disagree with me that it is wrong for atheists to desecrate the Eucharist.  I’m going to respond to some of their arguments in a post that will go up around 9am today, but, in the meantime, feel free to weigh in.


One of the worst reported stories this week was the debut of the iPhone Confession app, so I just want to use one of these quick takes to clear up the confusion.  Here are the facts:

  • The app lets you make a list of sins you have committed
  • The app is not a substitute for the Catholic sacrament of confession
  • The app does not absolve sins or assign penances
  • The app is essentially the same thing as an examination of conscience worksheet, which have been used by Catholics to prepare for confession for years

Now you know!


And speaking of responding to misrepresented news stories, I have two new articles up at the Huffington Post this week in response to the Live Action stings at Planned Parenthood.  I’d appreciate it if you took a look:

Women Are Casualties in High Profile Abortion Fight
When medical regulations are used as weapons in the fight over abortion, women and doctors get hurt.

Planned Parenthood Slammed for Telling the Truth
Live Action attacked Planned Parenthood for telling people how to exercise their medical rights.  Why should doctors be expected to lie to patients?


If I’m doing a round of clarifications, I want to put in a plug for an article my friend Ben sent me.  Every time I talk to Ben about theology, I can follow along for a bit, and it sounds reasonable, until suddenly everything goes upside-down or sideways.  He sent me this essay (“Way Beyond Atheism: God Does Not (Not) Exist“) by Paul Wallace to help with the concept of a God without Being, and I figured I’d pass it on to all of you for comment as well.


Clarifications in translation can be tricky little buggers.  Check out this fascinating article from Christianity Today about how missionaries to Islamic countries are justifying dropping the phrase “Son of God” from their biblical translations.  Here’s a quote:

The problem, however, far surpasses a theological argument between Muslims and Christians. In fact, the Qur’an (At-Tawba 9:30) says God curses anyone who would utter the ridiculous blasphemy that Jesus could be ibnullâh(“a son of God”). Not only do Muslims disagree with Christians about the identity and nature of Jesus, they also incur a curse for even mentioning the phrase “Son of God.”So what can translators do to overcome this particular stumbling block? One option is to stick with “Son of God” and deal directly with the objection—if Muslims overcome their fears to begin with. Alternatively, translators may find a word for son in the native language that carries metaphorical connotations. (Translations that opt for a phrase other than the literal “Son of God” commonly include it in the footnotes to preserve connection to the biblical authors’ word choice.) Or, they can nuance it with a more descriptive phrase, such as “spiritual Son of God” or “beloved Son who comes from God.”



If you were trying to clarify your religion and distill it down to a single sentence, how would you do it?  A blogger asked, and a passel of theologians and pastors answered.  J.L Wall of The League of Ordinary Gentleman read through the list and asked an interesting question:

None of them take a path similar to Rabbi Hillel’s famous line — “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary; go and learn it.”

…Intriguingly (to me, at least), their replies are all the summary of a narrative: Creation, fall, God’s love, redemption/Jesus. My question (wanting to avoid arguments over the nature/ethics of various religions), is this: does this indicate a general distinction between the two religious traditions over the literary nature of their respective Bibles?


This last one’s a bit of a stretch for a theme of clarifications, but the article is awesome, and I’ve made it this far, so I’m sticking it out.  In “Satan’s Accountant” Claire Hoffman wrote a fascination profile of the Mormon who was assigned by the state of Utah to sort out the financial records of the polygamist sect of cult leader Warren Jeffs.  So he’s, uh, clarifying their finances.  Yeah.

Anyway, the article is great; here’s an excerpt:

Now Wisan is in the midst of trying to do something that, to his knowledge, has never been done: set up a functioning economy on the still-smoldering ashes of a theocracy. It is up to him to privatize the trust’s assets and get these radical believers on the grid, fiscally speaking. Wielding the blunt instrument of his accounting trade, he’s trying to use homeownership, property taxes, subdivision ordinances, and a few fire hydrants and other infrastructure amenities to bring these outsiders into the modern economic world.

But those he’s trying to help—Jeffs’ followers, including the police chief, two mayors, and virtually every resident—have tried to foil him at each turn. Meanwhile, Jeffs continues to advise community leaders, despite the fact that he is serving two consecutive five-year-to-life sentences in a Utah state prison for rape as an accomplice.

The polygamists believe Wisan is an agent of the devil, he says, and want nothing to do with him. They came up with a name for him almost as soon as he arrived: state-ordained bishop—S.O.B. for short.

[Seven Quick Takes is a blog carnival run by Jen of Conversion Diary]

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  • Thanks for your comment on my blog, Leah! I'm glad you stopped by — don't be a stranger!

  • Major yes on the iConfession app! It only got approval from the Bishop of Indiana, so it is amusing that people hear that one Bishop gives it the a-okay and it is Vatican-approved! Oh, ho, ho, not so fast, rest of the world! :)That is a fascinating article, but I am very wary of it– I understand their reasoning, but, honestly, that borders on heresy. Jesus is the Son of God, fully human and fully divine, and part of the Trinity, and to suggest otherwise just isn't truth.Have a great weekend, Leah!