January 21, 2019

Today is Martin Luther King day, and the activity of King and other civil rights activists, the inaction and maintenance of the status quo by most Christians, and the outright racism and violence practiced by some, all illustrate a key point: actions put theologies to the test. Morgan Guyton wrote a post on that theme in connection with the anniversary of Columbus’ “discovery” of the New World, that deserves to be considered more generally and not just in connection with Columbus. And… Read more

January 20, 2019

One of the things that struck me when reading John Scalzi’s novel Redshirts was how much theology was woven into the fabric (of those red shirts). And the fact that the central character had attended an alien seminary and, despite some ridicule and suggestion that this primed him to believe ridiculous weird stuff, his character struck just the right balance between openness to the seemingly absurd and skepticism towards the seemingly obvious to get at a surprising underlying truth. Perhaps Redshirts is… Read more

January 19, 2019

Jonathan Bernier explains how historians’ judgment about Jesus’ historicity works: All historical argumentation is probabilistic. This is also to say that any and all historical hypotheses are subject to revision or dispute. Hypotheses subject to revision are hypotheses whose probability sufficiently approaches 1.0 that we can treat them as virtually certain. Such hypotheses include the hypothesis that Germany invaded Poland in September of 1939, or that Jesus of Nazareth existed. Such hypotheses are virtually certain not necessarily because there are… Read more

January 18, 2019

I have had a draft of a blog post for a while, which was initially entitled Saint John Coltrane, but expanded to touch on enough other topics that I broadened the title. But an upcoming event in Indianapolis made me think I should finally finish and publish the post. And so I’m doing so, starting with the details of the event in question: A Love Supreme – John Coltrane Tribute – Indianapolis Jazz Collective presented by Indy Jazz Fest Sunday,… Read more

January 17, 2019

Andy Hickman kindly reviewed my book Theology and Science Fiction on Goodreads. Here’s how his review starts: James McGrath asks a lot of questions – great questions, necessary questions! This is the book that I have long wanted to write myself, let alone read. McGrath’s observations echo those that many of us have percolating within our minds and hearts. Over the past year I have read and re-read this book, often pausing after having looked at a paragraph – wishing I… Read more

January 16, 2019

This week’s podcast features Thomas Jay Oord. His latest book is called God Can’t, and the title sums up the central idea of the book pretty well. I mentioned the book in my Sunday school class last week, having already recorded the podcast and knowing it would be released this week. We found ourselves talking about the very pressing issue that drives the argument of the book, namely the tendency of religious people to interpret tragic and horrific events in… Read more

January 15, 2019

You know the experience. You are reading something that should be familiar, and yet something new and unexpected jumps out at you. That’s what happened to me not long ago, while reading the Greek New Testament in church on my phone. One word literally jumped out at me. Well, it literally jumped out at me in the sense that a pop-up window jumps out at you. The word ἐναγκαλισάμενος occurs twice in the New Testament, both times in Mark 9-10. And… Read more

January 14, 2019

I recently had a review I wrote of Kevin van Bladel’s book, From Sasanian Mandaeans to Ṣābians of the Marshes, published by the Enoch Seminar. Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite: Unfortunately, as van Bladel seeks to situate Mandaean origins in a Sasanian context, he is prone both to overstate his case, and to summarily dismiss evidence that does not fit well within the framework of his preferred scenario. For instance, the possibility that the “books of John and… Read more

January 13, 2019

From Eboo Patel’s recent article in Inside Higher Education: My larger point is this: in an era of higher ed where identity is king, diversity education often means unmooring some people from their identities while working hard to tether other people more deeply to theirs. The standard view appears to go like this: a white middle class Evangelical man ought to be unmoored from his identity, a working class black Muslim female ought to be more deeply anchored in hers…. Read more

January 12, 2019

I’ve developed a rhythm to my sharing of items of interest on social media. That includes, but is not at all limited to, my posts on this blog. I am on Facebook (where I have a page for my blog that you can find by searching for ReligionProf) and on Twitter (also as ReligionProf), as well as on LinkedIn and Instagram.  I usually use Buffer to space out that sharing, so that it is not all happening just in concentrated… Read more

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