Happy 5th Anniversary Patheos

Happy 5th Anniversary Patheos May 5, 2014


Patheos.com is celebrating its fifth anniversary today. (I’d be celebrating this anniversary of Patheos even if the only thing they’d done over the past five years was pull together that impressive line-up of bloggers in their atheist channel.)

One of my favorite books is an odd “religious etiquette handbook” called How to Be a Perfect Stranger. It’s enormously useful as only that — a handbook of “religious etiquette” and a helpful guide to how to behave respectfully when you’re in an unfamiliar setting, like a wedding or funeral or vigil in some faith tradition other than your own. But really it goes beyond that, acknowledging the fact of religious pluralism and equipping us to be not just perfect strangers, but good neighbors.

At its best, Patheos aims for a similar neighborly respect amidst robust diversity. That’s a worthy goal. Like most worthy goals, it’s also not easy, but over the past five years I’ve seen Patheos move closer to living up to its aspirations, and I expect it will be doing even better by the time its 10th anniversary rolls around.

To mark its anniversary, Patheos has asked the bloggers hosted here to post our “Top 5” posts. This is kind of cool, because it makes this week a good time to introduce yourself to the wide array of blogs, voices and people who write for the various channels here at Patheos. Just look at ’em all — an all-you-can-read smorgasblog. Click away at that link and you can find all kinds of new and unfamiliar writers, with their “Top 5” posts conveniently laid out to give you a good idea of which sites you’d like to come back to in the future. Neat.

Anyway, here are five(ish) of the “Top”-ish posts from here at slacktivist, chosen with help from the comments here in this post (thank you).

1. False witnesses & False witnesses 2:

The motive of this small core-group of rumor-mongers is thus not terribly complicated or difficult to understand. It’s not even terribly interesting. They were lying for the sake of money. Nothing novel or remarkable about that.

Far more interesting than those greedy sleazeballs, though, are the members of the much larger group of gossips who enthusiastically spread this malicious and obviously false story. This larger group has no financial interest at stake, so what’s in it for them? What motivates someone to accept the invitation to participate in deception, to accept an obvious lie and then to voluntarily tie their own credibility to something so incredible?

To try to understand these cheerful gossips, I’d like to turn to an equally strange, if less malicious, group of enthusiasts — the Anti Kitten-Burning Coalition.

2. Slavery, seafood, sexuality and the Southern Bible

It may seem like I’ve drifted far, far afield from my original subject. I started out by discussing Peter’s vision in Acts 10 and somehow I’ve wound up at the Colfax Massacre.

Well, yeah. Because it’s all the same subject. The question I’m exploring about Peter’s vision is how we go about understanding what that vision means. Can we accept Peter’s interpretation of it, even though that requires us to change the literal words that God spoke to him? And there — at the intersection of biblical literalism and meaning — I as an American must also come inevitably and inexorably to Colfax and terrorism and the Klan and all the cruel violence of a history shaped by slavery.

3. Mischief follows in partisan Bible translations

Wycliffe and the majority of English translators who followed him all read this verse the way that it had been read for centuries before there ever existed such a thing as the English language into which it could be translated. … They translated it to mean what it had long been understood to mean, and in the only way that it makes sense to translate it in the context of the rest of this chapter.

The New American Standard Bible translated this passage that same way up until 1977. But something changed between 1977 and 1995 — something that had nothing to do with scholarship, language, accuracy, fidelity or readability.

American politics had changed between 1977 and 1995. It had polarized and radicalized millions of American Protestants, rallying them around a single issue and thus, as intended, rallying them behind a single political party.

In 1977, the sort of American Protestants who purchased most Bibles couldn’t be summed up in a single word. But by 1995, they could be: “abortion.”

4. (Tie — I’m cheating) Holy Saturday and Falling Flat

The girls, to their credit, are skeptical. What do these people mean when they say Pop is with Grandma? And do I really think he somehow saw the bed and the pictures and flowers, that he somehow knows how lovely the room was? Where is he now? What happened to him? In that sleep, what dreams may come?

These are questions I can’t answer. None of us can. And so I tell what truth I have.

… While there is much that we do not and cannot know, if you want to know what I think or guess or believe or hope, it is this: The universe is governed by love.

5. Jackie at the crossroads

Now Jackie has to make a choice. The actual facts do not appear to be in dispute, but she is invested in this story. She has told it before, several times. She has endured quite a bit of discomfort at airports because she believed it to be true. Forced to choose by the Snopes page confronting her on Dan’s phone, she will either have to disavow or double-down.

When it comes to it, this kind of moral crossroads is rarely experienced as a difficult dilemma. A choice must be made, but that choice will almost always be based on the kind of person making it — based on the character and habits and practice that have shaped that person up until this moment of choosing. A good Jackie will take one path, a bad Jackie will take the other.

Thank you for reading.





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