Tag Archive: Christianity


Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are “mythologized history.”  In other words, they think that around the start of the first century a controversial Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef gathered a following and his life and teachings provided the seed that grew into Christianity.

At the same time, these scholars acknowledge that many Bible stories like the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and women at the tomb borrow and rework mythic themes that were common in the Ancient Near East, much the way that screenwriters base new movies on old familiar tropes or plot elements. In this view, a “historical Jesus” became mythologized. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-128 – Michael’s Blog

Lost in the venomous arguments that have recently been flying back and forth between Muslims and atheists – on HBO and on op-ed pages, in the United States and beyond – is just how much these two marginalized, underrepresented groups have in common.

According to a Pew poll conducted this year, Muslims and atheists are the two least favorably viewed religious or ethical groups in the US. Both communities are severely underrepresented in the general population – roughly 2% of Americans identify as atheists, compared to 1% for Muslims. Both face rising levels of animosity from the general public. And both tend to be defined by the loudest voices within their communities. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Oc – Michael’s Blog

Pope Francis on Sunday beatified Pope Paul VI, concluding the remarkable meeting of bishops debating family issues that drew parallels to the tumultuous reforms of the Second Vatican Council which Paul oversaw and implemented.

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI was on hand for the Mass, which took place just hours after Catholic bishops approved a document charting a more pastoral approach to ministering to Catholic families.

They failed to reach consensus on the two most divisive issues at the synod: on welcoming gays and divorced and civilly remarried couples. But the issues remain up for discussion ahead of another meeting of bishops next year. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-NE – Michael’s Blog

When Pope Francis opened the Extraordinary General Assembly Synod of Bishops to discuss the role of the family in the Catholic context on Sunday, he opened the biggest can of worms in his still-young papacy.

It is expected to pit hard-core Catholic conservatives who prefer to hang on to the Church’s traditional doctrine on family matters against liberal Catholic clergy who would prefer to see a loosening of some of the rules, especially those that keep lapsed Catholics away in droves. The skirmishing here is expected to help define the battles in the even more important Ordinary Synod of Bishops scheduled for October 2015.

Of the 252 participants now gathered in Rome, 191 so-called Synod Fathers are eligible to vote on issues ranging from whether divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to take communion to whether annulments should be easier to obtain. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Jl – Michael’s Blog

Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are “mythologized history.”  In other words, they think that around the start of the first century a controversial Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef gathered a following and his life and teachings provided the seed that grew into Christianity.

At the same time, these scholars acknowledge that many Bible stories like the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and women at the tomb borrow and rework mythic themes that were common in the Ancient Near East, much the way that screenwriters base new movies on old familiar tropes or plot elements. In this view, a “historical Jesus” became mythologized. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-BD – Michael’s Blog

As Europe’s rulers, France’s embattled president Hollande in the lead, watch themselves destroy the European Dream of a united, socially responsible example to the rest of the world, swaying like snakes to the tune of the US charmer, ordinary citizens, some trained soldiers, others channeling their grandfathers who fought in Spain against Hitler’s ally Franco, are joining the pro-Russian minority in Eastern Ukraine, determined, like them, that Nazis ‘no pasaran’.[tag]

Ignoring this replay of history, the media features other young people who, reacting to rejection by a culture of ‘anything goes’ that contradicts their traditional mores, join intolerant versions of Islam that some equate with Nazism, but which is closer to born again Christianity and other orthodoxies claiming to speak in the name of a superior power. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Br – Michael’s Blog

Before I became a father, at the age of 36, I never suspected that adopting a young child, Nathan, would so powerfully dismantle my fortress-like evangelical beliefs. Nor did I anticipate the storm of turmoil, anger, and grief I would soon experience, as I relived my own childhood and confronted the dogmas I grew up with.

Nathan’s exuberant ADHD personality challenged and enchanted me and my wife from the day we first saw him. Nathan lived most of the first five years of his life in a dimly lit orphanage in western Ukraine. I will never forget the frigid November morning we first visited him at the orphanage. Although Nathan had never seen us or had any contact with us before, he dashed toward us with raised hands, exclaiming “mama, tata!” and kissed us on our cheeks. He instantly melted my heart. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-qr – Michael’s Blog

When God spoke to Abraham, it was to instruct him to sacrifice his own child. When God spoke to Moses, it was to instruct him to set his people free. When God spoke to Julianna Battenfield, it was to make sure she didn’t incur too much student loan debt while attending law school.

While many of us know the gnashing of teeth that comes from taking out tens of thousands of dollars to pay for college, Battenfield viewed it as a challenge. Rather than deal with decades of loan repayments, why not set up a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding campaign to simply have other people pay for her to go to school? It worked for the potato salad guy. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-kj – Michael’s Blog

It’s hard to tell if the near-constant stream of millennial-centric political think-pieces are perpetuating or reflecting growing curmudgeonly fears about the future of the country. Maybe it’s a little of both, and Fox is probably observing within its competency when it pegs more than a handful of us as “deluded narcissists” –  but it appears there’s room for some political optimism among all the moral panic and the reign of the religious right. With millennial religious and political attitudes in flux compared to our predecessors, the upcoming years could be the Christian left’s big moment.

Which isn’t to say the United States has no Christian left history — with Civil Rights and the heyday of Catholic labor in our past, there is healthy precedent — but for the millennial growing up in the age of Jesus Camp and ‘Teach the Controversy’, Christian political activity has almost always veered rightward. Yet if the Culture Wars are losing momentum in light of issues like unemployment — which 76% of millennials identified as a critical issue in a 2012 Public Religion Research Institute survey, compared with 22% who found abortion or same sex marriage critical — how will Christian millennials fall out politically? [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-go – Michael’s Blog

This week, Pew Research Center published the results of a survey conducted among 40,080 people in 40 countries between 2011 and 2013. The survey asked a simple question: Is belief in God essential to morality? While clear majorities say it is necessary, the U.S. continues to be an outlier.

In 22 of the 40 countries surveyed, the majority says it is necessary to believe in God in order to be a moral person. “This position is highly prevalent, if not universal, in Africa and the Middle East,” says the report. No surprise there, but Asian and Latin countries such as Indonesia (99 percent), Malaysia (89 percent), the Philippines (99 percent), El Salvador (93 percent), and Brazil (86 percent) all fell in the highest percentile of respondents believing belief in a god (small G) is central to having good values. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-dL – Michael’s Blog

%d bloggers like this: