Essay Archives View as a list
24 May 2006: On Viewing “The Da Vinci Code”
Separating fact from fantasy is not always easy. This is especially so when the two are skillfully woven together by a very competent novelist named Dan Brown and then projected onto the screen by one of Hollywood’s premier directors, Ron Howard. When this combination of fact and fantasy is then woven around Christianity’s origins and …
I have just been fired as a Jr. Hi Sunday School
teacher at the First Presbyterian Church in Oak Ridge,
TN, because I would not represent the Bible as perfect
and infallible to the children. I have lots of proof
to the contrary: I have many versions of the Bible on
my hard drive and can search any of them for any word
or phrase in a fraction of a second. It is possible
that I have found ugly and evil content of which you
are unaware. I would be pleased to send you a list of
what I have found. Apparently "The Sins of the
Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to
Reveal the God of Love" is exactly what I need. I
intend to procure a copy soon.
17 May 2006: Easter Imagined and Recreated
As I mentioned last week my lifetime study of the five Easter narratives in the New Testament (I Corinthians 15:1-58, Mark 16:1-8, Matthew 28, Luke 24 and John 20, 21, listed in their historical time order) has led me to establish four clues through which I measure the authenticity of each resurrection account. I repeat …
In one of your recent Questions & Answers a woman
asked about her friend saying "Go to God" for the
ethics on homosexuality and you interpreted this as
"go to the Bible." You asked her to question the Old
Testament principles that, as you point out, include
not only homicidal homophobia but also ruthless
misogyny and regulated slavery. Fair enough, but one
can also point to God's promise that no one who seeks
him is excluded and his refutation of the use of laws
to oppress humans. But on the point of "Go to God,"
may I share that as a gay teenage Christian (thirty
years ago), I had questions arising from the
condemnation others put on my own romantic attraction.
I didn't go the Bible for answers. I went to God in
my heart. I then knew deeply that my Creator neither
hates me nor made me to be hateful nor hated and that
my profound romantic love for a certain guy at school,
a homosexual love if you like, was a divine gift. It
may be that for many people if we "go to God" in our
own hearts, we may have some feelings indicating
whether we should buy into hateful divisive prejudices
or find it in ourselves to love our neighbors as
10 May 2006: Easter Explained
Last week I shared with my readers the time in my life when I devoted a semester at Cambridge University to making sense, at least for me, out of the meaning of Easter. I could no longer be bound by the literal texts of the Bible for they described the resurrection of Jesus in fanciful …
In your answer to the humanist question, you seem to
suggest by your final quotes that secular humanism is
"descended" from Christianity. I don't know if that
indeed is what you intended. It seems to me, however,
that secular, humanist values might parallel those of
other religions. Might the parallels with Jesus"
teaching that you correctly cite instead be a
3 May 2006: Easter Revisited
The biblical narratives purporting to tell the story of Easter have always held a particular fascination for me. As early as the summer of 1959 I gave a series of lectures on the gospel accounts of the resurrection at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina. From that starting point until today my interest …
How do you personally, and Christian doctrine in
particular, reconcile the contradiction of that
biblical prohibition against child sacrifice with the
claim that "God sacrificed his child" in explaining
the horrific death of Jesus? It seems to me that
rather than the "sacrifice of Jesus" being of benefit
to Christians, it serves more to threaten them with
death and/or eternal punishment if they are not
obedient to the wishes and decrees of the Church.
26 April 2006: The Gospel of Judas – A Hyped Insignificance
“Calculated sensationalism and scholarly complicity” were the words Peter Steinfels of the New York Times used to describe it. “Consciously misleading” were the words applied to the story by Professor James M. Robinson of Claremont Graduate University. What was the subject of these quotations? It was the “newly-discovered” Gospel of Judas presented during Holy Week …
A Sunday school kid once asked his teacher, "What I
would like is more data about God!" I totally accept
your concept of God as that "in whom we live and move
and have our being." But what do we have to say about
ideas such as that in the Psalm that says: "God is our
refuge and strength, a very present help in times of
19 April 2006: R.I.P. – William Sloane Coffin, Jr.
“Let us resolve to be patriots always, nationalists never. Let us love our country but pledge allegiance to the earth and to the flora and fauna and human life that it supports
I have read many of your books and would like to pose
a simple question. I am a chemical engineer by trade
and my best friend is a Russian Orthodox minister.
What do you think Jesus would think of Christianity,
as it exists today? He started the process with a
tightly wound ball of ideas for living a
counter-cultural lifestyle in a very difficult time in
history. Since then those wonderful ideas have
"snowballed" for over two thousand years and are now a
huge mass called the Christian Church. Some things I
think Jesus would like. But other things,
particularly the elitism of each sect that only they
have the true "keys to the kingdom" would upset him.
This scientist and priest would like to hear your
12 April 2006: The Final Days: Walking from Palm Sunday to Easter
We Christians are now in the midst of Holy Week, the most solemn season of the liturgical year. This sacred time still exercises compelling power since church attendance always rises on Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week and reaches its crescendo for the year on Easter, the last day. Whatever the Christian faith …
I believe I have read all your books, and find your
philosophy and theology compatible with my own. In
fact, your books share "probable cause" for this, I
suspect. My question is this: Is there a Bible
concordance or reference work that you would term
"liberal" or "progressive"...one that comports favorably
with your current ideas about Christianity and its
5 April 2006: Oklahoma! A State in Transition
When we hear the name of America’s 46th state, many images fill our minds. “Oklahoma” was the first of Rogers and Hammerstein’s ten Broadway musicals, putting the name of this state on the lips of Americans everywhere. We can still sing it: “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain,” followed by the poignant …
I'm not sure of the difference between Fundamentalists
and Evangelicals. Are they the same or different in
political activism and social concerns? I think of
Albert Mohler as a fundamentalist because he is so
narrow, while Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis call
themselves evangelicals and there is a world of
difference between them and Mohler. Campolo and
Wallis seem to concentrate on living by the teaching
of Jesus, rather than on theology.
29 March 2006: The Lamb of God: Jesus for the Non-Religious, Part III
In this series, to which I am returning periodically through the year, I seek to draw our attention to the person of Jesus before the creeds were formed and doctrines were created. I even want to get to who Jesus was before the gospels were written. My goal is to understand the original “Jesus experience” …
With regards to abortion, I did not do them for birth
control. However, I have done them for medical
indications. I tried to avoid the psychiatrists since
they all said that the patient would go crazy if not
aborted. Maybe that is an exaggeration.
I did a late term abortion for a woman with cancer of
the cervix. I also lifted the ovaries out of the
radiation paths. I was so sure that the baby would be
born dead at C-section that I didn't have a
pediatrician present. The baby came out screaming and
is still living as far as I know.
I also delivered a woman with idiopathic myocarditis.
We carried her until the baby would survive and then
delivered her. She was on anti-coagulants that we
reversed for the delivery. Six weeks later I tied her
tubes and she died that night. We just couldn't win
with that one.
I also did a C-section on one lady with a
Pheochromocytoma. The baby died but the mother
survived after the tumor was removed.
My daughter-in-law had a normal pregnancy and then
had a baby with Downs syndrome. Her next pregnancy
resulted in a diagnosis of Turner's syndrome. There
was also another broken chromosome. The diagnosis was
made by chorionic villous sampling. Since there was a
high chance of mental retardation, I advised her to
have an abortion. I can't imagine making a person
have a baby with mental problems when it can be
avoided by abortion. She is now 5 months pregnant
with a normal girl.
I think that a lot of diseases warrant having an
abortion. Most of the heart diseases with valve
disease and heart failure are grounds for abortion.
It has to be individualized. If one can get past the
second trimester, there is less stress on the heart.
The fluid volume in the woman decreases in the last
I certainly think that severe hemorrhage from
placenta previa warrants abortion. Also severe
toxemia of pregnancy warrants termination of the
pregnancy at any time. I would use late term abortion
for severe malformations like hydrocephalous and
anencephaly. Still late term abortions are relatively
rare. The physician should have the option of doing
what is best for the mother and not have to worry
about going to jail.
I saw a lot of women who died of Clostridium
infections from back room abortions. I wouldn't want
to go back to that. So in answer to your question, I
do believe in abortions at any time. I don't think
you can make a law that makes everybody happy. It's
still up to the doctor and patient. Every day there
are new advances in genetics and all these problems
On Easter Sunday, April 16, 2006, a group of people will begin in Phoenix a 2500 mile, 141 day, 5,000,000-step walk across America. Their destination is Washington, D.C., where a public celebration will be held on September 3, 2006. Their purpose is to arouse public consciousness to the misuse of Christianity in American life today. …
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