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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 …

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Q & A:

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.

Read the Answer...

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” …

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Q & A:

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

will change.

Read the Answer...

22 March 2006: CrossWalkAmerica: Are You Ready to March for a New Christianity?

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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Q & A:

Are there any historical facts that prove the killing

of the first-born Egyptian sons at the time of the


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15 March 2006: Dawning Hope: The Supreme Court and the Case of Lewis v. Harris

The Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey will sometime in the next few months hand down its ruling in the case of Lewis v. Harris. The final arguments from the attorneys for the plaintiff and the state have already been heard. All that remains is for the members of the Court to engage …

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Q & A:

I agree with you on evolution, homosexuality and

more. However, I think we need to appreciate the fact

that the conservatives" problem with evolution is

based on more than Genesis. The premise of the Old

Testament is that God does stuff on earth - lots of

stuff. If God is not managing how life forms on earth

are created, what else isn't He (She) managing or

doing? The notion that the messes we create on earth

are not part of God's plan and that God is not going

to intervene and fix them is a scary thought. The

question is how can we get the conservatives to accept

the idea that we are responsible? Jesus showed us

what to do. How can we get them to accept that now it

is up to us to do it?

Read the Answer...

8 March 2006: The Rise of New Religious Voices to Counter the Religious Right

When religious leaders are heard speaking in the public arena in the United States today, the overwhelming probability is that they will be conservative evangelical or conservative Roman Catholic leaders. No other effective or visible religious voices are heard today. That, however, was not the case some forty to fifty years ago. In the 1960′s, …

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Q & A:

Why aren't the historical persons and events in the

additional Mormon books of the Bible recognized by

scholars? They talk about how we were all spirit

children in a spirit world before we were born, how

our families must be "sealed" in the temple, so that

they can stay together when we die and hopefully go to

heaven. Have biblical scholars the world over

researched these and other Mormon issues and,

obviously, not accepted them? There are some

brilliant men presiding over the Mormons at this time

and it bothers me that they accept all the Mormon

doctrines. I am constantly involved with Latter Day

Saints persons and find them to be wonderful people

and devoted friends but I just can't accept all of the

history and teachings of Joseph Smith. Maybe you

could direct me to some reading material to clarify

this problem.

Read the Answer...

1 March 2006: Jesus for the Non-Religious, Part II

In the first column in this series (published on February 15, 2006), I sought to establish the fact that the memory of Jesus, including his words, parables and actions were recalled orally and passed on only in the Synagogues. This means that before the written gospel tradition began, the synagogues were the context in which …

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Q & A:


I think you could be a tremendous bridge builder,

bringing a diverse people together under your "call to

become more fully human." Your critique of

Christianity, however, begs the question, where are

you headed with this? Your views seem almost secular,

more rational than even the Unitarians but more

spiritual than Ethical Culture (which from my

experience seems a bit lifeless). Your ministry is so

inclusive that I'm sure you could build a global

following of people who want a spiritual home free

from the divisive myths of the past, who might agree

that Jesus was a great, if not the greatest,

philosopher and example, but not the only one worth

building a way of life around. So it seems you're

pointing to a global movement or alliance distinct

from Christianity that is too exclusive. Will it have

a name?

Read the Answer...

22 February 2006: Truth and the Present Administration

“Thou shalt not bear false witness” That is the ninth commandment in the famous group of ten that are so frequently invoked by members of that Republican political coalition known as the “Religious Right.” Somehow the Ten Commandments anchor the ethical basis of life that they want to impose on the American nation. However, spokespersons …

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Q & A:

My dear friend of 25 years is a fundamentalist

Christian who has prayed about my position on the gay

rights issue (I am a gay rights advocate). Her

position is that if God had made her a gay person, she

would still not be free to indulge in sex. Also, if

everybody got to do whatever made them happy, then

where do we draw the line? She has challenged me to

go to God and basically ask God which one of us is

right. As a member of the church alumni, I really

don't know what to say to her. Complicating matters

is the fact that my son is gay but she doesn't know

that yet. Can you help?

Read the Answer...

15 February 2006: Jesus for the Non-Religious, Part I

Most Christians seem to assume that the details of their faith system dropped out of heaven in a fully developed form. Nothing could be further from the truth. The creeds began as baptismal formulas in the 3rd century and did not receive the shape we now recognize until the 4th century. Doctrines like the Trinity …

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Q & A:

Overcoming the widespread Christian belief that "Jesus

died for my sins" seems an insurmountable challenge!

Preachers, liturgical rites, hymns and religious

education curricula continue to reinforce "atonement

theology/theories." Would you do a series on

"atonement theology/theories" - their origins,

rationale, continued justification, etc.? Personally

and pastorally, "atonement" thinking creates a mire of

destructive results and I, for one, would well

appreciate your cogent analysis of how we might best

approach this.

Read the Answer...

8 February 2006: The Church and the Flu

Dear Friends, This week I introduce you to the first guest columnist of this year 2006. Each year I try to identify four unique voices of those who labor in the same area of life that I find myself working. They are people who either have thought about things in a new way or even …

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Q & A:

Just read your latest mailing with great delight but

sadly must comment that there are too many educated

people who are still ignorant about the origins of

homosexuality including - sadly - many members of my

medical community. I recently went to a church in New

Mexico where the pastor was a physician as were

several "high rolling" members, who made it quickly

clear to me that they were a branch of the (Episcopal)

church that separated from those who let homosexuals

in. I was both disgusted and amused because, in

looking round me, there were numerous homosexuals in

the church group. As a psychiatrist, I am probably

more aware of this than the "ordinary" member. Had I

been more than visiting, I probably would have made a

loud noise about the whole thing as I have in other

churches. I applaud you for your continuing efforts

to bring reason to society about this issue as many

others of us also do in our own ways.

Read the Answer...

1 February 2006: Facing the Abortion Issue as Mature Religious People

There were many issues raised at the confirmation hearings on the nomination of Samuel Alito to serve on the Supreme Court. Yet only one of them, the issue of abortion, exerted so much power that it seemed like the proverbial “elephant in the room.” It was present from two different perspectives as senators from both …

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Q & A:

I'm 56 years old. My mother and I are at opposite

political poles. The only thing I can say in her

favor is that she is not a fundamentalist "Christian"

but she espouses nearly all the hate rhetoric of

neo-con/neo fascists. When she told me that her

favorite Fox "newscaster" was Bill O'Reilly, I told

her that that was more than I ever wanted to know

about her. I am ashamed of her, I don't like her, and

I don't like talking with her. We have nothing in

common by way of beliefs or even taste. In short, I

don't know how I could be related to her and, in fact,

wish I weren't! On the other hand, I'm sure that

somewhere inside I must have some love for her since

this whole thing bothers me so. My godfather, a

wonderful retired Episcopal priest, keeps saying, "She

is your mother," and that resonates but honestly, I

just can't bring myself to talk to her. She lives in

Kansas, I'm in Texas and the most I can do is to send

a card on Mother's Day and on her birthday. I even

find the cards difficult to sign, "Love, Doug." Do

you have any suggestions? I love my godfather and my

godmother but I have my obvious limitations. Can you


Read the Answer...

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