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11 May 2005: Seven Minutes With Bill O’Reilly

I began my Harper-Collins book tour to introduce The Sins of Scripture on Fox News’ with Bill O’Reilly. It was my seventh appearance on the program and, I find that though we share little in common, I like the man. Behind his bluster and constant interruptions, I believe there is a person who cares more …

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Q & A:

I am wondering how you reacted to the dramatic presentation on TV of the woman who convinced Brian Nichols to turn himself in by reading paragraphs of "The Purpose Driven Life" to him. Was it simply coincidence that made him choose her? Not to try to rape or kill her? Is there any chance for his leading a changed life in prison if he's not executed?

I was given a copy of this book by a friend who happens to believe that the Bible is the "inerrant word of God." We meet for lunch now and then and have great discussions, friendly even though on opposite sides. Needless to say, I believe that the Bible contains human beings' search for meaning. There are too many discrepancies in it to believe otherwise. (I have taught Bible study for 35 years.)

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4 May 2005: Morality and the Social Security Debate

The Church is not the only place where Orwellian doubletalk occurs. The political scene is also rife with it. We name destructive missiles “peacekeepers.” We ‘preserve peace’ by going to war. We save Vietnam villages by destroying them. We give huge tax cuts to our wealthiest citizens and then declare that we cannot afford to …

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Q & A:

"I am shocked and horrified at your violence against homosexuals. You don't have the guts to tell them that no one is born gay and that the blood of Jesus is infinitely sufficient to wash them free of all perverted thoughts, fantasies and desires. You are not fit to call yourself 'Bishop.' The Episcopalian (sic) Church ought to be called the Church of Satan."

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27 April 2005: Assessing the Pontificate of John Paul II

We have just witnessed a moving transition in the best-known, most powerful office in the Christian world. In many ways the final days before this transition were painful to watch as the increasingly infirm John Paul II walked quite publicly through the dying process, fulfilling his papal duties. This man had been a towering figure …

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Q & A:

I have been thinking a lot about the schism currently involving the African Church and our Episcopalians in this country. I remembered when I was in seminary, we were always collecting old theological texts and shipping them off to Africa. We should have burned those books and bought brand new texts and sent those instead. We are now getting back what we sent to Africa - outdated 19th century theology.

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20 April 2005: Whose Money Is It? A Meditation on April 15th

Dear Friends, The College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church has made its decision in the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the See of Rome. That action occurred after the deadline for this column, so I simply take note of it today and will comment next week on both the pontificate of John …

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Q & A:

I recently read intently your article about God and the tsunami. Yes, you are so correct that we are in the process of a "God" revolution. I studied Job at the Lancaster Theological Seminary and at last realized that we humans are just that - human. God is God and we have little comprehension of who God is or what God's purpose is. Job was not patient as was commonly believed but suffered mightily in spite of his "good" deeds and godly life. I don't care for the magic ending; however theologically the book offered many insights into the age-old question of what kind of God could allow the tsunami to occur. Perhaps if we view life as a Pollyanna, we can say that the world has come together to assist the suffering people and that the lives lost were martyred to that cause. Perhaps the disaster points into the direction that the hideous war in Iraq has no meaning and should end immediately.

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13 April 2005: An Author’s Postpartum

I have obviously never had a baby. However, as a pastor for almost fifty years I have walked with young mothers from the joy of conception to the experience of postpartum depression. So at least as an observer, I am quite familiar with that particular cycle within life. I have often wondered how a man …

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Q & A:

The human race seems to need rituals. Christmas, Easter, Baptisms and Eucharist/Communion are times and events that attract the most people to the church and corporate worship. Yet these same rituals are the ones where the theistic God is most evident and reinforced. How can we address this paradox?

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6 April 2005: The Anglican Communion’s Orwellian Odyssey

To my readers: I want to express my condolences through this column, especially to my Roman Catholic friends, at the passing of their leader John Paul II. He was a major force in the world of religion for over a quarter of a century. I have chosen not to write about his career today, for …

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Q & A:

Comments from my E-Mailbox on the Schiavo Case:

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30 March 2005: The Debate Rages: Do We Have a Right to Determine How We Die?

{To my readers: As the national debate continues over Terri Schiavo, I use this column to answer a question I received from a reader on this subject. Next week in place of the question and answer feature I will share a sampling of the incredible outpouring of responses that I have received to the guest …

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Q & A:

Based on the sequences in the Genesis creation story, there seems to be a serious discrepancy in the timing of the creation of light. Light appeared on the first day but the sun, moon and stars did not appear until the fourth day. How do creationists rationalize that anomaly as being literally accurate? Also Adam and Eve were the first humans according to creationists but with only Cain and Abel mentioned in the Bible, where did their wives come from unless they evolved from somewhere else or sibling incest occurred with Eve herself? The same situation for propagating the earth seems to occur after the flood? If God created everything 8000 to 10,000 years ago as some believe, (although now the Department of the Interior seems to insist that the Noah flood created the Grand Canyon) then God must also have created the ability for science to clone, to adapt stem cells to new purposes, etc., etc. In fact nothing can ever be done through science that God did not create the ability to accomplish in those terms. Yet fundamentalists insist cloning and the use of stem cells is unethical. Of course the other option is that God created everything in God's own time (15 billion years or so ago for the universe, 4

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23 March 2005: A Time to Die?

(To my readers: Dear Friends, I have for some time been on the lookout for other progressive Christian voices that I can present to you through this column. It is my hope to introduce four of these guest columnists a year. Each is a voice that this country and this world need to hear. Today’s …

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Q & A:

My wife and I are so impressed by your weekly essays. When we share some with friends, they ask, and we wonder too, are you retired from the ministry? If not, where do you serve as bishop? We think a lot of people would like to know.

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16 March 2005: The Connection between the Crucifixion and the Passover, Part VII

The plaintive cry of traditional believers when they actually begin to delve into the scriptures from a critical, academic perspective is, “What then is left?” This cry comes when they become aware that God can not be identified with either a 1st century Bible or a 4th century Creed, or that abandoning a childlike understanding …

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Q & A:

Can you say if you think Karen Armstrong's book would be valuable or helpful reading on the subject of religious fundamentalism?

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9 March 2005: The Connection between the Crucifixion and the Passover, Part VI

Today, as a way to round out this series on the biblical accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, events which most scholars date around 30 CE, I want to take what might seem to some to be a detour. I will line up these biblical sources in their chronological order, which stretches from …

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Q & A:

How does the "Q" document fit with the Synagogue theory of Synoptic Gospel formation as you describe it?

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