From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader. Jerry DeWitt is a former Pentecostal pastor in the evangelical parish of DeRidder, Louisiana who slowly lost his religious faith. Last Fall, he went public with his atheism, committing what he calls "identity suicide," and instantly becoming "the most disliked person in town." Since then, Mr. DeWitt's lost his job, his wife, his community and may be losing his house, but is still persevering and working to help others who find themselves in similar circumstances. [more inside]
The Human Bible is a podcast by Robert M. Price, professor of biblical criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute, and author of a number of books on theology. Though an atheist -- and skeptical of the very existence of the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels -- Price's great knowledge of (and love for) the Scriptures is evident throughout. No matter what you believe, you won't regret listening to these podcasts.
Late last month, after vocally anti-gay evangelical author and blogger Jonathan Merritt's essay defending Chick-Fil-A appeared in The Atlantic, Azariah Southworth outed Merritt on his blog. An interview with Merritt about his sexual orientation. Follow-up column from Southworth: Why I outed a Christian star. [more inside]
John Daker is going to sing a song that's very popular nowadays, it's Christ The Lord Is Risen Today, and he's going to do Amore too, okay? There is a subtitled and animated version also.
Fundamentalist Christian schools in Louisiana will soon be citing the existence of the Loch Ness monster as proof that evolution is a myth. [more inside]
The irony in a way is that Messiaen used this great romantic organ for his most modern experiments. For Messiaen, this was a great sort of sonic paintbox, if you like, and he would come here and experiment with the extraordinary sounds that he could conjure out of this amazing instrument. [more inside]
"I’ve felt like my gender doesn’t match me for a very long time.” A Quiverfull mom describes her family's journey after her spouse comes out to her as transgender. (Excuse me, I have something in my eye.) (Via No Longer Quivering.)
When same-sex marriage was a Christian rite. Contrary to myth, Christianity's concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual.
Jake Cole of the film blog Not Just Movies discusses the semi-legendary hour-long debate about Monty Python's Life of Brian on the BBC Four program Friday Night, Saturday Morning. The debate features Pythons John Cleese and Michael Palin on one side and opposite them broadcaster Malcolm Muggeridge and Mervyn Stockwood, the Bishop of Southwark.
After numerous failed doomsday predictions, Family Radio founder Harold Camping announced this month that he has no plans to predict ever again the day of God's Judgment. He also issued an apology to listeners, admitting that he was wrong. [more inside]
"One of the deep, dark secrets of America's past has finally come to light. Starting in the early 1900s, hundreds of thousands of American children were warehoused in institutions by state governments." An early part of the American experiment with Eugenics, the Walter E. Fernald State School inspired scores of similar institutions across the country, and more recently, one of the definitive histories of the era. [more inside]
Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus || Spoken Word
Fred Clark posts at a blog called "Slacktivist", so he is often referred to by that name. But this left-wing Christian is far from a slacker. His blog is a powerful voice against the usual conservative Christian presence in America, and the best distillation of his strength is his series of posts analyzing the Left Behind novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Fred savages these books for their "bad writing and bad theology" but it's not the usual Internet snark; Fred has a larger mission here than just pointing and laughing. He just finished dissecting book two, Tribulation Force, so it's a great time to jump on if you already haven't. (He has promised that after a holiday break, he's going to do the Tribulation Force movie, and then on to book three.) [more inside]
Rethinking the Idea of 'Christian Europe'. Kenan Malik's essay is awarded 3 Quarks Daily's Top Quark for politics & social science by judge Stephen M. Walt: "Soldiers in today’s culture wars believe 'European civilization' rests on a set of unchanging principles that are perennially under siege—from godless communism, secular humanism, and most recently, radical Islam. For many of these zealots, what makes the 'West' unique are its Judeo-Christian roots. In this calm and elegantly-written reflection on the past two millenia, Malik shows that Christianity is only one of the many sources of 'Western' culture, and that many of the ideas we now think of as 'bedrock' values were in fact borrowed from other cultures. This essay is a potent antidote to those who believe a 'clash of civilizations' is inevitable—if not already underway—and the moral in Malik’s account could not be clearer. Openness to outside influences has been the true source of European prominence; erecting ramparts against others will impoverish and endanger us all."
Some lives are exemplary, others not; and of exemplary lives, there are those which invite us to imitate them, and those which we regard from a distance with a mixture of revulsion, pity, and reverence. It is, roughly, the difference between the hero and the saint (if one may use the latter term in an aesthetic, rather than a religious sense). Such a life, absurd in its exaggerations and degree of self-mutilation — like Kleist’s, like Kierkegaard’s — was Simone Weil’s. - Susan Sontag [more inside]
Tired of the same old renditions of the Christmas Story? Try this video and its prequel, produced in the vein of Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are.
Penn Jillette: An Atheist's Guide to the 2012 Election. [SLYT] Via BigThink, "A knowledge forum featuring the ideas, lessons, stories and advice of leading experts from around the world."
Besides Halloween, today also marks another holiday: Reformation Day. On October 31st, 1517 (warning: auto-playing video) Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of Schlosskirche in Wittenberg, Germany essentially starting the Protestant Reformation. [more inside]
[Arvo] Pärt’s mature style was inaugurated in 1976 with a small piano piece, “Für Alina”, that remains one of his best-known works. It is governed by the compositional system that he called “tintinnabuli,” derived from the Latin word for “bells.” The tintinnabuli method pairs each note of the melody with a note that comes from a harmonizing chord, so they ring together with bell-like resonance. [more inside]
For more than a decade E-Sword: The sword of the lord with an electronic edge has been the standard electronic bible available as freeware to anyone with a computer. E-sword is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to get to know the bible better, whether you are reading from a devotional, historical, critical, or literary standpoint; or just have a habit of getting into arguments with street pastors, doorknockers, or religious relatives and like to win. [more inside]
On Saturday, Scott Anderson became the first openly gay person to be ordained as a minister by the Presbyterian Church (USA), the nation's 10th-largest denomination. But the ceremony actually marked his second ordination, after he was forced to step down from the pulpit, under threat of blackmail, 20 years before. At the time, Anderson had donated his pastoral stole to the Shower of Stoles Project, including over 1000 items representing LGBT people of faith barred from the ministry. Saturday's ceremony also marked the first time that a donated object was returned to its owner. [more inside]
As an evangelical Christian, Rachel Held Evans often heard about the importance of practicing "biblical womanhood," but she didn't quite know what that meant. Everyone she asked seemed to have a different definition. Evans decided to embark on a quest to figure out how to be a woman by the Bible's standards. For one year, she has followed every rule in the Old and New Testaments. (FAQ) Her project is set to end today. [more inside]
In October 1870, as American Jews were observing the High Holidays, The Atlantic Magazine published an article called "Our Israelitish Bretheren." 'At the time, it served as a sort of crash course about a tiny, mystifying minority. Today, it survives as something quite different: a snapshot of a transitional moment in Jewish history.' Written by American biographer, James Parton -- the founder of American Heritage magazine.
"I think Christians have gotten a bad name because of Christians. Like, I don’t blame other people for the rap that Christians have." Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays Shirley on Community, talks faith, fandom, and show business with the A.V. Club.
Kinfolk Magazine (intro Video) is a "growing community of artists with a shared interest in small gatherings." Many of these artists (mostly married couples) have their own blogs in which they post photos and discuss marriages, travel, cooking, crafts and (with less frequency) their belief in Fundamentalist Christianity. [more inside]
Since 1998, Christian Humor Magazine Ship of Fools has been sending Mystery Worshippers to churches to write reviews. [more inside]
"If they simply professed unusual beliefs, movement leaders wouldn’t be remarkable. But what makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government. The new prophets and apostles believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take 'dominion' over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the 'Seven Mountains' of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world. They believe they’re intended to lord over it all. As a first step, they’re leading an 'army of God' to commandeer civilian government. In Rick Perry, they may have found their vessel. And the interest appears to be mutual." Previously. Via.
Sam and Bethany Torode published a book in 2002 called Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Conception, a book that captured the growing movement among conservative Protestant Christians toward the use of natural family planning. In 2006, the Torodes' announced their perspective had changed slightly (Archive.org capture of full statement). In 2009, the Torodes divorced. Bethany is now writing candidly about her life as a single mother with 4 children on her blog, In Full Bloom. Sam recently published a novel called The Dirty Parts of the Bible.
In 2002 a Mrs. Soile Tuulikki Lautsi, a Finnish/Italian woman and member of the Italian Union of Atheists, Agnostics and Rationalists objected to the crucifixes on the wall of her child’s public school. [more inside]
Going Straight: My Ex-Gay Friend Also: Living the Good Lie: Therapists Who Help People Stay in the Closet. (Both links NYT, via)
A bridge builder, a student of how societies hold together; an advocate of dialogue. Standing against polarized and simplistic styles of thought. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor is Canada's best known and most widely read contemporary thinker. In books like Sources of the Self and A Secular Age, he has attempted to define the unique character of the modern age. He maps the fault-lines in our modern identity, and points to both the pitfalls and the promise of our condition. Learn about his life, history, upbringing, and... ideas. Now available, CBC IDEAS in five one-hour parts: the malaise of modernity (this special program has the same title as the 1991 Massey Lecture of the same name, but is not the same [MP3's, get them now, they will go away, and then you can only stream them]). One, Two, Three, Four, Five. [more inside]
Artist Al Farrow uses ammunition, parts from firearms, and selected other materials to build miniature churches, synagogues, and mosques.
'These children don’t recognize the flags of their home countries, but they can all sing "Jesus Loves Me."'
The Thinking Atheist: 'Nothing More To Talk About' (SLYT) - Many religious family members pray for their atheist and agnostic loved ones graciously, honoring personal boundaries and showing respect for the skeptic's right to form his/her own worldview... This video is not about them...
Andres Serrano (some NSWF images) has made controversial art for decades, with his piece Piss Christ causing controversy shortly after it was created in 1987. In 1989, the photograph initiated outrage against the National Endowment for the Arts because of "anti-Christian bigotry". Then the piece was physically attacked two times in one weekend, when it was first shown in the National Gallery of Victoria in 1997. In December 2010, the Collection Lambert museum of contemporary art in Avignon, France opened a show called "I Believe in Miracles" that includes pieces of minimal art, conceptual art and land art, and includes Piss Christ. The photograph had been shown in France before without disturbance, and had been shown without incident in Collection Lambert for four months, but around 1,000 protesters marched to the museum on Saturday, and on Sunday vandals succeeded in attacking the picture, breaking the plexiglass shield and slashing the photograph. The museum is open again, and the damaged work is still on display. [more inside]
On the cusp of Holy Week, Ricky Gervais enlightens with an essay outlining why he is a good Christian. [more inside]
A released FAA investigation describes how in October last year, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) deliberately landed his plane on a closed runway, and then caused the plane to "hop" over terrified construction workers and their vehicles. More recently, Senator Inhofe has taken to the Senate floor in praise of his friend (and friend of C Street), deposed Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo. [Previously, previously]
Dare 2 Share Ministries offers profiles and tips on how to "share your faith" with fourteen different types of friends a teen Christian might have, such as Andy the Atheist, Marty the Mormon, Jenna the Jew, Sid the Satanist, Mo the Muslim and Willow the Wiccan. If none of those strategies work, they also offer articles on how to "use the buzz in current teen culture to initiate God-talk with your friends" by "sharing your faith" through Indiana Jones, Halo 3, Brokeback Mountain, Kung Fu Panda and The X Files.
Ray Comfort calls the Atheist Experience. The Atheist Community of Austin run a live call-in show on public access. Over the years, they have challenged Ray Comfort to call in. This week, he finally does, and talks to AE hosts Matt Dillahunty and Russell Glasser. The only banana joke is visual. Ray reacts. Matt D reacts. AE fans react. [more inside]
With Few Jobs, an Unmarried Pastor Points to Bias “Prejudice against single pastors abounds,” Mr. Almlie wrote in articles (Part 1, Part 2) he posted on a popular Christian blog site in January and February, setting off a wide-ranging debate online on a topic that many said has been largely ignored.
Plasticize Me: Will recent advances in human tissue preservation change the way we think about bodies, death, God… and China? [Previously, Via]
Hipster Faith "To remain relevant, many evangelical pastors are following the lead of hipster trendsetters. So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?"
UK respite and foster parents may no longer be homophobic, even when it is due to religious belief. An English Christian couple acting as foster parents have been banned from further placements due to their statement that they could not tell children that homosexual relationships were of equal value, with judges stating that their claims that adoption should still be allowed as a "a travesty of reality". Reaction from the UK religious right (such as it is) is venomous. [more inside]