Sam Harris

1 02 2007

Here is a working link for the video.

Sam is one of my favorite public atheists. He makes some really salient points amongt Steve’s brilliant humor (which supports Sam’s thesis btw). I like Sam, and he definitely is not the enemy. We Christians who do not live up to our creed our the problem. I think that if the Christianity that Tony is talking about below was the one most clearly followed and demonstrated, that Sam would not have a problem with us.

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Tony Campolo on the Colbert Report

1 02 2007

Here is a working link for Tony and Steve on the Comedy Central’s Colbert Report:





Haggard and Dawkins

31 01 2007

Very disturbing video. I don’t want to beat up on anyone, but I was not surprised by Haggard’s fall. There is something wrong with the kind of Christianity that tries to force everyone to believe the way you do, and makes Christianity look like one big show that you put on every week. When you amass that much power and influence, I bet that it is tough to admit your weaknesses to someone else. I think that this video proves that the megachurch model simply is not the healthiest one, especially for the ones who are in charge. Mind you, I have not decided that all megachurches are bad, there are some I like, with pastors I really look up to, but it is not for me.





God, Violence, and Genocide

27 01 2007

They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys. Joshua 6:21

I do not like it when God sends death and destruction upon humanity, but it does not cause a crisis of faith for me. I do believe that since God is our creator, He has the inherent right to destroy us. However, I do have a problem with those Scriptures where God calls for the destruction of entire groups of people at the hands of other people, usually Jews. This does create a crisis of faith for me because all manner of religous fanatics from Eric Rudolf to Osama Bin Laden use the Bible and the Q’uran to justify violence in the name of God. This lends credence to the argument from my atheist friends that religion is the greatest cause of evil in the world. This is the kind of argument that people like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have been making. And let me state at the outset that Messers Harris & Dawkins are not the enemy, violent religious extremists who kill in the name of God are. They give all theists everywhere a bad name.

Let me state first that though I am a Bible-believing Christian, I do not accept those parts of the Bible that have God commanding people to kill for Him. Call me selective in my application of Scripture, but I do believe that if the Hebrew Bible was perfect and complete, that there would be no need for Jesus and the New Testament.

Second, in a pluralistic world, believers of whatever stripe are going to have to be comfortable with people disagreeing with what they believe. Moreover, many people are going to be very disrespectful and irreverent towads every permutation of religious faith, including your own. And the more you try to ram your faith down other people’s throats by using politics or violence, the more people are going to disrespect you and your faith.

I think that the way forward for Christian believers in navigating the problem of religious violence against non-believers is to follow Paul’s admonition: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?”1Corinthians 5:12. Further, I also think that the way we influence those who think differently than we do is not through the ballot box, with bullets or diatribes, but rather, being the kind of community that speaks cogently to the larger culture, not by what we say but how we live.

What if we had churches that became demonstration projects for the truth of the Gospel? Imagine, multi-ethnic congregration that are racially reconciled and build homes for the homeless, and care for widows and orphans. I suspect that if we had a bunch of churches like this, that even Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins would be impressed.





Andrew Sullivan

24 10 2006

Andrew Sullivan, author of, The Conservative Soul and senior editor of The New Republic is speaking at Oberlin College tonight at 8 pm. I have been reading Andrew’s editorials in TNR and elsewhere since the early ’90s. I like him, but I have been pretty upset with him and the other neocons out there for creating the apologetic that swept us into the war on Iraq. He is now back into my good graces since I heard him give a very sincere mea culpa during an interview with Brian Lamb on CSpan’s Booknotes for supporting the war at its onset and clearly admitting that he was wrong.

What is interesting about Andrew is that he holds within himself opposing principles, ideals, and values. He is a practicing homosexual, but he is also a very devout pro-life Catholic who takes the teachings of Jesus seriously. And he is a diehard supply-side conservative, but he supported Kerry in the last presidential election (he could not vote because he is not a citizen of the U.S.).

I have always saw Andrew as a sort of best friend that I never met because in many ways I hold the similar opposing views within myself too. I am a Bible thumping, Jesus-is-the-only-way Christian, but I strongly believe in pluralism and I am against prayer in public schools. Along with Andrew, I am against abortion after the first trimester, and I agree with him that we have to allow it during the first trimester. I feel this way because only people of faith like me and Andrew see a zygote and a blastula as being fully human.

Ultimately, what I like about Andrew is the humility in which he holds his beliefs. He does not feel comfortable pushing his beliefs on others. This is why I like the guy. He is a great conversationalist because he has a lot of ideas, but more importantly he is willing to listen to ideas of others, even those ideas that he do not agree with his own.





Risky Conversation Starters on Coffee Cups

3 10 2006

Check this blog entry out at Reformissionary:

It   looks like some conservative groups are getting all itchy now that Starbucks has started their “The Way I See It” cup quotes.  Baptist Press has run a story today on it.

What’s the issue?  Well, it seems that Starbucks is pushing the homosexual agenda because cup #43 gives a racy quote on homosexuality.  As I read this BP article, I noticed my grande skim 3 pump mocha was being carefully and providentially cradled in cup #43 which reads…

My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long.  I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone.  Don’t make that mistake yourself.  Life’s too damn short.

– Armistead Maupin, author

Of course BP inserts the word [expletive] for “damn” and blacks it out on their pic of the cup, but their larger concern is what the cup teaches.  But, is the cup and quote meant to teach?  Or simply open doors of conversation?  From the Starbucks website on this campaign…

Starbucks has long been dedicated to creating a unique “third place” between home and work. We also draw on the centuries-old tradition of the coffeehouse as a place to gather, share ideas, and enjoy delicious beverages. We see this program as an extension of the coffeehouse culture – a way to promote open, respectful conversation among a wide variety of individuals.

And they mean wide variety.  Sure this quote is racy from one perspective, but they also entertain quotes from staunch conservatives like Michael Medved and Jonah Goldberg.  So if Starbucks “blatantly pushes the homosexual agenda” on cup #43, what are they pushing on the cups with flame-throwing right wingers?  A conservative agenda?

Given: We will all read from cups that we disagree with.  That’s a sure thing.  That’s the point, really, to start conversations not push agendas.  And conversations are best started by racy ideas, not bland ones.  By the way, on the cups and on the Starbucks website it even says the quotes don’t necessarily reflect the view of Starbucks.

Christians are too good at missing the point, and I’m afraid that’s what’s happening here.

Don’t we look fearful?  We look like we are afraid of the open discussion of ideas.  These quotes are meant to be conversational, and coffee shops are perfect places to list racy quotes worthy of discussion.  We believe that in the world of ideas the redemption Story stands supreme as the best and most beautiful explanation of reality and truth.  We shouldn’t fear other ideas out there.

One person quoted in the BP article says,

It’s not enough not to go to Starbucks anymore.  You really need to visit your neighborhood Starbucks and ask to see the manager and just say, ‘You know, I’ve gone here a lot and I would love to go here but I have to tell you your company’s promotion of something that is against my values prevents me from having coffee here anymore, and I’ve found alternatives … You make a great product, but you deserve to know why people aren’t buying your product anymore.’

How about instead we enter the conversations of our culture knowing that our Story makes sense of the world like no one else’s story or quote.  I think Starbucks has a great idea, and Christians should be thankful for the opportunity to join more discussions on huge and even ultimate issues.





Dealing with Genocide and Terrorism in the Bible

2 10 2006

What has been troubling me in the last few years since 911, is how groups like Al Qaeda use the Bible and the Quran to justify their violent acts. It is easy to say that this is just a Muslim problem, but that is not true, because there are numerous Old Testament scriptures that have God actually commanding the ethnic cleansing of entire groups of people, like the Canaanites for example. Because of this, I can understand why agnostics and atheists are more fearful of people like myself who are very passionate about their faith and believe the Bible to be completely true. This is a deep and fundamental issue for all people of faith in my opinion, and we have to address it head on. So in the near future, I will be doing a series of posts that will deal with the problem of religious violence and how to address it biblically and theologically.