By: Mark Sandlin
Science, logic and geeks are going mainstream and it's killing the church. More precisely, the Church's long-standing aversion to science and logic is being highlighted and underscored as more people embrace geek culture in entertainment.
Of course, the resistance to science and logic is understandable, right? Facts and beliefs can be such strange bedfellows. In far too many minds, science and logic challenge faith and belief. So, ironically, it's logical for an institution founded so heavily in faith and belief to stand over and against science and logic.
I mean, we can't have doubt can we? Not in the Church. Right? Forget about various Psalms and such. Doubt would be the end to faith, right?
by David Henson
The Church could learn a few things from Jimmy Fallon, the new host of the "Tonight Show." And it’s no surprise, really. Jimmy has said in interviews he once wanted to be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church and was influenced early in life by his experiences as an altar boy. But he never felt he could really be a priest because he couldn’t keep a straight face. As a priest myself, it’s always good to be reminded that our image in culture is often a dour one when it should be a joyful one.
So it got Mark and I to thinking on "The Moonshine Jesus Show" what Jimmy Fallon has to teach us and what it would be like if he were a pastor or a priest. So we started a hashtag — #ordainjimmyfallon — and the early contributions are hilarious, but also really profound at times. Seriously go check it out and add yours in! But the hashtag responses really do speak to the idea that Jimmy might have some important lessons for us.
by Mark Sandlin
Kalei Wilson and her family have become the focus of threats and harassment from people who are upset by her attempts to begin a place for students, who happen to be nonbelievers, to gather for support and encouragement. As you might imagine, much of the resistance comes from Christians.
As a Christian minister in North Carolina, the state where this is happening, I find it beyond troubling and sadly ironic that people who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus are responding in such an aggressive, intolerant and unloving way. It's inexcusable, really.
When I first heard about this story, I strongly felt the need to respond. I immediately realized that the response needed to include the voice of my friend, Madison Kimery, North Carolina's own teenaged, activist extraordinaire! In some ways, Madison and I couldn't be much different. I'm an oversized, scruffy, Presbyterian minister and she is a petite, brilliant, youthful atheist. Yet, we both strongly recognize the value of diversity and the freedom that this nation claims to offer to express those differences.
We've decided to write Kalei open letters of support. Be sure to read through to the end and to watch the very brief video at the end from both Madison and me. We offer up a couple of different ways we can further support Kalei.
I'm proud to announce that The God Article is partnering with Be Secular in their "Common Ground Conversations."
I participated in the first ever such conversation this past year at Johns Hopkins University. The outcome was exceptional. I joined in conversation with former Pentecostal minister turned secular humanist, Jerry DeWitt, about the importance of finding points of common ground between human secularists and progressive Christians. The goal was to begin envisioning ways to intentionally bring these groups together in order to have a larger impact on common goals such as LGBT rights, women's reproductive rights, separation of church and state and more.
The conversation was even better than I expected. It was engaging, honest, respectful and frequently amazingly humorous. The audience participated heavily in the discussion and we ended with some remarkable points of common ground and, what I believe was, a much clearer understanding and appreciation of each other.
Here's just a couple of examples of the conversation. First up is Jerry on why these conversations are important.
by Mark Sandlin
Salvation Army kettles and the ringing bells that dot storefronts every Christmas have become something of cultural icons. When my kids were younger, one of the true joys of Christmas was each of us grabbing a handful of coins as we headed into the grocery store and joyfully stuffing it all into the kettle as we exchanged our “Merry Christmases” with the kettle workers.
We don't do that any more.
As my family and I learned more and more about the church's stance on homosexuality, we decided to share our money in other places. It was a difficult decision. We know how much good the Salvation Army does in our own town. Even our little church receives references from the local Salvation Army for people who need aid as we partner with them to help those who are struggling.
by Mark Sandlin
If any list has been overdone in the Christian blogging world, it's this list.
Just about every Christian blogger has done one and if they haven't, they've thought about it and then thought better of it – because just about every Christian blogger has done one. (See what I did there?)
And yet, here we are.
You. Me. And my list of things Christians shouldn't say. Hmmmm – must be God's will. (And I just realized this list should have had 11 things on it. Oh, well. I have no doubt that it's on one of the lists out there!)
Before starting my list, the editors in my head need me to say a few things, i.e. the requisite disclaimers. I do not consider this to be an exhaustive list. It's just the list of sayings I most want to talk about right now. Also, as I've explained in other posts, in this “10 Things You Can't Do While Following Jesus” series, I'm not saying that people who follow Jesus don't do these things; I'm saying that you can't say you are following Jesus' example when you do them. Finally, specific to this list, I think people who say these things are mostly trying to be kind, grateful and even humble when they say some of them. But if we really do want to be kind, grateful and humble we need to think about these sayings a little more – and then stop saying them.
10) Everything happens for a reason.
Implied in this is a very specific understanding of how God interacts with the world. Specifically, it says God directs all things. So, mass murders? God had a reason for that senseless act of violence. Stubbing your toe on the door frame? I guess God wanted to smite your toe.
This way of seeing God turns us all into puppets. God's little play things who really have no freewill. Do you truly think a god needs toys? If so, do you really think we're the best toys God could make to play with?
by Mark Sandlin
Ah, Christmas! The most wonderful time of the year. A time to gather with family and friends, and, with a smile on our faces, pretend we aren't quietly measuring who received the best present and which relative really, really needs to stop drinking. A time to hang tinsel and baubles from the tree, and time to hangup our hopes of losing that last 10 pounds this year. Such a joyous season!
The real point here is that Christmas is what we make of it. For Christians, however, there are some very specific things you can't do if you want to actually honor and follow the person we celebrate this season. So, I give you my “10 Things You Can't Do AT CHRSTMAS While Following Jesus.” As with my other “10 Things” lists (which are linked at the end of this post), this is not intended to be a complete list, but it is a pretty good start.
10) Celebrate Consumeristmas.
For many folks, Christmas starts standing in line on Thanksgiving Day. 'Tis the season for mass consumerism. Regardless of where you think it began, Christmas has slowly drifted into the bog of consumer madness. Like frogs in a pot of slowly boiling water, we never saw it coming. For Christians, this is particularly problematic because the guy we are celebrating this time of year told us that collecting stuff here on Earth is not the way to follow him.