If you have not yet had the opportunity to see The God Who Wasn't There, I noticed that this 2005 documentary is up on YouTube. I suspect it may not be available there for long, so check it out while you can.
March 5, 2014
|Circumcision, 1724, from Juedisches Ceremoniel (Photo credit: Center for Jewish History, NYC)|
I was circumcised as an infant. I was not given any choice in the matter. It was done to me without my consent or understanding of what was happening to me. Strangely, I don't remember ever asking my parents why they did this to me. I suspect that their answer would be that it was tradition and that everyone they knew was circumcising their male children at the time, but I'm really not sure. Perhaps they had other reasons.
March 3, 2014
|Picture of Larry the Cable Guy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
When you hear the label redneck, what comes to mind? What is a redneck? Who deserves the label, and who does not? I suspect that the meaning of this word varies widely by where you live, your age, and a host of other factors. As far as I know, it is not used much outside the U.S. But even here in the U.S, I'd think that the meaning likely varies across region. For example, the image of a redneck in West Virginia is probably quite different from those in Louisiana or California. I know many people consider redneck a pejorative term, but I have known many people over the years who proudly referred to themselves as rednecks.
February 27, 2014
|A woodcut from 1598 shows an exorcism performed on a woman by a priest and his assistant, with a demon emerging from her mouth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Having recently watched Insidious and The Conjuring, both of which I enjoyed, I cannot help wondering if there is any connection between the frequent depictions of demonic possession and exorcism in the horror genre and real-life exorcism. While I agree with those suggesting that religious institutions deserve much of the blame for the occurrence of exorcisms today, I wonder whether the horror genre I love so much might have at least something to do with shaping public attitudes toward things like demonic possession and exorcism. If nothing else, do they promote the idea that demonic possession is real and that rituals like exorcism are the solution?
February 25, 2014
|Image of the Dutch Reformation iconoclasm (Beeldenstorm) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The answer to this question is complex. Some people don't know because they don't want to know. They hear the information but willfully disregard it to maintain their faith. They have decided that their faith is too important to let something trivial like reality interfere with it. But I suspect that there are many others who do not fall into this category. They don't know because they haven't been exposed to these things.
February 21, 2014
|Christian atheist? Man in Hyde Park, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Suppose an atheist were to come to you and explain that he was raised Christian but abandoned this religion and has been an atheist for much of his life. He says that he is aware that there are probably no gods but that something has been troubling him lately, and he would appreciate your advice. He tells you that he has not been happy for some time and that he cannot help wondering if he might be happier if only he could be a Christian again. His family are all Christians, as are most of his friends. He says,
It isn't like I can just snap my fingers and start believing again. Still, I have found myself thinking lately that I would if I could. I mean, if I could somehow unlearn atheism and go back to being a Christian, I think I would do so.He's serious, and the hint of sorrow you hear in his voice moves you. What do you tell him? Is there anything you could do to help? You could tell him some version of "it gets better" except that he's been an atheist for over 20 years and you see no reason to discount what he's telling you.
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