Saturday, October 31, 2009

Religion Definition

One of the things I advocate for is widening our use of the term religion, as we often use it in too narrow of a way (i.e. for only theistic perspectives).

Anyway, this is an interesting article looking at identifying science as a religion. I would agree with that assessment under certain circumstances.

Friday, October 30, 2009


So often in so many churches, we fight about little things. This post by Dan Kimball really emphasizes that we need to live out our priorities. What do you think the priorities of the church should be?

I am not always convinced we should pay attention to eternal lives while neglecting current lives, as I alluded to in an earlier post. However, life in any form is more important than carpet... :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ambiguity and Faith

So I'm on a run of science-related posts. :) This is a fascinating discussion on stress and uncertainty leading to religiosity. It's quite relevant to this blog, as it empirically shows how ambiguity is not at all the enemy of faith. At least that's one of my interpretations...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

God of Gaps

Now, this is a really cool post explaining how a lot of our religious traditions are based on filling in our gaps of understanding with theology, sometimes inaccurately. Then scientific discoveries come and help elucidate these gaps, which challenge a lot of people's faith at the time, but later (when we get used to those ideas), do not challenge our faith at all today.

Perhaps this could address some of my own questions and struggles about recent scientific discoveries. What are your thoughts and reactions?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Scientific Misunderstanding of Religion

I really like this blog post about how scientists misunderstand religious people. I particularly like and agree with the comment that the problems is that "scientists lack a spirit of dialogue." Now, many Christians do, too, but that can be particularly true and problematic in the scientific arena. In many ways, this is the case because the ultimate goal of objective findings is something that cannot be disputed. In other words, there's no dialogue. And based on the nature of this blog, I obviously think dialogue is really important. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Self Love

Loving oneself is controversial in Christianity. It is usually condemned in any form. As one of my friends and I have discussed several times, many traditions in Christianity seek denial of various loves and desires rather than embracing our deep-seated motivations. That's one of the reasons we like a lot of John Eldredge's work.

Anyway, this is a very interesting post about self-love based on Church Father extraordinaire Bernard of Clairvoux. I like the framing of "The love of self for God's sake" as the highest degree of love, even above "The love of God for God's sake." It really does take a particular level of maturity (psychologically and spirituality) to appreciate oneself, not to compensate for narcissistic injuries, but because we are truly filled with God's love for everyone, including ourselves.

I can definitely say I'm not there. I don't always love myself, and when I do, it's more to compensate for various injuries. Most people I encounter, personally and professionally, would be in the same area. What do you think? Do you think self love is appropriate when it is "for God's sake"? Where do you think you are in those degrees?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Future of Faith, Part 1

The first post as part of my stop on the The Future of Faith blogging tour!

I personally am excited to see attention given to more incarnational elements of spirituality and recognizing this is a legitimate way to engage and experience God. Cox beautifully describes this by saying "But it would be more accurate to think of it as the rediscovery of the sacred in the immanent, the spiritual within the secular. More people seem to recognize that it is our everyday world, not some other one, that, in the words of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, 'is charged with the grandeur of God'" (p. 2).

Cox also states that "people turn to religion more for support in their efforts to live in this world and make it better, and less to prepare for the next" (p. 2-3). Now this could be a controversial statement. He is making it not as a value judgment, but as an observation. Does this line up wiht what you've seen? And since this is a faith-based blog, do you think that's a good thing or not? I personally think it is valuable. We do so often ignore the present and bringing the Kingdom to Earth now...

Finally (for today), I think it's interesting how Cox differentiates the terms faith and belief. He states "faith is about deep-seated confidence... It is what theologian Paul Tillich (1886-1965) called 'ultimate concern,' a matter of what the Hebrews spoke of as the 'heart'" (p. 3). In contrast, he argues that "belief, on the other hand, is more like opinion" (p. 3).

I think it is important to separate those two terms, however I'm not sure I would completely agree with the definition of faith he gives. He describes it as "confidence," which indicates a lack of doubt or struggle. From the foundation of this blog, I am convinced that faith is always based on deep-seated confidence, but rather deep-seating conviction. I really like Tillich's definition, which focuses more on our concerns and priorities than being objectively and subjectives convinced of something.

Yes, these are subtle differences, but the implications are huge. Deep-seating confidence feeds into the positivist traditions of finding objective truth through scientific discovery and apologetics. On the other hand, deep-seated conviction is based on a more organic, human experience (in my opinion--you know where I land :) ). What say you to all of this? What do you think of the definitions? It's also interesting to see web definitions of faith.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Here's a comment I posted on an interesting blog on euthanasia. What say you?

I have to reinforce the "I don't know" comments. I've had two loved ones die through hospice and a third who was on hospice and then improved and got kicked out of hospice (he's still around and doing well). I've also worked with heart failure patients and ALS patients (I'm a therapist).

That's all to say I've totally seen the reasons for euthanasia and talked with people about it. I might pursue it myself if I were in their position.

However, I also value remembering the positive things in life. My wife and I are directing the play "It's a Wonderful Life," and one of the things that emphasizes is that there is still wonderfulness in life despite struggles and pain. Yes, the circumstances are different, but the process is similar.

At what point do we totally ignore the beauty in life? Or do we always need to remind ourselves and others of the beauty we sometimes do not see, ignore, or cannot see?

Blogging Tour

Philip Clayton and Harvey Cox both have new books out and they are taking them out on tour. One of the blog tour stops will be here, but as you can see below they will be making their rounds over the next month until they wrap things up in Montreal at the American Academy of Religion's annual meeting. There they will be joined by an illustrious panel including Eric Gregory, Bruce Sanguin, Serene Jones, Frank Tupper, and Andrew Sung Park to share a 'Big Idea' for the future of the Church. These 'Big Ideas' will be video tapped and shared, so be on the look out for live footage from the last night of the tour.

Philip's new book is Transforming Christian Theology for Church & Society and Harvey's is The Future of Faith. Both are worth checking out at one of the many tour stops. If you can't wait you can listen to them interview each other. Enjoy the blogging!

I'll be reviewing Cox's book in exchange for a free copy of it. Since I can sometimes read slowly, I'll probably post on it as I go along.

Joseph Weethee , Jonathan Bartlett, The Church Geek, Jacob’s Cafe, Reverend Mommy, Steve Knight, Todd Littleton, Christina Accornero, John David Ryan, LeAnn Gunter Johns, Chase Andre, Matt Moorman, Gideon Addington, Ryan Dueck, Rachel Marszalek, Amy Moffitt, Josh Wallace, Jonathan Dodson, Stephen Barkley, Monty Galloway, Colin McEnroe, Tad DeLay, David Mullens, Kimberly Roth, Tripp Hudgins, Tripp Fuller, Greg Horton, Andrew Tatum, Drew Tatusko, Sam Andress, Susan Barnes, Jared Enyart, Jake Bouma, Eliacin Rosario-Cruz, Blake Huggins, Lance Green, Scott Lenger, Dan Rose, Thomas Turner, Les Chatwin, Joseph Carson, Brian Brandsmeier, J. D. Allen, Greg Bolt, Tim Snyder, Matthew L. Kelley, Carl McLendon, Carter McNeese, David R. Gillespie, Arthur Stewart, Tim Thompson, Joe Bumbulis, Bob Cornwall

This Tour is Sponsored by Transforming Theology DOT org!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Neurobiology or Something Transcendent?

Following up on my earlier post about the splits we assume exist and the challenges of science versus the humanities, this is an interesting article arguing that we are not our brains and our mind is not necessarily centered in our brains. Good stuff to mull over...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Role of Preaching

I've been questioning the role of preaching for a while. I really like this article detailing the usefulness and limitations of preaching. While I like good sermons, I also have been feeling that they are not terribly essential for church gatherings. What say you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bad Things

One of my friends wrote a great post on the source of all bad things. He's right that we are quick to blame a lot of other people/things for the bad stuff. We need to challenge our assumptions on the causes of the evil that occurs in our lives.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I think this is a very good post emphasizing that we need to approach the Bible from much more than just a cognitive, intellectual perspective and recognize the poetry of it all.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I saw Fiddler on the Roof at the Orange County Performing Arts Center a few weeks ago. One of the classic songs is called Tradition, and as Tevye says, he doesn't know why they do a lot of what they do. It's just tradition.

As most of my close friends know, I am not a fan of tradition, particularly tradition for tradition's sake. I think actions need to be meaningful. Traditions can be very meaningful when you understand why they are there and when they still have relevant meaning. Yet so often in life (related to spirituality and not), we take actions simply based on tradition. And I think that is the cause of a lot of problems and crises in faith eventually.

What do you think? Is there value in tradition for tradition's sake. When is tradition useful/good?

Thursday, October 1, 2009


This blog is focused on trying to engage the struggles and questions we face throughout life, pursuing the answers, but not necessitating that we have firm answers. This article on recent films relating to homosexuality seems to do exactly that: Struggling with questions. So I thought it would be worth sharing it. Anyone seen any of these films?


Got a question, struggle, or doubt you'd like to see addressed here? Contact me, and I'll try to discuss it (and may even help you get an answer).