Tweet of the day

Never forget: Y’all are no damn good.

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Quote for the day

Clinging to ignorance and falsehoods is a choice. Being born transgender or gay is not. And while we are at it, it is way past time that churches lose their tax-exempt status. Overall, they do far more harm than good and do not deserve to be treated as charities.

Michael Hamar

WE DO KNOW now that there is a lot more to sexuality than plumbing, that sexual orientation is a biological switch that is set before birth; virtually every biologist and medical researcher on earth will tell you that. The refusal to accept that, and instead constrict the lives of others in deference to the things written by some Bronze Age anonymity, goes to character.

Let me elaborate so that there is no confusion about what I’m saying: When Pastor Bubba or your Auntie Grizelda howls and bellows that it doesn’t matter what scientists say because Leviticus says everything anybody needs to know about the subject, he or she is exhibiting bad character and decent, educated adults should avoid them.

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Conversations with … whomever

Beauty and the Beast appears to be on the way to becoming one of the year’s most profitable movies, even though Evangelicals are wildly annoyed about a ‘gay moment.’ Ho-hum. Unfortunately, the hubbub over Beauty and the Beast is overwhelming the no less significant release of The Shack.

For those who aren’t in the know, The Shack tells the story of a man who visits the scene of a remote cabin where his daughter was brutally murdered. There — What do you know? — he meets god and they have a talk, et cetera, et cetera.

Y’all will probably not be surprised to learn that Albert Mohler has serious theological problems with a movie which presents god as bigger and kinder than a busybody know-it-all Baptist.

As I pointed out in my review of the book, tracing back to its publication, “The Shack’s” theology is not incidental to the story, indeed at most points the narrative seems mainly to serve as a structure for the theological dialogues, and those dialogues reveal a theology that is unconventional at best, and undoubtedly heretical in certain respects. As depicted in the book, the literary device of an unconventional Trinity of divine persons is itself sub-biblical and dangerous. But the theological explanations that emerge in the dialogue are worse. Papa tells Mack of the time when the three persons of the Trinity “spoke ourself into human existence as the son of God.”

Nowhere in the Bible is the Father or the Spirit described as taking on human existence.

Yeah, well — ho-hum to that, too. Theology rests upon unverifiable, improbable, and unnecessary premises, and for that reason should not be considered a serious intellectual enterprise. Shame on anybody who takes anything that Albert Mohler says as anything but a threat to common sense and common decency.

But this morning’s news item about the success of the movie-version of The Shack tickled a vague memory; wasn’t there a popular book featuring an extended dialogue with Our Invisible Friend about 15-years ago?

There was — Conversations With God. That book, too, sold in the millions, and also drew the ire of theologians.

This interests me, for several reasons. The commercial success of those books suggests that, at least amongst people who read books for purposes other than entertainment …

  • The big questions remain vital, and there is an audience for books that aim to deal with them in a manner that isn’t self help-lite.

  • There must be a widespread sense that the established religions aren’t answering them very well.

  • As a literary device, the dialogue is very old; it was invented by Plato ~ 400 B.C., and even philosophers rarely use it nowadays. It is much more common to present philosophical ideas in the form of a novel, as in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Who wants to place a bet on how long it is before some yahoo declares that The Shack is inerrant?

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Birds of a feather

President Trump Will Be Commencement Speaker at Liberty University

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is everything you need to know about the so-called Values Voters.

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Marriage and religious liberty

Ohhh … boy. Albert the Pious undertakes to instruct us on the grave danger same-sex marriage poses to religious liberty; unfortunately, he proceeds from an embarrassingly childish conception of each.

These are days that will require courage, conviction, and clarity of vision. We are in a fight for the most basic liberties God has given humanity, every single one of us, made in his image. Religious liberty is being redefined as mere freedom of worship, but it will not long survive if it is reduced to a private sphere with no public voice. The very freedom to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake, and thus so is the liberty of every American. Human rights and human dignity are temporary abstractions if they are severed from their reality as gifts of the Creator. The eclipse of Christian truth will lead inevitably to a tragic loss of human dignity.

Where to begin?

Freedom of religion has always meant freedom of worship under our Constitution — and no more. Does Mohler honestly not know he is parroting the long-discarded and –discredited arguments of his own denomination’s founding? It has always been the right of the government to restrict activities sanctioned by religious belief when they were contrary to the public interest.

Zoroastrians are not free to leave the corpses of their dead on hilltops so that vultures will eat them and free their souls, for instance. Southern Baptists are not free to own slaves, no matter how theologically sound the argument for slavery may be (God said so, which certainly ought to settle the matter).

The freedom to preach the gospel is not endangered. It is true that preaching grows increasingly disreputable, as it ought, but there is no reason to suppose that (even!) Steven Anderson is in imminent danger of being hauled-off to the pokey. Parents may still debase and psychologically abuse their children by telling them they were born irremediably foul and deserving of eternal torture. Holy Men may still stand in their pulpit and howl and bellow that good, decent, godly people hold the pleasure of Our Invisible Friend to be more important than even their wedding vows.

There is no barrier or danger, that is, to Mohler continuing to be a Southern Baptist, and odious.

And does it really need to be said that religion — or at least Christianity — is the implacable enemy of human dignity? Christianity’s indispensable metaphysical claim is that men are born foul, guilty, deserving of eternal torture … on and on. If you don’t believe that, if you don’t believe in Original Sin, then you don’t believe you need a remedy, and Christianity has nothing on offer.

Human dignity cannot be grounded on the belief that the bald fact of humankind’s existence is an offense against the cosmos itself. Period. Christianity undermines human dignity.

As for marriage itself, Mohler has made plain through the years that its purpose is procreation, in order to perpetuate the tribe. It is not about mutual loyalty and shared ambitions, about building satisfying lives together, because his white-trash sewer-god considers those things a presumption upon His sovereignty; He alone is worthy of your loyalty, and He will tell you what are your ambitions.

Mohler believes in animal husbandry — and that’s it.

I no longer believe that Albert Mohler has thoughts. I believe Albert Mohler has a catalog of uninformed and ill-considered exclamations in his head, and that events cue-up and trigger them.

Bah.

What is really going on here is what I approvingly noted above: Preaching is, and rightly so, growing disreputable. Thanks to popularizers of Biblical research such as Bart Ehrman, Bishop John Spong, on and on, a steadily-growing number of the public know what appalling intellectual dishonesty issues from the average pulpit — and grants it no more than the contempt it deserves.

Christianity is untrue, and its tribal, cult-like ethics are very bad — and humanity is leaving it, and the rest of the Abrahamic faiths, behind. That is what is driving much of our contemporary political turmoil — the world is leaving pious buffoons like Mohler behind. Seriously: Just as defeating communism was the great project of the last century, defeating backward-looking yahoos like Mohler is the most important work of this century.

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