Quote for the day

Only in the Christian (and Islamic) world are people expected to die to self and give God the praise that should be theirs.

Is it any surprise, then, that many Christians have poor/no self-esteem? I know it has taken Polly and me many years to regain any sort of respect for self. Hammered by a lifetime of preaching meant to destroy self-worth, is it any wonder that, to this day, we have a hard time accepting praise from others?

Bruce Gerencser

Gerencser is pointing here toward one of the worst aspects of Christian thought — I mean, besides its falsity. It’s degrading. The essence of every sermon ever preached in the last two millennia is this: You’re no damn good. You were born no damn good, you can never be any damn good, and the only way you can avoid the eternity of torture you deserve is to join our club.

Honestly, I marvel at what preachers get away with.

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Sex and the single mass-killer

What do you know? It turns out that the alleged killer in the Georgia spa shootings was raised as a devout Southern Baptist.

Long, 21, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the three shootings.

As a teenager, Long would stack chairs and clean floors at Crabapple First Baptist Church in Milton, Ga., said Brett Cottrell, who led the youth ministry at Crabapple from 2008 to 2017. Long’s father was considered an important lay leader in the church, Cottrell said, and they would attend morning and evening activities on Sundays, as well as meetings on Wednesday evenings and mission trips.

There’s nothing that I’m aware of at Crabapple that would give approval to this” …

Yes, and No, on that last. I’ve discussed often through the years the degradation that inheres in Christian thought, and it was the Southern Baptists who brought it to my attention with their inexhaustible attention to it. And sexual desire is one of the most conspicuous expressions of our utter unfitness to exist. Sex is for procreation and growing the club, not pleasure; just ask Albert the Pious, the Mightiest Theologian of Them All.

If you start out with a kid who isn’t real clear-headed, and subject him to an endless drumbeat about his worthlessness, and there is no responsible adult nearby telling him to pay no attention to some of the crazy stuff that is said in church … oh, yeah, you can definitely end up with a seething nutjob who has an unwholesome attitude toward sex and women.

It’s w-a-a-a-y too soon to know what was going on in this kid’s head when he carried-out the killings, but there is nothing misguided about suspecting loopy, heavy-handed theology rather than, or in addition to, anti-Asian animus. I’ve said often through the years — and I am not wrong — that there are proportionately more screwed-up people inside church than outside church.

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Grim headline (and lede) of the day

Christian leaders wrestle with Atlanta shooting suspect’s Southern Baptist ties

Years before being suspected of killing eight people in a suburb of Atlanta, including six Asian women, Robert Aaron Long was active in his Southern Baptist congregation, his youth pastor said Wednesday.

There is still a lot to learn about this terrible event, but I don’t have even the slightest difficulty imagining that whatever dysfunction troubled this kid was exacerbated by the drumbeat that he’s worthless sewage who deserves eternal torture.

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Letters to Madalyn, ctd

Madalyn Murray O’Hair continues, albeit indirectly, to be in the news. This time, it concerns one of her murderers, whose sentence has been reduced from life in prison to … 50-years.

His attorneys asked the judge to consider his “exemplary” conduct as a inmate over the last two decades, his age and health problems. They also argued the government was asking the judge to “second guess” the jury’s original verdict for Karr.

“The government decided to go back to the well,” said defense attorney Christie Williams.

U.S. Attorney Matt Harding, in turn, argued for the maximum sentence allowable under the law: 20 years for conspiracy to commit extortion, plus 20 years for interstate travel to commit robbery and a combined 115 months for his two other convictions in relation to this case.

The court resentenced Karr to the maximum time available under the prevailing guidelines.

I created a Google news search for O’Hair, and no more than a couple of days go by without returning a hit — usually some editorial ranting about the impermissibility of teacher-led prayer, but occasionally some piece, like this one, concerning ongoing consequences of her life and activism. She led a consequential life, and she remains a vital figure.

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Dismal theology-related tweet of the day

I suppose that a seminary president has no choice but to favor more theological education, but the rest of us should not be fooled by Mohler: Theology has no more intellectual dignity than astrology, but is vastly more dangerous.

The problem with theology is that it never does the difficult work of establishing its premises. First, it has to prove that Our Invisible Friend is real. Then (in the case of Christian theology), it has to prove that Our Invisible Friend somehow superintended the production of the anthology known as the Bible. Then — and only then — may theologians begin parsing the text and attempting to discern what Our Invisible Friend expects of us.

I am not holding theology to an unreasonable standard. When an engineer sits down to analyze a problem, every single line of the analysis has a documented pedigree — that’s why it’s possible to build safe bridges that are miles long, dams that safely impound millions of gallons of water. Theology, on the other hand, does not have rigorous intellectual standards, and disrupts lives and even kills people every single day.

No matter how pretentious a theologian may be, no matter how grave the presence, the humdrum truth is that theologians deserve no more regard than the palm-reader at a country fair.

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