RELIGION

THE ROAD TO FULL RECOVERY BEGINS WITH ADDICT’S CHOICE by J. William St. Clair

THE ROAD TO FULL RECOVERY BEGINS WITH ADDICT’S CHOICE by J. William St. Clair

A recent op-ed piece by a leader of the United Methodist Church, published in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch, urged West Virginia’s U. S. Senators to save Medicaid so that federal funds can continue to help break the grip of the opioid epidemic. This thoughtful article offers the theological hook–the parable of The Good Samaritan–on which to hang a political imperative to increase access to federal funds for substance abusers to receive care. Although the story of The Good Samaritan is a good story, another parable–the Prodigal Son–is, in my opinion, more instructional and worthy of being taken into consideration for addressing the current drug problem. In the story of the Prodigal Son, a young man leaves home and squanders his portion of his inheritance by living a less-than- desirable lifestyle. He eventually finds himself broke, hungry, neglected and living in a pigsty. It is here that he “comes to his senses” and makes a decision to go back home. He then starts walking. As he approaches home, the young man’s father runs down the road to meet his son and hugs him in a welcoming embrace. The story of The Prodigal Son does not tell us why the young man left home and what motivated him to take a walk on the wild side (I’m sure he had his reasons). The story also does not tell us whether the father knew his son was grubbing around in a pigsty far from home (I think he did, but chose to stay home). But, one thing we know for sure–the squanderer got out of the muck by coming to his senses and... read more
YOUR SILENCE IS SHOUTING YOUR VALUES by Amy Johnson

YOUR SILENCE IS SHOUTING YOUR VALUES by Amy Johnson

White men, including white pastors, are failing women’s health. I’m not saying every white man in the Trump Administration, or every white male pastor in the country is intentionally working against women’s rights. But here’s the thing. Because they are white and hold positions of power, when white men in government, and white male pastors in the United States (and even in the United Church of Christ) are not intentionally and loudly advocating for all women’s rights, then they are effectively being complicit in silencing women and their health care needs in our country. The pervasiveness of issues that disproportionately affect women in our country is staggering and deserves outrage and advocacy, not silence. Consider that approximately half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. In women under 20 that statistic rockets to 4 out of 5. Women of color and poor women experience even higher rates. Women do not get pregnant by themselves. Where is the outrage about this very preventable condition, and where is the overarching support for services to prevent it? Almost 20% of women in America report experiencing rape in their lifetime, and over 40% of them were first raped before age 18. Higher percentages of students of color report having been raped than white students. Nearly twice as many American women were murdered by current or ex male partners between 2001 and 2012 than American troops were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq during the same time period. African American women experience intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white women). The prevalence of these issues means they are all too alive and... read more
“We Invented Jesus Christ” — ANCIENT CONFESSION FOUND

“We Invented Jesus Christ” — ANCIENT CONFESSION FOUND

[EDITOR’S NOTE:  The following article is NOT the belief or opinion of Columnist with a View or its publisher and editor. It is an interesting point of view, however, promoted by Biblical scholar Joseph Atwill. Readers are encouraged to do some research on Atwill and the subject before forming an opinion concerning the subject.  Google:  Joseph Atwill] American Biblical scholar Joseph Atwill will be appearing before the British public for the first time in London on the 19th of October to present a controversial new discovery: ancient confessions recently uncovered now prove, according to Atwill, that the New Testament was written by first-century Roman aristocrats and that they fabricated the entire story of Jesus Christ. His presentation will be part of a one-day symposium entitled “Covert Messiah” at Conway Hall in Holborn. Although,to many scholars, his theory seems outlandish, and is sure to upset some believers, Atwill regards his evidence as conclusive and is confident its acceptance is only a matter of time. “I present my work with some ambivalence, as I do not want to directly cause Christians any harm,” he acknowledges, “but this is important for our culture. Alert citizens need to know the truth about our past so we can understand how and why governments create false histories and false gods. They often do it to obtain a social order that is against the best interest of the common people.” Atwill asserts that Christianity did not really begin as a religion, but a sophisticated government project, a kind of propaganda exercise used to pacify the subjects of the Roman Empire. “Jewish sects in Palestine at the... read more
WHY PEOPLE THINK THE CHURCH HATES SCIENCE by Zack Jackson

WHY PEOPLE THINK THE CHURCH HATES SCIENCE by Zack Jackson

I put on my clerical collar and drove the rainy streets to Lancaster, PA, suddenly regretting ever signing up to speak. I was sure that these people didn’t want to hear from a pastor, and with good reason too. I never wanted to be a pastor. Churches are complicated and pastors always look tired. I always thought some other sucker could do that job; I wanted to be a rocket scientist. My whole life was leading up to a career of rockets and robots when suddenly, when I was 17 years old, a switch went off in my mind and I couldn’t understand Calculus anymore. In my frustration, I felt that gentle but firm tug of the Spirit telling me that my worst fears had come true. She wanted me to become a pastor. I had fought it for years, but the current of the Spirit is strong and I was swept up in it. Over the next decade, I found God, lost my faith, embraced secular humanism, rediscovered my love of science, found God again, discovered a faith that was informed by science, stumbled into the UCC (United Church of Christ) almost by accident, and discovered that I wasn’t alone there. So when a local clergy friend told me about the March for Science, I knew that I had to be there, representing both halves of my paradoxical self–the spiritual side that regularly experiences the unknowable Spirit of the Living God and the rational side of me that demands peer reviewed sources for extraordinary claims. I think it’s possible to be a scientific mystic, though I’m sure folks... read more
TRUMP’S UNCOMFORTABLE MEETING WITH POPE FRANCIS by Jen Hayden

TRUMP’S UNCOMFORTABLE MEETING WITH POPE FRANCIS by Jen Hayden

Donald Trump and his family made their way to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis, who seemed to be in no mood to be schmoozed by America’s top con man. The meeting seemed icy from the start. From the press pool report of the initial meeting: “Thank you so much,” President Trump said to Pope Francis when they shook hands. After shaking hands, the pope and POTUS walked into the pope’s private study, which is just off the room where they shook hands. When pool entered the study, the pope and the president were seated across from each other at the pope’s wooden desk. POTUS told the pope it’s “a very great honor.” The pope did not say anything. He did not smile. He looked at [the] pool several times. We were quickly ushered out at 8:33 am. You can see that moment in the photo below. Pope Francis seems to be asking God what he did to deserve this. We’re all asking ourselves that, Holy Father. The images of the pope’s face below pretty well tell the story of his experience with President Trump:... read more
A BIGGER BOAT by Bill St Clair

A BIGGER BOAT by Bill St Clair

[The editor of Columnist with a View wishes to thank the Reverend St Clair for this article which came in “over the transom.” St Clair submitted his article on our HOME page.  Thanks!] Last month, the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church ruled that the consecration of a gay bishop violates church law. The bishop is Karen Oliveto who was married to woman when she was nominated, elected and consecrated by the Western Jurisdiction of the UMC as a leader of the denomination. UMC members in another region of the country objected. The decision caused some to raise their voices in protest, while others quietly whispered, “Amen”. There has been a fair amount of hand-wringing across the denomination about the effect the decision will have on the unity of the UMC. As a member of the UMC clergy, I offer humbly my observations. We can probably agree the Gospels do not recount Jesus mentioning anything about homosexuality. I would add that Jesus did not ask his followers to construct church buildings, to appoint bishops, to make rule books and to set up health and pension plans for clergy. The Great Commission does not ask us to build institutions. To me, those dissatisfied (disgusted) or satisfied (smug) with the decision are both struggling for one thing - control of the institution. Again, to me, this discussion and struggle is not about Jesus, does not involve the Gospel and diverts attention from the coming reign of God. Instead, the argument about same-sex relations leads inextricably to one side winning and the other side losing. Jesus offers guidance in such matters,... read more
AN OPEN LETTER TO REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM from a “Small Church” Pastor

AN OPEN LETTER TO REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM from a “Small Church” Pastor

Dear Frank, Can I call you Frank? This is just pastor to pastor. Feel Free to call me Peter. Anyway, I have to say I was flattered when I learned that your Decision America Tour took a detour off the beaten path to call upon us “small community churches.” We are nothing if not small. We seat 30-40 on a good Sunday. And we are a century old fixture of our small community. Most often we are overlooked and overshadowed by mega-churches and politically influential religious voices like your own. We don’t hold a candle to an auditorium filled with the music of a one hundred voice choir led by professional musicians. We probably will never be recognized in any nationally syndicated media. After all, we don’t do anything really “newsworthy.” We just preach the good news of Jesus Christ; love one another the best we can (which sometimes isn’t very easy); feed the hungry that come to our doors; care for the sick; comfort the dying; and bury the dead. So thanks for thinking of us. Rest assured, we are ready to respond to your calls to prayer and action. I have to say, though, that I was a little confused by your summons. Of all the things that worry me, loss of religious freedom for Christians in America isn’t one of them. I can’t say I have ever experienced anything in this country that could reasonably be called a restriction on my religious liberty, much less persecution. When you started talking about attacks on Christianity, I thought you might have been referring to the racially motivated slaying... read more
CAN THE CHURCH NO LONGER CHANGE SOCIETY? by L. Milton Hankins

CAN THE CHURCH NO LONGER CHANGE SOCIETY? by L. Milton Hankins

In times past, Christians were seen as catalysts for change. The Books of Acts traces the impact of Christians on a preponderantly pagan society. When St. Paul encountered the worship of idols, he called the people out, challenging them to turn to the “one true God.” According to church history, wherever the apostles, who were scattered by the Great Diaspora, wound up, they preached the gospel (“good news” of God’s love), a new way, and consequently thousands of people adopted a new ethic and a new lifestyle. Ostensibly, twelve men (the Bible leads us to believe) were ultimately responsible for altering the way of thinking and believing in the first and second centuries. The least we can say is that after the fall of Jerusalem and the spreading of this newborn faith throughout Eastern Europe, the world was never again the same. Yes, there was change, but the central question is: Was it for the better or for the worse? A study of religious movements, disputes, outrages and wars provoked by Christianity (the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Reformation and Puritanism, to name a few) raises valid questions. Today, Christianity has a tremendous worldwide presence. The twelve have become 2.18 billion! A substantial majority of Americans claim they are Christians. Christian missionaries are proclaiming the gospel in all parts of the modern world. And a new question is raised. Has Christianity lost its power to significantly affect society? As I see it, that appears to be the case. And largely, I suspect, because modern Christians have perverted the message of Christ. What the modern church, in general, espouses is neither... read more
A FEW LESSONS ON PRACTICAL RELIGION by L. Milton Hankins

A FEW LESSONS ON PRACTICAL RELIGION by L. Milton Hankins

Over the past seventy-five years, or so, I have learned lots of important lessons about religious and spiritual things. Some are serious…some are quite revealing…and some are definitely amusing. All of them are worth consideration. Maybe you are already aware of some of them.  I do not claim they are original with me! But, some of them may not yet have found their way into your senses. Anyway, I’ve jotted them down over several years, and I hope some of them will “shiver your timbers!” 1. Fear the one who yells the loudest. 2. Most church signs display faulty grammar and faultier theology. The most important school subject for a sign-maker is spelling. 3. Churches say they want to grow, but they don’t want to bring in new people who want to do things different than they are used to doing. 4. Christians preach generosity and practice frugality. 5. Always do what is right even if you get criticized for doing it.  6. Faith comes not from knowing; faith comes from NOT knowing. 7. God knows the right thing to do in every situation. 8. Beware of over-solicitous people. 9. When you are absolutely sure you are right–reconsider! 10. Nobody knows everything about anything in spite of what they think. 11. In spite of what Christians believe, everything in the Bible is NOT true. 12. Take the middle road. The far left is too radical and the far right is too angry. 13. Leaders make wars and send followers to fight them. 14. I almost never talk about leprechauns, fairies, and unicorns because I don’t believe they exist. Why do atheists spend so much time talking about God? 15. Always say... read more
WE ALL MUST RISE by Beth Rankin

WE ALL MUST RISE by Beth Rankin

This morning my Facebook feed is full of “He is Risen!” I understand the ritual and passion for this Easter Sunday, but once again, I have a perspective as a Jew attending church with my husband for ten years that may never occur to most of you. All this declaration of Christ as your Savior appears to be meaningless gibberish for most people. Something they say by rote, without thought. Like my ex-husband who wanted to eat the foods on Jewish holidays but he had no understanding of the symbolism of those foods. Many people I know profess to be Christian but are walking a pathway that is full of trimmings but no substance. I spoke of this at Christmas also. The adoration of Baby Jesus and all the promise He represented goes no further than grabbing presents from under the tree for most people. I am NOT espousing that someone needs to be strict in their daily observation of religion…ANY religion…in order to be a good person. In fact, with ISIS attacking Muslims who do not believe as they do, with fundamentalist Christians destroying rights and freedoms in this nation, with any ultra-conservative branch of any religion, we see they have very narrow definitions of what is right. That is NOT what Christ taught. I confuse a lot of people when I say that I am closer to Christ than they are because I practice the same religion that Jesus did. He observed the rules better than I do but he also broke them from time to time. Most of the time, he broke social conventions and was... read more