RELIGION

MR. CHRISTIAN’S SUNDAY MORNING by James Merritt

MR. CHRISTIAN’S SUNDAY MORNING by James Merritt

Mr. Christian woke up, thanked God for the air, his wife, and the Republican party. He told his stupid kids to hurry the hell up as they were leaving for church; he told his wife to wash off her make up as she looked like a whore, then told her to put it back on when he realized she was covering her bruises. On the way to church he stopped by McDonalds to get coffee and tell the sinners they shouldn’t work on the Lord’s day. Then, he told them to get real jobs and stop living off his taxes. When the Christian family got to church they hugged, shook hands and sat together in the third pew back, left side. They sat rigid unmoving smiles on and sang the required songs. They stood and sat when told to–doing just enough without making a fuss of an amen or a testimony as that took up too much lunch time before the Sunday afternoon game. They thanked the Pastor and paid their tithe. Mr. Christian signed his wife up to teach Sunday school, teach Vacation Bible School, and lead the bake sales for the next quarter. She worked full time as he did, but he knew she’d figure it out, and if she got stressed, no problem. He’d yell at her, telling her not to sign up for so much stuff. Mr. Christian got home and sat in his favorite chair while wife and kids fixed dinner. When he got up to move to the table and sit down, everything wasn’t ready, so he yelled at his wife “Why won’t you just... read more
A PASTOR DESCENDED FROM ROBERT E. LEE FORCED TO LEAVE CHURCH AFTER SPEAKING OUT AGAINST RACISM by Ursula Faw

A PASTOR DESCENDED FROM ROBERT E. LEE FORCED TO LEAVE CHURCH AFTER SPEAKING OUT AGAINST RACISM by Ursula Faw

A descendant of Robert E. Lee spoke these words at the MTV Video Awards last month in the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville: “My name is Robert Lee IV, I’m a descendant of Robert E. Lee, the Civil War general whose statue was the center of violence in Charlottesville. We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate. As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin. “Today, I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God’s call to confront racism and white supremacy head-on. We can find inspiration in the Black Lives Matter movement, the women who marched int he Women’s March in January, and, especially, Heather Heyer, who died fighting for her beliefs in Charlottesville.” Long story short, his North Carolina congregants didn’t like what he had to say on national television and they decided to take a vote on whether he should remain as their pastor. Lee took the hint and issued this statement: “I regret that speaking out has caused concern and pain to my church. For this is [sic] I offer my heartfelt apology. I understand that my views could be considered to be controversial. I never sought this sort of attention. But, I do believe in God’s role in calling out for positive social change for the good of all. We are all called by God to speak out against hate and evil in all its many forms. There are so many good things going on with this congregation and I do not want my fight to detract from... read more
AN APOSTATE YOGI by Judson Jerome

AN APOSTATE YOGI by Judson Jerome

This yogi in his dhoti in Benares stood on one leg. One outstretched palm kept ice from melting while the other fried an egg Wearing nothing but a turban and a mandala he dwelt in a Frigidaire eight months chewing a ginseng root. They don’t need air. They are not dependent on the variables that generally maintain us. They show the autonomic nervous system who is boss. A yogi can suck water up his anus. swallow Kleenex and pull it out his nose. A woman with a yogi for a lover said he never came too soon, yet sitting in his lotus with his thoughts on God could spurt all afternoon. I never met a lady yogi, but I hear they menstruate when they please. A yogi never laughs without deciding, nor does he sneeze. He makes his heart beat fast or slow, depending on mind, not glands. his hiccups, sweat and pupil sizes obey commands. He farts at will and never apologizes.   As a boy I tried to suck my belly under ribs till I saw my spine. Though I never tried a rope or cobra, I played my ocarina for some twine. I pounded blunt ten penny nails through plywood and would have lain on it, no doubt, if I could have got my weight all in one motion  evenly stretched out. I wiggled my ears and pursed my sphincters, crossing my eyes. In school I sat with a stony gaze, engaged in internal exercise. But I surrendered as I aged to the voluntary and involuntary as discrete domains, with uncontrollable regret enduring riot in my... read more
SOMETHING EVEN UGLIER THAN RACISM by Constance Hilliard

SOMETHING EVEN UGLIER THAN RACISM by Constance Hilliard

HUCKABEE SANDERS - POSTER CHILD FOR SOMETHING EVEN UGLIER THAN RACISM THAT AROSE FROM ANTEBELLUM SOUTH What could be worse than the soul-shredding evil of racism during the era of human bondage? My answer would be creating a world of make-believe so fortified by lies that those who lived within it could believe that slaves didn’t mind it in the least when their children were sold from their trembling arms or when their wives were sexually assaulted by the plantation owner. While the institution of forced labor was dismantled after the Civil War, the peculiar mindset that defined reality as whatever the patriarch said it was, regardless of the evidence of one’s own senses, escaped the confines of the South and spread to other areas of white working class America. It was a worldview built on an invented moral authority. Southern evangelicals had fought the abolitionism of their northern evangelical counterparts by creating a new hermeneutics–Bible literalism. It proclaimed that anything theologians found in the world of 2,000 years ago as having made its way into the Bible could be declared sacrosanct and God-inspired. Critical thinking skills, even personal observation were disdained for the proclamations of the patriarchal leader. In that context, lies were whatever liberals said, and the truth was the patriarch’s mumblings. White House press secretary, Sarah Huckebee Sanders, thinks of herself as a good Christian because she is faithful to the truths of Donald Trump. If this poison isn’t worse than racism, then it certainly runs a close second. [Constance Hilliard’s article was reblogged by Daily Kos Liberation League on August 2, 2017. It is reprinted... read more
HYPOCRISY LIKELY TO BLAME FOR DECLINE OF CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS by L. Milton Hankins

HYPOCRISY LIKELY TO BLAME FOR DECLINE OF CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS by L. Milton Hankins

Before I intimate the declining state of religion in this country, let me say that it is in dismal disarray. Thousands of churches in America, on any given Sunday morning, have a telling number of empty pews–most of them more than half-empty. An equal number (thousands) of articles have been written, asking, “Why is church membership declining?” That is not my particular concern either. My interest is in the growing number of agnostics and atheists, in general. I well remember a time in this country when only one atheist’s voice was being heard and who name was well-know–Madalyn Murray O’Hair. O’Hair once opined, “Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea.” The remarkable, but unthinkable truth, is that she was right! Keep this thought in mind. Before I share statistics, it is important to understand the meaning of the words “atheist” and “agnostic.” According to Dr. Phil Zuckerman, in an October 2015 issue of Psychology Today, “An atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in the existence of God or gods. And agnostic is someone who isn’t sure if there is a God or not, or who doesn’t feel like he or she (or anyone) can have any valid information on the matter, and thus, thinks that it is impossible to say there is a God, or that there isn’t.” I’ll go with Zuckerman’s definitions, but simplify them by saying that both atheists and agnostics (nonbelievers) simply have no belief in a deity, period. They are neither theists nor polytheists. They are about as willing to talk about... read more
LIFETIME YIELDS OBSERVATIONS ON RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY by L. Milton Hankins

LIFETIME YIELDS OBSERVATIONS ON RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY by L. Milton Hankins

[Editor’s Note:  Following are personal observations and conclusions I have reached. You may not agree with some or all of them and that’s okay. Think about some of the important observations and conclusions you have come to during your lifetime. Hey, I might not agree with some or all of yours either, but, it’s an informative and fun reflection on your life experiences.] From infancy I attended Sunday school and church. I went on to college and seminary and was, somewhat simultaneously, a pastor/teacher for 50-plus years. Living life observantly has taught me more about religion, the church and the spiritual life that I could’ve ever absorbed from books. Here are a few serious (and silly) lessons I’ve learned: ♦ Most church signs display either bad spelling, poor grammar or faulty theology. Some, all three!   ♦ Churches say they want to grow, but they don’t want to bring in new people with new ideas. They say “We’ve never done it that way before.” ♦ Christians preach generosity and practice frugality. ♦ Faith comes not from knowing; faith comes from not knowing. Faith does not arrive at what we’ll know, but journeys toward what we’ll never know. ♦ In spite of what some Christians believe, not everything in the Bible is demonstrably true. ♦ Atheists spend too much time talking about God.  Think about it. Unicorns and trolls don’t exist, so we don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about them. ♦ Don’t count on tomorrow. It might not come. ♦ Everyone knows the “Golden Rule”; almost no one follows it. ♦ If Jesus returns on a Saturday... read more
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