Jesus was not Superman!

 

Today on Facebook, I was having a discussion with a friend about Jesus’ humanity then minutes later stumbled upon this picture of Jesus as Superman. It’s a funny picture.  But it raises an interesting and — as a Christian — troubling point. How many Christians think of Jesus in precisely this manner? I’d wager a lot.

Coming from an historic, classical Christian tradition (Eastern Orthodoxy) allow me to say this: If you think of Jesus as a real life version of Superman then you really, really, need to reflect on what it is you think you believe — and perhaps more importantly, why you believe it.

According to historic Christian theology, Jesus was not Superman! He was not A Superman (like Star Trek’s Kahn). In fact, if we could travel back in time and give the Jesus who walked on earth a DNA test, his DNA would look like any other 1st century Jewish person’s DNA. It would NOT have extra helixes or be more tightly wound like Leelu’s in The Fifth Element.

Jesus’ DNA would be 100% plain, old, boring human DNA. That means he had all the same limitations we have. It means that “he didn’t have super strength, couldn’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, caught colds, and got splinters. It means he didn’t know everything, didn’t invent the toaster, and may have done things that some people find “unbecoming” of God, like blowing one’s nose or — God forbid — using an outhouse” (Freedom to Doubt, p. 121, 2013).

This has been settled, historic, orthodox Christian theology for nearly 1500 years.

Jesus was not Superman!

He didn’t glow in the dark or walk three feet above the ground. He couldn’t survive drowning, burning, or the beating shown in the Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ. No normal human being could have survived that long enough to make it to the cross. That’s not — Christianity.

If after reading that last line, your first thought is, “but Jesus was God!” then you might think Jesus was Superman, and are — unwittingly — diminishing his full humanity. It’s okay. I used to do that to. It’s just how we’re taught to think about Jesus. But it’s not a picture of Jesus found in the gospels, and it’s not what classical Christianity believed for 1500 years.

Not trying to start a gigantic argument here. I’m only trying to give people something to think about during this Holy Week when we claim to believe Jesus died as ONE OF US. But if Jesus was MORE than us (had super special DNA) then he wasn’t ONE OF US. And if he wasn’t one of us, is he our savior?

No answers. Not from me. Just something to ponder during this Holy Week.

 

Cue hate mail

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Good, bad, and everything in between!

 

I’m often asked why I’m so critical of the Church, Christianity, and religion. How can someone, who still claims to identify themselves as a Christian, be so darned negative?

Well, the answer is simple: I’m out to undermine all that religion, Christianity and the Church stands for. I’m out to destroy people’s souls, to corrupt the minds and hearts of everyone who reads anything I write, and to seek revenge on all those people and communities who have failed to live up to the teachings of Christ. In the end, I reject 2000 years of Christian tradition and have replaced it with a corrupt, Satan inspired modern, post-enlightened form of secularism and humanism! Why? Could it be . . . SATAN!?

Can you hear how silly that sounds when you say it out loud?

It’s as stupid as a Baptist telling me (an Eastern Orthodox Christian) that I literally think a picture of Jesus is Jesus himself. (BTW, Baptists don’t seem to have a problem kneeling in movie theaters and helping people give their lives to the Christ on the big screen — even though the Christ on the big screen is always some heretical version of Jesus!)

My answer above sounds silly. Or, I hope it sounds silly to you. But from some of the reactions, follow-up comments, and emails I receive, that appears to be the answer many people expect me to give. Or more accurately, it is the reason my critics tell me I’m critical of religion.

But just step back and think about it for a minute. Read my faux answer above just one more time, and tell me if that makes any sense to you at all? Maybe it does. If so, I’m very sorry. There is nothing that I can say that will convince you otherwise. You are not a part of my audience, and that’s okay. You can pick up a copy of the Purpose Driven Life.

For the rest of you, who have been genuinely perplexed about why I’m critical of religion, allow me to answer: I care!

Say what? How can someone who writes blog posts, articles, and entire books criticizing the various aspects of religion, CARE?

Well, I do.

Martin Luther cared. St. Francis of Assisi cared. Martin Luther King Jr. cared. And yet all these men were VERY critical of the religious world in which they found themselves. And all three were called various and horrible names throughout their lives. Because they cared.

No, I’m NOT like any of those men. I do not have the courage of Martin Luther. I do not have the dedication and love and patience of Francis, and I do not have passion and heart and self sacrificial nature of MLK. But I do care.

And that’s it. I’m a passionate person. And yes, I’m outraged by what the Church, Christianity, religion (whatever you call) it has done in the name of Jesus. I’m outraged Christianity has pillaged the Jewish Scriptures, ripped them out of context, and pretended they say things that they do not say. I’m irritated that our Christian book shelves are filled with spiritual fluff telling us how awesome we are, how beautiful our faith is, and how five year olds “died,” went to heaven, and saw Anglo-Saxon Jesuses (Jesusi?) instead of coping with real problems in the real world.

I’m angry that Christianity marginalizes all those at the bottom of the totem when it is the bottom of the totem which is most important. I’m angry that Christianity — a religion supposedly based on the teachings of Jesus — can be more concerned with secular power, wealth, and defining itself by who is excluded. Above all, I’m angry that Christianity, and Christians, spend more energy trying to cover up these flaws than they do trying to fix them. I am angry, but only because I care.

If you read my books, you will see that they always end on an “up” note (after I drag you across broken glass, and a bed rusty nails). I’m not the sort of person that can fake emotion. Which is both a blessing and a curse. I’m passionate about the flaws found in my faith, but I’m equally passionate about my own, personal experience of faith.  I am not the boogie man come to take away your precious myths, be they Biblical, theological, or historical. But I’m also not someone who only writes about the positive side of faith. I’ve always hated those types of books. And it isn’t what I want to write.

For me, faith has given me as many negatives as it has positives. And so I write about both. I will continue to do so. Not out of hatred for God, the Bible, history, theology, or the Church — but because my faith is a part of who I am. Good, bad, and everything in between. It ALL deserves to be confronted. I do that in my writing because I want others to know that confronting the negative is just as legitimate as praising the good. It’s all part of the life of faith — or, at least it should be.

 

 

 

 

 

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I am a progressive Christian, and I am intolerant!

 

When I first watched this video of Franklin Graham I was so enraged that I began writing an article on everything that is wrong with Mr. Graham’s radical statements and bizarre Americanized, modern “theology.” But I paused and decided to not give this man any more publicity than he deserves.  I thought it was better to ignore people who are this wrapped up in their own, twisted, theological world. I was wrong!

Christians, and especially non-Christians, need to know that this form of self absorbed Bibliolatry — if one can even call it that — is not acceptable to a large, unheard from segment of the Christian population.

The video is shocking. I have never seen such evil spew from someone as well known as Franklin Graham. It’s beyond reprehensible. Even if you are a Christian who believes that homosexuality is a “sin,” would you dare to speak about other, fellow human beings in this manner? It’s not so much what he says but how he says it. Okay, that’s not entirely true. What he says is disgusting. But the tone of disdain he uses to say it makes his words so much worse. There is no hint of compassion, love, or empathy with those for whom he believes are sinners in need of repentance. He is just filled with disgust and smirks about that disgust throughout the interview.

Half way through the interview he complains that people like him are “demonized” for their “opinions.” This has become a common refrain within Conservative Christian circles within the last couple of years. Liberals and progressives , they say, are “intolerant” of their “Christian values” and that this intolerance is grossly unfair. Liberals and progressives do not like to be called “intolerant,” and so far too often we will smother those we criticize with niceties: We merely disagree with Franklin Graham. We just want to represent Jesus in the best way possible. We want to shine the light of Christ’s love and cast out the darkness of hate. That’s all good stuff. But I think it is time we progressive Christians own up to the fact that we ARE intolerant. Let us own that intolerance and declare it, boldly!

I am intolerant of the vitriol and hate Graham uttered in this video. I am intolerant of his words, his bad theology, and his weird, self aggrandizement. I am intolerant of intolerance and I think we shouldn’t be afraid to say that! The Conservative wing of Christianity sure as hell isn’t afraid to proclaim what they believe. It is time we stand up be speak boldly, even if we are labeled as intolerant. 

Yes, I am intolerant. I’m intolerant of ignorance. I’m intolerant of fear. I’m intolerant of Bibliolatry. I’m intolerant of intolerance!

Our faith has been hijacked by theologically and biblically ignorant people. We need to take it back. Not through the physical sword, but through our love, our actions, and yes,  sometimes through our bold and intolerant words.  I say, let’s take the intolerant label — that cross — upon ourselves, and be intolerant of anti-Jesus beliefs! Doing so doesn’t mean we hate anyone. It doesn’t mean we cannot be friends with our Conservative brethren. But it does mean we will no longer hold our tongues and cower in the corners of our churches hoping beyond hope that some level of sanity will find it’s way back into our faith. Nothing will change unless we stand up and proclaim that we want that change. So let’s stand up, and loudly proclaim what we believe, do not believe, and the things of which we are intolerant!

Yes, I am a Christian. And I am intolerant — intolerant of the kind of language that drives more and more people away from the One whom we claim is the creator of all.

 

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Noah film criticism misplaced

To my fellow Christians criticizing the Noah movie for not having enough biblical material: you do realize that the entire Noah story consists of only FOUR chapters in the book of Genesis, right? And that a huge chunk of those four chapters do not even consist of a story, but of measurements and cubits and description of animals and rain, right? Go back and read the text.

Of the bible! Not Sunday school supplementary materials.

There’s nothing there. Four chapters! That’s it. I think people do what Christians have done for centuries. They’re filling in the gaps of the biblical narrative with extra-biblical material they got from sermons, or classes, or other movies or their imaginations etc. The actual narrative is short and Noah is not a character. He’s just the least evil guy on earth!

Yeah, that’d make for a great story!

Of course there is going to be artistic license! There isn’t even enough source material to give us an episode of Doctor Who, let alone a two hour epic film.

And unless you’re willing to give the same amount of criticism to say Son of God (which I could rant about its heretical theology for a week) then just lighten up folks. Hollywood made an epic film out of one of your beloved short stories — they had to pad it out with, you know, not boring stuff like Noah measuring wood for twenty minutes.

I mean, Russell Crowe is a talented guy, but I don’t think he could have made that interesting. He isn’t Tom Hanks, who actually did make measuring stuff for twenty minutes interesting in Castaway!

So please, just chill out. We’ve already had three Christian based movies this year. Not to mention the ones last year, like Jesus of steel — er, Man of Steel! Later this year we have a new Moses film, and who knows what else. Just chill. Enjoy that Russell Crowe is making a boring character appealing to a mass audience. I could see if it was a story with lots of narrative that Hollywood altered, like Joseph or…you know…JESUS (and again, where are the outcries about Son of God?) but Noah? Come on! Remember….

FOUR CHAPTERS!!!!

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Despite the critics, Freedom to Doubt has helped people

For anyone who knows my writing, it’s evident that I hold nothing back. I criticize the Church, Christianity, my own spiritual journey, the Bible, and yes — even God (or rather, specific human interpretations of God). This often angers a great many people. Since the publications of my first book, I’ve received countless emails that can be accurately defined as hate mail. People — including priests and monks — telling me I’m going to hell for questioning the Church. People telling me I’m out to deceive people and rip faith away from the unsuspecting. A number of priests tried to obtain my address and phone number: borderline stalker like behavior. I have saved many of these emails just to have them. Do they upset me? You bet they do.

They are extremely painful because, unlike my writing which “attacks” fictional stories that never happened, these people are attacking me, personally. There is a vast different between criticizing a story about an ancient Israelite murdering his daughter, or an anti-Semetic saint, or the Church’s ability to maim and tortures those who dared to question the Church and attacking me, as an individual.

But, I’m not going to cry over spilled milk. I’m not here to defend myself. People have the right to believe what they want about me. It’s their right and just as I don’t defend the Church for its faults, I sure won’t defend myself for my faults. But I will — and d0 — defend my honesty.

So, if I’m not posting to defend myself, why am I posting? Simple: I’m posting because despite the naysayers out there, my writing has indeed helped people in their walk of faith.

Today, I just received a brief email that said the following:

Just wanted to let you know: “Freedom to Doubt” has helped me, a skeptical Byzantine Catholic, VERY much! Thanks!

It is short and to the point. But it made me feel — good. Proud. Not depressed about my present state of being. How could one little line do that? Because despite what critiques say, this is the reason I wrote Freedom to Doubt. I didn’t do it to attack God or challenge someone’s faith. I did it to tell people that if you doubt, are angry, hate the Church, theology, question particular doctrines and even God’s existence it’s okay. You’re a normal person. You aren’t an evil, wicked sinner. You’re just like those who prefer to read Christian fluff like The Purpose Driven Life. The difference is that you’re honest about where you are and they struggle to remain dishonest and pretend they don’t feel exactly the same way as you or I do. That’s the difference. That’s why they try so hard to convince you and me that we’re bad people. That’s why we’re shunned to the point of losing friendships and parish life. But Freedom to Doubt is about one thing — it’s about KNOWING you are not alone and that your doubts and questions are okay. Even — and especially the doubts people fear the most. If we believe in God, then we believe God is BIGGER than the Bible, the Church, and any doubts we can throw at Him.

If Freedom to Doubt helped even one person — then all the pain that has come with publishing it was worth it.

 

 

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Bill Nye vs Ken Ham: Entertaining but does it matter?

 

Last night was the much anticipated debate between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and the head of the “Creation Museum” Ken Ham. I watched the debate, chatted and tweeted about it as it was underway.  Bill Nye can’t be anything but nice and even Ken Ham seems like a friendly well meaning individual. However, nice guys or not — facts are facts. And Ken Ham’s world view us low on facts and science and extremely high on a particular brand of Evangelical Christian theology.

Most of Ham’s points had little to do with science. He was clearly out to win souls for Jesus, not debate the finer points of the Biblical creation stories. And therein lies one of the problems. If you are not willing to honestly engage with the texts, the world views of those who wrote the texts, and be honest enough to admit that reading a bad English translation of a 3000 year text may not be an accurate representation of what the creation stories actually mean, then why should we take your arguments seriously?

Bill Nye did a fairly good job. I liked the way he spent most of his time asking questions (as opposed to giving answers). It was a good approach but he was in way flawless either. However, I think his goal was to try and get people to think for themselves. His greatest point was to ask why it is we should take Ken Ham’s view of an English Bible as THE correct one? With that said, I do wish Nye had been a bit more knowledgeable about the Bible itself. I wanted Ken Ham to be called out on a number of things — like why it is he completely ignores three or four different creation stories (all found in the Bible) and only focuses on ONE of them? Forget the fact it’s not entirely clear WHICH creation story he is focusing on. Is he talking about Genesis 1? Or Genesis 2 and 3? Let’s pretend that they ARE the same story (again, they aren’t, but let’s pretend.) Bill Nye pointed out that believing an English translation of a 3000 year old text — no matter how inspired — is at best a stretch. And he’s right.

In fact, I’ll say that it’s ridiculous! According to the Bible,  the sky is made up of a solid dome of hammered metal!

God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. [Gen. 1: 3-6] Do you doubt any part of that? If you’re a person living on this planet today, I’m sure you do. While some English translations use the word firmament rather than dome, the Hebrew word clearly “refers to a piece of metal that has been hammered flat. Here, the function of the sky is to separate the waters above (which fall as rain) from the subterranean waters.”

A simple ride in a jumbo jet will debunk this ancient observational assumption. Yet, let us give credit where it is due. The ancients weren’t stupid. In some ways, their conclusions were not that far-fetched. The sky does appear rather dome-like. Given that the sky is blue and that water (rain) falls from it, it is quite logical to infer that there might be an ocean “up there” somewhere. “Such a view of the world is not the product of stupidity but rather of shrewd and careful observation. The unaided eye and mind could not be blamed for thinking that was what the world was like” (Price and Suominen 2013, 49). Sure, these ancient inferences are terribly wrong, but we are talking about people from the Bronze Age!” — Charles Shingledecker. Freedom to Doubt (Kindle Locations 952-957). Tellectual Press.

There is an entire chapter dedicated to Creationism in Freedom to Doubt. Obviously a single chapter or a single debate will not change anyone’s mind. I don’t think Bill Nye was trying to change anyone’s mind. He just wanted people to think for themselves and not be afraid to ask the questions that people like Ken Ham are afraid to ask. I know many of my Creationist friends will say they DO ask questions. But ask this of yourself: if you are a Creationist, do you ask questions in hope of finding a way to harmonize things you don’t understand in the Bible, or are you asking questions in hope of finding answers even if those answers contradict the Bible? If you think the actual answers cannot contradict the Bible, then you’re not really seeking truth. You’re seeking a way to harmonize two contradictory things.

The Bible is NOT a science book. It predates science. The much quoted “scientifically accurate” parts of Genesis 1 are not science. I do not believe they were ever intended to be science. They were  “an attempt (by the author) to distance “himself [and ancient Israelite beliefs] from Near Eastern creation mythology by taking a polemical stand against the two primary Mesopotamian deities, the sun and the moon.” That’s why the author goes out of his way to claim what is utterly nonsensical, namely that “vegetation sprouted at God’s command on the third day (Gen 1: 11-13),” before the creation of the sun (Tarazi 2003, 82) — Freedom to Doubt (Kindle Locations 979-982).

In other words, Genesis is not an account of how it all “really” happened, anymore than Psalm 74 is. What is Psalm 74? What do the Psalms have to do with Genesis? Quite a bit, given that Job and the Psalms contain the most ancient Israelite creation story. (More ancient than the one found in Genesis.) In the Psalms we read stories of how God [YHWH] slayed a fire breathing, cosmic dragon-god of the sea named Leviathan, crushed his heads, cut him into pieces and used the carcass to create the cosmos.

And yet, just as Genesis 1 is a polemic against the Babylonian sun and moon gods, Psalm 74 (along with Job 41) are polemics against the Babylonian creation story in which the god Marduk slays a cosmic dragon-god of the sea named Tiamat and creates the world out of Tiamat’s body.

Of course, as I write in Freedom to Doubt: “Genesis 1 emphasizes that the God of the Hebrews is the creator of “everything that has the breath of life” (Gen. 1: 30), including “great sea monsters” (Gen. 1: 21)— just like Tiamat. In fact, the author is so insistent on this point that, in a chapter consisting of only 31 verses, he credits the God of the Hebrews with creating everything of “every kind” twenty-three times.” Charles Shingledecker. Freedom to Doubt (Kindle Locations 1005-1008). Tellectual Press.

Get it? It’s a theological argument against the ancient belief that Marduk was the god who created the world. The Israelites are saying that it wasn’t Marduk but their god YHWH because “our god is bigger than your god!”

None of this has ANYTHING whatsoever to do with what “actually happened” in the physical universe. It’s all theological polemics. Not science.

Unfortunately Ken Ham doesn’t seem to understand any of this. And I don’t really have a problem with him not understanding. However, as someone who LOVES the Bible and takes it (along with its authors, the people who lived and died throughout the centuries etc) I find Creationism offensive. Not because Creationists are “bad Christians.” They’re not. Most Creationists are better Christians than I am. But that doesn’t mean they know or understand the Bible better than I do or better than the early Christians, who by the way, often didn’t think Genesis was “literal” history.

Origen thought that a literal interpretation of Genesis was utterly absurd and wondered how anyone could be foolish enough “to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree?” (On First Principles 4.16). The man was ahead of his time, even if he took some things (like becoming a eunuch for the Kingdom of Heaven) a bit too literally. St. Gregory of Nazianzus believed that the tree of Knowledge was not a literal tree but “contemplation, upon which it is only safe for those who have reached maturity of habit to enter” (Orations 38: 12). And modern-day Eastern Orthodox theologians “tend to follow the fathers in paying scant attention to the question of the physical historicity of the Paradise of Genesis 2-3, focusing rather on its existential significance” (McGuckin 2011a, 436). — Freedom to Doubt (Kindle Locations 1051-1058). Tellectual Press.

It is perfectly acceptable for any private individual to believe Genesis is a literal account of “what actually happened.” However, I still have never heard a Christian argue that God slayed Smaug’s great, great, great, great, great, great, grandfather then created the world out of its carcass. But why not? That story is in the Bible too!? What’s the difference? You think one is an allegory and the other isn’t? What if your criteria? Do you even have a criteria, or are you a Creationist simply because you think “real” Christians are supposed to be Creationists?

In the end, the Nye/Ham debate will probably solve very little. Creationists will continue to search for ways to shoehorn the Bible into how they view the world. Evolutionists will continue too look at the evidence and draw radically different conclusions. But what of those Christians (or even non-Christians) on the fence? I believe that is who Nye was attempting to reach out to. I have no idea if he was successful. However, I will give my personal thoughts on that question.

I was once a dyed in the wool Creationist. I remember when Ham was first building the Creation Museum. I remember the days prior to Ham with another superstar Creationist named “Dr. Dino.” I remember thinking the Bible said one thing and one thing only. But the truth is the Bible is far more complex, fascinating, and in depth than ANYTHING someone like Ken Ham has to offer. Again, I’m not trying to bash Ham. He seems like a nice person. Someone I’d like to sit down with and talk about almost anything. But not science. And not the Bible. Ham recently said that Christians who accept science are damaging to Christianity. Well, in my book, reading things into the Biblical texts that aren’t even there (like modern day Creationism) is damaging to Christianity. As Augustine once predicted, if science disproves Genesis, and Christians don’t change their minds, it will make them look like idiots. Well, Augustine was right. We Do look like idiots.

We live in a marvelous time and place. We KNOW more about the cosmos than all previous generations combined. To me this is wondrous not something to be mourned. Nor does it mean we need to twist the Biblical texts to mean something they don’t mean. The Bible is NOT a science book and “the creation stories attempt to explain why (in the existential sense) the universe exists, not how it exists. If you’re a Christian who wants to know how everything came to be, you need to study science. If, on the other hand, you’re a Christian who wants to know what it all means— well, that is the role of faith.” –  Freedom to Doubt (Kindle Locations 1072-1076).

 

 

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The true meaning of Christmas!

I know it’s Christmas Eve, and I really try to not post “serious” stuff on it, but you know what? Christmas is a serious time of year for many people. It’s the time of year when Christians celebrate the incarnation of the Logos, into the material world, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The “reason for the season” is that the light has shone into the darkness and the darkness did not, and cannot overcome it. That is, unless we Christians allow it to over come us.

In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug there is a beautiful scene with Gandalf, in which darkness and light literally do battle. And even though the one wielding the light knows it is a lost cause, he confronts the darkness anyway. But Tolkien always insisted, that even when all is lost, there remains a tiny hope that something can happen to change the course of history for the better. For him, that reality is partly represented in his Christian faith: The light coming into the world and overcoming the darkness. As the gospel of John says:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5, RSV).

Darkness is not “evil” as if evil were a “thing” to be grasped. It is, rather, lack of knowledge:

“The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not” (John 1:9-10).

Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol, points out the same thing. Ignorance and Want are the true “evils” of the world. But the greater is ignorance.

My fellow human beings, at this time of year we need to remember this message of light shining into the darkness. Christian, Jew, Pagan, Muslim, non-theist. whatever you are. Remember it.

Let us not forget those that have truly been overcome by this darkness and stolen from our midst. And let us not get so wrapped up with our own political and religious ideologies that forget what darkness even looks like.

Neither of the people in this picture are darkness themselves. I’ll repeat for clarity: Neither of these men are darkness in and of themselves. But one of them has allowed darkness to fill his heart.

If you don’t know who is whom, then perhaps you need a bit of light yourself.

Merry Christmas, Happy Nativity, and a Blessed Christmas to all!

Sincerely, Chuck Shingledecker

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Megyn Kelly clarifications are as unsettling as her initial “Jesus is white” remarks.

On Friday, December 13th, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly claimed that her recent comments about Santa and Jesus being ‘white men’ were actually humorous, tongue-in-cheek remarks. She further went on to say that people who criticized her statements were, in fact, “race baiting.”

Race baiting? Really? Okay, let’s get this straight. While I don’t give a flying flip about the Santa comment, I was bothered by her statement that Jesus was a “white man.” Well, thankfully she cleared that up. As this Fox News article says, “Kelly acknowledged on Friday that another suggestion she made on Wednesday, on whether Jesus was a white man, ‘is far from settled.’”

Wait? What?

She just can’t bring herself to say it, can she?

Jesus of Nazareth was a first century, Middle Eastern, Galilean Jew!!!

Megyn Kelly is an intelligent, well-spoken individual. She is NOT an idiot! Has Fox News baited her into perpetuating this controversy? Why can’t she just say it?

Jesus was a Jew!

A Middle Eastern, dark skinned, dark haired, Jewish man!

My God! What the hell are they afraid of? Just say it. Jesus was a Jew!

Can you say it? Hell, we can even sing it!

Jesus was a Jew!

A dark skinned Jew!

Yay, yay, yay, for JESUS WAS A JEW!!!

But she didn’t say that! She danced around the topic, like we’ve all seen crypto-anti-Semites do.

People who cannot bring themselves to say the words “Jesus was a Jew” are almost ALWAYS anti-Semitic. There are rare exceptions, but they are rare, so let’s just go with the Jesus was Jew thing, shall we? Because — you know — Christians claim to worship the JEWISH MESSIAH!

For 99% of the people out there:  If you CAN’T say Jesus was a JEW, it’s because you are, at least, mildly anti-Semitic.

Megyn Kelly is a white, blond haired Christian whose ethnic heritage almost certainly comes from Northern European extract. These sorts of a Christians (and I am one of them) have a long history of mild to severe anti-Semitism. It was built into the cultural fabric of that version of Christianity for a long time. The problem with her skirting around her claim that Jesus was a white man is that in a post Holocaust world, it feels — and looks — wrong.

So much of European Christianity supported the Nazis.  For us to have a white American Christian saying that Jesus’ race is not a settled issue is — well, wrong.

Oh, and dear apologists:  Don’t give me any bull crap about Christians not supporting the Holocaust because “some” Christians helped protect Jews. That’s just bull crap and you know it!

Yes, some Christian protected Jews. But saying that as if it gets Christianity off the hook, is like saying that because “some” Christians didn’t fight in the Crusades that Christianity didn’t support the Crusades. It’s bull crap, and that’s why the Catholic Church apologized for the Crusades.

As for the Holocaust: no Catholic was ever excommunicated for their participation in the Final Solution, so please — just deal with the fact Christianity has allowed and participated in a whole bunch of evil sh**! If your faith can’t handle that, then maybe you need to reevaluate your faith, instead of trying to “protect” it with inane apologetics.

Am I blowing this out of proportion? I don’t think so. Of course I don’t think Megyn Kelly is some sort of secret Nazi. At best she’s ignorant of Jesus’ Jewishness. At worst, she might think that “the Jews killed Jesus, because the Bible says so!” That doesn’t make her a Nazi. However, allowing this sort of ambiguity to remain on air does something quite dangerous — it allows the more uneducated, tribal, and mildly racist (and Anti_Semitic) Fox News viewers to wallow in their foolishness: If Fox News can’t say Jesus was a Jew then maybe he wasn’t!

Is that what Megyn Kelly intended with her little on air, linguistic dance? Probably not! But it’s a shame someone of her stature (and of all the Fox News anchors she seems to be, up until now, the most respected) to play this sort of game. She should know better, especially in a post Holocaust world, in which we are all still collectively recovering from 1500 years of Christian Anti-Judaism and 500 years of Christian Anti-Semitism.

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“Jesus was a white man,” says Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly!

Sometimes I post things on my Official Facebook page that explode into an interesting discussion. Today is no different. As you’ll see in the right sidebar of my website, my initial Facebook post regarding Fox News’ anchor Megyn Kelly’s recent statement that, “Jesus was a white man” has been inserted onto the home page of my website. What follows in the comments is an interesting discussion about history, race, and American Christianity’s lack of care for the poor — at least by some within the right wing branch of American Christianity. Sometimes little thoughts and comments just erupt into full blown discussions and when that happens from here on out I will be updating that side bar.

Feel free to follow me, post comments (as these are all public comments), or if you want to actually be FB ‘friends’ (and not FB trolls) go ahead and send me a friend request.

See you all somewhere in cyberspace!

 

 

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Putting Christ back into Christmas will only happen by looking within

Just as predicted, the “War on Christmas” is in full swing — within the minds of Fundamentalist Christians in America. Many declare the need to put “Christ back into Christmas,” and their favorite way of doing this is to rant about the removal of Nativity scenes from government property.

The Fox News website recently posted an article in which its author Todd Starnes decries the removal of a Nativity scene from Shaw Air Force Base, in South Carolina. Mr. Starnes says that he “can only imagine the psychological damage they [those that called for its removal] must have suffered as a result of glancing at the plastic statues. I hope no one needed hospitalization, God forbid.”

In fairness, he does raise an interesting point. What harm do plastic statues — as a part of a non-biblical scene that everyone thinks is Biblical — actually cause? Not much. But many Christians seem to miss the larger picture. For starters there is that little thing called, you know, the Constitution and the now infamous separation of Church and State clause that forbids this sort of thing!

Of course, the Constitution doesn’t forbid religious beliefs or practice from informing people’s lives and opinions (even when those people are a part of U.S. government). However, the separation of Church and State clause does forbid the U.S. government from ENDORSING any particular religion over another. And whether my fellow Christians like it or not, a Nativity scene on a U.S. Air Force base — as benign as it seems — is a subtle way of endorsing one particular religion over another.

Is that the heart of putting “Christ back into Christmas?”

Part of the problem is that American Christians of almost every brand accept the Nativity story as a part of “real Christianity.” It’s so ingrained into our religious and secular culture that we, as Americans, just assume that everyone celebrates Christmas. Well, in case you’ve been living in a box, not everyone celebrates Christmas! And even if every single American were Christian — the Nativity story which we all know and love isn’t even found in the Bible.

The reality is that Christmas story that we all celebrate every December, “is actually a conflation of two distinct and contradictory accounts that are found in the Bible. One account is in the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus’ family is from Nazareth (Matt. 2: 4). His parents travel to Bethlehem, where he is born, laid in a manger, and visited by shepherds the night of his birth (Matt. 2: 7, 16).

The second account is found in the Gospel of Matthew, in which Jesus family actually lives in Bethlehem, and his parents do not travel anywhere. Jesus is born in Bethlehem, but is not laid in a manger or visited by anyone on the night of his birth. The visit comes years later, after a star in the sky leads an unnumbered group of Magi (i.e., astrologers) to the region, where they then witness the star settling over the house of Joseph and Mary (Matt. 2: 9-11)” – Freedom to Doubt, p. 124.

In other words, there is one story about Christ’s birth in the Gospel of Luke and a completely different (and contradictory) story found in the Gospel of Matthew. These two stories cannot be reconciled, no matter how much text twisting an apologist attempts to perform. Yet, even if they could be reconciled — and even if everyone in America were Christian — by allowing an official branch of the United States military to put a Christian religious scene on United States property we’d be forced to allow religious scenes from all other religions to be erected on government property too.

 Now, I personally wouldn’t have a problem with that, but many Christians would. Which category do you fit into? How would you feel if you walked onto a military base and saw, for example, a Nativity scene portraying the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna, or a Nativity scene of Buddha’s birth?

Even better — and probably more infuriating to some Christians — let’s have a Nativity scene depicting the conception of the Virgin Mary (a common image within Eastern Orthodox iconography)!

Would these be acceptable religious images to appear on a U.S. military base? If they are acceptable, that’s fine. At least you’re being consistent and fair.

 If you do not find them acceptable ask yourself, why?

Is it because you believe Hinduism and Buddhism to be false religions?

If the answer to that question is yes, then you’ve just answered the question that asks why the United States government cannot erect scenes from one religion, while excluding scenes from other religions. No government should be able to declare one religion correct and the others heretical. Throughout history, governments that have been invested with that kind of authority became brutal religious dictatorships. And we cannot allow the sort of religious oppression that exists here.

The U.S. government can endorse all religions equally or it cannot endorse any of them. You may argue that the simple act of a erecting a Nativity scene is not an endorsement of one religion over another — that it is a far cry from the Taliban. I would agree. But the moment the government steps in and says that they are going to display religious symbols on government property, they’ve taken a step (no matter how small) toward endorsing one religion over another. The Constitution forbids this. Christians simply need to accept this and move on. Because putting Christ back into Christmas isn’t going to be done by erecting Nativity scenes on government property. It’s going to happen when Christians rediscover the message of the Nativity story: The lowly birth of the Savior that wasn’t declared by governments and kings, but by poor shepherds watching their flocks under a starry sky.

That’s the message of Christmas. And that message cannot be imposed — it can only be discovered by looking within.

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