Tag Archives: Christianity

Mocking Religion

The question on Facebook the other day, I’m only mildly paraphrasing: “Should the US government be condemning a movie” – we know which movie, I think – “to improve diplomatic relations?” For me, it’s an unequivocal “yes.” Not that that the audience of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s denunciation really cares. They seem to be of the opinion that the United States should arrest the filmmakers, or worse.

This leads me on all sorts of further questions. Should a government official comment on art at all? I use the term “art” loosely. In 1992, Dan Quayle, then the Vice-President, complained that TV character, Murphy Brown, deliberately had a child out of wedlock. Should he have been allowed to do that? Indeed, there are devotees who believe Continue reading Mocking Religion

A book I ought to read: Jesus for President

There was a study of a book in Albany called Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. Claiborne was even in town, leading some workshop. But I was busy. Then I read this excerpt of the book in my church newsletter:
“Christianity is at its best when it is peculiar, marginalized, suffering, and it is at its worst when it is popular, credible, triumphal and powerful.”

Sounds like my kind of book.

From the preface:
Continue reading A book I ought to read: Jesus for President

Religion compare and contrast, and Old Silvertooth

Chris, with whom I have been having an interesting dialogue on Facebook about human nature, wants to know:

What do you think about other religions? Is it just “different strokes for different folks,” or are some religions better than others, or a mix? Where do you think other religions belong in Christianity?

A lot of how I view other religions is based on the bias I have seen within Christianity, including by myself. When I was growing up, I wouldn’t say anything, but I thought those Catholics who had “dirt” on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday looked silly. As a bit of cosmic comeuppance, in my last two (Protestant) churches, we now apply ashes on our foreheads on the first day of Lent.

I recall the first time I was allowed to take Communion at a Roman Catholic Church, on some important anniversary Continue reading Religion compare and contrast, and Old Silvertooth

J is for Jubilee


“Proclaim liberty throughout the lands and to all the inhabitants thereof, it shall be a jubilee for you.” – Leviticus 25:10. In the Judaic tradition, during the Jubilee year, debts were forgiven and land that had been sold to repay debts was returned to the original owners. “What was sold shall remain with the purchaser until the year of jubilee; in the jubilee it shall be released, and the property shall be returned.” – Leviticus 25:28. In both Judeo-Christian and non-Biblical traditions, there has been an understanding that forgiveness of debt, when that debt becomes so onerous that one cannot ever get from under it, is both fair and practical.

Julius Nyerere, former President of Tanzania, asks, “Must we starve our children to pay our debts?” Continue reading J is for Jubilee

ROG answers Arthur's Question on Irreligiosity

One of my favorite people in Blogistan, Arthur@AmeriNZ, asks:

You know—of course you do—you had me scurrying for my dictionary to consider the relative merit of “gauntlet” v. “gantlet”. I give you the victory on points.

But that’s not my question. You are religious and at least some of your readers are not. How hard is it for you to overlook what I can only assume is, if not blasphemy, then as close as you can get? Some of us are a bit more stroppy in our irreligiousity than others, so I’m wondering how you reconcile that with you own faith. Or, is it that your faith allows for those who are of differing—even non-religious—beliefs?

This is something that I, as a heathen, have long wondered about.

Arthur, I hyperlinked “stroppy” for my American readers, because I had never heard of the word until I saw or heard you use it.

I think my faith journey has been helpful. Continue reading ROG answers Arthur's Question on Irreligiosity

H is for (Methodist) Hymnals


When I was growing up at Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church in Binghamton, NY in the 1960s, we used a hymnal that looked exactly like this. (A.M.E. stands for African Methodist Episcopal.) The first hymn was Holy, Holy, Holy [listen], and when I was younger, I mistakenly believed that the phrase “Blessed Trinity” was a reference to my church, rather than to the preceding phrase, “God in three persons.”

The Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) initiated the process of creating a new hymnal in 1928 Continue reading H is for (Methodist) Hymnals

X is for…


I marvel at the versitility of the letter X.

It can be used as a signature that is printed in lieu of an individual’s signature…”Typically, individuals sign their full names when executing legal documents. Sometimes, however, individuals use only their initials or other identifying mark. For illiterate, incompetent, or disabled people, this mark is often the letter X. Documents signed with an X sometimes raise questions as to their validity and enforceability.”

Related, the X refers to a kiss. “The first mention in literature of XXX for kisses at the bottom of a letter was in 1901, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The X itself is very old.

“The custom goes back to the early Christian era, when a cross mark or ‘X’ was the same as a sworn oath. The cross referred to the cross of Calvary and the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, Xristos.” Continue reading X is for…

Roger Answers Your Questions, Tom the Mayor and Jaquandor

Jaquandor, the Buffalo area’s finest blogger, asks:

1. Are there any words you dislike, just because of the sound of them and not necessarily the meaning?

Used to be that German words I tended to dislike as too gutteral. The K sound would get stuck on the roof of my mouth. But I’ve mellowed, and nothing immediately comes to mind.

2. Are there any subjects you really want to know more about and yet never seem to get around to learning about?

Oh, yeah, dozens, everything from various sciences, such as astronomy and botany; to languages, which I do not seem to have a talent for, starting with Spanish and Latin. But I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t do anything about it unless I give up something else, and evidently, I’m not willing to do that.

3. Are you surprised that gay marriage passed in New York? (I am, a little….)

Heck, yeah. It failed miserably some 600 days earlier, when the State Senate was controlled by the Democrats. OK, “controlled” is probably an overstatement Continue reading Roger Answers Your Questions, Tom the Mayor and Jaquandor

MIRACLES post

Copyright 2006 by Sidney Harris

Have you ever experienced something that no rational explanation can describe? I did once.

I was living in Schenectady near Albany in the spring of 1978, and I asked out this amazingly beautiful young woman who worked at Albany Savings Bank; at least one parents was from Brazil. Her response was that I could go to church with her sometime.

So one Sunday afternoon, she and some friends picked me up and took me to a church in Troy, a really eclectic group of congregants.

At some point in this LONG service, the pastor went around and asked each person if they had been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. Though I had had a “saved” experience when I was nine Continue reading MIRACLES post

Blame/Guilt in the Liturgy

When I was growing up in the AME Zion church, there was a part of the liturgy called the Prayer of Humble Access, which we said every time we had communion; in our church, that was the first Sunday of the month. The prayer has long Anglican roots; the 1662 revision, which is at least a century after the original, reads: We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen. I have to say that that line about the crumbs under the Table always bothered me Continue reading Blame/Guilt in the Liturgy