The Art of Starting Over

This is extraordinarily beautiful! Reblogging….

Holly Baer

In the last six months, my entire life fell apart.

I broke up with my fiancé of seven years, cancelled a wedding, found out I didn’t get into a single grad school, and fully understood the consequences of my deteriorated personal relationships.

As the entire world I’d created disintegrated, I watched my coworker with envy. She was getting married to her fiancé. She got into graduate school at Vanderbilt (my favored graduate school). She received a Taylor Medal, one of the most prestigious awards you can win at the University of Mississippi. She still had God to lean on.

I watched her live the life I thought I had earned.

I felt guilty every time I felt the pangs of envy in my gut. Our lives could not look anymore different: she was the obedient daughter of a Methodist minister. We shared a major, but her studies led her to…

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Bill Gothard entered our family after Scott was born.  (Google him if you have never heard of him).  Gothard’s teachings became a core part of what our fundamentalist pastor preached.  My parents became absolutely convinced that Gothard was a man who really knew how to apply Biblical principles to everyday life issues.  My father began to use Gothard’s teaching material after dinner, in our usual “family devotions”.  My parents became hard-core far-right conservatives.

They pulled Stephanie and Scott out of public schools and entered them into a private school with similar views.  The rest of us were out of high school by that time, and it was a good thing we didn’t have to leave public schooling, for sure.  One by one, as we watched our parents get sucked further into this new worldview, the older four of us began to withdraw from fundamentalism.  We went out into the world, discovered other ways of Christian thinking, and left our former belief systems.  My oldest sister Sandy left Christianity altogether and got involved in a community of “New Age” people, who found spirituality without Christianity.

Sue, Stacey and I stopped going to church.  We all had troubles in our lives, still believed in God, but didn’t prioritize church at all.  I won’t speak of them, but I will speak of myself.

I did the whole “sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll” stuff.  I had some really great times, and some really bad times.  One good thing was meeting my now-husband, Harry.  I got pregnant and we got married.  So many marriages that begin this way end in divorce, but we are about to celebrate our 35th anniversary.  When I gave birth to my daughter, I decided I needed to settle down.  I left those few wild years behind me and started going to church again.

I spent a good number of years in and out of all types of denominations.  I figured that if God is the author of truth, there had to be some church out there that had that truth.  I had so many questions that were still inside of me since my early childhood.  I became obsessed with finding God.  Who was he, what did he mean to convey in the Bible, how could I know with certainty that I was living in the truth of who he was?

The family scaffolding has shifted away from my early years, and now I will address my own life.  Future posts will center on my faith journey.

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The Bible is not Magically Inerrant: Exposing Inerrancy Proof-Texts

An excellent treatment of inerrancy.

Jesus Without Baggage

Inerrancy is perhaps the most obvious example of what the Bible is NOT, and I have written about it many times. But today I approach it from a different angle by examining common inerrancy proof-texts.

I begin with the most popular one.

The Bible

All Scripture is God-Breathed

The #1 go-to inerrancy proof-text by far, considered by many as the defeater of any argument against inerrancy, is 2 Timothy 3:16:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

This sounds like the death knell for those arguing against inerrancy, but there are several reasons why this passage cannot prove inerrancy. First, this is part of the author’s coaching of a specific person in a specific situation; it is not a revealed truth from God and is not even addressed to us but to the recipient.

Secondly, we must ask what the author means by…

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I haven’t finished my family history, and I haven’t been personally blogging because I didn’t finish my family history.  So much happened in the middle of putting my history into words on this blog.  It was difficult to continue it due to a major shift in my thinking.  I will get to that soon, I hope.

Life had settled into a kind of Christian normal for my family by the 60s  We went to school, went to church, and participated in both Christian and secular activities.  I was in my junior high chorus, and my two older sisters were in both the choir & marching band in high school.  We had friends with whom we spent time.

Then, in 1966, my mom gave birth to my baby sister, Stephanie.  She was born two months early.  In 1966, babies that small didn’t usually survive, and those who did had handicaps. Stephanie weighed in at 3 pounds, 2 ounces, and she was in the nursery for the next several weeks.  Her weight kept dropping until she was down to 2 pounds, 11 ounces. Our pediatrician came up with a formula that Stephanie could digest, and her weight turned around.  He saved her life.

When Stephanie stayed over 5 pounds, she was finally able to come home.  Because she was a preemie, and she had that specific formula to survive, my mom was up pretty much around the clock.  My mom became absolutely exhausted.  But we all adored Stephanie, and there was no shortage of love in her life.  When we older siblings were able, we helped with baths and diaper changes.  Still, in the days before Pampers, cloth diapers added to my mom’s already difficult laundry needs of a spouse & four other children.  I’m not sure how she made it through those first few months.  After Stephanie was out of the woods, our father told us that my mom had miscarried shortly before Stephanie was conceived, and that they had decided to try again.  So, the mental strain of a miscarriage and a preemie really wore my mom down that way, too.

Stephanie ended up with no permanent complications from her premature birth, but was a normal and happy baby.  We were all relieved.

Imagine our surprise when my mom got pregnant again!  That pregnancy was unplanned, and this time my mom went way past her due date.  In 1968 she delivered baby number six.  And so my brother, Scott, entered the world, the sixth child and the only son.  I think my mom must have gone through menopause or found better birth control, (she was 40 when Scott was born), because Scott was the last baby they had.  You can only imagine the attention Scott received, being the only boy!

Having another baby a mere two years after the miscarriage & exhaustion of raising a preemie, now age 2, sent my mom into a horrible post-partum depression.  It was so bad that she didn’t even get out of bed, except to use the bathroom.  The burden of cooking, cleaning, and dinner fell on my dad’s shoulders & my two older sisters.  I was in charge of the laundry.  My dad forcibly potty-trained Stephanie.  It was all pretty brutal.  I have no idea how my mom came out of it.  My parents did not believe in psychology.  Instead, they had Christian “counselors” they knew about.  I have no memory of any type of counseling my mom received, but eventually she came out of that dark place.

Because Stephanie and Scott were so much younger than the first four of us, we referred to them as our parents’ “second family”.  Their experiences growing up were much different than we older sisters’ experiences were.  My parents changed the location of the annual two week camping vacation, as well as gaining a whole new circle of friends with young children.  My dad, a devout fundamentalist, became alarmed at what he saw as a deterioration in society writ large.  He pulled Stephanie & Scott out of public schools, and enrolled them in a private evangelical school.  Both of them were pretty unhappy there.

My parents worked as janitors at the school in order to offset the tuition.  After a few years, my mom became the school’s bookkeeper. Now the main activities surrounded the school.  In all of this, my parents became even more conservative in their beliefs.  Not so, the rest of us.  But that is yet another story.  I’ll try to get to that earlier than I did this post.

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How Important are ‘Correct Beliefs’ to God?

Wow. This is so very well written!

Jesus Without Baggage

Many believers think people who claim to be Christian but stray too far from ‘correct beliefs’ are not Christian at all. And the corollary is that they are going to hell—just for not getting their beliefs right!

I used to think much the same way. I accepted some other denominations as Christians even though I considered them seriously misguided; but others were heretics whose beliefs went far beyond what was acceptable for Christians.

Someone invited two Mormon missionaries to an informal gathering at my Christian college. At the end of the argumentative session a student wished them ‘Godspeed’. I replied, ‘No! I will NOT wish them God-speed!’–because they were the enemy. Their beliefs disqualified them from being Christians.

Christians burning Christians by Myasoyedov Christians burning Christians, Grigoriy Myasoyedov [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsRight Beliefs through Christian History

Right beliefs have been important to Christians since early times. The Gnostics had ideas completely incompatible with…

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Anti-gay Christians: leave Orlando alone

Not sure I could express this better. It is absolutely TRUE for most of Christianity.

Signs you are a Sheltered Evangelical

I am heartbroken over the 49 lives lost in the worst mass-shooting hate crime in our country’s history.  I am sickened by the dismissive words of the murderer’s father.  I am sickened by the people who are more concerned about being allowed to own an assault rifle than the lives ended by one.  And I’m beyond sick of the people who refuse to acknowledge anti-LGBT hatred as the motive. But another thing has stood out for me that blinds me with rage, and that is Christians who want to use this tragedy to score points for their team.  I’m talking about the anti-gay Christians who want to criticize Islam for a crime they also bear responsibility for.  If you are one of those Christians, this post is directed at you.

I am not here to let homophobic Islamic theology off the hook.  By all means, lets call out, condemn, shout…

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Can the Bible be read objectively?

This was my main reason for eventually becoming an atheist. There’s not even objectivity within varying sects of religion. And it’s bathed in the supernatural, which has no objective tools with which to investigate its existence.

Signs you are a Sheltered Evangelical

I’m posting this to facilitate a conversation that I began on the wonderful blog, Darcy’s Heart Stirrings.  There, a commenter going by the name Josh made the following statement (emphasis mine):

If you really understand the whole narrative of the Bible it will always point to two things. God Loves you and He is always working for you to destroy evil, to destroy sin. If you honestly look at the Bible objectively its impossible to not see the love and care God has for us.

Josh went on to insist that, if I held a view of god that did not include his love and care for humankind, then I must be reading the bible in a biased and subjective way.  Now, I agree with Josh that my view of god as described in the bible is subjective.  However, I assert that his view is subjective as well. I…

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Procedural Realism: Refuting the Moral Argument For God

Secular morality is superior to religious morality.

Naturalist Philosophy

Proponents of the Moral Argument share a view known as substantive realism, which is the view that states that “there are correct procedures for answering moral questions because there are moral truths or facts, which exist independently of those procedures, and which those procedures track.”1

Let’s consider the fatal flaws this position has:

  • Whether one argues that morality is simply objective or it’s objective because it hinges on god, the view begs the question and thus isn’t justified. Begging the question is a fallacy, so a view that begs the question is either incorrect or must be revised so as to eliminate the fallacy in question.
  • The view is unjustifiably metaphysical. It, in other words, argues that morality is innate. It cannot be learned. It is part of the maker’s mark that god supposedly imprinted in us.
  • Given the weaknesses of this view, we need to look elsewhere; in other…

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The Binding of Isaac as Cautionary Tale

In the end, it all comes down to the agency of a child.

R.L. Stollar //// Overturning Tables

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

Genesis 22:6-10

The Binding of Isaac is one of the most troubling passages…

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Centering Children: The Hermeneutics of Child Liberation Theology

R.L. Stollar //// Overturning Tables

Like all liberation theologies, child liberation theology places the subjects of liberation—children—at the center of the hermeneutical process. Child liberation theologians must read biblical narratives with an eye towards children: (1) towards childrens’ roles in any given narrative, (2) towards their marginalization from narratives, (3) towards what childless narratives contribute to the general theme of children, and (4) what implications any given narrative has for our praxis here and now with regards to child liberation.  I will look at each of these four categories individually.

I also include the idea of child protection in each of these categories, as I believe child protection is both a fundamental aspect of, as well as a key mechanism for achieving, child liberation. As suggested by Brazilian liberation theologian Hugo Assmann, the social context of marginalized individuals should be a point of departure for exegesis. “The text is our situation,” Assmann writes in Theology for a Nomad Church. This idea…

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