God's Politics

God's Politics


Diana Butler Bass: A Post-Colonial Pageant

posted by gp_intern

I have a confession to make: I watched the Miss Universe pageant Monday night. I could make some lame excuse like “nothing else was on television.” But the truth of the matter is that when choosing between elevating my mind with Al Gore’s new book and sinking into the comfy armchair in front of the flat-screen, I chose Miss Universe – live from Mexico City.

Miss Universe is a particularly embarrassing show to admit watching. Unlike Miss America, a pageant with a modicum of socially redeeming value (scholarships!), Miss Universe is an out-and-out ball gown and bathing suit spectacular. For decades, it was dominated by the blond-haired, blue-eyed likes of Miss Sweden, Miss France, and Miss USA. But this year was a different story.

Of the top 10 finalists, only one – Miss USA – represented the Anglo-European world. No Miss Sweden in sight (she actually dropped out because of social pressure at home that beauty pageants demean women). The other nine included: Miss Brazil, Miss India, Miss Japan (the eventual winner), Miss Angola, Miss Venezuela, Miss Korea, Miss Tanzania, Miss Nicaragua, and Miss Mexico, all citizens of the non-Western, post-colonial world. Even though they had been “Hollywoodized” to resemble Vogue models, they still carried distinctive aspects of their own cultures. Miss Tanzania was nearly bald – I have never seen a bald beauty pageant contestant before. Miss Japan’s modest evening gown looked more like a kimono than Christian Dior. Miss Brazil paraded around stage with Carnival flair.

In a kind of geo-political beauty contest metaphor, Miss USA tripped and fell during the evening gown competition. When she actually made the top five finalists, the Mexican audience jeered and booed like an angry soccer crowd. Were they irritated by our new immigration legislation? Maybe they don’t like George Bush? Whatever the case, Miss USA smiled graciously, and placed fourth.

The best moment, however, came when Miss Korea offered her testimony. While answering a question directed by the judges, she deftly said that she cared about missionary work more than anything else in the world – and that she wanted to be very rich so she could give much money to support the work of missionaries. Except for the accent, she sounded every bit like a Southern Baptist beauty contestant from Tennessee.

As I watched, I realized that I was witnessing a kind of Philip Jenkins (The Next Christendom) meets Miss Universe, a pop culture sort of post-colonial, post-feminist, and post-modern global gala – one to which Western Europeans were not being invited.

Of course, we were not very good hosts when we were the ones handing out invitations, as we expected everyone to come to our party our way. But as the gravity of pop culture moves south – as the gravity of religion already has – it might help for Miss USA’s fellow citizens to be prepared for some big changes, shifts in power, influence, understandings of truth, and yes, even the idea of beauty. I cannot fathom entirely what Miss Universe might portend for the future, but I do know that I do not want my nation to be booed off the world stage.


Although not many people know it, Diana Butler Bass (http://www.dianabutlerbass.com/) was once a debutante and was asked to compete in Miss Teen Arizona (she declined). Thirty years later, she holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University and is the author of six books, including her award-winning Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith (Harper San Francisco, 2006).



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JimII

posted May 30, 2007 at 7:58 pm


It is pretty hard for me to get past the objectification angle of beauty pageants. Nonetheless, I can appreciate that there may be those who see them as more than that. I guess we don’t need to give up all of our guilty pleasures.



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Mike Hayes

posted May 30, 2007 at 8:15 pm


Diana, Thanks for sharing your observations about the growing acceptance of contestants from less wealthy nations and your positive impressions about the rejection of materialism and emphasis on spiritual values, as evidenced by Miss Korea!



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Mick Sheldon

posted May 30, 2007 at 8:35 pm


Diana, Thanks for sharing this . But I was surprised somewhat of your belief it was America’s fault for the rude behavior of the host country audience . I believe one of America’s problems is we think the world revolves around us . That the behavior , good or bad is somehow always because of what we do or do not do . . We are not perfect , but we even treat those without the ability to support themselves better and we offer a better opportunity to step out of poverty then those in this country . We should be proud of that , and try to do better yet .The fact is this countries behavior has a worse history in dealing with its citizenery , in the past and present . Americans would find this behavior as a sign of our moral decay , this country’s audience and even you seem to blame us . I believe we are becoming much more secular and fragmented , but obviously the majority of us still understand this was just rude .



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Ross

posted May 30, 2007 at 9:01 pm


Dr. Bass commentary is insightful. I think it is ironic though, that she seems to welcome the non-western people s influence in world affairs (including beauty pageants) while her church thumbs its nose at them in matters of religious doctrine.



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Diana Butler Bass

posted May 30, 2007 at 10:08 pm


I don’t often jump into the comments, but my church–The Episcopal Church–does NOT thumb its nose at non-western brothers and sisters on matters of faith. The Episcopal Church has been greatly enriched by a willingness over the years to learn from our global friends, an opennesss to non-western theologies and political expressions of the Gospel. In Episcopal pews (not the desks of the evangelical seminary from which I graduated, one that was relentlessly Euro-centric–even to to point of ridiculing the rest of the world), I first learned various African, South American, and Asian theologies, heard the voices of African and Asian preachers, prayed the liturgies of Native New Zealanders, Native Americans, South Africans, and Indians. As a church we weren’t always historically very sensitive–and too often outright oppressive–but, overall, we learned from our mistakes and have been moving toward a much more generous theological vision, one that includes the insights, perspectives, struggles, and hopes of the God’s beautifully diverse world. That said, the Episcopal Church is struggling with SOME African, South American, and Asian church leaders at the moment over one issue: What is a deeply Christian understanding of sexual identity? (Although we probably should be struggling over the roles of women and children, the sex trade, poverty, and political oppression, too–if we were as faithful as we should be). That one issue, and the myriad of cultures in which the question is being addressed, should in no way obscure what has been, over the last half century, an increasing open, charitable, and mutually beneficial relationship between members of a great communion of Christians across the West and well beyond. If we were just snubbing the non-western churches, this all wouldn’t hurt so much. And, if you doubt me, ask any Episcopalian–even the most theologically liberal, pro-gay ordination one you can find–and ask how terribly painful, conscience-stirring, and prayerful this all has been. Nothing that has happened in the last six years has been done in the trivial, dismissive way your post suggests. But pain doesn’t go away by ceasing to be one’s authentic self in God in order to please other people and make conflict disappear. Diversity, and true openness to diversity, will always cause conflict and tension because we are all different–even if we all live into the baptism acclamation that Jesus is Lord. Indeed, conflict suggests that people take one another more seriously than not (I fight with my husband more than anyone else!) and suggests that, as a church, the Episcopal Church has genuinely opened itself to being a true partner in global Christianity. We are trying to find ourselves in ubuntu theology–the theology expressed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu–that “I am a person insofar as you are a person.” In mutual humanity, we find wonder, love, and God. As we have opened to others and their voices and visions of God, we have also found God in new ways in our own midst–with our unique voice, history, and perspective. Indeed, being able to listen to people from the rest of world taught me how to listen to my closest neighbors–including my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. To communicate the biblical passions of the American Episcopal Church, our historical experience, spiritual insights, and the pain of our prayers is our vocation in the midst of all this global change. It is a noble task, even if we don’t always get it just right. And the struggle makes it a great time to be an Episcopalian. You can’t avoid tough questions, you have to know what you believe, you have to delve into God’s embracing heart of love and justice. Frankly, as churches go, it is a really pretty good one (How’s that for a church sign? “The Really Pretty Good Church”). You just wouldn’t know that from the partisan blogosphere or from reading the New York Times.



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Will

posted May 30, 2007 at 11:05 pm


AMEN!Thank you for your strong and passionate voice. The Episcopal Church, the whole Anglican Communion is blessed by your commitment, wisdom, and compassion.



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God's Politics Moderator

posted May 30, 2007 at 11:27 pm


“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) This message thread has been visited by a God’s Politics Blog moderator for the purpose of removing inappropriate posts. Click here for a detailed explanation of the Beliefnet Rules of Conduct: http://www.beliefnet.com/about/rules.asp which includes: Help us keep the conversation civil and respectful by reporting inappropriate posts to: community@staff.beliefnet.com 1



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nad2

posted May 31, 2007 at 12:20 am


dbb comes flyin in w/ a ddt! wrasslin’s own jake the snake robertson would be proud! well said. i have tremendous respect for the episcopal church’s witness, including dbb’s.



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nad2

posted May 31, 2007 at 12:26 am


jake the snake roberts, excuse me, i am adding letters to the name of a southern sports icon!



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Payshun

posted May 31, 2007 at 1:45 am


I agree the Episcopal church has grown a lot. Now if others would only follow suit. p



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Kristi

posted May 31, 2007 at 3:49 am


Thank you for your post on this comment page, Diana. The fact that your church is even HAVING a dialogue with those whom there is a profound theological disagreement, speaks to how open and loving you are. I am in an extremely conservative tradition, and they would never stoop to even speak to those who would posit that sexual orientation other than hetero is anything but a verifiable, express elevator to hell sin. God Bless You!



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Brent Hardaway

posted May 31, 2007 at 4:41 am


Rather than ask what Americans can do to make Mexicans and other Third Worlders like us (which is pretty much nothing -some will hate us, some will love us no matter what course of action we take), let’s ask another question: Why should Americans let people who boo us into our country?



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Kristi

posted May 31, 2007 at 6:59 am


Hummmmm—an interesting digression. I don’t believe that anyone is advocating letting those that boo us “in”; I really don’t think that they are the ones that want in—most likely, those that are trying to get in are those that want a better life for themselves and their families, and that appreciate American values. When we have one of those contests in our country, I believe that there are very few from other countries represented in the audience, and if there are, I doubt they are interested in booing us. That only occurs outside our country, where those that disagree with our arrogant and self-absorbed policies feel free to voice their opinion of us. Those who want to be here are too busy trying to get in!



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moderatelad

posted May 31, 2007 at 2:19 pm


Payshun | Homepage | 05.30.07 – 7:50 pm | #I agree the Episcopal church has grown a lot. Now if others would only follow suit. Maybe we need to define ‘grown’. There is a wonderful Episcopal Congregation in my community that is ministering to many in our area. The teaching that comes from the pulpit is foundational and sound. They are also considering leaving the Episcopal Denomination because of what the Adm. is embracing (pushing) that does not follow sound Christian doctrine. I am not sure that your idea of ‘grown’ and their would be the same. Have a great day – .



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kevin s.

posted May 31, 2007 at 6:11 pm


“I agree the Episcopal church has grown a lot. Now if others would only follow suit.” No thanks.



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Saadaya

posted May 31, 2007 at 6:23 pm


Since when is Latin America not considered part of the Western World? I don’t read ‘Eastern’ or ‘African’ or ‘Islamic’ into these contestants. I think the author of this blog is defining ‘Western’ more in political than in cultural terms, but even then the trend in Latin America is quite the same as in Europe. There is a Latin American Union that is being formed right now, comparable to the European Union, in the southern cone of this hemisphere which most Americans are unaware of, being self centered as they are and unaware of what’s really going on out there in the world. Brasil, for example, has an urban, diverse, cosmopolitan culture which is actually quite similar to American culture in many respects. As many territories in Latin America today have gay civil unions as states in the US … and the embarassing fundamentalism that she attributes to the third world … is right here in the US, particularly in the south. The US is the only country on the planet where Christians still insist that the Earth was made in 6 days and are willing to build a museum on lies and superstitions. This is not happening in Third-World-Christian Nigeria, but in Third-World-Christian (and very white) Tennessee. Scary. Regardless of attitudes toward Bush, I don’t think they should have booed her. I’m sure she worked hard and made many sacrifices to be there and this is a sign of immaturity on the part of an audience. A previous entry mentions ‘spiritual values’ when refering to Miss Korea. I don’t know if we can talk about ‘spiritual values’ when Miss Korea supports missionary work. That’s not spiritual values. That’s religious bigotry, it’s the idea and belief that ‘my religion is superior and I have a need to make others follow it’.



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Pete Ross

posted May 31, 2007 at 7:26 pm


Diana – Your characterization of the church I love and where I regularly meet the spirit within members of the congregation (ours welcomes persons of all sexual persuasions) warms the cockles of my sixty-seven-year-old heart. Thank you. Peace, Pete (2006 Michigan General Convention Deputy)



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kevin s.

posted May 31, 2007 at 8:15 pm


Saadaya,I’m glad you are so open-minded that you equate the beginning of the Bible with superstition. Recently, a professor of Astronomy, Guillermo Gonzalez was denied tenure for providing empirical evidence for what you have deemed to be a superstition. He is from Havana, Cuba, and is not particularly white. You could mark this as an instance of a University in (very white) Iowa simply manifesting racist pathology. After all, you managed to dismiss the entire south as a third-world nation. Shouldn’t take too much effort to paint with a slightly broader brush, eh? I’m glad you find that all missionary work constitutes bigotry. This is not a narrow perspective at all. How then should Christians interpret the passage admonishing us to feed Christ’s sheep? How shall we emulate the life of Paul? Or would such emulation be, itself, an act of bigotry? If bigotry is so broadly defined as to include the simple profession of faith, then the word has lost all meaning. It is a bludgeon cast down from mteropolitan condominiums, meaningless to all but the naval gazers who have rescued themselves from the third-world misery that surrounds us.Tell us more, oh enlightened one.



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Billy James Hargis

posted May 31, 2007 at 8:58 pm


takes a bigat to know a bigat



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Payshun

posted May 31, 2007 at 9:05 pm


Maybe we need to define ‘grown’. There is a wonderful Episcopal Congregation in my community that is ministering to many in our area. The teaching that comes from the pulpit is foundational and sound. They are also considering leaving the Episcopal Denomination because of what the Adm. is embracing (pushing) that does not follow sound Christian doctrine. I am not sure that your idea of ‘grown’ and their would be the same. Have a great day – moderatelad Me: Please read Diana’s response. Understanding that diversity of opinion, experience, culture… brings conflict is essential to the missional statement of Jesus. God heals that but you would not necessarily know that by the way the American church is now. Not only that but her willingness to speak openly about the struggle of her church to deal w/ loving the least (the LGBTQ community) shows a level of growth and maturity lacking in the Southern Baptist Convention and many other protestant denominations. Kevin: No thanks Me: No problem. I don’t see how this type of growth is a bad thing. Diana said: In Episcopal pews (not the desks of the evangelical seminary from which I graduated, one that was relentlessly Euro-centric–even to to point of ridiculing the rest of the world), I first learned various African, South American, and Asian theologies, heard the voices of African and Asian preachers, prayed the liturgies of Native New Zealanders, Native Americans, South Africans, and Indians. As a church we weren’t always historically very sensitive–and too often outright oppressive–but, overall, we learned from our mistakes and have been moving toward a much more generous theological vision, one that includes the insights, perspectives, struggles, and hopes of the God’s beautifully diverse world. Me: I have yet to see this struggle in the other parts of Christianity. I can see how you might reject that Kevin. It is sad though. There is a lot of life on the other side. p



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Kristi

posted May 31, 2007 at 9:50 pm


Wow—so I am wondering why certain people are even on this blog, when they resist any kind of dialogue (or even the very IDEA) on subjects that are close to the hearts of most progressive Christians. We are all trying very hard, from our heart of hearts, to be understanding and compassionate of our fellow believers, who are in a state of theological confusion. There is a HUGE continuum of what Christians believe on the issue of things such as sexual orientation, and to disdain the Episcopal Church for trying to find some common ground with ALL their members is a extremely petty attitude.



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kevin s.

posted May 31, 2007 at 10:05 pm


What if some members of a church think it is okay to disregard the poor? What if members of the church think divorce is acceptable in all cricumstances? There is a difference between dialogue and acquisescence. I am not interested in my church abandoning Biblical principle. That, to me, does not represent growth. It’s different, but it isn’t growth. I consider God to be diverse and beautiful, but that doesn’t mean that he has no commands for us. I am also not sure that ordaining gay ministers is close to the heart of most Christian progressives. Most of the ones I know are politically liberal, but understand what the Bible teaches on this issue. And is the Episcopalian church really trying to find common ground? I didn’t see a whole lot of compromise taking place with regard to Eugene Robinson. That, to me, looked like one side getting their way entirely. So we have an alcoholic, gay divorcee serving as a bishop within the denomination. Again, no thanks.



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Don

posted May 31, 2007 at 11:33 pm


Correction: The Creation Museum that Saayada refers to is in Petersburg, Kentucky (not “third world” Tennessee, as he puts it). Right across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. http://www.creationmuseum.org Here’s an article about it from last week’s Columbus Dispatch: http://www.dispatch.com/dispatch/content/faith_values/stories/2007/05/25/creation.ART_ART_05-25-07_B6_5J6Q39G.html Yes, it’s kind of an embarrassment for those of us who believe there is no real conflict between science and Christian faith. But it’s here and it’s open for visitors. Peace,



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Holly

posted May 31, 2007 at 11:36 pm


I appreciate the author’s observation that all of the contestants had been “Hollywoodized.” Although I haven’t seen this year’s contestants, I remember in the past being amazed at how “european” (shape of face, nose, eyes, chin, cheekbones) everyone looked, including the Asian and African women. The global beauty pageants do select for “westernized” Vogue model features.



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Kevin S.

posted May 31, 2007 at 11:55 pm


“Yes, it’s kind of an embarrassment for those of us who believe there is no real conflict between science and Christian faith” ID proponents do not believe there is a conflict between science and faith either.



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Don

posted June 1, 2007 at 12:03 am


I could say a lot of things about the Episcopal situation, but I think I’ll refrain, just to spare you all a thesis-length treatise. However, I’ll just mention one thing. Kevin, there really are two sides to every story. True, the Episcopal church seemed to want to have its way no matter what over the Robinson ordination. And it’s also true that now-retired Bishop Spong made what can only be called racist remarks after the bishops’ vote on the sexuality resolution at the 1998 Lambeth Conference didn’t go in the direction he desired. But I have also seen Episcopalians on the so-called “orthodox” side act not only in an un-Episcopalian manner but an unchristian manner toward those with whom they disagree. I am personally acquainted with one Episcopal parish that broke with their bishop. I know this parish because my father-in-law was the rector of that parish for over 25 years. It grieved me to see them behaving more like individualistic Americans than Chrstians. Further, the actions they took were in accordance with the ancient Donatist heresy (they refused to let their own bishop confirm their catechists because he had supported Robinson’s installation as bishop of New Hampshire. My father-in-law is probably turning over in his grave over the sexuality issue. The big issue for him when he was still alive was women’s ordination. He disliked it; he argued quite strongly against it. But he never defied his own bishop over it. And I think he would be even more grieved to see the parish he helped build defying their own bishop in the ways that they have done than over the sexuality issues. It’s grievous to see the church being torn apart this way. But blame clearly rests on both sides. We can take the stand that we believe in and do everything we can think of to justify it and persuade others of its rightness. But as Diana said in her response above, it doesn’t make the pain go away. Sure, it’s easy to quote scripture, but there’s no easy answer to this very human question. It’s really not as cut and dried as it might seem, and the church is there to help bring healing and comfort, not create more pain. And certainly not to cause division. Peace to all,



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Don

posted June 1, 2007 at 12:05 am


“ID proponents do not believe there is a conflict between science and faith either.” The Creation Museum doesn’t support ID, to my knowledge. It supports literal six-day creationism, with dinosaurs and humans co-existing. Most ID supporters accept the geological ages and timelines of science. Peace,



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Fred Goodwin

posted June 1, 2007 at 12:15 am


Diana: Perhaps you don’t personally thumb your nose at our African brothers, but some on the HoBD list appear to. Take TEC’s declining numbers compared to the increases of many African churches. Instead of celebrating the work of our African brothers, someone on HoBD actually questioned the African’s ability to count! That certainly made me think that HoBD was thumbing their noses at our African brothers.



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Kevin S.

posted June 1, 2007 at 12:40 am


“The Creation Museum doesn’t support ID, to my knowledge. It supports literal six-day creationism, with dinosaurs and humans co-existing. Most ID supporters accept the geological ages and timelines of science.” At some point, science is incapable of describing the origins of the universe. The supernatural enters the equation somewhere, so I do not see it as any more or less “scientific” to believe in a six-day creation. I don’t really know enough about the creation museum to comment on whether it is in line with ID theory or not.As for the Episcopalian church, this situation reinforces my contempt for denominationlist structures. What if the Bishops voted that the families were only allowed one child? Does obedience to the hierarchy supercede all?



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Carl Copas

posted June 1, 2007 at 1:34 am


Please correct me if I’m wrong. Most if not all of the NT passages that condemn what we would call gay and lesbian behavior assume that men and women engage in it strictly out of erotic lust. The implication is that they are tired of heteroerotic sexuality or want to extend their jollies and kicks by indulging in same-gender sex activity. Never is there an assumption that people are born with a sexual orientation. I’d like to hear from others on the list.



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Sarasotakid

posted June 1, 2007 at 2:03 am


I see that this has now become a discussion of the gay issue and how to deal with it within the church structure. I attend an open and affirming church but have come from a very strict, conservative background that condemned homosexuality as sin and assumed that gays were just going to go to hell. I began to attend the congregation where I am at now because they were strong on peace/anti-war issues. Now that I am there, I would have to say that I find the gay members of the church have a lot to add to it and that they are not the one-eyed beasts that they were depicted as at churches I went to previously. I have learned a lot. Does that mean that I condone homosexual behavior? No. Does it mean that I condemn it? No. All I know is that infidelity is wrong whether it is heterosexual or homosexual. That has not changed. I am aware of the passages in the Bible that condemn homosexuality but I do not believe that the specific situation that you’re addressing, Carl, was even posited to the writers of the Bible so I do not see those passages as settling the question.



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Payshun

posted June 1, 2007 at 2:19 am


The creation of the universe is not an important Christian issue. Did I say that outloud? Yep. I believe God created it thru evolution and other vehicles. The universe is infinite but the myth of genesis is only that a story designed to teach the Jews to see God’s character. It’s foolish to believe that story is a literal take on what actually happened especially when that was communicated thru some really unorthodox methods. p



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Payshun

posted June 1, 2007 at 2:20 am


Kevin, why are you focusing on the gay issue when I was merely examining the openess the Episcopal church has shown the other branches of the Christian tree? p



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Don

posted June 1, 2007 at 2:44 am


“What if the Bishops voted that the families were only allowed one child? Does obedience to the hierarchy supersede all?” Smells like a red herring to me. I wasn’t talking about blind obedience to a hierarchy. I was talking about a specific instance of congregational defiance of bishop authority re. the bishop’s prerogative regarding confirmations, and regarding the bishop’s authority to invite others to perform confirmations. Here was the situation: The congregation didn’t want their bishop confirming their kids because he had supported Robinson’s election at the assembly in 2002. Theologically, this is Donatism: because the bishop sinned or erred in his judgment, they didn’t want him laying hands on and praying for their kids. They apparently believed the confirmation would be invalid because he was “unworthy” to do it. That’s practically the definition of Donatism. What they did, along with two or three other congregations, was invite two retired bishops and a third from another country to come and do their confirmations in one big ceremony. They didn’t ask the bishop for permission to invite these other bishops to come–normally the bishop would extend such invitations. When I posted my concerns about Donatism and about these actions on an Anglican blog, I received an e-mail from a diocesan spokesperson, who told me that the bishop had made arrangements for another bishop from a neighboring diocese–who had not supported Robinson’s election–to come and do confirmations, in case any congregation asked that he not do them. Apparently these congregations didn’t bother asking before they took matters into their own hands. Regarding your statement proclaiming contempt for denominational structures, I have only this to say. We attended an independent, “non-denominational” church for twenty-three years. After that experience, we will never go back to another similar church. Abusive leadership isn’t found in “denominational structures” alone. And with a denominational structure in place, at least, if one disagrees with one’s local elders, one has a place to appeal to. And further, with such structures in place, if one disagrees with the local elders, one isn’t automatically told that there’s a problem with one’s relationship with God. Been there; done that. Never going back. Peace,



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moderatelad

posted June 1, 2007 at 3:45 am


Payshun | Homepage | 05.31.07 – 3:10 pm | #We have gone down this road before. To show love and compassion toward a group of people is what the church has to do and yes, sadly in many ways some have failed. But – if showing them the love of Christ is also to mean the acceptance and embracing a lifestyle that I read is contrary to the teachings of scripture and what God has proclaimed – there is where we go different ways on this subject. The Bible is very clear on many issues and we are to be light and salt to the world and show them what an Almighty God has first done for them while we were all sinners and what He requires of us as His children. The large Episcopal church in our down town community has embrased so many things including having a Hindu Holyman preach on a Sunday – I believe that is wrong and on the verge of becoming a polithestic congregation. Christ has called us to be in the world but not of the world and so his calls His faithful out to be different in many ways. Blessings on you my Friend – .



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Sarasotakid

posted June 1, 2007 at 4:48 am


The Bible is very clear on many issues and we are to be light and salt to the world and show them what an Almighty God has first done for them while we were all sinners and what He requires of us as His children.Here’s a question: Are Christians any more “orthodox” if they accept a politician who openly lies to pursue a particular policy (say a war) than Christians who accept homosexuality in defiance of biblical prohibitions against such acts?



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canucklehead

posted June 1, 2007 at 5:14 am


Diana – my wife won’t let me watch crud like The Miss Universe Pageant, The Miss USA Pageant even tho I tell her I watch it for the articles. Will you please call her and advise her of the in-depth conversation here that has been sparked by your watching that show? Thank you. Gotta run, she’s out for coffee and a Desparate Housewives re-run is coming on…



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canucklehead

posted June 1, 2007 at 5:19 am


Ho-lee, Mo-lee, Jake the Snake Roberts makes an appearance on God’s Politics? Now I know our Lord is at work!!!



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canucklehead

posted June 1, 2007 at 5:27 am


Hey, Don, I was interested in your post on that creation museum in Kentucky. It’s been getting some publicity up here because a similar venture has just opened in Big Valley, Alberta, Canada which is just north of the Tyrell International Museum of Paleontology located in the heart of Dinosaur Valley, Alberta, where researchers still periodically unearth the bones of Tyrannosaurus Rex and other fundamentalist preachers. Consequently the creationists and evolutionists are at war in our neck of the woods given this d’vpment. Sounds like we’ve made lots of progress since the Scope Monkey Trial of 1925, huh?



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canucklehead

posted June 1, 2007 at 5:31 am


Hey, I’m trying to read this while watching the Pistons-Cavs in overtime. Will Don or Kevin cry themselves to sleep tonight? Later,



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Tasiyagnunpa DuBray

posted June 1, 2007 at 7:08 am


Thank you Holly! This was an insane post by the other, because though she did comment about Hollywood, what she should have commented on was the moronic white washing women in other countries are participating in to become more “white.” Women in India buy bleaching agents to make their skin whiter. Asian women are having plastic surgery on their eyes to make them more “western.” Black women (everywhere in the world, America and elsewhere) are having their noses reshaped. This contest only shows what women creation over are doing to try to tap into the prestige long held by whites. It is a horrible scourge on this earth and saddens our Creator deeply, I’m sure. The last thing I wanted to see on Sojo was an op blessing this practice. As for the comments, how trite that it turned into a discussion on homosexuality. Ugh.



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Payshun

posted June 1, 2007 at 7:40 am


Moderatelad, I am not even talking about homosexuality. You all keep bringing it up. All I am talking about is how the Episcopal church is actually looking to connect to the other branches of Christianity.I realize you all think all homosexual acts are sinful (condemnable offenses.) I refuse to judge that. You all think you can. That’s where we disagree. But let’s get back to uniting the pieces of the tree. Christianity has some pretty complex expressions ranging from the Coptics to the Roman Catholics, from the mystics to the fundamentalists and yet we don’t borrow well from these traditions. Instead we use wedge issues (ie homosexuality, baptism, cessationism…) to avoid actually connecting to each other. That’s all I am really talking about here. I have talked at length about homosexuality and tried to show a compassionate non-judgemental christian response. I am done w/ mere debating about that in this thread. I want to talk about uniting Christendom in seeking true real relationship w/ God and Diana did that in her response but all you have focused on homosexuality. Why? p



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Tasiyagnunpa DuBray

posted June 1, 2007 at 8:09 am


Payshun, I would love to know how you think Diana did that with this post. She was writing from a narrow, elitist perspective of seeing a bunch of brown-eyed, darker-toned women prancing around in faux-indigenous garments and pronounced the world post-colonial!! I am sure she had the best intentions, and that she’s a wonderful person. But I submit that she was way off base.



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Kevin S.

posted June 1, 2007 at 8:43 am


“I see that this has now become a discussion of the gay issue and how to deal with it within the church structure. I attend an open and affirming church” From what I understand, you attend an emergent church. Do you mean to contend that the emergent church does not believe homosexuality to be a sin? Genuinely curious, here. “Does that mean that I condone homosexual behavior? No. Does it mean that I condemn it? No. All I know is that infidelity is wrong whether it is heterosexual or homosexual.” This is fine. But how can one act upon homosexual impulses without infidelity. According to the Episcopalian church, it is cool to act upon it whether you are married or not. Does divorce suddenly become sanctified in this circumstance?



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Kevin S.

posted June 1, 2007 at 8:47 am


“The creation of the universe is not an important Christian issue. Did I say that outloud? Yep.” Congratulations. Did God have anything to do with the creation, or are you cool with regarding it as myth?



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Kevin S.

posted June 1, 2007 at 9:01 am


“Smells like a red herring to me. I wasn’t talking about blind obedience to a hierarchy.” Yes you were. ” I was talking about a specific instance of congregational defiance of bishop authority re. the bishop’s prerogative regarding confirmations, and regarding the bishop’s authority to invite others to perform confirmations.” And I am arguing that congregatioal definace is justified in some cases. Or in many cases. “Here was the situation: The congregation didn’t want their bishop confirming their kids because he had supported Robinson’s election at the assembly in 2002. ” If this Bishop supported the confirmation of a gay divorcee, then I agree with the parents. Why on Earth did this Bishop support the confirmation, and why does that make my point a red herring?”Theologically, this is Donatism: because the bishop sinned or erred in his judgment, they didn’t want him laying hands on and praying for their kids.” By the same argument, a rapist should be allowed to lay hands on kids. “They apparently believed the confirmation would be invalid because he was “unworthy” to do it.” There is no scriptural support for the validity of confirmation anyway. Confirmation has a ceremonial value only, without regard to theology. “What they did, along with two or three other congregations, was invite two retired bishops and a third from another country to come and do their confirmations in one big ceremony.” Soundgs good. “They didn’t ask the bishop for permission to invite these other bishops to come” Who cares? “When I posted my concerns about Donatism and about these actions on an Anglican blog,” A lame way to deal with the situation, but moving on…”I received an e-mail from a diocesan spokesperson, who told me that the bishop had made arrangements for another bishop from a neighboring diocese–who had not supported Robinson’s election–to come and do confirmations, ” And everyone wins. The parents got what they wanted, and the process was revealed to be the superfluous spiritual bologna that it is. “We attended an independent, “non-denominational” church for twenty-three years. After that experience, we will never go back to another similar church. Abusive leadership isn’t found in “denominational structures” alone.” Fascism isn’t found in the Nazi party alone. Nonetheless, I abhor fascism. “And with a denominational structure in place, at least, if one disagrees with one’s local elders, one has a place to appeal to.” If ineffectually. “And further, with such structures in place, if one disagrees with the local elders, one isn’t automatically told that there’s a problem with one’s relationship with God.” Depends on the situation. If you want to slam you child’s head on rocks, you will be told that you have a problem in you relationship with God. “Been there; done that. Never going back.” Do as you must.



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Payshun

posted June 1, 2007 at 9:23 am


Kevin: Congratulations. Did God have anything to do with the creation, or are you cool with regarding it as myth? Me: What’s it? Genesis is a myth by any definition of the word. It is ancient hebrew poetry not a narrative account of actual time. It doesn’t mean that God’s character and nature were not beautifully explained in the story.Ofcourse God had everything to do w/ creation. Once he said let there be light something came into being. I just don’t know how he spoke or anything else. I do believe that God worked thru evolution and am fine w/ that. What about you? Do you believe Genesis is a literal story designed to breakdown creation or poetic myth designed to show us who God is? p



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Payshun

posted June 1, 2007 at 9:26 am


Tasiyagnunpa DuBray: I would love to know how you think Diana did that with this post. She was writing from a narrow, elitist perspective of seeing a bunch of brown-eyed, darker-toned women prancing around in faux-indigenous garments and pronounced the world post-colonial!! I am sure she had the best intentions, and that she’s a wonderful person. But I submit that she was way off base. Me: I read her comments on this blog. I have not really commented on the Beauty Pageant subject as I find it objectifying and supporting male fantasies. But her comment on this blog did illustrate that. Scroll up and read it. p



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Sarasotakid

posted June 1, 2007 at 11:57 am


Hey Don. Thank you for that well-reasoned post on denominations and your reasons for not wanting to go into a non-denominational church again. I share a similar experience. I also found it interesting how the Bishop had gone ahead and asked another Bishop to perform the Confirmation ceremony in view of his controversial stance on the Eugene Robinson issue. That certainly was a Christ-like attitude. Would that we all display a similar attitude when it comes to these tough issues! Peace.



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Tasiyagnunpa DuBray

posted June 1, 2007 at 1:16 pm


Payshun, Okay, I thought you were commenting on her blog post as a whole not the comment. My bad. Tasi



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Kevin S.

posted June 1, 2007 at 7:13 pm


“Genesis is a myth by any definition of the word. It is ancient hebrew poetry not a narrative account of actual time. It doesn’t mean that God’s character and nature were not beautifully explained in the story.” Was the Gospel also myth? Does Sojourners, as an organization, believe that the Bible is myth?”Ofcourse God had everything to do w/ creation. Once he said let there be light something came into being. I just don’t know how he spoke or anything else” So why do you dismiss the biblical account as mere poetry? If God could do it, why is it so difficult for you to believe that he did? Why must I re-evaluate scripture based upon a scientific theory with which I do not necessarily agree? “Do you believe Genesis is a literal story designed to breakdown creation or poetic myth designed to show us who God is?” I believe it is a literal story, wherein God demonstrated, by his actions, who He is.



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Carl Copas

posted June 1, 2007 at 8:17 pm


“I believe it is a literal story, wherein God demonstrated, by his actions, who He is.” Which one? Genesis 1-2:2 or Genesis 2:2-25. If truly interpreted literally, they can’t both be right. The order of creation doesn’t match.



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Sarasotakid

posted June 1, 2007 at 10:31 pm


Which one? Genesis 1-2:2 or Genesis 2:2-25. If truly interpreted literally, they can’t both be right. The order of creation doesn’t match. Carl CopasCarl, Carl, Carl, there you go throwing in that pesky thing called human reason and logic into the argument. Shame on you. LOL



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Sarasotakid

posted June 1, 2007 at 10:37 pm


From what I understand, you attend an emergent church. Do you mean to contend that the emergent church does not believe homosexuality to be a sin? Genuinely curious, here. Kevin S. This is both the good thing and the bad thing about the emergent church. Since they are getting away from being dogmatic, there is not one uniform position on the issue. So I couldn’t speak for the “emergent church” and I really don’t think that anyone can But how can one act upon homosexual impulses without infidelity. Kevin S. A gay couple being faithful to each other.



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Carl Copas

posted June 2, 2007 at 1:25 am


sarasotakid: “Carl, Carl, Carl, there you go throwing in that pesky thing called human reason and logic into the argument. Shame on you. LOL” Oops!! Forgot that isn’t allowed. :)



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Kristi

posted June 2, 2007 at 1:46 am


Okay let’s move on to the theology of creation—I believe that God is capable of creating the world in ANY manner he sees fit. However, over many years of science classes and reading countless articles by learned and considered writers, I feel that some type of evolutionary process was his mode of creating the universe. I do not believe that this is inconsistent with my faith in Jesus Christ. The OT was written in a uniquely Jewish manner, and allegory, myth and telling a story in a certain way, simply to evoke the emotional and spiritual ramifications of the event, are simply the way that ancient Jewish scribes wrote. By the time the NT was written, more reasoned Hellenistic methods of recounting events were in use, so the language used is more based in the literal.



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Tasiyagnunpa DuBray

posted June 2, 2007 at 2:50 am


I tend to agree with Kristi on the evolution as a vehicle argument. Has anyone noticed that in the first chapter of Genesis the first animals created were fish and birds. Hmm, ocean creatures first and then birds. Sounds like evolution to me (fish like creatures taking to the earth, eventual movement into dinosaurs who most scientists believe are predessors of today’s birds.) However I do tend to think that dinosaurs existed on this earth a lot longer than scientists allow. Perhaps Satan took the form of one to deceive Eve and that’s when God cursed them to their bellies (you know the ones that didn’t become birds). But what about the fact that God set up vegetarianism in the Garden. There is no killing for meat mentioned until after the fall. I think that the seven days represent stages of development, but that scientists may not have the time frames correct. (See how ridiculous all this Genesis arguing is. We make up more fairy tales to explain this portion of Scripture than the people who claim IT IS a fairy tale.)



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canucklehead

posted June 2, 2007 at 4:47 am


i grew up with 3 brothers; I have no problem whatsoever believing we descended from apes. Selah.



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Kevin S.

posted June 2, 2007 at 7:04 am


“Which one? Genesis 1-2:2 or Genesis 2:2-25. If truly interpreted literally, they can’t both be right. The order of creation doesn’t match.” The Genesis 2 account can be read just as easily as a synopsis. It is not an attempt to retell the entire creation story, but rather to summarize. The remainder of scripture refers to Genesis as literal (Jesus refers to both accounts, and exhibits no difficulties with the paradox).



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Kevin S.

posted June 2, 2007 at 7:10 am


“A gay couple being faithful to each other.” If one is having sex with his girlfriend, and is faithful to her, it remains infidelity in the scriptural sense (which, for Christians, ought to trump societal definitions).



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Alex Scott

posted June 2, 2007 at 8:32 am


Kevin, I recommend that you go to a library and find the Midrash Rabbah. It’s an extensive series of Rabbinical Jewish interpretations of the Torah, but the one I specifically want to focus on is the one on Genesis. Just a cursory glance will show more interpretations of just the first sentence than most Christians would ever suspect possible. I would also suggest looking into some of the Church Fathers, none of whom, as far as I’m aware, believed you absolutely had to take the entire Bible literally. In fact, I recall St. Augustine saying the only way to have a wrong interpretation of the Bible is to claim you have the only correct one. Speaking of Augustine, I’d also look into the Manicheans, who rejected the entire Old Testament because they ended up taking it too literally (for example, they concluded that the phrase “in his image he made them” meant that God was confined to a human form, so of course Catholic Christianity was wrong!) and got a totally screwed-up theology out of it. It wasn’t until Augustine heard Bp. Ambrose’s symbolic interpretations that Augustine truly realized Mani was dead wrong. But ultimately, I think what this comes down to is the meaning of the word “myth.” Myths are an essential method of communicating the divine in concrete terms. The Church Fathers and the Talmudic Rabbis understood very well that if Scripture is inspired, then you can’t rely on the literal meaning alone. God speaks to us in numerous ways in addition to Scripture; it’s silly to conclude that he might not speak in numerous ways within Scripture as well. And frankly, without the symbolic meanings and interpretations, a lot of people (myself included) would find little or no use for the Bible.



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Sarasotakid

posted June 2, 2007 at 11:58 am


The Genesis 2 account can be read just as easily as a synopsis. It is not an attempt to retell the entire creation story, but rather to summarize. The remainder of scripture refers to Genesis as literal (Jesus refers to both accounts, and exhibits no difficulties with the paradox). Kevin S. Kevin, I think that your interpretation of the disparate creation accounts is as valid as anybody else’s here. I believe that when it comes to these issues, there is a whole lot of mystery and probably an equal or greater amount of ambiguity. I do, however, find the “Jesus was okay with it” argument unconvincing. Jesus never made a recorded reference to the apparent difference in the two Genesis accounts. So that leaves it for us to figure what he may or may not have thought about it. Also we have to remember that Jesus was living in the ancient world and he was addressing the issues in the way the ancient world mind could understand. So it is questionable as to whether those differences would have even mattered to the ancient mind’s way of thinking and reasoning. I believe that we do both science and the Bible a great disservice when we try to hold the Bible up to modern scientific methods. It was never written with the “scientific method” in mind. The fundamental truth that is conveyed in Genesis (and throughout the Bible) is that we have a God who created us with a purpose. When we get down to the nitty gritty of the method He used, I don’t have any problem seeing the Genesis account of creation as allegory. I respect the literalists and would not dare think that I’m any more or less Christian than they. But I’m not sure that the literalists would view me as a Christian. So I guess my question becomes: In your opinion, does one have to believe in the literal truth of the Genesis 1 and 2 account(s) to be considered a Christian?



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Don

posted June 2, 2007 at 3:24 pm


And for more reading of Augustine, one might also try his “The Literal Meaning of Genesis,” which, despite the title, proposes an interpretation which is hardly literalistic, and which is quite compatible with an evolutionary understanding of creation. Later,



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HASH(0x116da3a4)

posted June 2, 2007 at 11:38 pm


Kevin: The Genesis 2 account can be read just as easily as a synopsis. It is not an attempt to retell the entire creation story, but rather to summarize. The remainder of scripture refers to Genesis as literal (Jesus refers to both accounts, and exhibits no difficulties with the paradox). Kevin S. It could be read that way but it doesn’t add up. The order of events are wrong. I don’t feel like doing the research for this (been rehearsing and dancing for hourse so if some one else wants to feel free) but the timing of the events are not identical in Genesis 1 and 2. Not only that but Genesis is poetry up till 2:5. Not only that but there were two accounts.The story of creation in Chapter One concludes at 2:4. By 2:5 it’s a different ballgame. Where are the animals from that point? Where are the plants that were grown before that? Not only that but how can the earth be formed first before the stars? In chapter 1, versus 14&15: 14Then God said, “Let there be (T)lights in the (U)expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for (V)signs and for (W)seasons and for days and years; 15and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.God likes to use nature for his purposes so why would he create and cultivate the earth when the stars had not even been sent in the sky? Could God have created the world is six days? Yes, would he have? I don’t think so. God likes to work w/n the bounds of his creation. He will definitely deviate whenever he wants to but generally he likes to make it rain when it’s supposed too… p



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Payshun

posted June 2, 2007 at 11:40 pm


Correction: poetry until vs 2:14. THen it becomes a narrative story about the man (Adam.) p



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Payshun

posted June 2, 2007 at 11:49 pm


Kevin said: If one is having sex with his girlfriend, and is faithful to her, it remains infidelity in the scriptural sense (which, for Christians, ought to trump societal definitions). Me: My question is, does it? When you look at the Genesis story Adam and Eve had no ceremony. God did not have bunch of animals standing by, no angels w/ trumpets blaring… Their ceremony was the sex act which is the understanding that Jesus had w/ the woman at the well. It’s not that she married and divorced five men. It’s that she had sex w/ five different men and was shacking up w/ another one. p



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Kristi

posted June 3, 2007 at 12:23 am


Sarasotakid—You hit the nail right on the head. Once the scientific method came into vogue in the time of Leonardo Da Vinci, the church has felt the need to prove every single thing in the Bible as a verifiable scientific fact, which is just a ludicrous exercise in futility. It has made believers either legalistic literalists or skeptics, and has all those in the field of science laughing at as, as we have spent so many centuries building and then attempting to defend a house made out of straw on sand. How much more is God and the wonders of His creation than anything man can come up with in words? No wonder so many writers of scripture were forced to use poetry, music, and superlative allegory to even approach describing the greatness of God? And thank you also Alex, for doing more thoroughly what I was trying to do in explaining Judaic and then Augustinian thought.



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Kevin S.

posted June 3, 2007 at 7:34 am


“It’s not that she married and divorced five men. It’s that she had sex w/ five different men and was shacking up w/ another one.” If I cede your interpretation, I don’t see how this makes your point.



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bloomer

posted June 3, 2007 at 11:02 pm


“…and to disdain the Episcopal Church for trying to find some common ground with ALL their members is a extremely petty attitude.” Get real. The Episcopal Church isn’t trying to find “common ground.” It’s pretty much “my way or the highway” from the church leadership. That applies both to American parishes and also to everyone else in the Anglican Communion. I think this is called “hubris.”



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Payshun

posted June 6, 2007 at 1:07 am


Kevin My point is that marriage is sleeping w/ another person. It only became a pageant later. So to answer your question then if two people are monagamous then they are married and are blessed. p



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Poetry

posted June 15, 2007 at 7:45 am


Of Fly Catchers and hidden lakes.
Of sleeping lizards and morning dew.
It is of birdsong and misty dawns
and fleeced clouds floating in a still pool.
The waters ripple awake in the gathering morn.
The first water birds head out for the far shore.



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