Bible stories according to a knight in 1372

I’m reading the book Book of the Knight of the Tower by Rebecca Barnhouse. This is a translation and commentary of a book of the same name by Sir Geoffery in 1372. Sir Geoffrey’s book was written in France, but became popular in both England and Germany as well. It was translated into English by William Caxton, the printer who brought the movable type to England. The knight and his priests wrote the book for the knight’s daughters, so that they would know how to act. It included stories about his life as well as stories ‘from the Bible.’ Except the Continue reading

Luba and the Wren, The Magic Fish, greed and God in children’s books.

Luba and the Wren by Patricia Polacco sounds remarkably like The Magic Fish by Freya Littledale. In both stories an enchanted animal is spared from capture and offers to grant a wish. In both stories the person who makes the wish is in fact contented with nothing to wish for, but is badgered into making repeated wishes on behalf of someone else. In both stories the wishes increase in size, from a larger house to a palace, and so on. In The Magic Fish the hero is a fisherman who gives into the wishes of his wife. in Luba and Continue reading

Reasons to NOT Support Operation Christmas Child

Schools and individuals are already taking advantage of back-to-school sales to gather supplies for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. While I think it is great to try to give extra joy to others, I want to write to urge people not to support this program. I have a whole list of reasons (see below), but right now (November 2015) I am editing this to add the most important reason at the top. Franklin Graham, the head of the group that runs OCC, promotes fear and hatred. Here is an example of a post from his facebook page. You can check his Continue reading

Biblical history from a progressive Christian standpoint.

I’ve been trying again to teach my children Biblical history. Our last attempt involved building a lot of block cities while talking about the various tribes that attacked the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and the children have long-since forgotten the list, though the whole attempt helped me learn to keep them straight in my mind. We talked about empire and we talked about the idea of whether the people were going to try to form an alliance with one empire or another or whether they were going to have faith in God. Now I’m getting ready to try again. Continue reading

Progressive Christian response to the book: Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada

I’m reading the book The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada. This alarming book traces the interconnectedness of mega-preachers and certain Canadian politicians. It talks about how the religious right are getting organized pouring money into the infostructure to train young people to take on government and beaurocratic positions, including in 2009  more than $26 million in public funds going to private Christian colleges as part of the economic stimulus package. (This wasn’t business as usual. James Turk, executive director of Canadian Association of University Teachers is quoted as saying “The fact that this money is going to Continue reading

the gift of religious music

I don’t talk much about my religious beliefs, and it isn’t just because of the complication of trying to explain how religion can matter even when I don’t necessarily believe in a Deity.  It’s the sense that its not polite for a left-leaning person to speak about religion.  There’s a facebook meme I’ve seen saying “religion is like a penis. It’s fine that you have one but don’t go waving it around in front of people.” Is talking about religion wrong? I’m thinking back to what I wrote last year about keeping religion private and the need to make it Continue reading

Religion and Spirituality

This morning facebook greeted me with a picture of a native man on horseback and the quote: “Religion is for people afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there” by Vine Deloria. Two thoughts battle for space in my mind. One is the thought that because it is a native person quoted and natives have been so awfully treated by colonial religious authorities, and it is a native person who posted the picture to facebook, that I shouldn’t comment on it. Native people’s religious beliefs have been bashed for way to long, and foreign Continue reading

religion and politics

I want to write some more thoughts about Christianity, but not assume that everyone is Christian. This isn’t an effort to convert anyone, just an attempt to explore some more of the ideas I’ve been reading about and thinking about. A quote from the book God and Empire, by John Dominic Crossan: It is clear, I hope, that the Kingdom of God is inextricably and simultaneously 100 percent political and 100 percent religious. “Kingdom” is a political term, “God” is a religious term, and Jesus would be executed for that “of” in a world where, for Rome, God already sat Continue reading

in pursuit of an academic religion

I’ve been thinking about religion again. I think about the good things, like the way it can support a person’s ability to acknowledge their mistakes or the inspiration to care for others. Yet I’m also think about the problems with religion, particularily of finding a religious interpretation that can be a source of healthy challenge neither constructed to meet one’s own wants or to justify one’s oppressive situation. Inspiring me to write this post is, partly, a post titled Can reason and secularism protect kids from anti-science rhetoric (and build a better society)? over at a blog called Boreal Citizen. The post Continue reading

More Christmas books

For three years now, we’ve made it a tradition to sing Christmas carols every evening of advent. Some nights we read Christmas stories, and sometimes we watch Christmas movies as well, but always Christmas carols. As a result my children have learned some of the Christmas carols they would not have heard otherwise. Knowledge of the carols is a gift I wanted to give my children. People talk about putting Christ is Christmas, and in some ways, despite my religious questions, that’s what I want to do. I want to remind my children that this is a religious holiday. Yet who Continue reading