• culture,  politics,  religion,  the ethical life

    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 page out and see that there are more like this.…

  • history,  homeschooling,  religion

    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. We started with the patriarchs, telling and retelling their stories…

  • politics,  religion

    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 private institutions – and fundamental Christian ones at that –…

  • politics,  religion

    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 public to defend the idea that the rightwing Christainity of…

  • memes,  religion

    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 religion forced upon them. The other thought is that it…

  • God,  history,  politics,  religion

    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 on Caesar’s throne because Caesar was God. I was once…

  • God,  how do we know what we know is true,  meaning of life,  religion,  the ethical life

    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 speaks about Democratic anti-science rhetoric being centered around unsupported fears…

  • books,  God,  religion,  seasons

    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 is this Christ and why does he matter? What does…

  • books,  God,  religion,  seasons

    Two Amazing Interpretations of the Christmas Story

    Christmas time is coming, and I want to write about two fascinating books about the story of the conception and birth of Jesus. Both books are written by Christians, and both look closely at the scriptures to try to understand what the scriptures are saying, yet both come up with variations on the “first Christmas” that challenge the traditional assumptions. The first book is called Closer to the Real Christmas Story,  by Jared Burkholder and you can buy a copy of it at the Dorrance Publishing Company website (I got a copy through their now-defunct review program). The author of the book takes issue with several issues in the traditional…

  • culture,  God,  homeschooling,  religion,  the ethical life

    the biggest problem in homeschooling circles

    The biggest hesitation I had in writing yesterday’s post was a line near the bottom of the post, the one mentioning that the organization Kids Need To Read offers a special package of LGTB friendly books. I hesitated mentioning that because I know people would view that in different ways. Some people would think it is a good selling point while others would be turned off by it. I’m not sure which way my audience here leans so why bother mentioning it? Why not just ignore that detail about the organization and focus on the less controversial aspect of sharing simple picture books with kids? I left the line in.…