September 21, 2019

Why EVERYONE Needs Religious Education

“Wisdom cries out in the street. In the squares she raises her voice. At the busiest corner she cries out. At the entrance of the city gates she speaks.”
(Proverbs 1:20-21)

Religious education is something that usually is reserved for only a select few. It’s most often in private schools as a requirement for kids of all ages. Other times it might be offered at churches for particularly inquisitive adults seeking meaning and knowledge beyond what normal services can typically offer. To an even lesser degree, religious education of a truly rich and insightful caliber is often reserved for a select, privileged few who can afford to attend seminary colleges or pursue an anthropological course of study at universities. But, shouldn’t everyone have access to this knowledge, chance to explore, and opportunity to ask difficult or even strange questions? Should religious leaders and educators shy away from the dark corners of religious convention or the complex ideologies that toil behind the curtain of church institutions?

July 24, 2019

The Odyssey of Theodicy

I don’t do this very often (in fact, I can’t remember ever doing it, and can’t imagine that I might do it again because I usually think of this sort of thing as artsy and pretentious), but this article was inspired by a recent dream, coupled with a common question that people ask about things like religion, all-powerful God-ness, and prayer very frequently. In this dream of mine, God (yes, the Almighty, big “G” Daddy-Pants, Creator of all the cosmos Himself) appeared to this group of folks that I was a part of, as a young kid of around the age of ten or so.* The purpose for his modest apparition seemed to be to attempt to explain himself and his motives to humans so that we might understand him a little better. He talked about one thing primarily, which I’ll give you a shiny ten-dollar word for in a moment, and that was why he doesn’t always seem to do what we humans think is “good.”

June 6, 2019

Acknowledging Ignorance

There’s obviously a whole lot of political upheaval lately over various issues, not the least of which is civil rights, gender issues, and sexual legalities. But, what I intend to argue here, while indirectly addressing some of these important issues, is that these issues aren’t actually the ones that are being fought about. I hope that has either intrigued or enraged you already, because then maybe you’ll read on....

November 13, 2018

What's Wrong with Predestination (in Less than 1,000 Words)

As a theology teacher who also happens to be witlessly crass, people tend to gravitate to me specifically to ask difficult questions that other folks don’t like to deal with. One of these is the theological idea of creation, which, unbeknownst to many people, leads inextricably to another common religious problem—predestination. Predestination is something that most people who are “supposed” to believe in or who think they believe in, usually fall into one of three categories. They don’t actually understand it, they don’t like it, or they don’t actually believe it. So, rather than explain the whole creation and predestination mess, I’ll start simple and explain along the way. And, if you think this is blasphemy, don’t worry, it’ll probably be a blast for you too.

October 3, 2018

The Gypsy & the Thief - A Thirty-Three Short Story

"The greatest of convergences sometimes start with the humblest of beginnings. Today's snake in the grass could become the apple of your eye tomorrow. Even evil itself can give rise to good, and enmity to love."
-Randolph Midian

Maria pulled her hair from across her face. It was stuck over her eyes from the sweat that was now pouring down, despite the December night’s chill. “You insufferable jackass,” she grunted through clenched teeth, grasping at Taber’s hand to help pull him from the frigid muck of the swamp.

Taber, in a fragile attempt to hide his terror and mounting dread of the monstrous thing that was struggling to free itself from the mud, cut back at her with a sarcastic grin to cover his fear, “I bet you only say that to the fella’s you really like, eh doll?”

September 10, 2018

American Idol(atry)

If you were raised religious in the Western world, you’ve likely at least heard of the term “idolatry.” It’s all over the Old Testament, mainly talking about golden calves and whatnot that our ancient ancestors worshipped to ward off misfortune and inspire material prosperity. And, as such, we’ve come to associate idolatry with things like statues and gold, with popular culture even making the occasional theological joke (like Kevin Smith's Mooby the Golden Calf—a satirically accurate splicing of Mickey Mouse and the McDonald's franchise). But, the concept and problems with idolatry are really a lot more than just the simplified notions we have today that usually range from the seemingly innocuous golden calves of the Bible stories to the terrible bull statue-ovens of Moloch that the ancients roasted their own children alive in. There's the direly important quest to find a mate to make everything in life better (to own the golden calf), the ongoing "rat race" for status (to appease the golden calf), the insatiable battle for fame (to become the golden calf), and so many other things that are really just a hell of a lot of work for nothing.

So, this article is about conducting oneself in a world full of images and likenesses as well as their makers. It’s about recognizing the importance of transcendence. And, it’s about seeing the greater purpose of life, the universe, and everything.*