A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The New Atheists

Chris Tessone has a post on the new evangelical face of atheism. The opposition to liberal religion or even to agnosticism is likely to repel allies. And then there's the lack of sympathetic interest in the other.
It is always wrong to be dogmatic. It is always dangerous to avoid facing issues that are being raised by large groups of human beings, both ideally and practically.

The existence of groups whose minds are so far apart that they will not even consider the point of view of the other is a social peril, an internal division in society. No belief held by a large group can be pushed aside as not worth looking into.

The impartial friend of humanity as well as the friend of truth will earnestly seek to understand the worth of the beliefs held by those who differ most radically from him and will try to profit by them.- Edgar Brightman, The Problem of God 1930

Brightman's comments are key for any society that wants to negotiate differences. But he is also raising an epistemic point. Ideas, broadly held throughout time point to, have power precisely because they make sense of and come out of human experience.

If this is so we have a common frame of reference by which to engage differences. It means that broadly held ideas are highlighting something about life in the world. Seeking to understand them not defeating them, would be the route we would want to take.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Religious Tests?

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States" is found in Article 6 of the consitution. But watching the up and coming election, I'm not sure if this is operative anymore.

I just watched Harold Ford being interviewed on Fox News that he is a Jesus loving candidate. But in a democracy such as ours, how would his views on Jesus, either way, make, Ford more qualified for the senate seat in Tennessee?

Earlier this summer a republican candidate used his opponents membership in the UCC as an issue. In Oklahoma, another candidate's membership in the Presbyterian Church is being used. Since when did being a member of the mainline disqualify one for office?

And it's bound to happen to a potential presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is LDS, as his membership is disected. Has one's religious faith become a criteria for office? Atheists have already run into this in the past but it should raise alarm from all sides.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

SBC Problems

The story of how fundamentalists, throughout the last 30 years, took over the Southern Baptist Convention, including the resulting attacks on women pastors, "liberals", dissidents, etc. is well documented.

But what is of interest is that after the takeover the need for enemies did not die but rather has taken on new forms. Now it's charismatics which are the targeted. A recent example is the attempt to ban speaking in tongues at seminaries and by church leaders.

As the Methodists face similar takeover attempts, perhaps the Southern Baptist experience can provide lessons for the mainline on what happens when the logic of the right is taken to it's logical end. The need for enemies can never be quenched.

The NJ supreme court rules for equal marriage rights for gays and the SBC leadership is pleased. Since now the election, in their mind can be about "real issues" and not about Iraq and torture. This is a sad example of losing one's moral bearings.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Personal News

A picture of my younger cat, Adler. So my car died yet again. I wrote a letter, concerning religious pluralism, to the editor for Presbyweb. And I have been enjoying the posts of Shuck and Jive, which is fueling ideas for future posts.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Sorry for the lack of postings. It's not that there isn't a tremendous amount of things to write about. It's that I've gotten sucked into a range of projects that have substantially reduced my free time. This includes campus ministry work, teaching in another state (and making the commute) and dealing with cars that break down, etc.

But I will be starting to post soon, especially as the election is nearing. And a several issues with the campus ministry I work for has raised a number of theological and practical questions about the nature and future of the liberal Protestant church that I'd like to pose for this site. Anyways my absence from this site will soon be ending.