Thursday, March 30, 2006 

Back, I hope

I'm sorry I've been away, my two faithful readers (one??) ...I have no time to blog, but yet I am drawn back here... because I love to write and when do I take the time to do something I love? I think I stopped in part because my "perfectionist" tendencies take over: if I can't write what I think might be an interesting piece, I'd rather not write at all. I'll try to relax and just write less often rather than giving up wholesale, promise.

There's been a slew of interesting news stories, like the study of heart patients being prayed over (guess what happens?), science finding that 666 isn't the number of the beast (try 616), and how Douglas Adams must be turning over in his grave (42 is an important number indeed).

I had a surprise when I took beliefnet's "What's Your Spiritual Type?" quiz [to see what kind of site I was linking to above]. It's got some good questions, like

Q 20. In regards to religion and morality:
1. I think it's impossible to be moral without being religious
2. It's possible but difficult to be moral without reminders from religion
3. It's entirely possible to develop and live by a good moral code without religion
4. Religion makes it harder to be a moral person
If you think I picked answer #4, you'd be correct. The surprise was that I tested 32 out of a range of 25-100: "Spiritual Dabbler: Open to spiritual matters but far from impressed" instead of the lower-scoring "Hardcore Skeptic". How silly is that :)

Monday, March 13, 2006 

Some humor is required

I've been working on two "crisis" situations and another project right now, so I have only time to repost from Randy Cassingham's jumbojoke. Thanks for all the great comments & email ... sorry for not having much time lately, back soon...

A Lesson from Jesus

Jesus saw a crowd chasing down a woman to stone her and approached them. "What's going on here, anyway?" He asked.

"This woman was found committing adultery and the law says we should stone her!" one of the crowd responded.

"Wait," yelled Jesus, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Suddenly, a stone was thrown from out of the sky, and knocked the woman on the side of her head.

"Aw, c'mon, Dad!" Jesus cried, "I'm trying to make a point here!"

Thursday, March 09, 2006 

Evangelical, Fundamentalist, what's the diff?

stardust1954 recently posted a link to the PBS show The Jesus Factor. A page inside there is titled Evangelicals v. Fundamentalists. Yikes! I thought they were the same thing! The second interview down, by John Green, says that the fundamentalist subset of evangelicalism are the ones that take the bible literally instead of metaphorically. Given this difference, I suspect if I review my writings, I interchange these terms. Sorry.

Does my simplistic cheat-sheet capture the differences?
  • Catholic: bible + Catechism + pope
  • Evangelical: only use the bible
  • Fundamentalist: the bible is inerrant


Bart Ehrman: Misquoting Jesus

Misquoting Jesus: : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart Ehrman is a relatively new book. I pulled out an excerpt from a Washington Post article (thanks Lya!) relevant to recent discussions on here:

For the next 12 years, he studied at Moody, at Wheaton College (another Christian institution in Illinois) and finally at Princeton Theological Seminary. He found he had a gift for languages. His specialty was the ancient texts that tried to explain what actually happened to Jesus Christ, and how the world's largest religion grew into being after his execution.

What he found there began to frighten him.

The Bible simply wasn't error-free. The mistakes grew exponentially as he traced translations through the centuries. There are some 5,700 ancient Greek manuscripts that are the basis of the modern versions of the New Testament, and scholars have uncovered more than 200,000 differences in those texts.

"Put it this way: There are more variances among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament," Ehrman summarizes.

Most of these are inconsequential errors in grammar or metaphor. But others are profound. The last 12 verses of the Gospel of Mark appear to have been added to the text years later -- and these are the only verses in that book that show Christ reappearing after his death.

Another critical passage is in 1 John, which explicitly sets out the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). It is a cornerstone of Christian theology, and this is the only place where it is spelled out in the entire Bible -- but it appears to have been added to the text centuries later, by an unknown scribe.

For a man who believed the Bible was the inspired Word of God, Ehrman sought the true originals to shore up his faith. The problem: There are no original manuscripts of the Gospels, of any of the New Testament.

He wrote a tortured paper at Princeton that sought to explain how an episode in Mark might be true, despite clear evidence to the contrary. A professor wrote in the margin:

"Maybe Mark just made a mistake."

As simple as it was, it struck him to the core.

This is the kind of scholarly research I had in mind when I write posts about the bible, to read about someone with the time on their hands to actually do it is like a tease! Of course, I've had little sleep over the past two days, anything intellectual is going to sound friggin' fabulous :)

Two things about this excerpt I like, for one, it's another example to me of how people come to the truth on their own. When you are ready to see it, it's there, and no amount of reasonable facts before you are ready to see it will persuade you. Second, his let-down sounds like mine as I described. D'oh!


What do you want to teach?

TC responded to my post about lippy kids:
Some may think soap to the mouth is extreme; but you have to teach your kids that some behavior is extremely intolerable. My wife and I have reluctently used bar soap to clean up potty mouth after a couple of warnings to two of our four children who needed it. It worked extremely well! Children are not all alike so what some people consider extreme punishments are not required by every child. As I said only two of our children needed it because they had strong stuburn personalities.
I can agree with the statement that children are not all alike, and that some behavior is extremely intolerable. For example, hurting someone is not to be tolerated, ever.

I find the image of holding down a child to put soap in their mouth so distasteful it turns my stomach. If my children can't count on me to not hurt them, who the heck can they count on?

How would you feel if this was done to you? I'd be furious, and would resolve, "well, I'll never let you see me doing that again! You can't control me!" It divides the parent and child, turning them against each other, OR squashes the child's will. This isn't generally considered good either, except for those who prefer sheep for children.

I, too, have a child with a very strong personality. (I don't label it 'stubborn' as that obfuscates and divides.) A master of her own ship, I call it. Yet, we got through her potty mouth stage without resorting to soap in the mouth. How, you ask? With humor, and perspective.

For perspective, I turn to the long run. What do I want to teach my child? Blind obedience in the form of "you will NOT say those words or you will be sorry"? Or, understanding the reason behind the preference, "no one wants to be around someone that keeps talking about things that happen in the bathroom! That's so gross!"

A child was singing an off-color ditty in the back of my van a few weeks back. My daughter giggled a bit, and I rolled my eyes, then the conversation turned to something else. She giggle because it was slightly funny, not because "mom is going to kill us", nor did she need to worry that I'd do something crazy like treat her friend with a bar of soap, nor was she a prude in danger of becoming the stick in the mud. The moment happened, it was over. It is not a hot button issue that she could push to get a reaction.

Contrast that to a child who was physically shut up by soap. The reason behind the rule wasn't understood (else the warning would have sufficed), and the self discipline to behave in a socially appropriate manner wasn't practiced. Soap squashed the behavior at the expense of the big picture.

Now if someone is belted at the playground, I want my children to be the first one there to say, "that is NOT OK!" Recognizing a situation that requires involvment is easier, I contend, when you don't have to deal with broad exceptions to the rule, such as "well, if a parent wants to hurt their own child to get quicker obedience, that's OK, but this case etc etc..."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006 

The Bible of the Good and Moral Atheist

I'm back from an excellent vacation. Thanks to all who commented while I was gone!

Here's a quick review of the Bible of the Good and Moral Atheist, a 112 page book supported by voluntary contributions, I believe. Page 61 (in pdf, marked page 58 if printed) has a few paragraphs on what for me is the million dollar question: "How should we teach our children about Atheism?" I like the list of Celebrations (page 74), the Reflections though I could do without the amens (starting on page 77), and on page 98 are a list of camps! Cool! Lots of web sites, quotes, and books.

About me

  • I'm the freethoughtmom from New England. Welcome!
  • The word rational means having the ability to reason. Reasoning takes time. Giving yourself the space to think is practically a luxury in our society.

    My father is a logical engineer, my mother a caring nurturer. My handwriting with my dominate hand resembles that of my father, the other, my mother. I feel lucky to have both sides to draw from.
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