Articles Archive for October 2011

[24 Oct 2011 | No Comment | ]

I’ve decided I need to lighten up a bit with these posts. Too many heavy topics—hell, doubt, skepticism, Bonhoeffer. So how about a bit on Bob Dylan’s twenty minutes as a Christian?
Actually, I think Dylan called himself a Christian for a couple of years at least, which is better than Kris Kristofferson did (remember him?). The excited word went out in evangelical circles that Kris K–singer, song writer, actor (dubious), and former Rhodes Scholar–had become a Christian (this was in the 1980’s maybe). For some reason that excited a few …

[18 Oct 2011 | No Comment | ]

“I open the book
which the strange, difficult, beautiful church
has given me . . . .”
Mary Oliver
I once read that when Karl Barth taught, he would write all morning and then read to a class in the afternoon what he had written. I no longer have a class to read to, so I will share with you what I just finished writing. It’s a nice set up. (Responses, including objections, are welcomed.)
God says, “Do this together. You will not do it well, but you will do it better—together.”
Of the three adjective …

[14 Oct 2011 | No Comment | ]

[This is the third of three parts of an excerpt from the work-in-progress The Skeptical Believer. See prior two posts.]
I have been arguing in the last two posts that human beings are inescapably meaning-makers, constantly engaged in trying to make sense of the world—and that pure reason is only one, often tangential, component in the process. It goes on in the darkest of places.
A quick story. Like many people, I have gone to Auschwitz. After the gas chambers no longer poisoned their thousands per day, of course. After the satanicly …

[12 Oct 2011 | No Comment | ]

(This is a continuation of the last post on “meaning making” from the work-in-progress The Skeptical Believer. See last post.)
The messiness of sense-making has certain implications for any thought-filled person, including the skeptical believer. They include the following.
Humility and sympathy. Because the sense-making process has more pot holes than a Minnesota road in spring time, arrogance about what one believes is a form of foolishness. I respect every person of good will who is trying to understand the world and to live justly. I sympathize with anyone trying as hard …

[8 Oct 2011 | 2 Comments | ]

(The next few posts will be from my book-in-progress The Skeptical Believer. Each will be a digestible excerpt from a section exploring how we make meaning for ourselves.)
“We use what we call reason to preclude thought.” Marilyn Robinson
We have more words for thinking than Eskimos have for snow—and they have dozens. All of them are attempts to get at some aspect of the ceaseless human process of making sense of things. The following are all words related to some part of the process, and this is the short list: intellect, …

[3 Oct 2011 | No Comment | ]

I just completed an interview a few minutes ago for a documentary being produced on the recent controversy about views of hell (Hellbound), prompted by Rob Bell’s book Love Wins and the range of reactions to it. The director wasn’t so much interested in my views on hell (thankfully) as on how people form and defend their religious beliefs. He had read Myth of Certainty and asked questions arising from that book (now 25 years old but still scratching some people’s itch).
One question he asked was “Why now? Why does …