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Showing posts from September, 2014

The Bible Doesn't Endorse Spanking

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Wisdom would say that discipline is important for children. Wisdom would not say how this is accomplished.

Many Christians believe that the Bible not only endorses corporal punishment, it mandates it under the clause of not hating our children. While I would never argue that Scripture forbids spanking, I believe that the four proverbs directly involved (13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15) are addressing the principle of discipline, not the method. Because we can't simply read the proverbial rod as a modern switch when we know how the original audience would have understood it.

The time in which the Bible was written was a primitive one when justice was nothing more than a cold dish of vengeance served up on a ten-to-one scale. Meaning that even the rape of a rival clan member could earn you not only your own death, but the deaths of your entire extended family (Genesis 34). Slaves were treated as property, not people, and could be tortured or executed for any reason.

William J. Webb h…

Everyone Should Live in a City

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The fewer people you're around to serve, the easier it is to be self-serving.
I don't know how many times I've seen cars with Kentucky or Kansas license plates stopped in the middle of a busy, Chicago street.

It happened to me again recently as I pulled into an intersection not realizing that the minivan three cars ahead had stopped and put on its four-ways. When the light changed, I remember being so angry at this driver not because he made me wait, but because my car was now blocking all of the cross traffic. In the blink of an eye, his decision affected dozens of other people.
The delay only lasted for seconds, but the impression it left with me did not. Hurrying past him in my smug, city-boy manner, I took note of the Nebraska plates, the disheveled map sprawling over the dash, and the perplexed look in the eyes of a man who was clearly lost. But what I felt was not pity or sympathy. I thought to myself, "He should know better."
Being from a state whose larges…

When They Leave the Church

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Don't ask them to come back.
This Sunday is National Back to Church Sunday. If you're unfamiliar, it's a day dedicated each year to inviting our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers back to church. I don't doubt that there are very genuine, good intentions behind this; however, it sadly misunderstands why people leave in the first place.
We often call them prodigals--rebellious, apostate souls who are probably undergoing a crisis of faith. And just like branches cut off from the vine, they need to be grafted back in soon before they perish. But before you start trolling your Facebook friends for wandering sheep, remember that there's a difference between a crisis of faith and a crisis of people.
A crisis of faith is between the person and God. When these people leave, they leave the faith, not necessarily the church. Some actually stay for the sake of their families, but those who do leave the church often do so imperceptibly. In other words, these folks are…

How the Sacred Resurrected Evil

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Incarnate evil is an illegitimate son--a strawman born out of the divorce between sacred and secular to provide humanity with a face to the enemy that was not their own.
Good and bad are usually understood as opposites. For example, vitamins are good and fat is bad. Or help is good, but hurt is bad. However, when you dig a little deeper, you find that both vitamins and fat are essential for nutrition, and sometimes hurt or pain is actually beneficial--as is the case with exercise. Which raises the question of whether anything can be inherently bad or evil.
For St. Augustine, evil was the absence or privation of good. This understanding prevailed for centuries as Christianity came to understand that God did not have a rival equal (i.e. the devil); rather, we desired to pervert our existence. But when evangelicalism came along, its Enlightenment education caused it to distinguish between good and evil by creating the categories of sacred and secular.
The sacred was anything set apart to…

Hell Is Where Labor Day Is

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There are two kinds of people in the world: producers and consumers. Choose wisely who you'll be so you're not a waste of existence.
America's holidays are swelling with national pride. From the materialism of Christmas to the gluttony of Thanksgiving, it's pretty clear what we value as a country. Especially when you look at Labor Day. Sure, it's supposed to be a day to remember the ethical victories achieved by labor unions and the subsequent laws that protect us from being overworked. But really, it's just a day to celebrate laziness and our new status not as a leader of industry, but as a world-class consumer.
I, however, am not a consumer; I'm a producer. And my idea of down time is researching or writing because I need to feel accomplished during the day. I used to enjoy three-hour movies, but now I can barely finish an episode of Bob's Burgers without checking the news on my phone. Like those who say, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," …