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The Theology of a Biker Gang

  Five rival biker gangs descended upon a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas on Sunday. Hundreds of gang members began stabbing, beating, and shooting each other. Weapons included chains, knives, clubs, and guns. When the fight ended, 9 people were dead, 18 were sent to the hospital, and more than 170 people were arrested. Waco police Sargent W. Patrick Swanton stated, “In my nearly 35 years of law e ...

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What About the Canaanites?: On the Bible, Violence, and Genocide

Suzanne and I recently delivered a workshop on the Bible and violence at the Faith Forward conference in Chicago. We highlighted the differences between the Roman myth of Romulus and Remus and the biblical story of Cain and Abel. You can read the description of our workshop here, but to summarize, in the Roman myth, Romulus kills his brother Remus, founds the city of Rome, and the god Mars vindicates Romulu ...

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The Case for Child Labor

My grandpa was a Pennsylvania coal miner and a union man. He overflowed with gratitude for the unions that won miners shorter workdays, higher wages, and safer conditions. None of which could save him from black lung disease, which took his life before he turned seventy. But thanks to the unions, his widow, my grandmother, collected black lung payments from the government until her death. My grandmother tol ...

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Moment of Silence

This is big. A new civil rights era births itself in terrible pain. Black men die, over and over. I can only hope that peace is the result, serious peace, bigger than new laws, bigger than better trained police — agape peace, you might say, peace that is, in the words of Martin Luther King, “an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return.” “‘We’re out here, and this is peaceful,’ Bishop Walter S. Thomas, ...

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Tale As Old As Time

Disney's Beauty and the Beast has all the ingredients needed for a great story--rivalry, conflict, an angry mob, a beautiful woman, and an eventual, yet unpredictable romance. In one “corner”, you have “the Beast” who, at one point was a handsome, yet frigid and egocentric prince. However, due to his selfishness, he has been transformed into a cursed, almost loveless monster. The  narrator even rhetorically ...

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Farkhunda: Their Scapegoat… And Ours

A month ago, a brutal and horrific tragedy took place in Afghanistan. A woman by the name of Farkhunda Malikzada was murdered by a mob of angry men. This is the story of a scapegoat, but it is also much more. Beneath the surface of this incident lies many layers of violence and humiliation. Reflexive rage against the killers, while understandable, would simply deepen the dark abyss of ignorance and refuel t ...

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Why Biblical Violence is Good for Children

What’s all that violence doing in the Bible? Does it make you uncomfortable? How are we supposed to teach these stories to children? I mean, the first family was marked by violence. Cain killed his brother Abel. How’s that for a dysfunctional family system? Just two chapters later, God floods the earth, killing everyone and everything on the planet except for one family and two of every animal… And somehow ...

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Idiots Of The World, Unite

“Sir, you are an idiot.” Wow, an insult wrapped in such old-fashioned politeness. I let the words hover and reach, as I always do, for peace: that is to say, for clarity, connection, common humanity. Last week I raised the idea of unarmed policing, as practiced in half a dozen countries around the world. I wasn’t calling for immediate gun surrender but, rather, the diversion of human energy away from short- ...

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Scandal in Indiana: Will the Real Victim Please Stand Up?

Whose side were you on in the scandal that erupted over Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? When Gov. Pence signed the bill he insisted that all it did was prohibit state or local governments from “substantially burdening a person's ability to exercise their religion”. Americans are all over freedom of religion, right, so what could be the problem? Well, claims and counter-claims ...

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Ishtar vs. Easter: Pick Your Story

In the midst of my family’s Easter celebration yesterday, I decided to check Facebook. Most of my friends posted comments like “Happy Easter!” and shared pictures of their celebrations. But this meme also appeared on my feed: The meme is attributed to Richard Dawkins’ Foundation for Reason and Science and is meant to debunk Christianity and Easter as just another example of an ancient myth. The reasoning go ...

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