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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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My Brainiac Faith on the Resurrection

For a long time I thought I was too smart for the resurrection. My progressive UCC congregation made a comfortable home for my intellectual faith – I wasn’t letting anyone force me to leave my brain at the sanctuary door. If my head couldn’t come along for the ride, my faith wouldn’t go there. And so my rational, scientific brain did away with miracles of all kinds. They were too easy to explain as metaphor ...

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Repent For Lent: Renewing Our Minds With Mimetic Theory – Holy Week (Poem)

Dear Friends, For a final "Repent For Lent" post, I offer a Palm/Passion Sunday Meditation that I delivered two years ago in the form of poem. These are some Girardian reflections on how Christ "takes away the sin of the world" by his death. The resurrection is crucial, but during Holy Week, I want to leave us in the dark and terrible recognition of our sin as we "look upon the one we've pierced." Still the ...

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Is God the Biggest Serial Killer of All Time? – A Response to the Friendly Atheist

The Friendly Atheist is one of the most influential atheist blogs on the Internet. The website’s 10 bloggers have contributed to CNN, Fox and Friends, NPR, the Washington Post, and the USA Today. You may be surprised to read this, but I owe the Friendly Atheist a personal debt. My atheist brother invited me to officiate at his wedding ceremony with this condition, “As long as you don’t say anything about Go ...

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Chapel Hill, Atheism, and the Worship of Violence

It’s been a few days since the tragic murder of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The lives of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were cut short. They were murdered, shot in the head, by Craig Hicks. Hicks is an avowed atheist. Prominently displayed on his Facebook page is a meme that claims, Of course I want religion to go away. I don’t deny you your right t ...

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An Open Letter to President Obama on The National Prayer Breakfast

Dear President Obama, I first want to commend you on your wise, humble, and Spirit-led remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast last week. The backlash that your remarks have generated is unwarranted and yet, sadly, unsurprising. In a speech of nearly 3000 words, about 50 critiqued not Christianity itself, but a fraction of the violence committed in the name of Christ. All violence committed in the name of ...

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