July 24, 2014

Saturday Ramblings 1.26.13

RamblerThe week that was is no more, and the week that is to come has not yet. But for some reason, the kitchen is really a mess right now. So before the week that isn’t becomes the week that was, and before I tackle a stack of dirty dishes, what say we sally forth into the region of space and time we like to call … Saturday Ramblings.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. We won’t get fooled again … that is, until the next election. Until then, remember this my children: Barak Obama is the very best president of the United States that we have. We are commanded to pray for him. And, according to Andy Stanley, we might want to call him our Pastor-In-Chief. Really. Adam Hamilton thinks President Obama would make a good preacher. Apparently because he can cast a vision and inspire people. I guess that’s what pastors are supposed to do. Cast visions and inspire people.

President Obama’s picture graced the front pages of most newspapers this week, not only in the United States, but around the world. It was inauguration week, after all, and he is Barak Obama, after all. But to see his picture on a pair of Air Jordans? Really?

The prayer at the end of the inauguration ceremony caused no end of trouble. First Louie Giglio was bounced for something he said in a sermon twenty years ago. Then the man who took his place did a little preachin’ in his prayin’. I wonder if it is time to do away with the benediction at these events before someone gets their eye poked out.

Ask someone in Providence, Rhode Island what they are thinking, and most likely they won’t respond, “I was just thinking about a passage of Scripture.” That’s because that city is the least Bible-minded city in the United States. Yes, the American Bible Society has come up with a way to measure just how biblically-minded an entire city can be. What is up with the Northeast? Why don’t you people think about the Bible? You should try to be like those in Knoxville, who apparently think of nothing else.

A lot of us are thinking about heaven these days. Or at least we’re reading about those who have visited there recently. It is no surprise here that when one Christian publisher has a bestseller about a near-death experience and a visit to the pearly gates, all the others want to jump in. Just where are they finding all of these heavenly visitors all of a sudden? And correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t St. Paul say he was commanded not to tell what he saw in his vision of heaven? But don’t let Paul’s example stop someone from their fifteen minutes of fame and a hefty advance check.

Is atheism a religion? That is a debate we will no doubt hear much more of in the days to come. In the meantime, read what this atheist has to say about religion. Not sure I can disagree with him too much.

Oops. Remember that church in Pennsylvania whose youth pastor thought it a good idea to stage a “terrorist attack” on his youth group? One of the girls in the group was so scared she filed charges against the youth pastor, who now has to pay a hefty fine and do community service. Anyone see the irony in sentencing a pastor to do community service?

EWTN has launched a new social media portal, Awestruck. Is this really a good move? Do we really need to be building more shacks in the Christian ghetto? Meanwhile, the pope realizes the dangers of participating in the digital age, but wants to do so anyway. He even has a new app. I’ll admit, I don’t tweet. And I don’t plan to. I’m sure the world will spin on its axis just fine without hearing such things as, “Feel like Cheetos. None in the house. Heading to the store.” Agree or disagree?

People in Michigan really need something to do with their time. A woman in that state up north recreated Leonardo’s The Last Supper completely from lint pulled from her dryer. Oh, I only wish I were making this up.

Birthday candles were blown out this last week by Jean Stapleton; Tippi Hedren; Phil Everly; Janis Joplin; Dolly Parton; Tommy Ramone; Slim Whitman; Buzz Aldrin; Jack Niklaus; Bill Bixby; Linda Blair; Ernest Borgnine; Oral Roberts; Neil Diamond; Warren Zevon; John Belushi; Ernie Harwell; and Alicia Keys.

Say what you will about his theology, but you have to agree that Granville Oral Roberts could preach. Oh boy, could he preach. Just a few weeks before he passed away, he preached one final sermon in a tiny Native American church about 45 minutes south of Tulsa. He was always proud of being a Cherokee. Here is perhaps his greatest sermon of all, taken from his early tent meeting days. Try to ignore the hideous music someone put behind this. It was the best version of this message I could find. Enjoy.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5J8vR_O2EnQ']

 

Comments

  1. Hey, I see Portland Maine made the list of the least biblically-minded cities. (I live in Maine, but in the mountains…not coast.) Why aren’t people reading their Bibles in Portland? They have many, many restaurants, lots of museums, the beautiful coast, walking/bike paths, lots of bookstores. So much to do! So many choices! Already read most of the Bible once (if over 50) and heard pieces of it read (if under 50), so been there, done that, on to other things. (Besides…religion is divisive. Best to avoid it.)

    That Last Supper made of dryer lint looks pretty good! Way to recycle, lady!

    I read the book about the little boy who went to heaven, sat on Jesus’ lap, etc. At one point, I wondered if he was perhaps somehow picking up his parents’ thoughts. I know my sister said when her son was very young, it was almost like he was reading her mind at times. But it was a fun read anyway and I thought it was interesting that the only drawing/painting he saw that really depicted Jesus was a painting by a young girl who had visions of Jesus.

    • I’m from Portland, ME and it doesn’t surprise me at all. Being close to the nations academic centers, and also being a place that fosters individualism, and thus a suspicion of organized religion, probably have something to do with it. Yeah food and drink galore, great music, Wonderful city, I’m proud to be able to say I’m from there. I’m in no real rush to go back waving a Bible around though.

  2. Richard Hershberger says:

    I have just set that Last Supper-in-lint as my desktop background.

  3. “I guess that’s what pastors are supposed to do. Cast visions and inspire people.”
    Preaching as motivational speaking. Sounds like many “pastors” these days. (Chris Farley as the motivational speaker living in a van down by the river comes to mind).

    ” I wonder if it is time to do away with the benediction at these events before someone gets their eye poked out.”
    Interestingly, that’s how religious censorship began in the U.S.: prohibiting religious voices who don’t hold the protestant party line. I know you’re being tongue-in-cheek, but I can see the cultural warriors stamp out religious freedoms used to spread the “liberal agenda”. Just consider the religious freedoms attacked in order to stop the spread of Islam.

    “Why don’t you people think about the Bible?”
    Tell me again why the “nones” are growing? It could be because of meaningless, mind-numbing, hypocritical statistics like this? How many “biblically-minded” cities have churches where one can hear the gospel preached faithfully each Sunday, rather than moralistic, therapeutic deism or a rendition of Norman Vincent Peale’s power of positive thinking? I’m ranting now. Time to take my medication.

  4. Never have been a big Oral Roberts fan, but that video surprised me, brought me to tears.

  5. Marcus Johnson says:

    One of the problems with inaugural benedictions is that the preacher or pastor has to either affirm the tenets of his or her faith tradition, which automatically presumes that faith tradition should have privilege over minority religions in this country, or water down the quality of the prayer so that no identifying features of any faith tradition are used.

    Here’s a thought: Bring in religious figures from every recognized faith tradition within the United States for the inaugural prayer and have them all pray at the exact same time. However, we can pre-record a politically correct, watered-down benediction that cannot possibly offend anyone then, as the prayers are read simultaneously, we can play the pre-recorded benediction. No one will get offended, and Beyonce’s lip-syncing won’t seem so out of place anymore.

    Option #2: Have an atheist pray. Since atheism is not a religion (and we really need to stop pretending that it is), I anticipate a very short pause, followed by another Beyonce lip-sync.

  6. I think it’s simplistic to say that love is only a feeling, as Penn Jillette seems to say. My own experience is that love involves feelings, obligations, commitments, behavior, attitudes, choices and more; it also requires a space within the world to be enacted, because it’s a kind of performance of the heart as well. Also, the love I have for my loved one involves feeling of a different order from the feeling I have when I “love” (that is, I prefer) vanilla ice cream. And you better believe that if I love someone I expect social accommodation to be made for the reality of that love: that’s exactly what all the debate about gay marriage involves, whichever side you take. As Christians, we are those who have experienced (that includes feeling) the love of Jesus in our own lives, who want to return love to him in kind, and express both his love for us and our love for him in worship and living. And if Penn Jillette thinks that, unlike religious devotion, there is no worship (that is, ascribing worth) in merely human love, he’s quite wrong. Despite what Jillette says, a lover of any kind always does more than merely report his or her feelings and require nothing else; every love makes claims to universal truth, and requires public expression, otherwise it’s merely a preference, like “loving” vanilla ice cream.
    Atheists may not have an organized religion, but they definitely have a spiritual perspective and commitment; and some atheists are quite missionary in their zeal.

  7. Wow, that is a really good sermon by Roberts! Agree that the music is a little distracting. Also agree that you should go buy some Cheetos… ;-)

  8. I have to admit that I find myself much in agreement with the Atheist in the NYTimes as well. A few years ago I read a book “The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life” and much to my surprise, found myself agreeing with Freud much more than Lewis.

  9. I didn’t listen to the Oral Roberts’ video, but I found the text. The mixing and interchanging of persons of the Trinity is a little bothersome. Our understanding of who God is should ultimately culminate in the Incarnation. Defining God by what He does for us or by the names we give Him still bothers me and diminishes and objectifies God.

  10. I read some of the other articles and comments in the series about atheism, and one of the debaters had an interesting point, which I am paraphrasing….

    He noted that there really are two types of atheists…..the rabid, evangelical atheists, the ones who troll the interwebs to call relgious people “morons”, “children who believe in stupid fairy tales” and the like. These people put a great deal of effort into engaging the issue and eliminating relgion in all forms and incarnations.

    The second group of atheists (he continued) are people who have looked at God and religion, found the whole idea useless and irrelevant to their lives……and never give it another moment of thought or discussion. They are non-combatents in the relgion wars.

    I think the difference is worth noting. Just like there are nonimal “christians” who show up on Sunday for the music or to please a spouse [and who do NOT frequent Christian blogs and boards!], there are nonimal atheists who really don’t give a hirsute rodent’s rump about the whole matter.

    • Pattie,
      To whatever degree nominal Christians exist, and I think that there have been many since almost the beginning of Christianity but more now than ever, they are really “practical atheists” or “practical agnostics;” ironically, when I encounter militant atheists, either personally or in print, I often (not always: Jillette, for instance, seems like a pretty well settled and somewhat smug atheist, which doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate his debunking work among spiritual charlatans both Christian and other) get the impression that the “Hound of Heaven” is on their trail, and they can absolutely not tolerate any public suggestion that others are aware of him, too, hence their animus against “religion,” especially Christianity, which seems to breed the greatest number of missionary atheists.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        That may be because such “missionary atheists” came out of a predominantly-Christian culture. If they had been raised in a culture with another dominant religion, they might have primary animus against that dominant religion. Or they might have been burned (Hi, Eagle!) and are reacting to the religion that burned them.

        Or they might have been “missionary” and/or “Fundamentalist” in personality and carrying the attitude to whatever belief system they have. I’ve seen a similar pattern in the aura of Pathological Furry Haters you see around Furry Fandom; they are every bit as intense and “Fundamentalist” as the “Furfags” they hate, just flipped one-eighty from Total Blind Adoration to Total Blind Hatred. But the basic obsession with the base subject is identical.

        P.S. Regarding Penn Jillete being “a well-settled and somewhat smug atheist”, I think we’ve all seen “well-settled and somewhat smug” Christians. (After all, this is Internet Monk, with links to Christian Monist and Wartburg Watch.)

  11. David Cornwell says:

    I’m not even sure a benediction is needed at the end of the inauguration ceremony. It might be better to wait until the President’s last day in office, the last few minutes. Then– in the oval office– the benedictory prayer. And it could include a real prayer for the person replacing him. And rather than looking for a person who is politically correct, just use your own pastor or spiritual adviser (if there be one).

  12. Anyone see the irony in sentencing a pastor to do community service?
    Hmmmm…
    Early in my faith walk, a pastor spoke of the danger of being so spiritually minded and no earthly good. It is a struggle of believers. We find ourselves on either end of the spectrum….spiritually minde or earthly good when there needs to be a healthy tension between the two ideas. It is not either or…conservative or liberal…individual faith or service to our community….rather a healthy tension in which my individual faith walk moves me to compassion for my world and compassion for my world drives me to individual growth. Not either or but both and….Jesus commended Mary for her deep desire for spiritual depth and also said the greatest among you will be the servant so all….

    Wouldn’t it have been great for this youth pastor to reply when sentenced….”I’m already doing that”….

  13. The best pic of BO this week is the one with the fly crawling around his face. Same thing happened a few years ago. Lord of the Flies.

    • Bella,
      I’m not a big fan of Obama, but what you commented is a little extreme, in effect calling him Satan. And there are two problems with it: 1) it minimizes the spiritual reality and gravity of evil and its personification in Satan and 2) it gives non-believers ammunition when they label Christians as fanatical and hateful, ready to cast aspersions along with stones rather than exhibiting love and charity even toward their perceived antagonists and enemies.

  14. I wish they’d stop swearing on the Bible in any edition or translation!

    • Not swearing on the Bible would be fine with me, but can you even imagine Obama refusing to swear on the Bible? Have mercy! The people who already think he’s a non-American citizen Muslim would come more out of the woodwork…

  15. Two things: One, I think any benediction prayer should follow the pattern of the one offered at the opening of Solomon’s newly built temple. You know, the one that says “If my people,who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray…” A prayer that actually challenges the new president and those who he (supposedly) serves, warning those listening of the pitfalls of hubris and outright arrogance, now THAT would be worth listening to! But, no luck! What we get is a soft recapitulation of the chosen president’s beliefs.

    Two: And why is it that Christians allow themselves to be deceived by the pseudo-christian sounding promises of leftism/socialism? Don’t they realize that “anti-christ” means ANOTHER Christ, NOT AGAINST Christ? If we anoint ANY government/political doctrine as more “Christian” than its opponent we are forgetting that the chosen belief is NOT Christian, nor does it CARE for Christ.. It is just a substitute for what Christians should be doing in their OWN lives and in their OWN assembly! This applies just as strictly to right leaning/patriotic political gobbledygook that we were subjected to the previous 8 years.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Don’t they realize that “anti-christ” means ANOTHER Christ, NOT AGAINST Christ?

      Historically, there have been two archetypes of Antichrist: The Slick Deceiver (“Anti” as “Imitation Of”) and The Fanatic Persecutor (“Anti” as “Against”). The former archetype has fallen completely out of favor and now out of living memory; since Hal Lindsay, the only archetype remaining is the latter, The Fanatic Persecutor.

      (One friend of mine cracked that with all the Televangelists, The Slick Deceiver might hit a little too close to home. Also, it is easy to paint all who oppose you as Antichrist the Fanatic Persecutor.)

      The two archetypes work very well as a tag team, with The Fanatic Persecutor driving Christians under the protection (and taking the Mark) of the Slick Deceiver.

      If we anoint ANY government/political doctrine as more “Christian” than its opponent we are forgetting that the chosen belief is NOT Christian, nor does it CARE for Christ.

      This applies to Ayn Rand (now Fourth Person of the Trinity) as well as to Karl Marx. (Remember the above tag team of contrasting Antichrists?)

      • MattPurdum says:

        Have finally concluded that the only place any Christian needs to be looking for any antiChrist is in the mirror, to make sure he’s not there.

        • Awww, come on. How is “pin-the-tail-on-the-anti-Christ” supposed to be any fun if it’s so easy?

        • Self-criticism and examination of the plank in my eye, rather than self-righteous condemnation of the speck in my neighbor’s eye? Where would you get a crazy idea like that? How can we wage a cultural war if we are not constantly on the offensive and attack? Hmmm. Maybe that’s the point.

  16. The atheist’s definitions are troublesome. I wouldn’t define religion or faith or love the way he does. Take faith, for example. Faith is trusting, not without evidence as the author claims, but with enough evidence to be credible, but not enough to force belief. This is far more in line with what the Bible says that faith is.

    That said, his discussion is not so credible. I’m rather dismayed that imonk finds a lot in the article to agree with.

    • Yes, Stephen, I’m not sure why imonk was so much in agreement with the article, either. Or was that another example of imonks much vaunted “tongue-in-cheekiness”?

    • “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

    • Yes, the magician seems to be confusing evidence (or, better, warrant) with proof. Faith is not opposed to evidence or a reason to believe (“or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves” –John 14) but it recognizes that the evidence does not force belief. It is possible to be mistaken. For example, I believe my wife has been faithful to me because of what I know of her character. This is the warrant for my belief. But I do not have proof, for the simple reason that would require 24 hour surveillance. I choose to believe what I cannot prove. But this belief is not random or without reason.

  17. I grew up near Knoxville, and live in Huntsville, two of the top 10. I am not sure yet if that is good or bad.

    • Here in Lynchburg (VA, not the home of Jack Daniels in TN!) the paper said we were number 7, I beleive, but I have not looked it up. The vast majority of that comes from Falwellville being here, added to fair number of Bible-Believing Baptists. About 6% of the metro area is Roman Catholic*

      *national average is 24%, for the record.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Falwellville?

        Is that anything like Pleasantville?

      • Did you see where Colorado Springs – evangelical Mecca of the west – landed in the survey? Not only is this a ridiculous survey, it also appears to skewed toward typical bible-belt cities.

  18. Richard McNeeley says:

    Glad to see you remembered Linda Blair’s birthday. She is still turning heads after all of these years.
    I have no idea what possessed me to say that.

  19. MattPurdum says:

    When I was 13 or 14 I read Bertrand Russell, and I thought he was a really interesting and thoughtful atheist. I just can’t handle people like Penn Gillette, and I’ll leave it at that.

  20. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Until then, remember this my children: Barak Obama is the very best president of the United States that we have. We are commanded to pray for him. And, according to Andy Stanley, we might want to call him our Pastor-In-Chief.

    i.e. LONG LIVE BIG BROTHER. THE OBAMA CAN DO NO WRONG.

    Really, this Obama Fanboy stuff we’ve been hearing since the 2008 primaries wouldn’t be out of place in Saddam’s Iraq or North Korea. Problem is, this is what happens when you get a highly-charismatic politician during a time of Messiah Politics. Whether he intends to or not, he starts a personality cult where people view him as Our Personal LORD And Savior and it colors everything. The real danger is when said politician starts believing his own PR and the praise of his worshippers.

    • Susan Paxton says:

      I see everyone has “forgotten” the kinds of things certain evangelicals were saying about George W. Bush. Recommend you do some Googling.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And so we play the “Conservative Cheerleaders for Chimpy Dubya Bushitler Bushitler Bushitler” card. Counting Coup for My Side Against Yours.

        Since Obama is President now, his fanboys now have the bully pulpit. (As 9/11 Truthers disappear to be replaced by Obama Birthers.) And fanboys are fanboys.

        And in the 2008 campaign, Obama attracted some pretty extreme fanboys — like the “Obama Children’s Choir” singing their “Hymn to the One” (“Obama Loves Us… Obama Will Save Us… O Save Us Obama…”) and the “Obama Youth” marching in green paramilitary fatigues chanting “He Is Alpha! He Is Omega! Obama! Obama! Obama!”

        (Wasn’t helped by some of the more extreme claims of his supporters — like Compulsory National Service (“Obama Youth Brigades”), the “I Pledge” commercials with celebrities, and a lot of his “Community Organizer” stuff like ACORN using imagery and rhetoric reminiscent of Cold War Russia. But then that was common for activists from around 1968 to the end of the Cold War. Think of them as Old Cold Warriors of a different stripe.)

        Conspiracy Theory attributes these as orchestrated by The Vast Obama Conspiracy; I figure them as Drooling Fanboy Productions that were NOT associated with the campaign itself and have this mental image of Obama’s campaign managers facepalming and trying to get them off YouTube as fast as they came up. Because that sort of fanboy “support” really doesn’t help a campaign that has to appeal to a majority of voters in key states. (Especially when in the world of YouTube mashups, “Hymn to the One” syncs up with North Korean footage of Nork children singing to Comrade Dear Leader and a famous 2008 Obama campaign speech syncs up very well to a scene in Triumph of the Will. For that matter, I’ve posted links to a mash-up of Glenn Beck visuals synced up to a Francis E Dec psychotic rant audio.)

      • Donalbain says:

        Some people, like HUG, forget to even read the comment they reply to. There was no suggestion at all that Obama can do no wrong, simply an acknowledgment that he IS the president and a statement of faith that one should pray for him. But HUG felt the need to skip over the actual content and rant away.

    • cermak_rd says:

      I didn’t read it that way. I read it as the very best president we have in other words, we have no other. We have one president at a time.

    • “….He was the best of Presidents, he was the worst of Presidents…”

    • Ok, no one remembers the Dixie Chicks being boycotted for criticizing George Dubya?

      • In 2001, conservatives said, “Please! take away my civil liberties and right to due-process! Just save us from those dirty terrorist!”, to which liberals said, “are you crazy?”. In 2013, the roles seem reversed, with liberals begging congress to assault the Bill of Rights even further in the name of protection against gun-toting sociopaths; and now the conservatives are crying foul. For me, its all ridiculous, but particularly hypocritical hearing conservatives shed tears over the shredding of the constitution.

  21. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    It is no surprise here that when one Christian publisher has a bestseller about a near-death experience and a visit to the pearly gates, all the others want to jump in.

    “Just like Beyond and Back, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

    Christianese NDE memoirs seem to be the new bandwagon fad. I remember a small trend of them in the late Seventies (usually with a Ye Ende Is Nighye tie-in), and in the past there were massive upsurges of interest in accounts of the afterlife — Spiritualism had its peaks after the American Civil War in the USA and World War One in Europe. We haven’t had as traumatic an event as those, so why the NDE/afterlife upsurge now? Possibilities:

    1) The usual delayed knockoff of a secular fad? (“Just like fill-in-the-blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”?) If so, this is a very LONG delay; I remember the secular NDE fad was close to 20 years ago. The only recent equivalent is the usual Life After Death? tabloid documentaries on the cable channels, but they’ve been pretty constant.
    2) Baby Boomers starting to finally realize they’re not Forever Young(TM) and grasping for every straw? (Just so long as that straw didn’t exist before their own birth, like those old fuddy-duddy religions…)
    3) The general Pessimism of today? A reaction to find some hope even if we’re all gonna die and it’s all over but the screaming?

    And for Christianese visions of Heaven crossed with sheer weirdness, it’s hard to beat this guy called Percy Collet whose alleged vision was going around the Christian cassette tape market in the Eighties. I think you can still find him (and his visions on tape) through a Web search.

    • The only reason I see NDE’s as plausable is the number of times I have been present at the moment of death, and seen the transition (as a hospice nurse, for those who don’t know me..)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I was not commenting on the plausibility of NDEs (and a lot of the evidence for them is frankly ambiguous), but on how “Life After Death?” periodically becomes a bandwagon fad.

        Ever heard of a 1990s PBS documentary called “Telegrams from the Dead”? Now out-of-print (and only available on VHS at exorbitant prices), it was an “American Experience” episode about 19th Century Spiritualism — that century’s bandwagon fad of “Proof of Life After Death”. (Not as a matter of religious faith, but as scientific fact!)

        Immediately after seeing it on PBS for the first time, I flipped to another cable channel where an “Unsolved Mysteries” rerun announced “Scientific Proof of Life After Death?”

        At that point, I thought “Didn’t I just see ‘Telegrams from the Dead’?” The claims and buildup and evidence were pretty much identical to the PBS documentary.

        • HUG,
          I thinking the working religion of many Americans, including many who are active in Christian churches, is actually a form of Spiritualism rather than Christianity; even among the so-called “nones,” who have become so prominent in the news and even on this very blog recently, I believe there are many with unspoken belief in a hereafter that resembles the metaphysical assumptions of the television show “Highway to Heaven” or the movie “Ghost,” or even “Beetlejuice,” more than “The Divine Comedy”

          • You forgot “Touchd by An Angel”. I think beliefs about the afterlife are all over the map. I’ve seen stats that say something a little north of 20% of Christians believe in reincarnation, for instance.

    • I’ll believe anybody’s personal story of an NDE until they get a publishing deal. At that point they change the details to make it more interesting. As Lark News so snarkily pointed out, how come none of these Heaven Hotel weekenders never notice any close family members missing? It’s like, really, heaven is for everybody except Hitler.
      But more seriously, I’ve heard stats that say about 1 in 37 people have had an NDE. I know a handful of them myself, but most don’t get too far down the tunnel of light before they’re sent back. Ironically, I’ve yet to hear an NDE account that omits that detail. I think the consistency speaks to something. Not that I’d build a theology around it.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        I think I had a NDE in which I saw Hitler in heaven. Either that, or I ate too much Italian food and fell asleep watching Inglorious Basterds.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Actually, the “Tunnel of Light” experience can be induced by several hallucinogenic drugs as well, and could be induced by dying brain cells; that’s why the “Tunnel of Light” is ambiguous.

    • I saw this about a month ago, attempting to explain near-death experiences by means of quantum physics:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2225190/Can-quantum-physics-explain-bizarre-experiences-patients-brought-brink-death.html

      I wonder what Einstein would have thought of science trying to explain the dark corners of religion.

      • He wouldn’t have minded because he believed that “God does not play dice.” Anyway, it’s no worse or better than religion trying to explain the dark corners of science.

  22. Re. Fourth Man video

    The music may not be everyone’s first choice, but we’ve come to expect music as the background to just about everything in modern life. So, do you think church attendance would go up if they put a music soundtrack underneath the sermons? Certainly some would head for the exits, but I’m betting that comprehension would increase for those who stayed.

  23. Kyle In Japan says:

    “Religion is faith. Faith is belief without evidence.”

    No, Mr. Atheist, the Bible’s definition of faith is belief BASED on evidence – that’s what the Greek ‘Pistis’ means. Belief that when you’re learning to ride a bicycle, your father is going to keep his hand on the back of the bike and not let you fall face-first into the pavement because you know what your father is like and you know that he’s a cool dude. Belief that your wife isn’t going to have an affair with the next-door-neighbor when you go on a business trip because you’ve been married for twenty years and know her character. That’s faith.

    NDEs are a distraction from the real focus and hope of the Bible: our hope as Christians is not floating around a vague cloudy heaven in a disembodied state, but inheriting the resurrected heavens and earth – a physical world, with physical bodies, gloried and transformed like Jesus at his resurrection. ‘Heaven’ in McChristianity is just the waiting room. We waste time discussing it when our true, final hope is so much more.

    • Amen! To both paragraphs.

    • Indeed, it’s the DE, not the NDE, that matters. Or, better, as you state, it’s the post-DE future in the general resurrection.

      (Even so, NDEs are important — as long as you’re talking about non-linear differential equations….)

    • But you know your father because of your experience with him. And same with your wife. If she flirted with every man she met and had odd gaps in her calendar and stopped acting like she cared about you, you might start getting suspicious. So with a deity, if you don’t experience one, you’re going to start looking for evidence of one, and if you don’t find any evidence, you’re going to doubt.

      • What kind of “experience” with a transcendent deity do you mean? And surely one can have warrant for believing in a person even without a direct experience of that person.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I’ve always wondered when and how Fluffy Cloud Heaven (w harps & halos) replaced Resurrection of the Body/New Cosmos as the Christian afterlife belief. I suspect the final transition came during the Victorian Era, considering the Victorians’ tendency towards Sentimental Romance.

      Because in Fluffy Cloud Heaven, death is permanent. Death Wins. Forever.

      • One author called it the Islamification of evangelicalism.

      • Josh in FW says:

        I’m nearly finished with N.T. Wright’s book, ‘Surprised By Hope’. Wright identifies the Victorian Era as a time when this disembodied idea gains popularity. This is my first book by Wright and I’m really enjoying it, but parts of it are a bit repetitive and I think he could have communicated the ideas more efficiently (i.e. less pages).

  24. On “The Fourth Man” sermon – interesting choice of music…Robert Miles (Swiss DJ/producer/etc) teamed with a preacher? The lengths people go to marry worldly culture with Jesus…to me that’s what is hideous

    But I can’t say the music is hideous because I like some electronica now and then, particularly Miles, for a jolt while doing something monotonous; but paired with Oral Roberts or any preacher/teacher … doesn’t fit