A Gitmo guard turns Muslim: 3-27-09
How the New Testament ends: 3-30-09

New books about faith: 3-28/29-09

Newspapers may be in trouble but clearly the printed word is not -- at least judging by the number of books that continue to be produced.


That's especially true in the religion field. My, oh, my.

I can't possibly read or point you to every book in this area but I want to give you some information about some newly published books. By including a book in this list, I'm not endosing everything the writer says. In some cases I may have serious disagreements with the authors but want you to be aware of the book's existence.

(A few of these books aren't yet officially in print but can be preordered now.)

I'll begin with a Holocaust-related book, partly because my own new Holocaust-related book will be out this summer. For details, click here.

* Flight from the Reich: Refugee Jews, 1933-1946, by Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan Van Pelt. This volume won't be officially published until next month, but you can order it now. And if you have any interest in a more complete view of the Holocaust, you should order it. It's a well-documented, quite engaging read that tells the often heartbreaking stories of Jews who did their best to escape Hitler's Germany and extended Third Reich. What makes this book so compelling is that the authors have done what Saul Friedlander did in his prize-winning two-volume history, Nazi Germany and the Jews: They rely not just on impersonal government documents but also on personal letters, diary entries and other sources that describe how Germany's efforts to wipe out European Jewry affected specific individuals. The book also includes photos, many of which I've never seen before.

* 20th Century Jewish Religious Thought, edited by Arthur A. Cohen and Paul Mendes-Flohr. This is a marvelous collection of more than 1,100 pages covering nearly every imaginable subject in 140 separate essays. It's the kind of volume you'd expect from the Jewish Publication Society. And this is not just for scholars. It's for anyone who wants to get in tune with modern shape of Judaism and Jewish thinking. This is an important collection. I especially found helpful an essay called "Anti-Judaism and Anti-Semitism," by Hyam Maccoby.


* Saving Creation: Nature and Faith in the Life of Holmes Rolston III, by Christopher J. Preston. Holmes Rolston, an environmental pioneer among people of faith, won the Templeton Prize a few years ago. It recognizes people who help to connect science and religion, which Rolston surely has. Indeed, as much as almost any other current scholar, Rolston has found persuasive ways to help us see the connections between faith and science. In this book, the author, who teaches philosophy at the University of Montana, helps us understand the evolution of Rolston's thinking -- and, ultimately, of our own.

* My Hope for Peace, by Jehan Sadat. The widow of Anwar Sadat, assassinated president of Egypt, has become a voice for peace in the Middle East. In this book, she offers her unique perspective from having watched her husband make formal peace between Egypt and Israel and then having watched as extremists in Egypt murdered him. No one will agree with all Jehan Sadat says here but she does an intriguing analysis of Islam and its radical fringe and she proposes some possibilities for ways forward in the Middle East -- beginning with an attitude that peace is possible and not just a pipe dream. She writes that peace is not only essential but also imperative.

* Breakthrough: The Return of Hope to the Middle East, by Tom Doyle. This book takes a rather dramatically different approach to the subject than Jehan Sadat's book. The author is a Christian minister who directs a church-planting ministry and who wants to convert Muslims and Jews to Christianity. And the book contains some stories of such conversions. Some of his comments seem odd, however, such as his observation that "Muslims in the Middle East, and throughout the rest of the Muslim world, are eager to hear about Jesus." This might leave readers with the impression that Jesus plays no role in Islam, whereas in fact he is regarded as one of the religion's most important prophets, though Muslims -- unlike Christians -- do not consider him divine. But it's worth knowing how Christians who share Doyle's approach to theology think about the Middle East.

* Radical Forgiveness, by Antoinette Bosco. Who better to write about forgiveness than a woman whose son (and his wife) were murdered? Toni Bosco describes this awful crime in a previous book, Choosing Mercy. This new volume expands on her understanding of the need for forgiveness because, as she writes, "My life has forced me to confront the work of evil in our lives and in our world. . ." The author is a Catholic journalist who has found ways to move beyond a need for revenge and hate. She is a clear, strong writer with a compelling Christian message.


* SUM: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, by David Eagleman. What a kicky little book, full of whim and insight. The author a neuroscientist, imagines the various possible details of life after death and comes up with some real hoots, all the while suggesting in subtle ways that we would do well to take life -- and death -- more seriously than we often do. In a little more than 100 pages, Eagleman implants in our craniums dozens of strangely attractive (and a few repulsive) ideas that will stay in your brain for a long time.

*Religious Liberty in America: The First Amendment in Historical and Contemporary Perspective, by Bruce T. Murray. Anyone searching for a clear, well-documented primer on religious freedom in this country, with special attention to current case law, can find it here. Murray, a journalist, writes with clarity and, though the book is only a bit over 200 pages, draws on enough original documents to create a compelling and helpful book. A series of useful sidebars within the chapters helps to flesh out the nuances of this subject, of which there are plenty. This hardback book is not cheap. It lists for $80. But it's practically a must for any comprehensive public library that wants to be taken seriously.

* Calvin: A Brief Guide to his Life and Thought, by Willem van 't Spijker. Because this year marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, the famous Protestant reformer, you will find many new books exploring what he has meant to Christianity. This small (197 pages) volume is an excellent place to start for people who are curious about him. The author, a theology professor in the Netherlands, does a good job of combining information about Calvin's fascinating life with information about his theology. A few hours of reading will give readers the context of Calvin's life along with a good bit of Calvin himself.

* Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single World of the Bible, by David Plotz. You're never going to have so much fun reading the Hebrew Scriptures. The author, editor of Slate.com, retells the Bible's stories but with a wonderfully whimsical eye. This is not irreverence. Rather, this is profound reverence for a profoundly human story about God, who is nothing if not mysterious. A flavor from his recounting of the book of I Samuel: "It's no wonder priests, ministers, and rabbis have spent so mch time, during the last two millennia, discouraging regular folks from reading the Bible on their own. The Good Book makes most of its clerics look like sleazeballs. The first high priest was Aaron, the Fredo Corleone of the Sinai." Like that. Wonderful stuff.

* Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality, by Barbara Bradley Hagerty. The author is the religion correspondent for National Public Radio, and she uses her journalistic background and skills to find a series of fascinating stories about the way people experience God and the role our own body chemistry and makeup plays in that. She leaves a good deal of room for mystery and is not at all ready to chalk up spiritual experiences solely to physical or material explanations. Rather, she seeks to be open to hear the often-extraordinary experiences of others. The book officially won't be published for several more weeks but can be pre-ordered now.


* Reasoning Together: A Conversation on Homosexuality, by Ted Grimsrud and Mark Thiessen Nation. Amids all the heat from this topic, these two Mennonite scholars offer some much-needed light. One argues for the church to take an inclusive approach to welcoming gays and lesbians into all aspects of Chrsitian church life. The other argues for a welcoming approach coupled with restrictions on the roles gays and lesbians should be allowd to play. Each provides carefully thought-through reasons for their differing positions. But readers may find most helpful, however, is that both authors seem to have taken seriously this proposal from Grimsrud: "Perhaps our biggest challenge is to make the effort to understand one another before launching into our critique." Good advice.

* A Saint on Death Row: The Story of Dominique Green, by Thomas Cahill. The author of How the Irish Saved Civilization (and several other books) takes a devastating look at capital punishment here by recounting the disturbing and profoundly sad case of a young man executed by the state of Texas in 2004 after years on Death Row there. The death penalty is a radically immoral means of attempting to do justice and must be ended. It's hard to imagine how anyone reading this moving account could think otherwise.

*  Four Ordinary Women: A Glorious Friendship of Circumstance, by Pat Antonopoulos, Patti Dickinson, Shawna Samuel and Jo Ann Stanley. Some months ago I was asked to read through the manuscript for this book, and as I did I found that it drew me in. It's not strictly a book about faith or religion or ethics. But it is about relationship and understanding our humanity at its deepest level. And, in the end, that's a big part of what faith is about, too. These four Kansas City area women share their experiences, their hopes and their fears with one another, and are uplifted in the process. For the Seven Locks Press publishing house site, click here.

* The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, by Levi H. Dowling. First published about 100 years ago, this made-up account of how Jesus spent his time between ags 12 and 30 (unaccounted for in the gospels) has been reissued as a Tarcher Cornerstone Edition. It is being published in connection with an upcoming film, "The Secret," based on it. Yes, well, it's sort of intriguing to find Jesus taking a boat to Greece and teaching the philosophers a thing or two and Jesus coming to Egypt to spend time with people who once taught his mother. All fun fiction. But I'm not sure where all this gets us in the end. Maybe the movie will answer that. Or not.


* Interfaith Dialogue at the Grass Roots, edited by Rebecca Kratz Mays. I've been waiting for a book like this for years. It's a collection of essays by people who really understand what interreligious conversation is supposed to be and who know how to make it happen. It's the perfect study guide for any group beginning to explore ways to be in conversation with people of other faiths -- exactly the kind of serious talk we need today in our increasingly pluralistic society. Chapters include helpful questions for reflection and suggestions for action. I'd love to see churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other communities of faith latch onto this book and begin to explore commonalities and differences in useful ways.

* Across the Threshold, Into the Questions: Discovering Jesus, Finding Self, by Caren Goldman and Ted Voorhees, with a foreword by Amy-Jill Levine, who will speak in the Kansas City area the weekend of April 24 (after which I'll lead a follow-up discussion). In a sense, this is a lovely follow-up to the previously mentioned book here. The authors are husband and wife. She is Jewish, he's an Episcopal priest. Their goal is to help all of us -- of whatever faith -- think anew about someone impossible to ignore in this or almost any culture, Jesus. Their reflections are deeply personal and quite engaging, and they move readers into their own reflections about how to understand this Nazarene Jew who changed the world.

* The Spanking Room: A Child's Eye View of the Jehovah's Witnesses, by William Coburn. This is an insider's painful story of the physical abuse he experienced at the hands of his mother after she joined the Watchtower Society. It's a sorrowful tale of misshapen religion and reminds me of a book I wrote about here recently by a woman who grew up in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

* The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, by Kevin Roose. The author is a Brown University student who takes a semester off to attend Liberty University in Lynchberg, Va., the school the late Jerry Falwell ran. His goal is to get inside and understand people who call themselves theologically conservative. Roose has a nice sense of humor and writes well. He's also generally respectful, not given to slamming people who are different from him. He provides something of a model for how to get inside the head and heart of others.

* In the Footsteps of Paul: Experience the Journey that Changed the World, by Ken Duncan. The Apostle Paul's missionary journeys helped to create the Christian church -- in its Pauline essence -- we know today. This beautiful book of photos takes us on those journeys and shows us what one can see today. Ken Duncan has a remarkable eye.

* Daily Dose of Knowledge: Bible, from West Side Publishing. I thought this would be just another little devotional book to get you through the Bible one day at a time for a year. Instead, it's a helpful book of informative entries that help readers grasp what this amazing book (collection of books, really) is all about. It's done by several theologians. Here and there the book anachronistically refers to the early followers of Jesus as "Christians," though there was no Christianity yet and the use of that term in the New Testament is largely derogatory as a way of referring to a sect of Judaism that thought Jesus was the Messiah. And it uses the term "conversion" with respect to the Apostle Paul, as if he converted from Judaism to Christianity. But there is much to learn in this small book, especially for Christians who feel themselves biblically illiterate.


* Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge, by Dallas Willard. This popular Christian writer argues here that what the faith teaches should not be relegated to the category of personal opinion or something less than actual knowledge. Rather, it should be thought of as a vital and insightful collection of truths that can stand -- and has stood -- up to scrutiny. If religious doctrines are just blind beliefs or a kind of emotional response to our own needs, he argues, they don't deserve much respect. But they are much more than that, he says.

* Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen, by Lesley Hazleton. What do you know about Jezebel? Probably that she was a hussy, an evil woman. Why, that's what the word means in our culture. But what of the original Jezebel, the one included in the books of I and II Kings in the Hebrew Scriptures? Well, the author, a journalist, has done some important homework about the woman and concludes that she was far from the raging sexpot of reputation. She was not perfectly innocent, Hazleton concludes, but she was a strong and fascinating woman, as this imaginative look at her makes clear.

* 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith, by Jason T. Berggren. A former pastor, Berggren runs through his list of things about the faith that drive him crazy, including other Christians. And he describes how he has come to embrace them. It's an honest view about the often-difficult realities of a life of faith.

* Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom, by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. This Tibetan Buddhist master offers here a new -- and quite personal -- look at life's anxieties and how Buddhism offers a way of dealing with them. Buddhism postulates that suffering is what throws us off in life but that it can be overcome. This book offers a modern restatement about how that might be possible.

* Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less, by Marc Lesser. You may wonder how anyone with this last name could write any other book, but the truth is Lesser is a Zen teacher with some good, practical advice about simplifying our lives to make them more joyful -- and even useful. Particularly useful is his advice about what to do with and how to think about fear.

* Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What's Holding You Back, by Brooks Palmer. Well, look, this really isn't a book about religion at all. Rather, it's about something religion tries to teach us -- often without success: Focus on what's really important and quit making our material possessions our God. It fits nicely with the previously mentioned book about doing with less.

* Holy Adventure, by Bruce G. Epperly. In a sense, this is a Christian self-help book, but its motif is to see all of life as a thrilling adventure to be entered into in partnership with God. It's full of prayers and challenges and reflections on how to conceive of life that way. It's structured to lead you through 41 days of thinking and acting with help from this pastor-author.

* Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir, by Susan E. Isaacs. Any book by a self-confessed "Lutheran slut" can't be all bad. And this one is fun. And full of pain. And engaging. And full of all the impertinent questions all of us ask God -- or want to. In some ways, Isaacs takes on the role of a modern-day Job, except that she knows that -- unlike Job -- she is not an completely righteous person. Still, she wants to drag God into the picture and get some answers, damn it.

And, finally:


* Thin Blue Smoke, By Doug Worgul. Doug is a former Kansas City Star colleague whose novel was one of the rare ones chosen by the Macmillan New Writers group for publication. It's set at an imaginary barbecue joint near The Star in downtown Kansas City and is, finally, a story of redemption, including for an Episcopal priest. I had the privilege of reading some of the early drafts of this as Doug blogged it some years ago. This final form is a wonderful read. And if you're from Kansas City, you'll have extra reason to pick it up. For one thing, you may learn something about barbecue, for Doug is a serious authority on that subject.

* * *


The Human Rights Council of the United Nations has approved a proposal to protect religions from criticism. It's mostly backed by countries with predominantly Muslim populations and, well, it's a bad idea. So is ridiculing someone else's religion. But legislating this can put a serious chill on free speech. For a statement about this from the American Jewish Congress, click here. For an (unnecessarily critical) editorial about it in the Washington Times, click here. For a news story about this with a bit more historical perspective, click here. For the Web site of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which pushed for the U.N. action, click here.


Will Graham

Susan, a brief follow up from your last couple of posts yerterday. Seriously, your slurs against fundamentalists are getting more and more irresponsible. You say you don't think the "majority" of fundamentalist fathers "rape and abuse their children", as if the minority might.
This is the purest slander, and pretends that such abuse must come from believers; you keep spitting out this term "fundamentalist" in connection with worse and worse things as you go along.

Are you seriously trying to tell us that non believers never are involved in any of this? You speak of "freethinkers" as if they are the personifications of good; it is obvious where you are going to end up with this "gospel of freethought".

And your definition of abuse seems rather limited; I would include killing the child before it can even be born as the most extreme abuse; it fact, it is indisputable that abuse has increased drastically since the legalization of this monstrosity. The message being sent to the massses is, if your kid is in the way, eliminate it.

The Pope, who is despised almost as much as fundamentalists around here, correctly diagnosed this as the "culture of death".

Look, we get it...you depise fundamentalists; they are "the root of all evil". O.K. Now, since we are all going to be saved in the end, calm down.

Just Thinking

Great reading list, Bill.

This wins the award for uneducated remarks:
"I don't believe children need anyone to "start their learning processes." People are born learners, and born questers. As children pursue their own inquiries and interests, they can certainly benefit from responsive parents being available to help them go further in their explorations, provided their parents don't take over the process."

Teaching children the alphabet, phoenics, numbers, etc. is necessary. Children aren't just "born learners" for these things. We tried experiments decades ago where we tried to lead children into discovering things for themsleves without the discipline of structured teaching. It failed miserably, and we have a whole generation of people who suffered because they were not properly trained in fundamentals. They have the highest self-esteem, and the lowest level of achievement among children of industrialized nations.

People don't learn better when you arrange for them to self discover. Nope. They learn better when you teach, have them perform, review, and regularly test. That's part of discipline, which is critical to anything worthwhile. It takes hard work to become good at something, not touchy-feely, uneducated ideas about learning.

Nobody is going to rediscover any significant field of study for themselves. This is why people study under accomplished advisors, and they study the works of masters.

Sure, you could let someone fumble, stumble and try to rediscover the fundamentals for themselves. But why would you want to handicap them by not teaching the a-b-c's and 1-2-3's to children? That's part of the job of previous generations.

Matthew 28:18-20 - discipline and disciples
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

Although abuse can happen in a home of any religious background or none, it is the fundamentalist authors who advocate child abuse in their books and say you have to do it to be a good Christian. You don't see books by atheists or liberal Christians saying hitting your kid is a good idea. See books by the Pearls for example. Obviously this view doesn't represent all fundamentalists but think of a relatively new fundamentalist, perhaps a naive, first-time parent trying to find what it means to be a good Christian parent and then reading these books. The Pearls are not just abusing their kids, they are convincing other parents to abuse their kids in the name of God, parents who might not otherwise abuse their kids. No, Will, it's not fundamentalISTS that are the root of evil but fundamentalISM because it leads people astray who might otherwise behave more kindly toward others.

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

Medical neglect in favor of faith healing works much in the same way. Most of those followers would never subject their kids to such danger and torment except that they listen to the leaders who tell them stupid things. Why do they listen? Because fundamentalism is inherently authoritarian. And what happens is that parents who really loved their children are heartbroken when the kids die of preventable causes and the parents are brought up on charges. Not because they are bad people but because the got suckered by their religious leaders into believing something incredibly stupid and dangerous: that faith healing is an adequate replacement for medical care. (Of course, I'm still in favor of criminal charges against such people. It's the only way to reduce the number of child deaths from such bad choices.)

Dolores Lear

Will: (About Susan) "And your definition of abuse seems rather limited; I would include killing the child before it can even be born as the most extreme abuse; it fact, it is indisputable that abuse has increased drastically since the legalization of this monstrosity. The message being sent to the massses is, if your kid is in the way, eliminate it.
The Pope, who is despised almost as much as fundamentalists around here, correctly diagnosed this as the "culture of death"."

The Culture of Death does not stop at Abortion. Ever since the Adam and Eve Clones, Reproduced Inbred/Misbred Children, Death and Destruction of All Life has been the Lifestyle of Humans on Planet Earth.

Will, it is up to the Male to end Abortion, by stop making females pregnant. That is the First Cause of Abortion of the Child, and also Abuse of Male, Female and Child.

Why do Humans keep blaming the Female, for Abortion and Child Abuse, two of the results of unwanted pregnancy, while the Male is busy, with Child Abuse, and Killing all the Humans Males Reproduce, in War?

Humans with High Tech Science are Reproducing a Human 'Fetus' in the Lab, but still put it into the female womb, sometimes ending in Birth Death.

Humans should Construct a High Tech Womb. With No Female Reproduction, Control of Human Reproduction, should End All Abuses, and Abortions, done by Humans to Humans.

Our Runaway Reproduction, of 7 Billion Humans, because of No Control of Male Flesh Lust, has Overpopulated our Home Planet.

Why did Adam and Eve take over Reproduction of Humans, from the Lord God? This Original Sin, caused Inequality, Division and Death to the Human Species on Planet Earth.

And the Death of our Planet is Near from Male Lust.


Bill, thanks for all these great book reviews! I think I am most interested in "Thin Blue Smoke," and also the book by the woman who calls herself a "Lutheran slut."

About Jezebel -- ever since reading her story it's puzzled me that anyone. ever. found anything sexy about a woman who found her husband sulking about some land he couldn't have, and just went out and had the property-owner murdered and took the land for her husband. I suppose it's just our societal-tendency to equate "bad girls" with sexiness and "good girls" with frigidity ... or maybe it's that "sex is the original-sin"-thing Dolores keeps reminding us of. :)

From last night -- adamh, you tell Agnostic Pope that his historical-reporting is screwed, and insult his reading-choices -- but then you stop short of saying anything specific about what was WRONG with the historical-account he gave. Why don't you follow Just Thinking's advice to me, and be more specific in your attacks? Otherwise, it just looks like you're worked up in a wad because you don't like what someone's saying -- but lack the knowledge to intelligently-counter the ideas you find so objectionable.

Will, I'm certainly not going to claim that no freethinker or atheist ever does anything wrong. But I think Lynne hit the nail on the head in her post today. It's fundamentalISM that encourages parents to feel they have certain rights over their children.

Individuals of any religious or philosophical-persuasion can be screwed-up and do evil -- but Christian fundamentalISM encourages parents to use physical violence to mold the wills of their children and make them more compliant, so they'll have the "right attitude" toward authority-figures, obey pastors/husbands as adults, and so on.

FundamentalISM teaches that parents are "doing their children a disservice" if they don't make them compliant.

Dolores Lear

This week's promise: He's alive!
Jesus is my hope and trust
"Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord! 1 Corinthians 15:55-56 NLT"

"Jesus lives, and so shall I: Death, thy sting is gone forever! He for me hath deigned to die, lives the bands of death to sever. He shall raise me from the dust: Jesus is my hope and trust."
"Jesus Lives, and So Shall I" Christian Furchtegott Gellert (1715-1769)

"Without Christ, human life is merely prolonged death. Everything is decaying. But Jesus gives us eternal life, which radically changes our life on earth. Not only do we have eternity to look forward to, but we have the power to live in right relationship with God and others right now in our daily lives. Jesus is our hope for the future and our trust for each day. Praise Him!" by Mark Norton and Robert Brown."

With our High Tech Science Knowledge today of All Life as we Know it made from Atoms/Dust and ElectroMagntic Force/Spirit.

All the Supernatural Belief amd Myth Writings, by Fallen Humans without this Science Knowledge, can be translated as High Tech Science Fact today.

"He Shall Raise Me From The Dust", has a different meaning for Humans with High Tech Science of Atoms/Dust.

Today 7 Billion Humans have been raised from the Dead, Dust/Atoms, and are Alive today, in Human Form, through Heterosexual Body Birth.

This joining of Atoms and the EMF, for Live as we Know it, is done by GOD the maker of the Atom and the EMF, not a 'Higher Being' God/Person.


Dolores Lear


High Tech Human Higher 'Being' Persons, can make Humans in a High Tech Lab. Humans today Reproduce a Human Fetus in a High Tech Lab.

GOD joins the Elements together, that make a Person, in a High Tech Lab Womb, or in the Female Womb.

The 'He' Peace God of Religion and Myth, are our High Tech Science Human Ancestors, Male and Female, Colonized Life on Earth 'in the beginning'. Jesus is Physically Alive with them.

Human History has come from the High Tech Colonization, to the Human Fall of the loss of High Tech with Body Birth. Humans have been the Killers ever since, not our High Tech Ancestors/Religious Gods.

The High Tech Humans of the Noah/Atlantis, were the Killer God then, and they Caused Manmade Planetary Flood that destroyed most Life.

Noah and others, restarted, and Humans today are the Killer Gods, who again have our Planet covered with all types of Waste, Nuclear Waste, and Nuclear Bombs.

The Last Days of Life on Earth, with a Coming Nuclear 'Arm'ageddon, and a Planetary Judgement Day Fire, is at Hand.

There is No Eternal Physical Life After Death, on earth, except in Generation Birth, Death and Rebirth until a Home Planet is Destroyed.

Our High Tech Ancestors with Jesus will Return to Planet Earth for the Final Destruction of Earth by Fallen Body Birth Humans.

They will take a new Group along with Jesus as their leader, to a new Planet.

Religion and Myth can be translated by High Tech Science, for the Truth of Eternal Human Physical Purebred Human Male and Female Clone Life After Birth, on Planets and in Spaceships.

Nothing is More Important to Human Eternal Life After Birth, Than Balanced GOD Elements on Planets and in Spaceships.


Just Thinking -- I never taught the a-b-c's or 1-2-3's to my children. They pretty-much seemed to absorb them by osmosis. Though of course child-led learning doesn't mean parents don't provide books, toys, games, tv/computer, and other resources/experiences that they think their children will enjoy.

In a literate home and society, children are surrounded with the printed word, so it's only natural for them to pick up on letters, numbers, and so on. I'm certainly not clainming that a child growing up in a non-literate tribe is going to pick up things he's never been exposed to by osmosis -- but such a child will gain lots of valuable information to help him live competently in his own society.

Also, for children (in literate societies) who are allowed to pursue reading at their own paces, according to John Holt the "average" age for learning to read is about 9 (meaning, of course, that some do it much earlier and some much later) --

This seems "shockingly-behind" to some people -- only, you really can't tell by adulthood which child learned to read at 9 or 12, and which one learned at 6 or 4. And children who are allowed the time/space to get interested on their own are a lot less likely to "hate reading" and see it as a "chore" they "have" to do.

You say that people "learn better when you teach, have them perform, review, and regularly test." I say that all this focus on "performance" diverts kids' interest and pleasure away from the joy of learning, and instead they get focused on pleasing/impressing the adults, competing with other kids, and getting extrinsic rewards -- whereas, before schooling, the learning itself was what gave them joy. (Continued)


(Continued) Alfie Kohn, in his book "Unconditional Parenting," cites research showing that even where a child finds intrinsic joy in doing a particular task -- if you start rewarding her for it, her focus gets diverted from the task to the reward. And after getting used to the reward-system, the child tends to lose interest in doing the task just for the joy of it.

This seems so harmful, especially when it comes to tasks like reading, which virtually everyone in our society is bound to eventually see a need for if it's not pushed on them. I communicate a lot with other unschooling parents online (and now am actually getting to know some in real life) -- and one thing I'm hearing is that lots of later readers who are gamers, eventually tackle learning-to-read because of their intense desire to play more and more complicated games.

Which is one reason it seems so ludicrous to me that many see computer games as antithetical to kids learning to read.

Disclaimer: I don't want to give the impression that my views are shared by all other freethinkers. I am, however, learning that unschooling requires a basic trust in human nature which some of my fundamentalist Christian friends see as "un-Scriptural."

Which I guess brings us back to the spectrum Lynne shared about yesterday (with fundamentalism and questing at opposite ends). I'm just guessing that fundamentalists are more likely to want to control and guide their children's educations, whereas questers are more likely to want to respond to their children's interests, and offer guidance that coincides with those interests.

This may seem unrelated to "faith matters" -- but to me it seems closely-related. Especially the whole rewards-thing. When you think about it, it's really more fun to be kind and love others than it is to act selfishly. You don't need $5.00 to help you enjoy sharing your ice cream with a neighbor-kid, or letting someone into your lane of traffic. It feels good to make others feel good. (Continued)


Yesterday: Thanks Delores and Susan for your thoughts on my friend. He’s tough and I’m almost certain they will work through it. It’s to bad people are taught this makes any kind of difference. If two people love each other does that mean you have to think alike? If this is so, there would be a lot more divorces. We don’t always like the same food, colors and hobbies, but when it comes to religion it is different in so many cases. Sometimes people simply change during life. It’s natural and if it is not harmful should be accepted.

Agnostic Pope. Interesting story. You have certainly seen things a lot of have not and probably won’t. I do agree about the passing of christianity although I see it coming sooner. Islam is younger and unfortunately it will take longer. The older version of the jewish faith will probably be first, it being the oldest of the Abrahamic beliefs. The present American Jewish culture, for me, has evolved into a tolerant secular fairness and if does well demographically, will stick around longer. Christians and Muslims should learn from this.

I do believe we have reached a point in the present future where the need for a biblical personal god is no longer of use or need. And as you said, “But we will eventually reach a day where Christ will be viewed by the masses of humanity the same way we "modern" humans now view the gods of ancient Greece, Egypt, and Persia (the Zoroaster-ancient Persia).”

A lot of us see that now and more and more younger people are seeing it too. I hear the younger people talk of this often. Several young people joined our movie night recently and expressed, even though they called themselves Xs, they had no need for church. In fact they were greatly disappointed in it. Continued


The younger nonreligious, atheists, agnostics are growing and are at that level now, seeing organized religion as myth. It doesn’t make sense to them. I know of a large number of them, and the last thing they want to do, too, is to attend our nonreligious meetups.

Young people are young people, and that is that. They are too busy having fun and simply want to enjoy life. Excessive rules and regulations are not their cup of tea nor was it mine. Both sides, it seems, are magnificently tolerant of civil liberties. This will be a great asset for societies.

All this tells me the future generations are naturally evolving away from the old stuff on both sides. I see a rebirth of enlightened thinkers and in the wake of the disappearance of organized religions, they will trail shortly behind, only a bit later, to join the natural world. And organized religions will be a speck in history.
Stephen Tyler of Arosmith sings “believe in your dreams.” What do we have left? Life. “Dream on.” And stay out of the past.

We will grow to great expectations once all this war and arguing is resolved. Space will be scattered with space stations, visiting places once upon a time never envisioned, and our knowledge will be greater than imagined.

Awww…to see that time.

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole


(Continued) Small children will often need guidance in learning to respect others (i.e. in learning not to just grab what they want out of others' hands) -- but they gradually need less and less guidance as they grow in their knowledge of how much fun it is to play with others.

As they grow, difficulties are still going to come up where they need our help -- but they seriously don't need to be rewarded for being kind to their freinds, or punished for being cruel. Friendship is such a wonderful thing in and of itself: Once we've been given the opportunity to experience it, we start focusing on the feelings of our friends, and to know we've badly hurt a friend is the worst possible feeling imaginable.

What I'm learning seems radically-different from the view of human nature that's promoted through fundamentalist Christianity. In fundamentalISM, there often seems to be a concern about "cheap grace" -- meaning, I guess, that there's a "danger" in people feeling truly loved and accepted by God just as they are, and truly secure in God's love regardless of what they think, say, believe, or do -- the danger being, I guess, that they are just going to treat others like total crap because they "can."

Cole, about what you said the other day, wondering why couples think shared religious-beliefs are important: If your friend's wife believes that her husband will burn forever in hell if he dies without believing "the right things" -- well, she's going to place as much importance on this, as he likely would if he discovered a hard lump in her breast, and she refused to get it looked at because she didn't believe in doctors.

I know, cancer is a scientifically-proven reality, and hell isn't. But to people who've been schooled in that "good old hell-fire religion," hell is every bit as real as cancer, and even more alarming since they see it as lasting forever.

Just Thinking

There is a reason why we have books, Susan. There is a reason that we don't have medical students sit in a room, squint, think really hard, and then hand them a piece of paper afterwards. Performance-based education is important: people should know how to apply education, rather than simply stuffing their heads full of ideas that may or may not be correct. Usefulness is important, and performance-based education is okay. It's okay. Really.

It's ironic that you would fight against performance-based education. When you were educated in fundamentals of religion as a child, you totally misunderstood those fundamentals. You should have been quizzed, tested, questioned, and asked to apply those fundamentals. If you had, then your obvious miscomprehensions could have been detected and corrected. Untested, non-performance-based education is often worse than useless, as it was in your case.

It seems to me that your pride keeps you from admitting to your long-held miscomprehensions. You'd rather cover by blaming the fundamentals and/or the people who taught you fundamentals. This has now evolved to critizing those who teach basics and fundamentals at all! You've turned into a new age "free thinker" who thinks that any collection of thoughts is okay, just as long as it is your own. In your imaginary world, children spontaneously learn the alphabet without being shown anything. Somehow in your imaginary world, children just learn about numbers through cosmic discernment.

Susan, you're trying too hard to justify an educational system that makes no sense at all. Experts are experts because of performance-based criteria. And education without fundamentals is useless. Each field has accepted truths, from which other truths follow. Fundamentals are essential. Correct understanding and correct application of fundamentals is essential--otherwise all you have is a potentially-dangerous bunch of untested, useless, possibly misunderstood or inconsistent facts.

Will Graham

Susan, it will be interesting to see how far your kids go acadmically; in fact, I wonder how far you went.

And COLE MORGAN and IGOR DYBAL; when are you going to stop pestering people at Lutheran Bible studies, and go protest at a MOSQUE?



Wow Susan, you certainly ruffled Will’s tail feathers. He’s easily offended, likes to whine.

This talk of over controlling and spanking children hits home for me. Believe me, it’s not right. In my experience, to often, it changes people for the worse. It has stayed with me all my life.

I’m not looking for any kind of pity. I find weakness of no use. I was a tough kid and got through it, but it did affect me greatly. As I have grown older it’s hardly an issue, but it never entirely goes away.

My parents were hardly religious at all until I was ten. During my younger years I had many encounters with religion through friends and other relatives, from tent revivals all the way through crazy Pentecostal types. I had a nutty childhood. Lived in the country and the city. It was both wonderful and fulfilling in many ways and awful.

Even though my parents were not church goers early in my life they were raised with fundamental church teachings “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” type crapola.

As I grew up I never lived in the best of neighborhoods. My father worked a lot, so I think that added to his short temper. The spankings, which often ended with me bleeding, were never consistent. They could come from anywhere. These too often were over simple childhood crimes. A conversation would have been enough for a kid like me.

These continued until I was nine or so. During this time my mother was ill off and on and was also suppressed by my father. She too was angry and would say horrible things to me and spank me.

To escape these I would cry, hold my breath and pass-out on the floor in front of them. That is how much I hated a spanking. Or before I would black out, my father would throw me up in the air and catch me so I would catch my breath. Even years later my mother would smile and laugh at how my face would turn blue before I passed out. Pretty cool, huh? Amazing how kids learn to protect themselves. Continued


Just Thinking, about formal education: as children start to focus in on the things they like learning about and doing the most, they are bound to reach a plateu, where in order to keep growing in the areas they want to grow in, they need to hook up with mentors, and/or read books, and/or follow a course of formal study.

Children are born with a natural desire to be competent in the world. As they approach the teen years and start thinking about where they want to go in life, they will often decide they want to follow a curriculum so, for example, they can do well in college-entrance exams, or what-have-you.

What unschooling parents are finding, is that when their kids decide they WANT to learn, say, higher math or chemistry or essay-writing (not necessarily because they enjoy it, though they might, but because they now see they need it to get to where they want to go), their learning is greatly expedited, and what might have taken several years to learn when the kid had no idea WHY it was important, can often be learned much faster because of the inner-motivation.

So, I am not knocking formal education, per se. I will certainly help my children pursue formal learning, when/if they choose it as a means of going after what they want in life. I just disagree with you that it's the starting-point for a child's learning.

As far as your concern that my fundamentalist Christian leaders didn't quiz, test, question, and ask me to apply fundamentalist principles to my daily life -- I grew up in a church where these things regularly-happened. And, as one youth leader told me, I was such an easy kid to work with because I always talked so openly about everything I was learning, thinking, and doing.

These "experts" saw no "miscomprehensions" on my part, because I had so. totally. swallowed. the whole fundamentalist line of thinking about EVERYTHING. I seriously doubt that you'd have seen any "misconceptions" in me, Just Thinking, if you'd known me then. You now see me as having misconceptions, simply because I am now speaking out against Christian fundamentalism.

Red Biddy

Bill asked us for conversion stories, the other day. Haven't seen many on this page.
My own "born again" experience was almost instantaneous from a relgious mindset to atheism - does this count ?
I was having a tooth pulled under anesthesia for the first time and had a wonderful AHA moment in best Oprah style. Ten minutes of complete unconsciousness had passed by the time I woke up and in a flash I realized that if that lack of consciousness were extended to Eternity there could be no life after death. Yaaaa! Free at last -Free at last !
The imaginary concept of any kind of life after death is quite horrifying and a purely human concept designed to keep us in a state of abject terror.
Now this is not to say that I or anyone else who loses their faith in the supernatural, entirely loses the fear of the actual process of dying: aging, getting sick and so on, but just as we human beings are unable to know where we were before we were born (because we didn't exist) we won't know where we are when we are dead either. I find this thought very comforting.


We moved to another neighborhood and it stopped. They got religion. Baptists. They became Sunday school teachers, bus driver, deacon, bus mechanic for the church: Sunday morning and night, Weds. nights, visitations-which are very rude- and whatever else they could find to do in the name of god.

Then it shifted to mental abuse. Controlling, shame and guilt went on until I was14-15. I grew bigger than my father and it all stopped. I left the church when I was 12. I would get every job I could find to work Sundays to avoid church. Two years was enough for me. I saw nothing fair about it. From 10 on I was very angry and got into a lot of trouble.

Things mellowed over the years and my parents changed enough so that we could get along. I learned later my father was beat as a child.

The past 35 years or so I have tried to stay away from anger. I get upset and disgusted with issues, but I try to put a lot of distance between myself and this useless emotion.

I know a young man who was raised and schooled in a Baptist church. I learned a lot about him over a two year period. He knew I was an atheist. When he was 17 a special teacher was brought into the church to teach parenting. She said you should never use your hand to discipline a child. It’s too personal. You should use a board.

I couldn’t believe I was hearing this. Everything from my childhood flooded back in. I strongly discouraged this kind of teaching for a few minutes while he nervously listened. It didn’t do any good. His parents and church had their hooks in him. Two years later he is studying to be a preacher as I type this. And the sad part? I strongly believe he will continue with this kind of teaching/preaching.

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole

Will Graham

Cole, considering you are an accomplice of Iggy, and he has posted all kinds of crapola about family members of friends of mine on his site...family members who don't even post there...I am afraid that we are going to have to take your claims about your upbringing with a grain of salt.

Although it is often true that atheists had abusive fathers, so there may be a grain of truth to it.

So, whether you are lying or not...who knows? There is no way for you to verify it. I guess I...how do atheists put it...I, "lack belief in your claims".

Your story is just a little to pat a fit with Susan's latest lectures.

Will Graham

By the way, COLE MORGAN, I repeat...when are you and IGOR DYBAL going to pull some of the same stunts at a MOSQUE that you have at churches. (According to Iggy, anyway.)

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

A lot of nice chat going on on a beautiful day like today in Kansas City! I am glad the town is slowed in - it's quiet, phones are not ringing, no e-mails, just chilling...
Susan wrote>>>>>>>
I know, cancer is a scientifically-proven reality, and hell isn't. But to people who've been schooled in that "good old hell-fire religion," hell is every bit as real as cancer, and even more alarming since they see it as lasting forever.

Susan, this is what I call a "lightbulb" moment... For me it never happened, as to me "irreality" is just that - fables and space daddy Jebus talk. This "irreality" to me is a "reality" if you want it this way.

I have passed on to other levels of "lightbulb" moments a long time ago - having fun with my family, wife, my dog - today she (dog :o) was playing outside in the snow half way up her feet. This beats the hell out of "opening heart and knowing Jebus and his space daddy".

I wonder how many religious idiots will die tomorrow morning in Kansas City going to church on streets and highways? Don't know, will watch the news and extrapolate the 76% who are religious - this should be pretty close.

How many religious fundies will say it was "Gawd's plan?" - or should we start calling them fundametal-ISTS?

The other day I learnt from a discussion group on the Internet how to duplicate web site pages with the came "dynamic" content that I can change once and it changes them all - 1 or a 1,000. This was a phenomenal development - perhaps one that can be described as "letting Jebus into your heart and surrendering to Gawd?"

Don't know how to compare. And really don't care!

It is nice to be "ap-atheist" :o) - especially today!

You crazy religous folks, pass on chain letters by e-mail to everyone you know in Kansas City and Midwest NOT TO GO TO CHURCH TOMORROW.


Just Thinking

Susan, why not take 'unschooling' to the next stage: ask the children when they would like to get up for the day, and whether or not they want to study anything at all. That's a good idea. While you're at it, why not ask them if they would rather play or help with chores. And after a couple of generations of that, good luck finding any highly-skilled medical professionals. Or, for that matter, much excellence at all.

Euphemisms such as 'quester' won't change 'lack of discipline' into anything good. Buzz words cannot change 'lack of fundamentals' into 'excellent education.' There is no replacement for proper fundamentals and structured, disciplined, performance-reviewed study.

Those who are not exposed to well-educated professionals often fail to understand the importance of a quality, disciplined education. By rejecting performance reviews, someone can delude themselves into believing that their opinions count as much as the informed opinions of real experts in a field. Every crackpot idea about Science, spaceships and cloning becomes as valid as informed Science. Suddenly every crackpot idea about education is elevated to the level of 'professional opinion.'

An amateur runner can easily compare their performance to that of an Olympic athlete. But someone who is poorly-educated may find it impossible to comprehend the difference between their level of understanding and that of a talented expert, especially if they reject performance reviews.

Dolores Lear

This week's Daily promise, 3/29/09: God cares for the persecuted
The stress of captivity
"Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem." Psalm 137:1. NLT."
"In captivity in Babylon, the Jews wept for their homeland and prayed for the day when they might return. But when the day of their release from captivity finally came and they were allowed to return, only about fifty thousand (out of hundreds of thousands) made the trek back to Jerusalem. Why?
For one thing, some of the Jews were making a good living in Babylon—a better living than their fathers had made in Jerusalem. Others had married Babylonian spouses and become assimilated into Babylonian culture. They had forgotten Jerusalem. Can you blame them? Seventy years of captivity is a long time.
The Bible speaks of heaven as our Jerusalem and suggests that where we are now living is Babylon on earth. How comfortable are you in your Babylon? How are you faring there? Have you forgotten that you, too, are an exile, a pilgrim in a foreign land? What are you looking ahead to?"

Revelation 1:1,2. KJV. "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

So where is the Jerusalem of the End Times? In the City Jerusalem on Earth, or the Spaceship New Jerusalem that descends down from Heaven?

It is impossible to translated Ancient Scriptures, without the High Tech Science Knowledge of today.

Humans today, Do Know: How to Colonization of a Planet. How to Reproduce Human Fetus' and Clone Animals, in the Lab.

Humans Do Know: How to make Airplanes and Spaceships and fly up in the air and out into Space.

What is so Supernatural, today, about the God of Scriptures in our Human Image? High Tech Science?

Dolores Lear

A Pastor on TV, today, had a sermon about Walking with Jesus, using Romans.

How did the people that walked with Jesus live? Celibate, In a Commune with Equal Sharing of Daily Needs?

How did that Lifestyle of Jesus', get changed to a Trinity Religion, with temples made by Human Hands? With Jesus Equal, to God, and the Holy Spirit, Three Persons in One Godhead?

"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me. All that the Father has is mine; this is what I mean when I say that the Spirit will reveal to you whatever he receives from me." John 16:13-15 NLT

The Spirit of the Truth of High Tech Science/the Holy Spirit, has been revealed for the past 100 years.

High Tech Science/Holy Spirit, will explain all the Mysteries of the Past, of the Supernatural Peace Lord God in Genesis, Our High Tech Ancestors/Angels, and all the Supernatural Religious Writings and Myths.

The High Tech Colonization of our Planet, to the Killer Gods of the High Tech Noah and Atlantis Society, like America and the World are today, will be revealed.

Are we ready to accept the influence of the Holy Spirit and High Tech Science in our Society today? Why are we using the Power of the Holy Spirit for Evil, instead of for Good?

Why keep busy, make temples by Human Hands, while God's Temple Earth is being destroyed?

Why are God's Children Starving and being Killed? When did God make Haves and Havenots, or did Humans do this?

God made Equal Male and Females, not by Body Birth. These Perfect Humans made Unequal Humans by Body Birth Inequality, Inhumanity and Death. Why?

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