Guarding religious freedom: 5-7-09
New books on faith: 5-9/10-09

Building interfaith trust: 5-8-09


In June 2007 I wrote a column for The Kansas City Star about "The House That Abraham Builds," a Habitat for Humanity house-building project in which Christians, Jews and Muslims worked together.

The second house in this three-faith series is under construction now, and Wednesday of this week was clergy work day at the site, just east of 35th and the Paseo on Flora.

I stopped by to see clergy and other volunteers pound nails and do other tasks they normally aren't required to tackle at their houses of worship.

In fact, in the top picture here today the man on the right with the white hard hat (an appropriately named color choice for him) is the Very Rev. Terry White, dean of Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Kansas City. Working next to him in the orange hard hat is another Episcopal priest, the Rev. Jason Lewis, rector of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in south Kansas City. The man up top in the blue hard hat is Bob Pine, an AmeriCorps volunteer.

Terry told me that given all the difficulty these religions have had over the years getting along, this project has been a wonderful opportunity to work together in harmony. Members of the three faiths even have worshiped together as the project has moved along, he said, and that has opened up the possibility of ongoing interfaith connections.


Geofrey Kigenyi, Habitat's faith relations coordinator, said ground was broken for this house in late February and the first volunteer day was April 22. (That's Geofrey in the photo at left, leaning sort of backwards on a ladder under the roof line.) After the home is dedicated in late June, a single mother and her children will live there. The woman is a member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, which is participating in this project.

Another Catholic parish helping out is Visitation, located at 51st and Main. It is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and I have written a book about its centennial that will be out this summer. It's called Visitation: A Century of Faith. For details, click here.


This Habitat project is exactly the kind of interfaith opportunity that can be the start of long-term relations and understanding. It's easier to respect people of other faiths once you've all banged your thumbs with hammers together.

In the photo at the bottom right, you can see the shape of the whole house. It's in an old neighborhood in which today you are beginning to see quite a few Habitat homes.

* * *


Yesterday was National Day of Prayer, and as you might expect, there's controversy because President Obama did not treat it the same way that former President George W. Bush did. For a recap from a Christian Science Monitor blog, including provocative goofiness from Rush Limbaugh (who, in my judgment, was a good p.r. guy for the KC Royals but has gone downhill since then), click here. And for Obama's proclamation of National Day of Prayer, click on this link: Download 2009prayer_prc_rel[1]

* * *

P.S.: If you're interested in a story about "Christian Zionists" helping Israel search for oil on Israeli territory, click here.




Bill, I'm excited to hear about Muslims, Jews, and Christians working together to build houses for people who need them. I'll bet some real interfaith dialog is happening there, too!

I think it's silly if people are upset over Obama handling National Day of Prayer differently than Bush did -- sounds kind of like the outcry over him including all different kinds of people in his description of America -- even non-believers, who some Christians seem to want to sweep under the rug, along with all those "exhibitionist" breastfeeding moms and babies who think they have a right to feed alongside everyone else at the banquet-table of life.

Red Biddy, The Sex Contract sounds interesting -- but it also sounds like it needs to be balanced out with the work of Anthropologist Kathy Dettwyler, who cites research showing that the sexualation of breasts is pretty much a Western cultural fetish, not shared by all human males in all cultures. I think we Westerners descended from the same humanoids (hominids?) that everyone else did, so we all share the same history of beginning to walk upright on two legs -- but sexualization of the breast seems to be a uniquely-Western fetish, just as female foot-binding used to be a sexual fetish in Chinese culture.

I would guess that both foot-binding and purely-ornamental breasts are both male status symbols: The former meaning a man could support a severely-disabled wife, the latter meaning he could afford to pay someone else's wife to sustain his children. (Continued)


(Continued) But whereas foot-binding is straight-across-the-board harmful, it seems that some people can enjoy breasts as part of their sexual relationship, without allowing this secondary-function to interfere with the breast's primary biological function for feeding children. But for others, the sexual-fetish aspect seems to take over, and they start expecting mothers and babies to rearrange their lives around this secondary, Western, sexualized view of the breast --

Similar to the way an addict will expect others to "cover up" for his shortcomings, and will cast blame on others rather than taking responsibility for his own thoughts and actions.

Here it seems apt to quote the Bible verse, "Let the children be filled first, for it is not appropriate to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." And I am not implying that Western men (or anyone else with a sexual fetish for the breast) is a dog and is not human.

I'm using this verse to outline proper priorities when it comes to women's breasts: Children come first -- just as you wouldn't lay out a feast for your kids and then let the dogs come through and decide what they want to be theirs, and what they want to leave for the kids -- so you wouldn't leave this determination up to people with sexual-fetishes, and accept their assessment that your baby will be fine eating in the cubicle of a stinky public restroom, or in the dark sweating under a blanket ... or maybe it will strengthen her lungs if she has to cry a bit and wait to be fed. (Continued)


(Continued) This is a blog where we discuss beliefs and how they affect relationships between people and between nations, and also how beliefs affect quality-of-life. So I have been discussing how I feel the Western sexualized view of the breast has been allowed to take over, and interfere with babies' rights to free and continuous access to their mothers' breasts.

And just as people bound by sexual fetishes want to "shame" breastfeeding moms into hiding out to feed their babies, so these same fetish-bound folks would like to "shame" people like me into confining discussion of this worldwide health issue to "motherhood blogs."

Someone pointed out that I'm not the first woman to ever have a baby -- and that's exactly what I'm trying to say here: Mammals have been nurturing their children at the breast for millions of years. From what we've been able to learn of prior cultures, mothers led busy and active lives, where infant-feeding occurred simultaneously with all the other tasks they needed to do to meet the needs of their families.

From documentaries I've seen of the people-groups who seem least-affected by modernization, these people don't seem to be saying "Breastfeeding is natural, just like having sex" or "Breastfeeding is natural, just like urinating" -- but rather "Breastfeeding is natural, just like eating -- because, duh, it IS eating!"

I've heard Americans criticize Hindus for letting children go hungry rather than killing and cooking a cow -- but we can't see how our own sacred-cow view of breasts as sexual objects, is hurting the health of our children. Words like "exhibitionist" and "freak show" are used in an attempt to shame, embarrass, and silence those of us who insist on calling it as we see it. But, as the kid in "Home Alone" said, "I'm not afraid anymore!" (Never mind that a few seconds later he was hiding under the bed ... he did come back out and he kicked serious butt.)

Will Graham

The work of the interfaith groups on the Habaitats contrasts remarkably with the projects of the local atheist group...which consist of things like sending postcards to small towns telling the townspeople how delustional they are.

By the way, Cole, your last few posts contain some remarkable sentences and insults...exactly like those IGOR used to make.

A striking conincidence, wouldn't you say.

Too bad you are not REALLY about "Peace and Goodness".

Dolores Lear

a theist: (Last night).
"Quantum mechanics is a set of principles underlying the most fundamental known description of all physical systems at the submicroscopic scale (at the atomic level). -
Classical mechanics is used for describing the motion of macroscopic objects, from projectiles to parts of machinery, as well as astronomical objects, such as spacecraft, planets, stars, and galaxies."

Is this Knowledge New today?

Evolutionists accept Science Technology Evolved, and was used for the first time, in the late 1800s - 2009.

Nuclear Bombs, and NASA's Shuttles and Space Probes, is what I call High Tech Science.

Is All Life improvements since 1900, that Natural Humans did not have before our Society, the first time on Earth?

Many Religious Humans, accept a Supernatural God Created Life on Earth, and made Humans in their Human Image, without Body Birth. We call this Cloning today.

Now it is Time. to Prove, past Religious Writings and Myth, to Prove Cavemen and women Evolved, on Earth.

Or, that the Religious God who Created Life on Earth, are our High Tech Human Ancestors in Genesis, that Colonized Earth, and traveled in Space.

We do have High Tech Colonization, and Human Space Travel Knowledge today. All the Megalithic Modern Ruins, similar to our Coliseums and temples, around our Planet, do not look like Cavemen built them.

So where did they come from, if High Tech Evolved up to today, for the first time on Earth?

Still a Mystery. But with all our High Tech Science Knowledge today, it should be used to Translate Supernatural Scripture and Myth.

The Truth of Eternal Physical Human Life After Birth, on Planets and in Spaceships, is High Tech Science.

Will Graham

A Theists, those were remarkable statements on Classical Physics, Relativity, and Quantuam theory.

But when you are regurgitating Wikipedia quotes, you should make that clear.

For those who are interested, the Physicists Brian Greene, a leader is "string theory" makes it clear, in The Elegant Universe, that Relativity and Quantum theory, as currently formulated, can not both be right.

This is why Physicists are pursuing a "Theory of Everything", although they do not know that such exists, or that it is possible for the human mind to apprehend it; it was a goal of Einstein and of Stephen Hawking and is still being pursued faithfully.

For some interesting thoughts on Brian Greens points, there are a number of references.

Susan, I am a hedonist. In as far as it doesn’t physically harm another. Once again as all philosophies go, these can be carried to extremes. This is not me.

People have no purpose and they have many purposes. Our existence in reference to the universe means nothing and it means something. It’s all in your POV. I’m a lover of life,,,a fun lover. Pleasure is what we are ‘all’ after, no matter how much you may be in denial of this fact. It is still a fact. We all seek pleasure. Now, what are we going to do with our pleasure? How’s that for a philosophy, JT?

I think Red described it best, I will have to agree with her on determinism.

Red: “So I think "indeterminism" would be the right label to apply to atheists, freethinkers and other nonbelievers for as rational human beings we appreciate the randomness of natural laws. It's why we think Evolutionary Theory has got it right !”

Great words, Red.

Will, Adamh, JT, and PreacherDJ, take a look at what I posted last night. Maybe, you can quote us some scientific bible facts through the scripture.

Have a great day, everybody. I’m off to work and yard work afterwards. Don’t forget about the picnic!

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole

Dolores Lear

These Bible verses cover both Bill's topics today.

Matthew 6:1-8. KJV. (Jesus) "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hyprocrites do in the synagogue and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when, ye pray, use not repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."

President Obama knows more about Jesus' Prayer teachings, than Rush Limbaugh, George Bush and most Christians.

He also wants to bring Peace like Jesus taught. But he is President, and has to handle the USA wars, the best he can.

He does meet with as many other Leaders as possible, and I hope he does Start Peace on Planet Earth.


Cole, what you say about hedonism, or valuing and pursuing pleasure (though not to the extreme of harming others) -- maybe the reason why some people have such a problem with babies' needs being met, is that they themselves are dealing with unmet needs, so they think, "That baby can wait for a few minutes, just as I often have to wait." Also with the breastfeeding issue, I think some people's attitudes are shaped by how much responsive nurturing THEY got as babies and young children.

For instance, in one breastfeeding book I was impressed to see a photo of an Egyptian woman, fully-draped in Moslem garb, yet fully exposing her breast as she fed her baby on a busy street. This is a culture where the sight of a woman's body (other than maybe the hands and a tiny slit so she can see), is generally-believed to drive men wild, and I don't think you could call it a hedonist culture at all -- and yet because nurturing babies at the breast is the norm there, men can catch a glimpse of a breast feeding a child (even the WHOLE breast, which is way more than most American women would reveal while breastfeeding in public), and just go on about their business, because they see this act as sacred, and I think they also see breasts as belonging primarily to babies.

Of course, even though their culture is not exactly hedonistic -- maybe it is for babies: meaning that maybe Muslim males got their fill of being nurtured at the breast in chidhood, so they feel no resentment at the future generation getting the same "perks."

But, back to hedonism and pleasure: I, even though I am often tempted by the sight of pastries and other fattening foods, can walk right past them if I'm full to the point of not being hungry at all. So maybe this is why a someone who's a hedonist like Cole (though not to the extreme of harming others for pleasure), doesn't freak out about babies getting their needs met promptly, wherever they happen to be. Whereas people languishing with unmet needs, seem to resent it when babies get immediate gratification, and these people talk about how it "builds character" for babies to have to suffer a bit first.

Dolores Lear

"I think we Westerners descended from the same humanoids (hominids?) that everyone else did, so we all share the same history of beginning to walk upright on two legs --. - This is a blog where we discuss beliefs and how they affect relationships between people and between nations, and also how beliefs affect quality-of-life."

"Our existence in reference to the universe means nothing and it means something. It’s all in your POV."

Why do Religious Humans, believe in Evolution?

Genesis 1:2. KJV. "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep."

Scientists say Earth 'in the beginning' was a Soupy Planet like Venus.

The 6 Days of Genesis, are the same Steps that Humans today, would use Colonize a Planet.

Mars does not have an atmosphere. After a Nuclear War and Planetary Fire, Earth will not have an Ozone Atmosphere, and then could resemble Mars.

Genesis 1:26a,27. 2:21,22. "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: - And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man."

This is not Evolution, but High Tech Cloning Physical Science. We put Humans to sleep also for High Tech Physical Operations.

The Old Testament is full of Gods, sitting up in the air on thrones, and flying in fiery chariots, wheels within wheels up in the air, Pillar of cloud and fire, and, clouds, thunder, and fire as God descends down on a mountain.

We again, have this type of Lab Science and air vehicles. What has this to do with Evolution? Evolution just started recently. Genesis is Old Information.

Eternal High Tech Physical Human Life, literally, is for High Tech Peace Humans, on Planets and in Spaceships.

Chuck Lunney

Will wrote: "A Theists, those were remarkable statements on Classical Physics, Relativity, and Quantuam theory. But when you are regurgitating Wikipedia quotes, you should make that clear."

I agree, when quoting directly from a reference, one should always include a direct citation. Otherwise, people might get the mistaken impression that the words quoted were your own, not the original author.

In the case here, "a theist" was asked for his understanding/definition of several terms that had been bandied about freely. While I have no problem with someone utilizing a definition or explanation from somewhere else, when "a theist" posted his explanations, they were clearly cribbed directly from Wikipedia's entries -- but with no attribution. Thus, it appeared on first glance that "a theist" wrote those words, but in reality he simply copied them from elsewhere.

We still don't know if "a theist" (or Will, Adam or JT) actually understand and can explain IN THEIR OWN WORDS the terms and ideas in question. It would be very interesting to see each of them provide their explanations IN THEIR OWN WORDS (not copied from elsewhere) of each of the terms. How about it? Which one of you can provide a comprehensive explanation of the following terms:

"classical Newtonian mechanics"
"Quantum Mechanics"
"General Relativity"
"Special Relativity"

I would hope that all of you would be able to do so, since these should all be concepts and ideas that are discussed in a High School level physics course.

Chuck Lunney

Will wrote: "For those who are interested, the Physicists Brian Greene, a leader is "string theory" makes it clear, in The Elegant Universe, that Relativity and Quantum theory, as currently formulated, can not both be right."

Can you explain, in your own words, what the conflict is between those two theories? At what point, and for what reason, is it impossible to reconcile relativity with quantum theory?

Have you read Greene's book(s)? If you have, then I'm duely impressed. I've got both The Elegant Universe and Fabric of the Cosmos on my bookshelf (read them both several years ago). Greene's a great writer who does a beautiful job bringing a very complex and rigorous subject down to a level that a well educated layman could comprehend, but I admit that I had to go back and re-read several chapters (multiple times) to really get a grasp on some of the concepts and maths involved -- and I still can't be certain that I fully understand it all. I'm a biologist, not a physicist.

But when considering the discord between relativity and QM, you shouldn't need anything greater than high-school physics (and the related maths) to explain the problem. It's actually quite simple, and it does imply that there must be some other underlying explanation that reconciles the two theories.

So, can you do it, Will? Can you give us a 300 word (or less) explanation IN YOUR OWN WORDS of why QM and relativity cannot be reconciled, as they are currently formulated?

Lynne -

Who says atheists don't help with Habitat for Humanity? They don't seem to like it if you wear atheist t-shirts like "non-prophet organization" though - some volunteer did get sent away for wearing one. But don't assume atheists don't volunteer for projects like this. I even have my own atheist-run charity

Lynne -


I totally agree with you about nursing babies in public. Babies need to eat when they need to eat. Other people need to grow up and deal with it like adults.

Lynne -

Oh, I almost forgot to say, I AM going to the picnic tomorrow. See you there!

Just Thinking


"Will, Adamh, JT, and PreacherDJ, take a look at what I posted last night." I sure did. Your miscomprehensions stem from incorrect logic.

First you remark: "Nobody can disprove a negative." Think about that for a bit, Cole. If you can prove the positive, then you have disproved the negative. So, yes, you can disprove a negative by proving the positive instead. That's basic logic: NOT ( NOT A ) = A. In logic, the negative is false if and only if the positive is true.

Cole, you wrote "Just because there is not yet an explanation for something doesn't mean it is supernatural." I never said it did, Cole. I said that "If you cannot show something has a natural explanation, then you cannot logically rule out something supernatural." That is a basic truth. My statement and the one you falsely attribute to me are not the same, Cole. They are NOT logically equivalent statements. Not at all. They can't be, because mine is true and yours is not.

I can see why you so strongly object to my statements: you are processing them in illogical ways. But I can't help that your logic is flawed. I am responsible for my true statements, and you are responsible for your illogical processing of those statements.

Just Thinking


As I mentioned a long time ago, your problem is one with authority. You're a rebel without a cause, as we used to say. Whenever someone tries to impose a rule on you, then you end up in utter rebellion (or udder rebellion in this case).

From the early days of Freudian analysis, there are long descriptions of those who have a general problem with authority (i.e., rules). It usually starts at home with Daddy, and moves all the way up the chain to become rebellion against any kind of authority, including government, law, Church, God, etc. It's often a package deal, as it is in your case.

Was your Daddy absent, or did you have have a problem with his strict nature? Is one of those true? I suspect the latter is true because you have spoken about the overly-strict fundamentalist rule in your household while you were growing up. If that is the case, it would behoove you to resolve those conflicts if you can. Then you can move forward in peace. Not all rules are bad, Susan.

Civilized: "characterist of a state of civilization, especially: characterized by taste, refinement, or restraint."



When I posted to you yesterday I was hoping to reach your conscious. But, your fervent presence and desire to chip away at family and cultural values remains unnecessary and counter productive and cements you in a pathological insane blog world. It has become udderly ridiculous. When you act like an animal it’s an udder; when you act like a woman it’s a breast.
Your desire to act like an animal should be superseded by your desire to act like a woman , wife, mother, and a Christian.

Motherhood is not a game because inevitably your child will lose. Where is the honor in being a camouflaged freelance mother who is promoting destructive behavior? Your presence here is VERY telling. You need to redirect your professional life and take the time off to be what you have signed up for.....A nurturing mother!

It will be very interesting to see what will be your final determination. I believe Spirit will guide you. What will you choose? Your child depends on you to ask these questions.
There is a be a good mother. I pray soon you find the reason to be a respectable mother.

From one mother to another
Happy Mother’s Day

Will Graham

Chuck, yes, I have read Greene's book, The Elegant Universe, and got interested in it when my uncle took me to hear him speak on the Plaza a couple of years go. And, no, I don't claim to fully understand all of his concepts, but I do understand that we do not have a Theory of Everything...not even close.

AS to his statements that relativity and quantum theory, AS CURRENTLY FORMULATED, can not both be right, that explanation appears on the the VERY FIRST PAGE of the first chapter of The Elegant Universe. (page 3 of my edition.)

However, as to providing you a essay, I don't know if I could do it all in 300 words, but I may if I get around to it; but since you have ignored dozens and dozens of my posts I am under to obligation to hurry jump through your arbitrary tests.

But I am unclear as to something; are you disputing Greene's claim?

If so, please your own words.

And show your work!

Thanks in advance.

Will Graham

We have had a few discussion on historical, philosophical and scientific topics and their relation to religion, but Susan is derailing it all to the issue of breastfeeding.

That she is being disingenuous about it shown by here claim that "Babies come first in any bioethics debate" when it comes to breastfeeding but quickly abandons that standard when it comes to abortion.

Therefore, to end my part in this farce, I will not be responding to here on THAT issue any further, whatever she says about it or makes of this from now on.


Just Thinking -- about authority: WHO do you think assigned women's breasts with their primary biological function for feeding and nurturing children?

And WHO do you think designed human babies to require frequent suckling at their mothers' breasts for both food and comfort?

With this in mind, which group of people do you HONESTLY believe are rebelling: those supporting the rights of babies to enjoy free and continuous access to their mothers' breasts, or those who supoport likening infant-feeding to sex and urination because of their own unresolved, Western-induced, fetish with the breast? As I've already said, enjoying breasts in a sexual way is not inherently-wrong: but it becomes wrong when the sexual-fetish takes over to the point where people start expecting breastfeeding moms and babies to accept second-class treatment.

aylasurin, you seem (to me) to be saying that mothers can not be truly-nurturing without giving up any and all outside interests. And you accuse me of promoting destructive behavior, but stop short of telling me exactly HOW you think I am chipping "away at family and cultural values."

Yesterday you referred to public breastfeeding as a freak show -- but you didn't explain why you think this attitude is helpful to children and families: in my opinion it's distinctly UNhelpful in creating a world where more mothers feel able to stay the course, and breastfeed for the minimum of two years recommended by the World Health Organization.

Just Thinking


Calm down, before a veins busts in your forehead and you bleed to death. As the old saying goes, "You are wound tighter than a 3-day clock."

Of course you're rebelling. That's all you've been doing here in this blog. That's all I've seen you ever write about in this blog: rebellion against "rules." Susan, that is always the crux of your posts and your conversations.

You know, Susan, if your whole life revolves around opposing things, then the only thing that ends up defining you is that which you oppose! You are becoming what you hate, because that's all that defines you in the end. Another way to look at it is this: if your whole life is defined by opposing what you consider to be evil, then what will you be when all evil is gone? Ans: nothing.

I cannot recall any post of yours in favor of something that was not riddled with rebellion against something. Is there anything you can stand FOR, which does not require you to rebel against something or somebody? If not, then there's a problem. It's all about what Susan wants to be able to do. Oh, poor, pitiful Susan is so oppressed. So mistreated with all those "rules." Of course you've never been injured by any of it, have you? You've sadly become caught up in your own whining, and it sounds pathetic. Honestly. There are people who seriously have problems in this world, and they don't need to invent reasons to whine and imagine that they've been mistreated or oppressed. Go grab a mocha frappucino, take a chill pill, and talk to the hand because nobody's listening that poor little Susan is so badly oppressed.

Utter and udder rebellion can be tolerated at 2, but not at 42.



The answer to your WHO question is the same One that made clothing for Adam and Eve.

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