Young Catholics today: 8-19-09
Religious symbols on graves: 8-21-09

Birthing three theologians: 8-20-09

Yes, yes, I know it's my bride's birthday today and I do, indeed, intend to celebrate that. She was born into a Congregationalist family, later became an Episcopalian and today is a Presbyterian with an Anglican heart, so I think of her as an Episcoterian.

But today also is the birthday of three Christian theologians about whom you would do well to know if you don't already.

We'll go oldest to youngest, though all now are dead.


* Francis Asbury (depicted here) was born on this date in 1745. He was a pioneer American Methodist bishop, though born in England. John Wesley appointed him in 1771 to be a missionary to the land that would become the United States a few years later. When the Methodist church in America became a separate organization in 1784, Asbury and Thomas Coke were ordained its first two bishops. He rode by horseback all over the place, right up to the day of his death in 1816, as he oversaw the churches under his purview. Good thing he never married because his annual salary was just $64.


* Rudolf Bultmann (pictured here) was born on this date in 1884. He was a German Lutheran New Testament scholar who is given credit (or blame, if you hate the idea) for helping to create "form criticism" of the New Testament. The idea behind this is that various oral traditions eventually got collected into the written gospels, and it's useful to try to understand those various traditions and how they came together. Bultmann also was an advocate of understanding and replacing old metaphors in scripture with more modern images so the gospel could be more fully understood by today's readers. Scriptural literalists blame form criticism or "higher criticism," as the approach sometimes is called, for encouraging people to discount the truths of the biblical stories.


* Paul Tillich (pictured here) was born on this date in 1886. He, too, was a German Lutheran, but as Hitler came to power in his native land, Tillich came to the U.S., where he taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York (as well as Harvard and the University of Chicago) until his death in 1965. Tillich is most known for his terminology for God, which is the "Ground of Being." He, too, has had numerous evanglical critics, especially for what they consider his pantheistic views of God.

(And just for the record, my bride looks nothing like any of these three guys.)

* * *


President Obama yesterday spoke with a collection of religious leaders who are sympathetic to his efforts to reform health care in America, saying it's a moral obligation. I'm going to have to find a good history of the 1930s legislation that created Social Security to see if politicians cast the debate in moral terms. I agree with the characterization, though that doesn't obligate me to agree with the specifics of what's been proposed.

* * *

NOTE: Until Monday, Aug. 24, my Internet access may be sporadic or even non-existent for hours at a time or even longer. So it may take longer than usual to get your comments posted. Thanks for your patience. Bill


Lynne -

Paul Tillich's Ground of Being - I wonder if Bishop JS Spong's "ground of being" was borrowed from Tillich's concept?

Bill, if you want some good stuff on the link between morals and politics, including the moral basis for liberal politics read "Moral Politics" by George Lakoff. He's got other good books, too and articles online.

Lynne -

From yesterday...

adamh wrote:

>Cole does not even seem to recognize that science provides no basis for ethics

I wouldn't be too sure about that. Look at the way science is conducted, at the rules of science. There are some moral values that have to be followed in science in order to do a good job. For example, truth-telling. To be a good lawyer or good salesman you don't always have to tell the truth (it might even work against you!), but to be a good scientist you do.

Testing ideas against reality. You can't just be an ideological armchair theorist in science (unless you are an economist, which is why I'd argue that economics is not a real science) - you have to test things out, and if the results don't match up to your views it is your views that must change, not the results.

Curiosity/knowledge? You could argue that it's a value but not a moral value..then again, it would seem wrong NOT to want to learn about the world you live in.

Doubt - you have to be comfortable with uncertainty if you are a scientist. As a result, you have to be the sort of person who embraces doubt instead of condemning it.

Also, scientists have developed professional codes of ethics for research involving human subjects. The most important of these is the concept of informed consent.

So it would seem that the very nature of scientific work has a built-in value system. This would explain why although most scientists believe in God, the number is smaller than in the general population and they are more likely to believe in an impersonal god, rather than a personal one. Scientists who are the very tops in their field have an especially high rate of atheism. If I am right, then we should also expect that scientists have very different political views than the general population. My guess is that they'd be much lower on authoritarianism and probably would have many social libertarians among them, including among the subset of scientists who do believe in a personal god.

(For the record, I don't think science necessarily influences one's values, religion or politics. Rather, I think people who already have those values are attracted to science to varying degrees, and thus more likely to pursue a career in a scientific field.)
Also adamh, I'd like to know what period of history you think was the best of times? (Will, I'm still waiting for your answer!)

Lynne -

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a pro-life group, admits that laws restricting abortion do NOT reduce abortions. What does work: reduced poverty rates, higher male employment rate, affordable access to childcare, ending the family-size cap on welfare programs.

See: and then scroll below video to "Catholics in Alliance Releases National Abortion Study"

Will Graham

Bultmann and Tillich were theologians who helped weaken Christianity severely in the era after the First World War; true "wolves in sheeps cloting" who denied Christ.

And it was because of this weakening of Christianity that the Nazis were able to rise, not the other way around. The Nazis even allowed Bultmann to continue his work all through World War Two in Germany.

Why not? He encouraged people to discount the Bible as containing the truth.

Will Graham

Obama campaigned against the war. He said it was wrong, and he was going to get us out. I personally heard him say that at the KC Municipal Audotorium last summer, and he bragged about how he voted against the war. (Of course, he was not even in the Senate when it began.)

Why should we beleive him on health care anymore than on anything else he promised?

Here's how to reform health care, and do something about the 200,000 a year who die from med malpractice, pharmaceutical errors, and hospital mistakes: CRIMINALIZE MALPRACTICE; don't just leave it as a CIVIL ACTION.

After all, parents, many of whom are not even educated, and PROSECUTED for making the wrong health care choices.

Why not doctors, who should know better.


Will Graham

Atheist reason:

Will Graham

Since KC"Free"Thinker talks about Space Aliens so much, and since he also is a fan of Dan Barker, I thought this blog about Dan Barker and the Aliens would be entertaining!


Bill, it's very interesting to learn for the first time about these three theologians. So Bultmann was the author of form criticism or higher criticism? I wonder if this is the basis of the historical-critical method for interpreting Scripture? And Tillich was the one who started calling God the Ground of Being? In "The Shack" by William P. Young, God describes Him/Herself as "The Ground of all Being." Cool stuff.

From yesterday, adamh I am very glad to learn that you and Will would be happy if things started improving right now, with regards to divorce and abortion, without there being any need to change the laws and coerce people. I'm sorry I thought you were wanting to see things get worse and worse, in order to get enough people upset enough to want to create coercive laws! This just goes to show that when we assume we "know" what people are thinking, we can be dead wrong.

Also from yesterday, adamh I am not sure why you'd think that a stay-at-home parent would have any less of an idea than you do, what it's like obeying the laws in our secular society. Having worked for many years before starting my family, and now having been a stay-at-home mom for the past 10 years (I'm 45), I would say that raising kids doesn't exactly take you "out" of the real world -- it just exposes you to new and different aspects of our society.

As a mom, I've learned a great deal about our laws through preparing for homebirth and having my second child at home ... through being interested enough to learn about the legislation supporting breastfeeding ... and of course through my experiences with homeschooling my children. While we will always have room for improvement, I still agree with Lynne that things are better here and now, than they've ever been in any other time or place. (Continued)


(Continued) Since I've already shared here before about my experience getting visited by a Children's Services worker, I think I should make clear that I have only positive things to say about the social worker, and about how things were conducted by Children's Services.

My overall impression of Child Protective Services (at least here in Missouri, which is my only experience) is that they are not out to involve themselves in families unless they feel children may be endangered. Since my sister gave them the impression that my children could be in danger, it was their job to send someone out to make sure they were okay, and to assess whether a case should be opened. She came and pretty quickly decided there was no need for any further involvement.

So, from this experience of our secular social services system, I would say they are doing quite well at respecting parental rights while making sure that children's rights are getting the protection they need, to the best of their ability.

It is sometimes a tricky thing, protecting the rights of the most vulnerable individuals in our society -- and I have no doubt that there are some atrocities being committed, I've sure heard some horror stories and I feel there is always going to be room for improvement. I'm just saying that from my (admittedly limited) experience, here in Missouri things are looking pretty good.

And I would still rather live in this time and place, than in any other. Sure, I have some wishes as to how my family of origin might have been different -- but even so, I also think this is the best time and place for getting healing after growing up in a toxic family. Long live our secular society!


Some local Kansas City church leaders are mentioned to have participated in the Obama "interfaith" summit on health care -
Susan Jacoby has a piece in Washington Post about her stance as an atheist on health care reform - "crazy" Sarah Palin is cited as well as her Down Syndrome baby who will may Social Security from the government funded by tax payers. No "death panel" here.

Will Graham

For those who think things are better now, than they have ever been in any time or place, apparentely, the existence of wmds (nuclear, chemical, and biological) that could eliminate human life and render the earth uninhabitable, and the increased techological ability of governments to monitor and control citizens (through surveillance, drugs, computer tracking, etc.) means nothing.

Such a view reflects an extremely high degree of willful ignorance.

Further, as Pope Paul II pointed out, our secular soceity is founded on a culture of death; although there has always been abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia, it is now accepted openly on a scale that exceeds that of even the Greek boy loving philosphers.

Our glorious secular society will implode and self destruct if these values get increasing hold.

Without higher values, it won't live long.


adamh, yesterday you also seemed to be saying that if I can talk about the different directions people can go in while they are all the while upholding Biblical inerrancy, then it's okay for you to intentionally misinterpret things I've written here, and make negative assumptions about my motives. adamh, haven't you and Will already been treating me this way for quite some time now? So what is new?!

Well, you know my first name but there are lots of Susans here in Kansas City. While I think it's wrong for you treat me as you do, I guess it's really just an annoyance that I can put up with if I want to post here -- and not actually harmful to me or my family.

Plus, after hearing Will's complete dismissal of Bultmann and Tillich as being "wolves in sheep's clothing" (you guys seem to be mysteriously connected at the brain, so I can just sense "with my whole being" that you probably agree with Will on this) -- I have to allow for the possibility that you guys really and truly do believe the things you are saying about me.

Apparently anyone who has concerns about Biblical inerrancy, is to you the absolute epitomy of evil. If I remember right, I think it was one of you a while back who called the things I was saying "seductive."

Is that what you guys think -- that I am trying to "seduce" everyone into agreeing with me about everything? I guess there's no way for you two to see it any differently: to you there are the good guys who see it like you, and the bad guys who see it differently. Since YOU think no one will be okay 'til they agree with you, you assume that I'm like you and think everyone needs to think like me.

When, actually, I find disagreement and debate more interesting than talking to a bunch of people who are just going to pat me on the back.


Will, said, “What are you going on about Cole? No one has contacted you.”

Check with jesus. You’ll see I am not lying.

Will said, “And what do you mean no one has invited us to the Bible Studies? Are you really that nuts? Iggy has. Repeatedly.”

I never said ‘no one has invited you’. That’s how delusional you are. How you try to create magic tricks. I said “I” never invited you. Lying is a sin.

Will said, “And why are you suprised when that people are offended when you attack them and call them names?”

I never attack them or call them names. I just state facts. Make believe is nowhere, but in the head. Learn how and why we think the way we do and maybe you will get it.

What’s the matter, Will, others can’t rebuttal? Being offended is a form of insecurity. I’m not insecure with my beliefs. Are you?

Will, continued, “I guess you don't mind then if I call you an arrogant, self aborbed, moron?”


Columbo brags on, “The police are watching this blog.”

Hello. How are you?

A theist chimed in, “"I guess you don't mind then if I call you an arrogant, self aborbed, moron?" Be careful, according Bill, Cold will sue you for calling him a moron.”

What are you talking about? Sue some one? This is a blog of discussion. Get real. Get a life. Stop being babies.

Traplock said, “There IS a remarkable harmony... over 2,000 years of it. Built on the 'Rock' with the promise that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”

Yeah, 2000years of changes of what you read – the bible – and it’s myth. The ‘Rock’. What ‘Rock’ is that? Make believe is horrible to spread as gospel. The gates of hell? I thought hell was a fiery lake. What’s with the gates? God can keep anything out. Or the devil can keep it in. One in the same. Continued:

Traplock moves onward…, “The 'concept' if you will is staying close to Christ in the sacraments. Most of us give very little thought to the hierarchy that many people are preoccupied with...

Slip and slide. Go in between. Trickery. Make people think they know what is going on, but it turns out to be all about control. The more bad things?, the more they can scare you.

This is what I like about being a human being. I get to decide. That’s what the Adams and Wills don’t understand. You get to think what you want without the make believe. Make your own choices. Be a grownup. Stand on your own, in the real world.

Here’s a ’concept’: Think before you act. It’s not too late. It can happen.

You just have to get real.

Will, your obsession with Nazis and Hitler is not healthy. The world moves on and hopefully we don’t make these dreadful mistakes, again.

These can keep you busy for awhile:
Strange News
Humans: The Strangest Species
This a lot of fun. There are more articles at the bottom:
Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole

Dolores Lear

Happy Birthday "Bride" Tammeus.
I was an American/German Lutheran, like Paul Tillich, before this 'High Tech Eternal Physical Life After Birth' Knowledge was revealed to me.

The Ground of Being, is still the Question today. We Know we are Alive and we Know about the Death of those Alive, who return to the Same Elements we are made from, while we are Alive.

How many of these Invisible Elements are in the Universe is Unknowable. How the Source of these Elements began and came together, to make Visible Life as we Know it is not Known.

So God is Used for the Unknown Source of LIFE. I now use GOD for this Source. And God for the Multiple, and Trinity God Religions, including Father, Mother, and Son, and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Humans again have High Tech Science, to Know Humans cannot Know the Source of LIFE in the Universe.

High Tech Humans Know Humans can Colonize a Planet, and can Reproduce a Human Fetus, and Clone Animals in a High Tech Lab.

Humans need to translate all the Scriptures and Myth. Genesis has the information on how to Colonize a Planet with High Tech. And that the Original Colony on Earth were Males, with Females made from the Male Rib.

This High Tech Knowledge was taught, by Body Birth Humans, as God's supernatural Creation of an Eco System on Earth, and the Life Species.

Humans need a High Tech Translation of all Scripture and Myth to Find the Truth of Eternal Human Physical Life, on Planets and in Spaceships.

The Supernatural of the Past, is the High Tech Ground of Being, for the Future Humans.

To Be or Not To Be is the Question for Human Life today. This needs to be Answered Before Body Birth High Tech Humans Kill their Planet, and All Life on it.

adam harrison

"Things are better now, than they have ever been in any other time or place."



Christians, especially "crazy" ones please grow a pair of brains! If your space alien Yahweh (aka god, father of Jesus) makes these people what they are, why the hell does it/she/he condemns them for what they are?

Aren't you crazies a bit too old to have an imaginary friend?

Is this world class runner a woman or a man?

Sex determination in humans begins in the womb at an early stage of embryonic development. An egg normally carries one X chromosome while sperm carry either one X or one Y chromosome. When sperm and egg fuse, they form XX and XY embryos in a roughly 50:50 ratio.

During the first weeks of development, the male and female embryos are anatomically indistinguishable with primitive gonads – the male and female organs – beginning to develop in the sixth week of gestation. At this point they are considered to be “bipotential”, in other words they can go on to become either female ovaries or male testes.

What determines the eventual developmental path is the presence of the sex-determining gene on the male chromosome, called SRY. When this gene is present, the embryo becomes male, when it is not, it becomes female. In a way all embryos are by default female, and it is only when the SRY gene kicks in that a “female” embryo actually becomes male.

adam harrison

In his 9:32 a.m. post Cole says he never attacks people or calls them names.

Yeah, sure Cole.

And Susan likes to tell us that she can be wrong about anything and everything, exhibiting her complete moral relativism, and yet continues to do her own share of misrepresenting.

Susan, YOU are the one who talks about the many ways things can be interpreted, and even cited Derrida in the process. I think the self refuting nature of your claim is beyond you.

It is apparent that you are so mad at us that no common ground is ever going to possible, and that no matter what we say you it is going to set you off: I feel the same way about the atheists. I don't expect there to ever be reconiliation...I simply oppose them having free run of the discussion board as they try to run everyone else off with insults and RIDICULE.

Iggy has made it plain that is his primary tactic...and you know it, Susan. And you collaborate with it. Do you realize, since you mention your family, that he even tried to ridicule the wife and PARENTS of a friend of ours?

(Oh well, you wouldn't give a damn even if you did, after all, we all deserve what we get, right? I think you would laugh your ass of if something happened to us.)

He even brags here, and at other sites, about running people off and people quitting posting.

But the TRULY IRONIC THING is that the atheist discussion board at KC FREETHOUGHT completely broke down and Greg gave up because of "the trolls", according to Iggy.

So this thing goes both ways.

You know, Susan, your little gig about sharing brains has a lot in common with Iggy's broken record recitation that "Christian brains are delicious".

adam harrison

Cole is bored by the Nazis; he wants us to forget about Hitler.

And, presumably, the Gulags.

I still wonder why his little Russians buddy got the hell of out of Dodge, so to speak, when he left the atheist paradise.

Never did get a straight answer on that one...the government had been officially atheistic for some 70 years!


Cole, we aren't going to forget.



adam harrison

By the way, Susan, I don't think any of us have called what you said "seductive".

You would need to cite that for me.

I think "dishonest" would be more accurate.

You despise anyone who does not see things as you do...exactly what you accuse us of.

You came on here, at Iggy's request, attacking fundamentalists, "literalists", and the like at every opportunity.

Quit yanking our chain.



Post your email address and I will send you a copy of the email from Bill where he makes that very statement.


"I never attack them or call them names. I just state facts."

Cole, you post to people who've read what you've posted before. It is what it is and the readers know it. Denying it won't work.

Anybody with no life have the time to scan this blog for Cole's rants?


Bill, I hope your bride is having a lovely birthday!

adamh or Will, how is it "moral relativism" to say that "I" can be wrong? Just because I can admit my fallibility -- that doesn't mean I don't believe there's any such thing as truth. But, I don't know why I'm trying to explain this to you guys, yet again. I think it must be completely over your delicious heads -- or maybe you're just being willfully ignorant.

You know, I said I "thought" it was you or Will who said that the things I was saying were "seductive" -- but I'm not absolutely sure. And it's honestly not important enough to dig back through all the old posts. Who knows, maybe "seductive" wasn't even the actual word that was used.

One of the conservative Christians here was basically expressing concern that people could get mislead by listening to me. If it wasn't one of you (adamh or Will) -- then I'm sorry if I created any hard feelings.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)