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New Holocaust stories: 5-31-10

There's an interesting new Holocaust-related blog in the world called "A Page in History," and it comes from the Claims Conference, the agency that has been working since the early 1950s to find compensation for Jewish families that were victims of the Holocaust.

As the agency's Web site explains, because of negotiations led by the Claims Conference since 1952, "the German government has paid more than $60 billion in indemnification for suffering and losses resulting from Nazi persecution. Claims Conference negotiations have also resulted in the creation of funds from German and Austrian industry, as well as the Austrian government."


I first learned of the Claims Conference when I was working on my new book, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust, which I co-authored with Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn. I had simply always assumed that somehow Germany and perhaps others were being held financially responsible in some way for the Nazi government's nearly successful effort to destroy European Jewry, but I was unaware of how that was taking place.

At any rate, the new blog from the Claims Conference is offering both updates on work the agency is doing but also interesting historical stories about survivors.

Each day people are born who have no idea about the Holocaust and what it says about the human condition. It's such efforts as the new Claims Conference blog that will help to teach them what they will need to know if they are to have any chance to avoid being part of anything similar in the future -- either as perpetrators or victims.

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Good for New York Mayor Bloomberg for backing Muslims who want to create a mosque in lower Manhattan, not far from Ground Zero. Unless this is a group of followers of Osama bin Laden -- whom most Muslims could declare has given up the right to be called Muslim -- what possible reason is there to oppose this? Well, other than anti-Islamic prejudice, which is no good reason at all.

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P.S.: At 9 a.m. this Sunday, June 6, at Westport Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Scott Myers will offer "An lluminated Lecture" on the art of loving God. The free lecture will include music, poetry and art displayed on a large screen. Myers developed this illuminated lecture for the Faith Foundations Series at South Dakota State University last fall.

A theologian's memoir: 5-29/30-10

This past Tuesday here on the blog, I wrote about a Kansas City address by Stanley Hauerwas (pictured below), one of the best-known and important theologians of our era. He's a professor of theological ethics at Duke University.


Today I want you to know about his new book, Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir. For anyone who either knows of Hauerwas' work or cares about issues of contemporary Christian theology, this is a must read. (Caring about theology today and not knowing Hauerwas, by the way, would be like caring about technology and not knowing Bill Gates.)

I don't want to rehash here his growing up years in Texas, his learning to be a bricklayer, his seminary years at Yale Divinity School and other events -- including a terribly difficult marriage -- that helped to shape the theologian he has become.

You can read about all of that in the book.

Rather, what I want to lift up is the remarkable man who emerged from all of that -- a man at once on the cutting edge of theological insight and a committed disciple of Jesus Christ.

Hauerwas, who turns 70 this year, stands as a living witness against the bogus notion that people with a brain necessarily reject adherence to a faith tradition because such a commitment flies in the face of the wisdom of the enlightenment -- a considerably overrated wisdom, if you ask me. In other words, Hauerwas is an argument against the idea that smart, well-educated people in this post-modern world have nothing to do with God.


This alone makes Hauerwas frustratingly difficult to label, to categorize. So, too, does the fact that although he's a Methodist he draws liberally from Catholic and Anabaptist traditions to form his approach to theology. And so, too, does his willingness to try to help Christians differentiate themselves from the nations in which they dwell.

The era of Christian identity with the ruling powers of Europe has long ended, he says, and is coming to an end in the United States. As he says, with considerable satisfaction, "Christianity has lost. We don't have to run the world." He says that we Christians should, instead, think of ourselves as "peasants," whose ultimate commitment is not to the secular lord of the region but to the crucified and risen lord, Christ Jesus.

It is this commitment that allows Christians to live joyfully in a fallen and broken world, Hauerwas says: "How to remember wrongs that are so wrong they can never be put right is what the cross is all about."

Parts of this memoir may be a bit slow going for lay readers because of the nuanced issues of theology with which they deal, but Hauerwas ultimately rescues all of that by regularly helping readers understand how and why such theological considerations help to shape a life.

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A Muslim beauty queen in a bikini? Aren't Muslim women supposed to dress modestly? Hmmm. Well, it turns out that the new Miss U.S.A. is, indeed, a Muslim in a bikini. And Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA Today's religion editor, has some interesting information about all of this on her blog. It raises the old question of where the limits are in religious traditions and how far adherents can go in testing those limits.

The Jesus book flood: 5-28-10

Some 2,000 years after his birth, there still is what biblical scholar Luke Timothy Johnson calls "a virtually endless appetite for books about Jesus, particularly in versions of his life that offer something secret or salacious."


But, as Johnson, who teaches at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, said in a Kansas City appearance recently, almost all we really have to go on when it comes to Jesus are the four gospels, each of which tells his story in different ways. The Johnson book to read about this is The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels. Fans of the overhyped Jesus Seminar should be warned that the Seminar takes plenty of hits from Johnson (and I agree with him on most of them).

And yet Jesus is such a compelling figure -- a figure who changed, and continues to change, history -- that the Jesus book industry continues to roll. It may, in fact, be one of the healthiest sectors of our weakened economy.

One measure of the sector's strength is found in the quite readable six-page account of recent Jesus scholarship and books in The New Yorker.

As I was reading through this piece, I kept asking myself how much of this should matter to Christians. And what I found myself deciding was that although this stuff is endlessly intriguing, what really matters is whether we are trying to live our lives as authentic disciples of Jesus.

If we're not doing that, it won't make a bit of difference why the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) differ in such remarkable ways from John, nor will it make any difference who wrote those books.

As Johnson rightly notes, the Jesus you meet in the gospels is worthy of following. Thus the gospels themselves -- in the context of the whole of the Bible -- are an adequate revelation of Jesus. All these other books are possibly interesting but finally irrelevant commentary.

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A German court has ruled that a school there does not have to set aside a private place for a Muslim student to pray. I don't pretend to know who is right in this case, but I do know that Europe is struggling mightily with its changing culture as Muslims there become increasingly part of the mix. Each European country and the European Union more broadly needs some really wise leadership just now to help bring people through this change. Otherwise the potential for social disaster is great.

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P.S.: The Vedanta Society of Kansas City is sponsoring a free lecture by Dr. Arvind Sharma, a professor of comparative religion at McGill University in Montreal, at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 11, at Regnier Hall on the University of Kansas Edwards Campus, 127th and Quivera, in Overland Park, Kan. More information is available on the calendar page of the Vedanta Web site.

That synthetic cell: 5-27-10


Let's back up a week or so today to have another look at the widely publicized story about the scientists who announced they have created a synthetic cell.

Does this mean they have created life? Even "artificial" life, whatever that might mean? Does it mean that humanity is now (and has been all along, though it didn't know it) capable of taking the place of what religion calls the Creator, God?

And what in the world might it mean for the future? Can we go to a drive-through lab and pick up a child with these or those traits?

So far the answers, I think, are no, no, no, who-knows and no. But that doesn't mean that this new development isn't somehow striking.

It may not surprise you to know that even though I have written about scientific developments of many kinds off and on for more than four decades, I really don't know where the creation of a synthetic cell will lead us or what, exactly, to make of it. I'm not sure anyone knows that.

But I want to link you today to several pieces that I hope will help you think about what all of this might mean and what obligation each of us might have to raise our voices in either support of or protest against what's happening in science labs.

First, click here for what struck me as one of the better explanations of just what J. Craig Venter and his scientists have done and what it might mean.

Next, click here for a rather more skeptical view of the synthetic cell development -- a view that is particularly questioning about such well-known bioethicists as Arthur Caplan, who described the creation of this synthetic cell as a wonderful breakthrough of immense proportions.

President Obama has asked his commission on bioethical issues to study these developments and report back in a few months with recommendations on what, if anything, the government should do. For information about that and a link to Obama's letter to the chair of that commission, click here.

Finally, for the site of the American Journal of Bioethics, click here. There you will find lots of links to stories about the synthetic cell news.

A final point: We as individuals and as a society are responsible for understanding enough about scientific developments to know whether they are ethically worrisome or a wonderful breakthrough (or something in between). The public's voice must be heard in this, but it must be an educated voice.

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If you think the American media don't do a good job covering religion -- and, with some notable exceptions, they don't -- how about such coverage in Britain? Even a BBC broadcaster criticizes it. It may take time to change for the better, but media coverage will never improve if readers, listeners and views don't complain -- loud and long and in detail about what you think is missing or what the media are getting wrong.

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P.S.: Time is running out for you to sign up for the weeklong seminar I'll be leading July 12-18 at Ghost Ranch, the national Presbyterian conference center in northern New Mexico. The course is called "Death and Its Mysteries: Writing About the Journey." For more details, click here. My class filled up about this time last year. There still are a few slots open now but probably not for long.

Laughter is good medicine: 5-26-10

It's been too long since we took a humor break here, so today you get a few faith-based jokes drawn from hither and yon -- none original with me. As I've explained before, if they were original with me they'd be funnier.


1. A father was reading Bible stories to his young son. He read, "The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city, but his wife looked back and was turned to salt."

His son asked, "What happened to the flea?"


2. Martin arrived at Sunday school late. Miss Walter, his teacher, knew that Martin was usually very punctual so she asked him if anything was wrong.

Martin said no, that he had been going fishing but his dad told him that he needed to go to church.

Miss Walter was very impressed and asked the lad if his dad had explained to him why it was more important to go to church than to go fishing?

Martin replied, "Yes, he did. Dad said he didn't have enough bait for both of us."

3. Father George was opening his mail one morning. Taking a single sheet of paper from an envelope, he found written on it only one word: "Fool".

The next Sunday, in church, Father George announced to the assembled congregation, "I have known many people who have written letters to me and forgotten to sign their names. But this week I received a letter from someone who signed his name and had forgotten to write a letter."

4. "I hope you didn't take it personally, Father," an embarrassed woman said after a church service, "when my husband walked out during your sermon."

"I did find it rather disconcerting," the vicar replied.

"It's not a reflection on you, Father," insisted the church goer. "Christopher has been walking in his sleep ever since he was a child."


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Good for the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus. He has told senior clerics in his church to be gracious hosts next month for the visit there of Pope Benedict XVI. For heaven's sake, folks, the Catholic-Orhodox split happened way back in 1054. Get over it. You're Christians and so is the pope. That's all you need to care about for something like this visit.

How to be the church: 5-25-10

Time and again as I have written here and elsewhere about the crucial importance in our age of interfaith dialogue and understanding I also have insisted that followers of particular religious traditions must continue to maintain their commitment to those traditions. That is, just for the sake of harmony, we cannot give up our distinct religions and settle for some syncretistic mishmash.


That point became even clearer to me the other evening when I was privileged to hear Duke theologian Stanley Hauerwas (pictured here) speak at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church here.

Hauerwas is not just a worthy academic -- once labeled by Time Magazine as America's best theologian (to which Hauerwas objected that "best" is not a theological category). He is, more importantly, a Christian who seeks to take his faith seriously and to get others to understand the gifts Christianity has to offer to the world.

Over the next several weeks you may find me returning to quote Hauerwas on this or that here on the blog and in my various columns, and I hope soon to offer you a review of his compelling new memoir, Hannah's Child.

But for today I'd like to focus on what he had to say about why the Christian church must be true to itself. He said this:

"Christians will do ourselves and our neighbors little good by trying to convince those who do not share our story that we also are liberal cosmopolitans. Rather, we must be what we are -- the church of Jesus Christ. For if that church is not the anticipation of the peace God wills for all people, then we're without hope. To sustain that peace, to care for the stranger when all strangers cannot be cared for, to know how to go on in the face of our suffering -- the suffering of those we love and the sufferings of those we do not know -- is possible because we believe God finally abandons no one."

And this:

"The very presumption that there's something called the world that can be identified depends on people who have separated from the world so that they can be of service to the world. . .What we Christians have to offer is patience and humility learned from the story called the gospel that teaches us how to live in peace. . .If the church is rightly understood to be God's new language, it is crucial that we not misplace our particular language. . . The language the church must speak is not that which forces uniformity but rather is shaped by the practices of love. . .necessary for the required patience that enables us to tell one another our different stories."

In other words -- my words -- the church must adhere to its self-understanding as a community that God calls out of the world just so that it may return to the world to do the work of love as a channel of God's grace. If the church is simply part of the culture -- or, worse, undifferentiated from the culture, which is to say warp and woof with the culture -- it has lost its court-jesterish way and has no hope to offer anyone.

Similarly, every religion must find its core identity and then seek to live out that identity in full and wholesome ways. Only then can it enter into authentic dialogue with other religions.

(I'm going to give you here about a 10-minute audio clip of the start of the talk Hauerwas gave the other evening, though it doesn't include the part I quoted above. You may want to crank up the sound on your computer for this clip because the sound system in the church wasn't all that good. Click on this link: Download Hauerwas-I)

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Are national Democrats backing away from their interest in attracting people of faith as voters? This analysis in the Washington Post suggests exactly that. Any party in America that doesn't try to appeal to religious adherents by offering values and programs in some harmony with the values of those adherents is sunk.

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The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith, by Stuart Murray. In some ways the timing is good for me to be bringing this book to your attention on a day when I'm writing about Stanley Hauerwas, for Hauerwas is quick to acknowledge that he draws quite heavily for his own theology on Anabaptist theology. It turns out that there quite a growing interest in the Anabaptist tradition in England and Ireland, and this book is an attempt to describe what it is about this branch of Christianity that is appealing to people now in ways it hasn't in those countries before. In the U.S., of course, the Anabaptists are represented by the small but well-know Amish, Mennonite and Hutterite churches. What The Naked Anabaptist seeks to do is to strip away the cultural traditions that are part of those churches and see what's left. You can learn more about the Anabaptist growth in Europe, by going to the Anabaptist Network site. While you're there, you can find a list of seven core convictions that characterize essential Anabaptist thinking. There is much in Anabaptism that is in harmony with thinking coming out of the Emergent Church Movement, too, which is why you'll find Emergent leader Brian D. McLaren writing a blurb about this book on the back cover. And don't miss the excellent foreward by Gregory A. Boyd, who puts all of this in a post-Christendom context.

Being alert to bad ideas: 5-24-10

Time is running out for you to see the exhibit called "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race." It's at the National Archives building in Kansas City just west of Union Station on Pershing Road. It's free. It's open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and ends June 10. Get there.


I say that because I just went again -- and repeat trips are worthwhile. This time I was struck by the ways in which bad ideas spread, even when they are in obvious conflict with foundational values of the religion of the people adopting the ideas.

The bad idea in this case -- one that played out in unethical medical experiments, forced sterilizations and, ultimately, aspects of the Holocaust itself -- was that some human life is more valuable than other human life.

One part of the exhibit, for instance, tells of Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), who spread Darwinist and also social Darwinist ideas in Germany. It's the social Darwinist ideas that led to trouble. In his 1904 book, Wonders of LIfe, Haeckel argued that not all people have the same value. For instance, "primitive" people were less valuable than "civilized" people. And people with "defects" were of less value than healthy people.

A contemporary of Haeckel, Francis Galton (1822-1911), a cousin of Charles Darwin, used the name "genetics" to describe his ideas for improving human heredity. Nowadays the term genetics carries no negative connotations. Rather, it simply describes an area of science that seeks to understand the human genome. But Galton is thought of as the father of eugenics, and that is quite a different matter.

For before long the push to encourage people to live in ways that would improve health morphed into eugenics, and as a Eugenics Society of Great Britain poster at the "Deadly Medicine" exhibit urged, "Only healthy seed must be sown." In other words, humanity would do well to prevent primitive, uncivilized, unhealthy, developmentally disabled people from having children. Talk about your slipperly slopes. Eugenics, which meant to improve humanity through selective breeding, was on such a slope.

Between 1933 and 1939, with the Nazis in power in Germany, "eugenic proposals were applied as policies on a scale never before seen," an exhibit board says. One of those policies was contained in the "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring," enacted in July 1934 (or 1933, depending on which source you read).

By the end of the Nazi era, some 400,000 Germans had been forcibly sterilized, and, as the "Deadly Medicine" exhibit notes, "Nazi eugenics culminated in the genocide of European Jewry."

This whole area fascinates me, no doubt partly because the Holocaust is the setting of my new book, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust. But the lessons here about the spread of bad ideas -- and the failure of educated people, professionals and others to stop that spread -- are applicable to any time and place.

One of the core values of Christianity, to say nothing of Judaism (and most Germans in the 1930s were Christian) insists that each individual is of inestimable worth, regardless of race, wealth, education, intelligence or anything else. For a good discussion of this value, the book to read is The Political Meaning of Christianity, by Glenn Tinder.

But if people aren't taught and retaught such core values and regularly encouraged to live them out in their current circumstances they can be seduced into following cultural values that subvert their religious values. That's why people of faith must take more seriously their role as theologians. When they walk around in a theological fog, bad ideas like eugenics can take root.

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The Detroit Free Press reports on the puzzlement that many Catholics and others feel when, in the midst of the priest abuse scandal, the Vatican is investigating the work of Michigan-based nuns. The paper's writers seem to place this in a liberal-conservative model, but I think it's more complicated than that. I think it may have more to do with nuns seeking to be faithful followers of Jesus coming into conflict with church officials seeking to protect the hierarchical interests of the Vatican.

A rich Holocaust tale: 5-22/23-10

Since doing the research for my new book about Jews in Poland who survived the Holocaust with non-Jewish help, I've been more aware of, or sensitive to, the amazingly painful dilemmas and circumstances inherent in the human condition.


I am thinking as I write this of the story of Jerry Koenig, told in this book, which I co-wrote with Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn. Jerry was one of 11 people hidden in a barn bunker near Treblinka. He and some members of his family with him survived.

But one reason they survived is that the people in the bunker decided they had to kill a baby born to a woman hiding with them in the bunker because, as babies are wont to do, the child was crying, and that crying could have given away the hiding place. So the adults in the bunker poisoned the baby.

This weekend here on the blog I'll be brief because I want you to have a chance to spend a bit of time reading a wonderfully written story in The New Yorker about another Holocaust survivor. The story is called "Free Fruit for Young Widows," by Nathan Englander.

It will give you a sense of the moral complexities not just having to do with the German-led genocide of the Holocaust but having to do with any life.

This is the kind of story that stands up to arrogant and false certitude and that shows why life cannot be lived in just black and white. Rather, at times -- even at times against our wills and maybe even our better judgment -- it must be lived in various shades of gray. Give yourself the gift of time to read this compelling piece.

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The Vatican has greeted news that scientists have created a synthetic cell with a welcome but also with some conditions on that welcome. In recent decades the Vatican's voice on scientific achievements has been considerably more reasoned than in the past -- especially the old days when even the notion that the Earth revolves around the sun, and not vice versa, was denounced as antibiblical nonsense. For a helpful Q&A with J. Craig Venter, the lead scientist on the synthetic cell development,click here.

Moving church 'off-site': 5-21-10

The evening traffic along 55th Street in Kansas City made its usual muffler noises -- from cars, pickups and the occasional motorcycle.

But almost in response, the 80 or so of us (partly pictured here) gathered on our church patio answered back with prayers, music and voices telling profoundly human stories.

We held what was called "Faces of Immigration: A Prayer Vigil" one evening this week as a way to help anyone who came put a human face on the immigration issue -- one that is deeply complicated in one sense and yet simple in that, in the end, it's essentially about people and their dreams.

So some immigrants from Latin America, Haiti and Portugal spoke, some members of the Grandview Park Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Kansas, including Pastor Rick Behrens, played some music, and our associate pastor, Don Fisher, led us in corporate and individual prayer.

If the evening was about a faith community's response to the immigration issue, it also was, to me, a tiny step toward a church going "off-site," as the current phrase for this has it.

Well, we weren't exactly off-site. We were, rather, outside our own building and still on church property. But churches increasingly are coming to understand that they must open their doors not only to welcome others in but to encourage their own members to move out into the community to be the church there.

In the May 31 issue of The Presbyterian Outlook, on the page next to my own column (not yet available online), there's a good piece about this by Tom Erich, an Episcopal priest. Its headline says, "Going off-site is critical."

One of his important points: "It seems counter-intuitive to be decentralizing the congregation's life even as they stretch to keep the central location's doors open. But expanding reach will be critical for the congregation, no matter what its size." After all, Erich writes, "interactions with God and other Christians are just as lively 'out there' -- on a retreat, at a renewal weekend, in an at-home Bible study, in doing mission work -- as they are 'in here.'"

My church does several things "off-site," but we're still pretty landlocked. My hope is that all faith communities, including ours, can find respectful and helpful ways to interact with the communities around them. That will be more healthy for everyone.

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As court cases relating to the Catholic priest abuse scandal move through litigation, the sometimes-complicated legal issues begin to become clearer. This AP analysis relating to some developments this week helps all of us understand what's at stake and why the legal relationship between American bishops and the Vatican is important.

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P.S.: If you've been waiting for a pastor to take on Glenn Beck's ridiculous rants against "social justice," here's one. Enjoy.

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Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation, by Donald Miller. The last Miller book I read, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, I simply picked up meaning to scan it to see if I liked it. I read every word. Miller has the capacity to draw you in and keep you reading. This new book is no different. The author is the founder of the Mentoring Project, which equips churches to mentor young people. In Father Fiction he describes growing up without his father in his life -- and the emotional hole that left in him. What he discovered was that he kept turning to different men to fill that void -- some much less successfully than others. But what he finally discovered is that the ulimate father figure, God, had never abandoned him, and he needed to acknowledge that faithfulness and live in light of that. Miller writes with raw honesty, not sugar-coating things. In the end, this is a call to men to be better fathers so that their sons and daughters can be better human beings.

The Bible's newness: 5-20-10

Although I may not read the Bible each day, I am a regular imbiber. Which has caused some people -- including me -- to ask why.


The other day, while reading an essay about the work of novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson, I found words from her that help to explain why I go back time and again to try to understand what Scripture is telling me.

The author of the essay about Robinson quoted her this way on her own relationship with the Bible, "... with which after long and assiduous attention I am not familiar.... By grace of my abiding ignorance, it is always new to me. I am never not instructed."

Yes, yes. That's it. It is always new. Even those passages I memorized as a child. Even those passages that I've read dozens of times. Each time I move into the treasure that is Scripture, I am instructed, I am inspired, I am humbled, I am puzzled. And, in the end, I am changed.

This is especially the case when I read the Bible in a group, as I do each Wednesday morning and each Thursday noon and each Sunday. And it's especially true when I read it with a wise teacher who has taken the Bible seriously enough to wrestle with its origins, its authors, its settings, its original audiences, its seeming inconsistencies.

The essay I read about Robinson also said something related about her broader approach to life -- an approach that seems in harmony with the way author Annie Dillard looks at the world: "I have spent my life watching not to see beyond the world, merely to see, great mystery, what is plainly before my eyes."

What a perfect way to read the Bible.

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KC Star columnist Jason Whitlock had a great piece in Wednesday's paper about the ways in which Bill Maher denigrates people of faith. I didn't want you to miss it. For aggressive atheists and others to call people of faith delusional doesn't help the conversation at all. Rather, it shuts down opportunities for dialogue.

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Putting Away Childish Things: A Tale of Modern Faith, a novel by Marcus J. Borg. If Marcus Borg, who for my money is the wisest and most reasonable member of the Jesus Seminar, were to write a novel -- which is exactly what he now has done -- this is the novel you might well expect. It's full of theological substance, arguments and even pain. It's the story of a female professor of religion who is, in many post-modern ways, wrestling with her commitment to faith and what it means both personally and professionally. And as Borg moves the story along, he weaves in the ideas about how to understand the Bible that the Jesus Seminar has been proposing for years -- ideas that challenge traditional Christian faith. The result is an easy-to-read story that, in the end, educates the reader about some of the issues currently hot in scholarly theological circles. Borg may be no Ernest Hemingway (who is?) but he knows what's interesting and what isn't and his characters are credible.

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P.S.: My latest column for the National Catholic Reporter now is online. It's about the religious affiliation of members of the U.S. Supreme Court. To read it, click here.

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ANOTHER P.S.: A Tea Party leader has called Allah, the Arabic name for God, a "monkey-god." Good heavens. I hope the many rational people who identify themselves with the Tea Party will condemn this fool.