The battle against bullying: 9-8-14
When religion fails to lead: 9-10-14

When faith leaders get too serious: 9-9-14

In recent weeks, a Bible study group I help to lead looked at the two (yes, there are two) creation stories in the book of Genesis to see how they fit together (not very well) and what we might make of them.

Not-the-bibleIt was a serious look at a serious topic, but that didn't stop me from bringing along a copy of a fun little book several decades old: Not the Bible, by Sean Kelly and Tony Hendra. It does a delicious bit of satire on the first and second chapters of Genesis.

An example:

In the beginning God created Dates.

And the date was Monday, July 4, 4004 B.C.

It's an obvious joke about James Ussher, the 17th Century archbishop of Ireland who used genealogies in the Bible to decide that the world was created in 4004 B.C., though Ussher's actual date of creation was Oct. 23, not July 4.

At any rate, there was a bit of space in our creation studies to have some fun at the expense of the fundamentalists who take Genesis literally.

I wish the Roman Catholic Church in Venezuela were exhibiting that kind of acceptance of altered religious scripts.

Instead, it has condemned some followers of the late leader Hugo Chavez for reciting praise of Chavez done in the form of the Lord's Prayer.

As you can read in this piece about it, it begins, "Our Chavez, who are in heaven, the earth, the sea and in us delegates. . ."

Well, it's a silly little ditty about a man who was wrong about a lot in life. But for the church to get all bent out of shape about it strikes me as equally silly. A church communique said this: "Just as no one would be allowed to change the words of the national anthem to honor a person, so too is it illicit to change the 'Lord's Prayer'." Oh, come on. The American national anthem was, in its original use, a song in praises of wine. And sillier versions of it have begun, "José, can you see any bed bugs on me. . ."

What American patriot would resort to the rocket's red glare against purveyors of such trivia?

Relax, church. When folks make a bit of fun of you, it means they take you seriously and are paying attention. Usually.

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A group of families of 9/11 victims is launching an anti-Islamophobia campaign. Good. It's the right thing to do. (Disclosure: One of my sisters and her husband, whose son was a passenger on the first plane to hit the World Trade Center on 9/11, are members of the group sponsoring this, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.)

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The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It, by Peter Enns. This is one more good tool for people who take the Bible seriously, which means they don't take all of it literally. It's written in a light-hearted style that sometimes strikes just the right key and sometimes tries too hard. But the author, who teaches biblical studies at Eastern University, is right in terms of Christian theology when he says that the Bible is "nonnegotiable as God's word, but it wasn't God's final word. Jesus was." This book is in harmony with such recent works as Razing Hell, by Sharon L. Baker, Love Wins, by Rob Bell, and Making Sense of the Bible, by Adam Hamilton. But if you have time to read only one, I recommend Hamilton's book. The Enns book, however, may be more your style if you want an approach that sometimes will make you laugh as it enlightens you.

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P.S.: If you don't yet own my new book, Woodstock: A Story of Middle Americans, e-mail me at and I'll tell you how to get an autographed copy. The e-version of the book is almost free here at


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