Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gender Neutral Interactive Poem: Fill in the Blanks

Breathes there a soul with a libido so dead who has not looked at _____________
and wistfully said,
"Blessed is the one who shares ______'s bed"?

Please note: Each participant is allowed only three entries.

Now read Matthew 5:28 as applying to both sexes regarding both the luster and the lustee.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Was Bertrand Russell Right?

In Why I Am Not a Christian Bertrand Russell said that Jesus was morally deficient because he believed in the everlasting torture of the wicked. I think he is right (See Matthew 25:31-46). The burning of sinners in an eternal fire is not consistent with the idea of God as loving, merciful, and compassionate.

Medieval theologians countered the objection that an infinite punishment for finite sins was unjust with the notion that the sin was against an infinite value (God), and therefore it was just.

Most of us find that defense singularly unconvincing. But it is amusing to watch how easily modern liberals, who reject the notion of an everlasting hell as contrary to the character of the nice, kind God they believe in, combine this idea with their affirmation that Jesus is the supreme moral authority.

However, all the churches I know also totally ignore Matthew 10:8 in which Jesus sends out the Apostles and commissions them to cast out demons and raise the dead. Most churches claim their task is to continue the ministry of the Apostles to preach the Gospel and do deeds of love and mercy. Yet I know of no church that has a ministry of raising the dead. Only a few even pretend to be able to cast out demons.

I conclude from all this that all Christians selectively obey Jesus in practice while claiming in theory to obey in all matters -- or at least that they ought to. You can check this out by looking at how Christians find ways of avoiding the hard sayings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-48). When all else fails, you can always ignore completely.

If Hitchens Is Right, Then I Must Not Be Religious

Bertrand Russell famously wrote Why I am Not a Christian. If memory serves me correctly, it was G. K. Chesterton who responded, "If a Christian is what Bertrand Russell says it is, I am not a Christian either." In any case, that came to mind while I was cheat reading Christopher Hitchens' God is Not Great in Barnes & Noble the other day. What he condemns in religion is not what I espouse.

I checked the index and found not one reference to any 20th century theologian or philosopher of religion I ever read and who instructed me on what it is to be a modern Christian. I did find a few brief references to a couple of Roman Catholic Popes and to the Protestant fundamentalists Jerry Falwell, Charles Stanley and Pat Robertson!

Critics of religion typically ignore the cultural context in which religion occurs, seeming to have some ahistorical notion of something they call "religion," and it is always bad. This ignores the fact that religious belief is always particular and occurs in some cultural context, so that what is bad may be in fact as much, if not primarily, a cultural thing and not necessarily a religious phenomenon. Also, they give not much attention to the good that may come out of religion, e. g., opposition to slavery and works of charity and mercy like feeding the hungry and healing the sick. Somehow these things are not part of this abstracted essence of "religion."

They seem to believe that if religion were universally abandoned, the world would be better off.

I suggest that such is not the case. Apparently tthe critics assume that all these non-religious souls would be scientifically enlightened people with high morals, i. e., like the authors of these anti-religious tirades. It would be equally fallacious to assume that all would be well if everybody were the kind of Christian I am.

Efforts to attribute the world's ills to some one cause, private property, e. g. (Marxism), the rectification of which would lead to certain progress, have never been successful.

So, go ahead, Mr. Hitchens, condemn what you call "religion," but, pardon me, if I am equally insistent that whatever you are talking about, it doesn't include me.

More Unsolicited Advice for John Edwards

June 26, 2007
Dear Mr. Edwards,

I like your anti-poverty theme, but I fear that your use of the "two Americas" theme may not be wise.

It is too easy a target for Republicans.

It is not precise. There are many Americans, many gradations in the class structure. There is a middle, where multitudes of Americans think they are. It will be regarded too populist, opens you to effective criticism.

I urge you to go light on that theme. I urge you to consider my earlier suggestion that strengthening families be the centerpiece of your strategy.

Around that you can stress the anti-poverty theme but at the same time help a great many Americans to identify with your aims -- health care, help for working mothers with child care, parental leave, increase in EITC, and so on through a long list.

I want to see you elected, but hope you won't seem so left-wing in order to get the nomination that you ruin your chances of winning the general election.

I am a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University and taught of 40 years at the theological seminary where Martin Luther King graduated and where Walter Rauschenbusch, the father of the social gospel taught. I stand in that idealistic tradition tempered by the political realism of Reinhold Niebuhr.

When idealists enter politics they must become hard-nosed, tough-minded realists and pragmatists. That is what I hope for you.

For more unwanted advice, see my blog for Saturday, November 11, 2006. in the archives at

Best wishes,

Ken Cauthen