Saturday, November 26, 2005


The holiday card you see in the post below is now available as a free e-card.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Celebration of the light (greeting card)

Last year we created this holiday card to be nondenominational without being a tepid, noncommittal "Happy Holidays"

You can download the graphic for the front of the card here, and the inside graphic here, and use them in Printshop or other desktop publishing software to create your own cards. Or, if you prefer, you can order pre-printed cards here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Exploring the Creation Museum

I'm just about speechless. I just stumbled onto the web site of The Creation Museum. Subheading: Upholding the authority of the Bible from the very first verse. Here are some highlights from the "walk-through".

Stargazers' Room

Peer back into the deepest recesses of the heavens, and discover that the latest images of the stars confirm an all powerful Creator, not a random bang!

Bible Authority Room

The Bible is true. No doubt about it! Paul explains God’s authoritative Word, and everyone who rejects His history—including six-day creation and Noah’s Flood—is ‘willfully’ ignorant.

Oh dear. That would probably be the "the Bible is true because the Bible says it's true" argument. See Kissing Hank's Ass for a send-up of this sort of explanation. But just because I'm irreverent, it doesn't mean I don't take the Bible seriously. (As Marcus Borg suggests, I take the Bible seriously, but not literally.) I wouldn't be devoting time in my busy schedule to the EFM program if I didn't take the Bible and my faith seriously. This page describes a bit of what we're learning in Year 1. We're learning that the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures are ancient stories probably knitted together from at least four sources. There are also many different kinds of literature in the Bible, but it is understood by the writers of our course materials (those flaming liberals at Sewanee) that many of the stories aren't meant to be read as factually, literally, historically accurate.

Because if you *did* read it that way, wouldn't you have to think about things like "Where did Cain and Abel get their wives?"

Anyway, one more lesson from the museum:


Explore the wonders of creation. The imprint of the Creator is all around us. And the Bible’s clear—heaven and earth in six 24-hour days, earth before sun, birds before lizards.

Other surprises are just around the corner. Adam and apes share the same birthday. The first man walked with dinosaurs and named them all!

God’s Word is true, or evolution is true. No millions of years. There’s no room for compromise.

Humans and dinosaurs, living together? So, the Flintstones were right, and the science teachers in my Catholic elementary and high schools (who taught me about evolution) were wrong? Wild.

Can the C.I.A legally kill a prisoner?

From The New Yorker:

A DEADLY INTERROGATION Can the C.I.A. legally kill a prisoner?

The house belongs to Mark Swanner, a forty-six-year-old C.I.A. officer who has performed interrogations and polygraph tests for the agency, which has employed him at least since the nineteen-nineties. (He is not a covert operative.) Two years ago, at Abu Ghraib prison, outside Baghdad, an Iraqi prisoner in Swanner’s custody, Manadel al-Jamadi, died during an interrogation. His head had been covered with a plastic bag, and he was shackled in a crucifixion-like pose that inhibited his ability to breathe; according to forensic pathologists who have examined the case, he asphyxiated. In a subsequent internal investigation, United States government authorities classified Jamadi’s death as a “homicide,” meaning that it resulted from unnatural causes. Swanner has not been charged with a crime and continues to work for the agency.

More here.

"Who would Jesus torture?" bumper sticker

Liberal church audited for anti-war stance

Liberal Church Audited for Anti War Stance

Here's the web site of All Saints Church, with more on this subject. Here's the action taken by Linda in Cincinnati, including the information you need if you'd like to help challenge the double standard that is evident here. (Apparently politics from the pulpit are only a problem when they are *liberal* politics.)

Linda*in*Cincinnati wrote on November 8, 2005 12:13 PM:

I am sitting here on hold at
1 877 829 5500
The tax exempt line at the IRS.

I posed a couple of questions to them and I have now been transferred 3 times and now I'm holding on an eternal music loop.

Question 1
Are they telling me an anti war service at a church is considered political and tied to an election (because that is the law with separation of church and state). I thought people of all policital parties could be for peace and it didn't tie it to an election.

so, 2nd questions,

2. Are they telling me they will now investigate and pull churches tax exempt status if they ARE involved in elections. Because I have a list of churches from Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia that I would like to give them for the IRS to pull their tax exempt status for influencing and threatening their members to specifically vote a particular way in an election.

I assume that is why I have now been on hold for at least 15 minutes.

Linda*in*Cincinnati wrote on November 8, 2005 12:51 PM:

The good news.

I spoke with a very nice gentleman at the IRS named Mike. He said he AGREED that the churches pushed the envelope on the last election and overstepped their 503C status.

He said I can write a letter in support of the Church that is being investigated for their Anti War Service (which he agreed if that is all they did, nothing against their 503C status was done) to the same place I am asking churches to be investigated for violating their 503C status by getting involved in an election.

Here you go folks. TAKE ACTION. THis is what you've been waiting for. If you know of a church that was directing people to vote a specific way on an election file a complaint, give as much detail about the institution and mail it to.

Exam Referral
E O IRS-Capital EO Classification
4910 DAL
1100 Commerce St.
Dallas, TX 75242-1198

Give complete details. You will stay confidential and do not have to give your name and phone number if you don't want, but is reccomended.

Jim Wallis on our immoral Federal budget

From Sojourners:

The prophet Isaiah said: “Woe to you legislators of infamous laws … who refuse justice to the unfortunate, who cheat the poor among my people of their rights, who make widows their prey and rob the orphan.” Today, I repeat those words. When our legislators put ideology over principle, it is time to sound the trumpets of justice and tell the truth.

It is a moral disgrace to take food from the mouths of hungry children to increase the luxuries of those feasting at a table overflowing with plenty. This is not what America is about, not what the season of Thanksgiving is about, not what loving our neighbor is about, and not what family values are about. There is no moral path our legislators can take to defend a reckless, mean-spirited budget reconciliation bill that diminishes our compassion, as Jesus said, “for the least of these.” It is morally unconscionable to hide behind arguments for fiscal responsibility and government efficiency. It is dishonest to stake proud claims to deficit reduction when tax cuts for the wealthy that increase the deficit are the next order of business. It is one more example of an absence of morality in our current political leadership.

Budgets are moral documents that reflect what we care about. Budget and tax bills that increase the deficit put our children’s futures in jeopardy – and they hurt the vulnerable right now. The choice to cut supports that help people make it day to day in order to pay for tax cuts for those with plenty goes against everything our religious and moral principles teach us. It says that leaders don’t care about people in need. It is a blatant reversal of biblical values – and symbolizes the death of compassionate conservatism.

Click here for more

Jim Wallis is the author of God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It.

Howard Dean on The Morning Sedition

Howard Dean, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, was interviewed on The Morning Sedition on Air America Radio this morning. You can find the transcript here.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Holiday links for kids

My husband and I created a site for kids called Letter Lane several years ago. The houses on Letter Lane are shaped like letters of the alphabet. This was inspired by our son, who really, really liked the alphabet at the time--much the way some people "like" oxygen. The 26 kids on Letter Lane were designed to reflect the diversity in the United States, so when December rolls around, it seems only right to have a holiday page that reflects our diversity of faith traditions as well. I've just taken down some old links that no longer work, and added some new ones. If you know of any other good links for kids that would fit with the theme of that page, please feel free to leave a comment here.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

62-foot-tall Jesus

Okay, I've heard of this before, but until I saw this link on The Majority Report blog, I had no idea where the statue was, or what church had built it. Thanks to this article in the New York Times, I now know that this 62 foot statue of Jesus can be seen outside of Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio (about 40 miles from Cincinnati).

Drive another quarter-mile up Interstate 75, past the billboards for Bristol's Strip Club and Trader's World Flea Market, and suddenly the image appears in all its full dimensions. Jesus, depicted from the waist up, is six stories tall and seems to burst from the ground, as if he might gather a tractor-trailer in his Honda-size hands and lift it to heaven.

Actually, when I saw the image, it reminded me of a little kid doing the universally recognized gesture for "Pick me up!" And I can't help wonder what what giant pranster buried him up to his middle like that. Apparently, though, Great Big Jesus has an important highway patrol job...
Some congregants say the statue keeps watch over a section of freeway that was once among the most dangerous in Ohio. Twelve people died along that 15-mile stretch of I-75 in the two years before the image was erected, eight of them killed after cars jumped the median into oncoming traffic. Since the statue went up more than two years ago, there have been no such crossover deaths.

I guess this just seems weird to me because it goes against my image of Jesus as humble.

Though he was divine,
he did not cling to equality with God,
but made himself nothing.
Taking the form of a slave,
he was born in human likeness.
He humbled himself
and was obedient to death,
even the death of the cross.

Something about "62 feet tall" sort of flies in the face of that humble thing for me. And I wonder how many kids find the Godzilla-size Jesus just a little scary...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Carter on the U.S. Moral Crisis

Former President Jimmy Carter appeared recently on The Early Show on CBS

"Fundamentalism exists in religious circles and now very overwhelmingly in Washington," he says. "A fundamentalist believes, say, in religious circles, that I am close to God. Everything that I believe is absolutely right. Anyone who disagrees with me, in any case, is inherently wrong and therefore, inferior. And it violates my basic principles if I negotiate with anyone else or listen to their point of view or modify my own positions at all. So that is what has permeated this administration."

Read more of the article here.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Voting "Pro-life"

Driving home the other day, I found myself behind a car with several "religious right" themed bumper stickers. One of them read "Marriage is 1 man and 1 woman--so says GOD". Um, then don't have same sex marriage in *your* church. What does that have to do with our secular laws?

The same car *also* had "I vote pro-life" bumper stickers, one in English and one in Spanish. That really bugged me, because there is no opportunity I can think of where people are able to vote just on that one issue. What it really means, is I vote for candidates who make their opposition to abortion a major part of their platforms. Those same candidates often stand for any number of things that are decidedly NOT pro-life.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Pat Robertson's mean, scary god

Yes, Pat, I used lower case intentionally. The god you talk about all the time--the one you appeal to, threaten people with, and squint your eyes and pray to on television is small god. He is a petty thug of a god, undeserving of a capital G. Your god reminds me of the caricature shown in Monty Python's Holy Grail movie.

I must admit, though, that I occasionally wish I could make myself believe in a god that relied so heavily on vengeance in dealing with sinners. Bush would be toast, I'm sure. And, if I believed in such a god, I'd pray that he strike you mute, so that you would be unable to say things like this in his name...

Robertson tells Dover, PA citizens, after the election: "Don't turn to God if you need help"

On today's 700 Club, Rev. Pat Robertson took the opportunity to strongly rebuke voters in Dover, PA who removed from office school board members who supported teaching faith-based "intelligent design" and instead elected Democrats who opposed bringing up the possibility of a Creator in the school system's science curriculum.

Rev. Robertson warned the people of Dover that God might forsake the town because of the vote.

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover. If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there."

Oh, and by the way, Pat Robertson just assumes the theory of intelligent design teach that his god created all that is. There are alternative intelligent design theories, you know...