"No Nation Is Christian" (and Phyllis Tickle Knows)

11/28/2007


“Nobody in his or her right mind would want to be a member of a socially acceptable religion. It's very dangerous for the soul.”

By Becky Garrison
Illustration by Jim Kessler

Wittenburg Door Magazine

Phyllis Tickle is to religious publishing what Walter Cronkite is to journalism. And that's the way it is. She was the enormously influential religion editor for Publisher's Weekly for many years and is considered something of a visionary by people like NPR, PBS, The New York Times and such.

Phyllis Tickle

She's also a heckuva good author, writing such best-selling books as her "Stories from the Farm in Lucy" series (What the Land Already Knows, Wisdom in the Waiting, and The Graces We Remember), The Shaping of a Life, The Sharing of a Life and her current series on meditations and reflection.
     Obviously, this is one smart cookie. In an attempt to get some of Phyllis' wit and wisdom sent our way, we asked for a few minutes in her busy schedule. We think you'll be tickled pink with Phyllis' straight-forward, insightful answers on some very perplexing questions.

WITTENBURG DOOR: When you take the spiritual temperature of the United States, what kind of readings are you getting?

PHYLLIS TICKLE: I don't think you can do that. I'm a great admirer of the Barna Group. There's great integrity and candor in their work. They're starting to make comments like, "I'm not sure you can quantify some of this," or "You can't really tell the number of house churches." I think also that there's in Middle America a sort of moving toward the covert in mainstream Christianity. Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral, talks about how genuine or authentic Christianity may be having to hunker down under the landscape and hide until things start to cool off and then burst out like Solidarity did in Poland. I find many, many devout and previously vocal leaders in their fifties, who are just not inclined to go forth and talk about their faith, though they witness quietly. They don't want to become fodder for a candidate's spiel.

Books

DOOR: How then do you respond to those who claim we're a "Christian nation"?

TICKLE: We're a Judeo-Christianized nation. The ethical and some of the ethnic values of those traditions inform who we are. But no nation is "Christian." "Christian nation" is such an offensive term that I can hardly speak it, even. One of the biggest blows to Christianity's vitality and legitimacy occurred on the day that Constantine made it the official religion of the Empire. Nobody in his or her right mind would want to be a member of a socially acceptable religion. It's very dangerous for the soul. A nation is in the business of doing Caesar's work, not God's. There's a distinction we get from the New Testament between religion and politics. That's not to say, however, that one shouldn't vote according to one's personal beliefs. All of us do that. But it is to say that one should never expect the state to function in accord with passionate faith. It won't. It can't. It shouldn't. That would be a confusion of roles.

DOOR: Why did you reissue A Stitch and a Prayer in Time as a memoir in light of the War in Iraq?

TICKLE: Paraclete Press wanted to reissue the book after 9/11 on Veteran's Day to memorialize the traditional values that had been a part of WWII. Clearly, there was great innocence at that time about how awful the war in Iraq would turn out to be and how fragile, thin or even non-existent the justification for this war really was. The whole business of this book, which was originally published as My Father's Prayer, did celebrate those values that we have managed to damage so considerably.

DOOR: So you don't buy into this whole "just war" theory?

TICKLE: I've always thought that argument was a bit of a crock. Yet, if there's going to be war, where does the individual who has to pick up a gun and do the fighting fit in? How does he—or now she—integrate his conscription with his private faith? He does that by finding a connection between his private beliefs and his public conduct. That's what this book celebrates. Of all the books I've written, this book is the most dear to me.

DOOR: How do you respond to the conventional wisdom that the mainline churches are dying?

TICKLE: They are and they aren't. As Bishop Mark Dwyer has noted, about every 500 years, the Church feels compelled to have a giant rummage sale. During the last Reformation 500 years ago, Protestantism took over hegemony. But Roman Catholicism did not die. It just had to drop back and reconfigure. Each time a rummage sale has happened, whatever was in place simply gets cracked into smaller pieces, and then it picks itself up and reconfigures. I think Diana Butler Bass is absolutely right-on when she says that Progressive Christianity is that part of the established institutions presently in place that's going to remain in the center, or circle around, the emerging church.
     In the mainline, Protestantism is losing some of its denominational lines. The Anglicans and the Lutherans are clearly in concord, for they are already swapping pulpits and acknowledging the authenticity of each other's ordination process. In all probability, the Methodists will soon be engaged in some of this. While we're post-denominational, we're not post-Protestant.

Phyllis Tickle

DOOR: What can be done to "save" the Episcopal Church?

TICKLE: When I'm talking to Episcopal audiences, I like to say, "If we're in the business of trying to save the Episcopal Church in the United States, shame on us. Come Judgment Day, we should be found wanting." We're in the business of serving the kingdom of God. (But) funding, housing, and enabling an emergent church? Certainly, if by doing so, people are led into a spiritual relationship and eventually to conversion.

DOOR: What lead you to write The Great Emergence (Fall 2008)?

TICKLE: Clearly there's a new sensibility. Nobody made "emergent." In fact, if you listen to Brian McLaren, about the last thing he wants to be credited with is inventing "emergent." He didn't. This is not crypto-evangelicalism we are looking at. But the sensibilities that have formed it clearly, I think, can be dated back to the Committee on Biblical Fundamentals and the years from 1910 to 1915, or even farther back to the last decades of the nineteenth century when those first "fundamentalists" were meeting in Niagara Falls. There was strong recognition on their part that something was afoot that they were going to oppose with all the energy and force they could muster.
     At about the same time, we get that importation of what the Pew Foundation is now calling the renewalists—the Pentecostals and Charismatics—whose spiritual and religious authority was experiential. As a result of these and several other factors, we had an aggressive evangelicalism in the mid-century and then, over the last thirty years, its politicalization.
     Evangelicalism has lost much of its credibility and much of its spiritual energy of late, in much the same way that mainline Protestantism has. There's going to be—is, in fact—a whole upheaval; and then the landscape is going to settle back down again as it always does. We have to remember that it's not as if Protestantism came forth in one perfect or cohesive package out of Luther. Almost from the beginning, it had variants like the Confessing and Reformed movements that followed along quickly.
     There is no question that part of this emergent swirl consists of those evangelicals, who are looking for liturgy and a connectedness to Church history, but who are not finding those things in their denominational churches of origin. A lot of the honest-to-God, emerging churches are using the Book of Common Prayer. They are also more open, perhaps, to charismatic experiences than some of their forbearers were, and they are deeply involved in incarnational theology. None of those things has typically been the evangelical pattern. I'm very conscious, as well, of groups like Shared Table and Common Purse, who are returning to Fixed Hour prayer, because I see the sales figures and receive the letters generated by The Divine Hours, which is only one among many manuals currently available for observing the hours.

DOOR: Is that how The Divine Hours came about?

TICKLE: Around the time that I took on that work, other fixed hour prayer books were also being prepared for press. But I never would have thought of doing such a thing had Eric Major at Doubleday not come along and said it was time to do a book like The Divine Hours. At the time, his imperatives were very direct: No Latin; It had to be on the hour or half hour prayer, but it could be rigidly 9 o'clock, 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock (The important thing was and is that one enters the office at the same time as other Christians in one's time zone), no ribbons, no appearance of religiosity in the manual itself, and no appearance of looking anything like a breviary in external format.
     What a joy it was to put some of the psalms and poetry I had been using in various other manuals into a different cycle! It became as near as to poetry as I shall ever have in my career.

DOOR: Who do you see as the average reader for The Divine Hours?

TICKLE: First of all, in a prayer book, what one has is not so much readers as users or fellow-worshippers. That aside, it is true that all writers get letters, but never have I gotten the kind of response as I have from The Divine Hours. I spend a few hours each day answering my letters and e-mails, and it's a wondrous burden. So far, I've only gotten about ten letters that said I'm as crazy as hell and doing the work of the devil.

DOOR: Heck, we get at least ten a day.

TICKLE: Other than that unfortunate and hopefully fringe element, my mail runs about two to one, men over women, which surprises me as it's usually the other way around in religion books. The really fascinating thing to me, though, is that four out of five of those who write me about The Divine Hours have not been reared liturgical. They are people who, nowhere in their religious bloodline, have had any exposure to this.

DOOR: You now have The Divine Hours for Children.

TICKLE: Dutton came to my agent, and it was a brilliant idea. Their idea was that, as more adults are coming to fixed hour prayer, they need something to give their children. You just can't give a baby a breviary to teethe on. They're too expensive and too big. The challenge, then, was can you create something that would appeal to the three Abrahamic faiths—all of them keep fixed hour prayer—for this rising generation of parents, who want to get their preschool children to become used to the rhythm of fixed hour prayer? It had to be gender inclusive, Psalm-based. It had to rhyme and also be age-appropriate. You couldn't assume the nuclear family, which is no longer the norm, etc., etc. By the time I got through juggling all of that, I felt as if I were playing three level chess, almost. I can safely say that I have never spent more time working on what looks like it should be a simple thing than I did on this one.

DOOR: What's your reaction when you see what passes for much of children's Christian literature?

TICKLE: I hate schlock in all its forms, but I hate it the most when it threatens the young who are still being religiously formed. Missionally, much of the children's material, especially in the evangelical tradition, is just not authentic. Much of it is patronizing and offensive to me as a Christian mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I am so sick of Daniel in the lions' den and Noah floating on that doggone ark. I keep begging publishers to put together a collection of Bible Stories Your Mother Never Told You.

DOOR: Hey! That's a book we'd buy.

TICKLE: But every time I start telling them what those stories are, they all back off and go, "too hot to handle." I think that's an insult to kids. I know my grandchildren and great-grandchildren see things in everyday life that is much rawer and visceral than what is in the Old Testament. Actually, when the graphic novel format began to surface again, I had hoped that maybe we could solve the problem of using graphics for some of the plot line that seem too realistic, but all we got was the Book of Mark by Church Publishing.

DOOR: How did The Words of Jesus—A Gospel of the Sayings of Our Lord with Reflections by Phyllis Tickle (Spring 2008) come into being?

TICKLE: Jossey-Bass came to me with the idea. Basically, they asked what, if all of the canonical Gospels were merged, would we discover about the Jesus of the Gospels? We all know that the historical Jesus is, to some extent, a construct of scholarship. But nobody really knows what He actually said and what He didn't say. All we can do is guess. So what does the Gospel Jesus look like when we get rid of all the duplicates and triplicates, and we lay Him out historically and chronologically as best we can? Well, most obviously, the first thing you have is a sayings Gospel that only contains the sayings of Jesus with the exception of a little introductory phrase, such as "Jesus speaking to the disciples, said." What you also get is starkness, and yet a maturing as He begins to more and more understand what it is He's come to do.

DOOR: How is this book different from the hordes of parallel Gospels and narrative Bibles currently on the market?

TICKLE: I stand, certainly, on the shoulders of some of their work, but merging is a different task from paralleling. The whole exercise was a great intellectual puzzle and, in some ways, fun to do as well. For one thing, I discovered that my poor Greek, which was never very athletic, is now downright arthritic.
     But in this book, I'm making the case that the historical Jesus and the actual Jesus have to be blended together in some kind of recognition that the Gospel of Jesus is the one we've got. We have to come to a point of respecting the tradition of 2,000 years of Christianity that have proceeded from the Received Jesus.

DOOR: Who do you see as your intended reader?

TICKLE: This book needed to happen, I suspect, regardless of who actually was to take on the work of writing it. The first shot out of the barrel seldom scores, of course. It's usually the third or fourth book on a subject that hits the target. So be it. At least the conversation has begun.
     Hugh Hefner did a great deal for American culture when, in the mid-20th century, he opened up issues of sexuality and did all kinds iconoclastic things.

DOOR: Playboy? Now you're getting into Joe Bob Briggs territory.

TICKLE: I think we'd be fools not to be aware of his contributions. But by the same token, we have hardly been responsible in our use of the gifts given. We took much of the release from misconceptions and errors that we were given and used it to become libertines, not understanding that a better use of Hefner's iconoclasticism, unholy as it was in places, would have been a very studied approach not only to sexuality itself but also to what had been that was wrong in the first place and had made it possible for him to thrive.

DOOR: Speaking of getting things wrong, why do you think Dawkins and Harris are still on the best-seller's lists?

TICKLE: They're so shrill they are almost hysterical. If I were still at Publishers Weekly, I would feel the urge to go into some bookstores and try to find out who is buying these books. I did that, for instance, with the Left Behind books, and found that a lot of people reading those books just like to read a good mystery. They like Stephen King, for instance. This was a real window for me on why the Left Behind books were selling so well outside of their obvious market. I suspect the same thing may be operative among those who are buying these books. They are not necessarily atheists. Rather, they're just curious as to what all the fuss is about.

DOOR: Finally, what's your take on this whole Jesus Seminar debate?

TICKLE: I have a great deal of respect for the work of Robert Funk and the Jesus Seminar, but they too often function as iconoclasts. What we need to ask ourselves now is what was so wrong with what we were doing that has made this kind of iconoclasticism seem so important to us, so informing, so liberating? How, now, can we use it in a productive way? We can't work with broken pieces that are simply lying about on the ground. We have to pick them up and begin to construct something with them. So I think we have an obligation, and a call to vocation, if you will, to look at Jesus in the Gospels and see what we can find as a result of the very legitimate skepticism which has come into our understanding as a result of the historical Jesus studies. But we also have an obligation not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
     Yes, we bring our intellectual skills with us, but we must also bring our heart into this debate.


Comments(35)

justthischris | 10:37 am on 11/29/2007

I think Phyllis is giving Hugh Hefner and the boys involved in the Jesus Seminar too much credit in calling them iconoclasts. This would indicate that their work within the culture has some sort of reform in mind.

Anonymous | 01:11 pm on 11/29/2007

It appears you're reading more into the word "iconoclast" than its definition suggests. An iconoclast seeks to shatter what a culture holds dear; the idea of reforming that culture in the process isn't a necessary part of the equation.

Anonymous | 04:55 pm on 11/29/2007

Behold another strange and pointless interview. Let's have a point... Shall We?

Toad | 05:01 pm on 11/29/2007

It astonishes me that people can tell a blatant lie and not believe it taints everything else they say.

"How does he—or now she—integrate his conscription ..." I've been in two combat zones in the past 5 years and I have met no conscripts in either. There are nothing but volunteers in our armed forces.

"Clearly, there was great innocence at that time about how awful the war in Iraq would turn out to be and how fragile, thin or even non-existent the justification for this war really was." Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and mine is that it's far more awful to accept a blow like 911 or Pearl Harbor without response. As far as the, "fragile, thin or even non-existent" goes, we did find WMD even if certain people don't want to admit that.

One would hope the truth would have more respect from people who want to make a controversial point. I'm not saying I would have chosen to fight in Iraq. (I would not.) But our nation has chosen, and there are a lot of young, impressionable and scared soldiers over here who don't need a lot of armchair analysis. You don't support Bush - that's cool. But the soldiers here deserve your support, to come home alive, victorious, and don't have to come back and finish the job later. If that's Caesar's business, what business is it of her or the Door to oppose it?

Anonymous | 05:35 pm on 11/29/2007

Conscription: I think she was referring to the more general question about a "just war".

Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

Al-Qaeda was not in Iraq prior to our invasion.

And no, no matter how much you want to believe we did, we did not find the WMD we were looking for.

Toad | 09:36 am on 11/30/2007

Maybe we didn't find what YOU thought we should find, but I was there. I know what we found - enough filled chemical shells to obliterate any city you care to name. More also, but I don't see any point in arguing with someone who can't handle reality when it doesn't match their preconceived opinions.

Anonymous | 10:59 am on 11/30/2007

Really? Care to give me a link to *any* source that would corroborate your claim?

It's not what _I_ thought we should find, It's what _they_ told us we would find. Mobile chemical weapons labs, centrifuges, yellowcake, any of that ring a bell?

I don't see the point in arguing with someone who obviously denies reality.

Toad | 04:52 pm on 11/30/2007

Reality? I assume your definition is what you believe to be the truth. Links? What is your definitive source that claims otherwise, MoveOn.org?

Mobile weapons labs - we caught two of them. I saw one with my own eyes. Nuclear? You are right, and that's what most people mean when they say "no WMD." We were able to show later that Saddam's nuclear experts exaggerated their capability to retain funding and government positions. Chemical weapons? I don't suppose 40,000 ready to fire chemical shells counts to you. Most were old - probably loaded in the late 80's, but the funny thing is that an old chemical shell can kill you just a dead as a new one.

You know, no matter how many lies you tell, a lie is still a lie, and a liar is a liar. Deal with it, or come to Iraq and see for yourself.

Anonymous | 08:59 pm on 12/01/2007

So you have only your claims to back up your "reality". You saw it with your own eyes, right?

I really don't know why I'm wasting my time... you're obviously a committed lunatic, one of the remaining Bush dead-enders.

There's mountains of information out there supporting the fact that we found no WMD that would constitute a threat, you can start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_wmd

You're free to believe whatever you like, there's no law against being ignorant.

Toad | 02:15 am on 12/02/2007

I know why you are wasting your time. Because you are a committed lunatic, one of the growing mass of people for whom the TRUTH is another commodity to be manipulated to match your preconceived notions of what is right. It wouldn't matter how many eye witnesses I can line up, if the truth doesn't serve the political ends you seek, then it CANNOT be the truth. There's a name of this condition.

I note how carefully you word your response, "... we found no WMD that would constitute a threat ..." So are you just a bald faced liar? Yes. So you admit we found WMD? Yes. You just don't consider it a threat, and therefore lying, altering the truth to fit your political view is acceptable.

As you say, believe what you like. I can provide facts, but I can't make committed liars see them or recognize how twisted their view of the world is, but there is no law against being ignorant ... and no law against being a liar, ... and no law against being a political agent with an agenda that must be defended at all costs.

tommyboy | 02:08 pm on 2/11/2009

What I still find odd about the ongoing mudslinging on the reasons we reengaged Iraq in a war under Bush II is that so many condemn military actions on the premise that we NEEDED to find WMD in order to somehow justify the invasion.

If a man on probation from an armed robbery conviction walks into my bank making demands and saying that he is armed with explosives -- I work with the information I have and take the guy (and his accomplices) out at the first opportunity. He may have been "exaggerating claims" that he had explosives -- perhaps he just has a box of firecrackers taped to his butt -- the threat is real until otherwise determined.

Saddam was a known nut-job that had his life and country spared through a conditional surrender under Bush Sr. He not only failed to meet the conditions of that surrender (working the United Nations like a manipulative child with a codependent parent), he played the claim-game in order to hold world-leaders hostage. The President called his bluff with a calculated strike -- that was good leadership, in my opinion. The fact the President lost focus and used exaggerated data (a bad decision) because he felt the need to pacify a gutless House and Senate (pitiful leadership) is unfortunate. Bush provided mud to a willing mob -- a stupid mistake.

mountainguy | 08:51 pm on 1/18/2008

And what about USA and its nuclear weapons?? That's another show of the USA hypocresy (yes, I said USA; you know, America is a huge continent from Argentina to Alaska)

cameron larson | 05:36 pm on 4/17/2008

What are you eating over there? Have there been any studies on the mind control capabilities of salt peter?

Anonymous | 10:59 pm on 10/07/2008

Obama '08!

I figure you forgot that

cameron larson | 05:34 pm on 4/17/2008

Was that a message from babble-on?

Ann O. Nemus | 07:06 pm on 12/13/2009

The soldiers have always had our support. Don't fall into the error that the Hard Hats (egged on by Republican anger mongers)did
during Vietnam. We were protesting the policies, not our conscripted brothers serving in the armed forces.

Doug | 08:45 pm on 11/29/2007

Holy crap! Where are we going here? Does no one see the obvious? The debate about separation of church and state, just-war theory, the definition of an inconoclast? That's it?

Does it occur to anyone that if we cannot accept the bible as true revelation, without error, inspired by God, then we all may as well pack up our faith and join Dawkins and Harris! You can hide behind all the supposed "scholarship" of the Jesus seminar crowd and their ilk you'd like, but it won't change one fundamental question. If one part of the bible is not true, then how can you believe any of it? And are we free to decide what we'd like to believe and what we throw out? Is this a cafeteria benefits plan or a faith?

Tickle may be sick to death of Daniel in the lions' den, but I for one am sick to death of arrogant intellectualism masquerading as thoughtful Christianity.

Anonymous | 02:08 pm on 12/01/2007

So, ....to be an honorary Christian you have to have an IQ no higher than 50?

Doug | 09:44 am on 12/06/2007

Anon,

You caught me...I'm just stoopid.

Toby | 08:19 pm on 12/05/2007

"If one part of the bible is not true, then how can you believe any of it?"

Do you believe you're looking at a computer screen right now? That sure is silly of you! Your senses sometimes mislead you, so how can you ever believe them?

Doug | 09:43 am on 12/06/2007

Toby,

How foolish of me indeed! My senses were telling me that you had some point to make, but then, who can believe their senses? If you can wrap your already-made-up mind around this, give it a try: how can you argue with the fact that if we are all free to interpret the bible as we wish, and God will be pleased with that, then ultimately God either has no truth within him, or you're God. If so, can you forgive me for believing my senses? But there I go again, why ask you? I'll just forgive myself since I'm God, too. How exciting!

pk | 10:35 pm on 12/01/2007

Doug - To say that anything in the written word is "true" is a more dangerous statement than we usually consider it to be. In flawed human language, there is no one way to communicate an idea truthfully: words have different weights and meanings for all of us. When you think of it that way, the old standby that "if one single solitary stated fact isn't true the whole thing is a load of rubbish" just doesn't seem to make any sense at all. For instance, I'm pretty sure we're all settled that Jonah's fish was probably a whale, and even in my children's Bible from way back when it was noted that Job was probably a morality tale. There's two stories of the Garden of Eden. Proverbs is a collection of advice, and thus can't really be true or false. The Bible is just not a neat, nice little package deal where everything is slick and put together and not contradictory. It's a mess, that's how we know it's real.

On a slightly different note, please, please don't fall into the trap (and it's a trap I've been in) of saying "if we cannot accept the bible as true revelation, without error, inspired by God, then we all may as well pack up our faith and join Dawkins and Harris." That is very, very much a "if they're not with us, they're against us" attitude, which Jesus very, very specifically rebukes his disciples against. He also made a point to welcome and be patient with doubters (Nicodemus springs to mind).

Intellectualism is not a sin. It's how some of us are built, and to honor Him we have to use the gifts He's given us. We are to love him with all of our minds. I at least think best in questions.

Doug | 03:21 pm on 12/05/2007

PK,

I'm not saying what you're implying. I understand genre differences, etc. I understand that when the bible declares God "owns the cattle on a thousand hills" that the corrolary idea that he doesn't own the cattle on hill number 1001 is not true. I'm not advocating blind foolishness. What I am responding to is the notion that because Jesus welcomed questions means there are no right answers! Of course there are and I'm sure you agree. But I cannot accept that God desires us to grope around never being sure of our interpretations. There is certainly some things in the bible open to interpretation (and yes, we were given brains; I'm actually quite fond of mine) but some degree of orthodoxy must be accepted in any endeavor. Can you imagine if I argued for a flat earth that I'd be welcomed as a geology professor? If there aren't concrete absolutes in Christianity then we profess to know a God who delights in our wandering ignorance. Not so attractive in a deity.

My overarching problem with this whole line of discussion is that it always seems the "progressive" thinkers among us are the quickest to disdain those who hold to any sort of tradition or orthodoxy as being hopelessly ignorant-mental midgets...and then they condemn folks like me as being closed-minded. Tiresome. Me thinks they doth protest too much.

Yah | 05:19 pm on 12/05/2007

WOW! How 'bout them Patriots?

Doug | 09:34 am on 12/06/2007

Yah,

Their offense is stellar, but I'm thinking their defense is average.

Doug

Josh | 04:36 am on 12/08/2007

As a Quaker who was raised Pentecostal (with a few stopovers with Mennonites and Episcopalians, the latter being where I got such a taste), "The Divine Hours" and "The Night Offices" have been really good for giving me a 'regular' system of practice. It's very helpful when I'm in one of my funks that make it hard to allow my spiritual practice to be more than b*tching and moaning about whatever's causing problems.

And Doug, as for your seeming description of Phyllis Tickle in the same line of thought as "it always seems the "progressive" thinkers among us are the quickest to disdain those who hold to any sort of tradition or orthodoxy as being hopelessly ignorant-mental midgets": it's clear that you haven't read any of Tickle's work, as "The Divine Hours" and most of those other works are pretty firmly anchored in tradition!

[rant about absolutes excised for brevity's sake!]

I also agree with Phyllis Tickle about children's biblical education. Baalam's [smart] ass and other stories need to be more integrated into the fabric of what we teach our kids. And if we're going to talk about Noah, let's get beyond just the flood and the dove and the ark and also mention him getting hammered (libation-wise, as opposed to construction-wise) and naked. Or in terms of Jonah, we need to also mention the tantrum that he threw when God showed mercy to the people of Nineveh. If kids don't learn about the rough edges of the figures of the bible, we put more need into the environment for the Funks and the Crossans once these kids grow up and see the "real world." And children's biblical education doesn't need to be anchored in "stories," either. The prophets, the wisdom literature, and a host of other non-story works can work just as well. You can read passages from those works and spend time as a group trying to pull meaning out of it; sometimes, the adults teaching the kids end up learning a new way of looking at it, too!

Killeen | 10:51 pm on 12/13/2007

I have two friends, one just finished his second tour in Iraq, the other is nearly finished (pray God) with his first tour. In the units they represent (101st Airborne, First Calvary), there is a name for guys like "Toad." "True believers" ... and the other guys stay FAR away from them.

They saw nothing in their tours that would corroborate Toad's claims. Nothing.

cameron larson | 05:37 pm on 4/17/2008

Phyliss lost her virginity to Hugh, I have the tapes!!!

Catherine in Seattle | 12:16 am on 8/01/2008

Best post on the blog!

twitter | 06:21 am on 8/18/2010

I do not know if I am going to agree with what Phyllis Tickle says but I do know that one should not go blind in his beliefs, be it any religion because God and religion are never one and the same. Believe me! I do believe there is God! The supreme power that we can never even think about how he is! All we can do is pray to him and be subservient and loyal to him! He provides us health and wealth and whatever we need. So believe in god and good, not religion!

clothing boutique | 04:31 pm on 10/16/2010

When President Barack Obama said that the US was not just a Christian Nation, then some Christians seem quite upset at the news that their religion is not pre-eminent in this country.

document translation | 03:12 pm on 10/17/2010

Many of our founding fathers were Deists, not Christians. Deists believe in God in the same way that Christians do, but dispense with the trappings of organized religion.

Eviction Notice | 04:01 pm on 2/09/2011

1Ti 1:7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. And Moreover -
2Ti 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.

Anonymous | 06:01 am on 3/11/2011

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gary corbett | 12:55 pm on 4/26/2011

Just a few days ago, I wondered at this saying myself. Wondered if Jesus meant Mary was to look at him there on the cross. I didn’t get much further than that, but I wondered.
It seems to make a bit more sense, in a way.
You have legitimized my question and given me more to think on. Thanks
Gary Corbett

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