Liar, Lunatic, Lord…or Legend?

or why CS Lewis’s “Trilemma” asks the wrong question

Jesus is incredibly important to modern Christianity. Among Christians, those who call themselves “evangelical” boast a very high Christology; for these believers the divinity of Christ is an incredibly important fact and a central part of God’s revelation in the New Testament. But, what happens when this belief in the full divinity of Christ (“the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal” as one creed puts it) is read back into the gospel accounts? Instead of merely proclaiming Jesus as Lord, the believer will end up insisting that Jesus taught this doctrine himself.

christ icon
an icon which describes Jesus as “theo,” the greek word for god

C.S. Lewis is beloved by Christians for his devotional books and religiously inspired fiction. I do not deny his talent as a writer or as an insightful critic of his times. When I was a young college student I felt that I could feel Lewis speaking back through time, directly to me, strengthening my faith and challenging my mind through books like The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity. But when Lewis makes an argument for Jesus’ divinity in Mere Christianity (his famous apologetic work) he falls into the same trap as many Christians today still do. In his argument Lewis insists that we must accept Jesus as either a liar, a lunatic, or lord (and by “lord” Lewis means the divine being, God). Lewis treats the gospel texts as authoritative, historical accounts of what Jesus actually said and did. His argument also relies upon an understanding of these accounts which blends them together with later theological developments.

Why is Lewis’s argument so popular among Christians?

Since most people, even non-believers, admit to a high degree of respect for Jesus’s teaching and character the religious apologist advancing Lewis’s argument (or a similar one) can help score points for their side. When presented with the trilemma, very few are willing to argue that Jesus was a mad-man. To call him a liar would be even more offensive and this is also not a popular response to the challenge. An apologist can easily build on this “victory” and go further. Why would Jesus’s closest followers choose to remain so devoted to a liar or a lunatic? Why would they ever choose to die and be martyred for someone who they knew was a fraud? Surely their sacrifice validates what Jesus says about himself in the gospels, that he is the Messiah and “God’s only Son”? The claims that the gospels make are written out in black and white, and the most obvious answer to the trilemma is that Jesus, consistent with his admirable character, spoke the truth about his divinity, just as he spoke the truth about his inspiring moral principles.

Which Jesus?

There are more than a few problems with this popular approach to Christian apologetics but I want to tackle what I feel is a rather obvious problem, a problem which demonstrates that many Christians really don’t take their holy book as seriously as they claim to. The problem I have in view here can be summarized in two words: Which Jesus?

jesus interrupted cover

In my experience, most believers see the New Testament as part of one unified religious and historical tradition. Within this tradition the gospels supposedly narrate the life of Jesus and explain, through teaching, parable and storytelling, the importance of his life, death and resurrection. The gospels are viewed either as eyewitness accounts (Matthew and John), or as faithful historical biographies based on eyewitness testimony (Mark and Luke). The problem with this view is that while the gospels are written as a sort of history (they do purport to represent facts about Jesus, not pure allegories or fiction) these accounts are not in fact eyewitness reports or even close to it, and the accounts themselves contradict each other in key areas. Jesus, Interrupted, by Bart Ehrman, does a great job of introducing lay readers to the problem of reconciling the various New Testament portraits of Jesus. When one compares events and details between the gospels, one notices that there are differences. Furthermore, these differences of accounts and quotations, even though sometimes “small” individually, add up into different images of Jesus and hence jesu to christ coverdifferent understandings of who he is and exactly what his role is. A more detailed treatment of this issue can be found in Paula Fredriksen’s book, From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ. Fredriksen explains how various oral traditions about Jesus, which were originally based in a Jewish Palestinian context, underwent change and revision as the church’s gentile members became the majority. Alongside of gradual developments, major political events in Palestine (especially the destruction of the Temple in AD 70) affected the perception of Jews by the early Christian communities and together these changes colored how the gospel writers wrote about the Jesus traditions they had inherited.

I won’t go into detail on this topic here, but I do want to make a few important points. For scholars who study the New Testament documents critically (that is, not assuming that they are divinely inspired, but instead seeing them as historical records whose claims and sources must be evaluated like any other part of the historical record–see “What is history?“) it is not at all uncontroversial to say that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John present diverse, evolving pictures of Jesus which are informed by circumstances many decades after the execution of Jesus (from roughly 70 AD to 100 AD). It is also not controversial to state that the titles of the gospels were almost certainly added to the documents much later and that the gospels in their original distribution (before they became canonical), were anonymous. The gospels were not meant to be read together or to be seen as “eyewitness” accounts in the sense that we might think of eyewitnesses in a modern courtroom or news reporting. Rather, the gospels offered comfort and ideological support to their diverse communities, communities which had already formulated very different ideas about the life and nature of Jesus. The easiest way to see this contrast is by comparing the gospel of Mark, our earliest witness, with the gospel of John, our latest witness. In Mark and John, Jesus has different teachings. Even major events in his life, such as the cleansing of the temple, happen in different sequences (in John this event is at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry while in the Mark and the other synoptic gospels it occurs near the end, when Jesus visits Jerusalem before his crucifixion)*. If you want to learn more about these topics and how the four canonical gospels differ (and explanations for why) I heartily recommend the two books mentioned above.

Did Jesus claim to be God?

When it comes to the trilemma, it is important to evaluate whether or not Jesus claimed to be God. For Lewis this is an open and shut case. In Mere Christianity Lewis doesn’t waste much time defending the viewpoint that Jesus actually claimed to be God. He quotes a few passages from John, reiterates the common evangelical understanding of Jesus, and that’s that. But when we actually look at the content of the gospels closely there is a big problem: all four gospels present us with a different Jesus. He teaches different things, he does different activities, his genealogy and the explanation for how “Jesus of Nazareth” actually came from Bethlehem (as the Old Testament prophecy demanded of the Messiah) differs between our accounts. Of our accounts only the latest one (the one that critical scholars consider the least reliable as a source of information about the historical Jesus) contains statements that can be construed as equating Jesus with God himself. What if Jesus never claimed to be God? What are we to make of Lewis’s famous trilemma then? What if Jesus was just another Jewish apocalyptic preacher who prematurely declared that The End was nigh? What if he was another failed Messiah who was put down before his movement could become dangerous to the Romans and the other ruling elites? An honest look at the source materials that describe Jesus’s teachings require us to add a fourth option to Lewis’s trilemma: legend. It is quite possible that the Jesus modern Christians worship is a legend, an amalgam of real, historical bits mixed in with later theological developments. Some of those developments were provided by the gospel writers and their communities, and some were the product of much later controversies that arose after Christianity became a major force in Roman society (for a good treatment of theological development before and after the gospels, see Bart Ehrman’s book How Jesus Became God).

The Wrong Question…and the Right One

The famous trilemma really asks the wrong question. Instead of asking doubters and wavering Christians “do you believe what Jesus said about himself?” we should be asking “what did Jesus really say, and how can we be reasonably certain that he said it?”

 

*For many Christians this is  where that pesky “No Contradictions Allowed” bias comes into play and prevents them from accepting the texts for what they are. Jesus, Interrupted does a great job of debunking this naive approach to the gospels and is a fairly easy read for those who are new to the historical-critical approach to the Bible.

Choice.

Like many Evangelical Christians, I was raised in an environment where being staunchly pro-life was the norm. I considered it quite bizarre that any self-professed Christian would consider abortion to be morally acceptable. I never picketed an abortion clinic but I did try to spread the pro-life message and I attended a few meetings among very serious activists in the Twin Cities as I considered further involvement in that cause. I never quite knew how to reconcile this personal religious belief of mine with my increasingly libertarian political views, though I did hope that a strong appeal to “states’ rights” would allow for the issue to be fought on a local (rather than national) stage where “right-to-life” amendments and pro-life legislation had a far higher chance of passage. Since leaving behind my familiar Christian moral framework I’ve had time and space to reconsider my views on many important issues. Abortion is one of those issues. The thoughts below are my own and are the product of many hours of sincere reflection.

Part I

I’m in favor of a woman deciding what food she puts into her body*.

I’m in favor of a woman deciding what drugs (legal or illegal) she puts into her body.

I’m in favor of a woman deciding for herself whether or not she wants to be vaccinated**.

I’m in favor of a woman deciding whether or not she wants to take pre-natal vitamins.

I’m in favor of a woman deciding whether or not she wants to take birth control pills, use a condom, use an IUD, or practice any other form of clinically tested and reliable birth control.

I’m in favor of a woman deciding whether she wants to practice abstinence or to have an active sex-life.

I’m in favor of a woman deciding whether or not she wants to be a sex-worker.

I’m in favor of a woman deciding whether or not she wants to practice Natural Family Planning, the Fertility Awareness Method, or even the Rhythm Method (though it would be good for her to be aware of the failure rate and the difficulties of these methods).

I’m in favor of a woman deciding whether or not she wants to have her tubes tied or undergo any other procedure which results in infertility.

I’m in favor of a woman who is born biologically female deciding whether or not she wants to undergo gender reassignment using hormones and/or surgery.

I’m in favor of a woman deciding whether she wants to marry a man, marry a woman, or remain unmarried.

I’m in favor of a woman deciding whether or not she wants to divorce her partner.

I’m in favor of a woman deciding whether or not she wants to end her life via medically assisted suicide.

I’m in favor of a woman opting for a home birth, a “water birth,” or a traditional hospital birth.

I’m in favor of a woman opting for a vaginal birth or a C-section, even if the C-section is planned out ahead of time and not a “last resort” due to complications during labor.

I’m in favor of a woman choosing to use medication to ease the difficulty of labor and delivery or of choosing to forgo painkillers during this event.

I’m in favor of a woman using IVF, a sperm donor, a one-night stand, or a life-long male partner in order to conceive a child***.

I’m in favor of a woman choosing to adopt already born children, or choosing to have frozen embryos implanted so that she can carry them to term, or choosing to remain childless.

I’m in favor of a woman deciding whether or not to take “Plan B” as a form of emergency contraception, in order to prevent a pregnancy from occurring. I would prefer that “Plan B” be broadly available, off the shelf, with clear, scientifically accurate warning labels.

I’m in favor of a woman deciding to continue with her pregnancy and support the growing child with extra nutrients and medical attention, or deciding to intervene to end her pregnancy and thus end the life of the child growing inside of her. I would prefer that all women have access to quality medical care so they can make that determination at the earliest stage possible. I would prefer that women be accurately informed about the risks of any medical procedure that they assent to. I would prefer that women be given accurate information about any medical risks particular to them (especially as those relate to pregnancy and labor). I strongly believe that a situation in which a woman can receive professional medical help to terminate a pregnancy is preferable to a situation in which a woman uses a coat-hanger or a home-made abortifacient. If it appears that there is a medical need to end a pregnancy, I am in favor of that determination being made solely by a woman and her doctor; I do not believe that the decision to choose abortion in that case should be screened or pre-evaluated by any outside body or over-ridden by any overly restrictive local policies. I do not believe that a woman should have to claim that she was raped in order to be eligible for an abortion. I do not believe that a woman must demonstrate financial, emotional or psychological hardship before being eligible for an abortion. I do not believe that only wealthy women should have the option to seek out a legal abortion. I do not believe that a minor should be required to obtain the consent of her parents/guardians before being eligible for an abortion. I do not believe that a minor should be required to testify in front of a judge before being eligible for an abortion. I do not believe that a woman should require the consent or knowledge of her spouse before being eligible for an abortion. I do not believe that females should be required by law to undergo an invasive medical exam or receive state-approved “educational materials” before being eligible for an abortion. I do not believe that abortion providers should have onerous restrictions placed upon them by hostile state governments.

* (and yes, even though I think the mass consumption of animal products necessarily leads to acts which are cruel and unnecessary, I believe that the choice of what to put into one’s stomach is best left to the individual and I do not advocate that someone paying for a hamburger be charged as an accomplice to murder or cruelty)

** (even though the benefits of vaccination have been demonstrated objectively to outweigh the negatives, I’d rather women were educated and swayed be reason, rather than being forced into taking any vaccinations against their will)

*** (I’m not trying to suggest that these options are somehow equivalent in any way except that they are all means of allowing for a woman to conceive a child. Certain options may carry greater health risks, legal challenges and/or social stigma than other options. For all other options on the list, I am not affirming that the two options are always strictly equivalent or that they carry the same outcomes.)

Part II

I want to live in a society where abortion is rare.

I want to live in a society where accurate information about reproductive health (for both men and women) is widespread.

I want to live in a society where all forms of birth control are legal and easily available.

I want to live in a society which values family planning but offers a myriad of options for how to achieve this ideal.

I want to live in a society where women who choose to have many children are not verbally harassed, physically assaulted, or locked in a cage.

I want to live in a society where women who choose to visit an abortion clinic are not verbally harassed, physically assaulted, or locked in a cage.

I want to live in a society that values women and sees them as independent, intelligent beings capable of making their own decisions about their own bodies.

I want to live in a society where women feel free to share their own experiences with miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion and infertility, even though these events are associated with pain and loss. If we only focus on the positive events in life, we are denying a huge part of the human experience. It is also important to realize that pain can coexist with hope and joy, and that we do not all process events in the same way; nor do we all derive the same conclusions from shared experiences.

I want to live in a society that values education over force, empathy over hate, reasoned debate over heated rhetoric, and scientific fact over superstition.

I want to live in a society that is open and tolerant of a wide variety of perspectives.

I want to live in a society where individuals learn to work towards the benefit of all conscious beings.

Part III

Since I no longer believe that zygotes and embryos are given souls, or that moral decisions are tied to a specific holy book (which ironically does not equate abortion to murder and does not even prohibit infanticide), I’ve felt much more free to explore other ways of looking at the issue of abortion. The issue of what is a “person” is certainly important. My current view is that “person” is a socially constructed status. There is no hard biological line where one goes from being “bunch of cells” to being “living breathing human.” Rather there is a continuum as our biological growth progresses. At some point we humans arbitrarily draw a line (often many conflicting lines) and say “that’s a person.” I now believe that there are compelling reasons to draw that line at birth, and to recognize someone as having “inherent worth and dignity” as well as their own bodily rights, after they have left the comfort and support of the womb. Others insist on granting full rights (the right to life and freedom from harm) to even single-celled zygotes. Some people place the line somewhere in the middle, possibly at the point at which the embryo has a measurable heartbeat, or the point at which it can react to external stimuli, or the point at which it can “feel” pain (though how exactly to classify the perceptions of fetuses and embryos in utero is contested turf). While I think that the pain experienced by any sentient (that is thinking and feeling) organism does matter, I think that there can be overriding concerns. An organism that feels genuinely threatened by another may choose to inflict injury and pain in order to defend itself (ie, a zebra fighting off a lion). Or, sometimes, the needs and desires of one organism directly conflict with another (mosquitos, ticks and leeches certainly don’t benefit their hosts, despite relying upon them). Thus, even if we can recognize some sense of developing “personhood” in an embryo or fetus, and even if we could pin-point exactly when a clump of cells gains a sense of pain and self-awareness, we would still have to wrestle with how the perceived rights of such a sentient organism (and remember, for all of its wondrous complexity and the joy which it brings us, a fetus in the womb is still not as advanced as many animals) coincides with and sometimes conflict with the rights of a woman over her own body. The fetus takes nourishment at her expense. It exposes her to numerous dangers both immediate and future. After witnessing my wife go through multiple pregnancies I know that raising a child in the womb is no passive experience; in the best circumstances a healthy pregnancy requires active cooperation on the part of the mother, the “host” to the young life within her. When it comes to the conflict between a mother’s right to do as she chooses with her own body (including expelling any organisms within it) and the right of a fetus to naturally pursue life and existence inside and then outside of the womb, I would rather have the mother’s rights be given preeminence. The choice is hers. Outsiders may sometimes regret her decision or see it as hasty, but I am convinced that if we take away control of her own body from her, we are doing her a great harm and this harm appears to me (and many others) to be a far worse evil than the brief suffering endured by even a very aware fetus.

 


Some further reading:

On being a pro-choice vegan – mounts several arguments against the contemporary pro-life movement and focuses on the bodily autonomy of the woman. This author uses much stronger language than I would prefer to use, but I do appreciate her perspective and how strongly she advocates for her rights as well as the rights of animals.

A woman speaks about planning for a late-term (25 weeks) abortion.

It’s So Personal – Heartbreaking stories of late-term abortions and considered abortions.

Brief Thoughts on Taoism

Since deconverting from Christianity, I’ve felt new freedom to explore other faith traditions. My quest isn’t to find a replacement for Christianity, or to exhaust all of the possible supernatural and theistic views one-by-one to see if any of their truth claims are valid (if that was my goal I would never finish!). Instead, my goal is to enrich myself and to learn more about my global neighbors. I want to broaden my perspective of the world and the people in it while applying my critical eye to the religious and philosophical texts that hold deep meaning and comfort for millions.

This is the attitude with which I have approached Taoism since I began studying this ancient philosophical and religious system in 2013. I wasn’t expecting to find anything life-changing, but if I could glean some practical wisdom then all the better.

Here are some basic ideas that reading the Tao Te Ching (two times through) and Chuang Tzu (just once) have instilled in me. This isn’t a comprehensive list of Taoist beliefs, by any stretch. And, it should be noted that my observations and understandings of ancient Taoist philosophy are colored by my Western upbringing; someone raised in a home that practiced Taoism as a religious discipline would likely have a very different perspective. There are also dozens of important Taoist texts which I haven’t read due to their limited availability and translation in the West.

Gleanings from Taoism:

  • Don’t be concerned with fame, fortune and influence over others. Focus on developing yourself and meeting your needs before seeking to benefit others with your “wisdom” and leadership. This theme is prevalent in both the Tao Te Ching (TTC) and Chuang Tzu (ZS from here on out, “Zhuangzi” is closer to the actual pronunciation). From my brief research it seems that aristocrats and rulers were the main audience for these works. This makes them similar to the book of Proverbs and it makes sense that in a bronze-age/iron-age society the those few people who were literate, the ones with wealth and power, would have works written for their benefit. Despite being written to people in power, these works emphasize humility when it comes to the pursuit and exercise of power.
  • Wu Wei – This is a very deep concept in Taoist thought. I don’t know if I have a good grasp on it, but it is related to the ideals above. Instead of rulers being bossy, tyrannical or moral busy-bodies, rulers are encouraged to practice “wu wei” or “action through inaction.” In the Western world of thought we might call this policy “laissez-faire” though I don’t think the main concern of Taoist sages was economics ;) . The Taoist sages, especially ZS, wanted people to live according to their “inborn nature” and not be forced into habits which were unnatural to them. Sometimes this means that rulers should ignore bad behavior. This concept can be applied more broadly to one’s personal actions and life. Sometimes exerting tons of effort to reach a goal is very fruitless and one would be better off following this principle. Sometimes it’s more productive to act, than not to act.
  • Limiting desire – like some other important ancient philosophies, Taoism advises followers of the Way to limit their desires. Fewer desires means less angst and anxiety when those desires are unmet due to factors outside of one’s control. Fewer desires also means less ambition and a life which is able to be preserved more easily. Some of the justification for this is tied up in ancient medicinal knowledge about the yin and yang in one’s body needing to be balanced. I think the principle of not stressing out too much over acquiring new things and new positions is worthy even if the “science” cited by the Taoist sages is no longer valid. Taoism seems to take this concept very far, into a sort of supreme ideal. The “Perfect Man” in Taoism is one who cares very little for their own desires or even their own comfort and this, paradoxically, allows them to gain incredible power and mastery over other men and nature. [Side note – I say men here, because as far as I can tell, ancient Taoism is concerned with male rulers and sages. There are many dialogues in ZS and I can’t recall any dialogue spoken by a woman, though they are occasionally referenced (as wives or concubines) by other characters. I don’t know how much agency women had in ancient China, but I would wager it was not much.]
  •  Everything is One – Though they are written in very different styles, one of the unifying features of the TTC and ZS is their focus on what they call The Way (the “Tao” in Taoism).  What seems to make the Tao special is that it encompasses all of reality. Is it divine? It seems to be, since out of it springs forth creation and a myriad of gods and spirits. But, it is also present in humble things, even “the piss and shit” as ZS says in a rather startling and (to my ears) poetic passage. In the TTC various allusions and illustrations are given to attempt to define the Tao, but ultimately the sage reminds us over and over again that the true nature of the Tao cannot be grasped. It’s an ineffable reality, something more to be experienced than spoken about in long treatises. You can’t buy it or sell it. What I like about The Way in Taoist thought is that it reminds us to pay attention to the little things…don’t scorn the bugs and the dirt and the poor things of the world. Don’t see some things as “beneath” and others as “above” when we all share the same Universe together as living beings. I don’t accept Taoist cosmology because it is tied up with ancient myth and makes many unsupported assertions. In my view what the Tao actually does is indiscernable. It is functionally supernatural and outside of objective perception, though in the texts I read it is not described as a being, a “who” like Thor, Zeus, Yahweh, Baal and the other ancient tribal gods. The “Tao” is more like Aristotle’s “unmoved mover” or even Plato’s perfect realm of forms. It’s an inaccessible, un-circumscribable thing…or quite possibly everything. The Tao is described as both bringing forth and sustaining all things. There is no requirement to worship it or offer it sacrifices, but rather the expectation is to simply be aware of it and to seek to live one’s life in such a way that finding balance within the Tao becomes natural. Finding balance in this way should lead to inner peace. ZS offers few guarantees though. Some of the “heroes” of his story end up dying tragic deaths despite their humility, their wisdom and their separation from vain pursuits. Loss is inevitable and it seems that the role of the Taoist sage is more to prepare for loss, rather than to try to vainly prevent it.

lonely tree

 

Photo credit: Jasper van der Meij

“All history becomes subjective”

Time dissipates to shining ether the solid angularity of facts. No anchor, no cable, no fences, avail to keep a fact a fact. Babylon, Troy, Tyre, Palestine, and even early Rome, are passing already into fiction. The Garden of Eden, the sun standing still in Gibeon, is poetry thenceforward to all nations. Who cares what the fact was, when we have made a constellation of it to hang in heaven an immortal sign? London and Paris and New York must go the same way. “What is History,” said Napoleon, “but a fable agreed upon?” This life of ours is stuck round with Egypt, Greece, Gaul, England, War, Colonization, Church, Court, and Commerce, as with so many flowers and wild ornaments grave and gay. I will not make more account of them. I believe in Eternity. I can find Greece, Asia, Italy, Spain, and the Islands,–the genius and creative principle of each and of all eras in my own mind.

We are always coming up with the emphatic facts of history in our private experience, and verifying them here. All history becomes subjective; in other words, there is properly no history; only biography. Every mind must know the whole lesson for itself,–must go over the whole ground. What it does not see, what it does not live, it will not know. What the former age has epitomized into a formula or rule for manipular convenience, it will lose all the good of verifying for itself, by means of the wall of that rule. Somewhere, sometime, it will demand and find compensation for that loss by doing the work itself. Ferguson discovered many things in astronomy which had long been known. The better for him.

norwich cathedralA Gothic cathedral affirms that it was done by us, and not done by us. Surely it was by man, but we find it not in our man. But we apply ourselves to the history of its production. We put ourselves into the place and state of the builder. We remember the forest-dwellers, the first temples, the adherence to the first type, and the decoration of it as the wealth of the nation increased; the value which is given to wood by carving led to the carving over the whole mountain of stone of a cathedral. When we have gone through this process, and added thereto the Catholic Church, its cross, its music, its processions, its Saints’ days and image-worship, we have, as it were, been the man that made the minster; we have seen how it could and must be. We have the sufficient reason.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, from Essays (1841)

Image of Norwich Cathedral by “Rror” available under a Creative Commons license.

My 2014 Year in Review

A lot happened to me in 2014. I did quite a bit of WordPress freelancing work in the first part of 2014. At the end of October we moved into a three bedroom duplex (more spacious than our previous residence). In November I began a new seasonal job doing online customer service from my home (could become a regular, year-round job, we’ll see). Best of all, as of this week (end of December) the newest little Hood is now 18 weeks old in the womb! (see pic below)

baby hood

Other stuff:

I’m still attending Blue Hills UU and enjoying the fellowship there. We had a reserved but joyful Christmas Eve celebration.

In September I went from being a lacto-ovo vegetarian (no meat but eggs and dairy) to being a vegan (abstaining from all animal products for ethical reasons). I’ve learned a lot about cooking since then.

Caroline and I have spent a lot of time hanging out with friends and family this holiday season and we even got to host Christmas for the first time. It was a pretty full house after two of my sisters came to visit with spouses and kids.

Below I’ve arranged a quick recap of my posts in 2014 in case you missed anything (this list includes pretty much all my posts that weren’t just a link and one sentence). I hope those of you reading this enjoy a happy and safe New Year celebration.

Peace and Freedom for 2015!

January 2014

February 2014

  • Curse Your Branches? – A very personal post which was also published on exchristian.net.
  • Church Without God – This is a sort of “draft” post which I still need to follow-up on. I want to discuss the ways in which non-believers can still participate in “church” (whether it is explicitly called that or not) and how our culture talks about religion and belief.
  • A Free and Responsible Search… – In which I talk about the 4th Principle of Unitarian Universalism and why it matters to me.

March 2014

  • I Believe… – This post covers a lot. I wrote this close to the one year mark of my own personal deconversion from Christianity to atheism. It’s an attempt to reconcile my new skeptical outlook on life and truth with my continuing love and appreciation for deeply religious people. I also briefly explain my current understanding of religion and the labels that I choose to identify with (atheist, skeptic, Humanist).

April 2014

  • Reflecting on Cosmos – I really enjoyed watching the new Cosmos TV series. I still need to catch up on the last several episodes on Netflix!
  • Observing Evolution – I short science-y post on evolution (a topic which I have grown to love since my deconversion).
  • The ‘Straw Vulcan’ – Reflecting upon a common stereotype for atheists, skeptics and individuals who place a high value on reason.
  • Personal Relationship – I’m pretty vulnerable in this post where I explain some of my feelings about letting go of God. It seemed to resonate with a lot of people.
  • When Murder isn’t Murder – In which I critique the double standard applied by Evangelicals who condemn mass murders by Biblical “villains” while apologizing those committed by Biblical “heroes” following Yahweh.
  • The Narrow Path – An ironic warning against dogmatism. Not one of my brighter posts.

May 2014

  • Becoming UU – I reflect on the process (both inward and outward) of finding and joining a local Unitarian Universalist fellowship.

June 2014

  • I believe in firewalking…and magic! – Is it better to believe in “magic” or in “real magic” and which is which? This post was inspired by a conversation I had (in real life, yes) where someone was shocked that I accepted a natural, rather than supernatural, explanation of firewalking and the “protection” against flaming coals (firewalking is an ancient shamanic practice now practiced by some New Age leaders).

August 2014

Dec 2014

  • Problems with Christianity – I put together a page of info for those who might want to see my intellectual arguments against Christianity (at least the ones I’ve written about on this blog) laid out in one place.
  • Jesus Loves Me, This I Know? – Another post about that favorite phrase among believers, but from a different angle this time.