For better or worse, I wouldn't be who I am without the pastors I've had in my life. For the most part, these men (and one woman) meant and did well. They were consistent, and lived by creeds they took seriously. There's some respectability in that. When I left the church (the first time around), I was understandably angry. Why hadn't the details that inspired my doubts been discussed openly? The damnable doctrine of Hell and its origin in previous mythology, or the metaphor of a trash pit being transformed into eternal torment. The right to own slaves, Israeliets for no more than six years, or foreigners indefinitely (Exodus 21). Or how the books of the Bible were not authored by those whose names are attributed to the text, gospels and epistles alike. Even Moses' books record his death, at the very least even the likes of Ken Ham have to posit a few extra hands on that pen. Then there are particularly disturbing passages concerning the killing of children and infants, such as the Amalekites ( 1 Samuel 15:3), or the firstborn of Egypt (Exodus 11). Songs and Psalms praise the subject, Psalm 136:10 reads "To Him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever". The Egyptians are certainly not on the receiving end of that love. What good comes from such lurid fantasies? I've heard many defenses for these portions of the text, and none of them are excusable. Cruel doctrines make cruel people. [...]
This is an open invitation to Josh Feuerstein. Josh, I think your complete flight from reason has sullied the name of those who identify as Christian. I think your antics are a blatant mockery of those good folks like my mother who have a kind and decent faith. Let's get together in person, via videos, or even a skype call. I'd like to debate you on the existence of a god, Christianity, and its truth claims.
Often when I tell believers that I was once a minister and a devout believer who knew a great deal about the Holy Bible, Theology, and Religious Philosophy, and that I left after sincerely feeling that I was wrong, I am sometimes insulted by being told that I must have never been a "true" Christian. Some feel that a real believer would never fall away, and others are simply offended or threatened by the idea of the faith not being as certain a matter as they might like to think. These people also argue that a "true" Christian wouldn't behave this way. This simply isn't true. It happens all the time, and this is an example of the "No True Scotsman Fallacy" - (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true...) I was 100% committed to the faith. I pledged my life to the church and became a minister so that I could help save souls for Christ. I tithed, I prayed, I worshiped, I evangelized, I confessed my sins, I repented, I abstained, I ministered, and so much more. For me, faith isn't a reliable way to find truth. I found that Christianity isn't what I thought it was. I've come to new conclusions. I've changed my mind. And that's okay.
This week, the Taylor Swift of boxing himself, Cam F. Awesome stops by to chat boxing, the importance of getting whooped, why the news is a total bummer, the God question, and what he has in common with Plato. This is by far the most casual episode of the show, it was great to have Cam on. The quality was a little bit buggy this time, which is an equipment error I'm lining out now. Cam Awesome is a boxer with a slew of titles, as well as a comedian, speaker, and a surprisingly good guy to talk to. You can check out Cam's podcast here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/awesome-talks/id1210572685?mt=2, and his twitter here: https://twitter.com/camfawesome?lang=en
Bill Hicks once spoke of the Gulf War that he was in the unenviable position of being for the war but against the troops. I feel something analogous to that in the latest stir between the Southern Baptist Church and Russell Moore. For those who don’t keep up to date with the life of the SBC, my alma mater, the controversy is pretty simple. Moore, one of the convention’s political leaders and current president of the Ethical and Religious Liberties Commission, has been critical of Donald Trump both before and after becoming the leader of the United States. Perhaps most damning is his juxtaposition of the man himself and the teachings of Christ. As a former minister who is familiar with the scriptures, and also the proud owner of an economically pitiful Philosophy degree, I can assure you that neither of those credentials are needed to affirm that Moore is indeed right in noting the two are in stark contrast. Yet the implications of the rift are even more interesting. Namely, that such a criticism, regardless of it’s harmony with New Testament ideology, is ignored in favor of the most prime of motivations. Which is money. […]
As a fan of the arts and humanities, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the concept of the Absurd. I agree with Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein, that our minds are confronted with it daily in our search to make sense of the world. I also love the connections and passions that good art elicits. When the two collide, some amazing work can result, such as Surrealist artists Magritte, Ernst, and Carrington. However, the combination is not always fruitful, and at times leaves me questioning, “Is that really Art?” The balance needs to be fraught with elegance and beauty to move me. Houston’s Performance Art Festival has managed to find that sweet spot. Arriving at the first venue Thursday night, viewers were treated to what seemed like a variety show from another dimension. Michael Anthony Garcia started off the night with a performance that is somewhat difficult to capture with words, but included a song he wrote himself, a funnel leading to his underwear, and a lot of bright liquids. The work was not purely comedic, yet Garcia managed to arouse laughter out of the audience. […]
This was a message I shared with the Houston Oasis group on January 8th, 2017.
Talk given to the fine folks at Houston Oasis on September 11, 2016.