Dr. Candida Moss (Notre Dame) to Speak at U Iowa

The University of Iowa Department of Religious Studies warmly invites everyone to a free public lecture by Dr. Candida Moss, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at University of Notre Dame, entitled “Pope Francis, Religion, and the Media: How to Get Behind the Hype.”

The lecture will be at 7:00pm on Thursday March 3, 2016 in room C20 at the Pomerantz Center.
Dr. Candida Moss (Notre Dame) will deliver the 2016 E. P. Adler Lecture at the University of Iowa

Views on Evolution by Members of Different Religious Groups in the US

In 2008, the Pew Research Forum published the findings of a survey they did examining the percentage of the US population who agree that human evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth by members of various religious groups.

Percentage of the US population who agree that evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth.

Percentage of the US population who agree that evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth.

The results are fascinating.

But first, here’s a fun exercise: find your religious faith tradition on the bottom of the chart, and look at the traditions to the left and right of you. This allows you to put into perspective your view on the scientific fact of human evolution.

The chart is powerful because it allows US citizens to see where they are on the relative scale of beliefs.

You will note that there are three natural statistical clusters:

To the left, there are the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and ‘unaffiliated’ (which could mean anything from atheist to agnostic to “spiritual” to “aliens did it”).

Then in the center, there are Catholics, Orthodox, Mainline Protestants (right at the 50% mark), Muslims, and Black Protestants.

Finally, at the far right, there are the Evangelicals, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The far right category doesn’t surprise me: these three religious groups have led the way in denying science outright for some time now.

Interestingly, the Muslim category was farther left than I expected, probably due to the fact that the media usually portrays Muslims as more fundamentalist than the national average. (Again, Muslims in the US are less likely to be fundamentalist, and therefore less likely to be seen on TV. Rational folks don’t usually end up on TV; just watch any news program or reality show.)

Other than that, there are few surprises. Historically, the most densely populated Catholic parts of the country are in the northeast, where the average demographic is more liberal/progressive and better educated than the national average. Black Protestants and Evangelicals demographically appear in the south, where things lean more conservative and people are less educated than the national average. (Even FoxBusiness says so.) This sociological reality may partially explain the results.

Again, the chart is powerful because it allows US citizens of particular faith traditions to see where they are (and to whom they are intellectually closest on the issue of evolution) on the relative scale of beliefs.

So where are you?

The “Will of God” and the Fallen Idol

What do you get when you mix magic, idolatry, and religious fundamentalism? The irony that the same crucifix that you believe “cured your wife of cancer” has now crushed and caused the loss of your leg.

I feel bad for poor David Jimenez, who first had to endure the ordeals of his wife’s ovarian cancer, and has now lost his leg. I really do. And this is a pretty standard liability/injury lawsuit involving an accident and an insurance company.

But it is interesting how many people who attribute healing to prayer to crucifixes and the “will of God”, so quickly abandon this theological position when bad things happen. When good things happen, many devoted religious fundamentalists attribute the good they experience to the “power of God” and “God’s will” brought about through the power of prayer. BUT, when something bad happens, it is no longer the “will of God” (unless you’re a Republican running for senate), but is a civil liability claim against the church because of shoddy construction.

So when you need a miracle, you pray to God, but if God doesn’t deliver a blessing, you sue him.

Such is the state of religious fundamentalism in America today.

why one cup christianity is dangerous (or) can the body of christ transmit hepatitis-a?

Communion Tray

This is why most Church of Christ folks use matzo crackers and those disposable single cups for communion: you don’t know where the sinner next to you has been (and they don’t know where your sinnin’ rear end has been)!

Which raises an intriguing question for transubstantiationalist Catholics: can the body of Christ transmit Hepatitis-A?

The Associated Press is reporting:

MASSAPEQUA PARK, N.Y. – Health officials say hundreds of people may have been exposed to hepatitis A while receiving communion on Christmas Day at a church on Long Island, N.Y.

The Nassau County Health Department said Monday it will offer vaccines this week to anyone who received communion at the church Dec. 25. A church spokesman told Newsday that the investigation was ongoing and that he could not identify who might have transmitted the virus.

Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice. The disease is rarely fatal and most people recover in a few weeks without any complications.

I’d also encourage Christians in Long Island to hold off on greeting each other with a holy kiss for a while…

HT: Jim West

brad lidge studying biblical archaeology

Brad Lidge celebrates a World Series victory with the Phillies

Brad Lidge celebrates a World Series victory with the Phillies

reports are that philadelphia phillies’ closer brad lidge is studying for a degree in biblical archaeology.

Lidge is studying online for a degree in it from Regis University, a Jesuit college in Denver, Colo.

i like brad lidge. he seems like a nice enough guy. as a former baseball player, i can appreciate a man that wants to prepare for life after baseball. and as one who travels to a new town every night, i can’t begrudge someone who is taking online courses from regis university. those of us with advanced degrees from major universities may me tempted to look down on him, but i applaud him for being interested in education and trying to better himself while he makes a living as a professional athlete. it is certainly better than dog fighting, drunk driving, or shooting yourself in the leg.

now because he is a pitcher, i’m guessing they started him in the introductory courses (which are probably taught by catchers ;- ). and as a former catcher, who has successfully transitioned into life as an archaeologist, i’d like to offer mr. lidge some advice about the differences between baseball and archaeology:

  • you no longer have to dig the dirt out with your cleats. you may now use a trowel.
  • ‘dig dig dig’ no longer means ‘run quickly.’ dig means dig. when doing archaeology in israel, the proper way to say ‘run quickly’ is, ‘holy sh!t! hezbullah is bombing us again. yallah! yallah! yallah!’
  • a balk is no longer a bad thing, in fact, a well-trimmed balk is a great source of much pride.
  • sledge handles are just like baseball bats: if you jam yourself when you swing, they will break.
  • the flight from los angeles to new york is exactly the same as the flight from los angeles to tel aviv: kosher food, heavy security, and few people speak english on arrival. no difference.
  • dugout humor is just as raunchy as square humor, except girls are telling the dirty jokes.
  • unlike baseball, where the radar measures the speed of a pitch, radar in archaeology measures what’s under the ground.
  • a pick off is no longer an attempt to get the runner at first base out. it means the head of your pick has fallen off, probably because the four nails you drove into the handle with a piece of basalt are bent and rusted out.
  • baseball is a game of inches; archaeology is a game of centimeters.
  • like baseball, you must always wear your hat and gloves.
  • like baseball, if you don’t get dirty, you didn’t put in a full day’s work.

so kudos to brad lidge for beginning his biblical archaeology degree while he is still making millions as a ball player. maybe next year, the jaffa cultural heritage project will get a baseball-related sponsor: the red man tobacco excavations at jaffa.

and if you need a tutor in your studies, i’m here to help. if i can help internationally acclaimed movie star and devout catholic nicole kidman with her biblical studies, then i can help you, mr. lidge, transition from baseball to archaeology.

(here’s some extra credit: can anyone come up with more similarities between baseball and archaeology? if so, put them in the comments box below.)

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