"The only argument I have ever heard against Universalism, given the assumption of a loving creator, is that we have “freewill” to choose to be saved or not. That’s fine, as far as it goes, but it negates the idea of freewill in that we had to be created first. If Damnation is the default, and we have to choose not to be damned, then the act of Creation is the act of damning, and thus there is no inherent choice in whether or not to play the game, only whether or not to submit to the rules imposed. That, I have to point out, is not freewill."

— from the blog A Material Sojourn



I shone a light.
Aren’t you satisfied?
The land and the sea
Are these not good?
Food grows on trees.
You are still hungry.

I made you a world.
You want to transcend it.
I gave you a body
You want to deny it.
I gave you a life.
You want life everlasting.

Is this not enough?
Aren’t you satisfied?


— Laura Lee, Where Souls Grow Warm


“It is not merely enough to attest that there is a God. One also has to state how the One God relates to humanity.”
~Omid Safi, from Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters
photo by Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images (Taken with Instagram)


“It is not merely enough to attest that there is a God. One also has to state how the One God relates to humanity.”

~Omid Safi, from Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters

photo by Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images (Taken with Instagram)

Tags: God

I’ve Been Thinking About God’s Nose Lately

Did you know that God has a nose?  And when he gets mad it turns red?

“Wrath” is a euphemism, of sorts. The Hebrew word is ‘aph, “nose.”  In many places in the Bible, God’s nose burns hot.

I’ve been thinking about God’s nose quite a bit lately.  God, in the early parts of the Old Testament, is a much more human figure.  He has a nose and hands and he appears wearing robes.  What did God’s nose look like?  An upturned nose?  A hook nose?  A long Roman nose?  The question seems ridiculous, doesn’t it?  “Paint a picture of God” is a request that is likely to either elicit blank stares or to cause someone to go and meditate to try to channel some abstract mystical sensation.  To draw God would be to limit him.

One of the things that has set me on this train of thought is the recent uproar over the depiction of Muhammad in an anti-Islam Youtube video.  This has brought the issue of the depiction of Muhammad to the fore again.  Most Muslims believe that prophets should not be visually depicted because it can lead to idolatry.  Christians, of course, take the opposite approach when it comes to their prophet with images of Jesus on everything from Facebook pages to barn roofs to bumper stickers.

The interesting thing about all these images of Jesus is that they do not really look like him.  When a team of forensic anthropologists were asked to create an image of what the historical Jesus might have looked like, this is what they produced:

ImageThe problem is, if you were to paint a scene with this man, no one would know it was supposed to be Jesus. 

Does it really matter?

[Read more on my blog for long posts]

Tags: God

"For this must be the idea of the wood-touching superstition, that a malignant spirit dogs one’s conversational footsteps, listening eagerly for the complacent word. “I have never had the mumps,” you say airily. “Ha, ha!” says the spirit, “haven’t you? Just you wait till next Tuesday, my boy.” Unconsciously we are crediting Fate with our own human weaknesses. If a man standing on the edge of a pond said aloud, “I have never fallen into a pond in my life,” and we happened to be just behind him, the temptation to push him in would be irresistible. Irresistible, that is by us; but it is charitable to assume that Providence can control itself by now."

— A.A. Milne, Not That it Matters

"We have to talk about sex because to talk about sex is to talk about God. That may sound strange in a church, but it’s the truth. There is a drop of God in all of us, and that means there is God in our sexuality. How we engage our bodies and how we share our bodies is about how we honor God and how we worship God. Pure and simple."

— quoting a sermon at Metropolitan Community Church of St. Louis (the minister is not named in the article Sabbatical Church Hopping)

"The third-person narration (Of Genesis 2) depicts Yahweh God as potter, shaping the human creature of dust from the earth; as breather, animating the dust; as gardener, preparing a special plot of land; and as executive, determining th location of the creature. This divine work is pleasure not toil. Forming ha-adam of dust from ha-dama Yahweh creates a pun. Similarly, planting a garden in Eden, Yahweh makes a place of delight, for the Hebrew word eden recalls the sound of another Hebrew word meaning enjoyment. Since these actions play with words, the deity is also portrayed as artist finding pleasure in the production of life. The create process is itself erotic."

— Phyllis Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality

"The faith that founds Christianity is not based on the mere historical fact of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth or his life and death. It is rather based on the claim that Jesus was divine. These theological claims can be neither confirmed nor denied by modern historiographical methods. Modern historians, when practicing the common procedures affirmed by that modern discipline, can say nothing about whether God was in Jesus or not. The incarnation, therefore, is not a historical fact in the more technical sense of the term “historical”-that is, an event in the past that can be confirmed and studied by normal historiographical methods."

-Dale B. Martin. Pedagogy of the Bible: An Analysis and Proposal

"Affirming the sacredness of gay marriage isn’t about people embracing diversity for diversity’s sake, but finding in committed same-sex partnerships a new and essential expression of the Divine Love."

— Joe Perez, Towards a new theology of gay marriage