Notes from our travels across a mysterious world.

Category: Religion (Page 1 of 3)

“What have I done to deserve this?”

Stephen Fry, quoting Oscar Wilde:

Satan, one afternoon, was wandering in the Libyan desert when he came across a group of junior devils trying to tempt a monk. The monk was very holy: Satan watched as the little demons offered him worldly riches, power, wisdom, anything he wanted if only he would renounce his God. The demons were getting nowhere, the monk was firm in his faith and rooted in his virtue and steadfast holiness.

Lucifer could bear watching no more and approached. ‘What exactly is going on here?’ he asked.

‘Master,’ the imps replied, ‘This man is entirely good. He will not be provoked in to renouncing God. We have offered him every worldly pleasure and power.’

‘Out of the way,’ said Lucifer. ‘Let me show you how it’s done.’ Lucifer stepped forward and whispered something into the monk’s ear. Immediately the monk roared with anger, tore his holy robes asunder and filled the air with the most profane and obscene oaths against God. It was an awesome sight. The demons immediately fell to their knees and cried to Satan.

‘Verily, you are the Master. For forty days and forty nights have been tempting him to no avail, and yet, even in a twinkling, you turn him from God to us. What, in hell’s holy name what did you say to him, oh Lord of Darkness?’

‘It’s really very simple,’ said Lucifer, ‘I just told him his brother had recently been made Bishop of Alexandria.’

Hindu Invocation Protested in Senate

Hey, remember that time Jesus started yelling at a Roman praying to Jupiter? You remember, He was all “My Father is Number One!” and “You better show some respect!”

Wait, you don’t? You mean you think Jesus Christ primarily relied on the truth of His own message, rather than shouting down the people who disagreed with Him? And that living a Christ-like life requires showing the same respect to others and having the same faith in your message?

Well, Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Save America (OSA) has got some news for you…or at least a press release.

You see, yesterday, for the first time ever, a Hindu clergyman was invited to perform the invocation for the U.S. Senate. The Pavkovic family of North Carolina decided this would be a good time to express their Christ-likeness by making sure that everyone understood that only Christians should perform the invocation. (No word about denominational differences, or whether Jews or Mormons are allowed. I’m guessing Jews yes, Mormons no, and Catholics will be tolerated until we get to the OSA world.) So, they started yelling before the clergyman could even get started. Sample quote:

Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight…This is an abomination…We shall have no other gods before You.

The Pavkovics claim the Christian faith, and they’re from North Carolina, which makes this episode doubly embarrassing for those of us who share those two qualities with them. Heck, even Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association sounded embarrassed. But not Benham:

Benham said he respects Wildmon as a friend and ally, but he thinks his friend is simply wrong on this matter. “Our answer is,” Benham said, “When one stands up in the face of gross idolatry being allowed in the Senate, in the chamber of the United States Senate, it is incumbent on a Christian to stand up and speak the truth. No matter what, we must obey God rather than men.”

“When you stand up and are arrested, and the Hindu is allowed to go free, this country has gone upside-down,” Benham added — though when asked, he later clarified that he does not believe people of other religions should be arrested for their beliefs. “Now, why are Hindus allowed here? Why are Muslims allowed here? Because we are a nation that’s free, built upon the principles of almighty God.”

Now, Jesus did clear out the Temple pretty vigorously, but His reasoning behind it would seem to indicate the protestors should have at least been running around the Senate floor, chasing Senators. Maybe then the Hindu clergyman could have joined them, and they could have all had righteous fun together?

Perhaps they come from an earlier time? A common vein in the churches I’ve been to is a longing for the more authentic Early Church experience, with its simpler traditions and personal denominations. (And, I assume, a lot of arguments about circumcision and ritual cleansing.) But I’m thinking the protestors might come from an earlier tradition than that? Maybe even before Jesus. Perhaps they’re aspiring to be Pharisees? πŸ™‚

Link courtesy of, which also has some other links to interesting items about the Pavkovic family patriarch.

What’s Your Theological Worldview?

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don’t think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Classical Liberal


Neo orthodox


Reformed Evangelical


Roman Catholic






Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Emergent/Postmodern? Possibly true. A picture of Brian McLaren next to the results? Meh.

Link courtesy of Too Many Topics, Too Little Time.

ACLU warns on local government prayer

The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to officials in Raleigh, Clayton, Pittsboro, and Chatham County, NC, pointing out that official prayers at council meetings that refer to specific religions are a violation of the First Amendment.

I like the ACLU for a lot of their work, but in this case I have to wonder what they’re thinking. Official prayers before governmental meetings have been a long tradition, and many bodies handle it by bringing in clergy from different religions. Those clergy then sometimes do a very generic prayer, or they might take the opportunity to “sell” their faith. (Of course, in some religious beliefs, it is hard to imagine how one would say a “neutral” prayer.)

However, while saying a religiously neutral prayer might avoid a governmental endorsement of a particular religion, the act of prayer to a “god” endorses a particular sort of religious beliefs. I’m not sure why the ACLU — I’m thinking this must be the North Carolina branch — would send a letter asking for neutrality, instead of just going for the more controversial stance and asking for no endorsed prayer at all. In other words, if you’re going to be unpopular, might as well be logical.

The courage to stand behind their words…way behind

Pat Robertson calls for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Pat Robertson catches flak for it and immediately claims he was misinterpreted.

Victoria Gotti comes clean about her breast cancer story…more of a breast cancer scare, really.

Robertson: Televangelist with his own TV show who uses his base to influence politics.

Gotti: Daughter of mob boss John Gotti, also had own TV show, but probably doesn’t influence politics in any meaningful way.

And Pat comes up with the bigger lie. Good going, Pat. Set that bright, shining, Christian example we’ve all come to expect from you.

Update: Apology from Pat. For saying what he previously claimed he didn’t say. Haven’t seen an apology for the lying part yet. Haven’t seen one for just being Pat Robertson either.

Belief System Selector

Mainline? Mainline? πŸ˜‰

According to the Belief System Selector, my #1 belief match is Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants. What do you believe?


Actually, my second option, at 93%, would be closer to where I grew up:

According to the Belief System Selector, my #2 belief match is Orthodox Quaker. What do you believe?


Link courtesy of Too many topics, too little time, which will be living up to the latter half of its name, as Jeremy pauses for dissertation. Good luck, dude. πŸ™‚

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