______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

The Antichrist Is HERE! June 28, 2010

You would think that, because of the good news of Jesus Christ, the world would be a better place. Then why isn’t it? If the commandment of love has ruled and abounded in the hearts of humankind for 2,000 years, the world would be a better place. Then why isn’t it? If the millions who profess to be Christians really live what they claim to believe, practiced what they preached, truly served their fellow human beings from the goodness of their hearts, then wouldn’t the world be a better place?
Then why isn’t it?

Have we learned nothing in 2,000 years! What has the Jesus of Christianity done? He brandishes picket signs that read: “God hates fags.” He bombs abortion clinics and murders doctors. Jesus readily and loosely scoffs and shouts “Sinner!” telling death row inmates to “burn in hell.” He strings up a gay man on a fence and murders him, hangs a black man from a tree, massacres and forces entire indigenous tribes from their lands and homes. Jesus backbites, gossips, destroys the reputations of those he is jealous of; accuses, hangs, beheads, shoots, maims, dismembers, burns, drowns, stands by, watches, does nothing and unmercifully consents.

— Carol Harper

(So, just who or what is the Antichrist?)
Read the entire article. CLICK HERE.

(Your knee-jerk reaction may be one of self-defense.  Don’t let that keep you from reading all of the article.)


A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity June 22, 2010



“At this point in my life, I am happy to live with uncertainty and in precarious freedom, rather than hunker down in the false security of institutions…”

So says Spence Burke in the intro to “A Heretic’s Guide To Eternity.”
This book makes it clear that being called a heretic by organized religion is not a bad thing. Most reformers, many scientists, and pretty much anyone who doesn’t let the “church” do their thinking for them, have been given that moniker.

Bono, of U2, said “I don’t see Jesus Christ as being in any religion. Religion is the Temple after God has left it.”
Chapter one elaborates on this theme that no religion, including Christianity, has dibs on Jesus. I know in the institutions I’ve been a part of, we would never of said we “owned” Jesus, but that was pretty much the mind set. We then proceeded to isolate ourselves with “christian” TV, music, magazines, schools, businesses, and any other way we could find to keep away from “them.”  (Except, of course, when we were engaged in the business of “converting” them.)

One of the many subjects in Chapter two, “Grace Beyond Religion,” is the “age of accountability.” This is another of those widely believed church doctrines that is nowhere to be found in the scripture. But “Somehow the idea of a baby going to hell just doesn’t sit well with most people.” Fortunately, “Spirituality has been separated from religion in profound ways today, and frankly, I’m not sure there is any going back to religion anymore…”

“AHGTE” also includes a brief history of religion, and a section on the inquisitions.
It’s a good thing we don’t torture so-called heretics anymore, but honestly, I know many who I believe would if they could. The self-righteousness, hatred, and fear of ideas outside of their narrow world-view is certainly present. Of course, many who call themselves Christian do, actually, advocate for the death of their enemies. This requires a great perversion of the scripture, and willful ignorance of Jesus’ teachings, but that’s never stopped anyone.

There’s some discussion in Chapter 4 of how the church has gotten in such a mess. More church history, with dates and events. There’s some talk of how “indulgences” were big business for the church in the Middle Ages.  Of course, money has always been a big part of organized religion. Personally, I’m all for removing the tax exempt status from churches. If people no longer have their giving government subsidized, it will be interesting to see how they continue to give. One of the great quotes from this chapter is
“People are not leaving churches because they’ve ended their spiritual journey or have abandoned their commitment to the teachings of Jesus. Nor are they trying to escape life or responsibility. On the contrary, people are leaving the church because they want to embrace something more than abstract ideas and religious dogma.” [Emphasis mine]

Chapter five is about how religion actually inhibits the flow of God’s grace into the world. “Time and time again, institutions seem to use their religious views as a pretext for an aggressive and adversarial posture against the wider culture.” “Christians” are known for their anger, protests, boycotts, and screaming. Jesus said they would know us by our love. We really do need a “separation of church and hate.” The kind of people who see Constantine as a hero are likely to still want to force the christian religion on others by legal means.  Of all the things people take litterally, “Love your enemies” doesn’t seem to be one of them.

Later, the book gets into the focus on the end of the world, that many Christians seem to have, rather than focus on the life God has for us here and now. Like other authors, Burke touches on how the book of Revelation is the “revelation of Jesus Christ,” and not a “literal ‘revelation’ of the end of the world.
“To make salvation simply about what happens when we die is to make it less than it is meant to be.” “A hell-obsessed theology of salvation makes for self-centered humans who actually negate the role and function of grace by striving to corral people into heaven.”
Also, like a number of others, Mr. Burke suggests the possibility that grace may be an “opt-out” situation, rather than an “opt-in.”

There are ideas about “love not the world” vs “God so loved the world.” Thoughts on evangelism, discipleship, salvation, heresy as a way of life, and the journey as the destination. There’s also a good amount on what Spencer calls “mystical responsibility.”

You’ll find much to “chew on” in these pages. If you’re on that ever-important journey out of religion, this should be another companion along the way. There are probably books I consider more important to start with (Velvet Elvis, He Loves Me, A New Kind of Christianity, Jesus Unplugged). If you’ve already read those, then definitely read this. Or, start with this, and then read those. I’ve found each to be life-changing in some way. Hopefully, you will, too.

— df
Buy The Book HERE

Here are a couple of other very short reviews:
“Yes, yes, YES! Buy this book! Breath of fresh air doesn’t even begin to say it…”
(, November 2006)
“Newsflash! Luther’s church at Wittenberg has a back door! Spencer Burke has found it and removed it from its’ hinges. The old church has now been flooded with sorely needed illumination and a refreshing, life-giving breeze. Yet, there’s more. The door Burke has blown through is a passageway that leads us outside, beyond the building, to the bountiverse, a new dimension for living Christian spirituality that is transforming, rejuvenating and ripe for living…now. Read this book! Live this life! Trust me. This isn’t just a great book. It’s a sincere, deep, heartfelt invitation to journey beyond wherever you’re at, embracing the God of More. Thank you Spencer!”
—Bill Dahl

And, of course, some quotes from the book.

If we adopt some misconception as absolute truth, it will actually prevent us from ever truly reaching the truth. Even when truth come knocking, we will not recognize it. Sometimes what we think we know becomes an obstacle to the truth.


“Churches assume their role is about eternity when in fact eternity is God’s business. The landowner in Jesus’ story [Matthew 13:24-30] is very clear that his workers cannot separate the wheat from the weeds, for they might pull up perfectly good wheat in their zeal to remove the wayward weeds. When explaining this story to his followers, Jesus makes it clear that the task of determining who is in or out is not the responsibility of humans, no matter how qualified they believe they are. I would likewise argue that the church should not be so focused on eternity. The church’s task is to help people follow Jesus here on earth.”


Rather than binding and gagging grace behind the walls of Christianity and making access to it conditional on the acceptance of culturally created ideas, I believe we need to present the message of Jesus outside of brand Christianity.

Maybe the greatest gift the Christian religion can offer the world right now is to remove itself from the battle for God.


— Spencer Burke
Buy the book HERE.

For more recommended reading,


Think June 17, 2010

Capital Punishment:
A consistent ethic demands that our nation end capital punishment. We should not take life to punish wrongful death. There is no evidence that it deters murder. It is easy to make fatal mistakes, as DNA testing has shown. The death penalty is biased against the poor, who cannot afford adequate legal representation, and is racially disproportionate.
– Sojourners

Gays and Lesbians:
“Regardless of what moral or theological positions churches hold regarding gay and lesbian sexual behavior, all Christians can and should unite around a commitment to defend people’s basic rights. But the church cannot in good conscience take a passive approach to this question. It is, after all, other Christians who often have taken the lead in this thinly disguised but mean-spirited assault on human dignity. Biblically based Christians who operate out of a more loving and compassionate framework must meet the challenge head-on and forcefully oppose homophobia.
– When Dignity is Assaulted by Jim Rice

But do we really want to deny a gay person’s right to be at their loved one’s deathbed in a hospital with “family restrictions”? Do we also want to deny that person a voice in the medical treatment of his or her partner? And do we really want all the worldly possessions of a deceased gay person to revert to the family who rejected them 30 years ago, instead of going to their partner of the last 20 years? ”
– Gays and Marriage: A Middle Way by Jim Wallis

“While the passing of [hate-crime] legislation that prosecutes attacks on gays and lesbians would be a good thing, it will do very little to prevent such crimes unless Christians and other people of conscience work to change the atmosphere where gays are seen as less than complete human beings with the full civil privileges of other citizens. Gays and lesbians aren’t going to go away. Nor are they going to stay away from the church, where—rumor has it—people “love their neighbors as themselves.” This is an opportunity to practice what we preach.”
— Practicing What We Preach by Aaron Gallegos

War and Peace:
Our world faces a major challenge of how to resolve conflicts, reduce violence, and defeat terrorism without preemptive war. War has become a first resort instead of the last resort. In a world with terrorists, terrorist states, unilateralist superpowers, and weapons of mass destruction, alternatives to an endless cycle of violence are needed.

Addressing the degradation of God’s sacred Earth is the moral assignment of our time, comparable to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s, the worldwide movement to achieve equality for women, or ongoing efforts to control weapons of mass destruction in a post-Hiroshima world. — From the National Council of Churches Open Letter to Church and Society in the United States.

Put aside the Holy Scriptures for a while and read God’s first revelation—nature itself. Such was the advice offered some years ago by a profound, Christian thinker. We stress “Christian” here because this person of faith intended no offense to [the Bible], nor to us who hold [it] sacred. His point was that long before the writing of Genesis, humanity could already read God’s self-revelation in the natural world.

In the book of Genesis, the creation is simply gift, a garden made with care, and in its essence, very good. Our original place was to walk with God in the garden of life.

(All above comments are taken from “Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace.”



On Beyond Zebra June 15, 2010



Said Conrad Cornelius O’Donell O’Dell
(My very young friend who is learning to spell)
The A is for ape, the B is for bear,
The C is for camel, the H is for hare
The M is for mouse, the R is for rat
I know all 26 letters like that

Now I know everything anyone knows
From beginning to end, from the start to the close

Then he almost fell flat on his face on the floor
When I picked up the chalk and drew one letter more
A letter he had never dreamed of before

And I said ‘You can stop if you want with the Z
Most people stop with the Z, but not me
In the places I go there are things that I see
That I never can spell if I stop with a Z

I’m telling you this ‘cos you’re one of my friends
My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends!

— Dr. Seuss

[Religion says that it’s teachers, and a book, are all there is:
“Now I know everything anyone knows
From beginning to end, from the start to the close”
Living by the Spirit says God is so much bigger than that,
and that “My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends!” — df]


The A Team June 12, 2010

Q: “Why are we in a falling tank?!?!”
A: “Because the plane blew up!”

We saw the new “The A-Team” movie today. I usually check out some reviews before going to any movie. This movie, at the site I was on, was given a C+. The reviews were mixed, with one reviewer calling the film “an incomprehensible mess.” Neither I or my wife found anything about the movie “incomprehensible” or a “mess.” In fact, we both really enjoyed the movie.

Liam Neeson was perfectly cast as Hannibal. Bradley Cooper was a lot of fun as “Face.” Rampage was very good as B.A. Actually, I liked him a lot better than Mr. T. I’ve nothing against “T” as a person, but I found his take on the character rather annoying. Rampage, I thought, was more audience friendly. Sharlto Copley rounded out the leads as the rather insane Murdock. Jessica Biel, and the always impressive Gerald McRaney also starred. John Hamm made an appearance at the end in what was an obvious set-up for a return in “A-Team II.”

The movie was produced by the Scott Brothers, who’s credits include such films as Alien, Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II, True Romance, Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State, and on and on, as well as TV shows like “The Good Wife,” and “Numb3rs.”  Also at the helm, is TV series producer Stephen J. Cannell, who pretty much owned 80’s television.

As I said, my wife and both enjoyed this movie. Instead of the C+, I’d give it a B+. We expected to enjoy it, but we both liked it more than we expected. All in all, we found the movie to be a great blend of action, story, special effects, and the all-important sense of humor that is essential for this type of film to succeed.
Oh, and stay through the credits for a couple of fun cameos.

— df


On Bible Idolatry June 11, 2010

by Dr. Bruce Prescott

I turned away from Fundamentalism because I was more concerned about seeing people come to know Jesus than I was with defending the Bible. When I was a Fundamentalist and tried to witness to people, our conversations would almost inevitably bog down on matters that I now know are inessential to salvation. Conversations rarely reached the point at which the love that God demonstrated to us through Jesus could be discussed. Endless debates about the historical and scientific veracity of various parts of the Bible were common. It grieves me that people turned away from faith in Christ because I talked as though it was necessary to believe in a young earth and creation science to be saved. I believe it grieves God too.

Read the rest of this important article
Click HERE.


Savior June 10, 2010

“Jesus is the only Savior, but not everybody who
is being saved by Him is aware that He is the
one who is doing the saving”
–Tony Campolo


Hell, No. June 9, 2010

“I don’t understand it,” said the caller. “It sounds like you’re saying there is no hell…”

If your idea of hell is a place, perhaps located in the center of the earth, where wicked souls suffer eternal torture in fire and brimstone, supervised by the devil and his demons — no — there is no such place.

You can’t make a scriptural case for this kind of hell unless you select certain passages and discard others — and even then your case shaky at best. This popular notion of hell is an unholy marriage of ancient pagan ideas about the underworld and the afterlife with selected Biblical passages taken out of context.

The fact is, there are three Greek words with different meanings in the New Testament that are unfortunately translated into English as hell in the King James version. But the English word hell comes with a ton of baggage. In pre-Christian Germanic mythology it (or similar words) referred to a nether world where the dead were punished — and the word has helped carry this pagan concept into Christianity, along with other concepts of a fiery underworld borrowed from ancient Greco-Roman mythology.

But when we dump all this baggage and examine the Scriptural passages that deal with punishment in the afterlife, and when we see that the passages vary in their description of the nature of that punishment, we are left with this simple, unconfusing concept: “hell” is eternal separation from God.

– Monte Wolverton


Brand Christianity June 4, 2010

(Taken from “A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity” by Spencer Burke”)

According to the Barna Research Group, almost twenty million people have walk away from branded Christianity [from 2001 to 2006]. Brand Christianity has basically reduced the relationship between God and humanity to a business transaction.
Food, clothing, music, literature, movies, television, concerts, conferences and festivals — everything these days is available in a Christian version. The “us versus them” mentality that results is a major obstacle to many people, and the message of Jesus has become so wrapped up in a particual package that its potential to engage all of society has been lost. Brand Christianity has turned grace into a commodity that can be accessed only through the embrace of a particular cultural form of religion, one that is increasingly unappealing to many seekers.

Rather than binding and gagging grace behind the walls of Christianity and making access to it conditional on the acceptance of culturally created ideas, I believe we need to present the message of Jesus outside of brand Christianity.

Maybe the greatest gift the Christian religion can offer the world right now is to remove itself from the battle for God. I trust others will be excited by the prospect of encountering the message of Jesus without the baggage of brand Christianity.

If we adopt some misconception as absolute truth, it will actually prevent us from ever truly reaching the truth. Even when truth come knocking, we will not recognize it. Sometimes what we think we know becomes an obstacle to the truth.

— Spencer Burke
Buy the book HERE.


Heresy And Heretics June 3, 2010

The earth revolves around the sun. HERESY!
   (The Bible clearly teaches the sun rises and falls around the earth.)

The common man should have access to the scriptures.  HERESY!
   (The Catholic church said only professionals can understand the Bible.)

Persons with black skin should be treated as humans.  HERESY!
   (The KKK often held fundamentalist views and believed that the
   Anglo-Saxon Protestants were the DIVINE elite group who held the right to govern.)

Women are not possessions of their husbands.  HERESY!
   (We even need laws to state that women should get equal pay?!?!?)

     Galileo: HERETIC!
          Luther: HERETIC!
               Martin Luther King: HERETIC! (and Communist.)

Jesus Christ: HERETIC!

Jesus threatened the Pharisees foundational (fundamental?) beliefs to the very core, and
was Public Enemy #1 of the religious leaders.

History has proven, again and again, that the institutional church has
frequently labeled God’s prophets, and others speaking truth, as heretics.
Repeatedly, religion has had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the light of truth.
Anytime the status quo of it’s “authority” is questioned, challenged or threatened, rest assured,
it will be called heresy.

Knowing this, maybe we should look at who the church is railing against today.
Just to name a few.

Maybe, given the proven track record of the “church,” we should, at least,
give serious consideration to those whose teachings are currently being labeled as “heretical.”

From what I’ve seen, we need more heretics.  God bless the heretics.

— df


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