October 20, 2020

Saturday Ramblings: December 26, 2015


Santa is enjoying a well-deserved rest, but we’re back on the road and rambling! We’ll spice our journey today with some tweets we unwrapped on Christmas morning, gifts from Funny or Die and The Church Curmudgeon.

b38736e7f821133cae6eb515fbb1342cFirst, here is one practical reason why “contemporary” churches don’t do liturgy…

Curmudgeon 1

b38736e7f821133cae6eb515fbb1342cSecond, people have no idea how stressful it is for Christians fighting the Christmas Wars this time of year…

Curmudgeon 2

b38736e7f821133cae6eb515fbb1342cNow, let’s think and talk about something much more serious. Here is the trailer for the new film Concussion, which was released on Christmas Day. It tells the story of Pittsburgh pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, originally from Nigeria, who uncovered the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated head trauma playing the game. Adelle M. Banks at RNS writes that it was the doctor’s Roman Catholic Christian faith that led him to want to speak the truth and do the right thing on behalf of the injured.

What impact (pun intended) will this film have on the All-Powerful NFL?

As a character in the film says, “You’re going to war with a corporation that owns a day of the week … the same day that church used to own.” In a recent interview, Omalu said he is not “anti-football,” but stressed that his commitment to science and faith obligate him to tell the truth, and he believes the faith community (of which he is part) has a role to be an “agent of change, agent of information, education and enlightenment” in the world.

Xmas Tweet 4

b38736e7f821133cae6eb515fbb1342c“Do Muslims worship the same God as Christians?”

That’s been the big question emanating from Wheaton College, where tenured political science professor Larycia Hawkins was placed on administrative leave for her explanation about why she pledged to wear a hijab during Advent in support of her Muslim neighbors.

Here is a portion of her original Facebook post with the offending statement, followed by Wheaton’s response:

HAWKINS122315I don’t love my Muslim neighbor because s/he is American.

I love my Muslim neighbor because s/he deserves love by virtue of her/his human dignity.

I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind–a cave in Sterkfontein, South Africa that I had the privilege to descend into to plumb the depths of our common humanity in 2014.

I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.

But as I tell my students, theoretical solidarity is not solidarity at all. Thus, beginning tonight, my solidarity has become embodied solidarity.

• • •

“Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion, and theological clarity,” the college stated in announcing the decision. “As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college’s evangelical Statement of Faith.”

A few days ago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that talks between the professor and the school had broken down, even though she had submitted a theological statement that the Wheaton administration had requested. “Talks have broken down at Wheaton. Dr. Hawkins submitted her theological statement as requested by the College. However, her suspension still stands, and it appears that the College is moving toward terminating her employment. Dr. Hawkins stands by her actions, and is continuing her act of Christian embodied solidarity,” Shelly Ruzicka, Arise Chicago’s director of operations, said in an email on Tuesday.

In further developments, the Wheaton Patch says: “Hawkins rejected a recent proposal from the college that would allow her to teach again next fall but would revoke her tenure for at least two years, the Chicago Tribune reports. She also turned down suggestions to resign and said the college appeared to be moving toward termination.”

Xmas Tweet 1

b38736e7f821133cae6eb515fbb1342cAnd then there’s this, from everyone’s favorite culture warrior: Franklin Graham

zumagraham425x320Shame on the Republicans and the Democrats for passing such a wasteful spending bill last week. And to top it off, funding Planned Parenthood! A Huffington Post article called it “a big win for Planned Parenthood.” I call it a big loss for America. After all of the appalling facts revealed this year about Planned Parenthood, our representatives in Washington had a chance to put a stop to this, but they didn’t. There’s no question—taxpayers should not be paying for abortions! Abortion is murder in God’s eyes. Seeing and hearing Planned Parenthood talk nonchalantly about selling baby parts from aborted fetuses with utter disregard for human life is reminiscent of Joseph Mengele and the Nazi concentration camps! That should’ve been all that was needed to turn off the faucet for their funding. Nothing was done to trim this 2,000 page, $1.1 trillion budget. This is an example of why I have resigned from the Republican Party and declared myself Independent. I have no hope in the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, or Tea Party to do what is best for America. Unless more godly men and women get in this process and change this wicked system, our country is in for trouble. I want to challenge Christians, even pastors, across the country to pray about running for office where they can have an impact. We need mayors, country commissioners, city council members, school board members who will uphold biblical values.

In just a couple of weeks, I will begin going state by state to every capital in our nation to hold prayer rallies for our country and share this same challenge on the Decision America Tour. Des Moines, Iowa, is first on January 5. I hope you’ll join me in your capital—check decisionamericatour.com for more dates and details.

The Daily Beast asks whether Graham’s leaving over the issues of wasteful spending and Planned Parenthood/abortion might spark an evangelical exodus from the GOP. But they also note an irony about his decision:

But there’s an irony in this conservative frustration with the Republican Party over abortion: That’s because 2015 brought tons of wins for the pro-life movement. Republican state legislatures passed dozens of restrictions on the procedure, and Mother Jones reported that abortion clinics “are closing down at a rate of 1.5 every single week.” And the Centers for Disease Control also found that the country’s abortion rate reached a record low this year.

Some conservatives who sympathize with Graham have opined that frustration with issues like this explains at least in part why Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have achieved high levels of popularity at the moment.

Xmas Tweet 5

b38736e7f821133cae6eb515fbb1342cFinally, for our look at music today, here’s a rather curmudgeonly look at the difference between “Lutheran” and “Anglican” Christmas music. I offer it because it’s clever and makes some good points, but in true (very) conservative Lutheran form, it’s overly broad, literalistic, and not very generous toward other traditions.

But after all, we’re fighting for truth here.


A happy Christmastide to all.

Xmas Tweet 6


  1. I agree in principle with Franklin Graham. Evangelicals should have a prophetic message for all political parties. The disappointing part is that he doesn’t call out the lack of integrity of a political system owned by high-dollar donars and anonymous super-packs. The minor prophets call out oppression and exploitation of the poor as a sin worthy of apacalyptic, nation-ending judgement, but evangelicals continue to join in the demonization of the poor as lazy and entitled. Maybe this is a start to calling for an end to Washington corruption. Christians need to stop identifying faith with any political party.

    • “Christians need to stop identifying faith with any political party.” Absolutely. Double absolutely.

    • Adam Taunno Williams says

      Pretty much.

      But this is All Good in the end. These guys want to de-institutionalize. They will resign from the Republican Party, and whoever else… and then vanish from the field. All to the good; the more of these guys leave the institution of government [motivated by disgust, or whatever] the better off we as a nation are.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The disappointing part is that he doesn’t call out the lack of integrity of a political system owned by high-dollar donars and anonymous super-packs.

      Remember this is the same Franklin Graham who got caught double-dipping two positions at over half a million a year apiece. Income that puts him up there with the other One Percenters and GOP Kingmakers.


    • Your comment on the minor prophets reminds me of a sermon I heard several years ago in an evangelical church. The pastor read a passage from the OT prophets denouncing oppression of the poor while still participating in temple worship (I forget the passage) and I thought ‘this should be good’ (in an upper-middle-class church in suburban Denver). However, the whole point of the sermon (which missed the whole point of the passage) was that ‘pure worship’ is what is important – it all comes down to personal piety. I left thinking that sermon epitomized the disconnect between evangelicalism and the Bible (not to mention the ethics that God seems to think is important).

    • The abortion issue has stymied the prophetic voice of the church against the GOP due to its empty promises to end abortion. Criticizing the GOP has been treated like biting the hand that feeds us. It”s time for the church to stop being treated like the obedient Republican lap dog content with table scraps. Elections are still won by votes, not money.

  2. Donors.

  3. As for Dr. Hawkins, I stand by my comment last week. Her statements are based on a flawed, pantheon-like view of religious freedom. I can dignify a Muslim’s religious freedom without claiming we worship the same thing. Do Christians worship the same thing as Buddhists? The question is ridiculous. I do highly respect the teachings of Buddhism. Do Christians worship the same thing as atheists? Again, ridiculous; but I highly respect atheists – including those critical of religious belief. But Christians hate the word, “diversity”, without acknowledging how critical it is to the greatness of the U.S..

    • I LOVE everything done by Hans Fiene, and his caricature is for the most part right on. So many popular English carols languish in the trivial and sentimental, even beautiful ones that I will confess to using. The most notable exceptions, however, are “What Child is This,” which, if you sing the right version, confesses “Nails, spears shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you,” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” which is one of the best incarnation manifestos to be found in any hymnal. But other than that, yeah, the English are so silly.

      • Bleh meant as comment not reply.

      • Pellicano Solitudinis says

        A favourite carol of mine at the moment is “Sing, sing all earth.” I think you’d like it.

      • After complaining to my wife how theologically fluffy so many of the carols chosen for our Lessons and Carols service were, that video made us both laugh a lot. Sure, the satire is a bit of an overstatement, but that’s why it’s so funny. Should I become a rector/pastor of a parish one day, I’d like to work with my choirmaster to keep both the theology and musicality very high. In my opinion, the hymn played by the Luther character toward the end of the video didn’t really hold a musical candle to the theologically fluffy English carols about which I had been complaining to my wife.

        Is it just me, or have some of the Lutheran Satire characters begun to become somewhat self-referential? E.g., the Vicar and Mr. Thompson mentioning that the German accent sounds Egyptian (due to the Horus character in other LS videos).

        • Oh, and to Miguel’s point about singing the “right versions,” one of my pet peeves is the skipping of verses and cutting some of the theology off at the knees. I HATE when we do that! And we do it so much as Anglicans!

        • The Luther video is a hoot. But, in defense of the Anglicans, Luther did say that we should use “all the music in the world, that the devil not have all the fun.”

      • Richard Hershberger says

        “I LOVE everything done by Hans Fiene”

        meh. He sometimes hits a home run, but often he presents an argument consisting of having some proof texts handy, with the hero winning against someone who doesn’t even have that. This is unpersuasive. It’s not as if non-Lutherans don’t have proof texts of their own.. The trouble with fantasy scripts where you present devastating arguments to people who can only stand in silent awe is that when you try this in the real world you are much more likely to end up looking foolish. The bigger problem is that it teaches theology as argument by proof text: who has the mostest and bestest proof texts wins. This is a terrible thing to teach people. All in all, the videos run more to smug self-congratulation than to anything that will persuade anyone not already persuaded.

        • Generally speaking, any tradition that believes it has the One True understanding of scripture will rely on proof texts (or “locus classicus” if one is a pretentious wing-nut who believes saying things in latin automatically lends credence to a bad idea). I would expect any “confessional” group to trot out proof texts. But in the case of LS, it is just funny. I can’t honestly say any of them are persuasive, per se, but I don’t think that is the point (the messing with dispensationalists one is hilarious, and obviously just meant to be funny).

  4. Pellicano Solitudinis says

    I’m afraid I don’t understand why so many people don’t accept that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. If it’s that Muslims don’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God, well, neither do the Jews (and arguably the Jehovah’s Witnesses). Like the Jews, Muslims worship only one Person of the Trinity, God the Father. I also don’t accept the argument that because the Muslim understanding of God differs so much from the Christian, they cannot be worshipping the same God – Christian views about God can vary enormously. To some extent we all have different understandings of God and tend to make him in our own image – does that mean we all worship different Gods? Of course not, we just have limited or flawed points of view.

    • I think the issue revolves around the ambiguity of the word “same”.

      I have no problem acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, albeit with DIFFERING understandings.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        That’s been my take on it as well.

      • Any correlation of religions implies a litmus test for religious freedom, i.e. same “god”, same book, same laws, same spiritual principles, or same political platform or social agenda. I question if all religious symbols are even grounded upon the same Ultimate Concern. One cannot assume; from a pluralistic perspective, why do they need to, except to control religion? How can one refuse to bow down to the collective universal god? Must I worship the “god” who allegedly has hand-picked Trump as the next president?

        • From a political perspective – as demonstrated in recent presidential elections, disparate religions are drawn together under one one supreme being: the political agenda. The ultimate concern of those religions is replaced with an idol. Fascism accomplished the same thing seventy years ago.

        • Must I worship the “god” who allegedly has hand-picked Trump as the next president?

          I guess I’m an atheist because I don’t believe in that god either.

    • Steve Newell says

      Please answer this question: Would Jews and Muslims agree that we worship a triune God? If one rejects Jesus as God the Father’s only begotten son and he is true God, then you reject God as being a triune God.

      There is only one way to God the Father and that is through his son, Jesus (John 14:6)

      • Please answer this: Did Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who did not believe in the Trinity, worship the same God as Christians? If you say No, then we have a deep and serious problem, because the New Testament itself points back to these as followers of and believers in the true and living God and Father of Jesus Christ.

        I understand and agree with the idea that Jesus himself alters the basic contours of the Christian understanding of the nature and character of God, in a way unique among theistic religions. But whether or not Christians, Jews and Muslims worship the same God is not a simple matter with a straightforward answer. The New Testament itself speaks respectfully of contemporary non-Jewish “God-fearers” as people who gave honor to the true God of Israel, though they obviously did not believe in the Trinity.

        There is only one way to God the Father, and that is through his Son, Jesus. But the wind bloweth where it listeth, and the Son is in the Wind.

        • There are as many ways to the Son as there are individual people.

          • and the Son died once thus opening the door to the Father for EVERYONE.

            Boom. Only through the son. Prophecy fulfilled. It is finished.

            So now what?

            There are many ways.

        • Yes. Jesus clearly affirms that the one true God IS the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Saying we don’t worship the same God because the God we worship is a trinity and the God of Jews (or even Muslims) is not oversimplifies issues that even the Christian church discussed and debated for centuries.

      • There is only one way to God the Father and that is through his son, Jesus (John 14:6)

        We have got to have a group discussion about that verse sometime, because I no longer know what it means, but I’ve sure heard millions of explanations for what it doesn’t mean.

        • What it’s not saying is the trinity, because that’s a much later theological formulation.

          I find these formulations where St. Paul and the apostles worshiped a different God than us confusing.

          • I think that there’s no question that important parts of the New Testament affirm that Jesus has the status of God, and is God, (the prologue of John, the response of Thomas encountering the risen Jesus for the first time, the passages involving kenotic theology in the Epistles, and others). There are other texts that clearly depict Jesus speaking of and to the Father, or Abba, who also is understood in the NT to be God. This firmly roots at least two of the terms of traditional Christian Trinitarianism in the New Testament, and the experience and understanding of the Christian communities that wrote the New Testament, way way back at the beginning.

            Establishing the third term of Trinitarianism, the Holy Spirit, is more complex, but flows out of the dynamic between the other two terms, themselves firmly established in the New Testament witness.

          • To the extent we’re talking about Paul’s writings and the gospels I. Think there are plenty of questions, even in John I’d say it’s only clear that Jesus is a divine being of some sort, which is something almost all the early Christian community believed.

          • I think the Prologue of John unequivocally affirms that Jesus is God, as does John 20:28. In Rev 21:6-7, God is said to be the Alpha and the Omega; later, in Rev 22: 13, 16, Jesus is called the Alpha and Omega. In the Gospels Jesus forgives sins by his own authority; he is said to be the one who shall judge the world: these are God’s prerogatives. In the Gospels, the angels, who were created by God, are said to belong to Jesus; in Revelation, he’s said to send his angels: Jesus commands his spirits, a prerogative of God who created them. There are many such texts.

            I adduce these not as proof-texts that Jesus is God, but that the original Christian communities understood him to be God, along with the Father, and that these two terms of what later would be called the Trinity were already rooted in the experience and proclamation of the earliest Church.

          • I will concede that the scriptural witness is hesitant to apply the title “God” to Jesus, even as it attributes prerogatives to him that only belong to God, and even as speaks of him as only God is spoken of. Only in one place, John 20:28, is Jesus addressed with the title “God”. I believe the reason for this is that the community’s experience of Jesus was stretching its understanding of the nature and character of God in a new and radical direction; this, along with the theological reluctance of Jews to address someone who was obviously human as “God”, made it difficult for them to use that title in addressing Jesus.

            Jesus in his person was transcending their thinking about both the divine, and the human. They looked to him for all that they would look to God as they had always understood the word, and also for things that were entirely new. It took some time for the word “God” to evolve into and catch up with the experience of the divine that the Church had in Jesus. Several centuries, actually.

          • Perhaps it has never actually caught up; it’s still developing. The title “God” is perhaps still inadequate to what and who we experience in Jesus.

      • I guess I don’t understand how Christians can believe in the mysteries of the Trinity with the three different persons of God can still be the same God, but can’t consider that the 3 world monotheistic religions could all be different iterations of how to see God, but yet all be seeing God.

    • Yeah, no. That only works if god is a real, personal, and absolute being. Some people believe that, but from any position other than True Believer, such a claim is absurd. Leaving aside the question of whether god is contingent upon one’s understanding, it is just impossible to get around the fact that saying we worship the same being is a complete non-sequitar to any meaningful poli-sci line of inquiry.

      • “God” is an abstract concept.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Which is the reason for the Incarnation.

          • Possibly.

            I’ve contemplated the idea recently that in the wake of the crucifixion of a highly controversial religious political figure, the disciples needed to keep the story and teachings of Jesus alive, so when they started putting together the stories and writings, they talked to Jesus’ mother who lent the supernatural element to him by casting him in the same light as other great men born of virgins, pure and undefiled from the world and the taint of women, thus deifying him into a Demi-God. And thus the legend born, which over time, he became God himself.

            Just a theory.


          • Precisely, HUG.

      • Adam Taunno Williams says

        > real, personal, and absolute being. Some people believe that

        Yes. And then they get into fights about what “real”, “personal”, and “absolute” mean. I do not know if I even believe those things. I believe in a self-aware self-actualizing God. But “personal” and “absolute”…. what is an “absolute being”? I have no idea what that means in any substantive way.

        > it is just impossible to get around the fact that saying we worship the same being
        > is a complete non-sequitar to any meaningful poli-sci line

        I agree that this disagreement is heat, not light. This is an argument about identity, and not the substance of the question… as we cannot and do not even agree on what the Substance in question is.

        • The interesting thing is that both Hawkins and Wheaton are espousing positions that only have meaning if god is real – and personal, in the sense of being a person. An Other. From any kind of academic perspective, “god” is a set comprising those attributes about which a group has general agreement. For my part, I think Hawkins’ statement is silly because (1) I am skeptical of god, and (2) a ven diagram modeling the overlap between the major monotheistic religions is enough to persuade anyone that there is no reasonable agreement on a set that describes “god”.

      • Yes. Non-sequitur. I was hoping someone would say this; I was afraid of mis-applying the definition.

        • Either way, religiously or Constitutionally, it’s non-sequitur. Please tell Muslims they worship the same god as the infidels. I’m sure they will be so appreciative of your statement of solidarity.

    • Well I was raised to believe thad evangelicals, lutherans, pentecostals, catholics, methodists, any other denomination don’t worship same God as the Baptists do…or if they do, they are all wrong, and thus going to hell anyways, so what does it matter.

      I don’t get it either. Judiasm, Christianity, Islam – all three are Abrahamic religions worshipping the same “God”. The same Father. Jews don’t accept Jesus as Messiah; Christians accept Jesus as Messiah, the Final Prophet, and as God; Muslims accept Jesus as a prophet before The Prophet but not as God. All three worship the same God.

      But this goes against exceptionalism and always right and we’re at war and those others are liars.

      Because after all, it’s not Christians who fly planes into buildings and chop people’s heads off over a drawing. We’re the peaceful religion, and we get that from God, who alone give us morality, and you can’t be moral at all apart from our God.

      We just bomb innocent civilians, start wars in the Middle East in support of one nation, and shoot up women’s health clinics. All before Sunday potluck.

  5. Loved the tweets, CM. However, I’m disappointed that a shirtless Santa replaced a Xmas Rambler…

    • It’s Santa’s day off!

      Last week’s Saturday Ramblings showed Santa behind the wheel of a red Rambler. This week, his destination, the hammock, which he’s been waiting all year for.

      I don’t think he got very far south, though. It looks more like snow behind him than sand.

  6. Been looking forward to this Ramble all week. Couldn’t wait for Boxing Day!!

  7. F. Graham must have only woke up this month. The Republican party has been making promises to the Evang. Right since before Reagan was elected, especially as relates to the abortion issue. Not ONE Republican president has delivered. Neither has any Republican pres. delivered on correcting deficit spending…and the last Rep president even accelerated it.

    Graham is a cry-baby who has just realized that the Xian Right is essentially out of power on the national level. Reminds me of the Puritans leaving England after their reign of terror…

    • in truth, I find Franklin Graham to currently be a disappointing opposite of his beloved father Billy
      . . . perhaps that seems an extreme contrast, but it seems right to say that Billy Graham, toward the end of his ‘career’, seems to have embraced a Christian humility that speaks to the whole Body of Christ in its authenticity . . .

      I don’t know where Franklin Graham is coming from or going to, but if he is ever to be ‘a man like his father’, he has a daunting sojourn ahead, and it’s not to the places of political power, no..

      sometimes the metaphor of the ‘gold ring’ of Tolkien and its lure finds expression in the reality of this world . . . I think Franklin Graham, with all of his fame and connections, is sorely surrounded by temptations that have come to him because of those ‘advantages’

    • Adam Taunno Williams says

      > Xian Right is essentially out of power on the national level

      Refined: ” Xian Right is essentially out of ABSOLUTE DICTATORIAL power on the national level”

      They have lots of power on the national level. What cheeses them off is that other groups have power too; that is what they disagree with. Everyone ELSE should shut-up and get off the stage.

  8. RE: the Rudolph tweet…

    Instead of fighting Santa and demanding for the abuse to end, Rudolph gives in and lets Santa exploit him for an even further extent of time. After that, Rudolph is treated nicely as long as he lets himself be exploited for years to come and the story ends on that bombshell. The story clearly suggests that dysfunctional people are ok for society as long as we can find a way to use or exploit them for our own personal gain.

    What Message Is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Sending Our Kids?

    Discuss amongst yourselves. :evil

  9. I’m tired of the whole “do Muslims worship the same God” thing. After thinking about it for a week, I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is Yes in certain respects, and No in others. Any way you cut it, Wheaton had no justification for its disciplinary action against Professor Hawkins; a simple articulation of where it as an institution differs with her on this subject, while upholding the academic liberty of faculty and students to disagree, would’ve sufficed.

    As it is, they’ve interpreted what was really an attempt to express solidarity with and support of frightened American Muslims as a betrayal of essential Christian doctrine, which it’s not. This is a very narrow fundamentalist reaction, which surprises and disappoints me, because I thought Wheaton was better than that.

    • Ditto, Robert.

    • Yeah, Wheaton is way out of line on this one. I’m glad Prof. Hawkins is not going along with their insulting and ridiculous schemes.

    • Adam Taunno Williams says

      > Wheaton had no justification for its disciplinary action against Professor Hawkins

      Really? There statement is “our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion, and theological clarity”. Now, let us read that in reverse. We start with “theological clarity” … now once we are all manager to stop laughing at such a turn of phrase … we know from l-o-n-g historical precedent that “theological clarity” voids “integrity” and “compassion”. This leaves Wheaton free to do whatever they deem to be politically expedient [ultimately what statements like “theological clarity” always means].

      Justification – check.

      • Political expediency may backfire on them. I don’t see what they have to gain in the way of donorship, and much to lose.

        This reminds me of the statement from Bailey Smith, head of the Southern Baptist Convention back in the 1980s, that “God does not hear the prayer of a Jew.”

        Political suicide in that case. Other evangelical and fundamentalist leaders pounced on him bigtime and he, uh, rephrased it.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > Political expediency may backfire on them

          Certainly. Expediency often does.

          > I don’t see what they have to gain in the way of donorship

          No doubt they fear a backlash from their supporters if they seem to have any affiliation with Islam.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      As it is, they’ve interpreted what was really an attempt to express solidarity with and support of frightened American Muslims as a betrayal of essential Christian doctrine, which it’s not.

      Everything ees Political Matter, Comrades.

    • One can make a statement of solidarity without implying we all worship the same being. One is not affirming ones neighbor’s first amendment rights by saying he or she worships the same thing. Why would Muslims be flattered by infidels claiming to worship the same being as they do? Why even step into that mud fight? A professor of theology should have known better.

      • She’s a professor of political science, not theology. If she had been in the theology dept it would have been far more of a problem unless she had qualified it from the get-go.

        • Associate professor. That makes her easier to sacrifice on the altar of patriotism and donorship.

          • Even though she has tenure. This really is terrible, and is, i think, already backfiring on them.

          • Frankly, I just find it stupid. As in, how could anyone in academia with two brain-cells to rub together for friction ever think this was a good idea. And their little scheme to bring her back but revoke tenure is even worse. It is a tacit admission of wrongdoing. I’m afraid someone really screwed the pooch on this one.

      • I agree with you. I actually don’t believe that many Muslims are flattered to be told that they worship the same God as a Jesus worshiper; they might consider it patronizing, or an accusation of committing shirk. But then, I don’t know if Professor Hawkins worships Jesus or not. She may not; many who call themselves Christian don’t.

        But the severity of the discipline that Wheaton executed is surely a matter of placating powerful donors. I don’t see any loyalty to Jesus in it, not in the least.

        • Robert – huh??? Jesus is one of the important prophets for them, and he is even given the t7tle “the Anointed One” by them. They also have vety deep reverence for Mary, which is Maryam/Mariam in Arabic (much clloser to Mary’s Hebrew given name – Miriam).

          Furgher, the virgin birth is right thrre in the Qur’an.

          Trinitarian formulations *do not* make logical sense, and honestly, i think the vast majority of us xtians would be able to explain the trinity – really explain/define – if asked. I really csn see how it appears to be polytheism to many people, and why Muslims find themselves repelled by making other being equal to the One God. Same for observant Jews, especially given the way we have used his name as an exvuse to kill and otherwise relentessly persevute them for close to 2000 years.

          • Would not be able to…

          • The center of my faith is the Incarnation; my faith in the Trinity flows from my belief that Jesus is equal to God. Believing Jesus is Messiah is not the same as believing that he is God incarnate. The Incarnation is as logically inexplicable as the Trinity, but I still affirm it, as has the majority of traditional Christians throughout history. That Jesus’ name has been misused is no argument against the Christian conviction that he is equal to God. What you say confirms my assertion: for Muslims, traditional Christian faith in Jesus as God incarnate is shirk. I have no reason to believe that wouldn’t be the case even if Christians through the centuries had truly behaved like disciples of the Prince of peace.

          • I believe the same, but can easily see thst it looks VERY weird to non-xtians.

            Just saying.

          • numo,
            I don’t know what you’re objecting to in my statements. If you disagree, you disagree. You will notice that I give full support to Professor Hawkins, not Wheaton College; please also notice that I respect and support her standing with Muslims against any would-be or actual oppressors.

            But I’m a Jesus worshiper. As far as I’m concerned, that’s where my Christian faith begins, and that’s what makes it distinctive from a generic theism,or any other more definite form of theism. It also is where I suspect any moderately devout Muslim, or Jew, would demure from saying that the God I believe in and worship is the same as theirs.

          • Robert – nobody was running around talking about the trinity during or after Christ’s death/resurrection, and it didn’t really come up for a good while after. So, are the members of the very early church not worshipping “-the same God,” or are they? Keeping in mind that they only had the Hebrew Bible by way of scripture and all that….

            I kind of think that your focus on the divinity of Christ might be skewing your perspective on the *history* of worship of the God of Abraham … just a bit. It took many centuri3s for the formulation of both the doctrine of the trinity and the Christological controversies to play out. I wonder what people believed in the meantime?

          • We disagree. Worship of Jesus as God started very, very early; I’m convinced of that. That the title “God” was not applied to him until later (though not much later) does not negate that the New Testament witness is permeated with the language of a community that approached Jesus as they would God, experienced Jesus as one who exercised the prerogatives of God, and saw Jesus as equal to God. It’s there in the first witnesses. The language had to catch up with the reality, or approximate it better, and that took time. Jesus changed, and continues to change, the meaning of the word “God”.

            I accept that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who is narrated in the OT scriptural witness, is the same God who is narrated by the New Testament witness. As a Christian, I also believe that this narrative description of God finds completion of its arc in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, as it’s witnessed in the New Testament and the NT community, and continues to be experienced in the Church and in the world. The Apostolic community’s experience of Jesus fundamentally changed the understanding and experience of God in that community, and in all theological language.

            I think that Islam, the Koran and Hadith, alter the narrative direction of the OT and NT in fundamental ways that, if believed, vacate the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. The Koran itself denies that Jesus was crucified; this denial is the result of a conception of God as one who would never let his Messiah be executed in shame and dishonor. This is a fundamentally different conception of God from that revealed to the Apostolic community, even before we reach the theological apprehension of the crucified God.

            Islam denies a crucified Messiah, and rejects a suffering God. These are central to the Christian faith, and the Christian apprehension of the character and nature of God as it’s redefined by the experience of the living and resurrected Jesus. If you can direct me to resources regarding the major branches of Islam that say otherwise, I’ll be happy to read them and alter my opinions, if warranted. Until then, I have to consider that the worship of Islam is not directed to the God discerned in Jesus Christ. That the God and Father of Jesus Christ may gracefully accept the worship of Muslims, or Hindus, or etc., is another matter altogether.

          • With the excerption of the eatly Pauline letters, we are dealing with oral transmission of things that were not written down and collected until quite a bit after the facy. Additionally, not all that many in the early church would have been literate. The NT looks s bit likr it’s “whole cloth,” when in reality it is anything but.

            As to what, exactly, members of ghe earliest church believed, it’s not like we have Man on the Street interviews eith any of them, let alone diaries or memoirs. And the writers of the NT didn’t have a modern, “slice of life” approwch yo narrative,

            All i was reslly trying to say is thst there is so much thst we don’t know. Plugging histotical gaps and open questions with docttinr and/or documents thst were written much later doesn’t wotk in trying to find snswers to those questions. For the most part, those things are in the realm of the speculative at best. Documents like the Romsn Symbol and thd Apostles Creed didn’t exist, after all…

            As for tjis pesky “same god” thing, here’s my take: yes, all 3 Abrahamic religions worship the One True God – but the *underdtanding* of who God is varies. This is true of people who are members of ghe same rrligious group, not just Judaism compared to xtianity compare to Islam. None of these groups are monolithic.

            Have you had much to do with Shia Islam? There are things in Shiism that makd it much easier for many Shii adherents to gradp the whole suffering/death leading to redemption aspect of Jesus’ life than is the case with most who are adherents of Sunni Islam.

          • I disagree with you on numerous points, but I’ll leave it alone; no purpose in going around the same circuit again and again.

            One thing, though: recent scholarship disputes some of the traditional assumptions about the pervasiveness of illiteracy in the ancient world:


          • Yes and no on literacy. In thr Midfle Ages, many people were literate, and msny were not. That vety much includes cletics. Barbara Tuchman wrote of one man being consecrated as a bishop who not only did not know any Lwtin, but literally had so much trouble with some of the expected responses that he shooed off that section of the liturgy and told those who were consecrating him to skip thst part and get on with it.

            Many parish priests were barely literate (depening on location; somemof the least educated ended up in extremely isolated locations, and since they were supposed to be the local arbiters of many things, well… A lot of monks – not those in the scriptoria, but those who were sevonded to manual labor and servants’ jobs – were likely functionally, if not entirely, illiterate. I’m not a fan of “the light ernt out in the West after the fall of Rome,” but part of my profesdional training is as a historian, and I’ve gotthat hst on at the moment. We DO rely a *lot* on things written by a handful of people in order to get some kind of realistic picture of the early church, and by no means are all of those texts reliable in terms of the kinds of info. that id, in facy, info. as it’s understood today. Religious tects – especially scriptures, and/or texts that once had the status of scripture at some times and in some places, are, by default, innately “biased” sources. I’m not a Jesus Seminsr fan; I’m talking sbout primary snd secondary textual sources here.

            The early church(es) serm to have bern diverse, complex, and mwrkedly different in focus given locstiin – say, Alexandria or Damascus vs. Jerusalem or Rome. Kerp in mind, too, that things develop organically – cf. the (to my mind) excesdive cult of martyrdom that began extremely early, with its focus not only on gruesome deaths, but relics, too.

            There were msny xtisnities in the Med. Basin, and they didn’t always resemble each other all that much. I know the RCC has a through-line on thst, but honestly, they and msny other denominations are leaving out the unpleasant parts when they take that line. Whst we do know is not always plesant, let alone showing Christ-like behaviot.

            Aldo kerp in mind that the NT itself pushes certain perspectives: we never hear Peter’s side of the story re. the conflict that Paul discusses in Galatisns, and Acts is heavily biased toward Paul, almost to the point (at times) of msking the Jerusalem church look pretty bad.

            I think there are a whole bunchmof things like that in ghe NT that we tend to ignore or treat in an overly reverent fashion, instead of seeing thrm as conflivts betwern humsn beings who had preferences, biases and the like. They were no better snd no worse thsn we are, and their acvounts of things are, by default, biased in that God did not override human personality in the writing snd editing of any of these texts. With the OT – cf. Joshua – there were no collapsing walls, let alone genocide. It is not realky sn histotical book, but it is typical of conquest narratives that were a common genre of writing in the ANE. (Obviously, i am partly referring to archaeology here re. Jericho and other sites, but that is by no mesns the ehole of iy.)

          • Sincere apologies for the many typos in my reply, which is in moderation (likely due to those typos).

            Stupid phone “keyboard”!

          • Or, as one pretty conservative writer puts it regarding the early centuries of the church , “Unity of belief in the early church is never confused eith uniformity of belief…” (Re. some of the early conflicts regsrding the nature of Christ, ehich centered around certain locales, and which were ferociously contested beliefs.)

          • numo,
            My understanding is that with the fall of the Roman Empire, literacy declined; literacy in Medieval Western Europe was more uncommon than in the Empire.

            I trust the main thrust of the New Testaments various witnesses to Jesus, and, without being an inerrantist, I accept them as authoritative tradition. My own reading has not led me to believe that the witness of Paul in any fundamental way contradicts the various witnesses of the Gospels; I also believe that in these witnesses, God is revealed to us in a way unique among world religions, and that the portrait they paint of Jesus is substantially true. I believe that by reading them, I’m put in contact with the Jesus of first century Palestine, and the Jesus who is Lord of all things; I take these two to be the same.

            Each of the four Gospels spend approximately a third of their time on the Passion of Jesus, and the events leading immediately up to it. The passion, suffering and compassion of Jesus are central to the Gospels’, and the New Testament’s, proclamation concerning the person of Jesus, and the character and nature of God. A decisive disclosure of God as self-giving, and suffering, love is central to all the New Testament witnesses; that disclosure in and as the person of Jesus is similarly central.

            To the degree that any religion witnesses to and trusts this God of suffering and self-giving love, it may truly be said to be worshiping the same God; to the degree that it doesn’t, it cannot. That goes for the various forms of Christian faith, as well.

          • Robert – i understand and respect what you are saying, but i do think we are talking past each other, for the most part.


          • Peace indeed! And Happy New Year, numo!

            (One last note: I regret any tone of religious protectionism my comments have involved. I have no desire to express, or hold, any view that any person or religious group is excluded from the all-encompassing love of God in Jesus Christ because of perspectives and understandings different from mine. To the degree that anything I’ve said implies “This person is in, that group is out” please disregard it. Jesus gathers all people to himself; God’s love is all-inclusive. Jesus Christ on the cross is the disclosure and proof of that truth; Jesus in his resurrected presence is the ongoing empowerment of that truth. Peace be upon him, and his peace to all.)

  10. As Billy Graham entered the middle age and senior years, he seems to have gone down a similar spiritual path as my own, believing the Holy Spirit brings people to God and it wasn’t up to him to decide exactly how that works.

    Franklin has headed the opposite way, believing he gets to decide.

  11. My problem with Prof Hawkins is somewhat different. Is the only way she could find to show “solidarity” with her Muslim neighbors to wear the hijab, in most cases an example of enforced oppression of Muslim women? In countries dominated by Islam women are REQUIRED to wear the hijab, or worse. The idea that it is a voluntary expression of personal piety is delusional. Even in the West isn’t the freedom of women in Muslim communities to abandon it mostly theoretical? In most cases when women are really given a choice, say in pre-revolutionary Iran for example, the hijab comes off.

    “After all of the appalling facts revealed this year about Planned Parenthood…”

    Does he mean all the appalling lies told this year about Planned Parenthood?

    • Context is everything. I agree with you that the hijab symbolizes, and is part of, the oppression of women in most places around the world where it’s worn. But by wearing it here, Professor Hawkins was making visible physical identification of herself with Muslims; in so doing, she was implicitly and really taking the risk of being subject to the same anti-Muslim acts that a Muslim would, since she may be mistaken for a Muslim woman. She was not endorsing everything the hijab stands for, but using what is perhaps the only option she had for making herself visually indistinguishable from Muslim women, and taking the same risks as they do when in public. This identification with the victim is a Christian form of witness that has been lived by others in other contexts and under other circumstances; Jesus himself at his baptism by John, according to the New Testament, identified with sinful humanity.

      • Adam Taunno Williams says

        > This identification with the victim is a Christian form of witness that has been lived by
        > others in other contexts and under other circumstances


        Wise, or not. Appropriate, or not. In good taste, or not. …. Other readings of this situation are exercises in Deflection [which I nominate as the “Official Rhetorical Device Of 2015”]. Everyone is heated up about THE THEOLOGY and completely missing THE POINT.

        Everyone I’ve heard riff on this sails right over the statement: “I love my Muslim neighbor because s/he deserves love by virtue of her/his human dignity.” Is that (a) because we just want to fight about Theology, as our kind of sport or (b) because we actually do not care about, or perhaps even disagree with (???), this statement?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Is that (a) because we just want to fight about Theology, as our kind of sport…

          And while we’re burning each other at the stake over Purity of Theology, pastors’ widows are still eating out of dumpsters.

      • Yes, Muslim countries have slightly different modesty laws for women than we do.

      • Agreed. She not only took the risk, the rush to demonstrate the force of the thing she was protesting proved her point. But of course those who most needed to hear the message missed it completely.

      • Exactly Robert. As Christians we identify with the Greatest Loser/Underdog/Victim in history — who first identified with us.

    • I must be among a minority of Christian men. I see the hijab as merely an article of clothing—and a somewhat attractive one at that—and not necessarily a tool of oppression or a political statement, although we in the West, listening to Fox News, may find comfort in thinking that. The hijab is far different than the burka, which I think is butt-ugly, and probably indeed a symbol of oppression.

      And I think the hijab is more attractive than the little headscarves that a lot of Christian women wear in the USA. Nobody accuses them of being oppressed; on the contrary a lot of romantic “bonnet” novels are written about them.

      • It isn’t about the article of clothing – it is about the choice. Hijabs or thongs, it should be a woman’s choice, not anyone else’s.

      • I have yet to meet a hijabi who did not make *her own choice* about wearing or not wearing it. Many women don’t; many others do simply out of local or national custom.

        A whole lot of Orthodox Jewish women in this country *wear wigs or headscarves in public* after they get martied. I have yet to see any general public outragemon that, but there is one crucial difference – the Orthodox Jewish women eho do this *are required,* under their interpretations of Jewis law, to do so. No way around it, unless they bevome part of a more progressive form of Orthodoxy, or leave for Conservative or Reform Judaism, or become completely non-observant.

        There is *nothing* in either the Qur’an or the Hadith that makes hijab, niqab (face veils), gloves or any other kind of “covering” mandatory for Muslim women. So it comes down to personal choice snd often a combo of family/culturzl/sectarian pressure. In yhe Qur’an and Hadith, *all* Muslim men and women are enjoined to dress modestly. Look at traditiinal dress from Senegal to Saudi Arabia, and… Muslim men nearly always wear some kind of head covering in public, along with loose, shapeless tunics and pants. Even when wearing a long robe, men in Saudi are *supposed* to waer what are known as “modesty pants” underneath.

        It is not at sll necessarily about the represdion of women, even though it’s beyond question that many women in Muslim societies are oppressed. Howevet… look at domestic violence and sexual assault stats for women in Westetn countries, and then try and tell people that women are “free” here. It is a double bind. We refuse to see how our own society discriminates against women; how vlothing choices in the West are by no means always a matter of personal choice (more often, a combo of gender role expectations, relentless marketing, thd pressure to look as attractive as possible *for men* even when it can compromise health – see “high herls” for starters.)

        You guys who are going on about a headscarf being a symbol of oppresdion are, i think well intentioned, but you neednto look closer to home 1st. Or try walking in a pair of herls, just to see how painful that can be, and find out ehat havoc they can wreak on one’s body, even in the short term.

        • Excellent points, numo. Thanks for educating me on some things I hadn’t known, and pointing up some other things I might’ve realized if I’d stopped to think about them but hadn’t. Modesty does indeed seem to be enjoined on both women and men in much of the Muslim world, as you point out, and so accusations of double-standards or oppression of women by coerced modesty are unjustified in many cases. And you are of course correct about how we’re so blind to our own society’s habits of oppression.

        • Reminds me of an interesting conversation I had with the cultural attache to Dubai, UAE. He made a joke about Western misunderstandings of dress code in UAE, and made the wry comment, “Have you ever tried to tell your wife what to wear? We let them wear whatever they want.”

          He was a little surprised when I replied that that was exactly the problem – two men talking about women’s clothing and what they are “allowed” to wear.

          That will take some work, in the West as well as in the Middle East.

      • Ted, i agrer. I have a long reply (below) that’s currently in the mod queue. Hope you’ll check back.

  12. Wheaton College and Billie Graham, perhaps the two remaining names left out of the Twentieth Century Evangelical Movement, which both helped to found, with any kind of respect and integrity. Both besmirched beyond recall, joining the rest of the rubble. What a shame.

    What do you figure it would cost to hold a rally once a week in each state capitol? I’m going to take a wild guess and say I could budget it at a thousand bucks a pop for someone like Franklin who supposedly is going to keep his day job going. That’s fifty grand. You could feed a lot of people with fifty grand, and I might be off by a factor of ten or more. Does he have an entourage? Does he have to fly first class? We could be talking half a mill here.

    I’ve been amusing myself by figuring what it would take for me to make these rallies. Starting out with the limitations of my total income at this point of $37.50 a day, I would have to hitchhike and carry a sleeping bag and tarp to sleep by the side of the road. With any luck I might be able to swing a fleabag motel or hotel once a week to grab a bath and wash my clothes. I stayed in a hotel in Chicago once for two bucks per night. It had wire netting over my cubicle to keep out I don’t know what, probably rats and the other residents, but I expect it would cost more now.

    And I would have to find someone willing to rent my house for a year and take care of my remaining dog and cat. It doesn’t help that Franklin’s itinerary is all over the map instead of contiguous. I don’t know what to do about Hawaii. I don’t think I could handle that trip in a wheel well any more, and getting to Alaska and back in a week hitchhiking would really be a stretch.

    Why would I do this? At first I thought about holding a big sign that said “God Hates Franklin Graham”, but I suspect some wouldn’t get the joke. Right now the best I can can come up with for a picket sign would be “Franklin Who?” but I’m open to suggestion.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > with for a picket sign would be “Franklin Who?” but I’m open to suggestion.

      Appropriate. These guys are big-whigs in a very tiny universe. I’d be willing to wager a week of tacos that, if polled, +97% of Americans would have no idea who Franklin Graham is.

      They only matter because – despite all their anti-institutionalism ravings – they are well organized and know now how to motive their disciples to make contributions. They use dollars effectively to punch beyond their demographic weight.

  13. Randy Thompson says

    Franklin Graham is holding one of his rallies here in New Hampshire, in Concord.

    On January 19.

    In Concord, New Hampshire.

    Outdoors (State House Plaza).

    In January.

    Average temperature in January: 20 degrees. (Average high: 30 degrees. Average low: 10 degrees.)

    If this is spiritual warfare, it’s like Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.

    It will be interesting to see who shows up.

    • This will be about six weeks ahead of the NH primary. Who will Franklin be endorsing?

    • >>If this is spiritual warfare, it’s like Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.

      Here’s how Bill Bonner describes it in Hormegeddon:

      “Up until then, Napoleon’s career had been a spectacular success. He could seemingly get away with anything. By the time the French senate proclaimed him Emperor in 1804, he was already regarded as the greatest military genius who ever lived. So when he decided to invade Russia, no one blinked. No one besides Armand Augustin Louis de Caulaincourt, Napoleon’s long-time aide-de-camp. He knew better. He had actually been to Russia. Napoleon was the one who sent him there.as France’s ambassador to St. Petersburg. He knew invading Russia was a bad idea. He warned the Emperor of the terrible weather, the bad roads, and the savage people. He begged him not to go. It would be the ruin of France, he said.

      “The Emperor ignored him and a few months later there they both were, freezing their rear ends off as they fled the smoldering ruins of Moscow.

      “We have a chart in our library at home that shows what happened next. It records the temperature dropping to minus 30 degrees centigrade [minus 22 F] . . . as the size of the French army dropped along with it. Soldiers burned down barns to try to get warm, but many of them froze. Many of those who survived the cold got shot by the Russian army while still others were attacked by partisans on the roads, packs of wolves in the forests, and prisoners the state had released into the city streets. If that didn’t get them, they starved to death. Napoleon entered Russia with 300,000 troops. Only 10,000 got out.”

      Live free or die!

  14. I saw “Concussion” yesterday. First of all I think it was Will Smith’s best work to date. The film was probably the best, or one of the best I have ever seen. It was frightening and sickening. Yet exhilarating at the same time. Dr. Omalu was almost naive in his belief that we “tell the truth.” As his wife pointed out, the meaning of his name translated to, “he who now knows must speak.” The arrogance of the NFL as a whole was distressing. Men tortured, gone mad all “for the game.” I know it is money.

    I think where the church has failed it is in not producing more men like Dr. Omalu. Yes, his joyful and profound faith was his guiding light. He lived it out at a great cost. Why aren’t more of us like him? Why does the NFL now own Sunday, if it truly does? Why do we not value life and people above the dollar? Age-old questions as pointed out in the continued support for Planned Parenthood. When do we as a society become barbaric? Was Dr. Omalu naive when he asked all involved to “forgive and be at peace.” Sounds familiar. When did we dismiss it?

    Go see the movie. I hope you come away both informed and disturbed.

    • I think it is far less difficult in some ways for someone eho did not grow up with Ametican football to see, treat – and speak out against – the hortible suffering inflicted on people for no reason other than $$$$$.

      I hate our “football” and wish we woilc switch over to the game known as football in the rest of yhe world. Our version (of rugby, really) is so biolent, and unnecssarily so. Funny how it takes a cultural outsider to be able to point out the obvious.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Or it takes a cultural outsider to be terribly moved by the fate of overpaid jocks who are given license to rape and to torment for sport. He is right of course. But I grew up in American rural public education…. And it is only by sheer force of moral will by which I can give a warm turd what becomes of their class.

        • But the game of football has even more damaging effect on the young and developing bodies of high school (and younger) players. I’ve noticed that many more young parents are forbidding or discouraging their kids from playing than in times past; as a result, the pool of available players at the high school (and younger) level must be getting smaller. That would be a good thing; may that pool dwindle to nothing.

        • This is probably more accurate. The attitude I’ve seen is something like “f*ck it; they get paid millions.” And I suspect that is largely their attitude as well.

  15. I am disappointed in Franklin Graham. Several years ago I accidentally saw him being interviewed by Sean Hannity on Fox News concerning his recent return from North Korea. His organization, “Samaritan’ s Purse,” had delivered many tons of food there. Hannity was critical of this move since they were Communists. Graham stepped right up to the plate, “God wants us to care for others,”” referring to the story of the Good Samaritan. It was a touching moment. He seems to have changed and that makes me sad.