Daily Archives: 5 Sep 2017

Take Action For Dreamers

Via twitter-

There’s a new online tool to help. Use DreamActToolkit.org to urge members of Congress to reject nativism and pass the #DreamAct.

Do it.

College Football is now America’s Largest Religion

It’s true.

Replacing Christianity, which had held the title since the nation was founded, college football has officially become the largest organized religion in the United States, reports confirmed. The polytheistic religion claims many millions of adherents, each of whom passionately worships a local team deity.

“It was just a matter of time, given followers’ extreme devotion, zeal, and willingness to proselytize—and an uptick in conversions since last season sent NCAA football straight to the top spot,” a Pew Research spokesman told reporters Tuesday. “College football fans readily fill entire large stadiums for worship—sometimes exceeding 100,000 people for a single service.”

The spokesperson also stated that worship services regularly feature passionate displays of adoration like decorative dress, feasting, cheering, jumping up and down, and screaming all kinds of expletives at rival deities throughout the service.

It’s tough times for Christianity, as experts predict the religion will also be passed by Beyonce worship before the end of the year.

Obama’s Statement on #DACA

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.

Barack Obama

A Reformation Exhibition at the John Rylands Library

With thanks to Roberta Mazza for pointing this out

The Reformation invites you to journey through these tumultuous times. Find out how Luther’s work led to the splintering of the Catholic Church in England. Learn how Henry VIII’s attempts to divorce led to him overthrowing the Catholic Church and electing himself head of the Church of England. And discover why William Tyndale’s translation of the bible into English is still felt in the language we speak today.

Explore our exhibition and see a rare copy of Luther’s 95 theses, as well as a letter handwritten by Luther himself. There is also one of the earliest examples of printing – an indulgence printed in 1455.


Host Flood Victims, and Then Take up an Offering From Them… Nice Work Joel Osteen

Watch the video.  It’s appalling.

I mean, seriously. From hurricane victims? It’d be totally different if it were the usual crowd. Those people deserve to lose their money for attending your cult anyway. But hurricane victims? Have you no shame, Osteen?

Three Volumes: ‘Joshua’, ‘Job’ and ‘Jeremiah’

Bloomsbury is publishing, as I’ve mentioned before, a series of ‘Study Guides to the Old Testament‘ written by members of the Society for Old Testament Study.  I reviewed a couple for the Old Testament Book List and now I’ve received the volumes on Joshua, Job  and Jeremiah and here’s what my impression of them is:

McConville’s ‘Joshua’ provides an outline of the book, a discussion of the question of literary criticism, a look at Joshua as literature, the genre of Joshya: history and myth, the theology of Joshua, and Joshua in modern society.

Mills’ ‘Jeremiah’ talks readers through reading Jeremiah, historical criticism of the book, rhetorical critical issues, the rhetorical foci of Jeremiah, ‘bodies, space and excess’ as conceptual tools (and you’ll just have to read that chapter for yourself to enjoy it fully), and finally the theology of Jeremiah.

Already, then, it’s easy to see that the authors of these guides are not tied to any particular methodological procedure. This is certainly proven in Dell’s investigation of ‘Job’. She discusses the usual introductory matters, Job as wisdom text, Job as parody, Job in the context of the Ancient near eastern world, theological issues raised by Job, and reading Job in a ‘postmodern’ world.

Each author, set free to pursue matters of intrigue and interest particular to themselves and a slice of the reading public, engages each biblical text with vigor and adroitness.

Potential users of these books should not imagine them to be ‘study guides’ along the lines of Cliffs Notes. No indeed, these ‘study guides’ are instead quite thorough ‘introductions’ to particular biblical texts such as one would find in very thorough academic commentaries. Yet the writing is wide enough to be understood by interested layfolk. In other words, people who want to know what the biblical texts are about are invited in these volumes to a sort of open window on their meaning and significance. Reading these guides, and they genuinely are guides, is akin to being taken by the hand by a very experienced tour guide and shown things off the beaten path that other tourists never get the chance to experience.

I recommend them to students at college and graduate school level, interested lay readers, and most especially to Professors who will definitely want to use them as supplemental readings in Old Testament courses they are offering. I wish I had had ‘Jeremiah’ in hand when I taught that book a couple of years ago. When I offer Jeremiah again, it will certainly be required reading.

The Moving Moment When The Mega-Church Pastor Met a Long Time Member… For the First Time

The Bee has the touching story.  Get your kleenex out.

Right now we are feeling all the feels.

Megachurch pastor Jake Bryant just met one of his congregants, who has been attending the church for almost a decade, for the very first time.

Those witnessing the heartfelt scene say the pastor was trying to slip out a side door after the third service Sunday morning, attempting to get to his car so he could make his flight to a conference. By a stroke of sheer luck, churchgoer Jane Gunderson spotted him through a glass door.

She did what any of us would do if we were lucky enough to see our megachurch pastor from less than 100 yards away: she burst through the door hollering and waving, and ran straight up to him to try to get a handshake and introduce herself. Of course, Pastor Jake tried to pretend he didn’t hear, but fumbled with his G-Class’s keys just a moment too long while trying to open the door leading to his private parking area, and was forced to smile and shake Jane’s hand.


“Jane’s a blessed lady,” one deacon said, emotion in his voice. “It really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Heck, I can count on one hand the number of members here who have personally met Pastor Jake face-to-face like that. A truly special moment.”

As if meeting the pastor and briefly shaking his hand weren’t enough, Jane later told her family she had even gotten Pastor Jake to SIGN. HER. BIBLE. Seriously!

We think it’s safe to say our faith in humanity is RESTORED.

There’s been a lot of bad press lately about megachurch pastors. So the next time you see someone questioning their sincerity, just point them to this story. Case closed!

I need a hug…

His Hand ‘Slipped’ Into Her Pants While He Was ‘Anointing’ Her…

Filed under more pentebabbleist nutbaggery

A Michigan pastor who was accused of sexual assault by a former parishioner and admitted that his hand might have slipped into her pants while anointing her with oil to cleanse her of sexual sins at her home will not face charges, a local prosecutor said Wednesday.

Justine Morden, 20, alleged in June that Pastor Mitch Olson of Grace Ministry Center sexually assaulted her during the unorthodox anointing nearly 10 months ago.

In a case review released Wednesday morning, Senior Assistant Prosecutor Paul Soderberg said Morden doesn’t fall under any classes of victims as recognized under state law, Nicole Hayden of The Times Herald reports.

“The conduct of suspect Mitchell Olson directed toward [the] 19-year-old victim was morally reprehensible. The Grace Ministry Center head pastor’s conduct appears to be highly questionably and not religious in nature. It also appears to have violated the standards of the church. However, based on the information … this conduct despite being immoral is not illegal according to Michigan criminal law. For these reasons we are unable to prosecute this case,” Soderberg said.

Morden, who was living alone at the time of the alleged assault, said she sought counsel from Olson about changing her life and he suggested she be anointed to cleanse her of her sins. He told her he didn’t have anointing oil at the church during a meeting in July 2016 but would eventually make time to get her anointed.

“Later on that night, around like 8 or 9, he texted me and asked what my address was,” Morden told the Herald. “I gave him the address and didn’t think anything of it since I trusted him. … He got there and said, ‘I have the anointing oil if you want to be anointed,’ so I said ‘OK.'”


The Twitter Accounts of the President’s* ‘Religious Advisory Council

  • @GaryLBauer
  • @PastorMarkBurns
  • @DrTimClinton
  • @DrJamesCDobson
  • @JordanEasley
  • @JerryFallwellJr
  • @JackNGraham
  • @RHowardBrowne
  • @BishopHarry
  • @robertjeffress
  • @RdLand
  • @GregLaurie
  • @ericmetaxas
  • @johnnieM
  • @FrankPageSBC
  • @TPerkins
  • @ralphreed
  • @revtonysuarez
  • @Paula_White

These are the people who are supposed to be advising the President to act in a Christian manner.  They are failing miserably; or worse, they aren’t advising him as they should.  Tweet them.


Too few Christians are Christian.

Suicide: An Observation

Suicide happens when free will takes death into its own hands. Nations, too, can end themselves by choosing bad leaders.  Citizens owe it to their homeland to choose leaders wisely and prayerfully and not simply ideologically and irrationally.

Bad leaders kill countries.  Citizens who choose them are contributors to the death of their nation.

Through the Bible 2017-2018 – Michael Langlois

Do you want to study the Bible?

This year again, I teach a course of Introduction to the Bible and to exegesis at the University of Strasbourg.

This is a first-year course for students preparing a bachelor in Protestant Theology or a University Degree of Initiation to Religions.  We will study the history of the Bible, the world in which it was born, and each book that Jewish and Christian Bibles have in common.

To register at the Faculty of Protestant Theology, please visit the Faculty’s website; you can also watch the course (live or replay) here.  The first class will take place on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 2pm, at the University Palace, Tauler Hall.


This volume offers an expansive survey of the role of single-sheet publishing in the European print industry during the first two centuries after the invention of printing. Drawing on new materials made available during the compilation of the Universal Short Title Catalogue, the twenty contributors explore the extraordinary range of broadsheet publishing and its contribution to government, pedagogy, religious devotion and entertainment culture.  Long disregarded as ephemera or cheap print, broadsheets emerge both as a crucial communication medium and an essential underpinning of the economics of the publishing industry.

Brill have supplied a review copy, for which I thank them.

The table of contents is available at the link above so I will not tire the reader by repeating it here.  I found the essays interesting but given my particular focus I found these to be the most engaging:

  • 1. Andrew Pettegree, Single-sheet publishing in the first age of print: typology and topography
  • 5. Drew Thomas, Reconstructing Wittenberg’s Broadsheet History
  • 15. Malcolm Walsby, Cheap print and the academic market: The printing of dissertations in sixteenth-century Louvain


  • 19. Abaigéal Warfield, Witchcraft illustrated: the crime of witchcraft in early modern German broadsheets

Indeed, the last was one of the most fascinating essays I’ve read on the subject of print and printing in the 16th century.  It included some amazing color illustrations, three of which are these:

The entire volume has numerous plates and prints and is a superb study in one of the most interesting topics in historical studies.  The authors do a very good job of clearly communicating the facts which they are trying to ‘get across’ and of course the volume’s editor has organized the collection spectacularly.

A few example of the essayists style will suffice to illustrate the value of the book:

The century after the Black Death also stimulated a vogue for Pestblätter, small sheets that could be carried about, pasted in books or pinned up at home to provide reassurance of the healing possible through Divine Grace (p. 13).

Printed indulgences must have been the most ubiquitous printed artefact of the fifteenth century; for many families such a certificate might have been the only example of the new art of printing to enter their home (p.14).

In the second half of the sixteenth century, in a strange inversion of the devotional traditions so fiercely condemned by evangelicals, portraits of Luther would take on the imputed powers of a amulet, or even perform miracles, such as when a portrait of Luther emerged unscathed from a conflagration that destroyed everything else in the house: the ‘incombustible Luther’ (pp. 15-16).

And, from Chapter 19, this gem:

The executive justice, Christopher Neuchinger of Oberneuching, sentenced them [i.e., the six witches] to death “by torment”: “namely that all six be placed publicly upon two carts, drawn in procession before their deaths to the place of execution, the body of each to be torn six times with red-hot pincers, the mother to have her breasts cut off, the five condemned males to have their limbs broken on the wheel, and Paulus Gämperle thereafter to be impaled upon a stake, all six persons then to be put to death by fire.”

This book is a great read in spite of its academic tone.  Or perhaps it is a great read precisely because of its academic tone.  I recommend it.

Alister McGrath on Faith and Science

If You’re In Zurich…

You’ll want to go to this.

Beim Thema Reformation stehen gewöhnlich Luther und Zwingli im Mittelpunkt. Im Rahmen dieser Führung tritt mehr der Vater des reformierten Protestantismus in den Vordergrund: Heinrich Bullinger. Der Schweizer Theologe war der Nachfolger von Zwingli und galt als sein Gegenstück – als ein stiller Denker, der die Reformation in Zürich nachhaltig festigte.

Auf der eineinhalbstündigen Tour durch die Zürcher Innenstadt begegnen die Teilnehmenden Kirchenpolitikern, Schriftstellern, Netzwerkern und Theologen und erfahren allerlei Wissenswertes über den Schweizer Reformator. Die Führung startet beim Haus zum Rech, zieht sich über den Zwingliplatz zum Grossmünster und endet beim Lindenhof.

A Celebration of Jim Aitken

It’s Jim’s birthday, so enjoy posts from former days about the Cambridge Don.  And a very happy birthday to him.


Storm and Luther’s Forbidden Letter

Expected to be available on DVD on September 18, 2017: STORM and Luther’s Forbidden Letter.

When his father is arrested for printing a forbidden letter written by controversial reformer Martin Luther, 12-year-old Storm escapes with the original. On the run from authorities, Storm finds unexpected help from Maria, a young girl who lives in the city’s underground tunnels. In a race against time, Storm tries to save his father from execution and get the letter into safe hands. But whom can he trust? What starts out as a fearful flight becomes a bold fight for freedom.

You’ll want to watch it.