Saturday, May 30, 2009

Large Number Of Clergy Including Baptists In Favor Of Same-Sex Unions

Okay, okay, so my last post wasn't much of a post, but you got to admit seeing a great white shark facing a little sea-faring kayak is a pretty awe inspiring sight. Anyways, here's some awe inspiring news by way of the Alliance Of Baptists' Facebook page:
Alliance of Baptists: The Alliance of Baptists have been leading the way in supporting gay rights. We need to share this Good News of the Alliance. Let's get the word out. :

Distortions Aside, Clergy Support Gay Rights in Surprising Numbers
By Peter Montgomery
May 24, 2009
Recently released results from a survey of mainline clergy reveals that, when policies are portrayed honestly, the number of clergy who support same-sex marriage, adoption, etc., nearly doubles.
In a recent ad by the National Organization for Marriage, a scary storm of homosexuality threatens to rain gays into people’s lives and churches. That campaign, widely mocked by Stephen Colbert and numerous others, was just the most recent example of the religious right’s ongoing effort to portray the gay rights movement as an enemy of religious liberty and faith itself.

Progressive religious leaders have been working hard to make it clear that religion and religious people are not exclusively on the “anti” side of the gay rights movement. Now there’s new evidence that widespread support exists among Christian leaders for public policies that protect the rights and lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and for their full inclusion in the life of the church.

An in-depth analysis of mainline Protestant clergy shows large majorities of support for anti-discrimination laws, hate crimes legislation, and the right of gay couples to adopt children. Even same-sex marriage, so often portrayed by religious right leaders as an attack on the church, draws support from nearly half of mainline Protestant clergy when it is clarified that no church would be forced to bless same-sex couples.

Those conclusions are drawn from recently-released findings from the Clergy Voices Survey conducted last year by Public Religion Research [Editor’s note: In addition to working as an adviser on the survey the author has been hired by PRR to do outreach and PR for it].* Researchers identified 1,000 senior clergy from each of the seven largest mainline Protestant denominations and sent them in-depth questionnaires by mail (the response rate was over 40 percent). The survey’s 60-plus questions covering LGBT issues provide the most extensive look ever at clergy beliefs about homosexuality, interpretations of scripture, and the inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church—including ordination.

The PRR analysis holds mostly good news for equality advocates, providing yet another tool for challenging assertions by anti-gay activists and public officials that, for example, hate crimes laws are a designed as a prelude to dragging preachers from their pulpits.

Among the most dramatic findings is the striking diversity of opinion within mainline clergy who, in general, hold much more diverse political views than white evangelicals; mainline Protestants are one of the only major religious groupings who are truly swing voters (white Catholics being the other).

Some of the divisions break down pretty dramatically across denominational lines, with clergy from the United Church of Christ and Episcopal Church at the equality-affirming end of the spectrum, and clergy from the American Baptist Churches and the United Methodist Church at the more conservative end, both theologically and politically.

With Facts, Support Doubles

But it’s also interesting to look at factors that cut across the denominations. The authors of the analysis, Public Religion Research’s Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox, also looked at a set of questions, including things such as the inerrancy of scripture and the sinfulness of homosexuality, to evaluate mainline clergy along traditionalist/orthodox and modernist theological orientations. And, based on questions about sexuality, public policy, and the role of LGBT people in the church, they divide mainline clergy into three major groupings.

Roughly equal proportions fall into a strongly gay-supportive base (who generally do not see homosexuality as a sin and are very supportive of pro-equality policies and full inclusion of gays in church leadership—29 percent) and a base holding the opposite view (30 percent). A plurality of respondents (41 percent) fall into what they call the “Uncertain Middle.”

That large middle group is ambivalent or uncertain about the nature of homosexuality, but is also generally supportive of equality-affirming public policies; much closer on policy issues to the supportive base than to the opposition. In some ways, clergy in the “Uncertain Middle” model an approach to public policy issues that gay-rights advocates need to bring more fully into the policy arena: the majority of these clergy believe that having religious questions or concerns about the nature or sinfulness of homosexuality does not require one to oppose equality in the legal realm. This is the separation of church and state in action; with churches deciding questions about leadership and ordination, and policy decisions being made on Constitutional principles like equality under the law.

This kind of clergy voice could be especially compelling to those people of faith who find themselves in an uncertain middle, perhaps struggling with what they have been taught about scripture, and wondering how much credence to give the arguments that religious liberty and legal equality are somehow irreconcilable.

This potential is evidenced by one of the most striking findings in the survey, which deals with support for same-sex marriage among clergy in the “Uncertain Middle” (which, remember, is a 41 percent plurality of the overall group). When asked whether they support marriage for same-sex couples, civil unions but not marriage, or no legal recognition at all, only 26 percent of clergy in the uncertain middle initially choose marriage equality. But when asked a follow-up question about whether they would support allowing gays to legally marry if the law guarantees that no church would be forced to marry any couple, that support jumps a remarkable 23 percentage points, to 49 percent. That is a powerful and potentially very useful fact.

But perhaps the most hopeful results for gay-rights advocates is the fact that almost half of the mainline clergy report that their own views on gay and lesbian issues have become more liberal over the past ten years, with only 14 percent saying they have become more conservative.

- - - -

*This editor's note initially noted that the author had "worked with PRR," a small but meaningful difference. RD deeply regrets the error and always strives for complete transparency with regard to conflicts of interest and personal relationships.

Tags: gay marriage, lgbt, mainline protestants, public religion research, same-sex marriage, surveys

The best part of the whole article is this comment:
Whatever it takes to support your prejudice
Posted by arwilson on May 25, 2009 at 3:45 PM
As Evangelical Christians continue to cherry-pick verses from the Old Testament to support their prejudices, I have yet to hear a valid reason why they overlook the creepier ones referring to stoning your children and restrictions on marriage (used to great effect here: ). I have a very conservative friend who is a minister and is very involved in protecting "traditional" marriage. In fact, he supports it so much that he has been married twice. He promised his God that he would remain married to his spouse until death - two times. Is he a polygamist, a liar, or a hypocrite?
Evangelicals have created a world in which they are free to discriminate, justify torture, and worship money and guns. They have done more to turn people away from Christianity than any other so-called demonic temptation, and that is a shame. Evangelicals are a living irony that cares little for Christ's greatest desire that people simply treat others as they wish to be treated, and would rather cling to archaic thinking and misconstrued scripture. They have drawn a line in the sand with issues social and scientific and bully people onto their side with made-up threats of fire and brimstone - a culture of fear and ugliness.
To be honest, I don't care how much of the clergy supports marriage equality. If only one minister supports love over ignorance in the name of Christ, then all is not lost. Evangelicals should hang their heads in shame and admit their hatred and prejudice and ask for forgiveness - the truth shall set you free!
My sentiments exactly.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I Think We Need A Bigger Boat

Methodist Corner: So you think you’re having a bad day?

From an article at Daily Mail

“Alone in his tiny plastic sea kayak, marine biologist Trey Snow had hoped to stealthily track a great white shark. But he had the shock of his life when he spotted a giant fin and realised it was he who was being stalked - by surely one of the most feared killers in the world.”

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2008 at 9:53 pm and is filed under Miscellaneous. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Providence Baptist Church-Hendersonville Calls Their Second Female Pastor

Thanks to Looking4God's tweet on Twitter for the heads up:
Religion Notes
Published: Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 4:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 8:58 p.m.

Lee called as pastor at Providence Baptist

Providence Baptist Church, a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship congregation, voted unanimously May 3 to call Julie Merritt Lee as pastor. Lee, who will assume her pastoral duties following the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in July, is the church’s second woman pastor.

The Rev. Gail Coulter was assistant pastor at First Baptist Church in Asheville before becoming Providence’s first pastor in 2002. In addition to being the church’s pastor, Coulter also served a term as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship moderator before retiring from the pastorate in 2008.

Lee, a 2005 graduate of Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary, currently works as a pastoral resident at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas. Wilshire began its residency program in 2002 for the purpose of preparing future ministers for moderate Baptist churches.

Providence Baptist Church, 1201 Oakland St., Hendersonville, was featured in the lead article in this week’s Associated Baptist Press e-newsletter.

Brueggemann to be lecture series speaker

The Rev. Walter Brueggemann, the first speaker in the semi-annual Walter E. Ashley Memorial Lecture Series of 2009, will be featured at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, June 6, and 3 p.m. Sunday, June 7, at Hendersonville First Congregational United Church of Christ, Fifth Avenue West at White Pine Drive. A world-renowned Old Testament scholar and author, as well as a United Church of Christ minister, Brueggemann will be speaking on “The Psalms: Singing Trust and Telling Truth,” with each of the three lectures being a different aspect of that topic.

The June 6 topic at 10 a.m. is “Hard Road from Obedience to Praise.” The 2 p.m. topic is “Faith in the Depths.” The June 7 topic at 3 p.m. is “Faith as Gift and Impossibility.” The sermon’s title at the 11 a.m. service is “Being Present When the Will Is Read.”

Tickets to each lecture may be purchased in advance for $10 at the Main Street Visitor Center, Malaprops in Asheville, Highland Books in Brevard and at the church. If available at the door, tickets will be $20.

Scholarships available for conference
Montreat Conference Center has announced the availability of scholarship funds for “Faith and Environment: Embracing God’s Call to Be Green.” Scheduled for July 7-11, it is a new conference at Montreat.

Located on 4,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, 2,500 of which are protected wilderness, Montreat Conference Center is a picturesque setting for this national gathering of environmentalists and all who share a sense of responsibility for the well-being of creation. The program includes keynote lectures, worship and a variety of workshop on topics ranging from stream ecology to photography and facility greening to global hunger.

For more information about the conference, to register online and to apply for scholarships, visit

Compiled by the Times-News staff.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Belated Congratulations to Rev. Lee, may she serve her congregation well!

Ye Olde Slang And Martin Luther Raps About The 95 Theses

Here's some funny stuff for you:

The first humorous item comes from Robb Lawson, who I'd like to give a shout out to or is it an e-shout out. Thanks for the laughs, Robb! Anyways here is the humorous post that he wrote:
Proof that the AV/KJV uses Ebonics
May 24th, 2009 by Robb

The KJV proves that Ebonics has been in use since 1611.
1). “we be”
It is found 32 times in the KJV.
Example: Joh 8:33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
Rapper “50 Cent” (remember, his name is pronounced “Fiddie Cent” said in interview: “…
[W]e be alright you know.” (See question 12, response).

2). “ye be”
It is found 71 times in the KJV.
“Ye” is not used today, but it is the plural “you.”
Example: Gal 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Rapper “50 Cent” said in one of his songs 21 Questions: “If it was time to put in work would you be down to ride?
It is obvious he is using the plural “you.” I’m omitting a link to the lyrics because of his dirty mouth.

3). “you be”
It is found 15 times in the KJV.
“You be” is the singular form opposed to the plural form, “ye.”
Example: 1Co 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
Rapper “50 Cent” said in his song P.I.M.P: “That other ni**a you be with ain’t bout s**t.”

This is Robb Lawson reporting from Redneckville, Florida.
Posted in Comedy

The second item of humor is from Youtube:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sola Scriptura Or Prima Scriptura: Not Solo Scriptura

Here is part of an interesting article by Blake Huggins over at Emergent Village:
We might as well deal with the Elephant in the room first. For many people, admitting that Sola Scriptura is not longer viable is roughly equivalent to saying we are throwing out the Bible altogether and opting for some sort of slippery relativism. But a rejection of Sola Scriptura is not a rejection of Scripture! Which is why it is important to provide an alternative to the “sola” — because we’re not rejecting Scripture wholesale, in fact I can say without reservation that my respect and love for the Bible is deeper and more unwavering now than it ever was.

But here’s the thing. Whether we realized it in the past or not Sola Scriptura has never been possible. It just can’t work. Because the moment I say that all I need is Scripture alone, I’ve assumed that I occupy some sort of void space, when in fact neither I nor Scripture exist vacuum. I can’t simply read Scripture (or anything for that matter) for what it is without biases or lenses. My position as an urban, white, American, male influences my reading more than I will ever know. The same could be said of the writers of Scripture. Even the notion of Sola Scriptura itself is conditioned by a cultural lens and a certain interpretation albeit an increasingly outmoded one. To read is to interpret; all our readings are always already interpretations and all our interpretations are always already situational. To me, that is inescapable.

So, admitting the immanent end of Sola Scriptura is not a categorical rejection of Scripture as much; rather, it is a coming to terms with our own limitations and finitude as human beings and adopting a certain humility about our readings. I seriously doubt whether the Bible is infallible since it was written by pre-modern men (yes, they were men). But that doesn’t mean I don’t think the Bible is authoritative or instructional. It merely means that I believe our ability as humans to fully understand the Bible is severely limited. The history of hermeneutics is indicative of this. We can very quickly identify points today where we believe our theological ancestors were absolutely wrong in their interpretation of Scripture (slavery, subjugation of women, etc.). I’m sure 50-100 years from now our grandchildren will say the same about us. We know things today that we didn’t know in the past and we don’t know things now that we will in the future. That deeply affects out readings. We are fallible, broken people. We need to hold our hemeneutical lenses loosely.

And here is a part of John Meunier's response to Huggins from Meunier's Blog:
Is Huggins’ giving us a proper read on what sola Scriptura meant to Luther and the other early reformers here? As I read these paragraphs, it sounds to me like he is describing a position staked out much later. Luther defended scripture as a final authority against which all doctrine and practice would have to be justified, but I do not think he ever argued for such post-Enlightenment ideas as objectivity and cultural neutrality.

Alister McGrath’s very readable history of Protestantism, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea, makes the point that as early as 1520 Protestants were struggling with how to handle the theological diversity unleashed by the rejection of Roman Catholic teaching authority in favor of Scripture read by individuals. Even as they rallied behind the cry of sola Scriptura, the Reformers knew all too well that their principle would not produce a single, timeless, and objective reading of Scripture – which is phantom claim that Huggins’ appears to be attacking.

Indeed, the point of the Bible’s authority was not an attempt to establish it as a rival god – as so many critiques of sola Scriptura seem to argue assume the princple tries to do. A McGrath writes:

At its heart, Protestantism represents a constant return to the Bible to revalidate and where necessary restate its beliefs and values, refusing to allow one generation or individual to determine what is definitive of Protestantism as a whole. … While some very conservative Protestants do treat the Bible as if it were the Christian Qu’ran, the majority are clear that the Bible has a special place in the Christian life on account of its witness to Jesus Christ rather than its specific identity as a text. For Martin Luther, the purpose of scripture was to ‘inculcate Christ,’ who is the ‘mathematical point’ of the Bible.

And later:

Over the years, each strand of Protestantism developed its own way of understanding and implementing the sola Scriptura principle. Each accorded primacy to scripture yet recognized a number of additional resources – tradition, reason, and experience – that might serve in connecting scripture with the intellectual and experiential world of every generation.

We Methodists should recognize those additional resources in our much debate Wesleyan Quadrilateral.

In other words, Protestants and even Luther himself hold exactly the position that emergents are saying we need to adopt. It turns out that the “new” thing that excites so many people is just the old thing that we have either forgotten or allowed to be hidden from view.
I tend to agree with Meunier's thoughts as sola scriptura never meant solo scriptura as some tend to think today but is more akin to the idea of prima scriptura as even the bible is not a product of solo scriptura but canonization, church tradition and debates. However that said Blake offers a valid critique of the modern conception of sola scriptura as it is known today by many on the fundamentalist side of Christianity as even Luther didn't accept fully the dogma of sola scriptura as some may think. See TheoPoetic Musings: Luther, The Biblical/Textual Critic for example.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Literal and Figurative Language in the Bible And Bibliolatry

Here's a section of an interesting article on Literal and Figurative Language in the Bible
Retrieved from "":
Figures of Speech in the Bible

Simile: A comparison using "like" or "as." Example: "As lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:27).

Metaphor: One thing described in terms of some other thing. "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).

Anthropomorphism: God described in human terms. "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth" (2 Chronicles 16:9, New King James Version).

Words of association: One word stands for something else. Examples: "Circumcision" meaning the Jews (Galatians 2:9, King James Version); "sword" for all weapons (Romans 8:35).

Personification: Personal qualities assigned to an object. "The mountains skipped like rams" (Psalm 114:4).

Euphemism: Substituting an inoffensive word for a possibly harsh or crude one. "Adam lay with his wife Eve" (Genesis 4:1) means that they had sexual intercourse.

Hyperbole: Exaggeration. "If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out" (Matthew 5:29).

Irony: The literal meaning is opposite the real meaning. "You have become kings...! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!" (1 Corinthians 4:8).

Interesting stuff---it doesn't help any more that the idioms of the bible as found in the original languages: Hebrew and Greek are hard to translate into English in an exact way either as any translator of foreign language knows. For example if one were to translate the English idiom "break a leg" into German, it would literally mean to break one's leg rather than a figure of speech for good luck which is why we should be careful when we rip verses of the bible out of context lest we fall into error such as when King James Onlyists interpret: ΤΟ ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ ΑΓΙΟΝ ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΟΝ 1:1-Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος in English as meaning that the 1769 revision of the 1611 edition of the King James Version of the bible is coequal and coeternal with the Father to the point of proclaiming that the bible is the second person of the Trinity: Jesus---as only Jesus is the Λόγος. See also: THERE IS ONLY ONE PURE KING JAMES BIBLE:
for even more bibliolatry.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Luther, The Biblical/Textual Critic

Here's some interesting stuff for you---apparently Martin Luther didn't take to heart his moto, sola scriptura, as he had less than kind words to say about James, Jude and Revelation:
Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude (1522)

Though this epistle of St. James was rejected by the ancients, 1 I praise it and consider it a good book, because it sets up no doctrines of men but vigorously promulgates the law of God. However, to state my own opinion about it, though without prejudice to anyone, I do not regard it as the writing of an apostle; and my reasons follow.

In the first place it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works. It says that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered his son Isaac; though in Romans 4 St. Paul teaches to the contrary that Abraham was justified apart from works, by his faith alone, before he had offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15. Now although this epistle might be helped and an interpretation 2 devised for this justification by works, it cannot be defended in its application to works of Moses' statement in Genesis 15. For Moses is speaking here only of Abraham's faith, and not of his works, as St. Paul demonstrates in Romans 4. This fault, therefore, proves that this epistle is not the work of any apostle.

In the second place its purpose is to teach Christians, but in all this long teaching it does not once mention the Passion, the resurrection, or the Spirit of Christ. He names Christ several times; however he teaches nothing about him, but only speaks of general faith in God. Now it is the office of a true apostle to preach of the Passion and resurrection and office of Christ, and to lay the foundation for faith in him, as Christ himself says in John 15, "You shall bear witness to me." All the genuine sacred books agree in this, that all of them preach and inculcate [treiben] Christ. And that is the true test by which to judge all books, when we see whether or not they inculcate Christ. For all the Scriptures show us Christ, Romans 3; and St. Paul will know nothing but Christ, I Corinthians 2. Whatever does not teach Christ is not apostolic, even though St. Peter or St. Paul does the teaching. Again, whatever preaches Christ would be apostolic, even if Judas, Annas, Pilate, and Herod were doing it.

But this James does nothing more than drive to the law and to its works. Besides, he throws things together so chaotically that it seems to me he must have been some good, pious man, who took a few sayings from the disciples of the apostles and thus tossed them off on paper. Or it may perhaps have been written by someone on the basis of his preaching. He calls the law a "law of liberty," though Paul calls it a law of slavery, of wrath, of death, and of sin. 3

Moreover he cites the sayings of St. Peter: "Love covers a multitude of sins," and again, "Humble yourselves under the hand of God;" also the saying of St. Paul in Galatians 5, "The Spirit lusteth against envy." And yet, in point of time, St. James was put to death by Herod in Jerusalem, before St. Peter. 4 So it seems that this author came long after St. Peter and St. Paul.

In a word, he wanted to guard against those who relied on faith without works, but was unequal to the task in spirit, thought, and words. He mangles the Scriptures and thereby opposes Paul and all Scripture. 5 He tries to accomplish by harping on the law what the apostles accomplish by stimulating people to love. Therefore, I will not have him in my Bible to be numbered among the true chief books, though I would not thereby prevent anyone from including or extolling him as he pleases, for there are otherwise many good sayings in him. One man is no man in worldly things; how, then, should this single man alone avail against Paul and all the rest of Scripture? 6

Concerning the epistle of St. Jude, no one can deny that it is an extract or copy of St. Peter's second epistle, so very like it are all the words. He also speaks of the apostles like a disciple who comes long after them and cites sayings and incidents that are found nowhere else in the Scriptures. This moved the ancient fathers to exclude this epistle from the main body of the Scriptures. Moreover the Apostle Jude did not go to Greek-speaking lands, but to Persia, as it is said, so that he did not write Greek. Therefore, although I value this book, it is an epistle that need not be counted among the chief books which are supposed to lay the foundations of falth.

Preface to the Revelation of St. John (1522) 7

About this book of the Revelation of John, I leave everyone free to hold his own opinions. I would not have anyone bound to my opinion or judgment. I say what I feel. I miss more than one thing in this book, and it makes me consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic.

First and foremost, the apostles do not deal with visions, but prophesy in clear and plain words, as do Peter and Paul, and Christ in the gospel. For it befits the apostolic office to speak clearly of Christ and his deeds, without images and visions. Moreover there is no prophet in the Old Testament, to say nothing of the New, who deals so exclusively with visions and images. For myself, I think it approximates the Fourth Book of Esdras; 8 I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it.

Moreover he seems to me to be going much too far when he commends his own book so highly -- indeed, more than any of the other sacred books do, though they are much more important -- and threatens that if anyone takes away anything from it, God will take away from him, etc. Again, they are supposed to be blessed who keep what is written in this book; and yet no one knows what that is, to say nothing of keeping it. This is just the same as if we did not have the book at all. And there are many far better books available for us to keep.

Many of the fathers also rejected this book a long time ago; 9 although St. Jerome, to be sure, refers to it in exalted terms and says that it is above all praise and that there are as many mysteries in it as words. Still, Jerome cannot prove this at all, and his praise at numerous places is too generous.

Finally, let everyone think of it as his own spirit leads him. My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. For me this is reason enough not to think highly of it: Christ is neither taught nor known in it. But to teach Christ, this is the thing which an apostle is bound above all else to do; as Christ says in Acts 1, "You shall be my witnesses." Therefore I stick to the books which present Christ to me clearly and purely.

I can almost agree with Luther on his views on Revelation---almost that is---as if Revelation had been left out of the canon perhaps then today we wouldn't see so many gloom and doomsday cults based around said text. However that said most of these gloom and doom End Times cults are centered on the man-made invention of belief in the rapture as created in the psychotic and Gnostic babblings of visions by Margaret Macdonald and exploited by Scofield, Darby, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

Anyways, here is what Peter Cameron has to say about Luther's biblical/textual criticism:
...even Luther did not entirely believe in his slogan, scripture alone. His historical sense was too acute, and in practice he made distinctions between the books of the New Testament, describing the letter of James as 'an epistle of straw' which should have no weight beside the letters of Paul. Now when you begin to talk like that, you're admitting a new and overriding criterion. It's no longer scripture alone that counts, it's what you think of scripture. You've opened the door to criticism---logical, historical, and theological criticism.

And in the field of criticism we've come a very long way since the Reformation. It has become possible, and I think advisable, to look at the New Testament no longer as a divinely dictated book which has the last word on any subject to do with man's relationship to God, but as a collection of very human responses to the man Jesus. It records the beginnings of Christianity, but not the end: it is not the last word on the matter, and it should not control us to the extent of muzzling us and preventing us from making our own responses, in our own perhaps very different and indeed even contradictory terms.

There are, after all, very different and even contradictory responses within the New Testament itself. The four gospels for example give quite separate accounts of the life and person of Jesus. In the old days people used to produce so-called harmonies of the gospels, in which all differences were ironed out and the discrepancies removed. But what these harmonies failed to recognise were the totally different atmospheres which the various gospel writers convey.

The Jesus of John's gospel, who makes long and profound speeches about his relationship with the Father, is quite different from the Jesus of Mark's gospel, who rarely utters more than two or three terse sentences at a time. The description which Mark gives of the disciples is quite different from that of Luke: in Mark they are obstinate, obtuse, and unreliable whereas Luke has nothing derogatory to say about them.

But all this does not mean that one version is true and the other untrue. We now recognize that the writers of the gospels were not trying to write factual biographies or histories in our modern sense. In fact such things did not exist then, even in the secular world. Modern historians try to state the facts objectively and then add their interpretations. Ancient historians short-circuited the process: they put across their interpretations. So that Mark, when he describes the dull-wittedness of the disciples, is trying to tell us something about the message of Jesus and the response it elicits---he's not telling us something about the disciples which the other gospel writers did not know.

In this way each gospel is conditioned by the theological reflection of its author, and those authors are all human beings, of the same status as ourselves, so that we are at liberty to make our own equivalent response, and if necessary to reject any particular aspect of their response in favour of a different one---just as Luther felt impelled to reject the response embodied in the epistle of James. (Necessary Heresies: Alternatives to Fundamentalism, pgs. 87-88).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Apostle And Poimenolatry

One of the last films that we watched over the early Spring session of Wed. nights was The Apostle which unfortunately we did not get to discuss. However, before showing the film for us, Vick offered some similar sentiments to mine about the state of the American church. I believe that The Apostle offers a valid critique of the type of poimenolatry rampant in the church today. Poimenolatry of course is a term I coined from the Greek words ποιμήν and λατρεια which mean "pastor/shepherd" and "worship" respectively so all together poimenolatry means "pastor-worship or pastor-idolatry." Indeed there are cults of celebrity built around pastors of various churches as Vick said. We see this played out in ways such as this:
Luther formulated an anti-poimenolatry/anti-clericalism position by eradicating the distinctions between the clergy and laity, when he established the Protestant doctrine of the Priesthood Of All Believers---in an age when the clergy were considered spiritually superior to the laity by having direct links to God. (Although certain Christians in direct violation of the Protestant doctrines of the Priesthood Of All Believers, religious liberty and freedom are trying to reestablish clerical superiority over the laity by reasserting the clergy’s absolute authority to dictate what and how the laity are to believe---and how they are to act and what they are to do---and also, by deifying fallible clerical opinions pertaining to religious and moral issues as the end of dialogue).

We see this very Luther denying spirit in the core of the SBC as they are more and more becoming less like a Baptist denomination and more like their own version of the Roman Catholic Church complete with their own papacy to some degree at least. Although, younger SBCers are willing to change some things for the better. However, the older SBCers in violation of historic Baptist anti-creedalism are enforcers of creeds such as The Baptist Faith and Message's Role in Baptist life:
In Southern Baptist polity, actions by the Convention are nonbinding on local churches — they are considered autonomous. An individual church may choose to adopt the BF&M or may create their own statement. Despite the fact that the BF&M is not a creed, faculty at SBC-owned seminaries and missionaries who apply to serve through the various SBC missionary agencies must affirm that their practices, doctrine, and preaching are consistent with the BF&M.
This sort of nonsense is all too common in the more reformed fundamentalist churches such as these articles of application for membership to The Hollywood Church:
9. Have you thoroughly read the church Constitution, Statement of Faith, and Doctrinal Statement
as contained in the Articles of Incorporation? ___ Yes ___ No
(A) Do you have any disagreements with these documents? ___ Yes ___ No
(B) Do you agree to abide by and not teach contrary to our positions? ___ Yes ___ No
10. The Bible teaches that all believers have been given spiritual gifts and resources by God for the
edification of the church and that they need to humbly submit to the leadership of the local church as
they minister.
(A) Are you willing to submit and follow the leadership of the Hollywood Church (Hebrews 13:17;
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)?

Of course to reformed fundamentalist nutcases, leaders were divinely preordained from the foundation of the world to be obeyed without question including Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Suddam Hussein, etc. Speaking of which here is a poignant scene beginning at 5:06 and following from The Apostle:

Kinda reminds one of a Nazi rally:

At least with the Jesus chant comparable to the seig heil chant as well as charismatic idolatry of leaders. However, I can't agree with Vick that Robert Duvall's character was a fundamentalist---a typical bible literalist yes but not so much a fundamentalist as Duvall's character "conveys a positive, ecumenical spirit. In one memorable scene, Sonny watches Roman Catholic priests blessing shrimp boats and says, "You do it your way and I do it mine...together we get it done" and fundamentalists oppose any form of ecumenism. Other themes tackled were:
The major themes of The Apostle include forgiveness and accountability. Duvall sympathetically portrays Sonny as a sincere gospel preacher whose passions get the better of him. After fleeing from Texas, he re-baptizes himself -- symbolizing a fresh start -- and seeks to accomplish as much good as possible before his inevitable capture. Sonny's arrest closes the moral circle of the narrative, showing that evil acts do not go unpunished. Yet, his final sermon motivates the fledgling church to carry on a life of faith and good deeds.

Evangelical Christian viewers applauded this film for its emphasis on personal faith and redemption (two of its characters come to crisis-faith experiences) without letting Sonny off the hook.

In conclusion, most preachers detest cults of personality built around them though some may relish in it. Also, the film The Apostle offers unique insights into one of the three major errors of the modern church---poimenolatry, bibliolatry-worship of the bible/bible literalism/biblical inerrancy and ecclesiolatry (worship/idolatry of the church, the (dead letter of the) bible and (certain) pastors/preachers/ministers and their fallible opinions contrary to the living tradition of the Scriptures, which via their spirit bear witness to and testify of Christ the criterion of interpretation and standard of Christian living (through the Holy Spirit and discernment).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Respect For John Calvin

Due to my previous post TheoPoetic Musings: Fundamentalists Never Cease To Be Laughable sparking a heated discussion, here are some insights from John H. Armstrong:
MAY 20, 2009

A Reader's Guide to Calvin's Institutes

I would guess that 9 in 10 people I meet have no real idea what the term "Calvinism" actually means. Most have never read John Calvin. Most have only met a few very conservative Calvinists who promote things like TULIP and various scholastic readings of the great reformer. (And quite a few of these are mean, separatistic and critical of almost every other expression of the Christian faith) While the TULIP does have clear historical connection with the post-Calvin developments at the Synod of Dort in Holland (and thus the conclusions of the Synod are preserved in Reformed churches down to the present time as one of the three forms of confessional unity) Dort is clearly not the whole story. When TULIP becomes the strong focus then Calvinism becomes a lot like looking at a lovely person by staring at one, not so complete and not so clear, "photo-shopped" picture. And this picture is neither accurate nor helpful.

The real Calvin is flawed. But he is also an intriguing and very important figure in church history. No one can rightly defend Calvin's actions with regard to the killing of Michael Servetus. (Yet, just last week I had someone ask me if Calvin approved the martyrdom of many that he disagreed with. This is preposterous if you know the facts at all.)

I do not defend some of Calvin's ideas about predestination, such as the idea of "double predestination." I also disagree with some of the way he expresses other biblical truths. But I remind friends and foes alike that John Calvin wrote for reasons that were not rooted primarily in the doctrine of predestination. In fact, his views on this subject should never be divorced from the whole of his purpose or you will get a distorted view of the man and of his influence upon Protestantism, especially the Reformed Church.
My thoughts exactly Calvin should be respected for his contributions to theology and he often does get a bad rap, but so does Arminius and Barth. After all, they are humans---however that being said I agree with what John Armstrong said: "No one can rightly defend Calvin's actions with regard to the killing of Michael Servetus." No matter how apologists of Reformed Fungelicalism try to spin it: Thankfully Progressive Calvinists don't try to cover up Calvin's sins by defending them since they are indefensible just as Luther's Anti-Semitism and his inciting violence towards the Jews are inexcusable as well.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fundamentalists Never Cease To Be Laughable

Here is a post from Bruce Prescott: on the subject: Mainstream Baptist: Mohler Contemptuous of Islam:
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Mohler Contemptuous of Islam

While the Pope makes a visit to the Middle East trying to defuse conflict between Christians and Muslims, Southern Seminary President Al Mohler fans the flames of conflict with a religiously arrogant and contemptous blog that denounces extending any respect to Islam.

After the arrogant and contemptuous way Mohler and other fundamentalist takeover leaders treated the Mainstream and moderate Baptists in their own denomination, I have exceedingly low expectations for civility from any of them. But, lives are at stake in the Middle East and around the world when people like Mohler persist in fomenting a clash of civilizations.

Mohler would not consider it respectful to him as a person if an Imam had said:
"We can respect Christian people for their contributions to human welfare, scholarship, and culture. We can respect the brilliance of Christian scholarship in the Roman era and the wonders of Christian art and architecture. But we cannot respect a belief system that denies that Mohammad was a prophet, insists that he was a demon-possessed pedophile, and encourages soldiers to evangelize millions in occupied lands." (Note: This is a hypothetical quotation, not an actual quotation)

Why would he think that any Muslim feels respected when he says:
We can respect Muslim people for their contributions to human welfare, scholarship, and culture. We can respect the brilliance of Muslim scholarship in the medieval era and the wonders of Islamic art and architecture. But we cannot respect a belief system that denies the truth of the gospel, insists that Jesus was not God's Son, and takes millions of souls captive. (Note: This is an actual quotation)

Frankly, in my experience, I find Muslims more respectful of Christianity than I find Evangelical Christians respectful of Islam. When will Evangelicals learn that it is possible to respectfully disagree?

Posted by Dr. Bruce Prescott at 10:20 AM

I have to agree with Tauratinzwe's comment:
Tauratinzwe said...
What do you expect of Mohler? He's contemptuous of committed christians also if they don't bow down to him.
I must add too that Mohler must also be jealous of Islam's hold on the Middle East via fear and theocracies in certain countries---after all that is Mohler and his cronies' goal to Christianize America by fear and establishing a Calvinazi theocracy here in America. No thanks, I'll pass on a theocratic police state---for we saw how well it worked out in Geneva especially for the Anabaptists and in the Puritan colonies. I'd rather keep America a secular nation where we have the freedom to choose our religious expressions or non-religious expressions without fear of being put to death. I'm not sure if it would get that bad if Mohler and the Religious Right did succeed in establishing a fundamentalist theocracy but some of their statements scarily allude to it especially in their defense of Calvin's atrocities such as:
Calvin’s Persecution

I think the scariest thing Todd says is this about Calvin’s role in the execution of Michael Servetus:
Now, putting the execution aside, which of us has it right, and which of us has it wrong here? Whose attitude — forget the execution — whose attitude is more biblical and more correct? … one is tolerant, the other one is intolerant of heresy. Period. It’s that black and white. So were they wrong or are we wrong?

This is like saying, “Except for the part that is wrong, who is right or wrong?” The issue at point is not whether we should hate heresy. It is whether people should be killed for it. You can’t put that aside. It’s not rational only to discuss the attitude about heresy, since people on both sides are against it. Same with the abortion issue — all of us know that some babies are unwanted, and they’re expensive — but the issue isn’t the reasons for it, it’s the murder part!

Todd also says:
… the government was designed and put in place to make sure that people kept in line. And according to the Bible in Romans 13, God puts governments in place to protect people and to make sure that people follow the rules. So if the government happens to be so closely linked with the church, like it was in Geneva — if one of the rules was blasphemy or correct theology on the Trinity, they must have understood that crime in a much deeper way than we do to have somebody executed for not understanding the Trinity (or for theology).

So time and culture determine what is right and wrong. This is a slippery point to make in this argument. Todd is unwilling to view our current culture through this lens, and especially unwilling to look at the Islamic states this way. If he’s going to defend the Reformers’ persecutions by saying it’s the government’s responsibility to enforce the rules, then I have a new rule for Todd. You’re not allowed to play the Paul Washer clip about the young boy who was shot by the Muslims for refusing to deny Jesus. You can’t have that both ways — either religious persecution is right or it’s wrong. It’s that black and white.
See also: WOTM Transcription 2008-08-22, Hour 1, Defense of Reformers and listen to the clip of Al Mohler's disciple, Todd Friel: here. Imagine the arrogance if this came about today.

Grace Truly Wins Out

Here's an interesting article:
Pope Gunman Wants to Convert
posted: 5 DAYS 12 HOURS AGOcomments: 226filed under: World NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

ANKARA, Turkey (May 13) -- The gunman who shot Pope John Paul II says he would like to convert to Christianity at a baptism ceremony at the Vatican after his release from prison in January.
In comments relayed by his lawyer on Wednesday, Mehmet Ali Agca also says he wants to visit the grave of Pope John Paul II, meet with Pope Benedict XVI and produce a television documentary on the Vatican.

Agca shot and seriously wounded John Paul on May 13, 1981. The late pope met with Agca in an Italian prison in 1983 and forgave him for the shooting.
Agca served 19 years in an Italian prison for the attack and is currently serving a prison term in Turkey for killing journalist Abdi Ipekci.
He is due to be released from Sincan Prison, near Ankara, on Jan. 18, 2010.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2009-05-13 06:00:35

Regardless of one's stance on the Papacy, Grace truly wins out in the end and God used Pope John Paul II's relationship with Mehmet Ali Agca as part of Agca's conversion process rather than the Pope force-feeding Agca a list of manmade propositions and telling him to believe these things or go to hell like Fundamentalist Pharisees do.


So my dad started physical therapy today and is now in a splint instead of a cast---so that is a step up from a week ago. Anyways, I spent time looking through some of my back-catalog of writings today---here are some interesting ones I found:

Here are some handwritten lyrics of mine back in 1999 when my handwriting was just beginning to deteriorate:

And here's the completed song lyrics typed out:
CHESS-PIECE ---about God being in control

If I were a Chess piece
I would be a pawn in Your game
Speaking all my words in Your Name
Worthless in the eyes of many
Valuable in the eyes of You, worthless in the eyes of many

Unworthy to get down on my hands and knees
But only able to wallow in the mud
Go all the way down
To the cold, cold ground
Because I’ve been washed by Your Blood
I’ve been washed by the Blood of the Sacrificial Lamb
I’ve been washed by the Blood of the Son of Man

You, who died for our sins
Died for me
And I can only be a Chess piece
God, I’ll go wherever You want me to go
For whenever You move me, I know
That I’m getting closer to Heaven

Closer than I’ve ever been before
And when I pass away
I know that You, Jesus will be by my side at the grave
All I’m living for is to be more
Like You
Who are the Absolute Truth
Which sets my spirit free
Listen closely and you’ll hear Him, He is calling you and me

And if I were a Chess piece
I would be a pawn in Your game
Speaking all my words in Your Name
Worthless in the eyes of many
Valuable in the eyes of You, worthless in the eyes of many

Unworthy to get down on my hands and knees
But only able to wallow in the mud
Go all the way down
To the cold, cold ground
Because I’ve been washed by Your Blood
I’ve been washed by the Blood of the Sacrificial Lamb
I’ve been washed by the Blood of the Son of Man

I am only a Chess piece made of dirt
And I know that You still feel the hurt
From the Cross, whenever we stray away
From You--showed us how to pray and now I’m running on Blind Faith
Sometimes people get so judgmental and sink like Peter
When all they really need to do is keep--

Their eyes on Your Wonderful Face and You
Are the Supreme Law and Judge of All the Land, the Absolute Truth
And when we do sink, I know that You
Always pick us right back up, forever, forever and ever

Well, the Cross is like a balance beam
And we go from one extreme
To the other
Some Christians drift from lover to lover
Some talk the talk, but never walk the walk
Others are too blind to see what it’s all about

When God is the only thing stable in a world that’s falling apart
Still we mess things up and keep on breaking Your Perfect Heart
Well, life isn’t easy
There are so many obstacles that get in the way
But as long as You move us where to go
We’ll always be able to defeat the foe

Jesus came to show us the Way
And how we should be
And I am just a Chess piece for You
To move, wherever You choose
Elohim, Adonai, Hashem
For the greater of men

So if I were a Chess piece
I would be a pawn in Your game
Speaking all my words in Your Name
Worthless in the eyes of many
Valuable in the eyes of You, worthless in the eyes of many

Unworthy to get down on my hands and knees
But only able to wallow in the mud
Go all the way down
To the cold, cold ground
Because I’ve been washed by Your Blood
I’ve been washed by the Blood of the Sacrificial Lamb
I’ve been washed by the Blood of the Son of Man

I am a Chess-Piece, Chess-Piece for God
And just for Him, I’ll go
Chess-Piece for God
He moves me where to go

© 1999 T/H Songs, Inc.
© 1999 GB Lyrics, C.O.

Here's are some Springsteenesque song lyrics for you:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mothers' Days And May Birthdays

(Above is my grandfather Jack and I at the beach-house back when it was decorated in retro 70's chic and what not. Below is my sister's baby picture.)

We had an interesting Mothers' Day as my dad broke his wrist painting the other week, so he's having orthopedic surgery today. Anyways, my sister came down Saturday and surprised us which was great because May 10th was her 26th birthday---so we celebrated Mother's Day and her birthday. The year my sister was born Return of the Jedi hit the theaters which my dad took me to to get me out of my mom's way. Star Wars has always played a significant role in my life as my dad introduced me to it via HBO---on their honeymoon, he and my mom saw the original one in theaters which had come out a few weeks before their wedding. The December my brother was born in 1984, I got a bunch of Star Wars stuff for Christmas---but anyways enough of the retro Star Wars geekiness. Today is my grandfather Jack's 87th birthday. I'd also like to wish my friend Bruce Reyes-Chow a happy belated on his 40th---he's only a decade older than me, but he doesn't look it. Anyways, if you want to see Bruce's baby picture go here: What I want for my 40th birthday. And with that---here's to more Mothers' Days and birthdays.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fundamentalist Wackjobs At Their Finest

Go to Prom, Get Suspended, School Says
posted: 22 HOURS 6 MINUTES AGOcomments: 1659filed under: National News, Weird NewsPrintShareText SizeAAA

FINDLAY, Ohio (May 8) - A student at a fundamentalist Baptist school that forbids dancing, rock music, hand-holding and kissing will be suspended if he takes his girlfriend to her public high school prom, his principal said.
Despite the warning, 17-year-old Tyler Frost, who has never been to a dance before, said he plans to attend Findlay High School's prom Saturday.
Frost, a senior at Heritage Christian School in northwest Ohio, agreed to the school's rules when he signed a statement of cooperation at the beginning of the year, principal Tim England said.
The teen, who is scheduled to receive his diploma May 24, would be suspended from classes and receive an "incomplete" on remaining assignments, England said. Frost also would not be permitted to attend graduation but would get a diploma once he completes final exams. If Frost is involved with alcohol or sex at the prom, he will be expelled, England said.
Frost's stepfather Stephan Johnson said the school's rules should not apply outside the classroom.
"He deserves to wear that cap and gown," Johnson said.
Frost said he thought he had handled the situation properly. Findlay requires students from other schools attending the prom to get a signature from their principal, which Frost did.
"I expected a short lecture about making the right decisions and not doing something stupid," Frost said. "I thought I would get his signature and that would be the end."
England acknowledged signing the form but warned Frost there would be consequences if he attended the dance. England then took the issue to a school committee made up of church members, who decided to threaten Frost with suspension.
"In life, we constantly make decisions whether we are going to please self or please God. (Frost) chose one path, and the school committee chose the other," England said.
The handbook for the 84-student Christian school says rock music "is part of the counterculture which seeks to implant seeds of rebellion in young people's hearts and minds."
England said Frost's family should not be surprised by the school's position.
"For the parents to claim any injustice regarding this issue is at best forgetful and at worst disingenuous," he said. "It is our hope that the student and his parents will abide by the policies they have already agreed to."
The principal at Findlay High School, whose graduates include Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, said he respects, but does not agree with, Heritage Christian School's view of prom.
"I don't see (dancing and rock music) as immoral acts," Craig Kupferberg said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2009-05-08 12:13:47

Frost's stepfather is right--- "the school's rules should not apply outside the classroom"---but with fundamentalists, logic doesn't apply.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Living With (Mild) Cerebral Palsy

Sorry for the infrequent posting for awhile, but I got sidetracked with my dad and I playing Resident Evil 4 on Gamecube. It's a good game, but anyways, back to Blogging---I still have 2 movies to Blog about from our Wed. night sessions, which ended before Easter. One of those movies was The Elephant Man but before I get to that---here is a good lead in post:

As I've stated before in my profile and other posts, I have mild cerebral palsy. Lately my tremors have gotten a little bit worse, but funny thing is they only effect certain actions like eating and lifting light-weight things. I'm also having more trouble serving cookies at the Soup Kitchen. However, typing isn't too much trouble, lifting heavier things is easy and playing videogames and riding a bike, etc. Anyways, I'm relatively lucky that I only have a mild case of cerebral palsy which only effects my speech and a few years ago my arm movements---which is something I just live with and lucky to have friends and family to help out like my friends that help me with the little communion cups when we have communion at church. Recently in Feb. an Irish author who had full blown cerebral palsy and was confined to a wheelchair all his life died---here is an article about it:

Christopher Nolan
Feb 26th 2009
From The Economist print edition

Christopher Nolan, the voice of the crippled, died on February 20th, aged 43

YOU wouldn’t have wanted to be Christy Nolan. His two arms looked normal, but they would fly out randomly, like a clockwork doll’s. “Dreadful deadly spasms” of cerebral palsy shot their way from his cranium to his spine and into his feet. He needed carrying to the bath, to the toilet, to bed; his long legs were good for nothing, collapsing under him like a deck of cards. When he tried to talk, nothing came out but “dull looks, dribbles and senseless sounds”. He could not even wipe the saliva from his own face.

In bed at night, when he was as able-bodied as anyone, he would rehearse what his “drunken, drooling body” could do, and what it couldn’t:
Can’t chew, can’t swallow, so why chew? Can’t call—can call, a famished moan maybe yet it suffices...can’t cry—can cry, can cry, can cry wet pillows full but who cares…can’t laugh—can laugh, can can can

At birth, at the County Hospital at Mullingar in Ireland, he had been deprived of oxygen for two hours. He should have died, but instead “sagaciously he dolefully held on”. People pitied him, stroked his head and said God was good, but even as a boy he was not so sure. The “closeted cossetted certainty of Christ” could always calm him, as could communion when Father Flynn was able to sneak the host between his spasming, locking jaws. But once, in St John the Baptist’s, he had himself wheeled to the life-size crucifix with its grey bloodied face and threw out his left arm in a great arc to give Christ two fingers, because he was to blame.

And yet, despite it all, he could use words. At the age of 13, he could write this:
Among firs, a cone high-flown,
Winged, popped,
Hied, foraying, embalming,
Sembling tomb
Among coy, conged fir needles,
A migratory off-spring
Embarks on life’s green film.

For a long time, no one knew. He could communicate: yes with upshot eyes, a neck-bow for affirmation, a drubbing of feet on his wheelchair for attention. The IQ tests always went well, well enough for him to go to “ordinary” school at Mount Temple in Dublin. His blue eyes blazed with intelligence. But no one suspected that in his head were stored millions of words, “nutshelled” and ready. They included all the songs and stories he had heard from his father, the poems recited by his teachers, the alphabet-words stuck up round the kitchen by his mother, glittering fragments of Hopkins and Joyce and Yeats. His overriding ambition was how to “best his body” and get them out.

At the age of 11 he learned how. With a rubber-tipped stick strapped like a unicorn’s horn to his forehead, and dosed with a new pill that calmed his neck muscles a little, he picked out one letter, then another, on a typewriter, “by a bent, nursed, and crudely given nod of his stubborn head”:
His own mother cradled his head but he mentally gadded here and there in fields of swishing grass and pursed wildness. His mind was darting under beech copper-mulled, along streams calling out his name, he hised and frolicked but his mother called it spasms. Delirious with the words plopping onto his path he made youth reel where youth was meant to stagnate. Such were [his] powers as he gimleted his words onto white sheets of life.

Sometimes one word would take 15 minutes to write. It never got faster; his last work, “The Banyan Tree”, a novel based on his family’s farming history in Westmeath, took a decade. But as soon as he began to get the “beautiful words” on paper, he won competitions. Weidenfeld & Nicholson published his poems and writings when he was 15. The book was called “Dam-Burst of Dreams”, as it was. He could speak, and not just for himself, but for all the other, silent, damaged boys of the world.

Insults ran off him. Forgetfulness, he wrote, “fugues tongues and balms words”. He called himself a cripple unsparingly in his autobiography, “Under the Eye of the Clock”, which won the 1988 Whitbread Book of the Year. Some said disability got the prize for him, but what won it was the language, uncorralled and fresh as though the words had never been tried before. He made words do everything his body could not. Among his favourites were “frolicking” and “rollicking”; “hollyberries”, meaning compensations among the sharp things of life; and “crested”, meaning glorious, as though he lifted his head to say it.

Nothing could have happened without his parents. To the end, his mother gripped his chin as he wrote. They carried him on their shoulders, held him, one on each side, to let him ride a pony, steadied him in a stream to feel the icy water on the rocks beneath his feet. His mother had told him, when he was three and crying with frustration, that she liked him just as he was. From that point, “he [fanned] the only spark he saw, his being alive”.

Once, on holiday on the Burren, his family buried him standing up in sand, just his head and shoulders showing. He knew then what it felt like to be able-bodied and straight. But his head was at the level of people’s feet; so he asked to be returned to his wheelchair. He might loll and flop in it, “zoo-caged” as he was. But it was also his proud podium and his throne.

See also: Christopher Nolan.

Interestingly enough:
Rock band U2, who attended school with Nolan, wrote their song "Miracle Drug" (from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb) about him. [3]

Bono said of Nolan:

“ We all went to the same school and just as we were leaving, a fellow called Christopher Nolan arrived. He had been deprived of oxygen for two hours when he was born, so he was paraplegic. But his mother believed he could understand what was going on and used to teach him at home. Eventually, they discovered a drug that allowed him to move one muscle in his neck. So they attached this unicorn device to his forehead and he learned to type. And out of him came all these poems that he'd been storing up in his head. Then he put out a collection called Dam-Burst of Dreams, which won a load of awards and he went off to university and became a genius. All because of a mother's love and a medical breakthrough.

I believe Bono's song extends from his Christian beliefs despite what the heresy police think. Also, here's a little CP humor for you from Josh Blue: