What the hell?

Believing friend and reader of this blog Julie Ferwerda sent me a copy of her book hot off the press. It’s called, “Raising Hell; Christianity’s most controversial doctrine put under fire.”

Julie deserves all kinds of accolades for this achievement, and I might not be the first to congratulate her, but I will rank among them. This is an accomplishment, and I can tell from its notes and citations that she put more scholarship into this book than Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel put into any one of their books.

I haven’t read it yet, so I have no real review yet. I flipped through it last night in bed, and it struck me in a couple ways.

One. I thought how cool it must feel to work on something and have it arrive in print. It’s almost as if there is an instant elevation to your feeling of worth and security. And this book isn’t mine. I can’t imagine how Julie must feel. Well done.

Two. Julie approaches the book that a person must be childlike in their curiosity. I couldn’t help but wonder how often we don’t do that. How often do we shed our minds of preconceptions to look at something fresh? It becomes almost impossible the older we get, right?

I can’t count how many times I was told that something was wrong thinking. Teachers, parents, friends. They all thought they knew what Jesus wanted, and told me to stop thinking and wondering and accept what they were saying.

“Why can’t you criticize Jesus?”
– “That’s wrong thinking”
“What if there’s not a heaven?”
– “There is a heaven.”
“What if we’re wrong?”
– “We are right.”

This isn’t a direct Criticism of Julie, but why even should a person believe in god or gods in the first place? Why the Christian god? Why not the Hindu gods or Buddha?

Julie obviously spent a lot of time researching. The book is likely much deeper and better researched than Rob Bell’s recent book “Love Wins” which she recognizes in the preface as well.

But what if Julie wasted a ton of research and life researching a book based on the idea that the Christian god is real, when he’s not? If the doctrine of hell isn’t right, what else is wrong?

I will likely approach this book as an adult with adult views. It will be hard to approach it without other research about Christianity. Hell was the first doctrine I stopped believing in as a young adult. It’s the easiest Christian doctrine to stop believing in. Once it went, the rest was just as easy to debunk. But hell is a tricky son of a bitch. Christianity is a tricky son of a bitch.

I skyped with regular-reader George W. last week. And we talked about how difficult it is to stop praying. The conditioning for religious activity is deeply engrained in the psyche. I’ve pretty successfully stopped. That doesn’t mean I don’t think, “Well, maybe God is out there listening to my thoughts” or “Maybe god is doing this to tell me something.”

I can admit I have doubts, and not just in private conversations. I am not sure of anything, because it’s then when I have given up. It’s then when I’m too lazy to check out all the information.

My believing friends, I wonder if they ever give credence to their curiosity. I wonder if they would put 1/5 or 1/6 of the effort Julie has into questioning one Christian doctrine through a pile of research.

My answer is no, they would not.

And that makes me sad.




Quote of the Morning

Regarding a book Julie Ferwerda is reading called “The Jesus Secret,” she wrote:

“One of the words the author goes into a great deal, “dikaios,” I had already uncovered myself about a month ago. It is the word translated somewhat consistently throughout the NT as “righteous” or “righteousness,” intended to convey moral uprightness. When in fact, this word is clearly proven in the papyri to convey JUSTICE and equity, not morality. Bible scholars have known of this error for many years but stubbornly refuse to change it for nothing more than maintaining traditions of men (and perhaps fear of diminishing the superior piety of the masses).”

~ Julie Ferwerda in the comments on her blog of this post.

I wish there were more believers who gave a hoot about their beliefs like Julie. I admire that she’s at least trying to dispel some of the misunderstandings people have about the bible.

What sucks is: I’m not her target market. Or if I am, I’m a knowitall, and see the information above as old news. I will say that the above info is verifiable and sound. Since several of my readers are lurking Christians, I feel it’s necessary to post stuff like this.

This, dear Christian, is how to show the world that you’re intelligent and start to curtail the ugly stereotype that “belief = inferior intelligence.”

I don’t agree with everything ol’ Julie writes, but that’s part of the deal. Agreement is not necessary for decent and productive dialogue. What is necessary is that people actually put some thought and research into the information they’re relaying. I kvetch about it often, and can only hope that Ferwerda becomes more believers’ role model.

Thursday morning reading list

Video editing is going to keep us apart a little more than I’d like today. But before I let my work sit on my face and pass gas like an evil sibling, I thought you deserved something to keep you busy.

Everyone likes READING!

  • Carol Putnam discusses, “Does God Hate Women?” over at exChristian.net. Nothing new, but definitely a reminder.
  • PZ Myers started a land war with another skeptic named Stephen Asma. PZ responded to something Asma wrote here. And then PZ responded to a response from Asma here. I feel shitty for only posting the PZ stuff, but you know how biased I am in a rush I am.
  • Hemant Mehta doesn’t agree with Christians when they say, “Stop loving gay people.
  • Ted Haggard steps into the limelight again with his member in his hand. Unloads on GQ. GQ must be hurting for sales.
  • Infographic on the sheer size of the Internets. Cower in its shadow, kids. There’s more spam mail out there than you ever knew.
  • Yours truly gets battered plugged on his new “Christian” friend’s blog. The conversation is worth reading. I need to post the facebook conversation soon. It’s thrilling.

Above: A hipstamatic self portrait art directed by my niece and used on “Christian” web sites to show how evil we atheists are.


Saturday Reading List

  • Oh Chick-Fil-A, say it ain’t so! Gay activists are bashing the incredibly religious fast-food chain for associations with anti-gay agenda. Read here, here and here. Hey, Chick-Fil-A, do you get happy from smashing babies against rocks, too?!?
  • The cure for loneliness? Date Jesus. I am not fucking kidding. Julie Ferwerda explains that dating Jesus is a must for anyone within a relationship or single. Among the list of ways to date Jesus (see page 2): Write letters, Record his answers, Walk and talk, Set real dates, Make cards or gifts for him and Study him. One major thing Ferwerda left out: don’t expect reciprocation, the sex is going to suck (he’ll never go down on you), and if you don’t worship the ground he walks on, prepare for a life-time eternity of torment. One-sided love does not equal stalking, insanity or absolute bonker talk. In fact, all relationships should be modeled after the one-sided affair with the ghost of Jesus past, present and future. If you’re unclear how to date Jesus, please see this very informative statement:

So how do you date Jesus? Here are some ways that work for me, but the sky is the limit for creativity—just like any true dating relationship. The key is to make it spontaneous, personal and a major priority. And then you’ll find that he begins showing up for dates—sometimes with flowers, love notes, and rainbows!


  • The Beastie Boys are still set to release a new album soon. Good news, MCA is doing well against his battle with cancer.
  • Prepare yourself for a sweetness explosion! Man gives ex an exploding dildo for Christmas. He keeps calling her asking for phone sex.
  • The Monkeys you ordered offers captions to New Yorker cartoons that are actually funny.

Thanks Luis, for the Date Jesus link!