Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Who Knew? (Well, Besides Me and All My Friends...)


A new study out (recently covered in Christianity Today) shows that the more you actually read the Bible, the more likely you are to hold more progressive views on a variety of topics. Further, the more independent reading you do of the Bible, the more likely this is the case.

From Christianity Today (as reported in the story above - I can't see all of the CT article)...

Unlike some other religious practices, reading the Bible more often has some liberalizing effects—or at least makes the reader more prone to agree with liberals on certain issues. This is true even when accounting for factors such as political beliefs, education level, income level, gender, race, and religious measures (like which religious tradition one affiliates with, and one’s views of biblical literalism)...

“Support for abolishing the death penalty increased by about 45 percent for each increase on the five-point scale measuring Bible-reading frequency.”
“…the more someone reads the Bible, the more likely he or she is to believe science and religion are compatible. (For each increase on the five-point scale, the odds that they see religion and science as incompatible decrease by 22 percent.)”
“How important is it,” the survey asked, “to actively seek social and economic justice in order to be a good person?” Again, as would be expected, those with more liberal political leanings were more likely to say it’s very or somewhat important. And those who read the Bible more often were more likely to agree. Indeed, they were almost 35 percent more likely to agree… Those who are most engaged in their faith (by directly and frequently reading its source material) are those who are most supportive of social and economic justice. “
“For each increased level of Bible-reading frequency, support for the Patriot Act decreased by about 13 percent.”
Interesting report, with data that supports the reality for me and many of my friends. The more seriously we took the Bible, the more we read it and sought God's Ways, the more progressive we became, sometimes, almost kicking and screaming!

Of course, I have many friends from childhood (and maybe a few current friends) who I know to have also done a great deal of taking the Bible seriously and reading it independently who did not have this result that I had and that this study is reporting. Makes one wonder what the difference is.


Age of Reason

A relatively small excerpt from Thomas Paine's "Age of Reason..." While I may not always agree with Paine, he makes many perfectly rational points that are sustained by simple, common reason and, thus, I find I agree with Paine a great deal.

...Each of those churches show certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. The Jews say, that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say, that their word of God came by divine inspiration: and the Turks say, that their word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from Heaven. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.

As it is necessary to affix right ideas to words, I will, before I proceed further into the subject, offer some other observations on the word revelation. Revelation, when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man. [emphasis, mine]

No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication, if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and consequently they are not obliged to believe it...

I'm not sure of any reason, rationally or biblically, to disagree with this common sense observation.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ring Them Bells

At my church, we begin Advent with a service where we ring bells, to ring in Advent, ring in the coming of a New Realm, where all are welcome and we stand side by side with one another, with the poor, with the marginalized, with our enemies.

A song from our service last week, Bob Dylan's Ring Them Bells.