The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

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Evolution and Faith

August 25th, 2011 · Comments Off on Evolution and Faith · christianity, culture, media

Normally, this is a topic I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. I also don’t get into arguments with people who claim the world is flat, doomed to end, or cursed by demons. It’s simply not worth the bother: folks don’t come to these conclusions through logic, so logic isn’t going to dislodge them. Evolution, […]

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Nomenclature

August 30th, 2010 · Comments Off on Nomenclature · christianity, culture, history

There has been some discussion of late about President Obama’s claim of being Christian. Besides the ones who obliviously presume that he must be Muslim, or parse out of unrelated texts the notion that a presumed birthright to Islam is obligatory, there are others who question whether his Christianity is ‘real’. However, many problems arise […]

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True Believers

September 20th, 2008 · Comments Off on True Believers · christianity, culture, history

At first, I could never understand the True Believers. My first encounters with them was in Christian churches. My own, initially pedantic, attempts at Bible study repeatedly failed to illuminate the motivations or goals of True Believers. I could never understand just what was so exciting in the faith as I had ever seen it […]

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Jesus the Wicked Priest

June 1st, 2008 · Comments Off on Jesus the Wicked Priest · christianity, history, media

Marvin Vining, Jesus the Wicked Priest. (C) 2008. Published by Bear and Company, Rochester, VT. www.MarvinVining.com This work is a fascinating reading that combines sources from Dead Sea Scroll materials and Biblical exegesis to produce a surprisingly personal story of conflict between characters in the gospel stories. Vining brings to life a vital, aggressive Jesus, […]

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Addendum

March 8th, 2008 · Comments Off on Addendum · christianity, history, media

I mentioned Dungan’s Constantine’s Bible the other day before I had finished reading it. I fear that I made it sound like a lame book, and I’m glad I didn’t let my waning enthusiasm sour me on it before I was done. Dungan didn’t go on and on about Eusebius like I had expected. Instead, […]

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The Polis killed the Olympians

March 6th, 2008 · Comments Off on The Polis killed the Olympians · christianity, history, media

Yes, another book. David Dungan’s Constantine’s Bible has an amazing reach, starting from the beginnings of civilization, through the development of Greek philosophy and its distribution through the ancient East. Only a third of the way through, but I’m pretty sure I know how this one ends. Actually, I’m having such a severe case of […]

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Book Reviews

March 3rd, 2008 · Comments Off on Book Reviews · christianity, history

First, two biographies on the emperor Constantine. Constantine the Great: The Man and his Times, by Michael Grant, and the ingeniously named Constantine the Great, by John Holland Smith. These are followed by a review of Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome, by Rodney Stark […]

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Netting Sand

February 25th, 2008 · Comments Off on Netting Sand · christianity, history

Probably the most difficult aspect of studying the origins of Christianity is that there is so much history to plow through. If you pick just one place, you can spend lifetimes exploring the peoples and families that had just been there over the centuries. We know something about the peoples who lived in Mesopotamia in […]

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Neo-Flavian Meditations

February 14th, 2008 · Comments Off on Neo-Flavian Meditations · christianity, history

I’ve studied Christian history for years now, and the emperor Constantine has occasionally graced my mental stage as I try to imagine how the Christianity that I know today developed from the pastiche of pagan practice common in the ancient world. Recently, Constantine himself has taken center stage as I have taken special pains to […]

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What's in a name?

August 24th, 2007 · Comments Off on What's in a name? · christianity, culture, history

One of the greatest revelations I had during my intense periods of religious study centered on the use of a single word: Christian. Much of my early exploration was propelled by my insistence that I was not, and would not be, a Christian. Now that I’ve come around to the far side of that journey, […]

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