Shifting Christian Narratives: Evil and the Good News

The I-Am-Not-Worthy and Only-by-the-Grace-of-God Schools

Although my father was Lutheran, I grew up as a Roman Catholic. My mother was Catholic and she insisted that my sister and I go to the local Catholic elementary school.

My sister went on to attend a Catholic High School. As a teenager, I went into the Franciscan seminary but left after my sophomore year, finishing my last two high school years at a Catholic high school and then going on to a Catholic university where I had every intention of becoming a Trappist monk after I graduated.

I lived through my Roman Catholic heritage but found myself moving towards a liberal and progressive Protestantism, until I eventually made the leap into a local Unitarian Universalist church as a non-theist.

My Roman Catholic heritage made me very aware of how strong the “I-am-not-worthy” and “only-by-the-grace-of-God” schools of theology dominated so much of Catholic teaching during the fifties. Continue reading


The Interventionist School of Christianity

I never liked contact sports. Whenever I worked out, it was always a single-player engagement like jogging, swimming, or running frantically on a tread mill. Even today, I continue to exercise by myself, even though I am sometimes in a gym or in a park walking with others.

During my college teaching years, committees were, for me, the most difficult arenas to get anything done. Discussions were often endless, tangents seemed to be the norm, and listening levels almost non-existent.

Even my experiences with institutional religion, growing up Catholic and attending Catholic institutions right up to my Masters Degree, my notion of community was limited to Sunday services or singing in a choir. Continue reading


Christianity and Mammon

Poverty of Spirit

I grew up in a religion that preached “poverty of spirit.” It was a high-church Christian religion with lots of rituals, pomp, icons, and incense. As a child and an adolescent, I was told that poverty existed on a higher, more spiritual plain than wealth because, if I were poor, I would not be distracted by the material world.

I was taught, in no uncertain terms, that just as it would be impossible for a camel to thread its way through the eye of a needle, that it would be a cold day in hell before a wealthy person would ever enjoy eternal bliss. From that small kernel of a moral presumption, I learned to be suspicious of wealth and to pursue “higher,” more spiritual goals. I saw no contradiction between the poverty message and the comfortable, sometimes extravagant lives of the male messengers. Continue reading