God and Country
"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." - Thomas Jefferson
BARGER'S PREACHER BOUTIQUE
Nobody sees the obvious, nobody observes
the ordinary. There are more miracles in a square yard of earth than in all the
fables of the Church. -Robert Anton Wilson
Explaining the wow
My partner Eric Olsen, proprietor and Dear Leader of Blogcritics was chatting religion with me once, and said something that indicated he got me. "Al, you're very religious. You just don't happen to believe." Exactly. I was ordained in the Universal Life Church many years ago, and in my own way take that mission fairly seriously. Without going too far into it, I would describe myself specifically as a minister rather than as a preacher, though.
Also though, I would be loathe to describe myself as "spiritual" rather than religious. That strikes me as a cheap and cheesy way of puffing up one's own ego. It would just seem petty and dumb to treat the mysteries of life as merely an excuse to stroke my petty vanity. That's what my blog is for.
So where does that leave a minister without faith, a non-spiritual religious non-believing doubting Thomas? Damned if I know, frankly. Still I'm constantly struck by these things outside the world of our day to day material existence, a complicated and mysterious "wow" I often feel. I'll just say that I find myself going to church regularly, wanting to give thanks and gratitude to the Maker for all the blessings and wonders of life - even if I'm frankly not sure that there's anybody on the other end to hear those prayers.
Here then are some of my modest efforts towards getting a grip on some little corner of this, my attempts at grappling with morality, responsibility ("Thou art God" as Valentine Michael Smith would say) and explaining the "wow."
Mohammed cartoons - original to MoreThings
Alcast #7: "Lonesome Al's White Christian Narrative of American Exceptionalism" 8-27-2012 (mp3 audio recording) Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore, but it will point the pure of heart at least in the general direction of the golden gate. Jesus and James Madison would agree with Al on this.
Churches of my childhood
Brother Eugene Kemple - Model Christian
I Was a Teenage Cult Leader
Jack Chick Tracts
Al's Got a Message From God
Anthony Flew Accepts God?!
Dr Gene Scott 1929 -2005
Ptolemy, Manbearpig, Global Warming and Epistemological Humility
God loves ugly people
I shot a family member today
Priests, thugs, and eight circuit mammalian biology
Mel Gibson, Christians and Jews
Gimme that old time religion
The Miracle of Fatima
Judge forbids Wiccan parents from teaching "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals"
San Francisco Board of Supervisors vs the First Amendment
Doing your Godly duty: Cats need killed
Torture is bad, m'kay? Still...
BATF Lambs of God
Five Blind Men and an Elephant - the Discordian version
KY jelly for the Baptists?
Fit to Meet My Maker
St Paul's Garden
A Satanic photo gallery Too scared of the devil
Jesus of Nazareth
In 1986 and 1987 I wrote a weekly column for the Ball State Daily News, the student paper. I called it God and Country. I wrote in character as a fundamentalist Christian, based on the frequently repeated and explicit premise that if you believe that the Bible is the revealed word of a living God, you have to say certain things based on what is actually in the book. Words have meanings.
Now, I want to be straight. I wasn't trying to play gotcha, taking a single verse or turn of phrase and twisting it all out of proportion just to make Christians look silly. No, I wanted to get at real, basic issues about men and women, and authority and all those big things. What does the Bible really mean based on just what it says? Give some room for not necessarily taking absolutely every comment literally, but some patterns of meaning become pretty clear. They meant SOMETHING when they wrote the books.
I generated rather a furor. The Daily News apparently got literally thousands of letters, pre email actual letters mostly hand delivered to the office. Perhaps as many as 20% were positive. Others were less than kind. In fairness to my critics, they just had the columns to judge, without benefit of any explanatory note such as you're getting here. The editors for some reason never clear denied my proposal from the beginning to put a little box with a brief explanatory disclaimer. Then finally Robyn Rogers, the less than genius student editor, made a lame explanation in an editorial that "Barger is NOT SERIOUS." I sure got her words shoved up in me. Yet I was- although perhaps in a somewhat backwards way- perfectly serious.
I ended up publishing seven action packed columns before being very publicly fired, and formally denounced in print by Ball State University President John Worthen, who wrote that my column was "not in keeping with the ideals and goals to which Ball State University aspires." As you might imagine, that Worthen column rates as perhaps the single greatest honor of my college career.
This phenomenon was the centerpiece of my higher education, so I got a million stories to tell about this stuff. Let's just get up the basic documents. I've re-typed them rather than make you read them from microfilmed copies. For historical continuity, I've retained the editor-composed headlines.
Column 1: Alcohol puts conscience on holiday
Column 2: Christians who believe in Biblical truth must also believe in women's inferiority
Column 3: Beliefs should be followed or rejected
Column 4: Empirical arguments only lead to breakdown of faith
Column 5: Government ordained by God
Column 6: Freedom to do good greater than political freedom
Column 7: True Christians shouldn't support Christ's enemies Second thoughts on Christians and Jews
Letters to the editor about God and Country
Anti-Al editorial cartoon
Daily News editors explain Al
Brother Al live
Brother Al fired
President Worthen responds
Images of the columns
JESUS OF NAZARETH PHOTO GALLERIES
John the Baptist baptizing Jesus of Nazareth
Jesus of Nazareth Images 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Annunciation of Jesus Christ Images 1 2 3 4
Birth of Jesus Images 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Jesus and Children Images 1 2 3 4
Jesus the Healer Images 1 2 3 4 5 6
Crucifixion of Jesus Christ Images 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Resurrection of Jesus Christ Images 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Belief in God changes you - for good or ill
First Baptist Church of Laurel, Indiana fine Christian fellowship and the best church feeding around
God Is Not Great
The Church of Answers - a Christian re-incarnationist
Anti-Sniveler Michael Hawkins
Hundreds of proofs of God's existence
Jay Bakker's Revolution Church
The Great Tantric Death Magic Challenge
Literary Bible blog
God and Country
MoreThings Goatherd Blog
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