Category Archives: Belief

A Mourning Meditation On Miserable Melancholic Multi-Millionaire Mitt


This map tracks the rise and fall of empires and once-great nations; it hangs on Mitt Romney’s Senate office wall.

As a Mormon, Mitt Romney presumably does not believe in Karma. But maybe, more informally, he could nod glumly at  the non-theological adage that what goes around comes around.

Or, more biblically, does he acknowledge that the scripture says we reap what we sow?

I have a feeling he does, now.

Or he should, at least when his money manager passes on the invoices for the $150K+ monthly he’s paying for 24/7 security for his four houses and his family. 

And what about when he ponders the fact that all his five sons have already quit the GOP.

(The figures come from published excerpts from the forthcoming book, Romney: A Reckoning,, by reporter McKay Coppins.)

Continue reading A Mourning Meditation On Miserable Melancholic Multi-Millionaire Mitt

The “Great Dechurching”: Can it be stopped? Should It?

Religious News Service

‘The Great Dechurching’ explores America’s religious exodus
A new study looks at why millions of Americans left church — and what might bring them back.

September 7, 2023
By Bob Smietana

(RNS) — Jim Davis and Michael Graham knew something was up in their hometown of Orlando, Florida.

But they couldn’t put their finger on it.

At the time, both were pastors at Orlando Grace Church, an evangelical congregation, and saw a study showing their community had the same percentage of evangelicals as less traditionally Christian cities like New York and Seattle. Their city also ranked low on a list of “Bible-minded cities” — with a profile more akin to cities with secular reputations than Bible Belt communities like Nashville, Tennessee, or Birmingham, Alabama.

Which didn’t make any sense to them. Continue reading The “Great Dechurching”: Can it be stopped? Should It?

”All God’s Critters Got a Place In the Choir”–But Sometimes They have to Make (or Change) It

”All God’s Critters Got a Place In the Choir.”

And being in the choir is work.

I’m not much for singing gospel songs; but Bill Staines, who wrote this one, was more of a folkie, and his tune, “All God’s Critters” is more folk than (Lord help us) “praise” music. But whatever the genre, I’m more interested in its theology, because I agree with it.

All God’s critters got a place in the choir,
Some sing low, some sing higher,
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire.
And some just clap their hands, or paws,
or anything they got now . . . . Continue reading ”All God’s Critters Got a Place In the Choir”–But Sometimes They have to Make (or Change) It

The Apple and the Easter Egg: A Message in Meeting, 4th Month 9 2023

[NOTE: This morning – 4th Month (April) 9, 2023– it was my turn to bring a message to Spring Friends Meeting, in Snow Camp NC. Herewith an edited version, with images added later.]

I’ve been to Easter morning worship at a good many Friends meetings, mostly liberal & unprogrammed. And the most visible special character noted at many on the occasion was someone, usually female, in an adult-sized cartoon rabbit costume. It brings to mind a cartoon I turned up this past week:

It is not, of course, that liberal Quakers worship rabbits or poultry. The focus on floppy ears and colored eggs serves as a familiar, welcome distraction and deflection. It’s all-but certain to avoid the framing of the occasion by the vast majority of Christian groups. Because in these Quaker meetings, that framing is believed in even less than that of a bountiful bunny. Continue reading The Apple and the Easter Egg: A Message in Meeting, 4th Month 9 2023

Ritual Crucifixions resume for Easter in Philippines


SAN PEDRO CUTUD, Philippines (AP) — Eight Filipinos were nailed to crosses to reenact Jesus Christ’s suffering in a bloody Good Friday tradition, including a carpenter, who was crucified for the 34th time with a prayer for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to end because it has made poor people like him more desperate.

The reallife crucifixions in the farming village of San Pedro Cutud in Pampanga province north of Manila resumed after a threeyear pause due to the coronavirus pandemic. About a dozen villagers registered but only eight people showed up, including 62yearold carpenter and sign painter Ruben Enaje, who screamed as he was nailed to a wooden cross with a large crowd watching in the scorching summer heat.

In a news conference shortly after his crucifixion, Enaje said he prayed for the eradication of the COVID19 virus and the end of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has contributed to gas and food prices soaring worldwide.

Its just these two countries involved in that war, Russia and Ukraine, but all of us are being affected by the higher oil prices even if we’re not involved in that war,” said Enaje.

Ahead of the crucifixions, Enaje told The Associated Press that the steep increases in oil and food prices after Russia invaded Ukraine made it harder for him to stretch his meager income from carpentry and sign making.

Thousands of people, including foreign tourists, came to watch the annual religious spectacle in San Pedro Cutud and two other nearby rural villages.

Kitty Ennett, a veterinarian from Ireland, said the crucifixions were “a very religious experience” and they were worth the long trip from her home in the United Kingdom.

“When I was seeing the young man doing the flogging and going up to the cross, it’s very moving to see how much they sacrifice for their faith,” Ennett told The AP. “They really put themselves in the shoes of Jesus.”

Enaje survived nearly unscathed when he fell from a threestory building in 1985, prompting him to undergo the ordeal as thanksgiving for what he considered a miracle. He extended the ritual after loved ones recovered from serious illnesses, one after another, turning him into a village celebrity as the “Christ” in the Lenten reenactment of the Way of the Cross.

Ahead of their crucifixion on a dusty hill, Enaje and the other devotees, wearing thorny crowns of twigs, carried heavy wooden crosses on their backs for more than a kilometer (more than half a mile) in the brutal heat. Village actors dressed as Roman centurions later hammered 4inch (10centimeter) stainless steel nails through his palms and feet, then set him aloft on a cross under the sun for about 10 minutes.

Other penitents walked barefoot through village streets and beat their bare backs with sharp bamboo sticks and pieces of wood. Some participants in the past opened cuts in the penitents’ backs using broken glass to ensure the ritual was sufficiently bloody.

The gruesome spectacle reflects the Philippines’ unique brand of Catholicism, which merges church traditions with folk superstitions.

Many of the mostly impoverished penitents undergo the ritual to atone for their sins, pray for the sick or for a better life, and give thanks for miracles.

Church leaders in the Philippines have frowned on the crucifixions and selfflagellations, saying Filipinos can show their faith and religious devotion without hurting themselves and by doing charity work instead, such as donating blood.

Robert Reyes, a prominent Catholic priest and human rights activist in the country, said the bloody rites reflect the church’s failure to fully educate many Filipinos on Christian tenets, leaving them on their own to explore personal ways of seeking divine help for all sorts of maladies.

Folk Catholicism has become deeply entrenched in the local religious culture, Reyes said, citing a chaotic annual procession of a black statue of Jesus Christ called the Black Nazarene, which authorities say draws more than a million devotees each January in one of Asia’s largest religious festivals. Many bring towels to be wiped on the wooden statue, believing it has powers to cure ailments and ensure good health and a better life.

“The question is, where were we church people when they started doing this?” Reyes asked, saying the clergy should immerse itself in communities more and talk with villagers. “If we judge them, we’ll just alienate them.”

The decadeslong crucifixion tradition, meanwhile, has put impoverished San Pedro Cutud — one of the more than 500 villages in ricegrowing Pampanga province — on the map.

Organizers said more than 15,000 foreign and Filipino tourists and devotees gathered for the cross nailings in Cutud and two other nearby villages. There was a festive air as villagers peddled bottled water, hats, food and religious items, and police and marshals kept order.

“They like this because there is really nothing like this on earth,” said Johnson Gareth, a British tour organizer, who brought 15 tourists from eight countries, including the U.S., Canada and Germany, to witness the crucifixions.

“It’s less gruesome than people think, Gareth told The AP. They think it’s going to be very macabre or very disgusting but it’s not. It’s done in a very respectful way.” ___

Associated Press journalists Aaron Favila and Cecilia Forbes contributed to this report.