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Blog: Where We Write

Christian Conversion Disorder and Change

By Barry Taylor

Our latest culture course is about deconstruction but not so much the philosophical theory of deconstruction, as much as the umbrella term being accessed by a number of people and groups around the world, who are grappling with problematic religious experiences and re-thinking their faith. In our last week’s discussion, we put forth the idea that perhaps there was an underlying issue that wasn’t being addressed which we called, Christian Conversion Disorder, the idea being that somehow the idea of conversion in Christianity had somehow come to mean a desire for a change that would preclude the need for any further change. The problem with this being that change is a natural part of life, and our ideas often change as we are exposed to life and accumulate experiences that might contradict or challenge previously held beliefs, and the certainty of a thesis is suddenly questioned. We have also heard the word ‘trauma’ used a lot in these ongoing...

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Digital Saints

By Maria French

It was recently reported that Rome is preparing to give sainthood to a 15-year-old computer whizz who passed away from Leukemia in 2006.  He was a young boy who cataloged miracles online in service to Rome, or as the Pope has proclaimed, ‘in service of the gospel.’  He is being referred to as the digital saint.

In keeping with tradition, the person up for beautification needs to have been deceased for five years before proper inquiry can be made into their life, with one requirement being at least two miracles performed.  

But what constitutes a miracle? 

I came across a book this weekend in Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.  It was everything you would expect an old bookshop to be, especially in the medieval town of such a literary colossus.  

“Saints of the Twentieth Century” recalling heroic tales of those who lived and died in the cause of something greater than themselves. ...

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Pandemic Dreams

By Maria French 

Everywhere you turn it seems people are talking about pandemic.  And for good reason, I suppose.  Sometimes it is talked about in the context of it being temporary.  Others are talking about it in ways that suggest a comprehensive paradigm shift.  Others speak of it in terms of its grave effect on global economic systems, as well as exposing the unsustainable growth fetishes of Capitalism.  Still others have used it to track unimaginable and ironic fashion trends.  And we would be remiss not to mention the transfer of all not digital activity to full digitalization mode.  At H&Co our ears, of course, have been to the ground when it comes to churches and faith communities and their responses to continued lockdown.

There is simply so much to take in.  So much to evaluate.  So much to think through and re-think through. 

British style magazine, LOVE, came out with their bi-annual journal last spring entitled ...

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A Sexual Ethic with Substance and Story

By Maria French

“In a century that has seen rape as a part of military strategy, poverty as the result of lack of reproductive choice, industries based on the economic exploitation of sex, race joined with gender and class to determine the employment option of groups, the development of a sexual ethic cannot be a trivial concern.”

-Margaret A. Farley

Sex and sexuality-It is the one thing that ties us all together.  We find it to be a very complicated issue in the 21st century, although there is more work being done than ever to transform sexual categories into a spectrum in which one can move freely, liberally and experimentally.  While sex is nothing new, our forms of expressions and engagement are ever changing and evolving. 

Human sex and sexuality is something that is of great fascination to me.  I must say, when it comes to thinking about sex in a faith context, I was fairly (completely!) messed up.  I grew up Catholic. ...

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Emperors of One Idea

By Barry Taylor

“When Darwin or Einstein proclaim theories that modify our ideas, it is a triumph of science. We do not say that there is another defeat for science, because its old ideas have been abandoned...Religion (should) face change in the same spirit...”

A.N. Whitehead

Whitehead’s quote taps into an important question that we need to ask ourselves: Why in the face of such an evident need for reframing the way we speak about religion is it so difficult for us to let go of old ideas?

Part of the answer might lie in the fact that many people don’t think they have ‘ideas’ about God. They think they’ve happened upon an unchangeable truth and therein is the challenge. It is a difficult notion to overcome. Many of us have been schooled in forms of religion built around crystallized dogmas that are presented to us as the truths we need to embrace in order to be the ‘right kind’ of Christian.

But as the writer Adam Phillips...

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Hack to the Future

By Barry Taylor

Whether it’s Star Wars or Star Trek, Mars Attacks or Minority Report, 2001 A Space Odyssey or Dr. Who, film and television has long been enthralled with a future shaped by science, technology and visions of the future. Using incredible technologies and great stories, imagined worlds are made to look believable and real and have shaped so much of the ways we think the future might unfold. But as the philosopher Slavoj Žižek has noted, even though we know that something is fiction, that it is not real, it still fascinates us because there is something real in the illusion. We choose the things we watch because they trigger our desires even though we aren’t always aware of what we are desiring for when we watch a film or tv show. Žižek also said about cinema, the ‘ultimate perverts art’ because visual media doesn't simply give us what we desire - it tells us how to desire.

What those illusions are, what cinematic desire looks like and...

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More Than Lip Service: Is the Church Essential Work?

By Maria French

What makes the church more than a self-help option?  In the name of ‘essential work,’ what are the categories of community the church provides for its congregants that are integrally Christian?

I don’t ask these questions because I know the answers. 

I ask them because I think they must be asked and deeply considered. 

If you are keeping up on the news across the U.S. when it comes to church openings (or non-openings) you will find that many pastors have fought against the continued government mandates not to assemble for the purposes of worship.  There has been outrage, citing infringement on their first amendment rights, calling for churches to be seen as essential work as well as an invoking of mental health statistics among church goers who no longer have the comfort and community of their in-person Sunday gatherings.

There has been a distinct ‘us vs. them’ narrative when it comes to churches re-opening and...

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What LIEs in BeLIEf

By Maria French

           “What do you believe, Maria?” is a question I am asked more than you can imagine. 

Only the question sounds more like this…

            “Do you believe that Jesus Christ literally rose from the dead?”

            “Do you believe in hell?” 

            “Do you think Jesus was kidding when he said, ‘I am the way, the truth

             and the life’?

There was a time in my life when I took the bait; hook, line and sinker!

I’ve learned the hard way, more than once, that these are questions I will never answer for people.  And I don’t mean theologically.  I literally mean that I will not physically open my mouth and attempt to answer them.  

In reality, we need to take the...

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