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About this web site

Newly created, updated, & planned
essays over the past few months

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Sponsored link.

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In this web site, "SSM" refers to same-sex marriage

"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals

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new symbol New and updated essays:

As of 2014-JAN, our dedicated server at Corespace in Dallas, TX contained over 6,350 essays and menus. This includes our home page, thousands of menus and many thousands of individual essays. We have a goal of adding one new essay each day. We update many dozens of essays each week. We continually add to our interesting quotes section, We attempt to cover emerging stories related to religion, spirituality, morality, and ethics.

There are lots of other religious web sites on the Internet that cover these same topics. However, they are generally written from a very conservative or very liberal point of view. They often reflect the beliefs of their webmaster or sponsoring agency. Objectivity and balance are often missing. Our web site is different. We try to explain all sides to each topic while remaining as free of bias as we can. When we do state our personal opinions, we keep them separate from the main text of our essays and identify them carefully.

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Essays planned for the near future:

We estimate that we need to write many thousands of essays before our web site will be reasonably complete. Even then, there will probably be new controversial topics emerge among the main moral/ethical topics with a religious content -- like gun control, polygamous marriages, equal rights for transsexuals, etc. These will necessitate the writing of new articles.

We maintain a list of new topics about which we are currently working on or plan to write "someday."  We have a larger list for internal use that, sadly, numbers in the many thousands of topics.

In recent months, the conflict between religious conservatives and sexual minorities -- defined both by their sexual orientation and gender identity -- have monopolized much of the news. Back in 2011-FEB, when the Obama Administration decided to no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), some commentators predicted that this would form a tipping point on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual (LGBT) rights. This seems to have happened, because subsequent months saw an accelerating rate of change towards LGBT equality, including access to marriage for same-sex couples in a rapidly increasing number of states. The change has been so rapid that it has formed the bulk of our web site's new essays from 2011 to the present time. With 33 states denying their same-sex couples access to marriage, activity on a state-by-state basis will probably be the main religious/civil rights topic for the foreseeable future, eclipsing even abortion access. However, it is probable that the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually issue a ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage (SSM) across the U.S. as it did during 1967 with interracial marriage in the ironically named case: Loving v. Virginia. Some equality advocates predict that this will happen by the year 2018.

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During 2014-APR, we recommend the book:

book cover image David Nirenberg, "Anti-Judaism, The western tradition"

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. $14.21 plus postage in paperback, $10.19 in Kindle format. & $23.49 plus postage in Hardcover.

Amazon.com book description:

"This incisive history upends the complacency that confines anti-Judaism to the ideological extremes in the Western tradition. With deep learning and elegance, David Nirenberg shows how foundational anti-Judaism is to the history of the West.

Questions of how we are Jewish -- and, more critically, how and why we are not -- have been churning within the Western imagination throughout its history. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans; Christians and Muslims of every period; even the secularists of modernity have used Judaism in constructing their visions of the world. The thrust of this tradition construes Judaism as an opposition, a danger often from within, to be criticized, attacked, and eliminated. The intersections of these ideas with the world of power—the Roman destruction of the Second Temple, the Spanish Inquisition, the German Holocaust—are well known. The ways of thought underlying these tragedies can be found at the very foundation of Western history. 8 pages of illustrations."

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New and updated essays posted during 2014-APR:

Fewer essays will be written this month because an enormous block of time is being committed to preparing our income taxes. Sorry about that.

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During 2014-MAR, we recommend the book:

book cover image Sharon L, Baker, "Razing Hell: Rethinking Everything You've Been Taught About God's Wrath and Judgment"

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. $11.89 plus postage in paperback & $9.00 in Kindle format

Amazon.com book description:

"The idea of hell can haunt dreams and disturb sleep. Many wonder at the justice (or injustice) of it all, feeling confounded by a God who deems it necessary to send the majority of humanity to burn there forever. Seventy percent of Americans believe in hell, as do ninety-two percent of those who attend church every week.

Clearly, it's a hot topic. Baker offers readers a safe space to contemplate tough issues as they rethink traditional views of hell. In her candid and inviting style Baker explores and ultimately refutes many traditional views of hell, presenting instead theologically sound ways of thinking that are more consistent with the image of God as a loving creator who desires to liberate us from sin and evil. This is an excellent selection for general readers, students, pastors, professors, and grief counselors, and will provide clarity for those with questions about hell, God's judgment, and what happens to us when we die."

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Some book reviews:

  • "This should be a useful book for Christians struggling to reconcile Jesus' sacrifice and a loving God with the place of punishment and the necessity for justice."--Publishers Weekly

  • "A lively, thoughtful and accessible rethinking of one of the most disturbing notions in Christian theology, the prospect of eternal damnation. Put this book on your 'must read' list." John D. Caputo, Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Humanities and Professor of Philosophy, Syracuse University.

  • "What I tried to do in my book The Last Word and the Word After That, Sharon Baker has done in Razing Hell - with more brevity, more levity, and probably with more clarity and accessibility too. Highly recommended." Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity

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New and updated essays posted during 2014-MAR: 34 essays:

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During 2014-FEB, we strongly recommend the book:

book cover image Timothy D. Sisk, "Between Terror and Tolerance: Religious Leaders, Conflict, and Peacemaking"

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. $29.66 plus postage in paperback & $18.52 in Kindle format

Amazon.com book description:

"Civil war and conflict within countries is the most prevalent threat to peace and security in the opening decades of the twenty-first century. A pivotal factor in the escalation of tensions to open conflict is the role of elites in exacerbating tensions along identity lines by giving the ideological justification, moral reasoning, and call to violence. Between Terror and Tolerance examines the varied roles of religious leaders in societies deeply divided by ethnic, racial, or religious conflict. The chapters in this book explore cases when religious leaders have justified or catalyzed violence along identity lines, and other instances when religious elites have played a critical role in easing tensions or even laying the foundation for peace and reconciliation.

This volume features thematic chapters on the linkages between religion, nationalism, and intolerance, transnational intra-faith conflict in the Shi'a-Sunni divide, and country case studies of societal divisions or conflicts in Egypt, Israel and Palestine, Kashmir, Lebanon, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Tajikistan. The concluding chapter explores the findings and their implications for policies and programs of international non-governmental organizations that seek to encourage and enhance the capacity of religious leaders to play a constructive role in conflict resolution."

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New and updated essays posted during 2014-FEB: 46 essays:

With the start of a new month, we opened up a list of "Accelerating steps towards same-sex marriage. LGBT equality, etc."

Human stem cell research

Essays donated by R. C. Symes:

Tentatively scheduled books that we plan to recommend for the upcoming months

An essay donated by Larry Langston: "Perhaps life is about gathering experience, not waiting for rewards or punishment after life"

Descriptions of Hell's other torments. A Catholic publication about Hell. Hells in other religions

Evolution v. Creationism:

SSM in Scotland:

  • Part 5: 2013-JUN: The Marriage and Civil Partnerships Bill is introduced. Responses from many sources.

  • Part 6: 2013-FEB: Public opinion on SSM. The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill is debated

  • Part 7: 2013-FEB-04: The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill becomes law. Reactions. Will there be human rights conflicts?

SSM in Virginia:

  • Part 4: 2013-JAN: Attorney General's office reverses position about marriage equality (Cont'd). 2013-JAN: Harris v. McDonnell case proceeds.
    2013-FEB: Bostic v. Rainey case proceeds.

  • Part 5: 2013-FEB: District Judge Arenda Allen issued ruling in Bostic v. Rainey case legalizing SSM.

SSM in Utah:

What the Bible says about Noah's Ark. Was it rectangular or circular? Could Noah build it? Would it float?

SSM in te USA:

SSM in Kentucky:

  • Part 1: 1972 to 2014: Brief history of SSM. Bourke v. Breshear case filed in KY federal District Court

  • Part 2: 2014-FEB: Court issues memorandum: state to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages

  • Part 3: 2014-FEB: Reactions to the court decision.

  • Part 4: 2014-FEB: Second lawsuit filed to allow SSMs within KY. District Court issues final ruling

  • Part 5: Current status of Bourke v. Beshear More reactions to the court's ruling

Facebook permits its members to define their gender identity: 2 options become 50: Part 1  Part 2

The Goth culture, Part 2

About the federal Equal Access Act guaranteeing the formation of students' clubs in high schools:

States debating bills to grant groups, companies and individual a new form of "religious freedom:" the freedom for believers to attack the LGBT community:

  • During 2013 Arizona House passes discrimination bill. Fails in the Senate

  • During 2014
    • Part 1: Kansas' second try. Fails again in the Senate.

    • Part 2: Tennessee House passes discrimination bill; Senate delays it. Arizona Legislature passes discrimination bill. Reactions. Is Arizona's SB 1062 bill really needed?

    • Part 3: More reactions to Arizona's bill. Again, is it really needed?

    • Part 4: Massive opposition & some support for Arizona's bill SB 1062 mounts

    • Part 5: Opposition & support continues

    • Part 6: Arizona Governor vetoes "license to discriminate" bill SB 1062 bill!

    • Part 7: Review of other states' anti-gay legislation. What groups are generating these bills?

SSM in Illinois:

SSM & discrimination in Michigan:

SSM in Texas:

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During 2014-JAN, we recommend the book:

book cover image Reza Aslan, "Zealot: The life and times of Jesus of Nazareth"

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. $16.20 plus postage in paperback & $16.81 in Kindle format

Amazon.com book description:

"... Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. Scores of Jewish prophets, preachers, and would-be messiahs wandered through the Holy Land, bearing messages from God. This was the age of zealotry—a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. And few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean who defied both the imperial authorities and their allies in the Jewish religious hierarchy.

Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction; a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves with swords; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity a secret; and ultimately the seditious “King of the Jews” whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his brief lifetime. Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity.

Zealot yields a fresh perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told even as it affirms the radical and transformative nature of Jesus of Nazareth’s life and mission. The result is a thought-provoking, elegantly written biography with the pulse of a fast-paced novel: a singularly brilliant portrait of a man, a time, and the birth of a religion."

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New and updated essays posted during 2014-JAN: 44 essays:

With the start of a new month, we opened up a list of "Accelerating steps towards same-sex marriage. LGBT equality, etc."

SSM in Utah:

Contributor Susan Humphreys describes three life lessons she has gleaned from Carlos Casteneda's writing on the teachings of Don Juan

Additional essays donated by Susan Humphreys:

National Religious Freedom Day: JAN-16

International Religious Freedom Day: OCT-27

SSM in Maine:

Cases involving the Jehovah's Witnesses and blood transfusions:

Trail Life USA organized as pro-Christian/anti-gay/anti-transgender group in competition to the Boy Scouts of America:

Two essays donated by Jocelyn Sophia concerning Islam:

SSM in Oklahoma:

  • Part 1: 2004 to 2014: Amendment to the state Constitution bans SSM. A 9 year court battle in federal court ends in a ruling by District Court.

  • Part 2: 2014: The District Court's ruling (Cont'd). Future impact. Reactions to the court ruling, pro and con.

  • Part 3: 2014: Reactions (Cont'd). Webmaster's comments. Case is appealed to 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

SSM in Indiana: Proposed constitutional amendment to ban SSMs, civil unions & domestic partnerships:

Child & youth sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, 2014-JAN to now

Recent news in the media concerning transgender persons

Demonic Possession & Oppression; Exorcism: Introduction (Update)

Civil unions and SSM in Florida:

  • Part 1: Civil unions & same-sex marriages (SSM): History, current status, poll results; domestic partnership bill introduced to Senate

  • Part 2: Bill & business coalition promoting workplace equality. Lawsuit to legalize SSM filed in state court

  • Part 3: Lawsuit to legalize SSM (Cont'd). Reactions: pro and con

SSM in Virginia:

  • Part 1: Civil unions, same-sex marriages (SSM) and LGBT rights in the state of Virginia. SSM opinion polls. First federal lawsuit "Bostic v. Rainey" attacks constitutional ban of SSM.

  • Part 2: A second lawsuit, "Harris v. McDonnell," filed by ACLU & Lambda Legal. "Bostic v. Rainey" lawsuit receives a boost.

  • Part 3: Bostic v. Rainey lawsuit gets a boost (Cont'd). Opposite beliefs about marriage equality. Attorney General's office reverses position about marriage equality.

Different views on SSM and marriage equality:

  • Background and overview: Who defines marriage? What criteria are used? The U.S. Constitution & Congress in conflict. Conservatives vs. Liberals in conflict.

  • Part A:
    • Question 1: Who defines which couples are eligible to marry -- the federal or state governments?

    • Question 2: Can states define marriage in any way that the majority of their population wishes?

  • Part B: Question 3: Must a state's Attorney General always support their state's constitution?

  • Part C: Question 4: Comparing opposing beliefs about SSM among Christian and secular groups

Two essays donated by Susan Humphreys:

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During 2013-DEC, we strongly recommend the book:

Book cover image Neil J. Kressel, "The Sons of Pigs and Apes: Muslim Antisemitism and the conspiracy of Silence." The book was named Book of the Year for 2012 by the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism.

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. $18.67 plus postage in paperback & $16.17 in Kindle format

Some editorial reviews:

  • "A lucid, compelling, and much-needed account of how the crucial issue of antisemitism in the Muslim world is currently being minimized, downplayed, obfuscated, and in many cases completely ignored in much of the Western world. This book should be required reading for decision makers, opinion molders, and not least ‘experts’ in academia, who have been particularly complicit in this policy of silence."—Robert S. Wistrich, director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism and author of "A Lethal Obsession and From Ambivalence to Betrayal."

  • “All religions and cultures suffer from sources that preach hate against the ‘other.’ Throughout history some have, tragically, practiced what their sources preached, while some have sought to dismiss or even counteract the hateful words of their sources. In this book, Neil Kressel shows how extremists within Islam, many in leadership roles, have exploited some of their hateful sources to preach and practice a virulent form of antisemitism. Read this book and judge for yourself.”—Alan M. Dershowitz, author of "The Trials of Zion."

  • “While parts of this book make me uncomfortable, I must admit that it represents, rather sadly, what many of my coreligionists think.”—Khaleel Mohammed, Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies, San Diego State University.

  • “Kressel handles one of the hottest topics in the world carefully, calmly, and coolly. He explains the dangers of Muslim antisemitism while destroying the many excuses for it that are so often offered -- and shaming those in the Muslim world or in the West who downplay these modern forms of the oldest, and one of the bloodiest, hatreds in world history.”Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations.

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New and updated essays posted during 2013-DEC: 36 essays:

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During 2013-NOV:

During this month, we strongly recommend the following book, but only if you have a strong sense of humor:

book cover image Joe Wenke, "You Got To Be Kidding: The Cultural Arsonist's Literal Reading of The Bible" (2012).

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Only $9.99 in paperback & $4.86 in Kindle format

Some editorial reviews:

  • Sarah Hulcy: "A wonderful, biting, incisive 'Cultural Arsonist's Literal Reading of The Bible' in plain English, with terrific descriptions of the Old Testament God and the New Testament God (somewhat different individuals...); very tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic and pointed, dedicated to Christopher Hitchens and Thomas Paine, both of whom would, I believe, really enjoy this book! I know I did.  Having a sense of humor is required to enjoy this book."

  • Bill Baker: "This is hilarious!  Joe Wenke gives a nod to Mark Twain as he looks at the Bible with fresh eyes and with the pen of thinking comic. I know there will be those who will get out their pitchforks and light their torches and see Joe Wenke out, but as for me - someone who went to a Quaker high school and had religion each year and was one course shy of having religion be part of a dual major as an undergraduate, Joe Wenke's YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING is refreshing and should be a part of any library, especially a church library.

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New and updated essays posted during 2013-NOV: 32 essays:

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During 2013-OCT:

During this month, we strongly recommend the book:

book cover image Rex A.E. Hunt & John W.H.Smith, "Why Weren't We Told? A handbook on 'progressive' Christianity (2012).

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store Available in paperback for $22.50 plus shipping, or in Kindle format for $9.60 with free shipping via the Internet

Polebridge Press' book description:

"Progressive Christianity is not new. It has been around for two hundred years or more. But the anger and disappointment of those who have encountered it only recently is palpable: 'Why weren't we told?' This international collection of cameos and articles on the themes and issues addressed by progressive Christianity is a response to that cry."

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New and updated essays posted during 2013-OCT: 32 essays:

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