About this web site
Newly created, updated, & planned
essays over the past few months
In this web site, "SSM" refers to same-sex marriage
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals
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.
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
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
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.
During 2014-MAR, we recommend the book:
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."
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
New and updated essays posted during 2014-MAR:
- With the start of a new month, we opened up a list of "Accelerating steps towards same-sex marriage. LGBT equality, etc."
- Oregon same-sex marriage:
- Laws granting freedom to discriminate:
- Part 8: Three factors that are rarely considered in this type of legislation.
- Part 9: Mississippi "Religious freedom bill SB 2681" (aka "License to Discriminate" and "Turn Away
- Brief timelines of SSM/civil union developments, mainly in the U.S. and English speaking world, from 2012 to the present time
- Moral and ritual sin in the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament)
- Part 1: About the Pentateuch. Human evil. Causes of ritual impurity. Why do things and
- Part 2: Why do things & deeds pollute? (Cont'd). Is Leviticus 18:22 a special case?
- Michigan same-sex marriage:
During 2014-FEB, we strongly recommend the book:
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."
New and updated essays posted during 2014-FEB: 46 essays:
During 2014-JAN, we recommend the book:
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."
New and updated essays posted during 2014-JAN: 44 essays:
During 2013-DEC, we strongly recommend the book:
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.
New and updated essays posted during 2013-DEC: 36 essays:
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.
New and updated essays posted during 2013-NOV: 32 essays:
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."
New and updated essays posted during 2013-OCT: 32 essays: