How Many? Updated

word of a woman:

I updated this post today to reflet the additional shootings that have happened in the days since I first wrote it.

Originally posted on word of a woman:

Yesterday I posted a shocking statistic as my Facebook status. Since the Sandy Hook shooting there have been 74 87 school shootings. 74 87. Seventy-four.  Eighty-seven. That averages out to about one a week. And those are just the school shootings.We are currently on target for gun deaths to overtake automobile accidents as the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15-24 in 2015. WTF people? Seriously? How are we not outraged as a society? Why do we continue to elect people who show no signs of doing anything about it As President Obama said yesterday, “We’re the only developed country on earth where this happens. And it happens now once a week. And it—it’s a one-day story. There’s no place else like this,” and, “Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on earth that would put up…

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Some of my Favorite Bits from Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God.

Whi I High Res Front CoverThis morning I would like to share with you some more of my favorite lines and excerpts from this week’s featured guest, Frank Schaeffer. I have really enjoyed sharing with you about this book this week. I hope you will pick up a copy and give it a read. You will be richer for it.

Our relationship is founded on me saying “I am so very sorry for being an asshole” and then working to change.

With the acceptance of paradox came a new and blessed uncertainty that began to heal the mental illness called certainty…

These days I hold two ideas about God simultaneously: he, she or it exists and he she or it doesn’t exist.

These days I hold two ideas about God simultaneously: he, she or it exists and he she or it doesn’t exist. I don’t seesaw between these opposites; I embrace them. I don’t view this embrace as requiring a choice between mere emotion and fact, or between evolutionary biology and spirituality. Reality can’t be so neatly parsed. Neuroscientists who analyze our chemistry-based brains still fall in love. Preachers declaiming a literal view of the Bible and a so-called young earth still use petroleum products only found because geologists operate on the premise that the earth is 4.54 billion years old.

I don’t view my embrace of opposites as a kind of agnosticism. I view it as the way things actually are. An agnostic neither believes nor disbelieves in God. I’m not that person. I believe and don’t believe at the same time.

Lucy and Jack seem to accept that something may never have happened but can still be true.

We’re all of at least two minds.

I can’t objectively describe reality because I’m trapped in the moving target we call time.

Jesus liked hanging out with women and kids too! So fuck you!

Jesus undermined the inerrancy of the scriptures in favor of his version of pragmatic empathy!

Jesus rejects tribalism, literalism, group identity, specific religions, and gatekeepers as well as his Jewish identity.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news to anyone hooked on apocalyptic fantasies, but things are getting better. Jesus did in fact change everything.

What Jesus triggered was an inexorable shift to a higher level of ethics that eventually changed the trajectory of human history. Love, fairness, opportunity, freedom and goodness eventually begin to trump mere survival and brute power.

We have Jesus and his Enlightenment prophets to thank for the humanistic ideas on which America was founded. If you’re one of the people Jesus is said to have favored—a child, a woman, someone ill, a sex worker, someone regarded as untouchable, old, ugly, abandoned or “the other” in some other way—and you are being cared for by unbelievers, is Jesus’ example being followed? Or does Jesus only live in correct theology regardless of how little a Christian may care about your wellbeing?

We’re all stuck in the same rudderless boat. It is about the spirit we share or about nothing. It is about how we treat others or about nothing. How we treat others is the only proof of truth we have. That proof is not found in any book. It is only found in the expression of unconditional trust we may sometimes see in the eyes of the people who know us best.

Jesus either said God “is kind to the unthankful and to the evil” or he said that God will burn his, her or its enemies in hell. You can’t have it both ways.

The idea of atonement—Jesus “dying for our sins” as if to satisfy God—is the opposite of evolutionary truth. Evolution doesn’t demand justice; it demands life. In evolution the result of suffering, killing, extinctions, death and chaos is the learning curve undertaken by genes that pass on knowledge in an effort to survive. No one from the first primitive microorganism to Jesus has died to “satisfy” an angry God.

Following Girard’s argument, death—including Jesus’ death—occurs so that all may live, learn and eventually reach an end point of perfection when the entire cycle of creation from the beginning to end will be vindicated, perhaps even understood. A great milestone has already been passed on our evolutionary journey: consciousness has achieved empathy.

A spiritual non-material-based way of life turns out to be the actual way we live no matter what we say we believe. We live by ethics not found in nature and we enrich our lives with art. That says something to me. Maybe a purely material view of the universe and of ourselves is not in fact a fact.

Our longing for spiritual joy and our ability to appreciate beauty in a way that turns the physical world into a spiritual fact unnerves people who believe that spirituality is an illusion. They tend to demote notions of beauty along with demoting us. Like restaurant critics who hate food, some adamantly secular art critics have promoted art that denies the very idea of art.

The Internet and its innovators are doing more to facilitate the reemergence of content-laden, craft-rich, hands-on art, individuality and perhaps even spirituality, than all the galleries, agents, critics, churches and publishers combined.

Those of us raised in the Christian tradition need to choose to either see God in Jesus or to continue to let the Bible define God. Our tradition says that Jesus is God. Maybe we should act as if we think he is instead of worshipping a book. Maybe we should be brave enough to admit that we are compelled to either become blinded ideologues or we need to forthrightly pick and choose what we follow in the Bible. Most Christians do that anyway, many just don’t admit it.

I say the words “I love you.” I know I mean them though because I take half a day to clean, to shop for flowers, to think about taking Genie to bed, to experience a flutter of anticipation as she walks out of the airport concourse and I see her again. Yet while waiting for her there I’ve been casually watching a flight attendant’s ass. I’ve been a saint and sinner, a jerk and a better man than I once was, loved by my wife, children and grandchildren, yet sometimes still a tyrant.

The words of the Creed and my words of love are metaphors for something that is ultimately indescribable but ever present and never perfect. What I know is that whatever the Creed means, I have been overwhelmed by love. I have seen “Light of Light” in action, felt its power while not understanding from whence the light pours into me.

Our best hope is not found in correct theology, the Bible or any other book, but in the love we express through action rather than words. Our best hope is that love predates creation and thus that the Creator sees us as ever young. Our hope is that when we look at God through the eyes of the loving Christ we will see who God really is. Our ultimate hope is that God will be looking back at us as we’d like to be seen.

An excerpt in honor of Genie Schaeffer.

Whi I High Res Front Coverf&gOn the eve of the arrival of the Schaeffer’s to DFW I would like to share with you this excerpt from Why I Am An Atheist Who Believes In God. I thought it was appropriate given that both Frank and Genie will be here with us. Enjoy.

I do not always believe let alone know if God exists. I do not always know he, she or it does not exist either, though there are long patches in my life when it seems God never did exist, What I know is that I see the Creator in Jesus or nowhere. What I know is that I see Jesus in my children and grandchildren’s love. What I know is that I rediscover hope again and again through Genie’s love…What I know is that sometimes something too good to be true, is true.

I have seen Genie forgive me. She has been my co-sufferer rather than my judge. My heart beats faster when we’re making love and I look into Genie’s face that’s ever young to me, even as the calendar tells me my wife is sixty-two. How can both facts be true? What does the actual historical Genie Schaeffer really look like at any one point?

The way I see Genie is as true as any scientific measurements a dermatologist might take while preparing to do fractional resurfacing to lessen the effects of sun damage. Both truths–the dermatologists and mine–are equally genuine. Both ways of seeing are valid, even empirically true, notwithstanding they contradict each other. Genie is actually ever young to me. She’s also actually sixty-two. The dermatologist has his science to prove a point about the condition of Genie’s skin. I have the truth of a forty-four-year love affair to offer her as an equally valid fact. That truth is “only in my head.” So is everything else.

Frank flyer

An Artist, a Writer and a Visionary sit down for a Chat: A talk with Frank Schaeffer. (I’ll let you decide which is which)

Sooooo, I had a chat with Frank Schaeffer and the Whiskey Preacher yesterday and it was magnificent. Sometimes the pieces of my personal universe come together and things just make sense. Ahh, thin spaces how I love you.

I hope you will enjoy this interview. I know I did.

There was a weird technical glitch and you could only see half my face in the skype recording so we decided to edit it to where you will only see Frank. It is still awesome!

Whi I High Res Front Cover

You can find Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God on Amazon, or at your local Barnes & Noble.

You can find Frank Schaeffer at:
Twitter: @Frank_Schaeffer
Facebook: Frank Schaeffer
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You can find Phil Shepherd at:
Facebook: Whiskey Preacher
Twitter: @PhilShepherd
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You can find Novitas at:
Twitter: @novitaschurch
Facbook: Novitas Church

Frank flyer

The Schaeffers are coming! The Schaeffers are coming!

Frank flyerHello lovelies! I am sorry it has been so long since we talked. Life in the Krabill house has been filled with life and activity which has meant less time and creativity spent on blogging. It sure is good to be back. I missed you all.

Anyway, this week something extra exciting is happening and I am thrilled to be sharing it with you! What is that you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you…


Sorry for yelling y’all. I am just really excited.

Anyway, in light of the quickly approaching arrival of the Schaeffer’s, I thought I would share a series of excerpts from Frank’s latest book, Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God: How to Give Love, Create Beauty and Find Peace. Tomorrow I will be recording a live interview with Frank and I am super excited to be sharing that with you this week as well. Fun times!

Without further ado, here is the first excerpt. It can be found on page 47:

Jesus certainly was not a “Bible believer,” as we use that term in the post Billy Graham era of American fundamentalist religiosity that’s used as a trade-marked product to sell religion. Jesus didn’t take the Jewish scriptures at face value. In fundamentalist terms, Jesus was a rule-breaking relativist who wasn’t even “saved,” according to evangelical standards. Evangelicals insist that you have to believe very specific interpretations of the Bible to be saved. Jesus didn’t. He undercut the scriptures.

The stories about Jesus that survived the bigots, opportunists and delusional fanatics who wrote the New Testament contain powerful and enlightened truths that would someday prove the undoing of the Church built in his name. Like a futurist vindicated by events as yet undreamed, Jesus’ message of love was far more powerful that the magical thinking of the writers of the book he is trapped in. In Jesus’ day the institutions of religion, state, misogyny and myth were so deeply ingrained that the ultimate dangerousness of his life example could not be imagined. For example his feminism, probably viewed as an eccentricity in his day, would prove transformational.

Jesus believed in God rather than in a book about God. The message of Jesus’ life is an intervention in and an acceleration of the evolution of empathy.

If you are anywhere close to the DFW area you can come see Frank and Genie speak at Eddie Deen’s Crossroads in Arlington (near Cowboy’s Stadium) Saturday, October 25th from 5-9. Tickets are $20 at the door ($15 with a student ID) and include All-you-can-eat BBQ, dessert and non-alcoholic beverages. There will be a cash bar available. There will be no childcare available. 

Bearable Lightness of Being

I sometimes wonder how I walked around in darkness so long thinking it was the light?

I mean, how is that possible?

How can one’s eyes be so accustomed to the dim room that they believe that is all the light that is available?

How it is that we can settle for guarding our little candle like Gollum’s Precious instead of flinging our light into the sky like fireworks over the water on a balmy summer night?
Why do we let the black holes dictate to us where our light can shine? Why do we insist that the light only be shone on those we deem worthy or at least worthy by means of admitting their unworthiness?

Why should we use a flashlight to bring a small beam to a dark house rather than ripping the roof off, breaking down the walls and allowing the light of the sun to invade every room and the flowers to bloom underfoot?
Why do we insist on making our circle so tight? Why do we light it on fire and like circus animals that have been beaten, force others to jump though it’s flames before we consider them? When we could be cutting off the chains of the prisoners, why do we instead point out the bars of their cage?

What about us? What about us? How about let’s make our circle ever expanding like the universe? Let’s cast our hopes up over our heads as we laugh with abandon and run through the grass yelling to the kids sitting in the dark, staring at the screens to “Come out! Come out and play!” The chains you thought were holding you? They are gone. The night you thought was eternal is being pierced by the dawn. The tiny stars that were the pinpoints of light on your moonless night are being drowned out by the loud, burning all encompassing sunshine of a new day. The air is bright and fresh. Breathe it deep. Fill your lungs. Life is beckoning. Love is calling. Peace is begging to be released.
When I was young I used to lie in bed when I had a bad dream and repeat over and over,
“God is peace. God is love. God is light.”
“God is peace. God is love. God is light.”
“God is peace. God is love. God is light.”
I would say until the night didn’t seem so dark. Until my nightmares didn’t seem so real. Until my heartbeat would slow and I could face my dreams again head on.”
At a certain point we have to lay down the thoughts we thrust upward to block out the light.
We have to choose to lay down the sticks that we use to draw our lines in the sand.
We desperately need to stop treating life like a school yard pick that divides into us and them and instead all play on the same team.
Don’t you want to push off the sleep mask that covers your eyes and dream all the dreams with your eyes wide open and your heart ablaze with light? We can do that you know. I can. You can. And together we can.

We can choose to be like God who is peace, who is love, who is light.

We can choose peace.
You are a peacemaker.
Bring peace.
We can choose love.
You are a lover.
Love with no unless.
We can choose to be light.
You are the light.
Be the light.

What’s love got to do (got to do) with it?

1_corinthians_13_4_8_by_yods-d4r0d51There is lots of talk about loving your neighbor going around. There are a lot of thoughts about loving your enemy. There are questions about how we can love members of ISIS, megachurch pastors and even that relative you secretly dread spending time with.

So I got to thinking, is there anything to be learned in scripture about loving well or what loving someone actually, practically looks like? One famous passage immediately springs to mind, 1 Corinthians 13. You may have heard it before. It goes something like this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

If we assume this to be true and an accurate depiction of love, what does that say about who God is seeing as the scriptures tell us that God is love? Let’s sub in God for the word love in the 1 Cor. passage and see what we get:

God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

God’s love never fails.

That phrase “is not self-seeking” is also translated “does not insist on its own way”.  Can you imagine? God does not insist on his own way. BOOM. WOW. INSANITY.  I don’t know about you but that was a revelation to me this week.

What about us? How does that help us? Does this have direct application that helps us love the specific people mentioned earlier? Let’s see. I’ll try it with myself. (I don’t know about you but this is actually one I have done before).

Michelle is patient, Michelle is kind. Michelle does not envy, Michelle does not boast, Michelle is not proud. Michelle does not dishonor others, Michelle is not self-seeking, Michelle is not easily angered, Michelle keeps no record of wrongs. Michelle does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Michelle always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Michelle’s love never fails.

If you want you can take it a step further by inserting the person(s) you aren’t sure if you’re loving. Can I confidently say:

Michelle is patient, Michelle is kind toward her enemies. Michelle does not envy her neighbor, Michelle does not boast to her frustrating family member, Michelle is not proud when someone offers advice. Michelle does not dishonor he enemies, Michelle is not self-seeking, Michelle is not easily angered with her children or spouse, Michelle keeps no record of wrongs. Michelle does not delight in the megachurch pastor’s wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth that allows healing to begin. Michelle always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Michelle’s love never fails?

Honestly, sometimes I can say those things and sometimes I can’t.

However, I can confidently say, this is the kind of love I aspire to. This is the kind of person I want to be. And for real, wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were all these kind of people?

In the end, what’s love got to do with it? Absolutely everything.