Sam Harris is one of the best-known atheists in the world. He has written several books and scores of articles denouncing religion in all its forms, recently claiming that "science must destroy religion." Why, then, do I agree with him regarding Israel and Hamas? Because he's exactly right.
Bob Coy, the founding pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, continues to generate headlines. He resigned last week from his position at the 20,000-member congregation after an unspecified "moral failing." Many members of his congregation are understandably hurt. For them, and for all of us who have been wounded by a minister, I'd like to highlight five biblical facts. One: God calls pastors to a higher standard.
Rather than measuring success by how many people go to church, let's measure success by how effectively the church goes to people. Our Lord launched a movement, not an institution. His church is an army attacking the gates of hell, not an ark built to weather a storm.
Seven words set off a Twitter firestorm: "First off I want to thank God." What do we know about Matthew McConaughey's faith? How is it relevant to us today?
So our culture has evolved (regressed?) to the place where being married with a child is as counter-cultural as being a Gypsy.
The swimsuit issue traditionally sells more than one million copies on newsstands, 10 to 15 times as much as a regular Sports Illustrated issue. Clearly, the magazine mirrors the cultural transformation of recent decades. The magazine is part of a trend that should frighten us all.
Jay Leno has been the star of "The Tonight Show" for 22 years. The comedian was famously forced off the show in January 2010 and hastily re-hired two months later after his replacement bombed in the role. This time, the transition has been much more positive.
Phil Robertson is one of America's pop icons. It's an amazing story: college quarterback to barroom brawler to "Bible-thumping Christian" (as he calls himself) to duck call inventor to founder of a Dynasty. His television program is the highest-rated cable reality show in history. He and his family made Barbara Walters' "most fascinating people of 2013" list; you can't check out of a grocery store without passing their calendars and other paraphernalia.
"Shea should just have one of her seizures and die." Shea Shawhan, an 18-year-old high school student, recently received this anonymous text. She has the mental capacity of an eight-year-old, as the result of a brain injury she suffered at birth. Nonetheless, she plays softball and is a cheerleader.
This headline caught my eye: "Believers consume fewer drugs than atheists." A Swiss National Science Foundation research team found that young Swiss men who say they believe in God are less likely to smoke cigarettes or pot or take ecstasy pills than young Swiss men who say they are atheists. Their findings were reported this week in the journal Substance Use & Misuse.
Yesterday afternoon, "government shutdown" took on a more ominous meaning as shots were fired at the Capitol. For half an hour, we watched as government employees were sequestered inside their offices. We eventually learned that a woman struck a barrier near the White House, refused to pull her car over, and was chased by police to the Capitol. She was shot and taken to a hospital; a young child was found in her car.
A billboard on Interstate 30 in East Texas pictures a young blond woman and the words, "Get out of Prostitution. Be a SUGAR BABY!" I didn't know what a "sugar baby" was. It turns out, this is a woman who is paid by a man to have an ongoing sexual relationship with him. Advocates say it's not prostitution, since it's not a one-time encounter. Critics call it "an online pimping service on a billboard."
Consider this: last May, Pope Francis excommunicated a pro-gay marriage priest. Greg Reynolds of Melbourne, Australia had been advocating views on women clergy and gay marriage that clearly contradict Catholic doctrine. However, the pope's action is only now making news. Why? Perhaps because, as one commentator notes, "he's not the liberal the media wants."
At least another 1.75 billion years, according to scientists. However, be warned that between 1.75 and 3.25 billion years from now, Earth will no longer be habitable—our planet will move so close to the sun that our oceans evaporate. At that time we should probably move to Mars, since it will remain habitable until the end of the sun's lifetime, six billion years from now.
David Brooks, my favorite New York Times columnist, identifies "the biggest threat to world peace right now" as "the possibility of a wave of sectarian strife building across the Middle East." Others go even further. One British politician is warning that the conflict in Syria raises "the spectre of a third world war." Another news outlet headlines: "Could Syria ignite World War 3?"
In honor of today's Labor Day holiday, here are nine "interesting office facts": 1. Americans spend at least 1,896 hours a year at work. 2. One percent of U.S. employers allow employees to take naps during working hours. 3. Women business owners employ 35 percent more people than all the Fortune 500 companies combined.
When Angelina Jolie was 14, her boyfriend was allowed to live with her. The actress plans to raise her children the same way. This fact introduces USA Today's column titled, "Let teenagers have their romantic sleepovers." The subtitle explains: "As youthful cohabitation rises, parents should see it as an opportunity to teach." The writer cites research indicating that by age 18, nine percent of women have cohabited. By age 20, the number rises to 26 percent.
Kutcher recently sounded "really smart" on his own when he won the "Ultimate Choice Award" at the Teen Choice Awards. After he accepted the award, he told the audience that he felt like a fraud. "My name is not even actually Ashton," he said. Ashton is his middle name; his first name is Chris. He changed it to Ashton when he became an actor at the age of 19.
Paul Marquez is a 23-year-old New Yorker. He is in jail today, charged with attempting to sell the baby of a woman he dated on Craigslist for $100. He has pled not guilty; a friend says, "he probably did it as a joke." He reportedly faces up to a year in jail if convicted.
As everyone in the galaxy knows, Kate had her baby. But not everyone knows the following facts (at least I didn't). One: We may not know the boy's name for some time. It was a week before William's name was announced, while Charles's name remained a mystery for a month. He is officially "His Royal Highness Prince (insert name) of Cambridge."
The American hero who authored our Declaration of Independence died on this day, exactly 50 years after its signing. "This is the Fourth of July," Thomas Jefferson noted on his last day. John Adams, patriot and second American president, passed away on the same day.
The Supreme Court has announced that it will deliver its much-anticipated rulings on same-sex marriage today at 10 AM EDT. We don't yet know what the court will decide, but here are the options.
James Gandolfini was known to the world as Tony Soprano, the mythical mob boss who won three Emmy Awards. The announcement of his death made global headlines yesterday. He was only 51 years old.
Kent and Diego Love-Ramirez live together in Lansing, Michigan with their two-and-a-half-year-old son, Lucas. They volunteer with the Family Equality Council, an organization that promotes families for homosexuals, and worked with the Michigan Pride Festival last year. As a result, they came to the attention of the Obama administration. Last week, they were invited to the White House for a Father's Day event. They will be on the South Lawn today at midday and hope for a photo op with the president.
Dan Brown's novels have been published in 52 languages, with 200 million copies in print. This son of a math teacher and a church organist has frustrated theologians like me for years with his misleading attacks on the historicity of the Christian faith, most notably in The DaVinci Code. I read his latest novel, Inferno, with much apprehension. To my surprise, there is not a single line attacking the Church or the faith of its members.