In 1907, a physician name Duncan MacDougall from Haverhill, Massachusetts, set out to not only prove the existence of the human soul, but that it had a physical presence and substance, much like the heart and lungs, flesh, bone and blood. With the use of a large scale he recorded the weight of terminally ill patients at the moment of death, and discerned a drop of ¾ of an ounce. He deduced the fleeting soul not only existed, but left the body for who knows where, weighing a mere 21 grams.
The human heart has always longed to believe little ‘ol me is made up of something more than the dust of the earth, to which all mortal flesh returns. It has been part of the stuff of religious thinking since the beginning of human thought. For all its persuasive power to drive human beings to believe what cannot be known, and behave in the most radically extreme ways sometimes, the promise of an afterlife and immortality often remains void of much critical examination.
This commentary build on the earlier article, “Moving Heaven and Hell,” which can be found in the Center’s Library.
The term “resurrection” has come to stand for what Christianity is all about. But a close look reveals that it should not be understood monolithically, but rather as a pluralistic and diverse phenomenon.read more
It seems that Jesus’ body was hardly cold before his revolutionary, counter-cultural teachings were watered down and made safe for a society interested in economic survival in a controlling empire; in conforming, not transforming; in collaboration not covenant.read more
Paul’s interpretation of who Jesus was probably never crossed paths with the later gospel writers. Or, if it did, most of his theology was misunderstood.read more
The events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth did not happen in a vacuum, nor are these events history as history is now defined.read more
The events and characters that are described in Revelation are infused with a certain fundamental archetypal significance that can be applied to a wide array of individuals and situations—including ones in the present-day.read more
Matthew 16:13-28; Romans 6:5-11 This commentary is going directly through Matthew without regard for the traditional Christian liturgical year, so will not skip to the end of the gospel to Jesus’ “great commission” to “make followers of …read more
Even where two or three are gathered, if the spirit is present- that spirit of fire, and power, and passion, and love- then amazing things will happen. Unexpected things.read more
Harold Camping says that the rapture described in 1 Thessalonias 4 will occur on May 21, 2011, and that God will destroy the entire Universe on October 21, 2011. Unlike John the Baptist and Jesus, Camping offers no chance for salvation.read more
Sea Raven juxtaposes recent military events with the Gospel to make an eye-opening point about the cost of retributive justice.read more
The overwhelming probability is that the familiar details of the cross are not the result of historic memory at all, but are rather liturgical interpretations of who it was who died on the cross and what his death meant. A quick analysis of the details from this narrative reveals that they were drawn not from the memory of eye witnesses, but from the scriptures of the Jewish people, primarily from Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. So even the central story of the final events in Jesus’ life now looks more like the work of an interpretative imagination than it does the work of a historian.read more
In the resurrection story that is recorded in Luke, there is a group of women who go to the burial place of Jesus to bring spices and oil to anoint Jesus’ body. This is different than the story depicted in the book of John where only Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb or in the book of Mark where three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary, Jesus’ mother and Salome go to Jesus’ burial place.read more
Jesus is seriously dead. None of the rest of it makes any sense otherwise.read more
Constituencies of two distinct religious traditions joined in and by their pasts have been engaged this week in observances honoring their shared mythology.read more
Sea Raven details how the Gosepl of Jesus relates to the current debate over worker’s rights.read more
The secret is, God’s covenantal justice is distributive. No being in the great matrix of the universe is left out. Matthew’s Jesus didn’t get it either.read more
In her latest update, Sea Raven reinforces the notion that the Gospels must be read through the lens of the genuine Pauline letters.read more
Romans 12 and Matthew 10 are put to critical scrutiny to leave aside conventional notions of piety and sacrifice in favor of truly subversive ideas concerning grace and distributive justice.read more