Oy Vey, Not Again
These are the burning questions Marshall will address in his course:
(1) Some religious leaders seem to tell us that we're not smart enough or good enough to discover God on our own. Who says?
(2) If God is good and perfect, why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?
(3) How can anyone rely on the Bible for answers, if it's just a loose translation of ancient myths anyway?
(4) How can we trust a religion that has advocated slavery and the subjugation of women throughout history?
Marshall, in all apparent sincerity, writes:
"These are serious questions-hot potatoes that nobody wants to touch."
Um, hon? Mr. Marshall? A brief glance through, like thousands of articles and sermons from the past 150 years or so from probably about sixteen or seventeen dozen religious traditions would indicate that your questions are at the absolutely forefront of religious thought in America. Every single one of those hot potatoes done been PASSED. And passed. And passed.
Again, as in my "spiritual but not religious" entry of a week or so ago: Who are these people? What kind of bubble do they live in that they somehow don't know that an enormous portion of the "organized religious" population concerns itself with these questions? So, just off the top of my pointy head... a reading list for our Mr. Perry Marshall:
Ralph Waldo Emerson or Immanuel Swedenborg, Meister Eckhart, Matthew Fox (on the direct, unmediated experience of God); William Ellery Channing or Marcus Borg or John Shelby Spong or John Dominic Crossan (on how to read the Bible reverently and critically); Elisabeth Schussler-Fiorenza or Elizabeth Johnson or Rosemary Radford Ruether or Carol Christ or Sarah Coakley or Julian of Norwich (on the question of being a feminist and a Christian or a Jew); Martin Luther King, Jr., Howard Thurman, Walter Wink (on why we can "trust" Christian tradition despite the Bible's teachings on slavery);
Gottfried Leibniz, C.S. Lewis, Harold Kushner, Elie Wiesel, Gersonides (on theodicy, the question of suffering, evil and God).
I apologize to Mr. Marshall and to anyone else on the planet who has been participating in a religious community on any level and who has been left with the impression that religious people do not care about things like evil, suffering, misogyny, oppression, access to the Divine, and the myriad other problems inherited from ancient faith traditions.