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Hot Topics
Commentary on Currents Events and other hot button issues

Adult Christianity
"When I was a child, I thought like a child ... but as an adult, I put away childish things." The Apostle Paul

The Role of Doubt in the Life of the Soul
Doubt is not the enemy of faith, blind fanaticism is.

Madonna's Crucifixion
In the pop singer's "Confessions on a Dance Floor" tour she poses on a giant cross, wearing a crown of thorns, against a backdrop of projected images showing children from Africa who are victims of AIDS and other calamities. Religious leaders around the world have risen up to condemn this, calling it "heresy" and "blasphemy." I find her message inspirational. Here's why.

Pat Robertson's Evolution
He may not believe in evolution, but his own words are powerful evidence of it.

The Tax Collectors Are Coming
The IRS has now unleashed a group of debt collection agencies to go after citizens it believes owe back taxes. Why is a faith based administration willing to utilize a mercenary army of private debt collectors, especially in light of what the Bible has to say about "tax collectors and sinners?"

The Bible and Politics
What is the relationship, if any, betwen the Bible and politics. The answers might surprise some Christians.

What Would Muhammed Do?
One Muslim's response to the cartoon controversy.

Rape of the Planet
Getting to the heart of the global warming debate

Now that the Internet has become a marketplace as much as a medium of communication, there's a gold rush in progress, as people try to cash in. Much of the selling is being done in the name and under the banner of Jesus Christ. Our Money Changer of the Week Award goes to ...

Christianity and Ecology
Liberals and evangelicals, Protestants and Catholics ... Christians of all kinds are uniting in the realization that preserving and protecting the environment is a moral, ethical and religious imperative.

A Christian Case Against the Death Penalty

Helping the New York Times Find Some Smart Christians
In a recent New York times op-ed piece, Nicholas Kristof argues that "the great intellectual traditions of Catholic and Protestant churches alike are withering." While he insists that he does not intend to denigrate anyone's faith, he clearly implies that the forms of Christianity on the rise today are intellectually shallow, if not outright dumb.

A New Inquisition? It's Neither Welcome Nor Needed
A Protestant's response to the Vatican plan for a "visitation" of all Roman Catholic seminaries in the US. The working document, "Instrumentum Laboris," including questions to be asked of all administrators, teachers and students at the seminaries is disturbing. If the Devil were to invent a plan for the continuing decline and ultimate death of the Church of Jesus Christ, he could not do better than this.

A Reasoned Argument For Faith
Answering the six deadly arguments of atheism

No Religion Too?
Increasingly, people are drawn to John Lennon's view that the world would be better off without organized religion. We take a closer look at both sides of this question.

Are Americans Stingy?
While hurricane Katrina has focused attention on the persistence of poverty within the US, the question raised in the context of the tsunami disaster persists. Is the US, as some have said, "the most generous nation on earth?" Or as others alleged, is the US among the most "stingy?" The answer is hard to come by.

Religion and Science

God and Science
The online edition of Charles Henderson's book on the relationship between religion and science

Intelligent Design vs Evolution: A False Dichotomy

Apparently the long standing controversy over "creation science" has been upstaged by the newer confrontation between advocates of "intelligent design" and evolution. President Bush brought the authority of his office to bear upon the topic with his recent comment that "intelligent design" should be taught "alongside" evolution in public schools. "Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about," said the President. Those who frame the conversation between science and religion as a debate or confrontation, have it wrong. And the mistake can be costly to both science and religion. Here's why.

A More Intelligent Design
The God of Intelligent Design Theory is Not Intelligent Enough

Stem Cell Research: Are We Messing With Powers and Prerogatives of God?
The South Korean researcher who won world acclaim as the first scientist to clone a human embryo and extract stem cells recently resigned as director of a new research center, citing the ethical problems associated with his work. Some of the same issues were cited by President Bush in 2001 when he limited federal funding for such research. We look at the issues involved in the ongoing debate. Background: When Does Life Begin?

The Bible and Modern Science: Are They In Conflict?
Wisdom comes not in choosing the Bible over science, but rather to taking the insights of both science and the Scriptures with equal seriousness.

Galileo's Pals
Ever wonder how it happens that a man condemned by the Catholic Inquisition ends up having a monument raised in his honor in one of Italy's most important cathedrals? In the story of Galileo's heresy trial, there are important lessons for today concerning the relationship between science and faith.

A Christian Case For Evolution
As in the case of trying to prevent students from seeing some movies, television shows, or websites, there is nothing more likely to inspire interest in evolution than suggesting it is a dangerous, tempting and forbidden topic on a par, for example, with sex. But more important, Christians should be encouraging the study of science in general, and evolutionary biology in particular. Far from presenting a threat to faith, science can reinforce and strengthen it. Here's why.

Is a Bird Flu Pandemic the Sign of the End?
Some are predicting the end is near; others are banking on it. Let's take a long view of biblical prophecy.

When Does Life Begin?
Is there a biblical view of when life begins? There certainly is, and the answer might surprise you.

God and the Hurricanes
Does God control the path of hurricanes as they move up East Coast of the US each fall? As one tracks a major storm, especially as it draws near to one's own home, the question arises with greater intensity. So how about it?

William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
This classic by the psychologist/philosopher Willam James was written early in the 20th Century but the issues it raises remain relevant one hundred years later. Here you'll find the full text of this fascinating book.

Church and State

Abraham Lincoln's God
At a time when politicians tend to invoke the name of God for partisan political purposes, or to "explain" various tragedies like hurricane Katrina by blaming both God and the victims, Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address offers a refreshing alternative.

The Ten Commandments: Too Hot For School House Walls

The Commandments belong in school, but not as dead symbols nailed to a wall. The Ten Commandments, like lots of other texts that play a central role in the formation of our culture, belong in the curriculum, where they can be critically studied and appreciated for what they are, not what some imagine them to be.

The Golden Rule: A Creative Alternative
Once again the Supreme Court, the public and the press are enthralled in debate over public display of the Ten Commandments. But why continue arguing about the Ten Commandments, when there is a better alternative.

A Wall That Should Not Fall
When running for President in 2000, George Bush said the the problem with Washington was too much "bitterness and bickering." He offered a faith-based "compassionate conservatism" as the solution. Now, well into Bush's second term, we find the country more divided than ever. One reason for this, I believe, is that a faith based politics has intensified our differences. We now have ample, recent evidence that tearing down the wall of separation between church and state, between politics and organized religion in not the way to go.

Who Is Jesus Christ? Son of God? Messiah? Prophet? Teacher? What?
Calling Jesus the "Son of God" is understood to be the distinguishing affirmation of the Christian faith. Yet within the wider family of faith there is a range of opinion about what this title actually means. There is sharp disagreement over the identity of Jesus. In search of the answers, I take a closer look at the most widely used title, Son of God.

Peace and War

Muslim Extremism Not The Cause of Suicide Terrorism
Recently, our television screens have been filled with images of bloodshed, destruction and death in places like Jerusalem, Baghdad and London. In these news reports, the very image of the "suicide bomber" has been wedded to phrases like "Muslim extremism," or "Islamic Holy War." In a remarkable new book, Robert Pape of the University of Chicago argues that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism or extremism. This is a must read.

The Violence of God: Thinking the Unthinkable
Does religion, and Christianity in particular, contribute to war and violence?

Is Religion Both the Cause and the Cure of Violence?

The Meaning of Forgiveness in a World of War
Though it is central and essential in the life and teaching of Jesus, forgiveness remains a difficult concept, especially in a world of conflict and war. If it is difficult to forgive one who has caused you deep personal harm, how much more difficult is it for an entire nation to forgive its enemies?

Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation
It is not longer an option for Christians and others to engage in constructive conversation and cooperation with the religious other; it is a matter of survival.

Gender and Sex

A Sacramental View of Sex
The real problem arises, according to Jesus, when self appointed guardians of goodness and truth define sex as evil and thus make sinners of us all.

A Complete Bible Guide to Love and Sex

Pornography and Prayer
How online porn may be providing the wings on which our prayers take flight

The Blessings of Gay Marriage
You've heard all the arguments pro and con, now hear this.

Gay Marriage: The Debate Continues

Homosexuality and the Bible
More than ten years after their historic encounter, the issues raised by Walter Wink and Ulrich Mauser on these pages continue to preoccupy religious communities and denominations around the world.

When Does Life Begin?
Is there a biblical view of when life begins? There certainly is, and the answer might surprise you.

Britney Spears Mixes Sex and Spirit
Like her mentor and sometime idol, Madonna, Britney Spears has risen to stardom on a not too subtle appeal to two characteristics that some people think of as opposites: sexuality and spirituality. Read more

What the New Testament Says About Freedom
You might be surprised.

The Internet As A Metaphor For God
A few years ago, I began thinking that the world wide web is a kind of metaphor for the divine, connecting, as it does, so many diverse and different things together. Hence the new title for this homepage, GodWeb. God is not only on the web, God is The Web.

So You Thought Only Conservative Churches Are Growing?
When polled, Americans identify increasingly with liberal and mainline denomination, while some conservative churches show declining numbers.

Left Behind: Bad Fiction, Bad Faith
Given the popularity and persistence of "biblical prophecy" thinking that packages paranoia as faith and sees in first century sacred texts accurate predictions of 21st century catastrophe, let's take a closer look at the series of best-selling books that has fed the fantasies: the "Left Behind" novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

Going to Hell In a Handbasket
It is a colorful phrase. For large numbers of people, it accurately and powerfully depicts where we are headed as a nation. It is a staple among those who believe that the world as we know it is coming to an end soon. Many seem to find in this cliché a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. But where did this vivid phrase come from, what does it actually mean, and does it paint an accurate picture of what is happening in to us as a people?

Health and Recreation

Health Care Reform: The Faith Perspective

What Would Jesus Eat? Does Christian Weight Loss Work?
The stock market may have its ups and downs, but the Christian weight loss industry appears to be enjoying a bull market uninterrupted since the 1950's. Books like "What Would Jesus Eat?" and "Body By God" are just part of an emerging sub-culture of workshops, support groups, e-courses, and church based weight loss programs that seem to be sprouting up everywhere.

The Spirit Diet
A spiritual plan to a longer, more fulfilling life ... and one that may involve weight loss as well.

Good Things To Eat and Why
Our chart could be your starting place to a better life.

Best Selling Books on Christian and/or Spiritual Weight Loss

Running With the Wind
Long Distance Running as Spiritual Practice

Sailing the New York City Archipelago
As published in Soundings Magazine

I Saw An Angel in the Palisades Today
A poem written during the last sail of the summer, 2005


Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.

For further information about Charles Henderson.