The Tumblr blog of The Rev'd Curtis Farr, including sermons, articles, and other interesting things related to living in and engaging the world in which mystery lies everywhere.
“ I trust the doctrines of the church for the same reason that I trust maps that tell me how to get from here to Wichita. Other people with greater experience and vision have made the journey before. They have found the pitfalls and the wrong turns. But I follow neither map nor doctrine unthinkingly. I must always check my real surroundings against the things I find on paper. But when they don’t match up, first I assume that the map is correct, and it is I who have made the wrong turn. ”
Chris Arnold

What I Learned about Atheists from God’s Not Dead

I have not seen this film, nor do I want to—though I think we can all agree that Kevin Sorbo is one of the most talented actors of our time. But I’ll probably end up watching this once it lands on Netflix. Anyway, if it portrays atheists the way this blogger says, I’ll probably need to have a libation close-at-hand.

God’s Not Dead portrays three or four primary atheist characters:  The pompous bombastic university professor (surrounded by a supportive gang of snickering atheist colleagues), a self-absorbed businessman, his snarky, condescending journalist girlfriend, and a stern Chinese father of an exchange student.  Observing their behavior, I learn the following:

1. Atheist professors are predatory, and they are out to convert everyone into ideological clones of themselves.

2. Atheists are selfish, self-absorbed, greedy jerks.

3. Atheists are cocky, self-sure, and totally enamored with their own superiority. 

4. Atheists will openly threaten you…

5. Atheists are clearly incapable of love.

6. Atheists lack ethical boundaries…

7. They disbelieve in God because something bad happened to them…

8. Atheists are angry at God.

9. Atheists are miserable because they believe life is meaningless.

10. Atheists have no basis for morality.

Cause and Effect

Drouais Cristo e la CananeaWhen something happens…anything…we have a tendency to make a mad dash to uncover causality and assign blame. Some times we do so only in order to reinforce our own beliefs and life decisions. Comedian Jim Gaffigan characterizes this well when he says, “I think I might be lactose intolerant because I had four milkshakes last night, and today I feel terrible.”

Too often this tendency pops up around…

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A Nashville Business Run By Former Prostitutes Celebrates $1M In Sales - Nashville Public Radio

Vicar of H Street: Thoughts on Suicide

The Rev’d Becky Zartman, ladies and gents:

Robin William’s death yesterday seems to have everyone talking openly about depression and suicide, and for that, I’m grateful. The more people understand that depression is a disease, and not a moral failing, the more likely they are to seek help before their actions become irrevocable. There’s also been an outpouring of love and admiration for a man who deserves this love and admiration, after devoting so much of his life to making others happy.

However, one comment caught my eye, and this is the comment made me feel as though I had to respond. This is the comment: “Not to be completely callous, but if Robin Williams committed suicide, how can he be in heaven?”

[do read this part]

Suicide isn’t the answer, and it leaves a wake despair and desolation. But I refuse to believe that God condemns people because they succumbed to it.

Smiling for 'Auschwitz selfies,' and crying into the digital wilderness

"So, its been just over a year since I was in Auschwitz, and the issues dealt with in this article bring up some of the things I dealt with while I was there. I remember feeling like the experience of going there and to Birkenau gave me context to a tragedy I had studied and dealt with, but I never cried when I was there. I remember others in my group were so mad that more people weren’t brought to tears, while I couldn’t understand why they were acting like this was the first time they were ever encountering the horrors of the Shoah (holocaust). The truth is we all deal with these things in different ways and at different times. While selfies at Auschwitz are certainly tacky, to assume that someone is not taking the Shoah seriously because she took a picture is probably a big jump to conclusion. The fact that she went to Poland to visit this monument seems like a pretty clear sign to the opposite. We all find our ghosts in different places. Some in the physical spot, some in pictures, some in personal stories like that of Anne Frank or Elie Wiesel, some in the sociological or political situations surrounding the camps. The point is, we can’t assume that just because someone took a selfie in a place where you would break down and cry, doesn’t mean she is heartless or uncaring, it means she’s a different person who processes in a different way. Of course we need to maintain some semblance of respect in these places so that people can experience them in peace (outward peace, anyway) but if a girl taking a picture of herself is going to undo your experience, then I would say a little self reflection is in order.”

-The Rev’d Shireen Baker

R.I.P. Robin

Robin Williams 2011a

Top 10 Reasons to be an Episcopalian
(from the comedian Robin Williams, who is an Episcopalian, on an HBO special)

10. No snake handling.

9. You can believe in dinosaurs.

8. Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.

7. You don’t have to check your brains at the door.

6. Pew aerobics.

5. Church year is color-coded.

4. Free wine on Sunday.

3. All of the pageantry - none of the guilt.

2. You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized.

And the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian:

1. No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.

Image: By Eva Rinaldi (Flickr: Robin Williams) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

“My teenage son just came out to me. As a devout Christian, I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. What will his future be like? Is he truly a sinner in God’s eyes?”


- Question submitted Anonymously and Answered by Broderick Greer

Broderick Says:

Dear Devout Christian,

Your scenario and question embody the uncomfortable corner many conservative Christians find themselves in today: a theology of human sexuality that doesn’t match their lived…

(via holabrody)

The Tenacious Brilliance of a Long Marriage

As my wedding day rapidly approaches, I’m loving this post by Ellen Painter Dollar.

“Of course, this brings to mind all sorts of poetry and theological insights about lost things being found. More than that, though, my lost-then-found diamond has become a metaphor for our marriage—lasting and solid and brilliant even when months and years go by when its shine, quality, and distinctiveness are hidden in the scrum of everyday life, obscured by groceries and vacuuming and the many loads we carry.”

Rise of the Christian left: Why the religious right’s moment may be ending

As time passes and the mantle of political participation passes from prior partisan generations down to millennials, we might see that influence continue to grow, re-invigorating some of the finest features of the Christian tradition: to resist categorization, pull hard for the oppressed and downtrodden and insist upon hope while coping with the realities of power.

Can you study the Bible by reading the Qur’an?

Can you study the Bible by reading the Qur’an?

In Genesis…

Jacob_blesses_Joseph_and_gives_him_the_coat (2)

Illustration by Owen Jones from “The History of Joseph and His Brethren” (Day & Son, 1869). Scanned and archived at where it was marked as Public Domain. Text from Book: Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age, and he made him a coat of many colours. Genesis, C.XXXVII. V. 3.

Joseph is Jacob’s youngest son to…

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