DON’T MISS Richard Barrett’s blog, Leitourgeia kai Qurbana: Contra den Zeitgeist (The adventures of a developing academic who got a late start). His latest posting, Secunda Pars, the Overlake years, is great.
Even as a little kid, I can’t say I ever felt like a totally natural fit at Overlake. It seemed weird to me that you never sat next to the same people twice, I didn’t understand how it seemed that everybody knew the songs we were singing except me, particularly when all they projected were the words and no music? (This was also right towards the beginning of my boy alto period.) Why was all the music so incredibly different from what we had had at Grace Lutheran? Why was the music… well… stupid? Why was the sermon so long? Why couldn’t I leave to go to the bathroom? (Seriously. I got blocked at the doors by the ushers.) Who actually got to talk to Pastor Bob? Why did everything seem so centered around him? Why, if being saved was something that happened to us once, was a big point always made of saying the prayer to let Jesus into our hearts as personal savior at the end of every service?
Still, it was where we were going. Sometimes I went to the adult service with Mom, sometimes I went to the kids’ service. At the kids’ service, sometimes they showed things like the Christian anime Superbook (which went well with my love of Star Blazers), and a movie called “Music Box” that I’ve talked about before. I also remember them talking to us about evolution and AIDS, and sometimes in the adult service hearing them talk about abortion and how there were no Christians in Russia (keeping in mind that this was the mid-1980s).
Strange Stories, Amazing Facts, as I mentioned, had some interesting bits on various supernatural phenomena (including an article on demon possession that absolutely freaked me out). Among other things, there was a riveting, lengthy piece on the Shroud of Turin. I remember showing it to my mom, who said, “Well, most Christians don’t think it’s real.” In support of her answer, she gave me the book Answers to Tough Questions Skeptics Ask About the Christian Faith by Josh McDowell, which had roughly a 30-page section debunking the Shroud. (Curiously, I discovered about ten years ago that newer editions of the book no longer have this section. I’ve not encountered any comment or explanation as to why; it just seems to have been quietly dropped. Perhaps McDowell changed his mind. If anybody knows anything about that, I’d love to hear more.)
I posted the following to an Internet group on 12/22:
I recently saw a new book by Josh McDowell, author of Evidence That Demands a Verdict. McDowell has traditionally been skeptical of the Shroud’s authenticity. Ken Stevenson knows him and tried at one point to get McDowell to reconsider all of the evidence. McDowell’s new book is titled (as I remember) Evidences for Christianity: Historical evidences for the Christian Faith. The book is over 600 pages. And how much mention is made of the Shroud? ZERO. But I guess that since he usually makes a point to mention it to debunk it, maybe this is progress?
I don’t know anything about Josh McDowell’s position on the Shroud. But my experience is that right-wing Protestants tend to treat the Shroud as a threat to the authority of scripture. Mining the words of scripture to understand what happened–that’s a good thing. But something outside scripture that could provide hard, physical evidence for key events reported in scripture, and could thus conceivably carry more authority than scripture–definitely not all right.
It seems odd at first that even conservative Protestants who argue for the resurrection don’t mention the Shroud. They muster detailed (and I think often quite good) historical arguments as to why Jesus was actually raised. You’d think they would give their eye teeth for something like the Shroud, which could turn out to be real, scientific evidence of the very thing they are arguing for. Yet it’s not on their radar screen. The idea I relate above is the only way I have been able to explain it.
Thank you very much for the kind words and the link!
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