Weekend Review: Willpower, the Bible and Tea Party Jesus

I’m starting a weekly weekend feature sharing about 4-6 of the most interesting articles I have read during the week.  As I put this week’s ideas together I noticed a common theme regarding concerns about religious themes in the Republican primary.  I have drawn on articles from Catholic, Evangelical and Progressive Christian sources, along with some interesting satire about Tea Party Jesus.  But first, how about your New Year’s Resolutions?


John Tierney of the NY Times has written a book on the nature of will power called “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.” The Times article has some great ideas to help you stick it out in “Be It Resolved”:

Now for a not-so-uplifting prediction: Most people are not going to keep their resolutions all year long. They’ll start out with the best of intentions but the worst of strategies, expecting that they’ll somehow find the willpower to resist temptation after temptation. By the end of January, a third will have broken their resolutions, and by July more than half will have lapsed.

They’ll fail because they’ll eventually run out of willpower, which social scientists no longer regard as simply a metaphor. They’ve recently reported that willpower is a real form of mental energy, powered by glucose in the bloodstream, which is used up as you exert self-control.


Spongbook_302Religion Dispatches is one of my weekly favorites for religious news by authors who actually “get” religion.  Most mainstream news, regardless of liberal or conservative bias, tend to deal with stereotypical views of all religions, and seldom look more deeply into the subtle but important details of religious life.  This week I’m posting an interview with former bishop John Spong entitled “The Bible is a Good Book but did God Write It?” author of a number of controversial progressive books.


While some people see Spong as a liberal threat to the true faith, Spong was a major influence on my wife, Jeanne, in her journey from the Unitarian-Universalist faith to Christianity.  He was the first major Christian writer that presented the faith in a way that made sense to her.  This is the value of good apologetics, even if it ruffles traditional views.  I haven’t read the book yet and tend to be a little less liberal than Spong, but I enjoyed reading the interview.






Catholic Leaders Challenge Gingrich and Santorum on Divisive Rhetoric Around Race and Poverty

From Faith in Public Life

More than 40 national Catholic leaders and prominent theologians at universities across the country released a strongly worded open letter today urging “our fellow Catholics Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail.”

In the lead up to Saturday’s primary in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich has frequently blasted President Obama as a “food stamp president” and implied that some African Americans are more content to collect welfare benefits than work. Rick Santorum attracted scrutiny for telling Iowa votershe doesn’t want “to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”


Christianity Today had a negative take on Evangelical Leaders endorsing Rick Santorum in the following article:

Brothers and sisters, we are neither kingmakers nor powerbrokers.
David Neff | posted 1/18/2012 09:53AM

Tea party JesusThere are at least two websites dedicated to a “Tea Party Jesus” who seem to think that the words of the Gospel are incompatible with the Tea Party Movement.  At Tea Party Jesus on tumblr, the author has put various political statements in the mouth of Jesus.  You can click on the pictures and find out who actually said the words.  (example to the left.)


Another Tea Party Jesus site has actually constructed a “Sermon on the Mall” with the contents of the Sermon on the Mount rewritten with an Ayn Rand twist.  (twisted?)  At first it is funny, buy by the time I hit the middle, it got a little scary, knowing that all the words and signs in the video were actually used.


That is it for this week.  I’m looking ahead at Lent and looking for articles that specificially link to the lectionary.  Let me know if you have ideas for this new feature.  Have a great week!





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