What Even Is Christian Humanism?

Probably the most frequent question I’ve received, even before starting this blog has been “What even is Christian Humanism?”. That’s a very good question, one I actually intended to answer a while back but for whatever reason never got to it. After all, it is right in the title of my blog. My religious beliefs have shifted since this blog’s inception, I now consider include myself in a broader Progressive Christian sense, though I’d definitely still consider myself a Christian Humanist. So, let’s dive into what I mean by that.

Let’s start by defining both terms, “Christianity”, and “Humanism”. Christianity is a large collection of belief-systems based on the life and teachings of 1st-century Judaean rabbi Jesus. Humanism, while not quite as varied, can still mean different things in certain contexts. Generally, though, humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that places emphasis on human worth, dignity, and agency; as well as preferring critical thinking and rationality over dogma and superstition. So, what do they mean together?

As with so many things in life, Christian Humanism can mean many things, and context is key. So when I speak of Christian Humanism, I’ll speak of it in the broadest sense possible. Keep in mind it can mean different things to different people.

  • Most Christian Humanists believe people are innately good. They probably don’t believe in concepts such as “total depravity” or “original sin”. This belief usually stems from the principle of Imago Dei, which assumes that if people are created in the image of God, and if God is good, then aren’t people ultimately good as well?
  • We also place a strong emphasis on free will. While you will find some Reformed/Calvinist Christian Humanists, most find the idea of a God who micromanages his creation and takes away their freedom of choice monstrous and contrary to the concept of a loving God.
  • Rational reasoning trumps tradition and dogma. Just because something is tradition doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It doesn’t make it good either. We recognize that things have not always been the way they are now, and abhor harmful teachings. And if something doesn’t add up, we’re the first to reevaluate it.
  • We’re usually still Spiritual, but are also very skeptical. Most Christian Humanists still believe in some form of the supernatural. A good example of this distinction is as follows: While I believe in the existence and possibility of miracles, and believe they have happened, I’m extremely skeptical of any reported miracles nowadays. They usually end up being fake, and when it’s unclear if they are I’m probably not going to give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • We believe in making the world a better place.  Throughout nearly all of Christian History, there have been certain groups that believe the world is ending any time now, and that we should be focused on “the world to come”. Even today we still see that. News flash: it isn’t. So rather than focus on hypotheticals, let’s focus on the here and now. The world isn’t slowly getting worse until some apocalyptic doomsday, rather, it’s our job to make it a better place. What do you think Jesus taught?
  • We believe in equal human worth and dignity. This largely stems once again form the concept of Imago Dei. If all are created in the image of God, then all should be given the same opportunity and treated equally. There is no inferior group, there is no “other”. Everyone deserves the same level of basic treatment.
  • We come from many backgrounds. Did you know that one group of Christian Humanists are actually atheists? They just really admire the teachings of Jesus and strive to live by them (most are theistic though). I know of Catholic and Protestant Christian Humanists, Evangelical and Mainline, Liberal and Conservative, etc. Rather than being a denomination or sect, Christian Humanism is more of a uniting philosophy.

This has been a very brief overview of Christian Humanism, and for those of you who had questions hopefully it answered some of them. I haven’t even touched upon the history of Christian Humanism or the biblical and nonbiblical sources it’s based upon (ooh, maybe that could be a future post). If you’re curious to learn more this and this are both great starting points, and offer some more general information.

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One Punch Man 2×08 Review: The Resistance of the Strong

A thematically-fascinating episode suffers from poor animation but sets up an exciting finale.

As previously noted, this season has suffered from mixed animation quality, largely due to the change in the studio producing it. While several episodes have actually had great animation, this was not one of them. In fact, it had what were probably the worst fight scenes this entire season. I suspect this is saving the budget for the last few episodes, to help produce a dynamic and memorable finale. However, considering One Punch Man’s popularity I’m still unsure why this was even an issue.

But enough on the animation quality, let’s take a look at what’s going on in the episode. “The Resistance of the Strong” still has some laugh-out-loud ridiculous moments, but the tone and focus are a bit more serious than usual, allowing for some intriguing late-story character development. Spoilers ahead!

Immediately after Suiryu is announced winner, a troop of monsters led by Goketsu invades the arena, demanding that all the Martial Artists consume the monster cells. It appears my prediction from last week was right, the monster cells (or “monster seeds” as I called them) are what transform people into monsters. It turns out Goketsu was the winner of the first martial arts tournament, and he was not killed by monsters years ago. He was kidnapped and taken to their headquarters, where he chose to consume a monster cell. Already powerful, he became the, well, monstrous monster he is today.

It’s interesting to see which of the contestants consume the monster cells and which don’t–along with their reasonings why. Perhaps the most surprising decision was by Suiryu, who chose to not eat one and stayed to fight the monsters. After he was defeated in the last episode by Saitama, he’s exactly the person I would expect to want the kind of power the monster cells offer. Apparently not. His reasons are not noble, however. It is out of vanity, he doesn’t want to look “ugly”.

Some heroes even return to help who lost early in the tournament, bewildering Suiryu. He simply doesn’t understand why someone would willingly put themselves in harm’s way to help others. What makes it all the more ironic is they came back to help him. Eventually, it doesn’t matter, all the contestants are either defeated or “monsterfied”, including Shuiryu, who is being beat up by another strong monster, Bakuzan (the name reminds me of Bakugan, I wonder if there’s any connection, or if it’s complete coincidence and they just sound similar). Finally, at the last moment, Saitama returns, suit on, answering Shuiryu’s cries for help. It’s a nice “hero moment” that plays out pretty effectively, and having learned that the monster’s headquarters are right outside Saitama’s home city, we can expect some, well, punching to happen soon.

On a side note, we finally got to see Watchdog Man in action. It was a fun moment that’s been teased since last season, but unfortunately, it was pretty short. Hopefully, we’ll see more of him in the last few episodes of this season.

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Agents of SHIELD Season 6 Episode 3 Review: Fear and Loathing on the Planet of Kitson

“What happens on Kitson is contagious and burns.”

If nothing else last week’s episode of Agents of Shield was fun. And it does move the plot forward a bit. That being said, the writing was subpar and the pacing felt clunky. Spoilers ahead!

With the exception of a brief “end credits” scene, “Fear and Loathing on the Planet of Kitson” took place entirely in Space. This allowed for some momentum on the “Finding Fitz” storyline and some hilarious hijinks.

It turns out that Fitz and Enoch are now wanted criminals (for reasons that aren’t yet clear but are hinted at, and will likely be expanded upon in a later episode). The crew they just saved has now abandoned them on a planet even scummier than the Mos Eisley Spaceport, with only one credit. It turns out Enoch is quite skilled at gambling, so he and Fitz set out to earn enough to buy a ship. This leads to a series of misadventures and close brushes with death.

In Episode Two we watch as once again Jemma misses Fitz by mere moments. Get ready for this to happen again. But first they will find each other! The search team led by Daisey does actually manage to make it to the same planet as Fitz. Unfortunately (at least for them) most of the crew unknowingly eats a snack food toxic to humans. While harmless to most aliens, it’s a hallucinogenic for people. This leads to a comical “Girl’s Night” storyline for Jemma and Daisey.

After each groups’ own respective misadventures, Fitz and Jemma finally reunite. But, only for a moment. The bounty hunter who has been hunting Fitz and Enoch throughout the episode grabs Fitz at the last moment and teleports away. Enoch is left behind with the search team, and will likely assist with them for a few episodes.

In the standard “end credits” scene we cut back to earth, to witness Not-Coulson and his side-kick place some kind of energy web around the atmosphere of Earth. The exact purpose(s) and function of this are still unclear, but based on what we’ve seen before it can’t be anything good.

“Fear and Loathing on the Planet of Kitson” served well as a fun, light-hearted break from the overall story yet also managed to move the plot forward, an interesting combination most shows never pull off. Unfortunately, it’s hampered by some mediocre dialogue and disjointed pacing. That’s not to say it’s a bad episode or not enjoyable, it just falls short of the typical Agents of Shield standard and the relatively strong first two episodes of this season. Hopefully, this is a one-time slip and not a reoccurring issue, considering Season 6’s shorter episode count. Overall this was an “Ok” episode.

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One Punch Man 2×07 Review: The Class S Heroes

A better than average episode finished up the tournament arc and introduces several new heroes.

In spite of the title, “The Class S Heroes” is only partly about the titular hero rank. We do see several Class S heroes enter the fray and fight against the surprise attack of the Monster Association. The Martial Arts Tournament also ends, with a bit of a twist, though of course Saitama “wins”. We also learn a shocking revelation about Monsters and potentially how they’re created.

Episode 7 continues Season 2’s trend of mixed animation quality, perhaps even exemplifying it. Most fights are fast-paced and dynamic, though some scenes are little more than moving slides. The hero and monster designs are as good as ever, though.

Worry not, for One Punch Man is still hilarious. Full of clever dialogue, visual gags and intentionally ridiculous dialogue this episode doesn’t disappoint.

Garou is largely absent from this episode, though his threat does lead to a meeting of the Holy Order of the Sword. Worried about the growing danger of Garou, all but one member decide they must take him on. This one member had apparently been approached by the Monster King and given some sort of “monster seed”, the exact nature of which is not made clear. They do grant some kind of monstrous power, perhaps even transforming those who take it into monsters. The traitor is quickly cut down though, so we don’t learn more (at least yet).

As mentioned before, Saitama wins the tournament with ease, though in the final round his wig falls off and he’s disqualified. After finally experiencing “real martial arts”, he’s a bit disappointed, and comes to the conclusion it merely makes you look “cooler” when you fight (in one scene he hilariously tries to make up his own martial arts moves).

At the end of the episode we find out Genos is still alive (Shocker! Not really) and a new, extremely dangerous monster is closing in. What happens next, only time will tell.

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I’m Back!

Hey everyone, I’m back!

As some of you are probably aware, roughly a month ago I announced I was taking a break from blogging, most likely until the Fall. Well, as it turns out, I’ve decided to start blogging again, much sooner.

I am still working on the creative projects I’ve mentioned, but progress has been slower than expected, and I realized I still had plenty of time to write some posts. I’ve also come to miss writing for and managing my blog. Lastly, I’m bored. I needed something else to do in my schedule.

I’ve already made a few slight changes to my blog, nothing terribly overt but if you click around you might be able to notice them, if you’ve been a longtime reader. I’m not going to tell you all of them, but I will go over a few of them.

I’m simplifying my categorization of posts. If you’ve read any of my older posts, you’ve likely noticed my categories are a bit of a mess, and I have way too many of them. I’m not touching any of my previous posts, I’m leaving them as they are, but from now on all posts will be under only 1-2 of the following categories: Christianity, General Religion, Announcements, Reviews, Let’s Play, Social Issues, Just for Fun, and Other.

I will not be creating any Let’s Play videos until the end of August. This is not out of a lack of time or interest, I just don’t have fast enough internet when I’m home for the summer. It takes me four hours to upload every 15 minutes of 1080p60 video. I’m not reducing the quality, and that simply isn’t worth my time. Sorry for those who watched them.

While I originally created this blog to primarily talk about my opinions on religion and social issues, it appears my most popular posts have been reviews of media. So in my quest for higher viewership and more followers, I will start writing more posts along those lines. This summer I will be reviewing two ongoing shows, Agents of Shield and One Punch Man. I should have episode reviews out within one day of the original airtime, so Saturday and Wednesday respectively. I will also review any movies I see in theaters over the summer, within three days of viewing. I’ll likely continue this into the Fall, with whatever shows are airing that I’ll be watching.

Worry not those who are interested in my take on religion and social issues, I’ll still be writing posts on those subjects. I’ll also create posts on the occasional random subject as well, just for a little variety.

Well, that’s about all I have to say for now. Make sure to follow my blog on WordPress or with your email for the latest updates. I also post new blog posts on my Twitter and private Facebook account as well. My next post should be on Saturday (my first Agents of Shield Review) and I’ve already started writing several others!

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An Announcement

Hey everyone, and by everyone I mean my small-but-dedicated core audience and the occasional person I manage to snag in with decent post-tagging, I have an announcement to make, if you couldn’t tell already. First of all, yes, that alliteration in the title is intentional. Second of all, I’ve decided to take a bit of a long-term break/hiatus from making new blog posts. While I definitely have the time and ideas to probably write several posts most weeks, I want to take some time to focus on some creative projects. I have no intentions of “abandoning” this blog, I’ll return to writing new posts eventually. There are just a few creative projects I’ve been really wanting to focus my time on. I have no idea when I’ll return to writing posts full-time again, I anticipate it to be sometime later this year, probably during Fall at the earliest. Make sure to follow my blog or me on social media for updates on when I do, or maybe even on one of my creative projects if I make decent progress. Thanks for reading my (extremely inconsistent) posts, and I’m looking forward to making new ones again in the future! For the time being my site will remain up, and all posts will be available to read. Feel free to comment on posts or contact me, I might get back to you in a timely manner. Maybe. Until then, see you later! Wait, that’s not quite how that works, wouldn’t it be write for you later?

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A Selection of the Strangest How-To Books on Amazon

Greetings presumed blog readers, today we’re going to have a fun blog post. If you’ve ever gone down the rabbit hole that is Amazon books, you’d know that there’s both some pretty cool stuff and pretty strange stuff out there. This is largely due to Amazon’s self-publishing features (it’s quite easy to do, check out my book I published) as well as it’s online nature that tends to cause some somewhat rare or otherwise unheard of books to be sold. Even if for some reason you have searched Amazon for weird books before, a genre you may not have considered is that of “How-To” books. A bit of a joke of a genre, How-To books can still be pretty useful, though in the age of the internet not quite essential. An Unexpected use of some, though, is to make the reader laugh, intentionally or unintentionally. Here are but a few of the highlights I’ve found (all of these are 100% real by the way):

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Some of these books are serious, some are satire, some are problematic, some are unintentionally funny. The world is a wide, wild place and it only makes sense there would be a variety of books to match that.

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The Banner Saga Playthrough Finale

Welcome to the sixth and final part of my playthrough of The Banner Saga! I know it’s extremely late, but I got distracted with my Sunless Skies Playthrough, which you can check out here.

If you haven’t watched my previous videos, I strongly suggest watching them before this one. You can find them here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five.

This video focuses on my (successful!) reattempt of the final battle, as well as the closing cutscenes. I even linger on the credits for a bit so you can listen to the fantastic soundtrack, if you want.

Thank you for watching my playthrough, please support the developers at Stoic Studios by purchasing their games and soundtracks.  The Banner Saga Trilogy is available on all major platforms (including smartphones) and is rated T for Teen.

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Four Reasons You Should Read the Acts of Thecla

I was originally going to publish this yesterday to coincide with International Women’s Day, but I went and saw Captain Marvel (Which was great! Go watch it!) instead. Either way, I’m still excited to share this weird and wonderful early Christian work with you.

For those of you who don’t know, which is probably most of you, this semester I am taking an Introduction to New Testament class. For the most part, it’s been a review of what I’ve already found in my own studies, but occasionally I’ll learn something cool/interesting. This week we were going over the Pastoral Epistles and the Deutero-Pauline Epistles, comparing them with Pauls letters. We also went over a little gem called the Acts of Thecla (also known as the Acts of Paul and Thecla) for another example of how the Pauline tradition continued. I was absolutely blown away by how crazy it was, but also how progressive (well, at least for the time) it was with gender roles/social norms. If I haven’t piqued your interest yet, here’s a few more reasons why you should check out this little-known but important text.

  1. It’s counter-cultural. Rome and its provinces (including Judea) were a “single-sex” society, and it was commonly believed that women were an inferior version of men. Among the upper classes (which is whom the Pseudepigraphical Pauline letters were written to) women were expected to be “silent and submissive” (Sound familiar?) and relegate themselves to the private or home spheres. While they did usually have some say, marriages were arranged financial contracts between the eldest males of each family. Marriage was not for love, and certainly not for sexual pleasure (it was considered disrespectful to have sex with your wife for any reason other than procreation). Rather, it was for maintaining the “social order” and class system. Thecla, in stark contrast, rejects this as a whole and lives the life she believes is best for her.
  2. Socially and Theologically, it Reads much more like Paul than the Pseudepigrapha. Paul believed the world was ending soon and Jesus would return any day. He taught a radically egalitarian and ascetic worldview. As far as we can tell from his surviving letters, he was probably asexual and wasn’t a huge fan of marriage (but didn’t care that much if people did get married). He also references and affirms various female ministers and apostles. This clashes a lot with the letters forged in his name, which basically act as PR letters to the general Roman world (Hey, look at us, we’re not a threat, we’re preserving the Social Order even better than Non-Christ Followers). Unlike Paul, these authors were very concerned with preserving the family/class system around them, and they definitely didn’t believe the world was ending anytime soon (In fairness, they were right about that one). Despite being written almost a century later, we can easily see that the author of Acts of Thecla was a part of the original Pauline tradition, which eventually died out. Probably because they weren’t having sex or getting married, and you can only recruit so many people to a lifestyle like that.
  3. It Was a Very Popular and Influential Work Within Christianity. If you’ve studied Church history at all, especially the development of the modern canons, you know that early Christianity was very diverse and most of its ideas, especially the popular ones, didn’t make it into the “final cut”. We know from both the number of surviving copies and numerous references from at-the-time-contemporary scholars and Church fathers that Acts of Thecla was among the most popular for several hundred years. It was extremely influential, and at its peak, there was even a Church of Thecla. For a long time, she was even a Catholic saint and is still a saint among some Eastern Orthodox traditions. If Church history and the evolution of Christian faith/beliefs interests you at all, Acts of Thecla is a must-read.
  4. Did I Mention It’s Absolutely Wild and Crazy? If you’ve been paying attention so far, you might be under the impression Acts of Thecla was some serious, solemn work that has some relevant as well as antiquated teachings. But, that’s not all. It’s also hugely entertaining. The narrative is intentionally comedic and consists of a series of increasingly unlikely and over-the-top events. Arguably the climax of the story is when after surviving a battery of vicious animals in the local coliseum for refusing to marry her fiance and breaking Paul out of prison, she dives into a pool of ravenous seals (you read that right) and baptizes herself. It’s absolutely bonkers and incredibly progressive and I love it.

It’s easy to see why in spite of its popularity Acts of Thecla didn’t make it into any of the modern Biblical canons. While a life of celibacy and asceticism is not attractive or relevant to most modern readers, the tale of defying social norms, standing by your values, and choosing a lifestyle best for you remains timeless. For Christians and Secular readers alike it offers refreshingly feminist takeaway as well. If I’ve won you over and you want both and insightful and entertaining reading, the entire Acts of Thecla can be found at this link. Have a great day and a Happy Belated International Women’s day to you!

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