416: Our Readers Tell Us About … Ehrman’s skeptical new book on ‘Jesus,’ concerns about immigration values — and board games for families!

Once again, thanks to readers like you,
we’ve got your feedback to share …


OUR CONVERSATION WITH BART EHRMAN on inconsistencies in the Bible—the theme of his latest book, “Jesus, Interrupted,” sparked a good deal of conversation this week among readers.
    Sue S, who is part of a Lutheran congregation near Minneapolis, did what a number of readers told me they plan to do: “People have been talking about this book since the NPR interview and when I read your interview, I printed out a few copies, because I think it got at some things they didn’t touch on the radio, as much I love NPR. I’ll tell you what people say when I hear back from them.”
    As days and weeks pass, we hope you will continue to respond. We find that people keep coming back and reading these in-depth interviews, sometimes for many months afterward. If you’ve got a thought to share, email us anytime.

    Special thanks to Anna in New England who commented at the end of the Conversation article—and sent me a follow-up Email explaining more about her reaction to Ehrman’s work. She wrote, in part: “My impression of Professor Ehrman from what little I know of him, and from
looking at his biography, is that he was deeply disillusioned after his early
strict upbringing and has perhaps swung to the opposite extreme in his career
and writing.”
    In response: Anna, that’s a pretty fair assessment and is close to what Ehrman himself says about his life’s journey. However, I think he would disagree with your choice of the word “extreme.” He argues that he’s actually not at an “extreme” now—just a point of respectful and skeptical agnosticism. But, yes, he did come from an extremely strict background and his reactions now are colored by those origins.
    Go back and take a look at the Conversation on Wednesday and especially at the end of the interview. I think you’ll find that Erhman’s position actually is quite balanced.
    It’s this kind of rich reflection that we welcome here at ReadTheSpirit—Sue S distributing copies to her friends to spark discussion and Anna emailing us about the importance of faith and scriptures in her life.
    Thank you! And, as always, drop us a line if you’d like to add to the conversation


AN INTERESTING THING HAPPENED  THIS WEEK in the OurValues.org Web site, which is part of our family of landing pages here at ReadTheSpirit.
    Dr. Wayne Baker, the scholar who hosts that Web site, started out the week with what seemed like a red-hot question about our attitudes toward immigrants—and our overall values concerning immigration policy.
    He developed several more provocative themes throughout the week, including an Immigration I.Q. test
    We tracked the overall readership of that Web site—and it was “up” this week, so people were stopping by to consider these daily stories.
    But few people responded with comments, even after the more provocative posts.
    Mid week, I ran into a reader in person, a business professional who regularly reads Dr. Baker’s Web postings. “You know, I’ve been reading it this week, but I didn’t feel moved to write a comment,” she said. Then, Thursday, I ran into a journalist who also had read some of Dr. Baker’s thoughts this week. “I was interested to see what reactions he got, but he didn’t get many. I think people may be afraid of sounding bigoted when they talk about this issue, so they don’t talk about it.”
    Or, it may be that the issue just doesn’t matter to Americans as much as some politicians want us to believe. On Thursday, Dr. Baker emailed that he dug deeper into the data on immigration attitudes and found that this cluster of values really is not that crucial to most of us.
    Interesting, hmmm? Check out OurValues and add a comment if you feel so moved—or not.

TRY “JO,” “QI,” “WO” …

I REGULARLY WATCH THE WEB SITE of an occasional ReadTheSpirit contributor, Jewish writer Debra Darvick. I’ve known Debra professionally for many years and, despite all the obvious differences that separate us as people, she “gets” spiritual connections like we do here at ReadTheSpirit and I enjoy her stories.
    Apparently, she also “gets” the power of games to creatively connect generations of a family—and she sent along a link this week to her column about Scrabble. If you’ve ever enjoyed a board game with family and friends, or maybe you’re part of a circle that gathers once a month to play cards—then you’ll enjoy this mother-daughter tale of competing as adults across a Scrabble board. Here’s a link to Debra’s column.
    In my own family with its strong Midwestern Protestant values in the years before World War II, my parents’ and grandparents’ game playing tended toward “gray-area” contests that avoided taboos against “playing cards” and “dice.” So, my late Grandmother owned “Touring” (around since pre-WWI days) and, the generations raised on that quaint American card game were later slam-dunk fans of Mille Bournes (developed in France in the 1950s and a red-hot import here in the 1970s). Grandmother also owned Flinch in the classic, pre-WWI little brown box. The game itself is now more than 100 years old and seems tame these days compared with its more aerobic descendants like UNO. There’s even an UNO version now, called UNO ATTACK! that literally shoots cards at players from a big plastic dispenser. But, trust me, we had some pretty aggressive “attacks” staged out of that little, old-fashioned brown box.
    Another branch of the family played dominoes and, quite daring for that era in Midwestern Protestant families—Canasta.
    What Debra points out so wonderfully in her column is the way that games not only become an eagerly anticipated family tradition—but they also work as a transition point between generations. I still recall the sudden jolt when I discovered the cut-throat competitive spirit of my stiff-spined aunts and uncles in northern Indiana—once someone shuffled up a Canasta deck. Wow, was that a bracing introduction to the adult world! Now, rather than merely recalling a collection of white-haired old storytellers, I fondly recall the crisp snap of a devastating domino tile or the colorful revelation of a Canasta meld hitting the table.
    Thanks Debra for your story! And for sending along a link this week—so we can share it with our readers as well.

    GOT STORIES on favorite games in your family? We welcome them! Please, send along your suggestions and stories!

    FINALLY: Here’s a tip from the extended Crumm family, which now “extends” across much of the U.S. like a lot of other American families. Our daughter, Megan, who occasionally contributes to ReadTheSpirit herself, is a seminary student at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. and tells us that merely a loud call for “TRAIN GAME!” around her grad school will draw a crowd of seminarians for this colorful and creative board game involving train routes.
    The game also is available in other versions—one tracks routes across Europe—and here’s what we all love about “Ticket to Ride,” which is the actual name of this game: It takes about 10 minutes to explain the rules to newbies and you’re playing very quickly. Almost the minute one game ends, players are eager to “set it up again.”


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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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