Not that a great deal has changed since the first one (it hasn't), but an update is in order, if for no other reason than to be concise and bring some newer writings into the equation.
If you've read something here that's found its way under your skin and got you all lathered up, and now you're ready to leave a (usually anonymous) comment or send me a "come to Jesus" email of some sort...just don't. I promise you your argument isn't original. I've heard it before - many, many, many times. I've heard them all by now.
My personal faith is rooted solely in this. If you think it requires more than that, you've moved entirely out of the realm of Christianity into, well, something else. Beyond that, I believe in loving God, loving my neighbor as I love myself, telling the truth in all things, and doing the right thing regardless of the cost. If those qualities are a part of who I am, and manifest in my life as I live my life, there are NO commands or instructions in any religious text relevant to me that I'll be at odds with. Being a person of faith shouldn't be rocket surgery.
Courtship is ridiculous, juvenile, and frankly, STOOPID. To practice it, as an adult, is an admission that you have no self-control, or are a horndog, or have no understanding of human emotion, or are content to be a perpetual child, or have meddlesome religious addicts as parents, or some combination of those. I've written about it, at length, here, here, here, and here. It's an external solution to internal issues - only practiced and officiated by VERY spiritually and emotionally immature people.
The Purity Movement, and the strange and skewed relationship of father to daughter within it, is creepy in ways that make me feel like I need a mental shower. I've written about it directly and indirectly here, here, and here.
To make things clear (because this seems to be THE problem area where people take offense and either read past my words, read into my words, or simply misunderstand me) - I have no problems with homeschooling, or with Christians who choose to homeschool. I loathe the Christian homeschooling movement. It's a toxic culture of indoctrination rather than education. I've written about it here, here, and here. It's nothing more than a culture war which children are haplessly conscripted into simply by being born to fear-driven cultural warriors and religious addicts.
To resource an army, you need soldiers. So, viola! Quiverfull. I've written about it here, here, here, and here.
If you're a Christian homeschooler who practices Quiverfull, you've been scared, conned, and then mined.
Why do I consider all of this important? Read this.
I loathe the Religious Right and the fundamentalist cultural warrior mentality which spearheads it. It hurts people, it hurts the Christian faith, and ultimately, I believe it hurts our nation (for those of you in the USA). I've written about it directly and indirectly quite a few times - here, here, here, here, here, and here. Why do I consider it an important issue? Read this.
I've written about Religious Addiction (an IMPORTANT issue) here, here, here, here, and here, and Cindy Kunsman allowed me to post her great article here.
I don't consider the biblical canon to be the "Word of God". Jesus Christ is the Word of God. You might say, "Well, Jesus is the living word, but the Bible is the written word!" "Written" word? Where did you get that??? Seriously. Where does that belief come from??? That belief, in and of itself, is a symptom of religious addiction, and all it is is something you've been indoctrinated to believe - the belief of someone else adopted as your own without any real examination. I love the books of the bible (and some which aren't in the canon), but to consider the biblical canon as something more than a supplement to your faith is unhealthy. "The Bible" isn't a single organism. It's a collection of 66 books by about 40 different authors (perhaps many more) with diverse backgrounds ranging from shepherds and farmers to kings and scholars. It contains SOME of God's words, SOME of Jesus' words, some words about God, some words about Jesus, some words of men and women, some words about men and women, and a few thousand years of history (some of which may be fairly accurate and some of which may be polluted by oral traditions passed down through quite a few generations). I've written about the biblical canon, much of which you can find fairly easily in the archives on the sidebar. If you try to throw 2nd Timothy 3:16 in my face, you'll only be about the 100th person in the last year to do so (remember what I said earlier about assuming your argument is an original one?), and my answer to you will be the same as it's been to the other 100, coming in the form of a question - When Paul wrote 2nd Timothy 3:16, was he talking about 2nd Timothy 3:16? Not quite so black and white now, is it? In the early days of this blog, I still referred to the bible as "God's Word" fairly regularly. I prefer to leave it that way so that people can see the evidence of my personal journey through, and hopefully out of, my own religious addictions right here on the blog.
Remember - Jesus never promised you "a bible". He promised you the Spirit of God.
I'm not a fan of religious tradition, ritual, and formality.
Regarding my series which covers my personal experience, The Joke Was On Me, I'm often asked "When will you be writing more?" or "Will there be a book?" or "Are you going to finish it?" Although I won't say no definitively, I'll say no nonetheless. I probably won't be writing any more installments. I fear that many are reading it somewhat voyeuristically, or reading it only for entertainment value, and while I understand that, I'm not particularly comfortable with it. I began writing it with the desire to educate and warn, not to entertain, and certainly not to profit or create a cottage industry. I don't want to make a penny off of anything here.
That should cover the basics.
With all that said...welcome.