I do highly-researched posts on the Bible and Christian history. This is a place for facts.

A transgender story is a spiritual story

In church you might not hear about too many transgender stories. Christian history does tend to erase them.

I pick up the published journal of a legendary performer in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and what do I find? “I ask for spiritual enlightenment,” she writes. Or jotting:

“ask holy spirit to breath into you
Do what you can because there are many things that need doing.
Mission from God”

Those stressing her importance to LGBT history are as apt to overlook the references. Let’s examine the spiritual history of Candy Darling.

Candy Darling by Bill Goulding c.1971–72

Candy was born as James Slattery in 1944.

‘Jimmy’ grew up in Massapequa Park, New York. There is as yet no biography (one is expected), but we have available a…

The famous Christian was a sexual revolution

Clive Staples Lewis was born in 1898. As a child he rejected his assigned male identity.

He wasn’t Clive, he said. He was ‘Jacksie’. The story of his re-naming is curious. Here is a telling of the story by his older brother Warren, or ‘Warnie’:

“Disliking ‘Clive’, and feeling his various baby-names to be beneath his dignity, he marched up to my mother, put a forefinger to his chest, and announced ‘He is Jacksie’. He stuck to this the next day and thereafter, refused to answer to any other name: Jacksie it had to be, a name contracted to Jacks and then Jack.”

Warnie doesn’t note that ‘Jacksie’ was British slang for the ‘anus’.

For Lewis…

A religion loves a story about a missionary massacre in Ecuador in 1956. They leave out some facts.

Peter & Olive Fleming; Ed, Marilou & Steve McCully; Elisabeth, Jim and Valerie Elliot c.1955 (credit: Wheaton College)

If you grew up Evangelical, the five missionaries to Ecuador were heroes. Back in 1956, they’d gone into the jungle to ‘save’ some natives—who killed them!

It seemed like everyone knew the story of these amazing saints. As found in the ‘classic’ book, Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot, you’d be riveted by a tale of the dark, violent ‘Auca’ of the Ecuadorian rainforest—the ‘savages’ who’d cut our missionaries down.

But God had a plan! They got saved eventually. That was the story, but I’d started to re-think it after reading God in the Rainforest, Kathryn T. Long’s 2019 scholarly study of Evangelical missions in Ecuador. The sacred narrative just started to read a little different.

“The indigenous people were secondary, shadowy figures. Most important…

The true story of a 1980s religious obsession

Throughout the 1980s, Evangelicals widely said the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons was Satanic and led to teen suicides.

A distraught mother, Patricia Pulling, seemed to prove it. For a decade she led a crusade against a game. I’m looking up facts, and finding a lot I didn’t expect. You won’t hear any of this in church.

Patricia Pulling (still from 1985 CBS “60 Minutes” segment)

She seemed so convincing

Whenever you’d see Patricia Pulling, she came off as the voice of conscience and reason. And her 1989 book, The Devil’s Web: Who’s Stalking Your Children for Satan, was available in a Christian bookstore near you!

She opens with the terrible tragedy she’d endured—reconstructing her son’s last day of life, June 9, 1982, moment by moment.

Irving Lee Pulling II—known as ‘Bink’—was…

A Christian scholar suggests—a #MeToo messiah?

* This post discusses the idea that the gospels of the New Testament tell a story of sexual abuse. Themes include rape and torture.

Ramone Romero, “Crucifixus (The Naked Son of Man)” (2006)

David Tombs might seem an unusual figure to suggest a massive shift in reading the central event of the Christian faith.

In 1998, he was an Anglican graduate student in London working on his Ph.D. about the history of Liberation Theology in Latin America. He read an account of a female health worker who had been tortured and killed in El Salvator in the early 1980s.

He tells the story in a few places, including a recent interview with The Shiloh Podcast. The details of the woman’s death were gristly, terrible, horrifying. …

Scholars are pointing a few things out

To be a Christian, one wouldn’t be thinking the figures in the sacred text even have ‘sexuality’, exactly. Aren’t they—Christian?

They wouldn’t be drawn to members of both sexes. Or would they? If Christians read one way, scholars have been reading the New Testament narratives in another: with the cultural psychology of the time.

Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano, “David and Jonathan” (c.1510)

In three gospels of the New Testament there’s a story about a Roman centurion and his slave.

They seem to have a rather close relationship. The centurion calls his slave a Greek word, παῖς, that can suggest a sexual relationship. In Luke 7:2, the slave was “dear” or “precious” him. This man seems to really love his slave.

For decades, there’s been suggestions that it reads as an erotic relationship. That wouldn’t be unusual for the time. “Roman society almost unanimously assumed that…

A Pop diva was preaching her truth

I often suspect that Black women are the true spiritual leaders of the human race—if that means pointing to new ways to be.

Where would we be without Josephine Baker, or Sister Rosetta Tharpe, or Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, or Billie Holiday? Or Tina Turner, or Marsha P. Johnson, or so many more.

But I’m thinking about Grace Jones.

Grace Jones by Greg Gorman (1986 press photo)

“My instincts were to become someone else, to be unbound, to be born once more.” — Grace Jones

She’s often introduced as the daughter and sister of Christian preachers.

They say it as if she’s ungodly, or the “bad” one. Here’s a 1979 album review in the New York Daily News:

“She wears clothes of animal skin, leather and all the other garb to remind fans that she is not about being a born-again Christian…

Child torture porn — in Evangelical America?

With his highly fertile Evangelical family, Josh Dugger was a reality T.V. show star. Now he’s charged with having a child porn collection whose horror is being underplayed.

I’m studying the ugliest story in America. It’s a theological story — every detail formed from religious ideas.

Joshua Dugger, April 29, 2021 (mug shot)

Is it one for Christian history books?

From 2008 to 2015, Josh Duggar was on a hit TLC reality T.V. show, 19 Kids and Counting, featuring the vast Duggar family — which claimed a message of extreme fertility came from God.

The family seemed to be Evangelicalism itself—from Republican politics to ‘purity’ guidelines, men in authority, women in ‘submission’. And he was their eldest son, the prince.

The show was cancelled with news that Josh, as a teenager, had molested many underage girls, including four of his sisters, while…

When the faithful whip out their Bibles—watch out

Back in church, I thought if the pastor or a ‘commentary’ told me some facts, they were—facts? I learned that ain’t necessarily true.

When it comes to sex and sexual themes in the Bible, the Jesus people are particularly prone to—talking dirty.

Malchev | Shutterstock

1. Christians say: only men can be clergy

For a Christian reader, this might seem beyond obvious. Just look at 1 Timothy 3:12:

“A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.” (NIV)

What Christians don’t like to disclose is that all the male pronouns in this verse were added by translators.

In a 2015 study, the Christian scholar Philip B. Payne explains:

“Unfortunately, practically all English versions of 1 Tim 3:1–13 and Titus 1:5–9 give the false impression that Paul…


religion. sex. facts.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store