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February 18th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Facing death, a top pastor rethinks what it means to be Christian

Editor's Note: The short film accompanying this story, called "My Garden," comes from EdsStory.com. CNN.com is premiering the latest installment in the "Ed's Story" series.

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Ed Dobson is not afraid of dying. It’s the getting there that really scares him.

A former pastor, onetime Christian Right operative and an icon among religious leaders, Dobson has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. When he was diagnosed, doctors gave him 3 to 5 years to live.

That was 11 years ago.

“I am a tad happy to be talking to you right now,” joked Dobson, whose voice has deteriorated since his preaching days, in a phone interview. Speaking with him feels like being exposed to a brief moment of clarity. He speaks slowly, but with an understated confidence and authority.

As pastor at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a position he held for 18 years, Dobson would regularly preach to 5,000 people or more on Sundays. Back then, Dobson said he looked at himself as a man filled with lessons, proverbs and, most of all, answers.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

After retirement six years ago, the massive crowds went away.

“I went from 100 miles an hour to zero miles an hour overnight,” Dobson said. “That was a shock to my system.”

Dobson says the answers vanished with the crowds.

“I know that sounds a bit lame,” he said. “I know that that I should have all the answers, but the truth is, the more I live, the fewer answers I have.”

And yet the people Dobson comes in contact with – those who call him dad, husband and friend, or those who have read one of his 12 books and watched his short films, don’t agree with that assessment. To them, the last six years of Dobson’s life have led to a remarkable ability to put life into context. To them, Dobson is a man filled with lessons.

From 5,000 to 1

In the 1980s, Dobson rose to prominence as an executive at the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell's evangelical political organization, which had influence with the Ronald Reagan White House. Dobson’s rise continued when he accepted the pastorate at Calvary Church in 1987. He cut a national profile, with Moody Bible Institute naming him “Pastor of the Year” in 1993.

After being diagnosed with ALS, Dobson suddenly felt unsure of himself. At times, he said, he didn't want to get out of bed. After years of intense Bible study, Dobson said this is not how he thought he would react to news of his own mortality.

“I thought that if I knew I was going to die, I would really read the Bible and if I really was going to die, I would really pray,” Dobson said. “I found the opposite to be true. I could barely read the Bible and I had great difficulty praying. You get so overwhelmed with your circumstances, you lose perspective.”

Eventually, Dobson regained perspective. But feelings of listlessness led him to take his preaching to a more personal level. He now meets with congregants one-on-one. Sitting with them in their homes or offices, Dobson provides whatever help he can. “Most of the people I meet with have ALS and basically I listen," he said.

“When I meet with someone and look into their eyes, it is like I am looking into their soul,” Dobson said. “We are both broken, we are both on the journey and we are both fellow pilgrims.”

Going from 5,000 congregants to one at a time was a big change for Dobson, forcing him to reevaluate his job as a pastor. “I am trying to learn that one-on-one is just as important as speaking to thousands,” he said. “I reemphasize – I am trying to learn that.”

During his one-on-one meetings, Dobson says he remembers Adam and Eve being charged by God to work the Garden of Eden. For years Dobson’s garden was Calvary Church – the baptisms, weddings, the Sunday preaching.

“Whether it is preaching to 5000 or meeting one on one, I am trying to take care of the garden,” he said.

The wind knocked out

One way Dobson strove to tend the garden is by writing a book about dealing with serious illness. In 2007, he wrote “Prayers and Promises When Facing a Life-Threatening Illness.”

Dobson’s son Daniel read the book while deployed in Iraq. After returning home, Daniel made it his mission to turn the book’s stories into videos.

He pitched the idea to Steve Carr, the executive director of a faith-focused production company called Flannel. “When I met Ed, when he came to our office, something really spoke to me,” Carr said. “Not too long before that, I had been diagnosed with Leukemia.”

“I thought that this guy, he has been where I am right now and he has somehow mastered it,” Carr said.

So far, Flannel has released five Dobson films, available through the company's website. There are plans for two more. Though the films range in topic, from loss and forgiveness to healing and growth, all are centered on lessons Dobson learned through his battle with ALS. The videos toe the line between a dark look at a dying man's life and an uplifting glimpse at someone who exudes clarity.

"My Garden," the most recent title in the series, centers on Ed’s struggle to deal with ending his preaching career.

Dobson talks about the films as if they are his swan song, his last words of encouragement to a group of supporters he has inspired for decades.

“My desire is that people who have had the air knocked out of them, whether divorce or losing a loved one or illness, that they will get a sense of hope by watching the films,” he said.

Surviving (with help)

The series’ first short film opens with Dobson explaining what it was like to be told he had ALS. After lying in bed, Dobson gets in the shower, brushes his teeth and starts the day. Even he would admit, however, it is not that easy.

Dobson has lost much of the function in his hands and is seen struggling to brush his teeth, his frail body using two hands on the small brush. Though he is able to do a lot, including drive, Dobson wouldn’t be able to make it on his own, a fact he is keenly aware of when about when describing his wife, Lorna.

“She is my right hand, my left hand, my left foot, my right foot, my heart and my brain,” Dobson said. “Without her, it would be impossible to go on.”

Standing in the kitchen in one video, Lorna helps puts Ed’s belt and gloves on. The two don’t speak on camera, but their love is obvious.

“Our love has grown each year of marriage,” Lorna said. “I didn’t want to just wither in the sorrow of how our life was changing. It took a while to get used to what our life was going to be like but I realized that I needed to be more available to him.”

Dobson says he is also more available to her.

“I am no longer a preacher,” said Dobson. “Today, I would say I am a Jesus follower. Period.”

Lorna said she continues to learn from her husband. Throughout their life together, she said she learned by being in church with him, by raising three kids together and by loving one another.

The last 11 years, however, their love has changed. Dobson's illness has taught her to focus on the important things, she said, primarily their kids and five grandkids.

After tending the garden for decades, Dobson is now being tended himself, largely by Lorna. “ALS forced me into a situation where I grew in understanding of what it means to obey Jesus,” Dobson said in the latest film.

“It took me quite a while to find an alternative purpose," he said. "But the good news is out there – there is a purpose for everyone.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Death • Faith Now • United States

soundoff (3,194 Responses)
  1. jimtanker

    @ Dav

    "So many people believe that GOD is absent and does not listen since so many bad things happen here on Earth. GOD never said that earth was perfect. GOD lets the devil roam the earth as well. But I'm not saying that what we perceive as evil is truly evil. The death of a mother is not necessarily evil. It has a greater cause for everything. We cannot know why things happen to people, but we need to know that life is what it is."

    You first have to provide evidence that your god exists. Until then it is just a made up fable like all the others.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  2. brutus

    Great man of God with a great future someday....I'm not sure why all the athiest whack jobs are on this article....makes me think of the old Gandhi quote,

    "It amazes me to find an intelligent person who fights against something which he does not at all believe exists"

    February 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • jimtanker

      I’m just trying to show some people how ignorant that it is to believe in something for which there is NO evidence. If I can show one person how silly that it is and they start actually thinking for themselves then I’ve done my job.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • brutus

      Some people? Try over 96% of the world according to the CIA factbook. But i'm sure that all of the world is "delusional" and you are one of the only people with true logic.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • reason

      Which god does 96% of the world agree is the truth?

      February 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Still waiting on this evidence that you and your "96%" (which is wrong) have.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • brutus

      http://www.religioustolerance.org/worldrel.htm = boom. Actually according to this site I was wrong...it shows atheism at 2%, not 4% my bad....And regardless of what god one believes in, the fat that there is a higher being is blatantly obvious except to an ignorant, minute portion of mankind.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Nonimus

      “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Gandhi

      February 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      ""It amazes me to find an intelligent person who fights against something which he does not at all believe exists"
      Do you imagine that atheists don't believe in the existence of Christians? I'm pretty sure "Christians" exist, or claim to exist. I can't detect any evidence of their beliefs in their lying, deceitful actions, but they do indeed claim to be Christians.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  3. Scholar

    Is this his reward for his past?

    February 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  4. One4theMoney24theShow

    Dobson says the answers vanished with the crowds.

    “I know that sounds a bit lame,” he said. “I know that that I should have all the answers, but the truth is, the more I live, the fewer answers I have.”

    +++In other words..when his popularity (meaning Dobson) and not HIS popularity (meaning God) vanished with the crowd, simply means that it was all about Dobson the whole time and not God. God does not change – only people.
    ++++Dobson says that he should have all the answers?!?!?!? That is pure arrogance. No one has all the answers except God. God is only showing Dobson his own arrogance and how unimportant he or his thoughts or own wisdom is when he attributes the attention inappropriately to himself.
    It is not about him, but about HIM. I am glad this preacher is figuring this out and has humbled himself in such a way to remove the arrogance to learn the lesson that God is truly trying to teach him. It appears that through all the preaching he has done, he wasnt listening or applying it to himself--which is the mistake sooooo and toooo many Christians do.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • jimtanker

      You dont even know if yor god exists or not so how can you say that it has all of the answers?

      You only have an opinion that your god exists, you dont KNOW. Until you can provide evidence of this being existing then you are just delusional.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • James

      Reading these comments I imagine similar debates among cave men contemplating thunder and lightning. Just as those cave men finally figured out the weather, one day we as a species will stop with the ignorant God delusion. If we make it that long and the religions of the world don't kill us all first.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "“I know that sounds a bit lame,”" It always sounded that way.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  5. Dav

    Reading these comments is interesting. It looks like because he was a pastor, people believe that he was above humanity. To me we all may feel like this at some point in our lives.
    No matter what we do his feelings represent the feelings that a person may go through when a person loses or quits their job. Everyone goes though it.
    We may wake up the next day after quitting or getting laid off and feel a hole in our thoughts since a big part of your life is no longer there.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  6. meadowmuffin

    wow what hatred is being spewed...who are we to say his beliefs are wrong, who are we to say anybody's spiritual beliefs are wrong...If people showed kindness and compassin to each other instead of bashing each other over their beliefs this world probably wouldn't be in the rotten hate filled state that it is. I personally do not know if there is a heaven or hell so to speak, but I cannot say for certainty that there is nothing after life ends. It would be like saying that a $100000 dollar bill does not exist just because I have never seen one. I say let people believe spiritual how ever they want. If it helps somebody through life then who are we to condem.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • reason

      The problem is that religious people condemn others and worse strip others of civil liberties based on a world view that has absolutely no rational basis.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  7. TruthSeeker

    All I see in this article is a man who thought he had the answers but pain has taught him otherwise. Pain has a way of doing that... and I suspect most of the hateful posts (from religious and non-religious, both) here are from people who haven't yet had severe pain in their lives. I used to be locked in the self-righteous, judgmental prison that the evangelical church taught me, until tragedy struck. I felt my soul shatter, for which I am now very grateful. I now know that I don't have any answers and find that it is only people who have endured tragedy of one kind or another who can meet the needs of individuals in the world.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  8. lala

    As someone who has been born into an evangelical family where, growing up, my parents told me evolution was a lie and that I would go to hell if I was not saved since I was 10 (let's just say they're not the most pleasant human beings), I've struggled with the inner conflict of keeping my faith versus discovering the truth elsewhere. But what is "truth"? Is it just that we all die at some point? I consider myself close to an atheist at this point, but knowing that there may be nothing in this world that matters other than the meaning we create for ourselves is really depressing. I am no longer afraid of death, but sometimes I'm afraid of living because if it's all BS in the end......then, what's the point?

    Don't get me wrong. I value life itself and I value my life for the moments it gives. But if there is no beautiful truth to be found, and our only meaning in life is through our connection with other flawed human beings, then what's the point?? It all seems so tragic to me. If someone tells me the point is to enjoy life....okay...but what truth is there in that? If the point is to be happy, that again just seems like another form of the self-justification that evangelicals are doing. Don't we all try to find meaning in something and try to hold on to that meaning by justifying it whenever we can? I think that evangelicals live a restricted life of moral passivity and thinking. However, I think that the constant search for truth is also not the answer. We're never going to get there. Or, if we do, the whole process becomes too destructive because you end up giving up the things and beliefs you have that make your life worth living. I think that we need to live with some delusions in our lives. I don't know what those are...especially for me at the current moment, but an outdated fairy tale like evangelism which is far off-base from what makes life (the only life we have) worth living is not the right answer.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Pete

      Stop looking for truth my friend. You wouldn't know it if it bit you.... (nor would I). Be happy.

      This guy was not as smart as he thought he was, but none of us are.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Hence21

      look into Buddhism. What little research i have done on it has made feel a lot more comfortable about life. I too use to be very religious, just in the catholic church. But found myself not believing after experiencing life after moving out of my parents house, almost like finding out about santa claus. I am looking for something that gives meaning to our life and is open to the possibility that we do not have all the answers. Christianity cannot provide this to me, so i am looking for something that will.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Herman

      If your searching for truth, my gentle friend, for heaven's sake don't turn to those selling something, especially salvation.

      The Bible is full of convenient aphorisms easily tailored to pre-conceived, pat notions of life's big and little meanings.

      Except one book, Ecclesiastes, which is for those who've had hard collisions with life and for whom the sappy "God loves you" from slick, coiffed evangelists is ashes in their mouths.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • sbt7300

      Your post sounds so much like what the writer of Ecclesiastes contemplated...that life is meaningless, it's all vanity....that is life without God. However, true, eternal life is found only in Christ. Seek Him diligently – you will find Him. Start with God's Word and He will lead you to the truth.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "But if there is no beautiful truth to be found, and our only meaning in life is through our connection with other flawed human beings, then what's the point??" Make your own meaning. What you are describing is Existentialism, and I'm not the best spokesperson for that. Google it and start with Sartre; you have to impose your own meaning on an essentially meaningless world. Humans are imperfect but they strive for perfection; that's a beautiful thing. We write down our thoughts and preserve them, we find love and lose it again, we build things and watch them decay as we age, and sometimes we make something that outlives or transcends us. I'll die one day, sure, but first I lived.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  9. Brent

    Believe or not believe in Christianity, Dobson will be able to leave this life knowing that he has had a positive influence on many. That should provide comfort and be something we all strive to do.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • reason

      He had a positive influence on some but he also had a negative impact on many. It is noble to help people, however faith is not innocent as it causes many problems for society. We will never know how much harm came from his participation in Moral Majority.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  10. ARNOD

    MY STEP DAUGHTER DIED OF ALS FEB.4, 2012. SHE WAS DX. IN JULY. 7 MONTHS FROM DX. TO DEATH. SHE LEFT A HUSBAND AND 3 SMALL CHILDREN. GOD HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. AND IF HE (SHE) DID, I WOULD TELL HIM TO GO SCREW HIMSELF FOR TAKING AWAY A MOTHER -AGE 44- FROM HER CHILDREN. SUGGEST EVERYONE READ "GODS PROBLEM" AND "JESUS INTERRUPTED" BY BART EHRMAN (THEOLOGIAN FROM PRINCETON)
    GOD IS NOT KIND: GOD HEARS NO ONES PRAYERS. AND IF HE EXISTS HE'S NOT IN CONTROL OF THIS WORLD.
    HE CAUSES (OR ALLOWS) DROUGHT, TORNADOS, STORMS ETC...THAT CAUSE MISERY FOR THOUSANDS OF PERSONS INSPITE OF ALL THE PRAYERS. ETC, ETC, ETC.......

    February 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Dav

      The book of JOB covers this topic.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      My condolences

      February 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Dav

      So many people believe that GOD is absent and does not listen since so many bad things happen here on Earth. GOD never said that earth was perfect. GOD lets the devil roam the earth as well. But I'm not saying that what we perceive as evil is truly evil. The death of a mother is not necessarily evil. It has a greater cause for everything. We cannot know why things happen to people, but we need to know that life is what it is.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Thinking

      Sorry to hear about your unhappiness! You deserve comforting. However, you also deserve better than self-imposed bitterness. What if we could actually thank God for all the good he gave us, i.e. those good days, weeks, years of the 44 years with that precious step daughter. Or all the good and positive things we have because of him and His kindness despite our unkindness we show towards Him and others (that He created in His image) at times? May you find comfort in good memories today!

      February 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • J

      God creates man with free will, man chooses to do evil, the world becomes evil. Pretty much covers it. Would you rather God had created you without free will? Forces man to lean on God...which if you believe in Him, makes perfect sense.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • teresa, ohio

      I am so sorry for your loss.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @Dav – I don't get the impression that ARNOD wants to hear any of your empty biblical excuses. "god did it" "It's all part of god's plan" "god works in mysterious ways" – it's all so much meaningless babble. I'm offended that you immediately focused on proving him wrong by finding your bible passage, vs. offering some human compassion or sympathy first for his loss.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Hughman

      I'm so sorry for your loss. I have felt that anger at God as well, and every time I settle down I am ashamed. It is written, "Be still and know that I am God". Nothing any of us can say can comfort you or give you the answers that you want. I just pray you may find peace and be still, so that God's peace, which passes all understanding will hold you and help you.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • humtake

      J, God also gave us the ability to use logic. With that ability, if you use logic you cannot prove God exists. So, that means God gave us the ability to determine if he exists or not. Therefore, anyone who doubts the existence of God can still end up in God's hands if he is real because you are using a gift God gave you, if he in fact does exist.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Herman

      Well said, Luc.

      Dav is like the three "friends" who kept pestering Job, insisting that he MUST be responsible for his afflictions since it was the only answer that suited their pre-conceived notions of God's morality (or even existence.)

      February 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Truth

      You are correct God is not in control He gave the control to us, He created us in His image and gave us the Power to allow our disallow things in the world as Children of God. In Genesis we were given the authority then Adam gave it away, but Jesus took it back and gives it to all those who accept Him not just as savior but also as Lord. As for the storms and tornadoes the scripture says satan is the prince of the power of the air and we have the authority to stop whatever he stirs up. God loved us so much that he gave us the church the free will and the authority to destroy the works of the devil. He loved us so much that he choose to step back and let us run it, while at the same time giving us all the power necessary to do it. So it's not on God it is on us, if we don't study enough to know what we possess, or refuse to believe. Nothing is impossible to them that believes, it hurts the heart of God when one of us is taken by sickness, because it is always his will that we be healed. Thats why he gave us the ablility to lay hands on the sick and they recovery. He says beloved I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers. You soul as you know are your mind, your will and your emotions. For your mind to prosper you must put the Word of God into it, to know what you have and how to access it. You must mix Faith with it to work. God really is real if people only believed that (for real). satan is the one who kills, steals and destroys as long as WE let him. God says his people perish for lack of knowledge, if he did not love us He would have just made us puppets and come down and made us fix every thing. But no as a loving Father he gave the earth to his sons and daugthers to run with everything necessary to do it, but we the church at large have been so selfish and lazy that people are dieing prematurely, communities are being destroyed and families devasted. Right now I am working on me to make sure I am studying and doing, studying and doing and I believe many others are also. So that we don't lose another precious Mother, wife, daughter prematurely again.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Q

      @Truth – Cuckoo-Cuckoo-Cuckoo...

      February 20, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  11. Beth

    Get that guy on some coconut oil, stat.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  12. Julie

    These kind of articles sure do bring out the raging Christ-haters! You can almost hear the hissing. Amazing. Probably the same people that espouse the belief we should celebrate our diversity and let everyone live the way they choose (except for Christians, of course).

    February 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • reason

      Do you really think these people "hate" someone they do not even believe exists?

      Non-religious people get frustrated by religious zeolots who attempt to impose their irrational views on everyone else through politics.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Julie

      Reason: Your comment is such a huge generalization, I don't know how to respond.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Tallulah13

      Julie, I suspect you don't even realize the irony of your reply. What was your original post, if not a generalization?

      February 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post by Julie is an instance of the circu-mstantial ad hominem fallacy.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#H6

      February 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • CRay

      reason – So your reply is not trying to impose your Non-religious views upon us religious folks?

      February 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 20, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Religion is Harmful to the Individual and Society

      Prayer changes nothing

      February 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • RAWoD

      Nothing fails like prayer.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Sarah

      Are you implying that if Dobson were to pray for healing – he would be well again?

      February 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Rob

      I once prayed that when I opened my eyes I would see Christie Brinkley laying on my bed naked . . . . never happened :(

      February 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Thisguy

      I've never seen it do a thing

      February 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • TheTrueMoralMajority

      If it makes you feel better, then go ahead & pray. But, I'd argue that marijuana probably does more for you than prayer.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • robbo88

      Prayer doesn't change a thing. It's just wishful thinking. Having faith is just a way of coping with something you don't have an answer for and it still doesn't change a thing when you're faced with your own mortality.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • jesse

      Troll.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post is an instance of a Suppressed Evidence fallacy and a case of Willed Ignorance.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#H6

      February 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • brutus

      I have seen people with stage 4 cancer get prayed for and get healed, so yes it does.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things .

      February 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Buckeye

      Brutus, have you seen them die too?

      February 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • music to my ears

      I'd like to teach the world to sing
      In perfect harmony
      Upon our knees beneath the trees
      We'll set our spirits free.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Hence21

      Ok, Heads i go back to church, tails i keep not believing.... (pray its heads)... Nope Tails, must be gods will

      February 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Guest

      "The fervent prayer of a BELIEVING person is powerful and effective". James 5:16

      February 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Ray

      There are none more blind, than they that seek answers on their knees, with their eyes closed...

      February 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'brutus' is an instance of a Selective Attention fallacy and a case of Confirmation Bias.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#H6

      February 20, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  14. carlyjanew6

    http://www.Hear-The-Truth.com

    February 20, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • TheTrueMoralMajority

      Checked out your web site. Goes to show you that any goof-ball can create a web site. Must shower now. Need to wash the residual yuck off. Eewwwwwww...

      February 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  15. SurelyUjest

    Nice this guy comes in the to world of politics with his mega church religious backing and basically drives a wedge between the left and the right politically using the Bible as his tool. So I guess we should all feel bad for this bringer of divisiveness? I hope he learns more than what he has shown soon.

    February 20, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Hindenburg

      He quit the religious right back in the 90's.
      Your remark is typical of the compassion I expect from posters on this blog.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  16. Nii Croffie

    Teach us to number our days aright that we may apply our hearts unto Wisdom-King David

    February 20, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  17. God is the Answer to Everything

    Christians should be thankful God has graciously bestowed on him a slow death so that he can spread the Word.
    God is truly the answer to everything. You can answer everything with God:

    February 20, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • God is the Answer to Everything

      Here's the link to the full page:

      February 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I thought it was "42."

      February 20, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Kepley

      darkantics, this is GOD, You are one of my most amazing creatures. You were born without a brain but somehow
      you were able to create and post a crappy cartoon like this.
      I command you to not use a fork or knife when eating for you might poke your eyes out.

      Get back in the closet where others cannot make fun of you.
      I am coming back soon to deal with you about this crap you post.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  18. WachetAuf

    "Dobson says the answers vanished with the crowds."

    Correct, my friend. So, "pastor", add it all up. Why not now finally tell us all how it really works – why the answers vanish with the crowds. Tell us the whole truth, now that you are facing death.

    "Pastor" it is primitive "group think" and "tribalism" which drives ideology, whether it be poltical or religious. After all, you cannot "sell" something to anyone unless you offer them the "big lie". The masses will always be attracted by a man who is giving them "life everafter". Rigid ideology is always formed by someone who is trying to "repair" his own life who must cling onto irrational ideas to find his own personal "salvation". Sometimes it is one "mad man", or at least a narcissist and maybe a sociopath, who has the charisma to stir the primitive emotions of the sheep. When you are standing in front of large masses, "pastor", you are in desparate "need" of affirmance from the enablers and sheep. It gives you an emotional "high", Just like a drug addict, you are addicted. It makes you believe what you would otherwise not believe with so much certainty. It is mass hysteria that you have been selling.

    February 20, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Sue

      WachetAuf, well said. Made my day. Thank you for that comment.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • WachetAuf

      Sue, thank you. However, we must be careful not to fall into the same trap which has snared this "pastor" and many others. We must be sure to remind ourselves not to become addicted to any rationale. All of us have the same narcissitic human traits which would lead us into the same addiction which has trapped many of our political and religious leaders. We must always be careful to keep one another on the road of reason. That is the function of humility.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • ri ho

      Well stated...

      February 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • grfgfg

      @sue Why should a comment like that make your day? If you dont beleive in God or the peope trying to spread His Word then jsut dont concern yourself with it at all. You're most likely a typical hypocritcal atheist

      February 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Justice

      @WachetAuf,
      Your argument is flawed. You provide your conclusion but no premise–no evidence. Consequently, you have provided nothing but your opinion–a disgusting attack on those who are different than you. Do you judge all those that are different than you? Try practicing tolerance. Enough division exists in the world without people like you attacking others–based on your own belief system of hatred.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Acts2:38

      Better for the God-inspired to be stirring the sheep than just another one of the flock.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @Justice – Shut up.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • JanetMermaid

      @grfgfg - maybe it's because Christians are "spreading their beliefs" by ramming it down the throats of others through "witnessing" and by trying to push legislation that forces everyone by law to live by their Christian beliefs. If Christians would just live their lives and leave everyone else to live theirs as they see fit then it'd be different. But I'm sick to death of "the Christian agenda". It's just as bad as "the Muslim agenda" so many Christians bemoan.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Dave

      Modern atheism baffles me. It's not the fact that you people don't believe in God or even that your arrogance and condescension towards people of faith is grating, tiresome and one of the most culturally unproductive phenomena of the last 20 years, which it is.

      It's the scope of your philosophical ignorance and fundamentalist confidence in a naive, truncated view of rationality that has very little traction with the philosphically literate, save those few who've read, probably one fourth of the "Four Horsemen's" oeuvre and think that Sam Harris is a philosophical genius.

      I have lots of atheistic friends that I respect and have fruitful conversations with. They are literate, are aware of the deep issues around belief and materialism, and are willing to engage with me on, for instance, the thinking of Thomas Aquinas, Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Pascal, Boethius, and so forth with the respect and gravity that such great thinkers require. I in turn can discuss Sartre, Lucretius, Heidegger, and particularly Nietzsche with a deep and fruitful engagement that wanders down interesting and illuminating paths. There is respect. There is engagement. There is reflection.

      But stumble onto the CNN comments page any time religion is broached, and out come hordes of overconfident armchair atheists who read some Madeline Murray O'Haire in the 80s, some Bertrand Russell or Richard Dawkins, found in them an outlet for some religious trauma or otherwise pent-up resentment towards The Big Religion, and watch the hyperventalation start.

      You'd think Dostoevsky or Tolstoy or Flannery O'Connor would run for cover against such simple and obvious argumentation!! What Bertrand Russell couldn't accomplish in entire life of writing and philanthropy, these guys finish in three sentences! Simply astonishing!

      So, I wait. I wait for this generation to tire of straw men and simplistic reductions. I wait for the heavy breathing to die down and for those who think Fred Phelps == Christianity to get sick of screaming, sit down in the corner where they belong, shut their mouths and observe an actual conversation about the deepest meaning of human life, beauty, goodness, truth, joy, grief, and all the ideas that have driven Western Civilization since before Cicero, Augustine and Plato, and the entire human enterprise since the dawn of time.

      Good God, have some measure of humility, engagement, perspective. And if not - please, please...shut up.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • WachetAuf

      Justice

      You are just too cool. Your argument contains the same flaws for which you now attack my views. Why don't you merely acknowledge what I have acknowledged and this "pastor" has now acknowledge? That none of us have all of the answers. I am only addressing those who have rigid "ideologies". Are you defending all of the ideologues? All it takes is the power of concentration, focus and attention, without the filters which prevent us from seeing clearly, to begin to add up what is obvious. Why do you believe that this "pastors" answers have disappeared with the crowds? What is the one element which is now missing from his serach for the truth? The crowd. This "pastor" has admitted it. Have you ever been to a foot ball game? Do you see how the crowds react? To a campaign rally? Have you read the studies on "group think"? Do you know, for example, that the Pentagon has had to create an entirely separate command to offset the "authority" of the command structure ao that it can avoid the problem of "group think"? Do you have an explanation which is better than mine? If I am the man of reason that I think I may be, then I would be willing to hear your view and I certainly am. What is it that Jesus said about the speck of dirt in your eye and the log in mine. I can acknowldge that. Can you? It takes no genious, if you understand basic teachings of Jesus and open your eyes to what is happening around you, the history, the propaganda which is thrust on us every day. Those who have an "agenda", maybe including yourself, cannot see through the dense set of filters which cloud their reason. Only some one who is not yet addicted can see clearly. I do not pretend to have no agenda, or pretend that I have all of the "answers", do you? Do you have such a fragile ego that you must attack my view without any opposing evidence? Finally, as you name yourself "Justice", you understand that "justice" can be determined only by a jury which has no friends to reward and no enemies to punish.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • WachetAuf

      Dave,

      I have no quarrel with a man who has studied his philosphy, has seen his own soul, knows who he really is, has recognized the many filters which may cloud his views, and has come to an elightened conclusion which opposes mine, as you seem to have done. At some point in time, however, I cannot take that final step which it takes to accept any religion because it requires something we call "faith". "Faith" is what it is, acceptance without objective evidence, the suspension of disbelief" (a techique used by magicians).

      Do you think that the "sheep" have all studied the philosophers whom you have studied? It is partly why this "pastor" was able to whip up his crowds into a frenzy of primitive passionate acceptance of Jesus and the Republican Party.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  19. Livelystone

    Death is the one common denominator that unites and humbles us all without exception. A number of years ago I flatlined from a car accident and spent some time on the other side before God and reasons known only to him sent me back.

    I have no doubt in my mind that everyone will experience at least the first part of what I witnessed when after death we are all called to receive what is due to us for the things done while we lived on earth. Unfortunately, those who are supposed to have the answers about life after death are the most ignorant of the subject; I'm speaking of the church.

    If it were possible for me to talk to this person I would suggest he read the book “Modern Day Prophet” by Douglas Duncan.

    February 20, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Acts2:38

      If the book you're mentioning is rooted at all in Christianity then the statement you made about Christ's church is incorrect. It's in Christ's death and resurrection that we have an understanding that death can be defeated. Death is only a "common denominator" to those who do not confess the Son, repent and be baptized. You can only have this by being part of His church, serving as Jesus served.

      Matthew 16:24&25(NIV)
      24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

      Ephesians 5:22-24 (NIV)
      22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  20. Trey

    CNN loves to bash people who believe in God. I've noticed they don't bash black people who believe in God, just the white folk. CNN is also all about showing us what a great religion Islam is. It's almost is if CNN has an agenda.

    February 20, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Bible Clown

      "It's almost is if CNN has an agenda." Is that easier for you to believe than 'people think this stuff is BS?'

      February 20, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Rob

      Oh yes, Christians are just so put upon in the United States – their just rounded up and put behind barbed wire with no power at all to push their views and agendas... Poor, poor little Christians...

      February 20, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Trey

      Bible,
      Is Islam BS?

      February 20, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Steve the Atheist

      Not sure how you take this article as "believer bashing". You can believe what you want and so can this guy.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Trey is either an instance of aSelective Attention fallacy, or worse, Trey is simply lying.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#H6

      February 20, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Trey is either an instance of a Selective Attention fallacy, or worse, Trey is simply lying.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#H6

      February 20, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Trey,
      Sure, we haven't seen anything about Bishop Eddie Long, have we?
      /sarcasm

      Are you racist? or claiming CNN is?

      February 20, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Tin-foil Hats Inc.

      For a limited time you too can be the proud owner of the tin-foiled cap. Known to prevent neurosis in individuals with beliefs grounded in reality but still skewing observable truth.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.