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August 10th, 2013
02:33 AM ET

'Breaking Bad' and the evil within us all

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN

(CNN) - The other day I was asked in a radio interview why I’m still a Christian. Since I’ve never been shy about writing through my questions and doubts, the interviewer wanted to know why I hang on to faith in spite of them.

I talked about Jesus—his life, teachings, death, resurrection, and presence in my life and in the world. I talked about how faith is always a risk, and how the story of Jesus is a story I’m willing to risk being wrong about.

And then I said something that surprised me a little, even as it came out of my own mouth:

“I’m a Christian,” I said, “because Christianity names and addresses sin.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about sin lately because like many Americans I’ve gotten hooked on “Breaking Bad” and am plotting ways to avoid any sort of social interaction on Sunday night so I can catch the first of the final eight episodes of the award-winning AMC series.

What I love about “Breaking Bad”—besides its gripping plotlines, flawless character development, pitch-perfect performances, and the unmatched chemistry between Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, is the way it traces teacher-turned-kingpin Walter White’s descent into total moral ignominy, one frighteningly relatable decision at a time.

5 questions 'Breaking Bad' must answer

Walter doesn’t start off with the goal of making millions and killing anyone who gets in his way. He just wants to survive at first. Then he wants to provide, then he wants to impress, then he wants to spite, then he wants to rule. His desires aren’t that different from yours or mine, really, and neither are his decisions.

In fact, Walter is at his most infuriating not when he’s cooking meth or even shooting a gun, but when he’s betraying a friend, indulging his vanity, engaging in truly staggering feats of self-deception, and using other people for personal gain … basically when he’s acting just like me on a given Tuesday morning.

Which brings me back to Christianity.

In Christianity, evil isn’t something that simply exists “out there” among thieves and murderers and meth makers. No, Christianity teaches the hard truth that the evil we observe in the world is also present within ourselves.

Racism, greed, misogyny, hatred, violence, inequity, selfishness, and pride all take shape within the human heart, so if we’re going to tackle injustice in the world, we have to start with ourselves. Christianity rejects the idea that we’re all okay.

The good news is that liberation comes not from climbing some holy ladder to try and escape sin on our own, nor from wallowing in shame and self-hatred because of it, but receiving the grace of God through Jesus and extending that grace to others.

This process begins with naming the evil within us and turning away from it—a process called repentance.

In one of the most riveting “Breaking Bad” scenes of all time, we see Jesse on the verge of such a moment as he indirectly confesses his most haunting transgression to his Narcotics Anonymous support group.

Unwilling to justify his sins like Walter, and desperate to stop numbing himself from them through drugs, Jesse gets frustrated with those in the group urging him to accept himself without judgment.

In a fit of frustration, Jesse cries, “So I should stop judging and accept? So no matter what I do, hurray for me, because I’m a great guy? It’s all good? What a load of crap …You know why I’m here in the first place? To sell you meth. You’re nothing to me but customers …You OK with that? You accept that?”

The group sits in stunned silence until the leader finally whispers, “No.”

I’ve heard from many addicts who say meetings like these are the closest thing they have to church because it’s the only place in the world where people tell the truth about themselves, even the ugly parts.

This is what the church calls confession.

Confession gives us the chance to admit to one another that we’re not OK and then to seek healing and reconciliation together, in community. It’s not about pointing out the sins of others, but acknowledging our shared brokenness, our shared capacity for destruction, our shared rebellion against what is beautiful and good.

I think this is one reason we find Walter White so compelling—and, for that matter, Dexter Morgan, Don Draper, and Piper Chapman. They may be meth dealers and serial killers and prison inmates, but what drives them isn’t all that different than what drives you and me.

Nor is the grace that would ultimately save us all.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Evans. 

Evans has written previously for CNN's Belief Blog, including: Why millennials are leaving the church; and Not all religious convictions are written in stone.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Opinion • TV

soundoff (1,137 Responses)
  1. Anne Lamont

    “You know you have a problem when God has all the same enemies that you do.”

    August 12, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      I think that should read "“You know you ARE a problem when God has all the same enemies that you do.”

      August 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • AE

      “You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

      Anne Lamont

      August 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  2. children of Israel

    Esau is monitoring Israel and his sons of Jacob. Jerusalem is ours and those Jewish devils will be destroyed out of it. The more they deny the truth, Jacob is with the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac. Heaven is coming to earth the Father's kingdom (Matthew 8:11)

    August 12, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • fintastic

      A big load of crapola

      August 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Colin

      Gozar is coming with his hoards of trudgealots. All ye who do good deeds and have red hair beware. Punishment awaits your toenails.

      August 12, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
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    August 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
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    August 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
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    August 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  6. flying spaghetti monster

    Anybody else see this story about a norther AZ family who bought a boat and decided to sail away in pursuit of "religious freedom", only to get horribly lost and wind up needing to be rescued in the middle of the ocean? It's a crackup.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/10/religious-family-lost-at-sea_n_3738010.html

    August 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      The really messed up part was that the US embassy sent them back to the US. Should have left them to their own devices.

      August 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
      • Saraswati

        I can't imagine Chile wanted them. If we go around leaving our riff-raff stranded in other people's countries I suspect we'll be unpopular.

        August 12, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Only incrementally more unpopular than we are already.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • PaulD

          I take it that you don't travel much; we're already unpopular out there in the world.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
        • Saraswati

          By unpopular I'm refering to visa policy. Countries that supply "overstayers" are usually penalized by a country with tougher visa requirements.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • Akira

        This family is very, very lucky.
        I find it ironic that the very government that they were supposedly running away from is paying their way home.

        I don't know why I see a bunker in their future...

        August 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        "Hannah Gastonguay said the family will now "go back to Arizona" and "come up with a new plan."

        It sounds like the old Disney movie about the family that escapes Germany in a balloon. Now they are back but they will try to escape once again! The problem is that in this case, no one wants them here anymore than they want to be here...

        August 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • GlendaPinkle

      Like everyone who goes out on such sea voyages, I think they should have had insurance to pay for the rescue, or be made to work it off. I don't mind my tax money rescuing people who happen to find themselves needing it, but when you intentionally go off like this, then it really should be your responsibility.

      August 12, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        But they don't think of it as going unprepared since they believe they were going with God. And all those that helped rescue them were just agents of this God so the family must assume they are being paid with God dollars...

        It is rather sad when they praise God for their rescue but forget about all the people who pay taxes that are used for emergency services or the emergency service people themselves. It was not God who hired them and signed their paychecks.

        August 12, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      So I think that this experience will probably reinforce their belief.
      "We prayed and Jesus saved us from the storm"
      Instead of
      "Man ... ok ... that was a really stupid thing to do ... we're lucky to be alive"

      August 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • Saraswati

        Yeah, people are pretty dumb...

        August 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
      • Ken

        Meanwhile, all the ones who pray to Jesus and still drown never have the opportunity to voice their disappointment in not being saved. Serves to create a rather one-sided view of the results, doesn't it?

        August 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • Saraswati

          I always think of our ability to understand, record and analyze statistics as one of the biggest revolutions in human history. Yet even many college graduates walk around with their heads in the cloud pronouncing that they "don't believe in statistics"...basing all their decision on what amount to the poorly collected sample of themselves and their close friends. It turns out to be one of the major divides between people who can deal with the knowledge of the modern world and those who can't.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
        • Ken

          I like to point out that, for every "miracle" out there, some poor guy ends up dying in the tanning bed, or while having a bunion removed. Just two ends of the same bell curve, right?

          August 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
        • Saraswati

          The "miracles" I'm tired of hearing about are the enormously premature babies that survive to great cheers and yet are never followed up on by the same media. A little more i nformation on how prematurity affects development would scare the cr@p out of parents considering risky pregnancies.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
        • Ken

          Saraswati
          True!

          August 12, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
      • Brother Maynard

        One could also argue that their journey failed because they DON'T have faith.
        "od wants you to prove your faith by swimming to that island. Because you took a boat means that your faith is lacking. Therefore God smote you"

        August 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
        • Saraswati

          Hannah said God was to guide them to where they belonged. Maybe they'll decide God wanted them to stay home. Or become spokespeople for safe boating?

          August 12, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Vic

      My take:

      Praise the Lord.

      I believe the Lord Jesus Christ most definitely answered their prayer by clearing up their misunderstanding and bringing them back home where true freedom really is.

      God Bless America

      August 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • midwest rail

        It will be interesting to see whether or not THEY see it that way.

        August 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
        • Vic

          I pray to the Lord they do. Amen.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
        • Colin

          Why do you think your prayers will have any more effect than their failed ones, Vic? Are you special somehow to your god, who favors your input over theirs?

          We are still all waiting for reproducible, testable evidence that prayer works. None seen yet.

          August 12, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
        • sam stone

          vic: if god has a plan, what is the point of prayer?

          at best, it does nothing.

          at worst, it is blasphemy. do you purport to know more than god?

          August 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
        • sam stone

          as usual, vic does not answer a question directly, or in this case not at all

          come on vic, if you have the intellectual honesty (it's a rhetorical question, you don't), answer the question

          if god has a plan, isn't asking god through prayer to change his plans blasphemous?

          do you purport to know better than god?

          August 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
      • sam stone

        my take: vic cannot win an argument with a 8 year old, that's why he parrots scripture. he feels it lends his drivel some credibility

        August 12, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      One of their complaints was paying taxes for services they disagreed with; strangely enough they didn't question tax dollars used to rescue them. And they were so close to winning a Darwin award.

      August 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  7. New Day

    I’m a Christian,” I said, “because Christianity names and addresses sin.”

    And I'm a Christian because of Christ.

    August 12, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • lamelionheart

      And I've got an envelope for you to address... You'll have to put your own stamp on it for to get it thru the proper channels...

      August 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • lamelionheart

      Test....

      August 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • PaulD

      Problem is that Christ is so terribly different from Jesus.

      August 12, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • Russ

        @ PaulD: from the EARLIEST sources we have on Jesus... (Mt.16)
        (note: Messiah is the Hebrew equivalent of Christ in the Greek)

        When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

        They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

        “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

        Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

        Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven..."

        August 12, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • Colin

          And then Frodo, Jesus, and Dumbledore sat down to smoke a big doob together...

          August 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Colin: you enjoying breakfast with Ricky Bobby again, Colin?

          August 12, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
        • Colin

          No, just reflecting your absurd statements back at you, Russ. Alas, I suppose you'll never get the subtlety therein.

          August 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
        • PaulD

          One can easily argue that the Jewish Messiah and the Christian Christ are two pretty much completely different things. The Jews were/are not expecting "Christ", the way most Christians see him.

          August 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Colin: absurd? which fact are you denying?
          a) that the Gospel accounts are the earliest source material we have
          b) that Matthew 16 reads as I quoted it

          again, both are virtually uncontested facts in the field of biblical scholarship.

          August 13, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • Russ

          @ PaulD: one can make any argument one wants, but that doesn't guarantee the argument has substance.

          just like Colin, you have several historical facts arrayed against your position:
          1) Jesus was a Jew (even Bart Ehrman, one of the most skeptical biblical scholars on the planet, recognizes the historical reality of the person of Jesus)
          2) virtually ALL of his first followers were Jews (after all, it began in Israel)
          3) MOST of the NT was written by Jews
          4) Jesus himself claimed the whole OT was about him (Lk.24:27,44; Jn.5:39-40)
          5) these Jews repeatedly & consistently quoted the OT as a basis not only for their hope in the Messiah (Jesus) but also as the reason for witnessing to the Gentiles (especially in the first half of Acts). seriously, just google OT in the NT & watch how many references pop up. if they weren't seeing Christ as a fulfillment of the OT, they sure had the strangest way of showing it.
          6) it is a clear strategy of these first Jews to go to the synagogues first & reach out to their own race by appealing to the OT BEFORE they go to Gentiles (again, read Acts)

          It is simply denying the historical reality of Christianity's inception to claim its not Jewish enough or that Jews were not looking for a messiah. If there was no hope for a Messiah, why are all these Jews following Jesus & calling him "Messiah"?

          And that's just the argument from WITHIN Christianity. You're also ignoring non-Christian authors (like Josephus) who talk about other supposed messianic claims in Israel. if – as you claim – there was no Jewish desire for a messiah, then why are there so many examples?

          August 13, 2013 at 9:35 am |
        • Ned

          Russ, your god is a fscking idiot if he expects reasonable, intelligent people to believe crazy old tales of the bible and won't produce clear modern evidence. Simply a complete fscking idiot. So where is your modern evidence that proves that your god story is true, and that all the thousands of others that differ from it are false?

          August 13, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      You are a Christian because in your community it is easier than to not.

      August 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • lamelionheart

        Sired Ma'am...

        Your stating that community is many Christian's reasoning is fully loaded bull..! Many folks come and go freely within Christendom's Gates... I was raised in my youth without Christian parents...

        I found my belief in God when I turned 33... Now 58, these last 23 years have grown me toward understanding the whereabouts of God's kingdom domains being more important then God's fables/stories depicting God's moralism and civilities which seem to scripturally change within each book of the many manly written differing variations of the biblical writings...

        Am I moral..? Yes... Am I civil..? I try to be...

        August 12, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "I found my belief in God when I turned 33..." Then you are the exception, not the rule. For most persons they belong to the same religious group their parents did and it most often matches what the majority of persons in their home town subscribe to. I think it is funny that you take such offense to something that is so blatantly apparent, I guess the truth hurts...

          August 12, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
        • My Dog is a jealous Dog

          Are you chock full of nuts? - you bet!

          August 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  8. lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

    Akira sayz,
    You have a problem with humility, lol??. As well as a problem with your posts staying up.

    Perhaps you're not as pithy as you fancy yourself to be.

    Pithiests get no respect. I'm gonna lobby for an Affirmative Action slot with the Diverse Beast.

    August 12, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Akira

      I'm glad you worship yourself. God will be pleased.

      August 12, 2013 at 10:38 am |
  9. hharri

    Although he was sinless, we know that he felt the same feelings we experience

    August 12, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • hharri

      What a god. What a friend

      August 12, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      I have never sinned either. Since I dont subscribe to your religion I dont have to believe in the tennants of it, including sin.

      August 12, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
      • lamelionheart

        Sired Badger...

        If you don't believe in Christian tenants then why are you always making a fuss over what Christians dare believe..? It seems to me that your waywardness seeks obligatory rationalisms to keep afloat upon the dismalness of preamble's fortuitousness... Your individualistic wraths against any Christian's worded phraseologies are tempered by remedial awkwardness and blame laying unkindness...

        Likewise there are many a Christian that lays heavily uncaring insults meant to bolster their own self-worthiness ideals... I find your uncanny claims equally unsettling the same way I see Christians that dabble in unjust resolutions proclamations mentioning as being adversarial chomping at the bit synopsis of dire flagellums ...

        August 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
        • sam stone

          it's not because you have the beliefs, lameloin, it is because you inbred fvcks want to legislate those beliefs

          August 12, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Ken

      "Feelings" like lust and rage?

      August 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • hharri

      A friend of sinners, indeed. Only the self-righteous hated him

      August 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
      • PaulD

        The self-righteous today is the Christian Right, however.

        August 12, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  10. hharri

    Having never sinned, I imagine his body was incredibly healthy and strong.

    August 12, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I've also never sinned and I'm healthy and strong.

      August 12, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Akira

      Fantasizing about Jesus's 6-pack abs? Surely you have better things to do.

      August 12, 2013 at 10:42 am |
      • PaulD

        [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9t6G14Exgq0&w=640&h=360]

        😆

        August 12, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
        • Akira

          Lol...thanks!

          August 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • PaulD

          The youtube disappeared. Heretics!

          August 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
        • PaulD

          Oh, there it it. Miracle!

          August 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Ponyboy Garfunkel

      My understanding is that simply having an improper thought is a sin. If he "felt the same feelings we feel," it seems likely that he too committed thought crime.

      August 12, 2013 at 11:24 am |
      • Ken

        If Jesus really had been "tempted" by the devil, then he also had "improper thoughts", even if he never actually acted on them, correct?

        August 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          Also, didnt jesus tell people to hate their parents? If that is true then shouldnt he hate his? He also said that if you hate in your heart it is the same murder, so then jesus has committed murder and sinned.

          End of story.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • Ken

          In fairness, I think he was just telling his followers to drop their feelings of love and duty towards their parents, wives, and children. Instead of "love" them by remaining home and taking care of them, to "hate" them, drop everything, forget about supporting others and follow him in his quest.

          Still, hardly the "family values" guy they like to make him out to be, eh?

          August 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  11. hharri

    There is rejoicing among the angels when a sinner confesses and turns to god

    August 12, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      There is rejoicing amongst the Thetans when a suppressive person becomes Clear.

      August 12, 2013 at 10:41 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        And you get to meet Tom Cruise (if that floats your boat. Personally, I'm not attracted to 50 year old midgets).

        August 12, 2013 at 10:49 am |
        • lamelionheart

          Mighty "Tall" of you... 😳

          August 12, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      Is it to my advantage that angeles rejoice?

      August 12, 2013 at 11:01 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        Everything isn't about you Maynard

        August 12, 2013 at 11:05 am |
        • tallulah13

          But why should we care whether angels (or thetans) rejoice? Why is it any of our business? Packers fans rejoice when Green Bay wins, but it has no bearing on my reality.

          August 12, 2013 at 11:21 am |
        • Brother Maynard

          BD sez:
          "Everything isn't about you Maynard"
          I wouldn't argue ... everything is NOT about me
          However the original post from hharri references 'sinner', a single individual. I am just expanding on the original statement
          IF hharri said 'sinners' plural Id ask
          Is it to the advantage of my city/ state/ country/ society that angels rejoice?

          August 12, 2013 at 11:30 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          Well, the reason the phrase is singular is to demonstrate that the redemption of each and every single sinner is a noteworthy event for the heavenly hosts. Whereas, with few exceptions, angels are referred to in the collective, we are each called by name. We are unique. This is the theology that informs the dignity of man inherent in the teachings of Christianity that result in the right to life movement and the various themes strung together as "dignity of persons" .

          The rejoicing is the jubilant exultation of the victory of the Lamb. All honor and glory are His and His alone.

          One need not be a particular team fan to appreciate the sport just as one need not be an arborist to appreciate the changing of the leaves. I would think even a die hard atheist, though perhaps not an anti-theist, could appreciate a positive life changing event in a downtrodden person.

          August 12, 2013 at 11:39 am |
        • Brother Maynard

          So - correct me if I'm wrong - the 'advantage' that I get is that I achieve dignity. right ?
          Why didn't hharri ( or any believer ) just say?
          "When you follow the rules of society, you achieve self-dignity ( for lack of better term ) "
          Why inject "angels" into the mix?

          August 12, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • MandaMoo

          Bill says:
          "This is the theology that informs the dignity of man inherent in the teachings of Christianity that result in the right to life movement and the various themes strung together as “dignity of persons”.

          No mention of abortion in the Bible.

          “I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking. If all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed, and why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of what pro-life is.”

          – Sister Joan Chittister

          August 12, 2013 at 11:57 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          I'll say you're wrong. You don't gain dignity by your redemption. You have inherent dignity as a child of God, created in his image. For this reason, you are loved and worthy to be redeemed. Sin could be described as those thoughts and actions by which you have diminished that dignity. The joy of the angels is that the Word has not returned void.

          August 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Agreed Mandamoo. If you're one of those people who needs line by line instruction form the Bible in order to comprehend Christian teaching, I fell sorry about that. However, the complete Catholic teaching on the right to life and,as I have generalized, the dignity of persons, is consistent with the good sisters statement.

          August 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Sorry Maynard I just saw that you used the term "self-dignity" I have no idea what that means. Is that like "self-esteem"? To me "self" terms are just that; they extend only as far as the self.

          August 12, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
        • MandaMoo

          "ou’re one of those people who needs line by line instruction form the Bible in order to comprehend Christian teaching, I fell sorry about that."

          How very patronizing of you. Well done.

          I am just saying that those who say abortion bans are Biblically based are full of it.

          I agree with the good Sister's statement, also. However, you HAVE to admit that there are those who don't care about the dignity of personhood once the fetus leaves the birth canal.
          Or, maybe you don't admit it. No matter. It's true.

          August 12, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
        • Brother Maynard

          "Sorry Maynard I just saw that you used the term "self-dignity" I have no idea what that means. Is that like "self-esteem"?
          To me "self" terms are just that; they extend only as far as the self."

          so are you saying that having self-dignity and or self-esteem ( for sake of arguement I'll consider them the same thing ), is selfish?
          And if so wouldn't that contradict the '[appriciation of the] positive life changing event in a downtrodden person.'

          August 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Mandymoo,if you don't want to be condescended to then don't make dumb statements. The anti-abortion themes of the Bible are well supported. Only a liar or an idiot would think otherwise, despite whatever selected verse you'll post next. While I agree with you that some people are selective in their acceptance of Catholic teaching, that doesn't diminish the complete catechism on the dignity of life. So. if you want to argue with me or Sister Joan, argue about the complete package. Not the fact that some people don't adhere to it.

          Maynard, Essentially I am saying that one's self image is ultimately inconsequential. While it might feel nice to have a positive self portrayal, what counts in eternity is God's judgement. God has determined that we are worthy of love and salvation. Hence, by his grace we are redeemed. If you do things in your life that make you fell better about yourself, well good for you. But, that doesn't impact the view of the Most Holy. In fact, our best works are like filthy rags in His sight and yet, while we were still his enemies, he loved us unto the cross.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          The bible is clearly pro-abortion. Here are some examples:

          "13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.” 2 Samuel 12:13,14

          "16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had se xual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having se xual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.” Numbers 5:16-22

          "15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. 16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished. 17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. 18 Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children." Isaiah 13:15-18

          "23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys." 2 Kings 2:23,24 (very late term abortions...)

          August 12, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
        • Colin

          Bill Deacon says "then don't make dumb statements". Oh, the delicious irony.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • MandaMoo

          Oh, so an absolutely true statement is now dumb?
          Not everyone is Catholic, and not everyone follows the Catholic Catechism.
          You are extremely arrogant, and you need some lessons in humility.
          I pray that you are knocked down a peg or two very soon; were I on the fence about my faith, I would run the other way, if this is what Catholicism turns one into.
          You are quite incorrigible, aren't you? I am neither a liar or an idiot, but you are a pompous ass.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
        • Jeremiah Johnson

          MandaMoo, BD is a gigantic hypocrite. What he doesn't tell you is that one of his own spawn was aborted. He's hardly an impartial observer. You'll learn like the rest of us has: he's a condescending hypocritical prick. Save yourself the trouble and don't engage.

          August 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          Let's not forget the biggest plan ever to be aborted...

          "6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” Genesis 6:6,7

          August 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
        • Akira

          Personally, I haven't met a person yet who has changed their position on a subject through patronization and condescension, although I will admit the possibility that someone like that exists.
          For me, however, that would be dumb.

          August 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  12. AverageJoe76

    Maybe 'sin' itself needs to be re-defined:
    1a : an offense against religious or moral law
    b : an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible c : an often serious shortcoming : fault
    2a : transgression of the law of God
    b : a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God

    Oooo – I really like that.... "a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God". Gives me the goosebumps. But maybe mankind has been too hard on himself, hmm? There are some 'sins' that are almost unavoidable. Isn't masturbation a sin of sorts? I'm pretty sure it's not looked upon favorably by religion, but it should. It's the safest there is.

    August 12, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Sin = Abrahamist too of oppression.

      August 12, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Should say tool.

        August 12, 2013 at 10:26 am |
        • AverageJoe76

          In the end, yes, it's about control. Controlling the behaviors of others. Then they say you've been given 'free will'. Yes, 'free' to obey (sigh), because you really don't want to suffer eternally in a lake of fire. And then they got the nerve to box you in as soon as your BORN for cryin out loud! You've sinned the first breath you took.... you sin-sinny lil' newborn! You got that cursed blood of Adam running through your vains. Makes you wonder why God still makes these defective products called, 'humans'.

          August 12, 2013 at 10:40 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          That's a question I have also. Why does Yahweh refuse to pay for some extra manpower in the quality control section of his human factory? And why punish the product? It's not my fault I'm defective.

          August 12, 2013 at 10:46 am |
      • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

        How can you be so upside down?? Abe was just livin' in the country minding his own business, not like those city slickers in S&G.

        August 12, 2013 at 10:31 am |
  13. I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

    Has anybody seen this bullsh!t? Judicial power is ridiculous sometimes. Is this the Land of the Free or Home to the Enslaved? Hopefully a higher court will overturn this ridiculous ruling. If not, we may as well pledge our allegiance to Kim Jong Un.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/tenn-judge-childs-messiah-19931569

    August 12, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Saraswati

      Wow...I'd love to see this judge lose his job but these backwoods southern judges are often serving in elected positions where people believe in mob rule.

      August 12, 2013 at 9:48 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        It was a female judge.

        August 12, 2013 at 9:51 am |
        • Saraswati

          Then her job. Lu Ann Ballew, I see.

          August 12, 2013 at 10:16 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Never met a Lu Ann who wasn't a hill-billy. It's the female equivalent to Billy Bob.

          August 12, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • Akira

        I suspect that this "judge" will be overturned. As she should be.
        This is complete and utter baloney. There are kids named Jesus, for goodness sake.
        I had no idea that the name was the fourth most popular in 2012, however.
        Neighbors down the street named their daughter "Islam" ten years ago. Their oldest son is names "Muhammad". I haven't see any blowback from that...

        August 12, 2013 at 10:04 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          It's not fourth most popular, it's fourth fastest growing. To be honest, I've never met anybody called Messiah. Excuse the generalization, but I presume it's a name used in the black community.

          August 12, 2013 at 10:10 am |
        • Akira

          Ah, yes, you're right. 4th fastest growing. And I don't think you're off the mark with the generalization; in fact I suspect that may have had something to do with the "judge's" ruling...although I sincerely hope not.

          August 12, 2013 at 10:15 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Well, it's either that, her religious beliefs or both. Either way, it's a terribly unsound basis for a decision. Not that there should be a decision to make. Since when did we start legally changing children's names against their parent's consent?

          August 12, 2013 at 10:22 am |
        • Akira

          Well, there was Ellis Island; they did that a lot back in the day.
          Although that was generally last names.

          She definitely overstepped her authority.

          August 12, 2013 at 10:35 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          That was all consensual, with a mild bit of coercion. "You can change your last name or you can get back on the boat". Overall, I'd say they got a good deal.

          Seriously though, what concerns me also is how exactly this ended up in front of a judge in the first place. Who referred a case of 'a strange name' to the judiciary? It's frightening.

          August 12, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Saraswati

          Dave, I think the parents had a dispute over the other names and the judge just changed this one, too.

          August 12, 2013 at 11:28 am |
        • Akira

          Not knowing more, I would say that Dad took Mom to court to get his name put on the BC, which takes a court order, at least where I live.

          August 12, 2013 at 11:39 am |
        • Robert Brown

          If I heard correctly there was a custody dispute involved in this mess. They played a brief sound bite of the judge speaking she said something like "there has only ever been one Mesiah and his name was Jesus Christ."

          To that I say, Praise his holy name. Ya'll have a great day.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
        • Akira

          Indeed, Robert Brown; however, the judge clearly overstepped her authority, and violated the separation of church and state. She has no say in what one wants to name their child.
          The dispute wasn't over the first name, anyhow.
          She was clearly out of line, whatever one's religious persuasion is.
          If the parents wanted to name their child God, they are perfectly withing their right to do so.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
      • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

        "Help M.(e) Unknown" sounds cool. Doesn't say what dad's name is. He ain't important. I say cut the kid in half.

        August 12, 2013 at 10:19 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Oh wise Solomon.

          August 12, 2013 at 10:23 am |
        • Akira

          Lol?? isn't that wise; it states clearly in the article that "The judge in eastern Tennessee said the baby was to be named Martin DeShawn McCullough, which includes both parents' last name."

          August 12, 2013 at 10:29 am |
        • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

          Akira,
          article sayz, ".............The boy's mother, Jaleesa Martin,........................"

          Tell me, is dad DeShawn OR McCullough??

          August 12, 2013 at 10:46 am |
        • Akira

          Clearly it's DeShawn, and the judge just pulled McCullough out of her ass.

          August 12, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • MandaMoo

          Akira, lol.

          August 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Saraswati

      As a twist on this stroy, in Malaysia they passed a law banning certain types of names. The probelm there was that when your horoscope predicted certain pronlems, parents would tryto alter fate by calling their children things like 'Stinky' or 'Idiot'. This could be a real problem for the child later, so I can see that point. The problem for me is whether or not you can draw a line.

      August 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  14. God

    Professor Dumbledore!

    August 12, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  15. Agnostickids

    “I’m a Christian,” I said, “because Christianity names and addresses sin.”

    Indeed, christianity has named and addressed sin with violence, bigotry and hatred since (and before) the inquisition. Uh oh for anybody that dares to NOT believe in the mythological jesus.

    Yet another article by another sociopathic christian.

    August 12, 2013 at 9:07 am |
  16. Matthew Gaither

    Great piece! We're all capable of great evil and all in need of great grace. I can think of only one who has that great grace and it is to Him that we must look.

    August 12, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Ned Flanders?

      August 12, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Agnostickids

      Harry Potter?

      August 12, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • Jesus the Christ

      Speak for yourself Mathew Gaither, we are NOT all capable of evil. Some of us have a conscience without having to be told about it by another man-made religion.

      August 12, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • AE

      Matt, I agree!

      August 12, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • tallulah13

      We are all capable of great evil, sure. But if you need supernatural threats and promises in order to reject that impulse, then you really aren't a good person. You're just a feral dog on a leash.

      Why not try what millions of humans do every day? Just choose not to hurt others. Choose to get along with your neighbors and friends. Choose to work for the good of humanity and your planet. You don't need a god for these things. Just basic compassion and empathy.

      August 12, 2013 at 10:19 am |
      • AE

        - But if you need supernatural threats and promises in order to reject that impulse, then you really aren't a good person. You're just a feral dog on a leash.–

        I think the good news is that God forgives us. And with Jesus Christ we have power to not give in to evil.

        If by supernatural threat and promises you mean hell and heaven, that is not what entirely motivates me in following Jesus Christ.

        August 12, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • tallulah13

          Yet I have done nothing that requires such overblown measures in order to be forgiven. I have done my best to make amends to those that I have harmed. Anything else is nothing more than toadying to a supernatural being in order to gain a reward.

          August 12, 2013 at 11:26 am |
        • AE

          What if you can't live up to your own standards? For someone like you, it may not be a problem. But there are many people that struggle with this. It may manifest itself as hypocrisy and can be so overwhelming the person is not even aware.

          For me, having Jesus Christ to follow I have a clear standard to follow. And if I fail, I have an understanding community to turn to for help.

          August 12, 2013 at 11:36 am |
        • G to the T

          AE – I don't anyone would say having a positive role-model is a bad thing. But that's a LONG ways from saying that role-model was god-made-flesh.

          August 12, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
        • Saraswati

          AE, I think an interesting way yo look at that question is at a societal level, considering whether the issue in our modern world is self-limiting. To over simplify your question, we can look specifically at people with diagnosable impulse control disorders. These are people who need some sort of help to regulate their behavior. Given both the current importance of female mate selectivity and the likelihood of people with impulse control disorders ending up in jail, on drugs or dead, we can guess that males, at least, are likely to be both less available and less desirable mates under these conditions. What's interesting, however, is that this is not necessarily the case for females, who's impulses are generally less violent so less likely to lead to death or jail. There is also far less selectivity among het eros exual males in mating partners. The only place where I can see impulse control might limit female reproduction is when it impacts eating behavior and leads to either obesity or compulsive food limitation, both of which make one less fertile, and possibly a less appealing mate.

          August 12, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
        • sam stone

          Speaking for god again, are we AE?

          August 12, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        Three demons discussing the problem of Christianity:

        1st demon: Let's tell them there is no heaven. With no reward, Christianity will collapse.

        2nd demon: No! Let's tell them there is no hell. With no punishment, they won't follow Christ.

        3rd Demon: Even better, let's tell them there is no hurry.....

        August 12, 2013 at 11:08 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          4th Demon: Let's just side with Odin. He'd kick Yahweh's ass all the way down to Funkytown.

          August 12, 2013 at 11:11 am |
        • tallulah13

          Actually Bill, that's just you talking to yourself.

          August 12, 2013 at 11:27 am |
        • G to the T

          5th Demon – let's appear before one of the persecutors of this new cult and convince him we are Jesus arisen. Then he'll lead all the jews away from god and ensure that all the gentiles never have a chance to follow god's laws...

          August 12, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Thank you Bill for a prime example of how religious people perpetuate their own delusional myths with self-affirming rhetoric. Well done.

          August 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          6th Demon..."Let's convince them that 'Faith' is a virtue."

          August 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
        • sam stone

          without heaven, hell or guilt christianity will collapse

          as far as time goes, your comment reminds me of the ads on television......"act now before it's too late"

          they have about the same amount of credibility, too

          August 12, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
        • sam stone

          also, bill, if people have to be threatened into belief, what is the value of that belief, other than snivelling sycophantry?

          August 12, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
        • sam stone

          bill.....how is it moral to allow someone else to take the punishment you feel you deserve?

          not only do christians do so, they brag about it......"jesus died for MY sins"

          without guilt, christianity is dead in the water

          August 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  17. yourfilthypcdotcom

    When a religious nut starts talking about their favorite delusion, I ignore it. It is meaningless babble based upon tribal fairy tales.
    If they want to sound intelligent, babbling about nonsense is not the way to go about it. Talk about something real for once you idiots!

    August 12, 2013 at 6:13 am |
    • nclaw441

      yourfilthy– You say that you ignore comments from Christians, but you bothered to file a post. I don't think that is ignoring the story.

      August 12, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      If they want to talk about their deity of preference, good luck to 'em. I find discussing religion more interesting than small-talk anyway.

      August 12, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Whatever problem you think you’re solving by your rage comics and rants, you’re not.

      When a CNN Faith & Belief Blog atheist nut starts talking about their favorite hatred about religion, I ignore it. It is meaningless babble based upon getting riled up into frothing-at-the-mouth ideological stupor so they can feel guiltlessly self-righteous for the rest of the day.
      If they want to sound intelligent, just saying things to feel superior over other people is not the way to go. There’s no respect or pragmatism, just bottomless, never-ending hate.

      August 12, 2013 at 9:16 am |
      • Richard Cranium

        I do not hate, I am just baffled by otherwise relatively intelligent people, that want proof for so many things, but will blindly accept one possibility as being the correct philosophical view out of the myriad of other possibilities.

        Asking questions of faith is not hate. Disputing false truths espoused as truth is not hate. Disagreeing is not hate.

        August 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • sam stone

        the pious blathering christian does the same

        August 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  18. tony

    If Adam and Eve hadn't eaten apples, then there would be no religion or churches. We'd all be perfect, good, happy and in direct contact with god. And every church leader would be out of job.

    Thank god that terrible situation never happened 🙂

    August 11, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • sam stone

      "out of a job"?

      if churches did not exist, there would be no job to be out of

      August 12, 2013 at 5:37 am |
    • Jesus the Christ

      Indeed. If Eve cast men out of the grace of god by eating an apple....

      What would she have done for a Klondike bar?

      August 12, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • G to the T

      No apples. Proper translation is "fruit" – most like a fig (hence the leaves).

      August 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  19. Colin

    Does anybody know another blog where believers and atheists can debate? This CNN site has degenerated. There isn't a believer with half a brain left on here.

    August 11, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • AE

      The layout (and intended purpose) of this board doesn't work well for debates. Patheos.com covers a wide spectrum of beliefs and a variety of points of views that foster good discussions, and some good debates.

      Is reddit debate forum any good?

      August 11, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
      • Colin

        thanks. Don't know about reddit.

        August 11, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
        • AE

          I checked out Reddit last night. The debate forums look interesting – at least it is moderated and allows for people to give points. I hate to say this, but, you would probable fair well in that kind of situation.

          August 11, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
        • AE

          http://www.reddit.com/r/DebateAnAtheist

          August 11, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Sue

      Colin, expecting a believer to have as much as half a brain is expecting too much.

      As the sign at that church door said, "Evangelical church. Leave brain outside before entering."

      August 11, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
      • VanHagar

        Colin, its been a long while since I posted. I think Susan just answered your question...we mostly got tired of the inane insutls

        August 11, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
        • VanHagar

          that would be insults

          August 11, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Reality

      Colin,

      Might want to look at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/religion/. I have found that it takes forever to get your comments approved and posted and the 250 word restriction limits debate severely. There is however a lot of traffic. And I believe there is a word/fragment filter as part of the moderation.

      The Washington Post has a religion blog called On Faith. It once had most of the contemporary religion scholars on their panel but few of these experts make comments anymore. Bezos will probably eliminate it in his house cleaning.

      August 12, 2013 at 12:24 am |
      • Reality

        Colin,

        On Faith's panel members are listed at http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/on_faith_panelists.html. Again very few of these members contribute to said blog anymore. Why is that? Probably because Sally Quinn is the editor.

        August 12, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Colin, the problem will always be that often Atheist automatically dismiss someone who has a Faith in God or Gods as not being educated or reasonable. What are the factors that you are looking for in a person to counter point , point, counter point.

      August 12, 2013 at 1:08 am |
    • G to the T

      I'd recommend "ex-christian.net". But be sure to gird your loins first!

      August 12, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  20. lamelionheart

    Just finished watching Dr Gupta's Weed.... Excellent take..!

    August 11, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      It was very educational. When you hear the stories of how the plant works to assist in such major issues such as the little girls seizures or the cancer patients nausea/pain, it sheds a different light on it. The tax dollar potential is high; the money saved by not imprisoning pot dealers/users is high; the benefits of hemp as a bio-fuel and replacement for the numerous tree's cut down yearly is high. Like anything else, alcohol; tobacco, there will be abusers but no-one has ever died as a result of using pot. I think the positives outweigh the negatives here.

      August 12, 2013 at 11:10 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.