by Bil Aulenbach

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historical Jesus

“One Minute After You Die”

I was on my way to my spin class when I saw a pamphlet entitled “One Minute after You Die” on the ground. I picked it up and read it. Yikes!

It promised that one minute after I die, I’ll “either be enjoying a personal welcome from Christ or catching [my] first glimpse of gloom as [I] have never known it.”

Reality says that one minute after I die, I will start to decompose, and nobody will welcome me to the afterlife.… Read more >

Church Ladies

I subscribe to the Monastic Way, a monthly newsletter published by Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun from Erie, Pennsylvania. Sister Joan is progressive, a writes prolifically, supports prison ministries, and travels around the world making the good news good and women relevant.

The July 2018 issue of the Monastic Way was about Mary of Magdala.… Read more >

Jesus the Handyman

The thrust of my ministry since the late 1980s has figuring out who the historical Jesus was. This is not easy because the New Testament mostly records the writers’ biases, not historical facts. Consequently, I’m constantly looking for information about what life was like back in Jesus’s time so I can place him into that context.… Read more >

Hole or No Hole?

In a previous blog post entitled “Mother Teresa and Doubting Thomas,” my editor included a painting by Caravaggio of Doubting Thomas sticking his fingers deep into the chest wound of the “resurrected” Jesus (also shown here). When my editor first showed me the picture, I thought that it seemed a little morbid, but when I looked again, I saw an opportunity for a blog post.… Read more >

Embellishing an Embellishment

The festival of Epiphany, derived from a Greek word that means “an appearance or manifestation,” always falls on January 6 in the church’s liturgical calendar. Epiphany is the occasion when Followers remember the story of the wise men who supposedly came from afar to recognize Jesus as the King of kings.… Read more >

Jesus—the Spoiled Brat

According to one early gospel, the boy Jesus does not sound like a very nice person. I’m glad he wasn’t my neighbor or playmate when I was a kid!

Let me share a couple of stories about this mean-tempered, foul-mouthed Jesus when he was five. Jesus was out playing by himself when a neighbor boy came by and watched Jesus build little water ponds in the ground.… Read more >

Unwed Mothers

In the late 1960s, Annie and I had three young daughters ages two, four, and six. The middle one was severely deaf with very limited vision only in her left eye, as well as a rather long list of other challenges. She was a high maintenance child. Annie also found that being the wife of a clergyman demanded her involvement with the parish.… Read more >

How the Early Church Got Rid of Jesus

Happy Belated Ascension Day. This always happens forty days after Easter and this year was on Thursday May 25. Many Christians don’t know anything about an ascension. Interestingly, neither Paul nor the authors of Mark, Matthew, Peter, or John ever mention it. Only Luke and Acts (written by the same author) allude to such an event.… Read more >

Who Was the World’s Most Famous Oenologist?

I suspect some of my readers aren’t quite so sure about the word oenologist.

How does one say an o and an e together? Is it pronounced o, then enologist? Do folks just forget the o sound and simply say or write enologist? I do the latter. It’s easier! Anyway, an enologist studies and masters the very sophisticated art of making wine.… Read more >