Credentials and Availability
Click Here to buy Sheila's Book
Sins of Faith
INTELLECTUALS ARE STILL NEGLECTED SHEEP
American Christianity's lack of intellectual heft results from a strategic
seduction of the masses to mute deep thought. This "dumbing down of faith"
eclipses underlying metaphysical truths. Intellectuals need a more
sophisticated conceptual framework - like quantum physics.
TEILHARD DE CHARDIN'S THEOLOGY OF EVOLUTION
French Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin, censored and silenced by
the Vatican, became the 20th century's leading Catholic intellectual.
His life's work was to bridge science and religion by presenting purposeful
evolution toward perfected humanity.
DEMYTHOLOGIZING RELIGION WITH JOSEPH CAMPBELL
Applying Joseph Campbell's eclectic wealth of knowledge from the world's
mythic database, one can "deconstruct" cultural legends and biblical myths,
such as the creation story, virgin birth, sibling murder, the serpent and
GOD USES BEAUTY AS DANTE USED BEATRICE
According to Plato, beauty is primary among the Transcendentals of Being.
Two poems reflect a view of God's use of beauty in woman as a lure to the
transcendent. "The Eternal Feminine" by Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin and
"The Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri.
ABSOLUTE NOTHINGNESS AND THE ABSENCE OF MEANING
This personal evolution from belief to disbelief is a coming-out party of
consciousness -- an atheist's spin on 1 Cor 13:11-12. A full-belly
Buddha laugh bursts through the sheltering metaphors of faith's ambiguity
through insights from quantum physics and chaos theory.
AN APPRECIATION OF CLASSICAL ISLAM
Islam's purely abstract monotheism countered the trinitarian God of the
Christians and the nationalistic faith of tje Jews and yet combined the
unconditional monotheism of Judaism with the universalism of Christianity.
For this, the fastest-growing world religion deserves some respect.
ISLAM'S BRILLIANT ERA WAS OUR DARK AGES
The West's classical heritage is due to Muslim scholars who translated the
corpus of Greek philosophy, science, and mathematics into Arabic.
Baghdad's 8th century House of Wisdom was an immense library and translation
center. The Renaissance owes its flourishing to Islam's once
HOW MESOPOTAMIA BECAME IRAQ
The Allied Powers drew the Middle East's boundaries in the peace
settlement of World War I that brought "a just and lasting war." With
the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, British and French imperialists disposed
of Arab and Turkish territories to suit themselves.
HOW ZOROASTRIAN PERSIA BECAME SHIITE IRAN
Ancient Persia was the world's first religiously tolerant empire under Kings
Cyrus and Darius. Its religion of Zoroastrianism had the greatest
influence on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. British, Russian, and
American interests have since manipulated this land's strategic resources.
SUNNIS AND SHIITES: THE ORIGIN OF ISLAM'S
A conflict of succession amidst tribal rivalry centered on whether to base
leadership on merit (Sunnis) or on heredity (Shiites) -- both are true
Muslim. Islam, like Judaism, is a religion of orthopraxy that requires
certain practices, unlike the orthodoxy of Christianity that proscribes
FUNDAMENTALISM IS THE PROBLEM: CHRISTIAN AND
The Most dangerous aspect of fundamentalism is its claim on absolute
truth, which seduces the young, uneducated, poor, and dispossessed.
Fundamentalism is a planetary phenomenon that rebels against modernity and
tends to emerge in disorganized times and places.
DECONSTRUCTING BIBLICAL LITERALISM: IN BRIEF
What biblical scholars call "higher textual criticism" arrived 300 years
ago, but ministers still haven't clued in their congregations. They
need courage to say that "certain positions are nonsense." Scholars
use forensic evidence from linguistics and archeology to find meaning.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST OLD TESTAMENT LITERALISM: IN
The "documentary source hypothesis" is the most accepted theory to explain
repetition, contradictions, and anachronisms within Hebrew Scripture.
Multiple editors drew from multiple sources among Babylonian, Assyrian,
Canaanite, and Egyptian material to weave a covenant theology.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST NEW TESTAMENT LITERALISM:
The midrash style of Jewish sacred storytelling was used by gospel writers
to advocate for Jesus as the expected Messiah: a motive in service to
faith, not history. No original gospel manuscripts exist, only copies
of copies into which crept scribal errors, biased commentary, and competing
HOW AN UNWED PREGNANT TEEN BECAME MOTHER OF GOD
Belief in the virgin birth of Jesus (virginal conception, more accurately)
is rooted in mistranslation of Jewish prophecy and accommodation to
Greco-Roman myths. Matthew and Luke's gospels are the only sources --
and they contradict -- but Matthew hints at a sexual scandal.
GNOSTICISM'S CHALLENGE TO ORTHODOXY
Second century scrolls found in clay jars in a cave in Egypt revealed a
dualistic, transcendent nihilism characterized by alienation from the world
and spiritual redemption through self-enlightenment. Competing with
the "master story" of the emerging institutional church, gnostics were
denounced as heretics.
FOURTH CENTURY HERESY AGAINST THE TRINITY
The doctrine of the trinity had its roots in first century Palestine,
where Christianity was born amidst Jewish culture and Greek influence.
A historic debate orchestrated by Emperor Constantine shows linguistic
hair-splitting as the most gymnastic of intellectual sports.
HEAVEN AND HELL: EVOLUTION OF A BELIEF
All higher mythologies and religions of the world divide the unity of the
Absolute into antagonistic pairs. These powerful metaphors indicate
the seriousness of moral choices. They are not literally anything but
they are theologically potent.
THE LADY, THE WITCH, AND THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
Three concurrent views on woman as lady, witch, and virgin reflect the
medieval church's own distortions in an intriguing synchronicity of the
courtly lady, the persecuted witch, and the sinless virgin mother.
Each unbalanced view spawned another in counterpoint.
NOAH, GILGAMESH, AND THE BLACK SEA FLOOD
Neither a myth nor the revealed word of God, the flood story in Genesis --
and other flood legends around the world -- reflects a cultural memory of a
catastrophic flood in the Middle Stone Age. Two marine geologists
document this theory from twenty years of deep-water archeology.
THE MUCH MALIGNED MARY MAGDALENE
Nowhere in the New Testament is Mary Magdalene a reformed prostitute.
Rather, she is the faithful apostle at the crucifixion, the burial, and the
empty tomb. She fell victim to the emerging institutional church's
male prejudice -- even the Vatican admitted such in 1969.
AN ASSESSMENT OF THE PONTIFICATE OF JOHN PAUL II
Biographical facts on the first nonItalian pope in half a millennium explain
his authoritarian conservatism that eclipsed the tradition of episcopal
collegiality. Despite advocating for social justice and human rights,
his pontificate failed the worst scandal in modern Catholicsm.
THOMAS MERTON'S LAST TALK: BANGKOK, 1968
American Trappist monk Thomas Merton broke his vows of silence and stability
to attend an international conference on monasticism. His talk got a
poor reception. It was the sixties; he was an Aquarian, quoting Marx
and Marcuse. More's the pity, as he died immediately after.
ETHICS OF CITIZENSHIP FROM A NADER RAIDER
David and Goliath is the template for Ralph Nader's battles with corporate
America. As the country's foremost consumer advocate, his organization
is called Public Citizen, because only citizen initiatives as "applied
ethics" can successfully counter greed, fraud, and abuse.
JUST-WAR PRINCIPLES OF AUGUSTINE
The roots of the just war tradition begin with Augustine, 4th century Bishop
of Hippo, North Africa. Augustine argued that only a just cause,
legitimate authority, and right intention together could overrule the use of
force for the sake of preserving peace.
OF CHURCH-STATE SEPARATION
The Establishment Clause of the Bill of Rights and the Free Exercise Clause
of the U. S. Constitution protect freedom of religion in America. Yet
church membership has evolved into a belief in the value of belief, which
encroaches on the neutrality of others.
SUPREME COURT ON DISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM
When religious fervor fuses with nationalism, civil liberty is
endangered, escalating cases before the Supreme Court. Indeed,
vigilance is needed to protect separation of church and state as
"disestablishment" is America's unique contribution among world governments.
WHY NOT FEMALE PRIESTS?
Impediments against ordaining women derive from tradition, scripture,
sacramental theology, and canon law--though not persuasively. The
reasoning is rooted in an archaic mindset used by a patriarchal power base
to retain its prerogatives.