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Tony Jones


Do you know a good place to hunt pheasant? Tony Jones would like to know about it.

Jones, an author and theologian, is this year's speaker for the 17th annual Faith & Life Series set for Sunday, Nov. 13, at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport.

"Jesus' Crucifixion — The Ultimate Political Act," is at 4 p.m. This lecture is free and open to the community.

Jones is also a passionate hunter, and picked up the sport as an adult. Hunting and being outdoors makes him feel close to God, he wrote in a recent newspaper article.

In fact, Jones went duck hunting and preached in North Dakota in October, and in addition to Iowa on Nov. 13, is set to pheasant hunt in South Dakota and preach in December.

Hunting trips are typically hosted by a local enthusiast and church member, who knows the best spots.

Jones, described as a provocative voice in Christianity, has recently published his 14th book, "Did God Kill Jesus?" This was an outgrowth of his former blog and an e-book.

The resident of Edina, Minn., spent two years researching the book. He is currently discussing it in places like Davenport, and on television shows like "Morning Joe" with host Joe Scarborough. 

Jones is concerned about young people, those from Generation X and millennials, who don't have a church affiliation. This was brought out in a 2015 report from Pew Research Center.

One reason, he said, is because much of Christianity is explained as if it were part of Aesop's Fables, to a second-grade Sunday School reading level.

The actual, historical account, such as with the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, is much more dramatic and telling. The author said he believes God is involved in what was ultimately a political act.

There is a lack of engagement and participation in any kind of organized religion. "We've botched telling the story and we can fix that," Jones said.

In his presentation, based on the new book, he argues that a viewpoint of Christianity is that all are "sinners in the hands of an angry God." That, he said, was an invention of the medieval church and it became enshrined as orthodox Christianity.

St. Paul's pastor, the Rev. Peter Marty, came in contact with Jones as Marty published his magazine, Christian Century. 

The minister admires Jones, who he calls "adventurous" and "clear-thinking."

The discussion: If God is violent, how did the bloody execution on the cross happen and be characterized as a example of parental love?

"It's a good, tough subject," Marty said. "What good parent would do that to their child?"

Jones served as a pastor and non-profit executive in places like the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He later received his doctorate in theology from Princeton Theological Institute.

He was 28 years old when he started writing books, which now include "The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier" and "The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life."

Jones is married and has three children in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis.

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