Hello, fellow imonkers. Many thanks to Adam Palmer for pinch-hitting for me last week as I escaped the Midwest tundra for a week in Arizona to visit family. I hate family fights, and am therefore happy to report I successfully dodged all attempts to argue over the proposed Arizona Religious Freedom bill (vetoed on Wednesday by the governor). If you want to read the post-mortem, here is a pretty good take. And you are welcome to argue the merits of the bill. I may even join in the argument since you’re not family.
It would be easy to fill this column every week with stories about gay marriage and the controversy thereof. I try to avoid them, just because of the over-exposure, and, quite frankly, because I am stinking tired of this debate being center stage in discussion of religion and society. But this caught my eye: Among those who say they left their childhood religion and now have no religious identity, nearly one in four (24 percent) say their church’s negative teachings or treatment of LGBT people was an important reason they left. That rises to 31 percent of millennials, damaging churches’ ability to bring in — and keep — young adults…
What do Hasidic Jews, hipsters, and transgender men have in common?
If I remember right, Jeff Dunn linked to the 35 ugliest churches in the world (in 35 web pages, arghh). One of them, perhaps the champion, is coming down, much to the relief of its dwindling congregation.
At first I thought it was an Onion parody of academic silliness. But, no, the url was definitely that of the Harvard Crimson. “If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom?’ Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of ‘academic justice.’ When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.” I was going to make a snarky comment like, “Chairman Mao couldn’t have said it better” but I was afraid the author would take it as a compliment.
The Anti-Defamation League called it, “most anti-Semitic document to come out of a mainline American church in recent memory,” while a prominent Rabbi called it “worthy of a hate group, not a prominent American church.” They were referring to a study guide produced by a group commissioned by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that depicts Zionism as a heresy at the root of the Middle East crisis. In fact, the study guide challenges the legitimacy of the Zionist project itself, saying it’s rooted in the belief in “exceptionalism” — that one’s own religious group is more important than anyone else’s.
The headline says it all. Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience. I’ve never been to this temple. What do they worship?
Roma Downey has “cast out the devil”. At least in her upcoming movie. But rest assured, she knows what she is doing: “I played an angel on Touched by an Angel for almost a decade, and I’ve learned a thing or two about spiritual warfare.” So basically, “I’m not an angel, but I played one on TV”.
A Philadelphia Pentecostal couple has been sentenced to 3 1/2 to seven years in prison for the death of their son after neglecting to take him to the doctor. Herbert and Catherine Schaible were already on a 10-year probation for the 2009 death of another child, who died of untreated bacterial pneumonia. The couple are part of a church that believes in divine healing and eschews medical treatment. The judge laid it on the line: “You killed two of your children … not God, not your church, not your religious devotion — you.” Your thoughts imonkers? what rights do parents have when it comes to withholding medical treatments for their children? What about vaccines?
Update: Bob Jones University has decided they like GRACE after all.
Last year Rosaria Champagne Butterfield wrote about her “trainwreck conversion”: from leftist lesbian to evangelical Christian. This year she spoke about that conversion at Wheaton. And inspired student protests. The demonstration was named, “More Than a Single Story” and featured students holding signs that said “We’re all loved by God,” “Rosaria’s story is valid, mine is too,” and “I’m gay and a beloved child of God. This is my story,” among many others. Author Doug Wilson was not impressed with the “effete evangelical elites” running Wheaton, and wins this week’s award for most insults within a three-word alliteration.
A couple weeks ago I linked to Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker essay on how we became secular. Ross Douthat published three articles in the New York Times analyzing the essay and they all worth reading. They are here, here and here. The last link includes an interesting quote from another writer: Ever since Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God a hundred years ago, there have been no more happy atheists. The world in which people relied on their own powers and considered themselves unconstrained legislators on questions of good and evil, the world where, freed at last from the chains of divine bondage, they could hope to recover their lost dignity — that world was transformed into a place of endless anxiety and suffering. The absence of God became a permanently festering wound in the European spirit, even if it could be forgotten with the aid of artificial painkillers. Compare the godless world of Diderot, Helvetius and Feuerbach with the godless world of Kafka, Camus and Sartre. The collapse of Christianity so eagerly awaited and so joyfully greeted by the Enlightenment turned out — to the extent that it really occurred — to be almost simultaneous with the collapse of the Enlightenment. The new, radiant anthropocentric order that was to arise and supplant God once He had been deposed never appeared.
No? How about this a closer look?Still nothing? Okay, one more:That’s right, it’s a statue of Jesus as a homeless man on a bench. And it’s causing quite a stir in Davidson, North Carolina. “It’s Jesus representing the most marginalized of society,” said Rev. Doctor David E. Buck, the rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church. “We’re reminded of what our ultimate calling is as Christians, as people of faith, to do what we can individually and systematically to eliminate homelessness.” Neighbor Cindy Castano Swannack had a different take: “Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help…We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.” Where do you side, imonkers?
Funny or simply juvenile?
Steve Taylor is my favorite modern musical artist, so I’ve always been bummed that his last cd came out 20 years ago. So I was thrilled when I heard he will be coming out with a new cd this year, with Jimmy Abegg, John Mark Painter and Peter Furler. His kickstarter campaign page included a nice video of him re-applying for his license to rock at the Tennessee DMV (Department of Music Veterans). Also, since his best album, Squint, is still not on iTunesfor some reason, Taylor just published a public link to download the entire album (including a booklet with lyrics). You can find it here. [Note, when I tried the link it told me to come back because of high traffic].
Was it Chesterton who said that if people do not stand for something they fall for anything? In any case, our increasingly secular society is remarkably superstitious, and the most secular segment (the youngest people) are the most superstitious. Representative example: 29 percent of young adults believe that knocking on wood prevents bad luck while 13 percent of seniors believed this.
Famous birthdays this week include: actually, I don’t care about famous birthdays. I just don’t. If enough of you [at least 20] protest I will begrudgingly include them again, but really I’m just picking names out of a list of several hundred with no rhyme or reason. How about we end with a nice Steve Taylor video instead? (Forgive the haircut; it was the 90’s.)