Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, filed suit against the Defense of Marriage act, which President Clinton signed into law back in 1996. We have an extensive discussion of same-sex marriage at Patheos right now in the Public Square. Check it out. One of the most interesting articles, I thought, was this one, written by someone who struggled and found “freedom from same-sex attraction.” Tony Jones offered one of the “evangelical” pieces (here), and so did I (here).
A thoughtful reflection on patriotism and whether it compromises our Christian commitments. As David P. Gushee writes, “Reinhold Niebuhr got it right in the early 1930s when he acknowledged that patriotism at least has the virtue of taking the self outside of itself to a broader community. Patriotism may be national egoism, as he called it, but it is an improvement over purely personal egoism, which can see no concern greater than the self.” The distinction here between patriotism and nationalism is important, though often difficult to locate in the real world. I attended the Fourth of July fireworks over the Charles River in Boston with my daughter; apart from a smattering of applause when “our troops overseas” were mentioned and a few flags being waved by people with white hair, it was less a celebration of America than an opportunity for people to drink, listen to music and watch a fantastic fireworks display.
Hugo Chavez was angry that Manuel Zelaya was removed from power (as ordered by the Honduran Supreme Court) because it weakens his coalition of “leftist” South American nations. We are, remarkably, pressuring Honduras to return Zelaya to power. But more importantly, the coalition is named Alba, because even Marxist dictators are not immune to the charms of Jessica Alba. Let’s make them a deal: we’ll send Jessica Alba on a tour of South America (much though we will miss her acting skills) if they agree to stop rigging elections, throwing out term limits and imprisoning those who dare to speak up against them. Seems fair to me.
Wherever one stands on the political spectrum, one has to be concerned about the ways in which we’re spending federal money these days (see here and here). When the “oracle of Omaha” says that a second stimulus is probably necessary, one has to take his argument seriously, even if he’s not exactly a disinterested observer. Yet does anyone have confidence at this point in Congress’ ability to spend money on the right things and in the right way?
Finally, an interesting article from ChristianHistory.net on the first evangelical missionary to India. Cultural imperialism? Not so much. William Carey is often called the father of the modern missionary movement. Buy by the time Carey “arrived in Calcutta in 1793, evangelical Christianity in India was nearly a century old. Almost every missionary method that he later developed had already been tried—by a Pietist Lutheran in Tranquebar.” Though German, Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg was sent from Copenhagen, as “Halle” pietism fared well in Denmark at the time–yet the Danish Lutheran Church opposed him, as well as the Danish East India Company, which imprisoned Ziegenbalg at one point for the way in which he advocated for the rights of the local Tamil people.
As a side note, Pietism is sometimes considered the beginning or at least the forerunner of evangelicalism, in large part because it inspired Wesley to begin the Methodist movement and because the later awakenings hearkened back to pietistic writings on the “religion of the heart.” It also remained a strong influence in Germany and surrounding nations well into the nineteenth century. The attempt to hold together the intellectual rigor of the Enlightenment with the compelling transformation of pietism defined Lutheranism in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and some of the age’s greatest religious thinkers–such as Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schleiermacher and Søren Kierkegaard–were inspired by the productive, creative tensions they felt between their dual citizenship in the world of sophisticated theologians and philosophers and in the passionistic world of the Pietists. Kierkegaard as a boy, for instance, attended the church of the Copenhagen literati in the mornings and the Moravian Congregation of Brethren in the evenings.