A dozen points of light

Here’s an interesting back-and-forth between Jason Rosenhouse and Scot McKnight on the label “theistic evolutionist.”

I am a theist — a Christian. I also recognize and affirm the truth of evolution. But I don’t like or use the label “theistic evolutionist” for the same reasons I do not like or use the label “theistic germ theorist.”

And let’s be clear, if we were to employ the same hermeneutic employed by young-earth creationists, we could make an even stronger case claiming that the germ theory of disease is anti-God or anti-Bible than the case they make against evolution.

John Aravosis thinks it’s in poor taste for the gunmakers lobby to hold a “Shoot-Out” event at the GOP Convention just days after the shoot-out Friday at the Empire State Building. That’s not fair. If the NRA and the GOP could only celebrate guns when there hasn’t recently been a horrific incident of gun violence in America, then they’d never get to party at all.

Biola University and Grace College have joined Wheaton College in the campaign by Christian schools to ensure that DeWitt R. Thomas is only presenting the second silliest “religious liberty” argument this year.

Roger Olson shares a personal testimony, complete with a long discussion of a familiar Bible verse.

J.R. Daniel Kirk suggests a few tweaks for the historic Christian creeds — not the parts about God, the parts about us. I like this idea. I believe he’s right about “I believe.”

Jana Riess enlists Robert A. Rees to explain the deal with Mormon underwear, or, rather “temple garments (the preferred term).”

This practice is often the object of jokes by outsiders because, well, it’s underwear, and we humans find underwear inherently funny. But I think there’s a great wisdom in the Latter-day Saints’ practice of wearing their sacred clothing under their outer garments. That keeps the focus on the remembrance, not on the display — and it avoids the temptation to turn it into a tribal symbol or totem. Temple garments seem to me better for the soul than, say, a Christian T-shirt “witnessing tool.”

Teresa Nielsen Hayden is another knowledgeable explainer of the LDS church, and she’s not buying Mitt Romney’s claim that his tax returns must be kept secret for religious reasons.

Be astonished: he’s lying again. Financial data about Mormon tithing is not a secret. Like members of every other denomination that tithes, Mormons list their tithing as a religious/charitable contribution on their tax returns, school financial aid forms, mortgage applications, and other documents where you itemize your income and what you do with it.

Want to see?

She has links. She always has links.

The World Evangelical Alliance has created a new position: “Senior advisor for social justice.” This is a Good Thing — and not just because it will make Glenn Beck’s head explode.

Rob Bell’s old church has announced his replacement: Kent Dobson. He’s the son of longtime pastor and one-time Jerry Falwell disciple Ed Dobson (no relation to spanking advocate James Dobson).

Ed Dobson eventually rejected Falwell’s politicized form of partisan Christianity, but he has remained a very conservative evangelical. I admire him for being one of the first prominent evangelicals to respond with active compassion to the AIDS crisis decades ago. He was blasted for that, with another conservative evangelical sneering, “Ed Dobson loves homosexuals.” His response was lovely: “When I die, if someone stands up and says ‘Ed Dobson loved homosexuals,’ then I will have accomplished something with my life.”

Best wishes to his son at Mars Hill (no, not that one, the good one). Hopefully, like his predecessor and his father, he will earn the honor of being vilified for loving all the wrong people.

Alan McCornick at Hepzibah offers an insightful — and hopeful — recap and response after the Dan Savage/Brian Brown “Dinner Table Debate.”

Custer died for your sins,” Vine Deloria said. And Republican National Committee leader Pat Rogers seems to believe it’s literally true.

Rep. Todd Akin’s horrifying candor prompted a bit of déjà vu for those who recalled having just cycling through the same vile, victim-blaming nonsense in response to Jared Wilson and Doug Wilson at The Gospel Coalition.

Grace at Are Women Human? has been continuing that earlier conversation with Jared Wilson.

2012 is really shaping up to be the Year of Evangelical Men Saying Appalling Things About Rape.

"You could say they are DemonizedI'll see myself out."

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  • AnonymousSam

    When people want to use their religious liberty to be racist, I want to use my religious liberty to throw up in their pants.

  • pharoute

    “Let all the poisons in the mud hatch out”

    Really interesting, in an appalling way, to see what I had thought were settled questions clearly were not.

  • I’ve been wondering this ever since this year began and all the misogynistic assholes of the world began firing off with greater frequency, but was there some committee meaning that got together and decided that this year, in addition to being the Year of the Dragon, it’d also be the Year of the Misogynistic Asshole? Because they seem to be firing off with greater frequency this year and it used to be they made some half-assed attempt to mask their naked contempt for half of the population, but now…Seriously, did someone spike the water or something?

  • PJ Evans

     I just had the thought that they’re seeing the writing on the wall: this is their last chance at real power, and they’re not going out with a really big fight.
    They still can’t count, though: like Custer, they’re way outnumbered, and their actions (more accurately, their words) aren’t winning them friends.

  • Worst-case scenario, we’re in the early phases of “The Screwfly Solution.”

  • AnonymousSam

    .. And I thought the first few articles I read were bad. So… let me see if I get this straight. The Wilsons believe God condemns egalitarianism as an expression of hatred and abuse toward women, and causes women to be raped as punishment for having the belief that the sexes should be treated equally.

    I’m not sure I have the capacity to pity Jared Wilson and company for believing this. They seem to believe it without conscious awareness of just how disgusting and hateful these views are, which usually short-circuits my aggressive responses, but in this case, the view is so insanely contradictory* that I just want to slap them. Repeatedly.

    * Romans 1:24-27 is cited as an example of “passive punishment” – God sees sin and decides to let people just keep sinning worse and worse until they destroy themselves. This doesn’t work. This turns rape into a punishment for the rapist. Even if you believe in Hell and that rapists are sent there, that still requires that the act of rape be a tool of divine justice. Carried to the logical extreme, that means we should be glad when someone is raped because the rapist ensures that they will come to justice… eventually.

  • Lori

    The thing I’ve been wondering (but have been too afraid to research) is whether more misogynist asshole things are actually being said in public. My gut feeling is that these guys are saying exactly what they’ve always said, in exactly the way they’ve always said it but the internet age has finally caught up with them. PJ’s last gasp theory could also be true. I just don’t have the stomach to do the research. Maybe someone other brave, iron-gutted soul will do it.

  • Oh, god, nightmare fuel.

  • Oh yeah, I remember the Screwfly Solution…gets me every single time. Some people, whenever the Misogynistic Assholes fire off their bigotry, think of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; my thoughts go to The Screwfly Solution. You just know the Misogynists wish they could do away with women all together that they didn’t have to deal with all our messy, complicated, disgusting bodies in order to continue human existence.

  • Carstonio

    While I haven’t seen the Savage/Brown debate, I think as a matter of principle, anyone who isn’t a Christian should refuse to debate biblical interpretation with a Christian when the issue is about questions of secular law. Otherwise, the non-Christian is implicitly conceding that part of the debate.

  • I could only stomach bits of it, but it’s worth remembering that the Savage/Brown debate arose in the first place because Savage had made the comment that Christians had to learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gays in the same way they’d learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about slavery, shellfish, and mixed fabrics. That is, Biblical interpretation was part of the question on the table from the beginning.

    He wasn’t conceding that Biblical interpretation was salient to secular law, he was talking about Biblical interpretation as something that had to change to reflect our growing awareness of the common humanity of gay and straight people, and of secular law as something that also had to change to reflect that awareness.

    That said, of course, this is a somewhat nuanced point and you’re right that it does not prevent someone who wants to say “See? Even Dan Savage thinks that the Bible is the proper place to ground justification of secular law!” from doing so.

    Then again, refusing to have the conversation at all doesn’t prevent it either, it just means they have to tack “That’s why he refuses to talk about it!” at the end. It doesn’t make any sense, but making sense is hardly a necessary criterion for this sort of rhetoric.

  • Katie

    I would disagree, a little, about Mormon garments not being a tribal symbol.  For people who know what to look for, its pretty obvious if someone is wearing garments.  Because of the length of the garments,  one must wear a shirt with elbow length sleeves (no tank tops, spaghetti straps or sleeveless dresses), and the shirt can, at most, expose the collar bones slightly.  Similarly, pants or skirts must cover the knees to avoid exposing the garments. 
    These restrictions result in devout Mormons dressing in a ‘modern modest’ style, quite distinctive.  It isn’t as overt as Evangelical t-shirts, or the aggressively frumpy denim skirts and jumpers (pinafores for non-USA readers) that the FLDS and some Quiverfull Christians love so much, but in much the same way that in an area with a large number of Orthodox Jews, most people can pick up on the subtle cues that dress conveys, in a area with a large number of Mormons, most people can pretty easily guess that someone is Mormon from their manner of dress.

  • Carstonio

    Savage was misguided to make that comment in the first place. That was an implicit concession of something different – that the burden is on marriage equality proponents to prove that individuals should be allowed their choice of spouse regardless of gender. It’s actually the other way around, with opponents bearing the burden of proving that individuals shouldn’t be entitled to that choice. That informs the legal question but isn’t exclusive to it. Opponents like Brown act as if proponents seek to have SSM replace opposite-sex marriage as the social norm. No one wants to require Brown to marry another man. Orientation many not be a choice, but choice of marriage partner is, and I’d like to see Savage defend the principle of individual freedom.

  • Hm.
    I’m not sure I understood that.

    Do you think that as a practical matter we’ll get more legal protection faster by taking the stance that we don’t have to demonstrate anything, that it’s up to the Browns of the world to demonstrate to some objective observer’s satisfaction that the existing law ought to stay in place and if they can’t do so in a timely manner the existing law ought to change into something else?

  • Tricksterson

    So many examples of the stupid that it does not merely burn it incinerates.  I’ll be back when I’ve regenerated.

  • Carstonio

    I suppose I’m saying that Brown and his allies are arguing from certain assumptions about gender roles, things that conflict with the common humanity of not just gays and straights but also men and women. (Unless you can think of a better explanation for Brown’s claim that same-sex marriage = children growing up without fathers.) Maybe Savage thinks he’s Clarence Darrow, who was able to reduce William Jennings Bryan to angry contradictions, but then that case was specifically about religion. And maybe legal equality would be advanced if we can debate Brown sufficiently to expose  the keep-’em-barefoot-n-pregnant attitudes that I strongly suspect are there.

  • Saffi

    I made the mistake of reading the comments section underneath the article on the idiot suing because a [African American] was bagging his groceries.  (See especially the responses to the woman who said she had mixed-race children.  But read it with a vomit bucket nearby.)  

    I knew there were sick idiots who still believed all kinds of poisonous crap, but seeing it proudly proclaimed in public is beyond depressing.

  •  I agree with you that Brown & Co are operating from (among other things) false beliefs about gender roles.
    I don’t know what Savage thinks, though I doubt he thinks he’s a lawyer.
    I agree that engaging with Brown and his ilk and making them actually articulate their positions is a good way of making the consequences and the presumptions underlying those positions more visible to people.

    Mostly, what I think is that exposing Brown’s supporters to actual gay people turns out to be a surprisingly effective way of countering the lies that Brown tells about us.

  • AnonymousSam

    I swear, at some point, people decided it was cool to be racist.

    It says something that no matter how noxious Cartman of South Park is depicted, there are millions of people who find him hilarious enough to not only watch, but buy t-shirts of him.

  • Oh, honestly. I dress like that and I’m not a Mormon. O.o

  • That first link makes me think of  http://www.2think.org/dobzhansky.shtml (which ought to be required reading for everyone).

  • arcseconds

    I think they’ve always been there.

    however, while the internet means that a light is shone on them so we can see their bigotry, it also means that other bigots can see them too — no-one need feel alone in their bigotry.

    My impression is that things that used to be said in private, or amongst ‘the choir’, so to speak, are now being said more openly.  The information age means that everyone can find a home, no matter how screwball your beliefs are.  Rather than prompting them to examine their beliefs and thus tending to rein in the most extreme beliefs, I think it tends to amplify and encourage them.

    I think it’s a dangerous state of affairs.

    However, it also means that the tea party etc. will, as far as I can see, keep getting crazier, which I think will be a losing game in the medium term for the republicans.

    Also, the long-term looks good, so long as you can avoid a complete societal collapse and/or the genesis of some kind of facisitic populist.  There’s the oft-cited statistics of young people being rather ‘meh’ about homosexuality, and for anyone less than, say, 12 now, there will have always been a black president.  The current barely-disguised crypto-racist frothing is a one-time affair.

  • Lori

    however, while the internet means that a light is shone on them so we
    can see their bigotry, it also means that other bigots can see them too —
    no-one need feel alone in their bigotry. 

    This is true, and you’re right that that’s not always a positive thing.

    Bit of a tangent—I did something this morning that I rarely do, I read Post Secret. I was quickly reminded of why I rarely read it. There are some people whose pain is truly touching and if the site makes them feel less alone I can only applaud that. Then there are the other folks who are just assholes. I don’t remember ever reading the posting without having at least one “people suck” moment. I want to go to some of those people and say, “There’s some shit you should be ashamed of you total douchebag. Instead of sending Frank Warren a post card to make yourself feel better and less alone about it you should be working on not being such an asshole.”

  • “Instead of sending Frank Warren a post card to make yourself feel better and less alone about it you should be working on not being such an asshole.”

    Of course, these aren’t mutually exclusive things.

    I mean, sure, some of those postcards seem to be gloating over shameful acts, which I agree is problematic.

    But I’m not convinced that feeling less alone in our shame is a bad thing.

    And personally, I don’t find that keeping the shameful things I’ve done a
    secret is especially conducive to becoming less of an asshole. I even find that talking about them
    to an audience I trust not to condemn me for it (either because I’m anonymous, or because the audience is more compassionate than just) is sometimes conducive to becoming less of an asshole.

    And sometimes not.

  • Tricksterson

    You might be and not know it, you LDS people are awful sneaky.

  • veejayem

    I made the mistake of looking at the comments too, although I didn’t go down very far. I suppose it answers my question of how can Romney ever find enough people to vote for him.Do you suppose they can walk and chew gum at the same time?

  • Lori

    I’m really talking about the gloating or prideful ones (which I swear are becoming more common, but that may just be cynicism talking) and I think gloating over being an asshole and becoming less of an asshole are mutually exclusive things. I have no complaint about the non-gloating ones*, and I agree that that sort of sharing can be very beneficial. I don’t think the world is improved by having “asshole and proud of it” types find each other though.

    *On at least one topic I have issues with the cards Warren chooses to post, but that’s not the same thing.

  • Katie

     I should have added that I live in the Southwest, where it is hot as Satan’s taint in the summer.    Shorts are part of the summer dress code for most businesses,  and sleeveless tops are incredibly common for women. 

  • Fair point: the climate here is colder, and more amenable to the kinds of business-casual clothes Mormons tend to wear.

  • 2012 is really shaping up to be the Year of Evangelical Men Saying Appalling Things About Rape. Fred, I love you, but… this year and every year.