Not to sound like a Golden Age nostalgic, but there once was a time when the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee prided themselves on having an understanding of military matters. They disagreed in their conclusions and sometimes their premises. But most of them worked to educate themselves, at least to the point where they could debate the issues, or ask questions of a general without coming off like complete idiots. The sad thing about this new crop of senators — especially on the Republican side — is they don’t even try to learn anything; they don’t care if they look like complete idiots, in part because their core constituents don’t care if they do either.
Margot Starbuck: “Why I Think Jesus Would Bake a Cake for a Same-Sex Marriage”
These two directives — to keep unstained by the world and to love our neighbors — are, by no accident, in constant holy tension. They were for Jesus and they are for us. When we look at the way Jesus engaged with those his community considered sinful, he embraced — and even seemed to go looking for! — this holy tension. He was derided by the Religious specifically because, by lending his presence places like sinner parties, he accepted an “other” exactly as they were.
Gordon Atkinson: “A Thing That Happened”
Also the cold, uncompromising voice of Reason, my ancient foe, has been whispering in my ears again.
The universe has no interest in you. Celestial systems, of which you are a part, pay homage only to greater forces of gravity, circling them obediently while the cosmos expands with energy from a source we cannot comprehend. Your value in this unthinkably vast reality is exactly in keeping with your size in it, just as you’ve always suspected. A galactic moment or two from now, humanity will disappear, along with your solar system and perhaps your entire galaxy. When that happens it will be as if you never existed at all.
But by all means, Gordon, make sure you don’t miss Sunday school tomorrow.
Dianna E. Anderson: “No Touching: Consent as the First Step”
I propose that we start with what consent looks like.
A healthy sexual relationship has much more room to happen when everyone involved is doing so enthusiastically and with full knowledge and agreement about boundaries.
… It needs to be assumed that people’s bodies are in a state of “don’t touch” until they give you the green light to do so. This is the first step toward a healthy view of sexuality.
This basic understanding of bodily autonomy is – no surprise – frequently shunted aside in narratives of the purity movement. The fear seems to be that if we teach people how to say yes in a healthy manner, they’ll start doing so outside of the contexts we think are best. But, that’s the thing about education: if you really, truly want people acting of their own free will and owning their decisions, you really, truly have to let them.
Ed Kilgore: “Protestants and Abortion”
While the Catholic hierarchy’s current stance is historically and theologically problematic, and is out of alignment with lay opinion in America (embarrassingly so on abortion, and insanely so on contraception), there is at least a credible argument to be made for it based on Church tradition, Aristotelian bioethics, and a highly authoritarian sense of the Vatican’s “teaching” function.
It’s always fascinated me that by contrast American conservative evangelical Protestants have come to be if anything more extremist on abortion than Catholics (certainly in terms of rank-and-file opinion) without any of these factors: they do not regard Church traditions as dispositive, have been lukewarm or hostile to “natural law” as a foundation for doctrine, and have no centralized source of doctrinal authority other than the Bible, which is all but silent on the subject (no, Christian Right types don’t admit that, but it’s true nonetheless aside from entirely circular arguments that proscription of homicide includes abortion).