2. “Were you born after 1976? Then you’ve never experienced an average year: 2013 is the 37th year in a row with temperatures above the 20th century average.”
3. “This is a national shame, for which I again say, I am deeply sorry and offer my full and heartfelt apologies.” That was Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny speaking a year ago about the Magdalene Laundries — an apology backed up by $79 million in compensation to the survivors of the laundries — which are in the news again now due to the movie Philomena, which has been nominated for four Academy Awards. Aggrieved fundraiser Bill Donohue says the movie is anti-Catholic propaganda and that the Magdalene Laundries are a “myth” promoted by critics of the church. Donohue hates to see the church criticized, but it never seems to occur to him that one way of avoiding such criticism would be to, you know, not enslave and exploit thousands of women. Not doing that is always one option.
4. ” It’s not just that fighting same-sex marriage looks more and more like a losing cause. It’s that the issue is increasingly a loser with the younger generation of evangelicals. And evangelical churches like the Southern Baptist Convention are finding it harder and harder to hold on to this generation.”
5. Pamela Raintree: “I brought the first stone, Mr. Webb.” And Mr. Webb, wisely, withdrew his motion.
6. At Peter Enns’ blog, Carlos Bovell reviews The Lost World of Scripture: Ancient Literary Culture and Biblical Authority, by John Walton and D. Brent Sandy of Wheaton College. Bovell is puzzled by the way the authors insist on their loyalty to the principle of inerrancy even while their book systematically undermines what they say that means.
Why would Walton and Sandy work so hard to make clear that the Bible was produced in an oral culture, only to declare their commitment to a statement that clearly envisions a Bible that was produced in a text-dominated culture? It is difficult not to conclude that the reason has something to do with the restrictive academic culture that evangelical inerrantism has set in place.
And if you want to understand why that restrictive academic culture is so restrictive — why so much arbitrary power is surrendered to gatekeepers — then you might want to read this, from Andy Kroll: “Meet the New Kochs: The DeVos Clan’s Plan to Defund the Left.” The Amway checkbook has gotten many an evangelical professor fired. And it’s convinced many more to keep quiet and to avoid rocking the boat.
7. Zack Hunt: “What Are Biblical Values?”
There is no such thing as sola scripture. Claiming to follow the Bible alone may have made for great rhetoric during the Reformation, but we can never isolate scripture from some sort of tradition. In other words, there is no interpretation without the the assumptions, traditions, and biases we bring to our reading of scripture that, for good or ill, shape our understanding of what is being said. We can’t escape bringing these things to bear our biblical interpretation, nor are they always bad. But we do need to be open and honest about them – whether they be cultural, historical, theological, or whatever – and stop pretending like there is such a thing as a plain reading of the text.
Because there’s not.
The truth is, a so-called plain reading is guided by our desire to seek out those passages that support and confirm the ideas and values we already believe in.
In other words, there’s nothing plain about it.