Smart people saying smart things

Matthew S. Rindge, “Understanding the Faith of Cathy McMorris Rodgers”

Religion is the only subject in which some people are proud of believing the same thing at age 40 that they believed when they were 6. It is the only field in which development in critical thinking is seen by some as regression. With religion, people think their opinion is as legitimate as a trained professional. And the consequences are not merely academic: People unwilling to engage in a critical study of religion or the Bible are destined to worship a God and Jesus of their own making.

Jenny Eaton Dyer, “Family Planning Through a Global Lens”

In the developing world, access to tools for healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies can be a matter of life or death, for both the mother and the child. To women in these countries, the debates we have here would seem like a privilege.

There are 220 million women around the world who say they wish to avoid pregnancies but lack access to any effective contraceptives, counseling, or services. Reaching just 120 million of these women in the next decade could save millions of lives – including preventing an estimated 51 million abortions.

… For us to help these women and families, to reverse the course of dying mothers and dying children, we need to think differently about birth control. We can’t merely see contraceptives as a drug of convenience or a political pawn or a subject of debate. Condoms, oral contraception, injectables, implants, and natural family planning: these are necessities for the health and flourishing of many areas of Africa and developing nations worldwide.

Alan Bean, “Tragedy reveals a new side of Texas”

I suspect the families had a hard time finding clergy willing to preside at the funeral. Juan and his mother Terry were both Roman Catholic while Amy belonged to the Church of Christ. This isn’t the gay-marriage-blessing United Church of Christ we’re talking about here; this is the southern Church of Christ, the staunchly conservative wing of the Restoration Movement that refuses to worship or “fellowship” with Baptists. Catholics are right out.

As a result, the two officiants were a Catholic deacon who serves three North Texas parishes (the shortage of priests grows more acute each year) and a Baptist from a small church in a small town I had never heard of.  Unlike most of their clerical colleagues, these men were willing to give solace to a deeply traumatized community even if it meant stretching the rules a bit.  If your theology doesn’t let you respond to deep grief, you need a new theology.

Sharon Temple, “The Pastoral Is Political: Saying ‘No’ to Being the Pray-er”

You are a pastor. Someone is in need of prayer. So they call on you, a pastor, to be the pray-er. They want you to pray with them, or for them, or both. The most frequent place for you to offer your pastoral prayers likely will be at a bedside. Other likely places, outside of a church building, will be parishioners’ living rooms and shared meal tables.

Some of the more unusual places where I have been the pray-er: outside a courtroom before an adoption was finalized, in a barn, and on a (literal) mountain top.

I say “yes” to being the pray-er in almost every situation.

I say “no” to being the pray-er at the start of a government meeting, school board meeting, or legislative session.

Renee Bracey Sherman, “What Happens When We Share Our Abortion Stories: Hate, Vitriol, But Also Love”

Because of a Mamas Day article I wrote on the Huffington Post about how an abortion changed the way I experience Mother’s Day, people I’ve never met requested that I kill myself, get raped, die in childbirth (as a black woman, that is something for which I am at higher risk), and be sterilized (something that many women of color have experienced). They asked if I have dementia (something I watched my grandmother suffer from) and hoped that I would be sold into the “sex trade” and “forced to give birth over and over again and then die from giving birth.”



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