Smart people saying smart things (6.7.18)

Tina Beattie, “Reflections on Irish Abortion Referendum”

Irish women and girls have always had abortions, and they tell harrowing tales of what that means when it involves flying to Britain and enduring that trauma in a lonely and frightening world of strangers and bleak hotel rooms – if they can afford the “luxury” of a hotel room as well as an air fare. Otherwise, they fly back bleeding and in pain the same day. Now, they will no longer face that double ordeal. Why would anybody think this is preferable to respecting their decision or their need to end a pregnancy? …

A band of brigands eventually collapses in on itself, to paraphrase St Augustine. So the Irish referendum cannot simply be dismissed as a symptom of collective moral disintegration. On the contrary, it can be seen as the assertion of the common good over and against a corrupted and dysfunctional institutional church. But the most effective way of accommodating this decision might be to recognise that a modern shift in church teaching might now be unsustainable, unless one is willing to demonise and condemn countless millions of women and girls around the world who have abortions.

The Church’s absolute prohibition against abortion from conception (there is no “moment” of conception – it’s a process) is relatively modern and was vigorously promoted by Pope John Paul II. Traditionally, there was always a distinction between the moral gravity of early abortion and the more severe gravity of late abortion. This was also a debate that, until very recently, was conducted entirely without consulting women (and still is in the Catholic hierarchy). Now women themselves are having a say, and the Irish referendum suggests a sea change is happening. The answer is not to have a panic attack about the decline in modern values, but perhaps to bring back that important distinction.

Jason Johnson, “From Starbucks to Hashtags: We Need to Talk About Why White Americans Call the Police on Black People”

Either Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson is lying or hasn’t been white in America as long as I’ve been black in America. Calling the police is the epitome of escalation, and calling the police on black people for noncrimes is a step away from asking for a tax-funded beatdown, if not an execution. That Starbucks manager didn’t call the police in hopes that they’d politely ask two black customers to buy a latte or leave, just as the angry woman in front of my apartment wasn’t threatening to call the cops just to get her boyfriend to listen to her. The intent of these actions is to remind black people that the ultimate consequence of discomforting white people — let alone angering them — could be death.

Sam Washington, “A Welcoming Church No More”

Now I’m no longer comfortable with the label of “evangelical” because I have become slack-jawed with disgust at friends who will defend Trump harder that they defend the gospel. They boisterously support a gleeful bully and a habitual liar who is hailed as God’s instrument in these times. A pastor acquaintance told me he voted for Trump because he championed the anti-abortion cause and was the lesser of two evils.

They gloss over the bigotry and insist they voted for Trump because of “other reasons,” which amount to superficial buzzwords: crooked Hillary, draining the swamp, shaking things up, et cetera. They retreat into shells when you try to highlight the obvious cognitive dissonance it takes to cast a vote for what Trump really represents. They put their personal comfort above everything else.

I tried to listen to them. People I taught in my Bible study classes at church, people with whom I studied the Bible in seminary, people I considered my brothers and sisters in Christ, friends on Facebook. I gave it a massive amount of effort. But in the end black Christians such as myself now have abundant reason to question our place at evangelical churches. We cringe when pastors and church members have no qualms about praying for law enforcement and hear deafening silence when it comes to victims of police brutality — or pointed accusations that it was the victims’ fault. Our hearts break when people express jubilance that God “has finally moved back into the White House.”

Laura Bullard, “The #ChurchToo Movement Isn’t Just About Gender”

The evangelical church will not be able to reckon with the problem of sexual violence without first trusting, centering, affirming, and amplifying the voices and experiences of the individuals (and communities) it has most violently, most systematically marginalized. “Whereas patriarchy does become the primary object of a white feminist approach to justice in evangelical churches,” Turman explained, “We should be addressing intersectional oppression.”

According to Cleveland, “There are theological elements of the evangelical church that make it impossible to affirm the image of God in some people. There is no way of getting around that.” And if the evangelical church is unable or unwilling to see that the image of God is black, brown, queer, poor, and assaulted, the evangelical church will continue to sanction, even to mandate violence.

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