Slip through a tear in the fabric of the world


• One cheer for cryptozoology: Yes, it's a form of conspiracy theorizing and delusion. And yes, it promotes the kind of defiantly ignorant crankery that makes people confident they can prove the experts wrong without ever having to study or work or understand what it is the experts know. But it also has the benefit of sending obsessed, curious people out into the world and into the woods to collect their "evidence." So what happens when a real scientist examines that "evidence"? Geneticist … [Read more...]

Smart people saying smart things (7.2)


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in Ethics God loves human beings. God loves the world. Not an ideal human, but human beings as they are; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find repulsive in their opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility, namely, real human beings, the real world, this is for God the ground of unfathomable love. God establishes a most intimate unity with this. God becomes human, a real human being. While we exert ourselves to grow beyond our … [Read more...]

I guess it could have been a dream


• The great state of Kentucky -- home of the Creation Museum, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Big Bone Lick and marriage equality. • Another Florida election goes wrong: Just a week after her coronation, the winner of the 2014 Miss Florida pageant was dethroned on Friday when organizers said they had crowned the wrong woman after a vote-count error. ... The ballot counter didn’t see that one of the five judges had changed his mind, writing a new line up on the left-hand … [Read more...]

Sex-ed for the religious right: Conception does not occur at ejaculation

Contrary to the claims of the religious right, this is not when conception occurs. Sex doesn't work like that.

We ask judges to interpret the law -- to adjudicate between different possible meanings of civil statutes. We don't ask them, or want them, to settle religious questions. That's not their jurisdiction. So there's a sense in which the majority opinion of the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case was correct in those parts of the ruling that ignored the factual content of the purported religious beliefs of the billionaire Green family. The Greens' claim that certain forms of contraception are … [Read more...]

Sunday favorites

Letter From a Birmingham Jail I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian … [Read more...]

I try to describe it, can never succeed


• Kimberly Knight has a terrific rant on "5 things you really mean when you say 'I don't approve of your homosexual lifestyle.'" She reminds her fellow Christians, yet again, that this slogan of "homosexual lifestyle" isn't something that intelligent and/or decent people should be using: "Frankly honey, you sound ignorant. Ignorant because you are evidently not thinking beyond what you have been taught to parrot." One of the real meanings communicated by that slogan, Knight says, is "ICK! … [Read more...]

Charitable fundraising: wise as serpents, innocent as doves


Tom Jacobs reports on two new studies on the psychology of charitable fundraising. The most effective appeals, these studies suggest, focus on a single child -- and that single child can't be too photogenic. It seems that potential donors are most likely to give if an ad or mailing prompts them to feel empathy for the children the appeal says the charity is helping. That's good -- empathy is a Good Thing. It's easier for people to feel empathy with an individual than with a group -- an … [Read more...]

Don’t even speak of the beat menace


• Eventually -- perhaps a generation from now, perhaps two, but not much longer than that -- there will be a statue honoring Kate Kelly in Salt Lake City. People there will find it confusing. Either it will confuse them because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have become more inclusive, and so the idea of excommunicating an advocate for women's ordination will seem strange, or else because the LDS won't have become more inclusive, and thus most people seeing the statue … [Read more...]