Biblical Marriage

Bruce Bawer at The Dish recounts the multifarious forms of “marriage” cataloged in the Bible:

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What’s a Christian to Do with…Dan Savage?

This is the first in what I hope will be an occasional series: What’s a Christian to do with…? will explore persons and ideas that, at first blush, might seem a bit prickly or even untouchable for a faithful Christian.  And yet, when we dig a little deeper, there’s something strangely compelling, something that should, or must, be taken seriously.

Dan Savage (from WikiCommons)

I confess that almost every week, I pick up a copy of the City Pages, the Twin Cities alt weekly, during a regular Wednesday meeting at Common Roots in Minneapolis. And when I do, I immediately flip to the back pages where, between ads for erotic massage and gay love phone lines, I find Savage Love, the column of America’s premier sex advice columnist, Dan Savage.

In fact, it seems that Savage may be America’s premier sex ethicist as well.

Savage has been writing his column since the early 1990s, but he has recently risen to a new level of prominence, based particularly on his It Gets Better Project, which went viral last year.

Savage was reared Catholic, and he’s now an agnostic, or atheist.  In any case, he is an outspoken opponent of religion.  However, unlike other atheists I follow on Twitter and elsewhere — Penn Gillette and Bill Maher, to name a couple — I find Savage far more interesting, far more compelling, and far more important for me, as a Christian theologian, to take seriously.

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Rejected Anti-Gay Ad

David Brauer reports that the Minneapolis StarTribune has rejected an ad placed by the Presbyterian Lay Committee, a conservative group within the Presbyterian Church (USA):

According to Committee president Carmen Fowler LaBerge, “The Strib indicated that if we would scrub the reference in our ad to sex within marriage and scrub the reference to the Bible, they would reconsider running it. Those edits would have so substantively changed the ad as to render it meaningless.”

LaBerge says the ad ran in big-city papers such as the Los Angeles Times (right), Wall Street Journal, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dallas Morning News, Denver Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Charlotte Observer, Orlando Sentinel, Houston Chronicle, Richmond Times-Dispatch and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Here’s the ad in question:

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Rob Bell’s Editor Speaks Out

Mickey Maudlin, HarperOne

Mickey Maudlin, Senior VP and Managing Editor at HarperOne (and a former editor of Christianity Today) has spoken out about his satisfaction at seeing Love Wins do so well in sales — but also his “deep sadness about the book.”  With as many as six condemning books being rushed to press, the Southern Baptist Convention passing a resolution against Bell, and many evangelical leaders joining in the condemnation, Maudlin writes,

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Preaching from an iPad

Social Phonics Coach, Adam Walker Cleaveland, is quoted in a story by Sam Hodges in the UM Reporter.  The piece is on ebook readers and their use by clergy, both in the pulpit, and as a substitute for traditional print books.

The first few times the Rev. Adam Walker Cleaveland preached from his tablet computer, he carried along a printed text, just in case of computer failure.

Not anymore.

“I’ve done it enough now that I’m solely relying on the iPad,” said Mr. Cleaveland, minister for youth and young adults at Asbury United Methodist Church in Livermore, Calif. “If something happened, I would need to rely on the Holy Spirit a little more to get me through it, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

Selective Hearing at Wild Goose

Catherine Caimano has a post at Faith & Leadership which offers a critical look at the Wild Goose Festival.  Her bottom-line critique: Not Enough Jesus.  She got this impression, it seems, from attending a few sessions and overhearing people talk in private conversations.

Among the elements to which she refers is the “Sexuality and Justice” panel that I moderated.  What’s interesting is that I used an extended biblical illustration connecting Jesus’ healing of the man lowered through the roof with Peter’s healing of the cripple by the Temple gate in Acts 3.  After that session, several people stopped me to thank me for talking about Jesus and the Bible.  One young couple said, “We love it here, but we’re youth pastors in a conservative church and it’s tough for us to bring what we’re hearing back.  Thanks for using the Bible — we haven’t heard much Bible here.”

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Evangelicals: The Embattled Minority

Christian Smith did all of us who follow the sociology of American evangelicalism a great service with his 1998 book, American Evangelicalism: Embattled and Thriving.  Therein, he described how evangelicals had developed a “sub-cultural identity,” wherein they told themselves a story about their own position as an embattled minority, even as they became the most powerful voting bloc in the electorate.

That self-defining narrative has continued unabated.  Witness Micharah Bachlin, using the bully pulpit of FOX News to decry the lack of balance in the “lamestream media.”  And, mark my words, Bachlin’s presidential campaign will be premised largely on the view that conservative evangelical voters are an underrepresented minority.

In The Atlantic Monthly‘s annual “Ideas Issue,” Idea #11, “Gay Is the New Normal” shows that evangelicals are already continuing this storyline:

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Millenials for Gay Marriage, But Not Necessarily Pro-Choice

The Public Religion Research Institute has a new study out on abortion opinions in America.  In some ways, the results are not surprising: a solid majority of Americans think that abortions should be legal and available; evangelical Protestants are the least likely to think so.

But other conclusions are more surprising:

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This Is the Last Post I’ll Ever Write about Ken Silva

June 17, 2011 may have been the best day of Ken Silva’s life.  It was also, most probably, the worst day in the history of journalism.  For it was on that day that the USA Today quoted Silva in its article on the upcoming Wild Goose Festival.

It seems that the USA Today didn’t call Silva, since it’s difficult to find a phone number for him (I have, and I’ve called him a couple times).  Instead, the USA Today simply cribbed a quote from one of Silva’s blogs and took his word for his own credentials.

Silva is the pastor of Connecticut River Baptist Church in Claremont, New Hampshire.  It is a church with no website, a hard-to-find phone number (or this phone number), and at last report, eight members.  The address of the church, 24 Crescent Street, is a vacant building.  (It is actually listed as the home of “Stevens Alumni,” whatever that is.  It has also formerly been the home of “Green Acres Fine Food and Wine.”)

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A Conservative at Wild Goose

WGF logoDevin, a new friend of mine, has a post on Patheos about what it was like being a conservative (young, restless, Reformed) at the Wild Goose Festival.  Definitely worth the read:

The fact of the matter is that so much has been said about the Emergent Church and it’s leaders that is utterly bogus. There has been very accurate assessments of their methodology, philosophy and hermeneutic. It can’t be denied that overall they have been painted as the boogeyman and many of their critics would rather shove them out of their congregant’s sights instead of really assessing what is fueling the movement. The Church is infected with slack anti-intellectualism when it comes to critiques that come from the outside. It is a tradition of men to ignore the popular philosophers of our day because they don’t share our theology. We all know that much of the material is liberal theology that has been tweaked for our time in an attempt to get Jesus into places that are usually afraid of Him. While I don’t line up with how this is done, I have seen them provoke more thought about the person of Christ among secular communities far more than I’ve seen in any street preaching venture. There, I said it. [READ THE REST]