Looking forward to happier times

Looking forward to happier times August 10, 2016

• The popular right-Reformed, anti-feminist Christian-gatekeeping website The Gospel Coalition ran a painfully earnest piece by a Very Nice White Lady struggling to come to grips with the spiritual challenge of “When God Sends Your White Daughter a Black Husband.”

It did not go well.

Sean Palmer and Bryan Loritts wrote generous, impressively patient corrective pieces in response. Roni Dean-Burren’s flip-the-script response is more pointed and piquant (and hilarious).

• RJS on “Why Don’t We Push the Storehouse Theory of Rain?” Not the first to make this point, but she puts it well:

Most Christians, including me, have no trouble acknowledging that both science and the Bible are telling the truth when it comes to weather. God is sovereign over the weather – but we see no fundamental conflict between the scientific and biblical explanations. In fact, I rather expect most of us automatically classify the storehouse references as figurative language and/or poetic license. But it is not at all clear that the ancient authors did. Nonetheless we see no fundamental conflict between meteorology and faith.

I think this is a valuable point to make with our young-Earth creationist friends because it can show them that — in many ways — they already know, understand, and accept the very thing they’re so vehemently insisting on denying. It can be a way of engaging without prompting defensiveness. The argument is less “Your beliefs are wrong” or “You need to change your beliefs,” but more “Look at what you already believe, happily, over here …”

Southern Baptists and evangelicals call on state of Texas to halt execution of intellectually disabled man. Alas, this is an appeal to the conscience of Gov. Greg Abbott, and it’s not clear he has one.

• A timely front page from The Daily Bugle. (Image from a fun set by the folks at Dorkly. Strange news story here.)


• “Trump: A True Story.” Amazing piece from David A. Fahrenthold and Robert O’Harrow Jr. of The Washington Post about a 2007 deposition in which Donald Trump was forced, under oath, “to face up to a series of falsehoods and exaggerations.”

That deposition — 170 transcribed pages — offers extraordinary insights into Trump’s relationship with the truth. Trump’s falsehoods were unstrategic — needless, highly specific, easy to disprove. When caught, Trump sometimes blamed others for the error or explained that the untrue thing really was true, in his mind, because he saw the situation more positively than others did.

Donald Trump lies, instinctively, about everything. Or, really, he just spouts bullshit (in the technical sense) all the time. He’s not saying what he thinks is true and he’s not necessarily even trying to deceive. He just opens his mouth and whatever it is that he wishes was true, at that moment, comes out.

To understand Donald Trump, then, consider everything he says as prefaced by this unspoken prologue: “Join with me in imagining how wonderful it would be if …” That may seem strange, because much of what he’s inviting us to imagine with him would not be at all wonderful if it were even remotely true. But to understand the man you have to understand his fantasies and the joy he takes from imagining all manner of potential offenses, resentments and sources of indignation.

• Back in June, I made a facetious suggestion for how Hillary Clinton could improve her “religious outreach” to evangelicals who don’t share her strain of intellectual, denominational Methodism:

I have a suggestion for Clinton. Earlier this week, she said this: “As we Methodists like to say: do all the good you can for all the people you can in all the ways you can.” That popular Methodist phrase is often mistakenly attributed to John Wesley, but there’s no evidence he ever actually said it (even if it’s congruent with many things he did say). That’s why Clinton, correctly, cites the statement only as something “we Methodists like to say.”

That’s the kind of pointy-headed intellectualism that infuriates the kind of evangelical Christians all the articles say she should be reaching out to. Hair-splitting distinctions about the proper citations of inspirational quotes take all the fun out of it. Plus, refusing to (improperly) credit evangelical hero Wesley with this quote is likely to strike white evangelical audiences as yet another example of Clinton trying to take something away from a white male.

So my advice to Clinton would be to keep repeating this quote, but to attribute it directly to Wesley. That’s inaccurate, and largely meaningless, but such inaccurate and largely meaningless gestures are exactly what the sort of people demanding more “religious outreach” are looking for.

Well, so much for that — a month later Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, referenced the same “Do all the good you can” quote and got criticized by Religion News Service’s David Gibson: “Great quote, Tim Kaine, but John Wesley never said that.”

Mind you, Kaine never actually cited Wesley as the source of that quote, but he’s part of the Clinton campaign now, so Clinton Rules apply: It doesn’t matter what Kaine actually said, because if he had said that other thing, that would have been bad and he should be criticized for that.

• The ’70s musical channel in constant play at the Big Box has its charms — including lots of Linda Ronstadt. Here’s a favorite, backed up by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem in their prime.

"Wow, what a mess of a case."

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