I want to love but it comes out wrong

I want to love but it comes out wrong March 7, 2023

• The men (men, men, men, manly men, men, men) of the Gospel Coalition website have continued their long tradition of running piously creepy, cringe-y articles about sex that they’re then forced to retract and apologize for.

The piece by Arizona pastor Josh Butler (he, him) is gone now, but it’s hard to tell from the theobros’ statement whether this is because they belatedly recognized its peculiarly misogynistic heresy or if they just regretted saying the quiet part loud.

Theologian Beth Felker Jones offers a long, thorough, and thoroughly theological rebuttal of Butler’s creepy argument — “Protestant bodies, Protestant bedrooms, & our furious need for a theology thereof.” Bonus points to that essay for the “Leda and the Swan” reference, because that’s really the kind of theology we’re contending with here.

perfectnumber’s response is more visceral, but just as apt: “This May Be The Most WTF Christian Article On Sex I’ve Ever Read.” Once you get past the disturbingly large amount of “overspiritualized language to describe semen,” she writes, you realize that, once again, “women’s orgasms are not on anyone’s radar at all, over at The Gospel Coalition, even when they are talking about a man being ‘generous’ during sex.”

So yet again my advice to the theobros is this: Next time you’re tempted to post anything about the theology or spirituality of sex, don’t. Just don’t. Simply post a .gif of Old Man Dunphy from Outside Providence talking about Chinese food instead:

“It ain’t over ’til you both get your cookies.”

• Florida Republicans have introduced legislation that would require bloggers to register with multiple state agencies before writing about Gov. Ron DeSantis, with thousands of dollars in fines for those who fail to do so. The bill — inspired by measures imposed by Viktor Orban’s one-party autocracy in Hungary — manages to be both fascist and kind of quaintly out of date. (I mean bloggers? Really? What is this, 2007?)

Wonkette’s Doktor Zoom offers the most appropriate response: “Here Is Our Registration To Blog In Florida, Mister Knucklef*ck Sh*thead State Senator, Sir.”

Reading about this bill prompts the two-stage reaction I have nowadays whenever I read about such Republican proposals: 1) This is transparently, obviously unconstitutional and illegal; and 2) Oh, crap, with the Roberts/Alito court, it may no longer matter that a bill is transparently and obviously unconstitutional.

• Today is Purim, a Jewish holiday based on the story of Esther. It’s described in one old joke as “They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.” A couple of Purim-related links:

Biblicizing Esther“: Aaron Koller of Yeshiva University talks with Pete Enns and Jared Byas about this strange story and how it wound up as “Bible.” Lots of good stuff here about Esther as historical fiction written in tension/debate with the book of Daniel.

And PJ Grisar writes: “I watched 6 Christian Purim movies so you wouldn’t have to.” The Veggie Tales version of the Esther story may be the best of the bunch.

• “Young earth creationist attractions take top honors again in USA Today polling.”

The most surprising thing about that story may be that USA Today apparently still exists in some form. It seems that Gannett’s newspapers-without-reporters-or-editors scheme involves putting lots of click-bait “reader polls” on its site, including this one about the “best religious museums.”

That’s a pretty niche category to begin with, but it seems to have been even smaller than it might have been. The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, for example, doesn’t seem to have been included in the category. The 1692 Salem Witch Museum doesn’t seem to have been on the list either.

• Every once in a while, someone will ask me about my Myers-Briggs personality type and I tell them I’m an IJFE. They look puzzled for a second and then I explain: “It’s Just Forer Effect.” It’s a horoscope for people who don’t like horoscopes.

Which brings us to ChatGPT, about which Terence Eden asks, “How much of AI’s recent success is due to the Forer Effect?

Eden compares the output of these AI programs to a “cold-reading from a psychic.” He’s referring there to the AI’s tactic of ensuring an appearance of accuracy by employing vague generalities bound to ring true-ish for almost any reader, but the fuzzy line between cold-reading and outright grifting has me thinking here. Maybe the feared “singularity” won’t arrive as some SkyNet type apocalypse, but just as our computers glancing around warily before leaning in close to tell us that, hey, don’t spread this around, but I know a guy who can get you in on the ground floor of something really big.

• The title for this post comes from the late great New Jersey band the Smithereens. There’s no actual statistic for the ratio of classic riffs/total songs, but if there was, these guys would be near the top of the all-time list.

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