Friday, February 25, 2011

Odds and Ends

A few items of interest:

-Ray Kurzweil on global warming. While his line of reasoning seems a bit simplistic, it is worth remembering the rapid advances being made in technology - and that moving forward is often a better solution than going backwards.

Are the current changes in climate a sign that modern society is unsustainable? There's certainly a lot we need to do to take better care of the planet we live on, but having grown up in the types of churches that keep the masses terrified by latching onto a new prophet of doom and destruction every couple of years, I've learned the hard way to be skeptical of anyone who claims the world is about to end.

-In the "not sure whether to laugh or cry" category, Tony Perkins' description of the Family Research Council's work: "speaking the truth in love about the most important issues facing our country." The saddest part is that he no doubt sincerely believes himself to be a loving and truthful individual, even though his "facts" about the lives of gay individuals bear no resemblance to reality and the next loving thing he says will be his first.

-On the topic of groups that claim to be speaking the truth in love, Kathy Baldock's take on Focus on the Family's so-called "Day of Dialogue" addresses the whole mess quite well. Sadly, the conservative side of the evangelical world is still far too self-absorbed to see how many people they are driving away from God with their creative definition of compassion.

-Finally, The Onion comes through again, this time foretelling the horrors sure to follow if the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Weekend Reading

Fortunately other bloggers are feeling more prolific than I am at the moment. Here are a few items of interest that are well worth the effort.

1. Wendy Gritter on creating space within the church for disagreeing over whether God blesses same-sex unions. Part 1 can be found here.

I've long wondered whether a day could come when the church matured to the point of allowing this issue to be a matter of personal (or at least congregational) conscience rather than one that divides. It still seems like a pipe dream, but seeing others come along to champion the cause of unity gives me hope.

2. Rob Tisinai has begun responding in depth to the latest arguments against same-sex marriage. Part 1 is here. His explanation of rationalism vs. empiricism in Part 2 is particularly useful; without understanding the lines of reasoning employed by the former approach, one can never understand fundamentalist thought.

3. On a different note, this is a beautiful story. And it's an outcome that I suspect is considerably less rare than ex-gay advocates would like it to be...

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Vicious Cycles

I was recently reminded, via a television show, of the fact that bullies are themselves usually deeply wounded individuals. Whether they're acting out in response to being bullied previously, to some other trauma in their past, or merely out of fear (which fundamentalist religion is saturated with), life is rarely as black and white as we'd like it to be.

What's true of kids in a schoolyard is just as true in the adult world. The main difference is that the Tony Perkinses and Bryan Fischers of the world can cause pain on a scale that no seventh grader could even dream of. Whatever old wounds and deep-seated fears motivate them to bully entire classes of people, even they may not fully understand.

The fact that they and their ilk are victims in their own right doesn't lessen the need for decent people to stand up to them and work to prevent the harm they would do, but it can at least temper the way we view them. The Golden Rule requires that we not lose sight of their humanity, even when they seek to dehumanize us - and as human beings they are still bearers of the image of God, however difficult they may make it for others to see in them.

The bullies in our world might not appreciate our efforts, but by keeping in view the humanity that underlies their angry and hate-filled tirades, we just might someday come up with a way of breaking the cycle of abuse that made them what they are.