The World Wide (Religious) Web for Monday, June 27, 2011


“Did I Just Tweak Jesus’ Nipple?”:

For some, this story might seem to reflect a person with no respect for Jesus.  Yet for those of us who know Jimmy, we see it as a divine encounter where a loving God reached past the cloudy confusion of mental illness to demonstrate His love for one of His children.

When we began our ministry in our neighborhood nearly a decade ago, we could not have anticipated that we would have found ourselves in relationship with so many people struggling with various degrees of mental health.  Neither could we have anticipated how deeply so many of them longed for a place of love and acceptance, a place to explore faith without fear or judgment.  For many people with mental illness (who represent a significant number of the poorest of the poor in North America), the church has not been a place of welcome or understanding.  The stigma attached to mental illness is deeply rooted in most Christian circles nurturing an ignorance that makes connecting to these people nearly impossible.  They represent one of the single most neglected “unreached people group” in our cities.  This must change.

And yet, it is not only the mentally ill who need the church to reach out and love them.  We are in genuine need of them.  Encounters like we have with Jimmy and others force us to push our faith beyond intellectual ideals and shallow spiritualities.  They demand that we confront the messy reality of a broken world and rely entirely upon God to reach past the impossible circumstances with His divine grace and love.  Beyond the romanticism that often clouds reality, we must learn to genuinely see Christ in these children of His.  Then we will learn what it means to live the words of Jesus with our lives.

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“Marriage Is a Mixed Blessing”:

WILL the New York State Legislature ultimately put itself on the right side of history by allowing same-sex couples to marry? Many of us in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, amazed at how quickly public opinion has evolved on this issue, are eager for this historic civil rights victory.

My hope comes with some worry, however.

While many in our community have worked hard to secure the right of same-sex couples to marry, others of us have been working equally hard to develop alternatives to marriage. For us, domestic partnerships and civil unions aren’t a consolation prize made available to lesbian and gay couples because we are barred from legally marrying. Rather, they have offered us an opportunity to order our lives in ways that have given us greater freedom than can be found in the one-size-fits-all rules of marriage.

This argument is incoherent to me. If gay marriage is on “the right side of history,” then how can marriage itself be too constraining (“one-size-fits-all”) and in need of “alternatives”?

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“No ‘him’ or ‘her’; preschool fights gender bias”: Biology has a way of reasserting itself over time, so my guess is that this is a losing fight. But you gotta love the name of the preschool: “Egalia.”

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“Returning Evil for Evil: The Snickering Consent of Prison Rape”:

Christians delight in perfect justice, not when it is abused. And those who wink at what disgraces humans and dishonors God should repent. May we love our neighbor and enemy by praying that this abuse stops and that those in positions to make changes do so swiftly.

Amen.

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In “Religious Liberty and the Development of Doctrine in Islam,” Michael Novak makes a prediction:

My prediction is this: By the year 2020, rough and painful human experience will lead the Islamic nations of the Mediterranean Basin to resound with positive cries for democracy, human rights, individual liberty, and the dignity of every man, woman, and child. By 2020, Islamic peoples will be crying out publicly in favor of regimes that allow men and women to act from reflection and choice, and to live as peoples who are free and responsible, and who are eager to show initiative and unprecedented creativity.

Well, let’s hope so.

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“Bachmann” Got ‘sense’ from God to run for office”: Does this mean she’ll win?

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“Should Christians Pursue External Beauty?” Well, doing so is better than the altnerative. Then again…

But while I delight in seeking to be beautiful on the inside and on the outside, I don’t hang my existential coat on this body. The grace of Christ and the power of the Spirit help me cultivate the former and hold the latter loosely. There is no doubt that Kanazawa was on to something in that beauty deserves attention. But that attention should ultimately point us back to God, “beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.”

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“People of Faith”: a roundup of interesting social-science research on topics related to religion.

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“Do iPads Cause Religious Experiences?” Only if your “god” is a nerd. Or a fruitarian.

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“Bristol Palin’s New Book Reveals Heterosexual Agenda.” Ouch.

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 “We Share Responsibility for Coach Tressel’s Fall.” I’m a Trojan fan, so I’m exempt from any responsibility regarding an Ohio State coach. More seriously…

We have accepted the dogma that the significant platform for evangelism afforded big-time athletics is a worthy trade-off for a “minor” unethical means of obtaining it. We have decided to label a deliberate violation of NCAA rules (even debatable rules) a “lesser sin” so that more people will get to hear the gospel at our next sports-related outreach. We say, “Well, he’s not saying anything blasphemous about Jesus.” And, “Isn’t it amazing how many people came to Christ today?”

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Check out my review of Am I Really a Christian? by Mike McKinley. If you find it helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.

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