The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, July 13, 2011

“‘Sister Wives’ to challenge Utah anti-polygamy law”:

One case that could figure as important in the case is the Lawrence v. Texas case in 2003, when the majority of the Supreme Court struck down laws banning consensual sex between same-sex couples. That case involved two consenting adults who didn’t seek recognition of their relationship, were not involved in any crimes and whose behavior was private, [attorney Jonathan ]Turley said.

Turley said that in polygamy cases, other crimes come up, such as child sex abuse. In this case, he said, the Browns are a successful family who’ve committed no crimes and have children who are thriving in school. They are simply living their private lives according to their own values and faith, Turley asserted, and aren’t seeking multiple marriage licenses.

However, he told CNN, their spiritual matrimonial commitments, as seen on TV, have triggered suspicions from authorities in Utah regarding bigamy. Seeing their private behavior as law-breaking is an “obvious contradiction,” because other combinations of people are not penalized for having multiple relations and multiple children by multiple partners.

The Browns, he said, should have the same rights as enjoyed by other kinds of families. Such individuals should not be subject to arrest the minute they express a spiritual commitment.

“Can they be prosecuted because their private relationships are obnoxious to other citizens?” he asks.

Has anyone noted the irony of fundamentalist Mormons using a gay-friendly legal decision to defend their household arrangements?


“The Doorknob Chronicles of Dan Savage”:

If you haven’t already done so, add this regulation to your rules for living: Never take sex advice from a man who licks doorknobs. The reasoning—as if a reason needed to be given—is that a man who doesn’t understand the telos of a doorknob isn’t likely to understand the telos of sex. Unfortunately, many people seem to disagree with me, which is why Dan Savage has become one of the most influential sex-advice columnists in America.


“Two Minutes to Eternity”: Marshall Shelley meditates on the death of his two-minute-old son, Toby, and two-year-old Daughter, Mandy. (The article originally appeared in Christianity Today in 1994 and has been reposted on its website.) Parts of this article made me cry. Here’s the ending:

Why did God create a child to live two minutes?

He didn’t.

He didn’t create Toby to live two minutes or Mandy to live two years. He didn’t create me to live 40 years (or whatever number he may choose to extend my days in this world).

God created Toby for eternity. He created each of us for eternity, where we may be surprised to find our true calling, which always seemed just out of reach here on earth.


“That Which Undercuts Human Exceptionalism Should Be Considered Immoral”:

This doesn’t mean those who support such policies are personally immoral (or evil)—nor that I am morally superior to those who disagree with me about those issues.  But it does mean, I think, that if I believe a given policy would lead to immoral results (as defined above), I have a personal duty to lawfully and peacefully oppose them (and conversely, to lawfully and peacefully  support those policies or ideas that reinforce  and uphold what I perceive to be moral).  And, I think, I am entitled to make prudential and judicious use the I-word, not as a personal attack on those who disagree (“You are immoral!”) but as a characterization of outcomes (“That would be immoral.  Here’s why.”) And that is true even if I am the only person in the world holding that ethical view.


“Is It Okay for Christians to Believe in the Doctrine of Hell But Not Like It?”

To admit that God says hard things is admirable honesty. But to profess our dislike for what he does or wish that he were a different kind of God who did things in a different way–even if we come around to accept these ways in the end–is not the right kind of humility. It’s one thing to say to unbelievers and skeptics, “I struggled with the same questions you’re asking.” It’s another to throw God under the bus, admitting “I don’t like hell anymore than you do. I’d take it out of the Bible if I could. But it’s in there, so I can’t deny it.”

Given that the Bible portrays hell as a righteous sentence against unrighteousness, isn’t not liking hell identical to not liking justice?


“Acting studio aims to make Hollywood more like Holywood.”

“Our mission is to turn out actors who will lead the way toward a moral center for the movie and television industry,” the studio’s website says. “All our courses emphasize personal and professional growth and development, not limiting such growth to acting potential, but also transforming the trainees into leaders in their families and community as well.”

Good for them!


“Science fiction probes at religion”:

The one thing that cannot be said about SF’s attitude to religion is that it is pious — SF is a fundamentally irreverent literary form which is never really happy with certainty or solemnity. It is perhaps for that reason that some American fundamentalists put it on the list of forbidden genres along with books about witchcraft and wizards. SF is not hostile, essentially, to religion, but it is not comfortable with closed minds.


The Times grinds its ax”: A “collapsed Catholic” with no expertise in the subject of papal history reviews a book by an “agnostic Protestant” with no expertise in the subject of papal history, but disclaims having an “ax to grind.” Uh huh. Read the review, then compare and contrast it to the review and the review. And make up your own mind.


“What’s going on at the Bachmann clinic?” Reparative therapy for homosexuals, evidently. Expect to see more about this as primary campaign goes on.


“What You Don’t Know about Obama’s Mama”: Jennifer Grant reviews Janny Scott’s new biography of Stanley Ann Dunham, a/k/a “Obama’s mama.” Very interesting! Especially the comments about the blog post.


“How to wreck your life”: Be ungrateful and envious.


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