It’s no wonder that Saudi Arabia ranks 131 out of 135 nations in the World Economic Forum’s report on the global gender gap. It is a country where child marriage is still practiced and where women are treated like minors their whole lives regardless of age or education. Women far outnumber men on university campuses, yet they still can’t run in elections or vote. A woman who broke the ban on female drivers was sentenced to ten lashes and needed a royal pardon. Saudi Arabia “is unabashed in its worship of a misogynistic God and never suffers any consequences for it, thanks to its . . . having oil and being home to Islam’s two holiest places, Mecca and Medina,” says Egyptian-American columnist Mona Eltahawy (Foreign Policy, May/June).
May 24, 2012
Gay advocates across the country argued that Dharun Ravi should not be scapegoated for the death of his roommate, Tyler Clementi. Clementi took his life after Ravi secretly videotaped him kissing an older man in their Rutgers University dorm room and posted the video on social media. Ravi, a student from India, could have been sentenced up to ten years for his conviction on hate crime laws. Instead, he was sentenced to 30 days in prison, three years probation, mandatory counseling and a $10,000 fine, an amount that will go to victims of hate-based crimes. Aaron Hicklin, editor of Out magazine, E. J. Graff, lesbian columnist for the American Prospect, Jim McGreevey, the gay former governor of New Jersey, and sex columnist Dan Savage were among those who said that while Ravi’s behavior was wrong, he didn’t deserve a lengthy prison term (Reuters and AP).
Change or else
May 24, 2012
Due to declining enrollments and budget crunches, many seminaries are rethinking their future. Katherine M. Douglass and Jason Bruner, doctoral students at Princeton Theological Seminary, think there are other reasons why seminaries need to think fresh thoughts about their role in the churches. One has to do with a changing demographic, which includes more minority and immigrant congregations. Another has to do with the increasing challenge of interfaith relationships and dialogue. Established seminaries could learn from the model of some immigrant churches whose leaders are trained to work in other fields. Seminaries should recruit local immigrant pastors to provide on-the-job training. The old model of apprenticeships is worth another look, too (Chronicle of Higher Education, May 13).
May 24, 2012
After years of preparation, a new Christian denomination was formed last month in France when two synods met in the eastern town of Belfort, a location historically important in the growth of Protestantism. Called the United Protestant Church of France, the merger is not for economies of scale but to make a more united witness to the gospel. The merger of the Reformed Church of France (ERF) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France (EELF) was first proposed in the 1960s but was resisted by Lutherans who feared they might be absorbed. A new proposal was launched in 2001, and the nearly unanimous decision to merge was taken in 2007 (ENInews).
Thinking about death
May 24, 2012
Chaplain Rob Ruff encourages people to start early in life to prepare for death. Think about your death a moment or two each day, he says, keeping in mind that death is a natural part of life. Don’t give in to the idea that to think about death will somehow make it happen. Make a list of the things you want to do before dying and then check them off. Prepare an advance medical directive, designating who you want to make decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself and what your end-of-life preferences are. Use your prayer life to prepare for death. Finally, say the most important words to the most important people in your life: Forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you (KevinMD.com).