Our August 23 cover story on monogamy and Dan Savage has
gotten a lot of feedback, both positive and negative. Benjamin Dueholm offers a
nuanced take on the ways the popular sex columnist is beating pastors at their
own game--and the ways Savage's ethical worldview falls short. Some readers
seem too stuck on the first point--"the Christian
Century believes we should be instructed by an advice columnist," crows Joe Carter at First Things--to hear Dueholm out on the second.
The new diversity and tolerance survey numbers from
the Public Religion Research Institute were released last week for the 9/11
anniversary, and many of the findings are about religious freedom, pluralism
and Islamophobia. But the one I found most sobering was this:
The LA Times has an interesting article
about evangelical pastors' involvement in political mobilization. Tom Hamburger
and Matea Gold don't do enough to prove their now-more-than-ever hook--that
pastors whipping votes in Iowa and elsewhere are "part of a growing movement of
evangelical pastors who are jumping into the electoral fray as never
before"--but it's still an important story to follow as we slog through yet
another election season in which the religious right is still not dead.
Arabic is an official Israeli language. About half of Israeli Jews have heritages stemming from Arabic-speaking countries. Despite this, only about 10 percent of Israeli Jews understand Arabic well, even though one poll indicated 58 percent of Israelis think it is important to learn the language. The Israeli school system teaches a formal version of the language, not the dialect used on the streets. Gilad Sevitt has attempted to rectify this gap with a series of free YouTube videos teaching Arabic with the name Madrasa (school in Arabic). The language instruction videos have become popular, especially with 18- to 34-year-olds. Palestinians, Jordanians, and Saudis have also used it in reverse, to teach Hebrew. Groups have formed on Facebook and in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to study the videos together (The Christian Science Monitor, July 17).