In the World
Steve Thorngate on public life and culture
It's often said that in a tolerance-obsessed culture, everything is tolerated—except intolerance. Actually, this gets said a lot more often than perhaps it should, because being intolerant is not the same sort of thing as being black or female or gay or Muslim. Tolerating people is more fundamental than tolerating their ideas. Yet tolerating ideas matters, too.
So, I write church music. (I've probably mentioned this before.) I've made lead sheets and full-band recordings for just one set of songs, my settings of the three Luke canticles. (One of them—Simeon's—is also on this Cardiphonia compliation.) At this point, mostly what I've done is create home demo recordings, playing and singing all the parts myself, some of them better than others. Here's one I just posted, not a biblical canticle but a song with original lyrics.
This weekend, I went and saw The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was good. It also failed the Bechdel test spectacularly: I don’t think two female characters ever spoke to each other at all, much less about something other than a man. Later, I watched the new episode of The Good Wife. Now there’s a show that aces the Bechdel test, week after week.
Be sure to read Amelia Thomson-Deveaux's article on the emerging evangelical-Catholic alliance over contraception. I think her historical analogy is entirely fair: evangelicals haven't always been opposed to contraception, but then they weren't always galvanized against abortion, either. And I appreciate that she doesn't simply endorse one of the two standard narratives on how evangelicals came to hate abortion—that either they came around to this opposition organically as they learned about the facts OR they were cynically manipulated by political operatives. There's truth in each of those stories; they aren't mutually exclusive.
Well, there you have it: World Vision has reversed its decision to allow Christians in same-sex marriages to work there. For 48 hours, the evangelical organization was poised to join Ken Wilson and others in acknowledging that SSM is a subject Christians disagree about, not a dividing line between who does and doesn't count as a Christian in the first place. But as Katherine Willis Pershey put it yesterday, in trying to stay out of the SSM fray, World Vision ended up right in the thick of it.
When you live in the city, you end up having a lot of conversations about crime. People want to know about your neighborhood, and the conversation inevitably dances carefully around people’s beliefs about the relationship between violent crime and race. The ugly assumption no one ever quite comes out and states plainly (because they totally aren’t racist): We know the perpetrators of violent crime will be people of color. The question is, who will the victims be? In reality, interracial violence makes up a small share of violent crime—and when it does happen, perpetrators and victims alike are pretty diverse.
I have mixed feelings about this idea of Marshall Poe’s: I think religion should be taught in college. I’m not talking about “religious studies,” that is, the study of the phenomenon of religion. I’m talking about having imams, priests, pastors, rabbis, and other clerics teach the practice of their faiths. In college classrooms. To college students. For credit.