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Thank you

Memorial Day 2013

Memorial Day 2013

To all those who gave their lives in defense of our country, regardless of their sex, age, race, religion, color, ethnicity, birthplace, socioeconomic class, or sexual orientation – to all of you who gave your lives, thank you.

We remember.

The Boy Scouts Have Made the Correct Choice

Boy Scouts to allow gay youths to join

A member of Scouts for Equality holds an unofficial knot patch incorporating the colors of the rainbow, a symbol for gay rights. (Via CNN)

An excellent decision (finally) was made today by The Boy Scouts of America, yet another institution in decline (membership in Boy Scouts has declined by about a third since 1999), but one that has now left behind the discriminatory social practices of yesteryear and has joined our modern, egalitarian, American society.

It is a decision that is sure to cause religious fundamentalists to bemoan the continued erosion of their previously enjoyed haven of religiously-protected bigotry.

Excellent choice!

Announcing the Arrival of Quincy and Rory Kate Cargill

Roslyn, Talitha, MacLaren, and I are pleased to announce the newest additions to our family: our son, Quincy Enoch Domenico Cargill, and our daughter, Rory Kate Duvall Cargill were born on May 11, 2013 at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City.

Quincy Enoch Domenico Cargill arrived at 7:22 pm. He weighed 5 lbs. 1 oz. Enoch is Roslyn grandfather’s name. Domenico is Robert’s great-grandfather’s name, and was the patriarch who brought the family to the U.S.

Rory Kate Duvall Cargill arrived at 7:26 pm. She weighed 4 lbs. 14 oz. Duvall is Roslyn’s family name going as far back as can be traced.

Roslyn is doing fine and recovering well. Daddy is already reading Aramaic to them both.

Thank you to everyone for your kind thoughts and warm wishes.

Mommy and Quincy

Mommy and Quincy

Mommy and Rory Kate

Mommy and Rory Kate

In response to Jim West’s “narrowly concerned” spittle

A Haredi man spits at a passerby.

In response to Jim West’s continued, passive-aggressive attempts to defend his oppression of the civil rights and privileges of same-sex couples by taking every chance possible to turn any news story into a shot against those who support marriage equality, here’s my response to his latest rhetorical spit-curse in the direction of those whose blogs he feels ‘to narrowly’ focus on the defense of the rights of same-sex couples. (And it is a spit-curse: an unprovoked shot at those with whom he disagrees on a certain issue while routinely passing by a completely unrelated topic. Some Haredim do it to tourists in Jerusalem; Jim does it to other bloggers online.)

Jim wrote:

Today’s term:  ’Narrowly concerned‘.

Narrowly concerned: n. a person who is terribly concerned for ‘marriage equality’ but totally silent about the deaths of 1000 Bangladeshis.

My response:

I’m guessing it’s because no one rallies to the defense of the Bangladeshi sweat shop owners, advocating to suppress the rights of the sweat shop workers. No one calls the near slave-like conditions the “natural order” of business in a capitalistic society, and no one argues that calling for workers’ rights is “angry advocacy” by quoting passages instructing slaves to obey their masters, parables teaching workers to work for their agreed upon wages (Matt 20), and instructions for women to remain silent.

EVERYONE realizes that this is a tragic situation and EVERYONE is calling for reform and punitive action to be taken against those who oppress these women, UNLIKE those who oppose marriage equality, who grasp for reasons to continue to deny gay couples the civil rights and privileges their oppressors enjoy.

The reason you don’t see a fight over this is that people are smart enough in THIS scenario to realize that one group is suffering under oppression/lack of civil justice, unlike same-sex marriage, where there are still people (believe it or not) who think that it’s OK to oppress another group because either their religion or their tradition (usually as the result of religion) tells them to do so.

CAN YOU IMAGINE someone rallying to the defense of the Bangladeshi sweatshop owner? CAN YOU IMAGINE a scholar arguing that these women “had it coming” because “they knew what they were getting into”, while quoting Matthew 20:13 over and over and over again, claiming it’s the “revealed” word of God. Because THAT’S what those who oppose same-sex marriage look like to the now majority of Americans who support marriage equality for same-sex couples.

That’s probably why. It’s easy to condemn the universally condemnable. It’s much more difficult to stand up for the oppressed minority and condemn the establishment. If I’m going to be “narrowly focused” on a blog (as if I have the free time to “report” redundantly on and condemn everything in the news as some do), may it ever be in defense of those who must fight against a bigoted populace AND the religious authorities who empower and perpetuate their oppression.

Methinks Chris Broussard WANTS to get fired

Chris Broussard

Chris Broussard

Methinks ESPN’s Chris Broussard WANTS to get fired. Following Chris Broussard’s declaration that newly-out gay NBA player Jason Collins is “not a Christian,” which I discussed yesterday, we have this interview where Broussard argues on the New York-based Power 105.1 “Breakfast Club” radio show, that gays can be saved if they ask for God’s forgiveness.

What startles me is the theological ignorance and the inconsistency and irrationality of his argument that immediately becomes apparent when he begins to elaborate his views on homosexuality, AND his misunderstanding of the relationship between the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) and the New Testament. Gone are thoughts of Jesus in Matt 5:17-19, where he says:

Matt. 5:17  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Matt. 5:18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Matt. 5:19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Rather, we see a textbook example of the theological fallacy of Christian “Replacement Theology,” where Christians feel that the NT “trumps” the OT, but only in places they want it to. So while Broussard points out Peter’s vision of the “unclean” animals in Acts 10 is used to dismiss kosher regulations banning unclean foods, he uses the abolition of this one regulation to dismiss all other Old Testament laws…at least those he doesn’t consider to be “moral” laws.

If it sounds confusing, it’s because it IS confusing and makes no sense.

At one point, the hosts even say, “You sound like the white guy who says, ‘Hey, Im not racist. I got black friends’.”

Here are some transcripts I made from the interview:

Broussard:

“All of us fall and stumble, and I have fallen and stumbled many times since I’ve been a Christian, but I always, you know, repent and ask God for his forgiveness, and, you know, I’m movin’ forward from there. I think that’s the mark of a Christian. And I think if a person…that…

Stumbling and falling while you’re tryin’ to live for the Lord is different than goin’ out huntin’ for sin. You know, I’m goin’ out and gettin’ into it tonight. I’m gonna be mad if I don’t get into any sin. So… you know, I’m tryin’ to make you to accept my sin life. I don’t care what God said, I’m just livin’ like this. That’s different than a person who’s sincerely strivin’ to live the right way and stumbles, legitimately falls. Get back up. Get on your path. You’re forgiven. And let’s keep tryin’.”

Host: “What exactly does the Bible say about homosexuality?”

Broussard:

“It says it’s a sin. First Corinthians chapter six verse nine says fornicators, homosexuals, robbers, thieves, adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God. It goes on to list a few other things. Romans chapter one says it’s unnatural. Obviously the Old Testament talks about it bein’ wrong…”

Host: “Well Chris, Deuteronomy 14:8 condemns the eating of pork, but I bet you love bacon.”

Broussard:

“I sure do, man, I sure do. But, you know, the Old Testament dietary laws don’t apply in the New Covenant. Acts chapter 10, Peter, you know, talks about that as the Lord revealed it to Peter, so all of the Old Testament laws, there’s 613 laws in the Old Testament that they had to follow under the old covenant. We’re under grace. We don’t have to follow all of those 613 laws to have peace with God. But the moral covenant, because it’s outlined in the New Covenant, the New Testament, as I said, First Corinthians six, Ephesians, Romans, Galatians chapter five, talk about the new covenant still following the moral code of the Old Testament. So the moral laws of the Old Testament that we were taught still apply, but not eatin’ shrimp, and wearin’ blended cloth and fabric and things like that.”

So wait, because ONE of the laws (dietary) are trumped in the NT, ALL of the OT laws are dismissed? And who distinguished the ‘moral’ laws from the…well, what do we even call the ‘non-moral’ laws of the Old Testament?

This is one of the most ignorant, uninformed understandings of the Hebrew Bible I’ve ever heard. (Actually, I’ve heard worse, but…) Note how Broussard says, “We’re under grace. We don’t have to follow all of those 613 laws to have peace with God.” Note he said we don’t have to follow all of them…just the ones he wants to continue to enforce, like condemning gays.

But it gets worse:

Broussard:

“I’m married seventeen years. Never cheated on my wife. But man, I’ve been tempted. You know what I’m sayin’? I mean, I cover the NBA. I see beautiful women all the time. I’ve had actresses throw me a little rhythm. But I gotta resist. I gotta fight against temptation. And that’s the life of a Christian. That you fight against the temptation. And if you stumble and fall, then you get back up, you repent, you ask God for forgiveness, and you move on. And I think that applies to homosexuals as well. If a person who’s a same-sex attracted, you know, is sincerely tryin’ to live for the Lord, and they fall, and they fall in the same-sex relationship or act, and they, they is really tryin’ to serve the Lord, they repent, and they ask for forgiveness, and they keep trying to serve God and they fall time and time again consistently, I believe that person is a Christian.

But that’s why I said yesterday it’s about unrepentant sin. There’s a difference. Am I repenting, or am I just saying, ‘Yo, this is how I am God, I don’t care what you say. I don’t care what your word – I’m not even askin’ for forgiveness. How you gonna be forgiven if you ain’t even askin’ for it?”

Then Broussard continues:

“The question is your heart. Add you know that. Are you really tryin’ not to fornicate, not to sleep with that girl over and over again. Because God…the Bible says God is not mocked. God ain’t no punk. You ain’t no punk. I ain’t no punk. None of y’all punks. If I come to you and I say, ‘Yo man, I wanna be in covenant with you, I wanna be your boy. We cool.’ But behind your back, I’m goin’ out time and time again and dissin’ you and doggin’ you on purpose, but when I see you in your face, I’m like, “Yo man, you know, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry man,’ but I don’t really mean it, then, you ain’t gonna go for that once you find out the truth because you ain’t no punk. You ain’t mocked. And it’s the same thing with God. We created in his image. So if we ain’t punks and gonna fall for that, then he certainly ain’t gonna go for that. BUT, if I’m your boy and I sincerely mess up. I just happen to do something wrong against you and you know I’m really sorry, and I’m like, ‘Yo man, my bad. I ain’t gonna do it no more, dog. I’m sorry,’ then you’ll forgive me in many cases, and it’s the same with God.”

Again, this is an example of theological dilettantism.

So, in Broussard’s mind, it’s OK to sin again and again and again heterosexually, and if you ask for forgiveness, you’re OK, because “God knows your heart”, and you’re “his boy”. BUT, if your sin is homosexual and you sin again and again habitually, and you ask for forgiveness, then you’re “not God’s boy”, because “God ain’t no punk”. And since homosexuals are always “goin’ out huntin’ for sin,” they aren’t asking for forgiveness, so they aren’t Christian. Because “God ain’t no punk” and “God is not mocked”. But if you’re straight, and you “ain’t gonna do it no more, dog,” then God will forgive you (“in many cases”).

Now I’ll ask again the larger question:

  • What does ANY of this have to do with Jason Collins announcing he’s gay in the NBA?
  • How is a theological conversation and condemnation a topic for discussion for ESPN?
  • And why would ESPN want THIS conversation about the condemnation of homosexuality entering into the conversation about a professional policy of tolerance for different sexual preferences in the NBA?

Why won’t Chris Broussard shut up about this? Perhaps because he knows it’s coming. And if he’s getting fired, he wants to portray ESPN as firing him for his religious beliefs, and not for his lack of professional discernment between those personal religious issues of faith, and those professional issues of policy. He knows he’s about to get fired, so he’s positioning himself as a martyr. And that will play and gain some traction among the most conservative Evangelicals in the country, who are always looking for a Christian martyr they can point to and say, “See, there is religious intolerance toward Christians in America.”

Yes. Religious intolerance in America. Against Christians. Of course.

By the way, at one point in his rambling toward the end of the interview, Broussard even talks about people who aren’t Christian using “condoms and strap-ons”, which elicits a audible sigh (“Ah, yeah…OK”) from a female host in the studio. Don’t miss that one.

ESPN might tolerate a mistake, but I don’t think they’ll tolerate an evangelist talking down to NBA fans.

Even the show’s hosts, who did an excellent job demonstrating patience throughout the interview, and asked some smart questions, tried to cut him off at the end of the interview. ESPN will do the same soon.

Still one of the oddest biblical commands: COVER YOUR POO! (Because God might step in it!)

Deuteronomy 23:12-14

Deuteronomy 23:12-14

One of my favorite obscure biblical commands is from Deut. 23:12-14 (v. 13-15 in the Hebrew). Right after God gives rules concerning how to deal with wet dreams (i.e., nocturnal seminal emissions – the answer, btw, is to leave the camp, wash with water, and not return until sunset), God issues commands dealing with human waste disposal.

Now, disposal of human waste is a necessary, albeit unsavory, part of urban life (or in this case, desert nomadic life in a camp). We must have rules that govern how to dispose of human excrement in order to help combat diseases that may arise from contact with human waste. Everyone acknowledges this.

Thus, the Israelites are commanded to cover their poo when they, well…poo. This makes obvious sense. It helps cover the smell, which while odious to humans, is also detected by unwanted animals and insects. Covering your poo also assists in avoiding everyone’s pedestrian nightmare: stepping in poo.

Interestingly, of the above reasons given in support of the command to the Israelites to cover their poo, it is the latter (not wanting to step in it) and not the former (hygiene) that is given as the theological reason for burying one’s foul:

Deut. 23:12 You shall have a designated area outside the camp to which you shall go.
Deut. 23:13 As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.
Deut. 23:14 For the LORD your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.

God steps in poo.

God steps in poo. This must be avoided.

You read that correctly. God WALKS IN THE MIDST OF YOUR CAMP (Hebrew: מִתְהַלֵּךְ בְקֶרֶב מַחֲנֶךָ = “paces/walks in the midst of your camp”), and you don’t want God to step in it! In fact, God doesn’t even want to see (Hebrew: ראה) anything indecent (Hebrew: עֶרְוַת דָּבָר = “any naked thing”).

This is the reason given for why Israelites must go outside of the camp to go, and then cover their poo: because God walks around the camp and they don’t want God to step in their poo, and if he even sees it, he’ll “turn away” from the camp (as it stinks and is no longer “holy”), and will stop protecting/delivering them and will stop handing their enemies over to them in battle.

Apparently, if you want God in the midst of your camp, he can’t be in the midst of your crap.

So in the end, the rationale for covering one’s poo is not hygienic, nor is it public health, but rather the Israelites are to cover their poo so that God doesn’t step in it or see it, because if he does, he’ll leave them and they’ll start losing battles.

There’s another poo-related pun I could make here, but I don’t want to bring bulls into it.

(HT for image: Tom Verenna)

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