Obama: Contra Secularists

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Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, William Jennings Bryan, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King–indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history–were not only motivated by faith but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. To say that men and women should not inject their “personal morality” into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

This quote is from the President’s “Call to Renewal Keynote Address,” on June 28, 2006. Emphasis mine. I used this in my Rotary address earlier today!

British Marriage Equality and Marriage Without Sex

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From The Telegraph:

…Lobbyists naturally believed that all you had to do to allow gay marriage was to extend to same-sex couples exactly the same law as applied to existing, heterosexual marriages.

Too late, they discovered, this cannot be done. Civil servants, confronted with the embarrassing task of working out what defined the consummation of a homosexual relationship, faltered. Since homosexual acts have no existential purpose and no procreative result, consummation is a meaningless concept. From this it followed that the Government could come up with no definition of adultery in a homosexual marriage. A law designed to be equal, is not. Under the Bill, non-consummation will not be grounds for divorce in same-sex marriage. Nor will adultery.

By accident, then, the Government is introducing, for the first time, a definition of marriage which has no sexual element. Yet it refuses to face the logical consequence of this surprising innovation. If sexual intercourse is not part of the definition of same-sex marriage, why should blamelessly cohabiting sisters not marry one another in order to avoid inheritance tax? Why should father not marry son? Why shouldn’t heterosexual bachelor chum marry heterosexual bachelor chum? What, come to think about it, is so great about the idea of monogamy, once sex and children are removed from the equation? Does the word “marriage” any longer contain much meaning?

And if Equality is the highest of all moral aims, how can the Government possibly justify not extending the gay right to a civil partnership to heterosexual couples who, at present, have no such privilege? If this Bill becomes law, all these matters will be litigated over, right up to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Against such outcomes, as he painfully well knows, Mr Cameron can make no provision.

Possibly the House of Commons, where mere politics reigns and virtually no time has been permitted for debate on the Bill, will fail to think through these issues, although revolt is growing. But precision and fairness in framing our laws are subjects in which the House of Lords rightly claims a key role. The Government faces trouble there. Continue reading

Malick: Only in Russian Characters

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…combine the romantic and innocent side, with the insolent and daring side. For some reason, you only ever see that combination in Russian characters

on filming To the Wonder

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So, for example, he recommended that Kurylenko read The Idiot with a particular eye on two characters: the young and prideful Aglaya Yepanchin, and the fallen, tragic Nastassya Filippovna. “He wanted me to combine their influences — the romantic and innocent side, with the insolent and daring side. ‘For some reason, you only ever see that combination in Russian characters,’ he said to me.”

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As prompts for the actors, Malick shared representative works of art and literature. For Affleck, he suggested Fitzgerald, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky. (Affleck read Martin Heidegger on his own, having known that Malick had translated one of the German philosopher’s works as a grad student.) For Kurylenko, he also recommended Tolstoy and Dostoevsky — specifically, Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, and The Idiot. “Those books were, in a way, his script,” she says. But he did more than give the actors the books; he suggested ways to approach the texts and characters to focus on. So, for example, he recommended that Kurylenko read The Idiot with a particular eye on two characters: the young and prideful Aglaya Yepanchin, and the fallen, tragic Nastassya Filippovna. “He wanted me to combine their influences — the romantic and innocent side, with the insolent and daring side. ‘For some reason, you only ever see that combination in Russian characters,’ he said to me.”

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How to Speak Truth to Power?

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Michelle Obama: “He [Jesus] was out there fighting injustice and speaking truth to power every single day.” (source: ABC news)

True. But the question is, how did Jesus speak truth to power? As Spartacus, or as Julius Caesar?

Both Spartacus & Caesar “spoke” to the powers of their age. Spartacus did it as a rebel and insurgent, leading a revolt. And Caesar did it as the power, controlling and squashing those who abused authority they derived from him.

So in which way did Jesus speak to the Pharisees, the “Temple system,” and the political powers of 1st Century Judea? As Lord or Servant? And how should the followers of Jesus follow Him today?

Keller on “Explosive” Contextualization

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From his forthcoming Center Church:

To illustrate what is needed for effective contextualization, let’s turn to the world of demolition. Say you are building a highway and want to remove a giant boulder. First, you drill a small shaft down into the center of the rock. Then you put explosives down the shaft into the core of the stone and detonate them. If you drill the shaft but never ignite the blast, you obviously will never move the boulder. But the same is true if you only blast and fail to drill—putting the explosives directly against the surface of
the rock. You will simply shear off the face of it, and the boulder will remain. All drilling with no blasting, or all blasting with no drilling, leads to failure. But if you do both of these, you will remove the rock.

To contextualize with balance and successfully reach people in a culture, we must both enter the culture sympathetically and respectfully (similar to drilling) and confront the culture where it contradicts biblical truth (similar to blasting).

Tree of Life: Two Ways


The nuns taught us there were two ways through life—the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow… Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries… Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things… They taught us that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.

I will be true to you, whatever comes.

Art Can Glorify God Because of the Goodness of Creation

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Art can glorify God because of the intrinsic good of creation, not because it has some transformative, redemptive power to usher in spiritual redemption… Poorly written novels — no matter how pious and edifying the behavior of the characters — are not good in themselves and are therefore not really edifying.

@WhiteHorseInn
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