The whole sermon is below.
The whole sermon is below.
Bryce Cherry, sports editor for the Waco Tribune-Herald wrote a great piece about his perspective on the Brittney Griner v. Baylor culture storyline. Perhaps it is not a major storyline on many of the sports media outlets you may be reading. But for folks in and around Wacoland, Griner’s comments have caused no shortage of heartache and disappointment.
Griner is set to release a memoir of her life and basketball career to this point (She is 23 years of age) entitled In My Skin. Through a series of preview excerpts Griner has lobbed her own bomb into the current discussion about being Gay and tolerance and university life. Cherry’s piece highlights some of these comments.
“I would love to be an ambassador for Baylor, to show my school pride, but it’s hard to do that,” Griner writes. “It’s hard to stand up and say ‘Baylor is the best!’ when the administration has a written policy against homosexuality. I’ve spent too much of my life being made to feel like there’s something wrong with me. And no matter how much support I felt as a basketball player at Baylor, it doesn’t erase all the pain I felt there.”
No doubt, Griner existed during a unique time in Baylor sports history and she was not able to be the only big-time athlete on campus. Whether intentional or not, she would always be viewed against the outspokenly God-following, church going, heterosexual, genius, Heisman winner RGIII. She would be viewed against the outspokenly God-fearing, church going, heterosexual, dunk machine Quincy Acy. She would be viewed against the outspokenly evangelistic, church going, super-marriage guy, Nick Florence. And Brittney was not outspoken about God, not heterosexual, and not an ambassador.
But as Cherry notes over and again in the article, Griner was nonetheless beloved and embraced at Baylor and by Wacoans.
During her four years in Waco, Baylor always had Griner’s back. Baylor’s administration, coaches and fans stuck up for her when the rest of the world wouldn’t.
But Baylor didn’t just defend Griner — it embraced her. It wrapped its arms around her, Bear-hug style, and didn’t let go. Fans turned out in droves to watch her warm up, much less play. Legions of pint-sized, pony-tailed future ballers wore her No. 42 jersey. She became a fixture in Waco, as ubiquitous as Dr Pepper, and fans still approached her for autographs and photo ops everywhere she went.
This is, no doubt, a complex matter and I personally feel for Brittney. But remember that everyone has a unique story. Remember that Griner committed to Baylor in 2007 during her sophomore year (and maybe unofficially at an earlier date). Let’s assume that her sexual orientation was not fully understood or appreciated at this point in her development as a woman. Let’s also assume that she had not fully developed as a theological thinker. Let’s also assume that she has historically attended a black church growing up and that this community of believers colored the way she would approach and understand sexuality. The Black church in America has always (I repeat always) had to wrestle with and worship among gay church members in ways that (I don’t think) white churches can fully appreciate or understand.
So put all those assumptions together.
If Griner had committed to Baylor as a 15 year old, if she never knew a world where being gay and Christian caused drastic drama, if she was not even fully aware of the ramifications of sexual orientation and sexual identity, then it would make sense that she would be blindsided by the prospects of coming of age (sexually and theologically) within a culture where gay and Christian were not permitted to coexist in tension. Wouldn’t this set of assumptions explain Griner’s realized blindsidedness? Why Griner harbors such strong feelings today? Why she would consider Baylor to be an intolerant Christian university? Why she would have not been able to be an RGIII type of ambassador?
Again, I feel for Griner. But I also suspect that the theological/sexual development process played a much bigger role in her experience. I suspect that Baylor’s culture was not out to get her or any other gay students.
Baylor has always been Baylor. That doesn’t mean that Griner was fully aware of the decision she was making to come play for Baylor. It also doesn’t absolve Baylor from intentionally recruiting a student-athlete who may not be in keeping with the university’s culture on sexuality (Which would set this student athlete up for heartache and frustration). But it does mean that Baylor has plenty of evidence to suggest that their pro-heterosexual Christianity is less of a capricious attack on an individual student and more of a consistently applied culture. And in light of this consistent culture, I would also say that Baylor has been, as I have written before, a flawed but honest example of Christian tolerance.
Apparently Huvr Boards are real now.
The viral video launched yesterday and as of this post has 1.6 million hits.
But the question that many are asking is: “Is this real?” And I want to know. Because, I want to own one. I am more excited about this invention than the Copenhagen Wheel.
Devin Faraci at this website has done a bit of digging and concludes that this is a fake ad produced by Funny or Die and may be intended to raise awareness for a reboot of the Back to The Future franchise.
Seriously, I want to know if this is real because I want to hover board to work. Also, because in 1990 I drew up a schematic chart using crayon and paper in which I laid out a magnetic engineering design for a hover board. I am pretty sure that I would have intellectual rights to said design.
Pharrell Williams’ 2013 smash hit Happy is a fun, catchy, memorable frolic through the high points of life. As far as pop art goes, I enjoy it. I dance to it with unashamed passion and gusto. As such, it should be mandatory soundtrack music for anyone in a good mood. And therein lies one of the tragic realities of such a joyous overture.
I am not blaming Pharrell. Pharrell, I want you to hear me clearly — I’ve got nothing but love for your art. It is amazing stuff, really. But, consider the lyrics for a moment and see if you can spot the erroneous thinking hidden deep within:
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do
Wait a second. Happiness is the truth? Is that what Pharrell’s song is proclaiming? Is it possible that Mr. Williams believes that happiness is reality? It seems that way given the song’s bridge:
Can’t nothing bring me down
My level’s too high
One of the myths of modern culture is that the pursuit of happiness is the chief end of life and reality. If you can discover happiness, modern prophets proclaim, in the form of sex, food, relationships, experiences, art, whatever, then you will discover the ultimate meaning of life. This is a fine claim — except that it does not support the supreme weight of experience. What happens when your levels drop and you become depressed? Has meaning been lost? And if meaning has been lost, was it really universal and absolute meaning?
Or consider these common life experiences: What happens when death happens? Death happens to everyone. Is that happy? Know enough people wrestling with death and you will see that happiness doesn’t exist in cancer wards.
Or military funerals. Or many types funerals for that matter. So do grieving people miss out on truth?
What about people bound up in sex trafficking? The FBI estimates that this number is in the millions. Millions of girls and boys are forced into this modern day slavery each year. And many of them become strippers in gentlemen’s clubs as a way of escaping sex trafficking. And in these clubs there is, no doubt, happy music and optimism from customers. But these are certainly not happy people doing the dancing. Where is the truth here?
If only there was an ultimate Truth that was not bound by a temporary state of being, that could envelop the good and bad, happiness and sadness, highs and lows that life and death have to offer.
Oh but there is. Jesus Christ, who lived and died and lived again about 2000 years ago said this of himself in John 14:6, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but through me.” Jesus is The Truth for strippers. For grieving parents. For people in cancer wards. For those struggling with depression. And, for happy people. Unlike happiness itself, Jesus can handle all the ups and downs and in-betweens of life. Why? Because He is The Truth.
So Pharrell, I want you to know that while I love most of your song, I have pulled a Weird Al and chosen to sing along with the following modifications:
Because He’s Jesus
Clap along if you feel like Jesus is the truth
Can’t nothing bring me down
My God’s too high
Ryan Anderson’s How Now Shall We Bake? is the best commentary so far on how Christians might respond to the hubbub surrounding the impending clash of Christian wedding service providers, gay couples, and government action. Anderson is most recently responding to Kristen Powers and Jonathan Merritt’s new article in opposition to conservative Christianity and selective reading of the Bible.
Anderson is concise, deeply consistent in logic, and practically helpful. I commend his writing to any Christian looking for a way to process through the newspaper clippings.
Anderson’s conclusive paragraph is most illuminating on one helpful way to view the conflict:
Were a gay baker to object to providing a cake for a church-sponsored event celebrating biblical marriage, I’d defer to a gay baker’s right to refuse, and respectfully seek out business elsewhere. He should be willing to serve Christians generally. He should not be coerced into providing food and drink for celebrating what his conscience forbids. That’s what it means to live in a free society. The state shouldn’t force the baker to provide a cake for a perspective that he or she vehemently disagrees with. In the same way, an African American who owns a t-shirt company shouldn’t be forced to make a t-shirt for a KKK rally. Imagine the stifling harm done to a society where a sign company owned by a gay man would be forced to print the heinously offensive, gospel-denying neon placards of the Westboro Baptist Church. That is no longer a free society. When companies are free to contract according to their conscience, the products of a free society—decency, respect, and civic pluralism—are cultivated.
Bottom Line: If the government should ultimately decide that they can force service providers to do business despite their conscious objections, this will be a huge score for any nerdy middle schooler who has ever asked a pretty girl on a date (and who has been rejected) 1. If the government rules in such a way, then they would communicate (unfortunately) that the only likely reason that any beautiful girl would object to any nerdy boy’s advances is because she is intolerant. And intolerance is now the worst possible thing in the world.
Get ready band nerds. Your time is coming.
Daniel Payne’s Abolish Compulsory Education is worth reading for anyone considering homeschooling or for anyone who is passionate about organized education.
Payne argues that the historical context that produced government (or any centralized organization) run education has passed and it is now time for informed citizens to rethink whether we need to require parents (under threat of fine) to send their kids to a school for 8 hours each day.
Compulsory education is simply impossible to reconcile with a free people, which is presumably why it is enforced so strictly in places like Greece and Serbia. In the United States—a nation, one recalls, where liberty is held to be not merely vital but inalienable—it is altogether puzzling and dismaying that it ever reared its ugly head, or that it ever became an acceptable state of affairs.
Lurking behind this argument is a belief that homeschooling is a viable and fruitful educational option.
I must confess to a small amount of bias concerning compulsory education in general and its home-based opposite in particular: for eleven of my formative years I was homeschooled, a gift immeasurable in its value and in its utility. There was a good deal of breathless worry from third parties as to whether or not homeschool would see my brother and me “properly socialized” (one of the great benefits of homeschooling is that you get to offend a lot of people who have delicate sensibilities); still others wondered if we would receive adequate education under our parents (a question that is virtually never asked in such a knee-jerk fashion of the teachers to which we send our children every day, at least not until it is too late). All of these fears were grossly misplaced, and though I will not say that homeschooling is for everyone, the choice to do so certainly is—as is the offense to be taken at having to even ask the state if one may do so.
Control is the operative word in this essay. To what extent do parents want to maintain control over their children’s educational development (One which is a significant component in the development of character and personality). For some parents, they are happy to relinquish control to specialists who are more gifted in the area of education. For others, say like my wife (Masters degree in education) and myself (PhD), we may be reticent to give control over our kid’s educational development when we could reasonably help form this aspect in our own way, with our own values and views up front, and with a bit more control over the process.
As a historian, something also rings true about Payne’s premise. 2014 America with google and bookstores and libraries aplenty has much more access to information than the rural farms and urban cities of 1899 America. Are options such as Kahn Academy or private tutors more in keeping with our current pace of life? Do our kids need rigid curriculums and accountability systems or do they need educated tutors who can channel innate curiosity towards an informed position and understanding of reality?
Beck’s new album Morning Phase drops next week, but you can stream it for free via NPR. And you should. It’s one of the best albums I have experienced since Bon Iver, since since Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky, since Ryan Adams’ Easy Tiger, Since John Mayer’s Continuum, since Pearl Jam’s Ten.
It plays like a soundtrack for a commute at sunrise along Lake Michigan on a crisp Chicago springtime.
Peter Tabakis over at Pretty Much Amazing wrote a splendid review. Here are some snippets:
It took just three plays for Morning Phase’s grandeur and potency to shame me for approaching it with unjustified baggage. As promised, the album is instantly familiar and welcoming, as if it were recorded at the tail end of the Sea Change sessions.
And about Beck’s maturity as an artist:
Thirteen years later, no longer the brokenhearted troubadour of Sea Change, Beck is now a married father of two, with middle age peeking out of the near distance. As such, Morning Phase casts a broader net, eschewing blunt confessional for elliptical universality. Its starkest departure, the undulating and abstract centerpiece “Wave” (a composition he’s been kicking around for some time now) blankets the listener in pure mood.
Morning Phase never sounds anything less than opulent. Its end run, “Country Down” especially, is about as good as popular music gets. Beck’s voice, most often doubled and sometimes tripled, omnipresent and in conversation with itself, binds and elevates this, his most consistently exceptional album since Odelay. But refinement and sonic curlicues can’t distract from a lack of innovation, which used to flow forth effortlessly.
I could not agree more.
My friend and Bowdoin College alumnus Owen Strachan tipped me as to this article about a recent liberal arts campus, whose wide sweeping student organization policy change may be the epitome of intolerance masked in the form of tolerance.
Bowdoin College, one of the ten most underrated and sneaky brilliant colleges in America, has followed the path of many other “enlightened” universities by insisting that all campus groups not discriminate in any way regarding pathways to leadership positions within student organizations.
A web article from the Times Record offers this blurb:
A case in point may be the Gregorys, who have been leading Bible study through the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship, a student organization, at Bowdoin for the last 10 years.
The article continues:
Robert Gregory, a Damariscotta lawyer and minister, and his wife, Sim, said they did not feel they could sign the form as written because, among other things, it would allow non-Christians and those who do not accept Biblical teaching on sexualilty, marriage and family life to accept leadership roles. They asked for what amounted to a religious exemption; it was denied. The Gregorys will be leaving Bowdoin at the end of the school year.
So catch this. An institution dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge wants to require that a particular ideology (Biblical Christian theism) restrict it’s own ideology so as to not possibly offend another viewpoint (any other theism/non-theism) on the basis of religious tolerance.
And this same institution permits other ideologies (republican organization) to discriminate against still other ideologies (democrat organization) on the basis of political tolerance.
Wait — how is the former decision an act of tolerance? The Times Record follows up:
Gregory says he wants to be free to teach the whole Bible, including portions on sexuality and marriage. No one involved in the Bible study group has complained, and not all are even Christians. Gregory says there has never been an issue, because few students are willing to accept a leadership role in any case at Bowdoin.
So no one is complaining, and yet the college has decided to provide a solution for a potential future problem. I guess that is one way to handle things.
Another sad facet of this administrative move is that it is not a matter of permitting students into an organization. It is a matter of cultivating leadership for the student organization. In what bizzaro universe would a non-Christian want to be the leader of an organization that believes in the resurrection as a true historical event? Or to ask it again, what Boston Redsox fan would want to be the president of a Yankees fan club? Again — what real life, scientifically identifiable, sociologically demonstrable problem are we trying to solve here?
I have to wonder: Is this really the best use of time, talents, resources, and policy? And to what extent is this reflective of the kind of administrative prowess running our institutions of “higher learning?” This is sad, in my opinion, because Bowdoin has such a rich academic tradition. It is a shame that intolerance gets to masquerade as tolerance. It’s a shame. Bowdoin and other colleges should be better than that.
I am officially calling you out Bowdoin. Quit being anti-intellectual. Quit restricting the pursuit of truth. Your students and alumni deserve better.
Pastor Jamie Coots, the NPR featured snake handling, Pentecostal preacher from Kentucky has died.
The cause of death is, ironically, poison from a snake bite — the kind that was common place in Pastor Coots’ worship services.
Pentecostal pastors find Biblical support for this practice in Mark 16:17-18.
“And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
Coots’ death highlights several tension points in Christianity and American culture:
1. Is this a healthy example of respect for religious liberty? Although Kentucky made snake handling illegal (to prevent this very thing), they usually do not prosecute violators when handling is done for religious reasons.
2. Is this denominational interpretation of Mark 16 an example of faithful hermeneutics or superficial reading? There is considerable debate from form-critics who argue that verses 17 and following were later add ons that should not be included in the Canon of Scripture. Should other Christians fault Coots and others for simply taking the Bible at face value? Could we not conclude that Coots is being more faithful to the Bible than those of us who point out Biblical teaching against homosexual behavior while letting practiced greed go unchecked?
3. What should be included in/excluded from regular worship services in the local church? One of the flash points of debate within The Church is what should be and should not be included in regular worship? What about songs? What about meals? What about preaching? What about teaching? Who is to say that a worship service with 4 musical songs and one 30-minute lecture/sermon is the “Biblical” way to order worship? Why not add a meal? This seems to be the picture of worship in Acts 2. Why not include snake handling? This seems to be normative in Mark 16.
Food for thought.
Michael Sam is an amazing football talent 1. He is the reigning co-defensive player of the year in the toughest conference in college football. He tackles opposing players using flawless technique and determined focus of force. He will likely be a third or fifth round pick by a team in the National Football League’s upcoming draft.
And last Sunday, we all learned that Michael is gay.
Sam came out via a series of interviews and soon national media outlets began cycling through the same chorus of talking points related to the burgeoning experience of being gay in America in the 21st century.
Barriers are coming down.
Equality has found its way.
We are finally becoming sophisticated.
We are on the right side of history.
As the news media cycle goes, the early columns were uplifting and positive. Columnists championed Sam’s bravery and dreamed of the days when people will be evaluated based upon their moral character and not by the color of their skin or their sexual orientation. And the next news day brought about the complementary negative story lines which filled out the range of responses to Sam’s announcement. Here columnists and commentators alike took to criticizing anyone who held a less than accepting reaction to the news of Sam’s sexual identity. And suddenly the backwoods, anachronistic buffet of interview data was served up on a hot platter.
Michael Sam’s father was interviewed by the New York Times on his reaction to his Son’s announcement. Although he now disputes the specific nature of his answers, Sam Sr. said of his immediate reaction to the news:
“I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.
“I’m old school,” he added. “I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.” As evidence, he pointed out that he had taken an older son to Mexico to lose his virginity.
Let’s step past the curious parenting decision regarding Mexico for a minute — Sam Sr.’s response is not an uncommon one among many Americans struggling with the rise of LGBTQ influence in American culture. But Sam Sr.’s response is a admittedly shallow and judgmental one. And it is not the best approach for many reasons. First, it plays into an unfortunate and misinformed narrative about negative reactions to gay culture in America. Consider the following conversation about homosexuality and American life:
Person A: What do you think about this Gay movement in America?
Person B: I am uncomfortable with the Gay movement because I am old school and grew up in a time when you could not be out and out gay in America. I prefer and privilege a previous era in American culture.
Person A: You are on the wrong side of history.
The Wrong Side Of History narrative is quite common in today’s conversations and anyone truly practicing tolerance is going to be labeled as anti-history.
The second reason the aforementioned response is not the best one is that it equates “being gay” with being a new fangled movement, one that is incorrect by virtue of it’s novelty. Thus, being gay is tantamount to owning an iPhone 5, or using the internet, or wearing Tom’s Shoes. One could refuse any of those because one is “old school.”
The third problem with the “old school” response is that it appears to be anti-progress. Thus, one could be “old school” and therefore opposed to modern medicine, academic research, or eco-friendly architecture. It is for both reasons that one’s opposition to the gay question matters, especially if one is a believer in Jesus Christ and His absolute Truth.
Let’s return to the hypothetical dialogue between Person A and Person B. Consider how an important adjustment to the response changes the tone and scope of the conversation about homosexual culture in America:
Person A: What do you think about this Gay movement in America?
Person B: I am a missionary to American Culture and respect the laws of the land. I am a proponent of progress because God is the one doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19). My iPhone 5 is indication that I am a fan of new fads. I am also convinced and persuaded by the Bible’s teaching on human flourishing and normative sexual ethics, which holds that sex is something not to be practiced between a random man and a random woman, but between a husband and a wife. Biblically defined, not government defined, Marriage is the context for healthy exploration of sex.
Person A: You are on the wrong side of history.
If one were to respond in this way, Person A may still come back with the charge that the Christian is on the wrong side of history. But that charge doesn’t stick because Christians have historically held a sex-in-marriage-only position as the majority view throughout history. It is actually by this point the normative Christian position. Consider Pope Francis’ recent remarks on the matter, which offered a new tone (which is helpful) while maintaining and reinforcing the traditional position.
So, if you find yourself in a conversation in the following weeks where you are asked to talk about gay culture in America in the 21st century, I would encourage you to help the conversation along in this way: Be pro-Bible, not old school.