This Week’s Good Reads

morning-paper2Another big collection of articles from around the web:

1. “Hoping for Love” by Wesley Hill

Hill continues to be one of the most beautiful and encouraging voices within Evangelicalism on the issue of same-sex attraction. Here he explains why he sympathized with so many of his gay friends who were rejoicing at the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage. He explains where he believes the church has short-changed some of these same people and how a renewed understanding of what we oppose and what we can learn from our gay neighbors is in order.

2. “Confirmed: Michigan is America’s #1 State” by Brian Manzullo

Okay, so it’s not a particularly scientific study, but some website explained why Michigan was the best state in the nation. Here the Detroit Free Press picked it up and championed it with all sorts of gusto. I confess, I do love living in Michigan!

3. “An Initial Response to SCOTUS: Where Do We Look for the End of Loneliness?” by Wesley Hill

Another great piece from Hill over at the Spiritual Friendship blog. In this blog Hill explains how the Supreme Court decisions gives an insufficient answer to the loneliness that so many in the LGBT community feel. The church, he adds, hasn’t given the right answer either, but we have the right answer in the Scriptures. The end of loneliness is not found in marriage, but in the community of believers. This is a great word!

4. “Gay Marriage, Abortion, and the Bigger Picture” by Karen Swallow Prior

Karen has written a wonderful piece over at Christianity Today arguing that Christians need to do a better job of addressing social issues. Her argument is that we tend to focus on one or two social issues at a time opening ourselves up to all kinds of criticisms and accusations of hypocrisy. We hobby-horse a particular issue while overlooking a host of others. She is spot on and makes a compelling case for a more holistic approach to ethics.

5. “The ‘Benedict Option’ and the Dazzled Pagan Eye” by Wesley Hill

I just kept coming across great articles by Hill this week. In this piece he focuses on ways we can draw people to truth that are more simple and basic to the nature of discipleship in the church. He quotes Paul Griffiths saying:

What the pagans need on this matter is conversion, not argument; and what the Church ought to do to encourage that is to burnish the practice of marriage by Catholics until its radiance dazzles the pagan eye.

Using this quote as a springboard he gives three examples of how the church has done just that in a few lives. It’s a beautiful piece of writing that is a great encouragement when we consider where we are at and what it feels like we’ve lost.

6. “I am Gay, and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage” by Paul Rosnick

This was an interesting piece in The Federalist. To be clear it is a unique voice and should not be used to suggest more than it states. Yet, one interesting feature is the suggestion that Rosnick is one among many gay men who are against gay marriage. He writes:

The big secret in the LGBT community is that there are a significant number of gays and lesbians who oppose same-sex marriage, and an even larger number who are ambivalent. You don’t hear us speak out because gay rights activists (most of whom are straight) have a history of viciously stamping out any trace of individualism within the gay community.

This is a fascinating “secret,” and I will be curious to see if it is corroborated anywhere else. Ultimately, Rosnick’s argument comes down to the sexual complementarity of men and women and the creation of new life that can happen in marriage. This, he says, is why gay marriage will never be equal with heterosexual marriage and why the latter should be protected. There’s nothing new here, but it’s interesting to hear it from a different perspective.

7. “Anti-Intellectualism and Contemporary America” by Michael Austin

Austin, a Christian and philosophy professor, writes in Psychology Today about how poor education has contributed to the anti-intellectualist spirit of our contemporary culture. It is fueled by an inability to read anything of length and depth that requires hard mental work. It goes well beyond fundamentalism, he says, and can be seen in plenty of group think across religious and non-religious boundaries.

8. “Video: J.I. Packer’s Life and Legacy” by Justin Taylor

Taylor sits down in this video with Sam Storms and Leland Ryken, both of whom have new books out on Packer. They discuss the man and his legacy, reminding us all of God’s gift to the church in this most gracious, wise, and influential scholar.

9. “Can Evangelicals See Themselves in the LGBT Movement?” by Alastair Roberts

Originally posted at Christ and Pop Culture, this piece at TGC is really quite amazing! Roberts argues here that we have lost the debate on same-sex marriage in part because we have given away our objective historical grounds to the subjective conversion story. We have adopted a narrative foundation for our beliefs which actually parallels that of the LGBT movement. He writes:

Because both elevate the subjectivity and personal “story” of the individual as the defining factor in identity and share a resistance to the “external” determination of identity, evangelicals and the LGBT community have an ironic affinity. The content may radically differ, but the form of identity has great similarities. This affinity has considerable implications for understanding the character of evangelicalism’s response to LGBT persons and to same-sex marriage.

This is an important and fascinating read. I highly commend this article to you, friends.

10. “Say Something Theological!” by Jordan Hylden

Writing from within the Episcopal Church, Hylden discusses the renewed Task Force on Marriage. He discusses the importance of saying something “theological” over and against the isolated subjective statements of personal experience and presumed revelation. He writes:

But any responsibly theological ethics must also insist that personal or group experience cannot have the only word. A seminary dean, not known to be particularly conservative, made this point to me in one of the cavernous corridors of the convention center. Culture quite obviously is not always the same thing as the voice of God. Churches quite obviously have gone off the rails in capitulation to culture: take for instance the Dutch Reformed Church in apartheid South Africa. There must be a test for what we find when we go inside our hearts, for what we claim as revelation. We must, in other words, go beyond the simply anthropological, and try our best to say something theological instead, one that is responsive to the Word from God that is the prophet Amos’s plumb line that measures and finds wanting every merely human religion.

Episcopal or not, this is a good read and applies across the board to us all.

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