Generous Orthodoxy  

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Gay evangelicals "under the radar"

A careful reading of two articles in The New York Times, December 12, 2006, might move the discussion along in a positive and helpful way, no matter what one's views are. Here is an excerpt from one of them ("Pastors’ Disclosures May Stir Empathy, Some Evangelicals Say" by Neela Banerjee):

The Rev. Randy McCain, pastor of Open Door Community Church in Sherwood, Ark., a Little Rock suburb, started his evangelical church as an openly gay man, and many of his 120 congregants are gay or relatives of gay men and lesbians. Mr. McCain said he hoped the disclosures would shake the certainty many evangelicals had about homosexuality.

But he said...that while leaders of large churches might hide their homosexuality, he had heard of many small churches like his where gay people were accepted, “a ministry under the surface, and not on the radar screen.”

“I think that’s the way God is moving, often under the radar,” Mr. McCain said. “It’s like finding a baby in a manger: you don’t expect to find God there. And it’s like that when, say, the parents of some of our members come to our church.”

The other article, also by Ms. Banerjee, is called "Gay and Evangelical, Seeking Paths of Acceptance." Here are the first paragraphs:

Dateline Raleigh, N.C. — Justin Lee believes that the Virgin birth was real, that there is a heaven and a hell, that salvation comes through Christ alone and that he, the 29-year-old son of Southern Baptists, is an evangelical Christian.

Just as he is certain about the tenets of his faith, Mr. Lee also knows he is gay, that he did not choose it and cannot change it.

To many people, Mr. Lee is a walking contradiction, and most evangelicals and gay people alike consider Christians like him horribly deluded about their faith. “I’ve gotten hate mail from both sides,” said Mr. Lee, who runs, a Web site with 4,700 registered users that mostly attracts gay evangelicals.

The difficulty some evangelicals have in coping with same-sex attraction was thrown into relief on Sunday when the pastor of a Denver megachurch, the Rev. Paul Barnes, resigned after confessing to having sex with men. Mr. Barnes said he had often cried himself to sleep, begging God to end his attraction to men...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Should a President suffer?

Peggy Noonan, Bush 41's speechwriter, has a column in this weekend's Wall Street Journal (back page of the "Pursuits" section). She confesses that she is baffled that George W., unlike his father who has taken to crying in public, shows no signs whatever of the state of things in Iraq or the battering he himself is receiving. She summons up images of the suffering of Abraham Lincoln and the lonely anguish of Lyndon Johnson. Then she writes:

But George W. Bush seems, in the day to day, the same as he was. It is part of the Bush conundrum -- a supernal serenity or a confidence born of cluelessness?...I'll tell you, I wonder about it and do not understand it...I'd ask someone in the White House, but they're still stuck in Rote [Rove?] Talking Point Land: "The President of course has moments of weariness but is sustained by his knowledge of the ultimate rightness of his course."
If he suffers, they might tell us; it would make him seem more normal...but maybe there is no suffering. Maybe he outsources suffering. Maybe he leaves it to his father.

When the Iraq Museum was looted

I try not to say "I told you so" very often, but when the great Baghdad museum of Mesopotamian antiquities (which I studied in college and seminary and all during my life) was looted within the first few days of the American invasion, I sent emails to various friends in the biblical field, to share grief and to suggest that this was a sign of impending disaster.

In the just-out January 2007 issue of Vanity Fair, we have an article wittily entitled "Neo Culpa" by respected journalist David Rose. Rose has this to say (Ken Adelman is one of the card-carrying neo-cons, a Pentagon insider, and a former member of the Defense Policy Board):

If the administration loaded the dice against success with its pre-war decisions, Kenneth Adelman says, it made an even greater blunder when Saddam's regime fell. "The looting was the decisive moment," Adelman says. "The moment this administration was lost was when Donald Rumsfeld took to the podium and said, 'Stuff happens. This is what free people do.' It's not what free people do at all: it's what barbarians do. Rumsfeld said something about free people being free to make mistakes. But the Iraqis were making 'mistakes' by ruining their country while the U.S. Army stood there watching!" Once Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks failed to order their forces to intervene—something Adelman says they could have done—several terrible consequences became inevitable. Among them, he tells me over lunch at a downtown-D.C. restaurant, was the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure, the loss of documents that might have shed light on Saddam's weapons capabilities, and the theft from Iraq's huge munitions stores of tons of explosives "that they're still using to kill our kids." The looting, he adds, "totally discredited the idea of democracy, since this 'democracy' came in tandem with chaos." Worst of all, "it demolished the sense of the invincibility of American military power. That sense of invincibility is enormously valuable when you're trying to control a country. It means, 'You f--- with this guy, you get your head blown off.' All that was destroyed when the looting began and was not stopped."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

God at work on the geopolitical scene

This quotation is a year old, but more current than ever. Last Advent, John Lewis Gaddis, the very impressive Yale historian, published another installment of his history of the Cold War (The Cold War: A New History). Here's a quotation from a New York Times review:

"Elsewhere Mr. Gaddis has endorsed the writing of a 'new cold war history - one in which ideas, ideologies and morality are going to be central,' rather than nuclear strategy and military brinkmanship. From the outset, he argues, the United States and the Soviet Union saw the cold war not simply as a struggle for military superiority. The world would observe, and judge, two competing and contrasting social systems. For Mr. Gaddis, innumerable private perceptions and moral decisions did as much to dissolve the cold war consensus as international treaties or macroecomonic trends. Characteristically, he locates the beginning of the end for Soviet Communism with the dramatic moment when Pope John Paul II arrived at Warsaw airport on June 2, 1979, and kissed the ground."

..............................................--(review by John Lewis 12/28/05)