Monday, April 30, 2018
California is in the news because of AB 2943, a bill which bans the business of Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE). The state's argument is that the claim to be able to change sexual orientation constitutes fraud. This bill is not limited to the professionals who offer it; anyone who advertises and offers SOCE in exchange for money is guilty of fraud.
There are lots of questions worth asking about this move to outlaw SOCE itself rather than simply prohibiting licensed professionals from offering it. Will conferences that promote this or bookstores that sell related materials now also be engaging in fraudulent business practices?
I'm sure we will find all this out in the lawsuits that are sure to follow. Meanwhile, this bill got me interested SOCE and legal battles surrounding it. I offer the following points as a reflection of my attempts to think clearly about this. If I am missing something, feel free to offer your clarification in the comments section.
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
A popular online news source recently posted an article that asked how long we will be allowed to remain Christians. It was a serious question the author had received from a friend. I don't question his friend's sincerity, but I do wonder what has led him to believe there is a legitimate reason to fear that Christian faith will be outlawed. We will get to some particular cases that have been in the news, but first the big picture.
- Every president has claimed to be Christian (or at least to have a belief in God)
- Over 70% of Americans claim to be Christians
- There are churches everywhere - literally, everywhere
- Christian colleges, schools, and non-profits flourish
- The "prophets" of the NAR have the President's ear
- The evangelical voting block flexed its political muscle this past election
- We open sessions of Congress with prayer, and Presidents - even Obama! - issue Easter and Christmas proclamations that are blatantly Christian
- Presidents - even Obama! - issue proclamations for the National Day Of Prayer
- Congress claims to be 91% Christian, which has been pretty steady for about 60 years
- Check out Wikipedia's list of Christian charity groups
- Google "Christian schools" or "Christian companies in the United States." There's a lot. (Did you know Forever 21 was a Christian business? And that Chick-Fil-A is delicious?)
- "A 2014 Pew Research Center survey asked Americans to rate groups on a 'feeling thermometer' from zero (as cold and negative as possible) to 100 (the warmest, most positive possible rating). U.S. adults gave atheists an average rating of 41, comparable to the rating they gave Muslims (40) and far colder than the average given to Jews (63), Catholics (62) and evangelical Christians (61)." (Worth noting: the configuration shifts dramatically across age groups.)
Thursday, April 12, 2018
a “meager emotional charge.” It’s also “a cautionary tale about burying ourselves in pop culture while the world burns,” but even that message comes across more clinically than experientially. As The Christian Science Monitor noted, “the message derived from it – that in our cyber age, we desperately need to spend more time in the real world – doesn’t resonate because Spielberg is much better here at virtual reality (VR) than reality.” Yup.
In spite of the mixed reviews, I enjoyed Ready Player One. The book was better – aren’t they always? – but RPO is an entertaining popcorn movie if you go into it expecting no more than that. If you are expecting something to deeply move you, choose another film.
This is good for what it wants to be: a feel-good, pop culture homage validating our nostalgia for the years when technology was new enough (or we were young enough) that it felt like magic, the years when a screen of any kind could transport us into another world where we could escape from the frustrations and failures of the real world and be the person we always wanted to be in a world that made more sense to us than this one.
But that's not what stood out to me the most.
But that's not what stood out to me the most.
Monday, April 9, 2018
The Times once asked famous authors to respond to the question, “What’s wrong with the world today?” G.K. Chesterton responded simply, “Dear Sir, I am. Yours, G.K. Chesterton.”
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." - Pogo
“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart -- and through all human hearts." - Alexander Solzhenitsyn
"Etcetera #18: What's Wrong With The World?"
In this episode of a podcast I host with journalist Beth Milligan, I take a look at the brokenness the permeates our lives. The headlines of gun violence, human trafficking, #metoo, corporate greed, cyberbullying, terrorism and abusive sex cults remind us that something about the human enterprise is clearly failing on an ongoing basis. For every area in which me make progress, we seem to offset that by regressing in some other way.
So, what's the problem with humanity? Is it our biology, our environment, or our souls? Has our DNA doomed us to dance to its tune? If not nature, have the forces of nurture forced us to become who we are? Are our spirits or souls (qualia, for all you philosophers) the problem? And depending on what we conclude, what is the best course of action?
Spoiler alert: I think we have to look at all three possibilities. If we want to find the right cure, we need the proper diagnosis.