This has been an interesting week in the Sparks family. My son (6) officially became the first of our kids to break a bone. He fell from a height of about six feet at the local playground and landed on his elbow. Thankfully, it was not a severe break and, depending on how healing progresses, he should have the cast off in three weeks.
This week also marked the first opportunity I’ve had to do a podcast interview. I was invited to speak with Sarah Taras and Lauren Larkin of Ezer Uncaged about the work I’ve been doing here. It was an awesome conversation, and should be available next week. When the podcast goes live, I will make the audio available on Sparking Conversation as well.
Lastly, yesterday saw the end of my Love and Respect series. If you have not read them, these posts outline the various ways in which Emerson Eggerichs’ gender essentialist thesis that women desire love and men need respect is dangerous and damaging. If you are interested, they can be accessed hereAm.
I have been asked regularly how I define the GBU categories. Here is my rationale:
Good – Posts with excellent content which contain a positive argument. These posts are not based in critique but in an argument from a positive premise.
Bad – Posts with excellent content which feature a negative argument. These posts are based in critique, and work to expose the darkness while pointing towards the light.
Ugly – Posts that contain content that is simply hateful, disturbing, or otherwise odd and unworthy of praise. I include this to remind us all that Christianity is a complex religion with a great deal of corruption and injustice therein. We must own and oppose these influences within our walls, instead of only ever talking about the evils without.
- New blogger Jennifer Ould has launched her blog with a number of excellent posts. My personal favorite has been her post “Building a Bigger Table” reflecting on Christianity and our need to better understand and embrace hospitality.
- Paul Raushenbush penned a heartfelt and heartwrenching tribute to the victims of the hate crime perpetrated against the LGBTQ+ community in Orlando. This is a beautiful reflection on our need to love in this time.
- I have been reading a deeply thought provoking book on the intersection of concepts of the soul in Christianity and recent discoveries in the neurosciences. This book, by prominent female philosopher and theologian Nancey Murphy, outlines the way in which many of the aspects previously attributed to the human soul are now directly identifiable as brain processes. Murphy thus proposes a philosophical way forward, taking very seriously the concepts of New Creation and Resurrection in Scripture.
- Jes Kast-Keat has offered a convicting reflection on the notion of Sanctuary, examining why nightclubs function as sanctuaries for the LGBTQ+ community, yet so many churches do not.
- Lauren R Taylor and Jessica Raven have written an excellent post on the myth that “partying” or “hook-up” culture is to blame for rape.
- This expose on Bill Gothard and his Institute in Basic Life Principles, by Bryan Smith, outlines how Gothard and his disciples are an abusive cult that continues to claim many, many victims through teachings which enable and promote abuse.
- Donald Trump recently met with hundreds of prominent evangelical leaders in order to attempt to garner their support. Such figures as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham, Ben Carson, and Mike Huckabee were all in attendance.
The rhetoric of these men was both disgustingly arrogant and deeply saddening. As I read the transcript I could not help but wonder at what point one’s own privilege and power is deemed so important to God’s purposes that one feels endorsing Trump is the ONLY possible Christian approach to this election.
I also wonder about the state of evangelical higher education when the president of the largest Christian university in the world openly brags and jokes about committing academic dishonesty in order to help the son of Franklin Graham pass his classes.
This entire event serves as a stark indictment on the current condition on American Christianity.
- A young girl was sexually assaulted on an American Airlines flight for nearly 30 minutes, raising serious questions about the attentiveness of the flight attendants and the safety protocols in place to protect minors traveling alone. The airline is facing a lawsuit.
This serves as an important reminder of the need for vigilance; sex assault doesn’t always happen behind closed doors or in dark alleys.
- Michael Brown is a well-known Christian radio host, scholar, and author. He is also a hate-filled bigot. In the below post, Brown not only opposes same-sex marriage, he openly criticizes the National Basketball Association for creating rules which prohibit their players from making gay slurs. He also uses the fact that the first NBA player to come out as gay, Jason Collins, has a twin brother who is straight – as if that fact is even in any way relevant to Collins’ sexuality. In both cases he says that the NBA’s actions in allowing Collins to play basketball and outlawing hate speech were radical liberal steps they never should have made – steps which led to the worst possible thing he can imagine, the NBA partnering with an LBGTQ+ pride organization to sell t-shirts which raise money for the organization during Pride month. From his very first sentence to his very last, hate drips off the page.
The church has a serious hate problem, and people like this man are directly at the center of it.