My heart sank when I heard the news this morning about Thomas Eric Duncan. He was the first Ebola victim discovered in the United States, and he passed away earlier today. I don’t know much about Duncan at all, but I do know this. He travelled to the United States late last month after having contact with Ebola in Liberia. The disease overcame him after he arrived in Dallas, Texas. His condition became so desperate that his family members could no longer have video conferences with him. The sight of him was too unsettling for them. He died alone in an isolation ward this morning. Continue Reading →
The New York Times reports that the Supreme Court has denied cert in all five pending same-sex marriage cases. There are two immediate implications of this—an upside and a downside:
(1) Downside: Same-sex marriage will now go forward in five states—Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. This should increase the number of states allowing same-sex marriage from 19 to 24. By deciding not to review these cases, the Supreme Court has let stand bad rulings from lower courts that usurp authority from the people by striking down good laws. This is not good and will likely have far-reaching effects over time.
(2) Upside: Gay marriage will not become a constitutional right this term. Many of us were predicting that the Supreme Court would take up one of these cases. Given the court’s decision in Windsor, it is very clear how they would have ruled if the issue would have come before the court again. Observers expected gay marriage to become a constitutional right across the country this June. But that is not going to happen—at least not right now. The issue will continue to be fought in the lower courts and in the states.
This is big news, and the upside is definitely significant. Still, SCOTUS at best has only delayed the inevitable. Legal same-sex marriage in all 50 states—including a constitutional right to SSM—is a fait accompli at this point. It’s like watching water roll down the windshield. You can debate what track the water will take to get there, but it’s going to get there one way or the other.
I’ve often been struck by the way Matthew’s genealogy highlights King David’s infamy: “to Jesse was born David the king. And to David was born Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah” (Matthew 1:6). Bathsheba’s entire identity is swallowed up by David’s sin. Unlike the other three women in the list, her name is not even mentioned. She is called “the wife of Uriah”—as if Matthew wishes to invoke all the horror of David’s murderous cover-up that led to his marriage to Uriah’s wife. It is a sadness in the account, not a celebration. Continue Reading →
Rob Bell and his wife Kristen are set to release a book on marriage next month. The work is already being touted as an egalitarian alternative to Mark and Grace Driscoll’s Real Marriage. The title is The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage. Zimzum is a doctrine that comes from Kabbalah—a kind of new age Jewish mysticism. The Bells are accessing the teaching as a paradigm for understanding marriage. From the publisher’s description,
In marriage, zimzum is the dynamic energy field between two partners, in which each person contracts to allow the other to flourish. Mastering this field, this give and take of energy, is the secret to what makes marriage flourish.
Bell will be touring with Oprah Winfrey this Fall.
The Washington Post has a first-person account of a 14-year old Yazidi girl who was kidnapped by militants and “awarded” to an ISIS commander. Her tale begins with her account of being kidnapped by ISIS troops. She writes:
The militants divided us by gender and age: One for young and capable men, another for girls and young women, and a third for older men and women. The jihadists stole cash and jewelry from this last group, and left them alone at the oasis. Then they placed the girls and women in trucks. As they drove us away, we heard gunshots. Later we learned that they were killing the young men, including my 19-year old brother, who had married just six months ago.
You can read the rest of her harrowing tale here. She ends up escaping from her captors and being reunited with her father. But I can’t help thinking about the countless others who have not escaped. They simply disappear into the desert never to be seen or heard from again. Some executed. Others raped and subjugated. Who will tell their stories? Who will mourn for them?
The video above is Part 1 of Dateline’s interview with Dr. Kent Brantly, the Christian doctor who survived Ebola. Matt Lauer’s report is a faithful account of what happened to the Brantly’s from their first Ebola patient to Dr. Brantly’s recovery. It’s very well done. You can watch Part 1 above and the other 5 parts here.
It looks like Sojourn Community Church has come up with a dynamite conference for writers and creatives. It’s called “Word and Words,” and it’s being held here in Louisville next month, October 10-11. Here’s a description:
Word and Words will bring together a broad spectrum of Christian writers and thinkers for two days of reflections on reading, writing and storytelling. Together, we’ll explore why we tell stories, what we have to gain from reading and writing, and how stories and storytelling connect with the Christian life.
Word and Words is a conference for anyone who loves a good story, with workshops that will target general readers, writers, pastors and more. Topics will range from the Spirituality of Science Fiction to Social Media to Writing As A Spiritual Discipline.
The speaker line-up looks fantastic and includes Greg Thornbury, Karen Swallow Prior, David Dark, Gregory Wolfe, Bret Lotte, and Mike Cosper. If you are interested, you can get more details and register at the website.
Rod Dreher reflects on the recent expulson of InterVarsity from the University of California system. Dreher indicates that this is only the beginning, and he offers a sobering word about the conflict that is upon American Christians for holding to a biblical sexual ethic. We are not in persecution now, but it does seem to be on the horizon. He writes:
Look, this is coming. This is the new world. This is post-Christian America. You will hear the Law of Merited Impossibility people yelling that this will never happen, but when it does, you people will deserve it, to try to shout down your concerns, and to hide from themselves the illiberal truth of what they’re doing. But it’s happening, and you had better get ready for it, and get your children ready for it, because the people driving this thing believe so strongly in their own virtue. Error has no rights.
Read the rest here.
Wendy Davis became a household name about a year ago during her filibuster for abortion rights in the Texas State legislature. Even though her filibuster ultimately failed, she nevertheless became a pro-choice superstar and a Democratic candidate for governor. She has recently published a memoir in which she reveals that she herself has had two abortions. She had the second abortion during her 2nd trimester after finding out that the baby had a serious brain abnormality. In the book she describes the aftermath. MySA reports,
After getting several medical opinions and feeling the baby they had named Tate Elise “tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her” in the womb, she said the decision was clear.
“She was suffering,” Davis wrote.
The unborn baby’s heart was “quieted” by her doctor, and their baby was gone. She was delivered by cesarean section in spring 1997, the memoir says.
Davis wrote that she and her then-husband, Jeff, spent time with Tate the next day and had her baptized. They cried, took photographs and said their good-byes, she wrote, and Tate’s lifeless body was taken away the following day.
“An indescribable blackness followed. It was a deep, dark despair and grief, a heavy wave that crushed me, that made me wonder if I would ever surface. … And when I finally did come through it, I emerged a different person. Changed. Forever changed,” Davis wrote.
Who could have predicted that terrorists groups like ISIS would overrun Iraq if America pursued a precipitous withdrawal of troops? It turns out that this result was entirely predictable and was in fact predicted by previous commander-in-chief in 2007. In a remarkably accurate warning, President Bush said this:
I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we’re ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaida. It’d mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It’d mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It’d mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.
All of this has happened and is happening right now. (HT: Brit Hume)