Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The final Hitler video parody

via It's all one thing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Essential References, No. 1

Some 15 years ago I made a pitch to cover religion for a major metropolitan newspaper where I worked at the time. In the end, because of major changes there, I withdrew my interest and left the publication to start a new life as a freelance writer -- a life in which I've only written one story about religion so far (I'm actually working on a second one, but that's another matter).

Still, the topic of religion and how it's covered in the media remains of keen interest to me.

In that vein, if I were a religion writer now, I would consider The Wild Hunt essential reading on my beat. This post today exemplifies why.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An alternative strategy on religion in the public square

I'm a pretty big believer in separation of church and state, and I think that the religious right's meme that somehow their religious views are "suppressed" in school and other public venues is mostly phony.

At the same time, however, I think some of the strategies of separation advocates -- to keep religion muted or silent in the public square -- end up being wrongheaded, because they do end up feeding that selfsame suppression meme.

For a long time I've thought it would behoove non-Christians, including atheists, to opt for an alternative strategy: a place of their own in the public square.

The fundies want to have a Bible study class in the public school after school? Fine. And let's have a pagan group, or an atheist group, or what have you, as well. Make the battle for equal protection, not for blanket exclusion.

Now of course a risk in posting that idea blithely on a blog is that I haven't fully thought through all the implications. (One that stumps me right off: so what about the group that wants to set up a neo-Hitler Youth or a Junior Klan? Okay, acknowledged that we may have a half-baked concept here in need of the Idea Oven*.)

Still, I was moved to give voice to this simmering notion of mine after seeing this item at The Wild Hunt:

One wonders if Schultheis will remain a big fan of the law, if passed, once religious minorities start taking advantage of it. Because the answer to “where does it end” for Schultheis is most likely “far beyond where you’d like it to”. Perhaps Pagans in Colorado Senate District 9 should drop him a line to let him know how eager you are for Pagan students to express themselves more fully in class (pentacles! t-shirts!), and for teachers to discuss the pagan origins of Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and other major holidays.

*"The Idea Oven" is a conceit of Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn. I was going to link to his category, but there are only 3 items in it and they all go back to 2005. So I'll just credit him for the concept.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gay Marriage and Religious Liberty

Conservative churches claim the legalization of gay marriage threatens their religious freedom. A religious coalition in support of the legalization of gay marriage points out that the religious conservatives have it exactly backward.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blasphemy and Idolatry, No. 2 (Updated)

During a question-and-answer session after her speech, Palin was asked what could be done to address the country's biggest problems.

"It would be wise of us to seek some divine intervention in this country," she replied.

Update: Andrew Sullivan quotes Palin in more detail.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bring Many Names

When I should have been working yesterday, I spent a little time hunting for an audio or video version of "Bring Many Names," the haunting and beautiful hymn by Brian Wren. It is my all-time favorite, and I've vowed to haunt DairyStateMom or the DairyStateKids if it's not played at my funeral.

The best I could do was a YouTube rendition in which, sadly, the organ drowns out the lyrics.

I was inspired to undertake the hunt after reading Ms. Kitty's sermon from this past Sunday.

Here are the lyrics as it is now sung in most Christian churches in which it is used.

If you're familiar with the hymn from our own Singing the Living Tradition you might note that the Fifth Stanza's words are different in the lyrics to which I linked above.

Actually, I've seen two different revisions:

Young, growing God, eager, on the move,
seeing all, and fretting at our blindness,
crying out for justice,
giving all you have:
Hail and Hosanna,
young, growing God!

as well as

Young, growing God, eager, on the move,
saying no to falsehood and unkindness,
crying out for justice, giving all you have:
Hail and hosanna, young, growing God!

Here is how we UUs sing that verse--Wren's original lyrics:

Young, growing God, eager still to know,
willing to be changed by what you've started
quick to be delighted, singing as you go,
Hail and Hosanna,
young, growing God!

Wren tells the story of that lyric change here:
The fifth stanza ("Young, growing God") was revised in August 1988 after conversations with the Mennonite-Brethren Hymnal Council (USA). The original read: "Young, growing God, eager still to know,/willing to be changed by what you've started,/quick to be delighted,/singing as you go etc.". I stand by the theology, but believe the revision better suggests God's "youthfulness."

I do like the notion of God "saying no to falsehood," "crying out for justice," or, for that matter, "seeing all and fretting at our blindness" -- but frankly, I find those revisions a bit clunky. And to me the image of God "willing to be changed by what you've started" is far more moving and profound.

I am glad Wren doesn't repudiate the theology that inspired him. And I'm glad, too, that we UUs -- so often criticized for changing hymns to match our own theological inclinations** -- stuck with the original lyrics on this one...

(**obligatory Keillor link eschewed)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhog Day

At Monkey Mind, James Ford reminds us of the funny and rueful Bill Murray movie that is set on this day.

A year ago, I heard a wonderful sermon [PDF] on the subject at the church that has become my UU home-away-from-home when I visit EmpireStateMom...

My hat goes off to the Unitarian Fellowship of West Chester, PA, and the Rev. Deborah Mero there...

Alabama v. Berkeley

Salon's Kate Harding rebuts* the Times' Ross Douthat:

Money quote:

[O]ne really big problem with not encouraging Berkeley values in Alabama is that kids who grow up with Alabama values have babies at much higher rates. (Alabama has the No. 12 teen birthrate; California's No. 28.)

*One of my pet peeves is the use of "refute" in headlines when the word "rebut" is meant. But in fact it's my judgment that Harding didn't just rebut Douthat's argument -- she did refute it.

h/t DairyStateMom