02 January 2010

On the Reality of God

A.D. Freudenheim, The Editor

Initially, I found John Avant's book If God Were Real to be … terrible. A brief catalog of complaints: The language is sometimes repetitive and unsophisticated, and initially the ideas seemed similarly simplistic and unevolved. The introduction to the book—a story about the capacity for love and desire for a father figure in a much-abused little girl—seemed to be there solely to condition the reader, to manipulate emotions in order to preclude rational judgment. The inclusion of a long statement from the author's (adult) daughter, about her experiences as a committed Christian in the New York theater scene, felt naïve.

Then there's the devotion to god—or, more accurately for Reverend Avant, Jesus—that continued to present problems for me. I’m not a Christian, or even a Jew for Jesus; while I respect many of the principles Jesus espoused, I have never been able to get over the intellectual hurdle of the whole “son-of-god-in-man is god who died for our sins” construct. (Yes, yes, I know: it’s about faith.) To be fair, it must also be noted that I am clearly not Avant’s intended audience. This is a book written for Christians, so Avant's repetitive refrain that “we should all love Jesus” is, I can only assume, more appealing to a Christian audience.


However, my view of Avant and his book began to change, and rapidly, as I got further in. After the first chapter, Avant writes as a strong, passionate individual with a very definite, out-of-the-mainstream perspective on “organized” religion. He frames very clearly his objections to the contemporary "church" of Christianity: not the religion itself, but the ways in which it is interpreted and applied by the institutions that wave the banner most loudly. (This short poem, by a friend, gets the sentiment just right.) This is where the book is most successful, in aggressively engaging with the way that religious institutions often become more focused on themselves than on the values they espouse. While I will never share his passion for Jesus, I came to respect his faith and his logic.

Avant calls for a new “Jesus Movement,” his preferred term in place of Christianity. He writes: “Can we see a new Jesus Movement in America? Probably not in traditional, institutionalized Christianity as I have described it. It’s too absorbed in guarding its turf and protecting its turf lords. Institutions tend to protect themselves at all costs, and I see no sign that the institution of Christianity will move toward Jesus.” (Page 54)

This is the meat of Avant's argument. He carefully builds this out, exploring a range of issues, from how modern American Christianity deals with drugs addicts (there’s a chapter titled “If God Were Real … the Church Would Be Full of Addicts”), to the risk-averse nature of churches and communities and a sense of expectation of using religion as a means of achieving prosperity (there’s another chapter, titled “If God Were Real … You Would Be Really, Really Rich”). (For more on the concept of the prosperity gospel, see these two articles from the December 2009 issue of The Atlantic.) His section on the absurdity of Christian attacks on J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series is sharp and insightful.

All this reminded me of my own feelings about much of contemporary (American) Judaism, where the importance of institutions—and institutionalized beliefs and perspectives—sometimes feels like it has overtaken the importance of the values at the heart of Judaism. Everything from the “Yom Kippur appeal” fundraising tactic to the American Jewish fetishization of Israel is driven as much by a commitment to the status quo as anything else. Rare is the organization (religious or otherwise, to be sure) that boldly embraces downsizing in the face of diminished resources or audiences. Instead, external problems are blamed, and used as foils to generate support. (Surely it isn’t simply that some young Jews find modern Judaism less-than-compelling, perhaps because of the relentless focus on the trifecta of the Holocaust, Israel, and intermarriage to which we have been treated for the last five decades.)


Now, like the rest of us, Avant is not free from certain contradictions. He criticizes organized Christianity’s focus on political hatred as a distraction from Jesus’s call to love everyone … and then makes some rather strong statements against homosexuality and gay marriage. Oh, well.

But, as someone famous once said, let (s)he who is without sin cast the first stone. Overall, Avant has written a strong book, one worth reading for contemporary Christians or others interested in the role and ongoing development of the largest religious denomination in the United States. Avant even includes a section on atheism towards the end of the book—a book littered with quotes from atheist or questioning friends and commentators—that again represents the value of an open mind, and is evidence if needed that a believing individual can co-exist with a non-believing one, without necessarily feeling threatened. The subtitle is “A Journey into a Faith That Matters” and it’s Avant's ongoing journey. I wish him well.

FCC idiotic disclosure notice: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, via LibraryThing, as part of its Early Reviewers program.

Labels: , , ,

13 December 2009

Inculcate, Not Indoctrinate

A.D. Freudenheim, The Editor

Here's one possible definition of parenting: a process of imparting knowledge and values, from parent to child, culminating in a point of departure from which the child will make decisions for his/herselfhopefully informed by what the parents have taught, but with a folding in of the child’s own experiences. I think my parents approached parenting this way. And although I certainly couldn’t have articulated it as clearly before becoming a parent myself, it is generally the process I try to follow, too.

A few weeks ago, sitting in children's services at synagogue with my daughter, all of this flew at me in a completely different way. I was watching my child learn (and mimic) the behaviors of others, learn the songs and memorize the prayers, andyearninglytry to grasp the concept of being Jewish. She sat in front of me in a navy blue dress and her “synagogue shoes,” legs crossed on the floor, following along with the flow of the service, and eagerly awaiting the chance to go up front at the end of the "grown-up" services to join other kids in singing Adon Olam.

It made me acutely aware of the fine line that exists between inculcating and indoctrinating, and how easy it must be to cross that line.


I come by my Jewishness honestly, and where Jewish education was concerned, my parents (particularly my father) followed the same model as with most other things. As a result, my level of observance has evolved and changed over the years, from a foundation established long ago. Adulthood, marriage, childrenall play a part in this ongoing process, and I think this is all to the good. Indeed, I cannot imagine having a genuinely static set of beliefs or observances (in religion or much else) because that would inhibit true intellect from playing the appropriate role in my life. I believe firmly in the importance of doubt, and doubt often leads to change.

I want similar things for my children as my parents surely want(ed) for me. I want them to find their place in the world, to contribute meaningfully, to be “good citizens,” and to see happiness as something to be pursued (not as a right to instant gratification). I also want them to know and love Judaism, as I do. I want them to learn from it, to find meaning in its traditions and guidance from its values and teachings, and to engage with it as a framework for helping their growth into intelligent and insightful people.


Which brings me back to that scene in services with my daughter, and the distinction between teaching and indoctrinating. With inculcating comes an acceptance that the outcome cannot be controlledbut to my mind, this makes it more likely that the outcomes will be better and more evenly and effectively distributed. I am fairly sure my parents do not approve of every decision I have ever made, but hopefully even those decisions they did not understand were acceptable because they were mine.

Indoctrination, on the other hand, may achieve the near-term desired resultobedience to a particular cause or way of lifebut it will make any divergence of views a schism rather than a mere difference of opinion. Nor is this an issue limited to religion, formally defined: almost any set of opinions or values can acquire the characteristics of religious doctrine, and the heavy handedness that “doctrine” implies.

No question, I am aiming to teach, and not just in religious matters; watching my daughter, I hope I am pursuing all this properly. She’s still young; there are many questions to come, far more than she is capable of asking now, at 2.5 years of age. But it is easy to see—and terrifyingly easy to understandhow some communities and societies have functioned over the years, replacing inculcation with indoctrination, and not to anyone’s betterment, individually or collectively. That’s not why I take her to services. I want her to learn, to question, to think, to embrace and to reject. To love, to live righteously but not self-righteously, and to let others live, too. That’s what I’m aiming to teach, and hopefully that’s the path we are on.

Labels: , , ,

30 September 2009

Health Care 5770

A.D. Freudenheim, The Editor

As part of our Yom Kippur service this year, I gave a brief introduction to the Unetaneh Tokef (much as I did last year). My theme this year was rather different: health care, health insurance, and reconsidering our collective, communal health in the context of thinking about another year of life. The text follows below.


Here is a line from a song some of you may know. Kris Kristofferson wrote it, and Janis Joplin made it famous: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” The punchline to the joke I haven’t yet told you is that “Freedom” is also the word that Oxford Health Plans gave to our HMO program, and it’s true: there isn’t much left to lose.

Now having said that, let me also say quickly that I feel fortunate to have health insurance in the first place, restrictions and all. Even just the costs associated with my wife’s giving birth to a healthy baby 10 days ago would be difficult to imagine without insurance.

So as the debate about health insurance rages on around us, this holiday seems an appropriate one during which to reflect briefly on the subject of health in the context of these days of awe that are now coming to a close. The Unetaneh Tokef reminds us that God records and seals, counts and measures, and remembers even what we have forgotten. On Rosh Hashanah it will be written, and on Yom Kippur it will be sealed: whether we will live for another year.
While we place much emphasis during this time on evaluating ourselves and our lives, the mitzvot performed and those left undone, what of the health of our bodies, and the steps we take—or fail to take—to ensure our physical health, year to year? Because we do have an obligation to ensure our health, our physical well-being alongside our spiritual one.

In "The Guide of the Perplexed," the 12th century scholar Maimonides—who was also a physician—addressed the issue with a clear call to action, saying that we should undertake “bodily exercise, which [is] necessary for the preservation of health according to the prescription of those who know the art of medicine... Those who accomplish acts of exercising their body in the wish to be healthy, engaging in ball games, wrestling, boxing and suspension of breathing . . . are in the opinion of the ignorant engaged in frivolous actions, whereas they are not frivolous according to the Sages."

In addition to thinking about ourselves, we should also consider how our Jewishly derived sense of social responsibility relates to caring for others—in terms of their health care. As a community, we already engage in many acts of tzedaka and tikkun olam, striving to heal the world. And many of us do so, around issues of medicine or care for the elderly, along with helping to sustain the homeless shelter here at the synagogue or contributing in other ways.
But perhaps we need to articulate a stronger and clearer Jewish perspective on the issue of health care more broadly. The questions we might ask ourselves are simple: shouldn’t the opportunity for medical care be as basic as access to food and shelter? And isn’t the health of our community something to approach as more than just a metaphor?

Within the long scope of Jewish history, the idea of “insurance” is a relatively new one. But that hardly makes it unworthy of consideration. Now, I am not here to talk politics, or to endorse a specific piece of legislation. I only want to say that as we think about this day, this very moment, we should consider the concept of our lives being weighed and measured, written and sealed, as more than metaphorical. Our physical health, and the health of those around us, will also affect our future.

While it is uncomfortable to think about, we all know that some of us may not live to see the next day, or the next year. But Judaism grants us great power over our own lives, through both word and deed. Perhaps in the coming year our collective words and deeds can help create an environment in which fewer people die needlessly—one in which we as a community look for ways to embrace and expand our sense of what it means to care for others, even for those we do not know and will never meet, and yet who are no less deserving of decent treatment and the opportunity of prolonged life.

G'mar chatima tova—may you be inscribed in the book of life.

Labels: ,

02 August 2009


A.D. Freudenheim, The Editor

Offering up a typical defense of Israel—and a critique of any American policy itself critical of Israel—Elliott Abrams’ essay in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (“Why Israel is Nervous,” 1 August 2009) reinforces a number of the absurdities that already dangerously infect and affect American foreign policy in the Middle East. His op-ed is cleverly framed in the guise of an exploration of the tense spots between America and Israel, when it seems quite obvious that more tension—and greater emotional distance—might encourage Israel towards a more rapid and peaceful resolution of its neighborhood issues.

Abrams’ tries to minimize the cancerous impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: since “the theory is that every problem in the Middle East is related to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute” is evidently false, he suggests, the implication is that the Israeli-Palestinian is not much of a geopolitical issue at all. Nor is the expansion of settlements in the occupied territory of the West Bank a problem: “Additional construction in settlements does not harm Palestinians, who in fact get most of the construction jobs,” he writes, ludicrously. Abrams also reinforces the grandiosity of the self-appointed, self-perpetuating mythologists of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Anti-Defamation Leaguetwo groups who purport to represent American-Jewish perspectives on all things Jewish-or-Israel, but whose do-or-die Zionism and reflexive tilting at anti-Semitic windmills clouds their thinking and their professional activities.

Worst of all, however, is Abrams fear-mongering reinforcement of the world-or-Israel-ending dangers of a nuclear Iran. Subtly framed as Israel’s concern as much as that of the United States, the idea that we should prevent those crazy mullahs from getting “the Bomb” is clear. In fairness to Abrams, that fear is everywhere in the news media these daysthough it takes its highest and most manic form in any discussions around Israel.

The Iranian regime, with its repressive clerics and its increasingly fragile theocratic mock-democracy, leaves much to be desired. However, all of the saber-rattling about Iranian nuclear activity seems like counter-productive noise and, even worse, a distraction from bigger and more genuine US foreign policy concerns. (Worried about a nuclear madman? Find your man in North Korea, not Iran.) I wrote about this back in May 2008; at the time, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were battling it out for the Democratic presidential nomination, with Senator John “Bomb, Bomb Iran” McCain trying to outflank them on the right. Back then, Clinton made the absurd claim that the United States would “obliterate” Iran if it attacked Israel. It was absurd then and it remains so now. An attack on Israelfrankly, any significant attack on Israel by any independent nation-state, rather than just bands of terroristswould deeply challenge US-Israel relations. We might suddenly discover the weakness of this bilateral bond, and I doubt the results would please my AIPAC-loving co-religionists or their Christian Zionist “friends.”

Iran has given little evidence of genuine stupidity, let alone suicidal tendencies, since the revolution of 1979. Yes, it has engaged in a dangerous, deeply unsettling kind of geopolitics, and sought to undermine the stability of neighboring states by supporting (financially and militarily) terrorists and militias in those areas. But what evidence is there that this is a nation bent on suicide? Where is there a hint that the clerics in charge believe themselves to be protected, encased in a bullet-proof Allah-bubble, such that they could withstand any retaliatory nuclear attack(s)?

There is no such evidence. Even if Iran was willing to gamble that the United States would let Israel go it alone in such a situation, the Israeli response would itself be devastating. It would kill thousands, perhaps millions if nuclear in nature. Nor is there much of an indication that Iran would be willing to provide some group of terrorists with nuclear material for a “dirty bomb”; surely they have done so already. The reasons are of a piece with the same set of issues: an Iranian-sponsored nuclear or semi-nuclear attack, on Israel or anyone else, would be viewed as an Iranian attack. The outcome would be the same: death in Iran on a massive scale.

I have no desire for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons; in fact, I would be deeply pleased if Iran did not, because I think nuclear proliferation is, in general, a bad idea. It’s just that I also do not see a nuclear-armed Iran is the bogeyman that seems to consume so much oxygen and intellectual clarity among both Israelis and American Zionists. Instead, I think that the relentless focus on this issueand particularly on this issue through an Israeli and Zionist lensis damaging to bigger and more important American foreign policy goals, from the messes in Iraq and Afghanistan to our complicated relationships with Arab countries throughout the Middle East, to dealing with the more dangerous nuclear issues in North Korea (madman) and Pakistan (weak government, problematic, semi-independent military).

We should be working on encouraging the proud nation of Iran to embrace the democratic ideals it once espoused, acknowledging that even the “Reformist” candidates in Iran support their nation’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Because better a nuclear-armed Iranian democracy, as an active, engaged, and responsible participant in global affairs, than either a bombed-out shell or a theocracy hell-bent on continued destabilizationof Muslim and non-Muslim states alikethrough its support of terrorists.

Labels: , , , ,

12 June 2009

American Jewish Rage

A.D. Freudenheim, The Editor

I recently had the odd experience of being accused (somewhat indirectly) of having a “pathological absence of rage.”

As part of an evening of study for the holiday Shavuot, I found myself among a small group of people listening to a dialogue-cum-diatribe by two American Jews, under the title “The Denial of Hatred and The Hatred of Denial.” The two speakers (whose names I feel no need to reveal here) were addressing what turned into a conflated and conflicted bunch of points. They tried to include some “facts,” such as the claim that anti-Semitism is at its highest point since the World War II era, an unprovable assertion that they tied to a Pew study. They both seemed to believe that American Jews (as exemplified by those of Manhattan’s Upper West Side) are deluded in not seeing or believing the imminent threat of anti-Semitism. They refute any notion that anti-Semitism might be rooted in anything other than the utterly irrational, in no way a response to (perceived) actions by Jews themselves. And at the same time, they suggested that too many Jews walk around fearful of expressing their Jewishness—a ludicrous claim in general, and certainly in New York City!

First, on the so-called fact of the scope of worldwide anti-Semitism: the presenters quoted a study by the Pew Research Center to bolster their claim that anti-Semitism is at its highest point since the holocaust. They were presumably referring to a 2008 study by Pew Research Center that showed that anti-Semitism was on the rise, in some cases strongly (see “Xenophobia on the Continent,” by Andrew Kohut and Richard Wike). Without ignoring the impact of those findings, there is still nothing to support the presenters’ hyperbolic claims, or the implicit sense that Jews everywhere should be on alert. As Kohut and Wike wrote in their article: “While there has been a rise in anti-Semitic opinion in Europe, the percentages holding negative opinions toward Jews in most countries studied remain relatively small.” Moreover, the data collected and presented by Pew explicitly draws connections between anti-Semitism and perceptions about Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians, as well as about the role and (perceived) power of Jews in America.

The speakers also revealed what I would call (to use their own terms) a pathological naivete: a denial of the obvious fact that powerful (or perceived powerful) minority groups have always been targets of one kind or another (e.g., Tutsis in Rwanda, or the Ismaili Shia in many Sunni Muslim countries). Similarly, small states with (again, perceived) out-sized power have also been targets, particularly when they have engaged in the kinds of conflict with their neighbors that trigger reflexive feelings about minority populations and their political or social agendas.

Let me be clear: I am not making excuses for anti-Semitism. But I also believe it’s irrational to think that a minority group that makes up 2-4% of the total United States population, yet controls wealth equal to three or four times those numbers, and which has very, very prominent group members represented in high places in government, finance, etc., isn’t going to face some animosity. Nor am I the only one who thinks this is the case, or that this is a reality that Jews must confront. To go back to additional Pew-funded research, in 2006 the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life co-sponsored a talk with Josef Joffe, author of “Überpower: The Imperial Temptation of America,” on anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. While rejecting what he describes as “the perception that Jews have ‘conquered’ America and have the most powerful country in the world at their beck and call,” Joffe nonetheless goes on to say “that Jews and Americans have always acted as forces of rampant change that has [sic] rolled over ancient traditions and dispensations and thus threatened traditional status and power structures. If you represent the forces of an anonymous market, you are bound to anger those players who profit from privilege and entrenched position.” In other words: duh. Without making excuses for a kind of murderous, irrationally rooted anti-Semitism, one must nonetheless accept the reality that one’s actions in the world have consequences. Jews, whether in America or Israel, aren’t exempt from this construct any more than anyone else.

Yet none of this makes me fearful. Politically engaged and morally concerned, and desirous of living righteously (and not just to and towards Jews)? Yes. But fearful? No. The presenters’ argument that American Jews are too afraid of being publicly Jewish ran smack into their argument that there is this massive tsunami of hatred coming to get us and that we should, essentially, be afraid to be publicly Jewish. And that, for me, is where it all fell apart: the idea that I suffer from a “pathological absence of rage” about the existence of anti-Semitism, that I should get over my denial, and that in overcoming my denial I will be free—finally free to be afraid.

Lest these two gentlemen be unfairly called out for their views, it is worth noting that they are hardly the only ones to hold this classic mixture of bigoted, fear-mongering views. For example, currently making its way around the internet is an offensive screed by Rabbi Dr. Morton H. Pomerantz, the absurd claims of which can be summarized just from the first sentence: “Our new president did not tell a virulent anti-Semite to travel to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington to kill Jews, but he is most certainly creating a climate of hate against us.” That’s a heavy charge—and one that falls flat, because it rests on both the misrepresentation of what President Obama said, and, more importantly, on that classic American Jewish Fundamentalist perspective that there is no such thing as legitimate criticism of Israel. For those with this worldview, President Obama is damned for eternity because he dared to say openly what is so obviously true: that past wrongs against Jews do not excuse current wrongs inflicted by Israelis—and that the forty-plus year Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people must, finally, end.

In retrospect, the tipoff that this Shavuot presentation would be problematic might have come at the very beginning, when one speaker began with a second-hand holocaust story, about his mother’s experiences in the camps and after the war. The purpose, clearly, was to engage the audience and provoke an emotional reaction that would bind the listeners to the presenter, credentialize him as an authority, and simultaneously remind us of that greatest of all acts of murderous anti-Semitism. Such tactics tend to work with Jews; we have been well conditioned. But if my description sounds cynical, it is not nearly as bad as the act of the presenter himself, which reminded me of a character from Tova Reich’s novel “My Holocaust,” in which she so effectively caricatures the second-generation survivors, whose devotion to the cause of the holocaust has often surpassed that of the survivors themselves.

We sat in rapt attention, listening to this compelling story—only to discover yet another Jew sadly abusing the memory of the murdered (and those few who survived), in order to justify the rights and reactions of Jews everywhere at the expense of other humans. To my mind, such “me first” righteousness is counter to the morality, the humanity, that rests at the core of Judaism, and there is no denying that it must be resisted.

Labels: , , , ,

10 April 2009

Shotgun Wedding

A.D. Freudenheim, The Editor

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the terrible problem of gun violence in the United States (“Where’s My Gun”), and the failure of our country and our culture to address the subject rationally—never mind actually come to any practical conclusions. In the days since, two other very public shooting “rampages” have occurred, one in Binghamton, New York and the other in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In both cases, there is evidence to suggest that shooters Jiverly Wong and Richard Poplawski acquired guns under questionable circumstances. Those are presumably the circumstances to which the National Rifle Association (NRA) refers when it says our government should be enforcing the gun laws that already exist, even as it continues to foment fear of “liberals” taking away the guns of good Americans.

Meanwhile, last week the Iowa state Supreme Court ruled that “gay” marriage is legal, under an equal protection clause that prohibits discrimination without a meaningful government interest in a specific outcome. Days later, the Vermont state legislature overrode Governor Jim Douglas’ veto of a bill that legalized gay marriage, making Vermont the first state to pursue this course of action through its legislature.

These subjects are connected, because they reflect important underlying, unresolved tensions in our society, around a set of problems and failures by people on every side of both issues. Even if married homosexual couples have no express or explicit interest in firearms—or gun owners have no homosexual attractions, let alone the desire for marriage—both groups should be united around a common set of legal principles that would permit them to act responsibly around their own interests. There are two Constitutional principles at stake here, and neither involve the Second Amendment. At issue are the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which read, respectively:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Constitution says nothing at all about gay marriage. One can imagine this is because such marriages were not even a consideration at the time the document was authored, which might very well be true. But a careful reading of the Constitution will remind any reader that many things go unmentioned; indeed, it says nothing about marriage of any kind. The purpose of the Ninth Amendment was in part to ensure that the exclusion of a particular point from the text of the Constitution should not be taken to imply a prohibition on that issue. Accepting the NRA’s particular interpretation of the Second Amendment might be seen to offer gun owners an official leg-up—but the mention of bearing arms does not implicitly receive greater legal resilience just because it is explicitly stated. The power of the Ninth Amendment should be respected, as should the subsequently enumerated right for the states to make decisions about issues not mentioned in the Constitution.

Theoretically, a rejectionist response to gay marriage could point not to the Constitution, but to the Bible—except that as presently constructed in the United States, this is not a religious issue but a legal one. While religion may have informed the creation of the Constitution of these United States, religion is also explicitly not the framework under which legal decisions are made. The Constitution respects the right of the people to practice their religion, and also distinguishes between religious practice and state-held legal authority. (Never mind that the Bible does not say anything about a range of issues mentioned in the Constitution, including a specific right to own guns, as well as those of copyrighting and patent-holding.)

Supporting the fullest and widest interpretation of both Constitutional amendments should unify these seemingly-disparate groups, and remind us that we do not have to like or approve of every decision made by our neighbors or fellow citizens—but we do need to respect them. If supporters of gun rights also argued for the preservation of other fundamental, Constitutional rights, and if (conversely) gay rights advocates supported the right to bear arms as part of a similar interpretation of the Constitution, we might have more than just a new political coalition. We might have a more vibrant Constitutional democracy.


Asides of one kind or another:
  • Mark Guarino, correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, had a thoughtful article from 6 April about how Iowans are reacting to their state Supreme Court’s decision regarding gay marriage.
  • National Public Radio’s Michele Norris had an amazing interview with gun store owner Johnny Dury a few days ago; NPR’s web site has an abbreviated text version of the story posted, but the full audio version (linked from that page) is worth a listen, no matter where you are in the United States or what you believe about this situation.
  • Back in 2004, I wrote a piece about gay marriage (“Union vs. Confederacy?”) arguing that “marriage” should be left to religious institutions, while the state should be responsible for civil unions. This would ease the tension over “gay marriage” by allowing for appropriate discrimination based on religious beliefs, while reinforcing equal protection under the law. In an opinion piece from The New York Times, “A Reconciliation on Gay Marriage,” by David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch, published 22 February 2009, a similar approach is articulated.

Labels: , , , , ,