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For the Bible Tells Me So


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Since Seattle seems to host some kind of gay/lesbian film festival every week or so, and both of Seattle's weekly newspapers publish anti-Christian bigotry on a weekly basis primarily because of traditional Christian views about sexuality, I guess it's no no surprise that this year's audience award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival went to For the Bible Tells Me So. I'm not saying it wasn't the best documentary... I didn't see it. But it's just so depressingly predictable:

Variety says:

Filmmaker Daniel Karslake lobs a grenade into the culture wars with his heartfelt, provocative and unabashedly polemical "For the Bible Tells Me So," which examines the intersection of homosexuality and religion and finds the latter wanting. Rebuking the church's historic condemnation of same-sex couplings with a detailed examination of Scripture and nakedly emotional interviews with Christian families with gay children, the pic seeks to change hearts and minds but preaches most ardently to the choir of nonbelievers -- not that this will limit its effectiveness as a hot-button item sure to inspire controversy and debate everywhere it's shown.
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Rebuking the church's historic condemnation of same-sex couplings with a detailed examination of Scripture and nakedly emotional interviews with Christian families with gay children, the pic seeks to change hearts and minds but preaches most ardently to the choir of nonbelievers ...

Why would "the choir of nonbelievers" give a fig about "a detailed examination of Scripture"?

I'm sorry, the Variety copy is trying to be complimentary, but it just screams "one-sided, by-the-numbers hack job" to me. Summon the theologians, interview the families, toss in the Fred Phelps footage, cue the violins. There are enough documentaries like this now for an entire mini-festival on this one issue.

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I saw it with my dad and he liked it, which is extremely remarkable. The film makes some interesting choices, like opening with a comic/violent act against Anita Bryant -- famed antigay speaker. Of course, it's clear to which side the advantage goes, but a perspective of mutual respect is at least presented.

There is one family in the movie with a gay son. Both parents support their son, and the three went on several activist trips together. The mother would cry and rail against the people who would not accept her son.

After the movie, both parents were in attendance along with a Jewish rabbi. The rabbi gave a speech about how necessary it is to avoid stigmatizing anti-gay people, and to only use words of love and peace. Small audience reaction, mostly coming from me. The mom began talking about how it's impossible to not be angry (her attitude was basically, to quote Ani DiFranco, "you're just stupid or you don't care"). The audience gave her tons of applause. I understand where she's coming from, but I was hurt that she couldn't muster more compassion for some of the other parents of the film who don't support their children.

MrMando: kindly note the word 'but' in between the clauses you mentioned.

I reason, Earth is short -

And Anguish - absolute -

And many hurt,

But, what of that?

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MrMando: kindly note the word 'but' in between the clauses you mentioned.

No, the word "but" was between one of the clauses I mentioned and another clause that I didn't mention at all.

I just wonder whether the exegesis in a film like this is likely to be of the sort that persuades people to change their minds, or of the sort that makes people feel better about what they've already decided.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Outfest to lead a Bible study

There is so much new documentary and dramatic work exploring the explosive intersection of spirituality and sexuality that this week's Outfest, as the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival is known, has created a five-film series, "Queers in Christ," on the subject. Although diverse in story and tone, the movies are linked by a common argument: That God and Jesus would welcome every member of the human family into their realm, regardless of sexual orientation. . . .

"For the Bible Tells Me So" directly confronts anti-gay Christians who quote a handful of Bible passages -- usually including Leviticus -- to support their position. The film's experts (including Harvard University theologian the Rev. Peter Gomes and South African archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu) say those passages are usually taken out of context and also call for other prohibitions (such as mixing crops, wearing linen and wool together, and remarrying after divorce) that few of the staunchest anti-gay critics seem to worry about. The film's overarching thesis is that Jesus was a reconciler, not a divider; that he and God walk with the oppressed, not the oppressors.

At the center of the film is the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, whose ordination as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 was the catalyst of the current crisis splitting the Episcopal and Anglican church. By profiling other gay and lesbian people, "For the Bible Tells Me So" aims to show how Christian families can -- and sometimes can't -- handle a child's coming-out. . . .

Los Angeles Times, July 15

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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"For the Bible Tells Me So" directly confronts anti-gay Christians who quote a handful of Bible passages -- usually including Leviticus -- to support their position. The film's experts (including Harvard University theologian the Rev. Peter Gomes and South African archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu) say those passages are usually taken out of context ...

I guess it depends on what you mean by "passages" and "context"!

...and also call for other prohibitions (such as mixing crops, wearing linen and wool together, and remarrying after divorce) that few of the staunchest anti-gay critics seem to worry about.

Wow, talk about manipulating context.

In the chapter in question (Lev. 18) there are 11 verses about various kinds of incest, two about adultery, one about bestiality, one about bigamy, one about human sacrifice, and one about sex during menstruation, in addition to the infamous v. 22 about "lying with a man as with a woman." I would guess that your average "anti-gay critic" worries about most if not all of these prohibitions, and that even your average pro-gay Christian worries about more than a few of them. The examples of "other prohibitions" given above come, in fact, from other chapters in Leviticus.

A further irony: the verse about "mixing crops" and "wearing linen and wool together" is Lev. 19:19. The contextual logic here being used would suggest that since we don't worry about THAT verse any more, we needn't worry about, say, the verse that comes right before it ...

which is Lev. 19:18: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

The film's overarching thesis is that Jesus was a reconciler, not a divider;

Hm. Tell it to the Pharisees.

that he and God walk with the oppressed, not the oppressors.

Uh, we just got finished saying Jesus was "not a divider." The fact that he forgave his executioners would seem to indicate a desire on Jesus' part to walk with the oppressors as well as the oppressed, and in so doing to end the oppression.

In short, if the Times writer is accurately representing the film's arguments, then those arguments are, at best, highly questionable. This is not to say that there aren't worthwhile scholarly reasons* why Lev. 18:22 shouldn't be construed the way many Christian "anti-gay critics" construe it. But, even assuming that those reasons do exist, it doesn't sound as though this film is interested in them. It's more interested in a line of reasoning that says you should tear out Chapter A if you find something in Chapter B that strikes you as silly. Keep that up for very long and you'll have an empty book.

*In other words, I suspect Peter Gomes has stronger arguments than this contextual one, which raises the question of why he didn't bring his "A" game for his contribution to the film.

Edited by mrmando

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  • 1 month later...

Watched a screener earlier today.

Found myself thinking I could have argued the pro-gay (or at least anti-anti-gay) case stronger than the movie did, in some places. (E.g., why no reference to the Ezekiel passage when discussing what Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of?)

Totally found myself wishing the film had at least TRIED to include an ex-gay voice or two. (There is a cartoon which explains what homosexuality is, and which blithely asserts that so-called ex-gay ministries admit they only change behaviour, not orientation -- this is punctuated by an "ex-gay" person whispering at the camera, "Psst, I'm still gay" -- but gosh, I thought ex-gay ministries DID claim that they could change orientation.)

Even better, found myself wishing the film had included a celibate gay voice or two.

There appeared to be almost no theologically conservative voices among the interviewees, except perhaps for Richard Mouw, who gets maybe two soundbites -- one of which includes a line to the effect that the anti-gay case has to rely on the New Testament because the Old Testament on its own doesn't really make the case (so even in including a "conservative" voice, the filmmakers use to make it a "liberal" point).

Also was intrigued by the Anita Bryant clip at the very beginning. Might be something of a Rorshach (sp?) test. To me, it stirred sympathy for the Christian character who believes that gays can be "cured", and who refuses to have the assailant sent away by security guards. (I even liked her line about being hit in the face with a "fruit pie"; I've seen too many campy pro-gay movies to be immediately offended by lines like that, and frankly I was impressed by Bryant's attempt to inject a little humour into the situation; only later did it dawn on me that the "fruit pie" line might seem hateful or homophobic to some viewers.)

Wondered why the filmmakers would implicitly criticize James Dobson for comparing gay propagandists to the Nazis, only to use footage of Adolf Hitler and concentration camps later on when explaining why those who disagree with homosexuality must be resisted.

More thoughts later.

But oh, I would be remiss if I did not mention that I choked up a few times, too. The Bible interpretation and political footballing is what it is. But you'd have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the personal testimonies.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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mrmando wrote:

: Having seen it, would you say that the L.A. Times article accurately describes and attributes the film's theological arguments?

Hmmm... let's see...

Director Daniel Karslake intended to interview people on both sides of the issue; when most conservative commentators declined to participate, he says, he tried to craft a film that was not overly argumentative.

I am curious to know who turned the film down. Like I say above, Richard Mouw is the only interviewee who comes to mind who might be labelled "conservative" -- but even he is edited into the film in such a way that it kind of supports the "liberal" argument.

"For the Bible Tells Me So" directly confronts anti-gay Christians who quote a handful of Bible passages -- usually including Leviticus -- to support their position.

Working from memory, I believe the film deals with Sodom & Gomorrah (i.e. Genesis 19), the two passages in Leviticus, and Romans 1. I don't believe the passages in I Corinthians or Jude (are there any others?) ever come up.

The film's experts (including Harvard University theologian the Rev. Peter Gomes and South African archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu) say those passages are usually taken out of context and also call for other prohibitions (such as mixing crops, wearing linen and wool together, and remarrying after divorce) that few of the staunchest anti-gay critics seem to worry about.

Seems accurate enough. Actually, the argument that made the biggest visual-thematic impression on me was the argument that all these people who cite the Torah against homosexuality seem to have no trouble ignoring the Torah's prohibition against the collecting of interest; the point is made visually when we see the faces of certain evangelical "authority figures" juxtaposed with their gargantuan incomes. The argument is also made that the Hebrew word commonly translated "abomination" refers to things that went against Israel's "rituals", and not necessarily to things of a universally binding moral nature. Mouw, in one of his few included soundbites, seems to say that the Old Testament alone wouldn't seem to require Christians to avoid homosexual behaviour today, so how we address the issue will basically hinge on how we read Romans 1. And then someone ELSE says that when Paul said certain things were "unnatural", what he meant was that they were "uncustomary". (Before we dismiss that argument, let us not forget how Paul says in I Corinthians that it is "unnatural" for men to have long hair -- a point that could have been made in this film but, for some reason, wasn't.)

The film's overarching thesis is that Jesus was a reconciler, not a divider; that he and God walk with the oppressed, not the oppressors.

That is certainly in there, yes. At one point a black lesbian tells us that how people read the Bible will be shaped by who they are, and so when she reads the Bible, she, as a member of a disadvantaged or marginalized race and gender and sexual orientation, tends to identify with the passages where God stands on the side of the oppressed. She also makes the interesting argument that small towns which exhibit homophobic attitudes and shun gay people are committing the TRUE sin of Sodom (xenophobia, inhospitality, etc.).

At the center of the film is the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, whose ordination as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 was the catalyst of the current crisis splitting the Episcopal and Anglican church. By profiling other gay and lesbian people, "For the Bible Tells Me So" aims to show how Christian families can -- and sometimes can't -- handle a child's coming-out.

I wouldn't say that Gene Robinson is "at the center of the film". He's just one of the half-dozen or so gay people who are interviewed along with their parents. (Dick Gephardt and his daughter Chrissy are also among the interviewees. Apparently Dick Gephardt is a Baptist but had to agree to raise his children Catholic because his wife is a Catholic. Once that bit of background is spelled out at the beginning, I don't think the subject of religion comes up in their part of the movie ever again.) Also, as a Canadian, I must quibble with the claim that Robinson's ordination was "the" catalyst for the current Anglican crisis. New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham's authorization of a formal liturgy or service for blessing same-sex unions preceded Robinson's election by about a year, I believe -- and arguably what goes on in the sanctuary is a Bigger Deal than what any member of the clergy or episcopacy does at home.

I'm sure both the L.A. Times and I are forgetting something right now.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Like I say above, Richard Mouw is the only interviewee who comes to mind who might be labelled "conservative" -- but even he is edited into the film in such a way that it kind of supports the "liberal" argument. ... Mouw, in one of his few included soundbites, seems to say that the Old Testament alone wouldn't seem to require Christians to avoid homosexual behaviour today, so how we address the issue will basically hinge on how we read Romans 1.

Is it really "liberal" to say that the argument can't be made without the New Testament? I would hope any discussion by Christians of the Torah would be conditioned by an understanding of the NT...

Actually, the argument that made the biggest visual-thematic impression on me was the argument that all these people who cite the Torah against homosexuality seem to have no trouble ignoring the Torah's prohibition against the collecting of interest; the point is made visually when we see the faces of certain evangelical "authority figures" juxtaposed with their gargantuan incomes.

Sure, because if there's anything worse than a hypocrite, it's a RICH hypocrite. (See the "Bono = tax dodger" thread.) That sounds like a combination of contextual manipulation with class warfare. The prohibition on collecting interest isn't really picked up in the New Testament (in fact, Jesus' parable of the talents seems to tacitly approve of collecting interest), whereas many of the sexual prohibitions are picked up. That, I suspect, is part of the reason certain parts of the Torah receive more attention than Christians from other parts. We even see this happening in the Bible itself, in Acts 15 where the apostles decide which prohibitions in the Torah they are going to recommend to Gentile believers. (Although I should mention that the other three prohibitions in Acts 15 are dietary ones referring to how one's meat is killed, and I don't know any Christians who trouble themselves over those very much.)

It's a funny world when Christians and atheists make the same argument, i.e., that Christian X is a hypocrite because he or she doesn't treat all parts of the Bible equally. But where is it written that such a thing would even be desirable?

The argument is also made that the Hebrew word commonly translated "abomination" refers to things that went against Israel's "rituals", and not necessarily to things of a universally binding moral nature.

Now that's more like it! The Times didn't mention that argument, which sounds much more worthy of Peter Gomes. Although I suppose it's weakened somewhat by the fact that many of the other things in Lev. 18 are still considered morally repugnant.

And then someone ELSE says that when Paul said certain things were "unnatural", what he meant was that they were "uncustomary". (Before we dismiss that argument, let us not forget how Paul says in I Corinthians that it is "unnatural" for men to have long hair -- a point that could have been made in this film but, for some reason, wasn't.)

Is it the same Greek word in 1 Cor. 11 as in Rom. 1? It's translated "disgrace" in the versions I've looked at. I don't find nearly the level of vituperation in 1 Cor. 11 that is found in Rom. 1. On the other hand, of course, Rom. 1 disapproves of a whole laundry list of behaviors, including disobedience to parents ...

Anyway, you are making the film sound more serious than the Times article made it sound.

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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Working from memory, I believe the film deals with Sodom & Gomorrah (i.e. Genesis 19), the two passages in Leviticus, and Romans 1. I don't believe the passages in I Corinthians or Jude (are there any others?) ever come up.

In chapter 16 of the 4th edition of "Issues Facing Christians Today", John Stott lists the following texts:

Genesis 19:1-13/Judges 19

Leviticus 18:22; 20:13

Romans 1:18-32

1 Corinthians 6:9-10/1 Timothy 1:8-11

However, he persuasively argues that these texts only make sense when read in the light of "the positive teaching in Genesis 1 and 2 about human sexuality and heterosexual marriage" and that "without the wholesome positive teaching of the Bible on sex and marriage, our perspective on the homosexual question is bound to be skewed". He notes that Genesis 1 and 2 are usually overlooked by those who advocate same-sex partnerships. Taking several pages to discuss the Old Testament's definition of marriage (heterosexual monogamy), he reminds us that Jesus himself endorsed this definition. Stott's conclusion is that "Scripture envisages no other kind of marriage or sexual intercourse, for God provided no alternative".

We are part of the generation in which the image has triumphed over the word, when the visual is dominant over the verbal and where entertainment drowns out exposition. We may go so far as to claim that we live in an age of the image which is also the age of anti-word and potentially is the age of the lie. ~ Os Guiness

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)

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mrmando wrote:

: Is it really "liberal" to say that the argument can't be made without the New Testament?

Well, it is arguably "liberal" to say that the Old Testament passages don't apply to us -- not directly, that is. Of course, it is the New Testament itself that tells us that certain OT passages don't apply to us any more (assuming they ever did, in the case of we Gentiles), so perhaps that position isn't so "liberal" after all.

The interesting thing is that Mouw also says he believes the Sodom incident really WAS about sexuality, and not just inhospitality!

: The prohibition on collecting interest isn't really picked up in the New Testament (in fact, Jesus' parable of the talents seems to tacitly approve of collecting interest) . . .

Only if you assume that the wealthy landowner is meant to be a "good guy". Me, I think it is impossible to interpret that parable WITHOUT taking the prohibition of interest into account, just as I think it is impossible to interpret the Parable of the Prodigal Son without taking the prohibition of pig-meat into account. Those details are in there for a reason. (Remember how Jesus compared God to an unjust judge? Not to say that God is unjust, of course, but to say that there is something about judge-ship that still has its parallels in divinity, even when judge-ship is done badly. Likewise with the wealthy landowners in this and other parables, I imagine. Jesus is rubbing our faces in something difficult and saying there is still something about this difficult thing which reflects a divine quality.)

: . . . whereas many of the sexual prohibitions are picked up.

Yeah, and FWIW, I am semi-persuaded by Joe Dallas's argument that the passage in I Corinthians, where Paul seems to invent a word that had never been used in the Greco-Roman literature before, is actually based on the Septuagint's translation of one of the Leviticus passages. Some pro-gay types look at I Corinthians and say, "Hmmm, that word never appears in the literature before Paul, so we have no idea what it means! Therefore you can't prove anything by it!" But the very fact that Paul seems to have coined the term does require us, I think, to ask what that coinage was BASED on. Presumably Paul thought his ORIGINAL readers would understand what he was talking about.

: It's a funny world when Christians and atheists make the same argument, i.e., that Christian X is a hypocrite because he or she doesn't treat all parts of the Bible equally. But where is it written that such a thing would even be desirable?

Good point!

: Is it the same Greek word in 1 Cor. 11 as in Rom. 1? It's translated "disgrace" in the versions I've looked at.

Yup, the word is "PHUSIS".

Romans 1: "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the PHYSIKOS use into that which is against PHUSIS..."

I Corinthians 11: "Doth not even PHUSIS itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?"

: I don't find nearly the level of vituperation in 1 Cor. 11 that is found in Rom. 1. On the other hand, of course, Rom. 1 disapproves of a whole laundry list of behaviors, including disobedience to parents ...

Yes, exactly! In fact, the rhetoric of Romans 1 is rather striking. Homosexuality is presented NOT as a sin, per se, but as the PUNISHMENT for ANOTHER sin (namely idolatry). And THEN Paul goes on to list a whole bunch of OTHER sins -- including gossip! -- that deserve the punishment of DEATH. So gossip, etc., come across sounding like WORSE sins than homosexuality.

Which is not to say that Paul would actually make that argument. He is not laying out crimes and punishments in any sort of systematic way. Instead, he is grabbing the attention of his readers by talking about something that they find abhorrent and disgusting, and saying, "Yeah, that's pretty bad, but you know what? YOU guys do things that are JUST as bad, if not worse!" And that leads straight into Romans 2, where he forcefully makes the point that people who condemn others are also condemning themselves.

Really, it is impossible to use Romans 1 as a "clobber passage" against gays. Not unless you go out of your way to ignore Romans 2. Does Romans 1 perpetuate the notion that homosexuality is unnatural and against the original, pre-fallen created order? Absolutely, and I think this passage poses the most serious stumbling block to anyone who would argue that homosexual behaviour is compatible with a biblical understanding of sexuality. (Not only that, but Paul, being the good feminist that he was, even includes a reference to lesbianism in Romans 1 -- the only such reference anywhere in the Bible. So this passage is pretty comprehensive.) But does Romans 1 give us any basis to condemn gays? Absolutely not -- not unless we are pointing fingers back at ourselves.

The Invisible Man wrote:

: Genesis 19:1-13/Judges 19

Ah yes, the duo that proves that sexual orientation was not the decisive factor in cases like those.

: Leviticus 18:22; 20:13

: Romans 1:18-32

: 1 Corinthians 6:9-10/1 Timothy 1:8-11

Ah yes, had forgotten about I Timothy. But I think that passage simply uses the same word that I Corinthians uses -- the word that Paul seems to have coined, "ARSENOKOITES".

: However, he persuasively argues that these texts only make sense when read in the light of "the positive teaching in Genesis 1 and 2 about human sexuality and heterosexual marriage" and that "without the wholesome positive teaching of the Bible on sex and marriage, our perspective on the homosexual question is bound to be skewed". He notes that Genesis 1 and 2 are usually overlooked by those who advocate same-sex partnerships.

Yeah, I think that would be consistent with the thrust of Romans 1, which begins by discussing creation and how God reveals himself in creation, and how we humans have fallen from the original created order.

: Taking several pages to discuss the Old Testament's definition of marriage (heterosexual monogamy), he reminds us that Jesus himself endorsed this definition. Stott's conclusion is that "Scripture envisages no other kind of marriage or sexual intercourse, for God provided no alternative".

How does Stott deal with the OT passages on heterosexual polygamy (e.g. the passage in II Samuel where God says through a prophet that if David had wanted more wives, God would have given them to him)?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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: The prohibition on collecting interest isn't really picked up in the New Testament (in fact, Jesus' parable of the talents seems to tacitly approve of collecting interest) . . .

Only if you assume that the wealthy landowner is meant to be a "good guy". Me, I think it is impossible to interpret that parable WITHOUT taking the prohibition of interest into account, just as I think it is impossible to interpret the Parable of the Prodigal Son without taking the prohibition of pig-meat into account.

Ah well, the Exodus and Leviticus passages about interest say only not to collect it from the poor, while the Deuteronomy passage specifically says one may collect interest from Gentiles but not from one's fellow Jews. Et cetera, et cetera. So if the bankers in Jesus' parable are neither poor nor Jews ...

I resent rich preachers as much as the next fellow, but turning their interest-collecting into a theological issue strikes me as a highly specious argument, even if it packs an emotional wallop. (To hell with the interest, what about the principal some of these people are pulling down?)

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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Holy Moly! wrote:

: Well, it's not a statistically significant phenomenon . . .

Not when you're dealing with the nexus of religion and homosexual orientation!

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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mrmando wrote:

: Ah well, the Exodus and Leviticus passages about interest say only not to collect it from the poor, while the Deuteronomy passage specifically says one may collect interest from Gentiles but not from one's fellow Jews. Et cetera, et cetera. So if the bankers in Jesus' parable are neither poor nor Jews ...

Fair point, though I think the same Jews who declined to eat in Gentile houses or to share wells with Samaritan women would have tended to apply the shouldn't-collect-interest SENSIBILITY to the characters in the story no matter what their legal ethnic status was.

: I resent rich preachers as much as the next fellow . . .

FWIW, I was avoiding using the word "preachers" because I believe at least one of the figures cited in the film is James Dobson, who is only a psychologist.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Also, as a Canadian, I must quibble with the claim that Robinson's ordination was "the" catalyst for the current Anglican crisis. New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham's authorization of a formal liturgy or service for blessing same-sex unions preceded Robinson's election by about a year, I believe -- and arguably what goes on in the sanctuary is a Bigger Deal than what any member of the clergy or episcopacy does at home.

A fair point, but it is Robinson that continues to arouse the anger of "Global South" factions within the AC. Whether that is a slight to Canada, or just a flashpoint for African and Asian bishops, who can say?

Oh, and is interest the only way to make a profit? Could not the parable ot the talents be also about increasing the value of a commodity for resale?

Edited by Rich Kennedy

"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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Rich Kennedy wrote:

: A fair point, but it is Robinson that continues to arouse the anger of "Global South" factions within the AC.

Well, the 'Global South' was pretty angry about Ingham, too. But looking back at the stories I wrote when I covered this beat in '02 and '03, it does seem that the American case got people riled up a bit quicker and prompted emergency meetings on a level that didn't quite happen in response to the Canadian case. Then again, maybe the Canadian case primed the pump.

If the Canadian case has not been so vociferously condemned, it COULD be because the ordination of Robinson required action and endorsement on the level of the NATIONAL American church, whereas Ingham's authorization of same-sex rites was a strictly DIOCESAN matter, as far as Ingham was concerned, and the national Canadian church has been trying ever since to figure out whether it really IS a strictly diocesan matter or whether the national church ought to take charge of the situation in any way. So the primates overseas can't necessarily direct their anger at the Canadian church as a whole, the way that they can do with the American church as a whole.

: Oh, and is interest the only way to make a profit? Could not the parable ot the talents be also about increasing the value of a commodity for resale?

Possibly. But the reference to "harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed" does frame the reference to "interest" in a specific way. And a line like "I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away" -- spoken by Jesus, or by the character in his parable? -- doesn't sound all that different from "the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer."

Don't forget that Matthew 25's version of this parable is not the only one. Luke 19 also has a variation on this parable, and it casts the wealthy landowner in an even worse light -- as an unpopular man who goes away to "a distant land" to be made king, and who, upon his return, puts the "good" servants in charge of entire cities and slaughters those subjects of his who had begged the far-away rulers not to make him king. N.T. Wright and others have said that Jesus was making a pretty clear allusion to how Herod the Great's son Archelaus became king -- but even if we don't frame the parable within THAT specific a context, the basic point remains: Exactly WHO would Jesus' original hearers have thought about, when they heard a parable about kings who owed their power to some far-away country? Why, the Herods who were dependent on Rome, of course.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Fair point, though I think the same Jews who declined to eat in Gentile houses or to share wells with Samaritan women would have tended to apply the shouldn't-collect-interest SENSIBILITY to the characters in the story no matter what their legal ethnic status was.

Perhaps so. And there are other OT passages (e.g., Ps. 15:5, Ezek. 18:8) that would seem to disapprove of interest-gathering in general. I particularly like Prov. 28:8: "He who increases his wealth by interest and usury/Gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor."

It just seems a little counterintuitive to patiently explain why Verse X in Leviticus shouldn't be used to bash gays, and then turn around and use Verse Y in Leviticus to bash people with bank accounts. All the back-and-forth finger-pointing serves only to establish what is already self-evident: most Christians don't follow every particular of Jewish law. The far-more-important question is: On what basis they should decide which parts of the law are important to follow? ... but would you say the film really considers that question?

: I resent rich preachers as much as the next fellow . . .

FWIW, I was avoiding using the word "preachers" because I believe at least one of the figures cited in the film is James Dobson, who is only a psychologist.

Ah, but that doesn't stop him from preaching, does it? I don't regard "preacher" as a term restricted to clergy members; anyone can "preach." My church, at least, has a lay preacher who gives a sermon once every couple of months. I am not aware that Dobson has earned any ecclesiastical designation or ever been formally ordained, but he's probably got some sort of honorary theological degree. The university I attended, in fact, awarded him an honorary "doctorate of humane letters" in 1988. This was a few years before he had become quite the lightning rod for anti-evangelical sentiment that he is now.

Edited by mrmando

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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mrmando wrote:

: The far-more-important question is: On what basis they should decide which parts of the law are important to follow? ... but would you say the film really considers that question?

Hmmm, not that I can recall.

: Ah, but that doesn't stop him from preaching, does it? I don't regard "preacher" as a term restricted to clergy members; anyone can "preach."

True. But if pastors-with-huge-salaries is your beef, then Dobson doesn't qualify. He's not a pastor, and he might not even have a salary; I believe I have read somewhere that his income comes entirely from royalties on his books, etc., and that he does not take any money from Focus on the Family.

Incidentally, there is a scene in this film where the mother of a gay man says that, "to change the churches," she and her family had "to go to the source. And we felt like we were going to the source by going to" the offices of Focus on the Family. Gadzooks. Never mind denominational offices or actual churches. The headquarters of a social-conservative publishing and broadcasting empire, instead, is "the source" from which "the churches" derive their inspiration.

And the scary thing is, I don't necessarily blame that woman for thinking that way.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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How does Stott deal with the OT passages on heterosexual polygamy (e.g. the passage in II Samuel where God says through a prophet that if David had wanted more wives, God would have given them to him)?

I am pretty sure that he doesn't address them. My uncertainty stems from the fact that it is several months now since I finished the book and when I went to speed-read some relevant sections last night I discovered that the book doesn't include a Scripture index (which is rather odd and rather annoying). The regular index is also badly done. I went through the chapters on Same-Sex Relationships, and Marriage, Cohabitation and Divorce, but polygamy was barely mentioned.

We are part of the generation in which the image has triumphed over the word, when the visual is dominant over the verbal and where entertainment drowns out exposition. We may go so far as to claim that we live in an age of the image which is also the age of anti-word and potentially is the age of the lie. ~ Os Guiness

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)

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Incidentally, there is a scene in this film where the mother of a gay man says that, "to change the churches," she and her family had "to go to the source. And we felt like we were going to the source by going to" the offices of Focus on the Family. Gadzooks. Never mind denominational offices or actual churches. The headquarters of a social-conservative publishing and broadcasting empire, instead, is "the source" from which "the churches" derive their inspiration.

And the scary thing is, I don't necessarily blame that woman for thinking that way.

Earlier in the film, they were outside their Lutheran Synod meeting calling for action by the Synod, so it's not that they skipped the denominational connection.

While I'm posting, from my Disciples of Christ perspective, my church is well represented in the film. Larry Keene is identified as DOC, two other talking heads (Steven Kindle and Joan Campbell Brown) are DOC, but only identified by their respective organizations. And the first church we see is a DOC church where we meet life long Disciples Imogene and Victor Robinson, parents of Bishop Gene Robinson (there's a good one that got away.)

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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