Friday, May 19, 2006

Lauren Winner's winner of a piece on evangelical abstinence pledges. She rightly sees that "law" doesn't cut it, and only grace and a loving community will affect the transformation the law demands.

Here's an excerpt:

So why is the church's approach to teaching chastity falling short? Consider the popular "True Love Waits" virginity pledge: "Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to a lifetime of purity including sexual abstinence from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship."

This pledge and others like it are well meaning but deeply flawed. For starters, there's something disturbing about the assumption that teenagers are passively waiting for their future mates and children, when the New Testament is quite clear that some Christians are called to lifelong celibacy. (Paul, for example, did not have a mate or children, and Dan Brown's fantasies notwithstanding, Jesus's only bride was the church.) Chastity is not merely about passive waiting; it is about actively conforming our bodies to the arc of the Gospel and receiving the Holy Spirit right now.

Pledgers promise to control intense bodily desires simply by exercising their wills. But Christian ethics recognizes that the broken, twisted will can do nothing without rehabilitation by God's grace. Perhaps the centrality of grace is recognized best not in a pledge but in a prayer that names chastity as a gift and beseeches God for the grace to receive it.

The pledges are also cast in highly individualistic terms: I promise that I won't do this or that. As the Methodist bishop William Willimon once wrote: "Decisions are fine. But decisions that are not reinforced and reformed by the community tend to be short-lived."

During our first year of marriage, my husband and I lived in a small apartment inside a church. On Tuesdays, Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon met downstairs. As I got to know some of the regulars, I began to wonder if there wasn't something the church could learn from the 12-step groups in our midst.

Read it all.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Refreshing in its humorous honesty comes this quote from the NYT. The article on stemless wine glasses features a conversation between the writer and Hildegarde Heymann, viticulture professor at UC-Davis:
"Emboldened, I made a confession. 'Riedel recommends only filling the glass one third of the way to enhance aromas,' I told her. 'But I have lots of children, and I drive a lot of car pools, and I have a job. And at the end of the day, sometimes I fill the glass, um, a little higher so I can feel like I am only having one glass.'"
Read it all.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Great Doonesbury comment on Harvard.
Click here.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Another lifestyle choice! From the NYT on couples who live apart ("Living Apart Together," or LAT):
"As much as anything, though, the rise in L.A.T. relationships may be due to a growing unwillingness to compromise, particularly among members of a generation known for their self-involvement."

One wonders what love means when there is no mutual submission and sacrifice. "I love you, but only if you don't ever get in my way."

Read it all.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I've been following the crisis in Zimbabwe for a while, with a mixture of dismay, sadness, and simmering anger. Mugabe gives more evidence for the human capacity for self-deception and staggering ego. People who think the human race is improving, or that people are fundamentally good, need to take a look at Zimbabwe.
Toilet paper in Harare is now over $400... per sheet!
Click here to read all.