Exodus International and the Problem of Biblical Interpretation

As the Supreme Court approaches its deadline to make a decision on Proposition 8 and the constitutionality of DOMA, many countries in Africa still have anti-homosexuality laws in place. Life for the LGBTQ communities in these regions is precarious at best. While the U.S.’ culture wars and legal battles make waves that sway the lives of those of us living here, the ripples gain momentum as they travel internationally and the effects become increasingly dangerous and severe.

Thus, when Exodus International — an American Christian ministry boasting a network of “260 Ministries, Professional Counselors and Churches”, all put in place to “help those affected by homosexuality” — shuts its doors it is not an isolated religious, or even American affair, but an international event with potentially huge consequences.

Alan Chambers is the president of Exodus International and a self-proclaimed success story of its program. Though, he has subsequently issued an apology for its practices. While he has apologized for the methods that Exodus has used in the past, he states that,

“I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex… I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage.”chambers

In his statement there is a trope commonly heard among conservative Christians involved in the culture wars — it’s not that they themselves hate the LGBTQ community, evolution or women leaders, it’s that the Bible, God’s word, constrains them to accept and propagate certain positions that are counter cultural. Sadly, so the trope goes, due to their belief in Scripture and its dictates, our culture construes them as hate-mongerers and backward-thinking bigots. Continue reading

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The Connection Between The Gospel Coalition and (Extra-terristrial?) Terrorists via Richard Kearney

In On Stories Richard Kearney suggests, echoing Benedict Anderson’s notion of imagined communities, that nations always seek to solidify their identity. There are many reasons – juridical, social, economic, etc. – for nations to do so, one being the legitimating of violence. In the contemporary Western world it is the nation that exercises the sole right to violence, and this right is based on the legitimacy of the nation as an internally solidified community of “the People”.

However, Kearney points out that national identities are constantly threatened by internal fractures: whether these are the conflicts between class, race, or religion when internal national unity is examined closely it reveals itself as little more than a vapor. Continue reading

Zizek, Pentecostalism and the Inverted Fetishism of the Global North and South

We begin with Slavoj Zizek’s recent comments on a particular form of inverted fetishism,

“Populism is always sustained by the frustrated exasperation of ordinary people, by the cry ‘I don’t know what is going on, but I’ve just had enough of it! It cannot go on! It must stop!’ Such impatient outbursts betray a refusal to understand or engage with the complexity of the situation, and give rise to the conviction that there must be somebody responsible for the mess—which is why some agent lurking behind the scenes is invariably required. Therein, in this refusal to know, lies the properly fetishistic dimension of populism.”[1] Continue reading

Cavanaugh’s critique of Boff and Sobrino meets Zizek

This is taken from a conversation I am having in the comment section of my post on Zizek, Hauerwas and Chocolate Laxatives. I wanted to move it here because I thought it might stir some interesting conversation on its own. If you want to see the entire context check out the other post.

Cavanaugh has an interesting section in Torture and Eucharist where he makes use of and then critiques Boff’s and Sobrino’s accounts of martyrdom. He likes that they want to expand the definition of martyrdom, but dislikes the fact that (1.) they base their definition on “abstract principles” of love and justice, (2.) seem to valorize the intentions of the individual martyr’s, and (3.) include those who die while participating in violence. In contrast, Cavanaugh thinks that martyrdom should be based on whether or not the community of which the martyrs were a part is able to recognize the body of Christ in the martyrs death. (TandE, 60-64).

I do think it is problematic to base notions of martyrdom on the individual’s intentions if that is really what Boff and Sobrino do. I don’t, however, agree with the other critiques. Continue reading

Haiti, Us Aid/Imperialism and Evangelicalism

Here is a great peace by Peter Hallward on the recent events in Haiti. It is devastating and infuriating and I am not sure what the answer is.

We have some friends/acquaintances who recently adopted a Haitian child. They are somewhat famous now, I suppose, since they have been in the news. The woman was in Haiti when the earth quake happened and was able to return with the help of the US with the child they were still in the process of adopting. They claimed that it was a miracle and thanked God for it. I must admit that I find claims such as this somewhat suspect when reading this article and specifically quotes like this. Continue reading

An Embarrassing Confession and Modest Plea

Right now I want to go shopping. I want to be wooed. I want to dance drunk and dizzy, intoxicated by the kaleidoscope of blues, greens, yellows and the infinite shades of beige that make up the fall catalogue. I want to see pictures of beautiful people doing beautiful things and be convinced that my story can intersect with theirs. The melodies cascading from store speakers will complete this mystical experience, upon which no price seems to high. Continue reading

Hauerwas, Zizek, Patagonia and Rob Bell: Capitalism’s Chocolate Laxatives and the Church

A while back a friend of mine asked me a question(s) in a dialogue we were having concerning Capitalism, justice, and Christianity. It is an honest question and in these times of Gap and Apple’s Red Campaign, Bono, Toms shoes, ad infinitum, I think it maybe an important one for anyone actually interested in disseminating the philosophical or theological problems with the current market system—I am tempted to say all encompassing reality, or at least the state of the situation—today. Continue reading