Thoughts on the Reelection of President Obama

President Barack Obama visits the University of Iowa

President Barack Obama visits the University of Iowa in Sept, 2012.

This was a good night for Democrats. It was a good night for us moderates who voted for the President. It was a painful night for Republicans, who not only lost the Presidency in a bad economy, but actually LOST seats in the US Senate.

In fact, if the President wins Florida (where he is presently leading by approx 40K votes with 100% of the precincts reporting), the final electoral count will be 332-206. This means President Obama won every swing state: FL, OH, WI, VA, NV, IA, CO, & NH. He is also winning the popular vote by 2.6 million votes.

It was a great night for marriage equality, as Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota all passed voter-approved same-sex marriage laws that allow same sex marriage. Let us remember what has happened in just the past few years. First, Republicans tried to ban same-sex marriage, so the courts threw it out. Republicans then accused them of being “activist judges”, so legislatures began to pass it. Not liking that, Republicans tried to place it back on the ballots as initiatives. However, the tide has swung so much since 2008, states are now beginning to pass same-sex marriage in the voting booth. This is truly a testament to equality and perseverance on the part of those who seek to stamp out discrimination on the basis if sexual orientation.

Likewise, Americans witnessed the election of the first openly gay US Senator in Wisconsin.

The big losers of the night were Christian fundamentalist Republicans, who not only failed to stop President Obama from winning reelection, but who watched the self-inflicted wounds of Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin lose in Missouri and Richard “Rape pregnancy is God’s Will” Mourdock lose in Indiana, costing the Republicans the Senate. Then again, if they follow their own logic, since this happened, it must be God’s will, right?

I am proud that an African-American has won yet another election to the Presidency of the United States of America!

I am proud to have cast my first vote as an Iowan for President Obama and for our Iowa District 2 US Congressman, Dave Loebsack. I got to see the President when he came to the University of Iowa this fall. It was fun to hear a campaign speech, since California has only been an ATM machine for both parties for some time now.

(UPDATE) Women are also winners, as a record number of women were elected to the US Senate. (/UPDATE)

This is total vindication for nerd/genius Nate Silver at the Five Thirty Eight blog, who called this BIG for President Obama. (Did I say BIG? I meant PERFECTLY.)

It was also painful (and somewhat embarrassing) to watch Karl Rove argue (and chastise) the FoxNews anchors when they called Ohio (and the election) for President Obama. As

I’m waiting for the GOP to turn on GOP National Chair Reince Priebus who, in an economy THIS bad, not only watched the President win reelection, but watched the GOP actually lose seats in the Senate.

I will also be curious to see how President Obama did among Evangelical Christians. I remember reading that Obama won ~25% of Evangelicals in 2008. I’m curious to see if that number is up from 2008 and why. As a professor of Religious Studies, I’m curious to see if Evangelicals really did turn out to vote for a Mormon, a faith tradition that, up until Mitt Romney visited him just before the election, Evangelical godfather Billy Graham had designated as a cult on his own website.

I also see that Rick Santorum used election day to make a fool of himself one last time with this unfortunate tweet. (He apparently hasn’t Googled his name in a while, or still doesn’t understand double entendre.)

My favorite comments (most via Twitter) of the night were:

  • “Binders full of electoral votes” (@Hipster_Christ)
  • “Todd Akin lost. I guess when you’re a “legitimate religious fundy”, women’s bodies have a way of “shutting that down”. (@xkv8r)
  • “Legitimate loss” for Todd Akin in Missouri. (@xkv8r)
  • CNN pundit just said Romney’s stance on Latinos cost him: “Romney self-deported from the White House”. (@xkv8r)
  • Before it starts, I’m calling @BarackObama’s acceptance speech a failure if it doesn’t end with a mic drop. (@Hipster_Christ)
  • Claire McCaskill has won the MO senate seat over Todd Akin, dealing a serious blow to “legitimate rape”. #GodsWill (@xkv8r)
  • For those of you who do not like the outcome of the election, four states have legalized marijuana. (@eJoelWatts)

One positive for Republicans is that right-wing Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann barely win reelection. However, I count this as a victory as well, because if she had lost, FoxNews would have hired or her, or worse yet, she’d have gotten a reality show on some channel. As a congresswoman, I’ll have to listen to her much less.

So at the end of the day,

  • Obama wins re-election with over 300 electoral votes (My prediction was 290; I gave FL and VA to Romney.) Only 6.9% of respondents to my blog poll called this (although 65% had President Obama winning.)
  • Right wing Evangelical “legitimate rape” is “God’s will” fundys lost (and lost the senate for the GOP).
  • Same-sex marriage is beginning to be approved on ballots, and openly gay politicians are beginning to be elected, signalling a decline in discrimination against homosexuals.
  • FoxNews looked like idiots throughout yet another election cycle (especially Karl Rove on election night).
  • And Big Bird is safe.

To quote the venerable poet Ice Cube, “Damn it was a good day!” ;-)

Mitt Romney Loses His Cool Discussing His Mormon Apocalyptic Worldview in Iowa…in 2007!

A video is trending and recirculating this week that shows Republican Mitt Romney sparring with WHO NewsRadio 1040 talk show host Jan Mikelson about Gov. Romney’s Mormon faith’s view on abortion…in 2007!

The conversation briefly takes a detour into Romney’s apocalyptic worldview (as articulated by his Mormon faith), during which he clearly articulates that the second coming of Jesus will come on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, a process that will split the Mount of Olives to such an extent that Jesus will reign during a coming millennium from the two resulting venerable holy sites of Jerusalem and Missouri.

The video is here:

In the above video, Gov. Romney appears to lose his cool when discussing his stance on abortion with Mikelson after the on-air interview is over.

One newsworthy item that is being omitted by many reposting the video is that while the video is genuine, it records an off-air discussion that took place in 2007!

So this is not new. Still, it reveals the underlying apprehension many Evangelical Christians feel about voting for someone that who shares a belief in the existence of God (and a political ideology), but with whom they disagree on the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith, like the second coming of Jesus, the creation of the universe, the role of Missouri in a post-apocalyptic state, etc.

Mikelson asks the (by now well worn) question of why Gov. Romney appeared to be for a women’s right to choose an abortion while the governor of the heavily Democratic state of Massachusetts, and then opposed to it when running for president as a Republican.

Gov. Romney attempts to argue that while he (and his church) are fundamentally opposed to abortion, that there are some Mormon Democrats in Nevada and Utah (like Nevada Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid), who are part of a party that allows others to make personal decisions about abortion, but who may be personally opposed to the practice. However, Romney reasserts that the Mormon faith does not allow a Mormon, to “participate it, encourage, or in any way support abortion.” So, Romney claims that while those other Mormon politicians may align themselves with the Democrats, they are staunchly pro-life and anti-abortion (a position on which Harry Reid has been quite consistent).

This is the point at which the conversation sidetracks into a discussion of the Mormon view of the second coming of Christ. Romney begins by repeating the refrain, “I know my faith better than you do. You don’t understand my faith like I do.”

Romney then goes on to correct Mikelson about how:

“Throughout the Bible, Christ appears in Jerusalem, splits the Mount of Olives, to stop the war that’s coming in to kill all the Jews – our church believes that – that’s when the coming in glory of Christ occurs. We also believe that over the thousand years that follows, the millennium, he will reign from two places – that the law will come forth from one place, from Missouri, and the other will be in Jerusalem.”

Romney then abruptly brings the discussion back to the issue of abortion, articulates his position by stating that while he is personally opposed to abortion, he offered others the choice to decide for themselves (rather than call for an outright ban on abortion) while he was running for Governor of Massachusetts. He then changed his position when it actually came down to signing legislation permitting abortion.

To be fair to Mitt Romney, this was an off-air conversation, after the interview was over, that was recorded on the in-studio camera, and then released to YouTube (a standard procedure with guest interviews. For instance, here is the YouTube video of me when I appeared on KMJ 580’s Ray Appleton Show in Fresno back in 2010.) Romney’s camp stated that they did not know that Romney’s in-studio, post-interview conversation would be recorded (a fact that I haven’t decided helps or hurts the candidate’s perception as one who will say whatever an audience wants to hear in order to get elected).

To see the interview in context (and to see why Romney thought this wasn’t being recorded), view The Week‘s article here.

To see the entire 2007 interview in context, watch below:

So, while the question still remains whether a person behaves differently on camera versus off camera (I’d guess that we all do to some extent), Mikelson does expose (albeit it 5 years ago) the lingering rift between Evangelicals and Mormons when it comes to specific issues of faith.

The video ends with Gov. Romney walking out of the studio.

Keep in mind that he is being interviewed by very conservative WHO Iowa radio talk host, Jan Mikelson, who sparked outrage of his own when he appeared to agree with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s stance on gays.

So this is conservative vs. conservative, which if we look back to the Republican primaries, is precisely where the questions about Romney all began: conservatives questioning whether Romney was conservative enough to represent the Republican party.

Dr. Paul Dilley on the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” Announcement

The so-called "Gospel of Jesus' Wife"

The so-called “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”

Here’s a blog post from my University of Iowa Classics and Religious Studies colleague, Paul Dilley, who was at the Coptic conference in Rome when the big announcement was made.

He writes:

Professor Karen King of Harvard presented a tiny, poorly-written portion of a manuscript page, owned by a private collector, which features a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples in which he mentions “my wife.”  King, working with Professor AnneMarie Luijendijk of Princeton, has made a draft of their editio princeps, English translation, and study of this “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife”, forthcoming in Harvard Theological Review, available for download:

http://www.hds.harvard.edu/faculty-research/research-projects/the-gospel-of-jesuss-wife

They suggest that the text was written in the second century, citing denials that Jesus was married by Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian of Carthage, as well as parallels with other apocryphal texts usually dated to this era; this is certainly a plausible hypothesis.  But regardless of the original date of composition, it seems to me that Jesus’s marital status would have been an even more poignant topic for debate among Christians in Late Antiquity, after the rise of the ascetic/monastic movement, with controversies about the relative value of celibacy and marriage occupying center stage.

It will be interesting to see the case made for the authenticity of the fragment and translation of the text, as well as whether the fact that the manuscript is unprovenanced, was acquired from an antiquities dealer, and that the present owner wants to sell the document to Harvard adversely affects the credibility of the discovery.

And check out Dr. Dilley’s blog, Hieroi Logoi: Digital Resources for Religion in Late Antiquity, when you get a chance and add his valuable blog to your blogroll.

this week’s example of bigoted child abuse in the church: child sings ‘ain’t no homo gonna make it to heaven’ in church

Some people ask me why I spend so much time debating the issue of the legalization of same-sex marriage. Apart from the academic side of the intellectual argument, and the textual/theological argument, we often forget that the outcome of this debate and the charges and claims made during the debate itself hurt real people and adversely affects their lives. And I’m not just speaking about those gay individuals who are discriminated against on a daily basis, but I’m also referring to the children who are taught to mock and even hate by their parents from a very young age in church!

For example, watch this latest video taken from the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle in Greensburg, Indiana, the same town where a gay high school student at Greensburg Community High School in Greensburg IN, Billy (William) Lucas, recently took his own life apparently due to the anti-gay bullying he was receiving from his peers.

Listen to the lyrics of the song sung by the child, and watch the reaction of the adults in the audience.

The child sings the following lyrics:

I know the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong.
I know the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong.
Romans one and twenty-seven (Rom 1:27)
Ain’t no homo going to make it to heaven.

Watch the room full of white adults stand and cheer and laugh in approval. The pastor nods and laughs. They are celebrating bigotry. They are celebrating their belief that gay Americans are going to burn in hell. One person is even heard to yell proudly, “That’s my boy!” And toward the end of the video, they have the child sing it again. Note that in the first performance, there is another child standing with the boy, and they boy ends after one verse, but in the second performance (see the 1:07 mark in the video), there is no second child, and the little boy sings the verse multiple times. This was no accident or lapse in judgment, it was an encore performance!!!

And what’s worse, from this point on, this child knows that every time he calls a gay individual a “homo,” he’ll have the cheering support of his church behind him. Remember, he’s a child: someone taught him this song! Every time he condemns a gay individual to hell, his parents will applaud. They might even invite him up in front of the church to sing of the gay individual’s condemnation to the church, who will shower him with applause and laughter.

This is child abuse. It is hateful indoctrination at its worst.

The pastor in the video is Jeff Sangl of the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle at 1114 Westridge Parkway W in Greensburg, IN 47240. You can email Pastor Sangl at jsangl@tds.net or call him at the church office at (812) 662-8224. You can also contact him at his family business (I kid you not), the Flatrock Whitetail Deer Farm, where they raise whitetail deer to hunt them at (765) 525-9488.

Apparently, shortly after this video was posted online, and the public outrage began, the pastor abruptly left on vacation. The church immediately posted a statement on its website, stating among other things:

The Pastor and members of Apostolic Truth Tabernacle do not condone, teach, or practice hate of any person for any reason. We believe and hope that every person can find true Bible salvation and the mercy and grace of God in their lives.

We are a strong advocate of the family unit according to the teachings and precepts found in the Holy Bible. We believe the Holy Bible is the Divinely-inspired Word of God and we will continue to uphold and preach that which is found in scripture.

So once again, while the church simply denies that they teach hate, the video shows otherwise. AND, we see that the church is quick to excuse and dismiss its abhorrent behavior by invoking religious freedom stating that “we will continue to uphold and preach that which is found in scripture.” Once again, even in their non-apology, “religious freedom” is used to excuse hatred taught to children.

THIS is why I take this issue so seriously. What “thoughtful conservatives” see as the simple upholding of “traditional marriage” is all too often manifest as teaching children to mock and hate their neighbor…in church. It has to end, and I for one as a scholar of religious studies, will stand with the oppressed on this one.

Cherry Picking: The Fallacy of an Inconsistent Hermeneutic

Man tattoos Lev. 18:22 to his arm.

Man tattoos Lev. 18:22 to his arm.

A 2009 story ran in the Advocate (later picked up by other outlets) of a man named Marcel Gelmi who SO homophobic, and SO ready to use a passage from the Bible to defend his hatred of homosexuality, that he (I kid you not) TATTOOED LEVITICUS 18:22 ON HIS ARM in a highly visible area to remind all who look his direction that:

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22

Furthermore, Gelmi is a friend of a suspect in a brutal hate crime in Queens, N.Y. He insists that the assault was, in fact, not a hate crime, but that the openly gay victim deserved what he calls a “beat down” explaining:

“I mean, I don’t want no man blowing me a kiss either. I mean, things happen,” he said. “I’ve been beat up like that too, but you don’t see me on the news and my family crying and this and that. Wounds heal.”

So, he tattooed the NRSV text of Lev. 18:22 on his arm, thereby justifying his stance on homosexuality.

However, this act of TATTOOING a particular verse to one’s arm (or on one’s mind and constantly repeating it like a mantra in debates) demonstrates perfectly one of the problems I have with the opponents of same-sex marriage (beyond the fundamentalist/literal reading of Iron Age social religious regulations and insisting that they become the modern law of a secular government supposedly separate from the rules of any specific religion like the Christian equivalent of Islamic Sharia law).

The problem is with “cherry picking,” or more specifically, the inconsistent use of a biblical hermeneutic (way of reading the Bible) to promote one particular verse in the Bible over, and at times, to the complete neglect, of another verse. (Of course, you can do this if you concede that the Bible contains numerous errors, is not infallible, and was written by a number of different people over a great period of time and was later edited and redacted by a host of anonymous others, and therefore some verses are more applicable and relevant than others. BUT since there is a very high correlation between people arguing against same-sex marriage and a belief in biblical inerrancy, that the Bible is the inspired and infallible “Word of God,” and that “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Tim. 3:16) and therefore every command is apodictic and applicable for all time, I’m guessing many will succumb to the temptation of cherry picking.)

One argument I make consistently to those who would seek to use the Bible to suppress the civil rights of modern Americans is, “Choose a hermeneutic and stick to it. However you choose to read the Bible and interpret this verse, use that same interpretative hermeneutic to interpret all of its verses.” Put simply, you can’t read one verse in the Bible and say, “This is binding for all time,” and then read the very next verse in the same chapter of the same book and declare, “Well, that was just part of that particular cultural context. We don’t need to obey that command today.”

Choose a hermeneutic and stick to it.

(Again, we’re not talking about mixing genres here, where one verse is obviously poetry and the other verse is a list of apodictic legal commands. I’m speaking of two verses in the same literary genre and context.)

For instance, if you’re going to argue that “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” (Col. 3:18) is still binding, as it is a command from the inspired apostle pseudo-Paul, then you probably should be prepared to defend the command that appears only a few verses later that says, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.” (Col 3:22) That is, it’s very difficult to argue that one verse is still binding and the other is not, and still maintain any semblance of credibility.

If you use one hermeneutic (e.g., “This is absolutely binding apodictic law for all time because that is the way God made it”) to interpret one verse, and use a completely different hermeneutic to interpret the very next verse (e.g., “Well, this is obviously terrible and was simply a part of the ancient context and therefore we don’t need to follow the teachings of this verse”), then you betray the glaring inconsistency of the way in which you read the Bible. You pick and choose (cherry pick) the verses you feel should still be binding upon modern civil society, while dismissing the verses you don’t agree with as dated and oppressive.

The point is that the Bible didn’t stop saying “Slaves, obey your masters” during the Civil War. It’s always been there. We simply learned to “read around” that verse. Most have learned and agreed to read the verse calling slaves to obey their masters as a product of an oppressive cultural context that endorsed slavery. But, here’s the good news: we changed! While the Bible still says “Slaves, obey your masters,” we took it upon ourselves to agree that slavery is evil (despite the fact that God himself gives instructions on how to make a slave in Exod. 21:2 and Exod 21:7) and to fundamentally ignore the verses that dictate how we should make slaves and that slaves should continue to obey their masters. We moved away from a literalist “God said it, that settles it” mentality and moved toward a progressive reading of the text that concedes that portions of the Bible may have captured some less than ideal elements of the ancient world, such as slavery or the victimless act of two consensual adults loving one another.

Because if you’re going to claim that there should be a law against same-sex marriage because God explicitly prohibited it a couple of thousand years ago, then it’s probably not a good idea to TATTOO a prohibition onto your arm that is only a few verses before this one:

You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the LORD. (Lev. 19:28)

I know of no New Testament command countermanding or otherwise “trumping” this law against tattoos. And yet, this particular tattooed “cherry picker” violates one outright command so that he can advertise his endorsement of another.

This individual is SO consumed with hate for homosexuals, that he violates the latter command against tattoos to express his disgust of the violation of the former.

Sheer and utter hypocrisy.

But that’s what we’ve come to expect from many who want to use the Bible to legislate against the single issue of same-sex marriage, while they completely ignore commands against other equally “abominable” practices, and do not seek to legislate against them.

And THAT is cherry picking and the fallacy of an inconsistent hermeneutic.

imagine that picture of you protesting same-sex marriage 40 years from now: YOU ARE ‘THOSE PEOPLE’

Imagine that picture of you protesting same-sex marriage 40 years from now, with your Bibles and your flags and your signs:

Imagine how stupid you are going to look in 40 years: Mixed Marriage vs. Same-sex marriage.

Imagine how stupid you are going to look in 40 years: Mixed-race marriage vs. Same-sex marriage.

In 2008, I wrote:

“I ask Californians, especially Christians, to look within their hearts and ask themselves whether we want to treat homosexuals today as we treated women in the 1920’s, and blacks in the 1850’s. Will we look back in 40 years’ time in disgust and shake our heads and ask how we ever voted to deny civil rights to groups based upon a personal sexual choice?”

An artist sums up what I wrote in one picture.

If you are campaigning AGAINST same-sex marriage, that’s you. In the picture. That’s you. You ARE that person. You are the person in the picture that we look back on in disgust, shaking our heads, and asking, “How on earth were people EVER that mean? Why did they EVER believe that? How could those people discriminate against others that way? And use the BIBLE to do so?”

YOU ARE “those people.” And in an age of social media, where EVERYTHING is written down, captured, and remembered, it will be that much easier for us to show our children and grandchildren the faces and the names of those people who argued AGAINST the civil rights of others. And our children will look back in disgust at the images of people protesting same-sex marriage the SAME way we look back and shake our heads at the bigots protesting mixed-race marriage 40 years ago, or desegregation before that, or women’s right to vote before that, or slavery before that, and using the Bible to do so!

YOU ARE THOSE PEOPLE!

(HT: Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill via FB)

Well Done: Iowa’s Zach Wahls Featured on the Daily Show about Being a Child Raised by Gay Parents

Iowa's Zach Wahls appears on THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART.

Iowa’s Zach Wahls appears on THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART.

Very proud to be an Iowan and of Zach Wahls, who was interviewed as a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Wahls discussed his new book, My Two Moms, and how the 12 rules of the Boy Scouts were exemplified by his parents in raising him.

The video of the Daily Show interview is here.

His original speech to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in opposition to a proposed amendment to ban gay marriage is below.

getting bigger: maclaren december 2011

image

what exactly is biblical marriage?

Have you ever wondered what real “Biblical Marriage” looks like? Before you go arguing for “traditional,” “biblical” marriage, take a look at this handy dandy chart.

Biblical Marriage Chart

Chart of Biblical Marriage

So essentially, you can have your choice of anything from the chart and you can still be considered “biblical.” You raped someone? That’s ok, just pay your fine (to her father) and make sure you marry her.

Or, if you’re a soldier, perhaps take a prisoner of war and marry her.

You can choose any one of them – after all, they’re all biblical and often ordained by God himself.

Now, for those of you who will argue, “but the New Testament superseded the Old Testament. I believe in ‘New Testament’ marriage,” well, for you there’s 1 Cor. 7:8:

“To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am.”

and, of course, 1 Cor. 7:25-26:

“Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are.”

and 1 Cor. 7:32-34:

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband.

So, you basically have the choice of not getting married if you want to be truly biblical.

Of course, if you are totally weak and completely lack self-control, then as a concession, you can marry (1 Cor. 7:9). Just remember what Paul warned you in 1 Cor. 7:28b:

“Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that.”

Then again, some might respond and say, “Hey now, you’re leaving out the verses that say nice things about marriage, like Romans 7:2:

“Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband.”

and Matt 19:5//Mark 10:8//Eph 5:31 all citing Gen 2:24, noting that people, in fact, do get married. But is that not most likely referring to one of the acceptable forms of the “biblical marriage” from the above chart? And there are other verses that speak about marriage, but should not the fact that the above verses are also “biblical” be a bit disconcerting to those who argue for “scriptural authority” for marriage?

Now, please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not advocating against marriage. I love being married to Roslyn, and we are quite happy together. But we define the arrangements of our partnership, and we chose to love each other. Likewise, any two other consenting adults, regardless of race or gender, should be able to enjoy the same joys and benefits of marriage that Roslyn and I do.

That is to say, if you’re going to argue that same-sex couples cannot get married because it is not a ‘sanctioned’ form of marriage in the Bible, then be prepared to defend those forms of marriage that are sanctioned in the Bible, like forcibly marrying rape victims and prisoners of war, for according to the Bible, these too are sanctioned by God.

Or, you can stop discriminating against the civil liberties of homosexual individuals while hiding behind some mythical construct of “biblical marriage” and let people who love one another and want to commit their lives to one another actually get married.

At the very least, before you go advocating for “traditional” or “biblical” marriage, it’s probably not a bad idea to read the text and make absolutely sure you actually want to argue in favor of “biblical” marriage.

Have a nice day.

HT: Travis Spackman via Kim and the Rabbi with thanx to nonstampcollector.

getting settled into iowa city

Bob, Ros, and Mac

On the porch on the way home from dinner.

the last 4 weeks have been a time of monumental transition and emotion for me and for my family. in the past month, we packed all that we own into storage containers, moved out of our agoura hills condo, moved in with my mom just south of yosemite, experienced the birth of our son, maclaren, loaded all that we own into two moving vans, drove 1800 miles through the california, nevada, and arizona deserts, the utah canyons, over the colorado rockies, across the plains of nebraska, and through the rolling hills of western iowa. we closed on a home in iowa city, moved in, and unpacked. meanwhile, i attended the university of iowa’s new faculty orientation, set up my office (including moving a thousand volumes into my office – motivation enough for a renewed call for e-publishing), met my new colleagues, prepped my courses, learned all (read: some) of the new uiowa policies and procedures, and discovered most of the best places to grab a bite and a cold one. my wife decided to heed some of the doctor’s advice, so she waited precisely one week after maclaren’s birth to get in a car and drive cross-country with my mom and mac to join her father and me in iowa city. since her arrival, it has been an endless barrage of fixing up the yard, painting rooms, changing poopy (sp?) g-diapers, and setting up utilities (including internet at home, so expect a regular return to blogging.)

new state, new city, new time zone, new weather, new baby, new house, new job, new routine. i am thankful for my wife, roslyn, and her amazing ability to be a tireless mother and patient wife at the same time, and for our parents who provided us with support and drove us cross-country. (hint: get walkie-talkies for car caravans; they are invaluable when deciding to exit the freeway at a moment’s notice or when you need the truck at the rear to throw a block on rear-approaching traffic so you can pass the rig in front of you). i am also thankful for my friends, who throughout the entire transition encouraged and joked with me to make the transition bearable.

thank you especially to everyone who commented encouraging words on facebook and twitter while i was tweeting roslyn’s labor. i read those comments to her between breathing and counting, and it really did make all the difference. some made us laugh, which was welcomed relief, but most gave ros the extra motivation to keep going. never underestimate the power of a kind word uttered sincerely to someone in distress, even privately. it makes all the difference in the world.

my new colleagues at iowa are amazing. both departments (religious studies and classics) work together cohesively, share a common goal, and actually know what it is that i do (although ‘digital humanities’ still causes a few more of those colbert-esque raised eyebrows than does ‘second temple judaism’ or ‘archaeology’). they have each taken turns coming by my office and approaching me to chat at department picnics and parties. i look forward to years of production, growth, and fun at iowa. (btw, did i mention that my colleagues are good, fun scholars? it feels good to want to go to work and see my colleagues. it makes the overwhelming parts of a new job that much more bearable.)

iowa city is the best little hidden treasure in the midwest – the perfect combination of an intellectual center, social progress, and traditional emphasis on families and their well-being. i’m proud to be a hawkeye, and to live in the ‘people’s republic’ (as they affectionately are wont to call it) of iowa city, and i hope to contribute my part to the community. for now, i shall indulge in my favorite difference between iowa city and los angeles: i shall walk 5 short minutes (less than the time it used to take me to walk from the $10 per day parking spot allotted to me at ucla to my office) to the bus stop, and take the 10-minute bus ride to my office. my entire new 15 minute ‘commute’ involves no driving, no gas, no tension, and is 45 minutes less than my old, hour-long, one-way drive in los angeles. and to add insult to los angeles’ woeful public transportation injury, my bus pass is $10 per month, meaning i can get to work for a month for the same amount it costs to park (forget the cost of gas and lost time and stress, simply to park) at ucla for a day!

‘it’s not heaven, it’s iowa.’

ok. back to work.

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