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From Around the Internet 2/5/12

In the New Yorker, Brian Gopnik raises the very important question: Why do Americans send so many people to prison? His article is entitled: The Caging of America. It’s a long article, but it’s an important topic. He writes: “The accelerating rate of incarceration over the past few decades is just as startling as the number of people jailed: in 1980, there were about two hundred and twenty people incarcerated for every hundred thousand Americans; by 2010, the number had more than tripled, to seven hundred and thirty-one. No other country even approaches that. In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education.”

Now that it appears that Mitt Romney will be the Republican Presidential nominee, John Meunier reminds United Methodists that there
is an an official UM position on Mormonism: Mormons and Methodists. The United Methodist Church does not recognize Mormon baptism as a valid sacrament. John links to a PDF of the official position statement.

Morgan Guyton has been posting excellent stuff over at his blog Mercy, Not Sacrifice. He is definitely someone you should follow. I have appreciated his writings for some time now. I am especially appreciative of two of his recent posts. (1.) He posted a rant about the common misuse of the word “Biblical” in Christian culture: Stop Abusing the Word “Biblical”! He says: “I am sick and tired of seeing people abuse the word “Biblical” by attaching it to causes and ideas that have nothing to do with the Bible.” And, Henry Neufeld has chimed in and reminded us that the word “Unbiblical” is also commonly misused: Biblical vs. Unbiblical. (2.) Morgan posted a tribute to a pastor who influenced him at an important turning point in his life: Pastor Cheri. He writes: “I’ve got scriptural arguments for why I support women in ministry, but I’ve found before that making appeals to the Bible doesn’t change “Biblical” minds who have already figured everything out and barricaded themselves behind their proof-texts. So I thought instead that I would share a real life story about Pastor Cheri, my first female pastor. I was only at her church for about nine months, but she had a decisive influence on my Christian identity.”

Rachel Held Evans gives us another great post: about falling down the slippery slope, and finding out it’s not always what people said it would be:
They Were Right (And Wrong) About the Slippery Slope.

Blogger Brian MacArevey is working his way through Patrick S. Cheng’s book Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology (2011). I do not know Brian personally, but he seems to be a person who (like me) has some conservative and evangelical theological instincts. So, this is alien territory. And, he appears to me to be doing a great job summarizing and interacting with the material in the book. One of the things the book does is show how the experience of belonging to a sexual minority colors one’s approach to theology. And, while I do not endorse the things Cheng seems to be saying, I appreciate his attempt to do this — and I appreciate Brian taking the time and effort to read and interact with this challenging material. Brian is seeking to give it a sympathetic reading. Here is a link to his posts on the topic: Queer Theology.

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