Andrew Sullivan

24 10 2006

Andrew Sullivan, author of, The Conservative Soul and senior editor of The New Republic is speaking at Oberlin College tonight at 8 pm. I have been reading Andrew’s editorials in TNR and elsewhere since the early ’90s. I like him, but I have been pretty upset with him and the other neocons out there for creating the apologetic that swept us into the war on Iraq. He is now back into my good graces since I heard him give a very sincere mea culpa during an interview with Brian Lamb on CSpan’s Booknotes for supporting the war at its onset and clearly admitting that he was wrong.

What is interesting about Andrew is that he holds within himself opposing principles, ideals, and values. He is a practicing homosexual, but he is also a very devout pro-life Catholic who takes the teachings of Jesus seriously. And he is a diehard supply-side conservative, but he supported Kerry in the last presidential election (he could not vote because he is not a citizen of the U.S.).

I have always saw Andrew as a sort of best friend that I never met because in many ways I hold the similar opposing views within myself too. I am a Bible thumping, Jesus-is-the-only-way Christian, but I strongly believe in pluralism and I am against prayer in public schools. Along with Andrew, I am against abortion after the first trimester, and I agree with him that we have to allow it during the first trimester. I feel this way because only people of faith like me and Andrew see a zygote and a blastula as being fully human.

Ultimately, what I like about Andrew is the humility in which he holds his beliefs. He does not feel comfortable pushing his beliefs on others. This is why I like the guy. He is a great conversationalist because he has a lot of ideas, but more importantly he is willing to listen to ideas of others, even those ideas that he do not agree with his own.





Risky Conversation Starters on Coffee Cups

3 10 2006

Check this blog entry out at Reformissionary:

It   looks like some conservative groups are getting all itchy now that Starbucks has started their “The Way I See It” cup quotes.  Baptist Press has run a story today on it.

What’s the issue?  Well, it seems that Starbucks is pushing the homosexual agenda because cup #43 gives a racy quote on homosexuality.  As I read this BP article, I noticed my grande skim 3 pump mocha was being carefully and providentially cradled in cup #43 which reads…

My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long.  I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone.  Don’t make that mistake yourself.  Life’s too damn short.

– Armistead Maupin, author

Of course BP inserts the word [expletive] for “damn” and blacks it out on their pic of the cup, but their larger concern is what the cup teaches.  But, is the cup and quote meant to teach?  Or simply open doors of conversation?  From the Starbucks website on this campaign…

Starbucks has long been dedicated to creating a unique “third place” between home and work. We also draw on the centuries-old tradition of the coffeehouse as a place to gather, share ideas, and enjoy delicious beverages. We see this program as an extension of the coffeehouse culture – a way to promote open, respectful conversation among a wide variety of individuals.

And they mean wide variety.  Sure this quote is racy from one perspective, but they also entertain quotes from staunch conservatives like Michael Medved and Jonah Goldberg.  So if Starbucks “blatantly pushes the homosexual agenda” on cup #43, what are they pushing on the cups with flame-throwing right wingers?  A conservative agenda?

Given: We will all read from cups that we disagree with.  That’s a sure thing.  That’s the point, really, to start conversations not push agendas.  And conversations are best started by racy ideas, not bland ones.  By the way, on the cups and on the Starbucks website it even says the quotes don’t necessarily reflect the view of Starbucks.

Christians are too good at missing the point, and I’m afraid that’s what’s happening here.

Don’t we look fearful?  We look like we are afraid of the open discussion of ideas.  These quotes are meant to be conversational, and coffee shops are perfect places to list racy quotes worthy of discussion.  We believe that in the world of ideas the redemption Story stands supreme as the best and most beautiful explanation of reality and truth.  We shouldn’t fear other ideas out there.

One person quoted in the BP article says,

It’s not enough not to go to Starbucks anymore.  You really need to visit your neighborhood Starbucks and ask to see the manager and just say, ‘You know, I’ve gone here a lot and I would love to go here but I have to tell you your company’s promotion of something that is against my values prevents me from having coffee here anymore, and I’ve found alternatives … You make a great product, but you deserve to know why people aren’t buying your product anymore.’

How about instead we enter the conversations of our culture knowing that our Story makes sense of the world like no one else’s story or quote.  I think Starbucks has a great idea, and Christians should be thankful for the opportunity to join more discussions on huge and even ultimate issues.





Dealing with Genocide and Terrorism in the Bible

2 10 2006

What has been troubling me in the last few years since 911, is how groups like Al Qaeda use the Bible and the Quran to justify their violent acts. It is easy to say that this is just a Muslim problem, but that is not true, because there are numerous Old Testament scriptures that have God actually commanding the ethnic cleansing of entire groups of people, like the Canaanites for example. Because of this, I can understand why agnostics and atheists are more fearful of people like myself who are very passionate about their faith and believe the Bible to be completely true. This is a deep and fundamental issue for all people of faith in my opinion, and we have to address it head on. So in the near future, I will be doing a series of posts that will deal with the problem of religious violence and how to address it biblically and theologically.