• Three days after it went up, Mark Bruce’s guest post on Christian college conversations about sexuality was far and away the most-read post of the year at this blog. I think he struck a chord.
• And my own post on the topic, expressing hope that such conversations could actually renew evangelicalism, is in the top three.
• I admitted to feeling a bit more patriotic this year than usual, thanks to two of Barack Obama’s finest speeches.
…There and Everywhere
• Seven African-American churches in the South have caught fire recently. While it’s unclear that the fires resulted from arson, Efrem Smith is no doubt right that Black Churches — like Black Lives — Matter: “The Black Church and the God given aspects of African-American Culture, are gifts for the whole body of Christ and the whole world. The disparities facing African Americans in the areas of incarceration, education, economics, healthcare, and housing should concern all Americans. The devaluing of Black bodies should be all of our concern. Dismantling racism in all its forms should be the proactive work of all Churches. This may take the whole body of Christ being willing to say that, ‘Black is beautiful and the Black Church is valuable to us all.'”
• Among other interesting findings in a LifeWay poll on Christian attitudes about America, I was struck that certain groups were much more or less likely to believe that God has a “special relationship” with this country: 71% of evangelicals 45 and older, 62% of African-Americans, and 58% of women said yes; only 40% of those with a bachelor’s degree and 29% of those with a graduate degree responded in that way.
• I had nothing but praise for Barack Obama’s grace-laden eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, but apparently some Christians were upset that the president didn’t mention the name of Jesus.
• Of course, neither does the song he famously sang near the end of the eulogy, and it’s become “our country’s spiritual national anthem.”
• Was America founded as a Christian nation? Glad that John Fea (author of a book by that title) was among the historians asked that question for a CNN roundtable.
• Gracy Olmstead shared a bittersweet reflection on place, memory, and Independence Day.
• Harold Heie’s Respectful Conversations project started its “Conversation on Christian Faithfulness and Human Sexuality” with posts by two gay Christians, Eve Tushnet and Justin Lee.
• Reformed pastor Kevin DeYoung had forty questions for every “Bible-believing Christian” happy about the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage.
• Ben Irwin had forty thoughtful answers.
• Two more helpful posts on this subject: Martin Saunders listed five bad reasons for evangelicals to oppose same-sex marriage; and Carey Nieuwhof shared five things he took away from being an evangelical pastor in a country (Canada) where SSM has been legal for a decade (H/T Eleanor Edman).
• David Brooks urged social conservatives to abandon the current culture war and instead become the people “who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families. Those are the people who build community institutions in places where they are sparse. Those are the people who can help us think about how economic joblessness and spiritual poverty reinforce each other. Those are the people who converse with us about the transcendent in everyday life.”
• Mennonites voted both to reaffirm their stance on marriage and to “extend grace, love, and forbearance” towards those among them holding a different view.
• Wondering what the Obergefell decision could mean for religious colleges? Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed offered an excellent overview.
• And our random link of the week: How do people of different nationalities travel differently? One nugget from a TripAdvisor study: Thai and Chinese tourists were the most likely to leave their smartphones turned on, while their French and German peers were most likely to turn them off.