In the News: Abortion on the Supreme Court Docket, Russell Moore leaves the ERLC, God Bless the USA Bible, and updated CDC Guidance.

Modern-Cloister-NEW

In this episode of the Modern Cloister, we discuss some news from May, including the Supreme Court deciding to hear a Mississippi abortion law; Russell Moore steps down as president of the Ethics and Religious Life Commission; the upcoming ‘God Bless the USA’ Bible; and the updated CDC guidance on masks and gatherings (like church). 

It will be about a year before we hear anything else about the abortion case. It could be a more in the right direction, but I remain skeptical (I’ve written before about Trump and the Supreme Court). It has been a wild six or so years with Evangelicals in the news for politics. We (or at least 81%, though less in 2020) abandoned our morals (we went from most likely to say character matters in 2012, to least likely in 2016) and often the reason told was, ‘for the judges’. So, not is the chance, I suppose, to see if it was worth it. It is important to remember that this case would not ban abortion in America (nor would overturning Roe), which is one reason I’ve written that Evangelicals shouldn’t be single issue voters. I’m tired of writing about politics, and even more tired of talking about it. Hopefully, In the News next month won’t have any, though that seems unlikely. 

After we published, news also came out that roughly 15% of Americans believe in QAnon; though it looks like some, including 538, have issues with the polling. However, apparently, even asking different ways, at different times, surveys still finds support to be around this level (and up to 20%). Supporters are disproportionately Evangelical whites and Hispanics. Meaning it is a huge part of our church. So, while major denominations and famous pastors are obsessed with ‘wokeness’ and rooting out CRT (while denying the Trinity, as I’ve written about before), a huge proportion of our people in our pews believe things such as a global pedofile ring is in control of the media/Washington or that Biden is a body double. Meanwhile, 60% of people can’t tell you the Great Commission, and only 9% of people can name the 10 Commandments (a staggering 14% can name only 1). The disconnect is so great that the current hero for the SBC is an atheist, while Russell Moore no longer works for them (if you are curious as to why we brought up the SBC again). 

Also, and I can’t seem to find too many good sources on this, but we mentioned Zondervan was part of the Bless the USA Bible. It appears the content is published elsewhere, Zondervan was only involved as they are the copyright holder to the NIV. It appears that they have pulled their licensing and will not be involved. I’ll try to update as more comes out. I applaud them for their decision, but they still allowed the NIV in the ‘Patriot’s’ Bible, which similarly doesn’t have any commentary or notes, but a few articles interspersed throughout, that have incorrect historical notes about American from an amatuer ‘historian’ (looking at his bio, he has neither pastoral or history training from any accredited institutions.) Also, you can read a good article from the perspective a non-American, that I mentioned during the Pod.

Wisdom and Kingship In The Psalms Modern Cloister

In this episode, we take a closer look at wisdom and kingship psalms and the ways they have been and continue to be used by Christians and the church. This includes reading select psalms in these categories that are meaningful to us. This is the 6th and final episode in our series on the psalms.  In the 1st episode in the series, we provided an overview of the psalms, including their history, organization, difficulties, themes, language style and poetic nature, along with our personal stories in coming to love and appreciate the psalms. In the 2nd episode, we discussed how the psalms were used historically within the church and shared practical insights into how to use the psalms today in both corporate and private worship and prayer, including several on-air, live examples of praying and singing the psalms. In the 3rd episode, we explored praise and thanksgiving psalms. In the 4th episode, we talked about lament and confessions psalms. In the 5th episode, we discussed confidence and remembrance psalms.  You can listen to those episodes below: A Guide to Understanding the Psalms How To Use The Psalms Praise and Thanksgiving In The Psalms Lament and Confession In The Psalms Confidence and Remembrance In The Psalms If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Wisdom and Kingship In The Psalms
  2. Confidence and Remembrance In The Psalms
  3. Lament and Confession In The Psalms
  4. Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms
  5. In The News: Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion, Russell Moore Leaves SBC, God Bless the USA Bible, and CDC Guidance

Excursus 6/8/18

Reading
Probably the biggest news this week came from the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Jack Phillip, a Colorado baker who refused to make a specialty cake for a gay couple’s wedding. This is an interesting case with a unique ruling, and I’m not sure what to think about all of it. There is a lot going on here, but a few points from the beginning: he apparently didn’t refuse to sell them any cakes, he refused to make a cake specifically for their wedding (or, really for their reception that was held a little over a year later), and offered them names of other bakers who would make them a cake. So, part of the argument his attorneys made was free expression based on cake decorating being an art (what a time to be alive). I wonder if the fact that he didn’t refuse any service to the couple, just the decorating, and that they insisted he be their baker, not any of the others, factored into the Court’s decision.

The biggest factor seemed to be that the court found inconsistencies from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, from the article –

Kennedy noted that the commission had ruled the opposite way in three cases brought against bakers in which the business owners refused to bake cakes containing messages that demeaned gay people or same-sex marriage.

Also that Phillips himself faced discrimination from the Commission, noting –

The Commissioner called baker Jack Phillip’s faith “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use.”  He compared Phillip’s “sincerely held religious beliefs” to slavery and the Holocaust.  As a result, Justice Kennedy argued in his majority opinion: “the Court cannot avoid the conclusion that these statements cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the Commission’s adjudication of Phillips’ case.”

It seems the court looked at the results of the commission as discriminatory (or handled very poorly/illegally), that he didn’t refuse all services, and that decorating the cake falls under ‘expression as an artists’.

To me, the most important thing is the Court recognizing the inconsistencies. The commission was fine with a few other cases who refused to make a cake when they weren’t Christians. There have also been a case of a Muslim baker refusing service (entirely) to a gay couple, that hasn’t (not to sound too Foxnewsish) been covered much in the news. Personally, I wonder if there is a case to be made for extra protections for extremely minority religions like Islam, however I doubt there are any legit legal ones. However, there seems to be the bigger issue of what level of non-service is allowed? An incident last year where a coffee shop owner who was gay kicked a pro-life group out because they were Christians (I’m not linking anything because the only articles I found were rightwing sites or far-left site that celebrated the incident); it is unclear whether the group was causing a disturbance. When you compare that to the Starbucks case recently, it would seem you can’t even kick someone out for not being a paid customer.

While I fully support churches and and pastors from not preforming ceremonies for certain people, purveyors of other goods and services make me nervous. Maybe it is because I’m from the South, and the concept of ‘no X allowed’ whether X is Muslim, gay, or Christian, just really hits me the wrong way. I do see the slippery slop argument on both sides. Can you ban gay people from your restaurant, can you force a Muslim to draw a picture of Muhammad? It is a strange, delicate balancing act and I wish people would recognize the nuance in their discussions instead of just attacking each other as seems to be the go to in these cases.

That was longer than I anticipated so, on to other things I’ve been reading or listening to.

In the ‘not understanding the Bible, but a huge fan of Christian Nationalism’ category this week we have Franklin Graham holding rallies, with this brilliant quote –
“Progressive? That’s just another word for godless,” Graham told a group of supporters, according to the Times.

Word

Rethink Now has a list of the Seven Books Every Christian should read. I’ve only read on (Mere Christianity) and really only plan on reading two others on the list, I hadn’t even heard of some of them. Thoughts?

I finished reading Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give, so look for the review next week.
I also started reading The Stand a few days ago, and while I’m over 300 pages in, that just means I still have almost 800 to go.

Finally, have you ever looked at a clock (especially an analog) and it seems like the at which you looked last longer than the other movements? That is because your mind didn’t register what you saw at first, then interpolated it back as the time you first registered in a phenomena known as Chronostasis. Not really related to anything, but interesting nonetheless.

Podcasts
Whitehorse Inn has some thoughts on Finding Jesus in the Psalms. I didn’t start reading the Psalms until about a year, year and half ago. They are incredible, especially for understanding emotions for yourself and your expression to God. It is also a massive book, the longest in the Bible. Psalm 119 itself is longer than James, but somehow in many churches (baptist and non-denom) we miss them almost entirely.

The Gospel Coalition has a talk from Don Carson, What is an Evangelical. Among others, he points out the sociological, political, and linguistic issues with the word. It will be interesting to see what Christians (at least American Protestants) call themselves in the next generation, or the following one, especially after the damage Trump has done, but also due to the word expanding to mean so much, that it basically no long means anything.