Madness In Indiana

downloadI’ve never written about politics on this site before. I think the time has come. I’ve spent the evening reading Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This Act is absurd on so many levels, I wish I could just laugh it off. But I can’t. The Act seems designed to hurt people. More particularly: the Act seems designed to give religion the freedom to hurt people.

But before I climb on my soapbox, let’s try something constructive. Let’s read the Act together. Don’t groan! The Act is a simple piece of reading. It’s not even three pages long, and it has wide left and right margins. It’s barely a five minute read. Admittedly, to understand what the Act is saying will take us a little longer, but the Act itself is mind-numbingly simple. Nearly the entire substance of the Act is set forth in a paragraph, found in Section 6 of the Act:

A state action, or an action taken by an individual based on state action, may not substantially burden a person’s right to the exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a law or policy of general applicability, unless the state or political subdivision of the state demonstrates that applying the burden to the person’s exercise of religion is: (1) essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and (2) the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.

Continue reading

Does Dating Matter?

74367-004-2C558493Whew! 2015 has not proved to be a banner year for this blog. Not with my being sidetracked by crunch-time work projects that were actually due in 2014.

There’s also my pursuit of a master’s degree in Jewish Studies, which had me in a classroom for 9 hours a day last week. Not to mention the 1000+ pages of reading assigned for these classes, none of which went easy for a guy like me who hasn’t been enrolled in an actual college classroom for more than 30 years. Not when the readings included gems from the likes of Michael Fishbane, who writes that the Hebrew Bible is based on a “myth of scriptural origin, [where] the divine Reality exteriorizes and condenses itself, at many removes from its animating soul-root, into a verbal text with several layers of meaning.” I get hopelessly stuck in this kind of language. How exactly does something “exteriorize itself”? Is this like being turned inside out?

Let’s see. Where was I, when I last blogged something? Oh, yes. I was talking about the possible discovery of a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that might date back to the late first century. I asked the question, why is an early dating of a book of Scripture so important to some people?

Continue reading