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How to Preach About Bruce Jenner

Should pastors grease the Kardashian celebrity machine by mentioning Bruce Jenner from the pulpit? There are good arguments for ignoring the whole thing, but I think that’s a pastoral mistake. So much of our cultural trajectory converges on Bruce: our rampant Gnosticism, our confidence in technology, our moral libertarianism and determined flight from biblical standards, our cult of fame, our sexual self-contradictions. Bruce Jenner will be forgotten soon enough, but what he represents isn’t going away, because transgressiveness is one of the few cultural imperatives that we are not permitted to transgress.If we preach about Bruce, what should we say? When I asked the Jewish theologian David Novak how a synagogue would respond, his answer was stunning in its simplicity: First, “Jews would not recognize Jenner as a woman”; then, “Torah forbids castration.” Castration doesn’t turn a man into a woman. It only leaves him a damaged man.  Continue Reading »

Celebrity and the Absence of Faith

In Christopher Beha’s excellent debut novel, What Happened to Sophie Wilder?, writer Charlie Blakeman nearly laughs when Sophie, his ex-girlfriend and a Catholic convert, says she plans to save the soul of her dying father-in-law, an atheist: “I don’t think I knew a single person who would have spoken in that way about saving someone’s soul,” ­Charlie observes. “The religious people I knew talked about their faith apologetically. It was an embarrassment to their own reason and intelligence, but somehow a necessary one.” Continue Reading »

Colbert’s Double Game

The cognoscenti tell me that Stephen Colbert, who is a self-identified faithful member of a Church that teaches that homosexual inclinations are intrinsically disordered and that sodomy is a mortal sin, is a smart guy—a really smart guy. Evidently, his shtick is to adopt the persona of a certain type of individual whom he regards as intellectually and morally inferior to himself so that he can ridicule people of that sort. This, I’m told, is the kind of humor that people who watch Stephen Colbert, who is a self-identified faithful member of a Church that teaches that homosexual inclinations are intrinsically disordered and that sodomy is a mortal sin, relish. Continue Reading »

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