American Catholics are responding to a document issued by the Vatican, which, in turn, was a response to questions raised by Catholics concerning gay marriage. Priests are not allowed, the document decreed, to bless homosexual marriages for the same reason they cannot bless or officiate at marriages of people who are divorced, remarried, or sexually active outside of marriage. Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, said her organization’s membership includes same-sex couples who have been together for decades: “The fact that our church at its highest levels cannot recognize the grace in that and cannot extend any sort of blessing to these couples is just tragic,” she said.
In two related developments, the yet-to-be-published authorized biography of the late Protestant pastor and translator Eugene Peterson presents solid evidence that Peterson came at last to understand homosexual orientation and behavior as given at birth and not intrinsically sinful. And a group of black Protestant pastors wrote the Senate Judiciary Committee of their support for wide-ranging civil rights for LGBTQ persons but asked the committee to consider additional legislation that would protect religious groups and their organizations from being forced to embrace the new homosexual ethic or lose federal benefits.
Cambridge and Memphis
Two deaths to report today. John Polkinghorne was a Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge in England until 1979, when he resigned the prestigious position to pursue theological studies, entering the Anglican priesthood in 1982. An elegant and prolific writer, Polkinghorne authored over 30 books, exploring in rigorous depth the relationship between the discoveries of modern physics and the doctrines of his Christian faith. He received the Templeton Prize in 2002 in recognition of his modern and compelling treatment of theology as a complement to natural science.
And in Memphis, memorial services will be held for Larry Walker, the last living translator of the original team of scholars who produced the New International Version of the Bible. Walker was a Hebrew scholar and a Semitic languages specialist who used his skills in the extinct Amorite language of Ugaritic to shed light on the Old Testament. He was instrumental in the revision of the NIV that introduced gender neutral words and pronouns He studied at Bob Jones, Northern Seminary, and Dropsie College; he taught at Southwestern Seminary, Criswell College, and Mid America Seminary in Memphis.
Sojourners is a progressive Christian advocacy organization started and led until recently by Jim Wallis. Each March, in honor of global Women’s Month, they release a list of influential women “shaping the church in 2021”, women who are “bringing us hope and inspiring us to action.” This year they named eleven, including one Cuban American, one Native American, one Latina, five African Americans, one Panamanian, one Costa Rican, and one Queer American. The list was put together by Paola Gleghorn, coordinator for immigration and the women and girls campaign at Sojourners.
And last, from Jackson, Mississippi, Charlotte, NC, or Ft. Mill South Carolina, or Moravian Falls, NC, or Blue Eye, Missouri, not to be confused with Blue Eye, Arkansas, just one mile to the south, both buried deep in the Ozark Mountains. Somewhere, there comes the voice of Pentecostal prophet Rick Joyner, distributed by Pentecostal televangelist Jim Bakker; and that voice says, “We have lost our country.” Then he warns: “It will be a civil war …” and it’s time for Americans to stand up and push back against this evil that has taken over our land.” He was referring to President Biden, the Democrats, a stolen election, and the need to buy guns. To help explain this, you can buy their two-disc DVD set entitled “The Thirteen Revelation Generation.” But I’m not sure where you need to send your money.