Various Ramblings


My head is all over the place tonight so here are a few unconnected thoughts:

I Love I-Tunes
Although I most not be truly pomo and have migrated to a Mac, I still love the Windows version of I-Tunes. The business model is one that I can live with (although when you cruch the numbers, $ .99 per song still allows for some good profit since there are no duplication and minimal distribution costs) and I love the convenience of getting a song on a whim. I haven’t chosen to download albums yet mainly because I’m still enamored with collecting individual songs from a variety of artists and making my own mixes. I’ve used some of the other Windows based services (www.buymusic.com) but I-tunes is the easiest to use. While I wish they would have stuck with the MP-3 format, I understand the reasons for going with aac encoding (mp-4). What most folks don’t realize is that aac is not a proprietary format for Apple, but is an open standard. Now if we could get player manufacturers other than Apple to support it. I’m still not understanding the attraction to WMA format other than being in bed with Microsoft…

Initial Thoughts on Gay Marriage
I’m probably going to be crucified for making these comments publically . . . but I’ll throw them out anyway. Let me say that these are thoughts in process, not fully defined, but ramblings that help me to think.

The reason I’m thinking at all about the topic is that NPR the past couple of days has had several discussions on the issue, most especially on whether this is an issue for the presidential campaign. Personally, I don’t believe it is, and in fact it is a dangerous issue for the Democrats. The issue is, after all, a states issue, not a federal one. Although Congress did pass the “Defense of Marriage Act,” it basically has no legal teeth. Throughout our history, it has been the duty of the states to define the proper societal definitions of marriage, and I don’t want to turn that right over to the Feds yet.

I confess that I am confused by the term “gay marriage.” Part of the problem is that we have loaded the term “marriage” with too much meaning, combining a civil status with a religious sacrament/institution. On the one hand, all persons should have the same rights and privileges. This, gay persons in monogamous, covenantal relationships should enjoy all the legal benefits of that relationship given to heterosexuals in monogamous, covenantal relationships. To do otherwise is to accord special status based on sexual practice (that is, for heterosexuals).

The religious issues are another matter entirely. While I support monogamous, covenanted relationships, I believe that the breadth of church tradition and the scriptural record suggests that marriage as a Christian institution is between male and female. We may argue whether that is an outmoded view, but I don’t think we cast aside that tradition too quickly, or we might end up with an sacrament/institution with no theological meaning.

This is where I sometimes think that gay activists push too far and too fast (yes, I can hear King’s “Why We Can’t Wait” playing in my head. It’s one thing to argue for the assignment of equal rights. It’s another thing to accord equal value and symbolic status. I’m all for work that equalizes the rights between heterosexual and homosexual partners. But I think it’s naive to think that one can suddenly say we’re going to call this “marriage” with all the other meanings and shades of meanings of the word and expect folks to quickly cast aside those meanings.

Here is where the topic is dangerous for the Democrats. After spending the past 15 or so years in a church divided on this issue I have seen far too often how conservatives use this issue as a smoke screen to mobilize their base and raise funds. If Dean and the others push this issue too far (and I think after hearing them on NPR today that they want it to go away) it will mobilize the complacent conservative fringe in ways that most liberals and moderates don’t understand. It’s a line in the sand issue for the religious right, and there are ways of dealing with the issue on the state and local level which don’t divert attention away from the failings of the Bush administration.

Okay, I think I’ve made everyone angry, so I’ll shut up…

Anyone Want To Preach
I woke up this morning with no voice. Oh joy…

Thanks Rudy
Rudy Carrasco turned me on to this article today:

>”Jesus Really Had it in for Me Today“: The winning lottery ticket in the Mega Millions jackpot has been turned in, and not by the woman who claimed to have lost it. The apparent real winner told the media: ”One thing I want to make clear: Luck had nothing to do with it. It was truly a blessing, truly a blessing,” she said.

I’ve noticed that Americans have a tendency to publicly attribute any success they have had–anything ranging from winning a Little League playoff game to winning the lottery–to God’s intervention on their behalf. But I haven’t noticed a countervailing tendency to blame God when things go wrong, an especially annoying defect in the sports world, where victories are freely attributed to Jesus’s blessings. If God wanted the Marlins to win the World Series, doesn’t that mean he wanted the Yankees to lose? Just once, I’d like to see the losing Super Bowl quarterback tell the media “Guess Jesus really had it in for me today.”

Of course, there is the whole issue of providence and free-will that arises from this post. However, what do we do when Christians participate in an institution that is basically unjust (state lotteries) and then try to justify their success or failure on God? What do we do with the fact that this faithful, Christian lady obtained her winnings on the backs of addicted and poor folks? Oy!

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