Three Things for (Ash) Wednesday

1. Tomorrow, time permitting, I’ll be writing about researcher Mark Regnerus and his new Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. Yesterday, must-reads of the day were the twitter feeds of Steve Friess and Amy Lange, who were live-tweeting ACLU attorney Leslie Cooper’s cross-examination of Regnerus in Michigan’s gay marriage trial. As Friess noted in his summary of the testimony, it was “the first time in the U.S. since 2010, when a federal judge struck down California’s similar voter-approved gay marriage ban, that an anti-gay-marriage expert was subjected to questioning under oath in open court.”

For years, a lot of us have wanted to see Regnerus confronted with questions like this:

And this:

And this:

But my favorite tweet was this one:

I could read stuff like that all day.

2. Miranda Threlfall-Holmes writes at the Guardian about the poet George Herbert, whom she calls “the man who converted me from atheism.”

She says:

“I blame George Herbert for me becoming a Christian.

I first encountered Herbert’s poems at the very beginning of the lower sixth, when they were a set text for my A-level English class. Being the rather keen and serious teenager that I was, I read them that first weekend. And by the end of the weekend, I realised that this poetry was the most dangerous challenge to my atheism that I had yet come across.

My teenage self was rather proud of being a “cultured despiser of religion”. I had dismissed religion as being for the weak of mind, a crutch, something that intelligence and reason made unnecessary and undesirable. But here was some of the most fiercely intelligent poetry I had ever read, grappling with Christian doctrines and with a relationship with God. If this brilliant mind believed all this, and devoted a life to it, then clearly I needed to look at it again.”

3. Okay, so maybe everybody else already knew about Andre Dubus. But I didn’t, and last night when I was reading his essay “Sacraments,” this passage knocked me out:

“On Tuesdays when I make lunches for my girls, I focus on this: the sandwiches are sacraments. Not the miracle of transubstantiation, but certainly parallel with it, moving in the same direction. If I could give my children my body to eat, again and again without losing it, my body like the loaves and fishes going endlessly into mouths and stomachs, I would do it. And each motion is a sacrament, this holding of plastic bags, of knives, of bread, of cutting board, this pushing of the chair, this spreading of mustard on bread, this trimming of liverwurst, of ham. All sacraments, as putting the lunches into a zippered book bag is, and going down my six ramps to my car is. I drive on the highway, to the girls’ town, to their school, and this is not simply a transition; it is my love moving by car from a place where my girls are not to a place where they are; even if I do not feel or acknowledge it, this is a sacrament. If I remember it, then I feel it too. Feeling it does not always mean that I am a  happy man driving in traffic; it simply means that I know what I am doing in the presence of God.”

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2 thoughts on “Three Things for (Ash) Wednesday

  1. “I could read stuff like that all day”.

    So could I, Frank so could I. I’ve been deeply interested in this case, because it so centrally focuses on gay marriage, for the sake of the children, and because calling a dumbfuck like Regnerius as an “expert” witness was so obviously going to undermine the state case.

    I;ve been looking for reports of the cross – examination, with minimal success, but I didn’t think of following twitter feeds, and so missed all the fun. Thanks

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