Friday, August 22, 2014

It's Time: SCOTUS and Marriage Equality



The U.S. Supreme Court has stepped in to block a federal appeals court ruling that would have allowed gay marriages to begin in Virginia on Thursday.  The decision was widely expected and tells little about how the high court will ultimately rule on the issue. It merely preserves the status quo.  Now, it's up to the Supreme Court.  It's unlikely they will continue a perpetual stay on the issue.  The federal courts have been moving quickly on the issue, and the Utah and Virginia cases have passed through the appellate courts and await the Supreme Court.  Virginia asked the justices to decide the gay marriage constitutional question "as quickly as possible."

The first opportunity for the court to take action would be when it meets Sept. 29 for its first conference of the new term. But even if the court decides to go ahead and take the Utah case, which likely will be the first one there, the timetable for filing briefs would put the argument at mid- to late January at the earliest.  If this timetable occurs, the Supreme Court could issue a ruling by late spring 2015.

Many court specialists believe the justices will go ahead and take either the Utah or Virginia case early in the term. Other experts think the justices may want to wait for a decision from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, where the panel at argument this month sounded as though it would uphold the ban on gay marriage. That would provide a conflict in the lower courts for the Supreme Court to resolve.

To date there have been 37 pro-gay marriage rulings in state and federal courts since the Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. That law barred federal recognition of marriages performed in states where such unions are legal, and set the stage for a nearly unanimous set of rulings in the lower courts issued by both Republican and Democratic appointees.

While the nations lower courts have consistently overturned gay marriage bans, the Supreme Court will likely be forced to make a final decision on the matter.  This is a risky proposition.  Equal protection should give the Supreme Court no choice but to say that all states must recognize same sex marriages from states where it is legal.  Will they go a step further and make it legal in all states, or issue a partial ruling such as in the case of the Defense of Marriage Act?  However, if the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals does uphold the ban, the Supreme Court could do the same, and marriage equality will take a step backwards, or at the very least remain static.   Federal recognition could remain, and state recognition could continue to be a state issue.

Nineteen of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, currently allow same-sex marriage.  How likely do you think it is that the United States will have nationwide marriage equality by the summer of 2015?  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Return's Playlist on Spotify



Last week, I reviewed Brad Boney's book The Return.  The last time I got so excited over a book was Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City.  I read a lot and usually love most of the books I read, but occasionally one just speaks to me in a special way.  The Return did.  I loved how he interwove the stories together.  The coincidences gave me goosebumps, and of course, I now understand why.  As a historian and researcher myself, I love the amount of research and accuracy Boney put into his books.  So many authors just make up details or mesh together numerous details to create the perfect setting.  From what I can tell, Boney uses real settings and doesn't seem to compromise on the details.

Tuesday night, I wrote an email to Brad Boney thanking him for retweeting my review and for posting it to Facebook.  In my email, I mentioned how much I enjoyed reading about all of the music mentioned in the book, and would love to be able to listen to all of it.  I suggested that he make a playlist to share on Spotify.  (If you don't have Spotify and you are a lover of music, it is a necessary app to have.). Boney liked the idea of a Spotify list.  I was even more amazed that he sent me a follow-up email last night with a link for a Spotify list containing the music from The Return.

If you are interested in listening to the music, you can click the link below to listen to Brad Boney's playlist for The Return on Spotify:
http://open.spotify.com/user/bradboney/playlist/1xI2tW79luHRtdsWaxgKQc.

I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I do.  If you haven't read the The Nothingness of Ben and The Return, I strongly urge you to do so. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Naked Sleeping and Relationships



A recent survey conducted by Cotton USA asked 1000 British people in relationships what they wear to bed and how happy they were in their current relationships. The survey found that couples who sleep in the buff had happier relationships, more sex and stronger bonds.

57% of those who reported sleeping naked said they felt happy, compared with 48% of pajama wearers and 43% of nightie wearers.

Manhattan-based therapist and relationship expert Amber Madison wasn’t surprised by the findings.

“Being naked in bed with your partner is physically and emotionally intimate,” she said. “It’s a way of showing, ‘I want to be close to you’ and a green light for sex. That intimacy and emotional and physical availability is what keeps a relationship strong in light of daily stressors and challenges.”

I asked a friend of mine who has a pretty wonderful relationship with his boyfriend, if they are usually naked when they sleep together.  He said that they usually are, but occasionally will wear briefs to bed.  When I am sleeping in bed with someone, I certainly feel closer and more connected if we are both naked.  I also certainly understand why couples who sleep together naked would have more sex.  What's better than waking up naked next to your partner when either or both of you have morning wood.

The study also looked at general sleeping habits and relationships. It found that dirty clothes on the floor, clutter and beds left unmade are big turn-offs. Eating in bed, allowing pets in the bedroom, stealing the covers and wearing socks to sleep were also listed as pet peeves. Full story here via the Gaily Grind!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Love Returned



Love Returned
Bayard Taylor

 He was a boy when first we met;
     His eyes were mixed of dew and fire,
And on his candid brow was set
     The sweetness of a chaste desire:
But in his veins the pulses beat
     Of passion, waiting for its wing,
As ardent veins of summer heat
     Throb through the innocence of spring.

As manhood came, his stature grew,
     And fiercer burned his restless eyes,
Until I trembled, as he drew
     From wedded hearts their young disguise.
Like wind-fed flame his ardor rose,
     And brought, like flame, a stormy rain:
In tumult, sweeter than repose,
     He tossed the souls of joy and pain.

So many years of absence change!
     I knew him not when he returned:
His step was slow, his brow was strange,
     His quiet eye no longer burned.
When at my heart I heard his knock,
     No voice within his right confessed:
I could not venture to unlock
     Its chambers to an alien guest.

Then, at the threshold, spent and worn
     With fruitless travel, down he lay:
And I beheld the gleams of morn
     On his reviving beauty play.
I knelt, and kissed his holy lips,
     I washed his feet with pious care;
And from my life the long eclipse
     Drew off; and left his sunshine there.

He burns no more with youthful fire;
     He melts no more in foolish tears;
Serene and sweet, his eyes inspire
     The steady faith of balanced years.
His folded wings no longer thrill,
     But in some peaceful flight of prayer:
He nestles in my heart so still,
     I scarcely feel his presence there.

O Love, that stern probation o’er,
     Thy calmer blessing is secure!
Thy beauteous feet shall stray no more,

     Thy peace and patience shall endure!
The lightest wind deflowers the rose,
     The rainbow with the sun departs,
But thou art centred in repose,
     And rooted in my heart of hearts!

Monday, August 18, 2014

MCM: Zac Efron


Last night, I watched 17 Again, a cute little movie with Zac Efron in it.  It's worth watching.  And while Zac may have some substance abuse problems, and I hope he's getting the treatment he needs, I still think Zac is one of the top ten hottest men in Hollywood, and gets better looking every year.

I knew immediately it was a hoax when I read that James Franco was the first to officially congratulate his brother Dave and hunky heartthrob Zac Efron on their newly-public relationship, posting a screenshot of an article confirming the new Hollywood power couple on Instagram.

“Effron [sic] and My brother, dating!!!!!!”, he writes. “Congrats, boys! I’m so happy for you!!!”
The news of Efron’s brand new relationship with his Neighbors costar comes less than a month after reports linked him to openly bisexual actress Michelle Rodriguez. It is also, unfortunately, totally fake.

But wouldn't they make a beautiful couple.  And Dave does seem to have his eye on "Lil Zac."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Walking in Light



This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.1 John 1:5:10

1 John is a great book. If you have not read it or not read it recently I suggest that you do. In this post I want to discuss how we are able to walk in the light, in future posts I plan to explore more of the Epistles of John. Do we simply decide one day that we want to start walking in the light? Are there any requirements we must meet before we begin to walk in the light? If these seem like “loaded” questions they are so please don’t hold that against me.

First, lets define what “walking in the light” means. We are given the context in verse 5 where we are told that God is light. We must also know that when we see “walking” in the Bible, it often is a metaphor for how we live our day-to-day lives. With these things in mind it becomes clear what “walking in the light” means. It means to be living daily in accordance to God’s commands. Simple enough, right? Now that we know what “walking in the light” means we must turn our attention to how we can actually live according to God’s commands. This is not a small task.

Walking in the light is the opposite of walking in darkness. It means seeing reality for what it is and being controlled by desires that accord with God's light. If God is light, and in him is no darkness at all, then he is the bright pathway to the fulfillment of all our deepest longings. He is the deliverer from all dark dangers and obstacles to joy. He is the infinitely desirable One.

What does God want of me? What does God want of us? Probably every Christian has asked these very questions. They are asked in times of anguish, during crisis and decision making and, implicitly and explicitly, on a day-to-day basis. What does God require of those who want to offer their sincere allegiance and devotion?

God has created human beings in such a way that they continue learning and growing intellectually all throughout life. It is normal, natural and desirable that we continue to grow, even in our understanding of the Bible and theology. That is one of the reasons we attend church. Obviously we go to worship the Lord but we also go to learn from the Bible. This also means that as I grow, I become more responsible than I was earlier in my life. Paul teaches this same truth about love when he says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish way s behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11). The implication of this passage is that earlier in our life—when we had a simple understanding of truth, God accepted us and our ignorance. However, as we received more and more information, God holds us to a higher level of understanding.

So, if we continue learning and growing intellectually in our relationship with God, are we then doing what God wants? Are we walking in the light? We cannot simply mark these things off on a checklist. For there is a unifying thread woven through the pattern of "walking in the light." These "expectations" are unified by an understanding of God's character and of God's activity in Christ. Thus John begins with an assertion about God, the simple statement that God is light. Everything depends upon and flows from that statement. It is worth examining at some length.

Once we recognize our need for a Savior we are willing to listen and respond to the Gospel.  We must hear and respond to the Gospel before we can “walk in the light”.  When we respond to the Gospel, by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, God adopts us into His family.  We become joint heirs with Jesus.  We must be adopted into His family before we can “walk in the light”.  As adopted children, we then become responsible to live under the authority of our heavenly Father.  This means following His commands.  When we follow His commands in our day to day lives we are “walking in the light”.  Verse 7 gives us the benefits of “walking in the light”.  We will have fellowship with one another and will be cleansed by the blood of Christ.

Are you “walking in the light”?  As I read this passage, I couldn't help but remember one of my favorite hymns, which I want to leave you with.

Heavenly Sunlight
Henry J. Zelley, pub.1899

Walking in sunlight all of my journey;
Over the mountains, through the deep vale;
Jesus has said, “I’ll never forsake thee,”
Promise divine that never can fail.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine:
Hallelujah, I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.

Shadows around me, shadows above me,
Never conceal my Savior and Guide;
He is the Light, in Him is no darkness;
Ever I’m walking close to His side.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine:
Hallelujah, I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.

In the bright sunlight, ever rejoicing,
Pressing my way to mansions above;
Singing His praises gladly I’m walking,
Walking in sunlight, sunlight of love.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine:
Hallelujah, I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine