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Hope for SpongeBob

Who woulda thunk that little, conservative Hope College in western Michigan could be a venue for contentious wrangling over gay issues?

Religion professor Miguel De La Torre bills himself as theologically conservative but socially liberal because he interprets the Bible literally. His stance must seem at least confusing if not downright wrong to those who also interpret the Bible literally and choose a straight conservative approach, both theologically and socially. He certainly gained the attention of right wing Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, whom he criticized for outing SpongeBob and advocating â??hate, disgust and fear toward homosexuals.â? Dobson countered that he never said SpongeBob was gay. Miguel De La Torre then apologized,... oh, not to Dobson, but to the gay community:

I am sorry if I inadvertently made you the object of my discourse rather than the subject. I never intended to speak for you or about you, but rather to highlight what I continue to see as a moral travesty--the use of sacred text to justify cultural bigotry.

Well, the upshot is that De La Torre has resigned. Rumors abound. Some speculate that the DeVos family (Amway Corp.), whose generous donations benefit Hope College, may have been involved. After all, Hope President James Bultman criticized the SpongeBob essay in a letter to De La Torre dated March 14:

"Hope is dependent on enrollment and gifts to drive the college financially," the president wrote. "When people are displeased with what we do, their only recourse is to exercise their options with regard to enrollment and gifting. Several have indicated their intention to do so."

Then again, no one is named and one could only conjecture...

How psychologist David Myers, also of Hope College, will eventually fare is up for grabs at this point. He has written a book making a Christian case for gay marriage. Bultman says no action will be taken against Myers for his new book. Of course, he has not written a scathing article disparaging James Dobson, and Myers counts Richard DeVos as a friendly supporter regarding his activist work on behalf of people who need hearing aids.

David Myers reports on the subject of gay marriage carefully from a scientific approach.

"I care about all of these denominations I see that are threatening to explode," Myers said. "I'm saying that the culture is changing and ... within 10 years or so, people will look back and wonder: What was the big deal? Why did this once seem so big on our radar screens?"

I say, whatâ??s the big deal now. But then, I look at a soap opera taking on real world legs and injuring so many people and realize that the big deal is that these religionists will not transcend the muck of our material world as long as they insist on only literal interpretation of a book they call authoritative and sacred.

Food for thought: References to â??femaleâ? and â??maleâ? were not always equivalent to literal, human â??womanâ? and â??manâ? in metaphorical ancient parlance. â??Femaleâ? and â??maleâ? were philosophical clichés for material constituent and form (or ideal form).

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