logo: JMBzine - published by James M. Branum since 1995

August 27, 2022

5:35 pm

The following is a letter-to-the-editor that I wrote to Bible Study Magazine in response to "Word Nerd-Language & the Bible," a column by Editor Mark Ward in the September/October 2022 print issue of the magazine.

Dear Editor,

I am deeply disturbed by your decision to use your Word Nerd column in the September/October 2022 issue to promote a theology that is hurtful and dangerous.

It is simply not true that I Corinthians 6:9 contains "explicit prohibitions of homosexuality," as there are many who argue that it is not so clear at all (see for instance this essay by Rev. Adam Erickse, this essay from ReformationProject.org, this essay from Whosever MCC, or this essay from QueerGrace.com --- all examples of those who have good faith arguments for a very different way of translating 1 Corinthians 6:9). --- And then with your assumed correct translation of this verse, you make the next logical jump (using the verse of course) to tie homosexuality with thievery, idolatry, greed, and drunkenness... I know all too well where this leads and I cannot be silent. This kind of hate speech, aimed at teachers of the Bible, has real-world consequences.

When I first signed up as a customer of Logos.com, I understood it to be a company that was committed to serving sincere students of the Bible from all theological perspectives (important to me because I then served in a Mennonite church with a broad range of theological diversity), and hence I was excited to start receiving Bible Study Magazine, but unfortunately, your magazine has shown that you are promoting one narrow understanding of Biblical interpretation.

While my subscription to your magazine was free, I do not want my name to be counted as a subscriber when you are selling ad space, so please unsubscribe me from your magazine.

I will of course remain a LOGOS customer (I've paid plenty over the years), but I don't want the magazine anymore.


James M. Branum

If you share my concerns and happen to subscribe to the magazine and/or are a customer of Logos.com, please give contact them and tell them how you feel.

August 25, 2022

2:29 pm

Here are a few pictures I took on yesterday's bike ride in a nearby neighborhood.

picture of heron

picture of heron

picture of lake

August 24, 2022

5:22 pm

Finally got a negative covid test today, which means I'm likely not contagious anymore.

It won't change my behavior in public (I've been wearing masks in indoor public spaces for quite awhile and don't see that changing any time in the foreseeable future) but it will be nice to be able to be close to my family again and to be able to go in person to Shabbat evening services.

Symptom-wise, I'm mostly better. Still feeling tired but otherwise am much, much better than I was a week ago.

August 21, 2022

11:30 am

COVID retest today (5 days since previous test) is positive but fainter.

August 16, 2022

9:38 pm

This was originally posted on facebook.

I finally got COVID. Started showing symptoms late on Friday night but thought it was allergies and/or a cold. Negative COVID test on Saturday. Sick all weekend with lingering low grade fever, fatigue, and bad cough.

Did another COVID test today and this time was positive. I'm now isolating in one room to improve the odds that Becky and Ty won't get it, but otherwise am feeling tolerable and I'm relieved that I haven't had the more worrisome symptoms. --- also very appreciative of the used Samsung smartwatch I got this week that measures pulse ox levels.

It is frustrating as I have no idea how I got it (i consistently mask in indoor public spaces),but I guess this variant is more persistent. But on a more positive note, I definitely am VERY glad I got my 4 shots (2 rounds of vaccine plus 2 boosters), as I wouldn't have wanted to be sicker than this.

Assuming i feel up to it, tomorrow I'm getting back on the bike. Not riding for 4 days is too long. Becky says I'm ok to ride as Im not giving anyone COVID while rolling. It will probably be a short ride but something is better than nothing.

August 15, 2022

3:22 pm

This was originally posted on facebook.

I've been sick this weekend (bad allergies/hay fever, but thankfully not COVID! (EDITORS NOTE: It turned out it was covid.) so I felt too crummy to do much in the way of law work, so instead I created the start of a long-contemplated fan blog that will be providing commentary on the Tales of the City series of books (and other media) by Armistead Maupin.

28Barbary.com - Logo

If you have never read Tales of the City, I would strongly recommend the series. It began as a serialized novel in the SF Bay area in the mid-1970's, but later became much more. It would also be later famous as the first major book series to discuss the AIDS epidemic. It also was famous for creating one of the most memorable and beloved transgender characters of literature (the incomparable Anna Madrigal, the landlady and mother of the flock at 28 Barbary Lane) and for outing Rock Hudson (in a not very coded way).

My own passion for the book series is probably because I relate so strongly to the author (like him, I was also once a Southern conservative who broke out of the worldview in my 20's), but also the characters in the book --- Mary Ann Singleton's wonder as a new San Franciscan reminded me of my early days in Austin in 1997. Brian Hawkins was a burned out activist lawyer (the difference being that I didn't quit, but instead tried to do it differently), and of course Michael Tolliver (the hopeless romantic and great platonic best friend of two women in the story, which reminded me of my long history of forging great platonic cross-gender friendships).

3:04 pm

picture of closed sign at Ingrids

Incredibly sad news. I have a lot of fond memories of this place...

1. Attending the progressive pastor's breakfast (back when I was a Mennonite minister) and talking theology and activism over coffee with folks like Zach Gleason, Kathy Shook McCallie and Lance A Schmitz

2. Taking a break from a hot afternoon of tabling at OKC Pride ---- their cool and dark dining room was a lovely place on a hot summer day to hide out.

3. Eating there with my family on Friday nights, as my son loved to eat their massive club sandwiches prior to Shabbat services --- not even remotely kosher (thanks to the bacon), but it had become a frequent treat for us in the pre-covid days. I do wonder if Ingrid's might consider someday publishing a cookbook of some of their classic recipes, like for their breads and deserts, but also for the German potato salad (I'm not a fan of most creamy-potato salads, but this one was vinegar based instead and was delightful)? I know we would buy one if they sold them.

August 12, 2022

12:33 pm

This was originally posted on Facebook.

This morning's ride up to Cashion, OK and back on the ebike.

map of route on e-bike to Cashion, OK
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion
pictures from E-bike ride to Cashion

August 8, 2022

9:33 pm

This was originally posted on Facebook.

Kveller.com: I'm a rabbi who had a vasectomy even though Judaism prohibits it.

A very thoughtful piece but the headline is misleading. Judaism doesn't bar vasectomies, but rather halakah does. Most Jews today (but especially those in the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Humanistic movements) do not treat halalah as binding in the traditional sense.

On a related note ---- getting a vasectomy was one of the best decisions of my life, so I am always glad to talk to anyone who is considering the procedure but who is nervous about it.

August 4, 2022

11:18 am

This was originally posted on Facebook.

Have to brag on my mom... after several years of retirement, she is going back to teaching at my old high school this fall!

Very appreciative of her doing this, particularly when there is such a shortage of teachers in this state.

August 2, 2022

6:35 pm

This was originally posted on Facebook.

This Month in Humanistic Judaism - August 2022

LOGO: This month in Humanistic Judaism

Here's the August edition of This Month in Humanistic Judaism, our new monthly bulletin from the Society for Humanistic Judaism that shares many of the events happening across our movement, as well as other content from our blog and action alerts from Jews for a Secular Democracy.

August 1, 2022

11:13 am

This was originally posted on Facebook.