Karen Swallow Prior

Friday Five: Astros blunder, Chick-fil-A, SBC women profs, Ugandan justice, Jesus (really) saves

Friday Five: Astros blunder, Chick-fil-A, SBC women profs, Ugandan justice, Jesus (really) saves

Before we dive into the Friday Five, a few updates to earlier posts:

• I followed up Thursday on my analysis last week of The Associated Press’ haunted obituary of Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. Kudos to AP for a new piece that delves into the important role of the black church in Cummings’ life.

• Earlier this week, I highlighted the bush-league PR response by the Houston Astros to a foul-mouthed, female-sportswriter-bullying assistant general manager named Brandon Taubman. Welp, the Astros eventually did the right thing and fired Taubman, a Houston Chronicle sports columnist writes.

• Also this week, I asked “What’s the real story?” concerning plans to close the first-ever international Chick-fil-A? The location at British mall apparently will shut down after six months amid protests by gay-rights activists. In that post, I mentioned a lawsuit over the San Antonio airport refusing to allow a Chick-fil-A. Now, the San Antonio Express-News reports that the Chick-fil-A could wind up opening there after all.

Now, on to the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: Here’s a “story of the week” that actually hasn’t hit the mainstream press yet, assuming my Google News search skills are adequate.

Separate stories emerged this week, both concerning female professors and Southern Baptist seminaries, but the only reports I’ve seen were in the religious press: One involves the faculty of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, voting to affirm women colleagues amid attacks from some critics.

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Campaign 2020 question: Do Christians see a difference between cussing and profanity?

Campaign 2020 question: Do Christians see a difference between cussing and profanity?


A four-letter topic raised by campaign 2020: What does Christianity teach about cussing?


The vulgar lingo associated with military barracks, so tiresome and over-used in movies, cable TV shows and pop music, is filtering into U.S. politics.

Several candidates this campaign have gone potty-mouth, but it’s a specialty of “Beto” O’Rourke. He dropped the f-bomb in his Texas Senate concession speech last November and promised to “keep it clean” when a perturbed voter complained, only to backslide. His staff has made this a proud trademark, selling $30 T-shirts that display the expletive. Muslim Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib then imitated T-shirt sales to broadcast her own four-syllable obscenity.  O’Rourke also remarked of Donald Trump, “Jesus Christ, of course he’s racist.”

Contra Tlaib, is there a sexist double standard at work? Indiana University’s Michael Adams, the author of “In Praise of Profanity,” thinks filth that may possibly give male candidates a populist appeal will count against female candidates.

O’Rourke emulates Mr. Trump himself, who boasted in 2016 that he never uses the f-word though videotapes tell a different story. Last February, the President reportedly hurled three f-bombs at the nation’s leading Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, during a White House meeting, and later apologized.

A la O’Rourke, the latest Trump hubbub involves the name of God. Most media coverage of a North Carolina rally focused on the President for not lamenting the crowd’s racially tinged “send her back” chants against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Muslim immigrant. But some of the religious voters he relies upon were upset that he twice uttered “g–d—“ during that appearance. Soon after, he  uttered the same phrase in a talk to all House Republicans.

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A key Paige Patterson critic is hit by bus: Tennessean takes gentle look at 'Why?' angle

A key Paige Patterson critic is hit by bus: Tennessean takes gentle look at 'Why?' angle

One of the most dramatic sidebars to the controversies surrounding #SBCToo and the Rev. Paige Patterson was the freakish timing of a serious accident in the life of one of his most articulate female critics within evangelicalism.

Karen Swallow Prior is one of those individuals whose existence perfectly illustrates why your GetReligionistas are not fond of sticking shallow labels on complex religious believers.

First of all, she is professor of English at Liberty University. Then again, she used to identify herself as a conservative feminist, which is a conversation starter, to say the least.

I first ran into her back in 2003 when I was writing about a Southern Baptist congregation that created a service blending Celtic liturgy and symbols with evangelical content ("Postmodern Celtic Baptists). Prior's research into liturgy and poetry was at the heart of that effort.

Now this, care of a recent story in The Tennessean:

Karen Swallow Prior helped raise the voices of thousands of women who called out a revered Southern Baptist leader for his counsel on women, abuse and divorce. 

The same day a Texas seminary removed him as its president, Prior got hit by a bus. 

The timing of the freak accident in Nashville felt uncanny to her. Prior and others advocating alongside her for better treatment of women in the evangelical denomination say they saw a parallel between the bus wrecking her body and the misogynistic forces of the church causing brokenness among women. 

The symbolism they found in the May 23 crash that played out at the intersection of Church Street and 20th Avenue North resonated with Prior on a visceral level. 

"There's no winners, and just talking about it and speaking on behalf of others was just difficult. It's an ugly situation," Prior said ... from her room at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "Then, just to be slammed by a bus literally, physically in the midst of that moment, this was just eerie."

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