The worst thing that can happen to any subject (great historical figure, moving poem, profound novel) is when the academicians get ahold of it. As someone who has been to academic conferences, I can attest that it all quickly deteriorates into self-parody. It appears there's nothing different at religious academic conferences:
An annual convention of American religion scholars from prominent institutions will feature sessions favorable toward sadomasochism, transvestism, transsexualism and polyamory – participation in multiple sexual relationships.
One paper scheduled to be presented interprets a passage in the book of Jeremiah "through the lens" of a sadomasochistic encounter between God and a man.
The presentations offered at the American Academy of Religion's 2004 Annual Meeting in San Antonio next month demonstrates that "bringing male homosexual behavior into the mainstream produces a slippery slope" that serves only to destroy basic societal norms rather than tame risky behavior, says Robert A. J. Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
Two workshops on the sexual themes are being offered by the Gay Men's Issues in Religion Group at the meeting, scheduled for Nov. 20-23.
"One wonders what is next for the Gay Men's group at AAR – the promotion of incest, 'pedosexuality' and bestiality?" Gagnon asked in a written critique. "There is certainly little or nothing in the presenters' theology that would lead away from such ultimate absurdities."
Of course, the primary reason to even mention this is to make fun of it. But the reality is that in a nation where many of our most prestigious universities and colleges were founded with a conservative religious mission, it is a testament to how far our nation has come when we see how 'scholars' from some of those same institutions of higher learning view scripture.
[Thanks to Mitch for the tip.]