Under siege. The U.S. State Department has issued travel advisories and closed embassies in 21 countries because it believes a major terrorist plot is imminent. CBS News reports that “intelligence officers have reporting from a reliable source that a major plot is under way and that the team to carry it out has been selected and is in place.” According to reporter John Miller, the threat information is “the most specific and credible since the foiled plot to blow up British planes en route to the United States in 2006.” What authorities don’t have is the date, the timing or the target of the attack, which is why the State Department travel advisory is so broad. The travel advisory is the first global travel alert since the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Box office. The Denzel Washington/Mark Wahlberg action movie 2 Guns took no. one at the box office this weekend with a weak opening of $27.4 million. The Wolverine took in $21.7 and captured the number two spot. The Smurfs 2 also had a weaker-than-expected opening. All in all, it was a lackluster weekend at the box office, in part because all three movies got ratings that were mixed, at best. Even in this era of whiz-bang graphics and relentless marketing, making a good movie still actually matters, and that’s a good thing. Two interesting notes, though: First, thanks to Despicable Me 2, last month was the second biggest July in movie history. Second, The Conjuring, a movie embraced by Christian audiences, had another strong week. The movie, which took $20 million to make, has now done more than $108 million at the box office.
Unintended, but not unexpected. Rhode Island now allows same-sex marriage, but on the first day of same-sex marriage in the state last week, couples queued up to get a same-sex divorce. Homosexual couples who had previously gotten married in states that recognize same-sex marriage, also have to get divorced in states that recognize the unions. So homosexual Rhode Island couples who had gotten married in nearby Massachusetts can now divorce in their home state, and some of them already have, or at least have applied to. The bottom line: More legal, cultural, and social chaos created by same-sex marriage.
Robert Bellah dies. The primary author of the landmark book Habits of the Heart died last week at age 86. Robert Bellah’s religious and political beliefs were hard to classify. His religious beliefs were certainly not what you could call biblically orthodox or evangelical. His politics were often described as “communitarian.” Nonetheless, conservative and evangelical scholars and religious leaders often took note of Habits of the Heart and his life work, Religion in Human Evolution, as evidenced by this interesting symposium dedicated to the latter and published by my friends at First Things magazine. However, it was a 1967 essay he wrote in which he coined the term “American civil religion” that put him on the map and which is now considered seminal among scholars of the sociology of religion. Bellah was a remarkable man in many ways. He was fluent in Japanese and competent in several other languages, including Chinese. He had been married to his wife Melanie for more than 60 years when she died in 2010.