Daily Archives: February 8, 2008

Naomi Schafer Riley: The Baptist All-Stars

Perhaps the only thing worse than Al Gore’s tedious 90-minute slide presentation on global warming is the same presentation interspersed with slides quoting from Scripture. But that’s just what the audience of 2,500 at the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant paid $35 a head to see on Jan. 31.

Mr. Gore, a featured speaker at the gathering here, was introduced as a “prophet.” Like all prophets, he “is not welcome in his hometown,” at least according to Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center of Ethics in Nashville. Mr. Parham noted with disappointment that the people of that city failed to “recognize” Mr. Gore’s recent Nobel Prize victory. Talk about a cross to bear.

Mr. Gore’s presentation was officially closed to the media, because, according to a Covenant spokesman, the former vice president didn’t want the slides of those Bible passages “getting out on the Internet.” What would his friends in the secular blogosphere think about the fact that he said “In the beginning, God created Heaven and earth” as a picture of our planet from space was displayed? Or that he used the story of Noah to explain why we should work to save more endangered species?

But in Atlanta, Mr. Gore was preaching to the converted. Welcome to what might have been the largest gathering yet of the so-called religious left. A self-described “informal alliance of more than 30 racially, geographically, and theologically diverse Baptist organizations,” the three-day celebration demonstrated how difficult it will be for religious liberals to unite, let alone get under the same tent with secular liberals and become a political force.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Other Churches

What did the Archbishop actually say?

Please take the time to read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

Roger Kimball: Who will Rid Us of this Troublesome Priest?

As I say, for the moment there is nothing at all “unavoidable” about the institution of Sharia law in Britain. All that is necessary to countermand it is a little self-assertion on the part of the British people. Surely the instinct for self-preservation has not been totally eradicated in Britain by the enervating imperatives of political correctness””do I end that sentence with a period or a question mark? It is a mark of how serious things have become come that I am no longer certain. The triumph of Islam in Britain is eminently avoidable. But the triumph of civilizational Quislings like Rowan Williams might just change that.

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Bush, Congress hit bottom in AP poll

It’s almost as if people can barely stand the thought of President Bush and Congress anymore. Bush reached his lowest approval rating in The Associated Press-Ipsos poll on Friday as only 30 percent said they like the job he is doing, including an all-time low in his support by Republicans. Congress’ approval fell to just 22 percent, equaling its poorest grade in the survey. Both marks dropped by 4 percentage points since early January.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General

Anglican 'Covenant' Would Shift More Power to Canterbury

Drawn up by a 12-member international team meeting in England, the covenant is the second draft to be proposed; the first draft was released last year and roundly criticized. This draft will be discussed and amended at the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of nearly 600 Anglican bishops, in July. Implementation is likely years away.

While asserting the autonomy of each province, the covenant nonetheless lays out a process through which threats to the “unity of the Communion and the effectiveness or credibility of its mission” may be challenged.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who heads the Church of England and is recognized by Anglicans as the “first among equals,” would be given the power to make “requests” of national churches based on those challenges. The Most Rev. Rowan Williams is the current Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Anglican Consultative Council, an international body appointed by the 38 provinces, would be the last court of appeals on all disputes. It would have the power to determine if a province has “relinquished the force and meaning” of the covenant, the consequences of which are not specified.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant

Speakers at the Air Force Academy Said to Make False Claims

The Air Force Academy was criticized by Muslim and religious freedom organizations for playing host on Wednesday to three speakers who critics say are evangelical Christians falsely claiming to be former Muslim terrorists.

The three men were invited as part of a weeklong conference on terrorism organized by cadets at the academy’s Colorado Springs campus under the auspices of the political science department.

The three will be paid a total of $13,000 for their appearance, some of it from private donors, said Maj. Brett Ashworth, a spokesman for the academy.

The three were invited because “they offered a unique perspective from inside terrorism,” Major Ashworth said. The conference is to result in a report on methods to combat terrorism that will be sent to the Pentagon, members of Congress and other influential officials, he added.

Members of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group suing the federal government to combat what it calls creeping evangelism in the armed forces, said it was typical of the Air Force Academy to invite born-again Christians to address cadets on terrorism rather than experts who could teach students about the Middle East.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Islam, Military / Armed Forces, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Archbishop of Canterbury warns sharia law in Britain is inevitable

The Archbishop of Canterbury provoked a chorus of criticism yesterday by predicting that it was “unavoidable” that elements of Islamic sharia law would be introduced in Britain.

Christian and secular groups joined senior politicians to condemn Rowan Williams’ view that there was a place for a “constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law” over such issues as marriage.

Dr Williams told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One: “It seems unavoidable and, as a matter of fact, certain conditions of sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law, so it is not as if we are bringing in an alien and rival system. We already have in this country a number of situations in which the internal law of religious communities is recognised by the law of the land as justifying conscientious objections in certain circumstances.”

He added: “There is a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law as we already do with aspects of other kinds of religious law.”

Read it all and there are scores of links to other coverage here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Islam, Other Faiths

Church Times: Archbishop Sentamu flies to Kenya to offer support

THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, was due to fly out to the troubled country of Kenya last night for a four-day visit, with the encouragement of the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Revd Benjamin Nzimbi. The trip has two purposes: to be a fact-finding visit, and an expression of solidarity with, and prayer for, the Kenyan people.

The visit was arranged after a long phone conversation with Archbishop Nzimbi, when it was agreed that it would be helpful. Church leaders in Kenya still appear to be at odds about the best way forward in the conflict.

The Bishop of Mbeere, the Rt Revd Gideon Ireri, in eastern Kenya, told Ecumenical News International on Tuesday that he had serious concerns that the Church was not speaking with one voice.

A delegation from the World Council of Churches in Kenya said this week that political leaders in Kenya believed that the Church there had taken a partisan approach, and were not keen that it should be involved in the mediating process.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Kenya

David Brooks: Questions for Dr. Retail

QUESTION: But why would Democratic votes break down so starkly along educational lines?

DR. RETAIL: The consumer marketplace has been bifurcating for years! It’s happening because the educated and uneducated lead different sorts of lives. Educated people are not only growing richer than less-educated people, but their lifestyles are diverging as well. A generation ago, educated families and less-educated families looked the same, but now high school graduates divorce at twice the rate of college graduates. High school grads are much more likely to have kids out of wedlock. High school grads are much more likely to be obese. They’re much more likely to smoke and to die younger.

Their attitudes are different. High school grads are much less optimistic than college grads. They express less social trust. They feel less safe in public. They report having fewer friends and lower aspirations. The less educated speak the dialect of struggle; the more educated, the dialect of self-fulfillment

Did you hear the message of Clinton’s speech Tuesday night? It’s a rotten world out there. Regular folks are getting the shaft. They need someone who’ll fight tougher, work harder and put loyalty over independence.

Then did you see the Hopemeister’s speech? His schtick makes sense if you’ve got a basic level of security in your life, if you’re looking up, not down. Meanwhile, Obama’s people are so taken with their messiah that soon they’ll be selling flowers at airports and arranging mass weddings. There’s a “Yes We Can” video floating around YouTube in which a bunch of celebrities like Scarlett Johansson and the guy from the Black Eyed Peas are singing the words to an Obama speech in escalating states of righteousness and ecstasy. If that video doesn’t creep out normal working-class voters, then nothing will.

QUESTION: Your cynicism is really interfering with my vibe. I don’t think you’re feeling the fierce urgency of now.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Study: Sadness, self focus, impair ability to spend wisely

If you’re sad and shopping, watch your wallet: A new study shows people’s spending judgment goes out the window when they’re down, especially if they’re a bit self-absorbed.
Study participants who watched a sadness-inducing video clip offered to pay nearly four times as much money to buy a water bottle than a group that watched an emotionally neutral clip.

The so-called “misery is not miserly” phenomenon is well-known to psychologists, advertisers and personal shoppers alike, and has been documented in a similar study in 2004.

The new study released Friday by researchers from four universities goes further, trying to answer whether temporary sadness alone can trigger spendthrift tendencies.

The study found a willingness to spend freely by sad people occurs mainly when their sadness triggers greater “self-focus.” That response was measured by counting how frequently study participants used references to “I,” “me,” “my” and “myself” in writing an essay about how a sad situation such as the one portrayed in the video would affect them personally.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Psychology

McCain All but Clinches; Romney Departs

John McCain sought to mend his tattered relationship with conservatives and unify a splintered GOP as he all but clinched the party’s presidential nomination Thursday. Mitt Romney, his former chief rival, dropped out, and a parade of prominent Republicans swung behind the Arizona senator.

“We’re continuing campaigning and not taking anything for granted,” McCain said in an Associated Press interview, still reluctant to call himself anything more than the front-runner. “I certainly think that we have enhanced our chances.”

Only Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul remained in what has been a crowded and wide-open nomination fight for the past year. Both have narrow voting constituencies and are far behind in the hunt for delegates to the GOP’s nominating convention this summer.

Romney’s departure left McCain, whose independent streak rankles many in the Republican rank-and-file, poised to assume President Bush’s position as the party standard-bearer. It was a remarkable turnaround for McCain, whose campaign was barely alive last summer, out of cash and losing staff.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

The Economist: Where it went wrong for Mitt Romney””and right for John McCain

What went wrong? After all, Mr Romney was perhaps the only candidate who took positions pleasing all the factions of the conservative base. For security types, he promised to stay in Iraq and said that he would double the size of the prison at Guantánamo Bay. For economic conservatives, he talked of tax cuts and touted his success as a businessman (in contrast to his chief rival, John McCain). And he told social conservatives that he was against gay marriage and abortion. What was the “Reagan coalition” not to like about the man?

First was his Mormonism. Most evangelical Christians in the social-conservative base feel that Mormonism is not Christian””some even think of it as a cult. Mr Romney tried (but failed) to pacify them with a speech on faith, saying that “Jesus Christ is the son of God and the saviour of mankind”. He tripped up early in Iowa, the first caucus. He campaigned heavily and far outspent his rivals, but evangelicals instead plumped for a man they felt to be the real item: Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher. Having stumbled in Iowa, Mr Romney’s candidacy looked wobbly. He soon lost New Hampshire to Mr McCain.

He did manage to win a few primaries, for example in Michigan and Nevada. But the party would not rally to him. Some were troubled by his perceived recent rebirth to social conservatism. As the governor of Massachusetts he had been gay-friendly and pro-choice. His newfound opposition to gay marriage and abortion seemed shallow. And this seemed to reflect a more general tendency to go with the political wind. Republicans like their leaders to be steadfast. So social conservatives stuck with Mr Huckabee, who won a clutch of southern states on “Super Tuesday”. Moderate conservatives and independents joined the reinvigorated Mr McCain.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Mormons, Other Faiths, US Presidential Election 2008

Western Louisiana Bishop Critical of Archbishop Williams' Advent Letter

Bishop MacPherson recently wrote his diocese with some reflections on Archbishop Williams’ Advent letter to the primates. In his highly anticipated letter, Archbishop Williams declined to sanction The Episcopal Church for failing to provide the unequivocal assurances sought by the primates’ in their February 2007 communiqué. Archbishop Willaims’ letter also offered no substantive alternative means of resolving the conflict within the Anglican Communion over innovations to church teaching on sexuality, a particular point of contention for Bishop McPherson.

“What hasn’t been said is when the continued extension of conversations and meetings will come to an end and a definitive decision made,” Bishop MacPherson wrote. “What also has gone unstated is when is The Episcopal Church going to be called to a place of accountability by the wider Anglican Communion, Lambeth 2008?

“Throughout all of this I have stated that we needed to follow the process that would prayerfully lead to resolution. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel before us? I can’t answer this specifically, but do know and have shared that in order to remain informed of all that is taking place, and the options that may well come before us, we must remain a part of the conversations.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Notable and Quotable

Faithfulness to the Lord of all Creation is cultural faithfulness; it is faithfulness in every realm of human experience, from science to sports, from making movies to making babies, from how we build relationships to how we relate to buildings. Following Christ is a matter first of inner transformation, and then of living faithfully in accord with the order of Creation as he made and is redeeming it, in all of our cultural convictions and practices concerning a host of abstractions and concrete realities: food, sex, time, music, history, language, technology, family, justice, beauty, agriculture, and community.

–Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Look at the Iowa Presidential Futures Market

Check it out.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008