Daily Archives: March 15, 2010

Rod Dreher–Journalists should deal with religion respectfully but ask hard questions

Did you hear about the Protestant minister who said that Haiti “has been in bondage to the devil for four generations”? No, it wasn’t Pat Robertson but Chavannes Jeune, a popular Evangelical pastor in Haiti who has long crusaded to cleanse his nation of what he believes is an ancestral voodoo curse. It turns out that more than a few Haitians agree with Jeune and Robertson that their nation’s crushing problems are caused by, yes, voodoo.

I know this not because I read it in a newspaper or saw it on TV, but because of a blog. University of Tennessee-Knoxville cultural anthropologist Bertin M. Louis Jr., an expert on Haitian Protestantism, posted an essay exploring this viewpoint on The Immanent Frame, a social scientist group blog devoted to religion, secularism and the public sphere.

Elsewhere on The Immanent Frame, there’s a fascinating piece by Wesleyan University religion professor Elizabeth McAlister touching on how the voodoo worldview affects Haiti’s cultural and political economy. She writes that the widespread belief that events happen because of secret pacts with gods and spirits perpetuates “the idea that real, causal power operates in a hidden realm, and that invisible powers explain material conditions and events.” Though McAlister is largely sympathetic to voodoo practitioners, she acknowledges that any effective attempt to relieve and rebuild Haiti will contend with that social reality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Haiti, Media, Religion & Culture

Rod Dreher–Journalists should deal with religion respectfully but ask hard questions

Did you hear about the Protestant minister who said that Haiti “has been in bondage to the devil for four generations”? No, it wasn’t Pat Robertson but Chavannes Jeune, a popular Evangelical pastor in Haiti who has long crusaded to cleanse his nation of what he believes is an ancestral voodoo curse. It turns out that more than a few Haitians agree with Jeune and Robertson that their nation’s crushing problems are caused by, yes, voodoo.

I know this not because I read it in a newspaper or saw it on TV, but because of a blog. University of Tennessee-Knoxville cultural anthropologist Bertin M. Louis Jr., an expert on Haitian Protestantism, posted an essay exploring this viewpoint on The Immanent Frame, a social scientist group blog devoted to religion, secularism and the public sphere.

Elsewhere on The Immanent Frame, there’s a fascinating piece by Wesleyan University religion professor Elizabeth McAlister touching on how the voodoo worldview affects Haiti’s cultural and political economy. She writes that the widespread belief that events happen because of secret pacts with gods and spirits perpetuates “the idea that real, causal power operates in a hidden realm, and that invisible powers explain material conditions and events.” Though McAlister is largely sympathetic to voodoo practitioners, she acknowledges that any effective attempt to relieve and rebuild Haiti will contend with that social reality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Haiti, Media, Religion & Culture

Nancy Gibbs in the most recent Time Magazine–Generation Next

If boomers were always looking to shock, millennials are eager to share.

But they are also unconventionally conventional. They are, for example, the least officially religious of any modern generation, and fully 1 in 4 has no religious affiliation at all. On the other hand, they are just as spiritual, just as likely to believe in miracles and hell and angels as earlier generations were. They pray about as much as their elders did when they were young–all of which suggests that they have not lost faith in God, only in the institutions that claim to speak for him.

The greatest divide of all has to do with hope and heart. In any age, young folk tend to be more cheerful than old folk, but the hope gap has never been greater than it is now. Despite two wars and a nasty recession that has hit young people hardest, the Pew survey found that 41% of millennials are satisfied with how things are going, compared with 26% of older people. Less than a third of those with jobs earn enough to lead the kind of life they want–but 88% are confident that they will one day.

“Youth is easily deceived,” Aristotle said, “because it is quick to hope.” But I’d rather think that the millennials know something we don’t about the inventions that will emerge from their networked brains, the solutions that might arise from a generation so determined to bridge gaps and work as a team. In that event, their vision would be vindicated, not only for themselves but for those of us who will one day follow their lead.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Psychology, Young Adults

Nancy Gibbs in the most recent Time Magazine–Generation Next

If boomers were always looking to shock, millennials are eager to share.

But they are also unconventionally conventional. They are, for example, the least officially religious of any modern generation, and fully 1 in 4 has no religious affiliation at all. On the other hand, they are just as spiritual, just as likely to believe in miracles and hell and angels as earlier generations were. They pray about as much as their elders did when they were young–all of which suggests that they have not lost faith in God, only in the institutions that claim to speak for him.

The greatest divide of all has to do with hope and heart. In any age, young folk tend to be more cheerful than old folk, but the hope gap has never been greater than it is now. Despite two wars and a nasty recession that has hit young people hardest, the Pew survey found that 41% of millennials are satisfied with how things are going, compared with 26% of older people. Less than a third of those with jobs earn enough to lead the kind of life they want–but 88% are confident that they will one day.

“Youth is easily deceived,” Aristotle said, “because it is quick to hope.” But I’d rather think that the millennials know something we don’t about the inventions that will emerge from their networked brains, the solutions that might arise from a generation so determined to bridge gaps and work as a team. In that event, their vision would be vindicated, not only for themselves but for those of us who will one day follow their lead.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Psychology, Young Adults

World Magazine on Christ Church Savannah–Bricks and mortar

Like more than 100 churches nationwide, Christ Church broke with TEC over its well-documented liberalized faith (“Other Abrahamic faiths have access to God the Father without consciously going through Jesus,” presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has said). The church’s vestry voted unanimously to disaffiliate over “departure from doctrine” and to place the church under the Anglican Province of Uganda. The congregation approved, with 87 percent voting in favor out of over 300 ballots cast.

Division “happened over time,” rector Marc Robertson told me, and 30-40 disaffected members set up a congregation downriver calling itself “Christ Church Episcopal.” Last May TEC filed legal action against Robertson and the vestry, seeking to acquire the property on Johnson Square in Savannah’s historic district. TEC has filed similar actions against churches in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Texas. This case turns on state trust laws and laws of incorporation, and is complex given that Christ Church predates the existence of the state of Georgia. TEC asserts that church property should be subject to denominational “discipline,” which Christ Church forfeited when it quit the denomination, it says.

Funny things happen when a church takes a stand for the gospel. Sunday attendance at Christ Church is up and it accepted 28 new families””a record””for membership this past year. “We have a corporate sense of galvanization,” said Robertson, “and are doing well spiritually. Our biblical literacy has increased because we are driven back to understanding why we believe what we believe.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

World Magazine on Christ Church Savannah–Bricks and mortar

Like more than 100 churches nationwide, Christ Church broke with TEC over its well-documented liberalized faith (“Other Abrahamic faiths have access to God the Father without consciously going through Jesus,” presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has said). The church’s vestry voted unanimously to disaffiliate over “departure from doctrine” and to place the church under the Anglican Province of Uganda. The congregation approved, with 87 percent voting in favor out of over 300 ballots cast.

Division “happened over time,” rector Marc Robertson told me, and 30-40 disaffected members set up a congregation downriver calling itself “Christ Church Episcopal.” Last May TEC filed legal action against Robertson and the vestry, seeking to acquire the property on Johnson Square in Savannah’s historic district. TEC has filed similar actions against churches in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Texas. This case turns on state trust laws and laws of incorporation, and is complex given that Christ Church predates the existence of the state of Georgia. TEC asserts that church property should be subject to denominational “discipline,” which Christ Church forfeited when it quit the denomination, it says.

Funny things happen when a church takes a stand for the gospel. Sunday attendance at Christ Church is up and it accepted 28 new families””a record””for membership this past year. “We have a corporate sense of galvanization,” said Robertson, “and are doing well spiritually. Our biblical literacy has increased because we are driven back to understanding why we believe what we believe.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

Monday Mental Health Break: A Squirrel's Efforts to get to a Birdfeeder go Awry

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

Monday Mental Health Break: A Squirrel's Efforts to get to a Birdfeeder go Awry

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

Time Magazone Cover Story: 10 Ideas for the Next 10 Years

Follow all the links and peruse it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Science & Technology

Time Magazone Cover Story: 10 Ideas for the Next 10 Years

Follow all the links and peruse it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Science & Technology

In Hard Times, Lured Into Trade School and Debt

One fast-growing American industry has become a conspicuous beneficiary of the recession: for-profit colleges and trade schools.

At institutions that train students for careers in areas like health care, computers and food service, enrollments are soaring as people anxious about weak job prospects borrow aggressively to pay tuition that can exceed $30,000 a year.

But the profits have come at substantial taxpayer expense while often delivering dubious benefits to students, according to academics and advocates for greater oversight of financial aid. Critics say many schools exaggerate the value of their degree programs, selling young people on dreams of middle-class wages while setting them up for default on untenable debts, low-wage work and a struggle to avoid poverty. And the schools are harvesting growing federal student aid dollars, including Pell grants awarded to low-income students.

“If these programs keep growing, you’re going to wind up with more and more students who are graduating and can’t find meaningful employment,” said Rafael I. Pardo, a professor at Seattle University School of Law and an expert on educational finance. “They can’t generate income needed to pay back their loans, and they’re going to end up in financial distress.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

In Hard Times, Lured Into Trade School and Debt

One fast-growing American industry has become a conspicuous beneficiary of the recession: for-profit colleges and trade schools.

At institutions that train students for careers in areas like health care, computers and food service, enrollments are soaring as people anxious about weak job prospects borrow aggressively to pay tuition that can exceed $30,000 a year.

But the profits have come at substantial taxpayer expense while often delivering dubious benefits to students, according to academics and advocates for greater oversight of financial aid. Critics say many schools exaggerate the value of their degree programs, selling young people on dreams of middle-class wages while setting them up for default on untenable debts, low-wage work and a struggle to avoid poverty. And the schools are harvesting growing federal student aid dollars, including Pell grants awarded to low-income students.

“If these programs keep growing, you’re going to wind up with more and more students who are graduating and can’t find meaningful employment,” said Rafael I. Pardo, a professor at Seattle University School of Law and an expert on educational finance. “They can’t generate income needed to pay back their loans, and they’re going to end up in financial distress.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

U.S. regains huge arms cache lost by Afghans

U.S. forces have recovered a huge cache of weapons that was given to Afghan security forces but wound up in the hands of the Taliban, a U.S. military review has found.

The Afghan army and national police have lost 13,000 weapons, 200,000 rounds of ammunition, 80 vehicles and one pair of night vision goggles, members of a U.S. task force told USA TODAY.

All the gear was bought for the Afghans by Americans, part of $330 million in weapons purchases.

Most of the weapons have been seized from the Taliban or other insurgent forces.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, War in Afghanistan

U.S. regains huge arms cache lost by Afghans

U.S. forces have recovered a huge cache of weapons that was given to Afghan security forces but wound up in the hands of the Taliban, a U.S. military review has found.

The Afghan army and national police have lost 13,000 weapons, 200,000 rounds of ammunition, 80 vehicles and one pair of night vision goggles, members of a U.S. task force told USA TODAY.

All the gear was bought for the Afghans by Americans, part of $330 million in weapons purchases.

Most of the weapons have been seized from the Taliban or other insurgent forces.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, War in Afghanistan

Lives of Haiti orphans, Tennessee churchgoers collide

Each Sunday morning, members of White Stone Church spread photos of the girls’ grinning, impish faces across a folding table in the lobby, then prayed for the day they might join them.

When the churchgoers closed their eyes and bowed their heads, it no longer mattered that 1,400 miles separated them from the girls or that they lived in a Haitian village whose dirt floors and lack of running water were unthinkable in north Knoxville’s quilt of neatly tended subdivisions and fast-food drive-thrus.

They are “Our Girls,” the worshippers told one another.

Over six years, the girls of Coq Chante had come to feel like family. Now, after trips by dozens to Haiti, thousands of dollars raised and spent, and countless hours poring over adoption paperwork, the bond with 19 children from another world felt unbreakable.

Until a Tuesday night in January.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Caribbean, Children, Haiti, Other Churches, Parish Ministry