Philocrites : Scrapbook : February 2005 Archive

Monday, February 28, 2005

Imagine a nation without Roe v Wade

Quoted 02.28.05:

Roe created the national right-to-life movement, forging a powerful instant alliance among what had been scores of scattered local opposition groups. What would happen to that movement, should the galvanizing target of its loathing suddenly disappear? How different would it be, fighting on simultaneous multiple fronts? And how would politicians react if an antiabortion vote were no longer easy theater, an appeasement gesture likely to be neutralized by court challenge, but instead could actually make abortion a felony? How might voters themselves react, if the election booth decision could truly make the yes or no difference?

Cynthia Gorney, New York Times 2.27.05, reg req'd

Credit card companies want you to pay through the nose forever [audio]

Quoted 02.28.05:

[Listen to Delaware Senator Joe Biden trip himself up defending the right of credit card companies to stick it to you.]

Morning Edition, NPR 2.28.05

Internet fame is cruel mistress for a dancer of the Numa Numa

Quoted 02.28.05:

[W]ith the Internet, humiliation — like everything else — has now gone public. Upload a video of yourself playing flute with your nose or dancing in your underwear, and people from Toledo to Turkmenistan can watch.

Alan Feuer and Jason George, New York Times 2.26.05, reg req'd

On the Evangelical movement to emphasize the 'faith' of the Founding Fathers

Quoted 02.28.05:

"People care passionately about the founders because they want the founders to be like them," Mr. Brookhiser said. "So you get this from Christians, and you get it from secularists who say the founders are like them and want them to be 'closet deists.'" His own view: "They probably couldn't conceive that the country could ever change so much. But, look, if they wanted a Christian state they could have done it. They were writing the rules. They could have put God in the rules."

David K. Kirkpatrick, New York Times 2.27.05, reg req'd

Sunday, February 27, 2005

An exhausted memoir of reading 'Leaving the Saints' [pdf]

Quoted 02.27.05:

Leaving the Saints - Martha BeckBased on the life wisdom I had found in Expecting Adam, I was expecting a "post-Mormon" story and instead found an ex-Mormon version. A friend of mine who left the Church for extremely compelling intellectual reasons a few months into his mission coined this term and explained the difference to me: ex-Mormons have left the church and are still angry with it. Post-Mormons have left the church but still appreciate all that the Church rendered them along their spiritual journey through life. Mormonism becomes part of a treasured past and textured spiritual landscape, rather than a source of bitterness to be wholly rejected. In a book of healing and finding faith (as its subtitle claims), I expected a more sophisticated, bittersweet memoir of Mormonism — not the jarring sensationalism in Martha's narrative.

Tania Rands Lyon, Sunstone March 2005: 70-75; via By Common Consent 2.26.05

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Fertility and destiny

Quoted 02.26.05:

Faced with the prospect of juggling a career and parenting children, high-skill women are delaying motherhood or skipping it altogether. In fact, among 40-year-old college-educated women, 27 percent have not yet had a child -- and many of them never will. Furthermore, those 40-year-olds who have given birth are averaging 1.6 children apiece, far below the 2.1 children needed for "replacement," the rate that would keep the population constant, [David] Ellwood says. Contrast this with women who never finish high school, who produce an average of 2.6 children. Though that number has declined in recent years, "it's still well above replacement," he notes.

Erin O'Donnell, Harvard Magazine Mar/Apr 2005

Friday, February 25, 2005

Parents rebuke Gov. Romney for gay marriage comments

Quoted 02.25.05:

"You are certainly entitled to court the right wing of your party," the letter read, "but we respectfully ask that you not do so on the backs of Massachusetts families headed by same-sex couples."

Speaking Monday to fellow Republicans in Spartanburg, S.C., Romney said same-sex couples "are actually having children born to them. . . . It's not right on paper. It's not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and a father."

AP, 2.25.05

US, Canadian churches disinvited from global Anglican body

Quoted 02.25.05:

Leaders of the global Anglican communion have asked the Episcopal Church U.S.A. and the Anglican Church of Canada to withdraw their representatives temporarily from a key governing body of the denomination, in an unprecedented move to avoid a schism over the American church's consecration of an openly gay man as a bishop and both churches' blessing of same-sex unions.

Neela Banerjee and Brian Lavery, New York Times 2.25.05, reg req'd

Connecticut nears OK of gay civil unions

Quoted 02.25.05:

The Connecticut Legislature is poised to establish civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, which would make the state the third in the nation to offer legal recognition to same-sex couples. . . .

Connecticut would be the first state to act on gay unions without prompting by the courts.

Yvonne Abraham, Boston Globe 2.25.05

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Mormon apologist, scholar Hugh Nibley dies.

Quoted 02.24.05:

Mark Thiessen [AP], Deseret Morning News 2.24.05; see also "Hugh Nibley, prophet," Russell Arben Fox, Times and Seasons 2.24.05; WaPo obit 2.25.05; Times (UK) story 2.24.05

A Mormon daughter's book stirs a storm

Quoted 02.24.05:

Leaving the Saints - Martha Beck"Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith" details how the author, Dr. Martha Beck, a sociologist and therapist, recovered memories in 1990 of her ritual sexual abuse more than 20 years earlier by her father, Dr. Hugh Nibley, professor emeritus of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University and arguably the leading living authority on Mormon teaching. . . .

The Mormon Church issued a statement condemning the book, calling it "seriously flawed in the way it depicts the church, its members and teachings." Dr. Beck and her publisher have said she has received e-mail messages containing death threats.

In addition, Mormons around the country have participated in an e-mail campaign against the book, sending more than 3,500 messages to Oprah Winfrey, who has featured "Leaving the Saints" on her Internet site and in the March issue of O, the Oprah Magazine. The magazine includes a monthly self-help column by Dr. Beck, who has a doctorate from Harvard.

Edward Wyatt, New York Times 2.24.05, reg req'd; earlier stories; book website, Leaving the Saints; Nibley family website disputing Beck's charges, Hugh Nibley Defense

Let us pray together

Quoted 02.24.05:

More Muslim women are fighting for equal treatment in the mosque.

Vanessa E. Jones, Boston Globe 2.24.05; also today: Islamic Leader Sues WFXT for Defamation, Mark Jurkowitz, Boston Globe 2.24.05

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Just war as care for the neighbor

Quoted 02.19.05:

What I think makes [just war theory] distinctively Christian is that it treats violence as inherently suspect (last resort), it demands that if violence is going to be deployed it can only be in order to defend the innocent neighbor from aggression (just cause), and it insists that violence, when deployed, must be strictly limited (discrimination, proportionality).

Verbum Ipsum 2.18.05

Bearing false witness against queer Christians

Quoted 02.19.05:

[Traditionalists] provide caricatures of pro-GLBT Christianity (one could also call this “bearing false witness”) on the basis of what they see on television and read about on the Internet, and they refuse to admit how unfounded they are when faced with the vast majority of church-going liberal Christians whose churches bear no shadow of resemblance to those descriptions.

Chris Tessone, Progressive Protestant 2.18.05

Friday, February 18, 2005

Treason is hurting America's feelings

Quoted 02.18.05:

When you say its mom's ugly or criticize its foreign policy or kick sand on its face at the beach it is just as hurt as if you'd sold its state secrets. Like every emotional young superpower America needs love and care from its citizens. We've put together a brief guide to treason so you can understand it a little better.

Fafnir, Fafblog! 2.17.05, via Crooked Timber

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Bankruptcy and medical coverage

Quoted 02.15.05:

In the Bush propaganda, bankruptcy is a financial planning tool for the irresponsible. . . 

The reality is heartbreaking -- bankruptcy as the only way out for upwards of 3 million adults and children who have gone through a living hell. Most arresting of all is the [Harvard Law School and Medical School] study's discovery that roughly half of these cases stem not from spending sprees on credit cards but from medical bills flowing out of illness.

Thomas Oliphant, Boston Globe 2.15.05

Obit: The linguistic equivalent of the Pope's confessor

Quoted 02.15.05:

Eleanor Gould Packard, whose questions, comments and admonitions on the proofs of thousands of articles for The New Yorker for 54 years defined for many the care (some writers said obsessiveness) taken in editing the magazine, died Sunday in Manhattan. She was 87.

Betsy Wade, New York Times 2.15.05, reg req'd

Friday, February 11, 2005

Reformed Church seminary president fired for performing gay daughter's wedding

Quoted 02.11.05:

The New Brunswick Theological Seminary has ousted its president and reprimanded him for officiating at his gay daughter's wedding.

The Rev. Norman Kansfield, 64, performed the ceremony in Massachusetts, which last year became the first state to sanction same-sex marriage. He could face a church trial later this year. . . .

He said on Friday the most likely punishment would be losing his designation as professor of theology, one of only 12 in the nation.

AP, 2.11.05

Howard Dean learned lessons from Christian Coalition

Quoted 02.11.05:

When Dean formally pulled out of the presidential race last February, "we were at the Pat Robertson's-candidacy-has-fallen-apart moment," recalled Zephyr Teachout, Internet outreach director for the Dean campaign. "We were doing extensive research on the Christian Coalition."

Nina J. Easton, Boston Globe 2.11.05

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Propagandist quits under blog pressure

Quoted 02.10.05:

Jeff Gannon, the reporter whose GOP connections, lack of conventional journalistic credentials, and softball questioning of President Bush raised questions about the White House's decision to grant him access to news conferences, abruptly quit yesterday after bloggers connected him to websites apparently devoted to gay sex.

Alan Wirzbicki and Charlie Savage, Boston Globe 2.10.05

Why Lent and Easter move around

Quoted 02.10.05:

Before 325 . . . Easter was celebrated by some Christians on Passover (a lunar holiday) and by others the following Sunday. The rationale: Christ's last supper took place on or around Passover, he was crucified on a Friday, and the festival of Easter celebrates his resurrection two days later.

Daniel Engber, Slate 2.9.05

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Prophet to the Democrats

Quoted 02.09.05:

God's Politics, Jim WallisIn "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It," [Jim] Wallis has a simple message for Democrats: rather than challenging the right's piety, challenge the right's theology. "Conventional wisdom suggests that the antidote to religious fundamentalism is more secularism," he says. "But that is a very big mistake. The best response to bad religion is better religion, not secularism."

Ryan Lizza, New York Times Book Review 2.6.05, reg req'd; see also Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers, and Religious Liberals by John Buehrens [Powells]

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Ideology as demonic

Quoted 02.08.05:

Ideology has become a "principality and power" (as Paul out it in Ephesians), or a systemic evil in the United States. . . .

We need a national excorcism I think, from this kind of [poisonous] public debate, and toward some kind of workable, respectful working together to solve our society's and the world's growing list of ill.

Bob Smietana, god-of-small-things 2.05

Mormon political clout

Quoted 02.08.05:

[W]hat Quinn has done is to carefully document the fact that the LDS Church is now the most effective political mobilization organization in the United States.

Dave's Mormon Inquiry 2.8.05

Monday, February 7, 2005

Early articles about Martha Beck's 'Leaving the Saints'

Quoted 02.07.05:

Leaving the Saints - Martha Beck"Nibley siblings outraged over sister's book," Dennis Lythgow, Deseret Morning News 2.5.05
"Rebel Mormon's memoir ignites a furor," Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake Tribune 2.5.05 / Correction 2.9.05
"The Mormon response," Martha Beck, book publicity site; via ZLMB
"Leaving the Saints," Clark, Mormon Metaphysics 2.10.05 ff.
"Review," Tom Kimball, Association for Mormon Letters e-mail list 1.28.05
"For Me, the Ritual Boredom's Been Awful," Robert Kirby, Salt Lake Tribune 2.12.05

How the LDS Church quietly runs Utah

Quoted 02.07.05:

Church officials have weighed in numerous times in back-room conversations with policy-makers over issues with which they have concerns. Almost without exception, church opposition to a proposition will lead to its demise. And often, that opposition is never made public.

Paul Rolly, Salt Lake Tribune 2.5.05; cached at Religion News Blog, via Dave's Mormon Inquiry

Patriotism and nationalism

Quoted 02.07.05:

The nationalist doesn't just have a special concern for his country. He has a kind of irrational attitude toward it. Like how Red Sox fans will scream — perfectly sincerely — "Yankees suck!" even when the Yankees, in fact, are a very skilled baseball team. But sports fans don't take an attitude of rational scrutiny toward their favorite team and its historical adversary. It would be contrary to the spirit of fandom. Now of course you can turn to the Red Sox fan and say, "actually, the Yankees have won all these baseball games, they're a very good team" and he won't say you're wrong. He's not an idiot, or blind to the facts. But the facts are beside the point. The nationalist, similarly, isn't unaware of his country's problems. He just doesn't really care. It's besides the point. The patriot feels a deep sense of shame when he finds out about Abu Ghraib and associated wrongdoings. "This is my country and look what's becoming of us." The nationalist hastens to note that the Syrians are worse, the French are hypocrites, and the leftists are only complaining about this because they didn't like the war on the first place so can't we move on please it was only a few bad apples and whatever atrocities may have happened on Guadalcanal hardly shows World War Two was a bad idea so let's shut up and move on why do you care so much about protecting the rights of terrorists anyway.

Matthew Yglesias 2.5.05

Joel Osteen's Christianity 101

Quoted 02.07.05:

I caught a couple of Osteen’s sermons on television toward the end of last year, and I have to say, I was floored. Not because they were masterpieces of theological reflection (they weren’t) and not because they espoused the deepest truths of the Christian faith (they didn’t). What his sermons do succeed at is teaching people how to start emulating the example of Jesus.

Chris Tessone, Progressive Protestant 2.2.05

On believing what we believe we believe

Quoted 02.07.05:

[Will Wilkinson suggests that] most religious believers judge that the "social and psychological benefits of appearing to be a believer" eclipse the costs, and the best way to "appear a believer, but to avoid the behavioral costs of actual belief, is to earnestly but falsely believe that one believes."

Jeremy Lott, GetReligion 2.6.05

Saturday, February 5, 2005

New York judge rules in favor of same-sex marriage

Quoted 02.05.05:

Judge Doris Ling-Cohan found in favor of five couples who had sued the city clerk for denying them marriage licenses. But she stayed the decision for 30 days to allow an appeal, which means that same-sex couples will not immediately be able to marry in New York City, the only jurisdiction directly affected by the ruling.

Michelle Garcia and Alan Cooperman, Washington Post 2.5.05, reg req'd

Friday, February 4, 2005

Hassled into heaven

Quoted 02.04.05:

For the last three months my husband and I have been attending a church we both like. Recently we requested (via a "guest form") to receive information about possibly becoming members. Since then, we have had several church members visit our home to talk with us and answer our questions. All of this has been wonderful, but there has been a problem. One member has taken the role of "meet and greet" to another level. He comes to our house, unannounced, quite frequently, even if we have other visitors. He admitted to us he rides by our home to see if there are any vehicles in our driveway (he thought this was funny for some reason), and on Sundays, he waits for us at the sanctuary doors to see if we attend so he can sit with us during service. He lets us know when he has "not seen us for a week" and is constantly asking us when we will join the church.

Letter to Dear Prudence, Slate 2.3.05

Blogs, magazines, and journals

Quoted 02.04.05:

[Why don't the communities of readers and writers overlap more between Mormon-studies periodicals and idea-focused Mormon blogs?]

Dave, By Common Consent 2.3.05

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Howard Dean, Congregationalist

Quoted 02.03.05:

Howard Dean - APDean, who refers to himself as a "Congregationalist" — a faith label not recognizable to many living outside the Congregationalist-laden Northeast — is a member of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Burlington, Vt., a prominent 1,000-member congregation in the state's largest city. . . .

Dean's pastor, the Rev. Robert A. Lee, has described Dean as a "supportive and faithful member of the congregation."

J. Bennett Guess, UCC News 2.2.05; via Chuck Currie

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

What Democrats can learn from Hillary Clinton's abortion speech

Quoted 02.02.05:

Acknowledge up front the pain of abortion and its moral gravity. Defend its legality only as a terrible compromise necessary for the reduction of abortions in general, for the rights of women to control their own wombs, and for the avoidance of unsafe, amateur abortions. And then move to arenas where liberals need have no qualms: aggressive use of contraception and family planning, expansion and encouragement of adoption, and a rhetorical embrace of the "culture of life."

Andrew Sullivan, New Republic 1.27.05, sub req'd

Amish move to northern Maine to escape tourists, sprawl

Quoted 02.02.05:

The first Amish family moved to Smyrna in 1996. Today the town's Amish community numbers about 100, comprising families from Amish settlements in Tennessee, Maryland, Michigan, and Iowa, places they say had grown too large and had been overrun with outside influences.

Sarah Schweitzer, Boston Globe 2.2.05

A new chapter in White House propaganda

Quoted 02.02.05:

The Bush administration has provided White House media credentials to a man who has virtually no journalistic background, asks softball questions to the president and his spokesman in the midst of contentious news conferences, and routinely reprints long passages verbatim from official press releases as original news articles on his website.

Jeff Gannon calls himself the White House correspondent for, a website that says it is "committed to delivering accurate, unbiased news coverage to our readers." It is operated by a Texas-based Republican Party delegate and political activist who also runs, a website that touts itself as "bringing the conservative message to America." . . .

[T]ranscripts of White House briefings indicate that McClellan often calls on Gannon and that the press secretary — and the president — have found relief in a question from Gannon after critical lines of questioning from mainstream news organizations.

Charlie Savage and Alan Wirzbicki, Boston Globe 2.2.05; Daily Kos investigates, via Dan Gillmor 1.31.05

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

More employees are bringing faith to work, but not without rules

Quoted 02.01.05:

At Intel in Hudson, engineer David Romano, 46, of Cumberland, R.I., says he cannot separate faith from work. Romano heads a lunchtime Bible study group, but confines his discussions about God to co-workers who wish to talk about their beliefs.

"Intel prohibits outward evangelism," he said. "We cannot go from cube to cube to bring people into the faith."

Diane E. Lewis, Boston Globe 2.1.05