Philocrites : Scrapbook : May 2007 Archive

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Humanists: New atheism too hostile to religion

Quoted 05.30.07:

"Atheists don't really ask the question, what are the vital needs that religion meets? They give you the sense that religion is the enemy, which is absurd," said Ronald Aronson, professor of humanities at Wayne State University in Detroit.

"There are some questions we secularists have to answer: Who am I, what am I, what can I know? Unless we can answer these questions adequately for ourselves and for others, we can't expect people to even begin to be interested in living without God."

Benedicta Cipolla [RNS], Washington Post 5.26.07; via Reason and Reverence 5.29.07

Friday, May 25, 2007

Generals responsible for debacle in Iraq

Quoted 05.25.07:

For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.

These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress.

Lt Col Paul Yingling, Armed Forces Journal, May 2007; via How our generals got so mediocre, Fred Kaplan, Slate 5.16.07

Philip Jenkins: Anglican wars part of Christianity's rapid growth in Southern Hemisphere

Quoted 05.25.07:

The more fundamental division is about the authority of the Bible, and there are a lot of reasons for this. . . . [I]f you're in a new church in Africa or Asia, the Bible speaks to you as a more immediately relevant, more direct text, than it does for many Global North people for whom the Bible is basically part of the wallpaper.

One big reason for that is the biblical world makes sense [if you're in the Global South]; the Bible reads like it is describing the world you know immediately. . . . You're dealing with people who live in, in many ways, an Old Testament world. Many Africans may not know themselves a world that practices nomadism and polygamy and blood sacrifice, but their parents did.

Philip Jenkins, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life 5.14.07

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How to keep hostile jerks from taking over your online community

Quoted 05.17.07:

Trolls can infect a small group, but they really shine in big forums. Discussion groups are like uranium: a little pile gives off a nice, warm glow, but if the pile gets bigger, it hits critical mass and starts a deadly meltdown. There are only three ways to prevent this: Make the pile smaller again, spread the rods apart, or twiddle them to keep the heat convecting through them. . . .

If you want to fight trolling, don't make up a bunch of a priori assumptions about what will or won't discourage trolls. Instead, seek out the troll whisperer and study their techniques.

Cory Doctorow, Information Week 5.14.07; via Crooked Timber

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Archbishop of Nigeria has already undone Anglican Communion

Quoted 05.16.07:

None of the Sunday papers seem to have noticed it, but the Anglican communion ended on Saturday. There was even a church service to mark the occasion, held in a non-denominational chapel for hire in Virginia, USA, where the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, installed an Englishman, Bishop Martyn Minns, as his representative in north America.

It is the latest, and the most brazen attempt by conservatives to seize the legitimacy — and the money and property and pensions — of the mainstream Episcopal church in the USA after its decisions to ordain first women and then an openly gay man as bishops. . . .

Nothing that [Rowan Williams] now does or says can be justified on the basis that it preserves the unity of the Anglican communion. That unity has now been shattered. There is no communion, and no good reason for anyone to pretend otherwise.

Andrew Brown, The Guardian Unlimited 5.6.07

'Noisy Baptist' Jerry Falwell, founder of Moral Majority, dies at 73

Quoted 05.16.07:

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, a Baptist preacher whose founding of the Moral Majority helped spur a Christian conservative movement that is reverberating in the 2008 presidential campaign, died yesterday at his office at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. . . .

John Green, a political science professor at the University of Akron and author of several books on religion and politics, said yesterday that Rev. Falwell was both "an important figure in the political mobilization" of Christian conservatives and "a symbol of how religion can be a divisive force in politics."

Mark Feeney and Michael Kranish, Boston Globe 5.16.07, reg req'd; Falwell's greatest hits, Timothy Noah, Slate 5.15.07

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Vote for Giuliani, elect a psychodrama

Quoted 05.09.07:

You can be unfazed by divorce and still despair of Rudy's treatment of his family. This is a man whose life is filled with poisoned intimate relationships and who appears to be responsible for much of the poisoning. It's not only the religious or the uptight that can be put off by an utter lack of personal morality in a presidential candidate. . . .

A past like Giuliani's betrays a level of self-indulgence that, if nothing else, suggests that more fireworks are in store and that the show will be long-running. We'll all be strapped into front-row seats. Giuliani's psychodramas may or may not tell us about the sort of leader he'll be, but we've already been forced to think enough about the sort of man he is.

Emily Bazelon, Slate 5.8.07

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Romney may thread the needle with Evangelical right

Quoted 05.08.07:

[H]istory shows that Republican presidential candidates who . . . either embody the Christian Right (Pat Robertson in 1988) or who reject it (Texas Senator Phil Gramm in 1996) lose the nomination. The two most electorally successful Republican presidential candidates of the last 30 years — Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush — took a different path, embracing the movement even though they were outsiders to it. If the next Republican to occupy the White House must follow that same strategy, Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, may be in much better shape than polls suggest. . . .

Of course, Romney's Mormonism makes him a tougher sell to the mostly evangelical Christian Right. But with the two other Republican front-runners staking their independence from Christian conservatives on some key issues and the true Christian Right candidates stuck at 1 percent in the polls, Romney sees his opening.

Dan Gilgoff [op-ed], Boston Globe 5.8.07

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Can New York's Riverside Church find high-profile liberal pastor?

Quoted 05.05.07:

"Any minister who occupies the pulpit at Riverside will have a built-in audience of hearers, both in this large and significant church and far beyond," said the Rev. James Hudnut-Beumler, a Presbyterian minister who is dean of the divinity school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. "There's already the kind of interest that one has when network news anchors change." . . .

At this early stage, the most notable aspect of the search is the dearth of names being bandied about.

Samuel G. Freedman, New York Times 5.5.07, reg req'd

Beliefnet, with National Magazine Award at last, recalls bankruptcy

Quoted 05.05.07:

There were those on the company's board [in 2002] who wanted Beliefnet to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy — to liquidate, in other words. "We were a bankrupt dot-com with content, which wasn't cool, about spirituality, which was thought to be non-monetizeable," said Mr. Waldman.

But he was determined not to give up on his idea. "It was six months after 9/11. I thought, 'This is not a time for a multifaith religious Web site to go away." During a contentious climactic board meeting, he argued that the site had one million unique visitors a month, and some steady advertisers, mainly in the dieting and dating category. The board finally agreed to let him take the company into Chapter 11 instead, where it would be protected from creditors while it reorganized, and would at least have a fighting chance.

Here's what Mr. Waldman did next. He laid off everybody except a core group of five people . . . and he offered them the following deal. If they would work for minimum wage, he would give them equity in the company to make up for the huge cut in pay they were taking. . . . They all agreed. As Mr. Waldman notes now: "The people who were left were the ones who really wanted to be there and totally believed in it." They then sold most of the company's furniture, and even canceled its contract with its cleaning crew. The Beliefnet executives cleaned the bathrooms themselves.

Joe Nocera, New York Times 5.5.07, sub req'd

Rowan Williams asks Peter Akinola to cancel installation

Quoted 05.05.07:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has written to Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola asking him to cancel his plans to visit the United States and install Bishop Martyn Minns as head of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a conservative missionary effort in the U.S. sponsored by the Anglican Church of Nigeria.

Matthew Davies, Episcopal News Service 5.4.07; more: New York Times 5.5.07, Daily Episcopalian 5.5.07

Friday, May 4, 2007

And people wonder why I gladly fled my hometown

Quoted 05.04.07:

Utah County Republicans ended their convention on Saturday by debating Satan's influence on illegal immigrants. . . .

Illegal aliens are in control of the media, and working in tandem with Democrats, are trying to "destroy Christian America" and replace it with "a godless new world order — and that is not extremism, that is fact," Larsen said.

At the end of his speech, Larsen began to cry, saying illegal immigrants were trying to bring about the destruction of the U.S. "by self invasion." . . .

In a speech, Enid Greene, state Republican Party chair, . . . said she was disappointed in BYU professors who protested Dick Cheney's visit to campus, calling them "self-appointed intellectuals."

"I'm not calling for BYU to fire them but if no one signs up for their classes . . ." she said. "If they say the Vice President doesn't have anything to say we want to hear, I'm not interested in having my daughter learn from them."

Caleb Warnock, Daily Herald 4.29.07

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Monks win property lawsuit, plan wind farm, monastery

Quoted 05.02.07:

The Teresian Carmelites, a tiny religious community in Worcester, have won their lawsuit against American Tower Corp., which the monks had accused of breaching its agreement to sell them a 99-acre site in Central Massachusetts where they want to build a monastery and wind farm. . . .

The Teresians, who received loans and donations to pay for the land, still face daunting financial hurdles. They must now raise money to construct an environmentally friendly monastery, a project Wyrzykowski said will cost "in the millions," and a wind farm that would subsidize electricity for hundreds of low-income homes.

Sacha Pfeiffer, Boston Globe 5.2.07, reg req'd; earlier: Monks v. cell phone tower company, Boston Globe 10.19.06, reg req'd