Philocrites : Scrapbook : March 2008 Archive

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Martin Marty on Jeremiah Wright: Prophet and pastor

Quoted 03.26.08:

The four S's charged against Wright — segregation, separatism, sectarianism, and superiority — don't stand up, as countless visitors can attest. I wish those whose vision has been distorted by sermon clips could have experienced what we and our white guests did when we worshiped there: feeling instantly at home. . . .

While Wright's sermons were pastoral . . . they were also prophetic. At the university, we used to remark, half lightheartedly, that this Jeremiah was trying to live up to his namesake, the seventh-century B.C. prophet. Though Jeremiah of old did not "curse" his people of Israel, Wright, as a biblical scholar, could point out that the prophets Hosea and Micah did. . . .

In the end, however, Jeremiah was the prophet of hope . . .

Martin Marty, Chronicle Review 4.11.08; via Andrew Sullivan

Friday, March 21, 2008

Clinton has almost no chance of winning

Quoted 03.21.08:

One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.

Her own campaign acknowledges there is no way that she will finish ahead in pledged delegates. That means the only way she wins is if Democratic superdelegates are ready to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the party's most reliable constituency. . . .

One important Clinton adviser estimated to Politico privately that she has no more than a 10 percent chance of winning her race against Barack Obama, an appraisal that was echoed by other operatives.

In other words: The notion of the Democratic contest being a dramatic cliffhanger is a game of make-believe.

Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen, Politico 3.21.08; via TPM

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Black clergy say Wright is condemned unfairly

Quoted 03.20.08:

"[Jeremiah Wright's] remarks are unsettling in isolation, but, let's be honest, some of the things he said are true," said the Rev. Martin D. McLee . . . "The US has been pretty ugly internationally under George Bush, and I don't translate and say we deserved 9/11, but he didn't say that either. Even his comments about Hillary Clinton not having felt the suffering of not getting a cab — that's not antiwhite, that's true, and anybody who is black and knows the pain of not being able to get a cab knows that's true." . . .

"Jeremiah Wright is one of the giants in our community, but we all get it wrong sometimes," [said the Rev. Gerald E. Bell]. "Have I preached like Jeremiah Wright? Absolutely. Take two minutes of my sermons, and you don't know what you'll get. But I was proud that Barack was able to distinguish himself from his pastor's incendiary remarks but not dismiss him totally." . . .

"I have heard from dozens of pastors over the past five or six days, and they just laugh out loud that people would think their parishioners agree with every word," [the Rev. Jim] Antal said. "It's just absurd. Obviously what's going on is guilt by association, and that's what politics is about, but that only works with an authoritarian understanding of religion, and we don't have that in mainline Protestantism."

Michael Paulson, Boston Globe 3.19.08

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Economic quicksand

Quoted 03.18.08:

Many economists expect Fed policy makers to cut the central bank's key interest rate by 1 percentage point, but they worry even this reduction won't halt the erosion in confidence undermining the economy. Lower interest rates, which aim to boost the economy by enticing consumers and businesses to borrow and spend, provide little help if lenders aren't loaning money out of fear they won't be repaid. . . .

Consumer spending is responsible for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, but consumers are unlikely to borrow if they are worried about losing jobs. And lower mortgage rates don't provide much of an enticement to buyers worried that home values are going to continue to fall. . . .

Deeper interest rate cuts hold other dangers, such as further weakening the dollar and igniting inflation. The dollar has fallen along with interest rates, losing value against currencies in countries with higher interest rates, and hence, higher returns.

Robert Gavin, Boston Globe 3.18.08

GOP Clinton-haters vote for Hillary to prolong Dem race

Quoted 03.18.08:

Since Senator John McCain effectively sewed up the GOP nomination last month, Republicans have begun participating in Democratic primaries specifically to vote for Clinton, a tactic that some voters and local Republican activists think will help their party in November. . . .

Spurred by conservative talk radio, GOP voters who say they would never back Clinton in a general election are voting for her now for strategic reasons: Some want to prolong her bitter nomination battle with Barack Obama, others believe she would be easier to beat than Obama in the fall, or they simply want to register objections to Obama.

Scott Helman, Boston Globe 3.17.08

America's costly failures in Iraq

Quoted 03.18.08:

Looking back, it has been fashionable to say the Americans began losing the war right then. At the least, it was the first misstep in what quickly became a long chronicle: the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, the primary cause the Bush Administration had given for the war; the absence of a plan, at least any the Pentagon intended to implement, for the period after Baghdad fell; the disbanding of the Iraqi Army, and thus casting aside the help it might have given in fighting the insurgency that began flickering within 10 days of American troops entering Baghdad; the lack of an effective American counterinsurgency strategy, at least until the troop increase last year finally began bringing the war's toll down.

Beyond these, there were the instances when America's intentions were betrayed by its troops in more personal ways, with the abuse and torture of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib, with the shooting deaths of 24 civilians in Haditha and with the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl at Mahmudiya, along with the killing of three other members of her family, all leading to court-martial hearings that tore at the heart of anyone who starts from a position of admiration for the American armed forces. The Marine offensive that recaptured Falluja from Islamic militants in November 2004, virtually flattening the city without achieving more than a temporary change in the arc of the war, may also draw its share of condemnation.

At the fifth anniversary, the conflict's staggering burden is a rebuke to any who hoped Mr. Hussein's removal might be accomplished at acceptable cost. Back in 2003, only the most prescient could have guessed that the current "surge" would raise the American troop commitment above 160,000, the highest level since the invasion, in the war's fifth year, or that the toll would include tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed, as well nearly 4,000 American troops; or that America's financial costs, by some recent estimates, would rise above $650 billion by 2008 . . . Beyond that, there are a million or more Iraqis living as refugees in neighboring Arab countries, and the pitiful toll of fear and deprivation on Iraqi streets.

John F. Burns, New York Times 3.16.08

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Religious dimensions of black metal

Quoted 03.06.08:

[Ronnie] Bittinger is a good example of a black-metal fan because he's actually quite interested in religion. He is well read on the occult and the dark arts. Though not a Satanist, he can easily rattle off different Satanist sects, and he mocks black-metal fans who don't know that Saint Peter is said to have died upon an inverted cross. He knows all about black metal's connection with violence. . . . And Bittinger identifies strongly with the genre's clear theme: the role of evil in humankind and the world.

"Black metal is an outlet for darker things," he says. "It's mostly driven by anger, frustration, dark thoughts."

Fans generally describe this music as anti-religious, but saturated as it is in Judeo-Christian terminology, images and liturgy, black metal is frankly obsessed with the subject. In mood, trappings and lyrics, it explores man's wrestling with evil — a key religious theme — in a more direct way than most types of music.

Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post 3.2.08

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Episcopal Divinity School may partner with Lesley Univ; dean to resign

Quoted 03.04.08:

The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School, in Cambridge, Mass., announced his intention to resign from the seminary at the end of May. . . .

In his resignation letter, Bishop Charleston also revealed that EDS is considering a partnership with Lesley University. The school, which was founded in 1909, reports a $90-million annual budget and 12,344 students, of whom 1,702 are undergraduates. Lesley University has more than 150 campus locations, including Cambridge and Boston.

Living Church News Service 3.3.08, via Episcopal Cafe; EDS is losing its current partner, Weston Jesuit School of Theology, to Boston College

Saturday, March 1, 2008

America moving beyond Protestant, Catholic, Jew

Quoted 03.01.08:

Americans have long viewed themselves as belonging to God's chosen country, charged by the Creator to fulfill his special providence.

As the United States begins to resemble the rest of the world in the astonishing variety and volatility of its religious traditions, it will become increasingly difficult for leaders to rally around the flag by rallying around the faith. That may make some Americans, especially those who believe we once were, and should always be, a Christian country, unhappy. But it ought to make those who take pride in its diversity and tradition of religious freedom proud.

Alan Wolfe [op-ed], Boston Globe 2.29.08