- Rednecks in the Senate.
- Grudging respect.
- Pushing patriarchy and parturition.
- An atheist loses his faith …
- … and a Mormon Ms. loses her “orthodoxy.”
- Meanwhile, Christians carry on.
Q: What were the redneck’s last words?
A: “Hey, y’all! Watch this!”
I confess that I once thought government promoting home ownership was a great idea. I didn’t stop to think that the dramatic annual appreciation in value on which house flipping (and much of HGTV) depend was unsustainable. And I had no idea what “derivatives” or “securitized debt” were.
But then I watched what happened 3 years ago. I now start with the presumption that policy pronouncements from the National Associations of Homebuilders and Realtors are self-serving nonsense on stilts. And that investment bankers are the most predatory sociopaths on the face of this earth.
Congress apparently did not watch the last three years and apparently is suffering a severe shortage of crap-detectors. By a vote of 60-38, the U.S. Senate said ”Hey, y’all! Watch this!“
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to cover?
A: The funding of SETI. I think there is probably private funding out there. Should the government do it? Well, I don’t know. We have so many other problems. I have to admit that as a general observer of culture I don’t know if it’s the best use of government money. I think private money would be the better solution for that. It’s such a long shot, and compared to, say, infrastructure and fixing bridges, should we be looking for aliens?
There’s something refreshing about a SETIphile nevertheless volunteering that his obsession might not need government funding.
The New York Times has a story, two gratuitous swipes in which strike me as probably false, about how Evangelical Churches in Africa are emboldening women and resulting in some family planning and reduced birth rates.
The gist of the story is that Evangelical churches in Africa (“long seen as the bane of family planning programs everywhere”) are growing, and (“despite their defense of patriarchal family values”) many churches are emboldening women to talk with their husbands about family planning, resulting in lower birth rates.
The two dubious premises are the quotes, which I’ve put in parentheses to emphasize how unnecessary they are to the story.
Tell me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that (apart from a small group of fervently-involved pro-life Evangelicals, influenced by their Roman Catholic co-belligerents to oppose contraception) almost no taboos on family planning or contraceptive devices and drugs remain in Evangelicalism. If I’m wrong about that, things have changed dramatically since I left that tradition and sub-culture. And Evangelicalism has a strong feminist presence, including female pastors in some denominations back in the 19th century.
Are they pushing patriarchy and parturition in Africa more than in the U.S.? I doubt it. And the Times provides no corroboration. I think the quotes are just back-handed swipes by a reporter who just knows that religious fanatics are the source of evil, and who has a little trouble keeping the varieties of fanaticism straight. The gist is “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Stupid Evangelicals! You can’t even maintain patriarchy in a culture that starts patriarchal!”
R.J. Stove, son of an Australian atheist who was quite prominent while living, writes of his conversion to Roman Catholicism. For some reason, I found his parenthetical, interjected into a narrative of his father’s mental breakdown and eventual suicide, powerful:
Years later, I discovered—and was absolutely pole-axed by —the following passage in Bernard Shaw’s Too True To Be Good, in which an old pagan, very obviously speaking for Shaw himself, sums up what I am convinced was Dad’s attitude near the end. The passage runs: “The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. Its counsels, which should have established the millennium, led, instead, directly to the suicide of Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the faith of millions of worshipers in the temples of a thousand creeds. And now look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith.”
Krista Tippett of public radio’s On Being (formerly Speaking of Faith) goes for a critical but sympathetic view of Mormonism by an “unorthodox” feminist Mormon scholar and blogger – battered and bruised by some internal Mormon battles (about feminism, when she had just set her compass for a career in academia), but indelibly bearing a Mormon cultural stamp.
Joanna Banks (who blogs as Ask Mormon Girl) accurately and frankly puts Mormonism in the American Protestant “Restorationist” story line, and sees it as still evolving. That’s enough to condemn it for me. My response to Mormon Missionaries these days is “I belong to a Church that never disappeared and never needed restoration.”
Brooks tells with humor the struggles of growing up in a devout Mormon household, and of her first encounters with Mormon liberals and feminists and Brigham Young University. What struck me as most surprising in her telling of Mormon theology is how a good Mormon becomes like God through study and knowledge, whence the tendency of Mormons to be well-educated.
I don’t know if she got that right or if her academic life has distorted her telling of the doctrine. I do know that the Orthodox Christian view of holiness and Godliness has nothing to do with book larnin’, but rather has to do with humility.
I don’t think anyone’s likely to want to become Mormon by listening to this, except for a few catchy hymns (one a reworked Protestant hymn) served up folksy at breaks in the (original broadcast, now) podcast. I can see why Luther felt it important to write hymns and why even proto-heretic Arius gained adherents by putting heresy to catchy tunes.
I was reminded this morning of certain continuities in my spiritual journey, despite several epiphanies, with consequent minor or major course corrections along the way. The continuities include a surpassingly reassuring pair of verses from Paul’s epistle to the Romans:
[W]e know Who is in charge during every upheaval in life. Whatever happens, God permits – though there is much that happens that He decidedly does not cause nor welcome. What we do know is that God uses every event to complete His plan for the world, for “…neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38,39).
* * * * *
Having become tedious even to myself, I’m Tweeting more, blogging less. View this in a browser instead of an RSS feeder to see Tweets at upper right.
I also have some succinct standing advice on recurring themes. Maybe if I link to it, I’ll blog less obsessively about it.