8 July 2007

If God’s on our side…

Today’s Boston Globe prints a really thoughtful piece by Charles Marsh on American evangelical Protestantism’s disunity with virtually the rest of Christianity.

From Pentecostals in Brazil to the Christian Councils of Ghana, from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East to the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, from Pope John Paul II to the The Waldensian Reformed Church of Italy and the Christian Conference of Asia, the voices of our brothers and sisters in the global ecumenical church spoke in unison.

Why did American evangelicals not pause for a moment in the rush to war to consider the near-unanimous disapproval of the global Christian community? The worldwide Christian opposition seems to me the most neglected story related to the religious debate about Iraq: Despite approval for the president’s decision to go to war by 87 percent of white evangelicals in April 2003, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts poll, almost every Christian leader in the world (and almost every nonevangelical leader in the United States) voiced opposition to the war.

Read more »

Posted in Politicks, Rayleejun on 8 July 2007 at 9:52 am by Nate
3 July 2007

Excellent news if you do politics like we do

If you’re a regular reader in the academic blogosphere, you may have noticed that there are a fair number of blogs out there, either written by economists (and which present economic research) or that simply present the results of economic research that the general public might find accessible and interesting.

Henry Farrell has done those of us who study politics a favor by trying to get us to do some of the same. He’s started a blog that posts the abstracts and links to papers and articles that the average, educated reader might find interesting and thought-provoking.

I have no illusions that what we in the academy do has much, if any, effect on the vast majority of what goes on in this world, at least at the time we do it. But one of the failings of the American polity in the last 20 years or so has been a failure to imagine and envision the necessity of political engagement. And good research well-presented might be some small contribution toward showing how politics matters in every aspect of our lives, no matter how mundane it might seem on the surface.

Now for a shameless plug: How about highlighting my paper (previously published in a collection) on the political theory inhering in The West Wing?

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Posted in IvoryTower, OnTheWeb, Politicks on 3 July 2007 at 9:52 am by Nate
20 June 2007

Mitt Romney, professional plastics man

Slate puts it nicely:

With its ridiculous premise, creepy intimacy, and hollow candidate, the Romney video ought to be unbearable to watch. But the opposite is true. When the camera’s not on Romney, the video is irresistible. It’s like watching a reality show set in the 1950s—in color. It’s as if Jerry Mathers discovered a lost episode of Leave It to Beaver in which Ward Cleaver asks June, Wally, and the Beave whether he should challenge Vice President Nixon for the Republican nomination.

Individually, the Romney boys are as dull and wrinkle-free as their father. But put all five of them in one living room with their five wives and 10 children, and the Five Brothers’ very sameness is hypnotic. The odds against having five boys in a row are 31 to 1. Five boys even more frighteningly wholesome—and shallow—than their father must be the result of extraterrestrial intervention or human cloning.

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Posted in OnTheWeb, Politicks on 20 June 2007 at 12:57 pm by Nate
10 April 2007

From the News Blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education

April 9, 2007
Black Colleges Fail to Welcome Gay Students and Groups

Gay students often feel unwelcome at historically black colleges,
where homophobia may prevent classmates and administrators alike from
acknowledging the presence of lesbians and gay men, reports the
Associated Press.

The wire service says black colleges have a disproportionately small
number of gay-student organizations, in some cases because the groups
can’t find faculty members willing to serve as advisers. Hampton
University has twice refused to permit a gay-student group to form
because of a moratorium on the number of student organizations.

A representative of the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, told
the AP that some historically black colleges were hostile to the idea
of allowing groups of gay students to meet, while others denied having
any gay students.

But the head of the Coalition of African-American Pastors in Memphis,
Tenn., said black-college administrators “don’t have to give a lot of
reasons” for banning gay-student groups, because acceptance of
homosexuality would be “a threat to the black family.” —Lawrence

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Posted in OnTheWeb, Politicks on 10 April 2007 at 9:07 am by Nate
20 March 2007

Why we study history

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Epistle of James, 1.27

In the third and early fourth century of the common era, the Christian church underwent significant persecution. Under this persecution, when the authorities came after Christians, the temptation from fear to save one’s own life by denouncing others proved all too great, for clergy and laity alike. Preists and bishops committed apostasy, renouncing their faith. But when the church was made official under Constantine in 313, a significant question arose: What should be done with the apostate clergy? (It’s worthwhile noting here that the issue was one of theology AND of labor supply. There were serious issues around the sacraments, but also around having sufficient clergy to serve in Christianity’s new status.)
Read more »

Posted in Politicks, Rayleejun on 20 March 2007 at 9:15 am by Nate
4 November 2006

Whoa! State of the Union made awesome!

This site takes all major presidential addresses, and it makes a tag cloud out of them.

So awesome!

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Posted in Politicks on 4 November 2006 at 10:01 am by Nate
3 November 2006

Well, this is interesting….

if it’s true.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 — The Rev. Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals and one of the nation’s most influential Christian leaders, resigned on Thursday, one day after a former male prostitute in Denver said in television and radio interviews that he had had a three-year sexual relationship with Mr. Haggard.

Ted Haggard, some contend, is more than your garden-variety evangelical; he’s the leader of a somewhat Dominionist congregation in the Vatican of American evangelicalism, Colorado Springs.

Who knows if it’s true or not? But it’s bad news for a political force that many contend has peaked and can only plateau or fall from here on out.

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Posted in Politicks on 3 November 2006 at 9:41 am by Nate
5 October 2006

I have little sympathy for Mark Foley

Or Jim McGreevey, for that matter.

Here’s how a letter writer to the Globe put it today:

AS A gay man living for more than two decades in Boston, I have known many gay men raised in strict Catholic homes, two of whom were molested by their priests. Not one of them grew up to be a closeted Republican who worked to criminalize his own behavior.

Foley should have sought professional help, as many of my friends did, long before he mixed alcohol, his own apparent homophobia, congressional pages, and the Internet, and brought himself to this ignominious place.

If he had taken personal responsibility for his mental health earlier, it would not be thrust upon him now by events he set in motion by his very failure to do so.



Here’s how I put it to a friend, a few weeks back, regarding McGreevey’s book tour:

[McGreevey] seemed to manipulate his coming out into extending the power of his corrupt administration for another three months. I’m not a big fan of McGreevy, as the coming out seemed less courageous and more calculated than anything else. Besides, I highly doubt that this was too much of a secret, as statehouses are extremely prolific gossip mills.

I’d add that he’s a sad example of anything. He used his sexuality and self as a means of crass retention. He did not care for himself or his loved ones sufficiently to see himself as an end in himself but rather as a means toward something new, something more. For Foley and McGreevey, being gay provides the excuse for the sickness in their souls; their personhood is used to justify the very warping of their self that they have engaged in.

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Posted in Politicks on 5 October 2006 at 10:09 am by Nate
22 September 2006

Which is what he wanted

The Times hasn’t come yet this morning, so I read the Crimson (which I’ve done more this week than in the previous four years). For once the ed page had something insightful and intelligent.

I think the Baptized Pagan was right. Benedict was up to something here, and although he may have not considered the implications of his words, he’s highlighted a problem at the heart of another religion.

As a letter to the Times put it earlier this week,

“Media coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s speech has underreported two facts: The Roman Catholic Church openly opposed the American-led war in Iraq, and the church has generally opposed the Israeli presence in the occupied territories.
Muslim leaders, take note: On the two most inflammatory issues in the world today, the Catholic Church is on your side. “

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Posted in Politicks on 22 September 2006 at 9:54 am by Nate
15 July 2006

Letter to the Boston Globe

In reaction to today’s front page story:

To the editor:

Oh, boo hoo. Some residents of Provincetown signed a public petition on a vital, highly contested matter of public policy. They went on the public record — in a town known worldwide as a safe haven for gay and lesbian people — as opposing a basic civil right for a substantial portion of the population. And they are surprised when their action bears consequences and public reproval? Please.

Being called a “breeder” doesn’t even begin to compare with the words that gay and lesbian people get called on a regular basis, many of which cannot be printed in this paper. Nor does it compare with the actual physical danger that most gay people would face if they, for example, walked down a street in South or East Boston holding hands. And why does this incident become front page news when similar acts in the opposite direction don’t even rate coverage from the Globe? Worse slurs against gays and racial minorities get uttered here in Harvard Square each day, but the Globe writes nothing about that.

Marriage equality currently constitutes much of the public and political discussion in this state and country. The expression of even an opinion on the matter becomes a public and political act. Signing a petition to ask the state and its citizens to change the constitution is public and political act to an even greater degree.

Political philosophers and statesmen have long recognized that the only anonymous public act in a democracy lies in voting in an election. Everything else is on display, and rightly so. A public politics may make for some uncomfortable (and even regrettable) interactions. But such is the only way to preserve our democracy in spirit and in truth.

If the anti-gay-marriage residents of Provincetown go on the record as such, they should have the courage to accept the consequences of their convictions. And if they do not like the way that their interlocutors bring the matter up, those residents might try getting over it and themselves.


Etc., etc.

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Posted in Politicks on 15 July 2006 at 9:07 am by Nate