The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Joe Carter writes, “There are three groups of people who consistently have a detrimental affect [sic] on American politics: Republicans, Democrats, and pollsters.” The post has nothing to do with religion, but you can’t beat its opening line.

Perhaps the problem is pols or pollsters, however, but the polled. In a separate post, Joe links to a Gallup survey which found that “Americans Believe There Are More Homosexuals in the U.S. Than There Are Catholics.” Joe blames TV.

Republicans, Democrats, pollsters, misinformed Americans, TV producers—that’s getting to be a pretty long list of groups who consistently have a detrimental effect on American politics.

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Last week, an F5 tornado devastated the town of Joplin, Missouri, which is located about 70 miles from where I live. The Assemblies of God—my denomination—is involved in relief efforts there. My father, who is general superintendent of the AG, visited Joplin and interviewed local-area pastors and a Convoy of Hope representative about the AG’s relief efforts. Here’s the video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

If you’d like to help Convoy of Hope by volunteering or by donating money, click here. Convoy has some excellent videos on their homepage.

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Make sure to read David Brooks’s column, “It’s Not About You.” (Has he been reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren?) I loved the final paragraph:

Today’s grads enter a cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But, of course, as they age, they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center. Fulfillment is a byproduct of how people engage their tasks, and can’t be pursued directly. Most of us are egotistical and most are self-concerned most of the time, but it’s nonetheless true that life comes to a point only in those moments when the self dissolves into some task. The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It’s to lose yourself.

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David Bentley Hart won the 2011 Michael Ramsey Prize for his book, Atheist Delusions. It’s a great book, erudite, witty, and cutting in all the right places.

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“Protestant, Catholic graduates differ.” Well, duh. They’re Protestant or Catholic, after all. More specifically, however: “The graduates of Protestant Christian schools have different traits than those who attend Catholic and non-religious private schools, U.S. researchers say.” What kinds of difference are we talking about?

  • Divorced less and had more children than their Catholic and private school peers.
  • Participated in more relief and development service trips.
  • Have lower incomes, but were more thankful for what they have in life.
  • Attended less competitive colleges and attended fewer years of college.
  • Talked less about politics, participated less in political campaigns and donated less to political causes.

Did anyone other than me notice that Protestants were “more thankful” and “talked less about politics”? Accidental correlation? Necessary causation? We report, you decide.

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Shane Claiborne has this to say about the “emerging church”:

So all that to say, I find the “emerging church” language, at least the Emergent™ brand, utterly unhelpful. So I will not spend much energy, beyond this note, to try and defend, or for that matter destroy, what seems to me little more than a brand name for a product no one can identify. There are many great things that have come out of the “emerging church” discussions and communities. People have been reminded that discontentment is not a curse but a gift to the church. Many of the conversations have reminded people that they are not alone as they dream great dreams for the church. And that we have to constantly re-imagine what it means to be Christ’s body in our age and context — but no one needs a brand to dream those dreams.

I am shocked—shocked!—to say that I (mostly) agree with his assessment.

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Over at First Thing’s Evangel blog, Gayle Trotter interviews Bryan Caplan about his new book: Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think. My favorite bit is his response to Amy Chua, author of The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother:

So in her book she says that on the one hand, as a dutiful Chinese daughter-in-law she could never actually argue with her mother-in-law, but nevertheless she said she had to ignore all her mother-in-law’s parenting advice because she knew that it was doomed to fail and I would have to say, “Why would you say that her advice is doomed to fail when your husband, her son, is a Yale law professor and a best-selling author?” Seems like that is a very strong piece of evidence against you that someone can raise a child in a way that you think is totally unacceptable and not only does he become a huge success, but you married him.

That last sentence is priceless.

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Over at the online version of my magazine, my friend Joel Pertulla writes about reaching those who have walked away from the faith.

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Religion and politics quick round (h/t RealClearReligion):

One thought on “The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, June 1, 2011

  1. Curious about the Protestant-Catholic survey. Reading through the original article, I walk away wondering what criteria were used for sampling schools. For example, does Protestant mean both theologically liberal and conservative? Did the survey consider what types of students were attracted to their schools, e.g., what religious persuasion were the students before they started attending that school, etc.? After all you have to say about polling otherwise, I am left to wonder what, if anything, I am to gain from such a survey, especially since Catholics are so small a minority in this nation.

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