I'm afraid I fell down on the blog a little this week. My excuse: I spent most of the week at the annual convention held by the Associated Church Press, an association of religious publishers of which the Century is a member and for which I serve on the board. It was a good gathering: interesting keynotes, useful workshops, plentiful fellowship.
"Between now and Election Day," writes Peter Beinart, "anti-Mormonism is going to be the Democratic Party’s constant temptation for one simple reason: there are votes in it." I'm not sure I'd call it the party's "constant temptation," but Beinart is certainly right that bigotry against Mormons remains a politically potent force in the U.S., and that the Democrats aren't above exploiting it.
But is Beinart right that the Democrats have a bigger religious bigotry problem here than the Republicans do?
A quick word on your “if it feels good, don’t do it” distillation of my message. We can dig into this more as we go, but for now I’d just point out that at various times, Christianity—and particularly my own Catholicism, the faith of carousing Irishmen, hedonistic Italians, and “give me chastity, Lord, but Lord not yet” sinners in every time and place—has been scolded for being altogether too worldly, too pleasure-loving, too forgiving of the weaknesses of the flesh.
Only if he blames Romney personally for not voluntarily paying more. As I said in Romney's defense a while back, the problem isn't that presidential candidates with plenty of money aren't willing to pay their taxes. The problem is that their taxes are too low.
Our president embodies [America's] uncentered spiritual landscape in three ways. First, like a growing share of Americans (44 percent), President Obama changed his religion as an adult, joining Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in his 20s after a conversion experience brought him out of agnosticism into faith. Second, he was converted by a pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose highly politicized theology was self-consciously at odds with much of historic Christian practice and belief. Finally, since breaking with that pastor, Obama has become a believer without a denomination or a church, which makes him part of one of the country’s fastest-growing religious groups — what the Barna Group calls the “unchurched Christian” bloc, consisting of Americans who accept some tenets of Christian faith without participating in any specific religious community.
Here's an impressive and heartwarming little stunt, pulled off by filmmaker Nirvan Mullick with a big assist from the internets. But the coolest part is the creativity of the nine-year-old whose day Mullick was determined to make.
Like a lot of people, I've been paying less attention this year to the federal budget debates. With a divided government and a presidential election looming, the balance is tilted even more than usual toward budgeting-as-mere-political-posture. Why bother?
The Century's sort-by-lectionary-day tool
exists primarily as a way of organizing past Living by the Word columns
and Blogging toward Sunday posts in a useful way. But we also put other
content there--anything from the magazine or blogs that happens to deal
with a given lection in a way that could plausibly be useful to a
preacher or worship planner.
So, while our lectionary columnists
and bloggers mostly focus on Sundays, the lectionary pages have also
collected a good bit of content related to the additional holy days of
the (weekly) lectionary.
Yesterday was a long day. I'm now working not one but two part-time church-music jobs; I'm with the Lutherans by morning and the Methodists by night. Both congregations observe Palm/Passion Sunday, complete with numerous changes to the order of service, additional musical ensembles to plan and rehearse, etc.
If you want to filter your/your child's movie viewing through some fairly granular rules about sex, nudity and profanity, the Motion Picture Assocation of America's rating system is your friend. If, like me, you have a weak stomach for depictions of violence--glorified or not, realistic or not--you kind of have to do your own research.
So, who's playing politics with reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act? Sen. Schumer and the Democrats, or Sen. Grassley and the Republicans?
probably both. Yes, Democracts would love to bolster the narrative that
Republicans don't care about women, even though Grassley et al. object
to new provisions added to the VAWA, not the existing law. And yes, by
threatening the whole bill based on objections to small parts of it,
some Senate Republicans (not all of them) reveal that while they may in
general favor services for domestic violence victims, it's not exactly a
top priority to them.
Of course both Senators Chuck are playing politics. That's their game, especially in leap years.
Bob Dylan released his first album 50 years ago this week. That
self-titled debut is not the Dylan record anyone listens to most--it
includes only two original tunes--and as Andy Greene details, it was not a smashing success. But it opened the door for Dylan to come back just months later and record The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, which propelled Dylan's staggering career.
As I've said before, the objectivity-fetishizing conventions of straight
news reporting make me crazy. It's not just the odd philosophical
throwback of implying that reporters can somehow avoid writing as
particular people situated in particular contexts. It's also the
convoluted copy, in which even plain facts can't be stated plainly if
they happen to be unpopular.
So I was glad when NPR released its new ethics handbook,
in which among other things the network states that it favors "truth"
over "the appearance of balance" and adds that "if the balance of
evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we
acknowledge it in our reports."