In the World

Church door from inside

Steve Thorngate on public life and culture

I got up before dawn today. (My farmer wife does this every day; I try, with mixed results, to keep her hours.) We got to the polls just as they were opening. For the first time in the eight or nine times I’ve voted in Chicago, my name wasn’t on the list. I had my voter registration card with me, so nobody challenged my eligibility. But I did have to cast a provisional ballot, which might or might not eventually be counted.
November 6, 2012
I've mentioned before that some of the language in the administrative screens for Drupal—the open-source software that runs this website—always makes me laugh.
November 2, 2012
My sister went to St. Olaf; I went to Wheaton. The differences are many--she chose Olaf after hearing both orchestras--but one that's always struck me is the fact that she was able to study world religions with tenure-track professors who actually practice them. I was not, because Wheaton requires faculty to sign a statement of faith--a model that has upsides but also pretty serious downsides. I have no problem with people of faith who maintain, in a pluralistic world, that their particular tradition offers something crucial and unique. I am one. But when it comes to learning about another faith tradition, given the option why would you want to learn from someone who isn't personally invested in it?
November 1, 2012
Critics of the food movement's emphasis on organic, smaller-scale and local/regional agriculture tend to point out that feeding the world requires large-scale, conventional farming. But we're already producing more food than we need. The problem is drastic inequalities of access. A new report from Oxfam (pdf) highlights one particularly egregious force behind these inequalities: foreign speculators buying up farmland in poor countries.
October 30, 2012
Here are some things I read recently but didn't get around to blogging about: A prayer for Hurricane Sandy, end the town-hall debate, more.
October 29, 2012
I wasn't planning to post a running commentary on the final debate, since I don't follow foreign policy half as closely as the domestic stuff. But judging from the candidates' dodges and pivots last night, neither do they. So here I am. 
October 23, 2012
In politics, competence sometimes serves as a rhetorical proxy for intent. Politicians like to talk about how terrific they/their ideas are. They aren’t always as gabby about what they/those ideas aim to accomplish. Example: privatization. Some conservatives insist that private enterprise is simply more efficient--more competent--than the government. So why not let the private sector take over certain public functions? But even if we concede that business is categorically more efficient than government, there remains the question of what it's doing so efficiently.
October 18, 2012
My real-time notes on the presidential debate last night, followed by some cleanup and linking this morning. I listened to much of it on the radio instead of watching. It's nice. You don't have to see the candidates' forced smiles and condescending smirks. See also my notes on the first debate and the VP debate.
October 17, 2012

Pages

In the magazine

Why and how I bless my children

Death-penalty abolition and life without parole

Review of Steven Brill's Obamacare book

Baptism and place

What I want to get/give for Christmas

Liturgy nerds and their weddings

What's funny on TV

Alternatives to the common lectionary

Should churches alter copyrighted worship texts?

Welcome to the middle class, population everyone.

It's not about the role of government.

Whither the Century's Amazon links?

Church music after the worship wars

A nontraditional church introduces member rolls

Pay your taxes; get a receipt.

The Democrats' proxy debate about abortion

Music reviews