In the World
Steve Thorngate on public life and culture
I didn't refer to my godson as my godson until I heard one of his parents do it first. They asked me to be a baptismal sponsor but didn't use godparenting language at first, so I wasn't sure what name(s) they were giving the relationship. I was glad when, just before the baptism, the baby's mother said to him, "These are your godparents!" It's pretty awkward calling a kid your "baptismal sponsee." Really drains the cute right out of the moment.
Our August 23 cover story on monogamy and Dan Savage has gotten a lot of feedback, both positive and negative. Benjamin Dueholm offers a nuanced take on the ways the popular sex columnist is beating pastors at their own game--and the ways Savage's ethical worldview falls short. Some readers seem too stuck on the first point--"the Christian Century believes we should be instructed by an advice columnist," crows Joe Carter at First Things--to hear Dueholm out on the second.
The LA Times has an interesting article about evangelical pastors' involvement in political mobilization. Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold don't do enough to prove their now-more-than-ever hook--that pastors whipping votes in Iowa and elsewhere are "part of a growing movement of evangelical pastors who are jumping into the electoral fray as never before"--but it's still an important story to follow as we slog through yet another election season in which the religious right is still not dead.
The new poverty numbers came out today, and they aren't pretty. The Census Bureau reports that more than 15 percent of Americans are living in poverty--a number that's gone up for three consecutive years and is the highest it's been since 1959.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning ceremonies for the 9/11 anniversary without the participation of clergy. Jay Sekulow et al. think this is an attack on religion. Jim Wallis et al. are criticizing both sides of this debate and also calling for less criticism of others, or something like that.
With consumers focused on thrift, the Dollar Palace is to Wal-Mart what Wal-Mart once was to Sears: the bargain alternative for folks with less to spend.