Stop what you are doing. Tell your boss you must, absolutely must, run to your local, independent bookstore and buy Brad Gregory’s “The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society.” This is the best and most important book I have read in a decade, apart from those by Mark, Matthew, Luke & John, of course.
I know, you're probably thinking - dog bites man. But even I was shocked to find Sean Hannity hosting Geert Wilders - and promoting his book - on his Fox News show last night. Wilders is the Dutch nativist who believes Islam is at war with the West - not, some Islamicists, mind you, but Islam per se.
This man is beneath contempt, a bigot pure and simple. Why anyone would want to highlight his work or his person is beyond me. But, then, I am not a Fox News programmer.
Over at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Steve Schneck, director of Catholic University's Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, looks at the how the Ryan budget, and some of the defenses of it, misconstrue the Church's teaching not only on subsidiarity but on distributive justice, and how the two are necessarily related. Good stuff.
Over at The New Republic, John Gray looks at the problem of scientism as it relates to finding some basis for generating a public morality, in his review of a new book by Jonathan Haidt. This review touches on something I have discussed before, the danger that while we can all take some measure of joy at the advances and achievements of science, we cannot, and ought not, assume that it can provide us with a metaphysics or a morality, both of which require moving beyond the scientific method. Gray;s essay is well worth a read.
The Barna Group has a report on their newest survey of voters. The headline reads: "Evangelical Support for Obama Doubles in Past Three Years." That would certainly be news. According to their survey, Obama's previous support among white evangelical Christians was 11 percent and it has no grown to 22 percent. The survey also indicates that white evangelical Christians make up just 7 percent of the population and 10 percent of the electorate.
It is commonly, and correctly, understood that this year’s election will hinge on the state of the economy. But, economic performance is measured in different ways, and a myriad of different events, not all of them stateside, can affect that performance.
Yesterday, for instance, the Obama administration got some good news and delivered even better news. The good news it received was that manufacturing activity increased last month at the highest rate in 10 months, rising to 54.8, up from 53.4 in March. The activity pertained to all sectors of manufacturing activity: new orders, production, and hiring. The news sent investors into the stock market with renewed vigor and the Dow reached its highest close since late 2007. Obama desperately needs more and more stories that indicate the economy is moving in the right direction if he is to sustain the narrative that he has been digging the nation out of a recession largely caused by the Bush-like policies Gov. Romney supports.
I neglected to link to an important op-ed yesterday in the Washington Post by E.J. Dionne about the politics of the death penalty and how it is shifting. Connecticut just became the 17th state to ban the dealth penalty. Dionne also notes some of the other happy political developments on my home state of Connecticut.
Over at the blog of Faith in Public Life, John Gehring offers a robust defense of women religious and the work they do.
My colleague John Allen has an important article on a conference in Rome that seemed to be advocating for a more restrictive understanding of canon law regarding annulments. I am not a canonist, and I know every field has considerations proper to itself that may be unclear to the rest of us. But, all the canon laws of the Church serve the pastoral ministry of the Church, not the other way round. And, I fear that the large number of annulments, most of them coming from the U.S., may be seen in the wrong light by officials in the Vatican.
The state of marriage has been in free-fall for decades. Divorce rates for Catholics are similar to those in the ambient culture. And, someone who comes to the Church to seek an annulment is doing so because their marriage has already failed. But, they are coming for another reason to - they want to remain practising Catholics. Going through an annulment is not an easy process. Many people just walk away from the Church as well as their marriage. Those who come to the Church to seek an annulment do so because, at some level, they agree with the Church's teachings on marriage and want to abide by those teachings.
This morning, the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis launched a new, and very ambitious, online news journal, Religion & Politics.
The journal strikes me as scholarly but accessible, lively but not partisan, informed in the deepest sense of the word, but not afraid to take a position or to push the envelope. Full disclosure - I am on their media advisory board as are some of my favorite writers and thinks, including Cathleen Kaveny and Mark Silk. Additionally, I was delighted to have an article I wrote for them be one of their featured articles in their premiere edition, posted this morning.
Put this new blog on your blog roll. It instantly becomes a must-read for those who care about religion and politics and the confounding ways they often intersect.