Saturday, February 08, 2014

A Little Linkage

Here are some of the posts I have liked recently...check them out after the break

Mona Charen, writing for National Review, looks at the real inequality gap in America and it isn't the oft cited and thoroughly discredit "women make $.77 for every $1 men make". Even though the President of the United States quoted it as indisputable fact it is completely false. The real gap we are seeing is the rate of young men falling behind women, creating a growing and dangerous class of young men who have no jobs, no skills and no intent of parenting the children they leave behind. Check out her essay The Inequality Of The Marriage-Culture Collapse is a brief look at a serious problem. I am planning on writing more about this but we are in a scary place as a culture and it won't take much to set off a serious crisis.

The Wall Street Journal takes a jab at the increasingly catastrophic and hilariously named "Affordable Care Act" based on the recent revelation from the Congressional Budget Office that it will lead to almost 3 million workers leaving full-time employment. From The Jobless Care Act:

On Tuesday no less than the Congressional Budget Office reported that the health law is causing Americans to work less or not at all, in a remarkable intellectual turnabout for the budget shop that Democrats cited repeatedly when selling ObamaCare. Now CBO—full of liberal-leaning economists—says the economy will lose the equivalent of two million full-time workers by 2017 and 2.5 million over the next decade, a threefold increase over its prior estimate.

In some ways this is OK. If women are working as second wage earner or working full-time instead of part-time because their husband doesn't have decent insurance through his job they might be able to quit that job or go part-time to spend more time caring for their children. Of course that could mean that potentially millions of children would leave institutionalized child care and that will likewise mean fewer employees will be needed. More fallout from Obamacare.

Radley Balko has been blogging at the Washington Post in a new column aimed at looking at civil liberties and especially the topic of militarizing the police (his book on that topic, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces, is excellent). A recent post, Scenes from a militarized America: Iowa family ‘terrorized’, looks at a home raid by police in Des Moines, Iowa. The raid was launched because of suspected credit card fraud, a pretty tame offense by modern standards. Nevertheless the police came in with what is increasingly the model used by law enforcement around the country: cops in black gear, balaclavas to cover their faces, automatic weapons and the no knock battering ram. Of course the people and goods were not there but that didn't stop them from trashing the door, ripping home surveillance cameras from the wall, terrorizing a family and nearly causing a major tragedy because one of the residents of the home. Balko has been keeping up with this story and reported this recently:

First, we no know that the victim of the alleged credit card fraud is a former cop with the Ankenny Police Department. He know teaches at a state law enforcement academy. That could explain why the police decided to respond so aggressively.

Second, Justin Ross, who was (legally) carrying a gun at the time of the raid, and who has been the occupant of the house most vocal in the media, has now been arrested on drug charges. It seems odd that he wouldn’t have been arrested at the scene. But perhaps one of the two people arrested have since implicated him. It will be interesting to see if those charges hold up.

Two big problems here. If the overkill and near catastrophe is linked to a former cop from that same police force it certainly looks like this was punitive.

Second the idea that the presence of legal firearms in a home, a very common situation in much of the country, means that cops will crash into a house ready to confront an armed response even if the firearms are there legally. I legally own several firearms. Does that mean that if the police know I have firearms in my home and are executing a warrant I should expect a quick knock followed by a battering ram and a horde of officers dressed for combat to come through my door rather than a knock? There is a presumption of hostility that is going to end badly. If officers came to my door with a search warrant that was legal and valid I would let them in my home to look around and perhaps help with the dishes. If you knock down my door with only a cursory warning and come charging in, the chances of me or my family being shot go way up. This is something all of us need to be aware of and this isn't a situation where "well it doesn't impact me" doesn't hold up.

Al Mohler has two recent posts of note. His first post is on the debate between Bill Nye "The Science Guy" and Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. I didn't watch much of it but my kids and wife did. I don't hide the fact that I believe in a literal six day creation and also that I consider that issue to be important in determining how we read the rest of Scripture. I don't think the debate accomplished much other than solidifying the positions of the adherents on both sides. I don't expect Bill Nye to believe in a Creator. Why would an unregenerate person believe in a God that they don't know? I am more troubled by a segment of the church that seems to carry as a badge of honor their contention that science trumps Scripture when the two seem to contradict one another. I think Dr. Mohler makes some excellent points about the broader implications of this debate, as he usually does on cultural topics. However when we look at his second post about the church he seems to miss the mark by a lot. His post, The New American Religion: The Rise of Sports and the Decline of the Church, is the latest lament that people are finding other things to do than "go to church".

In a real sense, big-time sports represent America’s new civic religion, and football is its central sacrament.

The relationship between sports and religion in America has always been close, and it has often been awkward. The “muscular Christianity” of a century ago has given way to a more recent phenomenon: the massive growth of involvement in sports at the expense of church activities and involvements. About fifteen years ago, the late John Cardinal O’Connor, then the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, lamented the fact that Little League Baseball was taking his altar boys away on Sundays.

Lamenting that people do something other than "going to church" on Sunday is silly. Does it make people more Christian to not sell liquor on Sunday or to refuse to have sporting events on Sunday? The irony is that while sports in many ways are an obsession for many people and perhaps rightly called the new civic religion, what Dr. Mohler claims it is replacing is also a civic religion rather than Christianity. Christianity is not being supplanted by sports, institutional religion is and that is not the same thing at all. The failure to recognize the difference between the church and American civic religion is one of the main reasons that very system is collapsing at breakneck speed. Eric Carpenter makes this same connection in his post, Albert Mohler Understands the Culture Far Better Than He Does the Church.

I put up several posts about the kerfuffle last week over Donald Miller's public admission that he didn't much care for singing or sermons. As expected there was an immediate backlash from defenders of the religious status quo but there are also some good thoughts from other sources. One particularly good post comes from Dan Edelen, Donald Miller and the Anti-Church. I think Dan hits the right tone between Donald Miller's valid points that get lost in his often heterodox positions and Denny Burk's knee-jerk defense of institutionalism. Turns out Dan like Donald Miller (and me and an increasingly number of us) doesn't get much from the institutional church setting Just read this:

Anymore, I don’t encounter much of God in a traditional Evangelical church setting. I have a hard time with the music, and I’m a musician. I wish the words were more meaningful and the tunes more melodic. I wish there were more quiet, contemplative songs. I wish we worshiped God in ways that didn’t always come down to something that emanated from Hillsong or the pen of Chris Tomlin. I keep hoping for a bright, airy space filled with people who minister to each other. I want to see the assembly of the people of God filled with prayers, and not just for a couple minutes. We need to use our individual gifts on a Sunday, and not just stare dully at a stage from whence the show pours forth. We each need to practice our spiritual gifts with each other in the assembly, because that’s what God gave them to us for. We need to eat a real meal together and bear each other’s burdens so that people leave encouraged and strengthened and not burdened by yet one more thing the pastor said they’re doing half-heartedly or altogether wrong. And we need to know that someone at that church has our back if the going gets rough. And we need to know whose back we’ve got when he or she stumbles.


The typical snotty response to something like that is "Well church isn't supposed to be about you, it is about God" at which point the speaker leans back smugly with a sneer, confident in his spiritual maturity. The problem is two-fold. First the traditional church setting isn't about God. It is mostly about the clergy and perpetuating the institution. Second while the above snarky statement sounds very wise, it doesn't hold up to Scripture. When we read Scripture we see that the church is supposed to be about the church! It is a place for us to edify one another, love one another, share with one another, encourage one another. It is anything but a place where we sit mutely and watch a performance.

It says a lot when guys who have pretty shaky theology seem to understand what is wrong with the church more than guys who know their theology inside and out but can't seem to look at the church without wearing institutionalized glasses. There is a place somewhere between the same old, same old institutional church and the loosey goosey church doctrine out of the window rejection of that system. I think Dan is on the right track here as are some many others. It is a lonely road a lot of the time but it is a necessary one. I am glad we have the internet to encourage one another!

Check 'em out, you will be glad you did!

1 comment:

dle said...

Thanks for the link, Arthur.

As for Al Mohler, I am perpetually staggered how tone deaf many national Christian leaders are as to the actual state of the Church in America. Almost all of them have massive blind spots, and in having them, they perpetuate many of the conditions that make the Church (and the individuals in it) less effective. I don't understand why these folks who live in real glass houses can't stop throwing stones. Can't any of them see this? If they could turn some of their energy away from culture's problems and start using that energy to fix the American Church's problems, I'm POSITIVE good things would result.