Friday, March 26, 2010

Odds 'n Ends

1) Counterproductive Traditionalism

Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, law professors Naomi Cahn and June Carbone note an interesting divide between "red" and "blue" families:

"A new 'blue' family paradigm has handsomely rewarded those who invest in women’s as well as men’s education and defer childbearing until the couple is better established. These families, concentrated in urban areas and the coasts, have seen their divorce rates fall back to the level of the 1960s, incomes rise, and nonmarital births remain rare. With later marriage has also come greater stability and less divorce....

Difficulties in the 'red' world, meanwhile, have grown worse. Traditionalists continue to advocate abstinence until marriage and bans on abortion. They’ve said an emphatic 'no' to the practices that have made the new 'blue' system workable.

Yet, paradoxically, as sociologist Brad Wilcox reports, evangelical Protestant teens have sex at slightly earlier ages on average than their nonevangelical peers (respectively, 16.38 years old versus 16.52 years old), evangelical Protestant couples are also slightly more likely to divorce than nonevangelical couples, and evangelical mothers are actually more likely to work full time outside the home than their nonevangelical peers."

Cahn and Carbone go on to note that, unfortunately, when times get tough traditionalists call for a return to tradition, even though these "traditional values" are not working and, in many countries, actually lock families (and women especially) in cycles of poverty.

2) The Real Sin of Sodom

Writing in the The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof acknowledges an alleged growing consensus among conservative Christians that "to be 'pro-life' must mean more than opposing abortion."

In doing this, he relays experience of Richard Stearns, founder of the largest US-based international relief and development (and also a Christian) organization. In visiting AIDS orphans in Uganda, Stearns was "sickened" by the failure of Christians, "so focused on sexual morality and a personal relationship with God," to bother responding to "perhaps the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time."

Indeed, in an interpretation of Sodom that re-directs god's judgment back at those who are so very quick to judge gays, Stearns "quotes the prophet Ezekiel as saying that the great sin of the people of Sodom wasn’t so much that they were promiscuous or gay as that they were 'arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.'(Ezekiel 16:49.)"

The part of Kristof's article I take issue with is his easy-breazy claim that it "is a liberal snobbishness toward faith-based organizations" that threatens the channeling of funds toward faith-based organizations. Aside from the constitutional issues raised, many "liberals" (does he mean atheists?) actually oppose faith-based organizations' proselytizing recipients of services and having discriminatory hiring practices. These are hardly "snobbish" concerns.

Nonetheless, the message is apt. Christians do their god, their faith, nor their institutions justice by obsessively focusing on their loud and proud opposition to homosexuality and abortion. It is easy to gnash your teeth about people and issues to be "against." I think what many of us are waiting for is a demonstration, in any real tangible way, showing us what so many of these Great Moralists are actually for. Being pro-life has to mean more than negating the lives and experiences of others.

3) What About You?

What are you all reading, watching, and/or listening to right now?

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