Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Great Divorce Myth

Economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers writing in NYT
Last week’s release of new divorce statistics led to a smorgasbord of reporting feeding the myth.
The story of ever-increasing divorce is a powerful narrative. It is also wrong. In fact, the divorce rate has been falling continuously over the past quarter-century, and is now at its lowest level since 1970. While marriage rates are also declining, those marriages that do occur are increasingly more stable. For instance, marriages that began in the 1990s were more likely to celebrate a 10th anniversary than those that started in the 1980s, which, in turn, were also more likely to last than marriages that began back in the 1970s.
Why has the great divorce myth persisted so powerfully? Reporting on our families is a lot like reporting on the economy: statistical tales of woe provide the foundation for reform proposals. The only difference is that conservatives use these data to make the case for greater government intervention in the marriage market, while liberals use them to promote deregulation of marriage.

Adults, do you like hanging out with your parents?

New York Times
Not surprisingly, men and women often gave similar answers about what they liked to do (hanging out with friends) and didn’t like (paying bills). But there were also a number of activities that produced very different reactions from the two sexes — and one of them really stands out: Men apparently enjoy being with their parents, while women find time with their mom and dad to be slightly less pleasant than doing laundry.
Are young men shirkers? Or do their mothers pamper them? Do parents expect more of their daughters than their sons?
For a woman, time with her parents often resembles work, whether it’s helping them pay bills or plan a family gathering. “For men, it tends to be sitting on the sofa and watching football with their dad,” said Mr. Krueger, who, when not crunching data, enjoys watching the New York Giants with his father.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yes, but what is his view of salvation?

Patrick (William Baldwin) is New York's attorney general, but he's hiding a transgendered girlfriend. Karen (Natalie Zea) is about to get married for the fourth time. Brian (Glenn Fitzgerald) is nasty, vindictive, he's got an illegitimate child — and he's an Episcopal priest. Juliet (Samaire Armstrong) is a talentless aspiring actress who's a bit Paris Hilton-esque. Her twin, Jeremy (Seth Gabel), seems completely lost.

Pillories in NYC?

The Ecubishop writes:
Where I live, in New York, we bishops will be pilloried if we make any concessions in a conservative direction. An 815 staff person walked out on Katharine Jefferts Schori after she reported on General Convention Resolution B033. It was too conservative.
Yes, that's part of the problem. You're being pilloried by your own staff? It may be uncomfortable to take a stand that someone close to you abhors so much that they walk out on you. But that's why you're getting paid the big bucks.

Friday, September 21, 2007

WSJ: US dissidents go global

Andrew Higgins writes this page one article in this Wall Street Journal of September 20th. The topic is the relationship of those who have left the Episcopal Church and the African bishops who have taken them in.

Like many WSJ stories it is gives one some of the color of the story at the cost of not covering all points of view about these boundary crossings.

Here are some excerpts:
The Rev. John Guernsey, rector of a church in a middle-class Virginia suburb, stood early this month before thousands of Africans here on a rickety, ribbon-bedecked podium. Clutching a wooden staff in his left hand, he shouted in Runyankole, a local tribal language: "Mukama Asimwe!" -- Praise the Lord!

Mr. Guernsey, 54 years old, had reason to rejoice. A defector from America's Episcopal Church, he had just been made a bishop -- by the Church of Uganda.

"I had no idea that this is what God had in store for me," said the bespectacled Virginia priest after a five-hour consecration ceremony in Mbarara, a Ugandan district best known for its long-horned cattle.

Mr. Guernsey represents a religious byproduct of globalization: A small but growing number of Christians in North America are turning to developing countries in Africa and elsewhere for spiritual direction. Some priests call the phenomenon "theological offshoring."
More than 200 American churches have relocated their spiritual guidance offshore, switching allegiance to more conservative Anglican churches in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Bolivia and Argentina. No longer part of the Episcopal hierarchy, they report to overseas leaders and follow the more orthodox theology espoused by their new foreign base.

Some of these are new churches created by dissident Episcopalians. Others are established parishes that bolted from the Episcopal Church.
Mr. Guernsey is now back at his All Saints' Church in the Virginia suburb of Woodbridge. The Episcopal diocese to which he used to belong now has three resident bishops in its territory. One was named by the Episcopal Church. Then there are the Uganda-ordained Mr. Guernsey, and the Nigeria-appointed Mr. Minns. Each has the accoutrements of a bishop -- a purple shirt, flowing red vestments and a special ring.
Uganda "is certainly very different" from Woodbridge, says Mr. Guernsey, who first visited Africa as a student. The average family income of around $54,000 a year in Virginia is 154 times that of $350 in Mbarara. But the African country's church is in tune with the Bible-based spirit of his Virginia parish, says Mr. Guernsey. "This is about fundamental issues of scripture that won't go away." Homosexual acts, for instance, are illegal in Uganda, where politicians and priests denounce them as Satanic.
After Uganda's independence from Britain in 1962, the church served as a rare pillar of stability in a country tormented by coups, war and economic collapse. In 1977, the dictator Idi Amin, a Muslim, had Uganda's Anglican archbishop murdered.
Which begs raises the question, where is the wisdom in the church in Uganda devoting its energy to persecution of homosexuals rather than building up the poor? Thanks to the Wall Street Journal for raising the issue.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Read the Bible rationally without losing God, maybe

James L. Kugel in his new book, How to Read the Bible
WARNING: ..... Precisely because this book deals with modern biblical scholarship, many of the things it discusses contradict the accepted teachings of Judaism and Christianity and may thus be disturbing to people of traditional faith. I should say that I count myself in this group, and some of the things I will relate have indeed been disturbing to me over the years. I hesitated for a long time before deciding to pursue modern biblical scholarship as my field of study, and I hesitated even longer before deciding to commit my thoughts on it to writing. If I nonetheless went ahead, it was because I felt that it was dishonest, and ultimately would prove impossible, to hide from the central question addressed by this book. Others, of course, may feel differently. It is up to them to decide whether or not to continue.
From the first chapter available at the New York Times.
Kugel, an emeritus professor of Hebrew literature at Harvard and, mark this, an Orthodox Jew, aims to prove that you can read the Bible rationally without losing God. He sets himself the monumental task of guiding readers all the way through the Jewish scriptures (the Old Testament, more or less, if you’re a Christian) and reclaiming the Bible from both the literalists and the skeptics.

The NYT book review calls it "an awesome, thrilling and deeply strange book."

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Check out Hungry for Ramadan - My American Ramadan Blog by Shahed Amanullah, a frequent Beliefnet contributor. It is at once touching and informative. Don't miss it if you are at all curious about the significance of Ramadan, or the lives of American Muslims. Or check it out simply to savour the clarity of Amanullah's writing.