Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Predictions


I am not completely sure about Wisconsin versus Ohio. If Romney gets either of them, he still wins: 271 Electoral votes with Wisconsin, 279 with Ohio (as above), 289 with both. In the above scenario, Romaney can afford to lose Colorado and still have 270.

For what it is worth, Karl Rove has eseentially the same electoral map, except he gives Iowa to Romney and I think Obama will squeek by with those 6 votes. Won't make much difference, either way.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Joshua Project Removed

I have temporarily removed the Joshua Project Unreached People of the Day gadget from my sidebar. The site that sponsors it is evidently having trouble with their security system, causing the gadget to display a login prompt. I tried contacting the site directly but I get the same prompt followed by a Not Authorized screen. Hopefully this is just a temporary glitch. I will restore the link if/when they get their problem sorted.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Millenial Generation

We have heard for the past decade that the generation following Gen X (usually called the Millenials or the We Generation) exhibits a turn toward conservatism and civic-mindedness. Jean Twenge has an article in the Atlantic suggesting that this is not the case:

In the years that followed, numerous books and news reports emphasized Millennials' desire to help others, become involved in politics and government, and work toward improving the environment. "People born between 1982 and 2000 are the most civic-minded since the generation of the 1930s and 1940s," claimed USA Today. "Generation We is noncynical and civic-minded. They believe in the value of political engagement and are convinced that government can be a powerful force for good," wrote Eric Greenberg and Karl Weber in their 2008 book Generation We. "By comparison with past generations, Generation We is highly politically engaged." Both of these sources mentioned the rise in volunteering and interviewed Millennials, but didn't compare those responses to data from previous generations. In my 2006 book Generation Me, I presented data showing generational increases in self-esteem, assertiveness, self-importance, narcissism, and high expectations, based on surveys of 1.2 million young people, some dating back to the 1920s. These analyses indicated a clear cultural shift toward individualism and focusing on the self. But perhaps both views were correct -- maybe Millennials' greater self-importance found expression in helping others and caring about larger social causes. [...] So we dug into the data. The results for civic engagement were clear: Millennials were less likely than Boomers and even GenXers to say they thought about social problems, to be interested in politics and government, to contact public officials, or to work for a political campaign. They were less likely to say they trusted the government to do what's right, and less likely to say they were interested in government and current events. It was a far cry from Howe and Strauss' prediction of Millennials as "The Next Great Generation" in civic involvement. Millennials were also less likely to say they did things in their daily lives to conserve energy and help the environment, and less likely to agree that government should take action on environmental issues. With all of the talk about Millennials being "green," I expected these items to be the exception. Instead, they showed some of the largest declines. Three times as many Millennials as Boomers said they made no personal effort to help the environment. Millennials were slightly less likely to say they wanted a job that was helpful to others or was worthwhile to society. This is directly counter to the Generation We view predicting that Millennials would be much more concerned for others. Volunteering rates did increase, the only item out of 30 measuring concern for others that did. However, this rise occurred at the same time that high schools increasingly required volunteer service to graduate.
I think many people hoped that the failure of the Baby Boom generation would automatically produce a backlash, but there is nothing automatic about virtue. It requires work and education to transmit the values of the past to future generations. This doesn't necessarily prove that conservative hopes are dashed; there is still time to persuade this future generation of the value of traditional values. But it does demonstrate that conservatism is not a naturally occurring phenomenon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Juneteenth

07/04/1776 - 06/19/1865 : 32,491 days. It shouldn't have taken so long.

How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. (Ps 13:1-6)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Too catholic to be Catholic - Leithart

Back in 1993, when half of my church decided to leave Anglicanism and unite with the Orthodox church, I found in necessary to examine very closely issues of church history and ecclesiology in order to properly evaluate the rival claims of both traditions. The fact is, I was more than half inclined to go along with the Orthodox faction, but in the end I couldn't get over the fact that I would have to be repudiating my former church and, to some degree, all of my friends who had stayed behind. Obviously, I am oversimpiflying, but the issue is not a minor one. I remained Anglican because, though I mourn the fragmentation of the church, I could not see how it would help to jump from one fragment to a slightly larger one. Peter J. Leithart comes to similar conclusions in this blog post from yesterday:

Here’s the question I would ask to any Protestant considering a move: What are you saying about your past Christian experience by moving to Rome or Constantinople? Are you willing to start going to a Eucharistic table where your Protestant friends are no longer welcome? How is that different from Peter’s withdrawal from table fellowship with Gentiles? Are you willing to say that every faithful saint you have known is living a sub-Christian existence because they are not in churches that claim apostolic succession, no matter how fruitful their lives have been in faith, hope, and love? For myself, I would have to agree that my ordination is invalid, and that I have never presided over an actual Eucharist. To become Catholic, I would have to begin regarding my Protestant brothers as ambiguously situated “separated brothers,” rather than full brothers in the divine Brother, Jesus. To become Orthodox, I would likely have to go through the whole process of initiation again, as if I were never baptized. And what is that saying about all my Protestant brothers who have been “inadequately” baptized? Why should I distance myself from other Christians like that? I’m too catholic to do that.
This is a very concise description of my own feelings, and I am happy to see them expressed by such a prominent voice as Leithart. I need to point out that I don't endorse all of his objections to Roman Catholicism:
I agree with the standard Protestant objections to Catholicism and Orthodoxy: Certain Catholic teachings and practices obscure the free grace of God in Jesus Christ; prayers through Mary and the saints are not encouraged or permitted by Scripture, and they distract from the one Mediator, Jesus; I do not accept the Papal claims of Vatican I; I believe iconodules violate the second commandment by engaging in liturgical idolatry; venerating the Host is also liturgical idolatry; in both Catholicism and Orthodoxy, tradition muzzles the word of God. I’m encouraged by many of the developments in Catholicism before and since Vatican II, but Vatican II created issues of its own (cf. the treatment of Islam in Lumen Gentium).
I don't object to prayer to Mary, provided they are properly understood and the theology of icons in both Roman and Eastern traditions is acceptable to me, though I object to the suggestion that such practices are obligatory. Of course, these things can lead to the sort of idolatry that Leithart describes, especially among the less theologically educated, but there are plenty of idolatries within the folk traditions of Protestantism as well. Ignorance and superstition are ugly in all of their many guises. Since my Anglcan church has recently folded after 25 years of struggle, I am now in the process of looking for new spiritual lodgings. While I am unhappy with the state of much of the Anglican communion, I find it difficult, as a matter of conscience, to imagine myself anywhere else.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Obama Campaign's Two-Minute Hate

Yuval Levin points to this heavy-handed attempt by the Obama campaign to defend the increasingly unpopular (and probably unconstitutional) health-care plan:

I don’t think I have ever seen a cultural artifact that so desperately begs to be parodied and ridiculed, and is so ill-suited to the audience it is intended to reach, as the Obama campaign’s “Life of Julia.” If you haven’t seen it yet, you really need to. From the overarching narrative of drab dependency to the comically blunt and clumsy contrasts with Romney, the utterly unironic pseudo-edginess (“Julia starts her own web business”), the self-caricaturing lifestyle liberalism (“this allows her to volunteer at a community garden”), the un-self-conscious intermixing of the vocabularies of liberty and entitlement (“thanks to Obamacare, her health insurance is required to cover birth control”), the imagery of studied nonchalance, and the whole look and feel of the enterprise, it appears to have been created by people deeply immersed in the culture of overeducated twenty-something hipster self-effacement but unaware that it is all intended sarcastically.
This is tone-deafness on an epic scale. Can it truly have escaped the attention of everyone on the development staff of this Orwellian propaganda project that Julia is the name of the anti-heroine in Nineteen-Eighty Four? Any attempt at parody should surely be called "The Life of Winston", or maybe "The Two-Minute Hate".

Friday, March 16, 2012

Another Reason to Dislike Farrakhan

Anyone who has been paying attention to the invectives and pollemics of Louis Farrakhan (and I don't necessarily recommend doing so) will know that he is committed to anti-semitism in a way that would embarrass Archie Bunker. But I don't think most people know (I certainly didn't) that Farrakhan is also a defender of African slavery by Arab Muslims. This piece by Charles Jacobs on the iAbolish website has eye-opening details:

PBS’s Tony Brown Journal, the most popular Black news program at the time, invited Mohammed and me to speak about slavery. Immediately after our appearance, we were attacked by Farrakhan’s spokesman who denied that Blacks served Arab masters in Sudan or – worse from NOI’s point of view, that Black Muslims served Arab Muslim masters in Mauritania. Farrakhan’s “calling,” after all, funded in part by Arab dictator Muammar Khadafy, was to break the Black/Jewish civil rights alliance while teaching American Blacks that Islam was their path to freedom. Not in Sudan and Mauritania it wasn’t!

NOI was serious about shutting us up. Samuel Cotton, a black reporter for the City Sun, NY’s second largest black paper conducted a thorough investigation that resulted in a five part series. “Arab Masters, Black Slaves” screamed across the front page in NYC’s news kiosks. NOI warned Sam. They followed and menaced him when he spoke in Chicago, not far from their headquarters.

[...]

Farrakhan has always said that slavery in Sudan and Mauritania was a Zionist lie. Last week, South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, demanded the liberation of 30,000 slaves still held by Arabs in the North. Minister Farrakhan, South Sudan is not a Jewish nation. You met with South Sudanese leaders in the Spring of 1994. They begged you for support – and to help free the slaves. They wrote that you told them "When it comes to a choice between religion or the dignity of the black man I will choose my skin." You betrayed them. Why?


Read the whole article for more background and supporting links.