How a contemporary sees contemporary worship

Robert Burns prayed for the power “To see ourselves as others see us!” (To a  Louse). So I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings here.  But it is surely helpful for a church trying to be contemporary to see how actual contemporaries are responding to their efforts.

Matt Walsh, a young guy of the sort that churches are trying to reach, speculates that the reason Christianity is allegedly in decline, according to that Pew study, is that it has become so boring.  But, in his telling, the boredom comes from the proliferation of contemporary worship, which, he says, in the course of making fun of it, drains Christianity of its transcendence, substance, and seriousness. [Read more...]

Everybody’s a populist

Just about everybody in politics is claiming to be a “populist” these days–leftwinger Elizabeth Warren, rightwinger Ted Cruz, establishment icon Hillary Clinton, the Christian right’s Mike Huckabee, Occupy Wallstreeters, Tea Partiers, and on and on.

Rutgers history professor David Greenberg points out that the term once had a very specific meaning, relating to the farmer/labor coalition against the railroads and bankers in the late 19th century,  as led by William Jennings Bryan.  The ideology combined a type of socialist economics (nationalize the railroads!) with respect for “ordinary” Americans (a man of the people! champion of the common man!).  Today liberals are seizing upon the economic part (while comprising the cultural elite that the old populists scorned), while conservatives are seizing upon the ordinary American part (a demographic that today tends not to like socialism).

But this reminds us that the left owes a big debt to William Jennings Bryan, today often mocked for his creationism at the Scopes Monkey Trial.  And that there was a time when evangelical Christians were often leftists. [Read more...]

War on terrorism updates

There have been several developments in the on going and possibly never ending war on terrorism:

After the jump, details of the raid into Syria.

[Read more...]

Christian “decline” is just Nominals becoming Nones

The headlines about the Pew Report, including at this blog, say that Christianity is declining in America.  But if you look closer, says Christianity Today’s Ed Stetzer, the data shows that the decline is in “nominal Christians”–those in name only–who are becoming open about their unbelief and calling themselves “Nones.”  The number of “convictional” Christians–those who really believe all that stuff–is holding steady.  See his analysis of the data after the jump.

There was a time when church membership was a cultural advantage.  Belonging to a church was good for business and a sign of fitting into the community.  So church membership rolls were filled with “pewsitters” or “Christmas/Easter” members.  Today, belonging to a church can be a cultural disadvantage.  So there is no reason for nominal Christians to bother with it.

This exit of the nominals can be a good thing, on one level, but I want to make two important caveats. [Read more...]

Progressive authoritarianism

More and more progressives are openly calling for the end of democracy and for replacing it with an admittedly authoritarian regime that would give power to experts.  [Read more...]

Free trade with higher wage countries & the China card

As Democrats make a political point of rejecting the free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership–to the point of defying the Democratic President–Charles Lane clears up the disinformation being spread about the treaty.

He says that, contrary to the rhetoric,  it won’t lose American jobs by sending industries to lower-wage countries.  Our biggest partners in this agreement, who would open their markets to us, would be Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.  All of which pay  higher wages than the United States!  There are low-wage countries in the pact, such as Mexico and Peru, but we already have free trade agreements with them!

Also, in a column criticizing Hillary Clinton for being silent on a treaty she helped to create, Robert Kagan gives the underlying strategic reason for the Trans-Pacific Partnership:  forging an alliance to counter China. [Read more...]


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