NCAA Basketball Championship

We haven’t talked about basketball!  My alma mater, the University of Kansas, is in it to win it.  My current home state of Virginia has two teams in the Sweet Sixteen, not only in the same state but in the same city  (Virginia Commonwealth and Richmond University, both in Richmond).  My former home of Milwaukee is in it with Marquette.

So what are your predictions for the Final Four?

For the final two?

For the championship?

My prediction for the finale:  Ohio State vs. Kansas.  Ohio State will win.  (I say that because my teams never win the big game.  Also my predictions are always wrong.  So maybe if I predict Ohio State, my team will win it after all.)

 

NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Bracket – NCAA.com.

Apocalyptic madness

The Lutheran journalist Uwe Siemon-Netto has written a piece about the current apocalyptic mood and the religious weirdness this is inspiring.  You should read the whole article.  What struck me, though, was this account of some original reporting of his, in an interview with a leader of that Japanese cult that unleashed the sarin gas a few years ago.  Here is another kind of syncretism:

In Japan in the 1980s, a semi-blind charlatan by the name of Shoko Asahara founded a “neo-Buddhist” sect called Aum Shinri-Kyo. It recruited primarily graduates of leading universities and gained worldwide infamy by producing huge amounts of Kalashnikov rifles and developing chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. In 1995, they set off a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system killing 12, injuring 54 and affecting thousands of others, a misdeed for which Asahara was sentenced to the gallows; he is now awaiting his execution.

What was that all about? In an interview one of his top lieutenants told me that it was the purpose of this crime to trigger World War III between Japan and the United States, which would result in the destruction of the universe. Why would a bunch of young scientists wish to do that? “Well,” he said, “the Lord Shiva has commanded us to give him a helping hand;” Shiva is the destroyer in the Hindu trinity. When he’s done, Brahma, the Creator, would be able to begin a new cycle of creation.

So here we had a “Buddhist” sectarians killing in behalf of a Hindu god, and to top the syncretistic madness, they explained this in Christian terminology. With his hands on a Bible, Asahara’s white-robed henchman informed me that he and his co-religionists were Christ’s soldiers in the Battle of Armageddon. But who was Christ to them? “An incarnation of Shiva, the god of destruction,” he said.

via The Tsunami and the Apocalypse – Article by Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto | CyberBrethren-A Lutheran Blog.

Paying mothers to get a job or to tend to their kids?

From Freakonomics:

Just how important is Mom during a child’s first year of life? A new working paper by the economists Pedro Carneiro, Katrine V. Løken, and Kjell G. Salvanes exploits a recent reform in Norway to answer that question. The reform, which increased paid and unpaid maternity leave, “increased maternal leave on average by 4 months,” but had no effect on family income. The authors found that more time with Mom led to lower high school dropout rates later on.

Specifically, “increased time with the child led to a 2.7 percentage points decline in high school dropout. For mothers with low education we find a 5.2 percentage points decline. The effect is especially large for children of mothers who prior to the reform, would take very low levels of unpaid leave.”

Our current “welfare reform” requires that mothers to receive government help have to WORK outside the home, but that means they spend less time with their children. Granted that welfare from the state is not a good thing–before, it encouraged poor women not to get married by cutting payments when they did, thus encouraging single parenthood–but when it exists, shouldn’t it try to be in some way pro-family? Rather than contribute and even pay for the dynamics that increase poverty?

HT: Webmonk

Euro-court OKs crucifixes in public schools

The European Court of Human Rights has overturned a lower court’s decision to outlaw crucifixes in Italy’s public schools.  Not only that, the court ruled that Christianity is, in fact, the religious foundation of European civilization, a fact that need not be hidden.

The Grand Chamber ruling. . .recognizes that “human rights must not be placed in opposition to the religious foundations of European civilisation”. rules

The decision is an affirmation of the respect owed to each country of the European Union for “the religious symbols of its cultural history and national identity” and for national decisions on how the symbols can and should be displayed, Fr Lombardi said.

A lack of respect, he said, would lead to a situation in which, “in the name of religious liberty, paradoxically one would limit or even deny this freedom, ending up excluding every expression of it from the public sphere”.

via Vatican welcomes European court decision on crucifixes  | CatholicHerald.co.uk.

Would that same reasoning apply in the United States of America?

Nominal Christians

In an article about sociologist Bradley Wright’s book  Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media journalist Adelle M. Banks discusses his findings that Christians who go to church regularly have lower divorce rates, contrary to the assertion of other researchers that Christians have the same divorce rate as everybody else.

We’ve talked about that topic, but what I’d like us to consider is another issue raised in the story:

Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, agrees there’s been some confusion.

“You do hear, both in Christian and non-Christian circles, that Christians are no different from anyone else when it comes to divorce and that is not true if you are focusing on Christians who are regular church attendees,” he said.

Wilcox’s analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households has found that Americans who attend religious services several times a month were about 35 percent less likely to divorce than those with no religious affiliation.

Less active conservative Protestants, on the other hand, were 20 percent more likely to divorce than the religiously unaffiliated.

“There’s something about being a ‘nominal Christian’ that is linked to a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life,” Wilcox said.

via Christians question conventional wisdom on divorce – KansasCity.com.

“Nominal Christians.”   We often say that churches are full of nominal Christians.  But it is probably more to the point that nominal Christians–including many who would classify themselves as “born again” and “conservative”–do not generally go to church.  They are Christians in name only, as opposed to Christians, whatever their faults, who attend worship services where, to whatever measure, they seek God and receive His Word.  That’s not being “nominal.”

There is no longer any cultural pressure to attend church, as there once was, and indeed the cultural pressure is in the other direction.  So those who are in church, I would argue, on some level, really mean it.

I wish I knew more about what Wilcox says about “a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life” that are associated with “nominal Christians.”  I suppose someone who is Christian in name only may well consider himself or herself married in name only, carrying over the tendency for superficial commitment in all relationships, with spouse as well as with God.

Can anyone fill in what Wilcox says?

Bungling the War in Libya?

Why are so many conservatives against the new war in Libya, liberals are asking, their assumption being that conservatives like war.   Well, one thing that bothers those who believe in following the Constitution is that President Obama has gone to war at the behest of the United Nations.  But he has not so much as asked Congress, which the Constitution explicitly gives the authority to declare war (even though presidents lately of both parties have flouted that Constitutional requirement).   Are we ruled by the UN now?

Meanwhile, it appears that the coalition enforcing the no fly zone by attacking flying objects such as tanks and infantry columns, is also unraveling.  NO ONE wants to lead the operation.  President Obama specifically said he didn’t want the United States to lead it.  The other countries say NATO should run it.  NATO says it doesn’t want to.  How we can prosecute a war without operational or political leadership is beyond me.

Another issue is “mission creep,” as people are trying to change the goal from preventing Libyan aircraft from flying (a goal pretty much accomplished) to helping the rebels, to killing Gaddafi, to building Libya into a democracy.

 

Libya: Obama’s ‘coalition of the unwilling’ asks does the West have the right to kill Gaddafi? | Mail Online.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X