Smart people saying smart things

David Roberts: “Coal is the enemy of the human race, mainstream economics edition“ Once you strip away the econ jargon, the paper finds that, on the margin, electricity from coal imposes more damages on the U.S. economy than the electricity is worth. That’s right: The next coal-fired power plant is a net value-subtraction. A parasite, [Read More...]

A Grace Period for people in need


Jesse James DeConto reports for The Christian Century on an alternative to the predatory credit of payday loans: As former Pittsburgh cop Tony Wiles knows, people who need money fast are vulnerable. “I grew up in the inner city, so I’ve seen it all,” he said. “Loan sharks, pawnshops and payday loan companies on every [Read More...]

A Southern Baptist in exile in the Bible belt

Both Alvin McEwen and Rachel Held Evans point us to Joan Garrett’s insightful, empathetic portrait of a Red Bank, Tenn., family: “A tempest in my soul: A son’s secret brings a Southern Baptist minister to his knees.” This is beautiful storytelling and impressive reporting. It is, in other words, what good journalism looks like. Kudos [Read More...]

Turnabout is fair play (and vice versa)

Justice must be reciprocal. Otherwise it’s not justice. Turnabout is fair play and fair play is turnabout. Justice isn’t justice if it’s not the same when the shoe is on the other foot. Louisiana lawmakers do not understand this: We told you last week about Louisiana’s new plan for educating its youth, which is to [Read More...]

Evangelical = anti-abortion, anti-gay white Protestant?

“Is a ‘black evangelical’ a contradiction in terms?” Molly Worthen asks at In recent years, conservative white Protestants have made a special effort to reach out to black believers who share their views on theology and social mores. … Black Protestants often agree with white evangelicals on the importance of religious faith and the [Read More...]

‘Like my pain meant nothing’ — the alarming harshness of tactless anti-gay preaching


CNN’s Richard Allen Greene reports that “Harsh anti-gay preaching alarms gay rights supporters and Christian conservatives alike.” Christian conservatives, apparently, don’t want their anti-gay preaching to come across as “harsh.” Coming across as harsh can make their anti-gay lobbying more difficult: Many conservative Christians would agree with pastors such as Worley and Knapp that homosexual [Read More...]

Mutuality Week (and toothbrushing horror)

I would like to say that Rachel Held Evans’ remarkable Mutuality Week series is what made her the Slacktivixen’s new favorite blogger, but actually it was something more recent. Specifically, it was this passage from Evans’ recent post on “Exercising in public and other methods of sanctification“: Now, there are three things that I feel [Read More...]

An island paradise for former dictators

It’s nice to get a link from a high-traffic blog like Andrew Sullivan’s. Unfortunately, that link goes to what I think is one of my more hare-brained ideas — a weird scheme to conscript jury duty into service as an employment office. This is, I think, a Bad Idea — see the comment thread there [Read More...]

Southern Baptists say the magic words

At the convention’s annual meeting, Southern Baptists reaffirmed the magic words. America’s largest evangelical denomination wound up endorsing the revivalist tradition of the “Sinner’s Prayer”: Jimmy Scroggins, chairman of the SBC Committee on Resolutions, told the convention that the committee brought the resolution to the floor because of recent challenges to the emphasis on the [Read More...]

The evangelical mind must obey the moneyed enforcers of the tribe

Peter Enns offers a powerful one-two punch on the subject of what Mark Noll called The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. First up was a post by Enns himself, titled, “‘If They Only Knew What I Thought’: The Sad Cycle of Evangelical Biblical Scholarship.” He discusses both the frustration of students at evangelical institutions, who [Read More...]