Christian and secular news and commentary one Christian found important or entertaining this morning.
Some good sources of commentary to share with you this morning:
1. EVANGELISTIC JUSTICE: Yesterday we published the second installment of the Cross Examinations series, this time concerning the proper relationship between evangelistic and social justice ministries. Read it here. All of the responses were thoughtful and eloquent, some were certainly impassioned, and at least one was potentially provocative. Hope you check it out. I do think this is the kind of charitable dialogue we want to build.
2. CHANGING CULTURAL CHANGE. Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed addresses a new book, which he predicts to be “one of the more influential studies of the decade.” The book is by James Davidson Hunter, and it concerns the transformation of culture. Davidson Hunter contends, in McKnight’s words, that “evangelicals — both the James Dobson and the Jim Wallis style — have got it completely, or almost completely, wrong. Among others, he takes shots at Andy Crouch, Brian McLaren, Chuck Colson, and James Dobson.” Read the whole thing.
3. SUFFERING. Justin Taylor posts an important summary of Matt Chandler and C. J. Mahaney on the subject of suffering.
ALSO in news and commentary:
4. ANATOMY OF ABUSE. The Vatican gives its numbers for the abuse of children: “According to the data, 10% of abuse cases can be classified as pedophilia in the strict sense. 90% of cases are better defined as Ephebophilia (ie attraction towards adolescents). Of these, approximately 60% are reported as same-sex attraction and 30% of a heterosexual nature. Obviously this data refers to the problem of abuse by priests and not to statistics regarding the general population.”
5. POINT RIDICULOUS CHRISTIAN CHURCH. “Url Scaramanga” on the proliferation of, well, innovative church names.
6. MY HANDS DON’T LIE. I’m no fan of Sean Penn’s frequent apologias for leftist dictators, but I have great appreciation for his charitable work and particularly his response to the Haiti disaster. One of our bloggers, Galen Dalrymple, shook his hand a few days ago, since Sean runs one of the largest refugee camps in Haiti (he has lived in a tent for the past 3 months) and Galen is serving there. I also — please try not to snicker — have a high degree of respect for Shakira. Shakira is not only a singer and a contorter of truthful hips, but also the founder of the Barefoot Foundation, and she writes eloquently of the situation in Haiti here. She visited Haiti (and Sean Penn) recently.
The Huffington Post will do just about anything for traffic, including inviting celebrity commentators who have no idea what they’re talking about. But Shakira is not one of them.
7. ABNORMALLY NORMAL. Tea Parties, according to two different polls (Gallup and New York Times), are apparently actually quite normal. If anything, they are a little wealthier and more educated than the general populace, and there is a low percentage of blacks among them (the African American community, understandably, still stands solidly behind Obama). Still, since a higher number of Tea Party supporters said they are “angry” about recent political shenanigans, they were described as “virulently angry” and “furious.” Also, rumors persist that they are motivated by racism. I will report on my own visit to the Boston Tea Party as soon as I get a minute.
Also, note how quickly Peter Beinart pirouettes from depicting Tea Partiers as poor, uneducated knuckle-dragging rabble hicks to grumpy rich whites with a penchant for self-pity. Welcome to the new narrative!
8. RIGHTS WIN FOR GAYS. Obama mandates that hospitals should give visitation rights to gay partners. Many do already, but not all. While this seems like a reasonable measure, and one I am happy to support, it does raise an interesting question about the separation of powers. An executive order normally has to do with the legislative branch. But since hospitals take funding from the government, Obama can condition that funding on their fulfillment of certain obligations. Since this is an issue that has been addressed in legislation (failed and passed, for and against), it does, however, raise questions of whether this is something that should be resolved at the legislative level.
8. POTUS SCROOGE. Why are the Bidens so stingy? The Obama’s are better, but still tight-fisted, especially for a couple making $5.5M. Rather discouraging. I would like to see public leaders, especially ones with what I take to be a genuine concern for the poor, set an example in sacrificial giving.
9. WE BRING GOOD THINGS TO TAX-FREE LIFE. GE earned gobs of money overseas, but lost money in the US, and so its federal tax came to a whopping $0. This will surely be grist for the mill for those who want US companies taxed on overseas profits. Yet companies are already taxed on the money they make overseas–by the countries where the money is made, and virtually no other countries double-tax their businesses. Whether we could levy a small tax on overseas profits and not significantly harm the competitiveness of those businesses is an empirical question. But this should not be greeted, I think, as some sort of new outrage or injustice.
11. SERVING AT COURT. Finally, look for our interview of tennis legend Michael Chang, which will be published at the Evangelical Portal today!