• Kudos to whoever at Christianity Today wrote the headline/subhead combo for this Kate Shellnut piece: “Evangelicals Are the Most Beloved US Faith Group Among Evangelicals.” Subhead: “And among the worst-rated by everybody else.”
The good news for white evangelicals is that while most people dislike them, they’re still somewhat less disliked than Scientologists, Satanists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
There’s both a 1 Timothy 3:7 and a Romans 12:3 sermon to be found in these poll results, but I suspect there’s a reinforcing cause-and-effect loop between the poll results in the headline and those in the subhead. When people get the sense that you like yourself better than you like them, they tend to like you less than they otherwise might.
Pew Research Center’s own headline for their findings plays it straight, but still has the rhythm of a classic joke format: “Americans Feel More Positive Than Negative About Jews, Mainline Protestants, Catholics.” As in a priest, a minister, and a rabbi.
Maybe that’s the key to improving the reputation and public perception of currently disfavored sects. Start writing lots and lots of jokes that start out with “So a Satanist, a Scientologist, and a Jehovah’s Witness walk into a bar …” and then give those gentle comic stereotypes a few decades to circulate and sink in.
• Phone companies are no longer allowed to extort absurd fees from inmates and their families.
President Biden signed the “Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act of 2022” into law earlier this year:
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, and just retired-Sen. Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio. It was named in honor of Martha Wright-Reed, a retired nurse who tried for more than two decades to get more affordable rates because she could not afford to call her incarcerated grandson at the cost of more than $100 per month.
… In 2017, under President Donald Trump, the FCC abandoned the fight to lower the cost for prison phone calls. A federal appeals court eventually ruled the FCC didn’t have the authority to cap the rates.
The legislation signed by Biden gives the federal agency the authority that the appellate court ruled it lacked, the White House said.
The right-wing strategy of packing the courts with anti-government, anti-Reconstruction FedSoc ideologues means this will be the pattern for the coming decades. The courts will decide the government doesn’t have the authority to govern so lawmakers will have to write new laws, case by case, insisting that government can, in fact, legally govern. Those new laws will then be tossed by FedSoc ideologue judges ruling that lawmakers lack the authority to make laws, that Congress cannot regulate interstate commerce, etc., lather, rinse, repeat.
But at least for some families, for now, the inviolable right of corporations to fleece desperate families has been temporarily halted. That’s at least a temporary win for basic decency, for justice, and for those parts of our Constitution that those lawless FedSoc bastards desperately want to pretend don’t exist.
• Speaking of capricious decisions made in apparent contradiction of a group’s stated principles … years later I still don’t know why Patheos’ new owners kicked Warren Throckmorton off of the Evangelical channel here.
Throckmorton is now writing on Substack, subscription free. You can now go there to read all the news that’s too … well, too something for Patheos’ owners and/or its investors and/or donors.
• Utah State Treasurer Marlo Oaks is trying to build a political career on the idea that investment decisions should be exclusively financial with no consideration of personal or social values. The most charitable thing we can assume about Marlo Oaks, then, is that truly believes what he is saying and that he eagerly invests his own personal retirement savings in pornography, OxyContin, alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine without any concern for how those investments align with his own personal and social values.
And I am sure that Marlo Oaks scrupulously tithes his Pornhub and Coca Cola dividends just like every faithful Latter Day Saint should.
• One of my favorite passages from Wendell Berry comes from his short novel Remembering. The scene finds one of his Port William stalwarts in a big-city airport, waiting to fly back to the place he belongs. He looks up at the screens showing all the arriving and departing flights from all the wondrous destinations and thinks about all the other lives he might have lived, admiring the scope and scale of the world while, at the same time, reaffirming his choice to belong to one life in one place.
I was reminded of that reading this, Nick Offerman walks with Wendell Berry in Manhattan:
It was maybe 10 P.M. as we strode toward the West Village. It was also Saint Patrick’s Day, so I was worried about my octogenarian companion, what with the uneven sidewalks and helter-skelter atmosphere that nightlife around Washington Square Park can give off. But of course it was thrilling to walk amid the cool evening with Berry, chatting and taking in the multicolored revelry. At the intersection of MacDougal and Third, we saw a tall, lanky person wearing only denim cutoffs, a rainbow wig, inline skates, and several strands of Christmas lights draped about their framework as they spun slow, rangy pirouettes from a distance, then rolled right past us. It was a pretty puckish performance, and as the faerie-like vision whirled by, Berry said, dreamily, “That was beautiful.”