October 14, 2005

From the Path to Action Conference

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 7:23 pm

It’s late, and I’m tired after a great couple days in Washington D.C., but I’m going to post some highlights from the Path to Action conference.

First, an observation regarding the attendees to the conference. Since it’s sponsored by several Episcopalian organizations, I expected the Episcopalians would have a strong showing. However, I’m surprised at just how few attendees are here from other denominations. There is a wide diversity among the speakers and panelists, which include not only speakers from other Christian denominations, but also a Jew and an atheist — very commendable.

So why aren’t there more attendees from outside the ECUSA? Where are the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the UCCers, and yes, someone besides me from the ELCA? I understand attempts were made to market the conference more broadly, but they were unsuccessful. I hate to conclude that it’s denominational chauvinism, a reticence to attend an event outside one’s own denominational comfort zone, but I don’t know what else to think.

Progressive Christians from the mainline denominations need to come together. We don’t have to abandon our cherished denominational traditions and theological particulars to come together as Christians with a common cause. (And btw, I have felt entirely at home here among my Episcopalian brothers and sisters in Christ.)

October 12, 2005

Some Recommended Reading

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 12:26 pm

A quick couple of links to some items that are worth reading in full.

First, courtesy of Wildwest, an essay posted at CommonDreams.org titled “Wasn’t Jesus a Liberal, Part Two“.

The liberal Jesus challenged the rich to be generous with the poor. The liberal Jesus would much rather have the Beatitudes considered and embraced than public displays of the Ten Commandments. The liberal Jesus would not be arguing for the inclusion of God in the pledge of allegiance because He would find the whole concept of the pledge to be a shallow form of idolatry. The liberal Jesus is just as concerned for the welfare of the born as the unborn. The liberal Jesus said to render unto Caesar that which was Caesars when questioned about taxation.

In case you’re wondering, there is a “Wasn’t Jesus a Liberal [Part One]“, published a year ago. That was before I had begun blogging, so I missed it, but it also is worth a read.

October 10, 2005

Jesus: Common Ground for the Left

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 9:30 pm

Armando at Daily Kos had a post Saturday titled Public Morality vs. Private Morality, and it’s worth a read through. I agree with his conclusion — that Republicans are more concerned with private morality, while Democrats are more concerned with public morality, aka the common good.

What really intrigues me though is that Armando made his point by quoting George Bush’s favorite philosopher:

The irony is that our emphasis on public morality is informed by religious thought:

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you.

And so to is the liberal rejection of governmental intervention in private morality informed by religious thought:

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.


October 9, 2005

My Thoughts About Comments

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 8:46 pm

I originally composed this as a comment to this post, but decided to promote it and link to it from the sidebar to keep it available on an ongoing basis.

I’m sorry to see that the discussion has gotten to the point that some seem to have taken offense. Perhaps this is a good time to explain my attitude (as opposed to a formal “policy”) regarding comments.

As many of you have probably noticed, I am really bad at replying to comments. I read every one, but by the time I get around to replying, the discussion has invariably moved on, or others have made my points for me already. Partly this is because I have a full-time job outside of blogging, and a family to spend time with as well. But partly it’s because I tend to want to think things over before jumping on the computer — that’s just how my brain works (INTP if anyone’s curious).

But it’s also because blogging is a hobby for me, and above all, it’s supposed to be fun. I don’t take comments personally, even if the comments get personal. This blog is not my whole identity. After all, it’s just a blog.

October 8, 2005

What the Titles of Political Books Tell Us

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 8:25 am

I saw a blog post regarding some new conservative political books coming out that got me thinking (for the life of me, now I can’t find the post). Just perusing the titles of books from conservative commentators over the last few years is pretty enlightening. News flash: conservatives hate liberals.

  • How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must), Ann Coulter
  • Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism
  • Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right , Ann Coulter
  • Liberalism is a Mental Disorder, Michael Savage
  • The Terrible Truth About Liberals , Neil Boortz
  • The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of How Democratic Operatives, Eccentric Billionaires, Liberal Activists, and Assorted Celebrities Tried to Bring Down a President–and Why They’ll Try Even Harder Next Time, Byron York
  • They Think You’re Stupid: Why Democrats Lost Your Vote and What Republicans Must Do to Keep It, Herman Cain
  • Why the Left Hates America : Exposing the Lies That Have Obscured Our Nation’s Greatness, Daniel J. Flynn
  • 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken Is #37), Bernard Goldberg
  • Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism, Sean Hannity


October 2, 2005

Religion and Societal Health

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 9:57 pm

There is much to ponder in a study by Gregory Paul in the Journal of Religion and Society with the catchy title “Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look”. The paper correlates statistics from western developed countries related to religiosity and social wellness:

In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

The big outlier, of course, is the US, with high religiosity and high levels of these social ills. Europe (with the exception of Portugal, arguably not a first world country), Australia and Japan have less religiosity but lower levels of social dysfunction.

These are the facts as presented in the paper. The fun starts when we try to make sense of these facts by fitting them into our particular worldview.

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