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Friday, March 17, 2017

Civil Society Begins in Church

It appears that the problem with the country is not the religious bigots; it's the irreligious ones. This is one insight of "America's Empty-Church Problem" in The Atlantic.
Research shows that evangelicals who don't regularly attend church are less hostile to gay people than those who do. But they're more hostile to African Americans, Latinos, and Muslims. In 2008, the University of Iowa's Benjamin Knoll noted that among Catholics, mainline Protestants, and born-again Protestants, the less you attended church, the more anti-immigration you were.
There is a similar move on the liberal side:
If conservative nonattenders fueled Trump's revolt inside the GOP, liberal nonattenders fueled Bernie Sanders's insurgency against Hillary Clinton: While white Democrats who went to religious services at least once a week backed Clinton by 26 points, according to an April 2016 PRRI survey, white Democrats who rarely attended services backed Sanders by 13 points.While not intolerant of minorities, they are intolerant of the status quo and thus came out in droves for Bernie Sanders.
The author's conclusion (after looking at similar patterns in the black community):
Maybe it's the values of hierarchy, authority, and tradition that churches instill. Maybe religion builds habits and networks that help people better weather national traumas, and thus retain their faith that the system works. For whatever reason, secularization isn't easing political conflict. It's making American politics even more convulsive and zero-sum.
Or maybe it's because people in church are met by a gracious God and gratefully want to imitate him.

The Camille Paglia Show
People of a certain age will remember that Camille Paglia came on the scene as a wild radical, a feminist lesbian who "hated censorship, hated prudery, wanted to liberalize alcohol and drug laws." Today conservatives are citing her work approvingly, although maybe not on the topics above. The point is she has always been delightfully unpredictable. In one sentence, I grimace at what I think are sorry views, and in the next, I'm applauding, usually while laughing. So if nothing else, I find interviews with her like this intellectually entertaining.
The Forsaken in a Raft at Sea
In my ongoing fascination with the complexities of establishing a coherent national policy on immigration, I ran across this: "The Progressive Case for Borders." And it is featured in a libertarian magazine. Go figure. But as I've said in an earlier GR, I'm less open to give and take about refugee policy, especially when I read accounts like this, by a man who spent a month on a rescue vessel scouring the Mediterranean for forlorn refugees. It is, paradoxically, a beautiful description of the tragic.
How Many Angels Fit on an Atom?
It's never actually been proved that medieval philosophers debated how many angels could fit on a pinhead. Today, however, IBM has figured out how to store data on a single atom. If that simple fact isn't metaphysically amazing, consider this: "As IBM states in its release, the average hard drive uses about 100,000 atoms to store a single bit of information using traditional methods." When this technology is made feasible and affordable, the entire iTunes library of 35 million songs could be stored on something the size of a credit card. Whether I want a credit card with 35 million praise choruses on it is another matter.

A change of pace for the quote of the week, very appropriate for Lent. It's from Habit of Being (page 92 of the 1979 Farrar, Straus, and Giroux edition, edited by Sally Fitzgerald):
A working knowledge of the devil can be very well had from resisting him.
—Flannery O'Connor
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today

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