Some People Are Too Stupid To Be Atheists

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 \PM\.\Wed\.

If you haven’t already, expect to hear a lot about the recent Pew survey on the religious knowledge of Americans in the coming days:

Researchers from the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life phoned more than 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life.

On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

Read the rest of this entry »


Cultural Rot

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

My wife and I often joke that we are going to raise our children Amish so as to shield them from our depraved culture.  We jest, but there’s a sliver of truth in our jesting.  And of course  Donald has written a series of excellent posts here at TAC on the signs of our cultural decay.

It’s not exactly a newsflash when a bunch of cranky bloggers at a website called the American Catholic bemoan our hedonistic culture.  But when others of a less socially conservative bent join the fray you know that things may have reached a breaking point.

Ace of Spades is a conservative blog, though one that tends to a certain amount of, err, frivolity with regards to cultural matters.  I don’t think Ace deviates from most social conservatives on the core issues, but you wouldn’t necessarily expect a rant like this one a site like his.  But Ace completely lays into the singer Katy Perry and the awful message that she spreads to our youth.

Ace posts the lyrics to one of Perry’s new songs: Read the rest of this entry »


The European Model in Action

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

As I mentioned, I’m currently reading Thomas Geoghegan’s Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? Geoghegan’s day job is as a labor lawyer, so naturally there’s a good deal of discussion of German employment law practices and how they differ from America’s. At one point, for example, Geoghegan tries to explain the American system of employment at will to a group of German students:

I’d thought that, in the first class, I’d explain how, in the U.S., people could be fired for any reason at any time, or for no reason at all. “Here’s an example. I work for you for twenty-nine years, one year from retiring. One day I wear a yellow tie to work. You say, ‘I don’t like your tie. You’re fired.’ In the U.S., you can do that.”

The students are, understandably, incredulous, to the point that G is forced to backtrack a bit:

“Sure, we fire people for no reason, or for the color of their ties – yes, we do. But we don’t do it every day.”

It’s true that people don’t get fired every day for wearing a yellow tie. In fact, I’ve never heard of someone getting fired for wearing a yellow tie. The closest thing I can think of to the yellow tie story was a story from the 1990s in which a guy at a supermarket was fired for wearing a particular team jersey the day of the Superbowl (the owner was apparently a fan of the other team). That caused a decent sized stink; big enough that if something like the yellow tie incident were to occur, big as this country is, I think I would hear about it. Read the rest of this entry »


Unpopular President Obama

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

Most Presidents have a decline in their popularity by the time of the first midterm elections in their term, but few Presidents, except those who have reached an artificial high in popularity immediately following a national crisis, have fallen as far and as steadily as Obama.  When he was sworn into office, his approval ratings were in the mid-sixties.  The Real Politics average of current approval polls, has Obama approval at 45.3%.  The interesting thing about the decline is how steady it has been, just as the percent of the American people disapproving of Obama has steadily increased, and is now at 50.7%.

Even the artist who came up with the dopey socialist realism “heroic” multi-colored posters of Obama has recently expressed disappointment with him.

My favorite living historian, Victor Davis Hanson, believes the Obama decline will continue for the following reasons:

1) A bad agenda. Nearly every issue the president embraces polls against him, often at a 3-1 margin. Cap and trade, amnesty, state-run health care, more bailouts, takeovers, deficits, taxes, and the national debt. His vision is the same as that of the EU circa 1990 — one that even Europe now rejects as a failure.

The answer to every challenge is to found a new program, borrow billions to run it, hire millions more loyal to the progressive gospel of public employment, and demagogue any who oppose it.

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Hanson is on to something with this statement: The answer to every challenge is to found a new program, borrow billions to run it, hire millions more loyal to the progressive gospel of public employment, and demagogue any who oppose it.  Most analysts of Obama have stressed how different Obama is from past presidents.  Stylistically yes, to some extent, not in substance.  On economic issues Obama is a reactionary, a throwback to the New Deal Democrat era: massive spending on government projects is the way to restore economic health.  It was a dubious remedy almost eight decades ago and appears not to work at all today.  The failure of the stimulus to have any positive impact on the economy, and the inability of Obama to come up with any truly new policies to meet the economic malaise of the present, is now clear to all, even to many members of Obama’s own party.  Few things are more sad than a one trick pony who can’t even perform the one trick properly and that is the case with Obama on the Alpha and Omega political issue:  the Economy.

Read the rest of this entry »


Bad News on the Pro-Life Front

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

In case you missed the terrible news…

…the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. lifted the The District Court for the District of Columbia’s injunction on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (from NPR):

Court: Stem Cell Funds Can Continue For Now

by Julie Rovner

September 28, 2010

The Obama administration can continue funding embryonic stem cell research for now, a federal appeals court ruled.

Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington makes permanent, for the time being, the overturning of an injunction imposed last month by a lower court judge.

The scientific community was stunned when U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered a temporary halt to embryonic stem cell research while he considered a lawsuit filed by two scientists who study adult stem cells. The scientists say the Obama administration’s stem cell research policy violates an existing congressional ban on research that harms human embryos.

But a federal appeals court earlier this month temporarily lifted the injunction to give the administration time to make its case that even a temporary halt to the research could set back promising science.

The argument apparently succeeded. Now research funded with federal dollars can proceed pending a full appeal of the lower court judge’s ruling.

Prayer and fasting.


“The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II” — George Weigel’s sequel to “Witness to Hope”

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

George Weigel’s new book, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, which was published by Doubleday on September 14, is the fulfillment of a promise the author made to Pope John Paul II less than four months before the pope died. In “A Promise To Pope John Paul II” (“The Catholic Difference” 9/17/10), Weigel gives his account of his parting words to the late Pope before his death:

The conversation over dinner was wide-ranging, and at one point, after the usual papal kidding about my having written “a very big book,” John Paul asked about the international reception of Witness to Hope, his biography, which I had published five years earlier. He was particularly happy when I told him that a Chinese edition was in the works, as he knew he would never get to that vast land himself. As that part of the conversation was winding down, I looked across the table and, referring to the fact that Witness to Hope had only taken the John Paul II story up to early 1999, I made the Pope a promise: “Holy Father,” I said, “if you don’t bury me, I want you to know that I’ll finish your story.”

It was the last time we saw each other, this side of the Kingdom of God.

The End and the Beginning covers the last six years of John Paul II’s life, including:

  • Karol Wojtyla’s epic battle with communism through the prism of previously classified and top-secret communist files
  • the Great Jubilee of 2000 and his historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land
  • September 11th, and the Pope’s efforts to frustrate Osama bin Laden’s insistence that his war with the West was a religious crusade
  • the Long Lent of 2002, when the Church in America grappled with the twin crises of clerical sexual abuse and episcopal misgovernance;
  • John Paul’s ongoing efforts to build bridges of dialogue and reconciliation with the Churches of the Christian East
  • his struggle with illness, “which brought him into at least one ‘dark night’ spiritually; and his heroic last months, in which his priestly death became, metaphorically, his last encyclical”

(Given that Weigel was personally engaged in the Catholic just war debate over the war in Iraq, it will be interesting to see the extent to which he covers this aspect of John Paul II’s pontificate).

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