Thursday, June 29, 2006

Faith, Politics, and Barak Obama

Yesterday Barak Obama gave a speech at a Sojourners event in DC.  The text and an mp3 of his address can be found on his website.  I’ve been looking into Obama’s speeches lately based on the recommendations of a few people, and I’m becoming more and more of a fan of him.  This speech in particular pleases me (as VandenBosch would say) in deep places.  Obama has a clear grasp of the position of the sojourners crowd, and what I understand as the big problem with American political discourse right now.  Obama points out how both conservatives and progressives poorly caricature each other.  Progressives paint religious people as brainless idiots who follow controlling ideologues.  Conservatives paint progressives as Godless heathens who want to take religion out of our culture as their highest priority.  Obama instead encourages real dialogue and generous understanding.  Something that is perhaps too much to ask of American politics in a sound-byte intense media age, but a hopeful image nonetheless.

Of course, one would expect to hear this sort of talk at a Sojourners event.  That’s what they do.  But it’s encouraging to hear a prominent democrat making these kinds of statements.  It’s hopeful to imagine an America where the religious vote involves more careful scrutiny than a few hot-button issues.  I am becoming a big Obama fan.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

blogging for dialogue?

Alan Jacobs writes in Books and Culture about his disillusionment with the blog form as a source for intellectual dialogue.  He rightly suggests that the form that privileges new posts cuts off the potential for dialogue in comments – readers don’t check back for more discussion, and move on within a week.

Although this matches my experience, I think also that he overlooks the possibility of continued discussion between blogs.  Of invoking (with links) old posts of the initial poster and of others within a blog community.  And  maybe this can only work within a small community, and not on popular blogs like daily kos where the regular commenters number more than a dozen.  But I think Jacobs is a bit overly-dismissive.  Or perhaps I am overly zealous about the possibility of blogging for intellectual growth.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

CRC Synod 2006

If any of my readers are not already aware of some important discussions going on within the CRC circles about Children at the Lords Table and Women in the Church they may want to click my links and read about it from bloggers who have more gravitas on the respective topics than I.

I, like Mary and others, am frustrated with the Christian Reformed Church’s molasses-slow movement on women in leadership.  Part of me believes since I saw that restricting women was dumb when I was about 10, these educated older men should have figured it out by now.  They made some positive steps recently, but it appears I’ll be 30 by the time they even TALK about it again, since they put a seven-year gag order on the issue.  That’s a long time to wait.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the unique nature of my background, and growing up Christian Reformed is definitely part of that.  It is in situations like this, though, that I’m not sure how to relate to my background.  There are many things about dutch-american communities and CRC that is charming and beautiful and things that I’m thankful I inherited.  Since the dutch aren’t repressed, people don’t think of us as ethnic, but we share characteristics with other etho-religious communities.  And I love those things.  But when issues like this come up, or when a Christian reformed church seems so far from the things I really value about the reformed tradition, I am not sure how to relate that to my experience and my understanding.  How does one love a tradition and also see that it has problems?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

conservative rock anthems

Thanks to Jon for pointing me to this rather amusing list of the “Top 50 Conservative Rock Songs” from the National Review.  Now, some of their selections have defensible conservative themes.  But others are blatant misreadings.  I guess it’s a good example to support the idea that all texts are polysemic and that resistive readings are possible.  But seriously.  Calling U2’s “Gloria” reactionary because it has latin in it?  That’s outrageously ignorant of both church and Irish history.  I don’t think either party can really claim the catholic church, its issues fall on both sides.  And that’s their number six pick.  Also sketchy is their number 8 – The Sex Pistols “Bodies”.  Because the word abortion is used in a negative light.  That makes it a “searing anti-abortion anthem.”

I realize it’s hard to find conservative anthems.  I mean, really, what’s it gonna be? “dude, we should keep everything the same.  The man ROCKS!”  But apparently “the Rime of the Ancient Mariner” counts as conservative because it’s old.  Hey!  You know what else is old?  Karl Marx.  Just sayin’.

It’s also interesting to me that they chose a number of songs that have “conservative sexual mores.”  I think reducing conservatism to a position on sexual behavior is not necessarily productive.  Is abstinence political?  On the whole, this list does not help me believe that conservatives are not stupid.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Marketing Packaged in Religion

Does no one else find it disturbing that “christian” has become another niche to market, and another theme to exploit?  I ran across this NY Times article that details the ways sports teams are now marketing “Faith Night” to religious people.

Apparently a baseball game that has scripture references on player’s uniforms and Noah bobbleheads is a “spiritual” event.  Is this really what Christianity has become in our society?  A culture and not an ideology?  A set of products to buy, instead of a method for living?

I don’t even know what else to say.  But if anybody wants to buy some indulgences, I totally have a hookup.  Let me know.