Thursday, February 26, 2015

Most Republicans Support Establishing Christianity as the National Religion

Public Policy Policy has found that most Republicans support establishing Christianity as the national religion, by a margin of 57% to 30%, with 13% unsure.

The proportion rises to 68% among those who would like to see former Gov. Mike Huckabee become president.

The survey does not ask any further questions about the respondents' understanding of the Constitution or of Christianity.  My guess is that this position does not rest on a deep analysis of either.

Instead, this is the characteristic conservative loyalty to what they imagine to be "traditional" as being sacred.

The irony, of course, is that what is actually traditional in the United States is that we definitely do not allow an established religion.

Moreover, I am sure that that majority agreement among Republicans on establishing "Christianity" would disintegrate as soon as they got down to any specifics of which practices of Christianity they have in mind.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Marriage Opportunity: A Centrist Approach

I am happy to be among the original signatories of a new manifesto, "Marriage Opportunity: The Moment for National Action." 

The manifesto calls for the same pro-marriage position that I have been arguing in this blog for a decade.

What is new is that this statement supports same-sex marriage as good for the marriage movement.

I believe this is a centrist position.

The signatories, fellow members of the Marriage Opportunity Council, are from the left, right, and center on a number of issues.  The group includes people who previously opposed same-sex marriage, and those who have previously thought marriage an objectionable institution on the grounds that it was heterosexist or patriarchal or simply outmoded.  We come together on this statement now.

I hope, and expect, that this position will soon be the norm in the middle of political discussion.

Friday, February 20, 2015

David Brooks is Right That Religious Extremists Seek Glory, But Mostly Wrong That Nationalism Is the Best Cure



David Brooks has a sensible column about religious extremists.  What they want, he says, is not the mundane bourgeois solutions of the settled ruling classes - better education and more jobs.  Brooks is right that they have the "thymotic urge" for a glorious, heroic life.  This is an anti-Enlightenment urge that we still see in all cultures, especially among gangs of young men.

Brooks writes "You can't counter a heroic impulse with a mundane bourgeois response.  You can only counter it with a more compelling heroic vision."  This is correct.

However, Brooks goes on to say that the best available heroic vision is nationalism.  Here I think he errs.

Nationalism is the religion of the modern masses.  It is better than nothing.  But nationalism has the great drawback of producing nation-state wars, which are even worse than terrorism.  The Islamic State is trying to create a Sunni Arab nation-state precisely to mobilize that nationalist impulse.  In that they are trying to go Al Qaedi and its imitators one better, to create a more enduring, modern structure.

But nationalism is not a great religion.  It falls far short of the beatific vision.  It is a very limited god.  It may be a help in countering gang-level visions of the heroic impulse, but it is itself a dangerous prescription.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Martin Luther Toy is a Hot Seller

This story would be amusing just for the fact that a Martin Luther Playmobil toy exists at all.



That it is selling out is even more amazing.  

As we approach more Reformation semi-millennium anniversaries, I hope for a whole Diet of Reformers.  Can't wait for John Calvin.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Why Courage Is Necessary for Happiness

I have written before that fear is the solvent of the happy society.

It came to me today that courage is a necessary virtue for happiness, because every kind of fear makes us unhappy.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What "The Nightly Show" Should Do

I had high hopes for "The Nightly Show," Comedy Central's replacement for "The Colbert Report" after "The Daily Show". Larry Wilmore was an excellent "Senior Black Correspondent" for Jon Stewart, and could make an excellent follow-on show, if his show has a different focus. Parts of the "Nightly" are good, but the bulk of it is a panel discussion among people who do not reliably have anything interesting - or even harder, funny - to say.

"The Daily Show" and "the Colbert Report" worked because they were scripted. The best part of The Nightly Show is the scripted bit at the beginning.  

Comedy Central should just pay the money and hire real comedy writers to produce a new thing: a black- (or non-white-) focused Daily Show.  

The one thing I didn't like about Colbert following Stewart was that they often wrote about the same events, and made the same jokes. Yet there is so much that is happening in the world that is not about white people - Wilmore would never run out of material.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Race Gap in Income Would Have Closed If the Race Gap in Family Structure Had Not Widened

A new study confirms what I have argued before:  most of the race gap today is really a family gap.

Black wages have grown, and the black middle class proportion has grown.  If that was all that had happened, the racial income gap would have been cut substantially - at least in half - in the past half century.

Instead, the gap has remained the same over all.

This is largely because the proportion of black children growing up in single parent families has grown from about 25% in 1965 to more than 70% today.  These families are poorer than their two-parent counterparts, and the children who grow up in them are handicapped in gaining economic security as they grow up and make families themselves.

I thank Claude Fischer's fine blog for bringing a new study by Deirdre Bloom on this point to our attention.