The German weekly Der Spiegel carries a fascinating article: Israel’s Other Temple: Research Reveals Ancient Struggle over Holy Land Supremacy, by Matthias Schulz. The charge that Jews revised the biblical narrative at the expense of the Samaritans is not new, but this article claims that archaeological evidence has now been uncovered to support the charge. For example: “Not a single shred of archaeological evidence has ever been found to confirm the existence of Solomon’s Temple.” How might Christians with a high view of biblical authority respond to this article?
David Koyzis teaches political science at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada, and is the author of the award-winning Political Visions and Illusions (InterVarsity Press, 2003). He has just completed another book manuscript on authority, office and the image of God for which he is seeking a publisher. He is an amateur poet and musician and has a special interest in sung metrical psalmody, especially the 16th-century Genevan Psalter. Born near Chicago and living now in Canada, he sometimes calls himself a Franco-Greek-Cypriot-Finno-Anglo-American-Canadian, one of the smallest ethnic minorities in North America.RSS feed for this author
Here is good news for those of us who have been continually told that divorce rates amongst Christians are comparable to those of the general population: The Christian Divorce Rate Myth.
W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, finds from his own analysis that “active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans . . . .
The divorce rates of Christian believers are not identical to the general population — not even close. Being a committed, faithful believer makes a measurable difference in marriage.
Saying you believe something or merely belonging to a church, unsurprisingly, does little for marriage. But the more you are involved in the actual practice of your faith in real ways — through submitting yourself to a serious body of believers, learning regularly from Scripture, being in communion with God though prayer individually and with your spouse and children, and having friends and family around you who challenge you to take [your marriage] seriously — the greater difference this makes in strengthening both the quality and longevity of our marriages. Faith does matter and the leading sociologists of family and religion tell us so.
North American denominationalism seems to owe much to John Locke’s definition of church in his Letter Concerning Toleration:
A church, then, I take to be a voluntary society of men, joining themselves together of their own accord in order to the public worshipping of God in such manner as they judge acceptable to Him, and effectual to the salvation of their souls.
I say it is a free and voluntary society. Nobody is born a member of any church; otherwise the religion of parents would descend unto children by the same right of inheritance as their temporal estates, and everyone would hold his faith by the same tenure he does his lands, than which nothing can be imagined more absurd. Thus, therefore, that matter stands. No man by nature is bound unto any particular church or sect, but everyone joins himself voluntarily to that society in which he believes he has found that profession and worship which is truly acceptable to God.
Contrast the Lockean view to that of the Heidelberg Catechism (Q & A 54):
Q. What do you believe concerning “the holy catholic church”?
A. I believe that the Son of God through his Spirit and Word, out of the entire human race, from the beginning of the world to its end, gathers, protects, and preserves for himself a community chosen for eternal life and united in true faith. And of this community I am and always will be a living member.
Historic liberalism is predicated on the assumption that all communities can be reduced to mere voluntary associations of sovereign individuals uniting with each other for specific self-chosen purposes amendable at their own discretion. This is behind the contractarian vision of the state, and it also obviously has relevance for the institutional (or not so institutional) church. Is it mere coincidence that North America, whose culture has been deeply influenced by Locke, is disproportionately populated by churches with voluntaristic polities and a commitment to what has been called “decisional regeneration”?
What if we were to take seriously St. Peter’s words concerning the church and the seriousness of God’s sovereign call to us as its members?
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
How would this change our attitude towards the church as corporate recipient of God’s grace?
Michael Gerson has published an astute analysis of the current controversy south of the border over religious freedom: Catholics, contraceptives and John Locke. An excerpt:
One tradition of religious liberty contends that freedom of conscience is protected and advanced by the autonomy of religious groups. In this view, government should honor an institutional pluralism — the ability of people to associate, live and act in accordance with their religious beliefs, limited only by the clear requirements of public order. So Roger Williams welcomed Catholics and Quakers to the Rhode Island colony, arguing that a “Church or company of worshippers (whether true or false) . . . may dissent, divide, breake into Schismes and Factions, sue and implead each other at the Law, yea wholly breake up and dissolve into pieces and nothing, and yet the peace of the Citie not be in the least measure impaired or disturbed.”
There is another form of modern liberalism that defines freedom of conscience in purely personal terms. Only the individual and the state are real, at least when it comes to the law. And the state must often intervene to protect the individual from the oppression of illiberal social institutions, particularly religious ones.
This is the guiding philosophy of the American Civil Liberties Union. But as Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs, pointed out to me, this approach has roots in the Anglo American tradition of political philosophy. John Locke’s “Letter Concerning Toleration” urges legal respect for individual conscience because “everyone is orthodox to himself.” But Locke offered no tolerance for the institution of the Catholic Church: “That Church can have no right to be tolerated by the magistrate which is constituted upon such a bottom that all those who enter into it do thereby ipso facto deliver themselves up to the protection and service of another prince.” In Locke’s view, Catholics can worship as they wish as individuals, but their institution is a danger to the liberal order.
It seems that the Lockean influence has blinded many citizens of English-speaking democracies to the need for institutional religious freedom. Here is where we do well to support the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, led by my friend Stanley Carlson-Thies.
In the meantime, Kevin L. Boonstra has published an analysis of the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in S.L. v. Commission Scolaire des Chênes: LexView 76.0 – Whose Children Are They, Anyway? Controversies over religious freedom have erupted virtually simultaneously on both sides of the 49th parallel. Let us pray for justice in the two countries and elsewhere.
Ill winds are blowing across the land when it comes to parental rights, religious liberty and education policy.
Quebec’s new “ethics and religious culture” curriculum aims to promote religious tolerance by teaching that religious differences don’t matter. If you are a Muslim parent who wants to teach your child that Islam is superior to being an atheist or being a witch, the education system will be undermining that view in class. Quebec will brook no exceptions to the new groupthink: No child is permitted to be exempt from class when the teacher instructs her that her pious parents are teaching her falsehoods. The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed this soft totalitarianism last month, saying in effect that parents ought to get with the program and get over their religious, moral and cultural obligations to instruct their children. That is the narrowing of liberty to the point of eliminating it; everyone is free to teach his kids what he wants at home, just as long as the state gets to teach the little ones the opposite at school.
After reading Fr. de Souza, I am reminded of this quotation from the great christian statesman Abraham Kuyper with more than a little relevance for current developments on both sides of the 49th parallel:
When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.
Incidentally, Fr. de Souza delivered this homily at Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’ funeral three years ago.
This past weekend my wife and I were privileged to attend a banquet near Toronto to mark the first anniversary of the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister of minorities and the only Christian in that country’s government. A number of dignitaries were present at this event, including Canada’s immigration minister, Jason Kenney, who delivered an excellent keynote address, and the newly minted Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto. Far from being a sombre event, there was a note of celebration and thanksgiving for the life and witness of this servant of Jesus Christ. No one can fail to be moved by this heroic statement of faith in Christ which Bhatti recorded prior to the death he so clearly anticipated.
This morning we observed Holy Communion for the first time since late last year. How I wish Reformed churches would celebrate the Lord’s Supper whenever they meet for worship. When will we finally follow Calvin’s wishes rather than the defective practice of Geneva’s city fathers? Many years ago I published this article in Reformed Worship: The Lord’s Supper: How Often? Here is an excerpt:
As for the Lord’s Supper itself, we should begin to think of it as it was meant to be: a meal. We eat meals three times a day. And the most pleasant and meaningful of these are eaten in the company of family and friends. Fellowship at table does not lose its significance simply because it is repeated two or three times daily. The same, I would argue, is true of frequent reception of communion.
Because we are frail human beings plagued with the normal doubts that beset everyone, we need this tangible confirmation of our salvation in Christ’s body and blood. Far from being burdensome, our nourishment in the Lord’s Supper should be cause for joy and gratitude. . . .
In churches where the Lord’s Supper is celebrated weekly, the people have generally come to treasure this opportunity to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). Far from becoming mundane and ordinary, the supper has come to enrich the faith of those receiving, who increasingly find themselves looking forward to each Resurrection Day with eager anticipation.
The welfare state consists of a network of public, financial benefits originally established to even out the boom and bust extremes of the business cycle. In the United States, the welfare state got its start with President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and continued with President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
Although the welfare state’s existence is not especially controversial outside of libertarian circles, a number of related issues merit reflection. First, does the state possess the normative competence to provide a diverse array of services beyond its core functions of making and executing the law, as well as judging under the law? Second, does the state bear a legitimate responsibility for resolving social issues such as poverty, unemployment, homelessness and disease?
Calvin College’s prolific James K. A. Smith has published an open letter to praise bands that is worth reading and pondering. Writes Smith:
In particular, my concern is that we, the church, have unwittingly encouraged you to simply import musical practices into Christian worship that–while they might be appropriate elsewhere–are detrimental to congregational worship. More pointedly, using language I first employed in Desiring the Kingdom, I sometimes worry that we’ve unwittingly encouraged you to import certain forms of performance that are, in effect, “secular liturgies” and not just neutral “methods.” Without us realizing it, the dominant practices of performance train us to relate to music (and musicians) in a certain way: as something for our pleasure, as entertainment, as a largely passive experience. The function and goal of music in these “secular liturgies” is quite different from the function and goal of music in Christian worship.
I might add that this tendency is present, not just in praise bands, but also in organs and traditional church choirs, whose anthems and liturgical responses often substitute for those of the congregation. Although I cannot entirely accept the Orthodox and Reformed Presbyterian proscription of instruments in worship, I do believe there is nothing more beautiful than unaccompanied congregational part singing.
After some days of conspicuous silence on the controversy, Sojouners’ God’s Politics blog has finally published this statement by Alec Hill, President of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA: At Stake: Religious Liberty.
Last month, the Federal government mandated that Catholic universities, hospitals and charities must provide – and pay for – contraceptives to their employees and students. The mandate may also — depending upon interpretation – include the provision of sterilization services and the morning-after pill. (There appears to be some disagreement amongst scholars regarding the potential scope of the new Health and Human Service mandate.)
Why should I care? I am not Catholic. Nor do I agree with Catholic teaching on contraception, though I do have grave concerns about the morning-after pill.
Politically, I am a moderate and hence not prone to condemn every governmental edict.
I care because this matter touches upon the religious freedom of us all.
Controversy continues: Religious Liberty and Civil Society. Yuval Levin plausibly explains the origin of the current confusion over the definition of religious freedom in English-speaking democracies:
The English common law tradition of religious toleration, which we inherited, has always had a problem with religious institutions that are not houses of worship—i.e. that are geared to ends other than the practice of religion itself. To (vastly) oversimplify for a moment, that tradition began (in the 16th century, and in some respects even earlier) with the aim of protecting Protestant dissenters and Jews but (very intentionally) not protecting Catholics. And the way it took shape over the centuries in an effort to sustain that distinction was by drawing a line between individual religious practice (in which the government could not interfere) and an institutional religious presence (which was given far less protection).
Because Catholicism is a uniquely institutional religion—with large numbers of massive institutions for providing social services, educating children and adults, and the like, all of which are more or less parts of a single hierarchy—this meant Catholics were simply not granted the same protection as others. Obviously the intent to treat Catholics differently has for the most part fallen away since then, but the evolved legal tradition is very much with us, and it is not a coincidence that it always seems to be the Catholic Church that gets caught up in these situations when the government overreaches. . . .
Does civil society consist of a set of institutions that help the government achieve its purposes as it defines them when their doing so might be more efficient or convenient than the state’s doing so itself, or does civil society consist of an assortment of efforts by citizens to band together in pursuit of mutual aims and goods as they understand them? Is it an extension of the state or of the community?
Writing for The New York Times, Ross Douthat’s mention of “liberal communitarians” sounds a little odd to my ears, but he is dead on in his analysis of the current situation in the US: Government and its Rivals. An excerpt:
Liberals know that it takes a village; conservatives pretend that all it takes is John Wayne.
In this worldview, the government is just the natural expression of our national community, and the place where we all join hands to pursue the common good. Or to borrow a line attributed to Representative Barney Frank, “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”
Many conservatives would go this far with Frank: Government is one way we choose to work together, and there are certain things we need to do collectively that only government can do.
But there are trade-offs as well, which liberal communitarians [sic] don’t always like to acknowledge. When government expands, it’s often at the expense of alternative expressions of community, alternative groups that seek to serve the common good.
In þe bigynnyng was þe word, and þe word was at God, and God was þe word.
Þis was in þe bigynnyng at God.
Alle þingis weren maad bi hym, and wiþouten hym was maad no þing, þat þing þat was maad.
In hym was lijf, and þe lijf was þe liyt of men; and þe liyt schyneþ in derknessis,
and derknessis comprehendiden not it.
John 1:1-5 (Wycliffe translation)
There have always been people like Dr. Ronald Fletcher, who writes: “Never accept authority; whether that of a jealous god, priest, prime minister, president, dictator, unless in your own seriously considered view, there are good grounds for it. . . . Rationalists in the modern world reject the authoritarian heritage of Moses and substitute a set of non-commandments, i.e., principles on which the individual must work out his own conduct when faced by particular problems.” One wonders what authority issues (or doesn’t issue?) the non-commandments which tell individuals how they must work out their problems, and one is reassured again that the enemies of authority do not allow authority to fade away. If not Moses, then Dr. Ronald Fletcher is in authority.
Addendum: By the way, Molnar’s book contains the earliest negative use of politically correct that I’ve come across (p. 99).
Many of us are persuaded that religion is not merely one element among many in life but is central to one’s entire being. Social and political scientists have explored the implications of this for partisan loyalties, among other things. But could one’s ecclesial commitments influence the more mundane side of life? For example, take a look at this map:
. . . and then look at this map:
I won’t pretend to isolate the causal connection, but it certainly appears that what Southern Baptists call coke, Lutherans and Methodists call pop and Catholics call soda. I offer this puzzling phenomenon to the graduate student in the social sciences casting about for a dissertation topic.
Reformed Christians often refer to Genesis 1:28 as the Cultural Mandate:
And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
There is nothing especially earth-shaking in this; it is simply affirming that, as God’s image-bearers, we shape the world around us and adapt it to a diversity of uses. In recent years a number of books have been published by Christians on precisely this topic. One of the best is Andy Crouch’s Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling.
However, there is a persistent tendency amongst some to misidentify the Cultural Mandate as a command to redeem the larger culture from the distorting effects of sin. Chuck Colson’s recent Breakpoint commentary is typical in this respect: Dual Commissions. Colson properly understands that the Cultural Mandate — or Commission — and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) are not antithetical but, properly conceived, are complementary. Nevertheless, his understanding of the former is not entirely spot-on: (more…)
We are given to understand that many religions have something akin to prayer beads to assist the devout in saying their prayers. The rosary is one such aid used especially by Roman Catholics. However, it seems that the prayers accompanying the rosary long ago supplanted the Psalms for the use of illiterate people who had no access to the latter. Here is the story, according to this website:
The Rosary is actually believed to have developed as a result of the monasteries, because in the monasteries the monks would pray the Psalms, 150 altogether. However, many monks as well as townspeople were unable to read, but wanted to be in solidarity in prayer with the monks, and so developed a means of praying 150 “Our Fathers” which later, given the rise in devotion to Mary, added the “Hail Mary” as well. This is why sometimes the Rosary is called “Mary’s Psalter.” However, what would happen is given the amount [sic] of prayers, it would be hard to keep track, so they developed a sort of abacus in order to keep count, originally it was stones but later developed into beads on a string.
But there were other prayers to be counted more nearly connected with the Rosary than Kyrie eleisons. At an early date among the monastic orders the practice had established itself not only of offering Masses, but of saying vocal prayers as a suffrage for their deceased brethren. For this purpose the private recitation of the 150 psalms, or of 50 psalms, the third part, was constantly enjoined. Already in A.D. 800 we learn from the compact between St. Gall and Reichenau that for each deceased brother all the priests should say one Mass and also fifty psalms. A charter in Kemble prescribes that each monk is to sing two fifties (twa fiftig) for the souls of certain benefactors, while each priest is to sing two Masses and each deacon to read two Passions. But as time went on, and the conversi, or lay brothers, most of them quite illiterate, became distinct from the choir monks, it was felt that they also should be required to substitute some simple form of prayer in place of the psalms to which their more educated brethren were bound by rule. Thus we read in the “Ancient Customs of Cluny”, collected by Udalrio in 1096, that when the death of any brother at a distance was announced, every priest was to offer Mass, and every non-priest was either to say fifty psalms or to repeat fifty times the Paternoster. Similarly among the Knights Templar, whose rule dates from about 1128, the knights who could not attend choir were required to say the Lord’s Prayer 57 times in all and on the death of any of the brethren they had to say the Pater Noster a hundred times a day for a week.
I am unaware of any Reformed Christians using a rosary, and certainly no Reformed church endorses the practice. However, I have come across two efforts to reconnect the rosary with its origins in the Psalms and other scriptures: Pray the Rosary with the Psalms and The Daily Prayer Rosary.
Yesterday, the first sunday in Advent, our English-speaking Roman Catholic brethren began using a newly revised liturgy that is closer to the Latin texts than the previous 1973 version in use for nearly four decades. Liturgy Training Publications has posted a comparison of the two texts for those wishing to see the differences side by side. Perhaps the most immediately noticeable change comes with the greeting at the beginning of the eucharistic prayer, which runs as follows in the old version:
“The Lord be with you”
“And also with you.”
This now reads:
“The Lord be with you.”
“And with your spirit.”
This brings the English liturgy into closer conformity, not only with the Latin of the Novus Ordo mass, but with its translation into other languages as well, for example, French and Spanish. This month’s issue of First Things carries Anthony Esolen’s fascinating discussion of the new English texts: Restoring the Words.
Many other church bodies followed the Roman example during the 1970s, adopting the texts of the ordinary of the mass for their own use in, for example, the Episcopal Church’s 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican Church of Canada’s Book of Alternative Services and the Lutheran Book of Worship. Our own congregation yesterday celebrated the Lord’s Supper with the now familiar greeting: “The Lord be with you.” To which we responded: “And also with you.” This new disparity in our liturgies prompts me to wonder whether other denominations will eventually follow the Roman lead once again and bring their own liturgies into closer conformity with the new, more accurate, texts.
At this point I am reluctant to speculate on this question. Official ecumenism has fallen on hard times in recent decades, as various denominations have gone their own way on a variety of divisive issues, seemingly unconcerned with the impact on their sister churches, and sometimes even on their own communions. A more practical consideration is that composers have used the 1973 texts for their own mass settings, which are in use in countless congregations throughout the English-speaking world. Without a Vatican-style authority to impose a different translation on them, force of habit will likely incline them to stick with what they have. In the meantime, as of yesterday we are all just a little further apart, liturgically speaking.
In 1952 Miklós Rózsa, one of Hollywood’s great film composers, borrowed the Genevan Psalter’s tune for Psalms 36 and 68 in scoring Plymouth Adventure, the story of the Pilgrims’ migration to North America in 1620.
Here is the text sung by the chorus:
Confess Jehovah thankfully,
For He is good, for His mercie
Continueth for ever.
To God of gods confess doo ye,
Because His bountiful-mercee
Continueth for ever.
Unto the Lord of lords confesse
Because His merciful kindnes
Continueth for ever.
To Him that dooth Himself onely,
Things wondrous great, for His Mercy
Continueth for ever.
The film’s creators obviously did their homework, for this text comes from Henry Ainsworth’s Psalter of 1612, which the Pilgrims brought with them from the Netherlands. This versification is of Psalm 136, which Ainsworth’s Psalter assigns to this tune. I’ve not seen this film myself, but a friend told me that it aired last evening on television.
In 1989 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was subsequently signed by representatives of 140 countries and ratified or accepted by 193, with the notable exceptions of Somalia and the United States. This was not the first time that obligations towards children had been expressed in terms of rights; an earlier Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child had been adopted by the League of Nations in 1924, although in its five brief points it never once used the word “rights,” speaking instead the language of duty: the child “must be fed,” “must be sheltered and succored,” “must be protected against every form of exploitation,” &c. The 1959 UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child is similarly spare in using the language of rights, mentioning them twice under Principle 1 and not at all in Principles 2 through 10. By contrast, the CRC consists of 54 articles in which “rights” are referred to 26 times and the obligations of “States Parties” mentioned 110 times.
These differences between the CRC and the two earlier documents are significant in that they represent an historic shift which Michael Ignatieff has described as the Rights Revolution, Francis Fukuyama as the Great Disruption, and what I have elsewhere referred to as the dawn of the choice-enhancement state.
It is worth noting that, especially in the US, the CRC is controversial because it would seem to bring the state too deeply into the legitimate sphere of family intimacy. Such reservations have thus far successfully prevented the US from ratifying the Convention. Even among the signatories, several states, including the Vatican, have explicitly qualified their acceptance for various reasons. Indeed it is not altogether clear that recasting parental or societal obligations towards children as rights represents genuine progress in ensuring the latter’s well-being, especially if we do not curtail the tendency to view all rights as policed by the courts.
In one sense, of course, no one can doubt that children have the right to be loved and cared for by their parents. Yet the primary agents for fulfilling this responsibility are the parents themselves, and not the “states parties” which have signed the document, though the latter certainly have an obligation towards both parents and their children under their general mandate to do public justice. It is worth noting that the word authority appears only three times in the text of the 1989 Convention and each time refers to legal or judicial authority. When used in the plural form, authorities always denotes political authorities. Noticeably absent from all three documents is a recognition of the primacy of parental authority in nurturing the child towards maturity.
I have just completed the first draft of a manuscript on the subject of authority, office and the image of God. In the course of researching and writing this, I have become convinced that we need to reconfigure the ongoing conversation surrounding authority so as to recognize that it resides in an office – or, better, offices – given us by the God who has created us in his image. Accordingly we would be better served, in speaking of parental obligations towards their children, to focus on the authoritative offices borne by each, namely, father, mother, son and daughter.
What will a shift to the language of authority gain for us? I believe it will enable us better to account for the full complexity of the relationship between parents and minor children – necessarily an ever-changing relationship as the children grow to maturity. It will also help us to distinguish between the legitimate authoritative offices of parents and government, recognizing that, while both presumably intend the child’s best interest, the secondary authority of government is necessarily limited by the primary authority of parents. It is thus not a matter of opposing freedom, say, of parents to the authority of the state but of recognizing that different agents possess authoritative offices whose demands are different yet, properly understood, mutually supportive and equally worthy of respect.
Canada now has a counterpart to First Things. It’s called Convivium, is edited by Peter Stockland and Fr. Raymond J. de Souza, and is published by the Cardus Centre for Cultural Renewal. The name comes from the homily Fr. de Souza preached at Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’s funeral.
In each issue Fr. de Souza offers Small Talk, “an eclectic and ecumenical roundup of incidents, events and oddities that catch our editor’s eye.” Sound familiar? Here’s a sample:
What’s the difference between Orthodox and Roman Catholics anyway? Not much, apparently. “The differences are slight,” we are told by the Toronto Star. “They use the same liturgies, though Orthodox Christians don’t consider the Pope a divine figure.” So writes Murray Whyte. No one expects Whyte to know anything more about religion than anyone else at the Star, so it is sad but not surprising that he doesn’t know that Catholics don’t consider the Pope divine. But does he really consider a dispute about whether a man is or is not divine to be “slight”? Imagine if the Star had been covering the court of Constantine back in the fourth century. Breaking news from Nicaea: Arius and Athanasius quibble over slight differences.
The October 2011 preview issue is now out and subscriptions can be had here. Please subscribe today.
Here’s the big picture, from the Jersualem Post: “…at the time of Lebanese independence from France in 1946 the majority of Lebanese were Christians. Today less than 30% of Lebanese are Christians. In Turkey, the Christian population has dwindled from 2 million at the end of World War I to less than 100,000 today. In Syria, at the time of independence Christians made up nearly half of the population. Today 4% of Syrians are Christian. In Jordan half a century ago 18% of the population was Christian. Today 2% of Jordanians are Christian.”
Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in that troubled part of the world.
1. Unemployment is at the highest level since the Great Depression (with the exception of a brief blip in the early 1980s).
2. At the same time, corporate profits are at an all-time high, both in absolute dollars and as a share of the economy.
3. Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low. In other words, corporate profits are at an all-time high, in part, because corporations are paying less of their revenue to employees than they ever have. . . .
4. Income and wealth inequality in the US economy is near an all-time high: The owners of the country’s assets (capital) are winning, everyone else (labor) is losing.
Whose fault is this? That’s where the disagreements come in.