Thursday, January 30, 2020

data on cultural Christianity vs. apprenticeship with Jesus

It's not clear, but my educated guess continues to be that cultural, casual, cafeteria Christianity in America has faded substantially in recent years-- while apprenticeship with Jesus is about the same or even a bit stronger.

Along those lines, I saw a brief review of Stanton's book in World-- and he cites increases from 2007-2014 in those who a.) say their faith is important to them; b.) pray daily; c.) speak about faith with others; d.) who read the Bible on their own at least weekly; and e.) attend a small group.

If so, while the resulting cultural shifts are more obvious, the more important trends (from a Kingdom perspective) are subtle. If so, disciples of Jesus can be thankful that faux Christianity has taken a beating while striving to fulfill all of the discipleship pieces of the Great Commission and the command to church leaders in Ephesians 4:11-16.

should we tax non-profits including churches?

A really provocative question from many angles...
A few principles:
a.) the Church should not lobby for subsidies
b.) one can make a good case to tax any productive entity-- to deal with "negative externalities" and to provide "public goods" (as economists define them)
c.) that said, one can make a case for exempting non-profits
d.) in any case, all non-profits should be treated the same for tax purposes; please, no discrimination or bigotry against religion
e.) remember that all taxes are always borne by people-- consumers, workers, owners, etc.
f.) tax increases (e.g., on non-profits or on services) should be offset by tax decreases elsewhere

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Miss Virginia (movie) on DC's educational vouchers

--"Miss Virginia" was very good and better than I expected. Good acting with some star power (Matthew Modine, Vanessa Williams, Uzo Adubo [Orange/Black], and Niles Fitch [young Randall from This Is Us]). Good twists and tension, despite a relatively predictable plot. The music was *really* good. Powerful moments, including an understated ending with a crackhead mother mustering enough love for her child to apply for a scholarship.
--Interesting stuff from the IMDB ratings:
a.) high proportion (47%) of 1 and 10 ratings, probably indicating the ideological biases involved. (1 is obviously an ax to grind and 10 is probably a little too excited!)
b.) women rated it two points higher than men (perhaps for its strong female characters and its focus on vulnerable children)
--The movie depicts the inspiring story of Virginia Walden Ford leading a movement to get educational vouchers for kids in DC. (Unlike other settings, since DC is not self-governed, this literally required "an act of Congress".) We were privileged to meet her last night and to hear her do Q&A after the film.
--The turning point for her-- and for many people-- is to learn how much is spent in govt K-12 schools. Today, it's about $350K per classroom of 25 students. That factoid-- along with the prevalence of public school teachers who pay for private schools instead of using their own schools for free-- is enough to get most people to reject the common claim that we need more spending.
--Nothing is a panacea in K-12, given the prevalence of govt-subsidized family dysfunction. But more choice, competition, empowerment, etc. would be a vast improvement. Formalized public charter schools are a no-brainer. And if you're a fan of the GI Bill and food stamps, then to be coherent, you gotta be a fan of vouchers too.
--If you're into civil rights and K-12 education, this joins "Waiting for Superman" and "Lean on Me" as must sees. Check it out!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Jonah Goldberg, etc. on the Dem primary and "diversity"

After Kamala Harris dropped out, angst about diversity in the Dem primary got rolling. Jonah Goldberg joked: "An Asian guy, two black guys, three white women (one of whom spent much of her life claiming to be Native American), a Pacific Islander woman, a gay guy, a Hispanic guy, two elderly Caucasian Jews (one a billionaire, the other a socialist), a self-styled Irishman, and a few nondescript white guys walk into a bar, and the bartender yells, 'Get the hell out! We value diversity here!'”

Now, as we move to the hot-and-heavy part of their primary, the diversity has largely disappeared-- especially of the racial sorts usually most-emphasized on the Left. What to think? 
a.) Dems may be getting what they want in terms of racial outcomes. but not the picture they like to portray. Do as I say; not as I do.
b.) I'm hoping to see the top-tier candidates propose remedies for this in terms of Affirmative Action, reparations, or redistibution of some sort to deal with this profound inequality.
c.) When you have simplistic ideas about class, economy, and political economy-- and incoherent views on race-- what do you expect?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Larsen on Ryrie on the emotional side of atheism

Looking forward to reading this book in the coming year. (Larsen's review was good too!)

Since atheism is not a coherent logical position (aside from a mere rejection that does not propose a compelling alternative), it's important to consider its true sources. Ryrie's (sympathetic) take is the "emotional" side-- and the history of that angle (esp. the role of anger and anxiety in the 16th & 17th centuries).

In his excellent review, Larsen describes the far-more-common non-theism routes-- combinations of agnosticism, Esau-like apathy (described as "godless" in Hebrews 12:16), and the decline of faux or pseudo forms of Christianity (e.g., less political and social coercion, less reliance on the church's social safety net).