Don't forget marriage, says Alex Kotlowitz
"With the Republican victory last week, Congress now appears likely to set aside funding for programs that promote marriage among the poor," writes Alex Kotlowitz in today's New York Times. He had initially thought the plan was "nuts," "But now I wonder if the conservatives who are driving this effort might be on to something. … There is now growing consensus among social scientists that, all things being equal, two parents are best for children. It would seem to follow that two-parent families are also best for a community. It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes families to build a village."
Kotlowitz, who wrote There Are No Children Here, criticizes liberals for ignoring—or even disparaging—"the importance of marriage in reinforcing the bonds that hold society together." But conservatives, he says, seem to argue that if you get poor people married, they won't be poor anymore.
It's unclear how government can really "promote marriage" with the desired results, Kotlowitz says. But it's still worth examining. "Even if conservatives don't know how to get there, at least they recognize that marriage, this very private institution, has very public consequences. Liberals, who have a much firmer understanding of the obstacles poor people face, need to enter that conversation."
It's a good piece, but leaves one question: why does a Republican victory mean Congress will set aside these funds? It was, after all, Bush's welfare head who pushed the $100 million effort in the first place. The Associated Press and syndicated columnist Michael McManus, meanwhile, make the opposite claim. Republican victories in Congress may mean more federal funding for marriage promotion, not less.
Is it a sin to drive an SUV?
The Evangelical Environmental Network's "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign is gaining more media attention. "We think [Jesus] is Lord of our transportation choices as well as all our other choices," EEN head Jim Ball tells the Associated Press in a widely circulating story. "When you need a new car, you should buy the most fuel-efficient one that truly meets your needs."
The Washington Post reported the story last Friday. "Jesus wants his followers to drive the least-polluting, most efficient vehicle that truly meets their needs—though first he might look at other ways to get around," Ball told the paper. "He'd definitely be in favor of us taking public transportation."
But Ball took issue with Weblog's recent summary of the campaign. A press release tied the "What Would Jesus Drive" campaign to criticism of the "Come Together & Worship" tour. But Ball notes that the EEN's ad campaign will criticize the cars, and won't mention the concert. "We only found out about the tour when the Detroit Free Press story on it began with the question we are asking, 'What Would Jesus Drive?,'" Ball said in a letter to Christianity Today. "We are fans of Third Day and Michael W. Smith, and think they have a tremendous ministry. We are sad that they have unfortunately been caught up in the controversy of Chevrolet's sponsorship. We hope and pray that many will come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord through this tour. Our problem is with Chevrolet sponsoring the tour for the reasons we mention in our press release."
- Unilateral attack on Iraq backed by Church of England | British and American plans to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein breaches the latest United Nations resolution could be justified even without the further backing of the UN, the Church of England decided last night (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Church of England calls for prayer to replace conflict in Iraq | General synod says invasion is unjustified (The Guardian, London)
- Bishops turn to writing antiwar policy | The nation's Roman Catholic bishops turned their attention from the sexual abuse crisis to devising a statement to express moral reservations about going to war against Iraq (The New York Times)
- Bishops preparing Iraq position | Lay groups criticize role of Boston's Cardinal Law on issue (The Washington Post)
- Law leads US bishops' discussion on Iraq (The Boston Globe)
- Faithful wrestle with morality of possible conflict with Iraq | Nationally, almost all leaders of mainline Protestant denominations, as well as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have spoken out against a unilateral, pre-emptive strike against Iraq (The Seattle Times)
- Canadian Mennonites wrestle with pacifist history | Forty percent of eligible Canadian Mennonite men took up arms when Canada joined Allied forces fighting Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1945, breaking a central tenet of their religious beliefs (Reuters)
- The maiden of light | In Sweden, where winter nights are long, the Feast of St. Lucia is a welcome harbinger of yuletide celebrations (The Boston Globe Magazine)
- The day of kings | In Latin cultures, the celebration of the 12th day of Christmas is last, but far from least (The Boston Globe Magazine)
- Filling St. Nick's shoes | Following in the steps of Santa's ancestor, the gift of giving on December 5 is kept low-key and witty (The Boston Globe Magazine)
- Teaching of ethics focus at Baylor conference | Some lecturers disagreed on whether and how ethics can be taught, but they stressed the need for leaders to have morals (The Waco [Tex.] Tribune-Herald)
- Globalization a challenge for ethicists | Critics fear it threatens native cultures, speeds environmental decay, widens rich-poor gap (Los Angeles Times)
Other stories of interest:
- Rapt by Jesus | Anne Graham Lotz is so focused on Jesus she wasn't aware a protest was unfolding behind her the night in May she brought her message to Spirit Square (The Charlotte Observer)
- Biblical plagues and parting of Red Sea 'caused by volcano' | So says new BBC documentary (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- A sight that inspires ambivalence | The ruins of Holy Land U.S.A., a park of Catholic-oriented religious kitsch in Connecticut, await restorers or the bulldozer (The New York Times)
- Secularism born of Christianity | Western Christianity actually gave Europe the possibility of secular government and independent secular thought (William Pfaff, International Herald-Tribune)
- 'Indelible' skepticism nurtured in church | God is free to choose His own friends, but why does he seem to prefer loquacious egotists? (Sonny Scott, Des Moines [Iowa] Journal)
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