- Obama has not shown that he can’t win over white blue-collar voters — he has shown that he’s not as popular as Clinton is among them. “Obama hasn’t proved he can win… white working-class voters“ — yes he has, he just hasn’t won as many of them as has Clinton. There’s a very significant difference between Obama running against McCain in a general election and Obama running against Clinton in a series of primaries whose main function is to determine the Democratic Party’s nominee. It’s possible that white working-class Democrats will support a pro-war Republican in the general election, but the strongest sponsors of the “Obama can’t win” refrain belong to the Clinton campaign’s spin factory. It would be interesting to see how many of them pontificated four years ago about how “electable” John Kerry was. Oh, and Obama didn’t suffer a “big loss” in Pennsylvania — last I saw, Clinton’s margin came in at about 9%, which (if that counts as a “big loss”) would make Obama’s win in North Carolina a “crushing demolition.” In fact, Obama seems to have made much greater gains among Clinton-favoring Pennsylvanians than Clinton made among Obama-favoring North Carolinians.
- Speaking of political figures, it was good of the New York Times to notice that Jeremiah Wright is not the only bombastic preacher who’s aligned with a presidential candidate. Of the two, I find, Wright vastly more plausible than Hagee, but the dominant media culture has defined Wright as “unpatriotic” and “controversial,” whereas Hagee has not been scrutinized and characterized with nearly the fierce (and, in effect, partisan and I dare say racist) attention. Thanks, Jennifer, for catching that.
- Cheers for the Open Humanities Press! I would wish that their numbers increase, but that’s practically inevitable; perhaps, “May your rise to prominence be swift and expansive!”
- A propos of nothing in particular, I wondered yesterday how Washington would react if the 1977 Hanafi Muslim siege took place today. Same cast of characters, same behavior — just a more intensely-charged atmosphere of fear and anti-Muslim anxiety.
- Three theological notes worth remarking. First, Jason links to Stephanie Paulsell’s apologia for academic preparation for ministry. I’m on board with both sets of observations, but I’d probably put it more strongly. A particular anti-intellectual bias has crept into church life, and those who venture to name it will be labeled “eliltists” — but I can’t escape the conclusion that if the gospel matters at all, it matters in ways that benefit from knowledge understanding, and critical reflection. To repeat myself: if you were having heart trouble, you probably would not go to a doctor just because she had a pleasant bedside manner and was open to ideas from lots of different approaches to medical treatment. Ministry involves the cure of wounded souls, with far-reaching consequences, but people deprecate learned preparation for that vocation. Sigh.
Second, Jason points to Doug Chapin’s pointer to a survey that suggests that “fundamentalists” don”t know their biblical content as well as those whom the report’s author calls “critical” readers. The labels don’t matter much, though this comes as no surprise to me. What matters most is that “Even within highly secularized nations such as France, the U.K. and Holland, broad majorities report a positive attitude towards the Bible, describing it as ‘interesting’ and expressing a desire to know more about it” and “Broad majorities also describe the Bible as ‘difficult’ and express a need for help in understanding it – suggesting, according to the authors of the study, a ‘teaching moment’ for the churches.” This corresponds to what I’ve experienced in every situation — except those where parish or institutional leadership has inculcated the anti-intellectual mediocratism I alluded to above. The vital point isn’t that so-called fundamentalists don’t know the Bible well, but that the vast preponderance of people sense that they don’t know the Bible well, find it difficult to learn about, and want to know more.
Third, Tripp pointed me to this post about “what the church can learn from Wikipedia,” a premise about which I’d be more positive if I didn’t see so overwhelming an anti-intellectual bias to so many quarters in church life (Left Behind and da Vinci Code, anyone?). I’d just as soon not rely primarily on ground-up Jesusphilia as nuritional guide for healthy faith.