Friday news wrap

October 26, 2007, 4:18 pm | Posted by

One of FPL’s intrepid interns who helps put together the daily newsreel asked me an interesting question on Tuesday:

after doing the newsreel for several weeks now, all of the “romney is a mormon” and “the religious right hates guiliani” stories are getting old/boring…should i still be clipping them?

Says a lot about faith and politics news, doesn’t it? Part of my response to the incisive intern:

I include [Romney] Mormon stories if a) it’s a fresh perspective, b) it ties into current news, or c) is by a prominent writer…Also, sometimes the duration of a storyline is a story in itself. As much as I want to give subscribers good stories to read, I want to give them a sense of what the dominant narratives are in religion-and-politics news. But that’s a good observation; thanks for bringing it up

I think both of us are right. To people who scan dozens of outlets every day, the news about certain candidates gets repetitive and saturated. The pack-animal nature of the press, coupled with the campaigns’ sophisticated PR operations, ensures that stories linger longer than most readers would care to read. My interest never tires, though, and I want to make sure that the newsreel reflects what’s going on, even if the same stories stick around for weeks.

Yet sometimes these Big Stories peter out just when they should be coming to fruition. For instance, there has been a months-long debate among pundits about whether Romney should give The Mormon Kennedy Speech (a speech analogous to JFK’s 1960 speech assuring Protestant Texans that his Roman Catholic faith wouldn’t influence his governance). Columnist and editorial boards have said he must do it, he can’t do it, he should do it now, he should do it later, he owes it to us, how dare we expect it of him, etc., etc., etc.

Well, Bob Schiefer kind of coaxed The Mormon Kennedy Speech out of him on Sunday, and it hasn’t received that much attention:

I’m only halfway interested in what Romney’s saying here because the content isn’t all that surprising. What’s more noteworthy is that he is talking at length about his religion on national television. People have been opining about this for months, and now he talks about it, and no one cares. Granted there were bigger things in the news cycle, but still, the silence is conspicuous.

In unrelated news, my favorite story of the week was William McKenzie’s Dallas Morning News column about the theology of empire. After hearing about American exceptionalism from candidate after candidate at last weekend’s Values Voters Summit, I needed an antidote to the militarism underlying that worldview.

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What’s new in the neighborhood? Resource justice

October 26, 2007, 10:09 am | Posted by

Revolution in Jesusland writes:

Progressives (Christian and secular) have lost faith in humanity’s ability to intentionally manage our economies. I’m not talking about central planning, but I am talking about collectively guaranteeing that everyone in the world has access to means of making a good living that’s sustainable and doesn’t destroy the earth. That’s just not an acceptable goal anymore for respectable progressives.

Sound counterintuitive?. . .then see what happens when a young evangelical reads Rauschenbusch.

On that note, JSpot shows some solidarity with the people of Kansas where about 27,000 people make $2.65 an hour.

Commenting on the recent attacks on Catholics United for putting the poor first, Xpatriated Texan notes:

Thaddeus McCotter doesn’t like Catholics United – in fact, he’s calling them “false prophets”. Their crime?

Catholics United errs by deliberately conflating means and ends. Catholics United claims that any pro-life representative opposing Leftist policies to help the poor also de facto opposes helping the poor.

You really have to twist yourself into a knot to get all scoochy and huffy to say that opposing policies “to help the poor also de facto opposes helping the poor”. Huh?

Not enough economics for you, God’s Politics provides a great sermon on the rich man in the gospel of Luke. “He went to hell because he lived side-by-side with poverty didn’t lift a hand to help.”

Speaking of shared resources, Faithful Progressive notes the climate change connection to the California wildfires and urban sprawl.

Mainstream Baptist writes:

The Campaign for America’s Future weblog has posted an outstanding essay on “The Art of the Hissy Fit” that describes the practice of ritual defamation. The essay is about the tactics that conservatives use to manipulate political discussion in American politics, but it also describes a practice that fundamentalists employed to marginalize moderates and progressives in order to take over the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Faith and the California fires

October 25, 2007, 5:09 am | Posted by

Here are some videos on how the Southern California wildfires are affecting congregations and how faith groups are responding.

And of course Fox News find a radical Islamic link:

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Culture War Watch: “Values” Voters Edition

October 24, 2007, 12:07 pm | Posted by

This week’s dispatch from the trenches:

Making a Summit out of a Molehill?

This week’s Family Research Council-sponsored “Values Voters Summit” succored the proverbial troops with rations of red meat from several presidential candidates and other well-known culture warriors. The well-publicized debate between Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners and Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention included a culture war high point (or low point, depending on how you look at it) when Wallis was booed for talking about global warming.

Didn’t the War on Christmas used to start the Day after Thanksgiving?

In a new take on “Christmas creep,” World Net Daily began publicizing its Christmas Defense Kits in early October. Of course, it is never too early to prepare for the greatest battle Western Civilization has ever faced, and these kits offer resources for following the mandate outlined in Paul’s Letter to the Shoppers, Book 1, Chapter 3*:

And in pursuit of the the door-buster sale thou shalt get thee to thine local mall, and if at the checkout thou receivest not the greeting “Merry Christmas” but instead receivest the abomination “Happy Holidays” thou shalt shake the dust off thy loafers as you leave the accursed place, never to return [except for a discounted Nintendo Wii], and thou shalt denounce the evildoers on Fox News.

*most scholars believe this book to be apocryphal

What is this “terrorism” of which you speak? I have been too distracted by global warming to become aware of this phenomenon.

Thanks for the tip, “Islamofacsim Awareness Week!”

Powerful Republican decries partisanship, using religion for political ends, by calling political foes “sinful…false prophets.”

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, chair of the Republican House Policy Committee, slammed Catholics United for supposedly using the Catholic faith for political ends. We’re still waiting for a similar condemnation of The Catholic League.

What’s compassion got to do with it?

In FPL’s humble opinion, the “compassion issues,” have the potential to reshape the faith and politics landscape due to their ability to bring people together across ideological and faith divides. But don’t take my word for it.

Scorecard:

It pains me to say so, but the Common Do-Gooders are looking pretty beat up this week. With all the “values voters” coverage, there was plenty of space to re-hash those old issues. But, all is not lost for the Common Do-Gooders; they’ve clearly got the culture warriors worried. The new poll showing the shift in Evangelical priorities and Pat Robertson (perhaps inadvertently) acknowledging a broader Evangelical agenda, the Common Do-Gooders show that the Common Do-Gooders have gotten some serious reinforcements.

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You’ll never believe this

October 23, 2007, 11:39 am | Posted by

What would you say if I told you Pat Robertson said the Family Research Council only speaks for a faction of evangelicals?

You’d certainly have cause to accuse me of fibbing, but you’d be wrong. In an on-air exchange with David Brody, Robertson said

“I’m not sure that that group in Washington is really representative of evangelicals across the spectrum. This is the Family Research Council and some of the James Dobson supporters, I just think that’s just a narrow slice of evangelical thought.”

Was he acknowledging the broadening agenda embraced by people of faith, or was it a petty shot at a turf rival? I report, you decide. Check out the video; Robertson’s remark is not quite halfway through the clip.

My two cents: He’s speaking about “the evangelical spectrum” and “evangelical thought” in the context of a political discussion, so it’s fair to infer that he’s talking about the spectrum of political beliefs, and I doubt Robertson thinks FRC’s agenda isn’t narrow enough (after all, how much narrower can it get?). Then again, I can only delve but so deeply into the Right’s internal squabbles. But Robertson’s words contrasts Richard Land’s contention that the latest CBS poll overstates the breadth of evangelical priorities.

Am I losing my mind?

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