Culture: July 2005 Archives

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had a radio commentary yesterday which made some rather alarming suggestions. You can get the transcript here.

Here are some excerpts from the introduction:

Men and women within the Roman Catholic faith are still hoping that the church can change to more accurately reflect the World in which we live. This week-end, for example, an international conference will be held in Ottawa to support women's equality in religions. WOW, or Women's Ordination Worldwide, is fighting for the ordination of women in all Christian Churches. It says it wants to open a global debate on the issue. ... Bob Ferguson is a retired professor from the Royal Military College. He believes that Catholics are unlikely ever to see changes in policy on birth control or on the question of married or female priests. In fact, he says change won't come until the churches are forced to comply with the same human rights legislation that affects the rest of society.

The rest of the commentary is from Ferguson, who goes on to argue that churches should be forced to comply. Here are some further excerpts:

This one really shocked me. This is from Doug Wilson, of all people. Gay marriage is a judgment on our culture, and as God's people Christians should allow that judgment to play out. Now this shouldn't be too shocking from someone who thinks we need to make a strong distinction between the heavenly reality of the church (what Augustine called the City of God) and earthly governments. Wink and I disagree on how much the government has a moral responsibility to represent moral truth as taught by Christianity, which we both believe to get moral teaching correct, but we agree on the strong distinction between the two cities of Augustine. For those who don't know who Wilson is, he's a theonomist, maybe the most influential one in the world. That means he sees no such distinction. For him to say something like this sounds really strange, at least if you think of theonomy the way pundits complaining about conservative evangelicals' politics think of it. However, those complainers don't understand what the more sane versions of theonomy really amount to, and Wilson's stance on this issue demonstrates that. [Hat tip: World, whose weird code for links I can never get to work either in Internet Explorer or Firefox, which is why I'm not giving any links to Wilson himself.]

On the more general point about Theocracy Paranoia, Gene Veith said something a few weeks back that I thought was incredibly insightful. The primary things people are worried about are the unsuccessful attempts by conservatives, many of whom are Christians, to limit abortion and to prevent marriage from being gender-neutral. Consider the failed attempt to limit what can best be described as the most barbaric abortion procedure ever invented That description of it is almost a direct quote from a Norwegian atheist philosopher friend of mine who is thoroughly opposed to the pro-life position. He says he doesn't know how American politicians like my senators can defend such an barbaric procedure. Even after Congress passed it and the president signed it, judges wouldn't allow the ban, claiming that it might sometimes be healthier for a woman to kill her child during birth than to go ahead and finish delivery. If the so-called theocrats can't even accomplish that small and relatively reasonable restriction on a dreadful procedure, I don't know why there's such paranoia about the looming theocracy that we all need to beware of. Anyway, in the light of that point, Veith asks the following question. "A few decades ago, when abortion was against the law and homosexuality was assumed by all sides to be immoral, was that a theocracy?"

Update: I hadn't thought to run my mouse over the World link and then type in the URL. I've done that. Apparently it's a piece by Doug Jones and Doug Wilson together. My thoughts on the actual piece follow below the fold.

Christians and July 4

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At this time last year, I wrote What Should Christians Think of July 4? I've been told my several people whose opinion I greatly respect that this is one of my best posts, and I think it's among the best of this blog myself, so I might mention it to those who didn't read it the first time around.

Jonathan Ichikawa looks at a a study regarding private and public schools. Apparently the overwhelming support for the thesis that private schools are better disappears when you adjust for socioeconomic status. When you compare people of one class level, they do slightly better on standardized tests (well, really one standardized test) in public schools than in private. I don't think this shows that public schools are on the whole better, though.

This study doesn't seem to differentiate between two very different kinds of private school. There are the elite private schools like the one I went to for high school, and then there are the smaller, usually religious schools, which have a much lower tuition, often hire teachers with much less training, and don't attract students who are anywhere near as good. I suspect that many such schools are worse in most academic ways than the public schools in their area. Schools like the one I went to are just so clearly superior to the local public schools that I can't accept Jonathan's conclusion. That's not going to be representative of private schools on the whole, though. I'd like to see a study that compares students who went to a school like the one I went to with students in public schools alongside a separate category of those in smaller and less-funded private schools.



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