Sunday, July 30, 2006

Your reading assignment for today

Taking just a moment from the delightful spectacle of Mel Gibson imploding, there are two very interesting articles in The Times today I would call to your attention. Neither is a hard news story, and only one is somewhat about politics.

That would be this one about a conservative evangelical preacher in Minnesota, who is concerned that his faith has becomes too closely aligned to the Republican party, and fears it will ultimately hurt the religion:

Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes.

The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

Granted, suburban St. Paul, Minn., is 1,000 times more progressive than East Bumfuck, Alabammy or some of the other southern strongholds of the religious right, but it is encouraging.

Boyd seems like a good guy. Go check out the story.

Then there's this, a fascinating piece in the Health section about how our ancestors would see us as some sort of supermen, we are so much bigger, live so much longer and remain so much healthier than they usually did:

People of Valentin Keller’s era, like those before and after them, expected to develop chronic diseases by their 40’s or 50’s. Keller’s descendants had lung problems, they had heart problems, they had liver problems. They died in their 50’s or 60’s.

Now, though, life has changed. The family’s baby boomers are reaching middle age and beyond and are doing fine.

“I feel good,” says Keller’s great-great-great-grandson Craig Keller. At 45, Mr. Keller says he has no health problems, nor does his 45-year-old wife, Sandy.

The Keller family illustrates what may prove to be one of the most striking shifts in human existence — a change from small, relatively weak and sickly people to humans who are so big and robust that their ancestors seem almost unrecognizable.

Plus we have cable.


Anonymous said...

That rev. seems like a cool guy but unfortunately he is in the minority among evangelical preachers. Most of them are only too happy to get in bed with the Republican party. Believe me I see it every day here (in Tenn).

Anonymous said...

All you need to know is that 1000 people left his church and that wasnt AL that was MN

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