stage set for the religious left, prairie autumn wallpaper, some other culture bits

While we get pretty regular and disturbing calls for violence against the government or political figures, the American people, regardless of political alignment, place a huge value on stability. While it varies from person to person the two things that instill a sense of stability and order are government institutions and religion. The later, it could be argued, has a further reach, dictating our eternal destinies as it were. The two seem inexorably linked. Not because they are actually joined at the hip. Enlightened secular societies do quite well. Most of secularized western Europe has surpassed the U.S. in life expectancy and life satisfaction among other achievements. And despite our own on going culture wars or we’re certainly more enlightened than Saudi Arabia, Iran or even Mexico in separating religion and government. yet like the resurgence of superstitious beliefs, our faith in government and religion has peaks and valleys. So much so that someone noticed they might be linked – The Psychological Seesaw of God and Country

In a second Canadian study, 79 participants read one of two articles ostensibly published in the journal Science. One stated that science increasingly believes in the existence of a God or God-like entity who is “continually making changes to alter the course of cosmic history.” The other explained that while God may exist, the laws of physics mean he could not interfere in man’s affairs.

Afterward, the participants answered a series of questions, including eight that measured their support for the current national government.

“When participants were led to believe that scientists have concluded that God is unlikely to intervene in the world’s affairs, participants showed higher levels of government support,” they report. “When God was depicted as a source of control and order, participants less ardently defended the legitimacy of their government.”

Kay and his colleagues concede that in the U.S., “religious commitment does not appear to be waning as secular systems develop and stabilize,” which is what one would expect if their thesis is correct. They note, however, that this pattern is “almost exclusively limited to the United States,” and they cite two factors that drive it: the “consistent influx of immigrants from less-developed countries” with fragile governmental and economic systems, and the growing gap between rich and poor.

“This has led to a substantial proportion of the population that has not experienced more personal stability as the country has developed overall,” they write. That perceived lack of personal control would explain the nation’s high level of religiosity.

If Kay’s concept of a terror-management teeter-totter is correct, Americans’ belief in an all-powerful God will only increase during our current period of economic and political instability. The idea that our fates and fortunes are largely determined by random forces is one we are strongly inclined to deny. If Congress can’t provide the sense of security we yearn for, there’s always the church.

Most people probably associate strong religious beliefs with America’s religious Right. Not an unreasonable stereotype since it is one the Right itself perpetuates. If you have cable, satellite TV and listen to the radio and their were 50 hours in a day you could easily listen to fifty hours of far Right religious dogma entangled with politics and public policy. I’m not saying most people do, only that by looking at the program listings for TV and radio it is there if you desire. So with this study in mind, secularized Christians, agnostics, atheists, those who believe in a tribal religion or independent church might feel a sense of dread at the thought of the current shrill peak of anti-government rhetoric and the strong possibility of an up tick of religious dogmatism on the Right. Other conditions are ripe for such a trend. High unemployment, the wage gap, the very low economic mobility that has become an entrenched part of the U.S. economy ( despite late night commercial promises of riches in real estate ). In addition we’re in the midst of sea changing cultural mores regarding gay marriage and a backlash against the oppressive Calvinistic laws against personal use of marijuana ( against Draconian drug laws in general). But not so fast. Those conditions along with demographic trends are ripe for the religious Left. Economic trends in particular. We’re living in times reminiscent of the Gilded Age up through the Great Depression. The only reason we’re not seeing bread lines and mass protests is because of the social safety net and government programs like Federal Deposit Insurance). A large swath of American workers – those that can find a job anyway – are working like pack mules and still are not making enough money to pay all their basic living expenses. Somehow the great beneficent deity of the Right’s perfect marketplace is rewarding wealth and not making work pay. Rise of the Religious Left

Which political party’s members are most likely to believe that Jesus will definitely return to earth before midcentury? The Republicans, right? Wrong. The Democrats.

This was revealed by a report issued last week by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

On the surface it may seem surprising, but, in fact, it’s quite logical. Blacks and Hispanics, two highly religious groups, are a growing part of the Democratic Party. A June 2009 Gallup report found that blacks and Hispanics constituted 30 percent of the party. Recent polling by Pew puts the number at 37 percent.

According to a Gallup report issued last Friday, church attendance among blacks is exactly the same as among conservatives and among Republicans. Hispanics closely follow. Furthermore, a February Gallup report found that blacks and Hispanics, respectively, were the most likely to say that religion was an important part of their daily lives. In fact, on the Jesus question, nonwhite Democrats were roughly twice as likely as white Democrats to believe that He would return to earth by 2050.

Add to this the fact that, according to the 2009 Gallup report, 20 percent of the Democratic Party is composed of highly religious whites who attend church once a week or more, and you quickly stop second-guessing the Second Coming numbers.

Welcome to the Religious Left, which will continue to grow as the percentage of minorities in the country and in the party grows.

Charles Blow wrote that column and suggests the possibility the religious left might drag Democrats to the right on cultural issues. Finally declaring it is difficult to tell. But he already answered his own doubts in the same piece.

For the most part, it( meaning the religious left) seems to have made its peace with the mishmash of morality under the Democratic umbrella, rallying instead around some core Democratic tenets: protection of, and equality for, the disenfranchised and providing greater opportunity and assistance for the poor.

It has been my personal experience that religious liberals simply are not bothered by the various flavors of secular liberals. Where as far Right Christians feel threatened by secularism – thus the rage and hatred from various right-wing Christianists from Phyllis Schlafly to Newt Gingrich and Glenn Beck.

prairie autumn wallpaper


It Gets Better (Unless You’re in Foster Care)

According to the American Bar Association’s 2008 guidebook for child-welfare lawyers and judges, virtually all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning kids in group homes had reported verbal harassment; 70 percent had been subjected to violence; and 78 percent had either run away or been removed from a foster placement for reasons related to their sexuality.

What’s more upsetting is that many foster homes are unwilling to even accept gay teens. Jerry Walters, vice president for foster-care services with the Jacksonville-based Boys’ Home Association, told Mother Jones that “his organization recently surveyed its 246 families and found only 21 who were willing to accept a gay teenager.” There are some tactics that may alleviate the problem, including reaching out to gay and lesbian adults and recruiting them as foster parents and housing foster kids in independent-living facilities, but they are largely unused. It’s one unfortunate situation that needs to get better.

Cruel Black Dove music videos. Angst and love. Who would have guessed from the name..

Infrastructure improvements, good. Asphalt made from petrochemicals, not so great. Creating Roads From Sand and Bacteria Instead of Oil

Andrew English explains the convoluted history of James Bond’s legendary Aston Martin DB5, star of ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Thunderball’. Conveniently or perhaps politely, skipping over why the English never got the knack of designing electrical systems for cars until Ford bought Jaguar.