Fooderal Confusion

President Obama recently presented Wendell Berry with a National Humanities Medal. At the same time his Secretary of Agriculture, Monsanto lapdog Tom Vilsac, was paying homage to the barons of industrial agriculture at the so-called Commodity Classic.  You can read more on that HERE.

Stuff out of Washington shouldn’t surprise us, I reckon.  But still…

Love Wins

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Generosity

Studies show that people who are religious are more generous and charitable than those who are not.  Many are surprised to learn that religious participation is the single greatest predictor of charitable giving.  In fact, those who regularly participate in religious activities give four time more to charity than those who do not.

Interestingly,while religious people of all political persuasions are more generous than non-religious people, religious folks who are politically conservative, perhaps surprisingly, are the most generous of all.  And this is true even exclusive of giving to churches and religious causes.  Even if such giving isn’t counted, religious conservatives are still the most generous givers in America.   Religious conservatives are not only more likely to give to give to explicitly non-religious causes, they are also more likely to give their time and even their blood. 

Below is a link to a fascinating discussion of this phenomenon and an excerpt with comments from Arthur Brooks, a professor of Public Administration at Syracuse University, author of Who Really Cares.  I strongly recommend reading this

In fact, recent studies have shown that religious conservatives are the most generous givers to charity in our country.  Arthur Brooks of Syracuse University performed a detailed study on which segments of society give to charity and which do not. “When I started doing research on charity,” Mr. Brooks wrote, “I expected to find that political liberals — who, I believed, genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did — would turn out to be the most privately charitable people. So when my early findings led me to the opposite conclusion, I assumed I had made some sort of technical error. I re-ran analyses. I got new data. Nothing worked. In the end, I had no option but to change my views.” Brooks found that the single biggest predictor of whether someone will be charitable is their religious participation.

Religious people are more likely to give to charity, and when they give, they give more money: four times as much. And Arthur Brooks notes that giving goes beyond their own religious organization:

“Actually, the truth is that they’re giving to more than their churches,” he says. “The religious Americans are more likely to give to every kind of cause and charity, including explicitly non-religious charities….It is one of the bitterest ironies of liberal politics today that political opinions are apparently taking the place of help for others.”

Brooks also notes that religious conservatives are more likely to give time to charities, and even to give blood.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/219537/right-cares/interview

Sadly, it seems that many “liberals” and non-religious people who advocate for social justice and help for the poor, just don’t put their money where their mouth is.  For many of them (and I realize of course that there are many very generous non-religious political liberals) they must believe they satisfy whatever obligation they feel to be charitable, by voting a particular way.

Imagine how much good could be done if these folks would step up and be as charitable as their religious conservative fellow citizens. 

And ponder why, as a group, folks who are religious are more generous in all ways than those who are not.

Love Wins

 

Living Up to the Light We Have

John Wesley was the founder of Methodism and a tireless evangelist.  He devoted his life to spreading the gospel and initiated a revival that swept the English-speaking world.  So what did he say on the question of whether God’s grace and mercy extended only to “Christians”?  Are only those who assent to certain propositions–only those who “believe” certain things–admitted to the kingdom of Heaven?  Consider this, from his sermon “On Faith”:

The next sort of faith is the faith of Heathens, with which I join that of Mahometans. I cannot but prefer this before the faith of the Deists; because, though it embraces nearly the same objects, yet they are rather to be pitied than blamed for the narrowness of their faith. And their not believing the whole truth, is not owing to want of sincerity, but merely to want of light. When one asked Chicali, an old Indian Chief, “Why do not you red men know as much as us white men?” he readily answered, “Because you have the great Word, and we have not.”

It cannot be doubted, but this plea will avail for millions of modern Heathens. Inasmuch as to them little is given, of them little will be required. As to the ancient Heathens, millions of them, likewise were savages. No more therefore will be expected of them, than the living up to the light they had. But many of them, especially in the civilized nations, we have great reason to hope, although they lived among Heathens, yet were quite of another spirit; being taught of God, by His inward voice, all the essentials of true religion. 

No more was expected of them than living up to the light they had?  God’s inward voice can teach the essentials of true religion to those who aren’t “Christian”?

If John Wesley were alive today and made those comments, he’d catch some heat.  But he’d be in good company.

Love Wins

Happiness

If one only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier that other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.

Charles De Montesquieu

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Saying Yes

One of the reasons all the uproar over the inclusivism implied in Rob Bell’s book Love Wins is so maddening, is that what he says there hardly makes him a wild-eyed extremist.  Those who share his views on that subject (and who in fact state them more directly) include folks like C.S. Lewis, John Wesley and Billy Graham.  I can’t find the stat now, but I read that a substantial majority of seminary professors and graduates are inclusivists or universalists.  Deeply studying the nature and character of God seems to draw one to that conclusion.Over the next few days I’ll offer a few quotes from some evangelical heavyweights that show that if Rob Bell is an inclusivist, he is not alone.  Consider this one:

“I used to play God but I can’t do that any more. I used to believe that pagans in far-off countries were lost and were going to hell if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that.  I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God—through nature, for instance—and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying ’yes’ to God.”

Billy Graham

Love Wins

Violence

Our culture is obsessed with violence.  We entertain ourselves by watching violence.  Our children entertain themselves by watching violence.  With violent video games we can play out fantasies of murder.  We enjoy watching brutal violence like “ultimate fighting.”

Studies show that children see approximately 16,000 murders on television by the time they turn 18.  Neither we nor our children are horrified or nauseated by this.  It is just no big deal.  Depictions of violence, murder and killing are not considered obscene or pornographic by our culture.  We would freak out at the sight of a woman’s nipple on television, but munch popcorn with our children as we watch murders.

Aliens observing our behavior would no doubt find this bizarre and evidence of our lack of moral development.

I wonder if we shouldn’t check our guts–and our moral compasses–the next time we’re entertaining ourselves with violence and murder.

Love Wins

Look Under Foot

The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is, “Look under foot!” You are always nearer to the divine and the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the center of the world.

~John Burroughs

Love Wins