World Magazine Blog
November 26, 2003
FLASH: DOBSON SUPPORTS “THE POLITICS OF THE POSSIBLE”
Here’s a major development in the campaign for a marriage-protecting constitutional amendment. Leaders of pro-family groups have disagreed on whether to push for a constitutional amendment that states “Marriage shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman,” or a second, more extensive version that would also bar same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. But the highly-influential Dr. James Dobson today sent this to pro-family leaders:
This note is intended to convey a straight-forward message, based on careful deliberation and prayer. We have talked to members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate about prospects for passing the Federal Marriage Amendment. Every one of these elected officials, most of whom you know, have stated emphatically that there is no chance of passing the more inclusive language which addresses indirectly the issue of civil unions…. We have also been in direct communication with the White House in regard to the same issue, and although the President’s spokesmen are appropriately guarded in what they say, we believe that it is very possible the President will be able to support the original language, but he will have difficulty with the second, more extensive version.
Given these understandings, the issue for us is now settled. We will henceforth be supporting the original language and urge our colleagues to consider doing the same. We know there is sharp disagreement at this point and are respectful of those who see this issue differently. But we are convinced that pro-family leaders should opt for “the politics of the possible,” rather than taking a long-shot on a proposal that seems destined to fail. We are now conveying that position to our friends on the Hill, and to our contacts in the White House.
Dobson’s decision is huge and deserves applause. Before, we had the prospect of social conservatives tearing each other apart. Now, pro-family groups, the White House, the GOP congressional leadership, and some Democrats will work together to send to the states a constitutional amendment — and they have a good shot at success. The decision may also signal a move away from the separatism that still remains among some evangelicals and toward biblical pragmatism: pushing as hard as we can within the circumstances in which God has providentially placed us.
Posted at CST 03:38 PM | Comments (3)
BRINGING IN CHRISTIANS
The Middle East Media Research Institute, which translates and analyzes Middle East publication, reports today this complaint from Prof. Khaled Abou Al-Fadl, the only Muslim member of the Commission on International Religious Freedom: “When Bush came to the presidency, there was a revolution in American policy. He brought in religious Christian people. In the field, Bush permitted missionaries into Iraq…”
Posted at CST 01:04 PM | Comments (2)
LEAVING OUR STUPOR
On my University of Texas office door a few years ago sat a cartoon (until someone ripped it away) depicting two Pilgrims sitting across from two Indians. One of the Indians was saying, “Rumor has it you’re from the religious right.” That cartoon was (might as well acknowledge this) an in-your-face reminder to hostile colleagues who think that Christians who gain a place at a state university should be thankful enough to be silent about God. The cartoon, though, also reminded me of mutuality: Friendly natives showed needy settlers how to grow food for the body, and Christians offered fresh food for the soul.
These days, volunteers at Thanksgiving meals for the homeless often pass out food without really talking with the eaters, but true interaction can often help both sets of individuals: Men and women in the gutter can learn to step heavenwards, and the helpers can see with their own eyes how God changes people. After all, affluent people with changed hearts often remain the same in outward appearance, but it’s a pleasure at Christian missions to see men who used to sit in vomit-soaked stupor now dressing cleanly and seeing hymns. And that’s a reason for deep thanksgiving: all of us were in a stupor at one time, and God has changed the hearts of many of us. May He change many more.
Posted at CST 11:42 AM | Comments (2)
A good note from the Family Research Council: “For 66 days 102 Pilgrims traveled on the Mayflower in a space the size of a volleyball court… they arrived just in time for winter. During that first winter nearly half of the Pilgrims died, 47 of the original 102…. Given that backdrop, why the Thanksgiving celebration? Why not group therapy? Or at least letters of complaint sent back home? Why, because even in the midst of death and privation they saw the hand of God in their situation and they knew that they were a part of His great plan for this New World.”
Posted at CST 10:26 AM | Comments (2)
EVOLUTION SPECULATION SUMMARIZER
A New York Times article yesterday morning asked the question that millions were considering: “Assuming the common ancestor of people and chimps had social behavior that was essentially chimplike, how much of that behavior has been inherited by people?” Here’s what the Times wants us to know: “Within a community, there is a male hierarchy that is subject to what primatologists euphemistically call elections. Alpha males can lose elections when other males form alliances against them. Losing an election is a bad idea. The deposed male sometimes ends up with personal pieces torn off him and is left to die of his wounds.” Also, “Males make females defer to them, with violence whenever necessary, and every female is subordinate to every male.”
Compare with this alternative social universe: “An intriguing variation on the chimpanzee social system is that of bonobos, which split from chimps some 1.8 million years ago. With bonobos, who live in Congo south of the Congo River, the female hierarchy is dominant to that of males, and males do not patrol the borders to kill neighbors. Though bonobos are almost as aggressive as chimps, they have developed a potent reconciliation technique — the use of sex on any and all occasions, between all ages and sexes, to abate tension and make nice.” The Times did quote Dr. Ian Tattersall, a paleoanthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History, saying “We just have to bear in mind that none of this is demonstrable in any highly convincing way.”
Posted at CST 08:21 AM | Comments (3)
November 25, 2003
MEDICARE AND MANNY RAMIREZ
Here’s a question to ask those who voted for the new Medicare bill: “Would you pick up Manny Ramirez’s contract?” The Boston Red Sox three years ago, angling for the support of fans disappointed that the Sox had lost to the New York Yankees in the bidding for pitcher Mike Mussina, committed the franchise to paying $160 million for eight years of Ramirez’s batting. Ramirez is an excellent hitter, but Boston overpaid, and is now stuck with the contract; when the Red Sox recently said that anyone who wanted to pay Ramirez’s salary for the next five years could have him, the 29 other major league teams all declined. Republicans, bidding for voter support and not wanting to be bashed about prescription drug costs as they were during the last presidential election, have now given us a program that will become grossly expensive in its subsidies of those who don’t truly need governmental help — and no one at that point will save us from our own overspending.
Posted at CST 08:02 PM | Comments (11)
HEALTH AND WEALTH
The National Right to Life Committee declared the now-passed Medicare bill a prolife measure. But Tim Lamer argues, “Poorer countries have citizens with shorter life spans, and this bill will, over the long run, make the United States poorer. Therefore, this bill is anti-life.”
Posted at CST 03:11 PM | Comments (2)
STUDENTS SPEAK UP
The Young Conservatives of Texas chapter at the University of Texas at Austin, where I teach, has been getting lots of national publicity for its watch list of radical professors. The Washington Post quoted fearful statements of listed professors, and you can expect to hear other reports — ABC’s Nightline is on campus today — about the dark night of fascism (or at least “blacklisting”) descending at American universities. The real problem is that alumni, parents, and governmental leaders have had no watch list of any kind, and in the absence of adult supervision leftist professors rule most campuses. Liberal and radical professors have a place on campus, but the problem today is that they dominate academic discourse and “blacklist” all but that handful of conservatives who manage to slip past departmental defenses.
Gutsy students who draw attention to the imbalance should receive thanks from regents and others who have been asleep at the switch — and the number of students willing to speak up seems to be growing. The Post reported, “Since 1999, College …