01 April 2009

April snippets

  • Reports like this used to appear more frequently some decades ago, but they continue to pop up occasionally as we near the end of the first decade of the century: Earth population 'exceeds limits'. This is from Dr. Nina Fedoroff, science and technology advisor to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One wonders whether she has read this: Age-Quake: Say Hello to Under-population. Of course, policy-makers will have to decide which scenario for the future they find more credible.

  • My alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, has been embroiled in controversy since it was announced last week that President Barack Obama will be speaking at commencement next month and will be awarded an honorary doctorate of laws. Here Stephen Barr comments on Notre Dame’s Faustian Bargain, while Francis Beckwith, himself a subject of controversy a few years ago, writes on Barack Obama and Notre Dame: Juris Doctor Honoris Causa? How, they ask, can a Catholic university honour someone who has openly worked to remove the few legal protections the unborn still enjoy?

  • Not surprisingly, Jim Wallis approves of Notre Dame's invitation to Obama, going so far as to mobilize support for it: Obama at Notre Dame: Continuing a Tradition of Dialogue. César Baldelomar, also writing for God's Politics, agrees: The Obama Notre Dame Controversy. Wallis and Baldelomar believe that the likes of Barr and Beckwith (and perhaps even Bishop John D'Arcy) are being divisive and disruptive. Wallis' blog didn't exist back in 2005, when President George W. Bush spoke at Calvin College's commencement, though Wallis himself was at Calvin a few weeks earlier. One wonders whether he thought Bush's presence would continue a tradition of dialogue or whether Wallis might have expressed support for those members of the Calvin community protesting the visit.

  • While we're on the topic of abortion, the Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, who has been appointed president and dean of Episcopal Divinity School, preached this sermon nearly two years ago: Our Work is Not Done:

    And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight – only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing. These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

    There is little to add to this, except to say that, where a church has lost its way in so fundamental a fashion, people will seek the light of the gospel elsewhere. (Hat tip: Rod Dreher)

  • Cousin Obama? "On Facebook, various applications posted joke alerts like 'Barack Obama confirmed you as a cousin'." I was one of those who received this message today. Or perhaps the President read my 6-year-old post on statistical genealogy?

  • Speaking of April Fools Day, this is a rather elaborate prank that I would love to have seen in person:

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