19 October 2011

October snippets

  • Jason Hood has posted something on The Death of Christianity in the Middle East, for which the United States and its allies may bear some culpability. The statistics are sobering:
    Here’s the big picture, from the Jersualem Post: “…at the time of Lebanese independence from France in 1946 the majority of Lebanese were Christians. Today less than 30% of Lebanese are Christians. In Turkey, the Christian population has dwindled from 2 million at the end of World War I to less than 100,000 today. In Syria, at the time of independence Christians made up nearly half of the population. Today 4% of Syrians are Christian. In Jordan half a century ago 18% of the population was Christian. Today 2% of Jordanians are Christian.”

    Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in that troubled part of the world.

  • Many of us baby boomers grew to maturity in the suburbs that sprang up around the major North American metropolitan areas in the wake of the Second World War. Is it possible, however, that the settlement patterns characteristic of these communities are unsustainable over the long term? Robert Johnson and Kevin Lincoln have given us A Complete Guide To The Ponzi Scheme That Is Suburban America. An excerpt: "The suburbs do not create wealth, they destroy it. The American style of building our places is simply not productive enough to continue." It's something to think about.

  • The protesters on Wall Street and elsewhere have also given us something to think about. In the meantime Henry Blodget gives us Four Charts That Explain What The Protesters Are Angry About...
    1. Unemployment is at the highest level since the Great Depression (with the exception of a brief blip in the early 1980s).

    2. At the same time, corporate profits are at an all-time high, both in absolute dollars and as a share of the economy.

    3. Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low. In other words, corporate profits are at an all-time high, in part, because corporations are paying less of their revenue to employees than they ever have. . . .

    4. Income and wealth inequality in the US economy is near an all-time high: The owners of the country's assets (capital) are winning, everyone else (labor) is losing.

    Whose fault is this? That's where the disagreements come in.

  • Jean Bethke Elshtain is one of my favourite living political philosophers. We were privileged to host her at Redeemer University College back in 1998. Now we read that she is heading to Baylor University as Visiting Distinguished Professor of Religion and Public Life. Should the biblical proscription of coveting keep us from envying Baylor?

  • Canada may finally be getting its own counterpart to First Things in the form of Convivium, the brainchild of Peter Stockland and Fr. Raymond de Souza. The new journal was launched last evening in Ottawa. The National Post carries an inaptly-titled report: New magazine reunites church and state. Thus far there appears to be no online presence, but that will likely come in time.

  • Two decades ago we learned that a Class A minor league baseball team would be coming to Geneva, Illinois, a picturesque community on the Fox River not far from where I grew up. I had my own ideas concerning a name for the team, which they saw fit to christen the Kane County Cougars instead of my own preference: the Geneva Psalms.

    Later: Convivium is indeed online. Check here.
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