Outside the Beltway: Vulnerable Congressmen Doomed Bailout
A couple of years ago, Scot McKnight began a series at his Jesus Creed blog called "Women and Ministry" that spanned several months. Many of these posts had more than 200 comments with some fascinating discussion. I find myself occasionally going back to these discussion to review what was said.
Unfortunately, these comments are categorized with some other post that weren't directly related to this series. So for your convenience and mine I've created an index of this series for easier reference.
I’m in Snowbird, Utah all this week at the General Assembly Council meeting for the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. Today we are having a joint meeting with Middle governing body executives. Through a variety of presentations and discussions we are going to be exploring what it means to be a missional church.
One of the resources we are looking at is an article by Darrell Guder called The Challenges of Evangelization in America: Theological Ambiguities, published in Antioch Agenda. He concludes the article with a series of questions with bullet point observations of Christendom by its heirs must address these theological ambiguities, in constant interaction with the global, non-western community. To do so, it is helpful to ask:
Then Guder goes on to identify some challenges to evangelization:
These are the issues we are addressing as we reflect on being a missional church.
Christianity Today: McLaren Emerging (by Scot McKnight)
What? No Kruse Kronicle? What's the matter with these people? :-)
I'm on my way this afternoon to Snowbird Resort in Utah for PCUSA "Presbyfest." Over the next week there will be the Office of the General Assembly Polity Conference, Association of Executive Presbyter's Meeting, the joint Middle Governing Body and General Assembly Council Meeting, and the General Assembly Council Meeting itself. Saturday I will be spending my time in the Restricted Funds Oversight Committee. Sunday afternoon is the GAC Executive Committee meeting. Sunday night is the beginning of the MGB/GAC meeting that will last through Tuesday morning. Tuesday afternoon is the beginning of the GAC meeting that lasts until Friday at noon. Frankly, I haven't even arrived and just looking at this schedule I'm thinking I need a vacation.
One the highlights of this event will be the MGB/GAC meeting as we explore together what it means to be a missional church. We are reading four papers together that will focus our discussion. They are available online at the MGB/GAC website. Here are the four papers:
I don't know that I'll have time to get online at the meeting and write much about this but I thought it might be good for some of my Presby friends to know what denominational leaders are exploring. If you want to take the time to read these papers and offer comments here, I'd be interested to read reflections.
USA Today: Women rule the roost, and that's OK with men
Economix: Why Do Panhandlers Ask for Coffee?
Yesterday I wrote that, apart from the Judeo-Christian heritage, religion has largely been about bringing life into conformity with the cycles of nature. Ordering of lives is achieved through adherence to a set of stories and rituals that reflect these patterns. The stories and rituals give order to existence.
With Judaism the idea of processing from a beginning toward an end emerges. Revelation and law were given at a point in the past and we “look back” to the codes written long ago to determine appropriate action today as we proceed through time, waiting for God’s final act. Islam has had this as a central element as well.
Jesus was completely disorienting. He reoriented our vision from compliance with the past to compliance with the future. Jesus gave a vision of the future and called his followers to live according that vision. Yes, he gave some prescriptive guidance but the organizing principle is a vision of a future reality, namely the Kingdom of God and the new creation.
Not only did Jesus orient us toward the future, but by the very means through which he passed down his vision ensured that we would have to be active participants in the creation and realization of the vision. Despite the endless attempts by some fundamentalist influences in Christianity to use scripture as a codified instruction manual for human behavior, the scripture resiliently resists being boxed in this way. Scripture is an unfolding story with a beginning and end. The author invites humanity to enter the story and participate in its completion. One must interact with the story and understand each portion of scripture in terms of its own context and the context of the larger biblical narrative. It requires wrestling with a general ordering of the world in a future age. One has to deduce and infer appropriate action. In other words, instead of executing directives we must actively reason our way to good decisions, based on a story revealed by a reasonable God.
The necessity of reason in discerning God’s will has had ramifications beyond theology. The discipline of reason eventually turned to the investigation of the material world. If God is a reasonable God, then the world God created must be organized according to orderly principles. Genesis 1 tells us that God is behind and before all the created order. Passages like Psalm 104 teach us that the natural order is not run by capricious gods or powers beyond God’s control. God superintends the workings of the natural order. Scripture also makes clear that God is not part of the natural order and material objects are not to be worshiped.
Therefore, because there is a God given order to nature, we can systematically study and test ideas against observations until we determine the actual order of things. This belief that the world could be systematically studied and that natural objects are not possessed of wills and volition is what gave rise to science. Without the discipline of reasoning our way to God’s vision, one has to question whether scientific rationality would ever have emerged.
This emergence of reason also led to the modern notion of risk. In ancient times, people would embark on a journey and not be heard from again. What happened to them? The gods or the fates did them in. Maybe locals in a distant place invoked magic against them. Whatever the case, people were simply helpless in the face of such events. However, with the emergence of the Judeo-Christian ethos, it became assumed that options could be studied, risks quantified, and decisions could made that improved success in complex endeavors. The first widespread applications of this began in the 1400s as sea trade began to expand and investors sought to maximize and protect their investments through insurance mechanisms. This was crucial to emergence of capitalism in the modern world which at its core is about assessing the financial risks competing decisions.
I also like the summary of the Obama plan at the end of the news piece.
Throughout history, religions have had a cyclical (or at least nonlinear) view of time. Religious ritual was an exercise in honoring and appeasing the cycles of nature established by the gods. Life was an endless succession of cycles.
One of the most striking features of the Jewish tradition is the notion of linear time. There was a beginning. Time is moving on a course from that beginning toward some destination. For the Israelites, the end of the story was when a messiah would bring shalom to the nation of Israel and lift the nation up to its place as God’s exalted people. Life was about remaining faithful to a covenant laid out by God. Jews looked forward a promise and backward to a code as they processed through time in anticipation of future world.
Christ took this linear view of time and redirected it. Jesus gave a vision of the future and called on his followers to orient their lives based on this future reality. They were to give evidence of the future reality in the present and transform the world in the present. Rather than looking to the past and processing through time, Christians are called to progress through time in active anticipation of a future reality.
The idea of progress is so ubiquitous in our day that it is hard to imagine how astonishingly novel this is in human history. Without the idea of progress there would be little of the drive that has been behind so much scientific research and technological development. Capital markets and the long term orientation required to make them work, would not have emerged without people who were disciplined to think in terms of realizing a different future. Indeed, this is still one of the challenges that confronts economic development in some regions of the world. Even in the U.S., one the common traits exhibited by the chronic poor is the inability to think in terms of the future and pursue change.
It is not uncommon today to hear variety of Christian thinkers speak disparagingly of progress and insofar as this relates to the excesses and hubris of modernist ideologies it is right on target. But the idea of "progress" itself is often cast as a product of the Enlightenment and modernism. Clearly secular visions of progress have been a central theme in everything from evolution to capitalism to Marxism. But these modernist secular versions are merely wayward extensions Judeo-Christian thought and almost certainly would not have emerged without it. The idea of progress is deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethos.
Newsweek: Big Government to the Rescue
Bingo! Now if we just knew how to do that. :-)
Thomas Sowell writes:
Vanguard Church (Bob Robinson): The Imago Dei and God the Worker
Looks like Bob is starting a fascinating series.
We are now six weeks from the presidential election. Last week I did my initial post on Intrade and the presidential election. During the 2004 election, Intrade picked the presidential race correctly in every state but Alaska. It picked every senatorial race correctly in 2006.
According to state-by-state Intrade markets, Barack Obama will win by 18 electoral votes. Last week the margin was 8 votes. I broke down the votes for both candidates into two categories. If the candidate is trading 60 or higher to win in a state, then I considered that state a solid win. If the candidate is trading in the 50.1 to 59.9 range in a state, then I considered that state to be leaning toward that candidate. Here is a map showing the outcomes by state:
McCain – 260
Obama – 278
What changed is that that Nevada went from leaning significantly toward McCain to leaning slightly toward Obama. Furthermore, Colorado and New Mexico went from leaning toward Obama to being solidly for Obama. Ohio went from being solidly for McCain to leaning toward McCain. In short, all the shifts in the key states were toward Obama.
In the following analysis it should be noted that there are two types of Intrade contracts worthy of mention. One contract says McCain wins and the other says Obama wins. Because they are traded separately, the sum of the two prices rarely equals exactly 100.
Nevada (5) – Currently leaning toward Obama 52.9 (+7.9 over last week) while McCain is at 59.8, with Obama at 45. Last week Neveada was leaning toward McCain.
New Hampshire (4) - Still leaning toward Obama at 59.8 (+3.3), with McCain at 41.5 (-2.0).
Ohio (20) – Currently leaning toward McCain at 54.9 (-6.0) and Obama now ate 47. Ohio had just barely been in the safe category for McCain last week.
Four other states of interest (Winner in the 60-70 range.)
Colorado (9) – Obama at 60 (+5.1) and McCain at 39.2 (-8.6). Was leaning toward Obama last week.
Florida (27) – McCain is at 61.9 and Obama at 38.4 after being solidly for McCain last week.
Michigan (17) – Obama currently is at 67 (+2.0) while McCain is at 35.
Ohio (20) – McCain at 60.9 after trading in the 30s in July and the 40s in August.
Pennsylvania (21) – Obama is at 66.7 (+0.7) while McCain is at 31.6.
States now of less interest.
Minnesota (10) – Now solidly for Obama is at 71.5 (+3) and McCain at 27.1.
New Mexico (5) – Solid for Obama at 74 (+14.5) and McCain with 31.1 (-8.8). Had been leaning Obama.
Intraders clearly sense a shift in Obama's direction. If their perceptions are right, then McCain can't win without bringing at least on of the four states of interest into his column. If things stand as they are now but McCain either wins Colorado or brings in the combination of New Hampshire and Nevada, then we will have a tie 269 votes.
Intrade on the overall question of who will win the White House
McCain - 48 (-2.5)
Obama - 50.8 (+1.9)
For a look at the election from polling data you can visit Real Clear Politics. Here is their map. Notice that polling data shows the race in several states to be much less certain.
Real Clear Politics polls indicate the following changes since last week:
States that were solid for McCain now leaning McCain: MT, NC, ND
States that were leaning for McCain now a toss up: FL, IN
States that were a toss up now leaning Obama: MI, NM
States that were leaning Obama that are now solid Obama: IA
States that were leaning Obama that are now a toss up: WI
New York Times: Conservatives Try New Tack on Campuses
It strikes me that men who hold these views probably have more of their identity tied up in being good breadwinners and are therefore possibly more highly motivated to be good breadwinners.
We hear much today about the destructiveness of individualism. It know doubt is a significant cultural issue. But only in the recent past has such excessive focus on the individual emerged. Throughout most of human history around the world, individual human beings were considered subordinate to society or the rulers. An individual’s existence and liberty were maintained largely at the pleasure of the societal elite. Elaborate religious and cultural customs often emerged that offered some protection for individuals, but the idea of all human beings being of equal status in some ontological sense was foreign to ancient cultures. Thus, even though the Greeks experimented with democracy for powerful Greek men, Greek philosophers also tendered instruction on how these men should manage and pacify their wives, slaves, and other social inferiors.
Judiasm offered the unique concept of bearing God’s image. Ancient Near East kings erected images (eikons) throughout their territory to symbolize their authority throughout the region. No doubt the first chapters of Genesis were calling this idea to mind when the first humans were called “images of God,” told to fill the earth, and to exercise dominion. They would be God’s junior partners showing forth God’s authority throughout the world. Unlike wooden or stone eikons, these living eikons would share the faculties of reason and creativity. As God’s eikons, each individual human being has intrinsic value.
Extending from this “image of God” idea is the notion of human rights. While we often have a hard time defining precisely what we mean by human rights, we do have the belief that people should not be deprived of freedom or killed arbitrarily. We can also say that the ideas of “image bearing” and of stewardship are interwoven into the mindset that gave rise to the Western world and its economic institutions. We are steward-owners who have a sense of responsibility to those who, for whatever reason, are in need of basic necessities. People have great intrinsic value and should be treated as such. In an era of hyper-individualism, it is hard to appreciate just how profoundly exceptional this valuing of individuals is in human history.
We also see the impact of this “image of God” thinking on property rights. The Old Testament code lifted up the private ownership of property not as a tool that serves the best interests of the state but as the rightly ordered state of affairs established by God. Considerable portions the Old Testament law is devoted to managing property disputes and the Leviticus 25 jubilee provisions were to ensure that not one would become permanently alienated from the land God had entrusted to them.
God calls us individually and corporately to be stewards of the created world. Property is to be held and used in trust for God not the state. Since our personal survival depends on our ability to create and manage resources for our own well-being, economic freedom is closely tied to personal and political freedom. Therefore, while ownership is not absolute, neither is it to be arbitrarily violated by the state or other powerful people. Property ownership is intrinsic to the mission of being an eikon of God in the world. That some Enlightenment and Modernist philosophies have sought to make property rights paramount because of their indispensable role in pursing personal autonomy doesn’t alter the origin of this elevation property rights.
Property rights and human rights as we know them could not have emerged without the idea of humanity in the image of God. Some will argue that the Enlightenment had a more significant impact on these concepts but the Enlightenment itself was inextricably connected to understandings of human nature from Judeo-Christian thought. While the concept of human rights has now become a global feature there are still many cultures that are resistant to Western notions of human rights that played such a key role in the rise of Western prosperity.
Check out this excerpt from a recent BBC article.
(HT: Ben Witherington)
Village Voice: Andrew Cuomo and Fannie and Freddie
This is an interesting, if lengthy, piece written last month on the origins of the Fannie and Freddie debacles that led to the present financial crisis.
We have visited five elements within the cycle of prosperity: technology, food supply, human capital, economic growth and wealth, and trade. We have seen how each of these five interacts in mutually reinforcing organic ways to generate prosperity. We have also seen how environment and natural resources can influence the way an economy develops. We turn now to the cultural environment.
Examining our cultural environment is a bit like trying to describe water to fish. It is so much a part of our experience that is all but invisible to us. It rarely occurs to us that life could be ordered in alternative ways. Yet assumptions we make about the order of the world, about human nature, and about matters of ultimate meaning deeply affect how we function with regard to economic decisions, sometimes in very subtle but important ways. Here are just a few questions that highlight some of the issues.
History shows that European culture was late to the scene compared to the Near East fertile crescent, or civilizations of Egypt and China, and possibly even civilizations in the Americas. David Landes in “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” notes that the water wheel, eyeglasses, the mechanical clock, printing and gunpowder were all developed in China long before Europeans developed and learned similar technologies. As late as the 15th century, on the dawn of Europe encountering the New World, the Chinese had ships far in excess of anything the Europeans could muster in size or technological capability. Greece and Rome were developing various models of statecraft two millennia ago that still have influence on our lives today. Muslims in the Middle East were ahead of Europe in science and technology by the time of the centuries bridging the turn of the first and second millennia. Yet none of these cultures ever approached the widespread prosperity and personal freedom expanding throughout the world today. What was different about the European experience?
A central factor is the rise of market economies. While there have always been markets and trade, market economies and trade in the modern sense began more than a millennium ago in southern Europe eventually taking root in Northern Italy. Later the central activity moved to Flanders before jumping the Channel to England, on to America, and then out to the world. Over the next few posts I will explore four features that emerged in European culture that I believe had a central impact on the unique rise of Western prosperity that is now expanding throughout the globe. Each of the four links to distinctly Judeo–Christian perspectives on life and the world.
Two caveats. First, I’m not saying that these cultural characteristics alone led to European prosperity. For instance, I’ve already mentioned Europe’s unique geography as contributing factor in the previous post. Second, I’m not saying that everything introduced by European culture has led to the most desirable outcomes in terms of a shalom filled world. But I am saying that I don’t think we can look at bringing others into the cycle of prosperity we have experienced without first examining “the water we are swimming in” and asking if those we are engaging share swim in the same water.
We now turn these four cultural features.
The Economist: Globalisation: A Bigger World
New York Times: New Agency Proposed to Oversee Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (HT: Strategic Thought)
(Note: This article is from Sept. 11, 2003. In light of recent events, sometimes old news is news worth revisiting.)
There is lots of blame to go around in this mess but Bush creating "unfettered markets" was not one of the culprits.
The Economist: Who killed New Labour?
New York Times: The Social Animal (David Brooks)
The following appeared last week in the New York Times and I just discovered it. With a few caveats (I'm not clear on his British Conservatism analogy in the last sentence, for instance), he express my sentiments as well.
Climate Audit (Steve McIntyre): Lehman Bros. and Consensus
And here is an important insight:
Simply going with the consensus when the dots are not connected is exceedingly dangerous in the business world, as we have seen this week. The same holds true for climate science as well.
The collapsing Anti-Bush products industry. (HT: Greg Mankiw) (WARNING: Offensive words presented in images.)
$85B? Now that is what I would call a bail out.
Greg Mankiw and a number of other economists frequently reference Intrade in their discussion of economic and political events. If you are not familiar with Intrade, then you could describe it as a futures market for either/or events. Here is how it works.
Intrade works through $10 contracts. You think there is a 60% chance Obama will win the presidential election. You bid $6 to buy a contract that says Obama wins. If someone takes that offer then you own a contract for $6. If you hold that contract to the end and Obama wins, then the contract will be worth $10. You will net $4. If Obama loses, then you lose $6. You can sell your contract at anytime before the event finishes so long as there is a buyer who is willing to buy. (More here.)
During the 2004 election, Intrade picked the presidential race correctly in every state but Alaska. It picked every senatorial race correctly in 2006. So I thought I would see what Intrade has to say about the presidential race today. (I may make this a weekly update.)
According to state-by-state Intrade markets, Barack Obama will win by 8 electoral votes. I broke the votes for both candidates into two categories. If the candidate is trading 60 or higher to win, then I considered them a solid state for that candidate. If the candidate is trading in the 50.1 to 59.9 range, then I considered that state to be leaning toward that candidate. Here is a map showing the outcomes by state:
McCain – 265
Obama – 273
In the following analysis it should be noted that there are two types of contracts worthy of mention. One contract says McCain wins and the other says Obama wins. Because they are traded separately, the sum of the two prices rarely equals exactly 100.
Colorado (9) – Currently leaning toward Obama at 54.9, with McCain at 47.8. There has been fairly steady movement toward McCain since about a month ago when McCain was trading at 35.
Nevada (5) – Currently leaning toward McCain at 59.8, with Obama at 45. Until the past month, Obama had been trading steadily at around 50.
New Hampshire (4) - Currently leaning toward Obama at 56.5, with McCain at 43.5. Volatile prices with a net move of only a couple of points in McCain’s direction over the last month.
New Mexico (5) – Currently leaning toward Obama at 59.5, with McCain at 39.9. As recently September 8, McCain was trading in the 26-28 range.
Virginia (13) – Currently leaning toward McCain at 57, with Obama at 44.9. Through most of August Obama had been trading in the 50-55 range.
Four other states of interest (Winner in the 60-70 range.)
Michigan (17) – Obama currently is at 65. However, he had been trading in the 70s in July and August.
Minnesota (10) – Obama is at 68.5 after trading in the 80s last month and in the low 70s over the last week.
Ohio (20) – McCain at 60.9 after trading in the 30s in July and the 40s in August.
Pennsylvania (21) – Obama is at 66, which is a little lower than the low 70s range he had been trading at in recent weeks.
Assuming all this stays pretty much as is, but there is a 3.6 movement in Colorado in McCain's favor, then McCain wins. That is how close it is. Obama is winning right now but all the present trends are in McCain’s direction. There aren’t many places in play at the moment where Obama can pick up more votes but there are several places he could lose them and he only has an 8 vote lead.
Intrade on the overall question of who will win the White House
McCain - 50.5
Obama - 48.9
For a look at the election from polling data you can visit Real Clear Politics. Here is their map.
Financial Times: Russia halts trading after 17% share price fall
Freakonomics: The Sarah Palin Effect and Age vs. Gender
What to do with Sarah Palin? Many people in theologically conservative protestant denominations and congregations believe that men and women fulfill complementary gender roles. They describe themselves as complementarian. Men lead. Women submit. Men teach and preach. Women do not teach or preach to men, nor are the ordain to be pastors. There are a wide variety of ways these issues are practically dealt with and some, in fact, seem only complementarian in name when you view actual behavior. Most complemenatarians bristle at that their position implies any inferiority on the part of women. Men and women are “equal in being, unequal in function,” they say. Whatever the case, complemetarian teachers maintain they are upholding the historic teaching of the church.
The virtual credo for the complementarian position is 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Unlike other passages which (on the surface at least) seem to address this topic, 1 Timothy is gives a theological basis for the complementarian position.
The theological justification:
As you are probably aware, a disproportionate number of American complementarians are politically conservative and Republican. This election year, the vice-presidential slot is filled by a woman, Sarah Palin. Isn’t this a contradiction of complementarian standards? For most, apparently not.
Leading complementarian argue that submission to the husband in the home is not transferable to submission of women to men outside the home. Furthermore, 1 Timothy 2 is only addressing the role of women in the context of public worship or with regard to ecclesial matters. Fair enough, but is this the historical understanding? What is the functional necessity for excluding women from teaching and leadership roles in the church? Church scholars have had fairly consistent pragmatic functional reasons for restricting leadership/teaching to men over the centuries based on passages like 1 Timothy 2. Three stand out in particular.
1. Priest as Mediator - Because the priest is the mediator of Christ to the people the priest must be male in order to symbolize Christ. This is irrelevant to Protestants because our understanding is that there is no mediator between Christ and us.
2. Primogeniture - We find various church fathers commenting on 1 Timothy 2:13, identifying primogeniture as a “functional” reason. But read the following closely with the idea of “equal in being, unequal in function,” in mind. (All quotes below, and several others, can be found in two appendices of William Webb’s Slaves, Women and Homosexuals.):
John Chrysostom (347-407): “It shows that the male sex enjoyed the higher honor. Man was first formed; and elsewhere he shows their superiority.” Homilies on Timothy (Homilies 8-9)
Martin Luther (1483-1546): “Because of God’s work, Adam is approved as superior to Eve, because he had the right of primogeniture.” Luther’s Works
John Wesley (1703-1791): “ ‘First’ - So that woman was originally the inferior [in rank or status]. She was inferior too in bodily strength.” The New Testament Explanatory Notes
We see primogeniture referenced but the implicit, and frequently explicit, reason given for the significance of primogeniture is that it signifies male superiority. Some Reformation scholars, including Calvin, found the primogeniture argument weak. Nevertheless Calvin writes in his commentary on 1 Timothy:
“Since, therefore, God did not create two chiefs of equal power, but added to the man an inferior aid, the Apostle justly reminds us of that order of creation in which the eternal and inviolable appointment of God is strikingly displayed.”
So while Calvin was not to keen on primogeniture reasoning, he resorts to the “inferior helpmate” reasoning instead.
These arguments on primogeniture usually exist as a secondary support for the next reason.
3. Women’s Inferior Nature - Again commenting on 1 Timothy 2:13:
John Chrysostom (347-407): “The woman [Eve] taught once, and ruined all. On this account therefore he saith, let her not teach. But what is it to other women, that she suffered this? It certainly concerns them; for the sex is weak and fickle, and he is speaking of the sex collectively.” Homilies on Timothy (Homilies 8-9)
Augustine (354-430): “And [Satan] first tried his deceit upon the woman, making his assault upon the weaker part of that human alliance, that he might gradually gain the whole, and not supposing that the man would readily give ear to him, or be deceived, but that he might yield to the error of the woman … For not without significance did the apostle say, ‘And Adam was no deceived, but the woman being deceived was in transgression.’” City of God
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): “The human group would have lacked the benefit of order had some of its members not been governed by others who were wiser. Such is the subjection in which woman is by nature subordinate to man, because the power of rational discernment is by nature stronger in man.
St. Paul says ’that women should keep silence in Churches”, and, ‘I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men.’ [1 tim. 2:12] But this especially touches the grace of speech. Accordingly that grace [speaking publicly to the whole church] does not pertain to women … because generally speaking women are not perfected in wisdom so as to be fit to be entrusted with public teaching.” “Prophecy and other Charisms” in Summa Theologica 45:133
Martin Luther (1483-1546): “Paul thus has proved that by divine and human right Adam is the master of the woman. That is, it was not Adam who went astray. Therefore, there was greater wisdom in Adam than in the woman. Where this occurs, there is greater authority … He [Adam] persevered in his dominion over the serpent, which did not attack him but rather attacked the weaker vessel … just as he does today.” Lectures on 1 Timothy
John Knox (1514-1572) On women: “For who can deny but it is repugnant to nature, that the blind shall be appointed to lead the conduct such as do see? That the weak, the sick, and impotent persons shall nourish and keep the whole and strong, and finally, that the foolish, mad and frantic shall govern the discrete, and give counsel to such as be sober of mind? And such be all women, compared to a man in bearing of authority. …Nature, I say, does paint them further to be weak, frail, impatient, feeble and foolish: and experience has declared them to be inconstant, variable, cruel and lacking the spirit of counsel and regiment.” The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.
John Wesley (1703-1791): “The preceding verse [1 Tim 2:13] showed why a woman should not ‘usurp authority over the man.’ This verse [1 Tim. 2:14 ] shows why she ought not ‘to teach.’ She is more easily deceived , and more easily deceives.” “1 Timothy” in Wesley’s Notes on the Bible
Complementarians declare ‘equal in being; unequal in function” and then claim the mantle of upholding the historic teachings of the church. Yet:
1. As Protestants, complementarians have rejected the idea of priest as mediator.
2. Unlike the leading scholars of the church who taught that primogeniture signified superiority (therefore justifying authority and teaching) complementarians point to primogeniture insisting there is in no implication of inferiority and superiority. Yet they offer no reason why primogeniture would have any influence on the practice leading/teacing, especially in light of the fact that God repeatedly chose other than the first born (Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and David, to name a few), implying that God’s gifting and call is what mattered, not primogeniture. (Is it also true that only first born sons should be pastors?)
3. Unlike the leading scholars of the church who taught that women were innately inferior to men and more easily deceived, complementarians bristle at the charge that they are saying women are inferior.
In short, complementarians are not adhering to the historic teaching of the church with their “equal in being, unequal in function” proposition. Neither are non-hierarchical complementarians like myself.
Having abandoned the historical rationale for abiding by certain prescriptions, Complementarians can now offer no functional justification for why women should not lead or teach. During the 1970s, complementarians created the novel formulation of “equal in being; unequal in function” to justify retention of old practices while in theory abandoning claims to women’s inferiority. But the formulation is a smoke screen. While it is true that one of two equal beings may be subordinate to another with regard to some specific limited functions for a limited time, it is not true that an equal being can be subordinate to another equal being in everything, all the time. The latter is what is being claimed for women and men by complementarians. For two beings that have the capacity to will and to act, this is the very definition of an inferior being. And now this formulation is being projected on to the ontological Trinity, declaring that Jesus’ will is eternally subordinate to the Father in a way the Father is not to the Son. But even if we grant that the formulation is true, what is the “functional” distinction that favors men teaching and leading?
The answer isn’t symbolic mediation, it isn’t primogeniture signifying male superiority, and it isn’t innate inferiority of women. Primogeniture absent male superiority is presented as a reason but if it is not about superiority what is it that makes being firstborn a qualification for leading and teaching, especially when God repeatedly ignored it? What is the functional difference favoring men versus women?
The truth is that we have been in Galileo-like paradigm shift over the past century or two. Just as it eventually became clear to the church five hundred years ago that the earth orbits the sun instead of the sun orbiting the earth, we have now seen that women are not fickle, silly, inferiors incapable of leadership and teaching. Just as with Galileo we have had to go back and reread passages that had seemed so obviously clear and rethink how our perceptions might have influenced what we were reading.
This is not the place for me to articulate my thoughts on the controversial passages of scripture. I’ve done that in my Household of God series (Scroll down to the “New Testament Household Codes” section and begin there.) My point here is that I believe, unlike the election of Hilary Clinton, Palin serving as vice-president will crank up the dissonance people’s minds between the complementarian prohibition of women teaching and seeing Palin ever before them. Had it been Clinton, it would have been easy to just ignore her as another one of those “radical feminists.” Palin, however, is seen as being of the same culture many complementarians hold dear. The absence of genuine functional barrier will force many to re-examine scripture.
We will see if Palin ends up as the vice president. Should it become so this complementarian dynamic will be interesting to watch.
(Note: Apparently David Gushee has been thinking along similar lines. See his article in USA Today, The Palin Predicament.)
Wall Street Journal: New Evidence on Taxes and Income Arthur B. Laffer and Stephen Moore
IBD Editorials: The Progressive Case For Free Trade Joseph Liberman
Marginal Revolution: Will the informal sector drive third world growth? Tyler Cowen
Over the last five posts we’ve briefly looked at the five components of what I’m calling the cycle of prosperity: Technology, Food Supply, Human Capital, Economic Growth and Wealth, and Trade. I identified at least thirteen different types of impacts (arrows A through M) on creating economic prosperity. My intention has been to demonstrate the organic nature of an economic system. All parts are connected to each other. If nothing else, I hope of demonstrated that a singular focus one aspect like free versus fair trade, or economic aid, or improving medical care, is ineffective as a solution for creating economically prosperous societies. But the picture becomes even more complex.
We noted earlier that every economic system presumes to things: physical resources and a society of people. Therefore every economic system operates within two contexts. The first I will call the physical environment and the second cultural environment. We will discuss cultural environment in the next post but first let us examine what we mean by physical environment.
The economy is about people transforming matter, energy, and information from less useful states to more useful states. But people live in a particular physical context and contexts vary widely as we span the globe. There are a wide range of climates and terrains, with widely varying resources, that humanity has called home. Due to relatively limited mobility and thus limited trade, people have been compelled to live within the constraints of their physical environments.
At the most basic level, people can not survive more than a month or so without food. As food growing seasons are limited to a few months in many regions of the world. There must be technology for both producing sufficient quantities of food and then storing adequate food supplies during non-productive periods. Technology can increase the levels of production per amount of input and it can improve storage. But the ability to transport foodstuff across long distances and engage in trade has been essential to making some regions of the world more habitable.
Terrain can have a significant impact on an economy as well. For instance, water transportation has historically been the most effective and least costly means of transporting large amounts of goods. Look at the map of Europe and notice how much coastline there is. Start in the bottom right in the Black sea, come south into the Aegean Sea, into the Mediterranean Sea, and out into the Atlantic. Then follow the coast around Portugal up through the English Channel into the North Sea. From there you may head north along the coast of Norway or east into the Baltic Sea and up toward Finland. Notice how many nations have direct access to ports along these paths. But then also consider the numerous navigable waterways that extend deep into the interior of European nations. Historically, Europe had many geographic features that made trade easier than in other parts of the world.
The present day United States also had many navigable waterways. The coastline extending from Maine all the way from down around Florida, into the Gulf of Mexico and all the way down to Brownsville, Texas, made access to these costal areas accessible. But despite having some interior waterways, the terrain made foliage made land transportation arduous prior to the industrial revolution. In 1790, the typical means of transportation from Philadelphia to the area of Pittsburgh was not across present day Pennsylvania. People would board a barge on in Philadelphia, sail around Florida into the Gulf, head up the Mississippi into Louisiana, and up the Ohio River to the Pittsburgh area. It was ten times cheaper than the land route. Without the invention of the railroad a few decades later, it is hard to imagine much expansion into the North American interior.
Also figuring into the equation of economic development was the presence (or lack) of various resources. Many historians have noted the lack of a beast of burden in the Americas comparable to the ox or the horse on other continents. That deficiency limited agricultural developments. However, the introduction of several native American foodstuffs into Europe significantly improved the European food supply.
Thus, we can see that geographic limitations have had a significant impact on the development of different societies. However, in light of globally integrated markets and transportation, there is little reason, from a technical standpoint, why most nations should have to do without basic resources simply because of geography. (There are modern exceptions as we will see.) That is, of course, presuming that the nation is connected and integrated into the larger global market. If not, then natural resource questions can still be significant issues a nation’s economy.
We must also add to this discussion that while the earth certainly provides the resources for economic activity, the earth is not merely a bundle of resources for our consumption. The earth is also our home. As Christians, we also believe that creation has intrinsic value because it was made by God and pronounced good by him, though it is still incomplete. Throughout most of human history nature has been appreciated as an untamable threat. Far from worrying about damaging nature, human life was consumed with not being destroyed by natural events. The idea that we could do harm to nature on any significant scale has been a recent phenomenon that parallels the rise of industrial technology. Consequently, preservation and protection of the environment has emerged as in important economic consideration.
There is certainly much more we could say about the significance of the physical environment and more will be interjected in later posts. For now I merely wish to make us conscious of the impact our environmental context can have on economic life. What said we will turn now to turn cultural environment, which I will discuss at greater length.
New York Times: G.M. at 100: Is Its Future Electric?
Tax Prof Blog (Paul Caron): Biden Releases 10 Years of Tax Returns
Greg Mankiw: Fun with Statistics
I have Blinder's book but haven't read it yet. I'm suspicious for two reasons. First is the convenient release in the middle of an election year. Second, I've played with data of this type in the past trying to find patterns connected with who holds the White House or who controls Congress. I've seen other studies done and critiqued and the analysis rarely holds up under scrutiny.
Blinder's book analyzes presidencies since World War II. He notes that the Carter Administration is the only Democrat administration that doesn't meet his pattern of decreasing inequality and higher economic growth. That means we have one data point to look at for the Democrats over the last forty years (Clinton)! The American and world economy has changed enormously during that forty year era. Clinton inherited an economy that had just come out of a mild recession and began to inherit some of the peace dividend from the fall of the Soviet Union. He did pass NAFTA (with the aid of the Republicans) and then his administration ended just as the dot.com bubble was bursting. The timing ranged from an economic low in the business cycle at the start to an economic high at the end.
I look forward to reading the book but I'll admit skeptical of these studies.
Barack Obama made a reference this week to "lipstick on a pig" that was seized upon by the McCain camp as a veiled insult to Sarah Palin. Hogwash! Of course, over the summer the Obama camp had no qualms about distorting McCain's words to suggest that he wants to keep American troops in Iraq for 100 years. This is why I try to avoid watching to much campaign stuff.
The bright side of the pig controversy is that it inspired Mrs. Kronicle and I to dig out our Pig Mania game. I'm aware that many of my readers have not yet achieved my level of culutral sophistication so I thought I would take this post to aquaint you with Pig Mania.
The equipment includes the following:
The two pigs are placed into the "pig sty," shaken, and then tossed on to the table. Points are scored based on the way the pigs land. Should you roll a "pig out" ...
or a "makin' bacon" ...
... your turn ends and it goes to the next player. A "pig out" is when the two pigs are on their sides but not the same side. "Makin' bacon" is when the pigs are touching in any way. [Update: Codepoke reminds me that if you toss a "makin' bacon," you lose all your points for that round of tosses. I knew I'd miss something here.]
The objective is to score 100 points. Here is how the points are scored.
This is a" sider"; both pigs laying on the same side. Points = 1
The one on the left is a "hoofer" (Points = 5) and the other is a "razorback" (Points = 5).
The one on the left is a "snouter" (Points = 10) and the other is a "leaning jowler" (Points = 15).
For these last four, the point total quadruples if the pigs land in the same position. For example, two snouters would be 40 points.
One additional rule is that before the pigs are tossed another player can yell "Sooee!" That player predicts the outcome. If he or she is right, then he or she gets double the points and the tosser must subtract the same number of points. If he or she is wrong, then you do the reverse.
Well, there you have it. Now you have grasped the inner workings of Pig Mania. No need to thank me for adding to your cultural proficiency.
Economist: Non-profit capitalism
Economist: Adapt or die: Climate change and the poor