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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Seminarians in Debt

The number of seminary students who borrow big money ($20k+) to complete their education has quadrupled in ten years, according to a new report. Not only that, but many more now enter graduate programs with significant debt from their undergraduate years.

This has serious ramifications for US congregations. Pastors don't earn that much to begin with -- a fair living, generally speaking, but no fortune. And less at smaller parishes. It used to work okay, back when seminary education was more heavily subsidized by church bodies. But as the money has run out among the mainstream denominations, so have those subsisidies. Which means that newly-ordained pastors, carrying more debt, may have to steer away from smaller, struggling congregations. Which will in turn struggle harder.

Bad news. But there is a funny part. The report refers to this as "theological debt." Well, no. It's educational debt. Theological debt was the basis of Anselm's atonement theory in Cur deus homo.

Okay. Maybe it's only funny if you blew a fortune on seminary.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Bush Back on the Sauce?

That's the report in the usually unreliable National Enquirer. The claim is that Hurricane Katrina was too much for him, and Laura found him swigging Jim Beam from the bottle. Naturally, we don't believe a word of it.

But apparently, an online gambling service called BetCRIS is now offering various Bush-related odds:

"Bush exposed for drinking alcohol during his presidency is featured with odds of 5 to 1. Compare that with 15 to 1 odds that Bush actually admits to drinking alcohol.

"Bush checking into a rehab program is listed with 40 to 1 odds. Bush becoming a preacher is listed with 2 to 1 odds. Bush converting to Judaism is posted with 300 to 1 odds. Bush becoming a Muslim is posted with 500 to 1 odds. Bush becomes a spokesman for Viagra/Cialis is listed with 35 to 1 odds. . . ."

We certainly would not wish the President a return to dipsomania. Nor -- being a preacher ourselves -- would we wish him a place in our guild. But many mysteries concerning Afghanistan and Iraq might be explained if, after leaving office, he were to become a shill for impotence medications.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: BetCRIS offers no odds at all as to whether Bush gets impeached.

Speaking of Scared...

Turns out Roy Moore (see below under "Certain Southern Judges") is a poet. Seriously. Click the link.

Okay, I'm Scared

Headline: "I Killed So Many, I Lost Count, Says Boy, 11." It's an article on the Lord's Resistance Army, a Ugandan terrorist organization made up almost entirely of abducted children, who are used both as soldiers and sex toys.

Don't let the name fool you. These people, obviously, are freaks; they have more in common with the Maoist Sendero Luminoso than with any genuine religious movement. They aren't Christian, although -- like certain Southern judges we could name -- they do want to rule their nation according to the Ten Commandments. (Well, sorta kinda. "Thou shalt not kill" apparently doesn't count -- in either case.)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Right Joins Reality-Based Community

Conservatives seem pretty worked up over Harriet Miers and her lack of paper trail. In the Wasington Post article above, Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum, says "President Bush is asking us to have faith in things unseen. We only have that kind of faith in God."

Er, um, we thought you people thought he was God. Didn't one of you people say, on TV during the last camapign, "God is in the White House"? Of course that's what you believe. What else would explain your belief in his omniscience regarding WMDs? His omnipotence regarding AIDS in Africa? His omnibenevolence, encapsulated in the meaningless nostrum "compassionate conservatism"?

Of course, not all gods are created equal. In case after case, the President has asked for our faith without offering a credible reason -- and in case after case, he has failed to deliver. As gods go, he's proven to be one of the falser ones.

Sacrilege aside, Bush's critics have been arguing for years that he makes policy decisions based on convictions, rather than facts. The classic expression is Ron Suskind's 2004
Times magazine article, in which he quotes "a senior advisor to Bush" mocking the "reality-based community," those poor deluded fools who believe that "solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." This, according to the advisor, just ain't the way the Administration works. And indeed it hasn't been. Instead of actually analyzing facts, the Prwsident has proudly, boldly, led with his gut -- or, anyway, his big mouth. And the idolaters have gone along, trusting his word rather than the facts.

So Cathie Adams is (shudder!) right on this. Confidence in the President requires a kind of faith which should properly be reserved for God -- and which, when given to a human being, is inevitably misplaced. Welcome aboard, Cathie. Wish you'd gotten here before the ship began to sink.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Mormons Watch Porn-Lite.

Per the Provo, Utah Herald:

Copies of a movie aimed at a Mormon audience have been pulled from store shelves after a recording mix-up left buyers watching "Adored: Diary of a Porn Star" instead of the squeaky clean "Sons of Provo."

This is funny, but funny stuff happens. What really tickles us is a line several grafs down, as the "Adored" producers clarify the nature of their product:

"Adored: Diary of a Porn Star" is an unrated independent film that is not pornographic, said Corey Eubanks, spokesman for Wolfe Video, the largest distributor of films featuring gay and lesbian characters and stories. However, the film does contain sexual situations and its subject is the life of a gay porn star. "It's a very heartwarming film about a porn star that reconnects with his family," Eubanks said. "It's not a porn film at all. It's just about someone who is a porn actor."

Pity the poor Mormons. We thought 3.2% beer was bad enough -- but even their porn is watered down.